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Archive for July, 2014

Jul 14 2014

Song and Dance Man

Posted by Dale @ 11:28 am in Family

Zeke has been the Manry Clan song and dance man since birth. He is always singing, humming, lalalaing, screeching, singsonging, spinning, twirling, sliding, and sashaying. The majority of the Manry Clan prefers a quieter existence. Most days, the following can be heard in the house: “Mom, tell Zeke to be quiet;” “Zeke, shut the door;” “Zeke, that’s enough noise;” “Zeke, please stop.”

The pleas for quiet rarely deter him. If you are blessed with a theater kid, you will sympathize with our dilemma. If you were a theater kid, you’ll think, “I don’t see the problem here. Everybody loves a song and dance routine.”

We have a terrific youth theater organization (CYT) near us. They perform musicals several times a year, and also offer classes and camps for children under the age of 18. This summer, Zeke’s long awaited moment finally arrived. He attended theater camp for a week.

The camp was entitled Willy Wonka JR. It was a shortened version of the play based on the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

When I sent Zeke, I expected him to get a small part, hopefully an Oompa Loompa (my favorite). Instead, he came home to tell me that he would be Willy Wonka.

He spent the daytime hours working at camp on his parts and the nighttime hours working with Herr Direktor Gabe Manry on his parts. By the final morning, he was a mess.

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked.

“I’m tired, ” he said.

The Song and Dance Man had finally worn out. After taking a 30 minute nap on the drive to the camp, he was sufficiently revived to go on with the show.

Here is Zeke as Willy Wonka in the Christian Youth Theater (CYT) Summer Camp production:

Jul 09 2014

Just Scrape Off the Burnt

Posted by Mugs @ 2:23 pm in Family

Last week, Dale asked me to bake him some cookies for his illustrious “Tea Time with Dale” event. I said, “Sure” which in Mugs vernacular means, “I’ll do it cuz I should, but I’d really prefer not to.”

Recognizing my “I don’t want to be helpful tone,” Abby piped up, “I’ll make the cookies, Daddy, after I get home from teaching piano lessons.”

(My daughter is a teacher’s pet and her daddy’s pet and sometimes her sweetness causes me to roll my eyes and causes her brothers to gripe and complain.)

“I’ll do it. I’ll do it,” I declared trying to stay committed to my “God first, Dale second, Kids third” priority list.

When the cookie baking day arrived, I took the butter out of the refrigerator to let it soften so I could bake the cookies during the cool of the morning. By nighttime, the butter was plenty soft and the cookies were not baked.

As with most days this summer, my priority list had transformed into “God first, Garden second, Garden third, Garden fourth, etc.”

I came in soaked through with sweat, and asked my daughter, “Can you please make the cookies for your father? I’m exhausted and need take a shower.”

She gave me an “I told you so” look and then promptly got to work.

In order to have enough cookies for both “Tea Time with Dale” and her brothers, she had to make a double batch.  Wanting to shorten the length of time a 350 degree oven was blasting heat on a hot July night, I told her to make two pans at once. As I walked to the shower, I thought, “Check to make sure the racks are in the correct place,” followed quickly by “Naw, it will be fine.”

She baked one pan and the cookies came out perfect. Then, unfortunately, she listened to me and tried to bake two pans at once. Both pans of cookies were burnt. (She thought it was because she had lost track of the baking time.)

She tried again to bake two pans at once, and burnt both pans of cookies again. Finally, I told her to check the racks. (The racks were on the lowest two slots.)

She baked the remaining pans individually, and they all came out perfect. There were just enough unburnt cookies for “Tea Time with Dale.”

Her brothers were stuck with 48 burnt chocolate chip cookies. Frustrated and disappointed, Abby left the burnt cookies on the cooling rack and went to bed.

I was exhausted, so I went to bed also.

The next morning, I came downstairs, looked at the burnt cookies, and thought of my mom.

(“Just scrape off the burnt,” she would say. “No, they’re ruined!” I would argue in my mad angry state, frustrated that I had taken so much time to bake and now, it was all spoiled. Indignantly, I would throw them in the trash, and Mom would shake her head.)

