Saturday, July 30, 2011

Crystal goes to the Capital and sees the Capitol

Summer is drawing rapidly to it's inevitable end, so I thought we should make an effort to show Crystal a little more of Maryland before it's too late! Yesterday she and I went to Annapolis, the state capital. It is such a nice city, and always fun to see. I saw the inside of both St. Anne's church, as well as the Naval Academy chapel this time, both of which have been closed on my prior visits! The capitol dome was shrouded and scaffolded, making us realize that it's Crystal's fault that castles and churches across Europe cover themselves up when they see the Bush family coming!

One of my favorite buildings is Bancroft Hall, where the naval academy midshipmen live. It's the most beautiful dorm I've ever seen!
We finished up with a visit to the Hammond-Harwood house, built in 1774. There are so many old, colonial houses in Annapolis. It could take us years to see them all!  It is a lovely home and reminded me a lot of our new home in Sykesville!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Skype Book Club

We had Bookies on Skype last night. We had a few problems getting connected, but other than that, it was great. We had all six of us on the screen at once. Four of us had read the book, the Girl Who Fell From the Sky. It is about a biracial girl who survives extraordinary circumstances. I gave it an A, while Diane and Nora only gave it a B and B+. They said they listened to it on tape and were probably influenced by the reader, who made it seem sentimental. I thought it was quite believable. I especially thought the author was good at creating characters with depth.  I'll have to get Sheryl to grade it. She has an unusual perspective, having 7 biracial grandchildren.

We agreed that this was a great way to do Book Club. Next time I'll have to either clean my study or not take a picture! It's embarrassing!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I joined a gym in April, and have been dragging Crystal along with me to do some cardio and weights. We don't think it is all that much fun, but last week we added a little racquetball to the mix. Now that is fun!

I'm proud to say there is still one sport my children can not beat me at. In order to make it more fun we came up with a new way to score. I can not score on my serve unless Crystal returns it and it becomes a rally. In other words, acing a serve is almost the same as a short or long ball. I have to serve again. This has been lots of fun, and Crystal wants me to announce to the blogosphere that she beat her Mom in racquetball today! She is coming along great. Wouldn't it be great if she beat me with regular scoring before she goes back to college next month? Unlikely, I say!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guitar Lessons

I started guitar lessons last week. I found the perfect teacher, too. I want to learn to play jazz guitar so I can accompany my friend June (with the lovely voice) while she sings songs from the 30s and 40s. Frank is the perfect teacher for me because:

1. He is very experienced in jazz guitar.
2. He is a very methodical teacher.
3. He lives three blocks from my house!
4. He was perfectly happy to have his picture taken for my blog!

You don't often find all those qualities in one teacher! I'm so lucky! We're working on barre chords. My fingers are raw and peeling, and my mind is spinning, but I couldn't be happier!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Together Again with the Magic of Skype

We had a practice phone call tonight for Bookies on Wednesday. We're going to discuss the book each calling in from our own home. It worked like a charm (once we ironed out a few kinks)!

We had a group conference call with Nora, Anne, Diane, Judy and Sheryl, the Highland Bookies. Martha, who will join us on Wednesday, was tiling the back patio and couldn't call in tonight.

It was so great to be together again virtually! With Anne in Reno, Diane in Larkspur and me in Maryland, we're not geographically as close as we were 15 years ago, but the miles can't keep us apart! Thank you Skype for bringing us into each others homes with the press of a button. I was feeling the love popping out of my computer screen! It is a great day to be alive!

Ed's Work Party

We had a party last night for the people that work for Ed. Many of them have heard stories of our home remodel over the past year, so it was also a bit of a housewarming party--to celebrate the end of construction.

We cooked the meat (Kahlua pork, Kielbasa and chicken wings) and everyone else provided the fixins. We were a little heavy on desserts, but nobody complained about that!

It was a nice opportunity for me to put together some names and faces. Next time Ed tells me about someone, hopefully I'll know who he's talking about. They were bunch of very interesting and unique people. I wished I'd had more time to get to know them all!

Coda was a big hit at the party, doing her tricks without even the benefit of bacon bits! I think she likes to show off!

We received a few housewarming plants, one of which was too big to bring indoors. It is a crape myrtle, my favorite plant that I've discovered in Maryland. I can't wait to plant it! Here is Coda, on the front porch protecting it for us. 

By the way, today is the one year anniversary of the day Coda joined our lives. We love that dog!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Groundhog Exiled

Lenny trapped a groundhog on the farm yesterday. Look how cute he is! Crystal went with Lenny to release "Garry" on the Baltimore side of the reservoir. Hopefully, the durn varmit won't find his way back to the farm!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Miss Carol has another Birthday

Yesterday we had Miss Carol over for her birthday. Crystal made the cutest farm cupcakes! It was the first time we had used fondant, and it turned out to be pretty fun!

We were glad Miss Carol was home from rehab so she could come over. She gets around pretty well with her walker, but has to go pretty slow on the stairs. She goes up with the good leg first and down with the bad leg first. That's what she learned in three months of rehab!

Crystal took pictures of the horses yesterday, then printed and framed them. They turned out beautiful, and the gift was a big hit!

After dinner, thanks to the convenience of the golf cart, we were able to take Miss Carol around the back of the house and into the basement. It was nice that she could see how it turned out. She was a good sport and walked around the entire basement. I wonder if she's going to be tired this morning!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shoo Fly Pie

Crystal fed the horses this weekend, as Lenny and Kay went to Lancaster. It was great, because they brought us home some Amish delicacies--sticky buns and shoo fly pie!

I've been very curious about shoo fly pie ever since I heard my friend, Anne Pinkerton, singing the Shoo Fly Pie song. We'll try it out later tonight when Ed gets home.

In, the meantime, I'm going to post the link to Anne's group, the Gabardine Sisters. The music is so beautiful it makes me forget about eating the pie. Anne is the singer in the blue dress. We were soccer moms together, and a bond like that can't be broken! It is sad that Anne lives in Nevada now, but thanks to the magic of Youtube, she can sing to me (or you) anytime we like! Here they are on Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hammock Chairs

We spent another Saturday working around the house. I did some weeding and made 3 trips to Home Depot, one to Ace Hardware, and one to the county dump. Crystal fed the horses. Ed changed the handle on the new refrigerator so it would open in the right direction, then he had to put in a new GFI outlet in the basement kitchen. By the time he finished mowing the lawn he was starting to get pretty tired.

But, his work was not done until he hung our two new hammock chairs! He and Crystal gave the chairs the thumbs up! Even Coda liked them!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Violin Lesson

Doris was the lucky winner of music lessons at the Relief Society service raffle in the spring. I agreed to teach her everything she needs to know about the violin in three easy lessons. That just about might cover everything I really know about the violin, anyway. We started out with Mary Had a Little Lamb today. We're hoping to get through Soldier's Joy before the lessons are over.

This afternoon Crystal and I picked up a refrigerator for the basement. If we hadn't been so overwhelmed we might have taken a picture of us cramming it into the back of my car (laying on its back). Let's hope it still works! We had to strap the hatchback so it was half shut. Then we got to listen to the door warning beep all the way home. To make it even more fun, it didn't fit through the basement's sliding glass door. We had to take the door off, which wasn't easy, as we found out the rollers were not screwed in properly. Ed will be so proud of us when he comes home from Harvard tomorrow. We THINK we got everything all back together just perfect!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coda Jumps through a Hoop

Crystal is teaching Coda to jump through a hula hoop. It is a pretty small hoop, and Coda is not thrilled with the idea of jumping through it, but fortunately, her love of beggin' strips has overcome her fear of the hoop, and she's doing really well. What a smart (and agreeable) puppy we have!

The Work and the Glory

Yesterday we did a lot more work around the house. Ed hung five bikes from the ceiling of the garage. Holding your hands above your head while standing on a ladder is pretty strenuous work, and Ed is sore all over today. The bikes are on pulleys and are very easy to lower if we should get the energy to ride them one of these days.

After a long,  hard day of work we sat and relaxed on our new scroll-back swing, which Ed mounted underneath our deck. It's just big enough for three people and a dog!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Working Around the House

Ed had the day off yesterday, and we stayed home to do things around the house. Crystal and I didn't make it over to the gym, but we found yard work can also be a pretty strenuous workout.

Crystal mowed the lawn for Ed. She enjoyed getting out on the driving mower, but was a little tentative on the inclined areas. Luckily, her worst fears (tipping over while mowing) didn't materialize.

I cleaned the abandonded birds nests out from under our deck. There were five of them, and four of them had eggs in them. It was too bad we never got to see the babies hatch.

We took the tractor over to the farm to pick up a golden raintree to transplant to our yard. Crystal and Coda rode over in the back. The tree didn't have a root ball, so it was really like bringing home a very long stick.

While we were there we stopped in to visit Miss Carol who returned from rehab yesterday. Look, I caught a picture of her NOT wearing the boot that her doctor told her she must wear all the time! Some people in her circle of friends think she should be following the doctor's orders more rigorously! We also think she liked it so much at the rehab center that she is deliberately sabotaging herself in hopes they'll send her back to Fairhaven where she made so many new friends!

We returned home in a pouring rain. After not having had much rain in a month, we have really had a couple of good downpours the last two days. We went out to dinner at the Hibachi Grill (giant oriental buffet) while we waited for the rain to stop. Fortunately, we still have all day Saturday to finish our work!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Visit from Kim

It's been 6 months since Amanda left on her mission. And it's also been six months since we've seen her good friend, Kim. We  were fortunate to have Kim drop by for dinner last night. She's finished her Master's degree, but is as busy as ever, and it took us several weeks to find a date that would work for her!

