Friday, 25 February 2011

Somebody Has to Say It, to teenagers....

Things I wish I could tell every teenager and make them believe it…
I don’t really know what’s going on with me this week. Maybe it’s the huge changes going on in our household, knowing that D is moving back from NC soon or just having teens back in my life; regardless of which one it is, or if it’s a combination of all, I am feeling a little overwhelmed this week and slightly down in the dumps. I’m having trouble being creative and I’m having trouble focusing. Poor Tressie has been stewing on the back burner for almost two weeks now because I’m unable to move forward in her story.
What’s bugging me? Why am I in such a funk right now? Really? Well, kids are what’s bugging me.  It’s not in a “you get on my nerves” kind of way. It’s more like a “you scare me” or “quick, get behind my shield from life” or “you make me sad” kind of bugging me.
I’m warning you now, this is one of my “Somebody Has To Say It” moments. I’m going to be really straightforward and blunt and I’m not going to mince words or edit for content. I can guarantee you I’m going to offend someone.
As parents, I think it’s instinctive to protect our children and keep them from any life experience that will harm them. However, I wonder if we realize what a disservice we do them by shielding them from the world. If they don’t make mistakes how will they learn to clean up the mess called life? If they aren’t allowed to have conflict then how will they learn to resolve conflict when it’s presented? If they don’t have failures how will they learn to create successes?
So, what do I want them to know? Well, here’s my top 10. If I had time I could definitely think of more but, 10 is a good start.
1.       You’re young. You’re going to have a lot of relationships come and go before you finally find “the one”. Every girl/guy you date is not the love of your life. I kissed a lot of damn frogs and I was 36 years old before I finally found my prince.

2.       Needing to spend every minute of your day focused on your partner, or spend every free minute with your partner is not love. It’s infatuation. It’s insecurity. It’s messed up. It only makes you look desperate and needy.

3.       Feeling like your life sucks because you don’t have a relationship is not normal. If you need to be in a relationship to define who you are, then you have no business being in a relationship. When you’re ok being alone and can be happy and comfortable with who you are, then you’re ready.

4.       Sex does not make you cool, nor does it make you an adult. Sex at your age doesn’t mean that the person you had sex with thinks you’re awesome and will never leave you. It doesn’t even mean they want you or like you. It only means they had raging hormones and wanted to get laid. Eventually, they’ll get bored with you and you’ll kick yourself for not waiting.

5.       Getting involved with someone who is already involved with someone else is messed up. You’re not going to “steal” them away. You’re never going to be their one and only. All you’re going to be is a dumb ass and everyone will know it except you. Why won’t you know you’re a dumb ass? Because you’ll be too busy spending all your time wondering why you aren’t special enough for them to end it with the person who was there first. Let the other dumb ass have the loser who’s already taken and move on with someone who’s available.

6.       Having a baby with someone does not seal a relationship and, like it or not, it does not make you a parent, it only makes you someone who procreated. It does nothing except create problems and it creates more messed up kids who are being raised in single parent homes. Period. If you need someone to love you unconditionally, ask your parents for a dog. Dogs don’t discriminate and they’ll love you for no other reason than you fed them. Your children will only love you if you’re a good parent. Otherwise, they’re not afraid to tell you that you suck. As a kid, one would think you’d already know this and it should be enough to clue you in that you don’t know crap about life.

7.       The world does not owe you a damn thing. If you want something then get off your lazy behind and make it happen. Your parents are not fricking genies. If you want a genie, then I suggest you change your name to Aladdin and go spelunking in some Middle Eastern caves. If you happen to find Bin Laden, handle some business. Then I might consider granting a couple of wishes. But only if you bring me some of that hidden treasure.

8.       If things are going crappy in your life, chances are, it’s no one’s fault but yours. The crappiness in your life is a direct result of the decisions you made. If your parents had ever bucked up and given you some consequences, you’d probably know this already.

9.       Your parents do not have to buy you everything you want. We are only required to buy what you need. I can go to Salvation Army and buy your school clothes and there ain’t crap anyone can do about it.

10.   Mature adults do not have temper tantrums. They do not scream, or hit or throw things. That is behavior expected from a three year old. Double check your age and make sure you’re in the appropriate range. The fact that so and so pissed you off and you whooped their tail does not make you cool…It makes you a toddler.

Seriously, you can take my advice or not. But here’s the hard truth. I didn’t come by all this infinite wisdom by reading a book or taking educated guesses. I learned it from the school of hard knocks. I have been every single jackwagon description listed above.
However, if you’re content with the world talking behind your back about what a loser you are then, by all means, go right ahead on with being a dork. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting pretty over here with a job, a successful marriage and good friends I can count on who actually WANT to be around me.
Just sayin’….

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The beast we named "boy"....

