Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pie!...or "Love" in a pastry crust

The holidays are a natural time to reflect on Faith, Family and the traditions that make us love Christmas. Lot's of people are talking about Faith and Family so I feel the need to talk about a tradition that is important to me.  In my family holiday tradition, we always had pie around.  Lovely, scrumptious pastries filled with all kinds of delicious flavor and goodness.  Pecan, pumpkin, apple, cherry etc., it didn't matter too much.  We just loved them.  And now that my mother and both grand mothers have passed, there is something about pie that makes me feel that they are still here and a part of the festivities. In fact, when my older brother and I get together during the holidays, the conversation often turns to pie.  It's just a natural part of our family tradition.

My wife Shelly is a wonderful baker. But she is a "cake person".  She makes wonderful cakes and can decorate like nobodies business.  I mean, if she had the tools available she could rival Buddy and the Cake Boss staff.

So, this Christmas when we came to my in-law's house to celebrate and be with family there was lots of discussion about what we should eat and what kind of deserts would be made.  Of course my first thoughts were of pie. You can't have a holiday get together without pie can you?  Not in my mind at least.  Luckily, my brother-in-law has become a pretty good pie maker.  His apple pies are tremendous and I hear that he has others that are just as good.  I of course made sure to put my request in several times for pie.  And I was obliged with a delicious pecan pie!

NPR recently aired a great piece on the power of pie and I have to admit that it brought to the top of my consciousness my love for pie.  You can listen to it here: NPR PIE Story 

My top pies are as follows:

  1. Mama Lou's lemon meringue pie.  This pie is legendary in my father's side of the family.
  2. My own mother's pecan pie.  She has passed away so this is probably always going to be in my "Pie ring of honor".
  3. Mark Qualls' apple pie has recently ascended into my top five and perhaps even my top three.
  4. Mrs Edward's key lime pie.  This one is store bought so I couldn't in good conscious rate it higher that Mark's pie but I have to admit I really love it.  I've had several restaurant versions of key lime that weren't as good.  And I don't yet know anyone that makes a key lime.  (Perhaps I need to take a stab at it?)

I'd love to hear from anyone out there and hear what your favorite pies or pie memories are.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"My Psalm to God" by Danielle Vickery

Oh glorious, glorious God

My mighty God! 

I'm feeling good, i'm feeling great 

because of Your great name.

You, oh great God

You're my one perfection

with love, because of You

great Glorious God!

great Glorious God!

This was written one evening when she was supposed to be going to bed.  She was eight years old when she wrote it.

Yes, i'm extremely proud of her but more than that, I love how pure her love of God is and how freely her praise flows.  Would that I was so free.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Appreciating excellence at a job that matters

Today I took the day off of work to take part of the industry that I work for from a different perspective. Today, I am a patient at some of the clinics that I just took live on a enterprise EHR software.  It was time to have my annual physical and another doctor wanted me to come in for a follow-up appointment so I thought why not just make a day of it.

I started the day by sleeping in a bit. This something I almost never do anymore.  But by 8:50am I couldn't really sleep anymore because the house was starting to wake up and stir so I thought let me go get my "fasting labs" done before the hunger pangs start.  Luckily, I had already communicated with my doctor via text and asked her to place the orders for the labs so I could go at my leisure and get them done. I know this is something that most people can't do (communicate with their personal physician via text or SMS message.  If I hadn't worked so closely with my physician on the project of implementing an EHR, I wouldn't have that privilege either.  However, we instituted a new online patient portal where our patients can send messages to their providers and nurses. So actually, I could have sent her a message using that.  So I made my way to the doctors office and checked in and waited for them to call me back to be stuck.  I know no one enjoys this part of the process. But after the last time I gave blood a few weeks back, I was really not looking forward to it. My last blood donation was extremely painful.  They nicked a nerve or something and fire shot down my arm into my hand.  I of course being a grown man sucked it up and didn't even make a sound.  I might have made a grimace but other than that I was a model volunteer donor and thought of all the children at our Children's hospital that I might be helping. But it definitely left a mental scar.  One that I didn't realize until I got to the doctors office this morning to have labs drawn.  When the phlebotomist finally came to the waiting room and called my name I found myself feeling anxious as I followed her to the lab.  When she started putting the tourniquet on my left arm and searching for a vein I suddenly started feeling sympathy pains from the last experience.  Had anyone been paying attention I'm sure they would have said my facial expression was tense and concentrated.  I was really hoping that this would not be a repeat of that experience.

