Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017...

She's smiling in this one.
Holy roasted turkey, batman! It has literally taken two hours to prepare for this post. First, I had to move the pictures from my phone to my computer. That took freakin forever. Just...forever. I tried emailing them to myself but it would only allow me to attach two photos at a time and the two emails I sent still haven't arrived in my inbox. Before you ask if I actually press send, let me stop you right there. I don't remember.

 Anyway, once my phone had purged it's contents onto my computer, I spent half an hour deleting half of the pictures because they were ads for apps. How does that happen? Why did I have to do it right then? Because I am easily distracted.

This post is going to heavy on the sap...and pictures.

As we do every year, my family loaded up our van and headed to Nemo, Texas for our annual Thanksgiving at Gramma's. From where we live it's about an hour and fifteen minutes of driving. We added another half an hour this year because my sister doesn't trust her ride not to leave her stranded in the deep wild. Also, as is the tradition, we stopped at QT for drinks and snacks. If you've read this blog before, you know why we eat before we eat. If you have not, two words: Desert turkey.

Meenie, Poke, and Miney

Me and Mesha
This turkey must have been a terrible bird whilst among the living because my beloved Gramma is able to bake every last ounce of fluid from the flesh of that poor creature. It turns to dust when you touch it and we don't dare take a bite unless we have a pitcher of water within reach. This year was no different. I don't know what I would do if it ever was. 

Someone brought mac and cheese this year. It was delicious. My Gramma had nothing to do with it's preparation, I assure you. Because it was delicious. My cousin was gnawing on a dry cornbread muffin when she turned to me and said, "I'm bringing the rolls next year." Then we reminisced about the good old days when we had dry brown and serve rolls instead of dry cornbread muffins.

My Gramma, Lord love her, will not allow any help so my aunts and Mesha, my cousin, have taken to sneaking dishes in on the sly. Mesha and I were talking about her dad's stuffing which her husband Michael said he would interrupt his nap for (that means it's done well) and she said I would love it, too. I told her I don't eat stuffing...ever. If someone is able to turn food gray, it's off the list forever. Gramma managed that a few years ago with her gray stuffing loaf. My father in law made gray gravy once.

If you squeeze the honey bear will it not bleed...ketchup.

I will have my picture...
My cousins and I comment amongst ourselves about Gramma's inedible foods, but we still make the point to come every year. She calls every year to ask if we're coming. Every year we have a blessing on the food. Every year my cousin's widower comes bearing a cheesecake. Every year my cousin, Robin, greets me as Baby Diana.

Still happy
I was worried, when my Grampa died, that we would lose that side of the family. Sometimes patchwork families are only held together with the threads that bound them, but it hasn't been that way with us. When we get married, out spouses become part of the group and every one of them call my Gramma "Gramma" instead of her given name.

Gramma gonna show you how it's done.
We've been lax about taking pictures in years past. I don't know how much longer Gramma will be burning turkeys and whipping up gray stuffing, but I won't make the mistake of not taking pictures again.

Happy Thanksgiving and Junk!
Most of the whole fam damily!
and some more.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Here We Go Again...

It's that time of year again! Don't be so coy, you know what time it is...No, it's not the time where we give thanks and eat turkey. Try again.

Nope, it's not gift giving and family togetherness, either. Give up?

It's the season of butthurt!

First, let me explain butthurt. My sister, who is younger and therefore cooler that me, introduced me to the word a couple of years ago when she was younger and cooler than she is now. Butthurt involves allowing your feelings to be bruised by another's actions or words. It's usually reserved for minor infractions and I know that peoples feelings are important, but sometimes those feelings are allowed to run free, unchecked, unfettered and uncontrolled.

This season's butthurtedness (I just coined that word) comes to us from Starbucks who, you'll remember last year, or the year before, made their holiday cups red. Apparently this was offensive to some people. Never did get why.

They have doubled down on their offensiveness this year by bringing us a cup which, in some way or another, pushes the gay agenda and also makes some people feel that they are being compelled to color said cup, as the designs are colorless. Again, I don't get it. Who can say no to coloring?

Here's the things though...was someone really offended by a cup?

I wonder these days how often such accusations are actually a thing. I mean I realize, as a country, we have become a ravenous lynch mob gleefully waiting for the next opportunity to pounce at the least provocation. We wholeheartedly jump on the judgey wagon as soon as it comes rolling by, but how often do we stop for even 1/10th of a second to think, "maybe it was a slow news day. Someone needed something to write about and since no one fact checks or thinks anymore we'll just throw this little number in there and see who bites."

To be honest, I have done my fair share of gasping whilst clutching the pearls when some random story crosses my news feed, but I'm starting to think I've been led by the nose. And it's my fault because I have to power to stop and think, but I've forgotten how to use it.

I remember having dinner one night on my mission, and telling the lady of the house that the word "gullible" wasn't in the dictionary. If you let that trip you up for even one minute, shame on you. It's totally there. It's always there. However, she looked at me with wide eyes for a minute and then shook her head. "Prickett," she said, (that was my name back then) "I'm never believing anything you say ever again." And you know what, that is the attitude we should all be embracing because how many times have we caught the media telling lies? Even the "reputable" ones.

And now any halfwit with internet access can type up whatever they want and forward it into eternity. Look at me, I'm half of a half wit and I'm here typing up a storm.

When I was in college Wikipedia was considered an un-cite-able site because it wasn't a reliable source of information for writing a paper, as anyone can add or delete whatever they like. Snopes was found to be less unbiased and more bent, except people still refer to it as the authority on all things right and true. Ed and Lorraine Warren have been proven to be shysters and people still hire them to rid their homes of ghosts. How many times have we gotten information from a dubious source and still passed it on as fact?

When I realized my former stepfather and former best friend were habitual liars, I had to reevaluate everything they had ever said because I can't be certain what was a lie; from stories they told to experiences they shared. I refuse to perpetuate the lies, but it's hard. Anytime I want to share a story I have to stop and think, "is this one I was there for, or one they said happened to them?" I can only trust the experiences that I was a part of, that I know actually happened.

Which is why I question the veracity of someone questioning the agenda of a cup. Can a coffee cup have an agenda? Or be gay? It's a processed piece of dead tree. I'm pretty sure it's sexual drive was pressed out when it was pulped.

So, is it possible someone got their panties in a twist about a disposable piece of cardboard? Totally! Is there a war on Christmas? Maybe. Is there a gay agenda at work in that overpriced cup of caffeine with a little cream?

Maybe, but if there is, why are we giving fuel to the fire? If it isn't, why are we getting all worked up? Either way, who flippin cares! There are still real problems out there, but everyone is so focused on stupid things the important things are going unresolved. We are allowing the tail to wag the dog and burning up all of our energy on trivial matters.

Maybe that is the goal, to get us all worked up into a lather so we're too distracted to the fix the things that are really broken.

If that is the case, how sad is it that it's working? Also, who are these people? There seems to be a lot of organization behind THEM. Do THEY have monthly meetings? How many of THEM are there? Do THEY even know THEY are the THEY in question?

