Quick review: That’s Entertainment II

Standard

Today I’ll just do a quick review/promo of That’s Entertainment II. MGM put together three great retrospectives of their musical greats from the early and mid twentieth century. Number II in unique in that it featured co-hosts Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. The two actually do some dance numbers together.  While not as energetic as in their great days, the numbers are crisp, clean, and perfect, as any Astaire performance would be. Just seeing this one-time mating of these two greats would be worth it, but the way they weaved the theme song from its original movie into this one, is icing on top of the already rich numbers brought from the video archives.

Insider/Outsider mentality

Standard

In cleaning the basement this weekend I found three boxes of papers, pictures, certificates, trophies, etc. from my high school days. It brought back a lot of happy memories, but one particular piece of paper brought back other memories, a “dark side” to my school days that was seldom discussed — or rather was discussed, but never out in the open.

After years of traveling to the Binghamton area for the Baptist Christian School Association Fine Arts Festival, during my senior year it was going to be held in our area, and was being organized by our school. Yet something came up and it had to be canceled (I think it was weather-related, but memory and the backup I have at hand don’t confirm either way). Apparently I started a petition asking for it to be rescheduled, and several students in my class wrote a letter to me and signed it telling me they thought my petition was rude to the organizer, who had spent a lot of effort organizing it, and would be a lot of effort to reschedule. I found that saved letter, though not my petition.

What this reminded me of, the dark side, was the insider/outsider mentality that took place at TTBHS, my private high school. The high school was supported by 7 churches, and while many of the students came from the churches, there was a sizable minority, myself included, that came from other churches. We often felt that there was certain favoritism and deference given at times to those from the supporting churches, as opposed to those without. Which might seem odd, considering how many honors and awards outsiders got.

What the petition and letter reminded me of was how much that particular festival meant to me at the time.  It was finally my time to be first in line to compete. I had been waiting for it to be my senior year, to have no other insiders in front of me to get special preference to be sent for the singing competition — and then as I was finally at the front of the line, my chance was canceled. Yet I was insensitive for asking for things to be rescheduled after I had waited my turn, been held back, on the hope that wasn’t to be.

In hindsight, and in the experience of my life to date, I realize two things about that time: 1) I was probably being self-centered in my outlook at the time, and 2) My problem, even then, was not being more assertive for the things I wanted and was interested in. I’ve always tried to be a fair and impartial person, and what I have usually gotten for it was being ignored or underestimated.

Another story, but not from school, to illustrate my dilemma. Growing up, my parents were good friends with another couple who had a daughter. Whenever we went over to their friends’ house, we played with their daughter, and did what she wanted to do, because we were the guests.  Whenever her parents came over to our house, we played with her, and did what she wanted, because she was the guest.

The problem of the insider/outsider mentality is similar — that of accommodation. We are expected to do and go along with what the other side wants, and that is considered fair. This is different than both sides expressing their true wants and negotiating an equitable agreement — it is one side always having an upper hand.

Now I don’t want anyone to take what I said to any extreme.  I enjoyed my school days, am proud of my alma mater, and think I had a great schooling that I wouldn’t have exchanged to go elsewhere. But this dynamic was part of it, and has shaped my outlook since that time.

It has taken me a long time to start breaking out of the accommodation mode, and I am still too much prone to accommodation. It has led to several episodes where people have mistakenly tried to walk all over me in my life and found out the hard way that I might bend, but I won’t break.

Recipe improvisation

Standard

DSC03746

In a previous blog I mentioned picking my cherries off the Carmine Jewell Dwarf Cherry tree, hoping for some fresh eating cherries.  But I found them slightly more tart than I expected, and so baked some of them into a fast fruit cobbler. Of course, I had to pit them, which took some time.

Friday I finally finished pitting the remainder of them, and baked them into a peach skillet pie — which I turned into a cherry skillet pie.

The Recipe goes like thus:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

6 tablespoons shortening

Milk

Rich Biscuit Dough: sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in shortening with pastry blender. Stir in 1/2 to 2/3 cup milk (just enough to make a soft dough). Knead very lightly just to smooth up. Roll out 1/8 inch thick. Put into a heavy skillet letting dough hang over edge.

Peaches

3/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Fill skillet with 6 to 8 sliced fresh peaches. Sprinkle with mixture of sugar, salt and cinnamon. Dot with butter. Fold extra dough toward center, leaving center uncovered. Bake 25 to 30 minutes using a hot oven (450 degrees) for first 10 minutes then turn to 375 degrees.

So I started making this recipe, only I mixed the dough, added the milk, and kneaded the dough before realizing that I hadn’t cut in the shortening.  So I took the dry dough and cut in the shortening after it was kneaded and rekneaded it. Which is probably why it didn’t work up to roll out as far as I expected, but far enough to cover the bottom and a modest amount of top coverage.

Now the call for a heavy skillet means iron frying pan to my mother and sister, who gave me the recipe. But since we don’t own any I put it into a deep pan and followed through with the rest of the recipe, using the cherry substitution.

