Well hello there!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  True to form, May has kicked my ass on every level imaginable once again this year.  How is it Memorial Day weekend already?  I’m still not done getting the gardens in, the only batch of strawberry jam I made was at last night’s Happy Cook class and when people ask what our summer plans are, I have no answer.  None. Continue reading

That would explain the weather.

The other day as I was puttering about, listening to music via Pandora on my ipod, a song came on that I didn’t quite recognize.  It sounded an awful lot like The Police, but the chorus was too poppy to be them.  Pat called down, inquiring what was I listening to.  I checked the artist name and called back.
“Bruno Mars”
“Bruno Mars”
“You listening to Edie’s station?”
“Apparently so.”

I’m not sure what threw me more – the fact that my child had just inadvertently introduced me to new music or the fact that our music tastes have become similar enough that I can tolerate listening (albeit unknowingly) to her music for a lengthy period of time.

We have long prided ourselves on Edie’s musical education.  I steadfastly refuse to listen to her music in the car or over any sort of speakers that belong to me.  When we created the den and moved the entertainment unit into the back bedroom, she was finally allowed to play her music on the big stereo.  Up until that point, her music stayed in her room, on her boombox.  I played her Sonic Youth as lullabies, she has tolerated Smiths marathons on the part of her father & myself, our neverending debate as to which was the better Pink Floyd album, Dark Side or The Wall, was what taught Edie to just go put herself to bed already to avoid having to listen to that One.More.Time.  She came home from second grade, rapturous about a song her friend played, “Crazy Train”, had we ever heard it? prompting Pat to reach into the CD drawers and hand her the Ozzy Osbourne Randy Rhodes tribute CD to listen to. She can recognize The Clash as Muzak at the grocery store.  She can recognize The Grateful Dead playing both Bob Dylan AND Pink Floyd songs. You can never play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” too loud for her ears.

We thought we were raising her right, but there came the day where she wanted to listen to what her friends were listening to.  She’s developed quite an appreciation for Taylor Swift.  Pat is kind and humors her in this.  He’ll even listen to her music in the car. Okay, that happened because as they were driving somewhere one day, sitting there with her headphones on, singing along to her music, she sang louder than he could play Slayer.  Eventually, he gave it up and caved.  (And I’m sure that as he reads this, he’s thinking I’ve misrepresented him.  I’m sure he would say something along the lines of he’s listening along with her as to not entirely turn her towards the crap (okay, he wouldn’t call it the crap either.  He’d be much nicer about it, but since I’m the one writing this, you get my synopsis.), and it while it gives him a chance to check out what she’s listening to, it also allows him to show interest in what she’s interested in.  Yes, he’s a great dad.)

I’m not at sure how I feel about her introducing me to new music.  Really, it’s not bad, after all, I thought it was The Police.  Follow this link and watch his SNL performance last fall. That’s good shit.  That band is tight.  And full of energy and clearly having a good time doing it.  This may replace Justin Timberlake as my favorite guilty pleasure. 

However, I’m pretty sure me taking Edie up on her offer to borrow her ipod for tunes is exactly why it was 74 degrees two days ago and snow is forecast tonight.   

The Boss.

4:00 pm yesterday afternoon the phone rang.  It was Guitar Shop Ryan (not to be confused with several other Ryans we know and love), wondering if I wanted to claim his spare ticket to the evening’s Bruce Springsteen concert.
Having already passed on a free Bruce show once that day (motherhood and schlepping someone to piano lessons took precedence), I saw this as karma for letting motherhood make me a better person without a lot of grumbling. Okay, so maybe motherhood was the excuse I used when really my main reason for skipping the free show downtown that afternoon was because it was also a political rally and I just simply cannot. stomach. any. more. politics. at. all. on either side.  I’m not a huge Bruce fan, but his concerts are legendary.  I did spring for a ticket a few years ago, spending more than I swore I would ever pay (and will ever pay) again for any concert, and it was worth it. And here a free ticket was being offered up.  Hell yeah I’ll take it.

