It's that time of year -- country fair time. Time to test my skills in the garden and the kitchen against my peers. (And my daughter.)
Long-time readers know that I have won blue ribbons for my tomatoes for the last two years. And that I am in competition with my daughter for the most blue ribbons (last year, she won for best cupcakes, best decorated cake, and best clay sculpture).
Let me begin with this -- it was not a good summer for vegetables. (You can probably guess, from that sentence, how well I did at the fair in the vegetable categories.) This was an unusually cool summer (until a few weeks ago), so my warm-weather veggies like peppers and eggplants never really got going. And when I went away for two weeks in July, all of my veggies had growth spurts, which either split some of their vines (tomatoes) or exhausted their fruit (cucumbers). Plus, we've had a groundhog problem, and this critter loves zucchini leaves and flowers. It was just not a good year.
All I had to enter in the fair was a few tomatoes. Without dwelling on it, I ended up with two third-place ribbons, for my Big Boy tomatoes and my green cherry tomatoes. There will be no three-peat this year for Lympho Farmer Bob.
Lympho Baker Bob, on the other hand, did OK for himself. While I expected some love for my Boston Cream Cupcakes (truly awesome) and Chocodoodle Snickerdoodle cookies (pretty darn good), and got none, I did win blue ribbons for my Chocolate Chip Banana muffins and my Ginger Carrot Bran muffins. So now I am officially both an award-winning baker and an award-winning gardener. My children aren't happy about my strutting around like a proud rooster.
My daughter, on the other hand, won a blue ribbon for her frosted chocolate cake, and some second-place ribbons for her sculptures and cupcakes. She will be the first to admit that she didn't put as much effort into things this year as in the past. And I though my two blues meant that she and I were now tied....but no. She won another blue ribbon for her homemade earrings. So she's ahead of me in the overall blue ribbon tally.
Which is great. As I've written before, I think this kind of competition is good for her. It's fun, with little pressure, and it gives her a chance to work hard at something and see the results pay off.
And just as importantly, it gives me a chance to do the same thing. I know lots of people have "bucket lists," with things they want to do before they die, and sometimes a cancer diagnosis really makes that list more important. But I've never been a bucket list guy. I don't want to someday look at my list and regret that I didn't get to do X or Y. Too much pressure to check something off.
I'd much rather enjoy the experiences as they come. Going to Scotland and England and seeing my kids enjoy themselves so much was a joy for me. I'd love to go back, and see and do the things that we didn't get a chance to see and do this time. If I don't get to do that, no regrets.
Same with the blue ribbons. If I'd come away this year with nothing, then no big deal. Getting up at 4:00am to bake muffins before I got the kids to school, and turning them in by 8:30am -- that was the fun experience. The ribbons are just the icing on the cake (pun intended).
I don't ever have a day where I don't remember that I have cancer. But that doesn't mean I have to stop myself from taking the opportunities that come to me.