Fall is in the air!

today was the first day since a while back that it felt like a promise of Fall. The morning was cool enough to need socks (thin ones, but still…) and the humidity dipped below 90% for the first time since June (ok maybe that’s hyperbole, but not much).

Ok, you know how I love food. Not any food, it has to be GOOD food (by the Ina Garten definition, not  the Ellie Krieger definition) (Never trust a skinny cook)

Someone with good intentions posted a picture of chicken and dumplings on Facebook. It was the Proper kind, too, the ones made with big fluffy biscuit dough dumplings. of course, “proper” is relative, isn’t it. One of the first arguments Himself and I had after getting married involved what constituted a Proper dumpling. He, being a Southern White Boy of Country Origins, was raised on strip dumplings. Basically they are pie crust cut into strips and boiled in a hot milky broth made from boiling a chicken and taking it out. I, being (obviously) of a More Sophisticated Culinary Upbringing (translation: we never had cake or ice cream in the house) was raised on dumplings made from a buttermilk biscuit dough, dropped by elegant spoonsful into a delicate and savory chicken based herbal broth, carefully crafted with fresh chopped herbs from the garden and serv….anyway. Mine were better.

The argument happened when he asked what I was fixing for dinner one night. Upon being informed that chicken and dumplings were being prepared, he became excited and exclaimed “OH THAT IS MY FAVORITE!”  When they were served, I heard the ::crickets:: or maybe that scratching sound of a record being bumped, or something indicating a certain cognitive dissonance, because he said “What are those? Those are not dumplings. That is boiled dough. My mama doesn’t make dumplings like that.”

Whoever has been married and had that “My mama doesn’t (do whatever) like that”, you know the feelings it causes in a New Bride, seeking to create family harmony and a Happy Husband. It goes like this… (ahem)

FINE THEN. GO TO YOUR MAMA FOR SUPPER.” 

Same thing happened with cole slaw, but those are the ONLY times he has EVER said that, lest you think he is a cad. Because he is not. We both had figuring out to do, with the whole “being married” thing.

We have since compromised, and I try to alternate between his beloved strip dumplings (which I have come to like) and my preferred buttermilk biscuit dumplings.

Anyway…Fall is making me hungry for warm, thick, comforting foods. Rich stews, pot roasts, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Good heavens I love mashed potatoes and gravy. Not the instant kind, either, but soft fluffy russet potatoes, smashed with half-and-half, and an inordinate amount of real butter (gotta pack on the weight for hibernation, doncha know) (and you never know when the society is going to collapse and we might have to make a 2 week walk westward to reach The Old Homeplace and Safety). Oh, and gravy. I never met a gravy I didn’t like except for Cracker Barrel’s and any other kind made from a mix. no. homemade gravy with no lumps. One thing Mom did right was teach me how to make exceptional gravy. I might screw up many things, from relationships to car tires, but never a pan of gravy. Himself will tell you that. I want that on my headstone. “She never screwed up the gravy”

 

 

Project1

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Green Eyed Monster

Envy isn’t generally part of my sin- lexicon. There are plenty of other character flaws, but not that one, normally. Lots of relationship skills, a lovely house, long legs, well-traveled, highly educated, all those things I am not, they do not cause envy. Mostly my response is “good for you! tell me all about it!”

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Except this morning. (you saw that coming, right?)

Himself and I were going over the upcoming week. What we’re doing and when, coordinating calendars, all that stuff married people do. He has a busy week, I do not. Wednesday for him involves a trip to Brunswick (no, I do not envy that), and he informed me that Thursday will make Wednesday bearable.

“Why so?”I query.

“We’re doing a Benthic study on the river.” he replies.

“What does that involve?” I ask.

“Well, basically we spend the entire day in a john boat, floating down the river, taking a census of minnows and macro-invertebrates. If we don’t get far enough down the river we’ll have to do it Friday as well.”

Cue the green eyed monster.  He gets to spend and entire day, possibly two, floating down a South Georgia blackwater river, scooping up wee fish and water striders and sifting through mud for tiny mussels.

