Monday, October 17, 2011

The Time Has Come...

Tom is out of school and has found a new and hopefully, long-lasting job with IBM.  We are relocating one last time back to, of all places, Columbia Missouri.

Tom is already down there and loving it.  I am still here in Wisconsin, packing up a house and riding the ever so steep and rocky wave called home purchasing.  That process, in and of itself, could be a blog post and maybe when its all said and done, I can relieve it more humorously.  Right now, I have to say, that its worse than haggling over a car, and we all know how much I hate that!   The negotiating part will be over in the next few days.  If we survive that and continue on, then we close Nov 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving.   Ill take a new home as my birthday, anniversary, Christmas present - for sure!

For now, I pack boxes, clean a house, wade through a half century of collected stuff, blog, do homework, and walk a daughter through planning a wedding AND miss my family. I will have had enough alone time to last me for awhile, so we can look on it with that positiveness!!

I will forever Bucky - but it is great to be back in Tiger country!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I can only imagine

I have been having weird dreams lately.  Those odd ones that you just cant let go of?  The ones that are riddled with twisted reality, but then seem to hold a nugget of truth to help you figure out a problem.  Those kind.  I guess the one from this morning had me thrashing about so, that it woke up Tom.   In return for waking him in the wee hours of sunrise, we were able to have one of those lazy Saturday morning talks, in the middle of the week.   Life has gotten away from us, with all the commotion that lazy morning talks have happened less and less.   But back to the subject at hand, the dream….what resulted was his contributing perspective to the series of dreams and being able to come to an understanding that I wouldn’t have  had (or it would have taken me longer and more animated dreams on my own) without his input. 

So, the day wears on and on facebook, I notice a link to a Wynonna performance of my favorite contemporary Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine”.   This woman must have been sharing a wave length with me.

One adaptation to her message – not broken, but broken wide open….

I can only imagine... and oh how that fills my soul!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scanning Old Photos

I am not one to promote a product, especially in this environment, but.... there is always a first!

Like you, I have countless boxes of photos, all taken before the digital age (and usually developed getting duplicate copies, remember that? )  I have wanted to scan these little creatures for years, but the idea of lugging my flatbed scanner to my desk, then having to open the top, put the picture on the bed, make sure its in the exact location, resetting the configuration every time I have a different size photo.  Then, once they are scanned, having to crop and adjust and so on and so on and so they have stayed in their boxes, waiting for the specific scrapbook project or retirement, which ever came first.

Then, I came across this.... The Kodak P460 personal photo scanner.  This morning, I went through an entire box of old photos (it comes with this great sleeve to help with old photos that are deteriorating or curled....) in about an hour.  An HOUR!   My page and my Family Tree Maker will be very happy!

Can I say...yipee!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A "Baby" is Born

I am in the throws of bringing a new baby to life and it feels odd.   Those of you who read this know that I have finally started something I have talked about for years.  Fifteen years ago it was first in the form of a cookbook, compiling all those recipes I took from my mom and then all the others that I collected from a plethora of sources and experiences.  I wanted to compile it and then give it to my children as they embarked on their life journey.  Somehow though,  it was always more than just about the passing on of recipes.  I wanted to include the stories; the memories, some of mine, some of my mother’s, and even some of theirs.  I wanted to chronicle life; average, normal, wonderful life in the traditions and flavors of the food passed down and passed on.  

Over the years, I assembled it all into two large binders (I need a third and fourth now).  Recipes put into protective plastic sheets that could be wiped off cause we all know I am a messy cook! I talked about putting it all together into something that resembled a clever homemade cookbook, but life just always got away from me.  I was busy being a mom (adding to the already large quantity of recipes) so the idea sat in the proofer for a few years.

When I met Hawley in 2008, I started to pull the batch of ideas out to knead and shape.  I remember clearly the day I first came to visit her in Milwaukee.  She was making lunch for Tom, Bill and I and she pulled out her recipes.  Here came several large black three-ring binders with all the recipes in plastic sheets to protect them.  I laughed.  We really were sisters separated at birth!  I knew she was an essential key ingredient.  You see, she too had collected and kept all of her recipes as well, and had wonderful insights and stories to tell about each one of them.  That is our key ingredient.   It hasn’t ever been just about the food.  The food was, is, and will always be, the vehicle to the memory, the tradition, and the experience with those that we want to share with. 

Hawley, Jenni, Tom and Bill
Only a few years ago did I realize that my mother showed her love for us by sharing her passion with us.  She loved food.  Not just the eating of the food, but the preparation, the exploration, and the skill.  She loved gardening, growing her own food.  She knew where it came from.  She loved processing her own food.   Can I tell you the number of quarts of tomatoes I personally canned prior to the age of 17! Or the chickens plucked and dressed; or the zucchini and tomatoes, the strawberry freezer jam, peach freezer jam, peach/blueberry pie mix, corn, beans, and so on and so on.  She made bread every week until we were mostly out of the house and she was forever collecting recipes and then changing them.  It was her passion.  We share our passions with those we love and she certainly shared hers with her family and countless others. 

