Sunday, May 29, 2011

Declutter Bug

I think one of my gifts is organization.

It took me a long time to realize this but now I can claim it as my own.

I like for things to have a place ... and stay in it. Of course that hardly ever happens. The staying in it part anyway.

I'm a little fearful that Grace may not have inherited that trait. Her room is a pit most of the time. I don't remember my room ever looking like that. Of course, I'm pretty sure that was mostly because my Mom cleaned it for me (or for her) most of the time.

Still. I like things clean and simple and orderly now. Maybe even more now that it's harder to keep them that way. The past few years I have gotten really good at getting rid of stuff. The hard part is not buying more stuff to replace it. THINGS seem like such a good idea at the time.

I have to admit that I am the one who does most of the buying of things and clothes in our home. Bryon hardly ever buys anything and if he does it's something huge like a tractor, or a mower or a four wheeler. I buy piddly little things that add up over time and then end up in a garage sale or in this case... a Slab Sale.

Grace doesn't get much during the year, maybe a few new movies and seasonal clothing and shoes because she outgrows everything so quickly. But as for toys etc, we buy her hardly anything really. But, with her birthday in October (and the big 20 kid plus family birthday parties we have had) and then Christmas just two months later... the stuff really piles up.

For the past few weeks we've been going through things, drawers, closets, garage, barn and gathering up STUFF to get rid of at my now 3rd Annual Niangua City Slab Sale. This year it's going to take the pickup AND the trailer to get all the stuff up there.

I would hate to know how much much money we have spent on all this stuff we are going to get rid of (see picture above).

It's easy to accumulate stuff. Ten dollars here, twenty there. Stuff, STuff, STUFF!

I had two shirts that even had tags on them still, that I cannot and have no hope to wear. They are going. Somewhere. Away.

I did keep the pants I have outgrown and hope against hope to one day wear again. The last time I lost weight I optimistically gave away my fat pants. Now I'm wearing NEW fat pants that I just had to buy again. And so it goes.

The trouble with shoes

The trouble with stuff

The trouble with closets

This is the second time we've severely cleaned out the Oprah closet. I call it my Oprah closet because it's so big. My stuff is on the left. Bryon's is on the right. What you can't see from this pic is that his clothes only go halfway across including his camo clothes and various and other sundry hunting things take of the other half of his side. He doesn't buy many clothes. 

You can maybe see in the top pic I have two three foot piles of clothes to get ride of. Most of them won't sell at a Slab Sale. They will most likely end up being donated to the Community Thrift Store in town. Most of the stuff we are selling is actually Grace's. I asked her to clean out her play room and room. I gave her a tub and a box and told her to get rid of the trash in the box and anything she didn't want to keep or play with anymore in the tub. 

She filled them up time and time again. I had to resist talking her into KEEPING things. I only vetoed a couple of things. I told her I would give her $25 from the profits of the sale and she could buy a new movie or something if she wanted. She asked about a new toy. I told her we were already getting rid of a whole bunch of  "toys" she never even played with. She said, "Yes but it's hard not to buy more things you want".

Aye, there's the rub.

Oh Strawberry!

Unripe strawberries.
 These (see above) are unripe strawberries. Said unripe strawberries were picked by Grace without permission. I wouldn't let her climb over the fence and into the strawberry patch the other night because I didn't want her trampling all over everything. So she waited. Until a few days later when she was outside alone and I wasn't looking and did it anyway.

Have I mentioned she has a mind of her own?

I made her eat one of the unripe ones, the greenest one I could find, so she could see the difference between ripe (ie delicious) and unripe (ie disgusting). She said it was good. She lied.

I was angry but it was hard to be too terribly upset since I had just bought and worked up 20 lbs of strawberries from Debbie in my Sunday School classes big patch of berries.

Twenty pounds is a lot of berries.
Ripe strawberries

20 lbs of strawberries
 I spent until midnight after book club a few Wednesdays ago washing, stemming and freezing them so we can use them for the next year in smoothies, yogurt and other desserts. I was really tired of strawberries by the time I was done.

So when Grace picked those unripe ones I was angry but not TOO angry. I let them sit on the bar for a couple of days and they ripened right up.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the time my Dad had grown a bunch of watermelons at our old home place where I grew up. He had picked them and left them lying in a row by the garden in the sun. He was going to go pick them up later and eat them and give them away I suppose.

