Sunday, July 31, 2011

A View of I-80 East

Here's a view of eastbound I-80 in Iowa, somewhere between Des Moines and Coralville.
Circa mid-July 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Those Famous Black Horses . . .

Thought I'd reminisce a little more, but this time, I'm heading back to Culver, Indiana (and not New Mexico). Here's a view of some of the mounts (from the late '80s) of Culver's famous Black Horse Troop . . . the same horses used for Culver Lancers and Equestriennes performances:

Circa June 1988 (click the photo to see a bigger view)

I took this photo the afternoon after graduation in 1988. This was obviously after the horses had been turned out to pasture for a summer "break."

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Little More Reminiscing . . .

Okay, so yesterday, I reminisced with Livie about how she unintentionally gave her Abuelita a bruise. Since that happened when we lived in southern New Mexico, I thought that today I'd continue reminiscing about New Mexico. Considering it was one of my favorite places to live, why not?

My reason for continuing to think about New Mexico is also because I spent a bit of time going through my digital photos yesterday. See, I just had to use some New Mexico photos in my post yesterday. And as I scrolled through those photos, I came across some cool photos taken from my back yard. 

It was a beautiful backyard with a spectacular view. I might as well share the view, not only so I can spend a few more minutes remembering its beauty, but also because the view is too good not to share!! 

These photos were both taken in the spring of 2007.

This first one was taken mid-morning, as clouds were moving in from the east.

 This was taken a little later that morning, after I'd heard some rumbling outside. A lot of times, a thunderstorm would kinda hover over/near the Sacramento Mountains. But it wouldn't always make it to our house. If I recall correctly, this one eventually made it to our house just before it began to dissipate.

Ahhh, it's fun remembering those days in New Mexico!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Good Luck "Charm"

This morning I was reminiscing with Livie about something she did as a baby, when we lived in New Mexico.

Okay, so here's some background: Andrew and I were active duty and stationed in the greater Boston area when Livie was born. When she was just about 3 months old, Andrew was deployed for 120+ days.

Then, a month after he deployed, I got orders for a new assignment just about 2000 miles away, in southern New Mexico! Livie was almost 4 months old when she and I moved across the country!! (Luckily, the military took care of packing, shipping, and delivering my household goods. My mom was my travel companion, helping me and Livie during our cross country travel by air.)

We ended up flying from Boston's Logan International Airport to the El Paso International Airport, as this was the closest major commercial airport to Alamogordo - which was where my new assignment was. (I'll have to tell that story another day.)

My maternal grandparents lived in El Paso, so we would stay at their house for a couple days before heading the 70-80 miles to Alamogordo. This was nice, because my grandparents were able to meet Livie, their great-granddaughter, for the first time.

Anyway, because we were just over an hour's drive north of my grandparents' place, my mom ended up coming out to visit once a month for about a week or so at a time, while Andrew was still deployed. She'd fly into El Paso, stay with my grandparents, visiting them for a couple days. Then she'd head north to visit me and Livie for a few days (helping me as I got through my 4-month "solo parenting" stint). Then she'd head back to El Paso for a few more days before heading home. This was a really nice setup.

This is the view of the Sacramento Mountains from our back yard. This is one reason why I miss New Mexico.
During one particular visit that summer, she was on the floor, playing with baby Livie, enjoying her down time with her first grandchild. See, as soon as this particular trip was over, she'd be racing around all stressed out, packing and heading out for a ballroom dancing competition (she and her coach are competitive ballroom dancers). So she was really enjoying doing nothing else but spending time with Liv.

My mom was down on the floor with her, just out of view of the camera.

As I was doing something in the other room (I think unpacking groceries?) I heard her "yelp"! I went in there to see what was going on. Apparently, a gummy, teething Livie felt like she needed to chew on something, and chose one of my mom's arms, just above the elbow. She went for the closest thing and chomped down!

Well, guess what?! The four little teeth that'd already come through had left a little bruised imprint on my mom's arm!

This outfit is similar to what she'd been wearing when she was bitten - short sleeves made her arm a tempting teething target, I guess!

My mom, knowing that her ballroom dancing dress wouldn't cover that part of her arm, could only laugh and say, "That little bite mark from my favorite person will just have to be my good luck charm!"

