Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's Official!

I've moved to my new blog home titled "God, family, baseball." I will be linking my posts there to my Facebook account. I probably won't be updating this blog any more but I will leave the archives up as long as Blogger allows. I guess I need to make sure I won't lose the archives. Anyone know anything about that??

Please, please, please join me at the new place. I've enjoyed making such really good cyber friends through this blog. I hope some of my Facebook friends from "real life" will join us at God, family, baseball and will hopefully liven up the comments box. If not, I'll keep blogging as my own private journal with just a few faithful readers.

Oh, don't let the "baseball" part scare you off if you don't like sports. I won't be writing about baseball any more often than I have in the past. I just really like the title, taken from a post I made several years ago and comments about it. When I found the quote included in the title box on the new blog, I knew it was meant to be my new blog title.

Thanks so much for all your comments and faithfulness to this very unfaithful blogger over the past five and a half years. Here's to many more years of blogging friendship.

Blessings,

sandy

Is anybody out there?

I'm alive, really I am!! The past two months flew as life at Maple Grove shifted into overdrive. First, I taught high school English for a month with only a few days notice. What fun! The experiences merit a separate blog post, which I'll try to write soon.

Next, I served another Walk to Emmaus and it was especially powerful. I've never felt so close and united in spirit with 52 other people. God taught me so many lessons through this Walk. Most importantly, He showed me love. How to love and be loved because He loves us so much. Amazing. I'm still basking three weeks later.

Terry and I began RCIA classes in September to join the Catholic Church. Yes, really. After several years of prayers and consideration, this is the time. We will become full members of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil service in late April.

Last weekend I went to visit Lucas in New York. What a wonderful, action-packed adventure we had. One of the high points for both of us was attending a Solemn Pontifical Mass on Thursday night. We attended mass together every day I was there and it was such a humbling, centering experience. My favorite times were the 7:00 a.m. daily masses at St. Joseph's, a church near Luke's apartment. A handful of faithful attendees gather in the dark, quiet church early each morning. Psalms are read from a special prayer book and the entire service takes about 25 minutes. Then we walked to Luke's favorite coffee shop and a different shop for bagels. Friday morning we watched parents walking children to school. Monday morning we arranged for our taxi to pick us up at the coffee shop. I love living like New Yorkers live for just a few days. Saturday night, tired from touring all over the city, Luke and I sat in his apartment and watched Ken Burns' "10th Inning" baseball series update. We ordered in Chinese food which was delivered within fifteen minutes of our call. The quintessential New York experience and another favorite memory.

I'm taking three education classes this semester, one of which is a killer. So every moment is full and I'm learning to take deep breaths and pray constantly. Life is full and I am thankful. I've missed you all, if there's anyone left to read this.

I'm thinking of making a new blog, a more public one linked to my Facebook account. I just don't feel quite comfortable opening this one up as I wrote it with the intention of it being "anonymous" and I don't have time to read through all I've written. I'm thinking of calling the new blog "God, family, baseball." Waddya think?

Blessings,

Sandy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baseball Battles

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=10842801

Last night, the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds battled for first place in the National League Central division. Literally. Before the first batter for the Reds came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning, a 7 minute old-fashioned, bench-clearing brawl ensued. Not too many punches were thrown but tensions were sky high and tempers hotter than the 95 degrees on the field. The battle began on Monday when Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips mouthed off to a local reporter about how much he hates the Cardinals. Phillips used some choice language and didn't mince words. Of course, the St. Louis Post and other local media picked up the comments and ran with them and the blogosphere was alive yesterday with the battle cries. Oh, I love a good baseball fracas.

Photobucket

Recently, I spent several hours researching the first baseball fight I ever saw. I knew the fight involved the Cards and the Reds and Bob Gibson and happened in 1967 or 1968. Finally, I found the details. The fight occurred on July 3, 1967. My family was at the game and I remember asking my Dad what was going on, why all the players were on the field fighting instead of playing the game. That fight lasted twelve minutes and stadium security helped subdue the hot tempers at the time. Last night, listening to the radio broadcast, long-time Cardinal broadcaster and former player Mike Shannon was asked a question by a listener, "What is your favorite fight you were involved in?" Shannon answered, "Well, it involved the Reds and happened in 1967 or 1968 and included a couple of Hall of Famers." He never returned to the details but I knew he was talking about the same fight.

By the way, the Cardinals responded to the tension last night by winning 8-4 to move into a first place tie with the Reds. Yadier Molina, the Cardinals catcher whose interaction with Phillips started the fight last night, hit a solo home run in the second inning, his fifth homer this season.

