Friday, January 28, 2011

this friday moment

{this moment}
 - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

” is a ritual I found on (click to view—>) Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from (click to view—>) SouleMama.  Check out their blogs…these are beautiful, and if you are moved too, please leave a link to your Moment in the comment box below.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

tooth envy

Yesterday my oldest grandson Jack lost his first tooth.  It wasn't just the first tooth for him.  It was the first tooth for our family.

There has been a race on to see who would lose the first tooth.  Jack and the twins, Maddie and Duncan, are only 6 months apart in age.  And this year they are started "real" kindergarten.  (Maddie and Duncan have been in daycare "school" for so many years that they call it going to school with the "school agers".)  And being with so many kids their own ages, naturally they noticed that other kids were losing teeth.

I think it bothered Maddie the most.  She has tooth envy to the point that we caught her trying to loosen her teeth herself.  I had to explain to her (and so did her mom) that what loosens a tooth is the tooth coming in under it, and if she loosened and pulled one too soon, there wouldn't be a tooth there to grow in.  That stopped her.  At least we haven't caught her openly attempting to loosen any more teeth.

So yesterday Jim sends me the photo of Jack's first tooth hole.  And then Jim calls Jen to tell her that Jack lost his first tooth.  Jen excitedly tells the twins.  Their reaction?

Maddie: (rolling her eyes condescendingly) I really don't care.

And you can see from Jack how happy he is.  Because this means the tooth fairy will be visiting him.  I hope the tooth fairy is prepared.  She has two more kids right behind him she'll be putting on her tooth fairy route soon.

I have the sneaking suspicion Maddie will be next.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

in memory

My oldest grandson Jack lost his grandmother two days ago.  I am sorry for the family's loss. Carol had cancer, and suffered a lot with it, and I know she is in a better place.  I know the whole family is hurting from the loss right now.

I am sorry that Carol won't be here to see Jack grow up.  Carol was a good woman, and a loving grandmother.  Jack is only 6 years old, so she will miss a lot of time with him.  She will miss the funny things he says and does right now.  And the years to come, all the holidays and special times, as he grows from a child to a man. 

Most of all I feel sorry for Jack.  I was lucky enough to have both my grandmothers until I was an adult.  Jack will miss that time with Carol.  He spends a lot of time going back and forth between his mom's house and his dad's (my son).  Sometimes I feel as though he lives the life of a little nomad, traveling, traveling with no permanence in his life.

Grandparents help with that.  They provide sameness, and predictability, something children need in an ever changing world.

And now Jack has one less person to depend on.  And I hurt for him.  Someday I am sure he will want to know more about Carol, things he doesn't remember.  And I hope his mom will take the time to share the stories of Carol with him.  To tell him what a wonderful grandmother she was, and how much she loved him.  He needs to hear that.  That is what keeps the ones we lose alive.  The memories we share. 

Jack will need that.  So he can carry Carol with him, in his heart and mind, and someday tell stories of Carol to his children, and his children's children.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

boy and chocolate

Duncan came through the kitchen with his nose stuck straight up in the air like a hound scenting prey.

I said "what are you doing?"

Duncan: are you baking cookies?
(I grabbed his collar and flipped him around toward the stove.)
Me: what does that look like?
Duncan: I don't know.
(I can't believe he didn't recognize chocolate cake.  It was in an oblong glass baking pan so he could see the whole thing... I thought he was being sarcastic...)
Me: don't tell me you don't recognize chocolate cake!
Duncan: (his eyes were bulging in anticipatory greed at this point) BIRTHDAY CAKE!!! WHOSE BIRTHDAY IS IT?
Me: (being slightly sarcastic, because I knew he wouldn't buy it) It's mine.  I decided to have my birthday early so today is my birthday.
Duncan: (looking at me with a complete look of utter buy-in of my lie) YAY!  Can you put SOLDIERS on it?

This conversation was so totally Dunc, who is all boy...he loves chocolate, thinks all rectangular cakes are birthday cakes, and would celebrate it every day...and his favorite toys right now are those little plastic toy soldiers that cost $1.00 for about 1000 of them...they are all over my house and have caused Steve and me to scream out in agony more than once when we stepped on a soldier in the middle of the night...

...guess next weekend it is Gramps' turn to have a birthday...I'll put my dish sponge on his...(SpongeBob Squarepants being the #2 favorite cake decoration at this point.)

the eclectic electric reader

I'm not a jealous blogger.  I think sharing is the only way I can also grow as a blogger.  The more I share, the more I am learning about this blog thing.

I have been an avid reader since I could hold a book up.  Mom said they had to tear books out of my hands when I was a kid because my eyes kept getting progressively worse at such a speed and they thought all the reading contributed to it.  (That was when I became a closet reader.)  I read everything, literally.  All my books, all my parents Double Day Book Club selections, the Readers Digest Condensed Books, two sets of encyclopedias, and even a few books my dad thought he had hidden well...  What can I say, I was a book plunderer.  I am compelled to read.