Hawley and Jenni
The Plucky Housewives has now been born.  It’s a tiny little infant that is growing quickly.  As any new mother, its scary.   It is our passion and it does bring joy to our lives.   We are telling our stories and memories, making good food and to top it all off, Tom gets to fulfill his passion for photography by volunteering his services as our food photographer.  Everything you see has been made by us and photographed by Tom.  So, when you are in the neighborhood (especially on a Friday through a Monday, stop by.  We have PLENTY of food to share! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tom Graduated!

After he got his "fake" diploma!  

What can we say - It was a good day.  He has a little bit of cleanup work to do, but for the most part, its done.   Hip Hip Hooray!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Broadcast Bloggers

This really is an amazing opportunity for all my blogger friends!

To sign up, you need to be referred.  There are several options:  Businesses and Bloggers are free.  Affiliates there is a small charge, but you can make that back very quickly!

You will need to have a Sponsor ID - 1068929.

For Businesses

Sign up for a FREE Business account and let our bloggers drive traffic to your site. Create a deal for your customers, tell us what's in it for our bloggers, then sit back and watch while new customers appear almost instantly!Sign Up

For Bloggers

Sign up for a FREE Blogger account and tell us about your blog. Get matched up with one of our advertisers and start blogging for lucrative commissions, contest awards, exciting trips, and other special incentives!Sign Up

For Affiliates

Refer others who become Affiliates and earn 35% ($14) of their membership fee, PLUS 10% ($4) from those they refer, PLUS 10% from all Businesses and Bloggers you refer! Learn more about compensation.Sign Up

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter 2011


Family is so much more than those who share parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins.  Family reaches beyond blood lines and genetics and reaches into the hearts and souls of all who are connected in love and compassion.

Forrest and Oakley
We shared Easter this year with our “family” and I have to say, despite coming down with a fever midway through dinner, it was one of the more splendid Easters I have ever had.   I had to go hide and take a lie down for a short while and as I was resting and listening to the sounds in and out of the house, the thought floated in that if anyone had been passing by our home, they could easily assume that the day was being shared with cousins, aunts, uncles, brother and sisters.   Then I thought, brothers and sisters?  Is that not what we chose to call each other as fellow Saints?  

Terrell and Myra
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that all of us are children of our great and glorious Father in Heaven.  We are all brothers and sisters.  I have so casually flung those titles out over the years, but it was today, of all days, with my home filled with loved ones, that I realized we are all truly brothers and sisters.  

Jeremiah, Kaiser and Hayden

Kin.  I feel very blessed.  I feel very surrounded. 
I do not feel so alone. 

Issaka and Amanda
Thank you all for sharing the day of our Saviors resurrection and sharing your Christ-like love with us all throughout the year.    

Friday, April 15, 2011

England 2011

69 The Grove
Tom and I were able to spend 12 days in England this April.  It was my first time out of the US and have to say it was a wonderful experience.   Instead of giving a play by play of the events, I just wanted to comment on the most amazing people that we met along the way.   We were able to stay in some lovely B&B's.  In London, we stayed at 69The Grove.  It is in the Vauxhall neighborhood, just south and over the Thames from Central London.  Our hosts, Kanley (originally from Kingston Jamaica) and David (originally from Madrid Spain) were an absolute delight.  Kanley is a Methodist minister and our mornings around the breakfast table were a wonderful celebration of thanks!  In addition, we were able to meet people from all over the world (Finland, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, France and Vermont), all visiting for a variety of reasons.  We met and had lunch with a lovely couple from Brazil, talked with young people from France and chatted with a few smattering of native Londoners, as we safaried through the streets and neighborhoods of London.

Tilbury Lodge
Oxford UK
From London, we traveled to Oxford, where our hosts Stephan (a native South African) and Melanie (a native of Oxford) welcomed us to their home with comfort, humor and great recommendations.  Oxford, for me, was a place that grabbed at my heart.  Its like Madison on history steroids and a tad less reactionary.   I was in awe of everything around me and marveled at how 1000 year old relics stand side by side with modernity.   There was a church choir rehearsing for its Easter services and even though I could not find the entrance into the cathedral, I could stand outside and listen to this incredible music wafting through the evening air.  It seemed so right, and also very surreal.   We just happened to stumble on Oxford at the start of its annual Literary Festival (talk about lucky!) so it was alive with such a mix of people from all around England and other parts of the globe.   It was rainy so my dreams of a boat ride were dashed, but not to complain, since everything else we did was enchanting.