And you know what? It was a good luck charm! She ended up winning a good number of prizes at that competition!

After telling Livie what she had done unintentionally to her Abuelita, she smiled and told me what a great story that was. She then wondered if Abuelita remembered that incident. So I explained that once in a while, when I think of that incident, I'll ask Abuelita if she remembers, and she always smiles and says, "Of course, I remember."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Occasional Visitor

For the past couple weeks, we've had an occasional visitor in our yard - not every evening, but maybe 3-4 nights a week. We've noticed that he comes around sometime in the early evening. We've begun calling him "Mr. Bun Bun."

(Note: the photos are kinda lousy, but I was taking them through the window so I wouldn't scare him away). 

At first, I thought it was injured because it was just lying around, with its sides heaving. Andrew thought that perhaps it was a "she" and maybe was carrying babies . . . or maybe it had a nest of new babies hidden somewhere under the deck.

We haven't seen any babies around, so maybe it's just coming around to eat the grass. 

He always happens to plop himself down in the same spot in the lawn, each time he visits. When one of us sees him, we say, "Mr. Bun Bun's here!" Liv is always so excited when he comes by.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Growing Season

So, the corn is really growing right now (as it should be), all around Iowa. 

Over the weekend, Liv and I traveled to the Des Moines area. As we headed across I-80, we saw a lot of corn crops growing. 

Liv, by the way, loves to say "Grow, corn, grow! Grow!" on occasion, as we're driving along and pass a field of corn. 

At one point, I just had to take a photo.

I absolutely love seeing these seemingly endless, rolling fields of corn as the plants wave in the breeze.

I love seeing the fields of soybeans, too. Liv loves the soybeans, as well. As a matter of fact, while we were on the road, she'd commented that the soybean plants looked like they were actually waving at her. So she said, "Wave, soybeans, wave! Wave!" 

I guess I'll have to get a photo of a soybean field before the growing season is over.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - 8th Grade

Before I begin this week's Memory Lane Friday post about Eighth Grade, I'd like to give a big thanks to Lisa at Two Bears Farm. She's been hosting Memory Lane Friday for quite some time now, and it's been something I've looked forward to on a weekly basis. I also want to thank her for inviting me to join in, way back when (my first Memory Lane Friday post being February 27, 2010!!).

Anyway, I just wanted to thank her, since, after this week - and for the time being - she's taking a brief hiatus from hosting Memory Lane Fridays.

Okay, so this week's Memory Lane Friday theme is Eighth Grade. There are a few things I distinctly remember about Eighth Grade.

The big one is that in the spring, just a couple months before I was to graduate from Eighth Grade, I fell off my horse, Chico, while we were jumping, and I broke my collar bone (if you're interested, you can read about the incident here). I remember having to wear this padded support thing around my shoulders, and some girl in my class came up to me (practically getting right up in my face), asking me, "What IS that thing? What's wrong with you?!" When I explained what had happened, she backed off, apologized, and asked if it hurt. Hahaha! What a question. Why, yes! Yes, it does!

Of course, because of this accident, I couldn't go to my 3rd and final summer at Culver's Upper Camps. I was really disappointed by this, but the good thing is that I ended up going there for high school, beginning later that year, in the fall - one of my best experiences! (You can check some of my other Memory Lane Friday posts for a few of my stories from Culver.)

Another thing I remember from Eighth Grade was winning a writing contest! We were supposed to write about something chocolate-themed, and I had this whole elaborate chocolate farm story going. There were brown cows that gave their farmers chocolate milk, as well as chocolate Willy Wonka-inspired streams across the farm land, and other sorts of fantastic, gooey, chocolatey things. The prize? Two one-pound Hershey chocolate bars!! Yum!!

Oh, and this was the year that my family's Finnish au pair, Minna, got me into my first R-rated movie (Beverly Hills Cop).  Now that was fun!

Speaking of our au pair, she and I always had a fun time going on adventures (like going to Beverly Hills Cop). She was usually responsible for getting me to my riding lessons in the afternoon, often taking lessons, herself. I think she even took me to a few horse shows, too.

