Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Put Me in, Coach! I'm Ready to Play!

Well, it's Wednesday, and it's summertime. You know what that means, don't you? Gotta be a girls' ball game going on somewhere! Our kids joined teams for the first time this year, and it's been fun watching them play.

Boys' games are up on Thursday's, and it's really fun watching them slug it out against other teams, too.

Go, Kate!
Go, James!
Go, Indians!
Go, D-ville!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It Is

The world is a sacred vessel.
It should not be meddled with.
It should not be owned.

If you try to meddle with it, you will ruin it.
If you try to own it, you will lose it.

-- Lao Tzu

Damn! Been upstaged by a translation of something an ancient Chinese dude said thousands of years ago. Ha! Humbling, isn't it? You can't see me, but I am smiling as I write these sentences.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thank Goodness, It's Not a Hard Tack Life We Live

This was meant to have been written and posted on Memorial Day. Thank goodness, the soldiers who protect us in any day and age are not as lackadaisical about deadlines as I am. For your service, you are admired, thanked, and placed on a mental pedestal. You sacrifice your own safety, your family's sanity, and so many small moments of what would be a normal daily routine. I would like to say I understand what you do, but I can't, simply because a civilian can come no closer to completely understanding your life than an occasional foreshortened glimpse of your day. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that you are taken for granted many days of my life. So, when there is an opportunity to reflect closely upon what you and your forebears have done for our society, then I owe you time and thought. . . and I apologize for what a small drop in the bucket of gratitude that is, and I hope you won't think writing about my small personal experiment trivializes your life in any way.

Here's what I did. During Memorial Day weekend, my sister, the kids, and I stopped at Fort Duffield to see what the reenactors were doing. We stopped late in the day, but we did get to see a couple and look at their tent and campfire. They were generous with their information, as well as their hard tack and snickerdoodles! James and Kate happily chose snickerdoodles, but I figured I ought to try the hard tack. The "soldier" let me attempt to nibble a corner of the "cracker" and then let me in on a little secret. Most Civil War soldiers would bust it up with the butt of their gun before attempting to eat it. They would sometimes soak it in their coffee cup, making coffee pudding. Hmmm, I thought, I guess I could try that. I carried the rest of my chipped off hard tack. I carried it in my sweaty palm while we finished walking around the fort. I carried it in my sweaty palm while we walked farther up the bluff to the cemetery. I carried it in my sweaty palm while we swam through the ninety-ish temperatures and almost visible humidity on the way back to the car. It still looked exactly like it did when I first put it in my hand.

That's tough stuff, that hard tack. You can find an official Army memo about it here. Did you read the ingredients? Four cups flour, four teaspoons salt, and about two cups water are mixed and baked in an oven. "The fresh crackers are easily broken but as they dry, they harden and assume the consistentency of fired brick." I think the sample I received had reached that kiln brick stage.

Memorial Day morning, I cracked my hard tack (no gun butts involved) and put it in my coffee cup. I indulged in my usual sugar, even though I imagine sugar in a soldier's pack after so many days and years at war would not have been likely.

As I poured my one cup of coffee for the morning into the hard tack and sugar, I had a very mundane thought-- this stuff is going to absolutely ruin my coffee because it's going to dissolve and turn the whole thing into a starchy mush. I quickly sipped what I could, hoping to avoid any globs of hard tack, hoping that didn't make my Memorial Day tribute too trivial. You know what? The hard tack stayed hard. I caught a crumb or two, but they were more like grit than mush. For once, though, I didn't finish my morning coffee. Figuring that wasn't in the spirit of my experiment, I poured the leftovers into a travel cup and took it with me to town, just in case I got the urge to cheat and get a hard tack free cup of espresso while I was at the bookstore.

I did finish most of the coffee, but the hard tack had soaked up some of it. When I opened the travel cup the next morning, here's what I saw-- leathery pieces of moist hard tack. Soldiers, thank you for what you do, that's all I can say!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The N.H.B.

