Monday, January 3, 2011

Alistokeussicaladin Brown, ho!

 Tonight is a night like I've had years before.  My sister, brother and I lay in our shared bedroom dreaming of the tomorrow that couldn't come soon enough.  It was Christmas Eve, and our bellies ached with anticipation.  Would our Santa Claus deliver everything we thought we desperately needed?  

Tonight is a night like that.  I sit here in my worn-in recliner hearing the dog lap water from the toilet wondering if Santa comes to good boys like me on nights like tonight; nights somewhere between New Years Day and the first Monday of a new semester.

Tomorrow, as my friend Bob Maness lightly put it, is the beginning of a very long hell-week, a term we use in the theater for the week before a show opens up.  It connotes very long hours doing what absolutely must be done to ensure the success of what you’ve been working on for a long time.  January 3rd 2011 is the beginning of my own personal Hell-Week.

I’ve been greatly blessed with work.  Having been unemployed for a year previous to this past September, work is something I’ve been seeking for diligently.  Now, by the grace of God, a good wife, and some amazing friends, I’ve been given a lot of work…and it all starts tomorrow.

Since September, I’ve been blessed as the music teacher at Blue Oak Charter School, a job I love dearly.  I also was given the opportunity to be the music director for Annie Jr, the fall musical at Chico Christian School.  Those talents have blossomed into my Spring Line-Up.  Starting tomorrow, along with my job at Blue Oak, I’m the music director for Aladdin Jr, Aristocats Kids, and Seussical Jr, all of which will be rehearsing on different days in the week through the semester until they all show in May.  If you’re unfamiliar with directing…it’s a TON of work.  Mind you, I’m also going to be rehearsing and performing the role of Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at Chico Theater Company through March.  Busy busy busy bee.

But now back to the Christmas Eve story.  We awoke the next morning very early (no wonder Aiden woke up at 3 am this past Christmas).  Jennifer, Dale and I crept out to the living room and spied at all the holiday wonder and cheer bestrewn across the room.  The stockings were fat with bounty.  The lights twinkled and bounced across the hall from mom’s disco-ball ornaments spinning slowly on the tree creating a silent Christmas Morning tap dance on the walls and ceiling.  But ma and pa were still nestled in for their long winter’s nap!

Being wise, Jennifer and I prodded Dale into action.  Slowly, within the dumb fog of sibling daring, he crept into my parent’s room, around the darkened foot of the paternal bed, up the narrow space between dad’s side, and the wall until he stood staring at our sleeping father.  There’s something creepy about watching people sleep, and you know it as a kid.  He hesitated just a little bit, then timidly reached out a hand to jostle dad’s arm.

It’s a funny thing waking someone up out of a dead sleep…well, funny for your brother and sister who pretty much knew what was coming before they send you to your fate. I hope tomorrow doesn’t punch me like dad did Dale.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BUNNIES!!!!!!!

Today is Thursday...which at our house means craft day.  In the recent Disney Family Fun Magazine there was a great craft that my daughter picked out.  Thus begins our journey of making bunnies.

All you need to make bunnies are:
  • A sock for the body
  • glue
  • rubber band
  • googly-eyes
  • white and red felt
  • ribbons
  • puff-ball tails
  • rice/beans/etc for weight
  • stuffing/batting
First step, make Pickle a ham and egg sandwich, and park her in front of Curious George while you collect what you need, cut out 10 felt teeth, 10 noses, and glue the "mouths" together.

Next, grab the three-year old, and let her pour 1/2 cup of barley, beans, rice, or w/e into a sock.  Be sure to hold the sock WAYYYYY open, or have a dust-pan handy.

When you've got your base, stuff the body with some fluffy cotton.  We tore up an old pillow and ripped its guts out.

Then, create a head.  We used ribbons, bows, or hair-ties.  Once you've got the head formed, it's time for a "hairband".  Use a rubber band to tie off the top nice and tight. 

Now, you've got a body, and what will become ears...as soon as you cut them into shape.  Eliza loved choosing long, fat, short, stumpy, baby sized ears.

Now comes the really fun part.  Glue googly-eyes, a mouth and a fluffy puff-ball tail on the body.  It was fun choosing from the big, medium, little, or a combination of them to form different faces.  If you think I did all the work, you're crazy.  There would have been at least one cyclops...but Eliza just wouldn't hear of it.

Then, pile all your buddy-bunnies in a basket and let them dry.  Eliza has already chosen who is the daddy, mommy, baby, grandpa, cousin, etc.  She's going to love playing with these for sure.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tjocolate Babs


Today is unseasonably warm. In other words, it's nearly eighty degrees outside, with a blue sky and soft breeze when it could be frozen and snowing a few miles off. In yet other words, a perfect day to celebrate the beach!

Eliza loves baking with me, and asked very sweetly if we could bake bread. How can a father deny his 3-year old this skill? So, we decided to bake Chocolate Crabs.