I think the intention was to celebrate a season of giving and the creator of "the cup" was trying his level best to design something that would include the joy of the season without excluding any one group of people.

I'm sorry Starbucks Holiday Cup Designer, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Take One and Pass It Around...

Can somebody explain to me why I can buy Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen in 50 gallon drums, but it's a miracle if I can find Midol in anything greater than a 40 count? A forty count bottle shared among four women.

I've been female my whole life and a "woman" for almost thirty years. I was unprepared for the day I "became a woman". I mean, I watched "the movie" in seventh grade, but the actresses were discussing using the belt. The belt was no longer a thing when I was in the seventh grade. I had to go home and ask my mom how a belt had anything to do with my upcoming affliction.

My dad pulled me aside shortly before I went through the change. He wanted to tell me that PMS was something women claimed to excuse their behavior. He said he had a friend when he was a teen and he never knew when her aunt was visiting because she was never moody or angry or unpleasant. I legitimately thought something was wrong with me when every month, like clockwork, I hated everybody. Thanks dad.

Mr. D only had brothers and his mother is the most composed woman I have ever met. One one hand, that is admirable. On the other, it was a tremendous disservice to Mr. D because most women aren't 100% rational all the time. If I can't melt down in my own house...

I mean, I'm not a crazy person, but compared to his mother I'm a raging lunatic. Which is why we are counseled not to compare ourselves to others (dad).

I'd like to say that in our early married life Mr. D had peace for a couple of weeks every month, but I got pregnant five minutes after the wedding and stayed that way for the better part of ten years. In that ten years I gave birth to three other females and the cards were stacked against him. He said that once the girls reached puberty, he was taking our son and moving into an apartment until the smoke cleared. It's funny depending on the day. If Midol is in the house, it's hilarious. If there's no Midol, it's dangerous.

I have to say he has admirably adjusted to the hormonal surges. I know he still doesn't understand why we don't "just stop being cranky" when we know we're being cranky. So I'm going to try and explain.

Approximately seven to ten days before our Aunt (we'll call her Flo) comes for her monthly visit, she decides she needs to redecorate even though no one has visited since the last time she cleaned house. However, demolitions are painful. Knocking down walls sounds like fun, but after a full day of swinging a sledgehammer it starts to get real. Real painful. Just imagine swinging a sledgehammer everyday for a week. Then imagine how sore your arms will be for a few days after. It's a constant throb and Tylenol barely takes the edge off.

I remember seeing random dancing threads at the bottom of old movies. I could only ignore them for so long but even then I could still see them from the corner of my eyes. It's the same way with Flo except cramps and uterus. Things that bother me are exacerbated by the dull ache that is my constant companion as I wait for Flo's arrival.

However, I have always found it enraging when my feelings are casually dismissed as PMS (by men and (gasp) women - you know better).

Example: Just because I'm overly emotional, but doesn't mean you aren't an a-hole.

That's why as my girls have started down the path to womanhood, I have made a conscious decision in how I deal with the inevitable meltdowns that occasionally rear their ugly heads. Maybe it can be of use to others and it goes like this.

Teen in melt down: Mom, I want to punch her in the head.

Me: I know when (insert sibling) does (insert behavior) it upsets you. However, the level of anger your are currently expressing is of greater magnitude than you would usually express. Do you agree?

Teen in meltdown tearfully nodding because her feeling have been acknowledged: Yes, mom.

Me: Go take a Midol and have a time out.

It's worked pretty well so far.

P.S. I have to give myself timeouts, too.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Jesus Take the Wheel...

I feel like I've been living on borrowed time since I was about eighteen. Every time I get into a car I'm taking my life into my hands and it seems my oldest, Ennie, has taken up that mantle and run with it (driven with it?) She's been in two fender benders in the last month.

The first time the driver of a white van threw it in reverse and backed into her left front fender as they shared the turn lane. Then he just left.

The second time she was driving down a street where the cross roads have stop signs. However, some people seem to think a stop sign is more of a suggestion and some woman rolled right through the stop sign into my daughters right front fender. This time she was able to get insurance information and pictures. She also exclaimed her first foul declaration when she came through the door. I'm so proud.

Her recent course in crash reminds me of a time when I was about her age. I had an old Volkswagon Dasher as my first car. I'd never seen a V.W. Dasher before and haven't seen once since, but the Dasher was Volkswagon's answer to the station wagon. My brother rebuilt the engine and since it was the first engine he'd ever attempted, he had a handful of nuts and bolts left over. He hadn't started with extra nuts and bolts. It rattled loudly, lacked heat and air, and the radio had a dial. The antennae had been lost ages before so any station that could be found was impossible to hear through the static. I kept a tape player in the front seat. It was so sad.

Anyway, in the beginning months of my eighteenth year, I was rolling down a street in my neighborhood when some dingus in a van pulled over to the right and stopped. I waited a moment and when it was clear to me that he was stopped, I attempted to go around him. That's when he decided to take a wide turn to the left. He smashed my right fender. His wife vaulted from the passenger side screaming obscenities and all of a sudden my mom appeared! I was about four houses away from mine but she was there in a blink. She and my stepdad had been driving in front of the van. My mom sounded so worried when she told me she'd dropped her roast beef sandwich on the ground because of me. I always felt so important.

The next day, I was headed to a hair appointment when I rear ended a woman on the highway. It was rainy and the road was slick. My car hydroplaned into hers. I'll admit my actions after the fact were ill-advised.

I continued on to my hair appointment.

It was the days before cell phones, but my parents still managed to get a hold of me. The woman I hit had called the insurance company, who had called them. There really is no excuse for the way I handled it except, roast beef sandwich.

I was told I would no longer be allowed to drive because I had become a liability. This is where it gets stupid. See, my brother, who was seventeen at the time, was an even greater liability that me! He already had two speeding tickets under his belt. Also, he'd taken out a retaining wall in Hurst. And he'd driven away with the gas hose still in his car. And he was actually on his second car because he'd wrapped the first one around a sapling, but I was the liability.

I might still be bitter about that.

Anyway, it got worse from there as the next year, while riding home from a New Year's Eve party, we found ourselves watching in astonishment as the rear tire rolled up next to us and then passed us on the highway. A few days later, I was a passenger in a friends's car when we got t-boned as we turned left on a green arrow.

A few years later, I was leaving work one after noon in the right lane waiting to turn. There was a shopping center beside me and I inched up the lane as the cars would turn right and this little old lady hit my passenger side. She jumped out of the car screaming about how we youngsters were always speeding down the street. Luckily there was a cop nearby who could verify that I was, in fact, stopped when she hit me.

Then there was the time I was headed to a friend's house in my MommyMobile, a red minivan. This little old man backed out of his driveway as I passed behind him. He said he just didn't see me because he was looking at his grandson who was in the passenger seat beside him. Whatever.

But it all started when I was about eight. My mom was headed to the post office to get our mail. Our house was so rural the post office didn't even deliver. So my mom says she's going to get the mail and my brother and I jump in the passenger seat at the same time. Note, this is the same brother who rebuilt my car engine and also managed to not be a liability in spite of his shenanigans. He and I were wrestling over the front seat as she started the van and then headed down the gravel road. Apparently the door had not been closed well and with one hard shove I found myself hitting the ground and rolling into the ditch. My mom was at the end of the road before she realized I was gone and slammed on the brakes. She reversed back to where I landed and laughingly asked if I was okay.

