Friday, July 27, 2012


Yesterday morning, shortly before five in the a.m., the whole household was jarred awake by the crashing and banging of a dramatic thunderstorm.  Then, just as fast as it arrived, it departed.  Sweet silence was restored to our world.  Everyone here over the age of two was excited by the idea of going back to sleep.  The under two crowd was just plain excited.  We stayed up.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of being livid because I was forced to take a nap.  Times change.  Now I am in love with nap time - for the grandsons.  Brody is an excellent napper but Baby Grayson has an iron will and he's not crazy about napping.  Luckily, I discovered a trick on Wikipedia.  He was yelling his angriest cry at top volume when I wheeled out the vacuum cleaner and turned it on.  In seconds he was not only quiet, he was out like a light.  The magic of white noise!

I mentioned this to one of Jessica's friends today and she said, "You better be careful.  We burned up our vacuum motor doing that!"

I wonder if there's a white noise app for the iPhone?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blue kayak, red flag

There were three colors:  yellow, blue and orange.  Jerry picked an orange kayak, leaving me with the choice of yellow or blue.  I thought yellow might show dirt, so I got the blue one.  I was supremely happy with my choice.  Until.  One night as we were leaving the lake at the public access area, a boater who was also leaving said, "You do know you are virtually invisible to us on the lake at this time of night, right?"

Nooooo... I was not aware of that!  Visibility, or lack thereof, had never occurred to me.  At dusk - the time of day that you are most likely to find me on the lake -I am Chris Zimmerman, ninja kayaker.  This bit of knowledge disturbed me deeply until I saw a man with a bright orange flag attached to his kayak for visibility.  I paddled over and talked with him about it and it turns out that kayak flags are readily available online for twenty dollars, plus shipping.
Camouflaged and I didn't even know it!

The very next night, Jerry came home from work all excited.  "I was in Greenville today, " he said, "and look what I found at Radio Shack on the way home!"  He presented me with a telescoping radio antenna.  "It was only thirteen bucks.  No shipping!  I figured you could sew up a red flag, attach it somehow and it would be perfect."

Now Jerry generally isn't the frugal one of this couple, so I surmised that he needed a project. I obliged by digging out my old sewing machine and some red rip-stop nylon left over from a backpack patching job I had done for him earlier this decade.  I commenced making a flag while he went out on our back deck to attach the antenna to the kayak.  He was very pleased with himself.
For those of you who've never had the pleasure of visiting our dwelling, it is situated midway down a pretty dramatic hill and our patio juts out over nothing but a steep drop.  We live in the woods and the back of our property is heaped full of leaves left right where they dropped. They are turning themselves into lovely, dark compost in one of God's own science projects.  We never go down there to interfere because it's too steep and it's overgrown with poison ivy, a living deterrent to the allergy prone.

So first Jerry's out on the deck with the kayak balanced on the railing, drilling a hole for the antenna and the next thing I know, he's inside, madder than a hornet.  He'd dropped the little black thing [nut? screw? bolt?*] that attaches the antenna to the kayak. (*I don't know what the official hardware store name of the piece was.  Men, don't bother wasting you time trying to educate me because, in my eyes, it's not important enough info to retain.) 

Of course before he came in he had tried to find it, but talk about impossible!  It was black and about the size of a baby's fingernail.  Jerry asked me if I'd go out and help him look. I was not enthused by this idea, but he does a lot of crazy things for me and I figured this was payback. 

As I was attempting to balance myself on the hillside under the deck, I looked down and saw the ground below me undulating.  I was confused for a second as to what I was seeing but when I crouched down, I realized that I was standing in a slug nursery.  They were everywhere and the parents were huge!  That's when I abandoned my search.  (But I did wonder if slugs are the same as escargot?  Maybe our backyard is a gold mine!)

Alone again, Jerry decided to take this huge honkin' magnet down there and see if he could find the [nut, bolt, screw] that way.  Sad to say, he couldn't find the magnet in the garage.  When he realized that the magnet was nowhere to be found, he threw in the towel and went to Home Depot in disgust.  

While he was gone, I  finished my flag.  It was a thing of beauty but sort of rigid.  As a matter of fact, it was about as flexible as a piece of cardboard.  It's the right color to be sure but it won't be doing much whipping in the wind, more like perpetual standing at attention.
Jerry came back empty handed.  The [nut, screw, bolt] was a specialty item and they didn't stock it.  He went back to the woods, more determined than ever to find that little bugger.  I knew he was spitting into the wind, but I gave him credit for trying anyway.  The tiny thing could have bounced anywhere down the hill and then rolled in the gully.  He was never going to find it.

Jerry persisted.  He looked a long, long time and then the impossible happened. (Okay, maybe it was just the improbable, but it still amazed me.)  When he came in, he had that little part in his hand.  You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so surprised  - and impressed, too.  He told me he'd just raked until he found it.  Wow!

I couldn't be more pleased with my goofy red flag on the telescoping radio antenna.  Not only is it a beacon of visibility, but it's a powerful symbol, too.  While it does keep me from disappearing amongst the jet skiers and power boaters, it's also reminds me of what persistence and determination can accomplish.  And, we saved seven dollars.  Plus shipping.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I did not make this yummy looking pie.

