Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny, Uncategorized

Ice Skating with the Devil

Back in January, the cowboy made room in our 24×28 garage for me to park the car. We’ve lived in this house 16 years and this is a first.  I mean, I never minded NOT parking in the garage, but when the temperature outside rivals the interior of the deep freeze, or I’ve got a trunk full of groceries to haul inside, it sure is lovely. Point being, now that I can park my car in the garage, I have no need to be outdoors. Not even a desire really. In the winter it’s too cold or too windy or too gray. In the summer it’s all buggy and weedy and there’s the ever-present “odeur de equine” that blows northwest from the barn. I’m just an indoorsy girl at heart. Give me a bookstore or a museum and I’m happy as a nerd.

My husband, on the other hand, spends every waking not-at-work minute outside. He comes in the house after dark to eat and sleep. If he’s not working with his horses, he is cutting down trees, or disking up fields, or hauling hay, or chopping firewood, or, well, you name it.

So, he comes in from the mailbox the other day, the latest edition of “Saddle Boy” magazine in hand, proclaiming, “I have found the destination for our next vacation!”

I glance at him skeptically over the top rim of my 2.25 reading glasses. One, because we rarely go on vacation, and two, because we never agree on anything, much less recreation pursuits.

“No, I’m serious,” he assures me.

I’m in a good mood, so I bite.

city slickers
from “City Slickers”

He proceeds to describe a “vacation” that has all the appeal of Yemen and ranks right above Chinese Water Torture on the fun-o-meter: a working dude ranch.  I’ve seen “City Slickers”, thank you very much, and there ends the extent of my interest in Big Sky Country and, for that matter, the late Jack Palance’s acting career.

Once again I glance at him over the top rim of my glasses. This time with less skepticism and more sarcasm, “You’re a funny, funny little man.”

He gives me a sales pitch with all the perks: You get to work with horses, cut down trees, disk up fields, haul hay, chop firewood, and, if you’re lucky enough to have double-X chromosomes, you also get to help fix the chow! And, let us not forget – YOU get to pay THEM for the experience!

feltandwire
from feltandwire.com

The cowboy cannot seem to grasp the concept that THIS IS NOT A VACATION. Not for a sane person. But to him it sounds like heaven. To me it sounds distinctly like something I plan to do… right after I go ice-skating with Satan.

Posted in Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness, Uncategorized

Dances with Wools

Things I Hate:

Injustice. Litterbugs. Mosquitos. Wintergreen. Comb-overs. Fluorescent lighting. People who have to “one up” your stories. Having only vowels in a Scrabble game. The smell of sardines. Using “would OF” and “could OF” when you mean “would’ve” and “could’ve”. Cheese Whiz. Not being able to find my keys in my purse. People who mispronounce the word nuclear. Pumping gas in the winter. Three friends – two final pieces of sushi. Yogurt. The guy who decided Pluto could no longer be a planet. Getting all comfy in bed and realizing I forgot to pee. Reality shows with housewives or bachelors or anyone willing to compromise our intelligence for their 15 minutes of fame.

But the one thing I hate most?

Socks. Darn them.  

Cotton. Wool. Nylon. Striped. Solid. Argyle. Athletic socks. Trouser a socksocks. Ankle socks. Knee socks. Crew socks. Toe socks. They are evil in its purest form. Be a-frayed. Be very a-frayed. Masquerading as “essentials”, “comfort items”, “fashion accessories”, they are nothing more than vile, wretched, sweat-inducing, pedicure-hiding, foot-enclosures. AND. I. HATE. THEM. Wearing them forces my feet to go spelunking against their will. I don’t mean to be a heel, but it’s cruel and unusual punishment. And to add insult to injury, I’m pretty sure some of my toes are claustrophobic.

