Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tuna Noodle Noodlin'

Tuna noodle salad.

Staple lunch when I was a kid. My mom would make this at least once a week and it lasted a couple days. Most days we had peanut butter and jelly, another staple lunch that kids love, but we really looked forward to tuna noodle salad.

It's deceptively simple - a can of tuna, macaroni noodles (although Sissy used shells when we had this yesterday), some mayo, and a bit of chopped onion. A little salt and pepper sprinkled on top completes the childhood memory.

I took the first bite and was immediately transported back about forty years, standing in my mom's kitchen, tasting the salad right after she made it. It would still be a little warm since she hadn't put it in the fridge yet to cool.

She would call us for lunch and we would come running. There was no dawdling on tuna noodle days. One bowl wasn't enough - we always went back for another. And ate every noodle in the bowl.

Great memory. Thanks, Sissy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Eating the Rainbow

I'm enamored with the colors of the rainbow chard.

It's easy to eat the rainbow this time of year.
Going through a heat wave right now. The garden loves, loves, loves, the heat. Especially the tomatoes. I love, love, love the heat. Especially after a snowy, cold winter.

We've been sharing our bounty with family, friends, and neighbors. While I love all the fresh, organic produce coming out of the garden, there's only so much we can eat.

The Man has been freezing lots of green beans. We'll enjoy those through the winter. 
It's been quite a week.

Three wakes in two days. I feel like I'm living an alternate reality - instead of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" it's "Three Wakes and a Birthday Party".

Heading west this weekend to celebrate with Mom and the rest of the Man's family. Mom's got a big birthday coming up - she's turning ninety.

We're going to have a CELEBRATION!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Midsummer Harvest

I've been enjoying fresh blackberries this week.

Not too sweet. Not too sour. Just right.
One lone{ly} zucchini blossom.

Had dinner at a rather posh restaurant last weekend and they served fried zucchini blossoms.

Lovely to look it. Delicious to eat.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cracked Pot

Cheesecake in a jar

M and I had snack last week at knitting class. She made barbecue kielbasa and pasta salad for dinner and I made these for dessert. As my knitting teacher said while eating one, "Well, that shut them all up."

Looks fancy. Super easy. Portable.

Winner in my book.
Wandered around the yard and found some clay pots the Man had left outside. They reminded me of a story I heard a while ago. 

Two pots, one cracked and one whole, were used to carry water back from a mountain spring. The whole pot always arrived with a full pot of water while the cracked pot only had a half pot of water. The cracked pot was ashamed because it could not carry a full pot and wanted the master to smash it and get a new perfect pot. But the master told the pot to look at the path on the way home that evening. The cracked pot saw beautiful flowers along one side of the road - the side that the cracked pot was on. When they got home, the master told the cracked pot that he planted flower seeds on that side so that the cracked pot could water them each day as they returned home. It was because of his "flaw" that the flowers grew and provided the master with beautiful flowers for his home. His flaw was not a flaw after all.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Two Little Poppets

Two little ones, a sister and brother, came to visit the library last week. Their excitement was palpable, the air was buzzing with it. They flitted from the craft area to the prize area to the fish tank and back again, stopping to visit the display cases and the prize area one more time. Over and over again, while their nanny watched carefully, they had free reign of the whole floor.

The littlest one got brave and came to talk to me while I was sitting at the desk. 

"We can't take no books home because we don't have a library card," he said woefully, looking up at me with sad brown eyes. "Well, does your nanny have a card?" I asked, trying to find a way to get books home with this guy.

"No, she don't. And she don't live here neither so she can't have a card," he said, even more woefully than before.

"Oh, well, I am sorry about that. Would you like to pick some books out and we can hold them for you until mom or dad can come get them?" I asked gently, hoping he would agree and not start sobbing, as his quivering lip was telling me he might do at any moment.

"Daddy's gonna come get them on Friday," he informed me cheerily. "The lady downstairs said she would hold our books for us until he can get them," and he flitted away, eyeing the fish tank and heading in that direction.

I think he was playing me. With that quivering lip and those sad brown eyes. 
A few moments later his older sister skips over to talk to me. Vivacious and animated, she starts peppering me with questions.

"What are those things in the glass boxes? How did they get in there? Where do they come from?" she asked, referring to display cases we have for children to share their special collections with the community - collections of Legos and Matchboxes baseball cards and coins.

