Monday, March 31, 2008

Wedding receptions...expectations and surprises

[Announcement: coming soon, pictures and progress notes on the chicken mansion--as soon as I find the cable for the camera and as soon as I can yank the computer away from Miss Kat.]

Kev and I went to a wedding reception last night. It was a unique experience for both of us. Oh, we've been to lots of weddings and lots or receptions over the years. Not so many as a couple, because most of our friends and such married before we were a couple.

But as I was growing up, we went to lots of weddings and receptions. It was one of the obligations of being a part of a large extended family (Dad is the youngest of 7) and an obligation of living in a small community where "everyone knows your name." Most that I went to were Protestant, either Church of God, Christian Church, Presbyterian, and Methodist. The only Catholic wedding receptions we went to were of family, and they didn't have wedding dances, just the traditional cake, mints, punch, etc. There's a receiving line, you watched them cut the cake, maybe they would open the presents, maybe not, then ate, visited for a while, the wedding couple left first, we all threw wheat at them as they left, and then we went home.

Once I started College, most of my friends were Catholic, and since I went to college in a German community, they had wedding dances and lots and lots of alcohol--something new for me! But I learned to enjoy wedding suppers and dances and watching people drink tremendous amounts of beer... I was introduced to new customs and, while there were new customs, the basic premise was the same. I knew what to expect at a wedding reception.

Until yesterday.

We've never been to a reception on a Sunday. But, this couple were Mennonite, a conservative sect of Mennonites. They actually were married in Ohio, where the Bride is from. They were married on a Sunday, and I expect during the Church service on that Sunday morning. But, this reception was for friends, family, and co-workers here, where they will make their home. The Groom is from Greensburg, yes, the same Greensburg that was hit by the Tornado last spring.

Getting ready, I knew that I would probably be one of the few women wearing pants. Conservative Mennonite women always wear dresses with a little cap on their heads. So, I chose nice slacks and long sleeved shirt.

We were late arriving, (because Kev HAD to finish watching the KU ball game), and the parking lot was full. So, we headed to the doors of the church's fellowship hall...but only ladies setting tables were there, no wedding cake, no balloons, no streamers. We glanced into the main doors, leading to the sanctuary, and we saw what looked like a church service. A standing room only church service.

Ok. Were we at the right place? But, since the church was out in the middle of no where, and the directions from the Groom were followed...we had to be in the right place. So, we entered and joined the huge group standing at the back of the church.

Evidently, Conservative Mennonite women don't wear their little every day caps to church. Nope, instead they wear black headscarves. And, men sit on one side, women on the other. So on one half of the building, there was a sea of black headscarves. The other was a sea of men. Various men and women, teen girls and boys, moved to the front of the church and sang songs, one group after another. All A capella. Good singers, but the songs weren't introduced and all were gospel songs. We still weren't sure we were in the right place.

Finally, someone came up to us to point out a couple of chairs. Kev asked if this was for the wedding reception, and we were reassured it was. We chose to continue standing and waited to be told what to do!

Finally, the bride and groom walked back by the fellowship hall and they formed a short receiving line. The groom (who works with Kev) saw us and had his brother come get us. They had us join the only other co-worker attending. So, we got to bump up in line. We went through the receiving line, and the groom's brother escorted us to the food line, where we were handed a full plate of food and showed us where to sit. The co-worker (and her husband) who joined us was wearing jeans. I asked her where she sat, and she said "on the Men's side." She was probably the only women on that side! They had arrived on time, and noticed that the women entered in one door and the men entered the church from another door. Not knowing what to do, they entered together and sat together--on the Men's side. We ate our food and were joined by other members of the Church who were all very nice and welcoming. I'm sure they all knew we were a little uncomfortable, not having a clue how to act or what was going on.

The tables all filled up, and I know there were more people still waiting to be seated. Most were the youth. One of the Mennonite gentlemen sitting with us said that the youth usually would go into Greensburg and eat together rather than to wait for all the tables to clear and then be reset. His wife mentioned that there would probably be two more sittings of people in order to get everyone fed.

TWO MORE SITTINGS! That's a lot of people! We really did get special treatment, being brought to the front of the line! I felt rather guilty, even when we left, as most of those still waiting were those we stood with in the back of the church.

