Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Adventures from Home: Leon’s!

long custard trailsThe smooth, creamy deliciousness slowly emerged from the spout, making a long tube of glistening delight.  Sliding down the tilted metal pans and into the open freezers waiting below, the fresh custard filled the stainless steel containers.  The young man in his white paper hat reached his scoop into the tubs, piling the frozen custard high on top of cones for the waiting customers.

Melaxid and I stood near the window, watching the frozen trails and the scoop man, reminiscing about our college days, sharing stories of our latest adventures and wondering why the mint custard was coming out of a churner labeled “Butter Pecan.”  Alfred and Munchkinhead stood nearby, slowly devouring their own cones of rich frozen custard.

Leon's signThe reflections of ourselves as we peered into the long, boxy building.  The young man in white with his white paper hats.  The metal freezers and custard churners.  The long lines of patrons stretching from the walk-up windows deep into the surrounding parking lot.  The neon lights at the top of the tall sign-post in the parking lot, blazing “Leon’s.”  It all had a beautiful and surreal 1950’s quality about it.  That’s one of the best things about Leon’s.  The other is, of course, the absolutely amazing frozen custard.

Vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan and the flavor of the day.  Two scoops through five scoops posted on the sign, ranging from less than $2 to just under $5.  Of course, you can always ask for a single scoop, the light-blue clad cashier will turn to the scoop man and say “1 down” meaning one, one-scoop cone.  When I was in high school, I got the five-scoop cones.  Now-a-days, I’m content with the regular two-scoop.  It’s better for my pocket book, too.

We always go to Leon’s when we’re home.  It’s an absolute must.  Sometimes we don’t even go home first; we go right from the airport or the train station.


me and mel at Leon's (1)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Adventures from Home: Munchkinhead has a Job

Pretty Little Munchkinhead, she’s got the pretty little museum bug.  I suppose we all have it, thanks to Daddy’s summer vacations, but some of us got it worse than others.  Alfred’s got it pretty bad, what with her masters degree in museum collections stuff.  Munchkinhead’s just working on discovering hers, and she’s had the perfect summer job to help her do it: Trimborn farms.

One day, while Alfred and I were both in Wisconsin, we went with Munchkinhead to the farms, to explore while she worked.  And explore we did, every adorable and crazy photo op we could find.

We stood in the limestone kilns, before we knew they were limestone kilns.

me and wendy in the kiln

We peered through fences,i see youpeekaboo (2)





ran through the grassy green meadow.

sisters running in the medow (1)

found things to play with,

me and the bell

and, rested for a bit in front of the museum house.

                                            me and wendy in front of the main house (2)

Only for a bit, for there was so much more to explore.  Like the barn,

Wendy and the barn

and, well, that’s not actually the barn.  Munchkinhead straightened us out later.  The barn is much bigger and has some holes in its roof where the rain gets in.

Munchkinhead actually taught us a lot about the farm before we left for the day.  She taught us about the plants in the garden and which ones we could eat.

eating the plantsThere was lemon mint, anise and chives.  I liked the lemon mint the best.  The fuzzy texture was fun.  All we needed was some rum.

By the end of our adventurous morning, running across the yard, climbing up hills and wanting to roll down them, we were quite tired and opted to take a nap on Munchkinhead.

me and wendy sleeping on katrina's shoulders (3)

She was not so pleased.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peace Corps: Preparation for Life

100_1300When I was in the Peace Corps, I didn’t realize it was preparing me to live in the Bay Area.

For most Peace Corps Volunteers, there’s plenty of things they learn that they realize will be useful when they get back to the States.  How to write a project proposal, outlining objectives and goals, maybe even how to start a fire.  I figured learning how to wait patiently for public transit, how to cook rice in a pot and how to deal with creep crawly things would still be useful tricks when I got back.  But there’s a whole bunch of other things I never expected to use in the US.

This past weekend, my friend Meg&Jack came over and we had a rummage sale.  I suppose bartering isn’t a surprising element at a rummage sale, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to find myself drawing out old market day skills.


My strategy was to decide the price I was willing to pay for the item before getting into negotiations.  I was less interested in paying the absolute lowest amount possible than in paying no more than I thought something was worth.  If the seller wouldn’t go done to my pre-set value price, I walked away.  For the rummage sale, I sort of just flipped the strategy, thinking how low would I be willing to go to part with something.  Since the sale was mostly stuff I was just trying to get rid of, this went well for buyers.

