Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Uncle John Gets Dissed

Today I got the first inkling of things to come with my niece Tara. It'sher 11th birthday today and I decided to try and call her as soon as she got home from school to sing to her and wish her a happy birthday. My Mom told me that Tara got off the bus at 3:15 PM Indiana time (2:15 PM Montana time)and she was planning on taking some balloons up to her so I thought that would be a good time to give her a buzz. "Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you....", I had barely finished the song when she announced that her friend Jordan was there with her. "Great", I said , "did you have a fun day at school? Are you excited for your birthday? Have you gotten any treats yet? Do you feel older?" "Well, my teacher totally embarrassed me", she said, "and everyone sang happy birthday to me...it was totally embarrassing". "Ah, c'mon, that's pretty cool", was my response, "they must really like you". "Not in this century, uncle John, that's totally embarrassing". "Oh", I said, with a little chuckle, "well, I think it's pretty cool anyway. So, what else are you doing?" "Well, I have alot of homework, and like I said, Jordan is here". We talked for a few minutes more during which time she asked if I'd be home next year for her birthday and then she whipped out the statement, "well, actually, I'd love to talk to you longer, but I DO have alot of homework to do and, well, ya know, Jordan is here."

And just like that, I was dissed. In that short moment I realized the little girl who used to cry when I would leave, who couldn't wait to see me, who loved to hang out with me and thought I could do no wrong, in that moment I knew things had changed. I'm not trying to be dramatic, after all it was pretty damn funny when I thought about it; an 11 year-old using the phrase "actually, I'd love to talk to you longer" in a sentence...that phrase is usually reserved for women who are in the process of breaking up with me. Now I knew it would happen someday, after all it is a phase we all go through...that phase when grown-ups just stop being cool, but I just didn't expect it to happen so soon with Tara. She's as close to being a daughter to me than I've ever had (and at the rate I'm going, will ever have) and it was both hilarious and heartbreaking to hear those words.

I called my Mom right afterwards and told her my tale...we both laughed until we cried. "Well actually, well actually" I kept saying, over and over. I'm sure my Mom thought it was even funnier than me. Ah, life; it's pretty darn funny.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Even the French?

I have quite a bit to catch up on, like my trip to Jackson this past weekend, my romantic state of limbo and the passing of a dear family friend, but right now all I can think about is how really pissed off I am at these so-called insurgent groups in Iraq.
CNN reported today that a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, is threatening to kill two French journalists it captured on August 21st. Now terror has been used in the world for a very long time, dating back as far as recorded history, but most modern historians feel the use of terror was resurrected in the modern era during the 1970's with hijackings, bombings and assassinations. The Japanese Red Army, various Palestinian groups, South America's Shining Path rebels and the SLA in America were most notorious.
Most people in the world today think of terror as something committed against westerners or western style countries (not discounting the Spaniards struggles with the Basque movement or the Columbian rebels terror tactics) and many of those people think it's justified...Iraq is a focal point. Looking at web chat groups from the rest of the world, the theme seems to be the American commit terror all the time and now they are getting what they deserve. But now the Islamic terror groups are really stooping to new lows and I just can't fathom how mainstream Muslims can tolerate it...there is definitely a faction of Muslims who believe in some made up fundamentalist dogma that makes them think Islam does not respect life, that they can kill and be rewarded in heaven and some truly believe another crusade is coming. This article from CNN shows how pointless they've become. France today emphasized the banning of all religious items from public schools, including the Muslim headscarf, the Jewish skullcap or large Christian crosses...an Islamic group in Iraq kidnapped two French journalists and says they will kill them unless France lifts the ban and lets Muslim school girls where their headscarf's to school.
Are you shitting me? Are you serious? These people value life and other people so little that they would kill two people because the French government won't let Algerian emigrants wear a head scarf to their publicly funded schools? Schools the emigrants quite possibly have never pitched in to help pay for? It's mind-boggling to me that anyone would support such an action. Even French Muslim groups are condemning the action.
Any credibility these groups had before must surely be washing away.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Women's Field Hockey

Tonight I vowed to myself that I would get the Hollasaugadougatuck 2004 vacation expenses figured out. Admittedly, I'm only hurting myself by not getting this task done, well me and a few other of the 43 participants who fronted the cash for the event. I thought I emailed the spreadsheet to myself so I could work on it at home, but it turns out I emailed the wrong document which leads me to the topic of my post.

