Monday, July 31, 2006

The States I Have Visited

This is a map of the states I have visited. I think that I have all of them. Guess I have ignored whole regions in my travels. There is also a link to the site where you can make your own map as well. I did this for no particular reason. Perhaps I need a real job...



create your own visited states map

Blueberry Buckle & Other Musings


Blueberry Buckle
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
I am on a fruit dessert making frenzy. This is a picture of a Blueberry Buckle I made with a quart of local blueberries early last week. Following that, I made a peach cobbler, a peach crisp and tomorrow, I think I am going to make some kind of "betty". Jack vetoed Blueberry Grunt because it "sounded gross." Loyal readers, lest you think I jest, a Grunt is a cobbler type fruit dessert that differs from cobber in that it is made on the stove top and thus produces more of a steamed rather than baked biscuit topping.

While most people I know gain weight in the winter, I tend to put on the pounds in the summer because the food is just so great. I suppose I don't have to bake stuff with the local supply of fruit...I could just eat it plain. But, I'm in the heartland now, and hey, that's how we do things here.

Today was a billion degrees but it felt like a billion and ten with the humidity. I tried to take a positive look at the weather, reasoning that people actually paid money for steam baths and I could just go outside for free. But, not being a heat lover, I just stayed inside most of the day trying to break through my writer's block and baking chocolate chip cookies. (I have been working on a new recipe and am close to being happy with it.) The cookie baking was much more productive than the writing, unfortunately. Alas, I shall try again tomorrow.

Well, my bed is calling to me. I am going to curl up with this absolute piece of trash book that I started reading for fun. It is called MR DARCY TAKES A WIFE and it is a pretend sequel to the Jane Austen masterpiece PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, which is one of my very very favorite books. DARCY is not a good book but it is mindless and that is what I am in the mood for. Last night, we watched the movie "Syrianna" and it made me so distressed that I decided I needed a healthy dose of pure entertainment. I do strongly recommend "Syrianna" however, for anyone who might be interested in that sort of thing. It was an excellent film. A bit hard to follow, but if you rent it, you can at least rewind.

Well, that is all for now.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Let Us Now Praise the Bloomington Farmer's Market

Every summer, all summer long (for the past three years since we have lived here) I am SO grateful for the Bloomington Farmer's Market which has its large market every Saturday morning and a smaller one on Tuesday afternoons. (There is yet another market on Wednesday mornings as well!) Not only is there an abundance of excellent produce and flowers, there are so many nice people to meet and get to know. People are so happy and friendly there. Entertainment in the form of all sorts of bands is provided and once a month, there is a craft/art fair as well. I cannot (obviously) say enough about this treasure that our little town has.

The picture here was taken by Jack. It is one of hundreds of lovely fresh flower bunches that you can buy at the market. Last week, lotus flowers were out. They are giant flowers, just like you see on lily pads. People "harvest" them in canoes.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, I am posting several snapshots of the market.

Chanterelles


chanterelles
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Chanterelles and Shiitake mushrooms are out now. Gorgeous.

The Honey Lady


the honey lady
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
We buy honey sticks from this nice lady every week for Jack to snack on while we are buying our stuff at the market. In a couple of weeks, we are going on a tour of her bee place.

Heirloom Tomatoes


heirloom tomatoes
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
There are so many differernt varieties of tomatoes at the market. These had a particularly interesting shape.

Sun Flowers


sun flowers
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
One of many flower sellers at the market.

Best Sweet Corn at the Market


sweet corn
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.

The Flower Guy


the flower guy
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
We got all of the flowers for Meg's wedding from this stand last year.

Amish Farmer


amish tomatoes
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hooray!!


Hooray!!
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Loyal readers...I have big news! I am going to soon be a published writer! I submitted a very short story to a publication here in Bloomington and they have accepted it. The organization is called Matrix and they publish an online magazine dedicated to local art and poetry. Some time ago, they published a book anthology of collected works. Last spring, they asked for submissions for their second anthology so I submitted and found out today I was accepted.

I am so excited!

