Friday, August 8, 2008

You will notice links to my e-How articles to the right. If you check them out and rate them, I would greatly appreciate it! I am doing a lot of freelance writing in order to make my way in the world, and e-How is one of the many ways in which I am trying to do that. Of course, you could also purchase some art from me if you like. :) Just inquire as to pricing, etc.

One negative to all this creativity: I am gaining weight from all the sitting. This is not a good thing for a diabetic, so I have started to use my work-out equipment again. I would rather just use them in the winter and walk outdoors in the summer, but with the cost of gasoline these days I have been limiting my trips. My fishing expeditions have become fewer for the same reason - as well as because the trout aren't biting in all the heat.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blackberry Days

In August, I always think of the days when our mother sent us out to the fields and woods to gather blackberries. We each carried a pail and didn't go home until they were full. Most of the berries were small, but there was one spot where the canes grew up into the trees and yielded huge oval berries. The pails filled up quickly with those berries!

Seeing blackberries growing along roads or trails always reminds me of those lazy, hot summer days. The sounds and colors of August in western Pennsylvania are so distinctive. Locusts singing in otherwise still days, grass and tree leaves beginning to dry and brown, high humidity and heat, and days beginning to shorten -- all contribute to the feel of August.

I recall my mother taking some of the blackberries to make Blackberry Cobbler, her version that had dumplings cooked on top of the sweetened blackberries. Served with milk poured over it, this constituted the evening meal. Today, it would seem outrageous to serve something so simple and so full of carbs for the evening meal. It was surely a treat when I was a child.

The rest of the blackberries were used to make blackberry jelly or jam, and sometimes a pie or two. I always preferred jelly because it didn't have all those dastardly little seeds in it.

Other berries we picked were blueberries. My father planted several blueberry bushes and they were always prolific. We never had a lot of raspberries, but collected what we could find. My mother favored the chokecherry trees and their fruit. She made jelly from those every year, and we used that jelly on her homemade pancakes, rather than maple syrup. There was also a quince tree way back in the woods, and Mom would pick that fruit and make quince jelly. I never cared for the flavor of quince when I was a child, and haven't tasted it as an adult. Who knows, I might love it today.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby Brother!

Today is my baby brother's birthday, and I feel older somehow. He shouldn't be 47 already because it was just yesterday he was born.

I had just finished my freshman year of college when Brian was born. A year later, I was married and had my first baby. My eldest daughter and my youngest brother grew up more like cousins than uncle and niece!

Today, Brian is not only my brother, but my best guy friend. I can count on his advice and opinions, though sometimes his opinions differ from mine. We have both been through coronary artery bypass surgery and because his was some time ago, I have been able to ask him about symptoms or problems.

He is one of the few, if not the only, person with whom I can "discuss" politics without either of us becoming angry when we disagree. He has a lot of interests -- metal shaping, learning to play guitar and banjo, drag racing (he owns a Camaro), computers, machining car parts and equipment, repairing engines, etc. He is very intelligent and creative.

What he is best at, however, is being a truly kind and genuinely good person. He is well-liked by friends, loved by his family, adored by his grandchildren, respected by his co-workers. I am proud to be his big sister. Happy Birthday, Brian!

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