Saturday, July 26, 2008

birthday parties

I got to take my niece and nephew to two birthday parties. Which meant that I got to drive a fancy vehicle. It's just not fashionable to haul kids around in the back of the truck anymore.

First stop was for the birthday party of their new friend, Sophie. We got there just in time to pet an alligator. John jumped right up to hold the Albino python.
Auntie Nora and June Bug were sensible and waited for the cute furry Kinkajou to come around.

We had to leave before cake and pizza to go to a ceramics party with their cousins.
Knock on wood, but I've alway managed to avoid the birthday parties that Crabbydad speaks of.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

nascar comes to second helpings

FedEx gave Second Helpings a Pruis - delivered by Denny Hamlin!
It was a fun day. We combined it with a volunteer appreciation luncheon.

I was in heaven. I had a plan, a clipboard and Ann Herr at my side.
The two of us can do anything, really.

Actually, I'd been talking big and we actually pulled it off.

I had the grand idea that we could turn the garage into a picnic area for 120 with only an hour and a half turn around time.

I love events like this - print and television photographers and reporters covered it - ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN and the Speed Network were there.

Denny volunteered in the kitchen shucking corn. The corn was donated by my dear cousin Leo.

Denny washing his hands- we're food safety geeks around here.

Denny Hamlin and Nora

The Pruis being delivered . Actually it was a faux Pruis. Ours is back ordered. I'm making no commentary on the fact that they drove the fuel efficient car from Chicago and back in a semi truck.

The car was decaled with FedEx, Denny Hamlin's number and the Second Helpings logo.

Here is Denny telling me that he loved me. Or, talking about Second Helpings. I might not have heard him right.

Special thanks to Ann and Nancy. Nancy recruited great volunteers for me, I could not have pulled it off with out her help.

Denny finished 3rd in the Brickyard - and if not for the crazy tire problems, I think he would have won.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


They say there is more than corn in Indiana, but not in July.

Sunday was corn day at the farm.

Dad picked up a load of oh-so-sweet corn from my cousin Leo's farm in Cass County.

We had a real production line going. Henry Ford would have been proud.
Team Shuck included Cousin Jim (he's exactly six months older than I am), his lovely wife Karen and a friend of theirs conveniently also named Karen.

It was very important to keep them hydrated.

From the shucking station the corn heads to the production kitchen.

Cliff - don't be too jealous of this summer kitchen.
Dad is the chief cook.

The process is called blanching. The corn is boiled for just a few minutes then dumped in to ice water to cool it down quickly and stop the cooking process.

The corn was then taken to the cutting station, otherwise known as the picnic table. We're getting pretty swift after forty years or so of doing this. This year's introduction: electric knives.Fancy stuff!

Here is my sister Beth showing off her knife skills. Note the inverted bowl inside the bowl - it keeps the cob and the right height and lets the corn fall to the bottom of the bowl. Her husband Ron used his electric knife right on the cutting board. I was really old school and used a serrated knife all day. I think my wrist as almost recovered.

The cut corn was shipped to the packaging line. First to Monica at quaility control:

Then to Maggie and neighbor girl for bagging:

The final counts: an estimated 200 dozen ears of corn processed and 150 bags of corn in various freezers.

Cousin Diane and her fiance stopped by for dinner - which featured corn on the cob. I was so tired of seeing corn that I could only eat three ears.

My cousin Leo drove another load of corn down from his farm - a hour north. We transfered the load from his pickup truck to mine.

Leo is the one in the hat, standing between the trucks.

What did Second Helpings do with 1200 pounds of corn? Here's a hint : #11.

I promise the story in the next post.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I joke that I bought the house I've lived in for twelve years to avoid moving. That is not not far from the truth.

My basement is perpetually damp. Turning on the garden hose starts a stream of water down the wall. The rain this summer created a pond on the floor.