I just turned on the television and the Olympic gold medal match of Women's Field Hockey is on the Bravo network. I've never seen field hockey played and frankly I'm a bit dumbfounded by the sport. Now I know that I play another crazy sport (Ultimate)but this field hockey thing looks like a back breaker. The women play with sticks a length that forces them to constantly move about in a perma slouch...that's gotta take its toll on their backs. It's brutal too, they all had blood coming from somewhere on their bodies. But what really surprised me was the crowd. It was huge...much larger than the Women's soccer finals. The Germans won 2-1, a major upset according to the announcers. I wouldn't know whether it was an upset or not but I do know the olympics are cool.

Monday, August 23, 2004

This One's for You, JCP

My two readers both pointed out to me the frequency of my postings has dropped dramatically in the past month and upon short reflection I agree. But don't be fooled, my mind still fills with all sorts of ideas, my days are still full of notable events (at least to me) and I still have plenty to say. I could try to blame the Olympics for cutting into my time (they have been pretty awesome after all) or I could say that I've been too "busy" to write, but the fact is I just haven't been able to motivate myself. Thanks, Mr. JCP, for shaking the cobwebs from my brain.

Tonight was an amazing evening here in Missoula; the cold, fall-like day gave way to a remarkable night. The clouds all parted and almost vanished, letting the sun brighten the evening sky and make the mountains shine. I got to play some Ultimate, which was a nice way to end a pretty busy day.

Things aren't going so well for Annie and me, which has alot to do with the lack of posting. We're struggling to keep our relationship on course as the long distance starts to take its toll. I haven't written much about Annie; some of that is out of respect for her and some of it is due to my own caution. Annie is a true joy to me, she is smart, cute and for some strange reason she hasn't been scared off by all my defects. But, truth be told, we hit some bumps while we were in France and it caused us both to take a step backwards to reassess our relationship. I can't fault her, she's been through this before and was burned in a past relationship. On the other hand, I've been burned too and I'm not prepared to make life changes or ask her to make life changes until we're both sure it is what we really want. So it brings us to the current impasse, she feels like we're going nowhere and I feel like she is painting us both into opposite corners. It's a little frustrating but I can't say I didn't see it coming. I'm not sure what will happen in the next couple of weeks as we both try to determine what direction to take.

On a lighter note, I saw my first bear of the season on Saturday. I was spending the weekend at the Matelich's up on Flathead Lake. They are building a home out on King's Point near the narrows and the bear, a full grown black bear, somehow was stuck between their house and another developed property. King's Point is the tip of Cherry Point, an area that has been developed slowly over the past 25 years. The are is wild, although it is being transformed into manicured lawns and $500,000.00 homes. There are mountain lions and bear that still wander into areas that are becoming neighborhoods and it is sometimes easy to forget we live on the edge of the wilderness. As best we could tell, the bear we saw Saturday would be close to 7 feet tall standing. The bear apparently destroyed a couple of trash cans sometime early Saturday morning and then hid in the densely forested land between the homes. When we arrived in the afternoon, Lewie Matelich nonchalantly mentioned a bear was hiding in the bushes, about 40 yards from his house. I assumed it must have been a juvenile, drawn to the area by trash. About an hour later I saw the bear, standing in a clearing looking very stressed and pacing nervously. This is never a good sign for bear-human interaction, so we made sure all the kids (there were 17 kids at the party) stayed up on the second level deck. We saw him a little later from a vantage point on the third level (second level above ground) and it was almost funny as he thought he was hiding well, but his bum and ears were longer and higher than the brush he was trying to hide behind. It made for an interesting night, as my friends Karl & Lori Westenfelder and I attempted to sleep outdoors. The Matelich's invited 10 families and me up for the weekend, so sleeping space was at a premium. Karl, Lori and I had planned to sleep under the stars, but the more I laid there the more I bean to see myself as a sleeping bag wrapped appetizer for that bear. As the night wore on, every sound made both Lori and I wake up and then we both had a hard time getting back to sleep. I remembered that one of the Mom's put watermelon rinds in a plastic trash can on the front porch, so Lori and I got up and moved the trash can inside. Then she freaked out about the s'mores makings that she was sure were left down on the shoreline near the fire pit, so we donned our headlamps and cautiously went to the shore only to find everything had been meticulously cleaned. All the while Karl slept through it all. Lori was the first to bail, opting for the indoor basement floor, somewhere around 2:00 AM. Shortly thereafter Karl and I used the lightning we could see south over Polson as an excuse to move inside without admitting we were more than concerned. We never saw the bear again and I hope it snuck away safely.

