Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stephens Dutch Oven Dining

We attended the Stephens Family Annual Dutch Oven Cook-Out yesterday. It's really a big ward party. The food is incredible. Brother Seaman's three-cheese au gratin potatoes were to die for! There were all kinds of meat and poultry dishes, as well as desserts cooked in the dutch ovens.

The day was hot and humid, but couldn't dampen our enthusiasm. It was a great turn out, and lots of fun.

Here Kaylene gives John a kiss. We'd like to kiss him, too, for hosting such a fun and delectable event!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Friends to Roast Marshmallows With

My friend, Carol Judd, is in town, and came over for dinner with her mother, Donna and her son Andrew and his family. I hadn't seen her mother in about 35 years. Carol and I go back to first grade. We bored our families by talking about old times.It was fun.

After dinner we thought we'd try out our new fire pit. We used wood out of our little copse. There is a lifetime supply of dead branches there! We, unfortunately, had a fire that was just barely hot enough to melt the marshmallows. Fortunately, that was all we needed to get some pretty tasty smores!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Egg Head

Guess what Ed found in the head of our Christmas deer? A bird's nest! We've been storing the deer under the deck behind some lattice, so who knew a bird would find it's way in there!

The nest is low enough that we might actually get to see the babies after they hatch. I can't wait! I guess from now on we'll have to call the deer Pointdexter, because he's an egghead!


Ed and I and Crystal went to Antietam Battlefield in western Maryland yesterday. It was the bloodiest one day battle in the Civil War, occurring in September 1862.

It is a rural setting much like it was 150 years ago. The battle was actually fought in a cornfield. We followed the auto tour and read the descriptions at each stop. We searched for answers to the National Park Service's scavenger hunt as we drove along. It really gave us purpose!

We climbed the observation tower and enjoyed the view and the cool breeze from the top.

The best view of all was of the Burnside Bridge, which the Confederates gave up as they retreated.

Afterwards we drove down to the Potomac and touched the water. Then, we crossed over into West Virginia and came back, for no reason other than to cross a state line!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Circle of Visiting Teaching

I really appreciate the visiting teaching program of the church. It helps us make friends in a very individual way with other sisters in the ward. I've made great friends in Maryland (as everywhere we have lived) through visiting teaching. But, the friendships don't stop with just your partner and the people you visit. Often the circle grows to the people the people you visit visit. (That's some sentence structure, but I hope you understood my meaning!)

Mary (who I visit) invited me to a luncheon of people she visits. This really was because Crystal is taking over her route with Helen. But, nonetheless, I enjoyed a lovely luncheon Wednesday with an interesting group of ladies (Helen, Diane, Mary, Ruth and Crystal).

And on Thursday June and I took the people we visit (Mary and Barb, as well as Crystal) to the temple in DC. It is an hour's ride each way, and provided us with ample opportunity to visit (and have lunch together) on the way back. I'm grateful for visiting teaching and the opportunities it provides for making friends!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Jambalaya

This must be the third time I've posted Jambalaya! If I didn't love this song so much I wouldn't post it one more time. But, I do, so here it is! I just want to thank the band for their great attitude and all their hard work, and for being so much fun. We've had a great time together!

When the World's On Fire

Oh, my goodness, this video editing is time consuming! I'm going to take a break after this one!

"When the World's on Fire" was a very topical song to include in our program, coming just three days after the predicted rapture didn't happen. But just in case it happens soon, we want to go to heaven! The audience seemed to know all the words. (Either that, or it's very easy to learn.) Crystal added a nice harmony on the chorus. And Tricia does a great save on the bass!

Soldier Set

For all you Black Eyed Suzie fans out there, here is our Soldier set: three songs about soldiers: Soldier's Joy, the Eighth of January, and Sherman's March. I thought this song would never end when we were playing it, but I see it's only 3 1/2 minutes long! Time becomes distorted when you're on stage!

The Tennessee Waltz

My sister, Joan has been badgering me to post some videos of our gig yesterday. I had mixed feelings about taking a video. Most of it boiled down to: If we sound bad I'd really rather not know.  But,  Joan and I have been bonding over our Old Lady Bands. She's posted so much that I felt pressure to give back. So, I asked Helen's daughter, Naddy to turn my camera video on when we got going. Sadly, the memory didn't last till the end of the program, but after watching some of it, I'm glad we taped what we did. I hope you enjoy our rendition of The Tennessee Waltz. Mary is doing the waltzing!