Three-fourths of the year my toes are happy little campers. Strappy sandals or microfiber mules or casual clogs – all sock-free. But then winter sets in and my feet either roast or freeze. And since I don’t particularly look good in blue…

Besides, my oh-so-comfy winter-weather leather loafers require socks. So, for Christmas, I asked my children to buy me socks. Cute ones. Cute enough to get your attention, but not so cute that you lose respect for me. And comfortable ones, though I know in my heart there are no such things. My children refused. Kacey even went so far as to Facebook her brother saying, “Do NOT buy our mother socks. No matter WHAT she says she wants, she hates socks. You don’t want to be remembered forever as the ‘child who bought her those stupid, awful, toe-torture devices’“… or something like that.

Now, I’m not stocking up on them, but I did break down and buy my own socks. And I broke down further and wore my own socks.

I think I may have to start a humanitarian group called “PETF” – People for the Ethical Treatment of FEET, or maybe the ASPCT – the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Toes.

The absolute worst is sleeping in socks. I don’t know if it’s the fact that my bed is on the north wall of the house, or that my cotton sheets lack warmth, or that I frequently sleep alone; regardless, I find myself often wearing socks to bed this winter. At some point during the night, Emma Lazarus calls to me… “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… “ and my right big toe grasps the top of my left sock and frees my left foot and my left foot returns the favor by stepping on the toe of the right foot so my right foot can free itself, then both feet push the socks into the floor (“Out, out damned socks!”) while my ten toes do a little socks by the bedmiddle-of-the-night emancipation dance.


And for some bizarre reason, despite the fact that the kitchen is clean, the towels are always
tri-folded, the sheets are washed every Monday, and the dvd’s are alphabetized… the socks remain in the floor until their services are required again.

I don’t know why.

Oh yeah, because I hate them.

Posted in Just Funny, Minimalism, Uncategorized

Perhaps her heart was two sizes too small

Everyone, it’s assumed, liked Christmas a lot
But Steph, who’d felt scroogey, most certainly did not.

Oh, she loved all the sharing and wee balls of rum
And songs about drummers who rum-pa-pum-pum,
But she hated the shopping and wrapping and glitter
And taking the tree down alone made her bitter.

Utility BeforeIt could be perhaps
that her socks were too pinchy
Or the stuff in the utility room
made her grinchy.
But whatever the reason,
the socks or the junk,
She stood here in January,
feeling the funk.

She snarled with a sneer,
“I can take it no more –
This house is too full,
the stuff has to go!”
Then she got an idea!
An awful idea!
Why, Steph got a wonderful, awful idea!

She gathered some empty containers and sacks
And took down the lights and the ornament of Max.
She packed up the wrapping and shiny red balls
And rolled up the garland that decked out the halls.

“Now all I need are some boxes to fill.
I’ll pack up my stuff, and I’ll go to Goodwill”
She cleaned out the closets and shelves of the clutter
And emptied the fridge of the last Nutter Butter.

She boxed up a wreath and a vase and a candle
And even got rid of the “R” on the mantle.
She slithered and slunk with a smile almost gruff
And cleared out the house of all excess stuff.

She got tired more than once, and thought she was through,
But she mustered the strength of ten women, plus two.
She kept working all day and into the night
When she heard a deep voice that gave her a fright.

She turned around fast and saw You-Know-Who
The teenage boy Kevin, who was no longer two.
He looked at his mom with gleaming blue eyes
And said, “Why are you cleaning and boxing up, WHY?”

And you know, that ol’ Mom, was so tired and so sick,
Of working alone, that she schemed really quick.
“Get out the step stool and climb really high,
Take down the tree topper, then be a good guy

Haul these to the dump and then when you can
Load the rest that’s for charity, into the van.”
Her jobs hushed the boy, then she patted his head
And said, “Thanks for helping!” and sent him to bed.

utility AfterNow the chaos was vanishing
from under her roof,
The odds and the ends
were all going “POOF!”
She’d bah-humbugged throughout
the whole holiday season
But please don’t ask why,
no one quite knows the reason.

