Monday, February 22, 2010

Charlie Brown was at my Reunion Committee Meeting

No, this little sweetheart isn't the "Charlie Brown" I am referring to in the title of this post. Although his name IS Charlie, I had to begin this missive with his sweet shiny face - and what a smile! Wow. His mommy sent Charlie's little mug shot to me this morning with the question from "Charlie" about whether "Mimi" was coming over today (Monday is one of the days I visit my almost-8-week-old grandson). And of course his Mommy answered, "No, Mimi is in Colorado." Which of course I am, and take a look below at what I was seeing outside my front door yesterday. HOO-BOY - what a storm!
So we survived the snowin' and the blowin' and the picture below shows what we are looking at today. Sunshine and blue skies all the way. And even though the view is great, that isn't really what this post is all about.

So , on with the topic at hand. My Reunion Committee Meeting. In Pueblo. On Friday morning.

Let me just say that upon arriving in my hometown of Pueblo, Colorado I promptly caught what I am now referring to as the "Mother of all Colds." This is like "Storm of the Century" bad. It was so bad I was seeing signs of H1N1 (ok, maybe I was getting a bit paranoid) - but my sinus cavities felt like they were alternately being crushed to pieces and blazing like neon lights. My eyes were red, swollen and oozey. My chest hurt. Even my hair hurt. And try all this at 8500 feet in altitude where the oxygen is pretty much missing.

Put a sealevel girl into that thin air with one Mama of a Bad Cold and it ain't pretty!

But I had obligations. Our 45th high school class reunion was set for September. Lots of things remained undone. First on the list was meet with the webmaster for our school's website at noon at the university. I was taking over the website (gulp---what was I thinking) and Jeff Miller, web guru, was guidinge me through the intricacies of webmanship. Is that a word?

3:00 (following lunch with girlfriends and fellow committee members Nancy and Crete) we met with the catering manager at the Pueblo Country Club where our Saturday dinner event will be held. All went well.

Next morning, 9:00am. The "Big" committee meeting - there are 8 of us. Two were missing due to stomach flu and out-of-town business. This is the meeting Nancy, Crete and I determined needed to bear fruit. Final decisions regarding budget and itenerary MUST be set. The "boys" on our committee are good guys, but not what you'd call great communicators. And one of them had voiced some opposition to what he referred to as us girls being a "Frik" and "Frak" organization bound to do things "our" way without letting the guys have a voice.

Now the guys (most of them) could have cared less from what I'd witnessed in previous experience. Didn't bother to read their e-mails. Sometimes came to the meetings, sometimes not. For example, the "twins" (David and Danny) are hard workers living outside of town doing their ranching, farming things. They are tough sons-of-guns. Nice guys, but I couldn't see them getting all on their high horses about whether we were going to serve peanuts in pink frilly cups., Not that we were, but you get my drift...

David entered the room in the back of the modest diner where we were meeting. I hadn't seen David since we were 18 so I figured on some changes. He gave me a good hug and said, "I don't know who you are." Huh? Well, who did he think I was? I reminded him that I was Gale (Hoover) Hammond and he said, "You had dark hair." Well, so did you, Kemosabe, I thought to myself noting his grey locks beneath some sort of baseball cap.

I was seated next to his non-identical twin brother, Danny, who was famous for picking up everybody's breakfast chit at the diner. I'd only ordered toast ($.81) so I didn't feel that I was giving up a lot of my feminine independence if he wanted to buy my toast. Which I couldn't eat anyway, what with the sore throat and all.

Nancy, a former highschool teacher with the chops to prove it, led the discussions. Drowning in my own bodily fluids, this is how the meeting went to my stopped up ears and sluggish know, sorta how Charlie Brown would've heard it:

