Monthly Archives: October 2014

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

My Mama makes the best APPLE DUMPLINGS in the world! This is my opinion & it’s undisputed. Nobody can change my mind tho many have tried. Nope….won’t happen; can’t be done….hers are best! No room for discussion! Yes, I am a very good cook too, and, yes, I probably COULD prepare them just about the same as Mama does (I’ve watched and assisted numerous times since I was a young girl) but that just wouldn’t be the same, now would it???

This time of year brings the falling leaves in the top half and middle of our country. Friends and kin like to ask me the same thing every year at this time, and that is whether or not I’m missing the changing of the seasons and the beautiful, splendid, colorful, and ever-changing scenery. I always emphatically answer a resounding “NO”! I don’t like the cold in any way, shape, or form! As for the spectacular changing colors….viewing their lovely photos on social media is plenty enough for me. I do NOT need to be there physically in order to admire my Lord’s awesome handiwork.

Autumn DOES bring ‘apple harvest’ tho, which means APPLE DUMPLINGS, apple pies, apple cider, homemade applesauce and/or apple butter in the crockpots, and caramel or candied apples; and also bobbing-for-apples at get-togethers! I grew up in northern Indiana where there were always plenty of apples to pick. The school kids would be taken by the busloads to a particular apple orchard for a special day of being educated about the apple harvest, and would then be treated to apple recipes to try and bring home, as well as having fun and games before being taken back to school. I remember chaperoning when my youngest son’s class took this ‘field trip’ and enjoyed an amazing day with his classmates. My biggest surprise of that day was the gigantic jar of Apple Blossom Honey that I bought. It was the tastiest honey that I have EVER had in my entire life! Just the thought of it makes me want some RIGHT NOW! But I’m not willing to drive all the way to Indiana just for honey! Florida’s Orange Blossom Honey comes in 2nd place, so I settle for that.

Now, at this time I will add a tiny note to mention that the Cracker Barrel restaurant does indeed offer a rather yummy dessert that they TRY to pass off as an Apple Dumpling, however it is actually more of an Apple Cobbler or some kind of an Apple Dessert Casserole. Anybody that knows me will attest that I’ll use every excuse to dine at Cracker Barrel because I feel that their ‘Southern cooking’ reminds me the most of my own Gramma’s cooking. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast OR fried catfish with turnip greens and dumplins are my ‘go-to’ meals that I could enjoy every week, much to my children’s dismay (since they are the ones that take me)! IF I’m lucky….or perhaps it’s ‘if my daughter is feeling sorry for me’….I’ll get her to share one of those big desserts with me. It’s delicious for sure, but usually just tends to create a hunger for Mama’s APPLE DUMPLINGS even more!

Late September of last year we drove to Indianapolis to attend my beautiful niece’s perfect wedding. (believe me, my love for her is one of the very few reasons that I’ll return to that cold climate!) We stayed a couple of days with my Mama and I didn’t even realize until a few months later that I’d totally forgotten to ask her to bake some APPLE DUMPLINGS for me! When I called and mentioned it to her, she got a kick outa that….HA! I’m getting sooooo forgetful that I’m having trouble remembering things, even requests of my fave desserts that ONLY MAMA can make just the way I like it! But AHA! Next spring at the end of April I certainly hope that I remember to ask for them when I go to visit Mama for her 80th Birthday Celebration! I realize that apples will be out of season and I know that it’ll be her birthday but I still want my treat!!! And only Mama can make it for me….and that’s just the way it is! This time I’m getting my APPLE DUMPLINGS!

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GrandDad’s Buddy

Granddad and Jerry

My First-Born child also has the honored position of being the First Grandchild for my parents, as well as for my Step-Mom. He loves this distinction! However, my Step-Dad already had 2 grandkids by this time but they live in South Carolina so he only saw them a couple of times annually. He had lotsa fun being GrandDad too. My son never got to know his ‘other’ biological grandparents….the grandfather had been killed by a tornado more than a decade before and the grandmother had been extremely ‘broken’ by this same tornado so she wouldn’t have known him anyway. But since both of my parents had remarried and lived in the same small town, which was approximately 40 miles from where my baby boy and I lived, he still had two sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents to dote on him! I had to live in a larger town, near Purdue University, for my travel agency job but every Friday after work we drove to either my Mama’s or my Daddy’s house for the weekend and had a grand time! All of my children have/had special relationships with each grandparent/great-grandparent. For nearly the first couple years of his life, my son turned into his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY. Whenever we were at Mama’s ‘little round house out in the woods‘, every time I’d turn around, my Step-Dad had that baby laying on his tummy watching TV or reading to him or even taking naps with him!

