Saturday, May 19, 2012

Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine…

Ever had a drink of watermelon wine he asked…

I’m not a big fan of watermelon so watermelon wine doesn’t sound too good to me at all. I’ve seen watermelon vodka and watermelon martinis. They don’t sound good either. I don’t even like watermelon flavor gum or candy.
A wooden watermelon I use as a bookend now. Holding up my Mad Libs book! ha ha

When I was a college freshman, of course I knew everything. I had a roommate, Monica, who also knew everything. Between the two of us I guarantee there were no unanswered questions.

One weekend I returned from a trip to my grandparent’s house with a watermelon. It wasn’t a big watermelon, just the right size for two. They had a garden, some things purposely planted and some volunteer. The watermelon vine was a surprise, especially when it was covered with fruit.

Monica was a military brat and had lived in many places, including countries overseas. I grew up in the city and was very worldly myself. Together, we decided to make a ‘plugged’ watermelon out of my little gem. We had tasted one recently and decided it was just the thing to do.
Watermelon painted gift bag from my secret pal...years ago.

A ‘plugged’ watermelon is created by slicing about a 3 inch piece out of the melon. Clear liquor is poured into the watermelon and the plug is replaced. It then sits for a while, even overnight, preferably in the refrigerator. When it is ready it’s sliced and enjoyed. The watermelon has become permeated with the liquor and becomes a refreshing snack. Easy peasy! We were anxious to start!

There was some liquor in our room. The drinking age at the time was 21. We were both 18. I don’t know where the booze came from but I’m sure it was hers, not mine! Together we prepared the watermelon. I cut out the plug and inserted a skewer a couple of times to make passages for the liquor. Monica began to pour the liquid out of the brown bottle. When she was finished I replaced the plug.

It wasn’t easy but we waited patiently for the fruit to become ready. That evening we could wait no longer. Monica spread out some newspaper while I got a knife. We were finally going to taste our masterpiece! In anticipation of a culinary delight, I placed the knife against the rind and pressed it down. I sliced back and forth until it was cut into halves.
An old t-shirt with a  painted watermelon. From my secret pal a long time ago.The paint is stiff!

With watering mouths, the melon was opened. What the heck? It was empty! Seriously, the watermelon had turned into an empty shell! It was absolutely hollow. We were flabbergasted and very disappointed.

What could have gone wrong? Watermelon + clear liquor = spiked fruit. It was a no-brainer! “Wait”, Monica said. “Clear liquor? It had to be clear? As in colorless?” The alcohol she had procured was Southern Comfort. Amber colored whiskey was what had been poured into the melon.

Whiskey must be pretty powerful stuff. It devoured the inside out of our watermelon. Imagine what it does to the inside of a stomach! We laughed and decided there had to be a lesson for us. Maybe it was you can’t drink your booze and eat it too! Or maybe it was a reminder that we weren’t supposed to have any alcohol anyway as we were underage. Then again, possibly it was a message to two 18 year old college freshmen who thought they knew it all that they had a lot of life lessons yet to learn.

Ain't but three things in this world that's worth a solitary dime,
But old dogs and children and watermelon wine…

I started the Clapotis for the knitalong. I’m using Summer Breeze by Thomas Kvist. I swatched (for once!) to see how it would do with the drop stitches and it’s going to work well.
A swatch...but this isn't the real color.

I like the color. It’s tan I guess, unless I pull out the box of 64 colors and do a match!
The newest Clapotis. That's the real color!

I finished a book called “Not a Girl Detective”, by Susan Kandel. It was action packed and reminded me of a Stephanie Plum book. The heroine, Cece Caruso, writes biographies of dead mystery writers for a living and collects vintage clothing. While researching her next book, the life of "Carolyn Keene," the fictitious name several authors used to create the Nancy Drew mysteries, she has to solve a murder before she becomes a victim herself!
Three of my four Clapotis...

I was so afraid the wind was going to blow all the peaches off the tree. And we were surprised it even had peaches since it froze again after it had blossomed. But for some reason it was covered! We picked all we could reach. Then Alan picked more after climbing the ladder. There were ten grocery bags full in all. And the tree was still covered with the peaches that weren’t quite ripe! I blanched peaches and peeled peaches. I cut peaches and ate peaches and cut some more. Finally all were done and ready for the freezer. There were 23 quart bags full. There probably would have been more but like I said, I ate peaches!

There were tons of peaches on this one lone tree.
Another view.
Ten bags full!
Up close and peachy!
Blurry bad picture...but you get the idea!
Alan read somewhere you could infuse peaches with brandy. I told him I guess we could try. But you know brandy is not a clear liquor.

That night I dreamed in peaceful sleep of shady summertime,
Of old dogs and children and watermelon wine…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Here Comes the Rain Again

Falling on my head like a memory… 

Maybe it was because I said we really needed rain. Maybe it was because my blog friend Sinéad sent it over from Ireland. Or maybe it was because I got my car washed. Whatever, it worked! The rain came.
The pond is full and so is everything else!
Of course, when it rains, it pours and that’s exactly what it did. The thunder started in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday. By the time I was supposed to leave for work there were reports of flooded streets. According to the radio, all three routes I needed to access in order to get to the office were to be avoided. What to do? Well, on an ordinary day I’d have said, “Darn,” and climbed back in bed! But this wasn’t an ordinary day. I had delivered some equipment to some of my schools the day before (just a short 350+ mile round trip), and I still had the company truck. I had to get it back.
Everything is miles away out here!

When you live 45 miles away you can’t always count on the news drama to be accurate. I thought maybe some firsthand information might be useful. I fired off an email to the employee list at work. The route I was advised to take was the longest, but reasonably clear and I arrived safely. I waited until I felt comfortable driving in the pouring rain. Of course some of my lovely co-workers had comments on how it probably wasn’t even flooded by the time I got there, convenient to only work half a day, have you gone part time, etc. Don’t you love those ‘nice’ women who can look at you, smile pleasantly, and spout off the snarkiest remark ever? GCBs is what they are called on television. I know an abundance of them if anyone needs one.
Picture from CBS7 News Odessa, TX

The storms continued through the day and even though there were some problems, everyone was thankful for the rain. Going home in the afternoon wasn’t nearly as painful as getting there. The roads were clear and it wasn’t raining. But isn’t there always supposed to be a calm before a storm? After I arrived home, I followed my usual routine of changing into something more comfortable; gray t-shirt sweats and an orange t-shirt. (I was thankful later I had chosen to leave my upper undergarments on! Ladies…you know how it is!) I was deciding on something for supper when Alan came home and we chatted until he decided to go outside for a bit, to work on something.
Clouds in the front of the house.

I was at the kitchen sink when I thought I heard raindrops again. The sky had darkened and the clouds were looking ominous. We have tornadoes out here and this is the time of year they can happen. (Actually, anymore, they happen all year, but I digress.) I was having some not so nice thoughts like doesn’t he know enough to come in out of the rain when he rushed in the house followed by both dogs. He was yelling my name as he came up the stairs. He said come here now, quick, look at this.
That's his truck parked outside. Close enough to worry!

He was so excited I immediately went to look at what he was pointing to out the window. Mind you this is the same window the kitchen sink faces, but I had been looking out…not up. I looked up and saw a cloud with a long tail. He said that’s a tornado and it’s coming here. Get downstairs now. I did what I was told (for once) and went down to the little bathroom.

The major part of our house is upstairs. There are some rooms downstairs as well, but the kitchen, bedrooms and main living quarters are all on the second floor. I always wondered where to go if there was the threat of a tornado. Now I know! And yuck! Anyway, after we were down there I said do I need my purse? NO he screamed. Do I need a phone? NO. Yes, I do. I’m going up to get it. HURRY.

While I went up he went outside to check progress. He came back in and said we are leaving. WHAT? WHERE? He said we’re going next door. We live outside of town and the neighbors have a storm cellar. He called them and alerted them to the situation. He told them to get down there and we’d be over too. They complied.
Here it is again, as we were running across the pasture!

I had on flip flops, as well as my comfy clothes. So, with my bag and phone and only a mostly finished crocheted potholder that happened to be in my purse, we took off. We were running across the pasture, in the rain and hail, next door. People that know me would realize that I, with the “I don’t like to get dirt on my feet or hands syndrome”, was running through a muddy field in flip flops. That shows the urgency of the situation!

It was cozy in their little underground room, which, by the way, wasn’t a lot better than our yucky little bathroom. I was wondering if I was going to have to wear the comfy clothes and muddy shoes for a few days when the guys went back up to check things. They came back to report the cloud had rescinded and the rain had even stopped. Whew!
Stormy through the rest of the night. But no more funnel clouds!

After a bit we headed home and took up things we were doing before all the commotion started. My heart rate had been increased for the day and I guess trotting across the field could count as aerobics! I thought about some things we might need to do in case this happened again. We weren’t prepared at all. A tornado is no joking matter. I am going to pack an emergency bag, some water, food and maybe a change of clothes, to put in the little bathroom. Just in case. Oh yeah, and some yarn.

