Monday, July 28, 2008
First up - From Cindy's Puddle Jumpers Files:
One of our PJs who was with us all school year long, has been gone for the past month and change, vising Japan with his parents. Today, Kaoru surprised us all by coming back to daycare before Summer ended!
And a return from Japan would never be complete without some exotic Japanese candy for all!
Reviews were split down the middle between "Love it" and "They can keep it!" among his Puddle Jumper Peers...
Doing a Good Deed for Mother Nature:
We've written about, and shown several pictures of Fircrest Park, the big open park and swimming pool just down the hill from our house. But if you go in a different direction, and go a bit further, you'll come to Thelma Gilmur park, or as it's more commonly known, the Haunted Trails. Every year at Halloween, the park is infested with ghosts, ghouls, spooks and other assorted scary good times! It makes such an impression, that it's pretty much called the Haunted Trails year round. At least here at our house...
Anyway, Cindy has been taking the PJs down there a couple times a week, where they run wild, play hide 'n' seek, and generally have a wonderful time. Then last Friday, when they got to the park, they saw a horrible sight. A turtle had been brutally attacked, and lay near the entrance to the park with a broken shell and a fair amount of blood. There was a lot of justified anger at whoever would do that to a turtle... and then today they went again, and the poor thing was still there. So after dinner tonight, we took a shovel and some grave markers that Kaylee and Tyler had made, and gave it a proper burial.
It felt really good to do something nice for the park that brings us so many good times throughout the year.
"Are They Ripe Yet?"
From the Haunted Trails, we headed over to another local nature spot, Blueberry Park! We had gone there last week, and the bushes were loaded with berries, but were still small and green.
Tonight things were looking a little better, with most bushes having a handful of plump, juicy blueberries... Hopefully NEXT week we'll actually be able to get enough to really use.
And the evening is winding down with everyone gathered around the living room watching "Penelope."
With that much going on, I never got around to writing a Music Monday column this week - but I have some good ideas rolling around in my head, and hopefully NEXT Monday I'll get one of them published!
The rest of this week looks to be equally crazy - Wednesday I'm taking the day off work and we're taking the whole gang to Wild Waves, followed by Fircrest night at the Tacoma Rainiers... Thursday we've been invited to our friend Winnie's house for dinner, and then Friday night we're heading over to the Tri-Cities for a weekend of fun times with family and friends!
Man, it makes me exhausted just thinking about it!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Why would we do such a thing on an otherwise productive Saturday afternoon?
Because today was the 2008 Tacoma Area Dance Festival, of course!
Now this Dance Festival was a HUGE and PLEASANT surprise to me.
I had taken part in a dance festival (note the lack of capital letters) back in 1983, when I was 14... and I don't recall loving it. I mean, when I think back in the context of "how did I feel about this at the time?" the answer I repeatedly get is something along the lines of "HELP!! GET ME OUT OF THIS HIDEOUSLY FLOWING SATIN OUTFIT!!!" In fact, I don't remember many details of that dance festival. I remember that it was at the Seattle Coliseum (now Key Arena) and that I DID think it was kinda cool to be down on the floor there... not cool enough to justify the completely heinous outfits they put us in, but pretty cool.
The only other thing I remember, as you might have guessed, was the hideous satin outfit. Something like a smock, or a poncho... Yellows and oranges, maybe some red... Kinda like GayBatMan's cape would be, if BatMan wasn't such an unbelievable stud, and wore something like that. I think that thing was so bad, that it's the reason I can't remember anything else.
When we were in line today, waiting to get into the Dome, I wound up next to someone who had also been in that '83 df. He was older than me; said he was 18 at the time... And he remembered the awfulness as well, but it didn't obliterate his other memories. He said we did something Star Wars related. Now, to a teenage boy in 1983, something Star Wars related would be extremely cool! But I am being 100% honest when I say that even with his prompting, I have no memory. It's truly blacked out. Ugh. I'd say I need therapy to work through that long dormant memory, but hey, that's what blogs are for, right? Okay.. Therapy's over... Resume review of 2008 Dance Festival. (complete with capital letters!)
So... I'm sure PART of what made this one so much better - even good and/or cool on its own, is that the popular culture of the last few years has brought musicals and their singing, dancing ways back into vogue. So there was a rich library of material to draw from, and whoever was the music director for this DF did a great job!
High School Musical and Hairspray were represented, as were timely tunes and the dances that went with them, from eras spanning from the Pioneer Days to now, with stops in most of the decades from the Roaring '20s onward.
