Friday, July 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 49


We spent a wonderful day last Saturday with Joe's parents.  Larry had spent part of the week in Williamsburg with them, and we drove down last Friday night and everyone went to Virginia Beach on Saturday.  We spend two fantastic hours on the beach, until the rain chased us away.

Nearby is a great  seafood restaurant called Catch 31, where we enjoyed a fantastic lunch.  The bronzed tilefish is to die for.  And they make a pretty good mojito, too.


I hunted for a couple of geocaches this week while the boys were at camps and swim practice and such.  I was able to get a little exercise too, you have to walk a little way to find them.  This one is called "Take Two Bites...Alice."  Can you see it?

Very clever.  And I only have a couple of teensy poison ivy bumps.

If you want to look for this geocache, click here.


Not far down the trail is another geocache called "Really Wet Land."  I love the setting for this one.

I searched in vain for that cache.  I even emailed the person who placed it for help, and I still couldn't find it.  If you want to try, go here.  Maybe you'll have better luck than me.

What I love about geocaching is that you have to keep your eyes open and you see things you might not notice, like the beautiful churchyard I showed you in this post.

Along the path this week I spotted these things:


We have a hummingbird feeder.  The other day Curly and Moe spotted a hummingbird taking a sip.  What we usually see is this (look closely):

Nice, huh?


This next take was going to be a rant about President Obama's latest idiocy, where he claimed that people who have successful businesses that they built from the ground up didn't actually build them.  I had lots of snarky things to say about that, including that Obama didn't really earn that worthless Nobel Peace Prize, someone better actually did, and that everyone knew it all along.  But then I opened up my Twitter feed (see Take Number 7 for my navel-gazing drivel about how maybe I should quit social networking, blah blah) to the news that fourteen (now they're saying twelve) people had been shot dead--and many more people badly injured--in a movie theater in Colorado.  I may or may not have more to say about that later; right now I'm just shocked and saddened.

Sometimes I wonder why we don't react as strongly when something like that happens overseas, like when someone blows up a bus full ofIsraeli tourists in Bulgaria.  I think it's because it's happening here, in our own country, and we're shocked because those things just don't happen in America.


Yesterday I posted another project on my Cooking Nick's Books blog.  It's a delicious pasta dish that my mother-in-law handed down to me--well, actually, Joe explained to me in detail how she used to make it and according to him, it's just like hers.  So far it's only gotten nine pageviews.  Nine.  If you haven't seen it, you're missing out on something yummy and REALLY EASY to make.  Check it out here!

(While you're at it, here's another one I published last summer for peach ice cream.  That one has only had nine views as well.  Can we make it ten? *smile*


You may see a significant reduction in my online presence very soon, partly because we'll have a lot going on during the latter part of the summer and I won't have much time for blogging and social networking.  There will be a lot for everyone to do to get ready for the new school year.  For the last several years I've been working about 20 hours a week on average; this year I'll be working 30.  That's not a whole lot, I know; lots of moms work 40 hours per week or more and still have time for other things.  But ten hours is ten hours, and every hour I spend online is one hour I'm missing out on (or neglecting) something else.  I need to take some time and re-evaluate how I want to spend time online, make sure my online presence is meaningful to myself and others.  It's so easy to idly browse Facebook and Twitter and blog readers with no real purpose, and then suddenly you've wasted an hour of your day doing nothing.  Plus with Blogger's new format, it's easier than ever to see exactly how many times people have viewed my blog posts, and the meager numbers are depressing.  At times I'm not sure if it's really worth the time I spend writing blog posts if only a handful of people are going to see them.  I'll never be an "it" blogger and get lots of traffic and comments (I haven't really taken the time to figure out how many comments per month I get on average because it varies, but I can go through an entire month of blogging and have none--which sounds hypocritical coming from me because I almost never leave comments) and I hope that the few people who do read this don't feel like they've wasted their time.  And how many people actually see every 140-character-or-less post I put up on Twitter?  Not many.

(Boy, it sure sounds like I'm whining, doesn't it?  Enough of that.  I do love blogging and social networking; maybe I just need to spend less time doing it.)

Jen Fulwiler is definitely an "it" blogger because, well, her blog rocks.  She's the one who invented "7 Quick Takes," so now that you've wasted five minutes of your day reading this one(ha ha), head on over to Conversion Diary and read her post from this week, and check out lots of other ones, too.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 48


I've gotten hooked on a new TV show.

Well, not new, exactly; it's One Tree Hill, and it ran for nine seasons: the first episode aired in 2003, and the show ended (at least I'm pretty sure it isn't coming back) just this past spring.  It tells the story of a group of teenagers (and the adults in their lives) in a small fictional North Carolina town.  My family teases me, because they know the reason I started watching the show in the first place is because I learned that Gavin DeGraw's song "I Don't Wanna Be" is the theme song; and if you listen carefully you just might on occasion hear strains from some of his tunes.  (And you may even get a rare glimpse of Gavin himself; more on that later.) 