I've never been as important as a roast beef sandwich.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Putting It Here So I Can Find It Later...

Yeah, right!

That was my mother's favorite phrase (behind "Fine, I hope you choke on it," and "we just can't have anything nice!") It drove me nuts to hear her say it because I knew once she had safely tucked whatever it was away in some out of the way hidey-hole, it was also immediately lost to her brain.

I swear she spent half of her days looking for her safekeeping spot and the other half gushing about the fun things she'd "found" instead. For example, after she would holler, "where are my shoes?" I would then hear, "oh! that's where I put those buttons that fell off your shirt...ten years ago. I knew I'd put them somewhere."

She's be so happy she found those buttons, and even though I'd finally given up on ever wearing that shirt again nigh on a decade before, she'd still insist on keeping them "just in case." Then she'd put the buttons back where she found them and resume her quest for her shoes. On a side note, my mother's other favorite saying was "if you'd all just clean up your own mess, this house would be clean." I remember her yelling that one day as I watched her finish off a bottle of Pepsi and then drop it on the floor. No joke.

I vowed to be the woman who kept track of where she hid her crap and I did really well...until I had about three children. I realized it had gotten away from me when, whilst looking for the Easter basket goodies, I found the stocking stuffers I'd bought for Christmas. Stuffers I had forgotten I'd ever bought.

I've spent this entire day searching for a file that I remember holding in my hands, but can't for the life of me remember where it went after that. I gave up looking for a spell and went in search of some decorative tape and danged if I couldn't find that either! The last straw happened when I was looking for my son. He'd snuck out the door to go to the store with his sisters. They swear he told me he was going, but I absolutely did not hear it. Thankfully, I found him with a quick phone call. Which brings me to another trait I despised in my mother yet have come to find in myself.

I totally tune out my children's voices.

But it's an essential skill to surviving motherhood. If I had to give my full attention to every noise they made, I'd go freaking nuts! I remember my mother saying I only talked to hear my own voice. I hated it when she'd say that, but I think it happens in this house, too. My offspring promise every word is important, but all I hear is wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

There is an episode of Spongebob Squarepants wherein Spongebob is running his gob non-stop as Squidward looks on in annoyance. He envisions four mouths popping out of Squarepant's face and every one of them is spouting loud nonsense. I know my children aren't in a desperate bid to use all of the oxygen in the room, but sometimes it really does feel that way.

They swear we've had entire conversations that I don't ever remember hearing let alone participating in. I question the validity of some of those claims though. They know I don't listen, I think they've figured out my wordless nodding is a cover and they're using my inattention against me.

By the way, I still haven't found that file.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How the...

I'm just going to say it, hell. How the hell?! I mean HOW THE HELL!!! Hell, hell, hell, hell, hell!

If the first sentence was enough to curdle your blood, leave now. If you have a weak constitution or delicate sensibilities, consider yourself warned. It's about to get real up in here.

I dropped my phone in the toilet yesterday.

Let me clarify, to "drop it" would suggest I had been holding it in the first place. My phone fell in the toilet. More accurately, it was launched. I launched my phone into the toilet like a rocket into space.

First off, I know I shouldn't have had it in the bathroom at all, but I did. If you've never taken your phone into the bathroom, you may smile smugly to yourself. However, if any one of you are tempted to point that out whilst reading this post sitting on the toilet, I dare you to comment.

To begin, yesterday, I went to the bathroom. It was a good day. I placed my phone on the counter because it's a safe place to put it, or so I thought. I contemplated the wonders of the universe, did some paperwork and then pulled up my britches.

I was reaching for the handle with my right hand and bringing my left hand around to grab my phone when, what the hell, not only did I not grab it, I swiped it off the counter with such force it sailed from the counter top all the way over the edge of the toilet bowl where it made a perfect ten point landing, face up on the toilet paper island inside.

I fished that sucker out with such haste I didn't even have time to finish my curse word. The case was hastily shucked and hucked in the trash and then I wiped the phone down with Clorox wipes. Every ten minutes. For an hour.

It still works.

I sent a text to Mr. D after the Clorox juice had dried. It was laden with four letter words like, 
"poop" and "fell" and "into", and some other explanatory expletives. He found it hilarious and showed the text to his co-workers who also thought it was hilarious, as did my friend, Angel and pretty much anyone else who has been told, but I'm angry and I'll tell you why. 

I could have dropped my phone into a sparkling clean toilet and I would laughed. I could have dropped it into a slightly less clean bowl with clean water and still laughed. I could have dropped it into a stewing bowl of fresh hell and at least realized I had it coming, but I didn't drop the damn thing at all! 

I had placed it on the counter to avoid this very thing! HOW?!

How does my friend alight from a swing and land in her dates outstretched arms while I end up on the ground just an inch from my own date? How do I give myself a black eye with a toilet seat? How do I end up hanging upside down from the swingset with my legs wrapped in a chain? How do I kick the only tree stump within a hundred yards and break my foot in three places? How do I manage to trip on the only concrete booger on an entirely flat street and hash my face all up?


I'm so over it. I just can't find the humor in this one and I can't even be happy that the phone still works because I'm afraid to use it. I can't be trusted to touch it without a protective case, and with my luck I'll end up with some fecal born infection.

Maybe one day I'll look back on this and laugh...but not today.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sausage Fingers: The Return...

So the swelling in my ring finger finally abated about a week ago and (happy day!) I was able to put my wedding ring back in it's rightful place. It was wonderful! It was glorious! It was...short lived.

See, what had happened was I was in my garden trying for the fourth time to kill this ant pile that refuses to die. Refuses. To. Die. I've put so much poison in that garden bed, that anything I grow will probably poison us all, but those dang ants will not be defeated. Dang ants.

Anyway, I'm in the garden, shaking this bag of granulated poison over the garden bed of aggravation when I felt a sting on the back of my hand. I remember apologizing to the ants for trying to kill them when I realized it hurt so much worse than any other sting I've gotten this year, and I've been stung a lot. I'm pretty sure I'm starting to develop ant-y powers I've been stung to such a degree.

At any rate, I glanced at my hand and found the site of the sting was already beginning to swell  and then caught sight of the perpetrator flying away. HORNETS!

The hornets and I have been engaged in a terse dance this season. They fly around like they own the place and I destroy any nests I find which is why I think they got wise and finally hid it because I didn't see where my assailant came from, and the tears in my eyes kept me from seeing where it disappeared.

I decided to soldier on and watered all my plants and trees with my hand elevated because I wasn't going to be knocked off course by some winged honey wannabe. Once the plants had been hydrated, I went into the house and informed Mr. D that I had been stung and then grabbed an ice pack to ply to my hand. Once I stopped moving, the stinging really set in. My hand was on fire!

Google told me that ice and acetaminophen would be my best friends so I downed some Tylenol and kept my hand elevated and iced.

