Sunday, June 19, 2011

Many will enter, only one will win

I have no pictures today because yesterday was spent running around in my best friend's backyard and I'm sure everyone is sore today. I know I am, but not as much as the ones who did the three-mile walking race, then the sprint shortly thereafter.

Pro tip: stretch before and after.

I've been slacking off a bit in the needled arts in preparation for this weekend's Midsummer Games and hopefully I can get some pictures to share. I was busy refereeing, but that's fun for me. My favorite is the part at the end of the day when everyone falls over, exhausted, and says "Man, that was fun!" The prize was just a cheesy plastic gold medal, but there are bragging rights that went with it. Amongst this lot, we had eight pies and six cooks who thought his or hers was the best one. Eight pies enter. One pie leaves. The Twister competition was just epic and even the kids had a great time. Iris did very well and the best friend's middlest child also did quite well. Her youngest ended up not winning anything, but he did finish the three miles and I'm very proud of him for that. He's not quite there when it comes to being okay with his personal best, but he's got good parents that will help him get there.

I'm so, so proud of when he tried and I hated seeing him upset, but not everyone can win. It's more important, really, to do your personal best and if your personal best is better than your competitors' personal best, then great! If not, that's okay, too. You're not going to get a cheesy plastic medal for it, but you'll know you put forward all you could and really, there's so much you can learn from loss. There are those parents who would hand out trophies to their kids for just showing up, but the truth is that this just makes adults who expect rewards for having a pulse. We don't become skilled without challenges and without learning how to win and lose, we won't learn how to deal with both gain and loss and we lose our impetus to increase our skill. Why become skilled if you're going to be given a trophy for showing up?

Anyway, I have ideas and plans for next year. We raised about $10 for the National Kidney Foundation to honor a dear friend of ours that passed this time last year. It isn't much, but it's $10 more than there was before, so that's a win, too. One of my biggest hopes is not only that our local community strives for the best of what they can do, but also makes a habit of charitable giving. After all, what you give really does come right back to you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Focus, dude.

I finally managed to make my blackberry cobbler. I almost don't want to eat it, it's so pretty. I don't know how it tastes yet, but for a first attempt at cobbler, this looks pretty darn good and my confidence is high for the peach season. I have very fond memories of blackberry cobbler and I can't help but think of my Mamaw. She had blackberry bushes upon which the best blackberries on the planet grew and would sometimes make a cobbler from them.
This one consists of a little over a quart of blackberries from the market, sweetened with a little honey, and a little cornstarch and water added for thickening. On top is a basic biscuit dough, made in the manner of drop biscuits so as to be a little more fluid and less stiff than roll-em-out biscuits. Combine fruit, honey, cornstarch and water, and pour into 8" baking dish. Make up biscuit dough, drop onto the top of the berry mixture, and bake at 425ºF for 30 minutes.
I try to live my life in bits and pieces, taking it not one day at a time but one moment in time. It keeps me sane and keeps me from getting too wrapped up in thinking about the future or the past. There are times when I get distracted from this and last night was one of those times. Caught up in my own thoughts last night, I locked the door and turned off the lights to get ready for bed and instead of giving my eyes a moment to adjust to the dark, I just walked toward my bed like I knew where I was going. I walked smack into a wall so hard that I saw stars and fell on my butt. I'm pretty sure I did some damage to my nose, which bled some last night, is bruised today, and hurts when I chew. We can make pretty dumb mistakes when we're distracted. Last Thursday, I backed into a dude's truck and busted out my taillight. He was parked illegally, but I was once again caught up in my own thoughts and not paying as close attention as I otherwise would have. It's the typical absentminded professor schtick, caught up in thinking so much that worldly concerns such as the location of giant red trucks and solid walls tend to fall to the wayside. Such was the case with the accidental blueberry pie as well. I try not to dwell on these mistakes too much because doing dumb things is a part of being human. 

Moments come and go. They're transitory by their very nature, but they can be pretty awesome as well. Here's another example of pied beauty from the balcony garden and it's not going to be around for very long, but I'm sure enjoying it while it's here.

I've mostly got plain orange ones in the garden, which I enjoy, but I'm also loving how each of these yellow and red ones is completely unique in size and color pattern. I have no idea how many or which genes are at work here, but the result makes me clap my hands in giddy exaltation of the wonders of nature! This one seems to be somewhat dwarfed at about half the size of a normal bloom, but the colors are bright and cheerful. We'll just call it "fun sized," shall we?

Lace knitting is one of those things that requires concentration, but that can still be taken in bits and pieces, moment by moment, stitch by stitch. This is not an easy form of meditation, but I am told that meditation is best when it doesn't work perfectly. I finished another repeat today and had to tink and adjust more times than I care to admit, but still managed to get through the several rows to earn my "finished a repeat" sticker. This was a case of concentrate or completely mess up; there was no in-between. Do or do not; there is no try.

Even though I've lost my focus several times this week, I don't fear that I'm losing it completely. It's just work to keep it up, is all.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Today I'd intended to make a blackberry cobbler, but ended up making a rather soupy blueberry pie. I'd meant to blanch the blueberries for a few seconds so that I could freeze them, but instead steamed the crap out of them. I recovered them as best as I could, made a crust, and put them into a pie. It's not my best work, but it still tasted like blueberry pie.

Iris was helping to make biscuits this morning and too much goat milk went in, so we ended up with drop biscuits instead of roll-'em-out biscuits. They turned out very fluffy and good.

Many people say that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I say that lemons are inevitable. Learning to make lemonade from them requires a bit of time and effort, but it's well worth it. So I overcooked my blueberries instead of steam-blanching them. Maybe next time I'll pay better attention. Okay, so this blueberry pie wasn't my best work. Maybe I can make the filling thicker next time. So my biscuit dough wasn't firm enough to roll out. So what. We had tasty drop biscuits instead.

I've decided that "Inevitable Lemons" is our next band name.

"Screaming Names" is also a pretty good band name and behind it is a pretty good band as well. (Nice segue, Jess!) I went out with Husband to a show at The Pond in Franklin and was delighted to see our dear friend Randy, the one responsible for helping Husband and I get together. We saw Randy's good friend Miss Lolly Pop as last night's MC for the Saturday Night Special, a "Brolesque" show by Meat and Three, and the comedian, Mr. Peter Depp. A good time was had by all. I wish I had more than a Facebook page for the event, but there it is anyway.

I did manage to turn the heel and start the gusset on my watermelon socks during the show and, of course, Randy sniggered at my knitting the whole time. If I'd have been clever, I'd have brought my camera to take pictures of the sock with these wonderful performers, but no. I was not so clever. The sock, the Husband, and I had a fantastic time anyway.