That's "N," as in "naked." That's "H," as in "headless." That's "B," as in "Barbie doll."

She lives in our backyard, you know. The furlines greet her every time she lands someplace different around her tree home, and this has caught my attention. It seems to me that I have to pick up the N.H.B. and move her every single time I mow the yard. I always perch her somewhere on the half dead tree that needs to be cut down (except that I can't bear to bring up the subject to the bill payer in the house because that squiggly tree has so much personality, as well as so many bird homes in its branches). The next thing you know, she's back in the grass, risking her plastic limbs in order to instigate more cat investigations.

I am beginning to wonder if she's alive.

Yeah, I said that. Me, the scientifically oriented skeptic of all things supernatural, I just suggested the N.H.B. might be a phenomenon worthy of a Scooby Doo episode. Well, I'm not sure the Mystery Gang would find the requisite sinister culprit and plot, but I do think the N.H.B. would entertain such an inquisitive group of youngens.

This leads me to the idea that I could use the N.H.B. to create a summer mystery for James and Kate to investigate. Um, great idea, but not for my two. Kate still hasn't recovered from the time I jokingly referred to the ice maker dumping sound as "the refrigerator ghost." (I thought it was funny, Ricky thought it was funny, and Katie screeched and has been spooked by it off and on ever since.)

So, dear N.H.B., you and I will continue this little game with the cats by ourselves.

P.S. to the N.H.B.-- Your head is living in a basket full of hen 'n chicks, in case you'd like to mosey over that way and really freak me out!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Nine. It's a very good number.

It's also a sort of awkward, sort of silly, sort of strange bridge into the double digits. Nine year olds are too old to pitch fits, too young to party, too old to catch a ride in a stroller, and too young to think just strolling along the sidewalk is a fun thing. Nine year olds. . . I have one, and I think he's handling it really well.

From what I can remember, nine was not a very flattering year for me, so I'm really digging this boy's newfound sense of self. He's so smart, but what he's always longed to be is funny, side-splitting-slap-your-knee funny. Um, how do I say this? He was more cute than funny, more smart than funny, more fun than funny. This has been a sore spot for him, as you might expect, especially since his little sister seems to have been born with the class clown gene fully intact and working well since she was old enough to talk. The boy tried too hard to compete, taking his jokes that extra not-so-funny mile, straining to get a laugh.

Well, I am pleased to announce that I think he has finally started growing into his own sense of humor. It's funny, it really does seem to have happened within the last month. Technically, he's only been nine for a little over a week, but I think the "I'm nine" realization started sinking into his brain as soon as his sister turned eight. For four weeks each year, James and Kate are the same age. This does not amuse either one of them anymore. James starts referring to himself as "practically nine" as soon as Kate reaches eight (same thing happens almost every year, just the numbers update themselves). This year, I think 9 means "I'd better start acting like a big kid" to him. He's a little less dramatic with his fits when things don't go his way. Okay, he's still dramatic, but it has toned down a smidge. He's a little bit more thoughtful of others. He's literally walking taller-- the way he carries his little boy body is starting to have a teenagerish turn to it. He's funny.

Yep, all these years of trying too hard and coaxing the laughter have coalesced into a hilariously laid back sense of humor. It's starting to be really fun to watch. The "bumper stickers" for his tennis shoes appeared one afternoon after a period of furious work with papers and markers and such. After wiping the tears from my eyes and catching my breath, I begged the little booger to let me take a picture of the bumper stickers. He obliged. The bumper stickers disappeared later that evening and have not made a reappearance yet. . . but I think "yet" might be the key word. Sunday morning, Ricky was sitting at the dining table with his back to the stairs when James casually slid his hand through the railing and started rubbing Daddy's head with his knuckles. "Have you had your Father's Day dutch rub yet, Dad??" I like it-- sly, dry, funny wit.

So, James, since I know you have a habit of reading my stuff when you get a turn on the computer, let me say this to you: Nine looks good on ya, Boy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So, Dudes, Prepare Yourselves for the Onslaught...