When I first began to read blogs, and realized how MANY are out there, I thought it was going to be just trash know, stuff to wind down with and not have to put any brain cells into...then I realized differently.  And I also realized with eReaders around, and blogs, that these ARE the books of today, the way of sharing information and thoughts, and just because feedback is instantaneous, and we can write something and sling it online in a heartbeat, doesn't mean it doesn't have value.

SO today I decided to share what I read.  That list to the right has some of the blogs I read.  Some more can be found on my google id...  And I would like to offer them to you, for your enjoyment.  Beware I read from G to R rated blogs...but all are well written and thoughtful...  There are also a few buttons on this page you can follow to other click. click. click.  and spend a few moments checking out my blog links...

If you read something you like, then SHARE it.  No blog writer does their blogging in a vacuum.  We want to know someone is reading it, and that we are gaining an audience.  So SHARE, on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social network you use.

FEEDBACK, the third thing that is important to a writer.  Tell us when you like something.  Tell us when you don't.  Just tell us. 

I will also be posting a link to a blog on my posts the rest of the year.  This is my way of saying thanks to those bloggers who have helped me with mine.  And to the bleaders (you all) who have managed to click this blog 3000+ times since August...(that number still blows my mind) all of the comments and encouragement...I say

Thanks.  And READ...SHARE...FEEDBACK...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

meatloaf, religion, and politics

That is my meatloaf sitting there, waiting to go in the oven.  I gave birth to it with my own hands today.  And while I was creating my meatloaf baby, Steve was worrying the crap out of me.

He thinks meatloaf should have all this STUFF in it.  And he was telling me so while I was mixing it up.  He came this close to getting a piece of raw baby meatloaf stuffed up his nose.

I am a purist.  I like meat, egg, salt, pepper, a little garlic mix I like, onions, and bell peppers in it.  Then I add a few crushed crackers, and some water and ketchup to mix it all together.  I always add warm water, because then my hands don't freeze.  Yes, I mix mine with my hands, but I wash them beforehand like a surgeon on his way to a heart transplant.  Remember, I'm a nurse.  And the first thing they taught us in nursing school was how to wash our hands. 

So I am mixing my baby up.  And kind of enjoying it, the feel of the mix is kind of squooshy and a little bit weird.  Then Steve shows up at my elbow.

Steve: what are you putting in it?  (I tell him.  He makes a hmphing sound...hard to replicate in text but I know what it's a condescending sound.)
Me: ok so what don't you like?
Steve: you didn't put meatloaf mix in it.  I like the taste of meatloaf mix.
Me: I never use meatloaf mix.  I like it like this.
Steve: I think it tastes better with meatloaf mix.
Me: forget it, I'm not adding that crap.
Steve: ok, but it would taste better.  I don't put salt or pepper in mine either. 

I mention that some of the hamburger fat has stuck to my fingers, and I turn to the sink to wash them before I put the meatloaf in the baking dish.  He turns and starts to walk away and I hear him say "you wouldn't have that on your hands if you used deer meat, and it would taste better with deer meat too."  That was when he nearly got to wear a meatloaf booger.

I turned around fast as a flash, and blurted out: "you make yours the way you want to, and leave me alone!  I like to make mine like this, AND use a casserole to put it in.  YOURS always looks like a turd in a pan!"  (He uses a loaf pan.)

Then I look at his face (I had been looking at my meatloaf protectively this whole time) and I saw it.

He had a shit eating grin on his face...that is crude, but the only way I can describe it.

I learned something today.  Steve and I can't talk politics or religion because we are polar opposites in most of our beliefs.

I've added meatloaf to the "DO NOT DISCUSS" list.

shot down in one sentence

You see that face?  She looks like an angel doesn't she?  But don't let that face fool you...she is a cunning imp of a five year old.  And she shows no mercy.
Lying in bed with Maddie last night, we were watching cartoons for a few moments before going to sleep.  For some reason, instead of SpongeBob Squarepants, she wanted to watch retro cartoons.  So we ended up on the Flintstones.  I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to share a bit of my past, all warm and touchy feely.  And then, being an addicted blogger, I could share the touching moment with my bleaders.

This is how the conversation actually went:

Maddie: I like the Flintstones.
Me: Did you know this was made in 1962, when I was a little girl about 10 years old?
Maddie: How old are you now?
Me: I'm 58 (I'm really getting geared up for some deep conversation with my girl at this point).
Maddie: WOW! that IS an old cartoon!!!

I had nothing else to say.  In one sentence she dusted me.  I was done.

