Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorable Memorial Day

Monday was our second annual Outdoor Games Day as well as our Memorial Day Barbecue. This year there were no rules to the water games. The Red and Blue teams were chosen randomly. Somehow all the Men ended up on one team. Julia got to be with David, Luke and Daniel. The Red team consisted of myself, Kara, Erika and Andea.

We had 200 water balloons, squirt guns, hoses and various pitchers and containers. The object was just to get each other wet--which we accomplished.

It was a pleasant day to eat on the deck and we had the typical grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, potato salad, watermelon, and corn on the cob (which Erika is demonstrating...)

After dinner the games continued with Julia and Daniel going up against Erika and Andrea to see which blindfolded person could feed their partner a bowl of jello and whipped topping first. Andrea and Erika came in a close second, while Julia and Dan's team came in next to last. [OK, they came in first. :) ]

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lunch at Atlanta Bread

Today is my 1/2 birthday. To celebrate, David invited me to lunch. Erika, who has been home from Europe for 2 days, came with us. (Her 1/2 birthday is tomorrow!) We ate at Atlanta Bread. It's a restaurant that recently opened in the new restaurant park near Apple Ford in Columbia. David was the developer for the restaurant park. I think he did a great job. A lot of people in Columbia seem to be happy that it's here because we saw three of his work associates also eating there today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May Flowers

I'm not a big gardener. But I have felt so invigorated by the recent pleasant weather and our rose bush that bloomed this year that I had to take a picture. Sometimes when I go outside I only see all the work that needs to be done, but right now, at the beginning of the season-- when annuals are freshly planted in a few pots and the grass is thick and green,

it's refreshing and relaxing to water plants and to have a fresh flower at the dinner table.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tenting on the Ol' Campground

I chose this title for our camping trip to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia because it's a Civil War song that Julia and Daniel just sang at their Spring Concert. The song became somber and dramatic as they sang the last verse, "dying on the old campground". Fortunately we weren't dying, but here's our story...

Our son-in-law Luke invited us to go camping on his families' farm. The Decker farmhouse was built before the Civil War and during that war his Confederate family put their valuables in the large grandfather clock and buried them so the Union Army wouldn't find them. Their neighbors were not so lucky and their farmhouse was raided and the hardwood floor still has stains from blood spilled there.

So, that's the background. It was a rainy day but the men decided we were tough enough and we took off. Andrea, at least, was excited because it was her first camping trip outside. We met Kara and Luke at the nearby town of Winchester about 6 pm and then followed them to the farm. It was very lush, rolling fields, trees--and very wet! We found a beautiful spot of field with trees in the background all around us, and unlike other spots we walked, there were no cows or cowpies. Yea!

The grass was about 2' high. We were pretty soaked through with the water coming up from our feet even though it didn't rain on us.

Luke and Kara cooked some yummy chicken and potatoes in the dutch oven with coals on a rock. We pitched our awning and 4 tents around it. We started with hot dogs (or grilled chicken) because the dinner wasn't ready until about 10:00 pm. Then some had s'mores. Luke had a huge propane grill for cooking water for hot chocolate (and my water with lemon--but my new diet is a future story).

We went to bed with cold feet but the air was clean and cool and the next morning was sunny and pleasant. A few of us wore our flipflops in the tall, wet grass the next day rather than brave the soaking shoes, and we were actually pretty comfortable
After a breakfast of cereal, bagels, or bacon and eggs we took down our tents.

That's when Luke got out his homemade "tater gun" that he made as a kid. That thing was emormous and you can't believe how loud it was in that open setting! If you're like me and unfamiliar with a tater gun, you stuff a potato in the end. The excess falls off and you have a tight seal. Then you spray carbuerator fluid in the other end (The Idaho version that Erika shot with her college friends uses hair spray, which according to Luke is more sticky).

Then push the button and POW. I could never see the potato in the air but those who did verified that it went a few football field's distance. Then Luke scared us firing it straight up. That time I saw it--coming at me, it seemed.

Not everyone wanted to fire the gun and we were dubbed "spec-taters".