I don't know why I thought that the swelling would reach it's maximum on the day of the sting, but let me just tell you, that is not the case. In the middle of the night my hand started to itch and in my sleepy stupor, I scratched and the more I scratched, the more it itched. I tried to make my brain tell my hand to stop scratching but it just felt so great.

The next morning my hand was so swollen it looked like a flesh colored Mickey Mouse glove. The skin was so tight it was shiny. My index finger and middle finger were so swollen they rubbed together like a fat girls thighs (my thighs) and my ring was beginning to impress on my finger like play-doh. At my eldest daughter's insistence, I took my wedding ring off, again. So close, yet so far away.

The itching became unbearable as did the swelling and redness. I took three Benadryl because it seemed like a good idea at the time. After half an hour nothing had changed so I asked Mr. D to take me to an urgent care facility where, wouldn't you know it, that Benadryl kicked in just as I walked in the clinic. My hand still itched but I almost didn't care anymore. The doctor showed up about half an hour later, took a quick glance and told me it wasn't infected, but he could give me a steroid shot to help with the swelling. Or he could write me a prescription for steroid pills. Whatever I wanted. He seemed to be unaware of the fact that my hand was about to split at the seams because he asked me again if I wanted a shot (quick fix) or pills (less quick fix). I showed him my hand and told him it hurt like a bad word and I would like the shot, please!

Now my backside stings, too.

Friday, October 13, 2017

What If I Made A Mistake...

Dear Moms,

My family and I went to homecoming last night. As I looked around at the crowd of teenagers standing around us (because apparently their knees don't bend and the people behind them don't really NEED to see the field), I was suddenly overtaken with crushing worry.

What if I screwed up my kids?

I'm pretty sure we've all had that moment when we've wondered if we made the right choices for our children. I've felt those fears many times over the last seventeen years, but they're coming more frequently as my oldest child's high school career is fast coming to a close.

I was telling Mr. D that I wish we could raise our children twice, just in case we messed up the first time. I wish I knew now that homeschooling them was the best choice for us. I feel like it is, but as I watched those kids I wondered if my feelings were right, but it's kind of too late now. I can't undo anything we've done, and that goes for pretty much everything.

Was it a mistake not to allow my older girls to wear their princess dresses to the store? Was it a mistake to give that choice to the youngest daughter? My older kids constantly remind me of things I denied them that I now allow the youngers. Yes, I let Miney wear her princess dress to the store after strictly denying Eenie and Meenie, but I was new to the parenting game and it seemed important at the time.

I don't feel that their futures are destined to be disasters because they may or may not have been allowed to be princesses at Kroger, but who would they be if they'd gone to public school? Would Eenie be less anxious in unfamiliar situations or would she be even more anxious and medicated?

Meenie has a strong personality. Would she be kind or a mean girl?

Miney has a defiant streak that goes on forever. Would she constantly be in trouble? Moe is so tender-hearted. Would that be a detriment in his education?

Academically they are right there with their peers. I got over that concern a long time ago, but when they look back at their youth, will they feel like they missed out on those high school traditions?

As a "home schooled" individual, I never felt like I'd missed out socially. Academically my brothers and I got the royal shaft. Home school is not for every one ya'll. If you don't feel it is something you can do, please, for the love of all that is good in the world, DO NOT DO IT! If you don't want your children to learn certain behaviors, but aren't worried about providing them with an actual education, DO NOT DO IT! If you think the government is trying to spy on you, please get some help and mess your kids up some other way. Please Lord mess them up some other way.

However, no matter how badly we might want it, we only get one chance to raise our children so of course we worry we've set our children on the path to a dismal future. Here's the thing Moms, indeed Parents (because Dads worry, too) if you are doing the best you can, you're doing a great job.

If you feel that homeschooling your kids is the best choice for your family, or if public school is where your children need to be, you're doing great! Let your children wear princess dresses to the store, it won't hurt. Or don't, they'll survive.

Back to last night. I was mulling over the decision we made, many moons ago, to home school our children, realizing I can't go back and try again, worrying that Eenie's anxiety was a consequence of our decision, I voiced my concern to Mr. D who said, "Eenie's issues are her issues. It has nothing to do with home schooling."

Our children are who they are.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Letter to My Readers...

My dearest readers,

For those of you who don't know, I am more than just a fancy blogger, I am also an author.

Those books you see on the side bars there - those are mine. My goal is to provide literary entertainment that I am comfortable having my teen daughters read. I have written these novels to be entertaining and exciting without the sexual content and coarse language that has become more prevalent in nearly every form of entertainment. My target demographic is young adults between ages 14-24.

To you who have read any of my five novels, I thank you from the depths of my little pea-pickin heart. You are awesome!

To those of you who have not lost yourselves in the pages of my work I ask, what catches your attention when choosing a new book? Those of you who have read my work feel  free to answer too.

Do you prefer e-books to hard copies or are audio books more appealing?

They say not to judge a book by it's cover, but who doesn't? What are your thoughts about book covers in general or my book covers specifically?

How much does cost factor into your decision? Do you feel that the quality of a book is reflected in the price or are you more inclined to try a new author if the cost is nominal?

How likely are you to leave a review or tell a friend if you enjoyed the book? Are you just as inclined to leave negative feedback if you did not enjoy it?

How likely are you to read other novels by the same author?

Have you ever attended a "Meet the Author" event? What are your thoughts?

Would access to a section of the book help in your decision making process?

How likely are you to purchase a book if the link is available on the same page as the sample section?

Would you suggest the novel to your book club if you had an opportunity to meet the author? Or have the author present?

This is an opportunity to share any thoughts you may have. I'm all ears!

Thursday, October 5, 2017



I started taking a business class on Tuesday because one day I'd like to, you know, maybe make a career of this writing thing. Our first assignment was to take a paperclip (or any other small item) and attempt to trade it for something of greater value. I wasn't too keen on this assignment for one reason.

I don't go anywhere. Like, ever.

Since Eenie got her license I have been content just to have her play chauffeur which leaves me with more free time than I've had in years. It's almost overwhelming. I don't know what to do with myself, and thus far, nothing I have done has been productive, but my aunt told me I should continue in my lackadaisical lounging until it is no longer luxurious. I have yet to hit that wall.

At any rate, I don't leave the house much and the assignment required that exact activity.

Saturday rolls around and my girl Chelle had finally returned from her eternal out of town adventure. We decided to go to lunch that afternoon. As I was going to leave the house, I decided I should at least make an attempt at fulfilling my assignment.

I chose a pencil from the $1 prize box I keep to help motivate my children in their studies, because paperclips are lame, and we headed out. At the restaurant I asked the cashier if she would be interested in trading my glittery ladybug pencil for something of more value. She agreed and I traded my pencil for a pen (upgrade). Success!

There was a couple sitting behind us and, feeling adventurous, I asked if they would be willing to trade my pen for something more awesome.

Lesson 1: Women more often carry more than just a wallet and keys. Therefore they are a better source for upgrading.

