Filed under: Awesomeness, Hooray!, I feel so smart!, oh you self indulgent hussy!, Rest and Relaxation, spouse
Friday, I packed. Saturday morning we (Terry and I) got up early, and were out the door and up the road by 10 after 7! Bliss!
We went here and stayed for 2 half days and 1 whole day, blissfully doing absolutely nothing more stressful than soaking in the hot tub or splitting a bit of wood for kindling. I cooked a little bit, which involved grilling a couple of pieces of meat and dumping some salad from a bag onto plates. Then we soaked in the hot tub again. Then watched a movie, poked at the fire in the fireplace, and soaked in the hot tub again.
It was cold there, and rainy, and the hot tub was surrounded by windows so if we’d remembered the bathing suits we could have opened the blinds and watched the rain, but I was all Presbyterian and Nervous about someone driving by (which actually happened, once…someone drove by, that is) and seeing us in the altogether soaking in that hot tub and being traumatized by the sight (of 2 middle aged Not So Slims naked in a hot tub)…where was I? Oh yeah. The blinds were kept tightly shut, all the way around the cabin so if we’d wanted to we probably could have spent the entire weekend COMPLETELY NUDE. But we didn’t, because someone had to go out and get firewood, and doing it in the buff would certainly guarantee that a Baptist funeral would drive by. Terry did go out once in his pajama pants, a t-shirt and unlaced hiking boots, looking a bit like a character from Li’l Abner…and that was the one time a car drove by. He went back out 2 hours later, and the same car drove by from the other way.
I had always wanted to rent a cabin in the mountains, and spend a few days, but never had. However, now we have and I highly recommend it. It was quiet. There was no decent cell phone reception. It was cold thus piling into the bed and snuggling close was necessary (and fun). I fantasized about selling our big barn of a house once all the kids leave home, and getting a place like that little cabin. 850 square feet, that’s all, with everything a person (or two) requires, AND a hot tub!
Terry liked it so much that he announced we would do it a couple of times a year. I liked it so much I thought that was a splendid idea. You know what’s crazy? Well, I thought it was crazy…the whole thing cost about as much as a decent Holiday Inn room. AND they supplied the wood and housekeeping! Crazy! To think that for the past 25 years I wanted to do this, and never did because I was certain it would be ridiculously expensive. Well, it wasn’t and it was MUCH cheaper than marriage counseling!
Not My New Year’s Resolutions:
Lose 50 pounds
Exercise Every Day
Eat more vegetables
Eat less potato chips
Be kinder to my family
Be kinder to strangers
Blah blah de flamin’ blah.
Who does that, anyway, I mean, ok so maybe that first week, they skip the fries and eat an apple at lunch, then the gradual slide back into old habits…first it’s getting the chunk of bread at Panera instead of the apple. Then it’s the last handful of Chex mix (really, it’s left over from Christmas, don’t want to let it go to waste!) at 2pm (since lunch was
creamy broccoli soup, and everyone knows soup is good for you)and before you know it, you’re going “oh to heck with it. I want a large fries, please.”
Then there’s the exercise. I should. I know. I’m seeing a physical therapist now because I sit on my arse too much and they have me doing stuff to strengthen those internal “core” muscles (how come I never heard of “core” muscles before? He told me that “we”…don’t you love how they say that, as if he’s right there next to me yanking on a stiff rubber cord when in reality,he’s sitting in a chair making notes and sipping a latte…where was I?) oh yeah, core muscles. “it’s not the pretty ab muscles everyone likes to look at” he said to me. “It’s the internal ones no one ever pays attention to. That’s what we’re (WE again…*sips latte*) concentrating on”. Well ok. Maybe I’ll actually do some exercising. I intended to walk the track in the mornings after dropping #4 at school, it’s right across the street, but every time I meant to, it would rain, or be cold, or my walking shoes had a cat poo in them, or the tracksuit was dirty or feeling a little tight that morning thanks to the
fries apple I had for dessert last night.
