Thursday, 25 October 2012

A little self examination to start the day...

I had someone ask me to do something yesterday. Something I really don’t want to do. It’s not just a simple “I don’t want to” either. It’s more like not wanting to because it goes against my principles.
I just can’t see myself stepping over my own line in the sand to do something like this for anyone, much less someone who is only a casual acquaintance. Which explains a lot; because anyone who knows me well knows that I wouldn’t do this thing.
So what’s the big task? Well, being that it’s not my business to air in detail, all I can say is it’s something that, if I do it, will have me guilty of several things on my “Never Do This” list. Things like lying and interfering in a marriage.  It’s not going to happen.
So, all that’s got me wondering and trying to examine myself through the eyes of a casual acquaintance. What have I said or done that would lead him to believe I would do what he’s asking? True, he gave me an out in the instance that I didn’t feel comfortable. But, now I’m left with the uncomfortable task of saying no and explaining why the answer is no. When, truth be told, if I were always portraying myself as the person I claim to be, he would have known the answer without having to ask. Right?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

I used to have friends named Lindsey and Sheldon

Have you ever been totally relieved to be free of a friendship that became a burden and a stressor, only to find yourself constantly bombarded with thoughts of that person? Wondering what’s new?
I’m currently in that place. It’s absurd. Completely and totally absurd!
In regard to Sheldon:
I think it wouldn’t be such a problem except for the fact that I work in the same building as she does. I usually can go weeks or months without laying eyes on her and then, suddenly, I see her two or three times a week over the last couple of months.
If this is some kind of divine message, I’m not buying it.
For clarification, she doesn’t read my blog that I’m aware of. I didn’t start it until after the friendship was over. So, unless she’s added stalker to her other unfavorable traits, she shouldn’t even be aware that there is a blog in existence. Besides, I ain’t saying anything here I ain’t said to her already.
It wasn’t one of those you’re-not-a-good-person-so-I-don’t-want-to-be-your-friend-anymore kind of things. She is a good person. She’s just different and hard to have any kind of relationship with. The problem was that I couldn’t keep up with her ever increasing demands, her strange set of rules that she expects the world to follow despite their lack of logic, her need to know my every move, and the fact that she, as a never married person with no children, couldn’t seem to understand that my first responsibility was to my husband and children.  It was kind of like being friends with Sheldon Cooper, only Sheldon has average intelligence in this case.
I remember her asking me to go somewhere with her and I told her I needed to check with my family first. That’s what you do when you have a family. She told me my priorities were messed up because I had to answer to a man before making plans. I told Sheldon that she just answered her own question about why no one wanted to be married to her.
And that was the end of that. And I think it's completely absurd that I give a flying eff what she's doing now.
In regard to Lindsey, you know, the famous one:
My old friend from the teen years. We went through some stuff, big stuff, the kind of stuff that most friends never have to go through. But she had a problem that was bigger than our friendship. After 13 years of trying to help her through it, I realized there was nothing I could do for her. I realized that until that moment when everyone abandoned her and she had no one left to bail her out, she would never get help or get better. I realized that I was enabling her and it was time for me to go. I couldn’t be her crutch anymore.
But, there are things I miss about her and I’ll always love her. And, I still wonder about her all the time even though I know that we’re better off without one another. I’ve seen her twice since the friendship ended 11 years ago. She finally got that help. I still pray every day that she’ll be ok.
But, I saw her two youngest children the other day and it made that loss seem fresh all over again. I don’t think this one will ever not hurt. And maybe, I really don’t question why the wondering stuck. Because nothing I remember in regard to her, nothing I wonder, is really absurd at all.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Feeling Crafty

This weekend I'll be picking up this...

Pictured are:

9 = Caron SnoSpun (Grey) 
2 = Berella Heather (Teal)
7 = Berella Heather (Pink) 
2 = Lion Brand Homespun (Shaker) 
7 = Lion Brand Homespun (Edwardian)
10 = Famous Makers (Multi-color of Black, Gray, White)
7 = Caron SnoSpun (Cocoa Pink)
3 = Wool-Ease (Midnight Black/White)


My fellow knitters and crocheters will certainly understand why I'm so excited and why I'm relentlessly scouring patterns to see what I can do with this wonderful selection of yarn. There are endless possibilities.