First, I made some simple sweet dough from Richard Bertinet's book "Dough". While it was rising, we went to ballet class.

Eliza and I had a great time working as I rolled out 8 large balls, and 16 little squarish cuts for claws. Eliza worked hard on rolling out 16 snakes for the legs.

While she did that, I made the body by encapsulating a small handfull of chocolate chips in the ball.

When all the pieces were done, we laid out two legs in an X and washed them with egg. Then, laid the body on top, and pinched on the claws. When I say "we", I mean, I did this while Eliza painted them with the egg-wash.

When all 8 were ready, they went into the preheated oven at 450, turned straight-way down to 400 for 20 min in shifts. I watched some "Legend of the Seeker" while Eliza played outside with some empty paint tubes; frighteningly, they didn't use to be empty...

When they were done, we enjoyed the fruits of our labors!

Just like the hat says, Life is Good.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An entire pot of memories

Outside, the morning sun is rising into a crisp, sunny February day; perfect for chili with beans. As I stand at the stove, I am overwhelmed by the stories drifting in and out of my head as I get dinner ready.

First, I grabbed a pound of ground beef from the freezer and remember butchering cattle with my in-laws; how Lee and I skinned faster than the other guys. As it browns, I twist the can opener across both ends of the tomato paste, and, like a push-pop, gloop it into the pot, just like Tante Bomen taught me. "It helps the ground beef separate," she'd say.

Kidney and Black beans, strained but not rinsed (learned that somewhere else) go into the magic black dutch oven. I remember when dad, my brother and I found it in an abandoned campfire ring in the Warner Wilderness while deer hunting back in high school, its forgotten contents reduced to ashes. The patina has grown deeper and darker over the years as I've seasoned it just like dad taught me.

Sprinkling the contents of a McCormick Taco Seasoning packet into the mix, I remember all those days coming home from school to a house, empty of people, but full from the smell of mom's crock pot loving away on the counter-top. She always said if it weren't for that little green pot, with the ivy-trimming, we'd have starved long ago. Things like that remind me how hard mom and dad worked to keep us from understanding how difficult times really were, times I only now begin to understand.

Finally, I remember Uncle Dick's Brisket in the liquid smoke. It's been over a decade since we lost him, but the smell on my fingertips remind me of him as I screw the cap back on the bottle.

I slip the magic pot into the oven to rest at 250 for the day, and soft-shoe my way across the room to Paul Simon's African undertones of Graceland to where Eliza is playing, pick her up, and sway around the kitchen. Will her own daughter's laughter remind her one day of the giggling I now relish?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just a little update

It's the end of January. Or is it the beginning of February? I'm going to choose the beginning option.

Everything is going well with the push-up challenge. I had to take a week off because I got sick. I also busted up my legs because I ran two 5k events in one weekend. Not smart...well, it did smart...but the kind that hurts.

Tomorrow night I'm back on track with the challenge. I took my first test, and improved from 22 to 32 pushups. Not bad, given that I was sick when I did the test, too. Alls well.

I'm also really excited that Godspell is starting up in just a few weeks. Ok, in honesty, I'm totally freaked out because "I ain't gots no hip-hop in me", but I'll work it out. The dramatic and music portions are amazing, and most of the dances are really good. Ok, they're all good, we just don't do them right.

later-sk8tr.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Hundred Push-up Challenge!

I took my "initial test" for the 100 push-up challenge today. Did pretty well, I think. From having stopped training a month ago, I did 22 good-form push-ups without stopping. It let me skip to week three. yay me.

I start tomorrow with Day 1, so we'll see how this goes. In 4 weeks, I should be able to do 100 push-ups in one go.

Here's a link to the website. http://hundredpushups.com/about.html

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Team Jacob!

Julie and I, along with every middle school girl, and lover of teen novels, read the Twilight Saga. You know the ones with the sappy Vampire Edward and his fragile love Juliet..I mean, Belle. It's a total Romeo and Juliet knock-off, but it's just so fun to read. Some times you just need fast-food, even in writing.

That being said, we went out and watched New Moon the other day. It's a movie version of book #2. It's the one where the Werewolf Jacob comes into play...sappy, I get it. Well, as many of you know, a whole "Team Edward"/"Team Jacob" campaign came out of it. Twittering girls everywhere sided with the Edward or Jacob for Belle's true love.

Personally, I was an Edward.

So why am I telling you this? During the movie I was looking at Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob. Remember him? The scrawny little punk who played Shark Boy? Well, he ain't scrawny anymore.

I decided it was time for me to form my OWN Team Jacob. 2010 is the year I'm going to finish my journey of getting healthy. Just take a look at my first post, and you'll see what I mean. I've lost 160 pounds. Now It's time to wolf-up. No...I'm not going to end up looking like the chisled Taylor Lautner of New Moon, but who cares. But I am going to have fun doing it, and really enjoy writing a blog a year from now about how much I've changed my physique.

GO TEAM JACOB!