You don’t want any scars, stay home and watch TV

Archived | June 23, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The kids were settling down at last from yet another chaotic day of summer, and — let me tell you — chaotic is not too strong a word. We’ve already had a broken thumb to deal with on top of an emotional last day of school (I told the kids they’d see their friends over the summer, and they already have, but somehow the drama of that last day is both necessary and inevitable) and Saturday was an ordeal in itself with a trip to the emergency room for stitches and monitoring of a concussion. Nothing at all in the world like maintaining unwavering eye contact with your son while his head is being stitched back together.
Yes, we all know helmets are a wise investment, and we have a good number of them at home in the mudroom cupboard. And we all know biking on concrete without a helmet is simply not a wise move. However, in the heat of the moment of a summer’s day, miles from home, an impulse hits and rushing home to grab a helmet isn’t all that practical a thought to an adolescent boy who simply wants the rush of flying through the air if only for a moment. Who can blame him?
And then there’s the slip and fall, the flesh meeting concrete, the easy flow of blood from a head wound, the shock and pain, the regret and apology. “I’m sorry I scared you, Mom,” he said, when I finally, after minutes that seemed like hours, got to his side from the grocery aisle where I was leisurely filling my cart when summoned on my cell phone: Your Son Is Injured. Please Come Now. The world disappears at a moment like this, and nothing matters but getting from Here to There, and you do. “Is it summer?” he asked, and I nodded, and took him in another stretch of minutes, to the emergency room where Mr. Sundberg appeared a while later, anxious and as beside himself as I’ve seen him in a while.
These things happen, I explained to our son a few hours later as he lay, worn out, in a hospital bed in Room 6, waiting for an okay to leave. But they don’t happen to people who just sit around letting life pass them by. People with scars on their heads and arms and legs are the people who got out and lived, who had adventures, who took a risk or two. You don’t want any scars, stay home and watch TV. You want an adventure? Get out in the world and ride. Sure. But a helmet, next time around, might not be a bad idea. You just never know.
Reuben Dip
If you like the salty tang of sauerkraut, you’re going to love this dip. Serve with beer and brats out on the deck. Perfect for an appetizer or a Saturday afternoon snack.

  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained and chopped
  • 1 3 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1 8 oz container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 4 oz sliced corned beef, finely diced
  • 2-3 T milk

Combine all ingredients but milk and in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until hot. Or microwave in small bowl for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. Thin with milk if necessary.
Serve with rye or pumpernickel bread sticks.

And that’s when they tell me things

Archived | June 16, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. First show since summer vacation began, and things were surprisingly quiet around the house. The kids were off and running on Friday already — one headed off to a cabin with a friend, one was out biking with buddies, and one was on an overnight with the gang. So there you have it. Kids reach a certain age, and when a little bit of freedom comes along, they just disappear. Just like that. Poof. Gone. And Mr. Sundberg and I are left to sort through the pile of flip flops and gather up the popcorn scattered about the porch and think about dinner for two.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sending out invites to a pity party or any such thing. I never for a minute fooled myself into thinking that these young people were Mine, nor that they would want to stay with me forever. Nope. On the contrary. It’s a blessed good thing that Out In The World is where they wish to be, not hovering around the house hiding out from adventure and Lord knows what. As I’ve said before, we get to hear the stories when they come home, and what great fun that is.
What I have learned not to take for granted are those few and far between moments when we venture Out In The World together. Especially if I get face time in the car with only one of ’em. Just the two of us, together, for a short but lovely time. You add up those minutes with each of ’em and it doesn’t add up to much in a life, but boy, are they golden. Beautiful, shining time with the people I had a hand in making. And that’s when they tell me things. Sometimes they confess, and sometimes they dream out loud. Sometimes they lay out their plans for their lives, and sometimes all we have is some really fine silence.
Gone are the snuggly days, the blow-on-bellies, hold-hands-in-public, tuck-me-in-and-leave-the-hall-light-on days. Here, now, are the letting go days. Always knew they were coming down the pipe. Makes me grateful for all those minutes I had, and still have, on occasion, in my beautiful, fleeting life.
Seems whenever I whip up a rhubarb cake, it’s gone the day I make it. That was the case last time around, and it’s sure to be the case the next. This one is best served with homemade whipped cream and a cup of fresh coffee.
Rhubarb Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cream together.
Add 2 cups flour,
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour milk
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 tsp vanilla
Top with mixture of 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.
Bake in a greased 9 x 13 cake pan for 50 minutes at 350.