Horse shows were a lot of fun, and oftentimes, my friend Leslie and I would be at the same shows together. By the time I got to Eighth Grade, we had a tradition going. On the eve of a horse show, one of us would spend the night at the other person's house and clean tack (the saddles and bridles), and polish boots. We would typically watch the movie International Velvet, while preparing our stuff for the next morning. And, of course, we'd try to get to bed at a reasonable time, considering how early we had to get up the next day.

Then we'd get up, get to the show grounds to prepare our horses; then we'd show, show, show. At the end of the day, she and I would head out with her parents to a local pizza joint for a celebratory pizza! So much fun!

This is me at a horse show with Chico. It was not 8th grade (6th, I think?), but it's the best horse show photo I have of myself while showing Chico. Photo ©Rick Bate.

Anyway, those were the big highlights that I can remember from Eighth Grade!

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Lisa at Two Bears Farm. Please click on the "Memory Lane Friday" button below to read her entry, as well as other contributors' posts:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - No Theme, 15 Jul 2011

Earlier this week, I was antsy about getting on the computer and writing this week's Memory Lane Friday post, but Andrew had a paper to write (it's due today), so I had to wait. I could've used my laptop, but I'd rather just use the desktop while at home, know what I mean? It's where my photos are saved, websites bookmarked . . .

Anyway, we have another "No Theme" Memory Lane Friday week, and I'd had a couple different things I wanted to write about. But a conversation I had with Livie the other night over dinner, as well as a great quote I recently came across made me change my mind.

On Wednesday, I just did not feel like preparing dinner, then deal with the after-dinner cleanup. Plus, I was really craving BBQ. And since Andrew would be working later than usual that day (and would pick something up to eat for himself on his way home), I asked Livie if she wanted to go to the local BBQ place.

"Yes, Mama!! Let's go get BBQ!"

So, off to the BBQ place we went!

She ended up getting the chicken strips, BBQ baked beans, a piece of corn bread, and a chocolate milk. I got the pulled pork (with sweet BBQ sauce), BBQ baked beans, a piece of corn bread, an amber bock beer, and an apple crisp to share with Liv.

At some point (and I don't remember what led up to this question), Liv asked me, "When Uncle Hector was still alive, would he like a restaurant like this?"

Momentarily surprised by the question, I explained, "Why, yes! Yes, he would. He would like the food, a beer, and the ambiance."

After explaining "ambiance" to Liv (you know, since that's not exactly a 5-year-old word), she then asked what I thought Hector would've ordered. I figured he'd probably order the ribs or maybe the pulled pork, the BBQ baked beans, and definitely a beer. There's just something about beer and BBQ, right? Besides, when beer was a beverage option, that's what he normally would've chosen.

We then continued eating in silence (deep in our own thoughts) for a few moments (or perhaps mostly just enjoying the food). It was at this point that I'd remembered a quote by an author whose work I'd been introduced to in my Native American Literature class. The author's name is Leslie Marmon Silko.

After the semester ended, I looked up her bibliography online to get some book ideas. It was during this internet search that I came across this quote attributed to her:
When someone dies, you don't get over it by forgetting; you get over it by remembering, and you are aware that no person is ever truly lost or gone once they have been in our life and loved us, as we have loved them.

Definitely a fitting quote based on the conversation - right?

A few moments later (maybe a minute or two at the most) she pulled me out of my thoughts by asking, "What did you say Uncle Hector used to call me?"

"Kitty Cat."

"Kitty Cat?!" (She had a sly grin on her face, now.)

"Yes, Kitty Cat. Do you remember that?"

"I think so. . . . Do you know what I would call him now, if he could be with us?"

"I have no idea. Tell me! I'm curious!"


Hahaha! I don't know where that came from - I guess because he called her an animal nickname?

 Anyway, I've gotta add some photos of them, right? Well, here are a couple photos of the two of them over Thanksgiving 2008, when Liv was 2 years, 9 months old. We were at my parents' house for the holiday.
Uncle Hector and Liv pose for a photo in my parents' kitchen.

Liv's being silly for the camera as they pose for another photo.