This post came to me yesterday while coping with the chaos of peanut butter waffles, and a near miss, as I mistakenly passed through the Nerf Zone.

“Hey! You’ll put somebody’s eye out like that!”

What happened? Fifteen minutes ago they were the sweetest little angels, still cuddled with their blankets and sleeping peacefully.  I woke the sleeping beasts and I fed them…that’s what happened.

I’m a momma to boys. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing in the world that would make me trade in the joys of parenting these filthy, destructive little monsters for prissy little girls who are afraid to get their hands dirty. God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave me these crazy mongrels that we humans refer to as “boys”.

Mothering boys is special.  Mothering boys is freedom. Mothering boys is gall-darn funny.

I feel like after the heaviness of last week’s post about mothering boys, I would share the lighter side of mothering a boy – the things that make you love them like crazy.

I laughed yesterday as they ran in and out of closets, nerf bullets flying by as they peeked around corners, crouched in the commando position, to fire upon one another.

When you hear the cackle of little boy laughter, the roar of a young male beast, all sensibility flies out the window, taking with it the concern that something might be broken. When they hit the kitchen floor on their socked feet and slide the length of the kitchen, the sheer joy expressed on their mischievous little faces melts my heart.

Here are some things that I’ve discovered boys will do:

1.       Boys will make flame throwers from chemical sprayers because it’s cool to watch. Although now, knowing that my oldest boy came through that one safely, without blowing up one of his extremities, I find this funny -- at the time, this was one of those rare occasions when I became the beast.

2.       Little boys will have deep belly laughs and forget to breathe when they have gas. Come to think of it, perhaps we should all forget to breathe for a few minutes when little boys have gas. I’m making a mental note of that one now.

3.       Little boys will roll in the dirt while wearing their church clothes and then have the nerve to look at Mom like she’s gone stupid when she collapses into uncontrollable fits of screaming and panic.

4.       Boys will stand on the back of the couch, wearing nothing but Spiderman underwear, assume the stance, and leap across the coffee table.

5.       Boys will find out you’re pregnant shortly after “the talk”, grab their very best friend and excitedly declare, “My mother is pregnant! The sperm hit the egg!”

6.       Little boys will lock themselves in the bathroom with the dog and attach every single pad in the box of sanitary napkins to said dog, “because she needed a band-aid”.

7.       Little boys will get frustrated with peel and eat shrimp while dining in a large restaurant. If you choose to ask them what’s wrong, be prepared to hear them loudly exclaim, to your utter horror, and to the enjoyment of the entire dining establishment, “I CAN’T GET THESE DARN TESTICLES OFF!”

8.       Boys, after playing two hours of high school football in 100 degree weather, smelling like they’ve rolled on a dead animal, will grab their mommas after a football game, wrap them in a bear hug and kiss them on the forehead. Then, he will laugh at your disgust for transferring his bodily fluids all over your favorite t-shirt and your hair, smile his most charming smile and say, “I love you, momma.”

9.       Boys will somehow find a way to finagle themselves into an upside down position, and remain there for hours while playing a DS.

10.   Boys will decide to build a car model and it will never occur to them to put newspaper under it before they lay it on your deck and proceed to spray the paint.

11.   Boys, of any age, will sit on a skateboard at the top of a driveway with a 45 degree slope and gleefully scream right before they nearly face plant in the gravel road at the bottom. Some teenage boys have been known to actually do this while holding a guitar.

12.   Teenage boys believe they’re starving. Three teenage boys will easily devour ½ a large jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, a box of cereal and two bags of chips in the eight hours that it takes you to sleep at night.

13.   A five year old boy will swing an aluminum ball bat at the family jewels of a twenty-something male while yelling, “Don’t talk to my momma like that!”

14.   A three year old boy will eventually be found sitting at your vanity, covered in your lipstick and will say, “I pretty like you momma.”

15.   A boy will, at some point in their formative years, put your bra on his head and wear it like a hat. He might even do this while wearing nothing else but his super hero underwear and a pair of your knee highs.

16.   A teenage boy will blow up a condom in Biology class. They will not leave it at that. Their task is not complete until they’ve let go of it and it lands at the teacher’s feet.

17.   A pre-teen boy will discover, while sitting in the school cafeteria, that if you shake a carton of chocolate milk hard enough, it will explode when you open it, thereby spraying chocolate milk upon everything within a twenty foot radius. Once will not be enough – they will do it at least three times, a teacher will catch on and they will attend two days of in school suspension.

18.   At some point, every boy will decide that it’s a good idea to stand at the end of the driveway and throw rocks, and it will not occur to them that they could hit a passing car until an angry neighbor gets out of their car to approach them.

19.   At some point a teacher may say to a teenage boy, “I’ve got a fine line today and you’re on it.” Do not be surprised if your teenage boy sits back in his chair and drawls with a grin, “Well….I guess that makes me Johnny Cash.”

