Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Tim Conway!

The great Mr. Conway is 78 years old today!

This is a somewhat long clip, but well worth the watch!  The story goes that Tim Conway got Harvey Korman laughing so hard at his ad libbing during this sketch that Mr. Korman actually wet his pants...  I believe it!

Much wholesome happiness and laughter due to this guy and the Carol Burnett Show.  I'm old enough to have many happy memories of watching this with the whole family, first run on television.  I wish there were shows like this today that were appropriate for us to all watch as a family!

I don't know about everywhere else...

but it's summer here!

We're still getting used to the reality of the climate here in the Nevada desert.  Coming from Colorado, we've marveled at the strange Twilight Zone of spring-ish weather ever since we got here last November.  It's been too chilly to get in the pool, but never cold enough to wear anything more than a light sweater.  And here we are in Easter week, a time when we're accustomed to enjoying the gorgeous blooms of crabapple trees, the cheerful blossoms of daffodils, and the long-awaited shedding of our winter coats and boots -- but here in Vegas, roses have been blooming for a couple of months, we haven't seen a single daffodil actually growing anywhere, and we're rejoicing over the pool being comfortable enough to go in for a swim. 

I say it again:  weird.  But nobody's complaining.

We most definitely don't want to stay in this place for long, but there are some silver linings to living here!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Coffee and Conversation

 It's Easter Monday; my heart is full of the joy and meaning of the Resurrection -- and my mug is full of coffee.

 ==contented sigh==

There's a great Lenten meme out there somewhere (I know it's out there; I just can't find it) that says something to the effect that Lent is good for helping you find out what you're addicted to.

And I am addicted to coffee.

I really did give it up for Lent, though, really and truly.  I conquered the physical reality of the addiction, drinking it solely on Sundays -- but I admit that, emotionally,  the coffee was always still in control. Though I may not have actually partaken during Lent, I most definitely coveted.

That doesn't diminish the effort does it?

Hi, my name is Lisa -- and I'm a coffee addict.  Over the last forty days of not drinking coffee, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about coffee -- about: 1) how much I missed coffee, 2) what I wouldn't give for a cup of coffee, and 3) how many more days until I could have coffee...  I pinned scads of coffee images and recipes on Pintrest, too, and bought six bags of Starbucks Sumatra beans (my favorite) when they went on sale at the grocery store. One night I dreamed that I smelled coffee brewing downstairs; it was so real, that dream, that it woke me up -- and I tiptoed downstairs to see if there really were coffee in the pot.  If there had been (and there wasn't, darnit)... I fantasized about actually pouring myself a cup, thinking that the whole episode could have been misconstrued as a dream -- whether it were or not.  Such are the desperate longings...

But here it is finally:  Easter Week!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, there is coffee in the pot!  And life is good.  Got up at 6 a.m. yesterday to brew a pot of rich dark Sumatra, had two cups before Mass -- and I've lost track of the cappuccinos and iced coffees I've had since.   If you could tap into my coffee jitters and the children's sugar buzz as a source of energy, you could light up the whole Las Vegas strip right now.

Guess I really ought to channel all this excess "energy" toward something useful, huh?  Like finding coffee recipes and sharing them!

Here's a good one:

Easy Delicious Iced Coffee

1 empty Quart Jar
1-2 cups strong black coffee (depending on how strong you like it)
1/2  cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (or equivalent in regular whole milk and/or coffee creamer)
As much ice as will fill the rest of the Quart Jar

Stir all together -- and enjoy!

*  The surgeon general has determined that drinking a quart of iced coffee is not compatible with accomplishing any task requiring fine motor skills -- or going anywhere outside a quick jog to the little girls' (or boys') room.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

From our family to yours!

Dan, me and the bottom five: (l-r, t-b) Theresa, Anna, Cathy; William, and Gabe.
 Missing ( AND MISSED!):  Paul and family (Nicole and grandbabies, Gavin and Evie, all in California), Kevin (in New Zealand), Br. Philip (in Omaha), Dominic (in Denver), Michelle (in California).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Christ Crucified by Francisco de Zurbaran

 "Carry Christ crucified in the oratory of your heart."
~ St. Paul of the Cross

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meanwhile, in New Zealand...

Where my son shakes Prince William's hand...

But doesn't even notice what Kate is wearing!

Kevvy: this Kevvy
If you haven't been over to read Kevin's Middle Earth travel blog, you're missing out!  The pictures are amazing -- in spite of his ongoing camera difficulties --  and the adventures... ?  Things that would only happen to Kevin!   Run over and see what's new in New Zealand!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In the Valley of Fire, NV -- Last Weekend

Best hike ever! (Well, in Nevada., anyway...)  The Valley of Fire, which is approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas (off of I 15), is a great drive-through national park with amazing red rock formations and panoramic western-desert-style vistas.  The oldest and largest national park in Nevada, Valley of Fire is a well manicured and maintained tourist destination; all along the scenic route you find picnic areas, restrooms, and photo stops -- marked clearly for those who just aren't sure where on earth in all this vastness  they should stop for a photo.   