Normally I am really happy when he gets to do stuff like this. It’s a big change from conference calls and meetings and cleaning up other people’s mistakes. How peaceful can that be? Floating down a river, one with lots of shady places and wade-able places and a cooler full of not-beer (only a cooler full of beer could improve the situation but it’s WORK thus Serious Bizness.) and probably a shotgun in case of the inevitable water moccasin to keep things exciting. I mean, I suppose I *am* really happy for him, and my envy isn’t the sort that says NO! If I can’t have this then neither should you!. It’s more the kind that whines and pouts and stomps it’s foot and says NOT FAIR I WANT TO GO TOO.’

So when I did that (minus the foot stomp, it was early yet) he said if I would make the trip to Brunswick for him, he would let me come on the river trip. That won’t work, though, as the officials there would likely notice that I am not Himself, what with the 11 inch height difference and 100 pound weight difference and lack of facial hair. I offered to put mascara on my chin and wear stacked boots but no, it would still be problematic since I would have no idea what they were talking about.

When I was a kid, the Oconee River in North Georgia was about 1/2 mile through the woods behind our house.

This wasn’t it, but it looked just like this.

It had river otters, and a beaver swamp on the way. It was my Happy Place, and hours were spent there with Daisy (my mutt), watching the otters slide down the bank, wading in shallows, and poking at the tiny mussels. Weekend often included a canoe, and a 10+ mile trip on the river. It was peaceful, the physical and philosophical opposite of the grinding misery of school, the perfect rejuvenation for a weary teenager.

The swamp was a wonderful place. You went through a grove of very old oaks to get to it, like something you’d see in a movie with knights and warhorses and faire maidens in distress. on one side was a hill, leading up to more woods and a shack. on the other side was a meadow that would be covered with violets in the Spring. Not a huge area, maybe an acre or so, but purple and white and green. Daisy the Mutt loved the swamp, and would find a muddy spot just deep enough and submerge with her nose out of the water, and blow bubbles. I would collect water plants, mussels, and minnows, and make an aquarium in my room, to keep a piece of it there.

The woods were full of tiny things, monkey jugs (wild ginger), wintergreen, partridgeberry, all sorts of mosses and fungi and beautiful wee flowers.

Wild ginger

Even today, 35 years later, the woods and a river mean calm peace to me. It’s where I see God in the small parts of creation, in the infinite variety and the way it all works together to make a place that works, quiet and implacable, and I can simply be a part of it.

Instead, however, Himself will come home, happy and restored for being out in the nature for a day, scooping up waterbugs and counting minnows. I will not be in nature, but likely will go to the (s)mall and indulge in retail therapy, or maybe stay home and read about nature.

and pout.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Waxing Nostalgic

Yesterday I saw a picture of some young boys (2-8, roughly) sitting at a table drawing pictures. in the middle on the table was a cigar box filled with crayons, and there was a pile of paper, and other drawing stuff.

Who Won?

I was kind of overcome with a sense of nostalgia, and started wondering if there would ever again be a cigar box of crayons (remember that smell? The waxy aroma of a new box of crayons?) in the middle of my table.

When the boys were young, there was a Craft Box I kept for rainy days and emergencies. Mostly it was  a pipe dream, concocted out of the mind of a female who had such things as a young girl, because the boys weren’t interested in most of the stuff in that box, the ribbons and confetti and glitter. They preferred the pipe cleaners that could be twisted in the the shape of a gun or a sword, and the paper that could be balled up into hand grenades (when it was too wet to go outside and use pinecones). The glue was ok, too, because it could be poured into the hand of whoever was sleeping. The crayons and markers were good, because there was one boy who loved to draw, and another one who loved to count. They also make good missiles.