And because "Star Wars" in the 21st Century brings more groans than cheers, the favorite pop culture moment of the DF was "Canned Heat" as performed in Napoleon Dynamite. And it was performed very well, by a troupe of kids wearing jeans and T-Shirts that looked like "Vote for Pedro" only it looked like they said something different. We couldn't actually tell though, because we were seated at the opposite end of the T'Dome. So if anyone knows what they actually said, Comments are for Enlightenment!
While we didn't have any of our own kids in the Festival, we did have a niece and nephew, both younger siblings to Alicia. We spotted them both, with Rachel swing dancing to "In The Mood" and Kevin singing in the Youth Choir, which DEFINITELY deserves to receive capital letters. They really, REALLY sounded great.
The finale of the show was the HSM (that's High School Musical to you who don't have tweens) classic, "We're All In This Together." And it was sung by the Youth Choir over a karaoke track, while the floor was filled with over 2,000 energetic young people.
When it was done, the lights came on, and we re-emerged into the light of the afternoon. We had taken our Missionaries out to lunch at the Funky Iguana before the DF, then parked at my office and took the free light rail down to the T'Dome. While getting on the train to go back afterwards, right as the train was pulling away, this kid on a BMX trick-bike rode by, waving frantically at the Missionaries. They didn't really know what was going on, so they just smiled and waved.
And it started.
The kid on the bike appeared VERY excited, and took off after the train! When the first stop came, he ALMOST made it on, but was about 10 seconds (maybe even only 5) late, and we were pulling off again. My office is on the last stop the train makes, and this kid kept up the entire way, despite traffic, pedestrians, hills, and the fact that he was on a one-gear bike and we were in an electric train! When we finally got out of the train, we decided we had to at least congratulate him on an excellent chase.
Turned out the kid was quite a bit older than he looked with his Captain America Stars 'n' Stripes helmet on... He was also deaf, but spoke volumes with hand motions and a few carefully spoken words. He told the Missionaries that he has a "friend who is Mormon!" and that he rides the route he chased us on "50 times a day, FAST!"
He followed that by telling us that he doesn't smoke, because it would kill his lungs and he wouldn't be able to ride "50 times, FAST!" if his lungs were killed. We couldn't really tell if he actually wanted something - but it really appeared that he just wanted to say hi to the Missionaries! They gave him a card with their contact info, and he rode off back toward the Dome while we walked to the van and drove home... All the while laughing at the whole chase aspect of our train ride!
...and the train conductor was obviously aware of the chase as well - Chelsey pointed out that ever since the first stop, where the bikerkid almost made it on to the train, the doors were closing much more quickly at each stop, and the stops were a heck of a lot briefer than the first one had been...
We topped off the day with a trip to Costco, who had a great deal on Strawberries... So I made 15 pints of Strawberry Jam! Woo HOOO!! Goooooood Stuff!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Less than one month ago - on June 30, our niece Chelsey moved up from Arizona to live with us. In the less than one month since then, she has attended the Brinkerhoff 4th of July Bash on Mason Lake... enrolled in Tacoma Community College's Fresh Start program to finish up school... She has gotten a Washington State ID and Driver's Permit... She has an appointment to take her driving test (which means I need to practice with her - EEEEEEK!)...
And, starting today...
She also has a job, working in the Deli at our local Fred Meyer Marketplace!
I snapped the above pic when I picked her up tonight after a grueling day of watching orientation videos, taking tests, reading manuals, and getting to know her fellow new co-workers...
The first three-plus weeks have been great! We love having her, and it's been great practice for next summer when we'll be helping Ellysa prepare for a summer job! (again: EEEEEEK!)
What motivates you???
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So here's the deal: We're going to leave here around noon on Friday, August 1st, which puts us in the greater Tri-Cities area around 5:00... The only firm plans we're hoping to stick to, is that I really want to see Lisa play in the orchestra for the Smokey Robinson concert on Saturday the 2nd. Other than that, we would LOVE to have as much fun as we possibly can with all the great people of Pasco and Kennewick... (does anybody even live in Richland these days??)
We're looking forward to this trip, and hopefully on Monday the 4th we'll have tons of stories and pictures to put up!
What do you think?
Tomorrow you fly solo?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
EXCEPT... about ten years ago, when I started catching Mariner's games on the way home from work. At first, it was an annoyance that they were blocking out whatever I'd normally be listening to, but then they grew on me. Dave Niehaus is so infectious to listen to, it's hard to NOT get caught up in the excitement! I found myself actively listening to games, and that translated to watching games on TV too.
For 18 years leading up to the 2003 season, the Mariners games were carried on Seattle's 710 KIRO. KIRO also happened to be my normal commuting station, which is how I started listening to the games in the first place. The station and the team seemed to be perfect for each other! Nearly all of KIRO's features seemed to be tied in some way to the Mariners, and several of KIRO's personalities were known all around the northwest from their presence in Mariners broadcasts. I remember a conversation with The Donald, in which he mentioned how much he loved the post-game show with New York Vinnie. I mentioned that yeah, he's great, and he also has a night time show every night here! I got to feel like I was getting a little something special...
So it was strange - surreal even - when midway through the 2002 season, it was announced that a different Seattle radio station, KOMO had outbid KIRO for the broadcast rights. It was stressed that the entire play-by-play team would be moving over, so I hoped it would just be the minor inconvenience of pushing a different button on the radio for the games.
But when the 2003 season started, I instantly found that I didn't enjoy listening to the games anymore. Though there were a number of little things I picked out, I really still can't explain why I just didn't like it. It just felt wrong! Plus, with the Mariners gone, KIRO's then-owners decided to let N.Y Vinnie go. Looking back, they really seemed bent on dismantling the station!
A few weeks ago, a rumor began swirling around town that KIRO had won the contract back... This was strengthened by ads that they were running frequently, congratulating Dave Niehaus on his upcoming induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It sounded much more intimate than just a "congratulations."
And this morning as I was driving to work, I was told that at noon today there would be a "special announcement." I instinctively knew exactly what that announcement was, but still checked in on the radio rumor blog to see what they had to say. Sure enough, they were crowing that they had called it weeks ago, and all the world would soon know!
At 12:06, Mid-day host (and Seahawks pregame guy) Dori Monson announced that he had Mariners execs Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong in the studio with him, and they announced that they were "Coming home to KIRO." I was surprised that the execs would be so blunt about the coming home aspect, since they still have half a season to go at KOMO.. but they did. Furthermore, Lincoln went on to comment on how he's very aware that the team hasn't had a winning season since they left KIRO. Dori chimed in that he referred to that as "KOMO Mojo" which caused me to laugh out loud... Yes, it felt somewhat mean-spirited toward the current broadcast partners, but it's TRUE!! I've felt it for the past six seasons, and it feels so good to know that they'll be back where they belong. (Which is another phrase that both sides used today)
Later, Dori had a phone interview with Niehaus, who was much more careful to not smack talk his current co-workers. Although... When asked point blank if it felt great to know he was "coming home," Dave replied with some politically correct blah blah... but in the midst of it, he said "you know, the people at KING have been great to work with..." Ummmm... KING is yet another Seattle station, and had at one time been a bitter rival to both KIRO and KOMO. However they don't even have an AM presence now - just an FM Classical station. Sounds like not even Dave Niehaus could wrap his mind around broadcasting on KOMO.
I would like to give a big, hearty WELCOME HOME to the Mariners, and a big hearty CONGRATULATIONS to KIRO for getting them back.
Next task: RE-HIRE NEW YORK VINNIE!! Short of bringing Lou Piniella back, Vinnie's the closest thing to a good luck charm they could have!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Without a doubt, one of my favorite things about the summer time is the availability of fresh raspberries!! And even better than that, is living in an area where they grow locally, so you can buy them at the farm rather than at the grocery store for ridiculous prices!
Only problem is, if you noticed on my "6 Words" tagging post, the word "Busy" describes me. And "Busy" makes it hard to get out to where the farms are...
But today was my lucky day! While being Busy at work, I had to drive out to our Orting office. Orting is a farming community. Many of the raspberries in the grocery store are actually grown and picked in Orting, so it's a great place to pick up berries. After dealing with the crisis at the office, I headed back to Tacoma, with a quick pit stop at one of the farms, and left with 3 of these...
I bought them so that they could be made into Jam (homemade freezer Jam is so good, you capitalize it!) to enjoy until next summer... But Cindy and I have had a VERY shaky track record with successfully making Jam. We have an EXCELLENT track record with accidentally making Ice Cream Topping, but the problem is, we don't want a freezer full of Ice Cream Topping. We want JAM!!
So tonight I pulled out a secret weapon... I called on one of my sisters (I've got six of them, and I'm pretty sure they ALL know how to make Jam that actually turns into Jam - but I called Karen, because my most recent stash of Jam was Jam that I swiped from her a few weeks ago... I figured she'd be willing to tutor me so she'd have a better chance at keeping her own Jam this time around...) to help walk me through the process.
It didn't take long to figure out where I'd screwed up last time... And it was a big, I'd even say MAJOR screw up. No need to describe it here, let's just say I was very grateful to have Karen on the phone, because without her, I would have repeated my mistake, and would now be wondering why I have 14 pints of Ice Cream Topping. And no, the fact that we made 2 Gallons of homemade Ice Cream yesterday wouldn't be a good enough excuse!!
Well, fast forward four hours, and I have a very sore back.
I also have...
Beautiful, Sweet, Delicious, and FIRMLY, FULLY SET Raspberry Jam!
Now that I know I can actually do it - THANK YOU, KAREN!! - I'm going to need an excuse to go out to Orting again within the next week, because they said that's about how long their raspberry crop will last. And then we need to find a big free-for-all blackberry patch... And then we need to go down to Tacoma's Blueberry Park where you can pick all the blueberries you want for free!
Oh yeah, and we're gonna need a bigger freezer...
As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate many of the things that I couldn't stand as a kid. Things like vegetables, which I think I went at least 15 years without eating ANY; but now I get upset if I go more than two meals without some fresh vegetation.
In much the same way that my tastes in food have evolved, my tastes in music have expanded and broadened as well. Most of this happened through my experiences of working in Music Retail and Programming Music for Businesses. Those career phases put me in positions where I had to work with music that I would have never listened to on my own, and you know how it goes... You're forced to work with something you don't like, and over time you find a few aspects that don't annoy you so much, and given more time and exposure, you even start to find little highlights that go a bit further, and actually qualify as enjoyable!
Among the types of music that my forced exposure helped me learn to appreciate: Country, Traditional Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Classical, and Nostalgic Vocals. That last category was one that I really have grown to love. The amount of quality music produced, primarily from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s, from Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and many, many more is amazing. And about ten years ago, there was a resurgence in "Lounge Music" which caught much of the Classic Vocals category in its wake. I was programming business music at the time, and it seemed that nearly all of our customers were asking for that hip retro lounge sound.
Naturally, as soon as the music industry realized that it had a new avenue to make huge profits by re-releasing back-catalogue material, they jumped all over that. Capitol Records started up a sub-label called "Ultra Lounge" that released countless compilations and classic albums aimed at the 20-somethings who were driving the trend.
In the midst of the seemingly endless tide of irresistibly hip, swingin' music, one day this showed up in our library...
Ok.. I'd never heard of Mrs. Miller, but I had a program to produce, so I grabbed the CD and headed to my studio to scan through it and see what I could use to enhance various retailers' ambiance.
The first song on the disc was "The Girl From Ipanema," a seemingly safe classic. Sure enough, for the first minute or so, it's a very light bossa nova arrangement, totally harmless, maybe even too tame to pull off the hip vibe everyone was looking for.
And then Mrs. Miller began to sing.
It was as if the gentle breeze of the instrumental arrangement gave way to a category 5 hurricane! It's actually very hard to describe in writing just how Mrs. Miller's voice sounds, but I'll try...
First, Vibrato. Elva Miller LOVES her Vibrato. I'm pretty sure she has a personal vendetta against any pitch that holds steady for more than 1/4 of a second. So she keeps her voice modulating, up and down and up and down. And all around...
Second, Timing. I've heard it said that Sinatra often made a song his own, by ignoring the traditional phrasing, instead singing the song the way he wanted, coming in early on some parts, late on others, mixing it all together and creating a new arrangement in the process. Well, Mrs. Miller does the same thing. Only it doesn't really enhance or redefine the song - in fact, it rather confuses the listener, trying to understand why NONE of the singing goes with the music.
According to her supporters, the bad timing was "done to her" by the record company, to increase the comic factor of her recordings. There are stories of her being conducted one beat off from the orchestra... And that at first she didn't realize what was going on, then became aware but decided to play along with the joke. But the thing is, she sounded the same way after leaving Capitol records, and likely had that aspect of her performance intact when she was discovered by them in the first place.
All in all, listening to the entire CD in one setting is difficult at best. But for an occasional bit of comic relief, one or two tracks of Mrs. Miller can be a great thing! She is an excellent example of music that is so bad it's good!
BONUS - Video of Mrs. Miller in action!
Oh, and no, I never did end up using her music in any of our programs at AEI...
Wow, that took longer, and was harder than I thought it would be!
Now, according to an arbitrary set of rules that I didn't make up, but am apparantly bound to follow, I have to tag 5 people to do the same, and then leave comments on their blogs to alert them...
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
First the Jacket:
Then the helmet!
Meanwhile, Jasper performed a thorough safety inspection...
Finally they were ready to roll!
...and they roared off into the sunset...
Friday, July 18, 2008
And the reason this time, is the annual Fircrest Car Show, which was last Sunday!
Now, our town is small... But it's got a nice big park right in the middle of it. And last Sunday, that park was tree-to-tree chrome and high gloss flames!
This shot was taken as we got to the park - about a 90 second walk from our front yard! Then it was meet 'n' greet with all of our friendly neighbors. Thanks to the Puddle Jumpers Daycare, pretty much everyone in Fircrest knows (and loves!) us, so there was a lot of quick "Hi, how are ya?" going on. But AFTER that, we got to take some time to peruse the beautifully restored classics...
And amidst all the classics, was a true Instant Classic, a car that just the day before I'd been drooling over at the dealership when we went to pick up the plates for our new van...
There was an amazing amount of gorgeous cars on display, all right down the hill from our house, and viewing them was free to all who wandered through the park. Everyone showing a car simply paid a $15 registration fee...
The Brinkerhoffs Love Fircrest!!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The next day I got violently ill...
Then it rained for the next 6 weeks...
By the time decent weather for working outside returned, my almost-ready-for-grass-seed area was a dense jungle of weeds - very overwhelming to look at... And then we found inspiration in last Sunday's Rodney & Jim comic strip - Yesterday Cindy told all the kids that they would get to spend today pulling weeds!
Now, when they got started, as you can probably imagine, they weren't very motivated... So Cindy came up with the brilliant idea of paying each kid One Dollar per Bucket of weeds pulled. THAT got them moving!
Chelsey and Kaylee were a team, and earned $30!!
Tyler pulled $12 worth of weeds!
Andy tried to close his eyes and pretend it wasn't happening... but he still came away with $12.50 by the end of the day!
When I got home from work, I was shocked to see that both of our large yard waste bins were full to the brim! And the jungle??
The jungle is cleared! Ready for the rest of the topsoil to be spread, and the grass to be planted.
Great job to all of our kids!! I won't mind one bit paying out for this job!!
...oh yeah, one other thing... Tyler was very good at pulling weeds, but he also found some other stuff...
His plan was that garbage would be worth more than weeds... NOT QUITE!! But thanks for picking them up just the same!
Here you see the raw roast after being rubbed up.
Phase II - On the Grill.
Phase III - DONE!
And moments later it was gone, baby gone! And good to the last bite!
So now you know what OUR roast looks like, and I think it looks better than the pic I found for the first post!
Anyway, both The Donald and Heidi have called and/or emailed asking for the recipe to my super yummy Tri-Tip Rub. So here it is -
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
(okay, now back to the post...)
This summer morning started off as any other morning, with small children streaming in, ready for breakfast and play time. But before long, Claudia and Makenzie, my newest Puddle Jumpers, asked if I would pull their loose teeth out.
You see, it is a long standing tradition at Puddle Jumpers, for Mrs. Cindy to pull everybody's loose teeth, using her very special technique of Dental Floss and a Knot. There's a photo album of all the kids who have had teeth pulled, and as the other kids happily showed the new girls their post-op pictures, they decided that they wanted in that club too! This was pretty amazing, because they hadn't let their parents even touch their loose teeth so far!
So... Armed with rubber gloves, cotton squared, dental floss and two grape Otter Pops, I went to work!
Later in the morning, my little Zoe unwrapped a new toy that I purchased two summers ago, but nobody was interested in. Finally, this toy's time had come, and the kids decided that it should be assembled and played with immediately.
Initially only the girls were interested - the boys were busy riding scooters and rip-sticks, and generally being stinky, sweaty boys. But when they got back to the house, and came to the back yard and saw how much fun the girls had been having without them, they jumped right in too!
The next thing I know, some neighbor kids who had been walking by, had invited themselves in to play with the Puddle Jumpers... And the backyard was filled with giggling, jumping kids, which inspired me to grab the camera and capture the moment!
So, In Review:
Water Jumprope Bought Two Years Ago: $19.99
Water Flowing for Two Hours: $insignificant
Happy, Laughing Puddle Jumpers: PRICELESS!!