A couple…well ok…SIX years ago…ok (sigh) 7 years ago I belonged to a gym, and would drop #4 at school then go work out for an hour and 1/2 or 2…(really!) and I loved it. No weight was lost. I didn’t find any more either tho, and all the wobbly parts firmed up enough that I was happy wearing a sleeveless shirt. I am going to do that again. BUT NOT BECAUSE IT’S THE NEW YEAR. Let me make that abundantly clear. I am doing it because I am enjoying the stuff the physical therapist prescribes. I will put on my not very trendy hot pink tracksuit (which makes me look like a bottle of Pepto Bismol) and chug away on a treadmill and with weight machines 3-4 times a week, and since it’s being paid for, it will get done. I am Scottish, therefore I *will* get my money’s worth and maybe more.
So. I will likely continue to consider potatoes a vegetable. If they’re fried in peanut or corn oil, that makes it twice the vegetable. Do not correct me on this. I live in the South. Potatoes, peanuts and corn are totally vegetables here.
I probably won’t be much kinder to my family. I love them but if I were to suddenly lose the sarcasm and become sweet and gentle, they’d all assume a brain tumor and I don’t want to inflict that kind of emotional trauma on them. It wouldn’t be very kind.
I am already (sort of) kind to strangers, unless they’re blocking the aisle in the store, or their kids are brats, or I don’t like what they’re wearing, or…who am I kidding. I am not kind to strangers and once again, if I suddenly became that way (insert brain tumor scenario). It’s not that I am some sort of misanthrope, but kindness is not a character quality I possess. I can be generous. I usually like helping people who need it and over the years I have grown some semblance of an ability to empathize, but kindness…that’s like…I don’t know what it’s like, because I don’t have it. No diplomacy either. That’s Terry’s territory.
Now that Summer is Officially Over, there are no more excuses for slackery. As long as it’s between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is easy to put things off. “Oh, it will just get messy again tomorrow” and “someone will only spill something there, no point in cleaning.”
But now? Labor Day has a different meaning for this housewife. It’s a kickoff, a reinvigoration, a banishment of slackitude and laziness. The weekly schedule is reinstituted, and that includes time on the computer.
I spend way too much time,being sucked in by stuff like StumbleUpon and that whole “hey, this looks interesting” and ‘oo what’s that all about?” The internet has made it far, far too easy to
waste time research ideas.
I did the same thing when I was a kid, in the library. Projects and reports were inevitably late, tho VERY well researched,because I’d get started on a pile of books in the library, but in the process of looking for those books, would find something else (OO! Shiny!) that was even more captivating than Jungian psychology or the life cycle of the blue fruit fly, and off on a tangent I’d go.
I still do that, and the internet makes it SO EASY.
But now that Labor Day is here, so is my annual attempt at Self Discipline. It goes like this: get up at 6, check email while Terry’s in the shower, then NO COMPUTER UNTIL MORNING COFFEE BREAK (usually around 9:30). When the coffee cup is empty, get back to work, and NO COMPUTER UNTIL AFTERNOON COFFEE BREAK (usually around 2). When cup is empty, etc etc. and NO COMPUTER AFTER TERRY GETS HOME. Amazing how much can get done around the house when you’re not looking up stuff that has no relevence to you life AT ALL but still manages to be very interesting (jellyfish. I love jellyfish. They’re fascinating. how can something that looks like that even be ALIVE).
So I keep notes. A little spiral bound notebook follows me around the house and when something crosses my mind (sea slugs! Have you ever looked at them? They look like flamenco dancers! Gorgeous!) it will go into the book, and during my breaks, as long as nothing more important comes up (grilled chicken sandwiches with aioli! Need to marinate! Ciabatta rolls!) I will look it up and become More Informed.
Ok, last sip of coffe, time to wind this down. Next up: Work in the studio! Terry made me a most excellent set of shelves,nice and tall, and completely empty at the moment. That won’t last long!
Ok, We have this friend. We’ve know him and his wife (Hi Michelle!~~) for many years. Part of his job requires him to go to China a couple of times a year, and he inevitably asks “What can I bring you?” Usually I say “oh I don’t know. I don’t need anything.” But not this time.
Oh no. This time I said “10 yards of ivory silk, please.” I didn’t care what kind. Charmeuse, Peau de Soie, georgette….didn’t care. I just wanted some. So he (bless him!) said “OK!” then called Terry from China and told him that alas,since the fabric he could find was 36 inches wide instead of 45, he got 17 meters and it’s not ivory, but a light tan (like coffee with LOTS of cream in it) is that ok?
