Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny

The Naked and the Delicious

Norman Mailer is dead.

Wait, wait.  That’s not where I want to start this story.  I’ll come back to that, okay?
Let’s start here instead:

As Jami Gertz exclaims in Twister, “We got cows!”.

And when I say “we”, I mean my husband, the cowboy, has a small cattle farm.  My involvement with the cows is threefold:

  1. angusComplaining about the odor of manure when the wind shifts toward the house.
  2. Taking parts of them, neatly wrapped in butcher paper, out of the freezer to thaw. And…
  3. Ironically naming the ones I can see from the kitchen window.

My naming venture began with Patty Cow. (Hamburger patty, Patty Melt, “Don’t step in the cow patty”).  When she had her first calf, he was so little, I named him Slider. Probably would have been funnier if he had been triplets.

When the cowboy got his first “herd”, I named them Wendy, Hardee, Krystal, Arby and, of course, Mickey D.

Once the cowboy started buying Angus cows, the names upgraded accordingly: Morton, Doe, and Ruth’s Chris. (Since his cattle venture is becoming lucrative, I’ve decided the next few will be Cash, Sacred, Holy! and Mad.)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, the obituary.

Norman Mailer is dead.

No, not the Pulitzer Prize-winning author (though he has been “Naked and Dead” since 2007). The Norman Mailer to which I’m referring was a cow. Or rather, two cows. Greg thought it would be cute to name his first calf after the one Billy Crystal brought home in “City Slickers”.  Hence, Norman.

Mailer got his name because once you have a calf named Norman, well, duh.  The two writers in the family thought It was the obvious, whimsical choice.

After a happy little cow life grazing in the sun, Norman and Mailer grew up and took a field trip to the slaughterhouse.  It was then that our son confessed to punching Mailer dead in the nose one time when the cow kicked him.  The cowboy was shocked by the disclosure, and made a snarky comment about children who abuse animals going on to become serial killers.

t-bonesKevin responded, “Dad, the cows are now T-bones.  Consider what I did as pre-tenderizing.”

Norman Mailer.  It’s what’s for dinner.

Posted in Movie Mondays

Movie Monday – Space Travel

 July 20, 1969, gravity_web_10Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the moon. So in honor of Apollo 11, today’s “Movie Monday” is a match-game using 11 quotes from space travel movies! Can you match all of them correctly without the help of Google?

A.  We just lost the moon.
B.  Here kitty, kitty, kitty.
C.  Half of North America just lost their Facebook.
D.  Sweet swirling onion rings!
E.  I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
F.  Houston, you have a problem.
G.  I may throw up on you.
H.  We’re just like Kevin Bacon
I.   Time for lunch… in a cup!
J.  The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
K.  I see you’ve managed to get your shirt off.

  1. apollo_13Gravity
  2. Star Trek (2008)
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Apollo 13
  5. Wall-E
  6. Armageddon
  7. Galaxy Quest
  8. Alien
  9. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  10. Star Wars
  11. RocketMan
Posted in Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Mini Me (or “I Want to Be a Tiny Home Owner”)

Dear HGTV,

You make me lust over Tiny Houses. You dedicate no fewer than five shows to these treehouses and miniscule apartments and itty-bitty cabins in the forest, and you make this suburban hippie wanna-be drool over the idea of reducing my carbon, albeit wedge-heeled footprint.

tiny-house-in-the-trees-01And I want one. Like 250-square-feet of luxurious TINY. Seriously, I do. Minimalist Me gets lost in the idea of simplicity. (“Minimalist Me” is not to be confused with “Minimal Me” who got lost in Lane Bryant years ago.)  

ANYWAY… HAVING less makes me feel less…stressed, less distracted, less greedy, less overwhelmed.

The idea of utilizing every square inch makes me giddy. No empty space under the bed for dust bunnies or lost socks.  No wasted 28-foot-long hallway to vacuum.  eclectic-kitchenNo room for superfluous baskets collecting laundry we don’t really even need for another 3 weeks.  No spacious countertops serving as gathering places for dirty dishes and receipts and junk mail and “to do” lists that never get “to done”.

Oh, HGTV, you make it look like a tiny fairy tale. Organized, appealing, immaculate, idyllic.

