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?

Tuesday, November 20

Sitting Pretty

There were at least 17 years I can recall cooking a Thanksgiving meal for the family*.

Each year, we'd put out a festive tablecloth, eat on the fancy china and drink our beverages out of crystal goblets. We never failed to dress for the occasion, either. Primp and fuss and make your best showing for the holiday photo opportunities.

Life was much simpler then.

I have announced that this is the last year JB and I will visit two households for Thanksgiving. I enjoy the holiday fare as well as anyone, but the double meal is getting to me. We'll be having dinner at the outlaws, and then 3 hours later we'll have dinner at Momo and Pop's.

NEXT YEAR, I have announced, Thanksgiving will be at our house. All are welcome--but there will be only one meal.

**(My girls had Thanksgiving at home with the exception for one year--when they were teenagers--the girls and I spent the entire day cooking Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen at the Salvation Army.)

Monday, November 19

Flowers in the Dungeon

I'm crossing things off my list, getting ready for the next thing.

I've reach a point in my life that I understand the ebb and flow of day to day living. Tackle the waves one at a time. Rest and gather my strength in between--because I know the next one is coming.

Over the weekend, I tackled apple butter with 9 other brave souls. This morning, I tackled a biology test.

There were a few times I mentally tried to recreate my notes of formulas, coenzymes and intermediates. The consistent sighs I heard from other students in the room reminded me I was no different. We all do what we can do.

Like this hibiscus that once enjoyed the warmth of the summer sun but blooms in the basement in winter, we all eventually learn that in order to thrive--or even survive--we must remain flexible.

Sunday, November 18

The Grand Finale

The stirring continued well into the night.

Finally! We sealed the last jar a little after 2:00 am this morning.

The final yield? A little over 43 gallons.

And I crawled into bed closer to 3:00 am,
and fell asleep to the "popping" sound of 85 million jars as they sealed.

Saturday, November 17

When Life Gives You Apples, Make Apple Butter

We're almost 12 hours into it now.

We got started at 8 am with the peeling and coring.

The truck was filled with 20 bushels of this...

We all braved 27 degree weather to turn them into this...

The pits were adjusted to accommodate propane tanks
as opposed to wood fires.

We filled bushels baskets one by one.

And keep track of how many using a highly complex method.

We're waiting for the apples to "cook down" so the last couple of five-gallon buckets of apples can be added. This is the down time--the waiting time.

This is the break in the action that gives you a well-deserved opportunity to put your feet up, share stories and nibble a bit more of all the goodies brought by everyone.

It's a getting too dark to take photos, but I'll keep trying.

And, still to come--at the end--is putting the finished product into 85 million jars.

Friday, November 16

Time For Plan B

I made my rounds today, picking up the last of the items necessary to bring the weekend together.
I have 130 pounds of sugar in my truck. Thats a helldacious amount.

I stopped my The Well and picked up fresh allspice, cloves and cinnamon. While there, I visited with the shopkeeper and have found something to use in a pinch--something for those times when my mind is runing entirely too fast and I feel as if the top of my head will blow off at any second. I haven't tried it yet. I'm afraid. (I mean, which is worse? Having too much to do and your mind going crazy, or being so relaxed you get nothing done?)

By the time I got home from school and my errands, my backyard had been transformed.

The guys had built the retaining wall for the fire
and positioned two highly polished copper kettles,

added a garbage disposal to process the apples for cooking
(we are talking TWENTY BUSHELS folks),

set up the peeling table (complete with heat,
since it's supposed to be below freezing
when we start this stuff in the AM)
... and retrieved 20 bushels of apples.

The apples are inside the garage of JB's right hand man. We were afraid they'd be too much of a temptation for the deer if left out all night. Truth be known, we were more afraid of the damage to the Right Hand Man's shiny red truck, more than anything.

I spent 2-3 hours studying Glycolysis and Krebs Cycle in preparation of Monday's test. As I made my note cards, I heard noises that occasionally required me to peer out the window, just to keep abreast of the happenings. When I got the point where my head was overflowing with co enzymes and formulas, I went into the kitchen to prepare the brisket for barbecue.

I'll post the brisket recipe after/over the weekend. I put 12 pounds of meat in the oven before 8 AM and took it out at 7:30 PM. It is very tender and will be perfect for sandwiches tomorrow. I did half with barbecue sauce and half without--keeping in mind everyone's palate.