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Lisa @ Two Bears Farm. Please click on the button below to read her entry, as well as other participants' contributions:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Enjoying the July Sunset

Liv and I enjoyed the colors of the sunset last night here in east central Iowa. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Lazy River and Other Water Fun

We were at my parents' place over the 4th of July holiday weekend. There's this great pool down the street from them (maybe about a 5-8 minute drive, or so). Livie LOVES going there.

Not only do they have a zero-entry pool for the younger kids (with the "deep end" about chest level for me -- I'm 5'2" to give you an idea) with a little kid water slide, splash pad, and shaded, super shallow area (just about 3" deep), they also have a bigger pool for the bigger kids, with huge water slides, diving boards, and an area with lanes for adults to lap swim.

Plus, they have a "lazy river," too, where you ride tubes along a gentle current of water. Liv and I really enjoy the "lazy river." I usually go down the lazy river, but the last time we went to the pool, I opted to take photos after swimming for a bit.

The "lazy river" tubes are usually "donuts," with holes in the middle. There are also doubles, which are figure-8 shaped. A few of the double ones have the hole in the middle of the back circle for the adult to float in, with no hole in the front one, so younger kids can sit and not slip through. (Get it, I hope? I can't seem to figure out how to word it better.)

That's the kind of "floatie" we have to get when taking Livie for a ride, by the way.

Anyway, here are a few photos from our time at the pool:
Liv's determined to head to the water slide!

She's deciding which slide to go down.

There she is, ready to slide down!

She wants to jump, but Daddy's telling her to wait 'til it's clear.

The lazy river! I usually go but decided to take pics this time.

"Take a picture, Mama!"
"Take another picture, Mama! Did you get another picture?!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Few Fourth Photos

Here are a few photos from the 4th of July in West Des Moines, IA.

Daddy and Livie are posing for a photo while waiting for fireworks.

Big steppin'!

Andrew's making a face!

Evening in West Des Moines!

Liv and Daddy are posing again!

Thumbs up!


Finally fireworks!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Artist's Latest Work

I just wanted to showcase the latest work from "The Artist" (a.k.a. Livie). Here's her work from yesterday - the piece entitled "Produce":
Two oranges, one apple, and a carrot growing in the ground!

All art is great, isn't it?! And it's fun to make!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!!

I hope everyone is enjoying fireworks, cookouts, picnics, parades, flag-waving, and all the other fun stuff this long weekend! 

Thought I'd share a great performance of our National Anthem by the Air Force's Brass in Blue:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - Cookouts and Barbecues

This week's Memory Lane Friday topic is "Cookouts and Barbecues."

I've loved cookouts for about as long as I can remember. There's just something about eating outside, eating food that was prepared on a grill that makes everything just so delicious. And fun!

Back when my grandparents lived in El Paso, TX and I spent lots of time with them (as a very young girl), I can remember an occasional cookout at White Sands National Monument. My cousins and I would be out on these fantastic white sand dunes playing (and "sledding") and working up an appetite, while somebody would be preparing the meal on a grill (which the park had for public use).

We'd all be famished by the time the meal was served. It didn't matter if it we were eating hot dogs or something much fancier, it was always downright tasty!

I took this photo of White Sands a few years ago, when I lived in New Mexico.

I can also remember times as a student at Culver Academies, that we equestrians would have a cookout on the Riding Hall terrace, overlooking the parade field and Lake Maxinkuckee. Typically, a few of the riding instructors would man the grill and cook steaks (or burgers, or whatever) for us during one of these cookouts, all of us teammates having a good time, enjoying the company and the food. 

Those didn't happen too often, but they were fun when they did happen. 

When I was older (after college and also while I was in the military), I'd sometimes visit my grandparents and have the opportunity to grill steaks on their backyard grill. Oma would usually be inside, fixing a salad and/or other side dishes while I was outside tending to the steaks. Sir Rafa would sometimes accompany me outside to "supervise."

Occasionally, we'd even eat outside on the patio after I finished grilling the steaks.

This wasn't too often, so I tended to really appreciate it when the opportunity arose.

While in the military, we'd occasionally have unit cookouts, with family members invited. It was always about the camaraderie, getting outside and enjoying some downtime together . . .and it was also about the food, of course.

Andrew and I would also grill a lot (steaks, chicken, veggies, burgers, hot dogs, whatever) when we were stationed just outside Boston, especially when the weather was nice. I'd gotten a nice Weber grill as a "present" for both of us as an anniversary gift our first summer there.

We loved getting jalapeƱo/cheddar burger patties from the meat department at a specialty grocery store down the road from the base. They were so delish! 

However, the last time I ate tried to eat one of those burgers . . . well, it wasn't pretty. Andrew had just been deployed and my mom was out visiting me and baby Livie (who was about 3 months old at the time). 

I'd picked up some of those burgers for my mom and myself. But after I'd fired up the grill, Livie decided it was time to nurse, so I went upstairs to nurse her. My mom offered to throw the burgers on the grill and prepare them for us, so they'd be ready by the time I'd finished nursing Livie.

But she was is not a griller . . . she'd left the burgers on the grill too long, turning them into charred little hockey pucks. So sad. 

Of course, there were also times when we would go out for BBQ, like to a BBQ restaurant for a meal - like my whole office (such as when I was stationed in Tucson - we'd go to a place called Jack's BBQ - I think I even took Andrew there once when he came out to visit). It was always fun getting out of the office for an hour or 90 minutes and having some tasty BBQ. (Of course, we'd also go out for sushi for lunch . . . but that's another story.)

Speaking of BBQ . . . there was this BBQ place Andrew and I found when we were stationed in the greater Boston area. It was down the block from the ballroom dancing studio in West Newton, where we took weekly lessons. This place, Blue Ribbon BBQ, was AWESOME!! 

They have the best, best, BEST baked beans. To this day, they are my favorite baked beans, ever!! My mouth is totally watering, just thinking about this place (and their baked beans). I usually got either the pulled pork or the pulled chicken to go with the beans - you know, so I wasn't just eating baked beans. 

Most weeks, we'd go there for dinner (either before or after our lesson, depending on what time our lesson started - the dancing lesson and dinner ended up being our "date night"). When we ate there, I always said, "the better the BBQ, the messier it is," because I usually dripped BBQ onto my clothing when we ate there. So if we planned on eating there (instead of the pub down the street), I'd need a spare shirt to change into (in the studio bathroom, of course), because I usually spilled BBQ sauce (or baked beans) on myself.

Another favorite BBQ place of mine is called Dinosaur BBQ in New York (NYC and upstate NY). I've only been to the one in Syracuse - a couple times while I was active duty with other members of my unit, as well as a time Andrew and I were on a road trip and spent the night in Syracuse. 

As soon as he and I checked into our hotel, by the way, I insisted we go to Dinosaur BBQ for dinner, for both the food and the ambiance. 

If you click here, you'll see that a lot of bikers stop there. It made Andrew a little nervous at first, for some reason, but then he realized it was all okay! 

Besides, not only is their BBQ awesome, they also have the most delish fried green tomatoes . . . and the desserts? I love their key lime pie and their pecan pie! Yum!! 

And now I am so incredibly hungry for BBQ!!

Memory Lane Friday is hosted weekly by Lisa at Two Bears Farm. Please click on the button below to read her entry this week, as well as other participants' posts:

Sir Rafa's Birthday - I'll Be Seeing You

July 1st is Sir Rafa's birthday. He used to joke that while his birthday is merely days before our country's birthday, that it didn't mean that he was older than our country! ;)

He would've been 97-years-old today.

Here's his official photo as an E-5, from his Army days during WWII.

Oma and Sir Rafa are dancing at the Enlisted Club at Ft. Bliss, circa late 1940s.

Of course, here are my grandparents at my wedding.
© 2002 Brad Baskin

And another photo of my grandfather, this time with my mom at the reception.
© 2002 Brad Baskin

So today I just wanted to dedicate a song to him - Frank Sinatra's "I'll Be Seeing You." I used this song at my wedding reception as the "last song" of the evening, so the song reminds me of that happy day. Sir Rafa was able to attend; I'm so grateful that he and my grandmother, Oma, were a part of that beautiful day.

When I hear this song, I think of my wedding, but I also realize that I think of him (and "see" him) "in all the old familiar places." Plus, he loved all that great Big Band type of music.

So this one's for you, Sir Rafa . . .

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