Category Archives: Musings

The Corn Maze

Pumpkin Patch / Corn Maze 2009

Image by Awen Photography via Flickr

Last weekend my husband, my son and my grandson went to Country Days out in the country in North Carolina.  We pulled into a muddy, grass parking spot and walked our way to the hay ride which would take us to the activities.  At first I thought I would have to jump up on the flat-bed with hay bales lined up, but there was a wobbly sort of stand-alone ladder which everybody was able to use, if they chose.  We rode for about 1/4 mile right after sunset.  It was still light out.

When we arrived at Country days, we headed for the concessions.  There was one that sold all sorts of foods.  My son bought a North Carolina barbecue pork sandwich with cole slaw for himself and a hot dog for my grandson.  He kept urging me to take a bite, saying it was the best barbecue there was, but I declined.  The concession just didn’t look like my kind of place.  Now the home-made ice cream looked like my kind of place so I bought peach and my son bought cookies and cream.  It was heavenly and reminded me of the ice cream parties we used to have when I was a kid, except the concession ice cream was much thicker.  The home-made ice cream we made was always runny.  There was also a concession stand with funnel cake; something I’ve never had.  My husband told me they were like fried doughnuts.

The most exciting event at Country Days was the corn maze.  By the time we got there, the night was black.  We rented our flashlights and were given 10 trivia questions on a sheet of paper.  Because my grandson is 4, he got his own “cheat” sheet of questions geared toward someone his age.  We entered the maze and the first question was:  “How many countries border the gulf of Mexico?”  I had no idea.  My husband thought he knew but we looked on my grandson’s cheat sheet to be sure because if we made a wrong turn in the maze, we  would get lost.  The question on the cheat sheet was:  “What was the Grinch’s dog’s name?”  None of us had any idea so we headed off, left or right, I don’t remember.  I do remember getting lost.  We wandered around for 10 minutes or so and eventually found the first pole.  We ran into some teenage girls who were excited by the fact that they’d gone round in a circle five times and didn’t want us to go that way.

1 down, 9 poles to go.  We continued on, reading and trying to answer questions as we went, looking at the cheat sheet every time, to no avail, and stumbled upon poles 2-5.  Once we got to pole 5, there were two men standing on a bridge type apparatus waiting to help people to either go on to the next pole or out of the maze altogether.  We had been in the maze for about 45 minutes.  My son took  this opportunity to tell us that last year, he’d gotten lost in the maze for 2-1/2 hours.  My knees have been replaced so my legs were starting to hurt from  pounding the hard, uneven ground in the maze.  I kind of panicked at the thought of being lost among the corn stalks for hours on end.  I started to have feelings of dread.  My grandson had had it and said to his Father:  “Dad, I think this wasn’t a very good idea.”  Of course, we all laughed but the truth was, I was feeling the same way.  The corn stalks were looming large and there seemed to be no end in sight.

We continued on, finding one more pole after another, wandering around in the dark maze, turning left only to find out we really needed to go right.  We made it to the eighth pole and I started to feel some relief.  We could hear the people partying at Country Days and I knew that our exit was just around the next row.  Finally, we came to the end and it felt good to be out of the maze.  It was fun, but I was glad it was over.  While my husband and son had a blast, me and my grandson had a similar experience.  Maybe because we’re both Virgos.  We were glad to see anything other than corn stalks.

When we got out of the corn maze, we walked through the camps of several bon fires, a merry-go-round, a small house filled with corn where the kids were playing, and ply wood cut outs of a farmer and his wife where you stick your head in and it looks like you’re either in a dress or pants, shirt and pitch-fork.  We took pictures.  We also went to the petting zoo and my grandson pet the pigs.  He wouldn’t touch the goats or the sheep.  I don’t know why, but the pigs were little and maybe he felt safer touching them.  I saw some chickens and some rabbits.  3 of the rabbits had fur around their face that was all spiked like someone had waxed their fur.  After wandering around for another hour or so, we stood in line to ride the hay-ride back to the car.  We had a fun time at Country Days but I’ll never forget the feeling of being in the corn maze.

Pumpkin Patch / Corn Maze 2009

Image by Awen Photography via Flickr

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Knocked His Tooth Out

Teeth

Image via Wikipedia

My son called last night and told us that our grandson had fallen and knocked out one of his teeth.  The lower teeth were loose.  He was headed to the hospital with our grandson.  We were on tenterhooks.  We imagined the worst.  How that must have hurt.  Did he have a busted lip.  Would he need stitches.  How would they tighten up the lower teeth.  Would they put a crown on the tooth that was knocked out.

When my grandson was 2, he had his four front teeth crowned.  He had been sick and vomited so much that it ruined his front teeth.  They had to take him to the hospital for those 4 crowns.  They gave him a general, drilled his teeth down to nubs and crowned them with 4 beautiful chompers.  They were a little big at the time but he’s since grown into them.  It was awful when he came home from the hospital.  The effects of the anesthetic made him feel bad and he cried and screamed the entire day.  It was miserable.

When he fell last night, he knocked one of those crowns out. Not one of the front ones, but one on the side of the front tooth.  There’s a big, gaping hole there that they can’t do anything with.  They’re not going to crown it again because it would be too difficult.  My grandson is 4 so he won’t get his grown-up teeth for a few years.  He’ll have to make do with that nub for the time being.  There is a little of his tooth left in the nub so the nerve is not exposed.  The lower teeth are another story.  My son said that last night they were sticking out like a cave man’s lower teeth.  Today, they look fine.  The Dentist said that eventually, the lower teeth gums may fill up with blood and abscess then the teeth could turn gray.  I don’t know what they’ll do if that happens.

There was a bit of blood, but there was no damage to the mouth or other parts of his face.  He fell on what he calls his chinny-chin-chin.  I guess he’d just gotten out of the shower and was wrapped in a towel.  Somehow, he lost his balance and couldn’t get his arms out in front of him to break the fall.

Today, the tooth fairy came and left him $2 under his pillow.  He’s going to put the money in his piggy bank.  He’s saving for something big.  He’s not in the best mood today.  He’s weepy and needs a nap.  I hope that his teeth will be okay.  We’re very concerned about them.  We have to figure out what to feed him.  He can’t eat anything solid.  He can have yogurt, applesauce, scrambled eggs, peanut butter, mac and cheese if we cook the pasta til it’s really soft, and I don’t know what else.  I know he’s going to want some carbs but for the next week or so, he’ll be on a limited diet.  He’s a very picky eater.  I’m babysitting today so it’s up to me to do the honors.  I know he’s getting hungry so I’ll have to think of something soon.

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Lincoln Book Ends

[Abraham Lincoln, candidate for U.S. president...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

One Christmas, when we were living in Omaha, I asked my husband what he wanted for Christmas.  He’s unbelievably difficult to buy for.  He has everything he wants and needs nothing.  He told me he would enjoy some Lincoln book-ends.  This really threw me.  I had no idea where I was going to get said book-ends.

I went to the mall.  I looked everywhere.  Every shop, every nook and cranny and there were no book-ends.  I drove to the mall all the way across town and spent hours scouring the stores.  I checked out every single store and was having no luck.  Finally, I came to a store that had all sorts of games and nick-knacks.  In the display window was a set of Lincoln bust book-ends.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

I went in and asked the cashier if they had anymore in the back.  He checked and they did not.  I asked him if I could have the ones in the display window and he said yes.  He even found the box they came in.  I was so relieved.  My chances of finding just what my husband wanted were so slim as to be unbelievable.  I proudly carried the book-ends home and hid them in my closet.

When Christmas day came, we sat around the fire opening our gifts.  When my husband opened his book-ends, the look on his face was priceless.  He couldn’t believe I have found what he wanted.  I don’t know how badly he wanted them, but I’d found them.  It was a good day.  I never know what to get my husband.  I always buy him a gift card at the book store because that’s usually his main gift.  He’d rather buy a book than anything else in the world, but it gets boring.  I’d finally found the perfect gift.  I will forever remember what that little store looked liked in the mall, in Omaha.

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Bubonic Plaque

Estes Park Colorado 4

Image by Ed Clemente Photography via Flickr

My family was vacationing in Estes Park, Colorado.  It was summertime and it was beautiful up there.  We stayed in a little hotel with a swimming pool and that’s where my youngest son learned to swim.  His older brother taught him.

We drove up to the top of  one of the mountains.  I think the elevation was  at least 8,500 feet.  At the top was a restaurant and gift shop and most importantly, a bathroom.  The restaurant was very crowded.  It was the destination of all who traveled up the mountain.  It was beautiful at the top.  We looked down into the valley and there were caribou grazing on the grass at a much lower elevation.  You really needed binoculars to see them.  Up high on the mountain, above the tree line was the tundra.  There was snow and mosses and other vegetation that was thousands of years old.  The Rangers had asked that we not walk on the tundra because it was delicate and walking on it could destroy the vegetation.

We went to one of the State Parks in the town of Estes.  There was a sign saying not to touch the chipmunks because they were carriers of the Bubonic Plague.  We arrived and immediately set off for parts unknown.  There was a Rangers station right at the front of the park.   After just a few minutes, my son saw a chipmunk that came up really close to him.  He bent down to pet the chipmunk and it bit him.  We immediately went to the Rangers Station and told them that our youngest son had been bitten by a chipmunk.  They said to get to the Emergency Room quickly and told us where it was.

Once at the Emergency Room, we told the Receptionist what had happened.  We waited for the Doctor and when he came in, we told him what had happened.  He informed us that the chipmunks had Bubonic Plague and that our son may have contracted it.  He said we’d have to do some blood work to determine if he was infected.  I don’t know how they could tell so quickly, but they did the blood work and then all we could do was wait.

It was the longest wait of our lives.  The Doctor said it would be a couple of hours before we would know anything and he told us to go get a bite to eat or check out the sights some more but not to touch anymore chipmunks.  This seemed rather weird but it beat just sitting in the waiting room, wondering if our son was going to die.  It was awful.  Here, in the early 1990’s, our son could die of something that wiped out a quarter of the population in Europe in the 15th century.  We were all terrified.

We left, and went to a little restaurant to get something to eat.  When we returned to Emergency, we had to wait a while, but when the results came in, the Doctor said our son was fine.  He had been bitten by a chipmunk who didn’t have the plague.  Our relief was palpable.  It’s unbelievable the pressure you’re under when something like this happens.  You can’t really process it.  All you do is wait for the results and figure you’ll deal with whatever comes down the pipe.  In our case we were very lucky.  We could continue on our merry way.  Some people aren’t so lucky.  It’s amazing how much your life can change in an instant.

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Chewwie goes to the Vet

Grey Cat Drinking

Image by Cross Duck via Flickr

Chewwie, our cat, had been getting fatter by the day.  I’d feel his belly and there it was, round and compact, like he’d been eating too much.  This went on for months.  Chewwie didn’t seem to mind when we felt his belly.  He didn’t act any different that he did before he started getting fat.  He had really long gray fur so he didn’t look fat from a distance; it was just when you picked him up and felt his belly that you noticed the hard, roundness of it.

My housekeeper, Dawn, came over one day and she felt Chewwie’s belly.  She said she thought it was some sort of tumor.  Surprised, I called the Vet.  We had discovered a Vet across town that was reasonable in their prices.  Dawn offered to take Chewwie to the Vet because she lived over by the them.  I put Chewwie in the kennel and off they went.

Dawn called me later in the day and said that Chewwie had a hernia.  A very larger hernia.  It was as big as my fist.  It had to be repaired.  She told me it would be $140 so I told Dawn to tell the Vet to do it.  Chewwie spent two nights at the Vet and two days later, Dawn brought Chewwie home.  His beautiful fur was shaved under his belly but other than that,  he was just fine and his belly sure felt different.  The Vet didn’t give us any special instructions after the procedure.  Chewwie jumped up on furniture just like he did before his surgery.

When I talked to the Vet, he said that Chewwie’s condition was just “weird”.  He couldn’t quite explain it to me, but he said that Chewwie’s hernia was an odd one.  I never did find out what was so odd about Chewwie’s hernia, other than it was really big, because the Vet couldn’t articulate it to me,  but we had Chewwie back and he was safe.  I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t discovered that it was a hernia rather than Chewwie just getting fat, but  alls well that ends well.

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Meeting Again After 10 Years

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Image by seaview99 via Flickr

She emailed me and told me she was coming to Charlotte.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It had been 10 years since I’d seen my cousin.  I wondered what she looked like now.  How was her hair cut.  What color was it.  Had she lost or gained weight since I last saw her.  Weight has been an issue for both of us for the past 10 years.

My cousin is a fact of my life.  We were born in the same year, two months apart.  We have been like twins ever since we were born.  We have always been closer than close.  We played together as little girls, we grew up together.  I can always tell if something is wrong the moment I hear her voice.  We love each other unconditionally and confide everything to each other.  We were pregnant with our first child at the same time and 10 years later, coincidently, we were pregnant with our second children at the same time.  What are the chances.

She called me from the airport the morning she arrived and said that she couldn’t find a rental car.  It was Labor Day weekend and in the excitement of making reservations, she forgot to reserve a car.  She was doing this because I don’t drive much and I certainly don’t know how to get to the airport.  She said she couldn’t get a car.  I told her we would be out to get her as soon as we could and for her to wait by baggage.  I called her a few minutes before we arrived at the airport and told her to wait outside, that we were almost there.  I also told her she was in luck.  My husband had Monday off and could drive her back to the airport for her return flight.  She didn’t need a car after all.

When I saw her, a swell of relief rushed over me.  There she was.  I had never seen her hair that short or that color.  It was a dark, red.  Beautiful.  I had only seen her with strawberry colored, long hair.  I couldn’t believe how short it was.  I had cut mine short because in the humidity it turned curly and I couldn’t deal with it.  As my husband helped her put her carry-on in the trunk, she commented on both of us having short hair. We both had put on a little weight since we’d last seen each other, but she looked great!

When we got home, she took the tour of our living abode and said how cute it was.  We have windows everywhere so a lot of light gets in.  We talked about our hair and she gave me some Bumble and Bumble Sumo Wax.  The wax I was using was too creamy and didn’t get my hair stiff enough.  I’d get too much of it on my fingers and my hair would lump up and lay limp.  The Sumo Wax is perfect.  It’s harder to get on your fingers but a little does a lot.

We were busy everyday.  The first day, Thursday, we replenished the groceries in the house.  We went to my favorite pizzeria to get a fresh slice of pizza.  She loved it.  We went to Ulta to see all the stuff they had in their store.  She’d never been to an Ulta store before.  We went back to the grocery store to get some meat (we shop at 5 different stores)  then we went home and cooked for the rest of the day.  She made fried chicken strips out of chicken breast, showing me how to do it.  I made a big batch of potato salad.  We took breaks every now and again to have a cup of tea.  She cut up and put on to marinate some raspberry chicken which is based in soy sauce and raspberry jam with just a touch of curry.  We were tired by the time my husband came home from school.  We talked all evening

Friday, we took my grandson to the Lazy 5 ranch to see the wild animals.  That was fun and it took us all day.  That night we went to a fabulous birthday dinner (for me) that was out of this world, The McNinch House Restaurant.  Wonderful!  The next day, Saturday, was my birthday and we lazed around all day.  My son and grandson came over that night and my son fixed us fish tacos for dinner.  Sunday we drove around Charlotte, showing my cousin how pretty Charlotte is.  For some reason, she thought Charlotte was a small town.  She mentioned how spread out it was and how long it took to get everywhere.  We went to the mall and walked around window shopping.  I had some birthday gifts to exchange.  Late that afternoon, we went to a Chinese dinner with my son.  We ordered Pork lo Mein, Garlic Beef, Tangerine Chicken and Bang-Bang Shrimp.  I knew my son would order some shrimpy thing.  We then came home and relaxed because my cousin needed to get ready for her trip home the next day, Labor Day.

Monday, we woke up early and my cousin was busy getting ready for her plane ride.  We were able to visit for a little while but we had to get to the airport by 10:00 a.m. so we left pretty quickly.  I was so sad to see her go.  I told her we couldn’t wait another 10 years to see each other again.  She agreed.  As she stepped onto the curb with her luggage, we got in the car, waving, and drove away.  The next day I was low because she was gone.  We had such a wonderful time.  It just wasn’t long enough.  I’m looking forward to our next visit.

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A 10 Course Meal

Housing

Image by james.thompson via Flickr

My cousin flew into town for Labor Day weekend.  The 3rd happened to be my birthday.  She kept me distracted from a surprise Friday night dinner by keeping me busy all day.  We took my Grandson to the Lazy 5 Ranch, and we didn’t get home until 4p.  For breakfast I’d had home fried chicken strips and 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich so I wasn’t hungry all day. She was really worried I was going to ask about lunch.  Her ploy worked.

When we got home from the Lazy 5, she acted like there was no dinner plan.  I suggested we go to dinner and she said:  “Let’s just drive around until we find someplace that looks good.”  I told her no way was I just driving around looking for some place to eat.  We had to have a recommendation.  She then, reluctantly, told me that she had a reservation.  My husband asked if the car was clean.  I told him it was not, after going to the Lazy 5 where you feed the animals pellets from your car.  He went out and washed the animal snot off the windows and flipped the mats and the car looked 100% better.

When we arrived uptown, at the restaurant, it was an old Victorian house tucked away in a cozy neighborhood.  We entered and a man came out and introduced himself and shook our hands.  Then a woman came out and introduced herself and shook our hands.  We walked back to the informal dining room where there was a table set for 3.  It was the Chef’s Table.  It was set with old-fashioned plates and stemware of all sorts.  It looked like someplace the Queen would eat. There were menus and a rose sitting on each plate.  I asked if this was the menu we ordered off of and my cousin said: “Those are all the courses we’re going to eat.”  I was delighted, to say the least.

First thing, they served us a tiny cup of white asparagus blended into a drink with cheddar biscuits, to cleanse our palates.  Then came the first course:  Jumbo lump blue crab with a fried green tomato with Remoulade sauce.  It was great!  The second course was a chilled sweet corn bisque with charred pepper & lime salsa, basil and extra virgin olive oil.  The chef came out every time a course was served to tell us all about it and where it came from.  There was a huge vegetable garden on the side of the restaurant where most of the vegetables came from.  The third course was a salad of watermelon & mixed baby lettuces with tomatoes out of the garden, crispy parmesan, kalmata olive jam and white balsamic dressing.  This was heavenly!  I would never have thought that watermelon would taste good in a salad.  They then served house-made strawberry-black pepper intermezzo sorbet.  This was served in a martini glass with pink sugar around the top of the glass.  It was beautiful and you could taste the pepper.  They’d made that also.  It was to cleanse our palates before the meat dishes.

The fifth course was pan-seared organic Scottish King Salmon with creamy grits, brown butter cabbage and tempura okra.  This is the South, after all.  The courses were all small but there were 1o of them so we were really full by the time dinner was over.  The sixth course was roasted duck breast and duck confit with cheddar cous cous, apple, beets and apple cider-rosemary cream.  The sixth course was butter-poached tenderloin of grass-fed beef with potato gratin, tomato-bacon jam & green peppercorn port reduction.  This was divine.  The seventh course was a wedge of buttermilk blue cheese with house-grown figs, balsamic syrup and baguette crisps.  I ate all of mine.  We were all getting really full but we had 2 more courses to go.  The ninth course was “peaches and cream”  BBQ grilled local peach, sour cream pound cake and caramel ice cream.  This was so good we all wanted another plate of it.  The tenth and final course was frozen white chocolate with white chocolate mousse, candied macadamia nuts and chocolate sauce.  It was heavenly!

I’ve eaten at the Chef’s table in an Italian restaurant, in the kitchen, and it was nothing like the Chef’s table at a nice restaurant like this.  It was a once in a life time experience.  It was blissful!

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