I've only seen the first season and a few episodes from Season Two, and I will say that so far, even though there are some things that bug me about it (like, it seems to be a given that teenagers are going to drink and have sex; plus everyone is thin and glamorous and no one has acne), there are--so far--a lot of good things about the show, too.  It seems to be geared mostly toward the teenage crowd, and it could spark some great conversations between parents and kids (although my boys aren't the least bit interested in watching it with me--and it might be more suited for older teens anyway).   Some of the positive messages I've seen are:  

1. Sex isn't something to be taken lightly.  There are consequences, and it's important to be aware of them and to be prepared to deal with them.  And it's perfectly okay NOT to have sex.  
2.  Listen to your parents.  They're not perfect; adults make mistakes too, but there is much to learn from their knowledge and experience.  I really like the fact that the kids on the show treat the adults with respect.  3.  A main plot line on the show is a man who fathered two children as a teenager and is struggling to figure out how to be a dad to both of them.  In one episode it's revealed that he wanted one of the mothers to have an abortion, and the young man is devastated when he learns he might never have been born.  When the boy learns that his girlfriend might be pregnant, he agonizes over what might happen and it's clear that abortion would not necessarily be a good choice.  

Plus the actors are good, and the coastal North Carolina setting gives it a nice A Walk To Remember kind of feel.

I still have nearly eight more seasons left to watch (THANK YOU, NETFLIX!!) and it's possible that my thoughts and opinions about the show will change as I go; but I'm looking forward to losing myself even further in the lives of the residents of Tree Hill.  And if you've seen the show and want to share your feelings about it with me, I'd love to hear them! (Just try to keep spoilers to a minimum, please!)


Of course the DeGraw Factor is a fun bonus; when Gavin first shows up in Tree Hill he's like, twenty-six, but he probably could pass for one of the teens on the show...

Methinks I'll be seeing more of Gavin, and hearing lots more of his music, too. 


Changing the subject...can I ask for your prayers for a difficult family situation?  I won't reveal details here but some people who I love very much are going through some really tough times right now.  And it's breaking my heart because they live so far away.  Could you please pray for this special intention?  Thanks so much!


Speaking of people I love very much, my brother and his wife are expecting their first baby!  We are all very excited.  My sister-in-law is due in late December, and they couldn't be happier.  If you could keep them and their unborn child in your prayers, I (and they) would be grateful!

Between the 100-plus degree heat and the crazy storms we've had around here lately, it's been an interesting few weeks, weather wise.  I actually was on the verge of taking Larry to the emergency room a couple of weeks ago when he got dehydrated and overheated at his outdoor adventure camp; fortunately once I got him home into the air conditioning and he rested with a Gatorade in one hand and the TV remote in the other, he was fine.  Then, that very night, came the infamous DERECHO OF DOOM that knocked out our power for a good part of the weekend.  We were fortunate;  no trees came down on our house, and the only evidence of damage we found was one roof shingle that was lying on the deck the next morning.  Lots of people in our area lost power for a week or more, had trees smash into their living rooms, and all kinds of horrible stuff.  (Check out Ginny's blog for an account of their ordeal.  Ginny amazes me sometimes the way she can make the best of a bad situation.)  This week? The weather (except for one bizarre thunderstorm that knocked down a couple of buildings not too far from here) has been BEAUTIFUL.


It hasn't been too hot and stormy for the critters!

(I snapped this one right before I chased them off.  I did NOT want to witness a cat fight right next to my house, thank you very much.)

(A much more mellow kitty)

(An even more mellow doggy)

...And, of course, the heat didn't stop the Joe and boys from putting on a private fireworks show in the driveway for the Fourth!


Finally I have a few links to share with you:

--I've been busy on my other blog, Cooking Nick's Books.  Check out these Brazilian Chicken Cutlets I made last week, and the bacon pancakes I cooked just the other night. 

--If you missed it, you can read this post, in which I reminisce about a Buddy Guy concert we attended 20 years ago.  The best concert EVER. 

(Buddy had a show last night at Wolf Trap.  Sadly we had to skip it.  There was a swim meet.)

--And are you on Goodreads?  I joined that networking site for book lovers several years ago when I was part of an online book discussion group.  Recently I've started using the site again to log and rate the books I'm reading, and I've even written the occasional review.  Last week I reviewed a memoir by the racing legend Alex Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in a racing accident in 2001.  You can read that review here; and while you're at it, why not become my Goodreads Friend?  That way we can each see what the other is reading.

--Finally, Jenn Fulwiler, our 7 Quick Takes hostess with the Mostest, published a GREAT piece earlier this week recalling the way she explained the Catholic Church's teachings regarding marriage to a friend who is gay.  I bookmarked it on my computer and I've got a good mind to memorize it. 