It was great to see her again and catch up on the activities of the singles in the stake. From day to day nothing seems to happen, but over a period of 6 months lots of things had happened! As you can tell from the picture, she is doing great and had lots of things to tell us. I don't want to jinx any of it by writing it on my blog. Let's just say, things are looking up for Kim!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Six Pictures of the Fourth

We had a fun-filled Independence day yesterday. We started at a ward breakfast picnic at Millard Cooper park in Sykesville. I loved the endless assortment of breakfast casseroles! It was fun visiting with the ladies of the band. We were all dressed in red, white and blue. Too bad no one had asked us to play a patriotic number for the event! We would have looked (and maybe sounded) great!

We went kayaking at Piney Run after breakfast. This was supposed to be a mode of getting a little exercise. It also has the added benefit of getting your rear end completely soaked! Part of the fun was trying to take pictures while sitting in a boat. Sadly, Barbara's camera took a little dip, and hasn't quite recovered yet.

It the afternoon we joined the throngs of people in Washington DC for the fireworks show. We ate Parmensan chicken and did the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle as a group to pass the time. We did it all perfectly except one letter!

We sat at the foot of the capitol, and when the cannons fired without warning it scared me to death! Fortunately, it was just part of the show!

Barbara and Kent took a walk up to the Washington Monument, which left Ed, Crystal and I playing cards. Crystal was the Master of Star Trek Uno. She won 7 games! Ed and I tied at 3 games apiece. It seemed to be a little more than just luck working for Crystal!

The main event started at 9:10 and lasted about 20 minutes. It was a beautiful show, enhanced by the setting of the Washington Monument. It's memorable to be in the nation's capitol on the Fourth of July. It reminds us how blessed we are to live in a land where freedom is prized so dearly. Happy Birthday America, and thanks for letting us live here!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

After church this morning we took Barbara and Kent for a little walk along the fire road. It was pretty hot and humid, giving them a real taste of Baltimore summer weather! It is so green in the woods that it looks like a rain forest!

Barbara and I had fun taking a few close-up pictures of ourselves.

We were so fortunate to be invited to Lenny and Kay's Crab-B-Q in the afternoon. We learned the fine art of eating a crab the Maryland way! (Break off the legs, pull down the apron, crack the crab, clean out the devil and the mustard and eat whatever's left!)

We also got to go down to the meadow and pet the horses before we brought them up for feeding time. Lenny introduced Barbara and Kent to Bali Ha'i. She was very sweet.

We finished up our day with a visit to our neighbor, Butch Maisel's military history museum. It never ceases to amaze! He is very close to having a permanent location to display his items at the private school where he teaches. He had researched the can opener that Ed Melzer had given him last year and had found out that it was a German made can opener from WWII. He has it on display in his spoils of war exhibit!

Gettysburg Anniversary

We went with Barbara and Kent to Gettysburg yesterday and were there for the commemoration of 148 years to the date of the battle. Fortunately, the weather was a little milder for us than it was for the soldier that day. There were more people than we've ever seen at the park, but the park has a surprising ability to  accommodate hoardes of people.

All the graves of the fallen (Union) soldiers were decorated with small flags. It was reflective walking through the cemetery and thinking back on the sacrifices made by these soldiers and their families.

We met some sharpshooters at Little Round Top, that gave us a clear idea of what it was like on the field of battle. Barbara and Kent wanted to enlist, but we persuaded them to come back home with us. We took them to our favorite Hawaiian shave ice stand last night instead.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Baltimore in a Nutshell

Our dogs (meaning feet) are barking tonight! We saw more of Baltimore in one day than a person might think possible! My sister, Barbara, and her husband Kent came all the way from Denver to see us. We took them on the Grand Tour of Baltimore, starting at the Inner Harbor.

After seeing all the fish in the National Aquarium, we took the Charm City Circulator, Baltimore's free and convenient downtown bus, up to Mt. Vernon Square, where we saw the Washington Monument, the beautiful Peabody library, and the incredible Walters Art Museum.

Barbara and Kent thought it would be less offensive to take a picture of this statue in the Walters Art Museum from the rear end!

We moved on to the Enoch Pratt free library, the Baltimore Basilica, and by the time we reached the Lexington Market we were ready for lunch.

We bought our lunch at the Healthy Choice, which turned out to be fairly unhealthy from a pure calorie perspective. We ate in the mezzanine while we listened to the cool jazz sounds of a live band, the Groove.

After a stop at Edgar Allen Poe's grave, we took the bus back to the inner harbor where we caught a water taxi to Fort McHenry. It was a beautiful day for a relaxing ride across the bay.

We loved the new visitor's center at Ft. McHenry and enjoyed learning all about the writing of the Star Spangled banner. It made us proud to have such a great National Anthem!

We finished up with dinner at Amicci's in Little Italy. We're going to curl up in front of the TV now and watch Hairspray (which is set in Baltimore). I ask you, dear readers, have you ever crammed SO MUCH in one day! I think not! The problem is, we left so much unseen. They might have to come back for a second trip to see the things we missed on this one!