It just could have been
that her socks were too pinchy.
Or maybe her heart
had become mean and grinchy.
But the most likely reason
for holiday gloom
Was all of the stuff in the utility room.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Uncategorized

Dirty Santa and the Great Mystery

The way I see it there are three good gift types:
1. Something you need that you can’t afford. (Furniture; new car tires; stainless steel cookware; etc.)
2. Something frivolous you love that you would not likely buy for yourself. ($100 hurricane lamp; rabbit-lined leather gloves; 600-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets)
3. Something fun that suits your personality and interests. (a massage; tickets to a concert; a first-edition book)

This leads me to question the “Dirty Santa” game we play with my husband’s family each Christmas. The girls bring a girl gift, the guys bring a guy gift. The girl stuff ranges from spa gift cards to jewelry to chocolate. No problem there. It is the guy stuff that perplexes me. This year the gifts were as follows: wire-ties4Electrical tape; Duct tape; garden hose roll-up thingy; plastic rain gauge; wrench; box cutter; a dozen pairs of work gloves; and various colors of plastic cable ties. Seriously. And they grappled over these things like Hungry Hungry Hippos going after marbles.

Now, I gave this some thought. The girl gift equivalents would look something like: A travel sewing kit; box of safety pins; nail clippers; twelve pairs of yellow dishwashing gloves; spatula; a curling iron caddy; and an old lady clear-plastic rain bonnet.

Am I the only one who sees the humor in this? These are not gifts. These are the purchases of 5 men who do not have a clue how to shop and were equally relieved that none of the other guys knew how to shop either.

Gift cards make sense to me. Big boy toys I can appreciate. Electronic gadgets I understand. Game systems I even like myself. But plastic cable ties remain a mystery to me.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Minimalism, Parenting, Uncategorized

Refined Taste

 

Standing here at the stove, making a big pot of chili (and wondering just exactly how much cumin is too much?), I realize I’m going to have to make a cracker run before the cowboy packs his lunch.  Eating gluten-free has had so many benefits, but good crackers is not one of them.  In fact, I have come to the conclusion that gluten-free crackers are not crackers at all, but merely packing material disguised with flaxseed.

cracker clubI don’t know if you’re a fan of crackers or not, but they rank pretty high on my snack food list. Club crackers, much like eggs and toilet paper, are a staple at our house. Remember when they used to be in 2-packs in a basket on every table in every restaurant in North America, and how you would make a half-dozen sweet-&-sour cracker sandwiches waiting for your WonTon Soup to be served?

Anyway, one time the kids asked me if I would buy them some more “Good Crackers”. I assumed they were asking if I would replace the Club crackers, you know, since I had finished them off prematurely in a big bowl of milk as though they were corn flakes. So, next shopping day, I brought home a couple of the green boxes.

They never complained, but the next time I was Kroger-bound they asked again,“Please Mom, would you buy The Good Crackers THIS time?”  Sure!  Since Clubs weren’t “the good ones”, cracker goldfishI splurged on a sack of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (which are price-equivalent to a 16-oz ribeye).  This time I was met with enthusiasm! Yes! Score one for Mom! Goldfish crackers are practically CANDY to children. I mean, how do you not love the snack that smiles back? They enjoyed feasting on them for several days.

However, the question was soon asked a third time:  “Mom, you keep promising to buy the Good Crackers.  This time, please?”  The Goldfish weren’t right either?  What ARE the Good Crackers?  crackers wheat thinsThe children couldn’t tell me by name. So, again I perused the Ritz and Cheese Nips and Triscuits, and  decided they must want Wheat Thins. Once home, I waved the yellow box in front of them with a satisfied smile and asked, “Are theeeeese what you wanted?”  Two disappointed little faces told me I had failed as a parent.

More weeks passed, and on this trip to the market, the kids were with me. As we strolled down the cookie/cracker aisle, they came to a screeching halt.  

They stood, frozen in their tracks, staring at the floor. Heaven opened up. Beams of light illuminated the place at my children’s feet, and I heard the faint singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

“Mom!!! The GOOD crackers! Please!?”

I looked, and there, at their feet, were the Saltines.

The good crackers.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness

traditionally untraditional part two. OR why Kevin wasn’t allowed to eat the rum cake.

The most bizarre of the untraditional has to be the characters around our table and the conversation that ensued. Did we share all the things for which we are thankful?  No. Did we discuss politics- Hillary, the Donald, immigration, or the economy?  Thank heavens, no. Was there mention of deflated footballs, California wildfires or Syrian refugees? A discussion of the year’s best books or most disappointing movies? No. No. No. No. No.  

Instead, Kevin nearly stabbed the cowboy in the face (accidentally?) with a steak knife, while Mom displayed a burn on her hand from a glue-gun mishap. 

The 10-person, full-table Thanksgiving dinner discussion
went something like this:

“Three things you should never grab with your bare hands:a pan right out of the oven, a sharp knife, and a hot glue gun.”

AND OH, THE ARK OF THE COVENANT!” the cowboy instantly interjected.

Kacey and I reenact the face-melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“Yeah, that would be a bad way to die.”

“True.  Speaking of bad ways to die: would you rather get chomped in half by a

Woodridge, IL, USA --- Great White Shark Opening Mouth --- Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

shark or swallowed whole by a whale?”

“Shark…no, wait…whale.”

“Seriously?!?!”

“Yeah…I’m afraid that the lower half of me would be bitten off by a shark,
and the upper half would still be alert and know what was happening.”

“True, but if you were swallowed whole by a whale,
you might get in there and find out you aren’t alone.”

Kevin waved, pretending to be inside a whale, and said, “Hi Elvis!”

“Speaking of dead, how many squirrels have you killed at the bookstore this year, Dad?”

“342 of those glorified rats, all with a single shot 22!”

Wow. These potatoes are so creamy.

Of course none of those squirrels were shot when Nana was around!”

“Of course not! Nana would set them free, then cut down an oak tree so they can find food without endangering themselves.”

(Nana asks if anyone wants rum cake. We are all stuffed from pork tenderloin and potatoes, so the answer is a unanimous “no“).

2369764376_9931db8a8cThe conversation continues with my sweet 90-year-old grandmother: “I used to catch mice and put them in the garbage disposal.”

I’m sorry…WHAT???????  

She repeats with her delicate soprano voice, “I used to catch mice and put them in the garbage disposal.”

Shock and Awe. Oh, and Disgust.

Kacey turns three shades of green (chartreuse, pistachio and olive drab, to be exact) and begins to look like she is going to lose her just-eaten holiday meal.

Nana asks if anyone wants rum cake. It has been approximately 6 minutes since the last time she asked. The answer is a resounding, and again unanimous, “NO!”

Since Kacey is now feeling pukey, she shared the memories of a “Fear Factor” competition from her college days at Lipscomb fear-factor-logowhen she finished drinking a pureed hamburger, peanut butter and DIRT milkshake and was the only remaining female competitor.

(Yes, yes. A proud moment INDEED in her $80,000 college career.)

Kacey tells her end of the table (mostly men): “After that I quit. The final contest involved eating bull balls.”

The mostly female end of the table didn’t quite hear her, so she repeated louder, “After that I quit. The final contest involved eating bull testicles.”

The cowboy then wanted to know why she felt comfortable using the term “balls” with him, but chose to say “testicles” to the matriarchs.

These potatoes are so creamy.

“I used to eat brains and eggs. I liked brains and eggs.”

“Gross. I can’t imagine eating brains, though I do like me some eggs.”

“Hyena eggs?”

“WHAT?”

“You said ‘hyena eggs’.”

“No I didn’t. I said ‘I do like me some eggs’.”

“Oh. Nevermind.”

61hrB4WrkXL._SY355_“Speaking of balls, when is Nana going to pass on her Christmas ornaments to the girls?”

“HEY! Some of those decorations are MINE!” Kevin objected.

68423_0000“Yes,” Kacey said, “But the Frosty Friends are all mine.”

“Fine. But I get all the Star Wars ornaments!”

Yes, because nothing says “Happy Birthday, Jesus

” quite like a Sith lord.

“Speaking of frosty, anybody want rum cake?”

“NO!!!”