Dude offered me a dollar, and in hindsight I should have taken it, but I was young and naive. I wasn't in it for the money. Thus, I traded my pen for a fistbump (downgrade). I returned to my table feeling a little dejected, my promising start had already turned sour, but I asked Chelle if she had anything she would be willing to trade for a fistbump.

She did! She gave me four passes to the Fort Worth Museum! It was amazing and brings me to...

Lesson 2: You gotta know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em and when to walk away. I held greatness in my hands, but I flew too close to the sun.

Later that evening, Mr. D and I went out to dinner with Chelle and her man-candy. While waiting in line to order our meal, I ventured to trade two of the tickets to an older woman standing behind me. She professed to have nothing to trade, but I foolishly pressed forward. I asked her young granddaughter of about ten if she would be willing to trade me her cap for my tickets. She had nothing she was willing to trade, but I couldn't just rescind the offer. She was a child and I have the heart of a mother. So two of my glorious tickets were traded for a third fistbump (downgrade, again).

Lesson 3: One must be able to make hard decisions if one expects a profit.

Instead of learning my lesson, I thought surely I would do better the next time so while the four of us wandered around Kroger (we're older, our standards for entertainment have changed), I decided to try, once again, to upgrade my two remaining tickets. I am not a quick study.

I literally traded my last two tickets for beans! Starbucks coffee beans, but beans nonetheless. I don't drink coffee so I had to get rid of them. I cruised down the coffee isle but couldn't find a taker there though I did offer twice. They were both adults so I wasn't willing to trade for another fistbump.

I encountered a woman in the vitamin section and managed to trade the coffee beans for a Spongebob Squarepants trading card (so much downgrade). I was in a downward spiral, but it HAD to get better from there. I pressed forward with hope that the next trade would be better.

I'm not sure how it happened, but the next trade got me a mini flashlight. She must have seen the look of desperation on my face, but that flashlight gave me hope. I found my mate and our friends in the check out lane and I gleefully shared my success with them. As my dearest listened to my tale, the woman in front of us was listening with interest. SHE offered to trade ME a cellphone stand for my flashlight! Oh happy day! Things were starting to look up.

After we parted from our friends, we went back out on our own after we realized we still needed to do some shopping. We stopped at a gas station for petrol and a late night caffeinated soda (always a good idea at nine p.m.) and I ventured to trade my cellphone stand.

The cashier had nothing to trade, but another customer standing nearby quickly offered me a coin purse from the Cayman islands (lateral move).

Once again, I let my excitement overtake my better judgement and at the custard shop where we stopped for dessert I made my last trade.

One Cayman island coin purse for...

Pay no attention to the pudgy woman behind the movie box set.

A Star Trek movie box set in VHS!

Would any of you be interested in trading this awesome VHS box set for something more awesome? 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In the Lair of Dr. Mangler...

My kids and I went to the dentist yesterday, for our semi-annual cleaning (a luxury not afforded to my siblings and I when we were kids) and somehow the subject of dentists and dentistry became the topic of conversation.

There probably isn't a high percentage of the population that would say they "like" going to the dentist. I would be one of them. There's just something about the screech of the baby powerhose boring into your jaw that can be unnerving, but that isn't the only reason I don't look forward with gleeful anticipation to my six month check-ups.

The hygienist asked if I was up to using the water drill or if the scraper was all I could manage that day. I told her I felt like I could deal with the water so she said she'd go ahead and use it, but if I was uncomfortable at any point, to raise my left hand and she would desist and use the scraper instead. I thought it was an option she extended to all of her patients until she had finished and said, "you did really well this time. You didn't clench your fists at all!"

My dentist comes in to check things out and asked if I had any concerns and whatever he said after that brought a most heinous memory to my mind.

It was the fall of '96 and I was preparing to submit my papers for my mission (I served an eighteen month mission in Washington state for my church). There were several tasks I needed to complete before turning in the paperwork and one of them was seeing a dentist and having any potentially problematic wisdom teeth removed. At the time missionaries were anywhere from 19 to 26 years old, prime adult teething time.

During this time I worked at a grocery store to earn money for my clothing and other necessaries. I worked the overnight shift straightening shelves and putting items discarded just anywhere back where they belonged. Which, by the way, people who abandon their ice cream in the toy section should be required to buy not only the ice cream but everything the ice cream ruined as it melted.

Lazy people suck. Don't be a lazy person. Put the ice cream back.

Anyhoo, I had an appointment with a dentist one morning after my shift. This is relevant because by the time I got to the office, I had already been awake for over 24 hours. I had an appointment, but even with said appointment I waited in the lobby until, I kid you not, NOON. My appointment was at 9:00 a.m.

Appointments are a thing so that episodes like this DON'T happen. At any rate, I was exhausted by the time the dentist got me into a chair. They took x-rays, cleaned my teeth, assessed the damage (four cavities, remember dental care was not a priority when I was a youth. I'm surprised it wasn't worse) and made a plan to fill said cavities as well as declaring I had but one wisdom tooth that would ever be an issue as is was the only one I had. This was inaccurate as my two top wisdom teeth opted to erupt when I was twenty four years old and had just, weeks before, completed my orthodontic treatment.

So back in 1996, I had been sitting in the waiting room for hours when they asked if I wanted to take care of the cavities and wisdom tooth at the same time and that day. I had already been there half the day so the thought of coming back to spend another day did not appeal to me AT ALL, and they promised the whole procedure would be completed in an hour. They didn't say what hour and I guess it's my fault for not asking.

Two hours later, I was in the chair having my cavities filled. By that point I was so tired everything was blurry and I had a hard time understanding English. After filling my teeth, they sent me back to the waiting room, AGAIN, where I spent another hour hallucinating in between short patches of sleep.

They took me back to the chair around three and proceeded to numb my face so they could tear out my one molar. I thought maybe I was remembering things incorrectly when they numbed the left side of my face because that one molar was supposed to be on the right side, but I was tired and he was the doctor so I kept quiet.

He sliced open my gum and started digging around then said, "there's no tooth here." I nodded and mumbled "that's because it's on the other side." He and the nurse looked at each other, then looked at the x-ray and he reached over and turned the r-ray around. It would have been hilarious...if it hadn't been me and it hadn't been a true story.

The lack of sleep, the eternal day in the lobby and the epic screw up all hit me at once and I started to cry. Not great, swelling, well-deserved sobbing, but silent tears running down my cheek, into my ears (as I was lying back in the chair).

Do you know what that fool said to me?!

"Why are you crying?"

Maybe because I'd been awake for so long I was seeing colors that didn't exist? Or because I was going to miss the next episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It could have been because I couldn't find any rubber pants in my size or maybe it was because I'd spent the whole day sitting in the waiting room of some dingus with a degree!  Give me that scalpel! I'll show you why!

Then he told me he wouldn't charge me for the cut.

What relief! I instantly felt better. Just kidding. I only wanted to cut him deeper.

I should have told my step-dad when he came to pick me up. He would have stomped that dentist into the ground. Not because he hurt me, mind you, but because he had the nerve to charge for his services in total, minus the one errant slice to my face hole.

Instead, I got into the car and rode home in silence as he laughed about my swollen face.