So, dudes (and dudettes, since I'm pretty sure many of you share the double X with me), prepare yourselves for the onslaught... the onslaught of wicked words and funny stories and personal battles that must be rehashed in print. If you think about such things, the thought might have crossed your mind that Angie must have exploded from all the pent-up words that haven't been falling out into her blog. Yep, it's true. I haven't had time to write the blog daily because I've been too busy biting my tongue and holding my peace (not to be confused with holding my piece, which is likely what some of you just read, lol).

Don't talk politics.
Don't talk religion.
Don't air your dirty laundry in public.
Don't this.
Don't that.

It's all very good advice. It is. It's just driving my writing muse crazy lately, and that's because lately, politics and religion and dirty laundry are like a huge swarm of mosquitoes circling my body of thoughts. Yeah, how's that for a convoluted simile?

For all the time I've spent inwardly thinking about spirituality and what I really believe about the universe, I've spent even more time not talking about it because I seem to have moved right smackdabinthemiddle of a place where my views are going to be just plain sacrilege if/when I utter them aloud. Ya think that whole "speak up for what you believe" discussion hasn't been torturing my head a little bit? Let's not even get started on the "but it's not just you who will feel the effects" discussion, and let's really not get started on the "well, what are you teaching your kids about life if you do/don't speak your mind" guilt-laden discussion. Suffice it to say that IF I could figure out how to let loose without offending anyone, I would have some hilarious rants to share with you. Oh, there we could go on another tangent, the "I honestly believe we should each believe what feels right for ourselves and let other people do the same" tangent, which most certainly has to be accompanied by the "well, if that's what I believe, then why are my panties in a bunch over what someone else believes??" tangent.

See? Told ya to prepare yourselves for the onslaught, and we haven't even touched on the politics or dirty laundry (well, maybe "touched" and "dirty laundry" aren't good word images to use during this particularly hot and humid Midwestern summer, kinda brings sweat-soaked and icky to mind, huh?).

Politics, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, politics, that's been a biggie for a few years now. Yep, here I am, the smackdabinthemiddle girl, suffocated by ultra-conservative rhetoric and discombobulated by ultra-liberal rhetoric. Don't worry, I don't care where you fall on the continuum, I just want to speak my piece occasionally and prove that I think for myself.

Dirty laundry, dirty laundry. Hmmm, there must be a better term for that. That phrase just sprang to mind after the mention of politics, I guess. Heh, heh, that's not really funny, when you think about it; guess I'm in one of my cynical, warped moods, huh? Anyway, I've also been thinking about how we social networking media whores (or Facebook personality sluts? or hams?) say things, then those things get taken the wrong way by other people, then those people tell their neighbor's boss's ex-wife's grandmother what he said he said she said. . . and Granny knows your dog groomer's best friend's daughter's pen-pal. . . and there we go with the drama, lol! Now, from what I remember from writing courses in college, lo those long years ago, a good writer plays to her audience while at the same time not letting the audience's potential reaction silence her. Obviously, the world keeps on changing, while at the same time, the snowball effect remains the same!

Yep, that about sums up the situation with me and the blogging these days. Damned if I do (quite possibly quite literally, if the religion thing gets out of hand), and damned if I don't (quite figuratively, quite because I could figuratively explode from the force of pent-up rants about why the cat has to lay her mouseskullandguts tributes in places on the patio where my flipflop wearing feet might stumble across them).

So, dudes (and dudettes), let the blogging fun/catharsis begin again. . . Ang and her warped brain are back :-)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tickle Fight ReMatch

What's this? James is getting his ribs counted and there is no wiggling, no squealing, no helpless giggling? How is this possible?

Aha! Looks like James armed himself with a secret weapon for the tickle fight rematch. He had that soft blankie stuffed under his shirt to cover his ticklish ribs!

Uh, oh, looks like the Uncle Bubby wins this round, now that the secret weapon is no longer in play!