20.   A boy will make you *really* mad and then, with an impish grin, will say, “You’re the best momma in the whole world.” And, he’ll mean it.

Boys, of all ages, are sheer joy. Boys are worth every broken piece of furniture, every carpet stain, broken window, wrecked car and growing  grocery bill and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I'm a momma to boys; and, I'm glad....

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Mommas and their boys…

There's a special bond between mothers and their sons. It's something almost tangible. It’s something I’m going to try and describe for you.  This may be one of the most honest and disturbing posts you ever see from me. I’m baring my soul here and making myself vulnerable to the scrutiny of virtual strangers. Be prepared, it’s emotional and raw.

You won’t hear me mention my oldest son much. Not here, and not on Facebook. It’s not because I love him less or am less proud of him than I am my youngest. It’s because the relationship has been so rocky, and because I often feel the need to protect his privacy as an adult and not embarrass him by sharing his life with the world.

Today, I’m going to share with you what I feel free to say about my baby. My sweet boy, who even though he’s almost nineteen, even though he’s six feet tall and 260 pounds, I still look at and see a little cherub faced angel who calls me mommy.

When I think of my oldest son, there is this ache in my chest. We’ve been through so much together. I was a baby myself when I had him. At just nineteen, I didn’t have a clue about life, about motherhood or about sacrifice.

I had no job, no car and I left his dad when I was only about six weeks along in the pregnancy. I was a child raising a child. I was a child who thought she had all the answers and finally had someone who would love her, no matter what, and never leave. I would never know until later how wrong I was about both of those things.

In his younger, more formative years, I wasn’t a great mother. I was self absorbed and immature. Sure, I met his physical needs, but the emotional ones, the ones that would come to matter so much later, I was oblivious to. I often wonder if I hugged him enough, complimented him enough or told him often enough how much I loved him.

From day one I sheltered him from consequences and ignored bad behavior, always thinking that I was advocating for him. I left him often with friends and family while I went out to experience the world that I had also been sheltered from.

It wasn’t until he was nine, when I had married and realized I was pregnant with J, that I turned myself around and made the effort to be a truly good mom. By then, though, I think it was too late. The damage had been done.

The end of my relationship with J’s dad was a turning point. Though he often found it difficult to admit, D was crushed. His off and on relationship with his dad, and the disappearance, with no explanation, of a step father who also abandoned his little brother, had taken its toll on him. At only ten years old, it left him cynical and angry and nearly incapable of trusting any male figure in his life.

I tried so hard to repair what was broken. I just couldn’t do it. The damage was so far ingrained in him that it couldn’t be removed. Because I was closest to him, because I was the one who was always there, he directed those feelings at the only available person – me.

To this day, he still bears anger and resentment towards me and blames me for everything wrong with is life. I taught him that he didn’t have to take responsibility for his actions by rescuing him every time trouble came his way. I taught him that men were untrustworthy by sharing my opinions with him and inviting men into our lives who weren’t worthy. I taught him that women should be treated poorly and not be given respect by allowing men to treat me that way. I taught him to be pissed off at the world and to treat it like it owed him something.

But, I loved him so much and he loved me.

When we reached the teen years it all went to hell in a hand basket. At just thirteen, he was already as tall as me and as heavy as me, and he was a fighter. The most strong willed child I had ever encountered, the most intelligent child I had ever encountered, was about to turn all of that on me and honestly, I think I deserved it.

I’m here to tell you today that there’s no one in the world who can hurt a mother the way her son can.  There’s no one in the world that can break her heart the way her son can.

Now that he’s an adult, I often wonder if he knows how many times I stood in the door watching him sleep and cried over him. I wonder if he’s aware of all the sleepless nights I had, worrying if he was going to be ok and wondering what the hell else I could do to fix him. I wonder if he knows how much it ripped my heart out to make him move out this fall and tell him he couldn’t come back.

Until J came along, he was the person I loved most in the world. I don't love him less now, it's just that he shares that place with J. He was my constant. He was my person I could count on to be there, if for no other reason than he had nowhere else to go. What a huge responsibility to put upon a little guy.

I love that boy in a way I’ve never loved anyone else, ever. When he’s mad at me and won’t talk to me I have this unbearable ache. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could have a re-do for those first nine years of his life.

For all the things that were ever wrong, there are also a million wonderful things too. He fought for me the same, if not harder, than I have fought for him. He makes me laugh like no one else can. He would give me the world, if only he had it to give. He comforted me when I cried as well as I did for him. He grew up with me. He’s smart, he’s funny and he’s talented. He’s been my sunshine on a bad day, my rock when I was on shaky ground and my pride when I had nothing to be proud of.

He’s my little boy, my angel, my heart and my world and I keep hoping that someday he’ll be able to put all of those little boy hurts away and become the man that only he can be.

