Love. Listen/Observe/Read. Act. Repeat.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #174

Peggy: I saw the cat playing with what I thought was a worm this morning, and then it started moving its thousand legs and I realized it was a centipede. Or a millipede.
Sam: Oh, wow.
Peggy: It took about five hits with the fly swatter to kill it.
Sam: Why did you kill it?
(long, long pause)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Talk to yourself and grow your brain

I have overheard my children talking to themselves over the years. This is a habit I don't have. Where I grew up, that was a sign someone had the crazies. But raising Sam taught me not to judge. He got the talk-to-yourself ball rolling for the younger generation around here. I asked Michael once recently, what did he think of all this talking to oneself. He was cool with it.

Apparently, so are the scientists.

Monday, April 23, 2012

RunnerSusan's Awesome Photos, Ken-Burns-ized

After taking gold

Left to right, Bonanza, Sam and me. Photo taken by Susan Harrell Knoll. Sam just took gold in Class A English equitation. The man rides like someone who grew up on the back of a horse. Maybe he can take it down a notch and try out for the regular Olympics now.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #173

Sam: What about that leftover barbecue shrimp you made?
Peggy: I finished that for lunch today.
Sam: Oh. You need to make some more.
Peggy: I can do that.
Sam: I only had one.

Regional Equestrian Special Olympics I


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homemade Nutella

2/3 cup hazelnuts
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 T. honey

Toast hazelnuts on a cookie sheet at 400 about 15 minutes. Skins will be very dark. Immediately wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub the skins off. Put the hot hazelnuts in the food processor and process until liquefied (about 5 minutes). Combined the sweet milk, chocolate chips and honey in a bowl and microwave one minute, stir, and return for 30 seconds at a time until the chips are melted. Stir into hazelnut butter and process until very smooth, 3-5 minutes. Pour into glass jar with a tight lid and store in refrigerator.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #172

Peggy: Paige said Pottermore is really good. It looks a little like Cosmic Osmo.
Sam (smiling from ear to ear): Yes.
Peggy: Or is it better?
Sam (eyes still glued to computer screen): Much better.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #171

Peggy: How's the tractor running?
Sam: Good. I killed it a few times.
Peggy: Oh, yeah. So how is the grass? Is it the thickest you've ever seen?
Sam: Darn near. (pauses) I've never have seen grass like that before.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Position of trust

Emails have been flying for the past week from Riding Unlimited, although I have yet to see anything official from the board of directors. All we know in the Wolfe house is that two people who have been a part of Sam's extended family for more than a decade are suddenly gone. And just two weeks before RU is to host regional Special Olympics, we hear rumors of a "new direction."

Sam is upset that a place that is as important to him as his home, his school and his church now appears to be in jeopardy. Thank goodness he's a level-headed bloke and he's not making any big moves just yet.

I have this much to say for now. Nonprofit boards often go through periods of weakness, and so the staff and volunteers get strong, or the entity folds. It's when boards try to right themselves that things get truly dangerous.

They forget what sustained them in the down time.

And then they do the one thing they shouldn't. They bite the hands that kept them alive.

How did they get through a down time? It wasn't money. Nonprofits never have enough money. Ever. Get used to it.

What sustains them is passion and caring and a sense of community.

What sustains them is people.

The things we value most in life have seemed, to me, to also be incredibly fragile. Few people are wise enough to be responsible for those fragile things.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love Letter to Caleb

Our family has been touched again by tragedy.

My cousin Caleb's mother left his dad, my uncle, when Caleb was very young. We had to wait until Caleb was grown to see him. We are so grateful he wanted to know us, because to know him was to see and know aloha's true meaning.

Below is the titular essay of this blog, where you can know a little of Caleb, too.

