Playing For Weddings

I was peacefully minding my own business getting ready for church to start last Sunday when I felt a tap on my shoulder; I turned around and there was a guy named Joe Goodman who is getting married this Saturday to his high-school sweetheart; he said, "Um, I don't know if anyone has broached this subject with you or not....but my fiance and I were wondering if you would be willing to play for our wedding." I had heard that they were considering asking mom and I to play one song during the wedding, but it soon became apparent that they wanted me to play the piano and mom to play the flute for the entire ceremony; prelude, bridal march, dismissal, everything. In five days. I was a little shocked. I guess not very, though; there is nothing typical about this wedding. You see, Joe is 85 years old. He used to date Viola in high school, then they went their separate ways and had lives and families, until both of their spouses died awhile back and they conducted a telephone re-romance from two states and eventually fell in love again (or maybe they always were?) and now are getting married. It's the most adorable and adventurous thing!
Anyway, the critical part of this announcement is that tonight is the rehearsal. To say I'm panicked would be an understatement. I can play like a virtuoso (well, maybe not quite that good) as long as nobody is watching but as soon as I have an audience everything sounds like a poor version of Chopsticks.
Pray for me (and mom). Tonight and tomorrow.

Random Quotes from the Weekend

Random Quotes from the Weekend:

Grandma: Who would want to be gang-banged to death?

Mrs. Yovonovich: Everyone gives off the equivalent of a 100-watt lightbulb, and some people moreso.
Mrs. Murray: In my case, moreso.

Andrew: If you believe, you can have a drink of water.
Jay: That's some biblical bribery for you.

Mr. Chandler: I don't know what kind of fish Jesus created.
Mr. Yovonovich: Sushi.

MaryAnn: He made the wine into water.
(Someone): Wine into water?
MaryAnn: Oh, did I say that? Well, anyway, I guess that would cure alcoholism.

Emily: It said his back would be hunched, but it really isn't.
Jay: Well, his belly is hunched. That should count for something.

Jay: It would take a very sick and dying man to let that guy marry his daughter.

Jay: that a pig? Oh, wait, that was Babe.

Jay: How is this magnetic?
Me: Well, it says it is, but it really isn't.
Jay: You've got to be kidding.
Me: Well, it's just not magnetic in the usual way.
Jay: Magnetic as in, when you see it, you love it, or what?


I was just getting ready to hop in the shower this morning when I saw Jay come down the hallway quickly and heard whispers all over the house. I went (obviously) to see what the commotion was. Apparently one of my siblings (I haven't figured out which one; I'm guessing Daniel) was complaining about an inability to do cartwheels. Mom decided to once-and-for-all dispel the notion that it is impossible to do them. She donned a pair of sweat pants, went out on the backyard lawn, and started demonstrating.
Sometimes it seems like she is still just getting out of high school; she is so cute!
Apparently she was an inspiration; cartwheel attempts were being conducted all over the house this morning.

Dates and Decisions

Mally and dad went on a "date" today. It was so cute. She wore this monstrosity of a green "ribbon" in her hair and was hyped up hours before and hours afterwards. They went to the park and fed the geese (who bit her a few times, as she told us in quite animated terms after getting back). I hope my little kids are as crazy about their dad someday as Mally is about hers.

This evening Daniel officially decided how he's going to propose. He has a grand scheme, apparently in the style of Larry Walters, to get tons of helium balloons attached to a chair where he and his sweetheart can float away. (Emily suggested that if she says no he can pop all of the balloons right away, which he also thought what was a good idea.) The poor girl; maybe he'll change his mind in 20 years when he's ready to actually tie the knot.


The Kingdom

What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this,
   that caused the Lord of bliss
     to bear the dreadful curse
      for my soul?