My parents divorced when I was in my early twenties. Don’t ever believe the old adage about divorce hurting the children less if the parents wait until those kids are grown-ups. It’s just not true. My world turned totally upside-down even tho I was in college. I ran away, literally, to finish my college studies as far away from my small Hoosier hometown as I could get. My parents informed me of their decision in July and less than a month later I was attending a small Catholic college in Honolulu. That was as far away as I could get and still be on American soil. After college I returned to Indiana but not to the same small hometown. Instead I moved to the larger town 40 miles away where I could obtain work.

As it turned out, I married an Air Force Officer and we had assignments in Texas, Hawaii, and Florida before my husband decided that he didn’t want to be married anymore. So it was back to this small Hoosier hometown that I took my 3 children and our broken hearts so that we could feel the love of family surrounding and comforting us once again. My parents, even tho married to others, cooperated together to pave the way by finding a suitable house for us to rent and basically made the decisions for me at a time when my distraught mind was unable to function. My Daddy and my brother brought a moving truck to Florida and literally picked us up and got us and took us HOME, while Mama was busily getting things ready in Indiana. I do not even recall registering the kids in school and doctors and many other things that needed to be taken care of so I’m sure that my wonderful parents must have had a hand in taking care of a lot of the things that I didn’t even notice but am totally grateful for. It was a good move and a good idea. Sometimes in life a person has to trust in the wisdom of those who have lived life and already made mistakes because they are able to give advice, should anybody care to listen. My parents are a perfect example of this. I may not have always agreed with them but they wanted what ultimately was best for their grandbabies. Of course I’m sure that it was wonderful for them to be able to finally attend the various schooling and scouting and church functions with their grandkids too that they’d been missing out upon because we lived in other states! They certainly did! It worked out fine.

My Daddy and Step-Mom lived out in the country so that was fun for the kiddies. Daddy enjoyed coming into town and taking the 3 of them, or sometimes each one at a time, to do things or to go places. He even took my boys to his own barber and filled in when my daughter needed him for ‘Daddy Date Night‘. My Step-Mom always knows exactly which foods are the favorites of each family member and makes it a point to prepare everybody’s favorite. She’s kinda like ‘the cheerleader‘ of the grandbabies! Mama and my Step-Dad had moved a couple of blocks from the Elementary School so it was fun for the kids to be able to ask if they could walk to Grandma’s after school a few nights each week, where they knew that she’d have home-baked goodies awaiting! Their Great-Grandparents lived across town near the shopping area and we visited with them a few times weekly. It was a very good 4 years that we lived in that area, having all those grandparents nearby gave my kids the love and stability that had been lacking when we’d been moving around the country going from Air Force base to Air Force base!

For some reason, probably just because he’s the oldest, my Step-Dad seemed to like to teach my first-born kid lotsa stuff. Perhaps it was because he missed his own grandkids, which by now he had 4. Or perhaps it was because he reminded him of his own son at that age….they both are stubborn loveable blondes with really big eyes! My Step-Dad was a ‘tinkerer‘, always fixing or improving something, often to my Mama’s frustration. That’s how my son became his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY….my Stepdad and my boy took apart 3 junk mowers and built 1 mower rather than buying a new one. They built a model airplane and worked on other projects that always kept my Step-Dad busy. I think that sometimes he was just looking for an excuse to ‘borrow’ my kid even tho he said that he wanted to teach him something! My Mama and my Step-Dad also invited my son to watch EVERY Chicago Bulls basketball game on TV at their house, complete with carefully planned favorite snacks. My other two kids showed no interest in sports so this was a special memory for my son. He still watches basketball and is a big fan of the Chicago Bulls. He also has turned out to be a ‘tinkerer‘ too, always finding projects to work on! Yep, that’s my boy! I’m sure that my Step-Dad is watching this young man, GRANDDAD’S BUDDY, from heaven with a twinkle in his eye!

Silly Boy

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My baby boy is coming for a visit in exactly ONE WEEK!! HOORAY!!! This youngest child of mine is the one that has oddest sense of humor and always keeps me laughing. He comes up with hilarious ‘off the cuff’ remarks that somehow seem to flow effortlessly and so quickly that I’m constantly wondering how he thinks up spontaneous retorts immediately. Daily I’m saying to him, “Joey, you’re a SILLY BOY!” He has been doing this for a couple of decades, beginning as the CLASS CLOWN in elementary school. He’s never outgrown it so I reckon that it’s just a part of his personality. He’s well-liked wherever he goes, so maybe that’s the reason.

