Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hope deferred makes the heart sick

My Knight's wedding gift for me was an electronic piano. Because we move every couple of years, transporting the "real" piano that technically belongs to me would be very impractical, so an electronic one was a better choice. (Also, my father uses the real one, which is still at their house as you might gather, so if I were to take my piano, he'd be without one.)

However, electronic pianos have a pretty limited lifespan. Four years this one lasted, and in May it quit, just before he returned from Over There. We had to wait a while to be able to look into a replacement. then the music store listed in the phone book didn't exist, having gone out of business. We'd finally concluded that we'd order one online, a perfectly fine option.

Meanwhile I was looking forward very greatly to our evening planned for tonight, to spend time singing hymns at some friends' house (whose piano is still quite new). But- as we were setting out to go there, our car wouldn't start. So now we wait longer, and have to put off our hymn sing with friends.

We can afford the repairs on the car, as well as ordering the piano as planned, but I'm still pretty glum about it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I guess it's official....

this is now a Harley household! My Knight bought a blue motorcycle from one of the other guys in their unit ( who was himself buying a brand new one). He's learned to ride it and has been having lots of fun practicing. He has ridden to work once; now will come the real fun when we move!

Our best friend, whom I shall refer to as Owl (long story!), has been riding a Harley for several years. Owl grew up around motorcycles, as his grandfather does work as a motorcycle mechanic and has several antique motorcycles as well. Owl and My Knight are planning to ride together when we move, so it'll be a caravan and a very different kind of trip than most. I'm looking forward to it, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Vegetable Soup

Tonight's selection came from the "Vegetables" section, rather than "Main Dishes," of the 1978 edition. It was very basic and really rather quick, especially as soups go. A broth, water, canned tomatoes, raw potato and celery, some frozen mixed vegetables, and miscellaneous seasonings went in and it simmered for about 20 minutes. I added dried minced onion, and probably would add fresh onion if I were to modify this for "regular" use. Then again, I add dried minced onion to many of my savory dishes and am a great fan of onions in other ways, too!
Bluebonnet assisted by watching and by putting the bay leaf into the pot. My Knight enjoyed the soup, as well as Bluebonnet and I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reading a favorite

It may be somewhat silly, but for about a year I've already been reading older-children's books aloud to Bluebonnet. I love children's literature in my own right, so I get to enjoy them too. right now we're reading Robert McCloskey's Homer Price. Robert McCloskey is, I'm afraid, a sadly overlooked wroter in our American lexicon. His writing and illustrations are both wonderful, slightly similar in style to Rockwell IMO.

Homer Price is a boy whose age isn't defined but is likely around 12. He lives a very American small-town life in 1940s Ohio. He seems to be a bit more observant than average, as he notices such things as exactly how an old maid outwits both of her suitors, and figures out what must have become of a missing bracelt. That observant quality, however, is not a flippant attitude toward the adults, just Homer's trait. The spoonerizing Sheriff and other characters in Centerburg make it a pretty funny read-aloud. I really recommend this one and its sequal for boys, but (obviously) it's enjoyable for girls too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bach to basics

That was not a typo! I've made that joke countless times, as has everyone who's ever played the organ in the last 300 years.

Anyway, when my husband's grandmother died several years ago, we were given the record collection from her house (along with a few other things). Grandmother and Grandfather amassed a very nice collection over the years, primarily of classical and baroque music. We have a number of other records mixed in among them- things that were my mother-in-law's as a teenager or college student, my uncle's Beatles albums, a set of Time-Life American History records which I highly recommend, and some miscellaneous Christmas albums from various sources.

The rub, of course, was finding a record player.

Happily, they are available. Whether that's "they're still available" or "they're available again" is a matter for question. A not-very-surprising Christmas gift that year from my parents was one of these models that includes a cd player, tape deck, and am/fm radio as well as the turntable. The whole thing looks sort of retro.

All our records and cds are in one place, by the player, and pretty much the player is going from before breakfast until Bluebonnet goes to bed every day. If we're at home, there's usually music playing. I alternate between records and cds, and with the assortment we have to listen to, we have a lot of fun listening.