“Well, what does everybody want for Christmas?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t even started thinking about Christmas yet,” says my mother.

“How can you not be thinking about Christmas when the entire house is decorated for it already!?!?”

“I had to start decorating early, we’re having a party here next weekend. I can’t relax till it’s done!”

“Speaking of relaxing, did I tell you I had a facial last Monday? It lasted for a full 90 minutes.”

“I got a pedicure for Christmas one year. It lasted for a full 9 months.”

“Nine months? The pedicure lasted for 9 months?”

“No, the polish on my toenails lasted for 9 months.”

Dad interjected, “Apparently they painted her toes with automotive enamel.”

christmas 2Really, ya’ll, does anybody want rum cake?”


We finally acquiesced and imbibed in a rum cake so strong it was illegal for Kevin to eat.  Then we cleared the table, put away the wheat stalks and turkey 
rings and helped Nana redecorate the dining room with a trio of glittered Christmas trees.

Posted in Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness

traditionally untraditional. part one.

My family loves to be traditionally untraditional, especially when it comes to holiday food.

For years Mom would faithfully get up in the wee hours of the morning to baste the turkey – only for us all to admit years later that none of us even like turkey. We had a few years of trial-and-error options like fried turkey and Tofurkey and Turducken and othersuch critter combinations (just don’t say it incorrectly in front of the children!), but they all taste like they sound.

For the last few years, Dad has thrown caution to the wind and prepared either a prime rib or a pork tenderloin with a Jack Daniels marinade, glazed with a brown sugar/cranberry reduction, while Mom double-stuffed the potatoes and maple-glazed the bacon and over-soaked the rum cake.  It is nothing short of A-mazing.

thanks26Adding to the traditionally untraditional feel for our holidays is Mom’s flair for decorating. The dining room is completely harvest-festive, from the dramatic stalks of wheat reigning over the tablescape, to the subtle touches like leaf-shaped pats of butter, to the whimsical turkey-embossed napkin rings.  

Why is that untraditional, you ask?  

Because my mother callously engages in the practice of irreverent holiday jumping.

While the dining room is harvest-festive, you should understand that Thanksgiving is confined to that space, and that space only. If you venture out of the dining room, it’s like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, because sometime back in August she began completely Decking the Halls for Christmas…and the front porch and the den and the garden room and the foyer and all the bedrooms AND THE BATHROOMS.

516oO0W3S4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I am so not kidding. Sometimes there are as many as EIGHT lighted trees, all with different themes and/or color schemes. The house rivals a the Southern Living Christmas edition.

I, on the other hand, am still contemplating whether or not I want to go to the effort of putting a pine wreath on my front door.

Posted in Just Funny

It’s got character

In my younger years I was a television junkie. I turned the TV on during the Today Show and turned it off during Letterman.  I didn’t sit and watch it all day, mind you, but it was ON. Omnipresent in the background, you might say.

TrivialAnd I paid attention. I could rock the pink category in Trivial Pursuit like nobody’s business. (For you children, Trivial Pursuit is the “hard copy” forerunner of last year’s wildly inferior Trivia Crack. You had to actually use your arms to roll dice and move game pieces. It was a gruelling process.)  

Television is not high on my priority list these days.  I mean, I don’t have a clue why The Walking Dead killed off Glenn or why Kurt Weller’s name is tattooed on Jane Doe’s back.  

Often I go days without ever flipping on the 42” screen that dominates my cozy little den. When I do, it’s to catch two-thirds of a day-old Jimmy Fallon on Hulu, or fawn over a composite of Jeremy Renner clips on YouTube.  That, however, is a confessional blog for another day.

Three or four times a year I binge-watch shows that comes highly recommended, like two of my favorites, House of Cards or Newsroom.  

So I know I’m five years behind the curve, but lately I’ve been on a Downton Abbey spree. Fabulous wardrobes; historical references; wonderfully, Britishly understated melodrama.

My husband, however, refuses to watch along, mentally placing Downton Abbey in the same category as monogrammed handbags, ostentatious gift-wrapping, and herbal tea lattes.