I'm constructing a little walkway of stone on the east side of my house, an area that has long been neglected. I dug up the old sidewalk and added two cubic yards of dirt and stone. I gathered the flat stones from around Missoula and Flathead and am slowly piecing them together to make a curved walk. I'm planting mums as I go and will fill in the area between the walking path with some type of sedum or rose moss. I think it will be quite nice when I'm done.

I guess that's all for tonight...it's getting late and I really am rambling. I'll try to post something more cohesive and coherent tomorrow. But I'm off the snide JCP, I'm off the snide.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Wow, Kooser takes the title!

About three months ago I visited my local Barnes & Noble (shhhh, I should have supported the independent Facts & Fiction)looking for something to read on a plane...I'd been immersed in a series of political history books about the Middle East and so I decided to try and find something a little lighter. I came across a book called Local wonders, Seasons in the Bohemian Alps by Ted Kooser and picked it up. I'd be telling a fib if I said who I knew who the author was at the time; it was the cover that attracted me. The cover has an old red truck with bright green grass growing up through it. The quote on the cover, by Jim Harrison says, "The quietest magnificent book I've ever read." and so I decided to bite.

Local Wonders is by Ted Kooser and is a marvelous piece of work about Kooser's homeland, Nebraska. It is the kind of book you want to tell your friends about and the kind of book you want to read aloud. In my own case, I do that sort of thing alot with just about everything I think has value, so sometimes I hold back for fear of wearing out my "hey, Johnny O says this is cool so it must be" allure.

Imagine my surprise when, this evening as I was shoveling part of the two cubic yards of soil piled neatly beside my house by the good folk's at Marchies Nursery, I heard over the jam box perched on my porch that the newest poet laureate of the United States was a longtime favorite poet of the State of Nebraska. I stood up, wiped the dirty sweat on my shirt and walked over to the radio...sure enough, the announcer said Ted Kooser had been named US Poet Laureate.

Kooser has a very interesting background and is a wonderful poet. I highly recommend picking up any of his works.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bruce's Election Link

Dave and Bruce posted some great election information on The Holland Pages and Bruce's link is worth sharing. As Bruce said:

This guy (the Blogging Caesar) combines all available polls into a weekly national and state-by-state statistical composite, a running tally of the electoral college votes, offering many illuminating views into this fascinating data. Naturally, he has a strong personal opinion of who will win and why. But unlike some in say, the entertainment field, he keeps that out of his work, the calculations, bravely giving you a clear look into the data even when it hurts:

Election Projection Blog

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Western Montana Fair, The Green party and the not-so-crazy Colonel

Tonight I ventured over the the Missoula County Fairgrounds for "free admission" night of the Western Montana Fair...it also just happened to be Charlie Pride night, so the joint was jumpin'. I met Andy Puckett and the two Puckett youngsters, Jack & Daniel in the food area, a sort of lane with a long thin barn divided into food booths operated by various organizations. There was the Tater Pig booth, the twisted tater booth (operated by the Camp Fire Girls USA), the Lifesaver Shaved Ice booth, Pizza booth, hot dog stand and so on. This is not health food, it is full on fair food. By the time I arrived, the boys had already polished off a couple of pieces of pizza, some breadsticks, a corn dog and a couple of slushies. Jack's tongue was blue and Daniel had a good portion of his food all over his face and clothes: they were all jacked up on sugar and super stoked to hit the Midway.

Now going to the fair anywhere in the USA is prime people watching territory and offers a glimpse into a slice of Americana that concentrates a certain type of people in one place...it's really my number one reason for going. I used the "hang out with the Puckett's" theme as ay cover to spend the evening checking out the freaks, hormone crazed teens (and pre-teens it now seems), carneys and assundry of other wackos. Boy howdy was that fun. The teenage boys were sort of chasing the girls but it was obvious who was really doing the chasing...the girls were in total control. Both groups traveled in gangs, with the boys spending most of their time punching each other or being just plain silly while the girls (the outfits were astounding) batted their eyes, posed, strutted and every once in awhile singled out some poor slob for adoration. In any event, all the teens seemed to be out for testing their limits. The freakers were pretty much just being themselves, causing me to spend time contemplating just how these people make it through the day and the carneys all looked like they had plenty of stories to tell.
While Daniel, Jack and Andy rode the Ferris wheel, I zoned out on the 20-ish looking native girl with three tiny kids and no male figure to be seen, the extremely obese teenager in Goth attire who could hardly walk, the three college age guys (one with a shirt proclaiming "take me for a ride") strutting and puffing for whoever was watching, the guy walking around with no shirt and a tattoo of an eagle covering his entire back and the four girls in front of me who couldn't have dressed more alike if they tried. It was total fun and I was totally staring. The fair allows alcohol, but not in the Midway area. So there plenty of people juiced on Bacardi in plastic bottles or bad beer, using the Midway rides to further enhance their buzz. It was some funny stuff.

Later, after the Puckett's headed home, I strolled into the 4-H barn and saw all the desserts that had been judged that day. To my delight I discovered one could have some of any dessert for a donation of their choosing. Since I had already eaten a corn dog and a funnel cake, I opted out of trying the pear custard pie or the mixed berry cobbler or cheesecake or.....oh well. If I go back thte fair before Thursday night, I'll definitely eat some dessert. Next I went to the commercial building, as an acquaintance told me to stop by his booth (he and his wife have a camp for kids). It was rather humorous to see the Montana gay Pride booth and Pro-Choice booth sandwiching the Baptist fundamentalist booth. The very feminine guy in the Montana Pride booth was totally playing it up as I passed by, all for the benefit of the young Baptists, who by the look on their faces, were a little nervous to be that close to a gay man shouting about diversity and free love. The kid with the tie at the Baptist booth handed me a small card that had a smilet face and the word "smile" on the front and was filled with three things God can't do (God can't force you to love him, God can't lie and God can't learn) with reasons why the reader will go to hell if they don't repent right now on the back...intersting approach. They had a little display with the three things God can't do hidden behind doors they opened as they expalined each reason to passers-by. Next came the very nice young lady with some kind of stud thing in her lip asking me if I was registered to vote and if I wanted some information on the Pro-Choice movement. Their booth was stocked by an interesting variety of women, from Missoula crunchie to feminists. I didn't spend much time there.
I was having a dandy of a time observing, listening and staring when I met the Colonel: Colonel Bob Kelleher of the Montana Green Party that is. The Green party booth was a bit down from the Pro-choicers, just past the "The Body Shoppe at Home" booth and right before the Missoula Historic Society booth. A very disheveled man with huge bushy eyebrows, loads of hair coming out of his ears and the strands of hair left on his head going every which way, the Colonel was wearing an old pair of blue pants and a plain white undershirt that had a little stain right down the front. He caught my eye and said, in a commanding voice, "Mind if I say Hello"? So I said, "Hello" and just kept walking. He started to talk but then just sort of chuckled and went back to organizing his papers that were strewn about the table in front of him. I walked out of the building with every intent of calling it a night, but then I decided to turn back around and meet that guy wearing the undershirt. I did it partly out of guilt, it wasn't really too nice of me to take him so literally and just keep walking. Also, he had an air about him that made me think he would be interesting and there is that Nader vote I cast as a write-in in the last election.
So I walked back in and went right up to him, "Hello", I said, "sorry for being rude before. I was just thirsty" (that wasn't a lie), "have you had a busy night"?

"Every night is busy when you're trying to open the eyes of the people", was his reply. What ensued was a 30 or 40 minute discussion with an extremely intelligent, somewhat wacky, man who hails from Chicago and has been working tirelessly for 30 years to change the political landscape of Montana. Bob Kelleher advocates establishing a parliamentary governmental system that, as he says, will eliminate the buck passing of politicians and raise the standard of living in our country. He also wants to make Montana more sovereign and believes the USA could be stronger by making states more sovereign. He is a strong advocate for peace and sums up his philosophy on mankind by saying, "God wants us to do good so we can all meet in heaven". I found him to not represent anything near what I believed the Greens were all about and not anything near what I thought he'd be. On the one hand, many of his ideas were verging on socialist in nature, on the other, he espoused a very liberal view of conservative Christian doctrines. He was simply fascinating to talk to and our conversation soon drew some onlookers, lurkers you might say. We talked alot about the health care crisis in America and I put in my two cents, which I would call educated liberalism. He was quite inquisitive at times, challenging at times and surprised by some of my opinions. We talked about War and I asked him if he had seen or read any of McNamara's stuff. We talked about evil and how much evil is done in the name of good and how good people do evil things. He pointed out to me that despite Montana's population (still under 1 million), Montana had the 7th highest number per capita per state of servicemen in Iraq. I could have spent hours with the man, who says this is his last campaign for Governor (although he says the real title should be Premier) of Montana. He gave me some good information on countries with Parliaments and his website address and invited me to contact for more discussion. I probably will. His website is full of eye raising material, some of which is downright crazy and any reader will be able to see from his ramblings about the Montana race of 2002 that the man has alot to say.

As I left the fair I couldn't help but smile a bit...evenings like this remind me how very amazing my journey through life really is. Every corner reveals another opportunity to experience something new.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Fog of War

This film was done by Erroll Morris...it is quite simply a masterpiece. My friends dave & Claire were the first to tell me about the movie early this year and I meant to see it before it left Missoula but never got a chance..I bought the movie last month and feel it is an extremely improtant work that should be required viewing for all politicians around the world. tonight I watched an 11/11/03 interview Robert McNamara and Erroll Morris did with Charlie Rose on the Charlie Rose Show, perhaps my favorite show on television. As his website states, the show is a place where you can listen to good conversation.

The Fog of War is a documentary retrospective of McNamara and his role in the history of the time, especially the US portion of the Vietnam War (Is that what the French called it for the 20 years they were involved?), the Cuban Missile Crisis and other decisions he made during his time as Secretary of Defense for both the Kennedy and Johnson adminstrations.

For anyone who wants to better understand history so we can all have a better future, I suggest you watch this movie. You will be amazed.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Joining A Worldwide Political Chat

This has been a quiet weekend for me...lots of time alone and that has been nice. This morning I decided to check out the website of Al Jazeera, the Arab CNN (sort of anyway). The last time I looked at the site they still hadn't put up an English version, so I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find the site up in English, complete with advertisements. So I plugged through to a story about Sudan's foreign Minister claiming Israel was behind the conflict in Darfur (I couldn't help it) and to my delight I found the Al Jazeera provides a forum for comment: No registration required, no email address, just a box for comments.
And the comments are incredible. People from Iran, Spain, the UK, Belgium...all over the place. Check it out to see what people REALLY, REALLY think

Friday, August 06, 2004

Stalking the Big Horn

I work with some very interesting people; I suppose I could say that about every job I've ever had (except for the times when I worked alone, then I just pretend to be interesting to myself). Diana, one of my current co-workers, is no exception. Diana is a registered medical assistant in our office, working with our doctors and patients. She's fairly young, both in life and in her working career, but I've been impressed with her "no fear" attitude and the way she handles herself. I've been slowly getting to know her over the past 4 months but the story she told me today was a real head wagger (like how the 3 stooges used to do the yadidy, yadidy, yadidy, yadidy double take).

Diana is a Montana girl through and through. She drives an old pickup, hikes frequently ans she's been hunting since she was a little girl. She rarely eats any other kind of meat than game (deer, elk, moose, bear, etc.). She's been really excited recently because her name finally got drawn in the big horn sheep lottery. You see, out here in Montana tourism is the number one industry and behind the masses that visit Yellowstone and Glacier Parks, hunters and anglers are the next biggest group. As a matter of fact, one of the more successful types of business here is guiding. And hunting guides make their living by taking folks from "back east" and the likes out to get an elk, lion, bear or big horn sheep. The big horn sheep lottery is so intense that tags have gone for as much as $150,000.00 (a tag is what you need in order to hunt a big horn sheep..same goes for mountain lion, elk and deer and the tags are used to help manage the wildlife) and Diana and her father have been trying to get a sheep tag for over a decade. So Diana, who looks almost like she could be a Noxema girl with her fresh face, big blue eyes and blond, blond hair, has been beaming with excitement the past couple of days. I decided to see what the big horn sheep thing was all about.