I read those words above and I hear the haunting simple melody that the songwriter so appropriately coupled them with, and I close my eyes and it occurs to me that I do not understand, do not experience, the wonder. When I think of the cross, when I think of the love, my reaction is so mature, so rehearsed. I can sing about the love and if I try I can maybe conjure up some sort of emotional response but quite simply, I have no wonder whatsoever. I am not physically weak in the knees when I see the sacrifice.
And that is not always a bad thing. I am analytical, I am intellectual, in my approach of Him and He begs to be seen that way.
But in all of my zealousness to make my faith practical and led by my spirit rather than my heart, I have lately been confronted with that ominous question: am I missing the Kingdom?
I read a book this week that really isn't worth recommending. It was based on a flawed premise, I think, of modern-day mass miracles accomplished by one that had the faith of a child. It came off sounding more like a step-by-step guide to megachurch faith-healing despite attempts at reclamation by using (very valid) lines like, "Whoever said that a healed hand was better than a cleansed heart?" But at the conclusion of the book, the most profound part, for me, was the telling of a few scenes where a child had encountered the Kingdom. The book was allegorical and it portrayed a physical, tangible Kingdom, but the overarching theme was that of wonder. The child was overwhelmed when he saw the Kingdom, and had faith that walking into it was as simple as believing.
It was more powerful, more realistic and yet more complicated, than any description I've read before. It seemed genuine; the boy would so much as think of the cross and would not be able to withhold tears.
Do I ever cry over the cross? Am I ever overwhelmed with His love? Do I reduce it to spirituality or anthropomorphic language and miss the simplicity of the love that put Him on the cross for me?
And then, truly, must I be as a child to appreciate it, to have an untainted reaction? I did a word study on faith and children, and I found what I had already suspected--the heart of the Kingdom is truly best represented in the heart of a child.

Mt. 18
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto Him,
and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you:
Except ye be...come as little children,
ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as a little child, the same is
the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Humble, as a child? Perhaps humble enough to realize that sophistication will never gain me access to the throne.

Mark 10:15
Verily I say unto you,
Whosoever shall not receive the
Kingdom of God as a little child,
he shall not enter therein.

I Jn. 2:13
I write unto you, little children,
because ye have known the Father.

I look at the words and I wonder--how does one enter the Kingdom as a little child? Does it mean capturing the wonder, does it mean feeling awe when I pray to Him, does it mean visualizing the profound impact I have through those prayers on the course of history? Does it mean believing that He will pull back the windows of Heaven and allow me a peek into eternity, does it mean being recklessly content to mentally run in the wind as a little girl, barefoot, braids flying, laughing, holding my daddy's hand and believing that I could go on that way forever? Is that realistic?
Is the heart of the Kingdom truly bound up in the heart of a child, and, if so, how do I become a child? HOw do I face what J.B. Phillips wrote,

The greatest difference between present-day Christianity
and that of which we read in the New Testament
is that it is to us primarily a performance;
to them it was an experience.
We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule
of heart and life. Perhaps if we believed what they believed,
we might achieve what they achieved.

There is equal danger in a manufactured simplicity, a conjured sentimentalism, and I am duly warned of it and, I think, in no danger of it. But there is, there must be, also a genuine awe, that bowls you over and leaves you almost giddy and overwhelmed, the way a child might glance at a rainbow and be truly enthralled.
Am I enthralled with God? Not just consumed, not just devoted. An I curious? Do I wake up in the morning unable to contain childish excitement for ways He will reveal Himself to me that day? Do I think of the cross and does it take my breath away?
Do I have wonder?
I know that I don't. I want, long, to feel it. Wonder.
I want to enter the Kingdom with the heart of a child. And so I say, with the hymnwriter, and a full heart,

Little children praise you perfectly;
and so would we;
and so would we.

Congratulations Elliotts!

Congratulations to the Elliott Family; Titus (Ty) Courage Elliott was born this weekend.
See the family blog for pictures and details.
Praise the Lord!

Early-Morning Observations

Jay has his driving test in a few hours. I know he's a good driver, and I'm sure he'll pass, but I am nervous for him anyway.

Tonight Mr. Elliott is coming to drop off his car while he's in Texas; that means we'll have a BMW in our front yard for the next three weeks. Scary/Exciting.

My favorite chore to do outside is raking up pine needles. Really. If you haven't tried it recently, you should.

Every person ought to read, "On Message" by Mark Crutcher.