Here’s a story on the one who loved to count, it was a harbinger of Things To Come:

He was not quite 3, and we had purchased one of those big boxes with 64 crayons in it. He was unimpressed with the variety of colors, but was fascinated that they were separated into  smaller boxes. After counting that there were 16 in each smaller box, and noting that there were 4 boxes, and seeing on the side of the big box that it contained 64, he asked Himself if that meant 16×4=64. He was assured that it did, then we both alternated between extreme pride and mild panic. He is now approaching 25, and in engineering school, and loves all things math.

The one who loved to draw (he was approaching 5) couldn’t care less about the math of it all, but carefully arranged all the colors by type chroma and hue, which made for a very pleasing and artful box. He is 26, and still has a strong sense of what is aesthetically pleasing.

The youngest one was around 1 at the time, and determined that crayons weren’t as tasty as red clay from the yard.  He is 23 now, and while I am pretty sure he doesn’t eat dirt anymore, I know that he is usually covered in it.

Anyway…seeing that picture of those boys caused nostalgia and a little bit of anxiety and sadness, and maybe worry that there won’t ever be little ones sitting at the table, with crayons and paper, and will there ever be pictures proudly displayed on the refrigerator door, held in place with all those magnets we’ve collected over the years?

I hope there will be some children around here who will be excited about getting into a box full of stuff, messy things like glue and glitter and scissors and markers, and creating Works of Fine Art when it’s too hot to go outside.

Some of the best memories I have of the kids being little involve the kitchen counter, crayons, and paper. It would be nice to have some more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 10 Comments

tasty tasty!

Food is good, right? of course it is. And good food is even better! How do you define “good food”? Is it food that is nutritious and all organicky and Approved By (whoever it is that approves of stuff)? Or is it stuff that people like Anthony Bourdain make satisfied grunty noises over, stuff like fois gras (not nutritious at all, and mean to geese, but fancyschmancy and really really delicious) or truffle butter (also delicious but not mean to geese though pigs might be somewhat exploited)?

Or is it stuff that is artificially orange and nowhere anywhere on the label does it claim to be good for you in any way other than perhaps mentally?

I love artificially orange food. You know the kind, violently colored with all kinds of unpronounceable chemical additives and labels that show expiration dates sometime about 15 years off. I do love me that fake cheeze powder.

Also? Have you ever really read the label? you know, the one that says something like “Serving size, 12 chips” Who on God’s green Earth eats only 12 Doritoes?

When life overwhelms, or people are causing anxiety and angst, nothing is quiet as satisfying as a bowl full of something unnaturally orange. There is even a holiday for it:

Strangely Orange Snack Appreciation Day: June 21

One celebrates this day by indulging in Cheetoes and orange slice candies and Tang. And Doritoes and a bowl of Kraft Mac&Cheeze

 

Yes, I know it is not even remotely near June 21, but that doesn’t make this craving for Doritoes or Cheetoes any less real.  Nor does it reduce the guilt of wanting nasty food that tastes delicious.

How come celery can’t taste that good? (spare me the lecture about fats and cave men and evolutionary needs and stuff. I have already heard it but that doesn’t make Cheetoes any less amazing)

I actually knew someone once who claimed his favorite food was broccoli. Himself and I felt a little sorry for the man, and while we didn’t quite think he was tetched in the head, he weren’t normal, neither.

now, don’t think that I go run to the store every time a craving for fake orange food happens. I do have a modicum of self control and the craving will pass after eating a bit of ginger or a handful of wasabi peas. Strongly flavored food is good for nipping a craving, the same way listening to Kashmir will rid your brain of an earworm. Did you know that? Works like a charm and for some reason Kashmir never becomes an earworm of it’s own.

Anyway, I want to thank the inventor of Doritoes for making something delicious. I remember discovering them when I was about 10, and starting to earn a bit of money doing mother’s helper stuff. Back then it was taco flavored only, but boy were they good, especially to a kid who was being raised on Organic No Additive Food That Was Nutritious And Nasty.

I loved those things. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

time flies

Someone recently told me it was September.  Of 2014. Last time I checked it was August of 1993. There are people who were born in the ’90s who are GETTING MARRIED. or even already have! There are people in my immediate family who were born in the ’90s who are married! Since when was it legal for 2 year olds to get married?