But before I consider the plunge from excess to existential, I have a few questions:

  1. Where is the best place in a tiny house to install the 80-gallon hot water heater for my jacuzzi tub? And will there be ample storage space for bath salts and essential oils??  (I mean, they aren’t called ESSENTIAL for nothing.)
  2. If I attach a single speaker to an oscillating fan in the center of the dwelling, will it suffice as surround sound in such a small space?
  3. _DSC8105_HDRShould Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto decide to break in during the middle of the night, is the apartment-sized refrigerator capable of doubling as a tiny Panic Room?
  4. When one of our spawn stays for an overnight visit in our tiny house, can we have automatic airbags installed in the floor to serve as additional mattress space? Will this violate fire code?
  5. I understand a retractable wall desk unfolds in front of the compost toilet so the tiny bathroom can also function as my tiny office, but is it possible for another space to double as a tiny workout room? On second thought, nix that. I’ll just post pictures of the exercise equipment so I can continue using it all exactly like I do now.
  6. Where do I go when my significant other eats a not-so-tiny serving of baked beans? Normally, when the flatulent aftershocks hit, I can escape to the far end of the house.  But if the far end of the house is only 7 ½ feet away, am I going to start thinking, “I’ve made a tiny mistake!”?
  7. tiny-house-sanoma-county-2And my last question is, when I light a candle for ambiance, or to mask the effects of the aforementioned baked beans, how long can we survive in the enclosed tiny space before the candle flame reduces the oxygen level to a deadly 19.5%?

Sincerely,
Potential Future HGTV Tiny Home Owner
(That’s “tiny home” owner.  Pretty sure “Tiny Homeowner” is on TLC.)   

Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Parenting

One of many hats…

Last-minute maintenance before I go to bed: load dishwasher, brush teeth, wash face… it’s nearing 11:00 when my cell rings. I know who it is even before I look.  Oh, WHY didn’t I take a nap this afternoon?  Unable to keep from smiling, I answer the phone, “Are we ready to have a baby?”

The mom-to-be on the other end questions her feelings… Contractions? Gas pains? Wishful thinking? “Are they consistent?” I ask.  She thinks.. maybe 15 minutes apart, but she’s just not sure.  I ask if she wants to “rest” or “rock and roll”. She thinks resting sounds nice. (It sounds nice to me too, but it is not my decision.) I advise her to drink a glass of water and try to sleep – I will come whenever she wants me.

b4315eed478cf41c_bellyI am a doula. A birth doula, to be more specific. I support women during childbirth. Over the years it has become a job, a hobby, a ministry, a passion.

I sleep off and on for a couple of hours, anticipating the next call. This time from her husband – a sure sign she is ready for me. I dress quickly (forgoing my usual hour-long routine), grab my emergency birth bag, and drive the 27 miles in the middle of the night, meeting only a few other headlights. The roads are quiet at 1:15. I turn left onto a dark street where all the houses are resting except the one expecting me. Porch light is on, door unlocked, waiting for me to let myself in. I change shoes, wash my hands, and slip into the bedroom at the top of the stairs where she is laboring with soft moans and gentle swaying.  “How we doing?” I whisper after her contraction. She looks at me with eyes that say, “This is not what I was expecting. Is it supposed to hurt like this?”

Dad-to-be informs me she woke nearly an hour ago to steady contractions, about 8 minutes apart. She has now moved to 7 minutes and no longer wants to communicate when a contraction rushes over her. They sit together on the bed and with each wave of tightness, he holds her hand and rubs her arm. Her feet are cold, so I put socks on her, and remind her to breathe deeply through her nose and blow slowly out her mouth. I bring her a glass of water and rummage through the bathroom drawer for some much-wanted chapstick.

She’s been side-lying for the last hour, so I get her up to walk. The house is small, but open, allowing us to make uninterrupted circles. Hubby tries to catch a nap as she and I walk and talk, then stop and rock. When a contraction begins, she leans against a wall and I put pressure on her lower back with a distinctive move I learned from an Amish midwife. Other times, I put my arms black and white, hands supporting on birthing ballaround her back while she leans her head on my shoulder, and we do a little rocking dance. Back and forth. The waves strengthen and move closer. We rotate between walking the house, squatting on the birth ball, and standing in a hot shower. Time passes, marked only by the increasing daylight and the increase in the intensity of her moaning. Her deepening vocalizations are the marker I need to decide it is time to transfer. We load her bag, grab a pillow and move to the car, pausing for each contraction.

When we arrive at the hospital, dad helps settle her into the birthing room while I greet the nursing staff and go over her birth plan. By the time I get to the room, she is having a hard time opening her eyes. Dad is holding her hand and kissing her lightly on the forehead, but she is focusing on the pain and starting to become overwhelmed. A quick check shows she is only dilated to 5. She looks disappointed, hoping this would almost be over. I reassure her 5 centimeters is wonderful, she is working this labor like a pro, and I am proud of her. I really am.

She can’t seem to get comfortable in the hospital bed, so we stroll the halls, hubby and I taking turns in the rocking position. I encourage him to take the lead as often as he wants, completely if he wants. He is grateful for someone to help him know what to do, how to respond, how to help. It is hard for him to see her in pain. With every contraction now, one of us massages her lower back while the other whispers words of encouragement into her ear.

5502341_origBack in the room, we drop the lower half of the bed down to the floor and I get on my knees in front of her. She sits on the edge of the bed, her arms draped over my shoulders, her face glistening with sweat, long blonde hair in her eyes. I tuck the hair behind her ear and tell her what a trouper she is, but now it’s time to stop focusing on labor and start focusing on holding her baby.

With renewed determination, she moans uninhibitedly, less out of pain and more out of hard work.  Deep, guttural moans that seem to push the pain away from her body. In between, we breathe. Her husband lightly strokes her back and affirms how amazing she is. They are incredibly sweet. She is now in tune to the rhythm of her labor, staying on top of each contraction as she nears the final stage. Almost in an instant, her eyes grow wide and she starts to breathe fast, shallow breaths. Another check shows she is dilated to 8.5. I cannot contain my smile and she starts to cry. “You’re rocking this, and it is almost time to push.” But the reassurance is not enough to overcome the panic of transition.  Her moans turn to low cries of doubt (“I can’t do this anymore! I just want it to be over.”) I have difficulty stifling a giggle, as EVERY woman expresses this during transition. I tell her, not only CAN she do this, she IS doing this, and it. is. almost. over.

The hospital staff begins to descend upon the room, readying equipment and lights. We have been blessed this morning with a great nursing staff who respects the need for a peaceful environment. This is a real birth, the kind our bodies were made to do, not the kind you see in the media. Lights are dim, no one screaming or yelling, no drugs being administered, no one wielding a scalpel.

Mom asks to change positions, so we help her get into a squatting position, and then everything goes quiet. No contractions, no moaning…no pain. A mini-reprieve. Time to breathe. Time to rest. Time to wipe her face with a cool washcloth. The OB confirms that her cervix is ready if she wants to push. And with the next contraction she does. I talk her through HOW to push (yes, there is a “right way”) and her husband keeps eye contact with her. Thirty seconds of pushing, then a rest. Another push, another rest.  With each push, the baby inches downward until his crinkled little gray scalp is visible. Finally, the OB instructs her not to bear down. I remind her while the baby is crowning  (much like putting on a new turtleneck) she wants to ease the baby’s head out slowly. So we pant. Short quick blows in and out of our mouths as we stare at each other. Her attention now moves to her husband, and I find the camera and get ready for baby’s first photo. Once the head has emerged, she closes her eyes and bears down hard with a primal noise until she hears the midwife’s words,“There we go!” and opens her eyes just in time to see a tiny wet little body slip out and hear his new lungs quiver and cry. Her hands instinctively reach down to comfort him.

“It’s a boy!”

She leans back and he is brought to her now-squishy belly and covered with a warm blanket. She melts into tears and smiles and relief as her baby’s cries subside and he settles next to her heart. babyhands“I love you so much,” she whispers as she glances from her son to her husband and back again. There is silent chaos all around as the hospital staff does their job, but she is oblivious to it as she puts him to her breast, enamored with the perfection in her arms. After a few minutes, she starts to weep and laugh at the same time.

It is a mere 10 ½ hours since the first contractions began. Much shorter than the average first labor. No drugs. No interventions. No complications. Mom is exhausted, elated, empowered, in love.

A beautiful new family. A beautiful new day. Time for me to sleep.

Posted in Movie Mondays

“Run home, Jack!”

Because I love movies, because this is MY blog, and because I think this will be fun, I’ve decided to do “Movie Mondays”.

And because this is July 13th (the anniversary of Babe Ruth’s 700th Home Run), and because we’re in the midst of baseball season, and because my dad and my offspring LOVE baseball even though it is the MOST boring sport in the world, and because I like making lists because it gives me a false sense of organization, I present to you the first installment of MOVIE MONDAYS.

My Top 10 Baseball Movie List for People (Like Me) Who Don’t Like Baseball

NUMBER 10 – The Rookie
Sure, it’s formulaic on multiple levels, but because Dennis Quaid is nice, and because the movie is nice, and because I like a “nice guys win” true story movie, this makes the list.

NUMBER 9 – Rookie of the Year
Because it’s sooooo fun to watch with your kids… especially if your kids are always stuck in right field.

NUMBER 8 – Fever Pitch
Because it’s Jimmy Fallon.  Not at all “ew”.

NUMBER 7 – Field of Dreams
This film makes the list for two reasons.  One, because Kevin Costner made 37 sports movies, and I don’t want to snub him entirely because, after all, he was Robin Hood; and two, because it has the feel of something Jimmy Stewart would star in had it been made in 1945.  Sort of a “Mr. Smith Goes to Iowa” thing.

NUMBER 6 – Hook
“Run home, Jack!”
Shut up.  It can SO count as a baseball movie if I want it to.

NUMBER 5 – Trouble with the Curve
Because I like to imagine Dirty Harry recruiting baseball players.  “Do ya feel lucky?”

NUMBER 4 – A League of Their Own
Because “There’s no crying in baseball!!!”
just a lot of sexism, ugly uniforms, and Tom Hanks peeing for 49 seconds.

NUMBER 3 – Moneyball  
Because any movie about both sports AND numbers, that still manages to be fascinating deserves to be #3 on the list.

NUMBER 2 – 42
42. 42. 42.  If you haven’t seen this, you are missing out.  GREAT film.

AND

NUMBER 1 – The Sandlot
Because this is a completely watchable, wonderful movie.  Darth Vader vs. The Boys of Summer.  If you haven’t seen it… “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny

why aren’t they called horsegirls?

11bootAs I sit in the National Equestrian Center this weekend, trying hard to be a supportive spouse, but about as interested in this “Saddle Boy” Competition as a toddler in church, I looked around and realized I was the only person in this arena who brought alternate forms of entertainment. I also learned THIS…

Fifteen Reasons I Can Never Be a Cowgirl:

  1. The only ranch I want to visit is on the salad bar.
  2. I don’t own any belt buckles that can also double as serving platters
  3. I was completely bummed to find out that a burro is not a deep-fried, chocolate burrito.
  4. 11beltbuckleNone of the real cowgirls keep Doritos in their holster, but darn it, I hear you get hungry out there on the trail.
  5. Hay?  Straw?  Same thing, right?
  6. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat would totally obscure your view of these great highlights in my hair.
  7. Pretty sure there’s no wifi in Montana.
  8. I’ve never breathed deeply and proclaimed, “I love the smell of horse manure in the morning!”
  9. I don’t smoke.  That’s not to say, however, that I’m not smokin’.
  10. It’s considered bad form to pull a 24’ stock trailer with a Honda Odyssey.
  11. To me, the term green-broke means I’m out of cash.
  12. 11seabiscuitPlaytex cannot possibly make a bra with enough support for me to comfortably take the girls horseback riding.
  13. I once went to a movie I assumed was a British comedy, only to find myself watching Tobey Maguire on a horse.  TeaBiscuit.  That’s what I get for not wearing my glasses.
  14. To my knowledge, they don’t make open-toed cowboy boots.
  15. The only cow I care to ever rope better be served medium rare with a side of potatoes.

I also learned that cowgirls become mean girls when you call them “horsegirls”.

Posted in Starting Over

Someday…

I am a writer.

You cannot imagine how it feels to say those words.

My daughter rolled her eyes at me yesterday when I said I had “been working”.  Pretty sure her thought process was, “It’s not really ‘work’ if nobody is paying you, Mom”.  But I spent 18 years working for her and SHE never paid me, so I’d have to disagree.

I am a writer.

alex morgan1And I’ve been waiting my whole life to claim it.

Admittedly, there is this looming fear of claiming to be something no one else is validating. I mean, I can kick a dryer ball across the bathroom floor and call myself Alex Morgan, but that doesn’t really make me a forward on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, does it?

tiaraAnd I can wear my tiara and call myself a Pretty Pretty Princess, but unless somebody outside my realm of influence holds a coronation ceremony for me, my regality is seriously in question.

So if I type a few paragraphs and call myself a writer, won’t you people just call me a fraud?

I don’t care. I’ve been called worse.

I am a writer.

I don’t care if you read what I write. I don’t care if get published.  I don’t care if I go broke in the process.  Well, I care a little.  I do like to eat.  And buy sparkly things. But truly, not as much as I like to write. NEED to write. Somewhere amidst the busyness of being a responsible adult, that need got buried like a Cheerio in the couch cushions. But after several long years that lone little Cheerio was pulled out of the darkness and thrown onto the compost pile…and it was in that decaying pile it found enough sunlight to germinate.  (Yes, I realize Cheerios can’t sprout. It’s a metaphor. Stay with me.)

So now I find myself with this freedom to put myself out there…and this fear that when I do, you’ll judge me.  Or decide you don’t like me.  Or, as has happened on the most destructive level, decide I’m not worth the trouble.

space-mountain-disney-magic-kingdomWriting, in a weird way, is like riding Space Mountain. I’ve been waiting a long time to get on this ride. And now I’m strapped in.  Completely in the dark. I can’t see what’s beside me or above me or under me. I have no idea where I’m going and it makes my head hurt. Sometimes climbing and sometimes falling. I feel scared and exhilarated and liberated and very vulnerable. All I can see is what’s right in front of my face, but that’s enough for now.

2015-07-05-14-28-05-001I haven’t been this happy since I was a 17-year-old declaring “someday I’m going to be a writer.”

For most people, “what they do” is not “who they are”, but for me, I have planted a flag in the ground and staked a claim on my identity.

I am a writer.