As I was busy chopping and stirring, JB shares a kink in the Apple Butter plans. He has researched (via internet) and has found that the statewide burning ban has been lifted--but not in our county. That means no wood fires!

Phone calls are made. Plans are shifted. He's thinking propane may keep us out of jail.

He goes outside to size up the situation. New pits will need to be dug to accommodate the propane burners...

Thursday, November 15

Like A Well-Oiled Machine

It's official. All the men have decided to take off from work on Friday.

As they made their plans via phone this evening, I marinated 12 pounds of brisket so I could put in in the oven when I wake up in the morning.

While I'm off learning numbered sets and Kreb's Cycle, Apple Butter Weekend will start to unfold.

When I'm picking up more than a hundred pounds of sugar and fresh allspice and cloves, they'll be cleaning the copper kettles and getting the fire pits ready.

By the time I arrive home tomorrow afternoon, there will be a pick-up with 20 bushels of apples in my backyard.

Wednesday, November 14

A Recipe For Success

Last night JB called the elderly woman from his church--the same woman he called last year when he first thought of making apple butter.

After he identified himself, he asked her if she knew why he was calling.

"You've lost your recipe, haven't you?" she asked.

Photo note: The spices--allspice, cloves and cinnamon--are mixed with the remaining sugar and added to the pot as one of the final steps.

Tuesday, November 13

The Winds Of Change

Old man winter is teasing us. Cold enough to unpack the winter sweaters, then spring-like temperatures that make you wonder if you were too hasty in putting away the summer things. Tomorrow is expected to reach the mid 70s.

But the weekend temperatures should be in the 50s. The perfect weather for peeling and coring 20 bushels of apples with friends.

The men folk have been on the phone all evening. They're conspiring to start things Friday afternoon instead of early Saturday morning.

Monday, November 12

Happy Wife, Happy Life

One of the best parts of my day is when JB comes home from work. He always calls me when he's on his way home. And I always thank him for his "fair warning" so I can get my boyfriend out of the house before he arrives home.

Truth be known, it tells me I need to get my self out of study mode and into relax-and-be-normal mode. Time to start thinking something for dinner. The break in the action is (should be) embraced.

I'm particularly pleased when the day ends with he and I sitting on bar stools in the kitchen and talking over a glass of wine. It reminds me of why I married him.

JB has a compassionate, generous soul. He's not a saint, but he has tremendous potential.
We all have that same potential, and intimately we, as individuals, choose what to do with it.
His big Apple Butter Ordeal is part of that, I think.

His mother, my MIL, is so like a kid at Christmas. This year, we'll be putting her 25 gallon copper kettle into the mix. I can't help but wonder how much of her excitement is nostalgia.

I did Apple Butter last year. It was fun. It was tiring. But the people (2 couples) that were involved last year, would be my pick to be stranded with on a desert island....

This year, we have the outlaws, and JB's cousin and his wife. I've known them for a hundred years, but have failed to be that close in the last 30. But, they're fun people.

We're on the countdown now. I'll keep you posted.

Photo Note: Just when you think you're out there hanging on a by thread, if you look around a bit-- you'll see there are others folks who have the very same kind of shit going on.

Sunday, November 11

A Gracious Way To Speak Your Mind

I remember standing in line well over an hour one holiday season just so Miss Jessica could sit on Santa's knee and visit. She was all of 3 or 4 years old. I remember how she waited patiently, holding my hand, and watched as the other children each took their turn with Santa.

Some children cried and wanted no part of it. These mothers would exit quickly, after scooping up the wailing child. The line would move forward.

Others treated Santa like a long lost relative, giving the year in complete review, with the occasional "family secret."

As we got closer, I noticed little Miss Jessica's temperament changing a bit. What earlier was described as calm and patient, had changed to a bit anxious and excited.

Finally! It was our turn. The fashionably dressed young elf, put out her hand to guide my daughter to the long-awaited place on Santa's knee.

Jessica stepped forward and looked up at the elf. She touched her hand just briefly before she said clearly and ever so politely, "No, thank you."

I'm not sure what changed her mind about visiting with Santa. But she handled the situation graciously--like a true lady.

Saturday, November 10

I Have Lots Of Options

I always try to make every effort to see the silver lining in any situation. No matter the size of the pothole in the road, I always look into the very depths to find the hidden treasure that could so very easily be missed if I succumb to the unpleasantness.
And now, I have been faced with pulling on socks and shoes since the weather has changed.