Unfortunately for him, my younger brother Mike and our neighbor girl Sharla found them first. Mike was probably around six or so then too. Sharla was the same age. 

They saw the immediate potential for fun and smashed every single one those watermelons into a watery goo in the hot sun. I don't think they even ate any of them. 

Dad was plenty mad when he found out what they had done. 

I don't remember what the repercussions were for the two watermelon vandals but I sure still remember the story all these years later. 

I guess it's in her blood.

Giddy Up!


Chicken Saddle
 This is a chicken WITH a saddle and one without. The one in the middle has been being picked on ever since the roosters met their maker because those roosters had humped the feathers off their backs and left them red and raw. The middle one is not nearly as bad as the bottom one had become. Her back was just red and featherless so when a friend mentioned she had seen chicken saddles on the internet, I Googled it and sure enough I found some. Check them out, they have a variety of colors and designs just in case you are ever in need
Chicken with saddle. Chicken without saddle.

Happy Hen.
As you can imagine, getting the saddle ON a chicken is no easy feat. I tried. I left with a scratched up arm and a naked chicken. Bryon helped me and she's had it on for a couple of weeks now. I've checked under it a few times just to make sure she doesn't have a hidden infection or something going on and so far so good. I don't know how long or IF her feathers will grow back in but at least she's not getting picked on anymore.

I figure it doesn't look too hard to make one so I bought this one for a pattern and I guess I'll work on one for the other girl sometime too.

I'm not sure if buying a saddle for your chicken is the same as dressing your dog or carrying your Chihuahua around in your purse, but I'm guessing it's the country version of that.

Graduation and Summer Vacation

Grace graduated from Kindergarten on Thursday which means that summer vacation has officially begun.

Boy do I remember watching the clock tick tock excruciatingly slowly towards 3 pm nearly every day of school. It's especially clear in my memory in the sixth grade for some reason. That's one of the few homeroom classrooms that is indelibly etched in my memory. Nothing horribly traumatic happened to me in the sixth grade, but I did have a male homeroom teacher, Mr. Franklin. He was a very nice man as I remember but I was terrified after the Your Body and You film and lecture that I would get my period during his homeroom and have to go up and explain why I needed to visit the nurse.

Mercifully that didn't happen. I got it for the first time on a Saturday when I was going rollerskating with John Gardner at Skate Corral in Springfield. I was pretty sure everyone there at the time knew my problem. It was mortifying. Still, I was thankful it didn't happen in Mr. Franklin's class. Thank God for small miracles.

Grandpa Medley, Nana, Aunt Brenda and I all made it to her Graduation but Bryon had to work so I took my phone so I could record it for him. Then at the last minute he managed to show up AND with flowers for her. She was pretty excited.

So now Grace is officially a first grader. She can read a lot of words already and has read several Dr. Seuss books to us... very, very, very slowly... Have I ever mentioned I have no patience? It is exciting that she can read some now though and by the end of next year, there will be no stopping her.

I got Grace a library card of her own last summer and she has been checking out her own books (about 14 every week or so) from the Webster County Library. Since last June we've read her 183 library books  and reread  books countless times from her own library.

If nothing else, at least we are helping her to learn to like to read.  I figure we can't be screwing her up too badly if she at least has that gift.

Of course she has a goodly dose of independence as well. There's just no telling what she'll become.

Maybe a comedian?

It's noisy in the country.

Cicada shells Grace found.

The kid loves bugs. Just not spiders.

A girl and her pets.

A city friend of ours came to visit one time when we lived in Highlandville, Oh about 13 years ago now I suppose, and it was in the middle of the big cicada hatch. As she was getting in her car to leave she said, "It's noisy in the country!" Yes my friend, yes it is.

Grace has been finding a ridiculous amount of cicada shells and live bugs around our house. Since they eat and lay their eggs in twigs, our back yard is pretty much cicada Mecca.

We can hear them in the house, with the windows closed and the air conditioner on. It's like country static.

The next big hatch won't be until 2024 and by that time Grace will be a freshman in college somewhere securing our retirement care and won't likely have much interest in cicadas and bugs. Unless of course she decides to become an entymologist.

As much as she likes the things, that wouldn't surprise me. She slept, against my better judgement, with three of them in a bug cage in her room the other night. I told her if those things started humming, they were going outside. She said she'd close the door.

I'm pretty sure they all made it back outside.