I’ve not seen my baby boy in nearly 8 months this time. Or to be more ‘family correct’, I reckon I oughta say that my BABBY BOY is visiting. I don’t even remember when or why I started calling him that but the name has stuck. Just for me though. Nobody but his Mama calls him that, but then I suppose that mothers have cutesy names for each of their children (I surely do). Come to think of it, he’s had the most nick-names throughout the years out of the 3 of my kids. I honestly don’t think that there’s been any that he’s disliked. I often call him JoeRicky, which I think is a rather cute combo of his first & middle names that I’ve never heard anywhere else. He started out as JoeJoe as a baby and had that name for several years. I accidentally called him that, I don’t why it slipped outa my mouth, last year one time while we were with plenty of other folks. I was appalled, but he didn’t even flinch! I’ve never ever even heard him say “Mama, don’t call me that in front of my friends.” I certainly CAN remember asking my own mother NOT to do so at her many ‘pet names’ for me! Imagine my dismay when my mother came 4,350 miles from her small Hoosier home to visit me at college in Honolulu and managed to get my entire coed dormitory calling me ‘Jean Bean’! Oh, the horrors! But Joey has always liked his name. When he was young, he enjoyed the fact that his name meant the same as a baby kangaroo. I used to tease him that it was probably the reason that I had to carry him everywhere! That BABBY BOY wouldn’t walk till 3 months later than his brother and sister had. In retrospect, it was probably because I DID carry him so often that he didn’t feel the need to. With his sister less than a year older than him and his brother 2 years older than her, more often than not it was just much easier to grab the young’un and go!

My family and friends have all heard me lament over the fact that it’s really very hard when the youngest child is the first to move far away. Well, it’s true nonetheless. He’s 29 and engaged to a young lady that he’s been dating for several years. But I still miss him tremendously just the same. A thousand miles from Mama is tooooo far indeed! I’m sure he’s looking forward to some of my chicken & noodles; that’s the meal that he always asks for first! We’ll go to some of the theme parks, of course. The beach is a definite MUST; everyone wants to go to the beaches. Joey usually likes to go to a beach on both coasts: the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s one of the positives of living in the middle of a long peninsular state. We’re a bit more than an hour from either coast plus we have passes to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Naturally we’ll go to DisneyWorld since those are free for us. He and his sister and a friend are wanting to go to Universal Studios annual ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ but they can definitely leave this old Mama out of that one!

I’m looking forward to taking photos. My other 2 children live here in this area within 5 miles so maybe I’ll get a few great group shots of ‘my little family’. But as for my SILLY BOY, as seen in the photo above….we just never know what kinda mischief he’ll get into when I get ready to take his picture! Another example: last year at Magic Kingdom, an instant before I was to snap his photo in front of Belle’s fireplace, he quickly curled himself up INTO Belle’s fireplace! Aaahhh, JoeJoe my BABBY BOY always likes to keep us guessing….and laughing….and smiling. He IS my SILLY BOY before, still, and probably always!

Magnum Kiss

Smithsonian's Magnum P.I. shirt

Meeting and seeing celebrities has been a part of my life since the late 1970s when I attended college in Hawaii. A decade later when I returned to Oahu as an Air Force Officer’s wife with 3 very young kiddies in tow, I’d had many opportunities to teach them that celebrities have lives other than those that are portrayed on TV. We saw sooooo many celebrities that it seemed rather commonplace, especially since Hawaii is a popular vacation destination for them too. I’m thinking this is the reason that my children don’t particularly ‘go nutso‘ whenever they see somebody famous nowadays. This is a good thing because now they either are, or have been, Disney Castmembers and are once again seeing dozens of celebrities. I taught my kids not to pester famous folks for autographs (unless it’s a book signing, for example) or for photos because these people are only hoping to have an enjoyable vacation experience like everybody else! And to think that, for them it all started more than a quarter-of-a-century ago with my daughter and her ‘kiss‘….a MAGNUM KISS to be precise!

I took my children to the beaches of Oahu almost on a daily basis. There were numerous beaches to choose from so we liked to explore different areas and tried to find some of the quieter beaches. Of course we adored the ever-popular Waikiki Beach but my kiddies had a tendency to get away from me quickly there since the beaches were crowded and the children were ages 2, 3, & 5 and very quick. We also tried to go as early in the morning as possible so as not to get too overly pink; besides, the tourists were mostly still kinda hung-over from partying the night before and didn’t usually start arriving until 10:30 or later. By noon Waikiki & Kaneohe beaches are packed. So earlier was better for us. A breakfast picnic on the beach was fun and lovely!

One perfect morning we were at a particular beach, which shall go nameless for the sake of celebrities that enjoy the privacy of this stretch of beaches. I knew of several celebrities that lived in the area because of a former college job that I’d had delivering floral bouquets. So I sometimes brought the kids to this beach because it was usually very quiet and we were often the only ones there! But that morning there was a couple strolling far down the beach and my 3-year-old daughter saw them and recognized HIM before I did. She jumped up and started running down the beach towards them, hollering “Magnum, Magnum, Magnum!”. (she was too young to understand that he wasn’t actually named that in real life) I was embarrassed but had no choice but to leave our things, grab a hand of each of my boys and start running after her! We 3 were so much slower than she was by herself. Of course, by the time we finally caught up, she’d already made her way to ‘the man from the TV‘ and his then-girlfriend Jillie. So there I stood, face-to-face with THE HEART-THROB of the decade, apologizing profusely to Tom Selleck and his girlfriend while he held my daughter and acted like he honestly didn’t mind! Tom and Jillie were the nicest, sweetest people and were extremely kind to my 3 children as we chatted for 20 minutes or so. My daughter didn’t wanna let go of him but he kissed her cheek and she giggled….probably his mustache tickled!

