Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Musings on Ice Cream

It's extremely hot outside right now.  Hot enough that after taking a shower the minute I got home from work, that I'm now cold in contrast.  I am very thankful for the modern convenience of central air.  I have even been brave enough to try the air in my cruiser, on occasion. Not today though...today, despite the heat, what I call hill billy air conditioning worked quite well.  Hill billy air conditioning=roll down the windows & drive fast. 

I remember summers as a child. I had never even conceived of even an air conditioner until I saw one at my Uncle Paul's house.  We simply used fans at home, wore shorts & tank tops, and drank sweet tea (or kool-aide).  When it got too hot, we would run through the sprinkler.  Our sprinkler was cool...it was different than our neighbors.  Instead of waffling back & forth, ours was in a horse-shoe shape, and the spray would jet up like a reverse Niagara Falls.  My sister & little brother & I would run back & forth through the spray.  Invariably, one of us (usually me) would pick up the horseshoe, and try to chase the others with it.  Always got in trouble for that one...and you can't run far when the sprinkler is attached to a hose! 

The best part of summer was always ice cream.  My parents often took us to this ice cream place in Berkley (MI, not Calif).  There I would have my choice between vanilla, chocolate, or a twist.  I always chose the twist.  Then I would sit on a picnic table to simultaneously enjoy my cone and drive my sister nuts.  I would slowly lick my ice cream, bit by bit.....  My sister, having finished nearly half of hers, would ask me why I was eating so slow.  I'd answer 'I'm savoring it.'  Don't know where I learned that word at such a young age, but I knew it, and knew the answer would drive her nuts.  Then of course it'd be time to leave, and my parents would tell me to finish my cone, and I would...the last one to do so.  (so mean!)

Then there was the magic of the ice cream truck.... Ding ding ding.  The sound would call us outside, to run after the slow moving truck.  Sometimes I would get a treat from the truck, sometimes I wouldn't.  Though I learned quick that if one parent said no, to NOT ask the other one. I got in so much trouble once when I did that...

Even now, I count ice cream as one of my favorite foods (pizza, jelly beans are some others).  The best hard pack ice cream is choc chip mint.  MMmm.... and it has to be the green kind.  White choc chip mint is somehow, wrong...it just is.  Though since my daughter Melody (formerly known as Cat) started working at a business near a DQ, I've been tempted by them.  Their peanut butter buster sundae is scrumdidlyunpteous!  Mmm...now I want ice cream....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vacation Memories

A friend of mine is taking a vacation starting tomorrow. That started me thinking about the yearly vacations I took with my family as a kid.  We always started way before the sun was up.  My younger siblings and I would stumble through the morning darkness, somehow feeling like we were doing something naughty, being up at such an hour.  We'd pile in the back seat, with the usual argument about who had to sit in the middle seat.  With paper grocery sacks filled with our toys at our feet, we'd buckle in, and begin the journey, quietly at first. 

The sun would slowly rise as we traveled down the road.  My sister & I would start watching out the windows, looking for the sign. There!  As soon as we spotted the gigantic Tire at the side of the freeway, we'd start clamouring for breakfast.  My mother would pass back styrofoam cups, plastic spoons, and those nifty mini boxes of cereal.  I loved those!  So many choices!  We would eat our cereal in the cups, with milk from a thermos. 

As the hours wore on, well, we were typical kids.  In the days before handheld games, cell phones and mobile movies, we had only our toys and imaginations to entertain ourselves.  Inevitably, one of us would get bored.  And that one would decide to annoy his or her siblings.  Not me, of course. 

"Mom!  She poked me."  "Mom!  He breathed on me."  "Moooomm!  Her hot sticky leg is touching me!"  And of course, the old trick of waving your hand above, in front of, near, but Not touching.... And then it'd happen.  "Don't make me pull this car over." 


We would eventually get to our destination.  Sometimes it was Faribault Minnesota, to see my Great Great Uncle Paul & Aunt Ethel.  We'd go fishing, harvest corn from 'communial' fields (just duck if you see a car), and eat the most incredible gingerbread cookies I've ever had. 

