The Open

welcome

I decided I wanted to go to the Open back in May. Annika Sorenstam had just announced her retirement and I thought that this would be a fun thing to do. I started looking at how much tickets would be and when I wanted to go. I called my golf nut friend to see what she suggested. About a week later, I hadn’t actually bought my tickets and I got a call from the golf nut. She said that someone from her office had a connection to get us tickets for a practice round day. Last week the tickets arrived on my doorstep. These weren’t just any tickets, they were special tickets.

We arrived around 8am and got acquainted with the course. We found the practice round tee times and figured out that Annika was playing in the morning. We walked to the clubhouse area.

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There’s lots of activity in this area. There’s the putting practice green, several tee boxes and a few greens. We wandered around and watched players practice. We decided to find out what was special about these little purple wristbands we were wearing. What was the “Fairway Room” and how do we get there? Well… the Fairway room was on the second floor all the way on the right when you look at the above photo. You could see the 10th tee box, the 18th green, the 16th tee box, the practice putting green, and much more! We got there, signed in and got a buffet breakfast. As we sat and looked out the windows we came up with our plan.

We were very close to the 9th green, so we headed there and waited for the first group to come through. During the practice rounds they hit several balls. When they get to the green, they putt all over the place. They practice for various pin placements. After watching Michelle Wie get a 9 on hole #9 today (on ESPN), I can see why they get to know the green.

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Christina Kim was fun to watch. She has a fun flair for fashion. She also spent time with her group and with the next to try to master the green at #9. Julieta Granada, from Paraguay was also fun to watch. She chipped it in from off the green to get an applause.

julietagranada

We made another trip to the Fairway room and had a buffet lunch and cooled off in the air conditioning. Every time we went to the clubhouse we had to chuckle to ourselves. Us? VIPs? We started contemplating how we could get treated like this all the time. So far we haven’t figured it out. Just to give you an idea of how special we were feeling, here’s the view.

fairwayroomview

After lunch we planned out our afternoon and exit strategy. We wandered around the 18th green area and saw that Annika was on 16 and was on her way. You don’t want to know how many photos I have of Annika… Before we left we were able to catch Lorena Ochoa. We hadn’t seen her name on the board earlier, so we didn’t know when to look for her.

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Anyway… it was fun to watch all of the players. Today when I watched it on TV I figured out exactly who I was watching…

It was fun to watch these women that are phenomenal golfers. It’s fun to see how powerful they are. The amount of practice and how they do it is fascinating. Speaking of which, I really need to practice. I should see if I can go hit like a girl.

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“This is so cool!”

I don’t know how many times I said that today. It was such a fun day! I’ll write more about it tomorrow. But I’ll give you a clue…

annikaputt

I be jammin’

Sixteen pounds of strawberries is a lot. When I went strawberry picking, I really didn’t know how much I needed. Now I know. So far, my mom and I have made three batches of jam. In between each batch we washed the utensils and saucepan. Apparently this is important. I photographed the process, so with any luck, I’ll be able to do it myself one day.

First, it took me a few hours to wash and hull all of the berries.

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Mom suggests using the recipe that comes with the Sure-Jel package. Sure-Jel is fruit pectin. There are a few different kinds. The pink box required less sugar than the yellow box. I liked the flavor of the less sugared jam, so I’d use that one the next time. We used a small food processor to chop up the strawberries this time – instead of a potato masher. This worked well. Note to self: Don’t over chop.

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This recipe called for the strawberries and pectin to come to a boil. We also got the jars ready by boiling them in water, upside down.

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After the fruit and pectin came to a boil, we added the sugar. Once it dissolves you need to have it at a rolling boil for a minute. Mom showed me how to watch for the way it drips off of your spoon to really tell if it’s ready. So we boiled it for about 30 more seconds…

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After that, you take it off of the heat and skim off the foam. The foam is just put into a bowl and you can use it right away for jam.

foam

Then you use a funnel type of device to ladle the jam into the jars. My mom melts wax in an old coffee can and then pours it on the top to seal it.

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We also made freezer jam which has a different process to it. You don’t have to freeze it in glass jars. We actually ran out of jars today. I chopped up 8 more cups of strawberries to make two batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam later. I need to get some rhubarb still – and more jars and sugar.

I mainly wrote this post so I could have a reference as to what to do in the future. But the pictures are pretty cool and it’s fun to see the process. In the meantime… I have jam coming out of my ears!

Strawberry Fields Forever

strawberries

I couldn’t help but have those lyrics running through my head this morning. I went to a “pick your own” strawberry patch. I had never actually done it before today. In the past, I’ve found out about it after my mom has already gone. Last year she felt like she nearly had heat stroke, so she told me that it was my turn to do it this year.

I set out a little after 8 am this morning. I had my trusty directions to follow. The strawberry patch is associated with an apple orchard that I frequent in the fall. But the patch is located in a different area. You’re not really far out of the metro area, but it sure felt like it. All of the major turns were marked, so I could have found it without my printout.

I wasn’t sure how much I was going to pick. So I grabbed two boxes and waited in the corral for the tractor to come pick us up. I hopped on with several other people and we got a lift out to the berry patch. There were already quite a few people picking berries. But it’s a large area so there were plenty to go around. We were each given a row and a flag. When you were done picking, you put your flag where you stopped.

Some people were out picking berries just to eat. Well, I guess they’re all to eat… It just depends on the final form. There were a few of us picking enough to make jam. There were some people that brought their kids with them to pick. After awhile most of the people that came at the same time as me had finished and taxied back to the car park on the tractor. The tractor kept coming with more and more loads of people. But now they had started picking in another area. I was all by myself, happily filling up my boxes.