Making do with limited language skills

The surprising bit was how much I had to use my I-really-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about skills, and even more surprising, occasionally my smile-and-nod-cuz-I-don’t-give-a-vampire skills.  Nearly every person that came to the sale had a thick accent with varying degrees of English skills. 

There were the two Spanish women who asked on nearly every item, “is there another price?”  And the woman from next door who I think is from South-East Asia.  She’s got Tibetan prayer flags on her porch, but along the I-80 corridor of the East Bay, nearly everyone has Tibetan prayer flags.  An African woman stopped in briefly, but I didn’t get a chance to find out where she was from.  A younger gentleman who could have been British, Australian or even South African (I can’t tell!) came by looking for some action figures.  And there was an older gentleman who sounded as though he came from Eastern Europe a long time ago, his accent softened by years of English.  These people were all very nice and we talked only of items for sale.

I really have no idea what you’re talking about

The smile-and-nod-cuz-I-don’t-give-a-vampire skills came in with my downstairs neighbor, an elderly man from Bangladesh whom I had never actually met before this day.  He told me, and then Meg&Jack and me, repeatedly, that we shouldn’t have a rummage sale on the small street.  We should put everything in our car and just sell it out of the trunk on the busy road.  He came back later, after Megan&Jack had left and gave me the entire history of Bangladesh.  It wasn’t until about 10 minutes into it that I realized he was saying “Bangladesh.”  Understanding maybe only every 5th word, I think I got the gist. I definitely got as much as I wanted to get.  I was so relieved when he left. 

Then he came back and gave me his whole family history.  It was so, so much like a conversation that would have happened in my Zambian village.  “I moved from here to there on twenty-three April 1965 and then I went to visit my cousin in nearby city on seven June 1942 and stayed there 1, 2, 3 weeks.”   Years clearly not making sense, going backwards in time, numbers being confused.  “On 18 February, I moved here, but then I travel to India for visit to my brother and I stay 6 weeks.”  Etc, etc.  Then it got so much like a Peace Corps village story it was surreal.  “I am very poor.  My brothers and my sister, they send me money.  But my brother, he only gives me food, no money.”  And another 5 minutes about how poor he is.  In Zambia, I would have assumed a person was telling me this because they saw me as a rich muzungu and wanted me to give them money.  Here, with my neighbor saying this, I had no idea what was up.  Smile and nod; smile and nod.  And be thankful when the poor man’s cell phone rings.

Photo: one of my Zambian neighbors who would come over and just talk and talk and talk and I rarely had any idea what she was going on about

Friday, August 19, 2011

Adventures from Home: Batons, Balls and Bugs, pt. 3

A long, long time ago, when Alfred was still a Schultz and we hadn’t mytwirlersyet left the safe bubble of St. Francis, a little girl picked up a flyer at a parade.  “Leslynettes Baton Twirling Corps.”  Alfred was delighted – she already had a friend from school in the corps - and it wasn’t long before she was marching down the street in a little blue leotard with red sequined sailor collar and small sequined anchor on her hip.

Twenty years and more costumes than you can count later, that little twirler still knows her parade routines.  So do her sisters, who also eventually joined the corps, although never becoming close to as good as she was.  Fishtails with two batons simultaneously, only Alfred.  Regular double and occasional triple toss-turn-arounds, only Alfred.  Crying in the corner in her hula skirt, a very cute little munchkinhead.  Almost hitting the judge with her baton, yeah, that’d be me.

But for us, not being good at something has never been a reason to not have fun doing it.  So when we found those old baton cases in the back hall closet this summer, we were more thrilled to pull out our old metal rods and do a few tosses.

“No, I think that was routine 4, routine 2 had something like this.”  We tried to sort out which routines we could remember.  “Well 3 is certainly the easiest,” one of us piped up, followed by all three of us in unison, “Up, up. Down, down. Out 2-3-4, out 2-3-4. Up. Out. Shoulder 2-3-4 and down.”  “And 6, we all know 6.”  It turned out we remembered a good number of them.  Of the 6 main routines, we knew 1, 3, 4 and 6.  So we had a little parade around the front lawn.

Always feeling more graceful than we looked, we took over the dirveway doing thumbflips, tour jetes, toss-turn-arounds and leaps.  Then we decided to have some real fun, a strut off!  With some more of our favorite routine at the end.  Daddy sat on the porch with his iced tea, laughing as we outlined an invisible square with our high steps.