So much for a touching blog story that could have brought tears to your eyes.

the d list

Mom messages me in FB tonight.  Private message, because she doesn't want one of her fourteen friends on Facebook to see it.  Seems a neighbor across the street passed away.

Mom does that.  Keeps us up to date on the important stuff.  My warped sense of humor kicks in.

Mom: I just found out Bill across the street passed away last Sunday...he was 81, and 4 others have passed away in the park.  (No mom doesn't live on a bench in a park, that is what they call a mobile home enclosure in California, it sounds more pastoral.)
Me: Sorry for Bill, mom... (and his wife too).  You better hope it's not an epidemic.

Yep, I said that to my mom.  You are probably saying I am awful.  Actually, mom has told me that several times too. 

But mom laughed...actually she typed lol, but I knew she was smiling...then she adds:

"the bulletin said most of them died from pneumonia.  I had mine last year.  lol."

So now you see I come by it honestly.  Mom can actually joke about being in the hospital and almost dying with pneumonia.

I was laying there in bed, reading this on my iPhone (an insomnomaniac's best friend).  As I lay there thinking, I suddenly got hit by a thought, or series of thoughts...

What kind of park bulletin is it that gives the residents a death list, and causes?  Dang, you are talking about a bunch of people who are living with the grim reaper in their closets, so why add insult to injury and rub their noses in it?

I mean, shouldn't they be listing squirrel sightings, who just put up a new lamp post, or who just got new teeth... something benign and cheery like that? 

This place sounds more and more like Pet Semetary...and my mom's the resident poodle...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

dishwater therapy

I don't own a dishwasher.  I don't think I want to at this point in my life.  I've never had a dishwasher because my kitchen is the size of a postage stamp.  Off and on, over the years, I have wanted a dishwasher.  But now I see the almighty had different plans for me, and that's ok.

You see, washing dishes is therapy for me.  It is a mindless task, I don't have to really concentrate on what I am doing, so my mind wanders.  To problems I am facing in my life, or to something funny that has happened, or just nothing.  Sometimes thinking about nothing is good, if you can actually do it.

This morning I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep, as often happens at my age.  I am not a do dishes at the end of a workday type gal, and Steve does the cooking, so I clean up.  On my terms.  Which usually means dishes at 5AM.  That may sound heathen to some of you, but it is a routine that has worked well for me.

While I was washing dishes this morning, I looked at what surrounded me there at the sink.  I didn't do it consciously, but I had surrounded myself with some of the things that have the most meaning for me. 

I looked at the small apple salt and pepper shakers that belonged to my Grammy.  I saw the wine glasses that Steve and I have collected on our weekend winery excursions.  There beside the glasses sat a cup with the corks from some of my favorite wines.  Hanging in the window was the prism with a small polar bear given to me by my friend Pat in Alaska for my birthday. 

 And hanging off the sides of the cabinets was the cutting board my sister Dooj sent me when she lived in Hawaii, and the wooden salad tongs shaped like bear claws that Steve and I got in Anchorage. 

All these things held memories for me.  Years of memories, held inside and occasionally brought to mind to relive with happy thoughts. 

And as I washed my dishes for the thousandth time, I thought about Grammy and Grandma.  Two totally different woman, two different kitchens.  Grammy's kitchen was quiet, and my clearest memories are of sitting at the little dinette table to the side of her kitchen and watching her wash dishes, and whistle to herself as she did.  After a lifetime of dish washing, the water was so scalding hot I couldn't touch it, but she would put her hands right in, and her dishes were always squeaky clean.  (Read more about my grams here.)
Then there was Grandma.  Her kitchen was the center of activity in the house, because the door opened right into the kitchen.  There were always adults sitting at the table, and Grandpa owned one chair in particular, and by that I mean NO one sat in Grandpa's chair.  No one did dishes in Grandma's kitchen either.  She said it was because her kitchen was too small, but I believe it was because she wanted her dishes washed a certain way, and preferred doing it herself.  She always put the dishes to soak in the sink after a meal, and usually wore a net on her hair, and never let anyone wash their hair in her kitchen sink.  My sister Dooj tried one time when we were teenagers, and barely survived.

So that was what was on my mind this morning as I washed the dishes.  The cycle of life in the kitchen.  Family.  Love.  And that is how I meditate.  My thoughts take me to a better place, and prepare me for what the day will bring.  It is my therapy.

And that is why I will never have a dishwasher.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

stereo parental unit

Parental unit.  That is what our youngest daughter Wretch calls us.  And yesterday I realized we are actually a stereo parental unit.

Our oldest, Jen, was spending the weekend with us.  Poor girl had planned to join Wretch, her cousins and sister in law for a trip to the mountains.  It didn't work out, long story short, her van was down and had to have the wheel bearings replaced.  