Yes, the show’s language, clothing, and notions of class-distinction are antiquated. Okay, so Lady Mary isn’t a cowgirl.  And Lord Grantham doesn’t grunt, but rather makes eye contact and speaks in grammatically proper sentences.  And Carson, the butler, wouldn’t be caught dead discussing a fart. Ever. 

Compared to Django or The Hangover, Downton could almost appear, well, educational.

Still, I contend that Downton’s cast mimics the characters of every other tv show, albeit better dressed.  Like Mad Men or Grey’s Anatomy or whatever drama you prefer, ee45b75b6013715ce76b729e8c2e86144f4e2e992fd6d7139932ce1b2927ec41there’s the schemer, the snob, the liar, the gossip, the rebel, the clueless, the pot-stirrer, the goody-two-shoes, the scandalous, and the pitiful, all interacting for the purpose of amusement.

Come to think of it, Downton mimics the characters I know in real life as well, all of whom interact for the purpose of amusement, they just don’t realize it. Without them, my life would far less interesting. Also without them, I would have no reason to don my tiara and feel superior.  (I do hope you detect the tongue in my cheek.)

So here’s to the characters, fictional and real, who make the plot lines of my own little drama infinitely more entertaining. 

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Parenting

Cool Hand Kevin


To preface this story, I almost never wear sunglasses – they’re oppressive, like socks. But I bought a blingy diva pair anyway, for a 14-hour Texas trip, and I tucked them away in my purse.  

260575528409591555Tgmf1bB0cA few hours into the drive, somewhere around west Memphis, Kevin wanted to stretch out a bit.  He started rearranging all the bags and snacks and speakers and road trip stuff in an attempt to build his nest.

“Hey, before you get too comfortable,” I said, “we’re about to head west so I’m going to need my glasses out of my purse.”

“Huh?” he responded eloquently.

I repeated myself, speaking slowly this time, “We’re…about…to…head…west…so… I’m…going…to…need…my…glasses…out…of…my…purse.”

“WHY do you need your glasses when we turn west????” he quizzed with a look of irritation.

“Well, Kevin, let’s use our brain and find the answer to that question. Why do YOU think I need my glasses?”

“I dunno.”

“What happens when we turn westward?”

stbcs“Um…the letters on the signs get smaller???”

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.  

Let’s try this again. “Kev, before you get too comfortable, we’re about to head west so I’m going to need my SUNglasses out of my purse, not my EYEglasses.”

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Parenting

Dissecting Frogs in the Car

Did you know the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary?

1526092_766739986239_1681683817_nMy kids love to pick on each other. I mean, they SAY they love each other, but they agitate until they are exasperated.  

Once, not so awfully long ago, Kevin convinced Kacey he was left-handed. (Kacey was 23, Kevin, 16)  She was so befuddled by his insistence, she marched into the den with her hands on her hips and proclaimed, “He is NOT left-handed………… IS HE?????”  Of course, he is not, and she KNEW that, he is just such a stinking convincing liar that she began to doubt herself.

A few nights later, before Kevin and I took a road trip to Texas, he and Kacey were talking on the phone.  He was moaning about all the school work he was going to have to do on our car trip.  1917367_198145571800_4446435_n (2)She  told him to “suck it up” and “do the work like a man” when he said something like, “Well that’s easy for you to say…you don’t have to dissect a frog in the car!”

“Neither do you, goofball.”

“YES I DO!”

“Kevin, you cannot possibly dissect a frog in the car. Why don’t you just do it when you come back on Monday?”

“Because I have to make a diagram, label all the parts, and have it turned in by Friday night!”

“Kevin, you are such a liar!”

“Kacey, I’m serious. I’ve got to dissect this stupid frog in the car on the way to Texas!”

“Seriously???”

1917367_207857431800_3306124_n“Um, yeah.  And by the way, I’m left-handed.”

Kacey gave him a verbal long-distance lashing for making her feel gullible yet again, while he and I fought back tears of laughter.   

Is it okay that I’m strangely proud of my kid for being a great actor liar?