Grayingham Lodge
Northorpe Lincolnshire UK
After reluctantly leaving Oxford, we headed north to Lincolnshire and a small B&B in Northorpe called Grayingham Lodge.  It is a 200 year old working sheep farm, that has been in the same family all those years.  They were in the middle of lambing season, which made for quite the table talk.  Our hosts, Jane and Peter became fast friends and we delighted in hearing the history of Grayingham Farm.  Since the purpose for our visit to this less frequented by tourist part of England was a bit of a pilgrimage back to my roots, we had wonderful discussions about life in Lincolnshire at the time my relatives were still present.  Turns out the line I was researching just had a family reunion of some 250 decedents of the Ward line in Lincolnshire.   We were able to walk the streets of my ancestors, visit the church where many generations were married, christened and buried and experience modern life in the small market town of Louth.  Their homes still stand, most of which the exterior is unchanged and talked with locals whose families had been there as long, if not longer than my family.   Their gggrandfathers were peers and possibly friends of mine.  That sense of belonging and connection to history is a feeling that many of us here in the US have a difficult time connecting with.   I was sad to leave this town of rolling hills and rivers and forests and truly lovely people.

Britten House
Lowestoft Suffolk UK
We then traveled to the cost of Suffolk, Lowestoft and spent our final days in England at the seaside.  This B&B was the childhood home and place of birth for the composer Benjamin Britten.    The weather was wonderful, the sun shone all but one day and the temperature was perfect.

No matter where we traveled, whether it was to walk the ruins of castles of our ancestors, or to put our feet in the sand of a sunny beach area, the people we met along the way added to the beauty of England. I must admit that I long for the day when I can see again, wild daffodils blooming on the side of an English country roadside.

We feel very blessed that we were able to have such enriching experiences both history and with the people of England.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We are almost there!

We are getting the graphic work done and all the ducks lined up in a row...

Here is a sneak peak, just to wet your palate!  We are excited! goes live June 1st 2011 goes live May 1st 2011.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The State of Wisconsin, the state of our future.

It is very difficult to sit by and watch people you love and care about fall victim to the dishonest practices of men out of an altruistic idea that a worldly political leader can actual bring about change that is best for all. 

We live in an age where politics on all fronts is horrendously riddled with partisanship, paybacks, kickbacks, and millions and millions of dollars that buy the power of others.  To think otherwise, no matter what side of the fence you are on, may be a tad naive.  I can count myself as one of the victims.    

I have lived through many a political season.  I was born during “Camelot”, saw the rise and fall of Richard Nixon.  As a teenager, I felt the impact of the fall of a president and the stumbling of a vice president trying to heal a public that would never again be trusting of their leadership.  I watched as an honest and true politician tried to make change for good, instead failing because compromise was not an option, only to then become the world’s most formidable moderator (yes, we are speaking of peanut farmer Jimmy Carter).  He went on to establish one of America’s most altruistic and successful nonprofits and an international policy institute that today, is called on to help solve the most tense of political climates.   I was a young adult, newly married and having children when The Great Communicator was elected and served his two terms as president.  He was generally a good leader and ended the cold war, but with 20/20 hindsight, we have been able to see that economically we stumbled. Bush 1 brought us 1000 points of light and called on us to serve our communities but started a war that was fueled more by greed and control than the altruistic ideology of saving a country from invasion.  I was a military wife during this time and had a front-row seat to the repercussions of a political decision involving money, not freedom.   From there, we moved into the area of a suave and morally unscrupulous man but who was a great administrator.   Pres. Clinton’s two terms saw us through a boom period and he left office, handing over to his predecessor, for the first time in 4 administrations, a surplus.  He had shown that despite his personal failings, he could coordinate a government that could operate within a budget and take care of its citizens.  Unfortunately Bush II did not possess the same agenda.   His presidency was marred with conflict, egregious spending, arrogance, and a lack of accountability to those who elected him.  