I asked Kev to please tell his co-worker, AKA, the groom, that next time, to please give us an idea of what to expect. I was uncomfortable not knowing what to do. I wasn't uncomfortable with the Mennonites, just with the different customs. There wasn't a wedding cake, no punch or mints or nuts. Just a church service followed by a church fellowship.

I don't mind new experiences, I just like to KNOW that something will be different. I think if we'd known, we would have felt more confident. So, here's my warning to all my readers...all 10 of you...if you are invited to a wedding, or a reception of a friend who is of a different faith...ask what is expected of you. It might make the whole experience more predictible, and more relaxing.

Don't get me wrong, we had a great time, we just felt so...foreign! And I'm sure the Groom never gave it a second thought, after all, he's used to THIS kind of reception. He may never have been to any other kind of reception himself and might have felt as odd as we did at what I consider a typical wedding reception. But, we had a nice time and it was nice seeing the groom so happy. That was the important thing, the celebration of a new marriage and the start of a new family.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Trace and Sam and Sean

We watched the finale of Celebrity Apprentice last night. We've never watched the show, and have never watched any Apprentice show...but Country Singer, Trace Atkins was a finalist, and well, I like Trace, so we watched, just to see how he did.

Hubba Hubba. Trace made my little old heart go pitter-patter. Then he opened his mouth and I melted. I swear, I got all tingly and the pitter-patter got faster. That man's voice. Hubba Hubba...

I've always told Kev that I'd never leave him for any other man...well, ok, other than Sean Connery and Sam Elliott. Sean, cause he's sexy. I like the Scottish accent, and I like his face. I like the character lines, the white hair...I think he's one man who has gotten better looking the older he's gotten.

I like Sam Elliott's voice. I love deep, bass, voices. He could look like some drunken bum--a homeless drunken bum, but as long as I could shut my eyes and he could just talk...oh my. Again, Hubba Hubba. And then put Sam on a horse with that deep voice, and I'm lost. If he put me on the horse with him, and he whispered in my ear...well, I just can't think about that right now...

But last night, I told Kev that he'd have to add Trace to the list. He's tall, good looking, looks excellent in his hat, and he has that deep voice that just gives me a shiver all over. The very minute he knocks on my door, I'm gone.

But until one of these guys does knock on my door, well, then I'll stay happy and content with Kev.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Miss Kat's first Track Meet

Yesterday was Miss Kat's first ever track meet. She ran in three events, the 800 relay, the open 200 and she ran the starting leg in the 800 medley relay. She was eager for us to get there to watch her, but we weren't sure we'd make it. (One of the drawbacks of working out of town is that we might get off work at 5, but we still have a 30 minute drive ahead of us. I realize that many commuters in cities have that amount of time to drive in the same town they live in, but it's a new experience for us.)

Anyway, we hurried as much as we could and got home right before she ran in her first event, the 800 relay. We first saw Miss Kat as she was in her lane, getting ready to run. I told Kev that it was her over there on the other side of the track, but he didn't think I was right...I was.

We stopped and watched her run. she came around the corner, running hard. Kev hollered "Go Kat." She heard him and turned to look. I then yelled "Go Kat, don't look at me." But she did. (After the meet, we had to explain that turning your head affects your time. She thinks were wrong about that, so I'll just leave it to her smarter-than-parents-coach to explain the dynamics of running and turning your head.)

She didn't do bad competing against 7th and 8th graders. But her legs are considerably shorter than most of the other girls we watched run. To stay competitive, she's either going to have to grow, or she's going to have to move those short legs really fast!

A nice surprise for me was seeing friends and people from home at the meet. There was a "Big E" corner with Faye and Frosty, Wes and Rhonda, Gayla and her Kevin, and Chuck and Gloria. And, I immediately felt bad, because I should have called my folks to come to the meet to watch. I'm just not used to being close to family who might be willing and able to watch my kids compete! So, Kev and I stood with the Big E group and visited and watched our little girl.

The funnest part was that everyone in the Big E group asked which house south of town was ours. We both turned to the south, pointed and said "That brown house right over there." Everyone replied, "Oh. Well, that's real convenient, isn't it!" Kev and I had to laugh. We knew their reaction, we've had it ourselves as we drove by the school heading south out of own. You can't see our house when driving from the south, but you can see it looking south from town. Of course, all these folks don't live IN Big E...they all live 15 to 20 miles out, so to be able to see our house from town and from the track meet was a novelty for us all. Hey, when you live or grew up in the boonies, little things like that mean something!

Ok, back to Miss Kat. Her 800 relay team took 2nd place. She didn't place in the open 200, as they combined all ages, 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade. I can't even tell you her time, she didn't stick around to find out. Her medley relay team took 4th place. Not bad. The relay teams have only worked on hand offs once. They need to work on that, it was obvious as they had bad hand offs every race. And, Miss Kat needs to learn how to use starting blocks, and she needs to learn NOT to look at those who are cheering her on. But still, it was her first ever track meet. She learned a lot and she had fun. That's the most important thing; having fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Andy came to town with my yesterday to order his tux for his Junior Prom. We're ordering him a 40 long jacket.

40 long...the kid is huge! He's bulking up, getting muscles and ripples in his arms. He's becoming a man in front of my eyes. This day was supposed to still be far, far in the future, not here, now. Where did the time go?

After getting his tux ordered, he drove home alone. And, I worried. I worried because he's still not familiar with Dodge. I worried becasue it's a 30 minute drive home. I worried because it was misting, and he might have an accident. I worried until he called me to tell me he was home and fine.

He's got one year at home with me before he sets out on his own. Will I stop worrying then? Cause right now, I dodn't think I will.

Friday, March 14, 2008

morning rush hour

Today has not been a very good day.

Kev and I usually get up at 6 a.m. I bathe, he eats and fixes breakfast. Then when I get out of the tub, he takes a shower and I eat. We take turns making sure the kids are up. Then we get our lunch and head out the door by 7:10 a.m.

But today, the alarm didn't go off. We woke up at 6:30. Yikes! So, he hits the shower, and I jump in a couple minutes later. (Hey, my first stop is always the potty...) Taking a shower together would save time, but he was done before I got in, so I just jumped in, showered and got out.

I got my clothes out, got dressed, then put the make-up on and brushed my teeth. We decided that we'd just grab something for breakfast in Dodge. The kids were up, all moving pretty well. Until I decided to change my shirt. When I pulled my shirt off, my lens fell out of my glasses. Great. Found the lens, and fortunately, the screw was still in the frame.

It was until I handed Kev the frames, then it fell out. Great. There we were, crawling on the floor. Me, blind as a bat, wearing my pants and a bra, Kev annoyed but fully dressed. We found the screw and I set about finding the eyeglasses screwdriver.

I've seen it in the past week...somewhere. It was a place that I remember thinking was a good spot for the screwdriver, somewhere easy to remember and someplace logical.

But, wherever it is, it wasn't logical this morning and I couldn't find it. And I looked. I looked in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the junk drawer, in the drawers to the end tables...I looked...still wearing my pants and no shirt. (I can't express how much my kids enjoyed that!)

We gave up. Kev tried screwing it back in using the blade on his pocketknife. We were both getting frustrated. Me, because I couldn't see and Kev because this was taking too much time when we were already rushed. Of course, he couldn't get the screw back into it's hole. So, we decided to go ahead and leave for work. I got a shirt on, blindly grabbed my coat and purse and we headed out the door.

But, wait! We didn't have our cellphones! Crap. So I ran back upstairs, grabbed the phones, and out the door we went. I put on my one-lens glasses and tried to see. But, that made me nauseous. I knew going without them completely would make me even sicker--I'm that blind. So, I rode to town with my eyes shut.

we got to town, and stopped by Dillons, the grocery store, to grab two things. Breakfast and an eyeglass repair kit. I went in with one eye closed, just to be able to see enough to navigate. I'm sure the other early morning shoppers were wondering about the strange lady with one eye squinted shut running around the store.

We each got 2 donuts and the kit. Once in the car, Kev tried to put the screw back in the glasses. He dropped the screw. He got mad.

We decided to run to his clinic and then he'd try to find the screw in the seat and we'd go into his office to try screwing it together--over a desk.

It was rough going, and we were both stressed. I was now late for work. But, he finally got it in and I ran to work with my breakfast. Breakfast consisted of the highly healthy and non-fattening donuts and to wash it down...a Dr Pepper.

I can tell you now, that so far, the day hasn't gotten much better. But at least I can see.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

my poor ring

I wear two rings all the time. The sometimes come off when I'm cooking something really messy, and the sometimes come off when I put on lotion. But, for the most part, I wear them 24/7. One ring is my wedding set. The other ring is a sapphire with two diamond chips on either side that Kev got me for our 5th anniversery. That's about all the jewelry I wear. Both rings mean a great deal to me.

Last night, I took off my sappphire to apply lotion, and it was feeling tight. Once it was off, I immediately saw WHY it felt tight. It was smashed in on one side, smashed in so it looked like a crooked oval. No wonder it felt funny!

On sunday, as I was vacuuming the stairs, it fell on me. I started vacuuming from the top and I guess as I got farther down, I pulled on the hose a little too forcefully and pulled the vacuum down on me.

I pinched my pinky finger, in fact, it has a nice bruise under the nail. I thought that was the only damage, but now, I'm guessing that my poor ring took the brunt of the damage.

Being me, I tried to pry it open again. It didn't work, so I'll have to take it to a jewler.

Sometimes, I'm such a dork.

Monday, March 03, 2008

weekend work and weekend food

Saturday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the high 70's and no one had to work. Well, I did have to run to Dodge to take Andy to the eye dr. and had to go to the grocery store...and I had to stop at Orschlens and take another long look at the baby chicks. I resisted the temptation to buy any for another day.

But, Kevin and I ran down to the farm to get some left over lumber that Dad had in the grainery. The grainry looks like a 2 room house. Wooden construction with a tin roof. It was built with my great grandfather and my grandad in the 1920's. They used it to store wheat in. When they stopped using it for grain, it was used to store feed for the farm animals and later for storage. There's old saddles stored there and even my great grandfather's wagon bows--those hooped things that held the canvas top on his covered wagon. Most of the saddles are rotting now, as they are exposed to the weather and have been since the tornado. I keep telling Kev that we should clean out the grainry rooms, put in a wood burning stove, fix the roof, put windows in, and make it our weekend getaway.

He just rolls his eyes and makes a feeble attempt to humor usual.

But it is a neat building and is solid. Anyway, when Grandad had to tear down the house after the tornado, he saved quite a few of the 2 x 4's and stacked them in the grainry. That was the wood that Kev and I picked up on Saturday afternoon. Now, these 2 x 4's are unique. They are old and are probably a hard wood. Possibly oak. Maybe something else, but they are darker than modern 2 x 4's and are much heavier. In fact, they measure a true 2 inches by 4 inches. Today's 2 x 4's are 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Don't ask me why...that's a guy question.

So, we loaded up ump-teen 2 x 4's. We had to leave some, as those on the bottom 2 rows had severe termite damage. You noticed it before picking up the boards, as you could see the trails. But, when you picked up a board, you immediately noticed how light they were. No termites were there, we checked. This was old damage.

We also loaded up some bridge timbers and some grainry planks. Grainry planks are 2 x 6 boards that are tongue and grooved on either end, and finished on one side. This would allow them to lock together and keep wheat from getting between the planks. The smooth sides also contributed to smooth flowing grain. We hope to use these for the floor of my chicken house.

There was some modern lumber there also, some 2 x 6's that someone stored there. I think we almost have enough wood to frame the chicken house. My chickens will have a great home made with recycled lumber. Those 2 x 4's, from my grandparents house will probably last longer than I will. You just can't get good solid wood like that these days. It feels a little odd to be using lumber from a house that I loved to build something as utilitarian as a chicken house...but Grandad was nothing if not frugal and he would approve.


One of my online friends gave me an idea of a new way to cook venison steak. I'm always looking for a simple, creative way to cook venison, especially since that's about all the meat we have left at the moment. She said she marinates it and then fries it up with onions and garlic.

On Sunday, I adapted her recipe. I roasted some garlic (a first for me,)then sauteed it in butter with mushrooms and onions. Then, I fried the steak, which I had marinated in Italian dressing. As it was close to being done, I added the garlic and mushrooms. I'm not normally an adventurous cook, so was nervous and anxious to try it out on my family. Kev and Andy declared it "delicious" and "as good as what Bob might cook." High praise indeed. It was good. Not gamey, not tough, flavorful and tender. Miss Kat didn't like it, but she's like "Mikey"; she hates everything! Our meal was topped of with mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese and toasted french bread. No dessert, I ran out of time! Still, I'm proud of myself for finding another way to cook venison that I enjoy eating. It's definitely a meal that we'll have again.