That was a memory-of-a-lifetime for her! Me too! Oh, and by the way….my daughter’s name is Jillian. She’s always liked her name. Sometimes we call her Jillian, and often she goes by Jill. But you’d better believe that after meeting ‘Magnum’s girlfriend‘ that my 3-year-old preferred us to call her Jillie for about a year after that encounter. She was as much enthralled with Jillie Mack as she was with Tom Selleck! For MANY years afterwards, we’d ask her: “Where did MAGNUM KISS you?” and she would always coyly point to her cheek and smile. Such a precious memory to have her very first non-family-member KISS be from such a handsome man! Aaahhh….could I possibly have been jealous of a 3-year-old?

1st Love

My 1st love-age 12-Middle School band

I’m thinking that if somebody looks at this photo before reading this blog then there’s bound to be a bit of confusion. But nope….my 1ST LOVE was band! In this photo I was 12 and had no beaux to speak of, nor did I want any. I had my pals, the boys that I grew up with and played with since childhood and that was all right with me!

I was a ‘late bloomer‘ when I started band. Most of my classmates that’d been interested in playing instruments had begun 2 years before. I started late and had a lot of catching up to do. I certainly did! This was probably the first time in my young life that I’d ever taken anything seriously enough to develop an extreme passion for it. I practiced and practiced and practiced, and I was GOOD! Luckily I had a band director that worked with me to give me lessons during that beginning summer on my own since I’d not had the ‘group lessons‘ that the rest of my classmates previously had. So I started out having to be in the 6th-grade band as an 8th-grader, that first fall when I had my original beginning band experience. It wasn’t fun being with the younger kids, plus my school itinerary was quite messed up in order to accommodate my classes so I practiced even more at home, 2-4 hours nightly (yes, I DID learn to drive particular family members crazy whenever I wanted to!) so that by the time spring term rolled around, I’d moved up to 7th-grade band. I skipped 8th-grade band altogether because I got more than caught up during the next summer vacation….so much so that when I began high school in the fall, I moved to the lead of ALL of the freshman clarinetists! Of course I was 1st-Chair Clarinetist as a Senior and had lots of solos, which I loved!

This evening my daughter and I were watching a TV reality show and one of the given tasks was to learn to march. I found it humorous that the couples were having so much trouble doing so, even after several attempts. My daughter was surprised when I stood up and marched around the house, CORRECTLY, showing her that I still knew how to do every command and make every turn although I’d not done it for approximately 4 decades! She was quite impressed and even asked me to write my blog about my love of band! Awwww!

In my high school we had marching band in the fall semester and concert band in the spring semester. I adored them both! Nowadays, I reckon I was then what was called a ‘Band Geek‘! I spent any and all free time in the band room. Band was my forte. I went to band camp every summer throughout high school at Purdue University. I was awarded the honor of being named to the McDonald’s All-American Band during my Senior year. Unfortunately, I turned down that honor because I was also invited to audition for the American Musical Ambassadors the same year. I chose to do that instead, and was surprised at the auditions to learn that several hundred invitations had been sent out to audition for each individual spot. I did manage to be one of the 2 representatives chosen for the state of Indiana so I got to make a grand European trip, playing 1 or 2 daily concerts EACH DAY in various cities all over Europe! It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I cherish those memories immensely! It was also my first time being away from home but I got a taste of what it was going to be like to go away to college when I returned from the trip. It was so very much fun selecting souvenirs from Europe for my parents and brothers and Gramma! My parents were usually the ones that’d traveled lots, and my brothers and I would always remind them to bring us something. It was a tremendous joy for me to be able to be the one to select the ‘treasures‘ and give them out for a change!

Now my clarinets (I have 3) and my flute and my daughter’s oboe sit in my closet. It would presently cost a lot of money to get my main instrument ‘overhauled‘ in order to get it back into ‘playing condition‘, because it wasn’t a cheap clarinet. For my 16th Christmas, my parents bought me the best clarinet that money could buy, all the way from Paris! When I went to college in Hawaii and took private lessons from a member of the Honolulu Symphony, even my instructor was constantly trying to buy it from me. But I wouldn’t give up my 1ST LOVE!!! I’m just hoping that someday perhaps one of my grandbabies will love music as much as I did. Then my clarinet can possibly come back to life!