I didn't help matters by having never-unpacked boxes on the floor and heaps of other junk that accumulated over the years. I only have one closet in the house so I'm constantly rotating clothes by season and weight fluctuation.

There were stacks of holiday things, yard sale stuff, boxes of books, piles of papers and the random bags of God-knows-what-possessed me to save that heaped in every corner.

I'd avoided the whole mess for years, only darting down there to do laundry or grab something. But more often to toss something in to the fray. I couldn't leave clean clothes down there too long or they'd start smelling like a wet diaper.

And avoiding it made it even worse. Soon there was just a path to get to front to back. And that path was often risky. When Hostel John, my dear friend/neighbor/can fix anything re-tiled my bathroom he had to see my basement. Couldn't be avoided when the bathroom sub floor was removed.

Last month he gently suggested that it was time to do something about the basement. He was right. There was no more avoiding it.

And unfortunately I had to be there for the humiliation. I took a day off last week to tackle my part. By the time John and one of his teenage sons arrived I'd filled the steps with trash bags.

There is nothing like a 15 year old boy staring at you to help make decisions. I was amazed by the stuff that I was coming across.

I would have sworn under the threat of taking my computer away that we did not have year books in junior high school. There they were, big as life. The eighth grade one had a page long letter from my friend Ann Herr. Written in purple marker -Donny Osmond's favorite color, you know. We were headed to different high schools and our 14 year old selves thought that we'd never see each other again. Ann signed the note "Nancy" as in Drew, our hero. I wish I could say that, 33 years later, we've outgrown our dorkiness, but I don't think so.

Speaking of not growing emotionally I ran across letters and cards from guys I've dated. I always say that I have not dated much, but in 25 years of dating a few men have floated through my life. Apparently I have not matured much. I found letters from three different guys, all with the same theme: You need to open your heart to someone, you need to trust, you need share your emotions, blah blah blah.

Until AVS, I always broke up with a guy when there was any kind of disagreement. I couldn't be bothered with fighting or trying to figure it out.

Fight equaled breakup.

The first time A and I had a big fight I said, "I guess that's it. We're done." He said, "just because I don't like you very much right now, doesn't mean that I don't love you."

That blew my mind. Seriously.

So with the dust and mold I was stirring up some emotions. Good thing there was a teenage boy there to keep me in check.

I tossed and recycled five truck loads of junk. A lot of it was boxes of stuff that just plain old melted. I always wondered what I needed with a scoop shovel in town, it finally came in handy. I just had to close my eyes and throw a lot of it away.

I photographed some stuff that I wanted to remember, but didn't need to save. Like my prom dress.....

And my favorite jeans....

And my childhood jewelry box (note the missing ballerina)....

I also found a folder from high school that I just thought was the coolest thing ever (remember, it was the 1970s - late in the 70s, mind you).

It had people and places to write captions. As you can see, I was all about pollution. And this proves that Al Gore didn't invent global warming - I did.

One of my witticisms really cracked me up...

My loopy writing is pretty funny also. I gave the folder a proper burial in a paper recycling bin.

I have an unnatrual affection for cranberries. Here is a card that a college friend made me.

Here is what the basement looks like at the end of the day. You can see the moldy floor and walls. The orange thing in the back was pushed up against the wall and I was using it for shelves. Who knew that I had a bar in the basement? Not that I can imagine anyone entertaining down there.

Getting rid of all of the trash was tricky. Luckily I have a zillion jobs and know about a few dumpsters in town. I took a few things out to the farm to burn on Sunday and just couldn't quite bring myself to throw this trophy in the fire.

1974 Reserve Grand Champion in Home Furnishings. I still have the table that I refinished in my living room. The Boone County Fair was going on just a few miles from the farm, and I was tempted to drive over and stick it near some kids project. If the name plate would not have been engraved, it would have been a done deal.

Friday, July 18, 2008

random blogstock thoughts

I'm starting to wonder how Cliff and Ralph get through the day without each other. 