Is that ok, he asks. He’s bringing me 17 meters of fine Chinese silk…and I’m going to complain because it’s 17 meters of cafe’ latte instead of 10 yards of ivory? Well ok fine, if that’s all you can find I guess it will have to do.
I decided to wait and see what exactly it was before deciding what to do with it. Annnnd…
It’s charmeuse. CHARMEUSE! I LOVE THAT STUFF! Drapey and light and flowey and so feminine and not stiff at all! And not sheer either…
So…I was surfing around my favorite vintage clothing sites looking for inspiration. Have you ever watched a movie with Myrna Loy in it- like The Thin Man movies…and noticed what she wears? That’s what I want to make. Structured yet floating. Feminine but with authority…
and came across this. Seriously, please, please go look at it.What do you think? I want to make this. Lace will need to be found, but I know just the place. Terry has promised a trip to Atlanta soon, to find such lace.
This one, in the pictures, is tiny. The hips on it are a solid 34 inches. (what a cow, right?) I’m going to make a bigger one, more Rubenesque, probably a size 16-18, because I think that cut would look fabulous on a larger woman.
I hope there’s enough fabric to make a gown to go with, but the robe comes first.
Filed under: Awesomeness, Booze, Holidays!, Hooray!, I feel so smart!, In The Southland, Rest and Relaxation
I love making plans. Half the fun of a trip is in the planning, the optimism…it’s like planting a garden, you just know it’s going to be fabulous!
So anyway, when we were in Atlanta last weekend (and I am considering that small adventure to be a sort of traveler’s snack, the antipasto of journeys, just enough to whet the appetite), we started talking about Where To Next. Terry has 10 days off in July, and by golly we are NOT going to waste it sitting around watching war movies and complaining about the weeds.
So we started tossing around ideas. The Blue Ridge Parkway? A Low Country tour up to Kill Devil Hills and Ocracoke Island? What if we just got on Hwy 301 and drove to Delaware and back? None of it felt right. Then Terry said “you know, I’ve always wanted to see the Shaker Village in Kentucky” and That Felt Right.
So yesterday I got online. There is a perfectly lovely non-interstate route to Kentucky, on a road that we can get on mere yards from our house. Through the mountains, up into Kentrucky horse and bourbon country…gorgeous stuff, folks. So I plotted a route, planned stops, and made us a reservation at the Inn at Pleasant Hill with plans to stay there for a day and a half, then a short trip an hour north to Frankfort, where there are 3 bourbon distilleries that offer tours.
Terry is a HUGE bourbon afficianado. You know how people collect fine wines, and know what each one is good with, and the history of them and all? Terry is like that with bourbon. He knows which kind goes with what sort of cigar, which one is best suited for drinking during a NASCAR race, and which one is best savored slowly as a delicious after dinner or late evening celebratory treat…he knows all that. So I thought a tour of a distillery that makes one of his favorites would be quite The Thing.
After that, we’ll turn back to the South, and head toward Knoxville, which is right next to Oak Ridge, where there’s SCIENCE! And HISTORY! And COOL STUFF! I admit to getting my geekitude jumping when it comes to stuff like this, all girlish and squealy and handflappy…well ok maybe I don’t squeal or flap my hands, but this stuff is FASCINATING, and is my equivalent of a bourbon distillery tour. So anyway…
After seeing Oak Ridge, and I am wondering if it would be possible…would they have any…unranium glass? I have no idea…I am sure we’ll be ready to sleep in our own bed and head home.
The trip 2 (or was it 3) years ago, on Route 66, taught us how to travel efficiently. A cooler full of cold drinks so we don’t stop and spend $$ at convenience stores. Load up on fruit and such at the continental breakfast bar in the hotel. Brunch at a Mom&Pop restaurant (the one with all the cars parked out front), snack on fruit midday, and an early supper. Brunches tend to be cheap, and that allows for a nice dinner if we want. Cheap hotels (Super 8 has been quite acceptable in our experience), and a loose agenda. There are things we want to see, but none are so Important that the trip becomes more about the destination than about the journey.
It’s cold outside, I think another cup of hot coffee is required, before getting started.