So here was Jen, stuck with the parental unit for the weekend, and being a marvelously positive person, she was making the best of it.  We were all talking and laughing, and they were watching the game.  I don't like football, so I was using Twitter on my iPhone.   I vaguely heard Steve say something, then Jen said something.  Like all moms, I am acutely attuned to what my offspring says (mostly), so I replied.  It went something like this:

Steve: John was up the other day and just loved that pillow pet we got the twins.  He kept chewing on it.
Jen: did John get a pillow pet for Christmas?  (John is 8 months old.)
Me: (raising my head from Twitter) John really loved that pillow pet the other day and was chewing on it and having a good time.
Jen: (snorking a bit) Mom, dad just said that.

After about 3 or 4 more exchanges like this Jen snorked louder and said:

"Y'all don't listen to what the other one is saying, and you are saying the SAME THING.  You never listen to each other."

Me: it's a good thing you are here to be our go-between then.
Jen (laughing)
Steve: (raising his head from the TV screen) I guess you'll just have to be the one to listen to us then.
Jen (laughing harder)

I was having a hard time concentrating anyway, I'd been painting all day and that always puts my brain on another plane (physical or transcendental, take your choice...I am just not present mentally).

Me: I just can't think today..why am I having such a hard time thinking?  Something is wrong with my brain.
Steve: You have a brain?  (He was facing away from me toward the TV, switching channels or something.)
I dropped the F bomb on him for that one.
Jen: (laughing) I'd forgotten how much fun you two are when the twins aren't around and it is just adults.

I said something about getting older was hard when you are 68.  Jen lost it again and started laughing and hollering at Steve.
Jen: DAD guess what MOM just SAID...she is 68!!!!! 
Steve: I guess that makes me 73 then.
Me: And you look that old too.  At least you can still add.

The problem is, I am not 68.  Not even near it.  WHY I said that is a mystery.

Thank goodness Jen was here to listen to the stereo parental unit.  Otherwise Steve and I wouldn't have gotten a word across to each other.

Guess that makes him the woofer, and me the tweeter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

the tie that binds

We laugh in my family.  A lot.  We have our share of tears too, but the strongest thing about my family is the ability to laugh at ourselves.  It is the tie that binds us all together.  There is no one thing that makes us laugh...just a general sense of humor that enables us to laugh at most anything.

So today, in honor of my sisters and mom, I share these images.  There will be more to come...this is a story that has no ending for us....

This first image is me playing nurse clown at work in Alaska...I have always been the family clown, so this was a fitting costume for me:

nurse bozo

The next image is a photo of my sisters and me taken years ago at a family reunion.  A friend of mine who is a graphics artist played with it and sent this one to me:
the alien sisters
The next photo is of my youngest sister, Dooj.  She is a beautiful woman, and prides herself on being photogenic.  She had just climbed out of the hot tub at my sister Vix's house and when she saw me with the camera, she gave me a big beautiful smile.  She had no idea what I was seeing from my side of the camera:

dooj the stooj
This last photo was taken at a barbecue at Vix's.  I believe it was Mother's Day, and we were all posing for photos with our mom.  It got around to my turn, and mom decided to add a little something extra to the photo with me:

mom flips me off
A family that plays together, stays together.  The ability to laugh at ourselves makes us stronger, and has the power to heal many wounds. 

And so we laugh......

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

chili today, hot tamale

Well, he did it again.  Chili.  BUT...this time he bought regular chili powder, plain tomatoes, and nothing that would set my gut into convulsions...

I was thoroughly content and about to dive into a bowl when I asked THE question:

Me: is that hamburger in it?
Steve: (not making eye contact with me) well.....mostly.....
Me: (giving Steve the stink eye) what do you mean MOSTLY?

He almost made a clean getaway...but...I decided I could choke down Bambi this one time.  After all, the God of Fire went out of his sweet way to please me.  What a darling....

And got me some M&Ms too...wait...I think he may have an ulterior motive....

to be continued.... :D

vanity, thy name is cath

I just spent a couple frustrated hours.  I should have been working on the calendar for February for Treasures by You.  But noooo, I wanted this cute little signature to add to the bottom of my blog:

 Ok, so it isn't the best little artsy fartsy signature, but I spent time making it and wanted it on my blog!  I wanted to have what so many other people have on their blogs.  A signature.  Something uniquely them.  I had blog envy.  Instead of staying focused, I let vanity get the best of me. 

So now I am 2 hours behind with a deadline approaching and I still don't have the signature added.  And now I realize....

I don't have to have it.  It isn't going to affect the blog one way or another.  I don't have to have every add on there is and widget and gadget and whatsit, whosit, or wheresit.  My blog is still my blog.  What I write is still the essence of me, who I am and what I want to reveal and share with my bleaders.


I'll get back on target with my painting, which was the first love in my life after all...and forget about that signature.

(or maybe I'll just sneak it in one post at a time...)  :D

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

they're alive?