There is no particular order to the way the records are arranged, but it's happened that we've had a number of JS Bach recordings lately. We have two copies of the Brandenburg concertos. This is not overkill; they're such fun that it's worth hearing them twice as often. They are cheerful without being so overtly peppy as marches or Water Music. They're very pleasant and recognizable, but not trite.

I think there's a certain group of recordings that are essentials. I'd welcome any opinions of additions to such a list. My first thoughts are:

JS Bach- Brandenburg Concertos
Handel- Messiah
Beethoven- Complete 9 Symphonies
Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas
Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Oriental Steaks

We made this for supper. I think it was a pretty good example of the mid-century (even 1978) tendency to pretend they were making authentic foods. The soy sauce and rice are the only things that make this remotely Asian! Peppers and tomatoes are stir-fried, then the beef cooked (all in a skillet), then you make a sauce with soy sauce, starch and sugar to cover and coat. The instructions in the recipe tell you to put the sauce in a jar and shake to mix, so Bluebonnet's help was to shake the jar. I found an empty plastic parmesan cheese jar, so I didn't have to worry about her dropping a glass one.
Not my favorite, so far. I guess we'll take the good with the bad here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scientific demonstrations?

Bluebonnet has been discovering many things by doing them. This morning she was interested in pendulum motion, demonstrated by her swinging a string of beads and spools. She probably observed something about momentum too. She saw how air has to escape a vessel as liquid goes in by filling a watering can in the little tub that had filled with rainwater yesterday. We demonstrated gravity by lifting one end of her crawl-through tunnel to get the ball out of the middle of it. And they say science is unreachable.... All this stuff is just in the course of Bluebonnet's playing near mommy.

A note about the beads and spools: The beads are big colorfully painted wooden balls (1 or 1.5" diameter) that my dad made for her. The spools are a mixture of wooden and plastic ones I have saved. If you sew, save your spools! There are so many possible uses for them in playing and schooling- they can be stacked, counted, sorted, strung, rolled, raced, compared, used for patterns if you can paint wooden ones. They'd be a great thing to keep around for nieces/nephews/grandchildren, too, even if you have little space to keep toys.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I was planning to post something about the way the TX weather has been, that we've been promised rain for most of a week and nothing has fallen. Now, it's finally falling! What a welcome sound. I must say, after two years of Central Texas, the idea of a place with a lot of rain, like Fort Lewis, WA, or somewhere similar is starting to sound very nice indeed. I wish I could say I actively waited on God for the rain, but I feel more like I just plain waited. Yet the blessings came, all the same.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bluebonnet has been pretending to vacuum- using the yardstick. Quite the imagination, little one!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Hot dogs

Okay, so some of the recipes are so simple it's rather silly. Perhaps I shouldn't be married to my plan and should skip some things until such time as Bluebonnet can really do them herself, but if I did, I'd get hopelessly disorganized about it. Eventually we'll come around again.

Truthfully, it's always fun to have something like hot dogs, but I do prefer mine grilled over having them boiled, which was the way they were made today. (Except, of course, the time my uncle ended up with something that more resembled charcoal than frankfurters...brilliant man who generally otherwise can cook fine but that was, er, memorable!

Someone once observed that hot dogs always taste best outdoors. Every time I eat a hot dog (which isn't all that often, honestly), I remember his comment and think he was correct.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


If you expect something profound in this post, from the title, you'll be disappointed!

Someone once, none too poetically, likened dreams to the garbage can of one's mind. I think he was correct, in that dreams do seem to mix up a myriad of mental images and randomly assemble them in ways that rarely, if ever, make any sense. I've had occasional dreams that make perfect sense in the light of day...emphasis on occasional.

But really. Last night's dream? The four of us who were constant companions the first year at Cottey (Crys, Ratty, Texas, and Wenonah, aka Beeper) had been hanging around together- which is hard to accomplish now, as we live in three different states! There were pictures of Ratty holding Bluebonnet- Ratty has never seen Bluebonnet at all. Texas, Crys, and I, were relaxing in a hot tub- into which, for some reason, Crys floated alphabet blocks before she got in herself.

she's going to laugh at me and never let me live this one down when I tell her about it, miss Ghost Pirates.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kit Kittredge

The movie theater on the base is basically a second-run theater, and really you can't beat going for $1 on Monday. So last night, leaving a PEO sister babysitting for BLuebonnet, I joined a couple other friends and their daughters for the show.