Mommy’s not-so-little twirlers


Munchkinhead clearly won the strut off. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adventures from Home: Batons, Balls and Bugs, pt. 2

Katrina going for the ballIf you’ve been following this blog for the past 8 years, or if you happen to wander down to the toy box and explore old posts, you’ll know that another practically mandatory part of a trip to Milwaukee is a nice energetic game of roof volleyball.  (Fully explained in this 2003 post.)

An early morning downpour had left the grass shiny with moisture.  The wet blades squished between our toes and dampened our feet.  The ball was a little deflated, smaller and more pliable than it ought to be, but that will happen to children’s playground balls when they sit unloved in the closet 11 months of the year.  We’d be darned if we were going to use the hard soccer ball that was our only other option.

Lined up on the grass, one front row player, one back row, one picture taker from the porch, we were ready to start.  “Volley for the serve!”  The ball flew through the air and bounced onto the lower roof.   The roof almost never uses its back row, towering high above the front row that covers the porch and garage.

Even though we were only doing a 2 player team, rotating in, we still went full court, from the south end of the roof to the north end of the grass.  Half court has gotten to small as we and the tree at the south end of the court have grown.  Super court is too hard, both in terms of difficulty of coverage and in terms of playing surface; it includes the driveway.

“Whop!”  “Blat!”  “Thud!”  The ball bounced off gutter, ricocheted off our hands and occasionally slammed into the front window, or a cup of water resting on the porch.  “We’re Frosted Flakes, we’re great!”  Our old cheer went up, along with some very bad cheerleader-esque jumps.

It was a tough series – that roof never seems out of practice – but we came out a head, taking the series 2-0.  Don’t worry roof, you’ll get another chance soon.  Probably in winter, when you like to steal the ball and keep it for yourself.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Bowling Skirt

I like to bowl.  I like to sew.  I like to bowl so much, I joined a bowling league.  And at the bowling league, I discovered I bowl better in skirts.  “Well then,” I thought, “I ought to sew a skirt to bowl!”  And I did.

bowling skirt in progress (2)

Cutting out the materials was pretty easy; everything was felt. and the pattern only had three main pieces and a handful of appliques.

The hardest part, and the part that took the most time, was sewing the sequins onto the bowling pins.  But even that wasn’t too difficult.

ball and pins

Since the skirt fabric was black, I needed a different color for the ball.  My bowling ball is a beautiful swirl of silvers, golds and dark greys with black.  It looks like outer space.  It’s pretty, so I needed something pretty for my skirt, too. This blue-grey felt has an embossed paisley pattern, giving it a little bit of color fluctuation and shimmer when it moves under the light.  It’s fabulous.

Some snip snip here, and some stitch stitch there, and pretty soon I had a great new bowling skirt.

me in my bowling skirt (2)

It was quite a hit with the bowling league. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adventures from Home: Batons, Balls and Bugs pt. 1

I was hoping for hot weather. You know that beautiful heat wave the whole rest of the county’s been having lately?  Yeah, the Bay Area has it, too.  It means we get temperatures in the ‘70s.  So when I was heading to Wisconsin, I was really hoping for some nice 80 degree weather.  I wanted to go swimming, wanted to go swimming so much that we even helped Daddy open the pool.  Of course, opening the pool means cleaning the pool, skimming and vacuuming, getting rid of all those dead bugs.

DSCI0245 (3)

(World take note, I’m not wearing shoes in that picture. Look hard now; you won’t see that very often.)

We probably could have actually gone swimming despite the cooler air temperatures if the filter hadn’t been broken.  After all, mid-70’s is decent pool weather when the pool water is also decent.  But the filter being broken meant the water couldn’t run through the solar heater.  Sixty degree water is not fun for swimming. 

The closest we got to getting in the pool was Munchkinhead and me playing Follow-the-Leader me and katrina being bunny rabbitson the stairs.  The water near the surface was warmed a bit by the sun, so we were ok on the first stair.  The second stair wasn’t too bad either, but the third stair, brrrrrr, frigid.  That just made the adventure even more fun as we scrambled to get across the stair and out of the pool as fast as we could. 

Alfred was not interested in playing Follow-the-Leader with us, nor was she interested in getting wet, so she took lots of pictures for us.

