Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ten Days of Pleasure

We returned today from ten days in Tampa to help out on the occasion of our third grandson's birth. Christian Thomas Guimaraes Castro debuted on Dec. 11. He is tiny, 6.10, but he is perfect in every way. And, since Mom has more milk than Publix, he is thriving.

Ten days is a long time to visit, but we served as baby sitter for big brother Alexander while his family was in the hospital and housekeeper, cook, chaffeur, nanny, handyman, menu planner,etc. after dad went back to work. We loved helping out, and most of all we loved having such quality time with our daughter.

Her birthday is the day after Christian's, and we were reminded of all the activity when she was born in mid December. A new baby means busy times anyway; add Christmas, and things get hectic. It was our pleasure to help out and to enjoy wonderful times with both her sons.

Pictures? Of course.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Birth and a Birthday

What a wonderful week for us! Elizabeth's Christian was born yesterday, weighing in at 6 pounds, 10 ounces and measuring 20.25 inches long. He is precious and beautiful. And on top of that, Elizabeth's birthday is today. She is precious and beautiful, too, just as she was thirty six years ago.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christian is Coming

We have an exciting week coming up. We leave for Tampa to help welcome a new baby to the family. Elizabeth has been very healthy---though tired and uncomfortable---so we have every reason to believe that Christian will arrive in fine and healthy fashion. Our job is to care for Alexander while his family is in the hospital and to help out a few days after they return home. It is a privilege for us, and we are very excited. Elizabeth has a birthday the day after Christian is scheduled to arrive, so I remember what it's like to have a newborn at Christmas time. (It's kind of wonderful that first year; after that, it gets very hectic!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Long, Dry Spell

Blogwise, I've just been uninspired. We've been busy---traveling, taking care of family, working, keeping up with the young Roneys and the Castros, playing---oh, always playing---and we have such fun. I don't want to write about the sadness--- Mother's decline and the loss of a dear friend too quickly to cancer.

Here's what we've been doing since late September---in pictures and a little prose. Brooks came to visit. At 32 months, he is a little sponge, and he is pretty cute saying the Pledge of Allegiance! We think he will be reading before long.

And sometimes Alexander gets to visit though he has to come all the way from Tampa. He loves the dogs, and he likes to move very fast! At 22 months, he is saying a few words in Portuguese and English.

We like Alexander's mom a lot, too! She is a little uncomfortable these days as we wait for the arrival of Christian in about three weeks.

These are our two lovely, young, pregnant mothers who were forced by their rambunctious little boys to get up way too early!

And then there was our trip to Apalachicola in early October. Six couples + incredible accommodations + a few motorcycles + a river view + great dining + tattoos + lots of laughter = lots and lots of fun.

And then, there was Cashiers, NC in late October. Seven couples, two beautiful homes, more great food, and lots of laid back time made for a great long weekend.

And then it's Halloween and the party bus and the costumes and the street dance---too much fun. Here's the Biker and Brittany Thirty Years Later:

And the chicken and the processor

And Sarah Palin and "I can see Russia from my Backyard"

And the real cool Blues Brothers and Family

And there was Tom's trip to South Dakota

And then the birthday of an old, old, old friend!

Who says we don't have fun!

This sort of catches up fam and friends on our activities--well, the fun stuff anyway. There's plenty of that other---work, responsibilities, chores---but who wants to write about that!

Friday, October 10, 2008


My mind has been pre-occupied---pre-occupied with three friends who have serious cancers, pre-occupied with a mother who is declining, pre-occupied with acquaintances who lost their only child at 25, pre-occupied with . . . well, the rest of it doesn't matter, does it? Work doesn't matter; the financial mess doesn't matter; the presidential campaign doesn't matter. What matters is that people, friends, and acquaintances are hurting and we can do so little except to pray and to let them know that we care.


October may be my favorite month. We feel the first cool mornings; we see the blue, clear sky. We smell the fields of freshly dug peanuts; we rake the new fallen pine straw; we take notice of the slower growth in our grasses and plants; and yes, we sneeze and sputter a little, too.

Robert Frost liked October, also.

"O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night with Neighbors

Do you have neighbors? Think about it. You may live in a neighborhood, as I do, but do you have neighbors? We have lived in the same house since 1981, and we have one neighbor. Our driveways are across from each other---is that what makes neighbors? They see us coming and going; we see them. They know when our cars are home; we know when theirs are home. We hear and see each others dogs. We pick up each other's papers on occasion. The guys enjoy quail hunting and Auburn football. She is young enough to be my duaghter, but she is a working girl like me, and, we all enjoy spending time together.

