Wednesday, February 23, 2011

They Aren't the Beatles, but . . .

No, they aren't the Beatles. But when I was growing up, I wasn't a fan of the Beatles. All my friends were, but for some reason, I just couldn't get into them. I liked Peter, Paul and Mary and the Christy Minstrels. Yes, I know . . . not exactly cool, but I loved their songs This Land is Your Land, Today, and Green Green. Maybe it's because my dad played the guitar. Maybe it's because the songs were easily singable. I don't know, but I have always loved The Christy Minstrels.

Last Friday morning, I saw on a television ad that The New Christy Minstrels were doing a 50-year-anniversary tour (hey, if the Rolling Stones can do it, why not the Christy Minstrels?) And they were going to be in Kansas, since Randy Sparks, their founder, was born in Leavenworth. One show was going to be in Newton, which is where one of their singers lives. So I told Don I wanted to go. He was less than excited. I told him I would go alone. Then he not only wasn't excited, he felt guilty.

I called my sister Katie to ask her if she wanted to go, since she, too, liked the Christy Minstrels. I knew she couldn't, but it didn't hurt to ask. Long story short, Don consented to join me, and Tuesday night, we headed to Newton. Right on time, a gray-haired Randy Sparks came onto the stage, and soon the rest of the group joined him. None of them except Randy were part of the original group, though Barry McGuire (he's the solo in the song Green Green) sometimes joins them (but not last night). Several of the singers had been with the group in the 60's; most joined it later. But their sound is the same.

I looked over at Don early in the show, and he was toe-tapping and singing along, just like the rest of us were. And he admitted that he enjoyed the show. And nostalgic me? Well, I cried during two songs, and sang along with most of the others. I know. Not cool. But I don't care. I still love The New Christy Minstrels.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Amazing Amazing Grace

My sister Katie sent me an email titled A History of Amazing Grace. She wrote that it brought her to tears. I was busy so I didn't watch it immediately. I should have.

If you will go to this link you will hear about not only the song but also about other spirituals. It is a fascinating look at a beautiful musical genre about which most people know little. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A 95 degree Change

Amazing. Last Thursday we had a low temperature of -17. And that was without the wind chill. Have you ever been out in that kind of cold? I know a lot of you have . . . it's cold.

Today - a week later - the high was a record 78. Lovely. Absolutely lovely. Perfect. Even though it was windy, it was lovely.

But 95 degrees improvement in the temperature within one week? Absurd. I don't know that I have ever seen such a dramatic change in so few days. But we will take it. Tomorrow is supposed to be a little more normal - still warm for February since it will be in the 60's - but more like what we expect. Certainly better than -17.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can I Be Old Enough?

I can't be old enough to have a 28-year-old son. But apparently I am, because he is . . . today. Time flies when you are having fun.

That day, Ash Wednesday, dawned a little like today. After several bad storms with much snow and cold, a warm spell came in. I suspected that I was going into labor, so after a trip to the doc to confirm, he told me to go for a nice long walk. It was a beautiful Wednesday . . . just like today. Finally about 5:00 we went back to the doc, he sent us to the hospital, and Kenneth was born at 9:40. My mom said he was nearly full-grown, since he was over 9 pounds big!

Those were great days . . . and they have remained that way. It has been a joy to watch him become the man he is!

Happy Birthday, Kenneth! We love you.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Homemade Sauerkraut!

Once we returned from Germany, I was inspired to make my own sauerkraut. I read many different recipes, and it isn't too hard to make . . . but it takes some time.

I began "brewing" my sauerkraut on January 2. Because we put it in the basement and the temperatures there are lower, it took longer to ferment. Finally on February 4, I brought it upstairs to test.

I was surprised by how good it was. I can tell I need to learn how much to rinse it, and putting it in a slightly warmer room would make it ferment more quickly. But I wonder if the reason it is fairly mild is because of the cooler temperatures.

Friday night I decided to do something else with it. I made bierocks. Using ground buffalo, onions, garlic, pepper, and my sauerkraut inside a crescent-roll pastry was just the ticket. With a little sweet German mustard . . . wow!

I still have some learning to do with this sauerkraut making, so once this batch is gone, we will try another until I have made at least one pot that tastes like what we had in Germany!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Today is a sad day in the Norton household. Our favorite children's author, Brian Jacques, died of a sudden heart attack on February 5. He wrote some of the best children's books ever - Redwall and a whole series of books after that. Those were the books that improved my children's reading. Diana's amazing imagination made these books an instant favorite with her, and Kenneth loved the sense of adventure they provided.

A number of years ago, Brian Jacques came to Wichita and spoke at our school. Diana got to meet him, and she claims it was one of the highlights of her young life. He was a fun, unique personality . . . it was such a privilege to meet him.

Children's literature has lost a great friend. We will miss him.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Super Bowl

I love the Super Bowl. The celebrities, the hoopla, the commercials . . . and I always like watching the game.

This year, however, I actually cared who won. Ever since Jordy Nelson was drafted by the Packers, I have become a fan. Just as he did at Kansas State, he has sort of sneaked up on people. Very quietly, Jordy has made himself into an indispensable part of the team. Last night, he gave us a lot to cheer for.

We had several friends over for the game. In order not to jinx the Packers, Don wore his Chiefs shirt. It seemed to work and added a few laughs!

Although the Teleflora ad got a laugh from us, the resounding favorite commercial from our group was the little boy in the Darth Vader outfit. Too cute! It reminded me of our nephew Chase when he was going through his Darth Vader phase.

I am delighted the Super Bowl ended up as it did. The good guys won!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Sweet Sepia!

I repeat, Sepia is the sweetest dog you have ever seen. He is a wimp, but he is sweet.

On Friday, I had a meeting, and since it was cool outside, I let the dogs come with me. I had noticed previously that when I would go into the store, Sepia would sit on the console of my car until I would return. But I had not paid attention to what he did when I was gone for a longer period of time. So today I decided to see.

I parked my car facing south, and headed north to my meeting. After the meeting I went to the store and then returned from the south to the car. When I got close, I could see Sepia. He was standing on his back feet, front paws over the back seat looking out the back window, waiting for me. He had been standing that way for over 30 minutes, waiting, waiting, waiting. (Babs, on the other hand, was sleeping on the seat.)

So although Sepia is a wimpy guy, he is the most loyal dog a person could have!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writer's Block

It is a good thing I don't make my living writing columns for a newspaper. I start out with many ideas, but it seems that when they are gone, they are gone and new ones don't appear very quickly. I have been trying for two days to come up with something new and fun . . . I am still waiting. So this is the explanation. Writer's block.

So until I come up with something I will leave you with this:

Go Packers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Poor Sepia!

Sepia is one of the sweetest dogs you could ever have. He loves sitting next to people, will roll over on his back for some cuddling, follows me everywhere I go, and loves to go with me in the car. I call him "The Leaper" because he jumps . . . even as a brand-new puppy he jumped. But he can surely be intimidated by female dogs (except his sister, Babs. She doesn't scare him.)
I began noticing it when Patty Sue would come visit. As he would go up the stairs, Patty Sue would jump around him, and he would just slink away. Then when Bella stayed with us during the summer, she would sit on the stairs, defying Sepster to go by her. So I began to protect him, making sure I was between him and Patty Sue or Bella while going up the stairs.

This morning, we were working out in the basement. Babs and Patty Sue were downstairs, but for some reason, Sepia had stayed upstairs. We began to hear some whining and crying. I went to the stairs only to find Sepster sitting on them - about half-way down, and Patty Sue was lying at the bottom of the stairs, looking at him. He wasn't about to go past her . . . so he sat there and whined until I came to rescue him. It was such a pitiful sight. Poor baby.