Sufficiently soaked and amused, we wandered off to our next adventure.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Big Field, Small World

army men in centerpieceIt was my second Giants game and I was excited, both because of the fun of baseball and because of the excuse to wear my orange pants.

A friend of mine had an extra ticket to an outing sponsored by his law firm, so he invited me to join the group.  This was extra wonderful because his daughter was going to be there and she and I had been trying to meet up for months without success.

I wandered down the long carpeted hallway and finally found the room where everyone was gathered.  It was a neat little room.  A few couches set near the back for those that were less interested in watching the game, regular baseball seats just outside for those who really wanted to watch the game, and stools behind large windows for the baby-bear folks who wanted a little of the game and the indoor warmth.

Bottled water and other beverages enjoyed an ice bath in the sink.  A table at the side of the room held all the fixin’s for do-it-yourself tacos, West Coast style.  Nothing like what we’d have on taco night back home. Small corn tortillas instead of hard shells.  No ground beef, but your choice of carne asada or soupy chicken.  Rice and beans, guacamole and cheese made up the other filling options.  On another table across the room, taco dip!  Almost exactly like Auntie Gail makes.  I especially enjoyed the little cinnamon covered bits of baked flour tortillas.

I made myself plate and scooted outside to catch the start of the game.  The nice gentlemen sitting near me and I began to small talk – after all, this was a fun group outing with lots of new people.  They were both attorneys and had come up from Vegas for the game. 

Then the gentleman sitting next to me asked that standard Bay Area question, “Where are you from originally?”  Because no one’s from the Bay Area.  (You should see the reactions people have when they meet Mr. Trizzle, who is actually from the Bay Area.)  “Milwaukee.”  His face lit up, “me, too!”  Then my face lit up.  It wasn’t long before we were talking frozen custard stands, Summerfest and familiar roads.

We were laughing about what a small world it was when we discovered it was even smaller; we both have connections to Vanderbilt!  Then we had more familiar streets to discuss and of course plenty of conversation about how beautiful Vandy’s campus is. 

I also got to spend a good amount of time chatting with my friend and catching up with his daughter, who I’d really like to get to know better.  (Due to our crazy schedules, this was only the second time we’d gotten to meet together.)  Plus, I got to meet several other fun people including one lady with totally awesome shoes.

Don’t worry, I still watched the game, though it wasn’t much of a game to watch.  The Giants lost 6-1.

Photo of baseball centerpiece from Crazy A Xi’s wedding.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Adventures from Home: Game Night

One of the best things about the Schultz house – and all my Wisconsin friends can attest to this – is game night.  Game night isn’t a particular night; it’s any night when we happen to play games.  Board games, card games, even Twister.

During my last trip this past June, one of the first things we did was have a game night.  And lucky for us, well lucky for him too, The Great Ecclestone joined us.  Game night is fun when it’s just part of the family; it’s super fun when friends are involved. 

The Great Ecclestone walked into the house as Daddy was yelling from the family room to someone in some other room and Katrina was stomping down the hallway muttering loudly to no one in particular while Mommy yelled back to one of them from the computer room.  The Great Ecclestone smiled, “nothing’s changed around here.”  He was right, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Game 1

We decide to spare The Great Ecclestone’s ears, especially since he’s a professional singer, and opted for board games over Beatles Rock Band.  First on the list, a new game that the family got for Christmas last year.  I spent Christmas in California so I hadn’t played this game yet, but Mommy and Munchkinhead had. 

Katrina with box on her headLast Word” is a boisterous game that involves quick thinking and shouting over your neighbor in order to be the last person to give a correct answer before the timer goes off.  Correct answers are words that start with the letter given on one card and fall in the category given on the other card.

I thought I had a pretty good “m” word for “things found on the internet” when I said “mommy.”  (She likes to play a lot of Farmville and CafĂ© World.)  But, I was really impressed when Munchkinhead tried to answer “Mozilla.”  I say tried because she couldn’t quite pronounce the word and had trouble spitting it out.  (Bay Area and internet-y friends, remember we’re playing this game far from the tech-focused coasts, where most people probably don’t even know Mommy trying to thinkwhat Firefox is, let alone Mozilla.)  I think we gave it to her anyway just because it was so brilliant an answer.

I have no idea who won, which means it probably wasn’t me.  But,  I do remember we had a ton of fun playing that game.