I had been a tad apprehensive about this latest installation of the American Girls' Collection movies, being the purist that I am for the stories. The trailers I saw earlier were indicative that there was a lot changed between Valerie Tripp's original writings and what appeared on the screen. That was true, and yet something didn't bother me as much about the alterations as it had when the Molly movie came out. Perhaps it's just that I'm far more familiar with Molly than with Kit. In any case, the Kit movie did hit on many of the essential story elements of the Kit books. It was pretty funny to see Wallace Shawn as the newspaper editor, too. And of course, not that I'm the first to observe this, but it is extremely refreshing to see such a clean movie, in which the children are children, the women (except Miss Dooley, who's sort of a caricature and definitely not to be taken seriously) are dressed and behave modestly, the men are respected, and so on.

I think I'll really enjoy when Bluebonnet is big enough to be interested in the American Girls. There's something sort of unusual about having this thing in common with women and girls across an ever-widening age range. I'm toward the oldest end, of course, although there are plenty of women who were a few years older and got into the stories sooner than I did. As yet I haven't heard any rumors about which character will be the subject of the next movie, and I don't know really which to hope it will be.

Monday, August 11, 2008

In case you haven't heard already

I was very glad I didn't call it a night earlier last night! The men's 4x100 freestyle race took place around 10:15 and I would have been sorry I missed that. Certainly there's almost nothing that isn't already being said in the articles! "Exciting" doesn't begin to cover what it was like to watch that race. The French had gone boasting, and they had their boasts sent right back, marked return-to-sender along with the silver medals.

The other teams certainly swam well, and all but the last couple finishers know that their teams beat the previous world record. The winning time was almost four seconds faster than the earlier record. This was not a shabby swim for any of the men competing; however, it definitely was between the Americans and the French from the first men off the starting blocks.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Smart cookie

When I had the Olympics on yesterday, Bluebonnet identified the rowing sculls as "boats!". How she extrapolated that, I don't know, as I can't recall she's ever seen anything remotely like that, even a canoe.


To put it simply, I really enjoy hymns. I've had a lot of experience with music, although I'm not all that wonderful a musician, and every time I get to play or sing hymns, it's always my favorite thing to do. My husband says I oversing a bit in church, and he's probably right. First, because he generally is right about most thigns, and second, because I do get enthusiastic about it.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church is a denomination that loves its hymns, The churches we've attended have had varying levels of musical involvement, and always lots of hymns. This morning we sang several from the resurrection section of the Trinity Hymnal, including "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" and "Look Ye Saints the Sight is Glorious". I suppose that one of the good things about our frequent moves is that we can learn different hymns as we worship at different churches. Each church always has certain hymns that through no particular design are somewhat more frequent favorites. "Look Ye Saints" is one of those which I never recall having sung anywhere before we came to Providence OPC in Austin.

In retrospect, I almost wonder if the main reason I always wanted to learn the organ was to play hymns. Once I got to college and could start organ lessons, one of the first things I did was to start learning a hymn. I started wiht "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"- neither the easiest nor the most difficult in the book, but very familiar. Painstakingly I worked at coordinating each chord with hands and feet. I can only imagine how it sounded to anyone outside, for the Cottey chapel was not air-conditioned and so the windows stood open for several weeks at the start of my first semester.

A performance is always delightful. It's an adrenaline rush, to rehearse and practice for weeks or months and then have people listen and watch. Hymns are not like that; they are something for worship and enjoyment, and relatively little preparation. Some of the most enjoyable gatherings we've had have been times when groups of Christians have been able to get together to sing (or play) hymns, which we're planning to do with another OPC family in a few weeks. I'd encourage anyone who studies the piano or organ especially, although other instruments as well, to work through your hymnals time and again to become familiar with hymns!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Rasin Oatmeal Cookies

This was from the 1958 volume. First of all, it sounds strange to say "raisin-oatmeal" instead of "oatmeal-raisin". It seems rather like trying to reverse the order in which you refer to another couple by name; if you usually refer to Sam and Janet Evening, it's going to sound pretty strange when you hear someone refer to Janet and Sam Evening.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way! The recipe uses shortening, so it's a crisp cookie and not a flat one, but the flavor isn't quite what it should be. Margarine would also work to keep the texture but add the flavor. Overall they turned out pretty well. Bluebonnet was interested in turning the sifter for the dry ingredients (which did not include the granulated sugar.) She also wore the brand-new apron that was a birthday present from her Great-Grams (my maternal grandmother, fwiw.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mama to a two-year-old

Officially. Bluebonnet turned two today, and yes, like every other mama ever, I think "where did the time go"? Fifteen of the last twenty-four months had her Daddy fighting Over There, which actually dragged along even though the whole of the last two years have gone quickly. We don't even know where we'll be living when her third birthday rolls around!

Bluebonnet was given a nice variety of gifts, including several puzzles hand-me-down from the cousin and a teaset. All in all, she had a happy birthday.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Commitment to Loveliness (Charming the Birds from the Trees)

1. Try to keep my hair neat and covered.

2. Be as pleasant as possible on the phone when my husband calls from his TDY.

3. Memorize Psalm 117 (Yes, I know it's the shortest one!)

4. Take pictures of and list several things on Ebay to get them out from underfoot.

5. Continue working on the wedding sampler I'm making for my friend.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Okay, so what's the deal with the name?

You might notice that my blog address, my email, and what I call myself are all Wenonah4th. So what on earth am I talking about? Any very astute scholars familiar with Longfellow might recognize that Wenonah was the daughter of Nokomis and mother of Hiawatha. It is from her that the name of my hometown of Wenonah, NJ, is taken.

Because Wenonah began as a summer place in the 1870s, a thriving local 4th of July celebration began, grew, continues, and hasn't changed a whole lot in all these many years. I could try to describe it thoroughly, but it really has to be experienced. It has always been very homegrown, and everyone always comes back for that one day. If you don't come home to Wenonah any other time of the year, you come back for the 4th. I have participated in the parades there almost every year since I was three years old, and have come up with our family's entry ideas since I was ten. Even in those years that I've not been in Wenonah, I still find that 4th of July stands as my favorite holiday. To use this as my online identity is intangibly more than simply going by my favorite celebration; the Fourth is a huge part of who I am.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How the party went

One of the things I love the most about the Orthodox Presybterian Church is that in addition to being a very sound, theologically, church, it's also a small world. We have found ourselves instantly connecting with everyone we meet within the OPC, to a greater degree than when we meet other Christians of other denominations. I don't doubt that many others love the Lord, but something about the OPC's size makes it that much more wonderful.

That's all prelude to the fact that the other family who came today for Bluebonnet's birthday are an Army chaplain's family, and he's one of not very many OPC chaplains in the Army. My Knight had never met any of this family, but by the end of the evening the two gentlemen were discussing theology like old friends.

The party itself went nicely. My Knight cooked steaks and bratwursts on the grill, we had raw veggies, jello, chips, and of course a birthday cake. The kids played in the sprinklers and I was crazy enough to fill several dozen water balloons for them to enjoy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Frugal Friday- let others be frugal too!

Bluebonnet's turning 2 next week, adn since she's our first, this is our first little foray into the world of having a "friends" birthday party. Actually it's reallly going to be a cookout with a birthday cake; one other family whose youngest daughter is just about the same age will come tomorrow.
So- the frugal aspect here is that we specifically told the other family that we don't want any presents for Bluebonnet. We don't want extra stuff (combined effects of over-buying grandmother & frequent moves!) and I don't want the other family (or anyone else) to have to go to the expense of a gift because they've been invited. I plan to consistently have no-gifts-please friends' parties for our children. Whether in future, when more of the children attending are the same age, we have any kind of party favors, remains to be seen. I do plan on trying to get some pinwheels today for them to play with tomorrow.