There have been some interesting conversations being relayed around our house the past two days.  Some of them actually started days ago, and were running discussions.  

Steve:  you need to look in my throat when you get home, when Rachel cleaned my teeth today she saw two red dots that looked like healing spots of something.  (this said to me last week)
Me: pizza palate probably.
Steve: huh?
Me: you ate something hot and burned your mouth.
Steve: I haven't had pizza.  I don't eat pizza. (except at Christmas of course, but he forgot that)
Me: then something else burned your mouth and you forgot.
Steve: I HAVEN'T burned my mouth eating.  I don't burn my mouth eating.
Me: ok (I know he thinks he has something deadly going on, but I don't argue.  I also forget to look.)

Sunday he is eating pork chops he grilled Saturday and warmed in the microwave.
Steve: @#*&#@!  Those pork chops are hot!  I just burned my mouth!
At this point I could really lay an "I told you so" on him, but I refrain and just do an eye roll behind his back.

Then Sunday he made chili.  Or maybe it was Monday.  When you are snowed in, you lose track of time.  I got a bowl of chili.  It set my mouth on fire.  Made my nose run.  I choked when it hit my throat.  Of course, I could have just not eaten it, but by then I was bored and it looked like a perfect opportunity for a fight.

Me: you put too much chili powder in the chili. (said in my sweetest voice)
Steve: no, I didn't.
Me: yes, you did. (again, sweetly)
Steve: I put the same amount of chili powder in that I always do, 3 tablespoons.
Me: it tastes different.  It is hotter and burning my throat. (this is definitely a verbal jab)
Steve: well I did put a can of zesty tomatoes in it.
Me: it's more than a zesty tomato, when it gets past my tongue, my throat tries to close up. (jab, jab)
Steve: I MADE IT THE SAME WAY I ALWAYS DO!  It's because you made me put GREASY hamburger into it instead of deer meat, which is lean!  (like greasy food bothers him...he is polishing off what is left of a bag of potato chips and sour cream dip while he is hollering at me about the grease in hamburger)

This conversation went on through the whole bowl of chili, then repeated itself when I had a second bowl later that day.  (I was just evil by then and wanted to pass the time with another chili verbal boxing rematch.)

Then later that night (or maybe it was the next day) Steve digs in the pantry.  I wasn't touching the chili at that point because I was on fire throughout my whole digestive tract.

Steve: AHA!  It was YOUR fault that chili is too spicy!
Me: and how do you figure that? (I am on the phone with my sister, and I figure I can use her as a material witness if we go to trial)
Steve: because the chili powder is HOT MEXICAN STYLE!  And YOU BUY ALL THE SPICES!
Me: yes I do, except I asked you to pick up some chili powder at Christmas in case I needed it for the Mexican Roll Up recipe.
Steve: (oh)
and then...silence...

Lipizzan stallions are famous, and have been around for hundreds of years.  You can find out more here.  This photo is from the and shows General George S. Patton and  Colonel Alois Podhajsky, the head of the Spanish Riding School in Austria, during World War II.

Today Steve was on the phone with our youngest daughter Deb (affectionately called wretch by me) and I was getting ready for work.  All of a sudden he started laughing loudly.  They talked a few minutes more and then he came running to the bathroom door.

Steve:  you'll never guess what Deb just said to me!
Me: no, I won't, so tell me.
Steve: I told her that Jack (our grandson) was going to get to go to see the Lipizzaner stallions this weekend.  She said what are those?  I said 'you've never heard of the Lipizzaner stallions?' and she said no.  So I told her they were famous horses from Austria, and were captured about 65 years ago during WWII.  Then we rescued them from the German Army, who would have EATEN them.
(I didn't tell him they were in danger of being eaten by several different groups of people, since meat was rare and they were basically steaks on legs.)
Steve: And do you KNOW what Deb said then?
Me: no, what did she say?
Steve: she said...(and he was already laughing) ...YOU MEAN THEY ARE STILL ALIVE???

Yes, we really have these conversations, and yes, I have a daughter who thinks horses live to be 70 years old.  And I am wondering would Lipizzan chili taste any different than deer chili?

The roads are thawing and I need to escape soon....

Monday, January 10, 2011

brain freeze

yes, those are Halloween pumpkins :D
We had a snowstorm last night.  The weatherman (who is a VIP here in the south, anyone working as a "meteorologist" carries a lot of weight) told us that we would have it, and he was right, ice, then snow, then more ice hit and basically paralyzed the south.