And I ended up with a dry socket.

I wonder if there is a statute of limitations...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sausage Fingers...

We do a lot of home improvement in this family. We've built many fences, painted many rooms and hauled a lot of dirt, rocks, nasty carpet, etc. We are what we like to call "self-sufficient". Anyway, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we pulled the carpet out of the living room and replaced it with laminate. I was hoping that would quell Mr. D's desire to improve for at least a short while, but it only seemed to make it worse. I really tried to drag my feet on the next project, but dang it if he isn't a most persuasive individual.

Thus, three weekends ago, I spent Saturday and Sunday pulling up tile and smoothing down the concrete in the front room while Mr. D, Ennie and Meenie went to Houston to help with Harvey clean-up. In short the Man consciously decided to labor putting down new floors after spending two days laboring by mucking out houses. I kinda feel like a loser in comparison. Which is why we should not compare ourselves to others.

Since the day I got married I have made a conscious effort to never remove my wedding rings, even while performing manual labor. Up until now I have only had to remove them one time, when I was pregnant with my first child and my whole person swelled up like the Michelin Man. I had to wear Mr. D's flip flops after I pudged out of my own shoes. I was worried the skin on my fingers and toes would split if they swelled any more and I sloshed like a bucket of water when I walked. Just kidding! I didn't walk, I waddled.

However, before embarking on this project, I decided to take my rings off. Precisely one minute later, I hit the knuckle of my ring finger with the sledgehammer.

I'm thankful I took my rings off before the incident, but now my knuckle is swollen so I can't put them back on. Well, I can squeeze them on with lots of lotion and sailor talk, but it requires even more lotion and sailor talk to get them off again. I try not to do that too many times because I like my rings and I like my finger, but at this moment they are at odds and if I push the issue I may lose one of them.

I don't like wandering around sans ring so I've taken to wearing the big gaudy rings I have often purchased on a whim. I wear one until the bands start to change color and then move on to the next one. It's been fun, but I'd like my knuckle and finger to return to their original size now.

The floor is complete, and there is nothing left to paint, so the kitchen floor is all that needs to be redone. Thankfully Mr. D has exhausted himself (finally!) and is uncomfortable with the thought of facing down ceramic tile so mayhaps I'll have a respite from sausage fingers for a while. Or at least long enough for the swelling to go down.

Friday, September 8, 2017

For Melanie...

My girl Melanie and I have been friends for over ten years. Our oldest children were in kindergarten together and we were the homeroom moms. One day is burned forever in my mind. Our kindergarteners were having their very first library day and parents were invited. Melanie and I were the only parents there. I remember looking at the back of her head while I pondered how to introduce myself as we would be working together that year.

Here's the thing about Melanie. She's one of those tall, blonde beauties who make other women question why they bother to get up in the morning. It's just a fact.

Anyway, I contemplated until we both decided to leave. She skirted out the doors of the school seconds before I did and I followed behind her on the sidewalk for a minute. I had just decided not to say anything when I heard a distinct voice tell me we could be friends. Well, one can never have too many friends so I called her name. She stopped and we made our introductions then went about our day.

I wondered for a long time just how we would get to the part where we would be friends as she is a very guarded woman. For a time we would chat on a concrete bench outside the school while we waited for our kids and then, one day, we were running together.

I made her a t-shirt with the words "run faster" printed on the back because that's all I ever saw after she'd take off on those long legs. After our run we'd stand out in the middle of the street and talk for an hour. I really enjoyed those runs.

My kids and I spent a lot of time with her and her two children and we came to love their family. It was hard to move away.

However, no matter how stable a family seems, there are so many aspects the outside world never sees and shortly after we moved, my sweet friend found herself in an acrimonious divorce. My heart ached for her. It was challenging, but she managed. She put her children first, even when it was hard and managed to make it to the other side.

Shortly thereafter she ran into an old classmate and a brand new life bloomed for her. She was happy, happier than I had ever seen her. We were at her wedding. That man loved her and she radiated that love. And as happens, our lives got busy and we didn't talk as often.

Her husband unexpectedly passed away last week.

My heart aches for her again, but the sadness is so much greater. I wish I knew what to say to make it all better, to ease the pain that has replaced her happiness. I wish I could suspend the worries she now carries; funeral arrangements, finances, things that don't care that she's grieving, that her life is changed and her heart is broken. I wish a meal and a hug could make it all go away, but this is her new normal.

Every day I have thought about her, prayed for her, and left messages letting her know I'm thinking of her, I have seen so many others do the same. She is surrounded by words of comfort and encouragement, but soon day by day those condolences will dry up because the rest of us are going to go on with our lives.

I don't want that for her. The day the fog breaks I want her to know I still see her, not just as a woman who lost her husband, but as my friend. I want her to know she has someone to talk to and not just this week.

I'm not casting aspersions at anyone. We can't all be a shoulder to cry on for everyone all the time, but next month, when we're all trick or treating, she'll be having her first birthday without him...and Thanksgiving, and Christmas and they will all remind her of what she has lost.

Then on those days I will make time for her. Even if it's only a quick text, she will know she is not forgotten.

Because she is my friend.

Thank you for loving my friend.

Monday, August 28, 2017

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...

Mr D. had a week off of work two weeks back. He said we should consider painting the living room, which was a most awful brown (who does that?) and went to check out colors. I was categorically uninterested because I am a lazy woman who mostly has no interest in moving the living room contents into the kitchen for however long this fool's errand would take.

He went to look at samples and brought home paint.

Well crap.

He and the children moved everything to the kitchen and prepared to paint. It was all finished in one day and it all happened so quickly I hardly had time to process what was going on.

The paint had hardly dried when he starts in on the carpet. To be fair, it was disgusting and he was so gung ho I told him to go to town. He asked if I was serious and I had hardly reiterated my stance when he gleefully started tearing up the carpet.

The house was filled with dust and the scent of a hundred years of dog, but the carpet was up and we were left with bare concrete. And after the stank had settled the air was so fresh! Fresher than it has ever been!

Here's the thing, though. I can't live in such shambles indefinitely (did that as a kid, didn't like it, won't do it again) so this happened when we went to "look" at laminate.

As we are a handy dandy (with a healthy dose of cheap) family...

Until finally...

I'm pretty pleased with the results as it saved us a metric ton of money, but it also was a great learning experience for the kids because it required working together while they learn something new. My one great parenting goal is to teach my children, specifically my daughters, how to be self sufficient. 

It's working!

Mere minutes after completing this project, Mr.D asked if he could pull up the carpet in the classroom. I told him he totally could! In ten years. He said he wants it to be our next project and I nodded enthusiastically while repeating, "in ten years." He said he could always just pull the carpet up and force my hand. I agreed but reminded him he'd best be prepared to put floors in the next day. 

He calmed down a hair. I don't think I can put him off for ten years, but maybe I bought myself at least one.

Now that we are seasoned floor layers I have a few notes.

1.When cutting wood one really should use the saw outside. Or in the garage or anywhere besides inside the house. This one should be obvious, but it was raining and Mr. D didn't want to walk to the other end of the house to the garage. I can't blame him for that, but also it wasn't the best idea.