Family Room

Chris painted a Mardi Gras mural in the family room downstairs after Karen and Greg moved into their Loveland house. In it, a girl sashays to the music, her necklace swinging to the beat. Light shines from party rooms down the street. Up close, the corner bricks feel real. For a time, Greg’s first anniversary present to Karen, a painting, hung in the family room, too. For a first anniversary -- for “paper” -- that’s a beautiful idea. Their family room seemed a good place for a golden anniversary party. Come and go. Say hello. Sit outside if you want. Escape to a quiet room, if you need.
Friends came. In-laws and exes came. Family came from next door and far away, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. Even though Don and Carol were the guests of honor, Phil found the easy chair. They wore tunics, silk dresses, crisp shirts and sport coats, jeans and t-shirts. Greg changed his clothes. Outside the family room, in the back yard, Bill took pictures of every permutation. Cousins, siblings, daughters, nieces, grandkids. Bench, stairs, trees, grasses, sky, clouds. Peggy and Chris took off their fancy shoes and went barefoot like Caleb after that. Greg changed his clothes again.
Karen put a big bowl of M&Ms in front of the big screen TV. She was in charge of the caterers, who brought teriyaki chicken on sticks, Swedish meatballs in white gravy, and spicy tortilla rolls with bean dip. They put extras in the oven and refrigerator, which we forgot for a while. Chris was in charge of the frosty orange punch made of ginger ale, juice and sherbet, but Peggy broke the punch ladle. Andrew was in charge of two cakes -- one of three towering tiers, wrapped in blue ribbon, glazed with red raspberries, bordered with delicate dots, and topped with flowers; another made with crunchy carrots and nuts. Perry was in charge of the wine. He laughed when Greg put foam tops on the Guinness Stout.
Don said there were more guests and less time to visit than he expected. One friend came with his wife. After saying hello, they made themselves comfortable in the family room, visiting with other guests. When it was time to go, they teased the happy couple, “Thanks for the conversation.”
Jeremy played the ukulele. When there were too many people in the family room, he and Caleb took two carloads to the go-cart track. Although they knew how to get there, no one seemed to know where they were, except that Michael said they saw an eagle there. Janelle giggled when someone said Helen took too many pictures while she drove her go-cart, and Sharon caused a pile-up.
On the TV, behind the bowl of M&Ms, Teresa showed a music video she made using photos showing the early years; November 7, 1959; all the girls; travels; and the grandkids. Upstairs, Karen had filled a wall with ten of those photos.
After that, Don and Carol lit the anniversary candle and cut the cake. Some people ate cake with a spoon when the forks ran out. Then, Peggy and Karen and Greg scavenged for forks, washing them to reuse them, at least, until the carrot cake was all gone.
Guests asked again to watch the movie starring Don and Carol, with supporting characters Peg, Chris, Karen, Teresa, Mark, Matt, Greg, Perry, and . . . Ron, Sam, Michael, Paige, Carter, Matthew, Brandon, and Mandy.
By twilight, friends had gone, taking a shortbread cookie, frosted a blue 50th on white, for a party favor. Kyra and Sara had already taken many shortbread cookies, since they were at the right height for small arms and hands.
After a futile search of the family room, and the rest of the house, for the lost remote, Carter and Tammy and others played “Catch Phrase” instead of “Scene It.” Hot potato meets Taboo. Tick-tick, tick-tick, tick-tick. BUZZ.
Then Carol made a small circle of chairs near Edith, announcing she would open cards, some of which came with gifts or $50 bills because a few guests simply refused to follow instructions.
As the caterers came to collect their satiny blue tablecloths, platters and serving trays, everyone helped clean the family room. Greg was in charge of the trash. While everyone else was busy in the family room, Matt decorated Don and Carol’s Grand Caravan with window paint.
“Just married -- 50 years ago.”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #170

Sam: Now that I'm an adult, sometimes disability services go bankrupt.
Peggy: I had not thought of that before but you are right.
Sam: That means I'm on my own.

Friday, April 6, 2012

If you gave up chocolate for Lent ...

Here is a great way to savor the return.

Big Chocolate Blobs

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 oz. semisweet chocolate
3 oz. unsalted butter
1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/4 c. white sugar
2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso
2 tsp. vanilla
6 oz. chocolate chunks
4 oz. walnuts
4 oz. pecans

Prepare cookie sheets with parchment. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave, stir and let cool slightly. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat eggs, sugar, coffee and vanilla at high sped then switch to low speed and mix in chocolate, and then flour mixture, just til blended. Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts.

Using a cookie scoop, drop about 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie, about nine per pan.

Bake for 16 to 17 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not over bake. Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack and remove the cookies after fully cooled.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #169

Peggy: That's a brand-new baby over there. Do you want to go see?
Sam: I'm not going anywhere near that baby. (pauses) I'll just scare it.