I need to get dressed, but flannel pants and a fleece hoodie are so comfortable and warm.
I’m hungry, and there’s still 2 sweet rolls left over from Christmas morning. They would be delicious with another cup of hot coffee. I wonder how long it would take to warm them up.
The cat’s on my legs. how am I supposed to get up?
#4′s room is the Goal of the Day. It’s a dump, a trash heap, a mess. A black hole, a supernova of legos and dinosaur parts. I enjoy cleaning up his room, really, it’s just that…y’know…the cat’s on my legs.
The living room is nice and clean. Laundry’s done, there’s chicken in the fridge to make chicken and dumplings for supper. That doesn’t have to be started until around 3 or so. Plenty of time, and maybe the cat will be off my legs by then.
Oh…I’ve got a couple of shows DVRed…probably ought to go ahead and watch those before I get too involved in cleaning #4′s room. One of the shows is Hoarders and that always gets me crackin’ in cleaning mode. So it’s decided.
I’ll move the cat and refill the coffee cup, warm the leftover sweet rolls, and watch Hoarders, before getting dressed and cleaning up.
Sounds like a plan.
I was sitting in Sunday School the other day, and the teacher called out a bunch of verses, asking us to look them up and someone read them. So most of us (older people) are flipping thtough our Bibles, looking for this Psalm and that Galatians and whatever, and there’s the one lone college student who appears to be messing with his cellphone. I was thinking “Dude, not the time or place, y’know” then he up and says “I’ve got the Psalms one” and starts reading…off his phone. Wot? How are you supposed to show off your verse-hunting prowess by being the first one to flip to a verse because you know *exactly* where in the Bible that book is located? Part of me thinks having the Bible app on your iPhone is cheating. Part of me thinks it’s kind of awesome because you don’t have to carry around this big thick book anymore. Part of me wonders what’s going to happen in 25 years on the streetcorner at Walmart…is the dude in the black pants and white shirt going to yell and wave his iPhone at you? Somehow it won’t be quite the same as now, when he has a King James Bible the size of an encyclopedia
Not long ago someone asked if I had or wanted a Kindle- you know, those electronic book things. I think it’s a cool piece of technology, and if you travel alot and don’t want to schlep a 12 pound copy of Stephen King’s latest, sure. but there is something satisfying abour holding a heavy book, turning the pages, finding that stain from the jelly toast you were eating the last time you read it (or if it’s a library book wonder what that stain might be).
What will libraries be like, if electronic readers take over and books go the way of VHS cassettes? You wouldn’t even have to go…you’d just download it. I would hate that. I enjoy chatting with the librarian, or being nosy and judgemental about the Jackie Collins trash the person ahead of me is checking out. We have already lost the experience of going to the Video rental store, slapping our hands over the children’s eyes as we have to go through the adult section to get to the children’s videos in the back (who’s bright idea was that anyway, to put the kids stuff in the back and the “Bimbo Babes of Berkely U” in the front?) It’s a whole part (wot? who’s your editor, Rootie?) of the Human Experience being removed.
I suppose it will somehow be made up for in other ways. I heard a thing on the radio a while back about Car Clubs in China. Apparently people there are so wrapped up in their work and such, and everyone rides a bike and doesn’t get OUT that now there are Car Clubs where a group of you rent several cars and go driving in the countryside.
Perhaps the modern Coffee Shop is filling the void created by Technology. I like the Coffee Shop thing, squishy couches and bottomless cups of hot brew.
I suppose I could sound like my mother and bang on about how the world is going to hell and soon, what with all this stuff…but I think we are more adaptable than that. People will always find a way to socialize, somehow. And it really is easier to have a little phone smaller than a deck of cards that carries the entire Bible in it, plus all your songs and phone numbers and restaurant coupons. How cool is it that you can put an entire bookcase’s worth of lofty tomes on a thing the size of a small notebook that fits in your purse? Will was telling me about this thing that is (sorta) like a Kindle- a flat screen with a memory chip (the kind in my camera) and you can write on it, take notes in class, and they’re all saved on the memory chip, so you don’t have to carry around notebooks full of paper for each class, and I reckon if you have your textbooks as an app on your iPhone, then holy cow, you don’t need a 40 pound backpack, you can stick everything you need in your pocket.
