Thursday, July 31, 2008

End of July

It is the end of July and finally the garden is in. The Fall crop of kale has been planted. The ‘crops’ I planted earlier in the year are starting to produce.

The issue now is to keep everything from drying out. Yesterday, we tied the record for the most consecutive days with the temperature of 90 degrees. The record was eighteen days set back in 1901. Today we should break the record. The outlook for the next several days is for the temperature to exceed 100 degrees. Along with the heat, precipitation for the year is six and a half inches below normal.

Because of the hot temperatures, some exotic trees are starting to show up. Granted the trunk is metal and the leaves are made of plastic but it just might be a sign of things to come.

Many people are complaining about the heat. During these hot and dry times, it is important to remember, you don’t have to shovel hot, like we did the snow earlier in the year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Swedish Rye Bread

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine, Hazel Johnson taught me how to make Swedish Rye Bread. That doesn’t sound like a big deal; many people learn to cook from others. What makes it remarkable is Hazel was legally blind and taught me from memory and by touch.

I had Hazel’s rye bread before and knew how good it was. Her rye bread was legendary throughout the church. For years, those magnificent loaves showed up at potlucks, were served at numerous meals following funeral services, and went to families receiving meals during a time of crisis. Hazel loved making that bread as much as others loved receiving it.

We met at her daughter and son in law’s house where she was living. Sharron, her daughter, made sure we had all the necessary ingredients. Making rye bread is an all day process so it didn’t surprise Hazel or I when Sharron and Char disappeared.

Hazel instructed me on what to do from memory. She would ask to touch the dough and then instruct me with kind and gentle words.

“Honey, it’s still a little sticky add just a pinch more flour.”

“It’s close, but Honey, it needs to be kneaded more.”

“It needs to rise a little longer, Honey.”

Whenever she instructed me on what to do she called me “Honey”. Over the years, Hazel and I had developed a friendship. “Honey” was a term I heard her call many, many people who had a special place in her heart. I don’t know what I did to deserve that place but it always made me smile when she called me “Honey”.

As soon as the bread came out of the oven, Char and Sharron reappeared. The wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen was calling to them. We immediately sat down to enjoy a slice of bread.

While I would like to say the bread came out perfect – it didn’t. Hazel took a bite and I could tell something was wrong. So, I asked, “What’s the matter Hazel?”

She replied, “It has a good flavor but it’s a little denser than I like. I don’t know what I did wrong.”

“Hazel, you didn’t do anything wrong. Most likely it was the fault of your assistant,” I replied. There was more laughter.

A little dense or not, those were great loaves of bread. The bread is gone but the memory is not.

Tonight all of Heaven is feasting on Swedish rye bread. Hazel Johnson started baking in Heaven on July 27, 2008.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunday Funnies

A lawyer died and arrived at the pearly gates. To his dismay, there were thousands of people ahead of him in line. However, St. Peter walked up to the lawyer and greeted him warmly.

Then St. Peter and one of his assistants took the lawyer by the hands and guided him up to the front of the line and into a comfortable chair.

The lawyer said, "I certainly don't mind all the attention, but what makes me so special?"

St. Peter replied, "Well, I've added up all the hours for which you billed your clients, and by my calculation you must be 193 years old!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Arriving In Town

While some mountain communities and tourist towns throughout the state have seen $4.00 a gallon gas it finally reached Denver.

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the arrival of $4 a gallon gas coincides with people starting to converge for the Democratic National Convention.

Monday, July 21, 2008

BlogFeast. . . I Mean Blogstock (Part 3)

You might think feeding people at Blogstock would be overwhelming but it wasn’t. In fact, Cliff referred to it as “practice” – he had to barbecue for golf league the following week.

Saturday’s brunch ran from nine to eleven so people could show up when it was convenient. Due to rain, brunch was on the back porch where pancakes, sausage, and eggs were served. Cliff took control of the oversized griddle making pancakes and cooking everyone’s eggs to order – except mine. When he asked how I wanted my eggs I replied, “Poached”. After a blank stare and a chuckle or two, he mumbled something about where poached eggs belong. I’m not a big fan of poached eggs anyway so I just ate the ones he gave me.

The lot of the cooking was to be done outside so an outdoor kitchen had to be constructed. A cooking table was built and the smoker loaded with pellets. But, that didn’t solve all the problems. If you do any outdoor cooking, you know a lot of time is wasted going inside to the refrigerator. How do you solve that problem?

Easy - you move one outside where it’s more readily accessible. Cliff said, “You know you’re a redneck if . . . you have a refrigerator in your backyard and it’s running.” I did get concerned when Cliff kept saying how much he liked it out there and started talking about building a shed to protect it from the weather. Marilyn did not share Cliff's enthusiasm.
You cannot grill everything so a grate for the Dutch ovens was constructed. Some of the best cobbler you’ll ever put in your mouth came out of these pots. Take a scoop of that hot cobbler and top it with a little ice cream (stored in the outdoor refrigerator) and you knew Marilyn made an outstanding dessert.