Knowing Abby felt bad and Gabe, like my dad, was always willing to eat burnt cookies, I sat down and began to scrape off the burnt.

I think Mom’s life motto could be “Just scrape off the burnt.” She always finds the positive bit, the encouraging word, the thing to make what’s bad better.

After Josiah came home from college and was readjusting to sleeping at night and staying awake during the day, he would periodically wake up just prior to dinner. One day, he woke up to eat cereal at 1630. I had left the house early that morning and had just returned. I was staring at Josiah in exasperation when Mom called. “Just called to see what everyone is doing,” she said.

“Well. Josiah is eating cereal at 4:30 in the afternoon, because he just woke up,” I told her.

“He should work the 11 – 7 shift,” she said. “He’d be good at that. Not a lot of people can work that shift.”

When I told this story to my sister Marie, she laughed. “I don’t know how she does it, but Mom can always find something encouraging to say no matter the situation.”

(It should be noted that Josiah’s daytime wakefulness has greatly improved as the summer has gone along.)

Today, Mom moves for the fourth time since she and Dad left Blue Lake. Her and Dad’s living environment has changed yearly because of the long term impact from Dad’s stroke.

This year, I’m not there to help her move. God must have wanted to give Mom a more peaceful move since I failed character camp twice in a row.

The last four years have been very difficult for her and Dad, and for the rest of the Meloch Family as well.

I can’t be there to help her move today. The best I can do is send some encouraging words.

“Just scrape off the burnt, Mom. Just scrape off the burnt.”


Jul 04 2014

Writer of the Declaration

Posted by Mugs @ 10:08 am in Sightseeing

At the end of May, the fearless leader Mary and I drove down to a day of wine and roses at Tufton Farm near Monticello. We smelled the roses, but left the wine to tour around Monticello instead.

At Tufton farm and Monticello, gallica roses finally won my attention. The historic gardens at both places are beautiful and well worth the time to explore.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have lived in Virginia for 8 years and this was my first visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s historic home. I have visited George Washington’s historic home, Mount Vernon, approximately 10 times. Each of my children has had field trips to Mount Vernon. Gabe’s class has had 4 visits.

Monticello is lovely, well maintained, and interesting because of the uniqueness of Thomas Jefferson. Throughout the tour, my most common thought was, “That’s remarkable.”

At the entrance, there is a compass on the ceiling which is attached to the weather vane on the roof so Thomas Jefferson didn’t have to leave the porch to determine which way the wind was blowing. In the entry hall, there is a seven day clock whose exterior face on the porch shows the hour, but the interior face shows the hour, minute, and second. The ropes holding the cannon ball weights of the clock were longer than the room was tall, so holes were cut into the floor, and the weights descend to the cellar.

In the parlor, there is a painting of Herodias bearing John the Baptist’s head on a platter. I found it an odd portrait with which to greet your guests.

I loved the maps of Lewis and Clark’s expedition and seeing all the library books. After the British burned the US capitol in 1814 and the Congressional library was destroyed, Thomas Jefferson sold his collection of 6,500 books to Congress. After his books were gone, he wrote to John Adams, “I cannot live without books,” and promptly bought some more.

I bought Josiah a t-shirt with the books quote from the gift shop. I would have bought one for myself, but I had earlier purchased a gallica rose bush and a handful of heirloom seed packets collected from the flowers at Monticello.

The terraced garden was phenomenal. The sighting, the layout, the crop order was all meticulously planned by Jefferson. I walked the length of it thinking, “Mom would love this.”

The views are gorgeous all around. Charlottesville and the University of Virginia campus are visible from the grounds. The tour guide claimed that Thomas Jefferson would observe the construction of UVA with his telescope to insure his architectural plans were being followed.

With the Blue Ridge mountains in the distance, Monticello is truly beautiful.

It’s architect’s most famous document is celebrated today. His words announced the independence of a group of remarkable people who declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I praise my Creator that I was born in our great nation, the United States of America.

Happy Independence Day!