When you read, "On Message", be sure to actually call it "On Message"; dad, Em and I were mixing it up (accidentally) last week, calling it, "On Mark"--which was somehow a version of the author's name, Mark, and some other undetermined factors, and then we thought we remembered the last name of the author being, "Crueller". If it had been a crisis situation and someone really needed to know the name of the book, we would have failed.

It's very unpredictable to do dishes while Jay is trying to stand there talking to me; he does unexpected things (like dump Comet on my arm) and I do very predictable things (like squeal).

It gets REALLY hot sleeping on the top bunk during these desert nights. Even with the fan on.

When Jay hums the Jeopardy tune even once, it will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

My new ringtone is the only Josh Groban song I can stand, "You Raise Me Up".

Two men got in a spat out in front of our house this morning when one man's dog ran out in front of another man's car. The scene supposedly involved one man using his baseball cap to hit another man. What would possess someone to do something so....sophomoric? It's beyond me. If I was mad at someone, I would use something other than my baseball cap to get the point across.
Daniel has manufactured a squirrel trap and a rubber band gun during the last few days. The gun has been a success, the trap thus far has not.

l am going to take a CAHSEE practice test today. Not because I particularly feel like ensuring that I qualify for the Exit Exam, but mostly because I might be taking a general school district knowledge test (for employment) over the next while, and I want to make sure I'm ready for it.

I have a strong dislike for chihuahuas. And I can't spell the word "chihuahua" without using spell check.

I've been trying to scare Jay by reminding him about the woes I encountered on my driving test, including the trio of pedestrians walking in the middle of the lane in my direction with no plans of getting out of the way, a very godfather-looking black vehicle of some kind that almost backed into me, and a lady that made some driving errors and ended up flipping me off and other things, followed by a verbal tongue-lashing from the lady administering my driving test!

Have I mentioned that I'm nervous about Jay's driving test? I am.