Unfortunately, though, there are only a couple marked hiking trails in the park, but one of them is a doozy!  A kid rock-climbing wonderland and super cool historic site, full of petroglyphs,  Mouse's Tank Trail is named for a nineteenth century bad guy nicknamed "Mouse" who eluded capture by hiding in this maze of rock canyons.  The "tank" part of the moniker refers to the water "catch" areas within the rocks that allowed Mouse to survive indefinitely while hiding.  Lots of fun to imagine him hiding within the caves and tunnels, with lawmen hot on his tail -- but never finding him. You can see how Mouse got his nickname!  
L-R: William, Gabe (top), Anna (bottom), Cathy, Theresa

A fun and unusual feature of this hike was the discovery that the sand on the trail, the accumulation of hundreds (thousands?) of years of wind abrasion off of the surrounding sandstone rock walls, is amazingly fine and smooth.  Softer even than Huntington Beach sand -- and that is soft, indeed!  Dan and the kids all took off their shoes for this hike.  (I kept my sneaks on, though, because my hands were too full of camera to carry my shoes...)  The cool early April temperatures allowed for barefoot rock climbing, as well, though we were thinking that, once the real heat kicks in you'd have to be careful where you stepped out here in the hot desert!

Here are a few shots from the day:  

We translated this petroglyph thus:  Don't underestimate how important it is to aim carefully before jumping off cliff to catch deer with pointy antlers.

Oh, by the way!  Did you notice we had an extra child added to the normal, workaday four at home?  We had Theresa home for a cameo appearance last weekend, as a good friend (Carl B., for those who know him) was passing through Vegas on the way to Cali.  He dropped Theresa home with us on Friday and got to have her until he came back through Sunday morning.  We get her back today, though, for Easter break, and will have her home until Easter Thursday!  Woohoo!

We can't be sure, but we think this petroglyph  has something to do with  aliens hovering over a lolipop tree, watching a deer playing soccer under high voltage lines.

And this one has got to be saying:  Iguana squashed on highway, everybody run away!

This one says:  For heaven's sake, children, get down off those rocks before you break your necks!

This one looks like: Get your little self to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days...

Myself and my only admirer (deluded fellow).  
Greetings from Nevada and the American Southwest!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Little Boys, and Big Birthdays

Gabe's birthday! And guess who's hit the Double Digits?!

Taken at Valley of Fire State Park last weekend

Gabey got a birthday Gift Certificate from Grandma and Grandpa in his card last week. Thank-you, Dan and Sharon!  You have to know that there are few gifts more welcome to a ten year old than the freedom and challenge of a $50 Walmart shopping excursion.  Oh my goodness; let me tell ya...

William and I tagged along for the shopping event Friday afternoon.  I drove us over to Wmart and steered the shopping cart, and William offered lots of moral support; i.e., suggestions about what he would like to have.  (William's like I am with Dan: we love to spend someone else's money.)  But, Gabe had his own plan.

This kid is a real shopper.  Up and down the aisles he led ust. Checked out the sporting goods department, perused the toy department.  Back and forth, forth and back we went -- comparison shopping; thinking and figuring, figuring and thinking; double-checking; adding up prices.  Shushing William.  Re-adding prices; putting things back; adding cheaper items ($.97 Whoppers) in order to up the quality in other cases ($8,.00 Captain America frisbee/shield thingy); refiguring totals.  Then, finally, after a good hour of pondering, Gabey led the way to the cash register, passably satisfied with his booty and expecting to have money left on his card for another day.  Good boy, Gabe; I was proud of his discernment!

But Gabe was anxious.  He watched carefully as the cashier rang up each item; you could see the gears turning in his head as he watched the totals and estimated the addition of the next item.  The parachute toy was a dollar more than expected; the math wheels turn, Gabe's brow furrows... Things were adding up much faster than he expected...  Finally, ringing up the last item, the cashier unceremoniously announced the total:

 "That'll be $40.18." 

Forty Dollars? He handed over the gift card.  Reluctantly. That $50.00 disappeared fast!  

As we were driving out of the parking lot, Gabe thanked me for taking him. He and William, both, were pleased with the goodies they were bringing home. "That was really fun," Gabe told me.  And I appreciated that, being a mood therapy shopper myself -- but I really sympathized when he added,"up to the paying for it part."  Because, yeah...  handing over the money really is a buzz kill.  Gabey is the kind of guy who is sensitive to that.

Happy Birthday to a little-growing-bigger guy, who understands the value of things -- material and otherwise -- better than most grown ups!