More later.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Recipes

I have posted a couple new recipes on my recipe site. Check them out.

www.reallygreatrecipes.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Very Brief Update from a Tired BloomingtonGirl

I was tickled to see how many comments my little piece on Peter Cook and the hunky swim instructor inspired. In addition to the posted comments, I got a few private emails. I think that this topic needs further addressing. I am far too tired to do that tonight, though.

In a funny twist to my little Ellis story, after Jack's swim lesson this evening, Jack informed me that Ellis told him he would be interested in babysitting! I had never brought this up, honest. What lead to Ellis expressing interest was that he spoke to another instructor, Amber, who babysits for Jack when she is home from college. Amber taught Jack last summer and stays with him here from time to time. Apparently, Amber mentioned to Ellis that Jack might need a babysitter when she goes back to school. Isn't fate funny?

Seriously, I am completely over the Ellis attraction and I will tell you what did it. He simply runs his hands through his hair a bit too frequently and let's face it, it is hard for me personally to be attracted to someone who says "SA-WEET" when he thinks favorably of something. This is another piece of experiential data in my quest for truth about what makes men and women different in the area of mid-life crisis attractions and affairs.

The good news is that since I no longer find him attractive, I can add him to my babysitting list without guilt. After all, I am a practical girl. You can never have too many good babysitters.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Monroe County Fair


jack with cows
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Yesterday, Chris was working so Jack and I headed over to the Monroe County fair to see what we could see.

We arrived before noon, so the place was pretty empty, seein' as everyone 'round here was in church an' all. The rides hadn't been put up yet so we concentrated our energies on seeing the 4 H animals and eating fair food.

Here is Jack with some very pretty cows.

Another County Fair Picture


jack with pig
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Here is Jack with a baby pig.

Jack Eating Hoosier Health Food at the County Fair

Funnel Cakes. For those who haven't had the opportunity to devour such middle American food, Funnel Cakes are basically deep fried dough covered in powdered sugar.

Which reminds me of a true story I heard recently. I know the source to be completely reliable.

Years ago, the local Bloomington Paper, The Herald Times had a VERY local food section filled with homey recipes featuring lots of sugar and lard. My friend's cousin decided to play a joke and sent in a recipe for "Deep Fried Sugar Balls" and signed it Mildred something. Mildred wrote that the deep fried sugar balls were "loved by grandparents and grandchildren alike." The recipe went something like this:

Take lard and roll it into balls. Coat with sugar. Deep fry the balls in lard.

The paper actually printed the recipe. If that wasn't crazy enough, readers actually tried the recipe and then wrote in to complain that it didn't work. Then, in another bizzare twist, The New Yorker picked up the recipe and printed it. Under the "loved by grandparents and grandchildren" claim, The New Yorker wisely added..."if they live to tell the tale."

BloomingtonGirl on The Mid-Life Crisis Affair


Christie
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
I read recently that Christie Brinkley and her husband, Peter Cook have separated. The cause of the separation was ostensibly Cook’s affair with a young woman. Current affairs of graver import such as the tragic crisis in the MidEast normally command the attention of your BloomingtonGirl, but I couldn’t resist a closer look at this story. After all, if a supermodel can be cheated on, shouldn’t we mere mortal women be concerned?

Cook - age 50 - met his paramour when she was a seventeen year-old clerk at a toy store Cook frequented with his children. Soon after meeting her, Cook offered her a job at architectural firm with, I am sure, a certain view toward her seduction. He shrewdly waited until after her eighteenth birthday to make his move and sweetened the deal with a $50/hour salary, a car and “lots of jewelry”. They slept together for about a year, after which, she allegedly broke it off.

Shame on you Peter Cook! Offering a job to a girl less than half your age just because of your inappropriate attraction to her!