Games 2 & 3

As the night wore on and the Amarula began to run low, the standards started to come out.  Someone wound up with a giraffe on their head, sitting positions were exchanged for lounging and out came the household classics, “20 Questions” with Reifenberg Rules (the rules in the box aren’t as much fun) and “Whoonu”, the game from Cranium where you try to select the things you think your friends will like most. 

It’s amazing how much you can learn about people you’ve known all your life, or all their life as the case may be.  For example, I had no idea that mommy likes sailboats.  I put the card in the envelope to get it out of circulation and because I had nothing better, and then bam, she rates it super high.  She loves sailboats.  Who knew!?

Nelson laying on floor

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brown Velvet Sandals

I wasn’t expecting the second post in my shoe series to be another obit, but life is full of surprises.

I’d been debating taking my brown velvet sandals to Goodwill for sometime, but not having any good replacements already in my closet,  I was hesitant.

These sandals, much like my black wingtips were a product of the Spice Girl era and my Bakers infatuation, or perhaps better said, my Bakers era and Spice Girl infatuation.  Round 4” heels and a thick platform front, soft velvet crisscrossing over my foot and wrapping around my ankle.  They were comfortable, but clunky.

I didn’t get them for any special purpose.  No, by the time I bought these shoes I was long past the basic-shoe life of my youth and beginning the collection that would eventually turn into the Great Wall of Shoes, producer of Shoevalanches.  These I bought not because there was a special occasion or a certain outfit, but because they were cute and I had an allowance or a job.

The item I remember wearing them with most was a brown stretch-velvet skirt I had fashioned out of a large piece of fabric.  I’d wrapped the fabric around me, held the edges together out to the side and made a seam a few inches long down from my waist.  Hemmed up all the sides and the result was a long skirt with bias drape accentuating a high slit. 

My best memory of those brown velvet shoes was with that brown velvet skirt, imagebut it wasn’t a brown velvet skirt that day.  It was a brown velvet shirt.  I was going to a sorority event that I happened to be around for on a visit home from Zambia.  I’d gained so much weight in Africa that practically none of my clothes fit.  The best I could do for a fancy-dress event was to wear that skirt as a tube top with a long red skirt designed to be a petticoat for a formal dress. As an undergarment, the petticoat skirt was made to fit at my hips.  On this evening, it was snug at my waist.  A strange combination to be sure, but it totally worked, and those brown velvet sandals helped bring it all together.

So, I was debating about keeping them or passing them along, but I didn’t get a chance to decide.  Not very long ago, the decision was made for me.  I was walking to work from the bus stop.  My left shoe was making an odd noise and I felt a shaking under my toes that seemed odd.  “What is going on with my shoe?”I thought.  As I picked up my leg to take a step, my velvet-wrapped foot rose in the air.  The platform stayed on the ground.

broken shoe

Luckily  I had my gym bag with me and could put my gym shoes on right away.  Now, I just need to find some new brown sandals.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adventures from Home: Congratulations Grad!

One of the great things about going home over Fathers’ Day weekend, and one of the reasons I chose that weekend to go, was that I got to see a whole bunch of my relatives at my cousin’s graduation party!

Emily, one of the youngest cousins (and Mommy’s god-daughter), graduated from high school this June.  A great reason to have a party!  There were balloons and glow bracelets, both of which I put on my wrists.  The tables were scattered with bowls of snack food and little metallic graduation hat cut-outs that my aunties delighted in hiding in everyone’s purses, camera cases and knitting bags. 

DSCI0263The dinner spread was a true smorgasbord of standard Schlaikowski delights.  Little wienies, a pickle and olive plate, Auntie DSCI0247 (2)Gail’s taco dip, fruit salad, coleslaw, buns and some sort of gravy soaked meat to put on the buns, potato and tortilla chips, and a stack of crackers and cheese.

It wasn’t a super hyper dance-crazed party or anything like that, but it was still a ton of fun.  Our little first-cousins-once-removed provided so much entertainment only the most stubborn teenager could be bored.  They ran in circles, climbed up walls and played fetch with a large, neon pink, stuffed dolphin.  That was all in addition to their usual just looking cute.

DSCI0254 (2)

I didn’t have a dolphin, but I was content to just play with my food.

black olive claws shrunk

(That worked better when my hands were smaller, or maybe I need bigger olives.)

It was a great party and wonderful to spend time with my large family. :)  Huge shoutout to my godparents for arranging it and being fabulous hosts!  And, Congratulations Emily!