Nancy: "blah, blah, blah, honk, honk, honk, blah..."
Crete (semi-interrupting): Do we have the budget on the dinner yet?
Nancy: "That comes later in the meeting," referring to her agenda, which none of us student failures had thought to copy for our own use.
Nancy: "Now, is everyone ok with the change of venue for Friday night? We're no longer having the mixer at Danny's."
Danny: "I don't give a s**t."
(ok, I guess that was settled.)
Nancy: "blah, blah, honk, blah, blah..."
Crete: Do we have the budget on the dinner yet?
Nancy: "That comes later in the meeting. Blah...."
Gale: (swimming up from murky underwater swells of sick-dom) to interject: "Is everybody ok with the reservation form I e-mailed to all of you?"
David: "Yeah. It's beautiful."
Nancy: "David, you didn't see the form; your e-mail isn't working."
David: "Yeah, whatever, it's still beautiful."
Danny: "I don't give a s**t."
Les: Who up to this point hasn't made a lot of fuss, shrugs and rolls his eyes a bit and continues eating his way through a cinnamon roll sporting a small candle - a tribute to his birthday last weekend, although Crete had eaten just the tiniest noodge off of it although she explained she'd used a fork, thereby leaving the roll fairly germ-free for Les's consumption.
Crete: "Do we have the dinner budget yet?"
Nancy: "Shut up, Crete."

Naw, I was just kidding. All in all it was a great meeting, Nancy was a rock star and we did good stuff, settled on some other stuff and to the best of my knowledge, Danny still doesn't give a s**t!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Columns: Three in a Row

It was just one of those know, the lemons and the lemonade and all that jazz. So today I decided to take those sunny orbs of fruit (my particular lemons today being what I have dubbed the "Mother of all Colds" that I acquired a couple of days ago here in Colorado) and make some lemonade - that is update my three-behind-and-counting columns. I SWORE I would keep these puppies up-to-date. Well. Now I AM up to date because with this cold, I can't summon the energy to do much more than pluck at my keyboard...and if none of this makes sense, I'm blaming the drugs. Now - on with those columns!

Shortly before Valentine's Day as I was cleaning out my cookbook cupboard, a little booklet fell into sight. Called "Cooking in the Nude" it was an arresting title for this time of year. It inspired the column for a "Rescue" of sorts for those guys who forgot to shower their sweeties with Valentine's Day goodies. Read it and get rescued by clicking on "The Column" link above.

Then there is the "lemonade" column. When my friend Susan Hansen sent me a New Years greeting card with a photo of Susan, her hubby and their four grandchildren that had gone hilariously awry, it inspired the column. It also produced a few memories of my very funny mother - even AFTER she'd contracted Alzheimer's. Now that disease was a FOR SURE lemon, but my mom knew how to make the most of life - even with an extra big dose of lemons. To read about lemons being squeezed to the last funny drop, click on "The Column" link.

And who hasn't wished they could have "do-overs." Raise your hand if you've ever said, "Dang! If only I'd said..." or "I wish I'd done..." on and on it goes. With that in mind, I put together my own version of how it might be to hop on a time machine. To take a joyride back in time with me, just (you got it) click on "The Column" link above. And AWAY we GO!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The 2400 Mile Traveler - Notes from the road

Today is Day Three of "Notes from the Road," the day that we actually made it to Grand Lake - AT LAST! The scenery here is gorgeous, pretty white snow on the ground - and it was ESPECIALLY spectacular on Rabbit Ears Pass, a 10,000+ foot altitude route through the Rockies near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. What a gorgeous sight of all the evergreens laden with piles of snow, and too bad for me I didn't have my camera handy, although I took several snaps on my cell phone. Now all I need to do is figure out how to download the dang things!
However. The picture at the top, although it does depict a bit of green, is my sad little bunch of formerly lovely basil that Alyssa gave to me to bring to Colorado so I could make the absolutely yummy, delicious, nothing better sandwich like she made for our lunch together on Friday at her house before we left. I don't know the exact recipe so I was going to "wing it" - but I do know it includes garden vegetable cream cheese, garlic, roasted red peppers and the basil (all chopped up) and mixed together to apply as a spread on a couple of pieces of bread, which is then completed with sliced turkey, tomato and a bit of spinach leaves.
The sad tale of woe for the basil, however, is that along about Rabbit Ears Pass and 10,000+ feet in altitude, the temperature plummeted into negative territory. Below zero. FREEZING cold and sadly, my lovely little sprig of basil that I had carefully brought in every night and placed in the motel fridge and had at this point ALREADY traveled beautifully well for over 1,000 miles, froze it's little green leaves solid. The squishy leaves that resulted from this icy condition are probably not going to work too well for the turkey sandwich with its yummy cream cheese/garlic/roasted red pepper/basil spread, sad to say. But as sort of a consolation prize - my basil still does smell refreshingly yummy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Notes from the Road

