June 26, 2009

The Square Snowball is Roast Beef

Before leaving for Santa Fe, I stopped at my mother's house. I brought a big bag of green beans and squash I had just picked and cooked the beans at her house. She called me over to the freezer to look for something to go with them and handed me one frost encrusted package after another.

After cracking the ice off one square snowball, I found something that appeared to be chicken in a zip lock bag dated 2006 and labeled Roast Beef. I told her I thought it had freezer burn and wouldn't be any good, but she argued that the frost on the package protected it. The meat was white. Roast should be brown, not white.

"It'll be fine." She said.

Another bag was frozen bread rolls. I think they were already baked because the tops were browned, but they were shriveled and lumpy. It was dated 2008.

She cooked everything in the microwave and the white roast beef came out a little less white but the rolls were even lumpier. I ate green beans. After dinner, she put the leftovers in new plastic bags and handed them to me to put in the refrigerator. There must have been a hundred bottles in there with every condiment ever made. I removed a few and looked at the dates. The expiration dates on those ranged from 2004 to 2009.

"These are expired mom."

"That's ok, they're packed in vinegar and they won't spoil."

"Do you eat them?"

"Oh yes, I eat them all the time."

"The black olives has white stuff on the top."

"I don't eat that part."

I tried to remember the last time I ate at her house and silently gave thanks for not getting sick afterward. I stuffed the white roast beef and rolls in the back and put the green beans in front so I could have some when I got back from my trip. But when I got back from Santa Fe, she wanted to go out to eat and I told her I would just eat some beans and squash. She told me she froze them. I mourned the loss of my poor little veggies, now hidden in the depths of the white abyss.

That night, I turned on her computer and noticed the water bottle next to it. She always has a plastic water bottle with her. I can never figure out why she doesn't drink out of a glass when she's at home. She also has frozen water bottles to take in the car. This one had black things floating in it. I mentioned that her water had mold in it. "Could be," says she, I just refill it when it's empty."

I'm thinking back to all the times we got in the car and she handed me a bottle of water. Blech. The next morning we were going to do some genealogy research in another town and she came out with her frozen bottle of water and offered one to me.

"No thanks," I said.

"You'll want it later."

"I don't think so," I said while really thinking "I'd rather die of thirst."

We took her minivan, which had a wide yellow scratch down the passenger side and about three feet off the ground. I asked her what happened, and she didn't know and walked around to look. She was shocked and thought someone had hit her the last time she was out. Um no, it looked like safety paint. She didn't know where she had been that had safety paint. On our way out of town we passed the grocery store which had light poles in the parking lot set into concrete pillars - coated with yellow safety paint.

Then we were on a four lane highway that had been recently repaved but the lines hadn't been repainted and mom kept drifting over to the right until her tires hit the rumble stripe. Great, I'm in a car with a woman who can't stay in her lane, hits things on my side of the car without knowing it, probably has botulism, and there isn't another car on this highway to send for help.

Until next time, may you have blessings and interesting parents,

June 25, 2009

Weekend with the Girls

Everyone needs a few really good friends and I am lucky enough to have some I have known since junior high and before. I started college with a few of them but then we all went our separate ways. Now we have an annual weekend together once a year, and this year we went to Santa Fe. As usual, it was too short but we managed to visit some cathedrals, Los Alamos, shopping on the plaza, and a few restaurants.

While it's nice to be able to get away and see new things, the best part is talking and just being with each other. Even after a year apart, it's like we left off conversations the day before. We have talked about this before, but as long as we have all known each other, and some of us go back to first grade, we have never had mean words among our group. When we are together, if someone really wants to see something, the others go along with it and find something about it to enjoy. For instance, we hadn't planned on going to Los Alamos, but Saturday was cool and rainy and none of us brought a long sleeve shirt, much less a jacket, so we looked for an inside activity. One lady wanted to see Los Alamos and I think she was most interested in the science there, while I was fascinated by the history, and another with the biographies of the people.