The south doesn't have much snow, not here in Alabama, so when it is coming, we rush out to buy all the bread, milk and batteries we can find, wiping out supplies of said items statewide in just a matter of a couple hours.  And we do this because:
A~ We all know that all it takes is one flake to shut down the entire road system in the state.
B~ People don't know how to drive on snow and ice here, so you take your life in your hands if you try.
C~ Snow days are built into the school system schedules, even though it only snows about once every 20 years.  And we hate for our kids not to be able to experience their snow holidays.
D~ If said kids are home, you have to feed them.
E~ Deep inside every southerner lives an intense fear that the weatherman may be wrong, and we might actually be stuck at home for more than the day or two snow usually lasts.  And you would starve without bread or milk for more than two days.

Every southerner also knows the magic of snow, how to enjoy it to the max, and we also know the most important thing of all.  The first thing I was taught when I moved here 40 years ago.  The most important snow skill you should possess.

How to make snow ice cream.

Yes, I live in Alabama and I am the keeper of the snow ice cream recipe in our family.  The first step in making this confection from above is:

Only collect clean snow. 

Now some people are very fastidious, and put out bowls and cookie sheets to collect snow on, so that it doesn't have any contaminants in it.  But I learned years ago that in order to collect enough snow, I had to have a much larger surface.  So I quickly adapted.  I use the hood of my car.  And a clean spatula.

This morning while I was getting ready to make the snow cream (we take the ice out of the words), I was perusing the hood of the car.  Actually we have 4 vehicles in the yard, and all had at least three inches of snow on them, so I knew I was good to go.

We use sugar, eggs, and PET milk (our word for evaporated milk, just like all sodas are called Coke here in the South).  I had plenty of all of those items.  So I separated three eggs, beat the whites to a fluffy foam, added sugar, beat some more, added the yolks, more sugar, beat some more, and then added milk and vanilla, more sugar, and beat some more.  About that time Steve arrived inside with a small washtub sized pot full of snow, and I started whisking the snow in.  Got it all whisked in, we both grabbed a bowl and put the rest in the freezer for later, and headed to sit down to eat it. 

(Before I go any farther, for those of you saying I shouldn't use raw eggs in this delicious delight, I must insert here that no one has ever died from snow ice cream poisoning in the south.  So put your worries to rest about that.)

Now Steve and I were sitting, and I knew what was going to happen.  It happens every time.  Because Steve is a speed eater.  So I took my first bite, and heard it.  The scream.  The brain freeze scream of agony.  I looked over at Steve and he had his eyes closed.  We had a little discussion then (I knew telling him beforehand would not prevent what had just happened, so I waited until it did, for my words to have maximum effectiveness):

Me: brain freeze?
Steve: YES *#($&#(@ (expletives deleted for the delicate natured among you)
Me: you can't eat it fast you know.
Steve: YES (still expleting) but it tasted so good I couldn't help myself!
Me: uh huh, better to take a bite, let your head warm back up then take another bite.
Steve: I know I know...

We ate on.  I took my time, and Steve went through 3 more brain freezes, cursing and grabbing his head and at one point his chest.  I could see he wasn't listening to me.  I said nothing.  (I was laughing quietly to myself by now.) 

Finally he said "I'm going to make some hot chocolate to keep that stuff from killing me" and he made a cup of hot chocolate, and after every bite, he'd wash it down with hot chocolate and sigh loudly in bliss.

So today I learned two things:
1. To cure brain freeze, all you need is hot chocolate.
2. To prevent brain freeze, all you need is your iPhone in your hand to slow you down between bites.

Thank you iPhone.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

the tangled web

I've been online now for about 13 years.  I've gone from not knowing how to turn a computer on, to feeling pretty comfortable with dinking around with the computer and the internet.

I've chatted online for several years now, in several programs.  The first time I started chatting I actually was using a file sharing program that also had rooms for chatting in text (this was before webcams).  I spent time talking to people from all over the world, and was pretty surprised to discover two things:
1. No matter what culture or country you live in, we are all human and have that as a common denominator.
2. The world seems a much smaller place online.

One of the first friends I made was a young man from England.  We struck up a friendship, and chatted about everything under the sun for about 15 months when I convinced him to leave home and come for a visit to my home.

Mark is a wonderful person, and I was amazed to learn he had never been more than about 50 kilometers from his home in his entire life, and never on a plane!  I thought it took a great deal of courage to come all the way to the US to visit with strangers.  This was a first time experience for my family too.  I think they thought I was a little bit insane, but thankfully they really do trust my judgement.  I wanted to see how everyone would react, and I was glad to see that Mark loved the visit, and my family, and my family loved Mark too and we all had a great time.  So much so that when Mark left, he and I both shed tears of sadness that he had to go.

I share this because I am concerned about much of the negativity I read about the internet.  I know there are sick people who use the internet for the wrong reasons, perverted reasons.  But I have also seen the good side, made many acquaintances I call friends, and had some exciting adventures along the way.  I told Steve that he better participate with me or be left at home, and so he has shared my adventures.

I have met some amazing people, some interesting people, and some who were a bit too attached to this thing we call the internet.  But I would do it all again, for the opportunity to meet and discuss, with people I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to talk to, many subjects about many different things.

It has changed me as a person, as have all my life experiences, and I have learned so much. 

I thank you all for the opportunity to learn and grow.  And I thank you Mark, for being my leap into the tangled web of the internet, into the adventure of a lifetime.

And the adventure continues.....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

you are what you write

Have you ever been analyzed by your handwriting?  I had an interesting experience years ago..12 years ago to be exact.  I was working part time as a psych nurse and was working nights.  Another nurse and I were talking and she told me that as a hobby she had learned to analyze handwriting.  She bought books and studied and taught herself.  I was a little skeptical, and asked her to analyze mine.  Here is the bit of writing I did for her to analyze.  Read on after you have a look at it.
Now you understand I was skeptical.  I had never worked with this nurse before that night, and she knew NOTHING about me.  So I read it.  And my jaw dropped.

Everything she said about me is true.  Some people who know me may argue the like to organize part, except that also is true.  That is part of what I do at work.  Troubleshoot and reorganize things that don't work, processes and forms and such.  So it all is true. 

Jilda sat there that night and showed me how she analyzed it, the curves of my letters, the symmetry, the way I wrote my g's that looked almost like a Greek letter.  All those lines and squiggles that you see were what she did to analyze the writing.  And I believe she told me the words with the x's by them were my stronger traits.  And it all made sense.  She told me she had always been fascinated with handwriting experts and what they did to discover things about people.  It seems our handwriting is as unique as we are.

So listen up!  If someone wants to analyze you by looking at your handwriting, keep an open mind.
And be sure to hide those skeletons in your closet behind the biggest W you can write.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

words that will never fail you

I have a raggedy little piece of paper someone gave me years ago.  A fellow nurse who had a serene spirit, and was a calming influence on nights that seemed out of control. 

I was working a full time job, a part time job, and also going to school full time to earn my baccalaureate in nursing.  My part time job was on a psychiatric unit and I loved it but I was also stressed much of the time and stretched pretty thin. That is where I met this nurse.  She always had a smile on her face and was always calm in the face of any storm.

One night she told me that she carried a small piece of paper with her.  When she began to feel stress or pressured or in a mood that she knew was not conducive to patient care, she would take out this piece of paper and look at it and it would help her to refocus and regroup her thoughts and mood.

Her name was Joy.  She brought joy into my life and taught me many things.  We had many interesting discussions and I won't ever forget her. 

I found this paper when I was going through my file cabinets and decided I would share it.  I carried it in my wallet for years.  Just 17 simple words that carry a lot of positive power.  And here it is:
I think I will put it back where it my wallet.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

the world at my back door

Yesterday after the spaghetti war my youngest daughter arrived to spend the night with us.  I was still buried in my wreck room trying to make some headway and feeling like I was going backward.

Suddenly Deb ran in the room and said 'come look come look! your yard is full of cardinals!'

So I grabbed Big Girl and headed for the back deck.  We scared the birds off because Maddie and Dunc decided they had to see the birds too and we all charged out there like a stampeding herd of buffalo.  We stood for a few minutes then went back inside.  I figured I'd have to wait til the kids weren't here.

In about 5 minutes we repeated the whole scene again.  Birds scattered once more.

Five minutes later we were repeating the scene again when I stopped the kids trying to push me through the door to get to see the birds and asked them if I could have a few minutes alone outside to see if I could get some photos.

And being the sweeties they are they stayed inside and watched from the back door as I got these

It just proves that you don't have to look far to find those special moments.  The birds are feasting on our dog's food every day, and so we had dozens of them in our back yard.  They weren't afraid of the dogs, who were laying nearby dozing. 

And the spaghetti war just disappeared from my mind, as if it never existed.   I took Big Girl inside and hooked her up to the computer to show the kids the birds close up and they were amazed.  For about 2 minutes.  They they took off to explore something else.  I sat and edited photos and just enjoyed the fact that on a drab, gray day when I was thinking 2011 might not be a banner year for me, I was sent this special moment to enjoy.

And so I share this moment with you.  I believe that 2011 will be whatever I make of it, and I choose to participate in all the special moments that occur every day, if I keep my eyes and mind open. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

spaghetti wars

Today was not an auspicious start for the new year.  Steve accused me of being grouchy all day and sniping at him (I think he needs a hearing aid with a sweet mama tone of voice built into his ear).  The kids had more energy than the law allows, and they were getting tired of each other after spending a whole week together playing.  Play time had become 'let's see who gets to be the walking wounded first' game and we were all ready to glue their butts to their chairs permanently, and sew their lips shut except for meals.

Then I got a great idea for dinner.  I was going to take a shortcut, and put the uncooked pasta in with the spaghetti sauce.  I figured if I added a good bit of water to the sauce (yes it was Ragu, put your eyeballs back in your head...after a week of meals I was doing good to make it a hot one), then I could break the pasta up and throw it in, simmer it slow, and it would save me a couple steps and pots to clean.

Wrong.  If you've been reading this blog then you know the butter bean story and the ham hocks story too.  I may idolize Julia Child, but I sure don't cook like she did.  Well, maybe her fiascoes are what endeared her to me, but I really thought the spaghetti idea would work.  It did in my mind. 

My mind was the only place it worked.  I looked at the spaghetti after I dropped it in.  And decided that when it started softening up I was going to have one big piece of pasta, because that shit was going to stick together.  So I started stirring it with my favorite wooden fork, to help separate the pieces.  Then I left it for just a minute to go back to what I had been doing.

Which was tackling the wreck room.  It is really the computer room and my (pseudo) painting studio rolled into one.  It is also the medical clinic (Steve checks his blood sugar there), and exercise room (the treadmill is shoved over against the wall), office (read: fax machine/printer/file cabinets), and also bullet making supply room (you don't want to know anymore about that, trust me).  And it is a wreck.  So with my typical first day of the year by golly I am turning over a new leaf and get organized resolve, I was cleaning out a bunch of stuff.  I figured I could have it done in just a few minutes.

About 45 minutes later I smell something and rush into the kitchen.  The spaghetti I left 5 minutes ago is stuck to the bottom of my nice stainless steel Dutch oven bigger than shit.  I grab my trusty wooden spoon and scrape across the bottom seems the pasta is stuck to the bottom, but I figure I can just run the fork across the bottom of the pot and the spaghetti will come loose.

Wrong.  By the time I have scraped and scraped I start seeing some black looking pasta coming up off the bottom.  My mother in law taught me how to handle burned food.  If you don't scrape the bottom, you can pour what's left on top into another pan and finish cooking it.  That rule had saved my butt more than one time in the past, so I poured.  Never mind I had already scraped, I had 3 hungry kids and two adults that expected spaghetti to be done pretty soon.  I looked at the bottom of the pot I just emptied.  It was a charred wasteland of black.  I ran water in it and threw it to the side.  Then I put the new pot of spaghetti on the stove to finish cooking slowly.  Except it was full to the top.  I had misjudged how much I had and if it started flubbing (family word for anything thing that is thick and shoots like a geyser when it boils) it was going to mess up the stove.  Before I could get it off the stove, it flubbed.  I grabbed it and ran to the sink where I had my biggest pot sitting and poured it in. 

I missed the pot with the first 3 or 4 cups of spaghetti.  Never mind.  I just slammed the pot back on my red-freckled stove and scooped the spaghetti out of the sink with my hand and slung it in the garbage.  (I don't have a dishwasher, so it makes sense I wouldn't have a garbage disposal either, kinda.)  I tried three lids before I found one that fit the goliath pot.  I turned the heat way down and that was when I noticed my favorite wooden fork.  I guess I scraped the first pot too hard, because the end of each tine of the fork looked like a badly used toothbrush, all flared out and poofy on the end.  I didn't even want to think about how much wood I left in the spaghetti.  I figured it would just add some fiber, and we could all use more fiber in our diets.

While the spaghetti simmered at crock pot slowness, I got the garlic breadsticks ready for the oven.  Steve had bought some off brand breadsticks and they had used some kind of yellow colored garlic flavored grease on them.  I got the first bag open, and put the bread on the cookie sheet, but had to tear the second bag open with my teeth because the bag kept shooting out of my hand like a greased pig.  After I got the second bag of bread on the cookie sheet, I threw them in the oven and set the kitchen timer (I'm no dummy) and went back to my wreck room project.

About 3 minutes later Jen and Steve start hollering 'something is burning!' but I faked them off by telling them it was just the garlic they smelled from the breadsticks.  The timer finally dinged, I fixed the kids' plates, told Steve to go fix his own, and I ate some of it just to make sure it was ok.  The spaghetti that is.  I survived. Steve and the kids survived.  Jen passed on the spaghetti since she was still digesting whatever she ate yesterday (no it wasn't anything I cooked).  Might also be because she witnessed most of what went on in the kitchen from the doorway (she wouldn't come any closer).

We all finished and I looked in the kitchen.  Three huge Dutch ovens, three lids, one cookie sheet, a ruined wooden fork, a wooden spoon, and red freckles on every surface.  And I just turned around and walked out.  That wasn't on my list of things to do today.  I'll take care of it sometime next week.

We all survived the fiber except Jim, who ate a plate later that day and made a dive for the bathroom, telling us later 'that spaghetti tore my stomach up!'

I just acted like I didn't hear him and checked to make sure the fork was all the way in the bottom of the garbage.