At first, I knelt on the straw with a knee. Then I switched. Then I decide to just sit on my butt and scoot along as needed. I can understand why they charge what they charge for berries in the store. Do you remember the book, “Blueberries for Sal”? It was one of my favorites as a kid. Sal would pick one, then eat one. I didn’t eat very many as I picked. But every once in awhile you’d run across that perfect berry, warm from the sun. Yum.

So now comes the fun part. I have 16.44 pounds of strawberries ($1.65/pound). My mom and I are going to make jam. I want to try making strawberry-rhubarb jam. Mom has the sugar, the jars, the pectin, etc. Time to clean the strawberries!

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Summer Solstice

flowers

One perk to going to a wedding “in town” is often, you get to walk away with a centerpiece. Yesterday, was one of those occasions. This one actually came from the table with the place cards. The centerpieces were actual plants in pots that you could could take with you. By the time I decided to scout around for one, there was only wheat grass left. A lot of the plants in the pots were edible. Now the trick for this one was getting it home? How was I going to have it in my car where it wouldn’t tip over? I went to this wedding solo (as usual). While walking to my car, I was thinking that the cup holder might be an option. Nope. I had to drive with it on my lap, in front of the steering wheel. I’m trying to think of a way to say that I had to hold it between my legs that doesn’t sound sketchy… But you get the idea (keep your mind in the innocent zone). It’s a good thing it was a small bouquet.

The thing that was so enjoyable about this wedding is that it didn’t have all of the usual excess that typical weddings have these days. The couple was in their 40s. Both of them are getting married for the first time. There were no matching bridesmaids. Just a friend standing up for each of them. We had unique, and very good food. We had to come up with a limerick to get them to smooch (quite a creative group). They weren’t registered. Instead you could donate to a favorite charity.

I’ve enjoyed every wedding I’ve been to. They are all different and unique in their own way. But what I liked about this one is that they didn’t cave to the wedding industry and did it their way.

Airport Observations

Airports are always good for people watching. There are some really odd ones out there. It’s interesting to watch the interactions and sometimes be a part of them.

When I flew out last week, I was sitting at my gate, reading the morning paper and having a coffee. Off to my right was a guy that didn’t have anything to do, so he would try to engage people in conversation. He asked a couple of guys if they were traveling on business, if so, what kind. He asked someone else where they were going once we arrived in Motown. Then I hear him say, “Hey coffee. Do you like football or soccer better?” Since I had a coffee I buried my nose deeper into my newspaper and pretended he wasn’t talking to me. Well, he wasn’t. Some other person had a coffee and was reading the sports page. Lucky me.

Before my sister picked me up I figured she needed a treat for piling 3 kids into her car to get me, so I stopped by a Caribou Coffee and got her a caramel latte for her troubles. While I was waiting for it, there was a woman standing by the condiments area and sucking on one of those packets of mustard. Huh? I wish I could have music playing while you read this… Think of the Doors…

People are strange, when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked, when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven, when you’re down

When you’re strange- faces come out of the rain (rain, rain)
When you’re strange- no one remembers your name
When you’re strange, when you’re strange, when you’re str-ange

On my trip home last night my flight was delayed. Big shocker. There was a girl that was one of those religions where they wear the blue dress with a white vest and have a white scarf on their heads. She wore no make-up. But she had a cell phone. I guess I don’t know enough about those religions to know what technology is ok and what’s not.

Some people seem approachable and somehow you end up talking. There was a man who was coming back from Oaxaca, Mexico. He was there because his mother had just died. The best part is that he was there before she died and held her in his arms as she took her last breath at the age of 89.

Another woman asked me if the flight was full while I was waiting to board. She looked like a business traveler and was trying to get on my flight. Even though she approached me, you could tell that she was an approachable type of person. She did make it onto the flight.

After I got to my seat, 19F (a window), I found I was sitting next to the fidgety Indian guy that I had seen earlier. He had NOTHING to do for the flight. I couldn’t tell if he was looking out the window or trying to see what I was reading. As soon as we got to our cruising altitude, out came my iPod. There’s nothing like ear buds to say, “please don’t try to enter my little bubble of space.”

I’m not even going to start on the TSA agents…

Most of the time I’m completely fine to talk to anyone. But it is interesting to read the cues people give. So much of communication is non-verbal. If you can’t pick up on those cues, you’re really at a disadvantage. When in doubt, it’s easier to just sit back and observe.

Kid fix

I’ve been out of town for a few days. I’m in Motown at my sisters’. I’ve been chief baby-holder for the last few days. Her youngest, Gwen, is only about 2 weeks old. Jack will be 3 in August and Megan will be 6 later in August. This morning my sister got a rare opportunity to go to the grocery store alone. For the most part I kept everything under control. I even got the three to pose for some pictures.

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Right now I’m in the basement with Megan while Jack is napping. Megan is playing some computer games right now. I always find it interesting to see the educational software that they have for her. She’s currently playing a game that uses tan-grams. She just went back to the one where she sorts toys. She had to get 361 “Carbles” sorted. They come in packages of 100, 10 or 1. So she got 3 hundreds, 6 ten packs and a single. She just finished kindergarten. I don’t know what grade you learn places. But I sit here wondering how my students would perform if they had this kind of practice when they were 5 or 6. “This order has 509 WingSprings so far. Can you add some toys to the bowls to reach a total of 984?” That’s a hard level problem. There was also subtraction with 3 digits. Now we’re onto sorting animals – no legs – spotted – no legs and spotted.

One cool thing is that before I came down here, she was picking the easy ones to do. We tried the medium level problems and then the hard problems. We had our round of high five’s after she got them right. Now she’s picking the hard problems and has the confidence to do them. If only all kids could have opportunities like this. I can’t help but think about my students that can’t add, subtract, multiply and divide. This one is already ahead of them and she’s only five.