Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bon Voyage


For the past four years when it has been time to send Sonny Boy and his girlfriend back to college, the tradition has been that her parents and two siblings have brought her to our house to start the trip.

There in the front yard, we have hugged them and sent them on their five-hour trip to back their university.

Today, we will all meet on that front lawn for the last time and we will say goodbye again. This time, however, it is not a five-hour journey. It will five-day journey as they travel from California to their new life in Virginia where Sonny Boy will attend graduate school.

What a mixture of emotions this event brings to me.

Needless to say, I am so proud of both of them and so happy they have this opportunity. What an adventure they are about to embark upon!

I want to focus on this happiness, but can I also tell you that there will be a huge lump in my throat, and most probably, tears in my eyes as I say goodbye to them?


That is my boy, grown into a man, driving behind the wheel of that truck. That is the boy I have loved for 23 years. He is the boy I vowed to protect, who ran into my arms when I picked him up from kindergarten. He is the boy who went on walks with me, who questioned me, who challenged me, who has always been close to us, both emotionally and geographically.

And with him is the sweet girl he has been dating for six years, who has been a part of our lives and our family. We love her like a daughter. We’ve baked together, traveled together, shopped together, and watched TV together. I am attached to that girl like nobody’s business. This morning, she’ll climb into the truck alongside our eldest son and together they’ll start their journey.


When I taught Sonny Boy to ride a bike, I remember letting go of that seat and cheering him on as he rode away from me. I remember the pride and excitement I felt knowing he was achieving his goals.

I also remember the little dip in my heart knowing that he couldn’t look back and keep his balance too.

As I stood there, alone in that parking lot, I watched as he got smaller and smaller in my field of vision even as he grew in stature and ability.

I feel as though I am back in that parking lot today.


Their truck is packed up. Their route is mapped out. Early this morning our two families will stand on that lawn once again. We’ll all say our goodbyes, and send them on their journey of 2418 miles.

So, all of you out there along their route, watch carefully in the next few days for a little black truck. It’s loaded to the maximum, not just with desks, computers, books and clothing.

It’s carrying a lot of hopes and dreams.

And also a good-sized piece of my heart.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Swallow Saturday


With both of my sons set to leave home for college very soon, I have been unconsciously drawn to busy nests lately.

I recently made it out to the swallows' nests to check on the progress there.

The little ones are getting bigger!


They aren't ready to fly yet, but they will be soon.


Their appetites are keeping their parents very, very busy!


These two little guys will try their wings very soon.


Today I say a little prayer for all those leaving their nests, trying their wings, and flying into the future.


A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
--Chinese Proverb


Happy Saturdays to you all!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's a Spa World After All


Call me a fuddy-duddy.

(Go ahead. I’ll stay right here while you do. You aren’t the first. You won’t be the last.)

I have noticed that more and more types of services and stores here in southern California that should be fairly utilitarian have developed a disturbing tendency to get unnecessarily dressed up, gussied up and pimped out.

This Kansas girl is concerned, wary and more than just a little weirded out.

Is it really necessary to provide a spa-like atmosphere for all experiences?

Can we all just get a grip, please?

First, it was the renovation of my plain, sensible grocery store.

It was like a nice aunt I went to see once a week. She was nothing fancy, but she was homey and had everything I needed. After the renovation, I entered the store to discover that my aunt had been shipped off and had been replaced by an entire Tuscan village, complete with blue-sky ceilings, faux stone aisles and wrought iron signs declaring “Bistro ” and “European Seafood Buffet.”

(What IS European seafood, anyway?)

When I discovered quail eggs for sale, I nearly cried. I just wanted my simple grocery store back. That’s all. I just wanted to buy a bag of hamburger buns without feeling as though I had to dress up to do so.

I searched around me for someone else who would band with me to stop the madness, but nearly everyone there was lapping up the fancy coffee offered at the marble-countered “Coffee Carte” and had delighted, eerily happily, bordering-on-sedated expressions as they strode around the magical Tuscan Village.