I explained what they were and asked if she had a special collection she might like to share. She cocked her head to the side, put her finger to her lip, and said, "I have one goldfish." She paused and then said, "But that's not a collection, is it?"

"Nope. One isn't a collection. Do you have anything else?" I asked, wondering what this little poppet was going to present next.

"I have a Barbie collection! I have about thirty of them!" she exclaimed. Before I could say anything, her little face fell and she whispered, "But they don't have any clothes. The dog ate them all."

She looked at me and said, "I probably can't bring naked Barbies in, right?"



Playing around with some beach photos and cleaning out some old filters and actions. I kind of like these two.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Emerald Isle, Day Four Point Two Five or A Rocky Start

Heading out on a {short} hike to see Newtown Castle.

We walked along a narrow country road, passing by this pretty little church, to get to the castle. Along both sides of the road were hundreds, probably thousands, of blackberry bushes. I have never seen so many blackberries in my life.

T (the hubby) and I could not contain ourselves. We stopped every three feet or so to gather handfuls of the deliciously sweet, juicy berries to pop into our mouths.

T (my friend) and the Man just kept walking. They weren't stopping for berry picking. Every now and then they would snag a berry or two and munch away but they could not match what T and I were eating. We loved, loved, loved those berries.

We weren't on the road for very long. The trail took us off into a meadow.

And another one. And another one. And another one. And another one. And another one.

Endless meadows, each one beginning and ending with a stone wall we had to climb to get into the next one. I can not tell you how many times I tripped going over those stone walls. The Man held my hand each time. 

He saved my camera from so many near disastrous falls.

He got a bit exasperated with all the picture taking. "Don't you think you should watch where you're walking?" he asked several times.

No, Man, I don't. Or I would not have any pictures of our hike. 

Just don't let go of my hand.
See that very narrow wire next to the Man's left arm? That's an electric wire.

We had to hike ALONG THE SIDE OF THAT WIRE until we got to the other side of the field. I was terrified I was going to trip and fall into it. On the right side was a stone wall covered in brambles - not something you want to brush up against.

There was a lot of stress on this part of the hike. I think at one point I may have told the Man he was going to have to carry me across the field.

He ignored me.
Oh, look, another field to cross.

This hike was beginning to feel like crossing the Sahara Desert.

Not that I have ever crossed the actual Sahara Desert. But I think it must feel like this. Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. But it was a very long hike  - at least an hour.
Finally came out to the next part of the hike - a road.

So glad to be out of the rocky fields and meadows that were constantly trying to trip me up and kill me and my camera.


Me + rocky fields = horrible idea.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bird Tomfoolery

You may remember I have a bit of a black thumb when it comes to any sort of real plant. Actually, I could probably kill off an artificial plant if I put my mind to it.

Many years ago I made the switch from real hanging flower baskets to artificial ones. I had stopped at a friend's house one morning and admired the beautiful geraniums she had hanging on the front porch. She floored me when she said they were not real.

I promptly went out and bought some for our two porches. They lasted several years and eventually faded to the point of no return.

I bought new baskets last summer and they still look pretty good. Colors are vibrant, no fading at all, and the leaves are holding nice shapes with nothing looking squished or crinkled. The best part? I get them out of the barn in the spring and put them back inside in the fall. 

No fuss, no muss. 

They look real and I am delighted.
I even fooled momma bird!

We have been noticing some movement in and around the basket on the back porch over the last few weeks. As I was getting my coffee this morning, I gazed out the window and saw a flutter of activity and the basket swinging a bit much for a normal breeze. I could hear some peeping and went out to investigate.

I saw two tiny heads peeking up and looking out through the flowers.

Looking at the picture I think I see four babies in there. The two on the right with their eyes showing and two more on the left, one looking to the back of the basket and one showing his back.

I went back inside, grabbed a stool and my camera and climbed up  to see what was going on in that basket. The little ones immediately pulled in and tried to hide themselves. I snapped away, trying to get a good shot of them. Focus, snap, focus, snap. Lost in the moment and trying to get that perfect picture.

Completely forgetting that I was still in my nightie. Out in broad daylight, on top of a stool with the breeze blowing the skirt of my nightie up and away.

Oy vey.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Four

The Burren (sounds like "burn"). Those Irish with their cray-cray pronunciations.

Or as I like to call it, "the land of rocks and moonscapes".