Yes, the barbecue chicken was so good you wanted to take a picture of it – and several people did. The roaster oven was full of chicken when we started and empty when we quit. There were also many side dishes prepared by Marilyn, Char, Desiree, and Rachel. Other side dishes and desserts were provided by bloggers and the residents of Tekamah who attended. No one went away hungry except Jerry – who was caught grazing in the cherry tree.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunday Funnies

During these troubling times, people of all faiths should remember these four religious truths:

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people.
2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.
4. Baptists do not recognize one another at Hooters.

(Thanks to Nora)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Signs Of The Past (Blogstock Part 2)

Remember driving down the road and seeing Bermuda Shave signs? They were a series of three or four signs you could read from the road and you had to read the entire series to get the catchy little saying. They were a thing of the past – at least until Blogstock ’08.

I few clever minds (no, no – not Cliff and I) came up with the sayings then Desiree got creative with some poster board. Early the morning of the fourth, Char, Desiree, Rachel, and I started putting up the signs along two-mile road leading to the Morrow’s farm.

Here is a sampling of the signs that were posted.

And another. . .

Just before you got to the turn there was this set. You could tell you were almost there by how well the grounds were manicured. It looked like someone had spent hours on the riding lawn mower!

Some folks on two mile road got into the action and put up there own signs.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You Know You Had Fun When. . .

. . . you have a revelation and your wife confirms it.

We had been away from home from twelve days. We spent most of the day driving and were setting at a red light less than a mile from the house. That’s when I turn to Char and said, “We ought to take a trip.” She asked me where I wanted to go. “How about we go out to see the kids and stop by Cliff and Marilyn’s?” And with that, the events of the past twelve days started to replay in my mind.

We had gone out to Illinois to see Nathan and Desiree and to our surprise Tiff and Jason drove down from Chicago. We spent a few days together and had a lot of fun.

We went on paddleboats and even with the wind had a lot of fun. This was a great idea dreamed up by Nathan and Desiree.

This might explain why they like the paddleboats so much.

We went to see the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. It just seemed like the right thing to do with Independence Day rapidly approaching. It was a somber experience.

Then it was off to Blogstock. Much had to be done in preparation for Blogstock including moving hay. The hay was cut, baled, and needed to be moved prior to being rained on. Here Desiree and Cliff are loading a roll of hay that weighs close to 3,500 pounds.

The float frame was made. The engineering of this framework was a work of art. Cliff and I constructed it so it would stand the test of time or a strong wind which ever comes first. The highlight was when I was on a ladder trying to attach a board and the trailer started swaying. I looked at Cliff who was laughing and he said something to the effect of, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry but the last time I saw a face like that Marilyn was giving birth.” Anyway, we got it built.

Later that night it was off to dinner and karaoke. Here Terry Anderson and Cliff are belting out a song.

The fourth of July had arrived! The float was ready and all the bloggers posed for a few (all right – a lot of pictures) in front of the float. From left to right you have Janell. Cliff, Ralph, Desiree, Lazy Blogger, Jerry,Rachel, Jamie Dawn, Nora, and Jim.

Tekamah, a town with a population of about 1,800, had swollen and main street was lined with people waiting for the parade. There was a lot of cheering and clapping as each float passed by. The crowd truly made you feel special.

Following the parade, it was off to the winery where Phil and June Simpson put on a feast for all of us. While Cliff and I were somewhat nervous because our numbers kept increasing for the luncheon, Phil and June somehow made sure there was plenty of food for everyone.

Then it was time to head to the command center of Blogstock ’08 - a.k.a. the Morrow farm.

Bloggers gathered under the tent to talk, tell stories, and just visit with one another. It was a great setting and a great time.

Julie Morrow was a trooper behind the scenes giving horse rides to the adults. Some of these people had never been on a horse before and Julie was patient and helped them all have a great experience.

Pony rides were also available for the kids and as you can see all the little ‘hams’ took part.

Not enough to do? How about a ride on the four-wheeler. The kids and a few adults took part and all seemed to have a great, great time.

But wait – it was about visiting and getting to know one another which happened under the big top.

There was even a time to sign one another’s blog book. Here's Janell, Jerry and Nora signing one of the books.

July 4th was Independence Day but July 5th was Jerry’s birthday. Rachel had made Jerry a cake and all of us enjoyed it.

At the stoplight, I looked at Char who was staring at me with a smile on her face. She said, “You’re ready to go back aren't you?” The light turned green and I started for home thinking to myself – Yes, yes I am.

More blogstock posts to come.