I love you kiddo, even when you think I don’t. You’re my pride and joy, even when you think you’re not. You’re my angel, even when you’re being a devil.



Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A man had to have made this standard....

Everyone has a place or time that seems to inspire their best thinking. Mine, of all places, happens to be the shower.
So, imagine if you will, I’m in the shower – No scratch that. No need to traumatize myself by knowing that random folks are visualizing me in the shower, and no need to traumatize random folks with said vision. Just know that I was in the shower. That should be enough for anyone.
Ok, I’m in the shower this morning and received my blogging inspiration for the day. Now, here it is just for you.
The weather had me so excited yesterday. I found myself thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get out my flip flops and my Capri pants, my lightweight skirts and dresses and all my pretty spring and summer colors.
Then, as I stood in the shower this morning, (again you are not permitted mental images here) it occurred to me all the things I needed to do to be prepared for all the cuteness that was coming up. I need to buy blades for my other razor since I’ll be shaving twice a week instead of twice a….well, more often anyway. I need to go through all my nail polish and make sure I had good spring and summer colors. I need a pedicure. I need to be more diligent with the lotion. I need to….
Wait a frickin frackin minute! What the heck is wrong with me? What the heck is wrong with women everywhere? What narcissistic, neurotic, masochistic princess of a witch decided that women had to go through all this crap? Who in the world stood in the shower one morning and said, “OOH! I know! I’m going to shave all the hair off my legs. Woo Hoo!!”
Do any of you ladies remember being a pre-teen girl and thinking about how you couldn’t wait to shave your legs? All that excitement and now, what do you think when you know it’s time to shave your legs? How many days out of the month do you wear jeans when it’s 100 plus degrees outside because you couldn’t bear the thought of shaving your legs?
How many times have you put tennis shoes on your sweaty feet because your pedicure was chipped? How many times have you grabbed a hair clip or rubber band because you weren’t about to spend 20 minutes sweating and melting under a hair dryer to achieve hair greatness that would only collapse the second you stepped outside into 100% humidity?
STOP. THE. BUS! Don’t you dare look at me and ask, “What about bathing suits?” I spend 10 minutes a day in the summer obsessing about whether or not the water was the right temperature to keep me from getting razor burn, or is my blade new enough to keep me from nicking myself, should I put lotion on immediately after getting out of the shower, or should I wait a few minutes….now you want me to take a sharp blade, capable of inflicting serious injury or death, and put it WHERE? To do WHAT?
And all of that still isn’t enough? You mean, additionally, I also have to scrub my feet every day with a chunk of rock, spend ridiculous amounts of money on a makeup that won’t run with the sweat pouring down my face AND? AND? AND?
That’s still not enough? I STILL have to wear a bra? I have to wear little strappy sandals that pinch my toes and rub blisters on my feet? I have to slather on sunscreen underneath the layers of already greasy makeup so I don’t burn my precious skin and risk developing wrinkles and sunspots? Then, after the layers of crap on my face clog my pores and cause breakouts you want me to apply more chemicals to it so those said blemishes will disappear? I have to take a pair of tweezers and yank hair from my face because someone said a unibrow wasn’t acceptable? I have to sweat under layers of restrictive armor underneath all my summer clothes to rearrange every part of my body into a socially acceptable shape? Because some status quo says my butt is too wide, my belly is too round or my breasts aren’t perky enough?
Pfft…and men say they don’t understand why we’re so darn cranky and moody all the time. Jackwagons…

Monday, 14 February 2011

News of the Day...