Barren and wild looking. Harsh and hard. The people who settled here must have been the same, I think.

We couldn't get enough of it. We were out exploring it every chance we got and would have gone back for more if we had the time. The Man actually got me to rock climb parts of it. 

Rock climb, as in leave horizontal terra firma and launch myself vertically onto hard, sharp rocks that seriously tested my balance and gracefulness. I was terrified. The Man helped me when I was convinced I could go no further. The path led us to a slight chasm that was just wide enough that I had to jump to get to the next segment. The Man's hand was right there, gripping mine and hanging on. I almost quit several times but the Man was right there, encouraging me to push on. We finally made it to the top. I had a hard time enjoying it. I was distressed at the thought of having to go back down the rock. I did not think my efforts were worth my distress.

Ah, but the views.

Of which I have none to show you. My camera stayed safely behind while I was risking life and limb.
We met some fellow Americans while exploring this fourth day. The gentleman was lying on his tummy, peering over the edge. His wife told us he was afraid of heights and edges of cliffs and that was the only way he could get close to see the view down.

I thought that was brilliant and promptly laid down and did the same thing.
It looks like a giant heaved these rocks all over the place, doesn't it?

I found myself wondering how sailors made it to shore with all this rough stuff around.
Stopped at a cemetery we found along our way to Newtown Castle. 

Spied some ruins of a chapel in the back. The Man walked down to take a look around. He came back and I asked, "Anything down there?"

"More rocks," he said, with a rueful grin. We had seen lots of rocks by now.
Beautiful little town we drove through.

All of about twelve houses and one general shop/post office/bait shack/lunch counter.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Confetti Kindness

Throw kindness around like confetti.


A delightful thought spotted in a shop this weekend.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Three Point Five

Toured an Irish potato famine cottage while we were working our way back home.

Stunning views of the ocean. Heartbreakingly primitive inside. Dirt floors, rough hewn furniture, dark and bleak interior.

The cow lived inside with the family.

Reading a placard inside, I decided the saddest part of that time period was finding out there was plenty of food to feed the Irish people. The people controlling the food were exporting it to make money.
View from inside the car as we came upon a teeny, tiny village.

Every time we went around a bend, the view got more incredible. Villages and farmland. And field upon field of pure glorious green.
These houses were built to survive.

I wonder if our homes will be around hundreds of years from now. We can barely keep a roof for thirty years.
A nosy neighbor came to greet us as we walked around.
Oh my. I could look at this forever.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beachin' It

Spending a few days at the beach.

We are all piled in - grandpa, uncles, aunts, cousins, sissies - it's a full house weekend. Eating good food and spending warm, sunny days on the beach. Spending partially sunny days with lots of wind on the beach - the best body surfing weather since all that wind makes for some mighty fine waves. Going to the flea market and teaching the young ones how to barter.


I spotted an easel I wanted with a picturesque painting of a local beach scene propped against it. I did not want the painting, pretty though it was, and asked the man selling it how much he wanted for the easel. "Twenty-five for both," he said and looked at me to see my reaction.

"Geesh, I really only want the easel. How about fifteen for the easel?" I countered.

"Well, I'd like to sell them as a set. Twenty-five for both. It's a really nice painting," and stood there, firm and resolute.

"Okay, well, thanks anyway," I said, and started to walk away.

"How about twenty for both?" he yelled to me. "No, I don't want the picture and I only have fifteen," and I walked away again.

"Okay, okay. Fifteen for both," he said. "And you're getting a bargain, you know."

"I know. Thanks," and I gave him the fifteen and took my easel and very pretty painting home with me.

My nieces were impressed. And so were my kids. All in all, a good day.

Fritters for breakfast one day. Jelly donuts from the local donut shack another day. Not the most healthy food but definitely the most delicious food. Fudge. Salt water taffy.

Other Sissy went clamming early in the morning and came back with two bowls full. Fresh clams make the best Clams Casino.

In case you were wondering.


My niece was bored on the beach one afternoon so she asked K to bury her. K promptly decided to turn her into a mermaid.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Not Your Father's Root Beer, or a tale of panic

Well this stuff has caused quite a stir around here.

And I should know. I'm the owner of twenty-two six packs of the brew - that's five and half cases.

The Man thinks I've gone off the deep end.


