Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - August 23, 2017

1. Did you watch the solar eclipse? Your thoughts?

Sophia, Olivia, and I went to the Minnesota Zoo for part of the day; and watched the solar eclipse there. As it got closer to the peak of the eclipse, we went outside and enjoyed watching the snow monkeys.

It was cloudy, yet we were still able to see the eclipse.

There was a notable change in the amount of light in the sky (even with the cloud coverage) and the temperature dropped quite a bit. 

This final picture shows the amount of the coverage that was visible in Minnesota.

We were very happy with where we saw it. It was fun to combine a visit to the zoo with the solar eclipse.

Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Starburst candies, a Blue Moon beer, a Sunkist orange, or a Milky Way candy bar...what's your favorite eclipse related snack on this list?

A Sunkist orange would be my ideal snack. Fresh fruit is always refreshing!

2. What are you 'over the moon' about these days? What's something you enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon?'

One of the things that I'm very happy about and enjoying is trying new recipes using fresh vegetables from the farmers market and CSA.

I made a salad with fresh raspberries, pears, macadamia nuts, and dried cherries. The dressing was homemade - a raspberry vinaigrette with honey.

Sophia made roasted potatoes that were lightly covered with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and rosemary from the garden.

Something we don't do often is see the Minnesota Twins play at the stadium in downtown Minneapolis. My sister is a nanny for a family who has tickets to the Delta 360 Club.

The seats were off of third base and under an overhang which was nice - so we were in the shade when the sun came out.

We had a great view of the game.

Indoors, there's an air-conditioned lounge with a variety of places to get food. This one had wood-fired pizza which we had. It was very good.

There were cases with Twins memorabilia.

We had a fun afternoon and enjoyed being in the 360 Club. It made that outing even more special.

3. Tell us about something in the realm of science that interests you. How do you feed that interest?

Wildlife is something that interests me. I feed that interest by going to the zoo, visiting nature centers, and spending time outdoors - either in the backyard or at state parks.

At zoos, sometimes I am able to observe animals that I have seen in the wild (like black bears) up close and in a safer way.

At other times, the animals bring back memories of ones I've seen when I've traveled - like the kangaroos and wallabies that are at the Minnesota Zoo now.

I learn about how some animals are endangered and what people can do to help save the remaining animals of a particular species.

At a recent visit to the Minnesota Zoo, the girls and I sat down or spent an extended period of time at a few of the animal enclosures so we could watch the animals for more time and see what they do. This grizzly bear was sitting in the shade and watching man-made geysers and water fountains.

We watched the sea otters for a long time and there was one who kept coming right up to the window and looking at us. This is the otter swimming past us cleaning its arm. Another time it found a shell (food) and came swimming by with it - almost as if to show us what it had found.

We watched a morning feeding time in the shark tank. These are all carnivorous fish and aquatic wildlife. Although that stingray looks like it has eyes and a mouth on its underside, the two "eyes" are actually ways that it smells food on the floor of the ocean.

This past year, I was fortunate to be able to also visit two national parks. A highlight was seeing elk at the Grand Canyon.

Olivia and I had never seen elk before, so it was exciting seeing these two eating leaves near the road and then another group of elk with three babies further back in the woods. 

4. What are a few things you remember about going back to school as a child?

A good memory: I remember getting new school supplies and clothes. It was always exciting get a school box that could be filled with new pencils, Elmers paste (when I was very young) or liquid glue (when I was in elementary school), and crayons.

Getting new clothes was also very special because we only got new clothes three times a year: at Christmas, on our birthdays, and when school started. Otherwise, we made do with what we had which was fine. It made getting new clothes - especially for that first week of school - such a joyous time! We couldn't wait to wear our new clothes to school.

A bittersweet memory: I do remember getting a small box of crayons - 24 colors at the most. I wanted to have the 64 crayons, but my parents - who were on a limited income - couldn't afford them. They said 24 colors was a sufficient amount.

It made me sad to see the other kids have the big boxes or crayons with all the colors. I loved to color and used all the crayons in the box they bought for me. I often wondered what I could have created if I had more colors to work with, though.

The smaller box of crayons also reinforced the fact that we were poorer and had limited resources than the other kids did. I didn't notice it when we lived in the inner city. It was only when we moved to the suburbs - a move that my parents made to provide a better life for us kids and them. It was a very good life.

It was just when I was at school that I noticed how much my parents had sacrificed to give our family a nice, safe home on the lake.

It wasn't extravagant or excessively large like homes nowadays. We used all the space and were so grateful for the opportunity to live where we did.