Wow, what an eventful weekend.
My dad…
I had a long talk with my dad yesterday morning. I’m not sure why, but he felt the need to go back and discuss some difficult things from the past. Overall, it was a good conversation and a great reminder of why I love him, as well as a good reminder of how much he loves me. I’m a lucky girl.
Puppies …
With much grief, we finally made the decision to let my baby boxer girl move on to the farm. No, not the big puppy farm in the sky….sheesh, you people are so morbid. We sent her to the country to live with a new family, who has lots of room for her to run without getting into trouble and lots of time to spend with her to give her the attention she needs. It was a tough call, but it was best for her. I was terrified that she would get hit by a car or shot for eating a neighbor’s chicken, or worse, their cat.
Was it best for Sky? We’re not sure yet. She’s been moping around “looking” for Iva. Last night she went out on the porch, laid down, and then refused to come back in. She keeps looking at us, pitiful and confused, with those big blue eyes, and we just keep hugging her.
I fed goats and chickens Saturday morning. I was a little concerned about poor Toffee. She’s the iddy biddy one. She has a vitamin deficiency that requires her to have injections. It causes her terrible stomach discomfort at times and she’s mostly blind because of it but, they have been able to stop the progression of symptoms.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s still overall healthy and happy and will still make a good milk goat one day. It’s just sad sometimes when she cries because the other goats have gotten too far away from her and she doesn’t know where they are.
I haven’t decided if winter or summer months are worse when tending the animals. In summer it’s just so darn hot and sticky and miserable. The winter is cold and the water is frozen so you have to haul in buckets from the kitchen. Then you stand there, blowing on your hands, and waiting what seems an eternity for the slower goats to finish eating.
I skipped the eggs that morning. It was so cold that the hens were still sitting on them. Have you ever tried to take an egg from a laying hen? They will take your head off. Keep your darn eggs you old biddy. I don’t need them anyway.
Don’s oldest son is coming to live with us next week. So, now I’m on this mad dash to find him a bed and get his room ready. I have no idea what to do with all of Dylan’s junk though.
I’m excited about getting to know him.  I think this will be a great opportunity for everyone.
I’m enjoying getting to know his mom too. I’ve always been a firm believer that ex and current wives should have a good relationship, especially when there are children involved.
An example, I absolutely LOVE Dylan’s step mother. She’s a really special person who has fought tooth and nail for him and has always been good to work with me. She truly has his best interest at heart and I’ve always maintained that I couldn’t have handpicked a step mom for him and done better.
I never understood currents who were threatened by exes and vice versa. Get over it already! Your kids are watching you!
Hmm…let’s see, what else can I be opinionated and snarky about this morning?
Valentine’s Day
I bet you thought I’d have some sappy, soggy ode to the day, didn’t you? Well, I don’t.  I expended my daily quota of sap with my status update on facebook this morning. I got straight out of bed, posted my romantic overture, put a corned beef brisket in the crockpot, because that’s what he likes, and I’m done.
And Don, Do you know what he did? He woke up, yawned and stretched real good and called the dog! Can you believe that? Seriously? You wake up on Valentine’s Day and the first thing you think of is a blue eyed hound who likes to roll on dead things? Good thing I’m not the jealous type or I might have an issue this morning.
To his benefit, he did take the time to stop and hug me and then tell me that every day with me is Valentine’s Day. I told ya’ll he ain’t romantic. I meant it. I guess it works out fine though; I’m not a big romantic either. Besides, he’s home with me every night and he busts his tail to take care of us and that’s really all I need.
Odds and Ends…
Otherwise, I’m good. The gluten free diet seems to be working well for me. The fibromyalgia symptoms are significantly reduced and I’ve lost 17 pounds as a bonus. I see the rheumatologist this afternoon for pain management and will let him know my progress.
I’ve taken a short break from the short story. I gave my mom an opportunity to edit what I already had, and made some changes, and hope to get back to it this evening or tomorrow. I’m anxious and excited to tell Tressie’s story.
Happy  Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope you have lots of love and hugs today. J

Friday, 11 February 2011

Just a little share today...

So, I’ve started a little work of fiction. I have a lot more finished than I’ve actually posted here to share with you but, I’ve decided I’m not going to post any more until it’s finished, then I’ll post it in its entirety.
The thing with writing is that as the details of the plot begin to develop, you have to make changes to the beginning of the work; pulling things together so they make sense. Since this is my first effort at fiction, it really is a learning process and I’m learning lots of things about how to develop the story and make the characters interesting. It’s difficult to form a personality for a character out of nothing, to ensure their behaviors match who they are and can be easily explained as “who they are”.
For my male readers, don’t despair that this is going to be some sappy and girlie work of romance. It’s a story of grief and redemption, fit for any reader. The love between the characters is just part of the path to reach the end, a way, of sorts, of explaining the events that unfold as the story progresses.
I’ve also found, due to the history of the time period the story is set in, that it would be lax of me to not research those years in American history and include some of those details in the story itself. It’s important, in making the story believable, to be accurate in regard to the time frame of the setting.
When the time comes to post the completed work, I will create a new page link within my blog and post the story in a single post, rather than dividing it into parts. In the meantime, do not be surprised or discouraged if you see the first two posts disappear, as they have both already been revised so that later parts of the story will make more sense.
Honestly, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t receive more feedback. I encountered several people, who in person were very complimentary and anxious to read more. Yet, overall, the response was underwhelming, to say the least.
Please know that your comments are always appreciated. It’s your desire to see what I’m going to say next that encourages me to continue with the blog and share my thoughts on life and the world at large. My goal is to provoke you to think and I would like to know that I’m not sharing who I am with mindless vegetables who are staring blankly at a computer screen.
Never fear, funny posts will continue too. I am, after all, a mother, a wife, a woman who milks goats and feeds chickens, the owner of one stupid Marmaduke like boxer, one who takes in stray children, a knitter, a crocheter, a writer, a cynic and a ponderer.  My life is adventurous and interesting and how shameful of me not to share that with others.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Fiction - Part II

He leaned over the edge of the wash basin, the sickening knot in the pit of his belly tightening like a vice. At what point was it enough?  All these years he’d loved her and granted anything she might have wished for. When did the guilt go away? When would God stop punishing him?
June 5, 1917
It seemed almost every young male of age was gathered in town that day. President Wilson had approved a mandatory draft of all eligible young men. Funny, since he was barely elected with his slogan "he kept us out of war".  He supposed he should cut him some slack. What choice did the man have with the Mexicans and the Germans joining forces to attack every US merchant ship they came across?
 “Hey Bill, take a gander at that will ya?”
“Oh, c’mon Tommy, we ain’t got time to be lookin’ at girls. Let’s go.” Then, he looked up.
She must have been about seventeen. Normally, Bill wouldn’t have given her a second glance. After all, she was just a girl and he’d just turned twenty-one. But, she was breathtaking with fair skin and burnt red hair coiled into a top knot and little wisps of curl framing her face. Her eyes danced with all the joy and vitality of youth and tiny gold flecks that seemed to accentuate the hue of the green in her irises.
As if she could sense being watched she looked at him and smiled coyly. It was clear she was accustomed to being noticed. Suddenly, he felt inadequate standing there in his coveralls, his boots scuffed from working the farm. As if ashamed, he lowered his head and nervously toed at an imaginary rock in the dirt.
Without warning, a delicate pointy toed shoe pressed down on top of his boot, a lace edged skirt swaying just above. His heart seemed to stop in his chest. He didn’t even pause to bother with what kind of girl would be so forward with a stranger. He knew it was her.
“Well, ain’t you just somethin’,” she said. “Act like you ain’t never seen a pretty girl before.” She paused, waiting for a response and when none came she said, “Well? Cat got your tongue?”
He raised his head, looking in the mirror, and wished he could take back all the moments that transformed her from the sassy girl he saw in the town square that day to the broken shell of a woman who was downstairs cooking supper. The woman he broke…
Six weeks had passed since the day of the draft registration. Just a few short days after the meeting in the square, he had the opportunity to see Tressie again. She had informed him that he would be escorting her to the next Friday social at church.
Things continued to proceed just this way. She’d take his arm before church on Sunday morning and lead him to the pew to sit with her family and let him know what time he was to pick her up for socials.
Her candor and take charge approach kept him slightly off balance, but he continued to follow her like a trained pet. He kept thinking that he’d wake up one day soon and realize she was just a fantasy, that this beautiful creature hadn’t taken a shine to him, that he didn’t already love her.
He came in from the barn to wash away the day’s grime, the wood of the screen door making its familiar slap as it snapped shut, and found his mother, sitting at the kitchen table in silence.
“This came for you today,” she said.
He looked down at the crisp white envelope posted from the U.S. Department of Defense. He stood there for what seemed an eternity, and finally, hands shaking like they were afflicted, he removed the letter from the envelope.
Just days before the first draft lottery had been held and his number was up. He had one week to get his affairs in order and report for training.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A little fiction...

Just getting started. We'll see where it goes. Any of my fellow writing friends care to take the next part? Might be fun....

Part I...

She looked out, her breath fogging the cold glass, obscuring her view of the outside world, and wished it were so simple to hide the emotions threatening to overtake her in that moment. She wished the rain she watched could wash away the dysfunction of the last seventeen years as easily as it washed the debris away from the porch outside.
Leaning heavily against the wall she clutched her oversized sweater, pilled from overuse, tightly around her as if to shield herself from a chill. But, the cold she felt wasn’t coming from the air. The little wood stove, crackling as if it were filled with dancing fairies and delighted with the day, saw to that. With a sigh she let the tears come and, sobbing heavily, dropped to her knees. Finally, she was ready to grieve a loss that happened weeks ago.
Oh, her precious angel, with his little rosebud mouth and glowing pink cheeks. How she loved these times with him; times when the house was quiet and she could rock with him and hum the little tune that lulled him into sleep.
Sometimes it was the only thing that worked and she’d find herself in that chair for hours.  The boy was a screamer but, he was hers and she loved and protected him with a fierceness that couldn’t be rivaled.
She knew how lucky she was. Lucky to have a husband who seemed to understand when he came in from the fields at the end of the day and the morning dishes were still in the sink and there was no supper on the stove.
“That’s a fine man ya got there, Tressie,” her momma had said. “You shouldn’t be ignorin’ him the way you do. It ain’t gonna hurt nothin’ for ya to let that baby cry a little.”
But, she couldn’t. He was so small and helpless. How could just leave him lie there to scream because a dish needed to be washed or a floor swept? And, he was certainly more important than feeding those darn filthy chickens Bill insisted on having. As many farms as there were around here…
It was there he found her, humming the same sweet tune she always used to lull the boy to sleep. She seemed to have aged in the last few weeks. Perhaps though, it was the grief that made her seem that way. Standing in the doorway, feeling helpless, he internally kicked himself for thinking she was ready to be alone. How long had she sat there rocking and humming?
He wiped his sweaty palms along the sides of his jeans and looked skyward. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” he whispered.
Slowly, so as not to startle her, he made his way across the room and knelt beside her. He gently reached out to smooth her hair from her face and remembered a time when those sparkling green eyes used to smile at him, a time when she wasn’t broken.
She looked up then, wearing an odd expression that didn’t fit the moment.
“Oh, Bill. You’re home,” she said with a smile as she stood up. “I was just about to go fix dinner. I finally got the baby to stop cryin’, you know. Laid ‘im down for a nap and ain’t heard a peep outta him for bit now.”
“Tressie? Honey, you a’right?”
“Well, course I am silly. Why wouldn’t I be?” she replied as she smoothed her skirt and removed that favorite frumpy sweater she loved so much.
“Sweetheart, Billy’s not here. He’s been gone near six weeks now.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Bill. He’s in his cradle nappin’. Now, go wash up and I’ll have supper ready in two shakes.” With that, she marched off towards the kitchen, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A nod to my fella...