It baked just fine, and tasted good.  So it looks like you can substitute cherries for peaches, and you can cut shortening into dough after you have kneaded it.

A new wall, a clean basement, a new room…

Standard

This week I spent a vacation week painting a wall in the living room, and cleaning the basement.  The painting is done, the basement is still a work in process, and has generated an entire new set of projects. As they know around this house, beware anytime I start moving furniture — but we will save that teaser for later on in the blog.

DSC03667

Wall taped for painting trim

I always tend to take a vacation week in June.  Kansas City has a corporate challenge, and I take off the week of the swim meet. I am the company swim coordinator, and rather than stay up until midnight or later at the swim meet and then writing up the results four evenings in a row, I take vacation, so I can sleep in after coordinating the meet each evening.

First coat of trim paint on.

First coat of trim paint on.

So first the painting.  Two years ago I also used my vacation week to paint the two short walls of our living room. It allowed me to push the furniture in from the ends and paint without having to clear the entire room. The living room was a dark burgundy with white trim, and we had chosen a light green with dark green trim. We had chosen the colors a couple three years before that, when we replaced all the external doors, and repainted the trim and short walls around the entry ways. I told Betsy if we still liked the color by the time I got ready to paint, we would know we had chosen an enduring color. And so it was.

Third coat of trim paint.

Third coat of trim paint.

Last year I didn’t get to paint — we took a Mediterranean cruise instead (see blogs on same). So this year I decided to paint one of the remaining long walls. I didn’t do two walls because I thought it would be too much for my time frame, and pushing the furniture in from both long walls wouldn’t give us any livable space while I was painting.

First coat of main paint.

First coat of main paint.

So per the pictures, you can see the transformation of one wall from dark burgundy to light green. Now we have three light green walls and one burgundy wall. But you can’t see much of the burgundy, we have so many bookcases and other things against it, though that should be changing soon (another teaser). The room became noticeably brighter two years ago, and is moderately brighter now — especially at night.  When we turn on the lights in the evening it reflects off the light green walls a lot better than it did off the burgundy.

Second coat of main paint

Second coat of main paint

I slid furniture back and forth to paint the wall, but that isn’t  the furniture I was warning about above. That furniture is actually related to cleaning the basement.

Final coat of paint applied

Final coat of paint applied

We had a big pile of stuff in the middle of the basement — junk and stuff we moved from elsewhere in the house that are part of intended donations that we never get to local thrift shops, etc. So I started working yesterday hacking at that pile. That led to collecting a lot of used and aged electronic equipment from around the house.  Our little utility trailer is now loaded down with old laptops, desktop computer towers, big computer monitors, old printers, fax machines, etc., that we want to dispose of.  I need to find a place to offer the stuff for people to come by and choose anything they want. I also need to find the right safe, “environmentally friendly” place to dispose of the rest of the other stuff.

Finished wall.

Finished wall.

I also have used paint, used propane tanks, etc., that I need to find safe places to dispose/recycle.

Also a part of the junk pile was a lot of papers we received/collected over the year, that we save to compact and burn in our pot belly stove during the winter. That reminded me of our upstairs office, where the rest of the papers have been collecting. We haven’t been using the office for an office — it has two cheap computer desks we picked up to put our desktop computers on — but we haven’t had/used desktop computers in a couple of years now, so the room had turned into our recycling center — a very cluttered recycling area.

My initial idea was to get the upstairs papers down with the basement papers, and get them packed/compressed together until the weather is cold enough to start burning again.  Then I thought about moving those computer desks downstairs, and using them to create a new recycling center downstairs.

The office, now the office would become a library. Yes, why not? We have one really good desk in there, and we can move the two bookshelves from the living room into the new library — where they will be more accessible that the living room — since we put chairs in front of them currently.

So I got the pile cleared out of the basement, and Nathan helped me move the computer desks downstairs, and the new recycling center set up.  I just need to clean/sort out all the shelves downstairs that were already there, and restack some items onto the shelves so everything is neatly stored.

So a busy week, a lot of good stuff done, and a lot more projects to do.  Beware me when I start moving furniture.

Journey to a High School Reunion — Senior Year

Standard

In two weeks I will be hauling my family 1,000 miles “back home” to attend my 30th high school reunion. Today I post my final reflective blog on my school years leading up to that high school graduation — the senior year.HCS Cover010

The senior year book was dedicated in memory of Van Page. His passing and his influence was still a constant reminder to us of the need to live Christ-centered lives now, even as we were planning for the future ahead — the futHCS Cover012ures that have unrolled before us in the 30 years since. How close to what we “planned” have those 30 years proven, and how much better, or worse, are they  for not having lined up with our plans, but with His?

The yearbook had other reflective moments. There was a section of baby pictures, to see how various seniors had changed since their early days. I look at those pictures, compare to the senior pictures, and compare the senior pictures to my pictures today, and realize the continuity within change that the years bring. Do we find ourselves, become ourselves, grow into ourselves? We were exploring those questions in the plans made during senior year, and I’m not sure I’ve plumbed but a small portion of their depth since.

HCS Cover016

HCS Cover015

Speaking of the senior pictures, my name was misspelled.  My middle name got spelled wrong. I wasn’t on that part of the layout, but being on the yearbook staff, I should have known to double-check.

My main role on the yearbook staff was advertising sales.  Among the sales was an ad from my then church honoring me as its graduate. I got to do the layout, and put it in a heavy old English font. With my experience as an editor and copy editor for both college and regular newspapers, I look back and that and wonder what I was thinking when I chose that font.HCS Cover013

HCS Cover014

I remember Mr. Wilson following our choices for beyond high school in Bible class. As time went on we announced what college, or other endeavor, we planned to follow. There were a lot of Baptist schools — Cedarville, BBC, etc., choices. When I announced my choice of Houghton College, a Wesleyan school, several of the teachers and staff raised questions, often indirectly, about the choice. The only person who expressed no doubt at all about my decision was Mr. Wilson.

What memories to you recall from senior year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Double Flat on Bicycle — a blessing?

Standard

People’s ideas of what rights a bicycle has on the road is interesting.  The other day someone turned in front of  me at a light, and the people behind me had to honk and me and yell at me to let me know I had almost been hit.

They needn’t have bothered. As a cyclist I watch people and know who is capable of pulling a stunt like that. I was braking because I could tell that person wasn’t watching me.

People also feel the need to honk as they go by. Now honking before you go by, so I know you are behind me, is smart, but afterwards isn’t helpful, nor is swearing me to move over, or get off the road.

Which leads to today. I was taking a nice leisurely bike ride, and decided to turn into Target to check on a possible sale I was watching for (4 cases for $10 of Crush Soda — need to go back and get it). I had the right of way, could see the person coming toward me from the side look straight at me, and then turn right in front of me.

With my usual good sense I had already foreseen the possibility, and swerved.  Unfortunately the route went over the drainage plate, and I heard hissing. Flat Tire. So I wheeled up to the store bike rack, and started changing the back tire.  You may recall my blog about the bike shop that sold me the bike, and how they came out and fixed my first flat.  That was a fortunate flat, because I learned how to change a flat. So I used what I learned and started to change the tire.

Only to realize the front tire was also flat and I only had one spare tube. Fortunately I was in front of Target, which sells such things. I changed the time easily, but had a bit of a problem getting the tire back on. A Target associate was walking by, coming in from break, I think, and he came over and asked, and showed me the one thing I was forgetting, and helped me get the tire on. Yea Target Associates!

So I went into the store with a flat tube, found another associate who helped me find the right size tube, and came back out and changed it.  A couple three associates were there now having a break, and curious about my bike — wondering if it belonged to their coworker who rides a bike to work.  So I told them the story about the person who caused my accident and about their coworker who helped me fix it.

So once again I have been blessed. By the first flat, and by the second double flat. They happened when and where I had assistance that I needed.

Working vacation

Standard

I am on vacation this week. And I am working harder than ever, it seems. Enjoying most of it immensely, but working hard nevertheless.

Kansas City has a Kansas City Corporate Challenge each year. Participating corporations pay to allow their employees to compete against other companies’ employees for bragging rights on who wins. It is also a charity benefit and promotion of physical fitness for corporate employees.

My company is a participant/sponsor, and I have been a participant for my company since 2005. That year I decided to try track and swimming.  I got contacted by a track coordinator, but no one contacted me for a swim coordinator.  I had never swum in any competition — high school, college or community — and was hoping someone could orient me.  The overall coordinator told me they didn’t have a coordinator, and would I like to coordinate.  It was a week out and I said no.  The Friday before I said yes, and was sent the list of all 2 of us who were swimming that year. I’ve been coordinator ever since.

We have a lot more people swimming these days, and the swim meet is a 4-evening event. As coordinator I go out every evening and play my “sheepdog” role of making sure everyone gets signed in and to the right lane on time. A few years ago I decided to take vacation the week of the swim meet. That way I could stay up past midnight the 4 nights of the swim meet (after the meet is over I come home, write up the results — publish a “newsletter to the company participants via e-mail, before going to bed) and sleep in the next morning.

So I have vacation this week, and am staying up late each night.  And with all that “free time” during the day, I have decided to paint the living room wall, practice my organ playing down at the church each morning (while the paint dries between coats), and if I run out of things to do between that, I’ll start cleaning out the basement (which hasn’t been done for a couple of years).

I’m not completely disconnected from work.  I check my e-mail each afternoon, so I can keep in touch with any e-mail people might send me about the swim meet.  And I cannot help seeing the other 300 e-mails I regularly receive in a day. But I can count on my competent coverage to take care of those — though I might chime in with a small piece of specific information they might not know, to help assist them in assisting me.

As I said, a very busy, but enjoyable, vacation.