The bonus is, I'm getting all 47 skeins of yarn for about $1 a piece. Some of these can be anywhere from $3-$6 a skein when purchased in the store.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to pat myself on the shoulder and get back to searching patterns.

But, I'm wondering? What would YOU do with all this yarn?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Be nice to the 'Henrys' of the world...

I meet a lot of homeless people due to the location of my workplace. The mission that serves lunch at noon each day is just across the street and the traffic gets a little heavy starting around 11 a.m.
There are two ways one could look at this. Depending on who you are, and which type of homeless person approaches you, it’s either an opportunity or a nuisance. Sometimes they stop and talk to you. Not because they want anything but, because they just want someone to talk to.  Sure, you have your usual requests for cigarettes, a lighter, and money but, overall, they don’t really bother you. They’re content with their lives just the way they are and they’re just trying to make it like everyone else. Some choose to be there and some don’t. Some are mentally ill. Some are physically disabled. Some just like the freedom.
I’ve been barked at (yes, really), yelled at, and cussed. I’ve also had interesting conversations with people who just want to talk.
I’ve met Dante, and Henry, and the space station administrator. Some are scary. Some are just sad.
Take Henry, for instance. He’s tall and slender and is probably much younger than he looks. About once a week he seems to find a place to shower and change clothes, although I’ve never seen him carrying anything with him except his coat. Even in summer he never lets that coat out of his sight. Sometimes he’s lucid and sometimes he’s not. When he’s not lucid he won’t talk to you or acknowledge you. He just sits alone and mutters to the voices in his head. When he is lucid, he’ll tell you not to give him money because he’ll only buy alcohol with it. He never asks for anything but, will take something if you offer it. Each afternoon I see him walking through our alley picking up cigarette butts. If he’s lucid he’ll wave and smile.
Sometimes I wonder what’s in his head. Sure, he talks about things. But mostly it’s clear he keeps a lot of his thoughts to himself.
I know that he’s a vet. I know that he only contacts his family about once a year. I know that he likes to drink. I know he has some kind of psychiatric illness. I know that he is kind. I know that he smiles if you talk to him without treating him as if he’s less than human. I know that last year he was drunk and fell into the river and broke his leg. I know that he couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital but was so thankful for the haircut and clean clothes they gave him. I know that he doesn’t take his meds because they make him feel weird. I know that if one day I just didn’t see him I’d wonder if he was okay.
I know that now that I’ve written this I kind of feel crappy and helpless because I can’t save the world. All I can do is be nice to the Henrys I meet.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A little tease...

This is my current inpiration. Grace Margaret Brown Hayes. My great x 4 grandmother. She has a story to tell. I've spent the last 5 years, off and on, trying to figure out what that story is. I'm currently researching but will begin writing soon.

I'm so stinkin' excited...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Misnomer of full and empty...

"The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.... Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant re-arrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss." - Joan Didion, On Keeping a Notebook

I feel normal this morning. Like some kind of balance has been restored to this mad existence I've been experiencing over the past year. As if the purging I've done over the last week has somehow removed that acrid poison from my brain.

I know sometimes I'm harsh. I know sometimes I hurt people with words.

Words - my most effective tool, or weapon even. I wield them like a sword, slashing and cutting, spewing them forth as daggers at whomever I feel to be the current foe. Then, when the volcano of verbiage has erupted, when it is left empty and the ashes cooled, I feel...well, liberated.

It's so dangerous to bottle up words, feelings, thoughts. They tend to grow into something that isn't rational. They eat at your soul from the inside out leaving you empty. Would it not be less painful to others if I didn't hold on to those words until they can only be expressed in a cloud of hurt and anger?