Not that I have been barefoot all summer or anything, but rather I just have fell into the habit of wearing very cushy thongs. Easy on and easy off.

Part of wearing closed shoes is this soft little gel thingey that I place between two toes to cushion a sore spot. I think this sore spot must be the result of a time I fractured an ankle a hundred years ago. But that's another story.

Anyway, JB looks today as I am removing socks and tennis shoes and sees my gel thingey and inquires. Long story short, he has ascertained I have a planter's wart.
I know the story is a bit gross, but I have a point.

He then shares the story of a previous life when he had such a thing and how his ex wife got him some Compound W and applied the stuff until he saw bone. But it removed the planter's wart. He thinks I should go get me some Compound W.

I don't think so.

I remember seeing an advertisement recently for something that could freeze it off. This makes me think of a time when Jeni was in first or second grade and came home sobbing because the little girls in class refused to hold her hand while playing games at recess. It was because she had a wart in the palm of her hand.

I took her to the local dermatologist and he froze it off. She was fine with the entire procedure until she saw the end result. She was horrified with the gaping hole it left, unaware that it would heal.

After speaking to Momo's little brother, my youngest uncle, on the telephone I have a different plan.

I shared Dr JB's diagnosis with my aging uncle and as always, he freely offered his advice.
He suggested I get a rub a piece of fat meat on the wart. Then I should go where I'm not gonna go and plant the fat meat. Then the wart will go away.
He knows this will work, because he has tried it. His mother, my grandmother, told him this when he was little and that's what they did.

I think tomorrow I may go where I'm not going to go.

The foot in the picture is not mine. It belongs to one of Jessica's tattooed contemporaries.

Friday, November 9

Chill Out... It'll All Be Fine

I had a rough day.
Two of my Friday tests have been moved
to the Monday after Apple Butter weekend.

That's rough and requires a new plan.

I decided since everyone has been looking
at the last two oatmeal bars in my cake dish
that are not edible because they've been there entirely too long
(and I never removed them because they looked pretty and
were not growing hair or anything
that I should make oatmeal bars for Friday Night Get-Together.

So I did.

I also decided while the oatmeal bars were cooking,
I could take this bag of stuff down to the composter.
It was getting a bit smelly just to insert egg shells.

For this week's Get-Together, my little friend had a lovely table set.

It was a bit chilly, so she lit the old wood cookstove in her kitchen.

I'm a bit menopausal, so Jake and I sat out on her back porch to escape the heat.

It looks like I have room for company. Would you like to visit for a spell?

Thursday, November 8

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I have been tagged by Anna to post a video of the song I sang my children.

I picked the song after watching my oldest sister, Pam, sing it to her children.
It works.

Of course, don't forget the line:
"If you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

Below is a kinder, gentler Mick--for all you boomers.

Wednesday, November 7

Taco Soup!

Another Biology test under my belt today, so I'm just happy to be here at this point.

The preparation involved for biology tests just wipes me out. I think it may wear a bit on JB, too.

After coming home from a full day's work yesterday, he reheated Taco Soup and made some mighty tasty grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I was busy putting notes on 4X6 index cards so I could review key points without dragging around the full size notebook.

I appreciate the fact that he realizes we must eat and really doesn't make any issue of who does the cooking. I cook. He cooks. And it always works out better if we try to keep from doing it at the same time.

Anyway, the Taco Soup... hearty and delicious. I made a huge pot of this last year for last year's apple butter weekend. It reheats excellent. And it freezes well.

1.5 lb. lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1.5 cups salsa
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 cup spiral pasta noodles
Shredded cheese
Tortilla Chips

Combine beef, garlic and onions. Brown meat until no longer pink.
Add beef broth, tomatoes, salsa, and seasonings. Bring to boil, then add noodles.
Cover and simmer until noodles are tender.

Garnish with shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, November 6

Have Fun With Your Turkey

1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes.

2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully. (see attached picture for details)

3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve.

I gave up my post as Thanksgiving cook when I married JB. With the out-laws a mile up the road, we usually celebrate with them. I just bring a side dish or dessert.

For the past couple of years, JB has been cooking the turkey in his great big ole stainless steel turkey cooker.

It's the only time--in my entire life--I have heard anyone say, on Thanksgiving, "Is there any more turkey?"

I have done my share of roasting the bird the conventional way. All that cooking and planning and setting that beautiful table--and it's over in 20 minutes.

And we all know, it's just a dry run for Christmas.