Now if they could just make a Subway turkey on wheat app.
I do love a list. About 15 years ago, when I started on a medication for the bipolar disorder and my brain (formerly sharp as all get-out and capable of remembering everything) went *phtzt* I started keeping a notebook and writing everything down. CJ recounted recently a spell when I lost that notebook and just shut down entirely. He remembers a period of about a week where nothing got done because that notebook was lost and it had everything from menus to Dr. appointments in it. He says I kind of sat in the corner and rocked for a week, gnawing on my toes and mumbling.
Anyway, yes to the notebook, yes to the list. Now I keep 2, just in case one gets lost. They both have my phone number on the cover with an admonition to anyone who finds it to please call because the family suffers greatly when it’s lost. And yes, it got lost a couple of months ago and yes, I was called and it was returned. I was grateful. So was the family.
So this morning, well sauced with 3 large cups of strong coffee, a fresh pen, and my notebook, lists ensued. Glorious lists! Happy lists! Several of them! The first involved our bathroom. Vintage 1967 bathroom and not the good kind, with flesh toned tub, sink and toilet and spectacularly bland wallpaper but not the good kind of bland. A list was made, in conjunction (o how the internet has simplified things!) with a computer and Lowes.com, of all the stuff needed to update this bathroom and how much it will cost ($500! I can update the whole thing for $500!).
Then another list, of stuff to do around the house (put up moldings here, paint touch up there) and another one of outside work (paint this, repair that, cut down the other) and so one. Lists begat lists and that maketh a happy woman.
Once the list is made it’s easier to start the actual project. You know where to go, what to do, and how much it should cost. It minimizes surprises and I despise surprises unless they come in a robin’s egg blue box.
We discussed list making at Bible Study a couple of week ago. Several of the women share my happy philosophy, but one did not. She said a list for her was an excuse to rebel. She takes one look at a list and says “O Hell No. No one is telling me what to do.” and that is something I truly do not understand, because it’s yourself telling you what to do, not some other person. She’s a delightful woman, perpetually late, perpetually disorganized, and the idea of organization causes something in her brain to fry and she runs hard the other way. I truly don’t understand it but have accepted for a long time that everyone has their way and what works for one may not work for another. I gave her a hug later and told her I loved her free spirit, which is true, even while I didn’t understand it.
Anyway, now the list is made, the costs are known and the real fun can begin! Well, once Terry has a day off. Which isn’t any time real soon but maybe I’ll learn how to install a toilet.
What defines faith better that a gardener in early Spring? You plow up the dirt and drop in a tiny seed, the whole time in your head dances pictures of lush greenery and baskets of fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables. You just KNOW those lovely little tomato plants are going to produce so much you’ll have stuff to give to neighbors, and the lovely vines of cucumbers crawling up the fence will give enough to have a crisp cool salad every day.
Reality, not so much. The tomatoes are…feeble at best. Those lovely raised beds, the same ones I compost every fall and fertilize every 3 months have given me a grand total of 3 tomatoes. Small ones. Yes, they tasted better than the grocery store, but c’mon…6 plants? 3 tomatoes? When there’s a fantastic produce market with locally grown largess right there kitty-corner across from the Progressive Primitive Baptist Church (worthy of another post, the name of that church is) one begins to wonder if it’s worth the effort. The only thing really growing well are the peppers and the herbs. SO…
I’ve become a realist. I should grow herbs. Fresh herbs are hard to find, particularly in quantity. I have some already, the basics of oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Basil, tarragon and dill would not go unloved. Sage is nice, too. Therefore a decision, based in reality and not optimism, has been reached. The tomatoes are leaving. Getting ripped out and thrown away. Not in the compost because tomato plants are VERY high in nicotine and that is not healthy for a compost heap. The bed they currently live in will get churned up and planted in tarragon (a lovely perennial with pretty yellow flowers) and dill (I’ve never had too much dill. Love the dill) for both green and seed.