2. Cover any surface you ever want to see again with some kind of drop cloth. We did not. Also, we moved the furniture to the kitchen where the cutting was taking place. So much dust. Everywhere. Miney wanted to make cookies for her Young Women's class, but we managed to talk her out of it. Which was kind of a tender mercy because while making cookies last night the element in the oven caught fire. Like flames and stuff. That would have been an unpleasant addition to the chaos already in progress. Also, now we have an oven shaped paperweight.

3. Protective eye wear and face masks are essential if you want to breathe and keep your eyesight. They also make it hard to breathe (Irony!) and impossible to see when the lenses of your glasses fog up. I couldn't decide which was worse, permanent blindness while suffocating or temporary blindness while suffocating. Well, at the time it was hard to decide. 

4. Have a buddy available to check your work before cutting the boards. This really only applies when one began the project early in the morning, has come to the 2/3 mark of the project and it's nine o'clock at night. Mr.D mis-cut a couple of pieces. The look of dejection on his face whenever Meenie handed a board back with "it's cut wrong" was soul crushing and comical. However, everything is soul crushing and funny when you're exhausted and breathing sawdust.

5. Baseboards are nasty. Just gross. Also, cement floors are gross. Builders don't care what kind of yuck they leave on the floor because they're just going to cover it. It's like an appalling version's just appalling.

And that's what happens when the man-candy has a week off of work.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some People...

Like to make life a little tougher than it is. Thus declares one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Cake. With a name like Cake, it has to be good.

The lyrics continue:
The more you try to shake the cat
The more the thing will bite and scratch.
It's best I think to leave it's fur
And to listen to it's silky purr...

Have you ever met that person? The one who spots trouble and offences quicker than an abandoned penny. The one who "hates drama" but seems to always be in the midst of a turbulent sea. Lambadocious they are exhausting.

Language is constantly changing and words that once meant one thing are misused, abused and often completely twisted until they hardly resemble their original meaning. For example, the word bully.
When I was a youth, a bully was a person who was physically and/or mentally abusive to another person. The kids who lived across the road from us when my brothers and I were kids were bullies. They threw rocks at us, they'd shove us off the bus at our stop, and threatened to beat us up. I know what it means to be bullied, but today the word bully has been hopelessly diluted. Nowadays, it seems that word has been distorted to mean things like, I wasn't invited to a party, I'm being bullied. I wasn't picked to participate in an activity, I'm being bullied. My name wasn't picked from the hat, bullied, bullied, bullied.

When my child says, "mom, it hurts when I stick my finger in my eye," my first response is always, "then stop poking yourself in the eye!" It makes perfect sense to me. However, I would be hard pressed to say that to someone else's child because my actions could be seen as lacking compassion by the person known in the newly minted term as a helicopter parent.

Maybe I don't call bully because I'm too thick to recognize when my children are being poorly done to. If my child isn't invited to an activity "everyone else was invited" to, I don't air my grievances across Facebook and tell the offenders they mustn't post pictures or make comments about activities my children weren't part of. My kids are home schooled. If I took that route my whole day would be spent squawking about all the things they aren't a part of and then there would be no time for the actual schooling part of home schooling.

There will always be parties, activities, concerts, dates, etc that my children won't be invited to. That's life. They can't (and shouldn't) be part of everything all the time. In fact, the only time I might be inclined to raise a ruckus is if my children are told by some ignorant ass that being home schooled will permanently ruin their lives because they'll have no social skills and can't function in society. If you've ever met my children you would know how completely inaccurate those statements are. Yet, I've heard it more than once.

However, unless the comment is made to me, I try to stay out of it. As a woman attempting to grow competent adults I require my children to handle such matters themselves because grown-ups can't have their mommies fight their battles.

At least, not yet.

Is It True? It It kind? Is It...


I have been accused many times of saying everything that crosses my mind. Well that is absolutely incorrect because if I really said everything I think people would be clutching the pearls and fanning themselves through a raging case of the vapors.

Thus, I have been told to consider certain criterion before speaking my mind.

Is it true...
Probably, absolutely, yes. Sometimes one's head is so firmly lodged up one's own butt one is unable to read the memo stating how awful one is behaving. I know my head sometimes gets stuck up my butt, and I need to be informed of that fact. For example: a few weeks ago, I asked Mr. D to cut a few pieces of wood for me, which he willingly did. Minutes later he came outside, where I was building a garden bed, to ask if I would help him finish up his haircut (he shaves his head). I didn't even think before I started barking back at him for interrupting my yard work. He turned around and went back inside, but as soon as the door was I closed, I realized what I jerk I was being and immediately went to correct the situation. As I was trimming up his buzz I mentioned that this incident was a perfect example of when I need to be called out, but he explained I am unreasonable when I'm out of line. He said it much more kindly, but the gist is the same. He also said "you seemed to pick that one up pretty quickly. So..."

Is it kind...
Well that depends. The longer I sit on it, the uglier it gets. There was a time I was actively suppressing some serious boundary issues I was having with my father-in-law. I was really trying to exercise my understanding of Christlike attributes, but it became more and more uncomfortable the longer I kept my lip zipped. See, sometimes when one holds one's tongue, the other person sees the silence as an invitation to continue with the behavior that usually would get their head bitten off. This was one of those times. I held my tongue until he pushed me past the point of no return and I lost my friggin' mind. At church. Where everyone could hear it. I've never seen that man move so fast as  he did when he scurried from the church building. Apparently, Angry D.P. resembles a possessed lunatic which also rips my knickers because the fool who pushes my buttons then behaves as if they have no idea why I exploded. I don't like being angry because I go all out. My head throbs, my heart throbs, my ears throb, I feel like I'm gonna vomit. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure would worry a cardiologist.

Is it necessary...
I struggle with that one because I know I'm an idiot at times, and I'm ever on a quest to change negative behaviors and attitudes, but I can't fix it if I can't see it. I regularly ask Mr. D to help me with my personal evaluations and he's pretty much worthless because he refuses to acknowledge I have flaws. Which is great for my ego, but useless for my personal progress.

I know not everyone feels the same push to betterment that I do. I remember one particularly gruesome companionship inventory with one of my mission companions where she mercilessly told me all the ways I sucked, while simultaneously declaring there was nothing she needed to work on. As it happens, if she hadn't stopped jacking her jaw when she did she was gonna have to figure out how to cover up the black eye I was planning to give her. Her hubris was almost as appalling as the way she tore me down.

I'm not saying we should all be strutting around calling people out for things we deem inappropriate, however if I see a four year old running with a knife I'm not going to pretend I don't see it as I hope the child's mother sees it before the child falls on it. If I am a leader of the young women in my church and one of those young women decides to cross from one side of the room to the other through the middle of a performance, I'm going to call her out for not going around them. So I ask you, does that make me a terrible person?

No really, I have no idea. I'm asking you.

Things My Mother Taught Me...

On accident.

Just to be clear my mom is human and prone to make mistakes. Some of those mistakes still cause her great distress and I know she wishes she could take them back, but I verily believe no woman can consider herself a mother unless and until she has one or two mistakes under her maternal belt that haunt her in her sleep.