We played the game 'Mafia' for awhile, had lunch and packed up to go. Despite our wet start, we all had a great time and will remember our experience as 'Northerners' tenting on former Confederate soil.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Do you think at your age it is right?"

"You are old, father William," the young
man said,

"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head--
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,

"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."
--Lewis Carroll

Dave's doctor gave him an A+ this past week on his physical exam. Here he is in his Sunday best demonstrating his youthful stamina. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Driver

Yesterday Daniel passed his driver's test--the first time. That is a proud break from the Meiners' tradition of taking it twice. But he still had to wait to get it. He took driver's ed last summer--almost a year ago. And though you need to drive for 60 hours and 6 months in Maryland before you can get it, a few extra months were added as we dealt with a driver's education program that tested our patience.

It seemed like a great idea to go with the program offered at the high school since it was reasonably priced, close and benefited the school. However, it took weeks of daily phones messages (they were never there), emails, snail mail and a visit to their far away office (which was actually only an office late at night, and a doctor's office by day) to get appointments with a driver for the 6 hours of personal driving instruction he needed. They missed all 3 of those appointments in January, though, and were still unreachable. After calling the school and formally complaining to the MVA we secured dates four months later--and the week before the appointment times came, we were informed by the MVA that the company was no longer in business!

Calling a new company, we got appointments for last week after only a short wait and an actual, punctual, friendly driver appeared at our door. After 11 months, it was like a miracle! Three days later Dan finished his requirements and took the test.

Now the real hard part comes...letting him have the keys. Oh, he's a great driver--I've just become a teensy bit nervous after riding with four drivers-to-be over the last six years. But at the same time, I really didn't mind not accompanying Dan as he and Julia went to Seminary at 5:30am this morning.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Company for Dinner

Our married daughter Kara and husband Luke are living nearby this summer at his grandma's in Virginia while Luke has an internship here. Kara is working as a receptionist for the summer. For the past three weeks, (and for more, I hope) they have come over on Sunday--this week to church with us also. Sunday dinner has always been the most important dinner of the week at our house because we make more time for it, and we're usually all there to enjoy it together. But it seems to be even more important now that it's the only time we see Kara and Luke. I found myself making a list of my Sunday dinners so that I can serve something fun and interesting each week. Though they are family, they have earned the status of dinner "company".

Kids like to know what we'll be having for dinner. Usually I can't even say what the menu is while I am making it, but yesterday I announced the menu in the morning and asked each of the children which item they wanted to help prepare. Julia even told people at church what we would be having for dessert. (The intense interest in our anticipated meal may also be attributed to the fact that yesterday was our fast Sunday, the day of the month that we don't eat or drink for about 24 hours, and everything always tastes fantastic when we end our fast.)

When my children were younger it was hard for me to have more than one "helper" at a time in the kitchen, but one of the fun things about Sunday meals now is that everyone enjoys preparing the meal together. I enjoy teaching them tips about cooking, they are cooperating together as two people might be preparing something together, and everyone has the satisfaction of having helped and having their dish appreciated.

By the way, here's a link to recipes from my favorite cooking show, Everyday Italian.

Now I need to think of something new to serve next week...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Mosaic Maker

Today is my brother Vic's birthday. He is a talented mosaic artist. I want to wish him well today and share a little of his work with you. This is from his website:

My artistic background for the past twelve years has involved computer graphic design. During the mid 1990's, I taught computer graphic animation to artists in dozens of television stations across the country and internationally, including CNN, and many major network affiliates.

Involvement with mosaics evolved from being an early interest into a major direction in my life. As a mosaicist, I work at achieving figurative works with glass. Using curved and geometric shapes of various kinds of stained glass to make up my palette, I cut and nip each shard of glass to fit. Each piece that is incorporated in to the design reveals a fraction more of the image. Creating figures with naturalness and flow, within the patient process of mosaics has become my artistic challenge.

Some of my favorite pieces:
The Swing






Vic presented last year at the national convention of The Society of American Mosaic Artists and was Artist of the Month in Rancho Magazine in December 2005.