Ah. Baseball. Pennant races. Regional rivalries. Summer fun!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stay Cool

Photobucket

Please note the crooked pool ladder in the background is one we don't use. It's shoved into an open shed so I don't have to mow around it. Also, don't go shopping for a hat like Terry's. It took several years to break down a straw cowboy hat to this condition!

Does your high school yearbook have twenty-five signatures that all say, "stay cool" or was it just me? Funny, I was probably the least cool kid in school, but I don't think my friends were being snarky.

It's HOT here this summer. We've had so many days of heat warnings and heat indexes (indices for you Latin experts) over 100. We can't remember a summer this hot for years. The corn is growing tall; the gardens are filled with weeds because no one wants to weed when it's this hot. We are trying to stay cool and yesterday I tried several new things which really helped our house stay cool when the temps reached the high 90s. I thought I'd share.

1) We never turn on the oven when it's hot outside. NEVER. If I can't figure out another way to cook something, we don't eat it until cooler weather.

2) Other ways to cook stuff include: toaster oven, crockpot (on the patio if it's REALLY hot like yesterday), gas grill (even baked biscuits in it Saturday).

3) Close window blinds and curtains to keep out the sunlight. Yes, it's like living in a cave but it's such a nice, COOL cave.

4) Ceiling fans and other fans circulate the air and help the window air conditioners work more efficiently.

5) On really hot days, we turn on window units in the bedrooms and leave the doors open to the hallway. It's not quite central air, but each window unit cools a bit more than the room so it does help overall. Plus, we don't have "hot pockets" of air in rooms on the main floor.

6) Use appliances like dishwashers, which generate an incredible amount of heat, overnight.

7) Do laundry as early as possible in the day, or on the coolest days of the week.

8) Turn off appliances and lights. Our large flat panel television puts off a lot of heat. I never have it on during the day anyway, but we now leave it off unless it's something we really want to watch.

9) Laptop computers also put out a lot of heat. Mine is on my lap right now but it won't be for long.

10) We eat more salads and lighter foods in the summer. I can't bear to eat soup or chili in the summertime.

11) Drink lots and lots of fluids. I've discovered Crystal Light tubes this year, the kind that flavor a bottle of water? I don't buy bottled water but the tubes make one convenient cool drink. Of course, plain water is best. Frozen margaritas aren't bad either, although alcohol is dehydrating and not really good for cooling in the long run.

12) Our backyard pool provides a nice cool dip before dinner and keeps us cooler all evening.

I still haven't figured out how to stay cool while mowing. I can't mow until the heat of the afternoon because the dew is so heavy in the mornings and I don't like to mow wet grass. I have been spreading out the mowing over at least two days so I'm not on the hot mower for five consecutive hours. I do wear a hat, which helps keep my head cooler.

What are your favorite "keep cool" strategies?

Blessings,

Sandy

Monday, August 09, 2010

Family Visits 2010

Terry's daughter Jennifer was here for a few days last week. She planned the trip around a family reunion on her mother's side. Cassie also came home for two days to see her.

Jennifer flew in Wednesday, stopping in Houston and Chicago before flying to an airport an hour from us. It's a long story but let's just say we made two two-hour round trips to the airport and finally got home at 2:00 a.m. The funniest part of the saga was when Cassie and I made the second trip to pick up Jennifer. We got her at the airport, stopped for Cokes to wake us up, and headed home. I got on an Interstate highway with the same number as the state highway I intended to take. I've made this trip easily one hundred times and can't believe I made the wrong turn. It was late and we were talking is all I can say. It took a few minutes to figure out what I'd done and we got out the GPS to see if it could guide us home. We followed it for about ten minutes and tried not to be too skeptical as it took us onto more and more isolated country roads. Finally, we came to a road where the GPS said, "turn right onto Indiana 65". The road to our right was NOT a state highway, it was a gravel road. Directly in front of us was a small cemetery and Jennifer insisted the gargoyles on the gate were staring at us. We turned around and found our way back to the interstate, retraced our steps and made it home over an hour later.

One bit about Jennifer's flight: her flight into O'Hare had to circle for almost an hour. The flight crew said the delay was weather-related but Air Force One was landing at O'Hare at the time, so we wonder. Finally, the plane ran low on fuel and had to land in Peoria for more. They sat on the ground in Peoria an hour and a half while airport maintenance crews searched for a fuel hose big enough for the aircraft. The pilot announced he would have to "pop" the engines to take off from the short runway. So, after all the turmoil of Jennifer's travel day, I can see why she found the gargoyles menacing.