Interesting, isn't it? That I would say being full of your own thoughts leaves you feeling empty? That purging the poison leaves you feeling full? Perhaps full and empty are misnomers in this instance. Yet, I don't have another word that fits for either case.

I can spend a lot of time analyzing myself. Not necessary, I suppose. You don't need me to tell you that I'm fickle, or moody, that I can be spiteful and sometimes downright mean, that I have no patience for those who intentionally keep themselves ignorant of the truths in life.

Yet, here I sit, often ignoring my own truths. Like the fact that sometimes I overreact to something that is, in fact, much less complicated than I've made it out to be. Or, that sometimes I say things that I shouldn't because, while they may be true in that particular moment, they're not overall, all the time, the real and consistent truth.

When I'm hurt and angry I tend to view the world, the circumstances, in a very distorted way. It's almost like wearing glasses with cracked lenses. Things that seem far away are, in actuality, right under my nose. Warning! Objects in mirror are closer than they appear...

But, that's life sometimes, isn't it? If you think of your brain kind of like a file cabinet, all the experiences, hurts, and things that make you who you are, all tucked away neatly, compartmentalized into neat little rows that somehow make it easier to deal with yourself.

 Imagine then, that someone has taken that file cabinet and dumped it all in the floor. This file is mixed in with that file, no order. Chaos that brings that little panicky feeling to the back of your throat. You feel it choking you and you don't know where to start to put everything back together.

Then, some jerk steps in and throws a few more of your files in the floor. What do you do? Where do you go from there?

I come here. I lay it all out, bare and naked, for the world to see. I sort through the words until they all fall into place again. Until all my files have been restored to their proper place and I can, once again, breathe.

Friday, 25 May 2012


Jennifer Lopez plays Slim in Columbia's Enough - 2002

I’ve spent a great deal of the last few days explaining myself to other people. It all goes back to that self preservation that stems from anger and hurt – people not understanding why I can’t just pretend it never happened and move on. I’m gonna tell you what I’ve told them.
It’s not over yet. “Person” is stuck in a vicious cycle of apologizing and lashing out. Things are only fine as long as “person” is getting their way. How many times are “you” going to forgive person for repeatedly doing the same hurtful things over and over again before “you” decide it’s enough?
I’ve reached enough. I don’t have to allow abusive and deceitful punks to infiltrate my life. I can forgive someone without placing myself in a position to be abused again.
I think it’s been temporarily forgotten that I’ve been in an abusive relationship before. Many of them…
I’ve learned that I don’t have to live that way. I’ve learned that loving someone doesn’t mean they are supposed to be a part of your life. It doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate all manner of shit that they want to pile on you. I've learned that "sorry" is something you DO, not something you SAY.
Fact is, you throw shit on me and I’m gonna throw it right back. I might even shove some of your own shit down your throat in the process. Then, I’m going to wash off the shit you piled on me and get on with my life – poop free.
I don’t care if you’re a friend, family member, or just a random stranger, you are not going to move past my enough. I’m drawing a line in the sand. If person ever decided to act like they are somebody, to act like the adult they claim to be, then person and I can have a discussion. Until then….


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Primal Anger and Self Preservation

I suppose it's not news to anyone that, for the last year, I've been in a very dark place. For the past 3 months, it's been even darker -- sometimes dangerously so. I wonder, if I had kept writing, if I wouldn't have been able to keep my head above water. Occasionally I've been able to come up for air, but most times I find it much simpler, somehow less painful, to close my eyes and relax into the abyss - that quiet place where no one can touch me.

Is it lonely, you ask? Sometimes. But, sometimes the benefit of self preservation is greater than the risk of loneliness. If you can't see me, if you can't touch me, you can't hurt me.

Then, there are days like yesterday. Days when someone penetrates my shell and hurts me anyway. Hurt me in a way I can't ever recover from. The relationship will never be 100% ever again. It reached the point, that while I someday might be able to forgive enough to avoid the risk of living with bitter hatred in my heart, I will never forget. I will never grant that person access to my heart again.