I meandered over to her cube and asked her, "so where are you and Tory going camping THIS weekend"? (Tory is her boyfriend and they camp almost every weekend). "Oh, we're not camping this weekend...I've got to focus on my sheep", was her reply.
"Huh", said I.
DIANA: Well, I've got to find him don't I?
JOHN:What do you mean you've got to find him. Are you hunting now?
DIANA: No, silly. But there are only two upperclass rams available this year and there will be hundreds of guides and hunters looking for those two rams, so we're all out there tracking them now.
JOHN:Wait a minute, you mean you're really doing like a pre-hunt hunt for the thing you want to kill?
DIANA:Well, you probably wouldn't understand
JOHN:Try me
DIANAWell, you see it's like this. The Fish & Wildlife Department doesn't do a very good job of managing the herd and they have to manage the herd. So that is why there are only two upper class rams left. The other rams aren't mature enough to be prizes so everyone wants those two. My Dad has a plane and so he goes up and tracks the rams.
JOHN:So you'll be in a plane with your Dad this weekend tracking a ram?
DIANA:Nooooooooo. I won't get in that plane. He spots them and then Tory and I track them. Last weekend we hiked about 8 miles back into the mountains to find them. We came across two bear too and that was pretty wild.
JOHN:BEAR????? Are you crazy? What'd you do?
DIANA:Well I had mace in both hands and Tory had his .22, not like that would have done anything to the bear. Tory wouldn't let me bring my .44 because he said we wouldn't need it...right Tory. Anyhow, he was ahead of me because he walks alot faster and he signaled me on the radio, "D, there's a bear up here" and I assumed it would be gone by the time I caught up because they usually just run away. But there she was, just sitting there staring at us.
JOHN:Wait a minute, how far away was this bear?
DIANA:Oh, about 50 yards. But then she false charged us and I said to Tory, this isn't right, why isn't she running away?
DIANA:I hate bears, they scare me...but I see them all the time.
JOHN:Was it a Grizzly?
DIANA:No, it was a brown black bear.
At this point I must have looked puzzled because she decided to educate me
DIANA:Not all black bears are actually black. Griz are very distinctive. They smell different too. Anyhow, she started circling us so we decided it was time to get out of there. Sure enough about 1/4 mile we ran into another bear, it was her cub. That's why the mom was so freaked and didn't run away.
JOHN:Does this kind of thing happen often?
DIANA:Sure, all the time. We are in the wilderness you know. Anyhow, we managed to find the ram and he is beautiful. I really want to get him but it will be tough. I want him on my wall.
JOHN:Well, I'm a Midwest boy and I'm not a hunter, so I guess I just don't get it. Not that I'm saying anything against it, I just wouldn't choose to kill that Ram.
DIANA:Like I said, I wouldn't expect you to understand. To each his own. I've been hunting all my life. it's much more natural and environmentally safe than eating cows.
JOHN:You got me on that one.

And that was that, she gave me that Suzie Chapstick meets Noxema girl smile and went back to scheduling a surgery. So this weekend, somewhere in the wilderness of Montana, Diana, her boyfriend and her father will be stalking the movements of the Rams in the herd so that when hunting season opens she'll know where to go to get a head start on those poor sorry bastards from back east who paid their guides 10K to get them close to a big horn sheep.

As I walked back to my office, somewhat amazed by the dialogue I just had, I realized she talked about seeing those bear the way somebody might about seeing a chihuahua! She had no fear, just annoyance. In this day and age, when our country is losing most if not all of its' regional flavor, Montanans are holding on tight to their differences. It's sort of refreshing in it's own way.

Visit the Montana Tourism page for links to find out about Montana and activities (yes, this includes hunting) you can do here.

For hunting information, visit The Montana Fish & Woldlife Departments homepage and for information on the big horn sheep, click here

Sunday, August 01, 2004

An Old Fashioned Indiana Summer Dinner

Last night was my last night in Indiana. I've been milking a vacation to Michigan by adding on a week before and two days after so that I could spend some time with friends and family back in the Hoosier state. My folks know how much I love summer produce from home so last night we had a pure Hoosier feast: While Dad worked the grill preparing some chicken, Mom sliced up some big juicy tomatoes from her garden and we shucked up a dozen ears of Indiana sweet corn. We had chicken, sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, Indiana green beans, red potatoes and a big salad with fresh greens... all (except for the chicken of course) had been picked from the fields that morning. It was so yummy. I ate 4 ears of corn (look here to see my buttery face), two helpings of beans and way too much salt & butter. It was a lot of fun and I got to spend some time with my super sweet niece Brooke, my sister Leslie and her husband Andy and Mom & Dad. It was a super cool night.