And this September thing…It’s not September, is it? Isn’t it April or something? Wasn’t Christmas (of 1992) about 6 weeks ago? Since when was #4 approaching 6 feet tall and a sophomore in high school? i Isn’t that some sort of freak-of-nature event, that a 2 year old in overalls would be so tall? He hasn’t even been born yet! It’s 1993 and he didn’t come along until 1999!

I am so confused.

I have a son who is closer to 30 than he is to 20. Another one is married WITH A WIFE. Another one is going bald. Another one has a car…and the one with the car is only 2 and hasn’t been born yet.

My parents, who are 45 because that’s the age parents are supposed to be, have white hair and drive a Buick. I don’t have any grandparents anymore, which is weird, because everyone who’s 17 should have grandparents, or at least one or two of them, and I don’t have any. It’s ok, because part of me knows that is the natural course of things, but another part finds it very confusing.

Because I am 17 with a 26 year old son and a son who is married WITH A WIFE, and another son who is going bald and another one with a car…it makes no sense to me at all.

Just a few years ago, maybe 3 or 4, they were all so small, not yet in school, perpetually covered with dirt and hollering for food like a nest full of baby birds. One of them was always up in a tree, or hiding in a cabinet, or asking WHY, and now they think they know WHY and don’t ask anymore. The trees are empty of children and the cabinets hold cats instead of kids.

I know it’s the natural course of things and mostly I can accept that, but sometimes it feels so strange, an ill fitting sweater that arrived in the mail. My name was on the box and it came from a place I often order from, but I don’t remember ordering that one, and there’s no charge on the Paypal account for it…how did it get here, this aging thing with grown children who aren’t children anymore? When did that happen?

It came in between school visits and arguments and cooking meals and endless laundry, buying houses and job changes and moving vans. It just HAPPENED when I was busy doing other things.

When the kids were really young, it seemed to last forever. The days felt endless and monotonous. in retrospect they still do. People would say “Oh enjoy them while they’re young, it goes by so fast!” but it didn’t. It went by much faster once they were grown and dealing with their own lives.  I wish I could say I loved it when they were little, but that was a very difficult time, for many reasons. It wasn’t their fault, it would be a gift to go back and redo some things, but that isn’t possible. Doesn’t everyone have some sort of regret?

I guess time is relative, a sort of percentage thing. A day today….let’s see…I am 49 years+4 months old….that is (math math math) 18005 days (give or take a few) old, so one day is 1/18005 of my life. For a 15 year old (that would be #4), a day is 1/5475 of his life. (math math math) That means his day is roughly 3 times as long as mine, proportionally speaking. I  think. math ain’t my strongest subject, but hopefully you get the idea. Therefore it makes sense that the days of a 49+ person would go by much faster than those of a 15-ish person.

I guess that’s what that whooshing noise is that older people get in their ears. It’s not tinnitus, as doctors say, it’s the sound of life flying by.

pilot

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

Bits and pieces

Our washing machine is misbehaving. The pump doesn’t work and a valve is leaking, so it fills up and dribbles on the floor if I’m not watching.  however, we (which means Himself) had the foresight to put a pan under it the last time it was moved around, so the water is captured instead of going all over the brand new laminate and ruining it. Himself, being who he is, ordered a new pump and valve and will replace them soon. All for less than $100! He youtubed (that’s a verb now, did you know that?) how to do it, and was told by some other Mr Fixit that it took longer to get up off the floor than it did to do the work.

The washing machine issues means there is now 10 days worth of laundry piled up. Oof. A solid 10-12 loads. Including #4’s sweaty cross country stuff. It is contributing to the personal aroma every house has, and not in a good way.