Larry has been with Joe's parents in Williamsburg for the last few days.  It's amazing how much more quiet our house has been with just Curly and Moe here.  We get him back this weekend.  I miss him.  (Good grief, what am I going to do when the boy goes off to COLLEGE?)

For more Quick Takes, visit Jenn's Conversion Diary blog.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Waxing Nostalgic

I promise you, this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Gavin DeGraw, so bear with me when I mention his name in the first sentence.

The other day Gavin posted on his Twitter page, "Woke up in Chicago.  Time to find something to do." 

I've been to Chicago once, about eight years ago when Joe an I took a weekend trip there to visit his college roommate and to do some sightseeing.  (I know we took pictures, but I can't find them.  We didn't have a digital camera at the time, so there are none on our computer; and I've sorted through hundreds of old photos these last few days without finding a single one from that weekend.)   We visited the Art Institute (where I was particularly impressed with the famous Seurat painting that inspired the musical Sunday in the Park with George.  It's huge.), Da Bean, the famous shiny sculpture shaped like a lima bean (whose official name is "Cloud Gate," but who calls it that?), went shopping on Michigan Avenue (didn't buy much; man, are those places expensive), rode to the top of the Sears Tower, stopped in for a quick prayer at Holy Name Cathedral, and even rode by Oprah's studio to see if we could get in (we couldn't).  Chicago is also known for its numerous blues clubs, and there is one in particular that we visited, Buddy Guy's Legends, that's owned by one of Joe's favorite blues artists.  I don't remember who was playing that night; I don't think it was anyone well known, but I do remember that they played a great rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago."  Anyway, when I saw Gavin's tweet I remembered that place and just for fun I tweeted him the link.  (Yeah, right; AS IF Gavin DeGraw, on a night off from touring, would decide to go there just because I suggested it!  I would be surprised if Gavin hasn't been there already; heck, he's probably played that gig and even met Buddy Guy himself.)

Since I've been waxing nostalgic lately about concerts and how much fun it is to go to them, I couldn't help but remember the time when Joe and I had a rare opportunity to see Buddy Guy perform for us, along with perhaps a hundred other people, if it was even that many.  We had only recently started dating, and were in that phase of our relationship when he lived in Maryland and I lived in Southwestern Virginia and we were taking turns visiting each other every other weekend.  There is a little town in Giles County, Virginia, in the mountains, called Newport.  (Some people confuse it with the city of Newport News.  There are no similarities between the two, believe me.)  One weekend in the summer, there was a music festival there--I'm pretty sure it was called the Newport Blues Festival, although much smaller than the more-famous one with the same name in Newport, Rhode Island.  There were a number of local bands scheduled to play, and the headline event of the day--the very last act of the evening, the main attraction--was none other than Buddy Guy.  There was no way Joe was going to miss that one.  We showed up with our blanket and our cooler of beer and soda and snacks, and lounged around enjoying the music for most of the day.  We realized that most of the festival-goers were there to see one particular local band that was fairly popular at the time--I don't even remember the name, but they weren't too bad--and that the majority of the crowd had either never heard of Buddy Guy or could have cared less about him.  By the time Buddy came out to play, almost everyone had left.

My parents gave us this print from a local artist named Walt Hughes called "Full Moon Newport" shortly after we moved into our house.  They remembered what a good time we had at the music festival there. 

I think I can honestly say, out of all the concerts I've been to, that may have been the best show I've ever attended.  (Maybe even better than Gavin's, and that's saying a lot.)  Since there were so few people in attendance, we were able to get very close to the stage and Buddy didn't seem the least bit sorry that only a small number of us had stuck around to see him.  He put on a fantastic show, and it was obvious that he was truly enjoying himself and was happy to perform for such a small intimate crowd.  I don't think it mattered to him whether there were ten people or then thousand; he made sure it would be a wonderful evening for everyone.  Since then, Buddy has appeared several times at Wolf Trap (the same place I saw the almost-best show ever), but Joe has been reluctant to go because he knows he'll be disappointed.  There will never be another chance to see Buddy Guy in such an intimate setting, and he's afraid he wouldn't enjoy it as much as he did when we saw him 20 years ago.  Frankly I can't blame him.

This past weekend we had a chance to catch up with Joe's friend Paul, the one who lives in Chicago, when he was in Washington, DC for a cousin's wedding.  We spent a good part of Saturday with him and his wife, and got to meet their two adorable kids.  It was great to see them again, and we vowed that SOON we would come to the Windy City to visit, and bring the boys.  Even fifteen-year-old Larry commented on how much fun it was to spend time with them.  In the meantime we'll look forward to a visit to the Navy Pier or the Museum of Science and Industry (Curly would love that one) or the Alder Planetarium; and I know Joe will want to take in a Cubs game.  

I found this video of Buddy Guy from 1992, right around the time we saw him.  It brought back a wonderful memory and made me smile.  Watch and enjoy!

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