Here are four of us at one of the restaurants. Nice group, eh?

There's nothing like people watching in Santa Fe. We enjoyed trying to pick the native Santa Fe-ans from the visitors. Most tourists are easy to spot by the camera hanging around their neck, but a slow pace alone wasn't a clue because everyone in Santa Fe walks at a leisurely pace.

Our hotel had a shuttle service which we took to the plaza. On our way to the plaza, we gabbed in the back seats and one of the ladies mentioned that she had seen a cover story asking who was the sexiest man in a speedo, but since there were children in the airport, she didn't read the story to find out who it was. Of course then the subject turned to speedos and who should and shouldn't be wearing them. Meanwhile, the driver's shoulders were shaking until he finally just started laughing out loud.

When we had seen as much of the plaza as we could manage for one day, we called the shuttle service and the same guy said he would be there in about fifteen minutes, so we sat on a stone wall to wait. While we were waiting, a couple of open-air booths across the street began packing up. One of them had a truck he was putting everything in, but one man was nearby a bicycle with a trailer attached, and on the trailer were a couple of plastic tubs. Sure enough, he began packing his jewelry and t-shirts into those tubs.

The shuttle driver was late but we really wanted to see what the guy did with his two tables and hanging rack. We couldn't imagine how he would get them on the bicycle. After he had everything loaded, he wandered off to talk to the vendor behind him. We kept glancing up the street for our shuttle and getting anxious for the jewelry vendor to put up his tables. Finally he came back and began folding the tables and carried them out of sight to a storage building. Aha, question answered. Nice life if you can do it; most of the vendors didn't set up until after 10am and closed up by 5pm.

That was the last photo before my battery died, and then the couple walked by. She was dressed in an ankle length flowered dress with a big straw bag and a turban on her head. He had longish hair and was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a plaid shirt, unbuttoned and hanging over the shorts. Around his waist and hanging a few inches below his waist inside the plaid shirt was a small, sequined fanny pack which was brightly colored. Definitely Santa Fe-ans.

We had been waiting at least thirty minutes and finally we called the shuttle driver and he said he was right around the corner and would be right there, so we stood up and walked to the curb. Nothing. Right around the corner in Santa Fe must mean roughly the same thing as "in a minute, mom" at my house. So we sat back down and waited. When he finally rounded the corner, we all jumped to the curb with our hitch-hiker thumb out.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good friends,

June 24, 2009

Just For Laughs

Just some pictures of things I ran across this week that made me laugh.

This is the interior of a convenience store/Sonic/BBQ restaurant. I've seen mounted longhorns before, but never the whole cow's head with the horns.

Arrow stickers on the back of a truck. Maybe they are meant to be serious, but I got a kick out of them. By the way, it was passing us, we weren't passing it on the suicide side.

A convenience store in the Texas panhandle - renamed Fart'n Fetchum by locals.

Sadly, my camera battery was dead when the man with the brightly sequined fanny back (worn in front) walked by us.

So Cool!

On a recent genealogy trip with mom, we came across this headstone in a cemetery. It is made from a big petrified-wood log, and so are the footstones. I don't know anything about this couple, but I bet they were interesting people. I love it when people do the unexpected.

This is the side view. Below is a side view of the footstones. They are also made from petrified wood logs.

June 12, 2009

The Garden Waits for No One

Neither wind, nor sizzling heat, nor mud will keep bugs away or weeds from growing. So out I went.

And no, I did not enjoy being an inch taller this morning.

Old Game, Old Body, But a Whole New Level of Pain

I played tennis in high school and a year of college until I got married and got a job to support our rent and grocery habit. I played on leagues until our second daughter was born twenty-two years ago and then just played once or twice a year for the next ten years. Then other things became more important, and we moved to an area where there was no tennis association so I just didn't play anymore.