We are 'On the Road Again..." Yesterday, 13 February, we left our abode in Morgan Hill at 6:35am, Colorado bound. Now this is a VERY LATE departure time for Mr. H. and I (and Puddin' who is holding down the back seat), but in the winter I prefer to make a 2-1/2 day road trip (opposed to the usual 2-day) of the 1225 or so miles to Grand Lake due to short daylight hours. I get a bit - but just a bit - of flack about this from Mr. H. but he goes along with it.
And wouldn't you know it...while still on the road out of our development (Jackson Oaks Drive) we were in a quandary. It was super foggy outside - and our defroster wasn't working!!! Oh, my. We operated it at full blast, turning on the A/C, turning off the A/C, turning on the heater - in short doing everything humanly possible to get the darned defroster to - well, defrost the inside windows. That's when I decided to do a little test. I ran my index finger over a short space on the inside of the windshield - and you will never guess. No, you won't. THE PROBLEM WAS VAPOR ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE WINDOW!! Shheeesh! A little windshield wiper action cleaned it right up. It was kind of, umm...a less than stellar start to the first day of the trip. But wait. It gets better.
So along about the exit to Great America in Santa Clara, I heard something that sounded like a...groan, perhaps? I hadn't been paying attention to the road (I wasn't driving after all) as I was busy doing something mentally taxing such as wondering if I'd remembered to take my socks out of the dryer when Ralph realized he had bypassed the Highway 680 exit. By a LONG way. Oh, boy. Off the freeway we went, across the overpass and then back on course. So I was wondering, ok, do these things come in three's? I was hoping not. But then I dropped the lid off my Starbucks cup and it landed on Ralph's side of the vehicle and yes: I counted that as number three!
So the above pictures are not ones I took personally with my own camera, rather they depict an old wagon that is - presumably - at the Elko, Nevada Chamber of Commerce building. We haven't done much sight seeing in Elko so I can't vouch for this completely, but it wouldn't surprise me seeing as how Elko is kinda one of those "wild west" sorta towns, given to Cowboy Poetry nights and so forth. Also known for its Basque restaurants, and don't ask me what one has to do with the other. But we checked into our dog-friendly hotel and proceeded to head to dinner, which we ate at the restaurant at the Red Lion, below.
Our dinner experience led me to exclaim at one point during our repast - "Boy am I glad California has banned smoking in public places." Yes, the smoke, the noise from the nearby slot machines and a heavy hand on the casino furnace's thermostat made it not THE most pleasant dinner we've ever had.
First day on the road - 557 miles, give or take.

And speaking of dinner, you are probably wondering where my spouse and I decided to have dinner on that MOST ROMANTIC DAY OF THE YEAR....well, for some people I guess. I have to say this year Valentine's Day kind of came and went without so much as a whimper. Or Valentine's Day gift. Or card. Nope. Nada. But that's ok, we had a yummy taco dinner here, at Cafe Rio in lovely Vernal (rhymes with urinal without the "i"), Utah.

The good news is that Vernal, Utah, is just a hop, skip and a jump (well, make that a really long jump, say 400-plus miles!) to this lovely place, Zion National Park, which is actually nearer to St. George, Utah, which is another common city for us to stay on our journey home - especially if going by Long Beach to visit the Sensational Stromberg Sisters!

Second day on the road: 400 miles, give or take.
And now we are only about 257 (give or take) miles from our destination: Grand Lake, Colorado :) Will leave bright and early tomorrow morning, arriving in Grand Lake by noon, Lord willing and the creeks don't rise...
So I am off to celebrate Valentine's Day with a mini-Coconut-Almond-ice cream bar in my jammies in my comfy bed in our dog-friendly-hotel-room in Vernal, Utah! Happy Trails...

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Little Chip off the Block

Today I had a lovely surprise in my e-mail...a message from Ashley saying she has started - YES! - her very own blog! This is great news. I can't tell you HOW MANY TIMES I have wished there had been this opportunity when my girls were little. Yep - there are so may cute things lost forever because I either didn't have time or forgot to journal the many funny things that Ashley and Alyssa said and did over the years.

Ashley is going to have LOTS of fun - not to mention ammunition - to work with as she follows Miss Gracie Elizabeth and Miss Emily Mae into cyberspace :)
To check out Ashley's new blog, "Two Peas in a Pod," just click here: - Happy Blogging, Ashley. I'm proud of you!