Monday, December 31

Maybe I'm Getting Wiser

Put the fruit of a few years behind you.
Add a handful of mistakes
and a few hard lessons--
and you get wisdom.

I made my resolutions manageable for 2007. And I think I liked it better than way.

Happy New Year! How marvelously exciting to have a fresh start...

Sunday, December 30

The More Things Change...

the more it stays the same...

Holidays (or just days) can sometimes put a strain on our fairy-tale relationships. I'm beginning to realize how important it is to not take these times of adversity too seriously.

My sister finds the humor in any given situation. She gave Momo the pillow pictured above, and the stress doll, pictured below:

What wonderful gift ideas!

Friday, December 28

Blueberry Banana Cake

3 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 cups flour
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon zest

Combine all wet ingredients in large bowl. Add flour and mix until combined. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest, being careful not to overmix. Bake in greased 8" pan at 350 for 30 minutes.
Let cool in pan and remove.
To fill bundt pan, I doubled the recipe and baked 45 minutes.

Thursday, December 27

There's Hope For Grandchildren

My baby girl called yesterday to tell me that she is engaged.

And I did not mention grandchildren to her at all--until this morning when she phoned. I assured her that I had faith in the decisions she and her fiance would make for their future... and I encouraged her to let those decisions be a reflection of what would work best for the two of them.

I'm sounding a bit like all the old farts that immediately ask "So when are you going to have children?"

But it's not like that at all. I am just absolutely thrilled that my odds for ever having grandchildren have just gotten better.

Sunday, December 23

The Grand-dog

With all the visiting here and there, I wanted Blue to be received in the best possible light. He doesn't mind, though. I think he enjoys the attention... and the blowdryer.

We did Christmas with Momo and Pop after dinner last night. They've left to spend Christmas with my sister in North Carolina. They have a great granddaughter down there too. She's three years old.

Christmas with little ones is really the absolute best kind of Christmas. Today I visit my oldest sister and her grandchild--another one of Pop and Momo's great grandchildren.

I think the official count for Momo and Pop is 15 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren... and another on the way.

My daughters are well versed in all the benefits of planned parenthood. No grandchildren in the near future. I encourage them to take their time and do what works for them... So until my they're ready for the responsibility of parenting, Momo and Pop will have to do with a granddog.

Saturday, December 22

Life Is A Head Game

Yesterday I awoke to a light dusting of snow.
All I have to do is roll over to get a six-foot greeting from Mother Nature.

Once JB got out the door, I set about finishing up Christmas. I sorted and wrapped and ran up and down the basement stairs taking care of laundry in-between.

I got a call from both daughters. Jeni had taken her car for an inspection before the 5-hour drive to visit her sister and had learned that she needed 2 tires. This may not be a big deal to most, but to a college student-- living on summer job and grant money-- it can be devastating.

Not ten minutes after I hung up the phone, Miss Jessica called. She's found a job she enjoys, but its flawed. Her male coworkers are verbally abusive and take great delight in playing grab ass. She's reported this to management on several occasions and they seem to be just waiting for it to go away.

I remember dealing with a similar situation when Jessica was in the third grade. There was one young man who wanted to play grab ass at recess every day. I remember she came home from school very upset over the fact that he wouldn't stop, no matter how many times she asked. I told her to tell the teacher right away, so he could resolve the issue. Well the next day, she told the teacher, and he suggested she just go back to play and ignore him. This was definitely not the response I was expecting.

(That's when I pulled out the lesson plan for the School of Hard Knocks.) Jessica, I said, if this happens again tomorrow, I want you to turn around and knock the living shit out of that boy, I don't want a little smack. I want you to kick him in the shin, or punch him in the stomach--but do it hard enough so he will hurt a little, and have time to think about WHY you hit him.

I don't have to tell you that I had a call from the principals office the next day. I went and explained Miss Jessica had done exactly what I had advised her to do. I explained why I had advised her to retaliate with force. I also brought to their attention what type of message was being conveyed to elementary school children by allowing behavior that patterned sexual harassment to continue unaddressed.

I think it's a shame that ultimately we are forced in to taking matters into our own hands. Remember this--all you mothers out there lamenting school schedules and homework--don't forget to do your lesson plans for the School of Hard Knocks...

because essentially, life is a head game of survival.

Thursday, December 20

How Much Is Enough?

I baked the better part of the day yesterday
and then finished up two more sewing projects.

I had really hoped to get the last package to Texas in the mail before 5 pm yesterday (today is the absolute last day for priority mail!).
I underestimated the size of the box and will have to repack this morning to get all the "stuff" in a larger box. Why is it that I keep finding things to put in there?

I'm feeling like my tumbling Santas...
a little of standing on my head,
followed by a few flips,
and then maybe a well-timed break.

Tuesday, December 18

We're Making It With Love

No hallway sex here this season. We're putting our best efforts into healthy stimulating conversation. It's challenging--given the stress involved in completing projects and getting the baking done and the packages mailed.

I've been sewing.

While I sewing, JB is spitting distance away--on the computer-- doing his Christmas shopping.

It's nice to have company to pass the time as I finish with the Christmas gifts. It's a standing joke that I will be sewing on Christmas Eve. I try very hard not to--but inevitably, there is always one more project that I'd like to get done. There's always one more gift that I would like to squeeze in before Christmas.

The best things are handmade.

Saturday, December 15

Happy, Happy. Merry, Merry.

Finally -- through with school until January 7th. A much needed break, for sure.

So now, it's all about Christmas.

This green ceramic tree is what we have done for the past two or three years. JB hates it, but we have no room. When we finish the house, we can have a great big tree--like maybe the nine foot one I had in Texas--but until that time, we have a tree. That is all that matters, really--that we have a symbol of the season. This particular tree, belonged to his JB's father--so that makes it neat, in itself.

This old snowman is an Avon product, I believe. But every year, he was a given. We'd take him out of the box and pull his broom forward to cut him on. Then, the lights inside would blink red, then green, then blue. He was always sort of like a holiday nightlight in the living room. He still is. Everytime I see him blink, I think back about 100 years.

I went down the road to my little friend's house and photographed her decorations. Her house is like an old world Christmas card.

She and JB's right hand man have the nicest, most comfortable home.

And speaking of comfort--I want to applaud slouching Mom for mentioning the fact that she and slouching Dad have the occasional argument. Damn, for a while there, I was beginning to think something was wrong with JB and I because we don't always see things eye to eye. How nice that we all don't live in a perfect world.

Momo is always quick to point out that its good to want for something.

Tuesday, December 11

Santa Claus Is Back In Town

This is one of the jazziest Christmas songs. Maybe that's why it's a favorite for me.

What's your favorite (non-traditional ) Christmas song?

Studies in Human Behavior

I had a truly marvelous day yesterday.

I attended my last math class for the semester (final is tomorrow at 8 am) and then zipped over to Dr. Biology's office to see how I made out on the last test.

He told me I had made the highest score in the class. After a scolding from me for his insensitive teasing, he allowed me to view his online gradebook. (98.44 baby!)

Since I was feeling so large, I went on to test out of Algebra II. Thirty minutes later, I realized I wasn't that large. I lacked 13 points of reaching my desired goal. But... I can try again later.

When I arrived home, I found that we were DSL ready. I really wish this had been available all semester when I was suffering through intermittent satellite service! But, at least we have it NOW.

While I installed DSL, JB tinkered with his latest project...
Any project JB is working on ends up right in the middle of the living room
and this piece is no exception.

The weather was spring-like
and Haji kept waiting for me to come outside to play.

Instead, I worked on last-minute Christmas cards for JB's clients...

And visited on the phone with my little friend down the road
about our Friday Night Get Togethers.
She's taken on a Friday evening job, so we need to adjust our schedules.
She suggested Thursday, but then we settled on Sunday afternoons instead!

The topic then changed to thoughts of Christmas.
She mentioned a wreath she made of wasps' nests and okra--
as if this was the most natural thing in the world.

Today, it's studying for finals with a little Christmas preparation thrown in--
and maybe some baking...

Saturday, December 8

And We All Shall Have Cake

Last night I made a pound cake.
I had intentions of accomplishing this earlier in the day,
but got sidetracked by homework and laundry.

By the time JB had ascertained there was --once again--nothing on television...

I had decided to go to the kitchen and see if my cream cheese
and butter had softened to room temperature.

I always use Mexican vanilla. It's pure vanilla and so much less
expensive (about $2.50 a bottle). The trick--if you don't live in Texas
and can't drive to Mexico--is find someone who's going on a cruise
(like the outlaws) and ask them to bring you some back.

The cake browned nicely.

And this is all there is left today. JB and I sampled a little..
and I did share some with my father-in-law.

Here's the Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe:
  • 8 ounce pkg Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 3 sticks Land O'Lakes unsalted butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Soften cream cheese and butter to room temperature.
Blend together; add sugar, beating slowly.
Add eggs one at time, beating after each addition. Beat until fluffy.
Add vanilla.
Pour into well-greased and floured LARGE tube pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Friday, December 7

Maturity Is Knowing When It's Worth It

Winter Weather Advisory is what I saw when I checked the weather this morning. Today is the last day of lecture in two classes that are 25 miles away.
Right in the middle of checking email, I got a phone call from the out-laws a half of mile up the road. I was told that their driveway was very slick and the walk to get the morning paper was tricky. Also, that the cat didn't even want to go out, because the deck was so slick.
I reverted to my childhood habit of checking the news for school closings. Within the hour, there was a two hour delay, then a cancellation of day classes.
Then Pop called, frantic. JB was on the phone with business contacts so Pop had to call my cell. Since he couldn't reach me on the house phone, he was convinced that I must be on the road somewhere. He was adamant about me not going anywhere, relaying information about the number of accidents. I could hear his police scanner blaring in the background. I assured him, I was staying put as classes had been canceled.
Momo didn't hear what I was saying. I could hear her in the background, still pleading the case of no travel. When it was her turn to speak to me, she spoke breathlessly with all the reasons why I shouldn't travel in bad weather. Her final breath was "If Pop doesn't think you should travel, you shouldn't travel... because HE knows about this stuff."
I know about this stuff, too. But I can't help but smile--and it warms my heart--to know that I have so many that care about me.

Wednesday, December 5

Things Could Be Worse

Christmas is much different when there's no Santa Claus.

He's the jolly fellow who evokes extreme emotion
--whether it be sheer delight or fear--in young and old.

He's the "Ho Ho Ho" man.
And he's responsible for the anticipation of Christmas surprises, he's the reason for the jingling bells-- and he's everywhere. If you don't see him, you feel his lingering effects.

Momo has 85 million Santa Clauses. She says Santa Claus is "her man." She's even mentioned, if she had her way, she'd keep her sun-room filed year-round with his images.

Of course, I always tell her "Do it then." I think when you get to be 70 years old, you should do what you want. Obviously, Pop doesn't agree with me, or she'd have that Santa room.

My Santas are packed away in Rubbermaid in the basement.

Even though I will be having a Christmas sans daughters this year, I plan on pulling them out.
I am decorating for JB and I.

I'm not sure if decorating really matters to JB-- as he has spent more time as a bachelor, than as a family man. But sometimes, I think this is the very reason I should decorate--to give him more face time with Santa. The two of them need to get to know one another better... rekindle that relationship they had years ago.

Note: My title is actually an alternative viewpoint suggested in this month's AARP magazine .

Monday, December 3

Just How Crazy Are You?

You see what happens when the kids leave home? The pets suffer the after-effects of empty nest syndrome.

And speaking of suffering...
Elijah Blue bumped his "good eye" a day or two after Thanksgiving. I took him to the vet, and now twice daily, I administer eye ointment to the injured good eye, drops in his bad eye and an oral antibiotic disguised as a piece of Velveeta.

I've been working on my disguise as a sane person, but I think I'm slipping... I think Momo may be on to me.

I spent the better part of Sunday studying biology. When she and Pop arrived for their Sunday visit, I was wall-eyed and pretty much incoherent from reading about the digestive tracts of all phyla on planet earth. I'm not sure where this information will come in handy later in life, but who am I to even suggest I have this kind of foresight?

I was so totally wrong about all my deer that hang out in the woods behind the barn. I've been fretting every time I hear gunfire because I thought those beautiful creatures that mow my flowers down like billy goats weren't intelligent enough to hide from hunters.

Over the weekend, I counted as many as 18 in the backyard off and on.

I'm taking this as a sign.

A sign that all the worrying I do about my daughters is not justified
because they are a lot more savvy than I am willing to realize.

Saturday, December 1

The Power of One Voice


Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Conyers:

We, the undersigned, believe that there is sufficient evidence for the House of Representatives to begin impeachment hearings on the illegal actions of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

In part, the evidence includes 1) deceiving the American People and Congress resulting in an unwarranted war against Iraq; 2) condoning and encouraging the use of torture in violation of both international and domestic law; 3) suspending the right of habeas corpus by holding American citizens without charges indefinitely; 4) conducting illegal domestic spying on the citizens of the United States; 5) refusing to execute the laws of the United States per their oaths of office through the use of signing statements; 6) pardoning Scooter Libby whose criminal behavior was committed on their behalf, and 7) for their refusal to comply with subpoenas and lawful freedom of information act inquiries.

You can sign the petition here:

I read just this morning about how one man is making a difference. He's walking from Faneuil Hall to House Speaker Pelosi’s office to encourage her to put impeachment “back on the table.”

Mark your calendar. He will speak today at Faneuil Hall at 3:00 p.m. (December 1st, 2007 ) and begin his march to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on December 2nd at 10:00 a.m.

Click here to learn more.

Thursday, November 29

I'm On A Roll...

Since yesterday's post, I thought I may as well open up a bit more.

Once upon a time, a middle-age bride ( a newlywed) was given a car for her birthday.
It was flattering.
The last time someone purchased a car for her, it was a 1968 Corvair that her father bought for her when she was just 16!

The birthday car that was very reminiscent of a youth that seemed a hundred years ago.
It was an unnecessary pleasure... a luxury.

The car had one night with a raccoon and now, four years later,
she wonders what the car is like now.
She still has the title, pays the insurance and the property taxes--
but has no car to drive with the top down on warm summer (or fall) days.

Is this what life is all about? Remembering things that once were?

I have a graffitti on the refrigerator that sums it up this way:
Never replace old dreams with regrets.

I intend on retrieving my car.

Wednesday, November 28


As promised, unrelaxed Dad tagged me and I am paying it out and paying it forward...

I am supposed to post 8 weird things about myself. I don't see them as that weird, but YOU decide...

The rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog (check).

2. Share 8 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

3. Tag8 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. (Ping!)

Do I have eight weird things left?

My eight random weird facts about me:

1. I believe in love.
I've seen the passion in movies and I want that kind. I've seen the respect and admiration in some couples, and I want that kind too. What I truly want to know, is HOW they got there. If you have the recipe, PLEASE share.

2. I believe families can be blended.
When two people get together and truly love one another, they accept all parts. I believe all parties involved, in laws and outlaws, should embrace it and be thankful for the newly added people in their lives and treat them as their own. There should always be plenty of love for everyone.

3. I believe two people can be in a relationship without competition because THEY ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.
Sounds simple enough... why doesn't it happen? (Again, if you have information in this area, please share.)

4. I have faith in my children...
both biological and otherwise. I think they have the brain matter to pull them out of the tightest spots. I know they can achieve whatever they believe they can do. I also believe it is my duty and responsibility to point this out at every available opportunity.

5. I put a great deal of faith in human nature.
What I forget is, we don't all see things the same way. This can lead to disappointment. We all didn't have the same childhood, or upbringing, and that really makes a difference--in so many ways.

6. I have a lot of "happy begonia shit" going on.
JB's words, not mine. I believe things will work out. I have faith. I believe there is so much beyond our control. In fact, if we realized just how much was beyond our control, we'd save so much time in worry and grief.

7. I believe most of the things that aggravate the living shit out of us, are put there to challenge us.
That's a tough one--but think about it. The things that stir the deepest emotions within us, are the very ones that gives us so many opportunities for growth.

8. The sun will continue to rise each day and we will still have taxes to pay.
No matter how overwhelming nor how devastating your little piece of the world, the rest of world will continue. And you will still have taxes to pay. Deal with it.

OK - tagees:






slouching mom



Tuesday, November 27

Sly, Like A Fat Cat

I was glad for the break in the weather today. It was sunny and a bit crisp.

The air was just cool enough to make Thomas crouch, rather than sprawl, in the afternoon sun.

I went down and sprayed Liquid Fence on my garden full of Georgia Collards,
to keep the rabbits at bay.

As I came up the steps to the back deck, I couldn't help but notice
Thomas had stretched to his full height.

He knows timing is everything. I let him in.

He went to curl up someplace warmer as I went to make dinner.
You can find the recipe here. (Broccoli and Ham Quiche!)

And for tomorrow, I'll post 7 weird things about myself, as I have been tagged by (un)relaxed Dad.

Monday, November 26

Two Weeks Notice

With just two weeks left of this semester, I've done all the things any traditional student would do at this point in the game. I have calculated my grade so far in all my classes, and made a list of assignments left to do. I'm down to the satisfaction involved with crossing them off, one by one.

The Thanksgiving break has ruined me somewhat--made me lazy. I'm really having to push myself just to stay focused. I'm tired.

JB teases me, telling me I will find any excuse to procrastinate. He may be right, but I'm thankful he reminds me that I need to take care of homework. He's often the push I need.

Life goes on, and we still need to eat during all this chaos. In my quest for something good that doesn't take a lot of prep time, I have come upon a marvelous soup recipe. This is a hearty, chunky, filling soup--so you should give it a try.

Comforting Chicken Soup

1 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cooked and cubed
4 cans chicken broth
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
16 ounces sour cream
3-4 cups spiral noodles (I used tomato and spinach noodles)

I generally cook the chicken breasts in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a little lemon juice and the rest water, covered over medium low heat. Season with paprika, Lawry's seasoned pepper and poultry seasoning.

In a soup pot, combine chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Add the celery, carrots and onion and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta noodles. Cook over medium heat about 7-8 minutes.

Reduce to simmer and add cubed chicken. Heat thoroughly, then add sour cream and stir.

Sunday, November 25

Only The Strong Survive

This morning I experienced the reality of nature.

As I was having my morning coffee, I heard birds in the backyard. JB just filled all the bird feeders, so what I thought I was hearing was just lots of birds. I listened.

Then the sound was more like a cry or a scream.

I went around to the kitchen and peered out. It looked like something was all into it with a blue jay. Thomas (the 20 pound cat) was sleeping in the chair. Obviously, not guilty.

I looked once more. It looked like a squirrel. But squirrels don't attack blue jays...
So I went for the binoculars.

It was a bird! By the time I roused JB, I was horrified. He tapped on the patio doors and off it flew, still holding fast to the blue jay. Like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, it had its prey dangling from its feet as it flew off.

It was hawk! Add that was when I learned about the feeding patterns of hawks.

What I witnessed in the backyard, plus what I learned about hawks from JB, is more like a real life horror movie. Selective pressure, I guess. It's like what Dr. Biology has said about the stronger weeding out the weaker. Not a pretty site, I tell you. Not pretty at all.

It's like the gun shots I hear in the early morning. I know its insane, but I wince every time I hear a shot. I immediately think about all those deer that have taken over my yard. I think about how awful it must be for them to be hunted.

And that's when I wish I could put up a wall all around the property line to provide a safe haven.

(I spoke to Momo earlier today on the telephone, and told her of the incident with the hawk and the blue jay. She assured me it was okay... because blue jays were overbearing birds and needed to be taken down a notch or two.)

Saturday, November 24

Deck the Halls

I'm trying to get in the holiday spirit. It's just JB and I, so I don't do near the decorating that I once did when there were children at home. But I'm finding that decorating for the holidays makes me feel better.

I bought the garland with a vision for the entry way, when Momo and I went shopping the day before Thanksgiving . It's not there yet.

After it lay on the kitchen table for 3 days, I finally went up about dusk this evening to make a go of getting it started. I'm happy to have accomplished what I have at this point.

And please, don't suggest red bows. I'm not a red bow sort of person. I may have considered it if there weren't 85 million red bows in the city already. Bare with me, it will be marvelous when I'm all finished.

Like life, it's a work in progress.

Friday, November 23

Getting Back to Basics

A simple meal of pea salad and steamed shrimp,
a good movie and my favorite company.

Photo Note: Have you ever seen a shrimp-eating dog before?

Thursday, November 22

Turkey Tales

As luck would have it, the power went off
just minutes after I removed two apple crisps from the oven.

The power was still off when went to the outlaws, so we had dinner
by the light of kerosene lanterns that had been in the family for years.

Then a few hours later we went to Momo and Pop's house.
JB had offered to deep fry their turkey.

Any man who has this sign in his kitchen is game to deep fry anything.

There was a search for the proper seasoning...

Then, in the pot it went.

While it cooked, Pop fiddled with his tractor.

Momo got to put her feet up and catch up with relatives on the phone.

And Mr. Blue positioned himself in the kitchen,
so he'd be sure to share in the Thanksgiving feast.

Wednesday, November 21

Childhood Creativity

What have you got planned for your Thanksgiving table decorations?

The creativity of children always lends itself well to the holiday decorations. The pine cone turkey Miss Jessica has in her hand sat in the middle of our table one year.

And, children wearing handcrafted Pilgrim hats can be festive as well.

One year, I purchased flour tortillas and let the girls make tepees for the centerpiece. I cut one in half and each one painted Indian symbols on it using a fine paint brush and food coloring. They ate a few, but the ones remaining I rolled into a tepee and used toothpicks at the top to hold it together. They loved it! And it was all edible!

The infamous wishbone--every year they scrambled to see who would find it. Every year we had this photo. (Miss Jeni looks a tad devilish--wonder what her wish was?)

What Thanksgiving traditions do your family enjoy?