This afternoon---Friday---I noticed that all their cars were in the driveway, so I called, "This is Kay; I know it's late notice, but you know how we are. If you guys don't have plans for tonight,we'd love to have you over for heavy drinks and light dinner. Call me." It was 3:30 pm and I didn't have a plan. The phone rang shortly, "sure, we'd love to come; I'll bring a tuna steak." So, we had the beginnings of a plan.

I didn't buy anything special, didn't even go to the grocery market except to buy two yellow squash. Here's what we pulled together:

Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche
Seared Tuna with Cracked Black Pepper and Light Soy Sauce

Romaine Lettuce with Pears, Toasted Pecans, Maytag Blue Cheese
and Apricot Vinaigrette
Yellow Squash Stuffed with Spinach, Barley, Chicken, and Andouille Sausage

Various Wines

Yes, it was an incredible meal--a meal shared with neighbors, a meal planned at the last minute; a meal enjoyed at the kitchen island; a meal consumed with wines and laughter and conversation. What a delightful evening!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Three Busy Weeks

Whew! I've not come up for air since Napa. Too busy at work. But tonight, the wine wind down begins. For dinner---buckwheat pancakes; Robert E. Long syrup from Two Egg, Florida; eggs; and sausage. How good does that sound! What wine, you ask? A 2005 Rosemount Shiraz from eastern Australia, of course! Now, bring on the weekend.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

RR and PLU

We enjoyed an evening with new friends last night. We had cocktails here then went out to late dinner. The conversation was fast and furious; we had plenty to talk about. We discovered similar interests and mutual friends and different experiences. We also discovered areas in which we could learn from each other. It was just a fun evening. "They are PLUs", Tom said as we returned home.

A friend of mine, a businesswoman who is one of the most dynamic people you'll ever meet, is one who has interviewed lots of people over her career. She interviews to hire for her own business, and she also interviews to give experience to young people who are just entering the job market. She told me that she has some little codes that she puts in the corner of some applications. One code is RR. It stands for "raised right". She uses it when she discovers young people with manners and values and work ethic and respect for others and other traits that she considers essential. Later, when she reviews that application, with RR in the top corner, she knows that person was someone that she would want to hire.

Another code she uses is PLU---for "people like us". Again, she uses that code to identify those people with traits similar to her own and those of her other employees---smart, congenial, hard-working, creative, enthusiastic. It might be a vendor or a potential client or an applicant for a position in her company.

I think those codes work in lots of situations. While it might be a little tricky to define RR and PLU, we all know what those traits look like. At the College, I come in contact with all kinds of students---some young, some not-so young, but I can tell you if I think they are RRs. I know it when I see it. (I surely hope that my friend would use RR to describe our children were she to interview them.)

We use PLU a lot---as we did to describe our new friends last night. PLU has nothing to do with their color or socioeconomic level or education. Instead it has to do with how comfortable we felt with them, how easily the conversation flowed, how many experiences and interests we shared, and whether we wished the evening could last longer. As it turned out, we overstayed our welcome in the small Japanese restaurant. We were talking so intently that we didn't notice that we were the last customers and the staff had begun sweeping up. We apologize, Sakura!

We enjoy meeting new PLUs!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Black Raspberry, Tar, and Earthiness

Wine tasting was a big part of our Napa trip. Of course it would be. The valley was dotted with acres and acres of grape vines that were loaded with luscious fruits ready to be picked. And in the caves at each vineyard the old oak barrels held even older wines just waiting for their debut. We tasted many. At each winery, we sampled four to six wines. My favorite was the Von Strasser Winery, and there we sampled, among others, the Von Strasser Sori Bricco Cabernet 2005. The steward assisted us with tasting notes. The notes for the Sori Bricco: "the wine is extremely dark and extracted with tremendous depth and concentration. The aromas are of coffee, black fruit, licorice, chocolate, and eucalyptus. Very chewy and viscous on the palate, with flavors of black raspberry, tar and earthiness with a long and impeccably balanced finish."

Did I taste those flavors? Did I catch that hint of eucalyptus? Could I identify the licorice? Could I articulate the sensations on the back of the tongue or describe the delicate finish? Not a chance. But did I enjoy the wines? You bet!

