I mean….really?

The Fella and I went to Alabama for Christmas. Alot of food was eaten, mostly Cow and a bit of Pig, generally cooked on his giant grill with a wood fire. We worked on The New House, and got the laundry area tiled. Half way through we hired a tile guy because…Anyway.

On the way home we came through an area of darkness and woods. Deer country. There was a herd of about 12 including a very large buck with an impressive rack. A little further on there was a large doe at the edge of the road so The Fella honked (what was meant to be) the horn on his Manly Man’s Silverado With The Ranch Hand Cattle Guard On The Front. The Truck politely says “Um…would you please maybe move out of the way” . It went “meep” The great big doe looked at the truck and flicked one ear, saying “dude. seriously?” The Fella honked the hornish-noise maker again and it went “peeeeww”, as if it had a touch of intestinal gas and wanted to be polite in relieving itself of the pressure.

We looked at each other and started howling…because when one drives a Silverado 1500 with a Ranch Hand cattle guard one does not expect a horn that sounds like delicate little poot in the ladies room at Nordstrom.

Today has been spent on the computer, looking for a more imposing horn.

Dear Chevrolet,  You need to get on that. People who buy that truck aren’t the sort who are satisfied with a dainty horn, and obviously it doesn’t work well for getting wildlife out of the way.

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Apparently it’s December and there’s Christmas or something going on. Or so all the TV ads and Salvation Army Bell Ringers say. I think I did about 3 minutes of Christmas shopping in the form of looking in my folder of recipes and saying “Oh. I need some almonds.”  That’s what the flu will do to me. I intend to spend next week baking the cookies and foods and stuff that I give away every year.

Image result for ceramic christmas tree with lights

I like to give food for Christmas. It’s easy, people can’t just go to the store and get the stuff I make, I put my heart into it, and when it’s gone it’s gone and there’s no “oh great what do I do with this (thing)?” About 25 years ago I got a copy of Gourmet magazine that had several biscotti recipes in it, and I gave them a try. Easy to make! And people liked them. I learned how to play around with combinations of flavors, hunted around for  more recipes, and thanks to the interwebs, have found even more that let me use ingredients not commonly found (like black walnuts!). I know that once I start cooking them I’ll get into the Christmas Spirit a little more and maybe even dig out a few Santa mugs or turn on the little ceramic Christmas tree for the pretty lights.  I also have a fireplace DVD Complete With Crackling Fire Sounds.  (Ok, The Fella, quit rolling your eyes, I know you have a delicious woodstove and all that pecan wood, but it’s A Tradition.)

Last year, instead of gifts for all the boys, I cooked a big fancy prime rib dinner, and they all seemed happy with it. That’s going to happen again. I like it that way. They’re all adults now and if they want something in particular, they can get it for themselves. Cooking a nice dinner for them is something I like doing, they like having, and there’s leftovers.  After Christmas, The Fella and I are going to go to Alabama, for Christmas 2.0 with my family (Bro&Wife, and Aunt from Texas, Mom and Dad, #3andFam) and knowing Bro, there will be competion in the kitchen, and Mom won’t have to do a single thing culinarily.

So, now I’ve managed to talk myself into a modicum of Christmas Spirit (even through the fog of the Flu) and am actually starting to kind of look forward to it a little bit, maybe.

I need to get some pretty boxes for the cookies….

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Gizmophiliacs Unanimous

Apparently Gizmophilia is a thing. According to the interwebs, it has to do with computer things, gadgets and doodads, but it has been around since men were savvy enough to invent a wheel or smack something with an oddly shaped rock. There’s a Gizmophiliacs Facebook page, and a couple of definitions out there. I have my own definition of them. I think Gizmophiliacs tend to be creative thinkers, always looking for the next best way to accomplish a task, or perhaps simply celebrating the creativity of someone else who thinks outside to box, and gets the job done.

Image result for odd tool

A long time ago I made Dad a charter member of Gizmophiliacs Unanimous. It’s an organization (if you can call it that) of people (generally men) who…you know….like gizmos. More than like…have an inability to pass up a good one. Drawers full of them, those oddly shaped items people like me will look at and wonder “why?” and when I ask “why?” I get a puzzled look and a reply of “how is that even a question?”

Image result for odd tool

Well…The Fella is a Gizmophiliac. I mean, I kind of figured that given the several shops and the boneyard in the back and all the wood and metal and unidentifiable items in the kitchen drawers, but I didn’t really think about it that hard until I saw the useage directions (for something I can’t identify) on the refrigerator. I looked over at him and said

“You’re a gizmophiliac, aren’t you.”

He looked away, then back at me, then away again and said “I go to meetings.”

“Really.” I replied. “Where?”

“They’re called Flea Markets.” he answered.


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I spent Thanksgiving plus a few days with The Fella and his family in South Alabama. It is a lovely farm-place in the country (as if there’s be one in the middle of the city?) with old houses and dogs and relatives and food and noise and children all over the place.  As it should be. And way too much delicious food but that was even kind of beside the point because his family is lovely and very family-like. Mom, Dad, and #4 drove the 90 minutes south to join us for the Thanksgiving Day, and #4 stayed on with me until Sunday, when we returned to Mom and Dad’s and left for a cruise Monday morning.

Very early Monday morning (like 5:30am) #4 had a nasty asthma attack that ended up with him in the emergency room, and me making plans to cancel the cruise. However, Modern Medicine and Big Pharma pulled through, he recovered, and we made it to Mobile in good time to board the ship and go about our business sitting in hot tubs and eating food and taking naps. Costa Maya was fun, Cozumel was even more fun, #4 acquired a loudly colored Hawaiian (Mexican?) shirt and a giant caricature of a sombrero, which he wore for the rest of the trip (photos forthcoming). He also managed to eat some pesto with pine nuts in it and wind up in the medical bay, as he is highly allergic to them. Benadryl took care of it although it was a scary hour or so. I ate a lot of food and slept a lot, charging batteries for the upcoming Holidays, and also #4 acquired The Flu, which he generously passed on to me, because he’s a giver like that.

After the cruise, #4 and I came up to The Fella’s place in South Carolina, as I wanted #4 to see it and spend a few days getting to know The Fella better. However it appears he may spend those days in the bed, suffering and coughing and infecting everyone. Oh well, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.  I am frantically eating Zicam and vitamin C and hot tea, in order to mitigate the symptoms a little bit. In the mean time, I will do some planning and figuring out how and when The Fella and I will eventually combine our respective households. Getting married (yes, I said it) as 2 50-somethings with complete households isn’t as straightforward as it is with 2 20-somethings who don’t have the proverbial pot to piss in.  We’ll figure it out. I am sure of that. He’s worth the figuring.

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So…apparently The Fella ain’t a fan of tofu. He’s so far from a fan of it that he fairly shouts and waves his arms around to emphasize his refusal to consider eating it.

“But what if I slice it and fry it in bacon grease?” I queried. “That would make it taste good” I declared.

“So would a flip-flop or a jock-strap, but I’m not eating those either.” he announced.

and with that he patted some good quality ground beef into patties and grilled up some tasty, tasty burgers.  On a grill he let me light with a flamethrower. True story.

flamethrower still

Seriously, it’s a great way to light charcoal. 

So other than the tofu argument, culinarily speaking the weekend was a success. Crab legs and beer at Rhinehart’s, where a poorly times mosquito bite made me panic than think I was having an allergic reaction. Allergies to shellfish would be Very Sad Indeed because I do love me some big sea-bugs.  Grilled rock lobsters that night (after realizing it was a mosquito bite and not a hive), Bang-Bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill after church, and then…the Tofu Disagreement.

See, I like tofu! I like the texture, the myriad uses, the way it’s got protein and is such an excellent flavor carrier. “It’s cheese from soybeans!” I explained to him. “That’s reason right there to not eat it. It’s fake, posing as something it’s not.” said he. “And it’s full of estrogen. I don’t need nor want boobs and eating tofu gives men boobs.”  “Well, you’d have to eat a whole lot of it.”  There was no convincing him and I guess everyone has something that keeps them from being Practically Perfect.

But he let me play with the flamethrower, so there’s that.


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Yesterday I wrapped up a bunch of stuff that allows me to step into the rest of the year with a clear conscience and the happy knowledge that nothing is waiting for me to finish up. That’s right. My instructors allowed me to take the final exams early, and that’s done. I’ve been noodling away on a project for a couple of months that the final stitches, a wash and a press were completed so that’s done. I have a project to work on for The Fella, but it’s the sort that isn’t weighing on my mind, though I’d like to get it done because it’s the sort that’s a lot of fun and can be worked on as Christmas cookies bake. So my mind is clear and all I have to do is pack.

I am feeling very satisfied at the moment, even though it’s 6:15 in the a.m. I’ve been awake since 4:30, and up since 5:07, had 2 cups of coffee thus far, and many plans for the next 2 weeks. SO GOOD.

You see, sometime today The Fella is coming here to pick me up, so I can leave both cars here for the Fine Sons to use while I’m gone. I’m going to spend a few days at Happy Hollow (his place), ignoring my responsibilities (which are few, now that The Fine Sons are grown-ass men and can deal with their own stuffs) and mentally preparing for The Holidays as I soak in a hot tub and occasionally eat a steak cooked on a grill that’s been lit with a flame thrower.  Does it get any better than that? NO! I DON’T THINK SO! and also get to spend time with The Fella, which is always a lovely thing.

Come Wednesday morning, we’re driving a few hours South and to the West so as to spend several days with his parents and family, as Thanksgiving is when they all get together, eat oysters and turkeys and hams, and watch The Iron Bowl on Saturday. You see, they are all apparently University of Alabama alumni/alumnae, and as likely the sole representative of Auburn University I will be On My Own except that thus far they have been very gracious and (according to The Fella) his father is going to do something lovely like have my own beer shelf in the fridge or something. (for those of you who don’t know. The Iron Bowl is the annual U of Ala/AU game, biggest rivalry in the SEC and possibly the NCAA.) I am looking forward to it. Having watched a game already with The Fella and witnessed first hand the sort of excitment that is possible, I anticipate a roaring good time, regardless of who wins.

So yeah, settling in and mentally preparing for the time of the year that can either be really wonderful or go horribly wrong. As long as The Fine Sons behave themselves, I think all will be well.  I am leaving my cars here so they can get up to Himself’s parents (3 hours north of here) for Thanksgiving, thus relieving my guilt (which is minimal now that they’re grown-ass men) (but it’s still there because I’m still their mother) at not being here with all the food. Though I did leave a pan of dressing made by Himself’s mother and passed to me because she knows it’s my favorite food in the whole world. I consider it extreme generosity to give them permission to eat it. Yes, I know how to make it but you know how that goes. That sort of thing is always better made by the original person.

One of the things The Fella and I are having to figure out are the general preferences. Last night I asked him about Cranberry Sauce. It is a divisive subject in some relationships. “Jellied” he said. “Oh.” I replied. I don’t generally do the canned stuff. My grandmother gave me this recipe and it’s how I like it. He is willing to try it. I’m passing it on to you, because Grandmother didn’t believe in keeping recipes secret. “If you share the recipe, they will think of you every time they make it.” So think of my Grandmother when you make this.

Cranberry compote

1 bag (1 pound) fresh cranberries

1 cup orange juice

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

pinch of salt

Put it all in a pot, turn it on to simmer and put a lid on it. Leave the lid cracked because if it overflows it makes a sticky mess. I know this from experience, because I do it every time I make it.  Stir it occasionally and when the cranberries pop open, remove the pot from the stove, put the lid on it, and go about your day. You can make it a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate. Lovely stuff.

I’m absolutely willing to open a can of the jellied stuff if he prefers it. I don’t hate the jellied kind, I’m just a Food Snob (I admit it) about making things from scratch.  I won’t be snotty about it, because he cooks me steaks on a grill lit with a flame thrower, piles grilled rock lobsters on a plate with a ramiken of melted butter, and keeps my favorite gin stocked in his liquor cabinet. So…yeah, being snotty about cranberries would be…not very classy.

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I ate an oyster and almost liked it.

I spepnt the weekend in South Carolina with The Fella…I won’t call it a lovely weekend, because it wasn’t. But it was very informational and productive.  No, we haven’t broken up. Quite the opposite. But I learned a lot that needed to be learned and because I am Calvinist, I will be thankful for that unpleasantness.

It’s like this. You can tell the quality of a person based on their response to stress. I won’t go into details but he had ample opportunity and reason to completely blow his top and go all blue-faced Celtic Warrior on a couple of people, and didn’t.  There were reasons many people would find excusable for really scary behavior and epic retribution, and he didn’t do it. He walked away. Yes, he was very upset and that could have cast a real pall over the whole weekend, but I was able to see the sort of person he is under tremendous stress and that was a very good thing.

A while back, when I first started looking into the dating situation, The Pastor’s Wife told me I needed to see how a man reacts to stress. “He needs to show his butt so you know what happens when you have a fight.  He needs to see you show your butt, too.”  I didn’t show my butt this weekend, but I am sure the time will come.

There were a few really good times too…he made a pot of chili that was completely different from my chili and I realized I must be grown-up now because I let him do it his way without any input and even ate it the way he does too (on crackers with some cheese) and it was delicious. If it’s cold one time when he’s down my way, I’ll fix chili too and we’ll watch maybe an Auburn game. Likely by then it will be basketball so maybe not.

We watched the Alabama-LSU football game and I hardly made any comments about getting hives from watching Alabama play, AND I wore an Alabama shirt, without any  much commentary.  I wrote recently about his window-rattling laugh.  Well…he ain’t quiet watching football either. Some people call it clapping, but when he does it, it’s more like he’s high-fiving himself.  I’m pretty sure if he could jump up and chest-bump himself he would.

There was a point when we were having a conversation about something and he said “Huh. I’m more like you than you are.” and I actually understood what he meant.

We went to worship together. After the stress of the previous day, it was necessary and while it would have been easy to say “oh let’s don’t.” he took lead and said we should, so we did and I am really glad we did. The service spoke to both of us in different but very meaningful ways.  One of the qualities that is very important to me is having someone who will take lead like that. I am finding out if I can trust his judgement, and I can, so letting him lead will be a joy, not a grudging submission.  (spare me the feminist lecture about what I just said. I have my reasons and they are valid, and work well for me. Also, my blog, my opinions.)

He got me to eat a raw oyster. I still say it was akin to a giant cow booger texturally, but with enough horseradish, and on a cracker, not too bad. I don’t know that I will ever crave one, but I ate it and didn’t throw up.

It’s a peaceful place where he lives. Quiet and out in the country. I want to plant a bunch of pansies in the beds lining his walkway.   My dog, Rusty, is getting used to his cats and know where he can go outside.

So, we’ll see how the future works out. Right now things are pretty good and if I know anything, it’s that life can change in an instant. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the prospects.

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