Fast forward to last week. I had been toying with the idea of playing again. Nothing competitive, I just wanted to hit the ball again and get back into shape. After Christmas, I had contacted a tennis association in another town and last week I got a phone call that a league was starting. So I went out to join a few of the ladies in a pick-up game, warning them of course that I was really, really rusty. I knew my strokes would be off, wondered how hard it would be to play with bifocal glasses, and figured I would be sore the next day. I had no idea how sore. My right shoulder and elbow are sore but nothing compared to my left hip. I think I tore a muscle in my gluteus medius. Ouch! I bought two bags of ice and spent the night with an ice pack on my elbow, both shoulders and sitting on another.

This aging thing is really the pits.

June 09, 2009

Baby Pickles!

I've never grown cucumbers before and I'm not sure we left enough room for them. If the cucumber beetles, the squash vine borer, and who knows what else doesn't get them, I get to eat at least two cucumbers!

From vine to table in one day. I also have a very small mess of beans to cook tonight.

Gardening is hard work, but I love the rewards.

June 07, 2009

Wow! A Finished Flower Garden

My neighbor, who has seen my yard, loves to kid me because I only show small snippets of plants and not the whole flower bed or yard. But just to show her, I finished weeding a flower bed yesterday so I can proudly say at least one area of my yard is not an embarrassing eyesore. It was full of big bluestem and lots of Texas Ash seedlings which I pulled barehanded, only to find a few sprigs of poison ivy among them. I rushed to the kitchen and washed with Dawn each time, and luckily, I don't have poison ivy today. Big sigh of relief! Btw, those buckets mark the poison ivy so I can kill it.

This bed has yellow columbine, a Texas native, and a couple of other colored columbines circling the tree. They were red and blue several years ago, but the way columbines cross, there are several colors now. There is a daylily that has never bloomed, probably because of the shade, but it is there to stay because the roots of the tree have it firmly pinned. A few Byzantine gladiola and oxblood lilies are planted among the roots too. At the edges of the bed are chocolate oxalis, rain lilies, and purple coneflower.

This garden is under a Texas Ash, so that explains the millions of seedlings I pulled. Looking up, I think I'll be doing this again next spring.

Upon completion, I called Hubby over and proudly asked him what he thought. "Did you find any snakes?" he asked. *groan* I guess that was the first thought in his head but not what I had in mind.

Dry Stream and Deck

Yesterday, we paid a couple of boys young men to do some work in our yard. Hubby wanted them to pry out some concrete he had hammered out earlier, and I wanted them to remove some turf so I can redirect water runoff.

The interesting thing about men is that they are competitive, no matter what age they are. The youngest of the two looked at the concrete and then took my brand new pitchfork to try to get it out *cringe* until Hubby gave him a pry bar. The other young man picked up a pick and made a few attempts to get it under the edge of the concrete. Then Hubby took the pry bar from the youngest and with one hand pounded it into a crack, then took the pick and lifted it out. From then on, there was a contest between the two young men to see which of them could get out a chunk of concrete with less strokes of a tool. So that chore didn't take long at all.

Getting the turf out proved to be the real test of their manliness though. The turf wasn't that hard since it had only been planted last year, but Hubby wanted about four inches of the soil removed also, and it was an area about twenty-two feet by ten feet. Hubby hooked the garden trailer to the golf cart, and being young, they thought it took two of them to empty the cart, but since they had signed on for the day, they probably did need the rest.

Also being young, and being male, they didn't know how to back a trailer and wouldn't ask. I was mowing the front yard after they had dumped a load of dirt and had the front end of the golf cart in a corner. The oldest was driving and he backed and the cart jack-knifed. He went forward to straighten, and backed again with the same result. I let them do that a few times before I stopped the lawnmower and told them to pick up the empty cart to straighten it since it weighs all of ten pounds.

One of our projects is to remove the bridge from the side of the pond and replace with stone steps, and Hubby was very glad to let them pick up a heavy rock and set it in place. I was even happier, because knowing Hubby, if they hadn't been there, he would have moved the rock and I would have to help.

Here are the rocks in place. After Hubby showed it to me, I voiced my disapproval, which is probably why he didn't admire the garden I rescued from weedville.

At noon, I asked if they were tired and both said no. After lunch, they had both slowed their pace a lot. I was ready to call it a day myself and I had been working in the shade since late morning. An hour later I asked again if they were ready to stop working and they said no, but their body language said yes. At two, they had all the turf out and had more or less gotten the soil down to the level Hubby wanted, so he told them their job was done. They both looked relieved, but sorry they couldn't earn more money, although Hubby paid them for a whole day anyway.

Here's what they did.

The next day, the concrete crew was there bright and early to set up forms. The concrete truck came, and they had the patio raised to the level of the foundation in no time.

Hubby dug a trench in the center of the dry stream area, and laid a French drain pipe. Then I finished the dry stream while Hubby started the deck beside and over it. I need more gravel and I think I want a bridge where those board cross the stream. At this point, I have a Hesperaloe parviflora aka Texas red yucca, Mimosa microphylla aka Sensitive plant, and Calyptocarpus vialis aka Horseherb, all native plants.

Yahoo! Now we don't have to worry about flooding the next time it rains.

It is sooooo nice to walk in the back door without tracking dirt, mud, and grass.

We have the concrete poured for the new room, but hadn't planned on building it now, nor did we plan on a big porch over the deck. But that would work. It would also take all the funds saved for my new used car. I'm not sure I want to give up the car fund. I've been driving the Beastmobile for almost three years and I'm really ready for a car I can count on.

This photo was taken a few days later after large gravel was added from edge to edge (except I ran out of gravel and there are a few bare areas).

Here it is June 7, 2011:

You can see the stream in action here.

Until next time, may you have blessings and someone else to do the digging,

June 06, 2009

Bountiful Harvest

We planted the onions but the potatoes came from a potato thrown in the compost. We couldn't think of a good reason not to let it grow and see what happened. We got more from it than the potatoes we planted on purpose last year.

Oh, and I don't normally dump dirt on my kitchen floor, I didn't know it was there when I dumped out the potatoes.

June 05, 2009

New Blooms

I thought since I've shown wildflowers today, I might as well take some pictures of other blooms in yard and garden. Even though the bog sage is a little droopy, it's going to be moved soon and it may not look good again this summer, if it even survives.

Tiger Lily aka Ditch Lily. Tiger Lily sounds much better

This is a confetti lantana, but every year its blooms have less pink and more orange and yellow, reverting to it's native roots I guess.

This is another confetti lantana, volunteer from seed of the other plant. Many more pink blooms.


Moving over to the pond, Lizard Tail. That furry white thing is the bloom.

Pink Opal. It's being shy I guess; just wouldn't face the camera.

Texas Dawn, a pretty little monster.

Now that the girls have moved to other states and Roxie crossed the Rainbow Bridge, these are our "kids." You should hear Hubby talk to them when he thinks I'm not around.

Every garden needs something fun in it and this is one of ours. It's just a blue rubber ball but when put in the waterfall, it will stay there. The fish seem to like the extra splash it makes and Hubby loves to make people ask why it's there.


I love wildflowers, although I have less this year than usual. I leave about a third of the backyard for a wildflower meadow - less for me to mow and more wildflowers to enjoy.

Here's a rabbit's eye view for you. In the foreground is Horsemint and behind it is Indian Blanket.

In an overgrown flowerbed are Blackfoot Daisy.

Someone asked me why I only show individual flowers instead of the whole yard. Hey, I'm absent-minded, not stupid. I don't want you to see all the weeds surrounding the flowers!

June 02, 2009

Heirlooms and Other Clutter

There are heirlooms which are cherished because of their history and emotional attachment, and there are heirlooms that are just stuff. In the picture above are three of MANY heirlooms in my house. Most of our heirlooms were given while our parents were cleaning the clutter from their own homes and they entrusted their heirlooms to us with the implied instructions to keep it for the next generation, or as my friend Kim so aptly called it: guilt gifts.

In the picture above is a dental drill used by Hubby's great grandfather who was a dentist. We also have his dental tools, one look at them and modern dentistry doesn't seem so scary. Hubby was fascinated by the drill since he was a little boy and it was promised to him long before we married. Luckily, it first went to an aunt who kept it until she died and then it was passed to him. The aunt kept it hidden away in a bedroom and that would be my preference too, but the Hubster likes to have it in the den so he can demonstrate it when visitors finally get around to asking what it is. Because Hubby loves it, it is a cherished heirloom and I am stuck with it; for better or worse and all that.

Next to it is a table that converts into a chair. Cute, huh? Hubby's grandfather bought it at a farm auction in 1920 and Hubby's mother said it was the table where the Aladdin lamp always sat. At some point Grandpa put it in his cellar but when Hubby and I married, the chair-table was in my in-law's (Deedee and Pawpaw's) cellar. At some point they cleaned it up and put it in their den. But when they moved to their current house about thirteen years ago, they didn't have room for it and handed it down to Hubby, and therefore, me. A while back I told Hubby I didn't really want it in our house and to my amazement, he said he didn't either. He hadn't grown up with it since it was in a cellar most of his life. It is too big to be an end table, too awkward to use as an eating table, and too deep to sit in. I told Deedee we didn't want it so she could ask cousins if they wanted it, but she told us not to bother, just get rid of it.

Deedee had kept the Aladdin lamp, even though it had a big chunk broken out of the glass shade.  Deedee and Pawpaw have decided to move to a retirement village, so a few weeks ago both sons and their dutiful wives (I did go with some reluctance since we were on vacation at the time) went to help divide the "heirlooms". Since Deedee gave us the chair-table, she gave Brother Bear the big farm scale. (Hallelujah!) Then she gave Hubby the option of taking the Aladdin lamp since we had the table for it. Hubby opened the box it was in, looked at it, and started to answer when he broke the globe. Cha-ching! So we took the lamp which now has a broken globe along with the broken shade.

Then, there's the old kitchen clock which is now on the table. It doesn't work, and I don't consider it a true heirloom even though Deedee gave it to Hubby. She had this and another one very much like it on her den wall when I married Hubby, and after both sons were married, she gave each son a clock. The one she gave Brother Bear belonged to her mother and since she wanted to keep everything equal, she bought another one at a garage sale to give Hubby. It hasn't worked since we've had it and I have never found a good place for it.

When Deedee and Pawpaw moved to their current house, they had a garage sale and put a lot of "heirlooms" in it. One thing was a cracked glass jar butter churn. When my mother saw it there, she bought it and saved it for me "because it should stay in the family." Guilt Gift. When she came by while we were all sorting through stuff a few weeks ago, she saw a gift she had given Deedee and Pawpaw for Christmas years ago.  Deedee used to decorate with bears at Christmas and this was a door plaque with with a tole-painted teddy bear sitting in a wreath. Mom saw it sticking out of box in the corner designated for auction items aka the stuff no one wanted. She looked at me and said "Aren't you taking that? Patty painted it you know." The plaque came out of the box. Guilt Gift.

I've heard many times that if you don't use something or love it, it's just clutter. So much of the things I have here falls under that category, whether it was an heirloom, a new gift, or even something I bought for myself. I have finally given myself permission to do something about it so I can start enjoying my own home. Our house is small and we have had more stuff than places to put it since we've lived here, so it's always messy and cluttered. I don't function well in disorder so I am going to get rid of the clutter, starting with the big stuff so it will make an immediate difference. Wish me luck when it comes to the guilt gifts!

June 01, 2009

First Lotus Bloom

It actually bloomed yesterday but closed early.

Found this little guy tucked into the lily pads in the stock tank - waiting for his next meal.