My descriptions of wine, however, would be very different. My description would be something like this: "a hearty red wine to be enjoyed on Sunday night, on the porch of an old farmhouse, with six friends and lots of laughter." Or this: a light red best served with Copper River Salmon prepared in a great kitchen with friends keeping company with the cook." Or this: "a great little Tuesday night wine enjoyed after a long day at the office with neighbors who dropped by to say hello." Or this: "a crisp, refreshing sauvignon blanc just right to enjoy on a hot August evening with grilled cheese sandwiches and a salad and the couple you invited on the spur of the moment."

You see, wine to me is about occasions and friends. It's about good times and hospitality, old stories and laughter. It's about sunsets and cool breezes and moonbeams and stars. It's about good conversation and discussion and poetry and literature. It's about history and shared experiences. And yes, it's about good food enjoyed with others.

I probably won't ever get a job writing tasting notes; yet, somehow, I think lots of folks feel the same way I do.

Our Trip to Napa

We returned home late on Sunday night, weary and yearning for our own bed, but what a great time we had! Fourteen friends, lots of laughter, plenty of wine and incredible food, great weather,a balloon ride, no logistical or other problems and safe travel. It just doesn't get any better! I'll have reflections on it all a little later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where's the Groove?

I'm a little like Stella. I think I've lost my groove---my blogging groove. Maybe it's the long, hot days of August. Maybe it's being super busy at work. Maybe it's reading all these wonderful, interesting blogs that other people write. Maybe it's just Life interfering. Whatever it is, I've had a dry spell.

Stella took a vacation to get her groove back; well, I think I'll do that, too. We're leaving tomorrow for Napa. Maybe a little cooler weather; maybe new scenery; maybe lots of wineries and wine; maybe fine dining; maybe hot air ballooning; maybe even the fainting goats (Not!); maybe the fellowship of sixteen friends going aross the country together---maybe all that will help me get my groove back!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Staycation

We didn't really plan a staycation; it just happened. I had a week of leave I needed to take; it's really too hot to go anywhere. Gasoline is still almost $4 per gallon; and we have a nice trip planned later this month. So, we decided to stick around. Here's some of what we did during Staycation:

  1. We hosted and/or attended five dinner parties.

  2. We spent two nights at the Farm.

  3. We spent one night at the Lake.

  4. I spent one morning at the ER with Mother--after a fall. Nothing broken.

  5. We took a day trip to Thomasville, GA.

  6. I planted more rosemary at the Farm.

  7. I read The Poisonwood Bible; Tom read 1776.

  8. We took Mother to the Lake for the night; got her on the boat for a nice ride.

  9. We swam in the pool with Brooks.

  10. I cooked Copper River salmon two more times. It will be out-of-season too soon.

  11. We took a day trip to Montgomery.

Here are some photos from the weekend:

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Okay, so I am sorta stuck on beets. It's like I have just discovered them. I've always liked pickled beets on salad, but that's really the only way I ate them. One of the reasons I like them is that beautiful color. I can't think of any other food that is such a dark, rich, merlot.

Color in food has always been important to me. I don't know when I learned it, but somehow I have always known that a plate with deep colors of food was a healthy, well-balanced plate. Just think about the foods with deep, rich colors----the green of asparagus, broccoli, beans, leafy vegetables, garden peas, zucchini, limes and kiwi; the orange, yellow, and golds of fruits, squash, sweet potatoes, rutabagas; the purple of eggplant and grapes; and the reds of tomatoes, strawberries, and beets. Then, there are the whites that, while filling, aren't quite so nutritious---white potatoes, rice, white breads, and pastas.

A nutritious plate will be a beautiful plate, full of those dark rick colors.
This is a nutritious plate:

And this:

Beets are a storehouse of good nutrition, and that rich, red color--well, it reminds me that color is a great guide to good nutrition. I'm trying harder to make my plates the most colorful in town! And, I'm looking for new ways to prepare those beets!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Night with Friends

When we want to try out and tweak new recipes, we like to invite food-lover friends to join us. I enjoy having other opinions and suggestions, and I must admit I enjoy having an appreicative audience, too. This was one of those nights. I've been on a salmon and root vegetable kick. See previous post. Anyway, our friends joined us. They brought a wonderful salad and fresh peaches to go along with my blueberries for dessert..

This was a stay-in-the-kitchen dinner. To get us started, I prepared fresh figs with Maytag blue cheese, and I rolled out my beet fritters with sour cream, capers, and green onions again. Here's how that plate looked.

Then, we tried the Copper River salmon again, and I tweaked it a bit. I made the fresh relish that I pictured in the previous post, and it was wonderful. We also had the rutabaga fritters with sun dried tomatoes. One of my guests does not like rutabagas or beets, but he ate both tonight and raved about them.
The Copper River salmon won't be available long, but we have enjoyed it twice now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Copper River Salmon

Do you know about Copper River Salmon? Ohmygosh! One taste of this firm red fish, with its rich and nutty flavor, and you will understand why food lovers relish the three to four weeks that fresh Copper River salmon is available each year.

The Copper River flows in the state of Alaska. Almost 300 miles in length, this wild rushing river empties into Prince William Sound at the town of Cordova. Salmon that originate in these pristine waters are challenged by its length and its strong, chill rapids. Consequently, Copper River salmon are strong, robust creatures with a healthy store of natural oils and body fat. These qualities make the salmon among the richest, tastiest fish in the world. Fortunately, fatty Copper River salmon is good for you, as it is loaded with Omega-3 oils---you know, the good stuff.

For several years, the chef at our club, who was a master with fresh fish, had Copper River salmon flown in during May and June each year. It was always a treat that we looked forward to with much anticipation. Hubby is not generally a salmon man; but even he enjoyed those special servings.

Well, that same chef now works for Sam's Club, believe it or not. He catered a cooking school and dinner party last weekend to which I was invited, and he told me that he had Copper River Salmon at Sam's---major shock---and he would call when he got another shipment in. I got that call, and I ran by today. His case was full of those beautiful, red, glistening fillets, and I came home with a two-pound one. Hubby was skeptical---won't be fresh, will be too strong, will smell up the house, yada, yada. What does he know!

Anyway, I rushed home, cut that big fillet into five portions, and began the prep---sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and olive oil rubbed all over. Then I slipped them into my very hot iron skillet--with a few drops of EVOO---and seared them three minutes on one side, then two minutes on the other. Then, I slipped them into a 425 oven for about five minutes. While they were cooking, I whisked up a mustard horseradish vinaigrette to serve over the top. With the salmon, I had rutabaga fritters with raisins and some roasted tomatoes I had in the frig. Not bad for Thursday night dinner. Hubby even had seconds.
I'll get more of that salmon tomorrow! I might do something that looks like this:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Boys or Girls?

I happened to run across an article today titled Is it Harder to Raise Boys or Girls? You can find it here. We were a family with one of each, so as I read that article I began thinking about my own experience. While I noticed definite differences between our son and daughter, indeed almost opposites, I was never sure whether those differences were gender based or birth-order based or even personality based. I just knew that both were challenging.

However, this article makes some important points, and the author concludes that boys are more challenging early on, and girls become more challenging beginning in the preteen years. Yep, that's my experience, too! The good news is that both children grew up and became wonderful adults.

Now, those children are raising active, aggressive, exuberant, rambunctious little boys who are right on schedule to grow and learn and investigate and challenge the world around them. Parenting is not an easy job, but it is oh, so rewarding!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TT # 18: Ways I Use My Day Planner

I began using a day planner twenty years ago. At that time my days were very hectic. I had two school-aged children; I was working and going to school; and I had a busy social life. I knew I couldn't keep everything straight, so I selected a planner brand , and I have been using the same one all the years. It is like my right arm. I always have it with me. For this Thursday Thirteen, I thought I would list the uses I have found for the planner.

  1. My work schedule. Not only do I list appointments, I also list tasks I completed, phone calls made or received, and decisions made. By studying that planner, I can tell you just about anything regarding my work. (1999: August 25 I served on a search committee)

  2. Personal appointments. Doctor appointments, dentists, meetings with teachers, curch meetings, etc. Yep--I have them documented. (1998: May 1, son had dental appt.)

  3. Children's school assignments. One child was a self starter, and I never had to ask about homework or tests, etc. The other was a procrastinator, so I wrote down when the tests were, what grades he made, really anything about school, so I wouldn't be surprised. I didn't like surprises. (1992: Sept. 24, son's interim report card, B in English)

  4. Church. I documented our attendance and involvement---meetings, chairmanships, practices, programs, children's activities, etc. (1994: August 26, church supper club)

  5. Volunteer work. Hubby and I were always chairing this organization or PTO or civic club, so those meetings were always on the calendar. (1989: April 25, chaired Symphony Gala)

  6. My doctoral program. I went back to school with a husband, eighth grader, and fifth grader at home (yes, it was a family decision), so I marked the weekends I had to be away for class, important assignments, and important dates like dissertation research and defense.
  7. (1991: April 27, to library for dissertation research)
  8. Holiday events. For years, when the children were small, we had all manner of extended family to join us for Christmas, so I always scheduled the arrival of each family member and noted the names of those who joined us. (1994: Christmas Day--left on family vacation to San Francisco)