The Making of Pink Chicken and Other Random Occurrences

It seems like things have just been getting busier and busier the last few days. Yesterday Jay was getting ready to go to work this morning and so he wanted to make some kind of "treats" for the firefighters he works with. After ruling out several possibilities including several unpronounceable "desserts" (he wanted to make them but mom exercised veto power), he was convinced to just make brownies. Well, I shouldn't use the word "just"; somehow one of us came up with the brilliant idea of encouraging him to make MINT brownies. He made the brownies with a little mint flavoring in them, then we were going to try to make mint frosting. I was working on something else so I called directions out to Jay; "Add that little thing of cream cheese....a stick of real butter...a little vanilla....a little mint extract....and a box of powdered sugar." He hollered back that the measurement "a little" was unfamiliar to him and then hollered a few seconds later, "NIC! It's NOT WORKING! I think the cream cheese is curdling!" Mom was in another room, and was like, "No, you weren't supposed to use cream cheese!" I knew that I had wanted him to use cream cheese so I went in there to straighten it out. I couldn't believe what had gone on; I've never seen such hideous frosting in my entire existence. I don't know what exactly happened to it, but it vaguely resembled very small cottage cheese or something. I sat and stared at it awhile while he asked me if I could "fix it"....I said yes....there's always a way to fix it....I just didn't know how yet. So I started getting ready to add some stuff when I decided that I should probably just start over; it was for the firefighters and I didn't want to run the risk of feeing them something that would poison them and/or inhibit them from saving the public at large.
So I started over, made a batch of "real" frosting, which worked this time, and I was like, "Jay, what did you do that made it so....different than this? How many ways is there to put butter, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl?!"
He was like, "Well, maybe I shouldn't have melted the butter....."
Bingo. We put the "curdled" frosting aside and got the brownies actually frosted. Mom decided to try to rescue the "bad" frosting which was an equally bad idea because it was beyond redemption. So anyway, she started making these mint cookies, using the frosting, and they were very...different. Our combined culinary skills couldn't really do anything to make them remotely edible (my dad told us not to throw them away, though; he will eat almost anything in large quantities and he told us that he didn't mind them; we'll let him eat as many as he wants I guess).
About this time the phone rang and my sister answered it; it was a longtime friend of mine; I was working on some things so I deferred the phone call to my mom, who I heard talking to my friend. "Oh, hi! are you....yeah....would you like to come to dinner?...oh, okay....we'll see you at six." In my house, dinner plans can spring up with such little warning. Mom got off the phone and was like, "Oh, they're coming to dinner."
YIKES! I went running around the house trying to come up with something to have; somehow it seems like whenever company comes I can never think of something that they'll truly like. Well, anyway, I ended up deciding to make sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, rice, and we served peaches and grapes from our trees/vines. It was quite a decision process to come to this, but it was one of those meals that requires so little prep time that it was supposed to be effortless. Of course, everything that I touch is never that simple, anyway, I thawed the chicken (in a hurry; they were coming quite quickly) by running tons of very hot water over it enough to break the pieces apart (if Hesperia has a drought in the near future I will take the blame entirely). After I got the chicken actually cooking, I started stir-frying vegetables for it, and somehow while Jay was assembling his brownies he decided that it would be a good idea to test-taste the vegetables. I don't know what earthly idea would possess someone to just come in there and start eating plain stir-fry vegetables but he did it, and received various degrees of complaint from various family members (except Mally, who I think would have joined him if she had been given the chance).
I didn't have time (or resources) to make my own sauce for the chicken so I literally just dumped a bottle of pre-made sweet/sour sauce into the chicken and vegetables, but as soon as I did I was like....this isn't like normal sweet/sour sauce. It was pink. Bright pink. Fluorescent pink. Hillary Duff pink. I was totally horrified. Anyway, our friends showed up early, I still had like 10 minutes of prep time, but after that we all ate. It was actually a really great time; I had a lot of fun and we laughed so much. (They didn't mind eating pink sauce....I did, though, and my dad did.....we both made a deal not to ever buy that kind of sauce again. I think next time I'll take the extra time and make my own, lol.)
They are really rich; their dad recently retired from a career with the Department of Water and Power, which may not sound like a very sophisticated job but it certainly pays well enough. They only have one daughter, who is my friend, so they regularly present my mom (and co.) with large quantities of unreasonably priced clothing. For some reason they enjoy spending tons of money on frilly clothes for our little girls, who do admittedly look adorable in them, but they are so expensive.
Anyway, they were telling us quite the epic story of a family party they went to where one of the highly inexperienced nieces had been given the official job of making mashed potatoes. I don't know about in your family, but in our family, the mashed potatoes aren't something that you just automatically get to make; you have to have proven yourself for several decades before you're given the duty of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. Anyway, this little gal took over the process and made 20 pounds of potatoes using only a tablespoon of butter and a little more salt. (I don't know if you're familiar with proper mashed-potato-making technique, but there should be significantly larger portions of both.) To top it off, this niece added ungodly amounts of garlic (about 15-20 cloves). No one was eating the potatoes and it was becoming quite a fiasco, so our friend went in the kitchen when no one else was around and started dumping various redemptive ingredients into the potatoes; eventually they all disappeared. (Yes, it conjured images of Remy in Ratatouille, jumping over a soup pot.) Speaking of soup, they then told us about some soup their dad had decided to prepare that was supposedly good for keeping various ailments away (and most humans, I'm sure); it included 8 whole heads of garlic in it. They said, "We literally didn't get a cold for two years." I'm not sure it was worth the trade-off. :D
So we had fun with them last night. This morning I was finishing up a few applications for work with the school district, and about when I was getting ready to leave to drop them off at the District office, I heard mom ask, "Is there an 'e' in 'impart'?" I told her that I'd never seen the word impart spelled with an e, and she said, "It's spelled that way on your application."
Arghhh. Thank goodness for computerized applications. After a reprint or two, we left for the DO; on the way I was reading aloud to mom/Emily from "To Kill A Mockingbird" in that section where Mrs. Dubose is railing those dreadful accusations at the kids and Atticus shows them a different side of her than the side they'd grown to hate. It was nice. After that we ended up at a property we own on the outskirts of town; there was a fire last week and mom was fairly sure it had burned some of our property. Sure enough, it turns out that most of the fire had actually been squarely on our property, and that our property had been a staging grounds for fire personnel while they were fighting the flames. Whoops. (There were no buildings on it so it didn't bring about significant damage.)
After that we went to the store, where I stayed in the car with Whitney and Mally, who were sleeping. I had the sliding van door open, as well as the windows, so we could actually get some air (it's a hot day) and got quite a few very curious stares from people who would pull into the space next to me. Oh, well.
That's a short summary of what's been going on. Pardon me while I go put away groceries....