It started innocently enough. I stopped in the local liquor store one day and saw a poster on the front door advertising Not Your Father's Root Beer. I like root beer so I inquired about it. The shopkeeper told me he has having a hard time keeping it in stock - it was selling like hotcakes. He had a few six packs left so I bought one for a party we were having the following weekend.

Party day rolled around. We had lots of beverages to offer that day so I didn't advertise the root beer ales. I tossed them in the metal tub full of ice with all the other beverages and forgot about them. Later in the afternoon, as the party was winding down, I was looking through the tub and found one. 

Sitting down, feet propped up, I opened it and took a taste.

Holy moly, me oh my. Smooth and creamy. I might never drink anything else. 



So I was sharing this story with some friends the following day and one of them went out and promptly bought two six packs.

She now has one every night.

A few days later she went to buy some more and couldn't find any in stock. Anywhere. Nowhere.
She texted me all day as she was traipsing here, there, and everywhere trying to find more - keeping me apprised of where she had been and when their next delivery was expected.

She finally found some, quite a ways away, and bought a case of it. However, I did not get to the liquor store so I was out of it for a little while.


About a week later, I stopped in to check out a new liquor store that had opened a few weeks earlier. There were a couple sales guys standing around so I asked one of them if they had any Not Your Father's Root Beer in stock. The younger fellow knew exactly where it was displayed and brought me over to it. 

I decided to get a couple six packs. He offered to carry one for me so we set off for the registers. As we were walking, he casually mentioned how popular this stuff was and how quickly it was selling. He also said something about it being a seasonal brew.

What? Seasonal?

I stopped and asked him what that meant, a seasonal brew? He said, "Well, our distributor told us this might be our last shipment since they only make it for the summer."


I did a one-eighty and said, "In that case, I"m going to get a case of it." I took a handful of steps, did another one-eighty and said, "Nope, I'm going to get two cases. I need a carriage." And headed back to the front of the store to get a cart.

I wheeled over to the display and the sales guy helped me put two cases in the carriage. But the words "seasonal brew" and "last shipment" kept running through my head so I talked myself into a third case. I turned the cart around and headed toward the registers.

I got about five feet before I turned around, again, and got a fourth case.

The sales guy looked at me with a rather odd expression on his face. "I wish I liked root beer," he said. "This stuff must be good."

"Oh, it is!" I said, rather enthusiastically so he wouldn't think I had a problem. "It's delicious! And we have a lot of parties this summer! And I am really buying it for the parties!"

I left that store with four cases of Not Your Father's Root Beer and a bottle of wine which had been added last minute so that the cashier wouldn't think I had a problem with root beer ale. 


I loaded all four cases into the back seat and headed for home. I got about a mile and saw a sign for another liquor store. The words "seasonal brew" and "last shipment" were still rattling around in my head so I made a snap decision and turned the car into the parking lot.

This store had a much smaller display and the sales people told me just about the same story as the first store. I bought another case and two single six packs.

I wanted to bring some to knitting that night but didn't want to delve into my stash of cases, hence the two single six packs.

The young guy who waited on me offered to carry the case out to my car. Remembering the FOUR cases I already had in the car, I said, "Oh, that's okay. I can carry it."

"No, that's my job!" he said, all friendly like.

"No, really, I can carry it. I wouldn't want to take you away from the register," I said, knowing what it would look to see four cases of the stuff already in the car.

He insisted. Drat.

So I walked alongside him, blocking his view into the back seat and brought him to the rear of the car. I opened the trunk quickly.

"Just put it anywhere," I said breezily, waving my hand toward the trunk, hoping he wasn't looking around too closely. He put it in the trunk, I thanked him, and he walked back into the store none the wiser. I think.


So that's how I came to be the owner of twenty-two six packs of root beer ale. 

And I am sharing, by the way. Just a little selectively.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

One Single Moment

Perfect summer night.

Fans are slowly swirling above me, their breeze gently blowing as I sit here working on this post. I can hear the peepers outside and the ice clinking as it melts and moves in my glass of water. The house is quiet - everyone else is in bed or relaxing elsewhere.

I'm sitting in my cozy chair, watching one of my favorite movies ever. Enjoying every minute, while I sing along.

Across the Universe.

If you love the Beatles, and you love romance, and you love history and social commentary, you'll love this movie.

Such clever use of lyrics to tell the story of the 1960s and the Vietnam War.


I like this snap of K I took last weekend. I caught her mid-sentence, with a somewhat thoughtful expression on her face.