I'm usually not a violent person, but yesterday, in that moment, someone touched that primal nerve and unleashed something in me I haven't seen in a long time. The words were more violent than anything I physically did. I said things I couldn't take back, things I'm sure I didn't mean, and I said them on purpose. I said them "with" purpose. That primal urge burned the bridge beyond repair. Not for me. I was already at that point. I burned it beyond repair for "that person". That need to self preserve won. I "fixed" it so that person would never want to be close enough to me to hurt me again - so I would never have to risk trusting them again.

Someone came into my life about a year ago. That's when the dark place came. It took me months to start to find peace with it - to begin to feel like everything might be OK. Then came the gut punch. The realization that it was all a lie. That I had been deceived in such a huge way...

The last thing that hurt me this way was when J's dad walked out of his life without looking back.

My mother and my husband have each asked me, "Do you really mean that? It will never be ok? What if "person" makes a huge change and is apologetic?"

I really mean that.
It will never again be ok.
I will never believe the apology. It's clouded by lies.
I will always hear "what if" in the back of my head.
I will always be hurt by the sight of that person.
I don't know what else to say about it.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Thankful for Bacon

I logged into Facebook this morning, overwhelmed by my own fog of negativity and saw a couple of posts that got my attention.  They referenced those annoying status updaters that never seem to have anything good to say. Those Negative Nellies, those Woe Is Me’ers, those Proclaimers of Gloom and Doom, that we all wonder if donkeys might fly by with hearts and flowers trailing out of their behinds if they were to offer something positive to grace the world of Facebook.

Rather than replying with some witty negativity of my own, and thus becoming part of the problem, I thought it best to issue a request that anyone who read my status offer up something positive. There’s nothing encouraging than starting off your day by reflecting upon what it is you’re thankful for.

So many of you were thankful for, of all things, me. How humbling that was. There were too many to try and respond to each one of you with an individual comment on my status. Instead, I opted to come here and respond to each one of you.  Because I respect your privacy, I will remove your last names. So, no worries that I’m flinging you out into the blogosphere unprotected. J

So, without further delay:

Regina: “I'm thankful I can turn on my faucet and get clean water without any thought. Might not seem like much, but considering the alternative...”

You know, I’m thankful for that too.  To me, clean water seems like a huge thing. I can always count on you to think outside the box. That makes me thankful for you.

Tana: “Very thankful to God for my wonderful husband. He is perfect for me, I strive to be the kind of wife that he is a husband.

I wish more people felt this way about their spouses. So often, we take them for granted.

Don:   My wife... because she makes me a better person.

What can I say? I love that guy up there. ^^ He makes me smile. I’m so glad he told me I was going to marry him. *sigh*

Betty:  “Family because they love you no matter what!!

You’re darn tootin’ we do.

Maureen: “I am thankful that God is a living God and that He loves me!”

Me too! I enjoy reading your posts every day. In fact, your post was one of the ones that motivated me to ask what people were thankful for today. The negativity is overwhelming and I feel you on this one. Thank you for being such a positive energy every day.

Amie: “I am thankful for my sweet husband bc he loves me on my good days as well as my bad! He makes me a stronger, better, happier person.”

I am thankful that you and I were able to find a way to forge a friendship in such strange circumstances. You have been a constant reminder to me that there is life after ….. Well, you know. Thank you.

Tim: “Bacon”

You are such a man, Tim. Lol Thanks for the laugh. I am thankful for bacon too.

Debra: “I am thankful for my husband!! God truly blessed me with a wonderful, kind, caring, hard working man!!

I absolutely know what you mean. I feel the same way about my guy. I know without a doubt that I won the jackpot with him.

Stephanie: “My children they are the reflection of everything I wish I could be.”

Your children are the reflection of everything you are. You raised them. They emulate you. Don’t forget it!

Jerry: “I am thankful for my wonderful wife that God gave to me.Also Iam thankful for my children and grandchildren and stepgrandchildren. But most of all, I am thankful that God saved me. I am thankfull for a wonderful daughterinlaw. I love you Erica.”

I love you too! I have an equally wonderful father in law. Thank you for giving me such an awesome husband.

Dafeenah: “You. Because you are comfortable in the silence. That is a rare gift in a friend.”

I just stinkin’ love you. Thank you for being comfortable in my silence too. It’s nice to know that there is someone out there who gets it, who gets me. If I were a guy I think I’d marry you. *hugs*  lol

Barbara: “well you are one of the things I thank God for. you bring joy to my son's life as well as structure. You have been the back bone I never was. I don't just think you have been a positive influence on Don and Donnie, but to everyone including me.
P.S. you also make me more aware of my horrible spelling, so I have to look up a word before I post to your wall... hope that made you smile lol”

I’m thankful for you too. I’m thankful that you entrusted me with your child. What more precious gift is there? We’re family. It’s as simple as that. I did nothing special. You provided the foundation. I just provided a few finishing touches. J
And yes, you made me laugh.

Kim: “that I’m up and walking today.”

I know the feeling. Some might not realize the gravity of such a simple thing. As someone who has had days filled with doubt, I get it. I’m so glad I know you.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Updates and such...

So, there are new things and new old things going on in my world. Some I can speak freely about, and some I would love to speak freely about if I felt right about crossing the line between sharing stuff that’s mine and stuff that really belongs to someone else.
I recently quit following a fibromyalgia blog that I had subscribed to. I also removed it on facebook. Initially, I had stumbled across the blog while in the midst of the worst of the worst flares this past year. I remember thinking, “Aha, someone who gets it! There is someone who may be able to give me some coping mechanisms to work with, someone who will understand me!”
Instead, what I realized was that I was constantly inundated with all the negative aspects of fibromyalgia. It became my sole focus in life. I started every day with a status update from her that mentioned her pain or a blog update that showed up on my newsfeed mentioning her pain. My entire world began to revolve around how badly I felt and I couldn’t dig out of the hole. It makes sense, really. If you spend all of your waking hours thinking about pain and being miserable, of course you’re going to be in pain and miserable. Now, she’s gone and I feel better. Wonder if I should tell her all of that?
Over the last few weeks I’ve begun to notice just how much I’ve alienated myself. I’ve been sequestered at home, leaving only to go to work and run an errand here and there. I haven’t talked to the few friends I have in weeks, some for even months.
So, I made the nudge and scheduled some time for me. The plan is to see a movie and have dinner with my lifelong friend Friday night. Saturday I’m getting some salon time and having my hair done. I will also try and spend some time with my mom, maybe take her to run her errands. Saturday night I’m spending much needed quality time with my husband. Sunday is family day. I’m taking my husband and my kiddos and we’re finding something fun to do together.
After being off unpaid all week last week to help my mother out while she was sick, I probably shouldn’t spend the extra little bit to indulge myself and the family. However, in my defense, the bills are paid and there’s food to eat. No one is going to do without.
The “Birth-aversary” is coming up in a few weeks. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Don and I were married on his birthday. We use the term because it’s so much simpler than saying “Don’s birthday slash our anniversary”.  No plans yet. But, if I had my way I’d just find a quiet corner to snuggle up with him and enjoy his company for a little while. Working opposite schedules wears on me sometimes and I miss him.
I’ve had a lot of disappointments lately.  I lost my little Lola a few weeks ago. She was playing in the yard with the kids and ran out into the street. Thankfully, it was instant and she didn’t suffer. We buried her in the yard underneath a big pine tree. She would have liked that.
People that I felt secure about have made some major life changes that have slightly shaken what I thought I knew about the people in my world. It’s not me being judgmental. Far from it. It’s more like me having trouble absorbing that what I thought “was” really “isn’t”.  You can never really know enough about what someone is thinking or feeling to judge them for their choices. Wish everyone knew that. All you can do is try your best to understand their point of view and be there in whatever way you can.
So, aside from discovering I was a little lonesome for some adult company, I guess I’m actually doing much better. Little by little, I’m slowly crawling out of my hole and looking around to see what I’ve missed.
If you happen to see me give me a wave…

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Shame on you Lifetouch (and the school)...My letter ('cause that's what I do..)

DISCLAIMER: This is strictly my OPINION based on my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with Lifetouch. You make your determinations based on your own experiences, not mine. :)

Dear Lifetouch,
My son is in the 4th grade at (deleted because I'm a smart Mama who is looking out for her kiddo). Since his first year of school when he started Pre-K five years ago, I do not have a single school photo of him.  I remember picture days as a child always being given a personal little black comb to make sure your hair was ok, and teachers and photographers making time to ensure that you were presentable prior to having a picture taken.
I emailed you about this same issue in October of 2010. I wish I had saved your response. I vaguely remember being told that it was the first year for Lifetouch to do photos at (that school) and that your photographers did everything possible to make sure photos were good. However, I did post a copy of the email I sent to you to Facebook and found overwhelming agreement regarding the quality of Lifetouch photos. I will be posting this letter on Facebook too. I will also be posting it on my blog. Again, overwhelming agreement when I mentioned it on my status update this morning.
Since Lifetouch has taken over, I have only bought a school portrait ONCE because his hair is a mess or, in the case of last year, he was wearing a hoodie over his nice shirt that I sent him to be photographed in and his hair was a mess or, because shirts are twisted, facial expressions are off, etc. The list goes on.
In fairness, I’ve bought pictures of my other children. However, they are much older and, unlike "J" (because I don't post kiddo's name on the blog), do not have special needs so they can be counted on to check their own appearance.
My question to you, in this digital age when a photo is instantly viewable after being taken, how in the world do you expect to sell portraits that look like this?

Is the ultimate goal to sell a portrait, or are you just trying to find something for budding photographers to do during the day and forking out money to pay them with no return on your investment?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Remembering Lola....

This was the day we brought her home. She was so tiny.

She tried to nurse on Sky. Poor old girl let her, too.

Here she is with Mom's little one, Margo.

Sometimes she had bad hair days. I always thought she looked like  Phyllis Diller when she did.

Mostly she just looked like a sweet little angel.
We will miss you,  Princess Lola McFluffy.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....   Author unknown

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cake That's Not Carrot Cake But Still Didn't Break My Heart

I love cake. I don’t think I can even begin to express to you how much I love cake. Cake makes my world go round.
I wanted carrot cake, because it’s my favorite. However, I really didn’t have the energy to stand around grating carrots for my homemade carrot cake. So, I went to the grocery store to get one of those box cakes. They didn’t have carrot cake.
Can you believe that? No carrot cake?
*sigh* I bought myself a spice cake mix and two blocks of cream cheese instead and carried it home. Then, I got to thinking, spice cake isn’t really what I wanted either. How to fix it?
(I should have taken a picture but the cake was pounced upon before I thought of it. Sorry.)
Anyway, how to fix it? Raid the pantry.
The result was wonderful. Here goes…
You will need:
1 spice cake mix
2 blocks of cream cheese - softened
1 stick of butter - softened
About 3 ½ cups of powdered sugar
1 small can of crushed pineapple drained with juice reserved
7 ounce bag of pecan pieces
½ of a small bag of coconut
Vegetable oil
Orange juice
1 tablespoon of Vanilla extract

Mix the spice cake according to package directions adding the oil and eggs – EXCEPT – where it calls for water, use the reserved pineapple juice and orange juice to make the amount required in the instructions. When the batter is mixed well, fold in the coconut and pecans.

Bake according to package directions. Don’t forget to grease and flour your pan!

While the cake is baking, make up your icing. Keep in mind, I like my cream cheese icing extra cream cheesy tasting and a little less sugary tasting. That’s why I use two blocks where most recipes only call for one.

First blend the butter, vanilla, and cream cheese. Then, while continuing to mix, add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, and mix until fluffy.  Or, you can dump it all in at once. But, don’t forget to call and invite me over first so I can laugh at the cloud of powdered sugar that explodes all over your kitchen and then quickly leave before you’re ready to clean it up.  J

You can use more or less powdered sugar here depending on your preference.  This makes a rather large batch, but we like lots of icing on our cake and I needed enough to ice 2 nine inch round cakes.

Note: a more standard cream cheese icing recipe uses 1 block of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, and all of 1 small box of powdered sugar

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Well, it's not an Earthship....

So, I told you I would tell you about this picture. I had a few interesting guesses when I posted the photo on Facebook. But, in this case, fact is so much more amusing than fiction.
We spent this weekend with my in-laws in Bastrop, Louisiana. We drove an hour and a half on a little state highway, through small town southern Arkansas, where outbuildings are better tended than the mobile homes and yards that line the roads. There were stray dogs, old campers in yards, and several residences that left one to wonder if people lived there or it was, in fact, a salvage yard, before finally crossing Bayou Bartholomew into Louisiana and hitting that little gravel road. (for those of you unfamiliar with the rules of grammar, I'm pretty sure that was what you call a "run on sentence")
On day two of our trip Don and I made our way back out to the bayou to see his cousin, Alan. As we approached Alan’s driveway, we notice his neighbor’s home. My husband, the eternal optimist, begins to dance in his seat, convinced that these incredibly cool people are not just redneck Cajuns, but rather redneck Cajuns who have seen the light of the earthship movement and are building a self sustainable home. (feel free to click the linky dink to read about earthships. cool stuff!)
Surrounding this home is a beautiful piece of property. It is well maintained with a garden spot, a field with cows, a very clean chicken yard, rain cisterns and stocked fishing ponds.
It is also a fortress for a family of conspiracy theorists who believe that the US economy will collapse soon and we will find ourselves in the midst of a civil war with every man for himself.
They are also gun dealers who travel the weekly circuit across the country from gun show to gun show.
The little openings along the bottom of the sandbags are so they can lie on the ground and shoot at you as you approach their property. There are even some of those at eye level along the front of the trailer.
It’s really quite creepy if you ask me.
And funny in its own southern way.
And creepy….
And did I mention creepy?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Apple Butter at Grandma's

The last time I saw my grandmother alive was twenty one years ago. No longer the sturdy red haired woman I knew. She was now rail thin, sitting slumped on her sofa watching Young and the Restless. Her once perfectly combed hair was now twisting this way and that upon her head, briefly reminding me of one of those troll dolls with the brightly colored hair that stood on end. A stroke had left this once outspoken woman barely able to speak an intelligible word. I wept inside. 

Twenty one years ago I was eighteen. Today I am thirty nine. 

But, this morning, I was ten and she was as strong as ever and telling me stories over breakfast. I moved the buttermilk biscuits that I had generously smeared with the homemade apple butter my friend Steph gave me for Christmas to the side of my plate. I wanted to save them for last. I wanted to savor them. I wanted to remember.

I watched the melting butter run down the sides of my biscuit as I finished my eggs and sipped my coffee. Finally, I was ready. It seemed as I took the first bite that I was transported back to that little country kitchen. I felt the tingle of cinnamon as the smooth puree of apples silked its way across my tongue. I was ten. I had homemade biscuits and her homemade apple butter. I had my mug of milk, just enough coffee added to make me feel like one of the grown ups as I ate my breakfast. My legs dangled over the side of my chair swinging cheerily in response to the sunshine glittering through her lace curtains, mocking the curls of cigarette smoke that snaked through the beams of light.

I closed my eyes, recalling her voice as she told one of her tall tales. Her boisterous laugh as I ooed and ahhed at her yarns. How we were certainly related to anyone named Hayes in the encyclopedia, that Jesse James was some long lost cousin, that we were all descendants of greatness. No, we weren't always rednecks and drunkards. And, while our own lives were unremarkable, we had tales to tell of glories that were never really ours.

This morning I was ten. This morning was indescribable joy. All because someone gave me apple butter for Christmas.

Friday, 13 January 2012

I Don't Know Why I Remember ~ A writing prompt

Here are the instructions:
Writing Exercise from The Making of a Story:  A Norton Guide to Creative Writing
Goal:  To pinpoint some previously unexplored material that remains “hot” for you in some important emotional way.
What to do: 
1.       Scan back over your life and think of things that have stuck in your mind, but for no obvious reason.  (No births or deaths, or other “important” moments, please. Go for the small ones.)
2.       Render them precisely on the page using concrete details, beginning each one with the phrase, “I don’t know why I remember.”
3.       Don’t try to explain why they stuck with you, or interpret the meaning of them. Just put your reader there.
I don’t know why I remember him so clearly. I remember the deep lines set firmly around brown eyes, the whites both blood shot and jaundiced, assuring me that, most likely, any money he acquired was spent on liquor. The leathery black skin of his face was framed by the M shape of his receding hariline and the peppered gray stubble along his jaw that centered chapped lips the color of bruised plums, all together making it seem as if the rows of perfect white teeth were somehow out of place.
 Regardless of the season he wore navy blue coveralls blackened with the grime of the city streets and gooey with the stench of unwashed body and stale urine; the odor an independently tangible presence that clung to the air around him. They were of the insulated sort, the coveralls, like one might see on a mechanic. Only his face and hands were left exposed and the coveralls had zippered pockets here and there. Over his arms and legs, one on each of the upper and lower portions of his extremities, were t-shirts wrapped and tied like tourniquets with their frayed ends swaying to and fro as he moved. Their purpose was perplexing, at best, and yet one was left with the assurance that the various shirts were somehow as necessary to him as the unseasonable coveralls he insisted upon wearing.
A homeless Katrina evacuee who often sat quietly on the corner near the smoking area, watching with anticipation those who passed by in hopes they would leave the still smoldering remains of their cigarettes for him to pick up. Sometimes, from his position perched on the stoop, he would violently wave his arms in a style much like martial arts. Making those little sounds often heard from little boys playing, the expelling of air between the upper teeth and lower lip.
Pfft, pfft, pfft.
Some days, if he was lucid enough, he would gingerly approach, his jaundiced eyes averted, and mumble his desire for a whole cigarette.  Again, if lucid enough, he might even tell you his name, or that he was a Katrina evacuee, or that he was the administrator of a space station and only waiting for them to retrieve him.
It's been so long since he last held court on our little corner of the street. Other faces of other shiftless sorts, who are unable, both by choice or uncontrollable circumstance, have since come and gone. Their faces are blurred by the passing of days and years.
But his face, I remember.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

I'm a grumpy old troll...

I often wonder what I would do if I didn’t have friends who understood my need to lean towards anti-social behaviors. I don’t really know why I’m such a hermit like person. Given the opportunity to socialize, I tend to thoroughly enjoy those moments, drinking them up as if I thirsted for them during the time I chose to hide. When finished, I retreat silently back into my shell, my little haven at home where I am freed from the conformities of social circumstance and obligation.
I’m left to speculate what occurrences have left me to be such a solitarian that I do not seem to react to the lack of social stimuli, regularly finding myself quite content to abstain from the typical social requirements of making phone calls, inviting others into my home, or even asking someone to go to lunch.  Instead, I ensconce myself into my reclusive world and watch as others go on with all the things they think they are required to do as “normal” human beings.
However, were you to call, I would talk to you. If you were to ask me to lunch, I would go. And, in those moments I am there, I would be most happy to share those glimpses of my time with you.
My friends, who could all be so easily offended if they were to choose that path, all seem to take my quirks in stride and patiently await my emergence from my hidey hole. They enjoy their time with me, hug me tightly when we part ways and tell me not to be a stranger, comfortable with knowing that it may be a while before we cross paths again.
I wonder sometimes what makes them ok with who I am. Perhaps, do they too posses just enough of that hermit quality to give them a sense of understanding?
At any rate, I guess it’s all neither here nor there. I just wanted to take that moment to acknowledge that you, my friends, are appreciated. To let those of you I care about know, that your patience and loyalty don’t go unrecognized.
Much love,