We were looking at vehicles on ebay the other day and ran across this listing; look at the winning pictures this guy posted of his car. of houses, mountains.....etc. Buy the truck and he'll throw in the whole mountain, I guess. :)
He used to have other additional pictures of the vehicle that included one of 90% ground and 10% unknown truck parts.

As a side note, I was looking at this car to buy but when we called the guy to ask if we could come look at it, yesterday he was at auction, today he was sick, and he said we could come tomorrow but we'll be in San Diego. I guess that means I won't pursue it because I wouldn't want to buy it without looking at it. A little disappointing, but, who knows, maybe it just wasn't the right thing.

Active Afternoons

Let it never be said that an afternoon in the life of the Hearns is dull. Here's a recounting (which is by no means all-inclusive) of an hour or two.

I was doing some writing when I realized that it was time for the kids to take their naps. I went to call them and found that Daniel was already looking for me. "I want to teach Mallory how to swim," he told me.
"Well, it's time for your nap, buddy; maybe you can do that project later."

No, he didn't want to do the project later. He tried to convince me of the merits of this undertaking. "I won't get her wet; I'll just get in the pool and show her exactly how to do it so that she knows." Smooth way to get himself into the pool. I denied the request a second time and went to do laundry after telling the kids to get cleaned up for their naps.

I came back a few minutes later and Daniel and Mally were in a very serious discussion of some nature; I thought it was rather cute and so I walked up and asked them what they were talking about. "Well," Daniel told me, "Mally thinks she might have to go to the restroom."
Suffice it to say that their serious discussion quickly ended as I broke up the committee and sent Mally on her way.

Mom was on the phone with someone and as I returned to add a paragraph I'd been thinking about to the document I was working on, my phone rang and it was a good friend of mine; we talked and somehow came up with a brilliant plan that included meeting eachother on Saturday with a friend from Texas and another friend from Arizona who both happened to be out in So Cal right now. I went to ask mom what her thoughts were on the plan we'd hatched, and she was on the phone so I told my friend that I'd call her back later with verdicts. I called the friend from Arizona who happened to be in the middle of a show at Sea World and she said she'd call me back. Jay then got a call about his Fire activities tonight and while he was trying to convey what was going on to me, mom walked in and also tried to start telling me that she was going to Lancaster to look at some bunk beds for the girls' room (now there will be 4 of us in there when Whitney gets out of her basinette). The new problem was that Jay needed to be dropped off with Fire at either six or seven, the time wasn't conclusive yet. In the middle of mom and I trying to arrange things she got another phone call and I decided to go check on the kids.
They'd gotten distracted, so we had a little training session and we learned (together) how to clean up batches of crayons off the floor. I reminded them (afterwards) of what they were supposed to be doing and joined Jay and Mom again, proposing that mom go to Lancaster and that Jay and I would have grandma over for supper and she'd take Jay to Fire. As I was calling grandma, some other major event ended up taking place that I have absolutely no recollection of, and as soon as I got off the phone mom said, "Well, what are you going to make for dinner?" It was 1:50; way too early to be thinking about what we were having for dinner.

I went and checked on the kids; Mally was doing fine, getting ready "for a little nappie" (as she calls it) and Daniel was nowhere to be seen. I went outside and found him longingly swirling his hand around in the pool; he jumped up and said, "I wasn't least I don't think that's called swimming." It wasn't, but he also wasn't supposed to be out there so he got a little correction and a new shirt (as the one he was wearing was now wet on the sleeve where he'd been checking out the water). About the time I got back in Jay had decided to vacuum his ceiling fan; I don't know what possessed him. It was a very....noisy process.

Emily wasn't going to be eating supper so she decided to bring along some lemonade instead. Mally saw this process being conducted and decided that she wanted lemonade, too. I told her that Em was having lemonade because she had opted out of supper, and that she probably wouldn't be interested in the exchange. To the contrary, she piped up immediately, "Okay, I don't have to eat dinner. I want some lemonade!" By executive order there was an override to her decision.

The friend at Sea World called back and we discussed things briefly, then I helped mom come up with a map to Lancaster. Mally came in whimpering. "I don't want to be hungry," she told me. As flattering as it was to think that she would imagine that I would have the answer to that dillema, I told her that great minds since the dawn of time have been trying to suppress hunger and that (with the rare exception of the kooks who believe in breathairianism) humanity in general hadn't found a solution to the problem of hunger yet and that she would just have to stick to having supper instead of lemonade.

Daniel was in the restroom by this time (before his nap), and when I hadn't seen him for awhile I went in there to check on his status. I immediately knew that something was wrong; to make a long story short, apparently he had never been educated as to the proper technique and common usages of razors, and decided to experiment. I ended up calling Jay in to help me clean up the bloody mess that resulted. While I was getting aloe vera for Daniel and convincing him that it was not poisonous or deadly, Mally decided that, since she'd already had a morning nap, she wanted to go with mom this evening. That meant making another serving of supper to send with the girls, and getting Mally ready to go.

Daniel emerged with bandages and I thanked Jay profusely for handling the problem for me.

A little while later I went to go discuss dinner plans with mom, and after we had been talking a little while a family member (who shall remain anonymous, and no, it wasn't me) accidentally knocked mom's iron onto the ground; after mom had been assured that the carpet and the iron were fine, things returned to normal. I went into the garage to check on available food in the outside freezer. What I didn't realize is that Jay was in the garage, and we ended up scaring eachother while we were in there. He then confessed that he'd been trying to reduce the size of a nerf ball (?????) and had been grinding it down on a grinder or something....the grinder had sucked the whole nerf ball in. I don't know what came over him, because Jay is usually so....practical. Anyway, he was now in the garage trying to figure out how to get the grinder to disgorge the ball.

I was trying to decide what to make for dinner and every time I would start to think that I had a workable menu, I'd find out that I didn't have at least one ingredient that was absolutely necessary to the success of the meal. Finally I asked Jay if he would barbecue chicken for me and we'd have BBQ chicken sandwiches, cheese potatoes and baked beans. He agreed and so I started to thaw some chicken in the microwave. I helped Daniel finish cleaning his room, got Mally, mom, Em and Whitney ready to go, saw them out the door, called grandma again to confirm that I still had no idea what time Jay needed to go and to just show up at 4:45 for supper so we could make sure to have eaten by the time he had to go, and started making the potatoes.

I tried calling another friend of mine again to explain that the Sea World friend had been willing to do the four-way get together, and as I was talking to her Emily came in singing her own personally altered version of "You Raise Me Up" which included unique lyrics exactly opposite of the original ones ("You set me down so I can fall down mountains..."). I checked on the chicken defrosting in the microwave, and it seemed to be going well, then got mom finally fully out the door, discovered that Daniel was actually asleep, (a small miracle in and of itself) and took the chicken out of the microwave.

Jay found me several minutes later mumbling under my breath as I was packaging up the chicken to refreeze.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We can't have this chicken for sandwiches; I didn't know that these are chicken pieces with ribs!"
"Um, Nic, I'm not sure if you've done much studying on chicken anatomy....but chickens don't have ribs."
"I just read it on the package; it said, 'Chicken breasts with ribs'."
"Well, actually, all fowl are unique in that they don't have ribs; they instead have a sternal plate."
I shoved the chicken back in the freezer. "Maybe 'Chicken with Sternal Plates' didn't sound quite as appetizing," I guessed. After making a mental note to never again think that 1:30 was too early to begin looking into supper plans, I headed for the garage again to plan an alternate menu...

Wonderful Weekends

What a weekend!!!!!!
Thursday my grandma came over for supper, and about the time she arrived a neighbor of ours also arrived; he happens to be a very, um, loud neighbor and I felt a little bad for her. My mom had sent over some food for our neighbor and he was coming over to compliment her and ask for "more, because that was SO good!" My dad gets off every other Friday so we were going to start our weekend on Friday, and therefore we spent the night at my grandma's house, which is something we do every-once-in-awhile. We bring old western movies (or anything we happen to be watching at the time, but usually ancient westerns) and stay up to late hours of the night and do random things like all sit around and read back issues of Readers' Digest. It's great fun.

We had to be back early on Friday morning because Mally and Daniel had to finish up swimming lessons that morning. The rest of the day was busy and interesting; I found out some new things about dispatcher school and when it begins, recorded part of a book on tape for dad, and that night we went to some friends, the Lewis', house for supper. Mally accidentally broke a glass of theirs but it ended up being fine; they understood and the only damage was the broken cup and Kool-Aid all over us. They started telling us about some new organic brand of meat being sold at SuperTarget and so we started talking about organic foods in general....and then somehow got onto the subject of tofu.....which none of us even remotely like. Jay and I were telling a story of our initial exposure to tofu; we had this friend named Sabrina, well, actually, she was a friend of my parents' and she had this infant son who she wanted the best of everything for. Unfortunately, that meant Jay and I were the guinea pigs for all of this stuff. One time she bought tons of varieties of milk that I didn't even know existed; regular, goat, powdered enriched, and probably camel for all I know. It was really disgusting (I don't like just drinking milk anyway so it was all the worse), but then she heated it up, not enough to be hot, but just....lukewarm. More room-temperature. Eckh!!!! She blindfolded Jay and I and had us drink these varieties of milk and then asked us to choose our favorites; Jay and I unanimously suggested one kind of milk which turned out to be regular store-bought cow's milk. She was curious and didn't believe that it actually tasted better but Jay and I did NOT offer to do a retest. Anyhow, this same friend decided to come over and impress us with her newest product: tofu. She didn't suspect that we would want to just eat it plain, so she said, "Guess what! I'm going to make you some Tofu Surprise!!!" It sounded extremely tempting....not. We watched as she threw in tons of mysterious ingredients, mostly consisting of milk (probably not normal; I think by this time she still strongly suspected that Jay and I had rigged the taste test), tofu, vanilla extract, tofu, tofu, tofu and milk. She poured these huge tumblers full of it and plopped a straw on top and grinned at us and said, "Go ahead!!! Are you surprised?" We were surprised, quite unpleasantly, and Jay suddenly came up with the brilliant idea of enjoying our Tofu outside. I think my mom went along with the proposition because she suspected what was ahead. While she engaged this lady in conversation, Jay and I went out to the sandbox and on the count of three took a big sip.......YUCK!!! It was....I don't even know how to describe the consistency. The word awful doesn't do it justice. Anyway, Jay spit his out immediately. We didn't want to waste it all and somehow in our minds it would be more sacrificial to sip it up and then spit it out, so we proceeded to do that with the entire glass. (Jay says no weeds have grown in the immediate vicinity since.)
Our second (and latest, thankfully) exposure to tofu was perhaps just as traumatic; my mom did bookkeeping for a lady who was older and who had four very strange children who lived in the four corners of the earth and sometimes dropped in for unknown reasons (well, actually, usually it was to get money from her). Anyway, on one occasion her son, Tom, came. Well, Tom wasn't just your typical Tom; he was into some sort of religion that transcends the bounds of my understanding and I think had a similar effect on him. Another reason why he wasn't your typical Tom is because he didn't go by the name Tom, which was apparently to mild for him. He went by Mega. Even his checkbook had, "Thomas (Mega)" on it. He believed that mowing the grass was an assault against the grass gods and other strange things that I usually tuned out when I heard him discussing them in-depth with my dad. In any event, Tom (aka Mega), a vegan of the highest order (I don't want to think how many plant gods he offended in his eating habits) decided to wow us all in the kitchen with his impressive culinary skills, making "chicken" which really wasn't chicken at all; it was tofu that he claimed tasted exactly like chicken (not that he would know what chicken tasted like). He cut up these huge....cubes....of tofu. Not just 1-inch-square cubes, but closer to the size of a chicken leg or something. He then proceeded to fry these oil....and salt them lightly. The next step was eating them. Eugh. The texture was alarming. We cut up one piece and literally passed a fork around trying to mask our gag reflexes. I liked when I said it had been our last exposure to tofu, though, since I just remembered that Jay had one more unfortunate episode; a neighbor of ours who was also into the whole "organic" thing decided that she needed lots of synthetic meats and then decided that she hated them, so her thought process must have been something like, "Oh, I'll give it to those Hearns; they have a big family so their kids must eat anything."
Quite interestingly, it was true, but Jay mostly decided to eat the tofu "chicken" as a dare. He pulled it out of the box and it was completely....molded...into this really cheesy shape of a half-chicken. (About 2 inches thick, and molded with this little tiny bump for a chicken "leg" on top). The box advertised the quality and texture, even saying that the so-called "meat" had grain. He microwaved it until he felt it was sufficiently warmed and then took a bite....before deciding that there was no way he wanted to finish it. But his ego would have been wounded if he had wimped out, so he dumped TONS of barbecue sauce onto his plate, chopped off little pieces, drowned them in BBQ sauce, and downed them. He said it felt like a dare where he was eating a bowlful of rubber bands. These days, our only experiences with tofu and alternative meat options are usually when my uncle, who from time-to-time claims that based on some malady or another he can't have foods that sometimes include meat, brings these things called "Tofu Pups" as an alternative to hot dogs at the family parties. It's comical. Anyway, that wasn't really a recounting of Friday night, more of what we talked about Friday night, but, hey.

Saturday we stayed busy although I really can't remember much of what we did. Dad was packing for his trip this week, and we did various things that claimed our time until it was about time to leave for some other friends' house for supper. They told us to come "at fourish". I detest the word "ish" when it comes to time; that's one of my pet peeves; I can't stand it when people aren't punctual, and I REALLY can't stand it when I'm not punctual. Therefore, I like very exact times: Be here at five. Go there at 3:30. Expect a call at 2. But, "Be here at 4ish" is not up my alley. I always ask myself---what time is "fourish"? 3:50? 4:10? We got there at 4:05, in case you're wondering. We had a really fun supper; spaghetti and grated Parmesan that we couldn't figure out how to grate properly and meatballs that were still a little frozen and other really comical and enjoyable things. I like meals where you can all laugh and have fun. We had a GREAT conversation about everything from DHP Films to pinball machines and had a great time. Plus, we had cheesecake for dessert so that made the evening really good. :)

On Sunday morning our long-departed laptop started working for a few seconds, and I just about had a conniption; there was a computer file I'd started on there that I really wanted back and so I went scrambling for a flash drive and other transfer mediums, and about that time the computer crashed again. Whoops. We left to go feed my grandparents' chickens (they're out of town; my grandparents, that, is, not the chickens.) On the way I saw this blue monstrosity of a car that was probably roaming California back when horses and buggies were common; I started this joke by telling my family that it was my dream car since I've been looking around at cars recently. Jay was like, "If that's your dream car, I think you're having a nightmare." It was funny. We went to church and then had a potluck afterwards; I'm not used to these church potlucks where there are so many options its ridiculous. I just took what my plate could hold and figured that the rest of the food could wait until the next potluck. Once we went home, our grandparents called and told us that they were back in town and wanted to bring over strawberries to have together, and that they'd be there after they called in about an hour. No big deal. Mom was napping and so were the little kids, I was writing and Jay was reading and dad was doing dishes a little while later when they suddenly just....pulled up....we were like, whoa, quick, wake everybody up! It was funny.

I got a call from the pastor's wife near suppertime asking if I could play piano for church that night as there had been some mild fiasco and she had to stay home with one of her boys completing an assignment for school (which started this morning for him). I said yes although I was a very nervous; I hate playing in front of people period. But I did it, thankfully, and with the exception of one song that had strange minor chords that I just could NOT get right, it went fine.

This morning we got up about 20 minutes early at four-something to get dad ready to go to his Accela conference through work; it will last through Thursday afternoon/evening I guess. We had a nice walk; it was a little chilly, which loved; I never like walking during the summer when you're hot by the time you get back. After dad left there was some consternation as all of the kids somehow decided that with dad gone it was National Cry About Everything day; since mom and Jay were gone getting Jay registered for this semester at college, I was trying to calm them down; at the moment I hear relative silence around me which could either be a very good sign or a very bad sign. :)

It was a great weekend!!!!