I normally am not squeamish when it comes to needles.  I like to "stare it down" so to speak and watch it go into my arm. Somehow that seems like what John Wayne would do.   Of course, they probably don't have a needle tough enough to take blood from him.  But I digress...   I put on my best pleasant expression and watch as the young lady pushed the small gauge needle into my bicep just above my elbow. As it disappeared into the skin I was surprised that I felt almost nothing. When she brought up the tube with the colored top on it and attached it to the needle and blood began to fill it up I was almost shocked that I still couldn't feel anything other than the warmth of her hand against my arm.  It seemed surreal.  How could this be?  No pain?!?  Wow, now that was refreshing!   In less than a minute after she stuck me it was all done. She had filled up two tubes of blood and was now holding the cotton ball over the almost non-existent wound and wrapping it with a stretchy material.

I walked out to my car still somewhat in shock of how easy that was.  Then it hit me what had just happened to me...  I just experienced "excellence"   The young lady phlebotomist was very good at her job.   And her job is one that REALLY matters.  Just ask everyone who has to get a needle put into their veins.  I know I shouldn't sound so suppressed at this excellence in an ordinary health care worker.  But I've got to tell you that my experience working at an academic medical center has been somewhat the other way.  There are way too many workers that don't take pride in what they do and are just collecting a pay check. I don't know what this young lady makes per hour but I can tell you that she's worth every penny of it plus some.

My parting thought is this:  Why don't we tip phlebotomists when they do a good job?  If we can tip carhops at Sonic for something that takes very little skill, why can't we make our appreciation known when something as important to our well-being as phlebotomy is performed at a high level?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why we don't celebrate Halloween

So, no one really asked me my opinion on this. But that's the great thing about can say what you want to. At least in this country. And every year at this time it seems I have to explain to a great number of people why i'm not spending a bunch of money on costumes for my two children and parading them around neighborhoods to beg for candy from people that we otherwise don't know or talk to.  So let me 'splain' in to you.
We simply don't believe in it!...  Did ya get that?!  We don't believe in Halloween and what it represents.  I would no more let my kids participate in Halloween than I would let them march in a gay pride parade.  People say, "Oh well its just harmless fun".  That may be true and I even did it a few times myself when I was a kid.  But I didn't understand back then what I understand now.  Ever noticed that all of the things that make Halloween have to do with the dead and evil?  Now, we are Christians who try to live out what we believe and what the Bible tells us. And if you go looking for God's direction about such things it's pretty easy to come to the conclusion that this isn't really a good thing.  But i'll leave it up to everyone else to decide what is best for their family.  "As for me and my house" know the rest.

Also, for those who think its too traumatic on the kiddos to not participate I can only tell you it hasn't been that way for us. Sure at first it was a little tough when they were too young to understand. We have a child with special needs who is always extremely concerned with fairness.  And she now get's why we don't participate and she's cool with that, because she's read the Bible and we've been very upfront with her about our stance on the whole thing.  Her big problem is that the other kids get to stay up later than her and "that's not fair".  LOL   Things could be a lot worse.

Anyway, enough ranting.  I didn't want to write a big apologetics lesson on why Christian's shouldn't celebrate Halloween.  That's been done and frankly it's been done a lot better than I could do it.  If you're interested in it just Google "Christian response to Halloween".  I'm not trying to tell anyone else how they should live.  But please don't look at me like that when I tell you we don't celebrate Halloween. 'Cause I might just tell you why I think you should know better.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Danielle's Ice Cream Dream

We're gonna do our first JDRF walk as a family this coming October!  Danielle is totally stoked about it.  The name she picked for her team of walkers...."Danielle's Ice Cream Dream"

Danielle was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when she was just two years old.  That seems like a long time ago now since she's about to turn eight years old.
It's been a constant challenge but it's developed in her a BIG HEART and she loves to give to others.  I know she would love it if they found a cure, but more than that she just wants to help others. 

Please consider giving to the cause.  You can donate to her, or to me (I'm trying to raise $100 also) or to the Ice Cream Dream.  (Team name: Danielle's Ice Cream Dream)

Thanks for being a part!

Donation Page - Just mention the team name or my name....Arron Vickery

Danielle's Dad

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baylor the Dog and social networking

This is icon for social networking website. Th...Image via Wikipedia
If we call our social network Facebook, then what would a dog call theirs?  Let me explain...

Tonight my trusty canine companion and I went for a jog/walk around the block in my neighborhood. It was a beautiful evening with puffy clouds backlit by an almost full moon. The sun had been down less than an hour and already the calm of evening had settled in. As we walked down the streets in my neighborhood, Baylor would zig and zag from front yard to front yard. Each pile of leaves and every mailbox he came to he took the time to sniff and mark.  Almost as if he was a scientist collecting specimins and cataloging them for later recall. Now if I had simply been 'walking the dog' I might have just observed and allowed him to go about his business.  But I was actually trying to get some excercise. And this constant stopping and starting didn't fit into my fitness plan. I mean I understand the concept of interval training, but I think you have to sustain enough activity to get your heart rate up for that to work. This was most annoying and I let Baylor feel my annoyance by jerking him out of his three-legged stance many times.  Two thoughts came to my mind as I was trying to establish a decent pace: 
1.Why is it so important for him to pee in the exact same spot as every other dog in the neighborhood? 2.Where does he store all this extra water?