We would often go to Canada.  I grew up with Canada as my playground.  We went mostly to Tobemory.  To find Tobemory, look at the Bruce Peninsula, and there at the very tip jutting into the Georgian Bay, that's Tobemory.  It's a quiet harbor, near the Georgian Bay National Park.  There are sunken ships we'd view through glass bottomed boats.  There was the Flower Pot island we wandered about (and those pesky black flies). But mostly we stayed in the marina, at this cute motel. It was a safe place, and my sister and I were allowed to wander to the stores, unaccompanied!  What freedom!  And the snacks available there...so different than back home.  I drank Five Alive (a juice blend sold in cans), and ate Milkshake bars, and lots and lots of Crunchie bars.  They are still my absolute favorite candy bars!  Mm....

The best part about vacations was always coming home.  Somehow, home seemed a more precious place, after spending a few weeks on the road.  Back home, where my beloved teddy bear, Great Big, awaited.  All my barbies, and all my books.  The back yard where I played in the sand box for hours.  The street where my friends and I would play badminton, moving aside as cars came by.  Home. 

Have a great vacation, Ro!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Joy filled Day

Today was a joy filled day.  I didn't spend it floating in a sailboat on a lake, nor resting in a sunbeam on a pretty quilt.  No.  I spent most of the day working.  But first I got to drive through the darkness of a brand new morning, to pick up my daughter Melody (formerly known as Cat).  I am starting to grow very fond of Swartz Creek.  There are some really quaint looking shops that I hope to visit sometime soon, instead of just sailing on past.  (It'd help if I wasn't always going through there early morning or late at night!). 

Then I spent most of the day at work, with a quick sun filled errand in the middle.  As I drove down Morrish road, with the wind blowing my hair into a tangle, and a baroche concerto playing at a louder volume than Mozart intended, I realized that the feeling bubbling up in my was pure happiness.  I kept smiling...it wouldn't stop.  Giggles bubbled out of me. 

I have a great job, a coworker who is a close friend, a beautiful apartment with a deck garden that's sprouting, a wonderful cruiser to drive, a family church nearby.....and a world of possibilities ahead of me.  I have books to read, more coming from the library (it takes constant feeding to satisfy my reading addiction), a story that I'm nearly done writing (soon as I get my backside reglued to my chair again), several hand crafts waiting, and racing season has started!  So much to be happy over.

So this post may be unintentionally a bit boring, but I'll gladly shout out that amazing phrase: I'm happy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gardening on the deck

My obsession with gardening began at a very early age.  My earliest memory is of sitting next to the garden (I was like maybe 1 or 2), while my mother weeded. I remember reaching out and picking a green bean, and then eating it, dirt and all. When I'd play in the yard as a small child, I would 'plant' flowers in the sand box.  As I got older, I helped my father with his garden.  We'd grow vegetables in the small plot at the back of the yard, and tomatoes between the fence and the driveway.  Later, I started transplanting pretty plants (translate that to weeds) to the space behind the garage.  I don't know how, but I really got stuff to grow back there!  In fact, the creeping ivy that I started there creeped out from behind the garage, and began to take over the entire lawn!

As I got older, and after multiple readings of The Secret Garden, I got to have my own garden plot.  I don't remember just what I grew, just how much I enjoyed doing so.  In the years that followed, I had several gardens.  I read this book about Square Foot Gardening, and proceeded to double dig down 2 feet, and added to the soil (after unearthing bricks and old tonka trucks).  I had a great garden that year, even though the birds did eat part of our corn.  Then we moved. I tried it again. We moved again. 

I never gave up. I've done vegetable gardens in rented houses, home owned places, and now here at my apartment.  I have a beautiful deck, and in containers I am growing herbs, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and my daughter is growing strawberries.

What is it about gardens?  Is it the scent & feel of the dirt in your hands?  Or is it watching those seeds slowly pop out of the earth, and shoot upwards...eventually giving way to big vegetable laden plants?  Or is the joy of eating produce you grew yourself?  I don't honestly know.  What I do know is that I come from a long line of farmers.  My mother says I am just like my father.  The first thing I do when I get home is to walk out onto my deck, and check on my garden.  My father does the same thing...checks on his plants as soon as he gets home.  Being compared to my father, that is high praise. 

I can't wait until I can see how my striped heirloom tomatoes, and red carrots turn out!