I never mentioned my disappointment to my parents because I knew they were giving us everything they could provide. In my heart, I knew I couldn't - and shouldn't - ask for anything more.
5. I've seen several versions of this around the net so let's make one of our own...share with us five words that touch your soul and briefly tell us why.

Family - because they are with you for the long-term and support you when you need it.
Home - the place I feel most comfortable and want to be.
Nature - a place of inspiration, comfort, and discoveries.
Compassion - an essential character quality for those who are in my life and who I choose to spend time with (in all aspects of my life).
Creativity  - something that sustains and challenges me. 

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

We are in the middle of canning season now. The last time that I did a lot of canning was 2014 and early 2015 - before my mom died. After that, I didn't do much of any food preservation like I had done in the past.

This summer, I resigned from being the leader of the 4-H club I started; and it has freed up a tremendous amount of time for me to do things that I once enjoyed doing - including canning.

This weekend, the girls and I went to the Minneapolis Farmers Market to get a variety of produce to can and freeze.

We were happy to see that we did not miss the cucumber season. They have both been asking for homemade pickles. The last time I made them, the girls enjoyed them so much that we ran out of pickles by December.

This time we bought a bushel of cucumbers of varying sizes. They all needed to be scrubbed, the blossom ends cut off (otherwise the pickles would be soft), sorted by size, and then cut (either slices or in lengths). Both the girls did this part of the canning process.

Sophia stayed to help with putting the dill, cloves or garlic, and vinegar-mixture into the jars. She also helped with putting the lids and bands on the jars.

Putting the jars into the water-bath and taking them out is still my responsibility.

Before and after the pickles, I was working on the stewed tomatoes. My mom used to remove the skin from the tomatoes. I don't do that. I just take out the part of the tomato where the stem grew, cut the tomatoes into chunks, and put them in a big kettle to cook.

When they are done cooking, they are transferred to quart canning jars along with two tablespoons of lemon juice in each jar. Tomatoes take a long time to process in the water-bath - about 45 minutes. So, this is a rather long time-commitment once you start with the tomatoes. (In contrast, the pickles only take about 15 minutes of processing time.)

We made 20 quarts of pickles (kosher dill, polish dill, bread & butter, and a homemade dill); 11 quarts of tomatoes (for chili and goulash); and froze lots of peppers (green, red, and jalapeno) and onions.

Today, I have the remaining bushel of tomatoes to can (probably another 11-12 quarts) as well as peaches (two boxes).


Mrs.T said...

What an interesting hodgepodge today! I enjoyed reading all of your answers, but especially liked your canning saga and your back-to-school memories. I wanted those boxes of 64 crayons too, but I was probably eleven or twelve before I got one.

Empty Nester said...

It is always such a treat to visit your blog. My parents always bought me the 24 pack of Crayons, too but it was because the school didn't want us having the 64 box and my mother felt that was a bit of overkill for crayons so she wouldn't have bought them anyway. I wanted that big box forever and a day and I finally got some because grandparents give you anything you want. LOL I cried like a nut case when the first one broke. The colors they have now just amaze me.

Rita said...

I also remember dreaming of the big box of crayons. The most fun for me was school supplies. We only got clothes for school and birthdays, really. Not much clothes at Christmas except from a set of Grandparents who always gave us pajamas. I was never very interested in clothes but it was nice to have something new to start school.

Love all the pictures of the various wildlife! And you sure did a lot of canning. Something I have never done, but have watched when I was a kid.

Great blog! :)

Suzanne McClendon said...

I understand the desire for the huge box of crayons. I wanted it, too! I have always loved to draw and color, but that big box of crayons was for the "rich kids". You know what, though? I think having fewer colors available made us have to be more creative and maybe it helped us to learn to blend colors, something those others weren't having to learn because it was done for them already.

I find it interesting that you lived in a lake house back then but still felt "less than" in a way. I spent my elementary years growing up in a mill hill. Those that lived on the lake were the rich folks. :) But, as children, it all boils down to that little box versus the big box of crayons, or the alligator on the jacket, or the car in student parking, or the fancy zippered binder over the cheap little 99cent binder. Those are the daily, in-your-face comparisons that are made and it is easy to feel like we don't measure up in comparison.

I hope that you've been able to get at least a hundred 64-count boxes of crayons since then. :)

Have a blessed day.

David E. McClendon, Sr. said...

It sounds like you had a great baseball outing. Glad you enjoyed it. Have a great week.