  9. Dinner parties. I listed guests and menus. (2005: January 10--Solomon Dinner Party, 11 guests, shrimp shooters, rosemary cornbread with figs and cream cheese, etc, Beaujolais Nouveau)

  10. Big parties. We do that, too. I list the events, the number of people who attended, the menu, etc. (2005: Oct. 23, Biketoberfest (biker party) at our farm, 49 attended, hot dogs and trimmings)

  11. Reminders. I wrote reminders to myself to make appointments, to follow up on projects, etc. (1994: April 20, call Thompson's Floor Covering)

  12. Weather. I document extreme weather--storms, hot, wet, cold. (1995: Oct. 5, 6 college closed for Hurricane Opal)

  13. Deaths. I list the deaths of friends or family members. (2005: April 10, my favorite uncle died)

  14. Trips and Guests. (1999: August 11, leave for Vail)

These planners serve as my memory, my reminders, my journal, my diary, my log. I just don't see how a PDA will work for me. How do you use a day planner?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kick-Back Weekend at the Beach

WHO: Five friends
WHERE: The Gulf Coast
WHAT: Weekend Getaway
WHY: Just because
DINNER: Sushi, Shrimp, Salad, Sandwiches at the condo
BEVERAGES: See pics above
MOST INTERESTING SIGHT: wind turbine generator systems shipped in to Pensacola
WEEKEND PHRASE: Get out that 9 mm Glock!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

TT #17 What MBTI Type Are You?

I'm a big believer in the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). It is a personality assessment that I have used at work and at home. It is helpful for work groups and family groups. When our children were teens, we typed each family member, and it helped us to understand and appreciate each other more. Now, we know why Dad is so meticulous, why Son was so consumed with his friends and social life; why Daughter was so much like her Dad, and why Mom wanted to orchestrate everything and everyone. For this Thursday Thirteen, I want to tell you a little about my type---ENTJ. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly about ENTJs:

  1. ENTJs have a natural tendency to marshall and direct. This may be expressed with the charm and finesse of a world leader or with the insensitivity of a cult leader.

  2. The ENTJ requires little encouragement to make a plan.

  3. ENTJs are often "larger than life" in describing their projects or proposals. This ability may be expressed as salesmanship, story-telling facility or stand-up comedy.

  4. ENTJs are decisive. They see what needs to be done, and frequently assign roles to their fellows. Few other types can equal their ability to remain resolute in conflict, sending the valiant (and often leading the charge) into the mouth of hell. When challenged, the ENTJ may by reflex become argumentative. Alternatively she may unleash an icy gaze that serves notice: the ENTJ is not one to be trifled with.

  5. "Unequivocating" expresses the resoluteness of the ENTJ's dominant function.

  6. Improvising on the fly is something many ENTJs do very well.

  7. ENTJs are usually well informed, well read, and they enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others.

  8. ENTJs are skilled at persuading others, achieving results, making decisions, and conducting long range planning.

  9. ENTJs, representing only slightly more than 2% of the population, are bound to lead others, and from an early age they can be observed taking command of groups.

  10. ENTJs, more than any other type, desire (and generally have the ability) to visualize where the organization is going, and they seem able to communicate that vision to others.

  11. ENTJs are tolerant of established procedures, but they can and will abandon any procedure when it can be shown to be ineffective in accomplishing its goal.

  12. ENTJs have a strong natural urge to give structure and direction wherever they are-to harness people in the field and to direct them to achieve distant goals.

  13. The nickname for the ENTJ is Field Marshall.

I'd be interested in knowing your Type. If you don't know it, you can take a free assessment here. I took it, and my ENTJ showed up again---guess I've not mellowed with age!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I Love Summer Suppers

We never know what's for dinner at our house during the week. Hubby and I are easy to please; we usually have whatever's in the frig or something simple. It might be a pimento cheese sandwich, cheese and fruit, cereal, or sometimes a full meal if the cook is inspired.

We went to the farm after work---well, only one of us works now---and I raided the fig tree while Hubby took care of some chores. When we arrived back home, we remembered that a neighbor had brought some okra by last night. Hmmm, sounds like the beginning of a wonderful summer supper. So, we had a little fried okra, sliced tomatoes, and fresh figs. I also had some Maytag Blue Cheese that is so creamy which we enjoyed with the tomatoes and the figs. A little left-over wine, and Voila! Yummy!