I felt as alive as I’ve felt in years

Archived | June 9, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday night and it was not bad. It’s been raining a lot lately and the weekend was no different — little storms here and there not amounting to much at all. I’m waiting for a big humdinger of a storm to come through, but I’m not holding my breath. All in due time. What I do like about these brief showers is the way the air smells after — fresh and earthy and pungent and green. It’s the natural scent of the planet. How the world is supposed to smell. And I like it.
I like the smell of summer in general. How heat smells — all thick and asphalty and hot. I like the smell of whatever is on the grill cooking, and lake water, and fireworks. And how children smell like beach sand, and the dog really smells like a dog, and something happens to Mr. Sundberg’s skin in the sunshine; all summer he smells of lemons and sea salt.
The wind rose up through the trees this morning, and since the kids are still in school (two more days) I figured I’d get out there and take it all in, and that I did. Went and stood out in that wind with my arms raised up high, and breathed in the summer morning, and let every breath of it go to my head. I smelled grass and leaves and frog bellies and rotting logs. I smelled caterpillar poop and bird feathers and deer and charcoal. Smelled the sun on the driveway and the strawberries in the garden, and for the few minutes that wind blew, I felt as alive as I’ve felt in years.
That wind didn’t last long. It was fleeting, as moments are. I took that feeling with me, though, and went in and got to work baking a pie. Rhubarb. With a dash of nutmeg for taste. Something for the kids to find in the air as they get off the bus. “What did you make?” they’ll ask, as they come piling through the door. What does it smell like? I’ll reply. Mmm. Pie.
Everyone is hungry for fish and seafood this time of year, and this casserole is a perfect dish on these cool summer evenings.
Serve with salad and bread.
2 sticks butter
2 lg. onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, smashed
Saute above in butter until they are just crisp. Remove from skillet.
2 lbs. seafood (1 lb. shrimp and 1 lb. of lump crab meat)
Clean the seafood and chop and saute vegetables ahead of time.
1/4 c. flour
1/2 pt. half and half
1 lb. mild Mexican cheese (any brand works)
1 lb. fresh fettuccine noodles
Put shrimp into skillet and start sautéing — then add crab meat. After they turn pink — put vegetables back into skillet. Add 1/4 cup of flour and 1/2 pint of half and half. Let bubble a minute or two. Remove from heat. Stir in one pound of mild Mexican cheese. Cook fettuccine noodles (only a short time – maybe 3 minutes). Mix together with the other stuff. Put in casserole. Sprinkle with Romano or Parmesan cheese. Cook at 350 degrees about 30 minutes.

I’ll put down my wooden spoon. You’ve got my attention.

Archived | June 1, 2010 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. All the way over in Washington D.C., and that got me thinking. The kids have never been to Washington D.C., and that’s something of a pity. I’ve never been there myself, either, but then I’ve never been most everywhere else. My family never traveled much when I was growing up, and Mr. Sundberg travels so much for his motivational speaking job that he isn’t in much of a mood to go anywhere once he gets home. For him, vacation means a week at home pruning rose bushes, reading the paper, and visiting the local supper club once or twice. Thing is, with all the kids’ stuff going on, a trip to Washington D.C. right now is pretty much out of the question, and one day down the road we’ll squeeze a trip in.
To be honest, the trip I’d like to take is one I don’t think anyone else would much enjoy. I saw a picture once in a coffee table book of a wheat field in Umbria, Italy. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I know, I know, it was just a wheat field. But there was something about it that has kind of stuck with me ever since, and I think if I won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse deal, that’s what I’d do. I’d set money aside for college for the kids, I’d buy a new car for Mr. Sundberg, and I’d get myself a plane ticket to Umbria, Italy. I’d stay for a week, maybe two, and I’d eat nothing but bread and cheese and maybe some pasta, and I’d drink a little wine, and I’d spend every day walking along those wheat fields. I’d sleep there if I could do it without getting arrested.
They say the most simple questions are the most important: Who are you? What are you doing? Where are you going? I’m thinking geography is like that. Tell me you’ve been to Washington D.C., to Novosibirsk, to Tokyo. I’m impressed. Sure. And that you’ve actually been to Graceland, and to the headquarters of the FBI, and to the Vatican. Hmm. You’re a real humdinger. But tell me you’ve walked through a wheat field in Umbria? I’ll put down my wooden spoon. You’ve got my attention.
Raspberry Pudding
If you think about it, pudding is a strange form of food, so don’t think about it. Just make it and enjoy it, especially this lovely sweet and tangy treat for a warm summer day.
3 T sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla
12 lady fingers
1 pint raspberries
fresh mint (for garnish)
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a double boiler. Beat eggs, add milk. Cook over boiling water until mixture has thickened. Refrigerate.
Whip cream until peaks form. Add almond and vanilla and whip a little more. Fold whipped cream into the first mixture. Line decorative sherbet glasses with the lady fingers. Fill with the pudding.
Top with crushed raspberries and garnish with fresh mint.