The seats were terrific.  The last time I saw Bruce, we had nosebleed seats, I swear I could touch the roof of the arena we were up so high and they were off to the side, so down low, smack dab in the center, was perfect.  The first time I saw Bruce, I thought it was an amazing show.  This one blew that experience away.  Three solid hours.  And words absolutely escape me at beginning to describe it. 
A Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show isn’t just a concert.  It’s a mystical, spiritual, musical, patriotic and all that is right with the world happening.  It is an experience every music fan should have at least once.  Even if you aren’t a huge Bruce fan, you cannot walk away from that show without an overwhelming amount of respect for the musicians on that stage.  I fail to find the words that adequately convey the energy of last night’s show.  The entire arena singing the opening verse and chorus of “Hungry Heart” (a 45 I still have!), Bruce crowd surfing his way from the platform midway through the floor section back to the stage,  pulling audience members up to dance on stage for “Dancing in the Dark”.   Closing with a kick ass rendition of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”.  Very quite possibly the best concert I’ve been to, which I know is a strong phrase, but I stand by it.  Definitely.
I’m blogging for the C-ville Weekly today, on our adventures in beets. 
And just a reminder, you have one more day to enter the cookbook giveaway. Facebook comments, emails and blog comments are all accepted as entries. 

Seriously Old School.

Back in the day, Friday nights were Big City nights.  Big City was the underage club downtown that all the cool kids hung out at.  And by cool kids, I mean those of us that didn’t really fit in at our various area high schools.  It was really about the music, which was definitely not anything being played on radio.  The friends I made there had a far longer lasting influence on me than most of the folks I went to high school with – it was a friend I made via Big City that told me I should consider checking out this school in Alabama called Auburn.  And the rest, as they say, is history.
Friday night, in the town I grew up in, was the Big City Reunion.   I realized it was a great excuse to go see some folks I hadn’t seen in forever, mostly my old friend Amy.
I’ve known Amy since third grade.  We have moved in & out of each others lives ever since.  Separately, we are both strong personalities, together?  We are the people your mother warned you about.  Our own mothers warned us about each other.
In grade school we would walk back & forth the mile or so between our houses.  We’d walk to the mall and play Frogger for hours at the arcade.  We’d go to the roller rink and skate Saturday away.  We were Girl Scouts together.  We grew apart for a few years in high school, but by our senior year, we had rediscovered each other and Amy was the friend who introduced me to Big City, so it seemed fitting I go to the reunion with her.
No matter how much time has passed between visits with Amy, we always pick up exactly where we left off.  That much hasn’t changed since third grade.  Actually, there’s a lot that hasn’t changed between us since third grade.  As we were getting ready Friday, she opened up her closet to dress me, neverminding that I had brought an entire suitcase for a one night stay- and despite my initial horror that she owned a Kim Kardashian skirt, despite the fact that I swore up one side and down the other it was trashy as all get out with it’s studs and fake zippers, I tried it on and realized it looked fabulous on me.  All that gym time has definitely paid off.

So of course I proceeded to wear it. 
With the tag still attached of course.
Definitely not the first time I’ve worn something of Amy’s before she had.  Probably not the last.  At least this time she didn’t even bother with “You’re not keeping that” and just skipped ahead to “Go ahead and take it home with you”.  Which I totally did because I need to have something to wear to shows that’s not my standard circa 1992 demin skirt – instead, I’m going to rock my standard 1986 taken from Amy’s closet look. 
Really, the only thing missing from our Friday night ritual was Amy’s mother sprinking holy water on us. 
Amy had a pre-reunion gathering at her house. A.J. showed up and it was great to catch up with him there – A.J. lived across the street from Amy back when we were all in grade school together, and his sister was great pals with my sister from Kindergarten, so he was one of those people I just was used to having around back in the day.  And he’s still one of those people I like having around, who understands I need to carry a spare outfit in his back seat, just in case I change my mind about that skirt.
It was also Bike Week in York.  I knew it was Bike Week, but yet I didn’t really consider what that meant. I drove up the back way, avoiding the DC beltway, which meant coming up through Gettysburg.  The route is generally clear sailing until you get to Gettysburg and then you turn onto Rt. 30, which is the old Lincoln Highway and other than paving that route, I can assure you, the road has not changed since Abraham Lincoln was President.  It has been 2 lanes my entire life and what should be a 20 minute drive always turns into the last hour of hell on a roadtrip.  As I was coming into town past the fairgrounds, it hit me that it was bike week, because there was a line of cycles pulling in, queuing up for their parade in a few hours. 
A few hours later, neither A.J. nor I put it together that Bike Week was BIKE WEEK, so as we decided to ‘cut through’ downtown, we got caught up in the mess that was going on, which meant roads blocked off and bikes everywhere you looked.
 When I called home Friday afternoon after pulling into town, I mentioned to first Pat, then Edie, that it was bike week, and both asked if that meant motorcycles.  I forget how so very different the town I grew up in is from where I live now.  In Charlottesville, Bike Week would probably be a convention of road bicyclists, dressed in spandex, not leather.  York is the Snack Food Capital of the World, while Charlottesville has been named Locavore Capital of the World.  Very different foodie destinations indeed. 