Thank goodness for Desiree. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blogstock '08

Blogstock Eve (Wednesday July 2)

I stepped out my door to find a big jug of baseball bubble gum and red, white and blue star necklaces. Thanks Maureen, and stop “blurking” and start blogging my friend.

I was still car-less so Marcella was kind enough to run me to the candy wholesaler to pick up candy to toss from the float. We walked out with big box of candy: Twizzlers, BB Bats, Smarties, Tootsie Rolls and candy necklaces. Yummm.

As with almost every trip I’ve taken in the last twenty-five years I sabotaged myself by staying up way too late the night before. I walked down to the Red Key with my neighbors and ran in to Aaron Stroup, who is in town on tour with Susan Cowsill (see this post ).

I did have fun, but really should have started packing before 2:30 in the morning. I solved that dilemma by throwing every dress I owned and four pairs of shoes in my suitcase.

Blogstock Day One (Thursday, July 3)

Jerry gave me a 7:00 am wake-up call. In my running around like a nut I managed to trip over a pair of boots on my basement steps and slid down a dozen wooden steps on my bum. At least the concrete floor stopped the fall, and quite frankly if I needed to be bouncing down the steps on any part of my body, my bohunkus is the most resilient part.

Since my truck was still in the shop, poor Jerry had to drive over an hour to fetch me and then turn around to head back the way he came from. We stopped for coffee not too far from his house and ran in to folks that live just a few blocks from me. Even more amazing? They were headed to Nebraska also – just a county over from Cliff's.

The trip to Tekamah was smooth. Jerry and I travel well together. We swaped napping and driving.

We timed our arrival perfectly -- we pulled up to the float staging area just as the work was finished.
All of the bloggers were to bring a poster for the float that describes their blog. Last-minute-Nora made a very crooked sloppy poster describing ‘chez pez’ – pretty indicative of my life/blog, really. Jerry had a wonderful poster of Oreo, the pig in his front yard and the mascot of his blog. There was discussion on whether Jerry needed to write "Indiana" on his poster. I commented that a giant photograph of a pig screamed Indiana, but he added it just to be safe.

I met Rachel, Desiree, Ralph and Char, Jim and Mrs. Jim and Terry Anderson for the first time. It was great to see Cliff and Marilyn and their extended family again. We headed to dinner and Karaoke. There where some great singers in our midst. When asked to sing, I shared this story: When I was in 7th grade I tried out for the choir. Of all of the kids that auditioned, only two of us didn't make it and the other one was in special education. Therefore I’m doubly impressed by people that have enough nerve to get up and sing.

Blogstock Day One (Friday, July 4)

We were up bright and early for the Tekamah Independence Day parade. We fought the crowd--seriously there was a crowd lined up along Main Street an hour before the parade started. I was thrilled to meet Jamie Dawn and most of her family, Lazy Blogger and Sherry and Janell. Again, everyone was ‘as advertised,’ no surprises!

Tekamah pulls out all of the stops for the day. I think half of the town was in the parade and the other half was sitting along the route. The weather was perfect – ‘Chamber of Commerce weather’ as Cliff called it.

The parade was a blast! We decided to collect food and money for the local pantry (read the article here) and I was afraid that no one would bring anything. When a woman ran toward with a bag of food I was relieved. We had fun clapping and cheering for the people that donated. I was the one skipping along behind the float and grinning from ear-to-ear.

After the parade we all headed to the lovely Silver Hills winery, taking the scenic route. All cornfields do not look alike. I had my annual glass of wine and a lovely lunch. The owners were gracious, they've created a amazing place.

Jerry and I went Boone County are we? We stopped in at Fran (Cliff brother) and Robbie's. Their son, Marty is Jerry's 'blog father.' More new terms. Jerry is my blog father, the one who inspired me to start blogging. Fran and Robbie have a wonderful home and I look forward to seeing them again.