I am trying out drying vegetables. The garden is happily producing double what we need for daily eating, not to mention green beans are getting tiresome. There was a pile of okra on the table and I recalled reading something about drying it for snacking, and gave it a go. My oven is convection, so it’s great for drying, The okra was really easy, and 2 cookie sheets full dried down to less than a pint. Tasty, too! Next time I will toss it with some seasoning first.  Now there are green beans and sliced eggplant in there. I can see drying lots of stuff for making soups…we love soups in the winter.  Apparently you can make eggplant jerky as well, season it or marinate it or something, before drying.

My foot is still being a Drama Queen. Once the anesthetic that was mixed with the steroid wore off (about 6pm) it started to REALLY hurt, and still is this morning. I am sure standing in the kitchen, slicing eggplants and blanching beans didn’t help, but it needed to be done. Now I am sitting with it propped up, and glaring at it occasionally.  Dr G warned me that it feel uncomfortable for a couple of days. I am looking forward to seeing if the shot helped, and being able to function normally again.

The One Who Got Married Recently is doing well, settling in to married life with someone who shares his same interests and love of game meat. He sent me pictures of  squirrels braising in tomatoes from their garden, and asked about making venison sausage. If you have never eaten squirrel meat, it’s like very dark meat chicken crossed with goat. Really tasty but it has to be cooked for a long time because it’s tough.  He wants to come here for a weekend and hunt some watermelon pigs. (So called because when they’re small they have stripes like a watermelon, and are about that size. There are no regulations on hunting wild pigs, because they are overtaking the region and are very destructive. Also, very delicious.)

The landscaping is coming along, though VERY SLOWLY. Shrubs are in place, and partially mulched. The mulch only seems to move one wheelbarrow full per day or two, as the Landscaping Guy (#2 son) has limited time between classes and Regular Job. I would love it if the menfolk would set aside one solid day and do yardwork for me. It could get done in one day if everyone would put themselves to it. I would even fix steaks for them if they did.

Oh! When at Dr. G’s, I was weighed and while what that weight was is none of your business, it was lower than it’s been for quite some time, and this is a good thing. Along with this was the arrival of a couple of pair of pants ordered, and they were a little bit too big! Ohmygoodness! I have been that size for going on 9 years now and always order these pants (LLBean)! What a lovely feeling!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Can’t complain

My foot kind of hurts. That’s not a complaint, it’s a fact. However, because my foot hurts, I went to a podiatrist, who poked at it with needles and squished it around and asked things like “Does this hurt” and said things like “You might feel some discomfort” which is doctorspeak for “this will hurt like hell but I am not going to say that because you’ll walk out.” I am not complaining. It’s a fact.

This is not my doctor. He is cleaner than this.

Why not? What’s wrong with complaining?

I have nothing to complain about. I can go to a specialist if something hurts. Not everyone has that luxury. Once he is done with his poking and prodding, I can go home and prop up in a comfortable chair with a glass of tea. Not everyone can do that. I don’t have to put on a uniform or uncomfortable shoes and pretend to feel well so my boss won’t fire me.

I realize that, and what a privilege it is. Sometimes it shames me. Not in that “I gotta quit with being comfortable!” but more in a “Why aren’t I using this to Do Good Things?” I don’t feel guilty about privilege, about being comfortable, but I recognize it for what it is, and know that I am not any better or more deserving than someone who isn’t so fortunate.

This prosperity…is it a blessing? it could be a curse, really. It could be that I am so comfortable that I forget where it comes from and start thinking I deserve it, then cop an attitude toward God when something doesn’t go my Precious Princess way.

All along, in our 28 years of marriage, I have said that I would give it all up and live in an old single-wide housetrailer if it came to that.  All this stuff is gravy, you know. gravy makes you fat (spiritual fat is complacency, don’t you think?). I want to remember to be thankful for what I have, and that God has me here for a reason, and this stuff needs to be used in a way that glorifies and honors Him…

Even I, who loves gravy, yes I does, would not do this.

even the shot in the foot, and the uncomfortable boot. I am not sure how to use those things…maybe it will come to me.

On a completely different subject, I was informed yesterday that if one put antipersperant antiperspirent  …that stuff you use on your pits to cut down sweat… under your boobs, it will help there as well. how about that!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments