Camp Out, Pig Out

This is the eleventh year that four friends and Gramps and I have gone camping together for a long weekend in the spring. We have known each other for many years. In fact, one friend Ethel and I have known one another since the sixth grade. We have seen all the good, the bad and the ugly in each other many times over.

It started innocently enough with a group camping trip. We traded meals and that’s when we found out that Bill or Mr. Bill as we call him, was a master cast iron chef. He then became our breakfast guru.

Breakfast soon became a bacon lovers delight. Bacon does go with everything, you know! As in bacon and eggs, bacon and pancakes, bacon and ham, bacon and cheese, bacon and potatoes, bacon and . . . bacon. There are so many ways to eat bacon, as we discover each year.

Breakfasts lasted longer each year. First an hour, then two, now up to three hours including dessert. Yes, we have dessert for breakfast!

We have found that breakfast is so spectacular and lasts so long, what with all the courses and talking and more courses and more talking, that we usually don’t plan lunch anymore.

There is a mid afternoon snack. Something healthy, like brownies or cookies. Then a big dinner planned and served by one of us. It’s really just a big eat fest. Hence, the name – Camp Out, Pig Out. It has since been shortened to COPO.

Since Gramps and I are retired, we are the scouting party and arrive a couple of days early. We set up camp, get nearby sites for everyone and test the local sights and cuisine.

On Friday afternoon the other two couples arrive and set up their rigs. I always serve Friday night dinner because I have the time to cook while they are traveling.

This year we are having homemade grilled hamburgers (nothing better!), potato salad, fresh tomatoes, chips, guacamole and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Sound good?

On Saturday morning, of course, is a mega breakfast, Mr. Bill style. Bacon, bacon and more bacon. Yum! After this artery stopping meal, we usually divide up – men go fishing and/or boating, women go shopping.

In other words, the guys head to the nearest body of water, attach bits of fish/hot dog/bait/etc on the end of poles and sit for hours waiting and waiting. This activity is called fishing and men love to do it, talk about it, plan for it and buy equipment for it. Our men are no different.

Every year they go fishing. Every year they catch nothing. Every year they have a great time. Go figure!

The ladies, on the other hand, go shopping or sightseeing or both. We have been to antique stores, quilt shops, historic homes, museums, gardens, gift shops. And we have been successful every single time!

Oh yes, we have never come home empty handed. What glorious things we have found. What fabulous memories we have made. What fun we have had.

For several years now, Ethel has made matching T-shirts for the three of us ladies. One year as we were out shopping in our three identical shirts, I convinced a shop owner that we were triplets out for a day of fun. The other two were exploding trying to keep from laughing and I was having the time of my life.

Over the years, our COPOs have been varied. We have weathered rain, hail, scorching heat, wild fires and floods. We have had sick people, injured people and the forever healthy people. We have tried cooking all sorts of foods (except fish. We’ve never had fish!) and gone out for food.

 

One year our grandson Mac came with us to the annual COPO. It took about an hour for him to feel comfortable going in and out of everyone’s camper as if he lived there. Everyone became family to him about one minute later. He was fascinated with the super bacon breakfasts. And of course, because he is male, he went fishing with the boys. I’m not sure what he really did all day.

We gals brought treats for him from our shopping trip. It’d seemed only fair. He was nine and he had put up with the fishing thing all day.

Eleven years of these grand memories and here we are again! It’s Thursday night. Everyone will be here tomorrow. Saturday morning will be an eleventh breakfast extravaganza.

Then the guys and a fishing guide will hit the lake for a day of fishing. Maybe the guide will change the day’s outcome.

We ladies are going to a Quilt Show and maybe some antiquing. Whatever suits our fancy at the time.

Saturday evening will be dinner at Myra and Mike’s camper with the traveling tablecloth we use for every meal. Then we build a campfire and sit up late – maybe lil about 11:00 or so. Hey, we’re old!

Sunday am will find us back at Mr. Bill’s with the traveling tablecloth for super breakfast #2. What a way to end a COPO. Total PIGOUT!!!!

It’s Thursday night and I can’t wait. Hope it doesn’t end too soon.

A Homemade Holiday

Think it’s not worth the trouble? Making things for the holidays or anytime, for that matter? Think no one will really appreciate your effort? Think it is all a waste? Think again, my Sweetie!

I believe the biggest and best gift you can give anyone is your time. It is precious, unique and will never come again. Any time you are thinking about someone, doing for someone or sharing with someone, it is a gift to be treasured and held in the highest regard.

So spending the time making a gift or fashioning a decoration or baking food or brightening up the yard is a gift of your time and thought. Do I believe you should do EVERYTHING – NO!!!!  That’s a killer and a misuse of your time. But adding your personal touch to each day and especially each holiday is very doable.

maxresdefault

And the memories it makes! Oh Boy! I have the best memories of my mother baking for every occasion. Pies! Cookies! Candy! Cakes! Everyone enjoyed her handiwork. Everyone was blessed by her efforts. And she loved doing it.

That’s the double blessing of homemade. The maker is as happy making the gift as the receiver is getting the gift.

images

I love spending time on a project for one person. The whole while I’m thinking about them. How they will look when I give them the gift. How they will enjoy it. How it will benefit our relationship. On and on I think, until the project is done.

Then I get to really see their face when I give it to them and watch them enjoy it and feel our relationship deepen. What could be better than that?

I remember when we had young children, we decided to each have small blank books one Christmas. In each person’s book we would write down the gifts of our time we were giving that person. I had things like: “I  will make your bed” from my daughter, I will give you a back rub” from my son and “I will bring you breakfast in bed” from my husband.

There were many others that year and  in the years to follow. How fun it was to cash in the certificates during the year. Those gifts were extra special in so many ways.

lights

Putting forth effort for those you love is never a waste. It is love in the purest sense, it is a teaching moment and a good example for all those watching you. It couldn’t be more important.

So put your personal touch on every holiday. Whatever that means – making presents, making decorations, fashioning yard art, baking, cooking. It could be as simple as wrapping a gift or tying a bow or as interesting as smocking a Christmas dress. Whatever shows your talent and care.

happy-son-giving-gift-to-his-mother-isolated-white-35879040

Show your love. Give of your time. Make you holiday homemade.

 

 

I Have Food Issues

During the last year and a half, I have lost about fifty pounds. However, two months ago, to my surprise, my family doctor told me I had gained eight pounds back. His diagnosis – I have food issues. His remedy – counseling.

consumers_elderly_woman_570x235

Now I am familiar with counseling for problems in a marriage, issues of depression or even loss of self-esteem. But food issues? Well, evidently it is true. There is counseling for people like me, people with food issues.

So counseling it is. Not a diet. Not a food plan. Not a calorie counter. Counseling!

I have a special counselor now, because . . . . .  I have food issues. She is very nice and we get along well. We do not, however, exchange recipes or talk about Grandma’s best Angel food cake or give each other chocolate treats. That would be out of bounds for people like me – people with food issues.

genetics-counselor-992

We spend my fifty minutes of therapy talking about all the foods I do eat, all the foods I shouldn’t eat, all the foods I want to eat, and why. “Why” is the biggest food issue so far.

Unknown

Why I do what I know I shouldn’t and why I don’t do what I know I should. You know, why I have food issues. Somehow we never have an answer for that. Do all people with food issues have trouble with why?

I know what a healthy diet looks like and I am aware of harmful foods, thanks to the media. (Even though that list changes from week to week). I know the calorie count of most of the foods I eat and I exercise three times a week. How can this be such a problem?

Foods-For-Hair-Loss-2

Well, you guessed it – I MUST HAVE FOOD ISSUES! At sixty-nine years of age I’m in counseling for my “issues” with food, which I was completely unaware of until two months ago!

Every two weeks I see my food counselor. We talk and sometimes laugh. She always asks how I feel about food (love it!), how I feel about depriving myself of certain foods (hate it!) and how I feel about managing my food intake (annoyed!). Do all people with food issues have such strong feelings about food?

Maybe not. I don’t know, since I’m the only one I’ve ever known who has been clinically diagnosed with food issues. I’m charting new territory here. I’m blazing a new trail – for me anyway.

I guess the counseling must be working because I haven’t gained any more weight. I think I still have food issues though, because the counseling continues.

scale

Will I need counseling for the rest of my life? I’m unsure. I don’t know if food issues is curable or just manageable. I guess I will see.

I don’t mind talking with my counselor so much – she’s pleasant and all. I do dislike talking about, thinking about and planning for food all the time. That really is MY biggest food issue.

I’m going to tell my doctor so, the next time I see him. I hope he doesn’t recommend more counseling for that!!

Sometimes Christmas Comes After Christmas

Sometimes Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas Day.  Sometimes people are working. Sometimes family members can’t get together on a particular day.  Sometimes Christmas comes after Christmas.

That’s the way it was in our house this year.  Our Christmas came on December 27th. Two days after the official day, our family got together for a Christmas pancake brunch and gift exchange.

IF

IF

Of course, all the decorations were still up, because this was our Christmas. The miniature Snowflake Village was in place with all the required snow and Victorian buildings. There is even a pond with skaters!

IF

IF

The collection of Santas lined the short wall between the dining room and living room. My favorite is the small white felt Santa who holds his own among all the giants.

IF

IF

IF

The fireplace mantel is a tribute to my mother, who was a supreme baker, especially at Christmastime.  Anything having to do with candy and sweets can be found there.

IF

The card holder is a set of shutters I painted and stenciled specifically for its Christmas charm. I love it standing so tall next the fireplace.

We don’t have much room for a Christmas tree, but the tall narrow tree seems to fit pretty well.  We have many decorations collected over more than forty-five years.  It is very  nostalgic to handle each one while decorating the tree.  We are tinsel people and always have been.  I know it’s going out of fashion, but I love it.

IF

IF

The table is all set and ready for everyone to arrive.  An hour or so later it was full of family, pancakes, eggs, bacon, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.  Everyone had their fill before emptying the tree of all its gifts.

Outside it was rainy, windy and cold.  Inside it was warm with a fire, bright with all the lights, happy with everyone talking and laughing.

Outside it was unpleasant.  Inside it was family.

Outside it was miserable.  Inside it was Christmas!

 

 

 

It’s Not All About The Fireworks

fireworks2July 4th was a special day for Gramps and me. We took the boat out on the lake to watch the fireworks put on by the local city. Sounds like a simple event, doesn’t it? Go see a bunch of big booms and then go home. But the way Gramps and I do it, it takes almost all day and becomes a grand affair.

First there was the beautiful boat ride across the lake to get to the prearranged spot. The sky had clouded over, which dropped the temperature pleasantly. We passed by the dam and saw many

birds and ducks on our way.

IMG_0001

IMG_0003We got to a perfect spot off shore with plenty of time to spare. After anchoring in place, Gramps put his fishing rods in the water. “Can’t catch anything if you don’t have a line in the water,” he always says.

Dozens of boats joined us in the cove. Some were playing music, some people were dancing, some swimming. Lots of children were laughing and beaming in anticipation. What a wonderful community we became.

While we watched a magnificent sunset, we enjoyed our picnic dinner of bratwurst, bean salad and hard boiled eggs. How peaceful! How serene!

IMG_0004

When the sun finally set, we were all ready for the fireworks show. It was brilliant and exciting and very colorful. Oohs and aahs followed each explosion. Applause was heard from all directions. Children and adults alike had a great American moment watching the fireworks.

IMG_0012

As the fireworks finale came to a close, we all lingered on the water. It seemed our new little community wanted to savor the day and evening. No one wanted it to end.

fireworks1

Finally Gramps and I slowly motored back across the lake by the light of a half moon. Talk about romantic!

We had such a grand day filled with calm, excitement, quiet, big bangs, good food, fellowship and shared moments. And the fireworks were actually only one part of the day.

Celebration Of A Graduation

imagesIt was a not-too-hot Friday afternoon in Phoenix when hundreds of students walked across the stage to accept a diploma and shake the principal’s hand. We sat in the auditorium watching our grandson Brad become a graduate.

 

 

handshakeAt age eighteen, an adult in some arenas, he was still a boy to us. As others saw a tall, slightly bearded, almost man reach out for the rolled up sheepskin and continue to stride across the platform; all we saw was a boy learning to walk. ride a bike, talk to a girl, and make equations come out even. His whole life passed before us as he took that short walk from senior to graduate, from boy to man, from almost to there. What a magical few steps for him and for us, his family.

A graduation is a ceremony of an event that only happens once. Finishing high school is truly a big deal. High school itself is a big deal. It’s a turning point in everyone’s life. For Brad it was great, wonderful, difficult, too long, too short, an agony, an ecstasy, the best of times, the worst of times, all the extremes it was for all of us.

 

graduatesBrad made some of the best friends he will ever have. He learned the basics he will need to survive in the world. He practiced social graces he will find useful the rest of his life. That’s the purpose of a high school education – to get a kid ready to become an adult. And the culmination is graduation.

A graduation is a great celebration. It involves lots of family, all telling the graduate how proud they are, how grown up he looks, how wonderful his future appears. Who wouldn’t love hearing all this from twelve or more people?

It also involves special food, usually the new alum’s choice, which probably means burgers and fries. Our burgers and fries were especially good.

Then there are all the extras, such as gifts, flowers, balloons, cards and cakes. There’s no limit to these, as it is a life-altering event deserving of all manner of frills.

The following morning we all, including said graduate, were in serious conversation re: what happens next, what colleges to apply to, is a trade school better, should our student work while in school. Oh my, reality hit! Celebration over!

The Times They Are A’changing

When we lived in our old house, Gramps and I had a large dining room. We designed the house to have a large dining room because we had many plans to have family dinners, friendly gatherings, and holiday celebrations around a big table in that room.

Table-Dining-Room-CDT958

And we did! We honored birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and graduations. We decorated for and celebrated every holiday you can imagine from Valentine’s to July 4th to Christmas. We had friends over for no reason at all except to enjoy those we love. We shared foods of every kind; old trusted recipes, new adventures in eating, appetizers, desserts, drinks and snacks.

That one single room with a table, chairs, sideboard and built-in cupboards held so many memories for us. Memories of long talks, singing, great meals, playing games, babies laughing, children clapping, new people joining the family, remembering, and planning. It seems impossible that a space with only wooden furniture and a couple of windows could be the treasure hold of 25 years of such joy and sharing. But it certainly did!!

So, of course, when we looked for our new home, we wanted a dining room. We wanted to continue the traditions we started and keep having all those grand affairs in the new dining room. A dining room was a “must have” and a dining room we got. One with tall ceilings, built-in cupboards, moldings and wood floors. By any standard, she’s a beauty, all right!

??????????????????????????????????????????

In the last eighteen months in this new house we have been blessed with birthday parties, block BBQ’s, family dinners, last-minute meals with friends who stayed to help paint, celebrations of all kinds. We are making new memories here and enjoying gatherings of every sort.

stock-footage-children-sitting-at-table-eating-jelly-with-hands-and-talking-with-friends-shot-on-canon-d-mk

The one thing that hasn’t happened? We haven’t used the dining room for any meal, except for overflow seating at the BBQ. For some reason, it just hasn’t worked to use that particular room for that particular purpose yet.

holiday-family-dinner

And you know what? It’s okay! Everything is a little bit different now. Different neighborhood, different house, different furniture, different ways of making times happy. So we use the kitchen table or the patio or our laps, we still have great meals, great conversations, great laughs.

No matter what, where, how or who, we will always have joy, laughter and friendship around the table. The time spent will always be a true celebration and the memories will last a lifetime, dining room or no dining room.