As I rounded the next corner a thought occurred to me.  What if he's just trying to stay up on all his friends... his aquaintances...his "peeps"? (I guess in his case it would be..."pups"? I know, i know...)  Then it hit me. It was an epiphany of sorts. Running around and peeing on everything and sniffing where other dogs have done the same is the canine version of Facebook!

Of course, there are many other questions that now need to be answered.  How do they "poke" one another?  What is the equivalent of a "friend request"?  Is there such a thing as "like" in their little offline community?  The list could go on and on. But the question that made me lose my ability to keep running as I choked on my own laughter was the last one....If we call ours Facebook, and dogs sniff each other's behinds, what would you call their network???.....Think about it!

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Stories my kids love to hear... Pt. 1 "The flamming marshmallow"

Recently my kids have been asking me to tell them stories about when I was a kid.  We started this tradition during the evenings when I'm home that I would tell the girls stories during dinner.  Its been a runaway success. More than I ever thought it would.  They think I'm the greatest story teller ever.  Little do they know that I come from a long line of story tellers!  My Dad, my brother, my uncle on my mom's side, my grand-father on my mom's side, my wife's dad, my wife's grandad and I'm sure generations that I never met. Apparently spinning a yarn is embedded deep within the DNA of both the Vickery's and Inzer's.  So, although I realize that I'm probably just an average story teller in light of my ancestors and contemporary family members, my kids love to hear me tell stories.  Now, the stories that my kids really like to hear me tell are not just any stories.  They always want to hear stories about when "I was a kid."

My upbringing was not quite Norman Rockwellian, rather a little bit more like "the Little Rascals". My older brother and I spent our school years living with our mother who was single and worked full time. There was always plenty of time for hi-jinks and mayhem.  During the summers we traveled to the Arizona desert where my Dad was stationed at William's A.F.B. outside of Phoenix.  In both locations we found friends, neighborhood bullies and plenty of adventure to occupy us.  Many of my stories come from these times. Simpler times. Very good times. Here is the first of what I hope will be many of these stories...

Camping has been a part of my life since I was a baby. In the countless 35mm slides that document my early years I've seen pictures of me with diapers on (and without) sitting around camp fires and the outdoors. Many of these early scenes were in the northwest part of the country where I was born. Later, many of them took place in the wilderness and mountains of Arizona. You see my brother and I would spend our school year in South Carolina with our mother. But once school was out we got to go out west. The old west!  Arizona.  The place that gave birth to the legends of Tombstone and Wyatt Earp. It was a great way to grow up.
Camping was just something we did with my dad in the summers. One summer, when I was around 7 years old, we were on one of our yearly trips to the mountains of Arizona.  We had setup camp close to a lake and were enjoying an evening around the campfire. You can't really have a campfire without roasting marshmallows, at least not if you have kids camping with you. So we were roasting marshmallows.  I use the term roasting lightly. Charring or torching might be more appropriate. You have to get close so that your eyebrows feel singed in order to get the end of the stick to the right location just outside that orange glow at the hottest part of the fire. Well, my older brother Shane had just achieved the perfect positioning of his whittled spear tip full of marshmallows. And as we were all admiring his ability to reach the perfect cooking placement he raised that heavenly harpoon and it burst into flames.  He immediately began to wave it around in the air to try to extinguish the ignited treats. I mean what kid wants chocolate, graham crackers and ash?  Well, as he soon found out, the more he waived them around the brighter the flames burned. With this realization he began to panic and started wildly swinging them back and forth. What all of us failed to see in time was the fact that I was standing directly in his path in my cutoff jean shorts. I was already about five feet off the ground by the time I realized that my leg was ablaze with burning goo. I of course let out a scream that no little girl for three counties could rival. Lucky for me my dad had seen all of this happen and had swooped in, picked me up and was carrying me to the nearby lake shore. What seemed like a forever at the time really only took about 3 or 4 seconds before I was thrown into the dark water and the flames were extinguished. As I realized that I was sitting on the bottom of the lake I rose to my feet where the water was about to my knees. I was in shock. But I doubt my eyes were near as wide as my brothers were as I'm sure he thought his short life was about to come to an end at the hands of my father.  Thinking back, I wish I had a picture of the look of sheer terror on his face more than anything.

Recently at a family gathering over the Christmas holidays we told this story again and all laughed hardily. No one laughed more that I did. Especially as dad summed it all up by telling us how somehow every time we went camping we managed to go through an entire first-aid kit.
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The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection