Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I can usually pass up desserts and sweets. (I'd rather have a sandwich, or veggies with gooey sauces and salads with too much dressing.) However, yesterday I had a craving for Mother's Iced Raisin Cookies. I haven't tasted one since moving to Missouri nearly six years ago. And now I know why. THEY DON'T HAVE THEM HERE! I went to every grocery store in town and didn't turn up any. Iced animal crackers would do in a pinch -- both have the same nasty lard-like icing. Couldn't find them either, nothing, nada, zilch. Nothing else would do -- well, that's not entirely true. I would be very happy with Trader Joe's Triple Ginger cookies. Closest TJ's is 180 miles away. I'd make the trip if I could be sure of scoring some Iced Raisins at the same time.

My obsession with quilting is akin to a craving. I can only go a little while until I must have the feel of fabric in my hands. Lately I've been satisfying that craving by hand quilting a quilt I finished piecing around the first of the year. The good thing about hand quilting is it is very slow going and it keeps me out of the quilt shops and helps me save a bit of money. I do visit our local quilt shop each month to participate in a group that meets there. This quilt block is a "Challenge Block" from that group. This month, all of the participants will make a block using the same pink paisley fabric, add any other fabrics they wish -- I added red and white, and assemble a block of any design they choose. This one is called a "Pickle Dish." At the next meeting, a name will be drawn and the winner gets all the blocks made by all the participants. I always hope I won't win, because I don't want to feel obliged to make a quilt from my winnings!

Books Read in March:
Drums of Autumn - by Diana Gabaldon - more of the same sex, violence, and coincidences by Ms Gabaldon
Oliver Twist - by Charles Dickens - poor little orphan overcomes several twists (hah!) of fortune and lives happily ever after.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Black and Blue

The winter drum line was all decked out in black and blue, the theme colors for this year, for their parent preview/dress rehearsal performance last night. What you can't tell from this photo is the mat they are standing on is black vinyl with blue striping. You also can't tell there are nineteen kids in the group, all wearing the t-shirts I cut the sleeves out of and hemmed (a labor of love, even though I hate sewing t-shirt material). They have blue Under Armor shirts under (duh!) and a blue stripe has been ironed on the t-shirts. Pretty snazzy looking, IMHO. Of course, Ben with his tall slim body, beautiful posture, and wide shoulders is a perfect model (naturally, I'm 100 % objective!). Their performance has improved steadily through the season and they should be in top form for today's show.

The drum line is hosting today's competition and season finale. No more mid-week evening rehearsals till next fall -- dinner at home with the family -- and grandma can have a glass of wine with dinner if she chooses because she doesn't have to transport kids in the evening. And next year, he will have a driver's license and won't need me to haul him around -- a thought that induces joy and terror simultaneously.

Logan is spending this rainy Saturday afternoon hosting his own music festival. A couple of friends are coming over to work on their version of a garage band (in our case, a John Deere room band).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Same old, some older

Alicia (with twins on board, due in July) blew out her birthday candles (three of them, but she's really 20) while Julia watched at the end of the birthday dinner hosted by Ash and Amanda on Tuesday.

Very little else that is new or interesting in our lives this week. Quilt clubs, lessons, and sewing have occupied most of my time. The boys started the last quarter of this school year on Monday.
Our summer schedules are already filling up.
No, I didn't make this one, Sue Nickels did. She's a great teacher and a very nice person. I took an inspiring class from her on Wednesday and just may have to break my vow not to start any more large quilts. I won't make one just like this, but may use it to inspire my own design.

I'm having my first knee surgery on June 6 and am actively recruiting someone to come stay with me the week I come home from the hospital. I've got volunteers to help drive the boys to their various activities, summer school, football camp, and band camp. but I need someone to come stay with me while they are gone all day. Any volunteers? Free room and board will be provided. I need coverage from June 13 - June 17.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Make no mistake about it -- we live in a very conservative part of the country. Folks here about are far to the right politically; a democrat rarely even appears on the ballot in Christian County and stands no chance of being elected. People don't ask if you go to church. They might ask you where you go to church and you can be pretty sure the answer is some variation on the Protestant theme: not likely Catholic, certainly not Jewish, and absolutely not Muslim.

Because I want the boys to know there are other perspectives, I took them to see the expert on questioning absolutely everything: Bill Maher.

Maher was in good form, he took on everything: politicians (especially the tea-party), religion (especially the Pope and Mormons), the NRA, NASCAR. Truly, nothing was sacred. In some small recesses of my brain, I hoped some of the material went over the boys' heads. Judging from the frequency and intensity of their laughter, they missed very little.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi R Square

In deference to the house math geeks, National Pi Day (3.14), and the grandfather who belabors the "Pi are round" joke, I made an apple pie this afternoon. We have yet to dig into it, but once the crust is cracked, I'm sure it won't last long.

Today is the first day of spring break and we are celebrating by spring house cleaning. At least I talk about it -- haven't done much yet. However, I did let the boys know that we would be cleaning house this week. This afternoon on the way home from the dentist, I learned that Logan shampooed the carpet in his bedroom and the carpet in the play room -- WITHOUT BEING ASKED!!!!! A few hours later, I found myself yelling at him for his sloppy research skills in conjunction with a science project. When I stood back and realized I was yelling at the same kid who had shampooed carpets unbidden, I felt awful. I know it is my job to patiently teach him those skills (research and carpet cleaning!), but in the moment, I forget. Somehow, I expect B and L to have absorbed everything I have tried to teach all the children who came my way before they appeared on the scene.

Both boys had dental checkups today and both came away with perfect results. Logan has been struggling with gingivitis exacerbated by his braces, but today, the hygienist reported great improvement. I'm delighted -- we had been threatened with aborting the orthodontic process -- but now, all is good. (And I yelled at him for sloppy research practices -- I feel sooooo bad.)

Today it snowed (on the dogwood that is struggling to break into leaf) -- so spring is on its way!
There are hundred of buds on my dogwood this year and I can't wait to see it in bloom -- should happen on my birthday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Go Fish

I recently bought a box of frozen fish fillets to have on hand for one of those nights when I had to pull dinner together fast and lacked inspiration -- this never happens to you, right? Anyway the box said it contained ten fish fillets. But, it didn't. It contained eight fillets and an assortment of pieces of stuff which may have been fish or anything else. The picture shows the package and its contents. I sent a copy of the picture with a nice letter to the folks at Pinnacle Foods -- Van der Kamp's parent company -- and suggested they might have a quality problem and a truth in packaging issue which they should probably take care of. They sent me back a nice letter and enclosed coupons good for four free boxes of their product.

Now, I didn't really want any more of their stuff, once was enough, but free is free. And the coupons expire 3/31/2011. I picked up four boxes of the fillets on my next trip to Walmart and forgot to turn in the coupons. I PAID for them, and we don't even like them and now I have four boxes of them and four coupons good for more fish. I think I'm going to give up, unless someone can suggest a good use for either seven boxes of frozen fish fillets (we ate one tonight and everyone hated it) or four coupons good till 3/31/2011. Let me know if you want them and I'll send them to you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent -- Day 1

During Lent this year, I'm going to try to serve meatless meals at least twice a week. Fish counts as meatless. It's more a nod to Ben's aversion to meat than to the Christian tradition. I love much about Christian tradition, but some of it befuddles me if I try too hard to understand (or maybe it's because I don't try hard enough?). Anyh0w, for the 4o days of Lent, which occur during the 46 days before Easter (I think Sundays are exempt because they are supposed to be feast days , but there's still one extra day in there somewhere), we will significantly reduce our meat consumption. Tonight's inaugural meal was a frittata made with eggs, cheese, and one of our mystery greens from this week's CSA share. Apple wedges, biscuits, and for the grown-up in the family, sauvignon blanc (0rganic, from Sterling Vineyards, Mendocino) rounded out the meal.

We won't be participating in the CSA for the summer season because I expect to be out of commission, driving-wise for about half of the season due to knee surgery recuperation time. It makes me very sad, but we will shop at the Ozark farmer's market instead, still getting a lot of fresh local produce. One important reason I choose to participate in the CSA is to get the cost of transportation out of the price of food and into the bank accounts of local farmers. Using the farmer's market even closer to home than our CSA farm will accomplish that. Another reason is to instill in us the discipline of eating more vegetables -- both in variety and quantity. Then there is the whole sustainability issue. So, we are still committed, just altering our practice a bit. We will miss the Millsaps whom I consider to be our friends as well as our farmers. I wish them a successful summer season and we'll see them again in the fall!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Winner!

One of the basic lessons in photography is "Fill the frame." Logan is living that lesson as he nearly fills the door frame. He's big -- the sales clerk who sold him the suit couldn't believe he is only fourteen. Even though I knew he would be wearing his new suit to today's speech tournament, I was surprised when he came into my bedroom at 6:00 A.M. completely dressed, with jacket and tie. In the picture, his pant legs need straightening; I took care of that, but couldn't get him to pose for another photo. If he gets points for self-confidence and for being the best looking fourteen year old on the planet, he'll come home with a medal!

When I dropped him off at school, a swarm of six girls immediately surrounded him. Maybe he needs a canister of pepper spray.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hold Still, For Pete's Sake!

Oreo won't hold still to get her picture taken. This picture was taken this morning just before I took her to be groomed. I always get shots of her walking away from me, or lying on her back, expecting a tummy rub. She also won't hold still to have her hair brushed, so it grows into a matted mess. We don't cut it in the winter because she needs it to keep warm -- she loves to be outside regardless of the temperature.

It's much warmer now and time to see if there still is a dog under all that hair!

I must report she loves being an only dog. She can now run freely through the house and we no longer have to enforce an elaborate system of preventing doggy access to certain areas. Gates are gone, doors are open and I feel liberated, although wracked with guilt.

Ben is on the bus en route to the KC environs for a Winter Drum Line competition, Logan has a speech tournament tomorrow. Watch for pictures of a very handsome orator!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Karma and Drive-thru's

Started off the day with a dental appointment -- it's been a week for taking care of unpleasant business! The dentist found nothing wrong with my teeth and pronounced my gums very healthy so the day started looking brighter. Not only did I get a good report, but I don't have to go back for six months. So, I cheerfully started off on a second errand.

Logan needs dress shoes to wear Saturday for his speech tournament. We didn't find any at Famous Footwear yesterday, so I went shopping today and found some at Kohl's. Standing in line at Kohl's cash register, the lady in front of me opted to open a charge account to get a discount on her purchases. This protracted transaction caused the line to grow behind me. Finally, another cashier appeared and opened a second register. Although I was next in line, I was nearly trampled by people rushing to the new line. I continued to wait where I was, feeling grumpy and pissed off at all the rude people who would take advantage of poor old me slowed down by my walker. Mentally grumbling about the nerve of some people and wondering about the source of their rudeness, I remembered to pray for them. Gentle people generally have gentle lives, rude ones have rude lives.

I tried to think of a way to turn my ugly energy around and decided to get lunch at McDonalds drive-thru, paying for my own lunch and that of the car behind me. I learned to do this after being on the receiving end one morning -- it really shaped my day. I watched in my rear-view mirror as the car behind me pulled up to the cashier's window -- she also paid -- for the car behind her!!! I love it -- a beautiful example of playing it forward. I like to think the chain continued for a while. I'm happier now!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cinder, RIP

Cinder, about 50 pounds and four years old

Patiently, Cinder allowed the boys to dress him. He has also been known to model T shirts and socks.

Here's Cinder in his younger, leaner days -- about 25 pounds and six months old.
With a bit more weight on him, he still sits up and begs -- as long as food is his reward.
Logan loves dogs and blankets for cuddling.

Jealously guarding one of his favorite toys -- he finally unstuffed it and it got tossed out -- he wasn't know for taking very good care of his things, or my things either. Hence, the nickname Chainsaw.

Today is a very sad day in our home. I had Cinder euthanized this morning. It was a terrible decision, one I have struggled with for years. When he bit my hand this morning, drawing blood, he crossed over the line. We struggled over a cereal box liner which he wanted to eat and chew up. When I tried to take it from him, he bit me and there was nothing I could safely do to wrest it from him. I simply cannot risk owning a dog that would bit the hand that feeds him.

Cinder has given us tons of joy and love. He was very smart and responsive -- especially when food was involved. He was also very destructive, never outgrowing a puppy's need to chew. He earned his alias, Chainsaw, by destroying furniture, shoes, and venetian blinds.

Logan stayed home from school today to be with Cinder until the end. We both wept all morning. Logan held him at the vet's while he went to sleep and then again after he was gone. He wants to keep his ashes. I tried to stay out of the way as much as possible and let him deal with it as he needed to. I hope it was the right thing to do.

Ben's way of coping is vastly different, but in a way that is very predictable, at least to me. It was critical to him to keep to his routine, so he went to school this morning after shedding some tears. We'll talk more about it when he gets home this evening.

Oh how I pray they really understand why this had to be. It wasn't just the destruction and biting. He was also a barker to the point that the neighbors complained and even considered selling their homes! He also used the garage as his personal latrine and it has become unbearable and very difficult to clean -- at first he would use puddle pads placed in an oil drip pan, but his range increased daily, creating an awful mess. We couldn't let him go outside because of the barking problem.

But, we all loved him and today there is a hole in each of our hearts. I'm sorry Ben and Logan. I wish he could have had a happier ending.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shooting Up

The veil has been lifted from the scary unknown. My worst fear was that I wouldn't even get to come home from my doctor's appointment. I thought there was some possibility they would just send me directly to the hospital., but that didn't happen. Yes, I need knee surgery soon, but I have hopefully bought a bit a time with cortisone injections in both knees. I'm hoping for a reduction in pain and an increase in mobility in a few days.

It looks like I will have the first surgery in early June. That way I will be able to attend Nichole's graduation at the end of May. The boys would be on summer vacation and home to tend to me so that I won't have to go to a skilled nursing facility. The doctor tells me I would do terribly in a SNF -- the dinner table conversation alone would do me in. The boys can cook, do laundry, do some limited cleaning, and call 911 if need be. It should be OK. I might want to have someone else here for the first couple of days, but I think we'll be OK. I'll need help with driving errands, but there are several willing folks around to help with that. I'll be making the arrangements for that surgery sometime early next week. The doctor likes a couple of months lead time.

I would have the second surgery in the early fall. The boys will be in school. Ben will be driving and could get himself to band practices and games. I will need help getting Logan to and from football games and practices and someone to stay in the house with me during the day for a couple of weeks. I'm hoping I can persuade a far-away relative or two to come stay with me for that time. Any volunteers?

This means no trip to California for me this year, but I'll be in much better shape next year, so
it's probably worth the wait. For this year, folks will have to come to Missouri to visit.
* * *
Books I read in February:

David Copperfield -- Dickens says it is his favorite, I preferred Tale of Two Cities. I found it an interesting view of several strata of Victorian society and of Dickens life. Filled with recognizable, predictable, stereotypes, but entertaining.

The Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I know I said I read this in January, but I was mistaken. In January, I read Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber and I read The Voyager in February. The same cast of characters continue to have sex, engage in bloody fights, get taken advantage of, triumph and experience all sorts of improbable coincidences. Still very entertaining and great escape reading with no other redeeming value. (That may seem faint praise, but sometimes it's what I want.)

BTW, this is my 300th post!