The cucumbers are on probation. The plants are lovely and green, lush and growing everywhere. They are volunteer plants, coming up from a bit that was composted in February. At first I didn’t know if they were cukes or cantalope, but decided they’re lemon cucumbers (fantastic things!!) and FINALLY there appears to be something more than just flowers. If you have never tried a lemon cucumber I highly recommend them, particularly if you live in an area with a short growing season, because they ripen fast. They also grow with great enthusiasm here in the hot Deep South. The hardest part about growing them is knowing when to pick them, because they aren’t like a normal green cuke…so you pick them small. The skin is tough, and they require peeling to eat, but the flesh is sweeter than a green cuke…they are quite wonderful. I had about decided to pull them up beccause all they were doing was bloom bloom like mad but just the male flowers thus no fruits, and there’s quite enough menfolk in my household thank you…I don’t need the plants doing it too…making messes and hogging all the space…hmph. Anyway, it appears they might be making a fruit or two now, but the jury remains out.
So the tide is turning away from the veggies and toward the herbs. At least where tomatoes are concerned. The Kentucky Wonder beans, planted WAAAY late, are coming up and looking healthy. The green peas also WAAAY late, are starting up as well. Thank Goodness we live in a region with a growing season that lasts into December, so planting things in June gets a pass. The school #4 will be going to have a Farmers Market fundraiser every Saturday. They get a booth at the local downtown Farmer’s Market and sell herbs. Perhaps if the ones I plant do well enough I can contribute. That would be nice because the funds go to help pay for the High School kids’ European Tours. Hopefully, if #4 goes to the High School there (as yet undecided but we’re leaning in that direction, given the academic records of the students) he’ll be able to make The Tour and it would be nice to have contributed etc etc…
Anyway, for the annual herbs like dill and basil, I’ll harvest as I can, and freeze it for use in the off season. In the past, 8 basil plants have produced enough for freezing that there is just enough to use until the next summer when it’s ready to harvest again. Frozen herbs are just like fresh only maybe not as pretty, but the flavor is spot on. It’s comfortable and satisfying to open the freezer and have a shelf of gallon bags lined up like happy books, and I can just open one up and break off a handful of something fragrant to throw in the pot.
Thats realism, AND optimism.
Terry’s outside building a spice rack (HUZZAH!!) to contain the pints, half pints, and 4oz jars all nicely filled with an assortment of herbs, spices and oddments.
I am taking a break from emptying, pitching and tossing, and reloading the pantry and kitchen hutch. Everything is nicely organized. I have learned a crucial lesson in all this work: I need clear containers. I must be able to see what I have, or I’ll forget about it. Finding 3 containers of red quinoa and 2 of Thai bird chilies and an entire QUART of hungarian paprika drove this point home. So, no more sleek and modern stainless canisters. I gave them all to Terry for whatever he wants them for. My goodies are now stored in assorted clear glass jars with screw on lids. Wide mouthed jars, all of them, to faciliate measuring without pouring. I can just scoop it out because another lesson learned is whenever you try to pour certain things that logic says pouring is acceptable, it will have clumped together somewhat and the whole mass comes out and spills everywhere. This is particularly true of ground pepper/paprika. Oh. I also found 3 containers of whole black pepper…enough to fill a quart jar. Fortunately all sorts of pepper and paprika get used all the time around here, so it won’t go stale.
I cleaned the fridge and freezer as well. Fortunately there wasn’t that much to throw away. I don’t like wasting food but if something is freezer burned or there’s not enough for a meal, keeping it is a waste of space. I found some forgotten but happy-making frozen goodies in the form of kaffir lime leaves, basil and lemongrass. Kaffir lime went through a blight a few years ago and the leaves were precious hard to find, so when they *were* available I’d buy more than necessary and freeze them.
So now the pantry is organized, all the shi…er…stuff is off the top of the fridge with the exception of some pretty metal cracker boxes (filled with good snacks), all the glass jar are lined up on the hutch, looking kinda “country housewife” and accessible. Now I can look at them and go “hm…purple barley or black rice? White or yellow grits?” instead of wondering what I have and feeling too discouraged to look for it and falling back on some boring white rice. The fridge is clean, the freezer is orderly with the fruit here, the fresh herbs there, meat on this shelf, breads on that one…Order is pleasing.
Order is, for me, necessary for creativity. If I can see what I have, know where to find things, and have a pleasant place to work, it’s exciting to get into a project. If I don’t have to clean up a mess first, or hunt everything down, it’s a fantastic stimulating way to get crackin’.