Crystal's First Crabs

Last Friday Lenny and Kay took Crystal and me out for crabs to thank us for helping with the horses. We went to Captain Dan's Crab Shack right here in Eldersburg.

It was Crystal's first experience cracking a crab open and fishing for that tiny morsel of succulent meat inside. She had an injury midway through the second crab, but the waitress brought her a band-aid to staunch the bleeding on her thumb. She thought we were all done till Lenny ordered up another platter!

It's a lot of work, but a nice way to pass an afternoon while visiting, shucking and nibbling!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Havin' a Good Time at Fairhaven

What a great time the Black Eyed Susans had at Fairhaven today! We had a great, appreciative audience of 61 people, 10 of whom we knew personally--neighbors and friends! We enjoyed ourselves so much that we might even go back again! I got some videos of the performance, and I'll try to post them tomorrow. I have to first learn how to edit them (separate the songs from one long tape). In the meantime, here is a photo from one of the videos. This is Jambalaya, one of our favorites!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Butterfly Bush

Roni gave me four plants today, which I happily planted in my newly landscaped yard. The biggest one is a butterfly bush that took John and Ed some time to dig out! It's going to give us hours of butterfly watching pleasure.

We also got a pussy willow, a lilac and a reedy grassy thing! It's so great having such generous neighbors!

Coda played with Molly while we dug up plants. Roni was nice enough to bring them some fresh water when they got tuckered out!

Coda Naps with Floppy Dog

Crystal donated the majority of her floppy dogs to Goodwill, but saved one for Coda. This is the biggest toy Coda has ever had. It is almost as big as she is. She is so fun because she really loves her toys. Here she is taking a nap with floppy dog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Purging and Shrinking

Crystal helped me clean the storage room yesterday and decided it was time to divest herself of her treasure trove of floppy animals. We loaded up the car today and took them to Goodwill. Hopefully, they will find great new adoptive families.

On, the bright side, finding this chair at HomeGoods made her feel small. It was a very good feeling after 18 month of being a giant in El Salvador!

Big Water

We've been fortunate to have a wet spring. Everything is even greener and prettier than last year. We had a pretty big downpour yesterday that washed part of our landscaping onto the patio. As you can see, we had a little drainage issue!

Today the landscapers stopped by and redid that area. Hopefully, it will keep things more stable. We're supposed to have another downpour this afternoon. That will be a good opportunity to test the new design!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to the Backyard

We're almost finished with the back yard! It turned out so beautiful. Here is the walkway from the driveway, with our buckeye tree on the right.

Here are the steps to the lower level, complete with our crazy looking Dr. Seuss tree at the curve of the pathway.

The pathway steps have garden on either side of them, with clematis for the trellises.

There are some dwarf crepe myrtle in front of the rec room windows.

We have a nice fire pit with some chairs by the basement door. Anyone for s'mores?


I had my basal cell cancers removed today. Crystal was nice enough to drive me to the doctor and wait for me. She also took this picture of me with my new sutures. I'm going to end up with a nice cleft in my chin!

I went to a specialist who is supposed to do a really nice job and leave only a faint white line for a scar. With the bandages and the swelling, it's looking even worse this afternoon!

It is a little painful, so I used that as an excuse to lay on the couch and watch old episodes of Drop Dead Diva this afternoon! By the time the new season starts in June, Crystal should be all caught up!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dead Tree Down

Ed, after studying the dead (white) tree from many angles, decided the only thing keeping it up was vines from the adjacent trees. We decided today was the day to free it! As Crystal and I whacked our way through the tangle of vines, we became cautiously optimistic that today would be the tree would be released from the evil grip of the vines.

Here is a video of the tree coming down. We were successful!

The back yard is a happier looking place now! It makes me want to go out there for a picnic!

Exercising the Horses

Lenny and Crystal took the horses out to the corral to get some exercise this morning. The horses are so beautiful, and what a gorgeous morning we had! Here is Mr. Genes taking a run.

Crystal took Bali for a walk before her run.

A little snap of the whip was all it took to get her moving.

We're trying to decide whether this picture is of Bali frolicking and having a good time, or of a horse saying, "I haven't run for 2 and a half years, and I'm not about to start now!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Black Eyed Susan Flyer

We had band practice today, and we're close to being ready for our gig this month. We took a picture for a publicity shot for our flyer. We missed Carrie at practice today, but we're happy that Crystal is going to play with us at our gig! She is a great addition to our old lady band!

Here's our song list:

Soldier Set
When the World’s on Fire
Tennesse Waltz
Polly Wolly Doodle
You’re My Ticket to the Carpool Lane
The Water is Wide
Golden Slippers
I’ll Fly Away

We'll have to either sing real slowly or talk a lot to fill up 45 minutes!

Crystal Feeds the Horses

Crystal is learning how to take care of the horses when Lenny goes on vacation this summer. Mr. Genes is poking his head through the fence here, saying, "Hurry up! I'm hungry!" Crystal is working her magic with Mr. Genes. He's a little stubborn about picking up one of his hooves for cleaning, but he happily gives it to Crystal on the first try!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Patio In Progress

The work continues on our patio. It looks like it might even be done by the end of the week. Like the basement finishing, it seems to go slowly, and then all of a sudden be done!

There will be a walkway to the patio that is 5 feet wide with four steps in it. As I watch the workmen carefully measure the grade as they work their way down I realize this is a project that I'm glad Ed and I didn't even think about tackling on our own!

Fire Road Clean Up

We had a fun Relief Society mini-activity today, cleaning up the fire road. I went in search of 6 blue beer cans, which we sadly missed on the walk down. I'll have to pick them up on another walk.

We had the Stangers and Iffy Iroanya come with us (as well as Crystal and Coda). The majority of the cleanup was at the reservoir where there were plenty of bottles and broken glass. It was also fun picking up cigarette butts! There is a certain sector of society that thinks the world is their ash tray!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Botanical Gardens

Ed and I took Crystal to the National Arboretum Saturday to see the Azaleas in bloom. They are quite the show! I learned that all rhododendrons are azaleas, but not all azaleas are rhododendrons!

We got a lot of exercise, walking around the pathways, and ended up at the bonsai exhibit. It was my lucky day, as they were having a bonsai sale, and Crystal bought me a little tree for Mother's Day. I hope I can keep it alive for the next 50 years!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Miss Carol Comes Home

Miss Carol came home yesterday. It was about time. She'd been hospitalized for 6 weeks. Crystal and I made a nice sign to welcome her home. She'll have to use a walker to get around, but her leg is starting to heal, and she can walk short distances, so they finally let her come come. She called to tell us she enjoyed her sign. I'll wait till my cold gets better before I stop by to see her.

I took Crystal and Coda down to the reservoir yesterday afternoon. The rain has made everything lush and beautiful. The water level is so high that you can't see the garbage that usually is laying around at the edge of the lake. This is too bad, because we're cleaning up garbage next week as a Relief Society service project!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paver Pathway Part One

The landscapers are here working on our pathway to the back yard. It's going to be so pretty.

This is just a small portion of the work they're going to be doing. But, it looks like a great start!

Rose Ball

The Columbia Stake has an annual Rose Ball for adults. They actually pay money to have a 20 piece jazz band play for it! I was the number two person in charge of it this year. It was a major worry, and is now, thankfully, over. It was Saturday night. I'd been fighting a cold, which finally got the better of me after the dance. So, I've been laying around the house moaning for the past several days.

I was in charge of publicity and entertainment. The entertainment chairperson fell through 2 weeks before the ball, so it was hard getting people to perform on short notice (during the band's break). I enlisted the help of the Black Eyed Susans, but they also fell like flies. Tricia got sick, Carrie went to New York, and Kaylene's daughter had prom that night. Ed and Crystal filled in for them, and with Mary and Helen we still had a band. We did our only song, Jambalaya.  We were so great that one of the ladies asked me in Relief Society the next day if she could join the band!

Here are Ed and Crystal kicking up their heels as Ed teaches her how to do the fox trot!