If you'd like to learn more about cicadas check out this link

You can hear what our backyard sounds like here...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mother's Day

I had a very nice Mother's day. Bryon had to work all Mother's Day weekend so we celebrated the Sunday before by going to Red Lobster and eating lunch after church. Then Bryon and Grace took me to BB&B and bought me the most awesome food processor ever. Behold, the Ninja Kitchen System...

It slices, it dices, it mixes, it smooths... but wait there's more! This is chocolate chip cookie dough in it before and after. I've also made awesome hummus, smoothies and ice cream already. It really is pretty remarkable. My blender wouldn't even make a smoothie, even the ice crusher model, but this thing is the BOMB!

I hadn't even heard of it but as soon as I got home I saw there was an infomercial on DirecTV for it so I watched the whole thing. It has two sized containers the smaller one with the cookie dough and the large pitcher size. I understand it makes wonderful margaritas but I wouldn't know since I swore off tequilla after our 5 year class reunion (20 years ago now).  Eeek!

By the time Mother's Day weekend actually rolled around it was just me and Grace at home and we just bummed around and relaxed. She waffled between loving me and promising numerous homemade gifts  for Mother's Day and being angry with me and telling me she wasn't going to give me anything.

By Sunday I just decided to let her have her way in nearly all things because all I really wanted to do was sit on the back deck and read The Stand. So here is the progressing of things she did on my Mother's Day...

First thing we did was skip church, sleep in and then go to Freda's for breakfast. I was getting dressed in my weekend scuzzies and she came into the bathroom in her dress and makeup and told me I had to dress up because it was Mother's Day and picked out a blouse and skirt for me. Shoes too.

Breakfast at Freda's.

She insisted on wearing my earrings too.

Painted her toe and finger nails herself.

Made herself a crazy fruit, peppermint stick and granola snack with the sharp knife...herself.

Found this totally cute little turtle and finally agreed to release it.
Found worms and a drink and her fishing pole and went to the pond to fish... herself. Notice the tube of lipstick slowly melting in the sun on this bench by the cup of worms.
Baited her own hooks, but I had to help her get the fish off because those dang perch swallow it every time. She caught about a dozen fish.

Yep, that's a perch and Yep that's eyeshadow and lipstick on her.

 Later in the day after we had come inside she came out of her room and asked for a hammer. I asked why she needed a hammer. She just did. I asked what she planned to hammer with it. It was a secret. I gave her a hammer. She went to her room and shut the door and then opened back up and told me she also needed privacy and I was not to come into her room. I did not. After a while and a good deal of hammering, she came out with this Mother's Day gift for me.
The wind chime.

It's a wind chime.

Those are charm bracelet charms wrapped in scotch tape hanging from the yarn.

I put it in the window.

On the inside.

Later I told my Mom about it when I called her on Mother's Day and showed her the picture on Facebook and she said, "Lisa, she's just very creative! You need to encourage that!"

I told her I did.

I gave her a hammer.

At the end of the day she told me I was a really nice Mama today and she guessed it must be because it was Mother's Day.

I told her I guessed so.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eating Crow: A Second Helping

One of the things that got me thinking about eating crow was when the other day Grace said when she grows up she wants to move to New York and live where the big skycrapers are. I told her I used to want to do that too until we finally took a family vacation there and I discovered it was not what I wanted at all.

Sometimes things are a lot better in your plans and memories than they turn out to be in reality.

I told her she'd just have to visit a lot of places before she decides where she wants to live someday.

So the third ingredient in my Crow Stew is:

3. One pint of Moving to NY to be a journalist.

I was lucky enough to be able to write a column for the Bolivar Herald Free Press when I was in high school. I wrote about all sorts of things; my green pickle car, a ski trip I went on, my Dad's annoying habit of filling the wood heating stove full of wood and then retreating to the basement while we all sweated our tails off upstairs. You get the idea.I wrote lots of columns mostly at the expense of my family. A precedent was set. I received lots of praise and figured my path was clearly set. 

I was also Editor of our school paper which really didn't mean all that much because my power was very limited. Basically, I got to decide what stories we would include etc. That was pretty much it. That experience however is what led me to think I would should become a journalist and live in New York.

This was a brilliant idea since the University of Missouri in Columbia had one of the top five schools of journalism as well as in-state tuition which was a definite plus for my parents. So off I went to Mizzou to take my general ed requirements. I only had one Intro to Journalism class that year. Somewhere around this time I finally got to see Under Fire which was a movie about journalists who pretty much got shot at all the time and killed doing their jobs in a war zone check it out here

The tag line was "The first casualty of war is truth". Well the first casualty of that movie for me was to consider a different profession. I am no hero. That movie and the fact I finally successfully stalked Bryon into submission led me back to SMSU and in search of a new occupation and degree. Hmmmm, what to do, what to do. The world was at my fingertips. I could become anything. I liked to write. I liked to read. I could be a teacher. Now THAT was a great idea! I could share my love of literature and writing with students and it would be all Dead Poets Society instead of Under Fire.

It totally seemed like a good idea at time.

Once again, however, it turned out to be one of those things that is so much better in theory than in practice.

I lasted three years as a teacher of High School English.

Now I have a degree I hope to never use again and I live in Niangua, MO which is pretty much the antithesis of New York. If that isn't a big heaping helping of crow, I don't know what is.

4. One large cleaned and quartered piece of Having Children.

I don't know how many times I said through the years (pretty much beginning in junior high) that I was NOT having children. Bryon was on board with this plan. Actually he was willing to swing either way on that topic but we did have a running list of reasons NOT to have children. We never wrote any of them down, but I know it was long.

Every time we witnessed a screaming kid in Wal-Mart or a restaurant - it got added to the list. Instead of kids we had dogs. Two of them. The great thing about dogs was you no one called DFS on you if you let them in the kennel all day while you were at work or at night when you were out on the town. They loved you regardless of WHEN you came home, they mostly did their business outside, they gave you unconditional love and didn't talk back.

That plan ticked along just fine for 15 years of married life and I professed and defended my plan to remain childless at every occasion.

They we bought land. And built a house. And I turned 35. And my clock started ticking. Not quietly and subtly but LOUDLY and AGGRESSIVELY and it said NOW.

Let me tell you. You can not deny the clock. If it stats ticking. It will win, despite your protests or how much crow you'll have to eat.

I had a whole heaping helping. And now we have Grace.

5. A sprinkling of Diets.

Professing your decision to go on a diet in theory is a good thing. People will support you and encourage you. Unfortunately, they'll also criticize and judge you when you eat half a  pan of brownies after a particularly stressful day with various renditions of "I thought you were on a diet". Even if the words aren't actually said, you can hear them.

I never really dieted at all until around 1996. That was the first year after we went to Yellowstone and as I was looking at photos of me riding horses I thought... who is that fat sorority girl on a horse. Yeah, it was me. And I was never a sorority girl.

I was, however, fat.

That was when the "low fat" craze first hit and I was eating 15 grams of fat a day or less. Then 10 grams of fat a day. I was walking. I totally changed the way I cooked and Bryon and I ate. We both lost weight. It was great while it lasted.

I think mine lasted a year or two, then slowly but surely I eeked back up into the tail end of the regular sizes. Something had to be done. I joined Weight Watchers. I went on a diet. I lost weight. It was great while it lasted. It lasted about a year and then... well let's just say it continues to this very day ad nauseam. 

I think I should stop declaring when I am on a diet and just secretly do it until I get the results I want. 

If only I could keep a secret. 

Good think I have lots of good recipes now for crow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Various and Sundry Interests

I'm not sure what this pile of books I chose to peruse at Barnes & Noble says about me, but I'm sort of skeptical whether I can ever achieve Feng Shui in my home with The Complete Guide to Vampire Mythology on the same night stand.

Eating Crow

It seems as though every time I declare some new ultimatum, plan or declaration it is immediately doomed for failure. Somehow just vocalizing (or writing) that thought almost immediately sets the wheels of destiny on a crash course toward dismantling said ultimatum, plan or declaration.

I'm not sure if that can be blamed or described best by karma or the whim whams of an impulsive mind, but either way, the results seem the same.

Maybe the Rolling Stones really sized it up best, "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need". I'm sure you have some of your own examples of this happening. It surely can't just be me.

I'm suspect some of this stems from the fact that I am self-actualized enough to know I'm a great STARTER but not such a good SUSTAINER... you can read more about that at this post .

Making a good Crow Stew takes years of eating bad crow dishes before you get the ingredients just right.

Here are a few of my top of mind examples:

1. A dash of Sixth Grade Band. Remember when the local music shop people would come to school and parade all the cool instruments through music class one Tuesday and get you all worked up to play an instrument and be part of the band regardless of your innate musical abilility (or in my case, lack of). Well, I was completely susceptible to that sort of rabble-rousing.

