Posted in Reviews

Quick review: That’s Entertainment II

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Insider/Outsider mentality

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Recipe improvisation

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

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

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.

Posted in Education, Twin Tiers Baptist High School

Journey to a High School Reunion — Senior Year

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fitness

Double Flat on Bicycle — a blessing?

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.

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Church, Family

Working vacation

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Contemplations on Confirmation

Well said, I’ll let it speak for itself…

This, that, and the other thing

Young men and women
Come forth to take their stand.
Their turn now coming
To serve the Lord in the land.

Have we taught them everything
That they will need to know?
Have we taught them always
What seeds that they should sow?

Every generation
Must set their children free,
To serve, to stand, to follow,
To learn, to love, to be.

Have we given them the gifts
That they will need each day?
Have we given them the love
To support them on their way?

Looking back and forward,
In a never-ending line,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
Support us though all time.

Have we shown our children
That on God they must rely?
Earthly friends may fail them,
But He will hear their cry.

Young men and women
Must hold the torch aloft.
They must lead into tomorrow
And never mind the cost.

We must send them forth,
They…

View original post 15 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

AUMC confirms 12 in 100th anniversary confirmation service

DSC03602

Today Avondale United Methodist Church confirmed the 12 members of its 100th anniversary year confirmation classes during the 10:50 worship service.

The 12 participated in a year-long class of review and understanding of their faith and the Methodist tradition before participating in today’s service, answering the questions about their faith and being confirmed into the faith and received into the church.

The service started with a processional by the confirmands where they carried in items for the altar. My confirmand, Nathan Lightfoot, led the processional carrying the Christ Candle, while other confirmands carried elements of the baptistry, the pastor’s stole, etc., until the last two confirmands filled the role of acolyte and lit the altar candles.

The sermon by Pastor Gary Ponder Williams was the fifth installment in a series themed on baseball, and proved to be a good charge, both to the confirmands and the congregation: “We Say to God: Put Me In, Coach!” Ponder Williams reminded the confirmands and congregation that we all need to eagerly desire to be put into the game, to use our unique talents to serve God and others.

He mentioned the three guiding principles of the Methodist tradition (I am not going to have the wording exact here …) that the confirmands reviewed during each session:

Do no harm

Do all the good you can

Seek all the ways you can to know God better.

The sermon was followed by the asking of questions to the confirmands with their responses, and then each went up, with their mentors and families, to be prayed over and formally confirmed in the church.

DSC03607

After the service, there was a reception in Wesley Hall, where each confirmand was represented by their favorite type of cake, and also had a display table of items about themselves to help the congregation get to know them better.

The confirmands are:

Ronin Dmetri Dare

Skyler Allen Foster

Jackson Scott Garrett

Jonathan David Lightfoot

Savannah Kya Louann Lindsay

Megan Catherine Lyon

Estella Rayanne Marsh

Chase Lee Newman

Jennifer Lynn Steenstry

Emilio Trevino

Madison Ann Wear

Sheridan Anthony Wiseman

 

Posted in Family, Reviews

Fruit Season

When we bought our house 10 years ago, there were a lot of flowers in beds around the house. I dug up all the flowers and transplanted them to the front slope by the road — a 45 degree section of the lawn I didn’t want to mow. The flower beds became garden beds. Bit by bit I transformed annuals into perennials. Blueberry bushes, black raspberries, strawberries, and dwarf cherry trees.

DSC03575

For many years they have seemed to be a lot of greenery, but this year we got a lot of blossoms.  The strawberry plants are later for strawberries, but we got enough to go out and pick to eat as we go, without them disappearing to other critters. The blackberry canes blossomed, and Nathan pointed out to me Friday that there are berries out there, one of them even black.  The canes are still small, but actually growing berries. I picked up supplies at Home Depot to put up a net to support the canes for them to grow on.

But the thing I noticed the most this year was the cherries. I picked up one tree in 2010, and liked how it looked enough to pick up two more in 2011. The original tree hasn’t grown very much, nor did one of the ones from 2011. But the remaining tree has grown to its full 6 feet, and really blossomed out. Based on its description when purchased, I was really looking forward to the taste:

 

Carmine Jewel Dwarf Cherry

Tastes Better Than Any Other Cherry, Including Sweet Cherries! 

Truly the perfect cherry, Carmine Jewel has large, gorgeous purplish-red fruit with a luscious balance of high sugars and a complement of acids, creating a rich flavor. Fruit has high flesh-to-pit ratio and is excellent for use in pies, preserves, juice, dried fruit and eating fresh. Yields up to 15+pounds by its fourth year, and 20-30 pounds in its fifth year. Growing to only 6 1/2 ft. tall, this is a naturally dwarfed bush with full-sized fruit—much easier to maintain than typical cherries. Carmine Jewel is grown on its own roots, so you get no suckers of inferior quality root stock. Extreme cold hardiness and few problems from disease and pests make this beauty a breeze to grow.

Abundant, white and pink flowers and glossy, green leaves allow it to double as an ornamental in your landscape in

But when I tasted the first it tasted … okay. It wasn’t sour, but it wasn’t a sweet cherry either. This is the fourth year.  I picked all the cherries in one day — almost filled a gallon container. It seemed like a lot. But when I weighed it — 3 pounds 4 ounces. Per the add, it should have been 5 times as much. I am trying to figure out where the cherries would have been on the tree — it looked loaded enough with the 5 pounds. So at least there is the possibility of a lot more cherries in years to come.

But what to do with them? I was looking forward to fresh eating.  Looks like I need to cook them into something instead. Fortunately I have something in mind.

Of course it requires pitting all those cherries.  That ups the work quotient. Tried the fast fruit cobbler recipe my mother used. It calls for peaches as the default, but says to try cherries, berries or fruit in season.  I used frozen blueberries a couple of weeks ago when I made it.  The kids loved it, but they would have liked it better without the fruit!

DSC03577

So here’s the recipe:

Fast Fruit Cobbler

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups peaches, sliced, drained

1 stick butter, melted

Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a 2 quart Pyrex baking dish. Stir in milt and vanilla to make a thin batter. Place fruit slices over batter and drizzle the melted butter over the top. DO NOT STIR. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, according to the depth of the dish, or until nicely brown.

DSC03579

My own personal experience is that you need to make sure it is thoroughly baked, not just nicely brown, or you will find the batter still slightly liquid near the middle.

And yes, the cherries tasted perfect in the cobbler.