Not posed. Not planned.

Just one single moment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Three

Heading to Dingle. We had to leave {very} early for a long day of driving.

I have to tell you that nothing in Ireland is as close as it looks on a map. People had warned me about this but I really didn't take them seriously at all. I mean, really, how long does it take to travel 50 miles, about an hour?


About three hours.

Because these roads are so narrow and not made for cars to pass one another. Most of the time I was huddled in the back seat, refusing to look out the side window because the car was 



to the edge of the road where rock walls lived. The rock walls WERE the edge of the road. If you saw a car approaching from the opposite direction you had to look for a turnout to pull into so the other car could pass. Or not.

There weren't always turnouts around.
So we headed off to Dingle and the Dingle peninsula and it took us about three hours to get there.

A gorgeous (but hair raising) ride that led us through quaint villages and small towns. I was hanging out the window snapping shots as we passed through.

And trying to navigate whichever guy was driving.

For some reason, I became the unofficial navigator because I knew how to use the GPS. But sometimes I would get cranky about it because the GPS would show one direction but then change its mind and have you completely turn around and go the opposite direction.

The Man doesn't like it when I tell him to turn around on a one lane road with stone walls bordering the roadway and no turnouts.

Let's just say, he found his Irish temper.
Stopped in at a sweater shop while we were in Dingle. As a knitter, I was a wee bit obsessed with the knitted goods. I showed some restraint and only bought one sweater - in this town.

I would have bought much more if we didn't have a luggage issue.


A few days before we were leaving, I was reviewing with the Man what he should pack. I went upstairs and got a suitcase for him to use, brought it down, and let him know that I had put it in our room. He informed me that he was going to use his duffle bag.

A duffle bag?

We're going away for almost two weeks, overseas, and he thinks he can pack everything in a duffle bag PLUS have room for souvenirs?

I don't think so.

As soon as I mentioned the word souvenirs, he completely dug in his heels, "No. I'm not using a suitcase. How much are you planning on buying?"

I told him I wasn't traveling over to Ireland, with all the knitted goods they have over there, and NOT come home with sweaters, blankets, and linens and I stressed again that he should use the suitcase I put out for him. He put his stuff in the suitcase and fussed so much about it that I finally relented and told him he could use his duffle IF I could put some stuff in his backpack when we were ready to fly home. He agreed. So he packs all his stuff in his duffle and brings it out to show me. I thought he was bringing his large duffle. 


He had packed all his clothing into a duffle the size of a tote bag.

I may have gone a bit ballistic because there was not a spare inch in that bag for ANYTHING. He must have known how upset I was because he assured me, again, that he would make sure to have lots of room in his backpack for me to use.

However, I knew I was going to need a lot of space so I left my suitcase half empty. 

Half empty. 

That meant cutting way back on the pieces of clothing and pairs of shoes I was planning on taking. Our luggage became a bit of sore point between us. But I'll leave that story for the end of the trip.


As a side note, when we went on a Mediterranean cruise a few years ago, I had to BUY a piece of luggage to bring home all of our souvenirs. I didn't want to go through that again, for Pete's sake. The Man just about had a heart attack when I told him I had to go look at luggage in the ship's store.
Brown bread.

Delicious bread.

Teach me how to make this bread.
Dingle town.

So pretty. So colorful.

So very far away.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Two Point Five

We finally made it to the top of the hill and got to see this little gem of a castle.

I think this must have been an every day Joe kind of castle. There was not a thing fancy about it. Hardly any windows. One door. Plain stone.

But the views.

Holy moly, were they something.
Have you ever seen so many rocks?

Interesting fact about those stone walls I read somewhere. There aren't any openings in the sections. If a farmer needed to move cattle or sheep, he would simply take some rocks away, let the animals through, and then rebuild the wall. They didn't use mortar to hold the stone together - just the stones.
When we came down the hill, we found ourselves working our way through the rock wall sections of farmland. There wasn't always a road but there was usually a path to follow, meandering along the rock walls. Several times I thought we were going to be trapped inside one of the rock wall sections but we always found a way out.

Of course, we didn't see anyone else walking this part of the island - confirming my thought that we probably should have gone back the way we came instead of plunging headlong into the countryside.

I was fairly certain we were going to run up against a bull in one of those little sections.
Civilization at last.

I've never been so happy to see laundry hanging on a line.
I want street signs like this in the U.S.