I guess Valentine's Day coming up is what inspired this post. I've been thinking on it for a day or two now, trying to gather my thoughts and put them all together in some kind of way that makes sense.

This is me and my husband...

Let me be the first to tell you, he isn't the most romantic guy in the world. But, you know what? That's ok and I'm going to tell you why.

To me, romance isn't necessarily some grand gesture on the love scale. It's the little things. The every day basic gestures that remind us that we're loved are what equate romance. If I were certain about nothing else in this insane world we live in, I would know, without any reservation that this man loves me with everything he has. That, my friends, is romance.

He gets out in the elements every day and works so hard to provide for our family. Then he comes home exhausted and does more. When it rains, or snows, or is too hot or cold to work, he looks at me and apologizes because he couldn't do more that day.

Romance is when he comes around my side of the truck to walk me to the porch because the driveway is slick with snow and ice. Romance is when he gets out of bed in the morning and bundles up to take the dogs outside so I don't have to. Romance is days when he picks me up from work and I get in the truck to find a fresh fountain coke because he knew I'd be craving one. Romance is being in a room full of people and him looking at me like there's no one else there.

These, and so many others, are the things that reassure me every day that God gave me the right guy. These are the things that make me sigh with content. These are the things that make my heart swell with love for him.

And then, every once in a while he will surprise me with one of those grand gestures; a gesture that is always worth the wait.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The world has gone mad…

I’ve been loosely following the events in Egypt this week. It’s very sad. You know, it would be easy to say that those folks are all violent and terrible people. I’ve heard people say it already. But….
Yes, but….
The whole world is violent and terrible! Who are we to talk about how violent and terrible they are when we have some of the most heinous things going on right here in our own back yard?
We have a woman in Florida who shot and killed her two teenage children. We have Curtis Vance who raped and murdered a news anchor. We’ve had disgruntled employees and students open fire in public places and killing innocent people. People come to blows over the last item on a shelf – at Christmas no less.
We push, we shove and we verbally abuse. We have road rage. We teach our children to hit the kid who makes fun of him/her and say way to go when they do. We kick the car that parked too close. We kill our spouses for life insurance or infidelities. We beat our women, our elderly, our disabled and our children and make them lie about it. We ignore abuse and crime when we witness it; after all, it’s not happening to me so why should I get involved?
We deny responsibility for our actions. We rescue our children from consequences for their negative actions. We tell the world it owes us. We whine because it’s not fair.
And then…then we look across the world and watch as the terror unfolds and we say, “They’ve got serious problems.” Then we come up with a million opinions on how they should fix it.
To make ourselves feel better about how terrible we are we run across the world to assist other countries in need. That’s all good and noble, and we should do that, except…
Meanwhile, just across town, there’s a child getting ready for school, putting on his dirty clothes and anxious to go to school because there’s no food at home. There’s a mother shielding another child from the blows of a drunken father. There’s a baby being shaken for crying too much. There’s a teacher being inappropriate with a student. There’s a man with a gun at a bank or convenience store because he doesn’t know how else to get the bills paid and feed his kids.
I don’t know what else to say except they’re not alone in being messed up. We’re all messed up and, at the end of the day, we aren’t really any better than they are. At what point do we stop and take a collective look at our own faults and work together to clean up the mess?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Well, that was fun....sort of. Well, not really.

Lately, several of you have taken the time to let me know you’re reading the blog and how much you enjoy it. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it! I love to hear your thoughts and comments because they encourage me to write and share more with you all. So, please…Keep. Them. Coming.

Hmm, what’s new this week?

Some of my gluten free finds are not so impressive. I really had a taste for spaghetti and was seriously let down.  The rice pasta was….ummm…..different? No…ummm….hmmm….it was….disgusting, chewy and mushy, bizarre, bland, gross….Yeah, that about covers it.

My first problem came with the instructions. They said, bring water to a boil and add the pasta. When water returns to a boil, about 5-7 minutes, remove and drain pasta. Do not overcook.

Sounds pretty straightforward, don’t it? Well, let me tell ya, IT AIN’T! I put the pasta in the boiling water and immediately the water began to take on this milky appearance. But that’s fine. I figured I could deal with that. So, I kept right on with the instructions and stood there stirring with my handy dandy wooden spoon. After about 5 minutes the water began to boil and had become so milky that I couldn’t even see the noodles anymore. I fished around in the water and managed to grab up a noodle to test for doneness.

I closed my eyes. I prayed. I crinkled up my nose. I bit off a piece. Crunch? What? They’re not done? But it said don’t overcook. *momentary panic* Surely this wasn’t their interpretation of done. *deep breath* Ok, well I’ve still got a minute and a half before we’re at 7 minutes. I’ll just wait.

7 minutes: they’re still not done. I wait again.

I stirred. I sighed. I rolled my eyes and looked at the ceiling. I chanted to myself, “If they’re not done, they can’t be over cooked. If they’re not done, they can’t be over cooked.”

Then I paused to listen to the weather, and a tennis ball came flying from the hallway into the living room, followed by a 60 pound, leggy, 7 month old boxer in a full run, followed by a giggling and screaming nine year old, who was supposed to be at the table eating his “not weird” spaghetti, also in a full run. Ball, dog and kid slid across my living room floor. I yelled. “It’s dinner time! WHY. ARE. YOU. PLAYING. WITH. THE. DOG???”

They both proceeded to look at me like I’d lost my mind. However, Iva did go her merry way to play with Sky and Jack made his way to the table. Then I remembered my weird spaghetti….

I went to the kitchen to drain it. It had been 10 minutes. I wasn’t even going to bother to test for doneness. In all fairness to the rice pasta manufacturer, it was most certainly overcooked. It was mushy and bland, and even the Italian sausage I had used with the sauce didn’t help that. Not to mention that as I drained the so called pasta Don gave me an “are-you-seriously-going-to-eat-that” look.
I’m quite certain that my next “spaghetti” experience will be done with spaghetti squash or polenta. Rice spaghetti is not spaghetti. It’s weirdness… on a plate and covered with sauce. Period. Anything that can be both chewy and mushy at the same time cannot be normal.

What’s that you say? Spaghetti squash and polenta aren’t spaghetti either? Well, you know what? At least they’re normal and I can count on them to be good and consistent, and they’ll never look like genetically mutated wiggly worms floating around in marinara. So there….*sticks out tongue for emphasis*

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Mexican Polenta and Breakfast Polenta

I love Polenta. For those of you who have never had it, it’s basically yellow corn grits. It’s so versatile and good for you. You can cut slices and brown them in a skillet with a little butter and/or olive oil, you can serve them like traditional grits, they’re good for breakfast and dinner and if you’re more adventurous, like me, you can try this…

First choose the Polenta you’re going to buy. I’ve found a dry mix at Kroger and also already prepared polenta that comes in a tube. Either way is fine, but if you buy the already prepared you’re going to save yourself a step or two. I buy the mix because it’s a little cheaper. You don’t need a lot. (The tube is a 16 oz package and is more than enough)

First prepare the polenta according to the package directions (when using the mix). Grease a very small casserole or bread pan with butter or cooking spray. Next, pour the warm mix into the dish, cover it well with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. This is usually best done the day before but the morning before will do in a pinch.

If you’re using the prepared you can skip those steps and just get on with the recipe.

You will need:

Prepared polenta, chilled and cut into 1” cubes
1 small poblano pepper, seeds removed and diced (these are the same ones used for chile relleno)
½ of a small onion, diced
1 handful of pepitas (these are pumpkin seeds, hulls removed and found with on the Mexican foods aisle)
1 lime
1 good handful of cilantro, chopped and stems removed
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Heat your skillet on medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pepper and onion and sauté until tender. Add the prepared polenta and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. When the polenta starts to get warm add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. Make sure your skillet doesn’t get too dry. You may need to add more olive oil.

Next, add the pepitas and the juice from the lime. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down a little. This should take about 3-5 minutes.

Just before serving toss in the cilantro. This makes quite a bit so we usually serve it as the main dish. It’s plenty filling and doesn’t need anything else with it.

For those of you who don’t like the sound of a savory polenta, try this:
Breakfast Polenta
Cut prepared polenta into ½ inch slices. Melt butter in a hot skillet and add polenta slices. Brown on both sides. Serve drizzled with honey or maple syrup.

This is absolutely delicious! Hope you’ll at least give it a try.