This past week I had to take Evan to an oral surgeon for a consultation for his wisdom teeth removal. We entered the office and I immediately sensed another surreal experience about to come my way.

The waiting room had big cushy couches and chairs. The staff treated us with so much attention and enthusiasm, I was absolutely sure that somewhere in that office was a great big ol’ canister of happy gas that all the employees were encouraged to suck upon.

Seriously, it took a great deal of emotional energy to just keep up with them.

I was offered bottles of juice and water throughout the visit. I was offered magazines; I was engaged in happy small talk. There was sycophant-like behavior and oozing as I was presented a glossy folder outlining my “Financial Responsibility and Obligation.” Evan was made over, praised, and engaged in admiring conversation.

It was the European Seafood Buffet all over again.

I just wanted to know a qualified surgeon who knew what he was doing would yank my child’s wisdom teeth out and be there afterwards if there were complications.

We were left alone in the exam room for a few minutes and Evan turned to me and said, “You hate this, don’t you, Mom?” I nodded. “Don’t you?” I asked him, shuddering. “Nah, it doesn’t bother me,” he said, kicking back in the ultra-cushy exam chair.

After meeting the doctor, who was fresh from a visit to the Happy Gas Canister, we went back out to the waiting room for a few minutes. Once again, I felt very alone as I saw other people in the office lolling around in the warm bathwater atmosphere.

Parents stretched back on the couches, sipping their quickly-supplied juice bottles, watching the movie on the gigantic monitor. They purred each time a staff member came up, called them by name and asked them if they needed anything.

Maybe it’s just a weird thing with me, but I believe your child’s oral surgery is not a time to relax and marinate in attention. I intend to be bolt upright in my chair, wringing my hands and feeling just a little sick throughout the entire procedure.

Evan is leaving for college soon and needs those wisdom teeth out pronto, so we’ll go back to Happy Tooth Land next Tuesday for the surgery.

My plan is to sit on the couch with a large bag by my side. Whenever I am offered a bottle of juice or water, or a fresh magazine, I intend to say yes, receive it with a smile and then plunk it in the bag. I figure within an hour, I’ll enough liquids and reading material to last me for about a year.

What can I say? It could mean fewer trips to the grocery store in the future.

Win-Win.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maybe He Thought It Came In Blueberry



A few weeks ago when we had our new roof put on, one of the workers apparently flailed around with a working nail gun and accidentally pierced a large jug of liquid laundry detergent.

After the roofers left, I found the wounded blob of plastic oozing out blue goo and quickly went about saving the precious fluid.

I found three bottles from the recycling bin, poured the detergent in them and stored them in the garage.

Success! Smart Betty!




This morning I opened the refrigerator and found this:


"Why is your tea blue?" I asked HOB who had placed the bottle on the top shelf the night before.

Pulling it out, he looked confused.

I tried to look innocent.

Apparently, I had placed the bottles near the shelf in the garage where he keeps his bottles of tea.

Whoops.



"Didn't you notice it was blue?" I asked.

"It was dark!" he said.

I took this picture to give him as a guide for future reference and here's a little verse I made up to help him as well:

If it's blue and smells like spring
To the refrigerator, do not bring.

But, if it's brown and smells like tea
Bring a big, big glass to me.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: "Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins



Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

--Billy Collins

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Morning Flowers: Magnolia Monday!

Good Monday Morning!

Hope you are off to a good week!


The magnolia trees are going crazy here with some incredible blooms.

The smell is absolutely incredible too.

I firmly believe that all owners of magnolia trees should place ladders beside their trees during blooming season to make it easy for admirers such as myself to get up to

1) see the blooms up close and

2) place our snouts firmly within the blooms.

Until this idea catches on, I shall be the strange lady lurking around the trees, jumping up and down like a maniac to catch a whiff of the intoxicating aroma.









People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
--Iris Murdoch


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday is Sumi Salad Day!

Hello my people!

Thanks to my outstanding salesmanship and good weather, we had a great outcome to the garage sale yesterday.

I made many new friends and I found that my tube top also doubled as the perfect money carrier too.

Bonus!

The college kids made enough money to get them at least halfway from California to Virginia.


I thoughtlessly provided a cookie recipe for you yesterday, forgetting that most of my US friends are indeed living in an oven at this time.

Let's all calm down and cool down with a nice salad today, shall we?

This is a Betty Favorite!



Sumi Salad:

1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
8 green onions finely sliced
1 head cabbage -chopped
1 pkg ramen noodles, broken up

DRESSING:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup oil
6 tbsp rice vinegar

(Some people add 1 tsp Accent as well!)


FOR SALAD:

Toast almonds and seeds until lightly browned .

Combine onions, cabbage, almonds and seeds.


FOR DRESSING:

Mix all ingredients and add to salad.

Add broken noodles (uncooked) just before serving.

Tofu, Chicken or Fish can be added.


Betty's Notes: This is a strangely addictive salad. Remember, I warned you. It's really good the second day too!

Happy Sundays, everyone!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday is Cookie Day


Hi All!

Sonny Boy and his girlfriend are holding a garage sale today to raise money to help with their move from California to Virginia where Sonny Boy will attend graduate school.

I'll be helping them out, parading around in my tube top and ultra-low shorts, to attract buyers to the merchandise in the driveway.

You, however, can be in the relative safety and sanity of your very own kitchen making some of these orange slice cookies.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped orange slices candy


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture.

Finally, stir in the oats, coconut and candy orange slices. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


Betty's Notes: I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com. These cookies (like me) are very sweet, so you can cut back on the sugars a little. Also, spraying your scissors with PAM will help with the cutting of the orange slices.

Personally, I think a little cinnamon would be great in here and the next time I make them I am going to add walnuts. That's right. Chopped walnuts. Just try and stop me.....

Happy Saturday!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Checking in With the One-Armed Man


Back to my road trip and my scintillating observations.

I stopped for lunch at Buttonwillow. Seriously, did I really have a choice? You put two of the greatest words in the English language together and use it as a place name and I am drawn off the highway towards it like a moth to a flame.

OK, OK, there is another reason I stop there and that is because there is a certain fast food establishment run by a man with one arm. Well, he has two arms, but one is plastic and hangs by his side. It has knuckles, fingernails and a the fingers curl under just slightly.

Of course I don't stare at it. Hey, I'm cool, but just a glance at it starts me thinking about what kind of arm I would choose if I lost one of mine. I am pretty sure I would get something with a hook or a clip of some kind. I don't think I would try to fake it, especially if my job entailed working a cash register or making sandwiches.

I stop at this restaurant every time I travel this road, not only to mull over which kind of fake arm I would choose, but also to check out the family dynamic within. You see, it's clear that the arm man is the father of the girls who make the sandwiches and stock the chips. There are three daughters and last time I visited, there was a lot of tension. One girl looked so miserable, I just wanted to back my car up to the front door, open it and yell, "Get in!"

This time, there were only two of the daughters there and the vibe of the restaurant was much more relaxed. I hope the one daughter escaped and is running toward her dreams.

I ate my sandwich, drank massive amounts of Diet Pepsi, and waved goodbye to the one-armed man.

I think he knows I'll be back.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

You Think Your IT Department Is Slow?



I know I promised you more dazzling insights from my road trip, but I thought I'd share this e-mail I got from my work earlier this week.

Note when I requested the service and when it was completed.



Your work order has been completed. Do not reply to this email. Please contact the technician directly for follow-up. Work order details:

Work Order Type: Work Order
ID: 25649
Summary: Having a couple different problems with her computer.(office)
Type: Computer
Subtype:
Category:
Status: Closed
Date Assigned: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 4:35:05 PM
Charge:
System Closed Date: Monday, July 18, 2011 5:09:00 PM
Department:
Department Number:
Hours:
Location:
Date Opened: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 4:32:14 PM
Due Date:
Priority: 3 - Normal
Requestor: Betty
Assigned Technician: Daniel


Hummm... A year and a half. Note that it was "Normal Priority." Wonder what it would have been had it been "Low Priority"?

To be fair, our IT department is usually really good. However, I think that ID number is actually code for "Blond Nutjob Called Again."


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Notes from the Road

You can learn a lot about yourself by taking a long road trip alone.

As most of you know, I recently spent seven hours on the highway.

Personally, I enjoy these sojourns and take them for the cheap self-knowledge seminars that they are.

Here are two things that I learned about myself:

I love Fig Newtons. Recently, ever the thrill-seeker, I discovered the unbelievable pleasure in breaking off the cakey sides and discarding them, leaving less newton, exposing more tender fig.

I thought, for the sake of convenience and cleanliness, I could forgo this action in the car, but I found, no matter how hard I tried, that I could not. Once you live on the edge and raise that ratio of newton to cookie there is NO going back.

Thus, there was a bit of a neatness issue in the car:




Travelin' Bonus from Betty:

Little known fact that I made up around Mile 213 of my trip: Fig Newtons and Pringles Potato Chips when eaten in tandem, in a car going exactly 75 miles per hour, have no calories.


Next discovery:

Since the sun was beating through the window most of the way, I began to fixate on my forearms that were being slowly baked like small hams.

As I barrelled down the highway, I slathered sunscreen on my arms thinking this would arrest the 40-50 years of accelerated aging that was occurring.

Yesterday, when I cleaned out the interior of my car, I discovered that, apparently, I flail about uncontrollably in my car as I drive.

I found sunscreen on my dashboard, the sides of my doors, the steering wheel, the gearshift, the ceiling, the windows, and, most disturbingly, the backs of my seats.

What in the world was I doing? Why? When?


I'll be back tomorrow with more insights gained from my seven hours of inhalation of exhaust.


See you then!




Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weekend Update!


Hello, My People!

I am back from my big weekend up north.

It was a another wild time!



We went to the poetry reading. (It was good!)



Jim made cookies for the first time in his life!

They were great! We agreed that he should make them more often.
Jim is looking for a romantic relationship.
Don't you think any woman would be attracted to a man who makes great cookies?



We visited a winery.



We explored the towns of the Sacramento Delta!



We stopped at the Ryde Hotel which has a basement that was a speakeasy in the 1920's.



Gotta love that river....



And that Noki! What a great kitten!

(He is my godcat, so I am a little prejudiced.)

It was a fun-filled weekend. Other activities included the "First Line Game" in which we quoted looked up first lines of novels and poems and then guessed the title. Whoooo!

Hope you all had good weekends!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Road Trip! Poetry Reading/Mission of Mercy

That's right.

I've only been home a few days but the romance of the open road beckons and I must answer the call.

This time I am driving up to northern California to see friends and to attend a poetry reading featuring Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Cathy Park Hong, Major Jackson, and Sharon Olds. Galway Kinnell was also supposed to be there, but had to cancel. I am pretty bummed about that.

While others shiver just a bit at driving for seven hours on Highway Five, I actually like it. There are a lot of fields, cows, and truck stops featuring funky belt buckles. I have my car stocked with books on CD's and a good supply of snacks as well.

I also packed these:


Why?

Well, I will be staying with my friend Jim who revealed to me last time I saw him that he had never made cookies. Can you believe this? Is it possible that a 40-something man has gone through life without making cookies?

Is this possible?

Is it moral?

Should it even be legal?

I think not.

So I am packing the Silpat and the dry ingredients for cookies and I plan on guiding him ever so gently through the process.

Also, Jim is a dear friend, but he is, alas, a bit of a Luddite in the area of technology (no cell phone, no cable, no laptop) and so I may be out of touch for some of my trip. (I am hoping, for the cookies, he springs for some of that new-fangled pre-packaged butter and I don't have to churn my own.)

I shall be back late on Sunday night. I will miss you all but will return with pictures and maybe a few wild tales from the poetry reading as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Final Day of Colorado Pictures!


Here's the happy couple again.




The wedding was just wonderful.



HOB and I got to stick around after the wedding and enjoy the scenery.



The best scenery was the sight of family I don't get to see too often.

Here's Turner by the lake!



See HOB sitting on that rock? A few minutes later, one of my nephews noticed the crows had gotten really loud. I turned and saw HOB beneath the trees, "talking" to them. "Oh, that's just your uncle," I said. "He does that a lot."



Ted and Amanda (my niece and her husband)


Announcement!
Many of you were fascinated by Pretty yesterday! Apparently, one of my nieces found her in the pantry and was quite startled (probably by her beauty).

My niece, Trisha, is the original owner of the doll and published a post about Pretty yesterday. You can get the whole backstory of Pretty and see her in her original condition at Trisha's Blog, Reflections from the Shadowlands.

Pretty Fever is High!

Catch it!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Colorado Vacay Pictures



Ready for more pictures?

We had a lot of family time on this vacation. Apparently, it wore out Preston, my nephew and father of three beautiful children.

With him is a large doll which originally belonged to my niece. Over the years "Pretty" has become worn-down and more than a little creepy. We had a good time placing Pretty in various locations around the house.



As a joke, we placed Pretty with the sleeping Preston.

Pretty was not treated with respect once he awoke and discovered her beside him.

Poor Pretty.



Here I am with my fantastic sisters at the wedding!

Pretty was unable to attend.



Red Rocks Amphitheater.



My nephew, Jack, and his wife, Jillian bought their first house recently!

They are very proud of it and took us on a tour.



My nephew, Mekhi, a true Colorado boy, making a splash in a mountain lake.



Just before we left, I secretly put Pretty in the pantry at my sister's house and shut the door.

Hey, it could have been worse.

The knife I tried to put in her little plastic hand kept falling out.



Monday, July 11, 2011

Colorado Vacay Pictures!


Hi everybody!

We'll be flying home to California from Colorado today.

We've had a great time.

My brain will be in post-vacay mode for a few days, so be prepared for more pictures and very little thinkin'!

Yay!



We saw some beautiful scenery.



HOB was Van Master!

He drove us all over and kept the ruckus in the van to a minimum, most of the time.

(Well, he tried.)


There were some who accused the occupants of the third row in the van of making trouble. I don't think so. Here I am with my sister, Eileen and my sister, Marlene. Things got a little rough during the license plate game, but other than that, we behaved ourselves very well.



One of our outings included the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. I could not take pictures in the factory, but here are Evan and his aunt enjoying some pre-tour tea.



Saturday was the big day!

Julia and David had a beautiful wedding and we met up with even more family members.

More pictures coming soon!

I can't wait to catch up on your blogs!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Colorado Report: Birds, Babies, and A Blogging Buddy Too!



Hi everybody!

We are having a great time in Colorado visiting with family and getting ready for my niece's wedding on Saturday.

Here's a Towhee who visited the backyard.



On the front porch is a family of baby birds, nestled in a decorative nest.



They are waiting for Mama to return with lunch!



I was thrilled to meet my newest great-niece, Brisbane.



And here's my newest great-nephew, Turner!




And !!!BONUS!!!

I got to meet a Blogger Buddy!


This is Rebecca of Living and Loving Today.

I went to high school with her mom and I am SO glad she recommended I read Rebecca's blog.

Please visit Rebecca if you get a chance.


She is a talented writer and a wonderful person!


We had a great visit and I am grateful to the Blogging Universe for these kinds of connections!

I am grateful for all of you too!!

The fun continues tomorrow.....