They are so much prettier than our plain Jane green ones and they give you so much more information, don't you think?
Not a soul to be seen.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Two

Day two of our grand adventure to the Emerald Isle.

We took a ferry over to Inish Oirr, the easternmost island of the Aran Islands. Population about 297.

It was easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.



The ferry dropped us off at the harbor and we set off walking, heading towards the castle we could see up on a hill in the distance. 

We weren't too worried about getting lost. It's a small island.

It was a spectacular day - sunny with a few wispy clouds floating by and very moderate temperatures. 

In the eleven days we were in Ireland we only saw two bits of rain. The first was the very morning we landed and we found evidence of wet roads as we drove out of the airport. No rain, just wet roads. The last bit was the day we left. It barely sprinkled for a few minutes as we were driving to the airport. Our host and hostess commented on how fortunate we were to have such a stretch of sunny, gorgeous weather. They told us they couldn't remember the last time they had such a great stretch of weather that time of year.

I almost feel like we didn't really experience true Irish weather. But I'm okay with that. It will give us an excuse to go back. 

This view is from about half way up the hill to the castle.

Since we were there in early fall, you can see some of the grass was already looking a wee bit, well, dead.

There was plenty of green on the main island but this island was more gold.
Until this photo. Now you can see some green.

That castle is where we were headed.

And between us and the castle were about 10,000 stone walls. I'm not exaggerating. This is some seriously rocky land, folks. 


We were almost to the top of the hill, working our way up and up and up, going past the sweetest cottages and most breathtaking views, when we came upon a cottage that had a sign outside the stone wall around their lot. It indicated that it was a bed and breakfast that served lunch to everyone. There were some picnic tables set up in the yard with a few people sitting at each one.

We went inside where we found a couple putting some food together in the kitchen. We inquired about eating lunch and the wife said, yes, we could do that but they didn't have a table available at the moment. We were willing to wait but she said no, her husband would be happy to bring another table outside if our husbands could help him. 

Not a huge problem.

But before the guys could do that, a family got up and left their table. 

Problem solved.

We sat and enjoyed a tasty lunch on the hill under the castle. We were in no rush and just sat in the sun, looking out over the ocean in the distance and watching other tourists walk by as they headed up to the castle. 

When we were finished, we went inside to pay and she had a big bowl of candy for the taking. We all tried one and T and I fell in love with the caramels. Asking our hostess where we could find these treats, she named the market to look for and then brought out a plastic bag and gave us several handfuls to take with us.

A very kind and generous woman. And our new best friend after plying us with caramels. She's lucky we left.
Gaillimh = Galway.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Telling Stories

Chopped southwest salad with a lime cilantro dressing.

Tangy. Full of cilantro. Delicious on a hot summer day.


I've had this recipe pinned for a while and decided to bring it to Sissy's today for our fourth of July picnic.

It made a ton of salad. Enough so I can take it for lunch tomorrow. And probably the day after that as well.
Spent a quiet afternoon soaking up the sun, swimming in the pool, and playing a game of ladder ball. My niece cleaned our clocks, winning every single game she played. Clearly I need to get this game and practice more.

When my nieces and Sissy dragged me down to the lower forty to play, I reminded them that I had never played before.

"I'm on Mom's team!" my niece D yelled.

Her twin sister E looked pained to find herself partnered with her auntie who has never thrown a ladder ball ever.

It's okay, girls. My ego can take the hit.


Had dinner with my dad last evening. I love when there is just a couple of us around because he starts telling stories from his childhood days.

Last night he was telling us about one of his father's sisters, Aunt M and her husband, Uncle J. They only had one party a year and it was a fourth of July picnic. They would have about 70 or so people. Not all the aunts and uncles got along so there would be some who wouldn't come but his favorite cousins would be there and the kids always had fun.

Both my grandparents came from very large families. My grandfather was one of twelve siblings and my grandmother was one of eight siblings. My dad was telling us that one of Nana's brothers was a musician in an orchestra. They played in clubs throughout the area, including the larger cities. Every Christmas Eve my dad's uncle would have a party and the entire family and orchestra members and their families would come. He said the band would play all night and it was a great time. That's how I remember my Nan's family - loads of laughter and lots of fun.


Dad always seems to enjoy talking about his childhood and I love hearing about it. He's as good a storyteller as I am. Must be the Irish in us.