Judy called me and asked me if I'd bring a pie to our church fish fry.

"No," I said. "I'm horrible at baking pies."

"I didn't ask you to bake a pie," she responded.  "I asked you to bring a pie."

"In that case, I'll bring two."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Love and Devotion

 Last night my daughter burst into my room somewhere between the wee hours of the morning and dawn.  "I can't find the pacifier" she said.  (At least I think that's what she said.  I couldn't really hear her because the baby in her arms was wailing like a fire siren.)

Grayson isn't even three weeks old yet but he is rock-solid in his love and devotion to his blue paci. There's a whole jar of pacifiers in the cabinet but only the blue one will do.  Jessica realized this and so she bought four of them, hoping (in vain) to avert a crisis.  One glance at the desperation on her face was all it took for me to drag myself out of the netherworld of dreams and join The Hunt. 

The rules of Pacifier Hunt are pretty much the same as ones for a classic Easter egg search.  The prizes could be found anywhere, on any floor of the house, in any room, at any height, hidden or in plain sight.  The only variation is that the end-goal is silence and not chocolate.  There are four targets in the house and the first one found ends the hunt.  GO!

Pacifier reject jar
While I was tearing through my bedding, I heard Jessica in the kitchen.  We met in the playroom, then split up.  I went to the office and Jess took the living room where she became the big winner when she retrieved the first blue paci from behind the couch.

Peace was restored and slumber followed.  Morning came early though and as we are dragging through the day, we can't help but wonder where the other three pacifiers are.  Four clearly wasn't enough.  I vote for twenty.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Customer Service?

Some people glisten and shimmer for me like sunshine on the water......and some people don't.  I'd like to thank the people at my local phone company for reminding me of this today. 

Customer service.  Who are we kidding here?  Enough said.

Well, almost enough.  I decided to file a complaint with the FCC and I went to their website and waded through info to find the proper form only to find that my computer froze when I tried to fill it out.  I backed out and tried again, with the same results.

So, does the FCC form have a virus attached to it or is this some nefarious government plot to decrease paperwork?  I may be over thinking this.

What's left of the banana bread. 
Argh....I was so frustrated that I made banana bread but even eating a half a loaf of that wasn't enough, so I made 'Delicious Chocolate Cake,' a family favorite given to me years ago by my friend Elaine, a woman who has spent her life shimmering and shining with such beauty that it gives us all hope for a better tomorrow.

I think a piece of this cake - even an unfrosted one - will do the trick and cheer me up.   Especially if I pour a shot of amaretto on it and add whipped cream and walnuts.  I'm feeling better just thinking about it. 

Life is truly good.

* * *

This is not a food blog, but for those of you who are going to ask:

DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CAKE  from  Elaine Berninger
       350ยบ     30 - 45 MINUTES        


3 cups flour
6 Tablespoons cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (I halve that.)

¾ cup oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups cold water


* * *

Thursday, July 12, 2012


While Jessica was taking our little yellow man to see the pediatrician, his big brother and I attended his toddler gym class.

The difference between being the Mom and being the Grandma is this:  When you're the Grandma and take your 20-month-old to Gymboree, all you can think about is how germy the toys probably are.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Horsey Ride

She fed the coin into the machine, then my daughter placed her 19-month-old on the horsey in the grocery store.  He began clinging to her like a remora on a shark.  As the seconds ticked by, he held her tighter and tighter.  He never cried but when she looked into his eyes, she saw fear. 
A man of few words.

She took him off the horse before the ride was even over and cuddled him.  "Brody," she said in a soothing voice, "that was supposed to be fun!  Didn't you like the pony ride?"
He looked at her with big eyes. 

"Nope."  he said.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Second Time Around

Love IS lovelier the second time around!

We welcome Baby Grayson Edward Sheena to our family!  Born on July 1st and weighing in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces he is 21 inches long and made his debut at 5:09 a.m.  Trooper that she is, his mother waited until his big brother was fast asleep before she left for the hospital, even though it took her three tries (thanks to fireworks, a squeaky garage door opener and a noisy Grammy.) 

After witnessing the birth, the tired Daddy was able to make it home before his toddler awoke, thus averting the dreaded "Where's my Mommy?" drama.  After a quick breakfast he (and I) were whisked off to the hospital to meet the baby brother. 

Brody kissing Grayson
Times have changed since my children were born and some things are for the better.  Hospital cafeteria food is now edible and, at times, even delicious.  Visiting hours are now from 10am - 10pm and no age restrictions are enforced.  There is no limit to the number of visitors allowed at one time either. 

Remember the postage-stamp sized hospital pictures we were given of our babies?  They were a straight-on face shot of an infant with a puckery face wearing an over sized undershirt, with hair flying every which way.  Those pictures are long-gone! 

They have been replaced by photo shoots which even include wardrobe changes, props and whole-family shots.  The three pictures I've included in this post were my favorites among those included in an entire CD which  was available for purchase before the happy family even left the hospital grounds.  What new parent could resist buying these?

Yes, times have changed, but the feeling that you get when you hold one of your own for the very first time, well, that remains one of the joys of a lifetime.