Throughout my life I have watched as more and more politicians entered the arena of public service, not out of a desire to help and serve their fellow man, but out of a quest for power, attention and the spotlight.   As a public, previously, we looked not only at what a person said, but how they behaved in their life before politics to help us determine whether they could be trusted as a leader and in their role to serve us, the citizens, who pay for their positions.  Were they honest, successful businessmen, leaders in the community or church?  Did they answer questions directly, honestly?  Could there answers be put to the test; in other words, were their past actions demonstrative of the solutions and answers they provided to the public?   Did they say what they mean and mean what they say?  Were they interested in John Brown who lived at 111 Main St, as much as they were interested in Jack Jones, owner of the worlds largest widget company who was thinking about opening a plant in Anywhere, USA? 
I think my parents may recall knowing a few local politicians that were like that.  As a high school student, I had an opportunity to meet then Governor, Lee Dreyfus.   He was a moderate, who often referred to himself as a Republicrat.  (He ran and won as a candidate for the Republican party).  He was a kind, honest, truthful man, who ran his campaign out of an old red-painted school bus.  He was not beholding to anyone.   He set a precedent for me as to what to look for in a man/woman running for office.  Now, some do not consider him a “successful” governor.  Like Jimmy Carter (coincidentally President of the US at the same time), he was operating under difficult conditions, not much different that those we are seeing today.   For me, it was not about whether he was able to accomplish everything he set out, or make us oober-prosperous, it was about his character.  How did he treat his fellow citizen of Wisconsin?  Who or what was he beholding too?  Was he in anyone’s “pocket”?  Nope.  He never really desired to be a politician and to make a career of it; nor did he seek to be a “national leader”.  He wanted to use his great skills to help the state he truly loved.  Some analysts may assess his governorship as being mediocre, but in 20/20 hindsight, one decision he made (to the chagrin of many naysayers) was the establishment of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine.   When chastised that Wisconsin didn’t need any more veterinarians, Gov. Dreyfus replied, “This is not about veterinarians, this is about Research.”  That foresight eventually resulted in a little known researcher named James Thomson, whose work in stem cells has been universally monumental. 

Since then,  I have not seen a politician in either party, at the state and national level, who was honestly interested serving his people, until Barack Obama.   What do Barak Obama, Jimmy Carter and Lee Dreyfus have in common?  I know some are scratching their heads.  They were men who truly wanted to serve, wanted to help, wanted to change things, but ultimately were not allowed to succeed because the forces and powers (primarily money-based) against them, used their resources to focus on preventing their success, rather than coming together to find a workable solution.  

We now live in a political climate where resources, money, and people are used to thwart the success of others instead of finding conciliatory, shared solutions that create strong cities, states and countries.  Its like the old childhood adage, If I cant have it, then I wont let you have it either!”  We look at one person’s possible success as a marker for our own failure and we do it at all cost.  I have never seen so many blatant lies, untruth’s, misinformation and obvious corruption as I have seen in the past year, let alone 3 weeks.  We have a man, elected by the minority of Wisconsin voters, but slight majority of voters who turned out that day, who in his brief 13 weeks in office has disregarded the adjudications of the court, is attempting to enact a bill that is in direct opposition to the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin, has been “outed” as being financially beholding to out-of-state corporate interests that do not seek to better Wisconsin, but only use its people and resources for its financial gain, and has acted in direct opposition to his campaign promises of his own personal frugality and fiscal responsibility. 

Those in the state that elected him must accept their share of responsibility in this.  His record of service as Milwaukee County Executive is marred with dishonesty, corruption and bias to special interests that funded his campaign.  His own personal record prior to that public office raises some eyebrows as well.  We can go back to his college days and find a pattern of behavior that reflects forward to present day issues.   Instead of being objective, we were persuaded and enticed by the savvy media propaganda used by expert political campaign marketing specialists. 

Gone are the days of the old schools buses, painted red and white and carrying candidates whose desire is to serve the people.  In its place are slick ads, making promises that wont be honored, sponsored by political action committees established by corporate entities with a vested financial interest in one candidate winning who will further their agendas and corporate (or on the flip side, national union) goals.    To believe that the people have a voice and a choice is quickly slipping away.  

This “fight for Wisconsin” is not really about our state constitutional right to collective bargaining or public workers having to sacrifice their share in this economy; it is not about balancing our budget and making “Wisconsin open for business”.  It is not really about the loss of health services to the poor, the elderly or the non-insured or about keeping our rivers and waterways clean or even saving feral dogs from being used as research.   It is about standing up and telling those in the political arena that we will no longer stand for dishonest men in political office; that we will not tolerate deception and trickery.  We no longer accept that the voice with the most money is the voice that is most valuable.   We must work towards coming back together, working together, compromising and creatively sacrificing what is necessary when times are hard.

I believe that when we are honest with ourselves, that the majority of Americans, of Wisconsinites are not on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but share many of the same and desires.   In order to come together, we must be honest and seek honesty in those who lead.   It is our responsibility to hold those elected accountable and to stand up and say no, when we recognize the harm that will befall from decisions that are mandated instead of debated. 

I still believe that there can be change.  I still have hope that the few that seek office to really serve the people can be successful.  I believe in each citizens intelligence and their ability to see through the conservative and liberal propaganda; to recognize what it the most compassionate and fiscally sensible way in which to care for our communities, our neighbors, our brothers, our sisters.  I still believe that within all humans is the ability and desire to do good to each other.