In fact, I vividly remember going home that afternoon and having a throw down, uncontrollable sobbing fit in the corner of my bedroom wedged up against my dresser with my Mom and Dad standing over me patiently trying to convince me that I did NOT need a new trumpet to play in the band. I remember screaming through hiccuped sobs that they never did anything for me or let me do stuff (totally not true in retrospect, but hey I had preadolescent hormones running a muck). They said I would not stick with it and they were not spending $600 some dollars on a brand new trumpet even if it was in 30 easy installments of $20.

I was NOT going to be in the band.

The next day my Dad came home and told me there was a lady he worked with who had a used trumpet I could use and that I could indeed be in the band if it meant that much to me. It did, it did. I made promises and declarations about practicing and taking care of my instrument, etc. etc. etc.  You know the drill.

Hugo the Abominable Snowman: "Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit. I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him..."

Well I did NOT love that trumpet. I did not name it George.  In fact, it was pretty gross really. It had this little spit valve on the bottom and after blowing into it for a bit it quickly filled with spit and you had to release it so it would drain out that bottom of the thing onto the floor. I'm pretty sure no girl EVER got a boyfriend by playing the trumpet. Also, that thing stunk. Literally. It had been in a box in the lady's attic for what must have been at least 20 years because it smelled like must and mold and creepy, stinky attic things.

Also, I did not, it turns out, like practicing. I'm pretty sure my parents weren't especially appreciative of my trumpet talent either. Trumpets are loud. Even when you try to play them softly. Alone, a trumpet is not a particularly pleasing or soothing instrument. No one is going to be lulled to sleep or get all gushy listening to a trumpet. It is also not going to inspire screaming hoards of groupies. Most likely it's going to be more of a repellent.

It became quickly apparent to me as well that I really had no natural musical talent and from the looks of it very little hope for improvement. The progress and success was too slow. I found no joy in the repetition of playing scales and meaningless lines of notes. I could not play any recognizable songs. It quickly began so seem rather a waste of time and effort.

It repelled me. I think I lasted a few weeks.

I'll bet my parents were really, really glad they did not buy me that brand new trumpet because I would not have lasted through the first two easy payments.

I'm sure it had happened before, but that is the first time I clearly remember eating some crow.

2. One cup of Becoming a Marine Biologist: I loved Jacques Cousteau. That man was my idol in late elementary into junior high school. Since it was pretty clear that being a rock star of any sort was out of question I became bent on reading about Jacques Cousteau. I had one book of my own about marine life that was about him and I read everything our school library had about marine life (especially dolphins). I was consumed with the man and the ocean.

Some how I got found a catalog (probably in the library at school) that detailed trips through  Earthwatch . They had trips that teens could go on to do everything from helping to get tiny sea turtles into the sea after they hatched to studying dolphins and whales. For only $2,985 plus air fare your teen could go TODAY to study said whales and dolphins off the coast of Scotland! I wanted to GO! I scoured that catalog and got myself on the mailing list so I would receive more and more of them and I studied every expedition description dreaming of going on one.

I'm sure I asked my parents to let me go at some point. I'm equally sure they said no because I never got to go.

As I got into high school and took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), I began to realize that to be a marine biologist you had to have lots of science classes which also meant lots of math classes. Science was pretty fun. Math was my nemesis. It wasn't long before dolphins and marine biology and Jacques got put onto the back burner and I began to hatch a new plan. 

 I'll bet my parents were glad they didn't sent me to some far off land to study dolphins. Not even for 145 easy payments of $20.

I'll save the remaining ingredients for a fine Crow Stew for another post. But if you'd like a sneak peak you can ponder these:

3. One pint of Moving to NY to be a journalist.
4. One large cleaned and quartered piece of Having children.
5. A sprinkling of Diets.

Or you can try the real thing if you are really adventurous. No I haven't made it but if probably tastes better than the metaphorical stuff.

Crow and Mushroom Stew

3 crows
1 Tbsp lard/shortening
1 pint stock or gravy
2 Tbsp cream
1/2 cup mushrooms
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper

Clean and cut crows into small portions and let them cook a short time in the lard/shortening in a saucepan, being careful not to brown them.
Next, add to the contents of the pan, the stock or gravy, and salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Simmer 1 hour, or until tender, add mushrooms, simmer 10 minutes more and then stir in cream.
Arrange the mushrooms around the crows on a hot platter.