The reunion itself was a grand time.  It was held at a bar, with a dance floor of course.  Five of the old DJ’s took turns spinning records and we danced for hours.  It was great to see familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in forever.  It was like a high school reunion, but with only the people that you really wanted to see and far better music.  The vibe was exactly the same as it had been all those years ago, especially so because you can still smoke in bars in Pennsylvania.
Best of all was spending time with Amy.  A hell of a lot has changed over the last 35 years we’ve known each other, but our friendship hasn’t.  She is truly an original free spirit, my best friend from third grade and one of my most favorite people in the entire universe.  And quite possibly the person your mother warned you about.

Once in a Lifetime.

So while most of my weekend was spent doing boring house chores like cleaning both bathrooms in a single day, I did have one interesting event of note.
I worked a catering job Friday night with a friend’s catering business.  It was a dinner thanking the supporters of the University of Virginia Marching Band, in their rehearsal hall. I drive past that building quite a bit, as I cut through Culbreth regularly, so it was neat to see the inside.  I hadn’t been wowed by it before, but having been in it, I can say that I am now.  Clean lines, warm finishes and lots of big windows with a great view of Lambeth Field behind it. 
While we were setting up Friday afternoon, we got to listen to the entertainment for the evening do a little warm up and sound check, running through the majority of their show for later on.  While they weren’t in costume for this performance, I think it was the better one of the two I saw.
Although their costumes definitely added something to the later performance.
That, dear friends, are The Temptations.  I took the photo on a friend’s phone.  They were dressed all in pink, right down to their shoes.  Warming up, they started their rehearsal with a few acapella gospel numbers before moving on to all their hits, including my favorite “Papa was a Rolling Stone”. Tell me you don’t find yourself moving to that beat. And “Ball of Confusion”, another favorite of theirs, although I was in my thirties before I discovered that they did the first version.  I always thought it was a  Love and Rockets original. I am an Eighties New Wave child through and through. 
Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, watching them warm up in a room of less than 20 people, although seeing them in a room with less than 150 folks later in the evening was a once in a lifetime experience as well. Pretty hard to top that, so yeah, other than seeing The Temptations, the highlight of my weekend was cleaning both bathrooms.  What an exciting life I lead.

Rules of the Road.

You know the closing shot of “Dazed and Confused” where they are heading down the road, windows down, radio cranked, driving off into summer?  I love that scene.  It sums up one of my favorite parts of summer- the roadtrip.
 We are a roadtripping family.  We take them all year long, but come summer, when we are free of school and the routine that comes along with it, we have a tendency to hit the road with much frequency.  We haven’t had a proper vacation in years, but we have lots of roadtrips and mini-vacations.  We seem to have a number of friends who either live near, have second homes near or access to a family member’s second home near a large body of water.  We like to renew those acquaintances during the summer months when school is out and yes, enjoy the large bodies of water.  It doesn’t have to be a large body of water, it could be a creek, as long as there is water nearby, and we are there. We are not limited to just visiting those near the water, but certainly, water bumps you to the top of the must see list. 
This summer is no different, with our first big family roadtrip this week to Virginia Beach.   While Edie & I have a certain groove all our own for mother/daughter trips, and Pat & I have a groove for our roadtrips,  there are some rules in common for all our family roadtrips.
1.  Music is the driver’s choice.  If you don’t care for the music, you are welcome to put your headphones on at any time.  Edie can and will sing louder than you can play Slayer when she has her headphones on.  Daddy might cut her some slack and play the Pandora channel he set up on his iphone for her that is chock full of Taylor Swift, but I’m not that nice.  (I’m pretty sure the Taylor Swift channel is a total result of her outshouting Slayer. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)
I like to think of our time in the car as a chance to work on her musical education and explore new music with her.   Of course, I also have a tendency to listen to the same music over and over which drives everyone nuts, but hey, that’s life.  As a family unit, there currently is a small handful of artists we seem to agree on.  Last Christmas, we spent 10 hours one way in the car only agreeing on NPR’s All Songs Considered series of podcasts on Bob Dylan celebrating his 70th birthday.  (If I could find the podcasts to link to I would. They were great to listen to.) I spent the rest of the time trying to drown out the little voice behind me in the back seat that insisted on singing Michael Jackson over and over while it competed with what her father was playing over the car stereo system.  Clearly I had neglected to pack my headphones.
2. Road food.  I will pack a cooler with drinks, mostly water bottles,  but we are fans of the pit stop at gas stations and truck stops.  I might pack a few snacks, a bag of goldfish, an apple or two, but honestly, we eat junk food on the road.  Everything in moderation, including moderation.  We eat healthy the majority of the time – even when we reach our destination we eat healthy (with the exception of Oysterfest, when we have funnel cake for breakfast), so in the car, it’s whatever you want.  I personally have a thing for BBQ corn nuts on roadtrips. We are also big fans of the Buffalo Hot Wings Preztels, which seems so wrong on one level and yet, they are so good.  
Summertime is also perfect for slushies, preferably half cherry half coke slushies.  Sometimes there really is nothing better on a hot summer day than an ice cold Coke.  Not Pepsi, Coke.  In a glass bottle. 
I’m also always on the hunt for Orange Nehi.  It’s nearly impossible to find anymore.  If you happen to know of where I can find it, will you let me know? Thanks.
3.  Maps.  You may have picked up the fact a few weeks ago when I talked about how impressed I was with my friend Bonnie for bringing her own map on our roadtrip that I am not known for having current, up to date maps in my car.  I don’t even always print out directions, rather I scribble notes down from mapquest and if I remember to bring them, great.  If not, well, we’ll get there eventually.  I happen to think I have a great sense of direction, no matter what my family says.
I recently got rid of the pocket sized 1989 road map that got me everywhere I wanted to go from my college days until it’s replacement with a newer version.  I now have a road atlas from earlier in this century I picked up at The Green Valley Book Fair for something like $3.  It’s never quite in depth enough for my husband, who’s job has required much traveling over the years to the point where he carries his own Gazetteer in his work truck, but never seems to have it on hand when we are in the family mobile.  He has a habit of stopping and purchasing a new map for my vehicle that always seems to end up in his work truck at some point before our next roadtrip that could utilize the map.   
Now that he has an iphone and we have access to whatever app it is that tells us how to get where we are going, we no longer find ourselves stopping to buy new maps.  Not that I bother myself with them anyway.  Despite this, he still listens to me when I give directions and we still find ourselves sometimes slightly uhm, not exactly sure where we are.
4.  Route.  We prefer back roads to interstates.  Sure, there are times when we take the highway, but there are only a small handful of destinations we go to that require the highway route.  This is generally where it can be an issue that I don’t always carry a proper map.  I think it makes for more of an adventure myself.  
I don’t always remember road names or route numbers, but I remember the landscape surrounding a turn I know I should take.  Sometimes it’s the name of a town on a highway sign that tells me where to turn – not a final destination, but I’ll recognize I want to drive through a particular burg to get where I’m going.  This can drive my husband nuts.  Tell me to turn left at the dog and I know exactly where I’m going everytime.  It’s not for everyone, just those of us with extra special senses of direction.
5.  Packing.  We are not pack ahead people.  I might do laundry before hand, but for the most part, we are get up, pack up and hit the road people.  If I’m feeling especially on the ball, I might write up a list the night before of what I want to bring, but don’t count on it.  Really, the only thing I do ahead of time is make food to share with our hosts when we arrive.  The important stuff.
Each man is responsible for themselves.  I started making Edie pack her own road entertainment bags when she was still a toddler and then a few years ago I started making her pack her own suitcase.  I used to double check her bags before we left and sometimes if I remember to do that, I still do it.  There have been times when we’ve gotten somewhere and I’ve realized she’s packed no books to read, or worse, no clean socks or underwear.  I chose to look at it as a learning experience for her.  I’ve learned from it too, in that I now remind her to pack underwear. When I remember of course.
6.  Departure Times.  We as a family are not necessarily known for our promptness, especially if we are headed out for any sort of fun.  I once overheard a friend say to another friend “I knew when they said they were leaving at 8 am that they’d be here for lunch.  Always add two hours to whatever time they say they are getting on the road and you’ll know when to expect them.”  That still rings true.  Even when we do manage to leave at our announced and we really mean that time, we always seem to have to turn back to pick up some forgotten essential.  Our last family roadtrip, it was the tent we were supposed to be camping in.
7. Windows down vs AC. I would always much rather drive with the windows down and the air conditioning off.  I love having the wind in my hair.  I do make exception for those roadtrips in the middle of those brutally hot days, but if I’m alone, I’m driving with the windows down, period.  I don’t care how hot it is. 
8. What we leave behind.  It’s always something.  Perhaps it’s a statement on how much fun we’ve had that we don’t want to leave, but one of us always manages to leave something behind when it’s time to go home.  Always.
And that is how we roll down the road.  Music blaring, junk food eating, not always exactly sure where it is we’re going but knowing we’ll get there and half the fun is the journey, right?,  hoping we didn’t forget anything too terribly important and if you know how to translate us, right on time.
So if you are within a few hours driving distance, have any access to water and would love company this summer, just let us know.  We’ll bring baked goods.

Housekeeping Notes and Other Stuff.

I’ve done some housekeeping on here.  I changed the comments settings, taking away word verification and moderation.  There was a stretch in which I was receiving some snarky and rather insulting comments, from someone who wanted to remain anonymous which seemed to have stopped.  I don’t mind snark, but own it, you know what I’m saying?  I’ve realized from commenting on other blogs what a pain the new word verification settings have gotten to be.   Some of you have thought blogger has been eating comments lately, but through the magic of the internet, they’ve shown up and been published.  Well, the ones I know about.

I’ve changed some things around on my side bar too.  I hadn’t updated my blogroll in quite some time, so I added a few new ones. My friends Ryanne, Julia, both of whom are new bloggers and quite entertaining.  I’ve also added Suzicate’s “The Water Witch’s Daughter”, which I find inspiring.   Suzicate, I’d love to go winery hopping with you next time you’re in Nelson.   There are a slew of other blogs I read, so I hope to be better about swapping them out a little more frequently on my sidebar. 

The conversation on Facebook that sprung out of the link I posted to my canning class yesterday led to it being restructured a bit.  Instead of tomatoes and peaches, I’m going to teach canning tomatoes and pickles.  I’m even more excited about this now.  If you’ve paid attention to my posts over the last couple of summers, you’ll know how much I love to pickle things and that I will pickle anything.  I plan on doing bread & butter pickles in the class and I will be sharing some of my other favorite pickle recipes.  There’s a link sign up for the class on the sidebar now too.

I’m pretty sure I’m the last person out there to discover First Aid Kit.  I can’t even take credit for discovering them, my dearest babydaddy heard them, realized I needed it and he made it the tunes I cooked to one day.  I do love that man.  Best Coast has a new album out, that I’ve heard great things about.  I haven’t listened to it thoroughly yet, but I do like what I’ve heard.  Anyone catch “Birth of an Album” on NPR this morning with Neko Case?  Totally made my morning. 

In a year of non-parties, the Oxford Road Block party was last weekend.  I was worried when I wasn’t hand delivered my invite and instead happened to catch a flyer on a telephone pole.  Turns out they didn’t invite anyone, it was all they could do to get the flyers up. At least they had the party though. There was a wonderful ‘mom circle’ that happened that refreshed my spirit that day in a much needed way.  I heard other women that were there say the same thing.  Maybe we need to do those things more often ladies.  D- I’m totally serious about Wine Thursdays, just hollar.  Also, I want that recipe please.

The best part of the evening though may have been watching Edie give the Fein boys a firehouse bath in the driveway.  All is always right with the world when there are boys who understand she holds the hose and stays dry while they get soaked.  I blame all older neighborhood boys who catered to her so much in her toddler years that she now expects all boys to do exactly what she tells them to do.  The male portion of humanity has no idea what they have wrought upon themselves.