Next activity: nap. And lovely and necessary nap it was. You need to be at the top of your game to hang with Cliff and Ralph.

We headed out to the farm for dinner. The road to the Morrows was lined with signs - I made Jerry stop at every single one. After a mile or so, we got in the groove and Jerry just had to slow down and I would stick my head out and snap.

We were greeted with a Blogstock '08 sign and a festive tent. We ate and chatted and ate and chatted. And ate some more. I loved talking to all of of the other bloggers and meeting families and neighbors of the Morrows. You can tell that the community thinks as much of Cliff as the rest of us do. Team Blogstock kept us well entertained. Juli Morrow treated lots of the group to horseback rides - I felt like I've known Jamie Dawn for a long time, but helping boost her onto Eddie sealed the relationship.

Ralph and Cliff presented the the goodie bags - chock full of goodness. The highlight was the Blogstock books. Ralph spent a lot of time putting them together. I won't recount the hell that I put him through with my entry, but I was darn happy that Ralph didn't punch me in the nose when we met. I missed most of the speechifying that accompanied the presentation of the books. Dad called, I was trying to tell him that I'd call him later. I don't think he heard me, because he said "okay, I'll put your mother on the phone." I made a lap around the bin talking on the phone before I got back to the party.

We were all like high school kids with a yearbook. We first flipped through them to see how our hair looked and then started reading each other's posts.

Keith (Mr. Jamie Dawn) gave me a hot off the press copy of Taylor's music.

Blogstock Day Two (July 5)

...also known worldwide as Jerry's birthday.

We did a little shopping in Tekamah. I'd mentioned to Janell the day before that I forgot to bring my makeup. She joked that you needed a permit to wear makeup in Nebraska and I was starting to believe her. After dragging Jerry though three stores all I'd scored was a tube of mascara and a bag of Twizzlers for Ralph and me.

Wow breakfast. Cliff style. Pancakes, sausage and fruit cups. And Twizzlers and conversation. The rain didn't slow anyone down and it was soon done.

I decided that I really felt at home and traded places with Jacob for nap time.

More fun in the afternoon. We all signed each others Blogbooks, I rode Eddie (a horse of course) and laughed and just had a good old fashioned wonderful time enjoying conversations and watching friendships form.

The evening brought even more food - Ralph was not exaggerating (for once) about how good Cliff's barbeque was. I think everything was enhanced by the convenience of the summer kitchen.

Rachel made a cake for Jerry's birthday, I'm not sure there were enough candles.

Jerry and I might have stayed just a little too late, I think that when the hosts start putting on their pajamas it's a hint to leave. I'm glad we stayed or I would have missed out on the stories the Morrow and Campbell families told on each other.

Blogstock Day Three (July 6)

Jerry dropped me at the farm and drove Rachel to the airport. I got to soak in even more Morrow/Campbell goodness. Dan and Julie's daughters are adorable. Madi was a little disappointed that my name was not Dora - as in Dora the Explorer.

The tent came down - the party was over. A good time was had by all. 

Friday, July 11, 2008


I was trying to add someone to my sidebar of blogs and deleted the whole list. (I'm working on recreating it)

And my truck wouldn't start this morning. After spending a good chunk of money on it last week.

I'm ready to start the day over...I wonder how long it would take me to walk home?

That said, I have an amazing group of friends.

Bad Influence Girl swung by this morning to try to jump start it. She took me to work when the truck wouldn't start.

Hostel John is going to look at the truck this morning and might very well have the problem fixed by the time I get home.

It's not so bad, really.

[edit: The lovely Marcella gave me a ride home- yet again. When I got home I stuck the key in the ignition and it started right up. John replaced the battery while I was at work. I must have been a really good person in a previous life!]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

you never know how the day will end, pt. 2

Nora and Susan Cowsill at the Red Key 
To see a young groovy Susan on the Johnny Cash show, click here
To see an even groovier Susan click here
Wednesday, July 2, 2002