Saturday morning, we made biscuits and gravy for breakfast. I made biscuits from scratch and we baked them in our gas grill! (We don't turn our oven on in the summer.) I put the biscuits in our largest cast iron skillet and put the skillet on top of a cast iron cornbread pan so the biscuit bottoms wouldn't burn. They were fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Pictures of our pool time are on my Facebook page. If you'd like to be my Facebook friend, let me know and I'll be happy to point you in my direction.

Happy End of Summer!

Sandy

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best Friends Forever

My visit with Lisa, my teenage best friend, went far too quickly and better than I could ever describe. We describe ourselves now as twins separated at age 25 and reunited 25 years later to discover we have made many of the same choices and share more in common than we could have dreamed. We talked non-stop from the time I hit her driveway, grudgingly gave way to sleep around 3:00 a.m. and awakened to continue talking until I forced myself to drive away to take my Dad for his birthday lunch.

Can you believe I forgot to take pictures??? Don't worry, there will be another BFF reunion soon and I WILL take pictures.

Lisa's home is lovely and a reflection of her. She isn't obsessed with decorating it. She lives in it! Like me, she has an obsessive reluctance to hire a housekeeper. Unlike me, she has seven bathrooms to clean!!! (I would hire a housekeeper if my house were as big as hers.) Her husband David cooked dinner for us and chuckled in amusement, I think, at how long and hard we could talk without stopping for breath. He grew up in the same church we did but he is eight years older, between my two brothers in age, so I didn't know him much growing up. I vaguely remember him teaching our class in Vacation Bible School one summer when he was home from college. Lisa and I repeatedly remarked about the similarity in our husbands. Mine is an accountant, hers is a tax attorney. Hers plans vacations around tax filing deadlines; so does mine. She dislikes office parties as much as I do, perhaps more so because I do enjoy Terry's co-workers. Both our husbands are...ahem...more fastidious than we are.

Lisa has two grandchildren, her son's children: a five-year old boy and a one year-old girl. Her husband David is an elder in their church (our childhood church) and their family is all actively involved in it. We spent quite a bit of time catching up on all the people I knew so well growing up; many I haven't thought of in years. This church is the Wendell Berry "membership" of my youth.

Lisa's daughter who is Cassie's age attends the college where Lisa and I roomed together our freshman year. Her daughter is a very hard-working pre-med student who loves to travel on medical missions around the world. Lisa's youngest daughter is starting high school this year and eavesdropped on our early conversations the other night. She is intensely curious about what her mother was like at her age. Oh, the stories I could tell! Heh heh.

Who can say why we let so many years pass between connections with dear friends?? I know I won't let this BFF out of my life again. We are both giddy at the happiness our renewed relationship brings.


There is a friend who sticks closer than a (sister).
Provers 18:24

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.
Aristotle

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.
John Leonard

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going Home

I'm heading to St. Louis to visit my Dad this week. He turns 89 on Tuesday and I'm so blessed to be celebrating another birthday with him.

Thanks to Facebook, I recently got back in touch with my childhood BFF Lisa. We've always traded Christmas cards but it's been at least ten years since we last saw each other. We're giddy as schoolgirls with plans to see each other tomorrow. I doubt we get much sleep as we have so much catching up to do.

Growing up, I lived in one home and attended one church. Since leaving home, I've lived in 13 different homes and attended five churches. Sigh. While I wouldn't change a thing (well, there were those two years between age 22 and 24...) I miss the stability of my childhood home and church. Lisa is a tie to both and I'm so excited to "go home".

I should mention Terry and I have lived in our current home for 14 years and I doubt I'll be looking for a new church any time soon. Contented sigh. I am home, and I'm looking forward to visiting my childhood home. God is so good.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Going Public?

Since its inception, Maple Grove has been a semi-anonymous blog. I've never used my real name or disclosed our town name. Some of my faithful readers know my full name and have my mailing address, but I have felt fairly secure in my anonymity. It's not that I write stuff I would be ashamed to claim, but I felt more freedom to write honestly about things in my life thinking those who know me in real life would not read them. Jen at Conversion Diary posted yesterday about one of the pitfalls of being known as a blogger.

Carol recently asked if I would start linking my posts to Facebook, so she could follow the updates there. I've been contemplating doing that even before Carol asked, as I've thought about the future of this blog.

I certainly don't expect any of you to wade through the archives but I wondered if you would tell me if you recall anything I've written that might embarass my family or friends if the post were public? I don't want to hurt anyone. I doubt any of my friends or family on Facebook will take the time to read the archives, but I just wondered what you would do?

Should I remove the archives to a different blog? One only known to me? Should I start a new public blog? I know, too much to contemplate when it's so hot outside?