Raining in my head like a tragedy 

Speaking of yarn, I haven’t been ‘yarning’ a lot lately. I did pick up some half finished simple ‘magic potholders’ to work on. There’s a shortage of potholders both here and at my daughter’s house. This was my grandmother’s (and a lot of grandmother’s) favorite (easy) pattern because it makes a nice double thick potholder and you can use any scraps. It's old as forever and I doubt they really know who made it up. We always made them out of acrylic because that’s what we had on hand but I read somewhere they catch on fire and to only use cotton.
Old, well used, well loved, (dirty) acrylic potholders.

Well, I did, but I was thinking of all them that were made in acrylic, and how not one caught fire from being used correctly so I’ll just use what I want from now on. Think of all the church kitchens with drawers full of these gems. They aren’t all made of cotton and they are still in service!
Replacements in cotton!

I’ve committed to a Clapotis knitalong. I’ve made four of them but I love the pattern, it's free and it’s fun, and I happen to have yarn! I haven’t started but soon as I do I’ll post progress pictures.
I'm going to make a Clapotis out of this yarn.

I still want to crochet something with the multi colored yarn I picked last week. I haven’t started that either. So many things I want to do! Time to get busy! It’s cloudy and dreary outside. Perfect knitting day!
I'm ready to start!
Falling on my head like a new emotion.
Here comes the rain again...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Rain, The Park, And Other Things

Flowers in her hair, 
Flowers everywhere… 

It’s amazing what a little rain can do out here in the dessert! It doesn’t mean we are out of the drought by any means. But it’s so nice to see green everywhere, and some colorful flowers, wild or not.
An oasis or a mirage? A secret spot at the ranch!
The duck found it!
Blooming cactus...or cactus blooming!
With temperatures already breaking into three digits, it won’t last unless it really rains. Not just a little either. We need a substantial rain.

Until then, enjoy some pictures of spring. After a little moisture, that is!
The Mesquite tree budding is the sign spring is really here.
Somewhere along the highway on the way to Austin.
Are they Poppies? I don't know.
This is what the flower looks like up close.
Yellow flowers on the highway.
Can you see the 'bug' on the flower? Don't know how I captured that!
Sunflower? Yellow Daisy? Black Eye Susan?
Another 'wild flower' or weed...depending on your perspective.
Trumpet vine on my deck. Blooming!

Bluebonnets on the highway by the house
We really think we 'planted' these Bluebonnets by the highway by the house. One year we spent a LOT of money on wildflower seeds. Those suckers are expensive! The front acres were plowed and the seeds were planted. It doesn't rain much out here but when it does? It's what they call a gully washer! That means it rains really fast filling up ditches and flooding the road and land. All of the sowed seeds washed down the road and into the bar ditch. Did anything come up at the house? Nope. But all down the road there were assorted new flowers. The Bluebonnets come out in a little patch about a half mile down the way. They are over a little bump so you have to know where to look. The patch has steadily expanded. Most of the others didn't last but the Bluebonnets return every year.
They bloom even in the dessert. With a little water!
State flower of Texas!
They are a lot prettier in the Hill Country at my friend Beverly's house!

Not my picture. Picture taken on Mach Rd, on the Bluebonnet Trail near Ennis, TX by David and Eileen Ng
Even the ordinary weeds are viewed as wild flowers out here
And all I had left was one little flower in my hand...

On the knitting front, I finished the Small Shawl. I think I keep calling it a Simple Shawl, but the pattern is really called Small Shawl. It is simple though! Just no-brainer garter stitch in a rayon boucle yarn, although any yarn will work. I think maybe I’ll start a crochet project next, just for something different.
I like this as a scarf.
Shawl draped. Looks light and lacy. Look here for other creative ideas!
I finished a book called ‘Thai Die’, by Monica Ferris. It’s part of a series with a a needlework shop owner, Betsy Devonshire, being the amateur sleuth who solves the crimes. In this story, one of the ‘Monday Bunch’ regulars has just returned from a trip to Thailand. She brings back souveniers and gifts for her friends. She’s also agreed to deliver a small statue of a Buddha to an antique store back home and shows the gang. This kind gesture leads to adventure, robbery, theft, a blizzard and a giant angora rabbit! It was entertaining with enough action to keep it interesting.
Thai Die. See what others are reading here.
I’m off to look through the yarn stash to find something bright and pretty. Maybe something that looks like flowers.
Wow! Where did all this come from? DFW Fiberfest!
This is cheerful!
From two if by hand at the DFW Fiber Festival.
I love the flower girl.
Was she reality or just a dream to me?