Thursday, July 26, 2007

Its a beautiful day in my neighborhood

I wanted to share a little bit of Clintonville history that most people don't know. For those of you not local, Clintonville is an unincorporated neighborhood located about 10 miles north of The Ohio State University (O-H....) in Central Ohio. There are just under 30,000 people living in Clintonville. Most of the homes were built between 1930 and 1950, so there is a large amount of architectural diversity. There are five ravines in Clintonville and I am lucky enough to live on one of them. I have lived in the Ville since 1997 and could not imagine living anywhere else.

So, imagine my surprise when I came across an article stating that during the late eighteen hundreds, Clintonville was home to the largest amusement park in the United States. Eventually named Olentangy Park, this fun fest was located along High Street, between North and Tulane. There were four roller coasters, a zoo, a water slide, the country's largest theatre and the world's largest POOL. Who knew? There was of course a carousel, which was eventually restored and moved to the Columbus Zoo. I was unable to find out why the park closed, but guess that it was probably due to urban development since Olentangy Village apartment complex now occupies the site.

Just thought you local folks might appreciate the quick history lesson.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is that a pickle in your pants, or are you just happy to see me??

At the Clintonville Farmer's Market on Saturday, I bought some pickling cukes as I have been wanting to see about making my own pickles. I scoured the internet and my cookbooks looking for the perfect recipe. My definition of a perfect recipe is 1. I must have all of the ingredients on hand and 2. The recipe must require the least amount of work possible. I was fearful that I would have to abort my pickle mission as I starting reading recipes that required canning jars, boiling and waiting. It all sounded a bit scary! Plus, I admit, I am not the most patient person. So, after looking at several recipes, I came up with the one listed below. I decided to soak the pickles overnight and see how they turned out. They were good after 24 hours, but now that they are on day 4 of soaking, they have an added dimension of flavor. I felt like this would be a good compromise; I would be able to get almost immediate satisfaction while forging ahead with my experiment. After all, I am a former scientist.

So here is my pickle recipe:

For pickle prep...
6 pickling cukes, sliced into spears (The word on the street is that you can use regular cukes, if those are what you have on hand.)
4-6 cloves of garlic
Several fresh dill heads, chopped
2 tsp sea salt

For the cuke bath...
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups vinegar
Many turns of my pepper mill
10 peppercorns (I'm not sure if they did anything, but they made the juice look authentic.)

Sprinkle the sliced cukes with salt, dill and garlic. Mix well. Allow this mixture to sit on the counter for 2 or so hours. While you are waiting, mix the ingredients for the bath and then go indulge in a cocktail. After all, cooking is more fun with a buzz. When ready, dump the bath onto the cukes. Do not drain the juice from the cukes. Mix well. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

I did notice that by day 3, the pickles looked a bit shriveled, but they still had a nice crunch to them. I am not above eating ugly food that tastes great....


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Bad boys, bad boys, what cha gonna do"

Why is it impossible for a man to play a sport with a women and not constantly feel the need to give advice? Do all men feel that if only the coach had put them in the game, they would have scored the game winning touch down, been carried off of the field by their teammates and placed into the arms of the head cheerleader? I've seen "Pros vs. Joes". It is one of my favorites. I guess I like this behavior as long as it isn't directed toward me. OK, maybe I really don't like this behavior, I am just amused by it. I do admit that it doesn't take much!

When I was in college, one of my girlfriends asked me to join her co-ed softball team. I played softball for many years as a youngester, but was never very good at it. Probably because I was afraid of the ball. I blame this on my father who, as the parent of two girls, prided himself on his method for teaching A GIRL to catch. It was no method, really, he just threw the ball at my head, figuring I would catch it to avoid being hit. I was a quick learner in school, but sports were another story. I never really mastered the skill of catching but instead ended up with several black eyes. This method worked for my sister and she went on to be the son my Dad never had. My Dad still feels that my sister should have joined the WNBA, rather than become an accountant. Ha! OK, back to college. I decided to join this co-ed softball team as a favor to my friend since they couldn't play unless they had four girls and I was girl four. I also figured that I could get some exercies and meet some new people. I knew from my first "at bat" that I had made a huge mistake. Several of my male teammates were standing behind home plate and shouting out instructions for how to hit the ball, when to swing, when not to swing, etc. I lost focus and struck out. In reality, I probably would have struck out anyway. That was the last time I ever played softball.

Now fast forward to 2007. This summer I joined a co-ed tennis league. There are 3 men and 3 women. Each week we play multiple games: men/women singles, mixed doubles and men/women doubles. I was excited to meet my team and was surprised to find that we were all at about the same skill level and all appeared to have joined for the same reasons: to practice our tennis game, have fun and hopefully pick up a new friend or two! Let me also tell you, before I get into the meat of this story, that I am truly one of the most competitive people in the world. It is my normal way, in sports and life, to beat myself up over every mistake, even the slightest one. Because of this, I cannot control what comes out of my mouth after missing a shot. My ability to combine cuss words in new and exciting ways is truly a gift. I have never been bothered by this...I think it is my release as I prefer swearing over violence. So, with that being said, the last few weeks, I have played mix doubles with a man I will call Dick. Dick and I usually win, and he is even more competitive than I am. When I miss a shot, after unrepeatable profanity leaves my lips, I'm faced with Dick's critique of what I did wrong.

"You need to stand closer to the net."
"You need to stand farther away from the net."
"If I were you, I would have let that one go as it would have been out."
"When hitting a volley shot, punch out, not down."
"Don't forget, the second serve is softer than the first. You should have moved in more."

The first week I ignored his criticism and continued to play. I was able to remain calm by invisioning various ways to inflict pain onto him with my raquet. Week after week, he continued to offer his pearls of wisdom. Interesting to note, that followed by a new pearl, he would usually return the ball, hitting it into the net or outside of the lines of the court. I don't want to give the impression that I am above advice. I have been taking tennis lessons every Sunday for the last year, and believe me, I need all of the coaching that I can get. But, why should I stand by and listen to someone's advice when they are clearly no better than I am?

So, last week, after this third comment, I went over to him and calmly said: "Dick, unless you are competing at Wimbledon, I don't want to hear your criticisms. I fell like I'm being picked on and find it distracting. I am fully aware of my mistakes. If you would like to discuss stragegy, please do. But otherwise, I'd appreciate it if you kept your criticisms to yourself. Thank you."

After these words left my lips, I felt better, lighter. I was able to continue with the game, which in fact we won. After all of our games were completed, my friend Monique came up to me and said that she had heard what I told him. I started feeling small. Monique was telling me "way to go you," but I couldn't help but feel a little bit bad for saying these words, within earshot of others.

When I got home that night, I told my husband what I had said and asked "was that bitchy?" His response was a very quick yes. Ouch. He was right. I started feeling worse, but wondering if perhaps, he was just saying this because he is a man. So I asked my sister who is one of the most brutally honest and upfront people that I know. She also responded that it was bitchy. Yikes. But, why should I feel bad for someone that has gotten through life by being a know-it-all? Was I the first person to tell him to shut his pie hole and stop critiquing? I'm guessing I probably was, since he has never been married.

So, to all the lound mouths out there who feel the need to spout off whenever they feel like it. Please don't. If I want your advice, I'll ask. And besides, isn't tennis all about the LOVE?

Has anyone else experienced this? How did you deal with it?