When I first learned of this tawdry affair, I was getting ready to take my five-year old son, Jack to his nightly swim lesson at Indiana University. On the short drive to the pool, I thought about what Cook had done and immediately took the position that he was a pig, a swine, a pathetic walking mid-life crisis. And, for good measure, I lumped in all men who were married to women of a certain age - over 40 perhaps? - who betrayed their wives and children by taking up with girls young enough to be their daughters. I got right up on my high horse (quite a familiar seat for BloomingtonGirl, I will admit) and took this genre of men to pieces. After their devoted - and great looking as in the case of Brinkley - wives give them the best (looking) years of their lives, what do they do?. They throw them over for a (MUCH!) newer model. On and on I went (in my mind), smug in my conviction that this horrid behavior was exclusively male. In fact, The thought never crossed my mind that a woman would be capable of such folly. Until I got to the pool, that is.

I walked Jack over to his instructor, Ellis. Ellis will be a sophomore at IU this fall which makes him about twenty years old, if that. He is - I have to be honest here - one of the most beautiful young men I have laid eyes on in, well, I can’t even remember when. He has the combination of a handsome face and a perfect body that one cannot help but notice. When I met him two weeks ago, that is just what I did. I noticed his remarkably good looks as I would notice anything remarkable in a new acquaintance. I did not have lust in my heart (or any other part of my body) for this young man. Truly, I simply noticed how good-looking he was and didn’t think about it further.

Anyway, when I dropped Jack off, Ellis looked up and flashed me a stunning smile. The effect of the smile surprised me. My simple notice of him was - dare I admit it? - kicked up a notch. As I walked to my pool side chair, I was taken aback by my reaction to that smile. I was actually a little flustered.

“This is silly!” I told myself and tried to forget about it by reading my book.

But the book did not hold my interest. I am ashamed to say that I found myself watching Jack’s swimming lesson with a little more interest than I had previously. I began to think, “Hmm, Ellis is terrific with Jack. Wouldn’t he make a great baby-sitter? Why don’t I ask him if he would like to baby-sit for Jack this fall?”

As I mused upon offering this delightful (looking) young man employment, I was suddenly stopped dead in my thought tracks. Wait a minute! Was I pulling a Peter Cook? Was I going to offer employment (in my home no less) to a man young enough to be my son on the basis of his stunningly good looks? I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was doing just that!

My head began to spin. I suddenly realized that a middle-aged man didn’t have a corner on the disgusting market of being attracted to a person half his age. We middle aged women could succumb, too! Damn! Now, in the interest of fairness, I had to reexamine the question of the mid-life crisis affair and include the possibility that women were just as capable as men.

After some thinking on the subject, I had to admit that it was possible that men conducted themselves scandalously in this area because they had more opportunity than their female counterparts and not because men were necessarily less virtuous or sensible than women. (Though, having said that, I do still believe that women are less susceptible to such folly than men...but I have no proof of this.)

Think about it. As men age, they continue to be attractive to younger women, especially if they have money, position or power. Therefore, a man wouldn’t feel entirely ridiculous pursuing a woman half his age. After all, he might reasonably assume she could be attracted to him. And, even if he didn’t consider cheating in the first place, repeated come-ons by a particularly attractive young woman might weaken his resolve over time. Any of us with a pulse can admit that such forces of nature can be formidable.

On the other hand, as women age, and, perhaps, particularly after they become mothers, they no longer are attractive to younger men. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but in general, I think you will agree this is true. (Now, I don’t think that this is a cause for a whole bunch of boo-hooing or opining on the shallow nature of men. It has been that way since time immemorial and probably has more to do with biology and reproduction rather than men being idiots. But, that is a topic for another time.)

So, if a woman is in contact with a very young man whom she finds attractive, she is unlikely to make any move at all because it would never occur to her - and rightly so in most cases - that the young man would return the attraction. She would assume that flirtation would risk a humiliation and so she wouldn’t do it. And, she isn’t likely to be faced with the situation in which a young man is repeatedly coming on to her. In short, she isn’t even going to have the chance to have her resolve weakened. She isn’t going to have the opportunity to have that hot little affair.

My reluctant conclusion is that men have more affairs with young women than their older women have with younger men simply because men can where women can not. Granted, this is a simplistic approach and doesn’t take into consideration lots of other variables. Still, I think that it is a reasonable conclusion.

After all, if someone as sensible and virtuous as I could succumb to thoughts such as I had, doesn’t it stand to reason that most women could? And if young men were, in general, attracted to older women, wouldn’t there be a percentage of those older women acting on such delicious, oops, I mean despicable, thoughts?

I leave it for you, loyal readers, to make your own conclusions.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hang In There, Loyal Readers

Ah, Loyal Readers, your BloomingtonGirl has not deserted you! Nay! I have been working on a little commentary about Peter Cook (the soon to be ex Mr. Christie Brinkley) and his philandering. I haven't been able to finish it but I hope to wrap it up tomorrow and post it in this very space.

Since my last post, Jack and I have been to Williamsburg VA to attend the McGary family reunion without my husband, who had to work. And, since I have been back, I have done very little writing of any kind. Chris and I have adopted the bad (but enjoyable) habit of watching "The Cobert Report" nightly and that has taken up what little time I would normally be using to post on this blog. I plan to turn over a new leaf this week, however, and spend a portion of ever day writing while Jack is at day camp.

In brief, all goes well here. More tomorrow. I promise.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My Little New Yorker


My little New Yorker
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Here is Jack eating a NY slice at LaGuardia Airport last Sunday. We are getting to be quite the travellers. For years, I flew somewhere almost every week, usually more than one city per week. For the past couple of years, I have had little interest in leaving Bloomington. Now, all of the sudden, I have the bug again. I wanna keep hitting the road.

Behind the rebirth of my wanderlust is Jack becoming a companionable traveller rather than a whiny little burden of a kid on a trip. Last weekend, for instance, our trip was just perfect. We flew to NY and went into the city for dinner with Kate, her longtime boyfriend and his mom. We stayed overnight and I left the next morning for CT to attend (AN AMAZING) wedding. Jack and Kate went out to Shelter Island where her boyfriend's mom has a house. Jack had a great time, I had a great time...we met up again in the city on Sunday, took a cab to the airport and returned to Indiana.

We leave again on Wednesday for Williamsburg for a long weekend visit to Chris's parents and siblings. And I hope in August to get back east to have a longer visit in CT.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Pleasant Surprise and An Unpleasant Squeeze


Free
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
I went to my favorite Bloomington store today ("Relish") to return a pair of shoes I didn't need. I bought them to go with a dress that I wasn't keeping either. (I went a little wild buying clothes last week and had to face the fact that there are just so many "outfits" I need in Bloomington.) Anyway, while browsing at Relish and enjoying the cup of coffee that had been made for me, the owner asked me if I wanted the pictured skirt FOR FREE! It had been in a window display and had faded a bit (you can only see the fade mark at the waistline and any shirt I would wear with the skirt would cover it). It was just my size so I accepted the skirt. What a treat for me! The picture doesn't do it justice...it is just darling. I love when nice little things like this happen.

It was especially pleasant because I had just come from my husband's office where I was the lucky recipient of a coned down compression magnification mammogram on my right breast, where a tiny spot had been spied on my regular mammogram last week.

For those women fortunate enough to have escaped the experience and for my non-medical male readers, a coned down compression magnification mammogram is essentially having one's breast squeezed in a vice-like device until you say "uncle" to the technician who is applying the force . At that time, she leaves you there tethered to a machine by your breast, which has now been squeezed into a freakishly thin shape. She tells you to hold your breath and takes an x-ray. This is repeated several times, without the offer of even a cocktail, which, I think would be the least they could do.

After that, I had an ultrasound which was like heaven in comparison. And after that, one of my husband's partners came in and told me that I had a small cyst and didn't have anything to worry about. I told him that the only thing I had been worried about was the awkwardness of having him have to feel me up should the tests show something else. Cancer? Definitely came in second to that concern.

It isn't that I am a prude, especially when it comes to medical exams. After all, I had a baby, remember? And there isn't anything I can think of that rids one of physical modesty like that does. (The only thing that comes close is my recent "Extreme Parisian" bikini wax, but that is a topic for another post.)

If I had spectacular breasts - and my longtime readers and those with first hand knowledge know I do not - I might not mind an associate of my husband having to handle them. But, things being what they are, I'm happy to keep my breasts to myself and my spouse, thank-you-very-much.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Skunk, Continued


DSCN5157
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Here is a picture I have been meaning to post of Jack climbing red rocks in Sedona. It shore is perty there.

This morning, we went hiking in McCormick's Creek State Park and it was lush and green and altogether different from what I expect to see in Indiana. It was more like being back east. We had a nice hike.

So, back to the skunk situation.

We last left our BloomingtonGirl discussing skunk removal with the "Deliverance" skunk removal guy. After he confirmed that he could stop by that day, I figured I should at least ask him what he would charge. Not that I could have judged whether it was fair since I had no experience with critter removal.

"How much do you charge for this sort of thing?"

"Usually it runs no more than $300, sometimes less."

"Okay. See you later today." What could I say? I thought it sounded kind of steep, but I had no idea what was involved to get rid of a skunk or several. Besides, he told me that he was the only licensed skunk remover in the county and I wasn't in a position to challenge that with any authority. And, let's remember that nobody else called me back except for him.

After I hung up the phone, I regretted sounding so VERY GLAD THAT HE CALLED ME BACK!!! I imagined that was the reason why he was quoting me such a high price. He probably recognized that I am, for all practical purposes, a city girl when it comes to such things.

He said that he would be by at around three.

I went for a bike ride at noon, knowing I would be back in plenty of time to meet him. Halfway through my ride, he called me on my cell to let me know he was on his way NOW. Nice. Now I could meet him drenched in sweat, sporting a helmet head and wearing my biking shorts. Always a good look on a middle aged gal. Not that I was trying to look good for Deliverance man, quite the contrary. I just didn't want to meet the guy at my home in spandex.

When I arrived home, his giant pick-up truck was parked in the driveway. He decended from the rig, all three hundred Hoosier pounds of him.

"You look like you're a glutton for punishment," he said eyeing my athletic garb and red sweaty face with disdain.

I paused before I spoke. I didn't want to say anything about keeping in shape for fear of offending him. He certainly wasn't at all concerned with his physical condition by the looks of him. I was relieved that my letter to the editor on obesity hadn't been published yet.

"Yeah" was all I could think of to say. Truth was, I was a little afraid of this guy. His whole redneck demeanor was a little scary and I was having trouble remembering whether I had gotten his name out of the phone book or whether he was the one that had been recommended by our neighbor.

He placed two traps out by the play house and said he would be back the next day. He said that he needed a down payment and would collect the additional when the skunks were all gone.

"I take 50% up front, so that will be $200."

"I thought you said $300 total at the most."

"Well, there are probably several in there. And, besides, skunks carry rabies and mange and it's a risk. I have to euthanize them and dispose of them, by law. That costs money."

(And I noticed that you have a big expensive house and you seem like a city-ot, so I can charge you whatever the hell I want, is what I'm sure he was thinking.)

Well, I am embarrassed to say that I went into the house (leaving him outside, of course) and got a check for $200. I guess I could have negotiated with him, but there I was, in my sweaty riding get-up, not knowing a damn thing about skunk removal and wanting very much for the problem to be taken care of. I wanted to be able to tell Chris it had been taken care of and I was reasonably sure he wouldn't ask how much it was, at least not right away.

As he took the check, he said this, I suppose, to show to me that he was a God fearin' man and therefore had charged me a fair price.

"Some folks think everything is like Disney but it ain't. These skunks carry rabies so you just can't release 'em in the wild. The law says I gotta put 'em down. Hey, it's better than gettin' run over by a car. I was run over once and by the grace of God Almighty, I am here today. Praise the Lord."

Yeah and Praise Idiots from the east coast who are easy marks, right?

So, I know that the question on every loyal reader's mind is:

Are the Skunks gone? I thought so, but now I am not so sure. My neighbor reported seeing the mother and a line of nine little babies marching single file out from under the playhouse while we were on vacation a couple of weeks ago. Deliverance man's wife had called yesterday to see if they could stop by and pick up the second check. I told her I would mail it but after I heard our neighbor's report, I held on. I am going to have to have Deliverance man come back and inspect. Eek.