However it goes her career as my mother good, bad or indifferent has shaped who I am as a woman, a wife and a mother myself and I think I'm pretty awesome. Even if it's only me who believes it.

I was talking to my mother the other day and she agreed that she must have done something right; she kept me alive, fed me, clothed me, and she didn't leave me on the side of the road...for very long.

Her words and true story. I watched the tail lights of the van disappear many times as a kid. So much so that it didn't even phase me. I always wore shoes and developed an amazing sense of direction. I could find my way home without breadcrumbs or a map.

Actually, the four kids all wore shoes at all times because in our indigent state we ran out of gas a lot. Well, we were poor and my mom really hated stopping for gas.

So I wanted to share a few things I learned as a result of my mother mothering me.

I never under any circumstances ever leave water in the sink after I've washed the dishes. In fact, as soon as the dishes are washed, I wring out the sponge, pull the plunge, rinse out the sink and wipe it down. That is, I did those things before my children took over dish duty, and it is the gold standard because the first time I found cold water in the sink I raised such a stink they've never forgotten it.

Now you may be thinking, "of course you do the dishes that way, it's common sense." Yes. Common sense, but the reason I make sure it's done that way is because my mother was a serial leave-water-in-the-sink-er. Did you know that water left in the kitchen sink for days on end will always develop an orange film? Always. Even if you haven't had a tomato based product in months.

That, in itself, is unappealing, but my mom had a habit of leaving the water in the sink, and then after four or five days demanding that I pull the plug. By the time I hit twelve I was beginning to find my voice and one day REFUSED to stick my hand in the cold orange water. So she relented and, in a huff, went and pulled the plug herself. I am so thankful to this day I stuck to my guns because she found herself in possession of one very dead mouse. She screamed, I laughed and resolved to always drain the sink.

My mom, well, she hasn't found another mouse.

Another absolute I decided as a youth was to always move wet laundry to the dryer immediately after the washing machine stopped. Why? Because two day wet laundry tends to smell with a funk that never really goes away. Eau de Mildew was my childhood perfume. "Why not just do your own laundry?" you ask. That's another story for another time, and stop being so judgy, man!

Another thing we don't do - nothing is ever allowed "to soak." Soaking is Mom-ese for "hope it cleans and puts itself away." If it didn't clean and put itself away she would hide it in the oven and forget about it until we had to bake something. As a consequence I always check the oven before I turn it on. It was a superfluous habit until Mr. D started his cheesecake baking career and would occasionally forget to remove the water filled cookie sheets (water baths).

I won't eat rice in milk with cinnamon and sugar every again. I ate more than my share as a kid. We kept the rice industry in business through the 80's.

I never leave my sewing notion laying around or stabbed into the furniture because "next time I need it I'll know where to find it." She never found them, but I did. I can't tell you how many sewing needles I stepped on. The plus? There was always thread hanging from the eye, so I had a way to pull it out.

Tupperware were the only dishes we could count on. My mom had a rough time in the 90's and took it out on the dinnerware. We were color coded. My set was pink. Now, I've never used dish-breaking to quell my frustration, but even dishes broken on accident are a pill to clean up so I tend to own dishes that are impossible to break.

Then there was the leaving me on the side of the road.

One she'll be able to look back and laugh. I know I do.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Everyone Has A Mexican Gramma...

This is my Mexican gramma. She was a BABE. I mean, she's still a babe, she's just older now. My gramma is an amazing woman.

She came to the U.S. as a bride of eighteen, married to a man who was over twenty years older than her. Her mother had been a socialite, but was cast out of polite society when she found herself in a family way. My gramma grew up poor and when a wealthy older American took a fancy, Gramma's mother pretty much sold her off. 

My gramma only spoke Spanish when she came here and soon found herself pregnant with my Aunt Blanc. It was about this time that her husband told his son if he liked his new step-mother, he could have her. So Gramma found herself in a new country, unable to speak the language, pregnant and alone. She worked as a seamstress and did laundry at a retirement home where she learned English playing cards with the old people.

After my aunt was born, my gramma sent her to live with her sister Gloria while she continued working and sending money home. At some point she met my mother's father. I heard once that she learned to polka while married to my mother's father. I haven't been able to suss out any more information about how, where or when that relationship came about.

It's a wonder when we hear stories because when asked any questions she claims she can't remember. However, if one is very quiet and keeps ones lips tightly closed she will let little bits of her past slip out. When this happens I tuck it away and if I'm lucky I can get a few more details, but only if she's in the mood. 

Once, not too long ago, I expressed how frustrating it can be when I ask her a history question and she says she can't remember it was so long ago. As soon as the words, "I can't remember that was so long ago," came out of her mouth she suddenly remembered she had two uncles who were train conductors. I snapped, "Gramma!" and she pursed her lips and said, "what?" with all the petulance of a five year old.

Then again she was telling me about how she didn't want to travel to Mexico because of all the crime. She said she wanted to die peacefully in her sleep like her grandfather...not screaming in terror like his passengers. I thought she was telling a true story until she said the second half and I laughed out loud. Then she tells me her paternal grandfather really did die in his sleep when he was 104.

Moving on...

My mother and a son came from that marriage, but it didn't last long, and she sent them both to Aunt Gloria as well. My mother used to say it was a shame she never learned to speak Spanish, but when I relayed that thought to Gramma she said, "what does she mean? Your mother didn't speak English until she was five." 

Another marriage produce a second aunt and uncle. She married a fourth time before I was born and they were married until he dies. He is the man who was my grampa. Best. Grampa. Ever.

My gramma can tell a joke like nobody's business, and if she can stifle her laughter, we can even understand what she's saying.

She raised kids like a pro having raised the five she birthed, a few that came with marriage and a couple of stragglers in her parenting her career. 

She is the consummate hotelier as almost every one of the children, grandchildren and other relations have nested in her home at least once in the last thirty years. Some of them have never left and will probably die there, but every family has one (or two or three) oddball, right? Laws, I hope so otherwise that's messed up.

She is also the great resource stretcher. She has used the same can of Tang orange drink for the last two decades. We call it "orange water" because she only uses enough powder to change the color. One Thanksgiving, many years ago, my uncle Billy wanted to go fishing and came over to ask if she had any turkey left over from the year before. She said she did and he could find it in the freezer behind the paintbrushes. Which is exactly where he found it. In the freezer. Behind the paintbrushes. Which explains why pretty much everything that comes out of that freezer tastes and smells like paint.

She is a master quilter. She hand sews everything and even quilts the top by hand. One of her quilts traveled across Texas as part of an expo and is now in a museum in San Antonio. She made me a quilt for my sixteenth birthday and I have learned the skill from her. I remember being at her house as a kid, watching her sew as she watched t.v. while my grampa snoozed in his chair. When it was time for bed she'd put the quilt aside, and turn off the t.v. As soon as the noise disappeared my grampa's head would jerk up and he'd grunt, "hey, I was watching that!" I miss that guy.

My gramma's one flaw is in the one area where other Mexican gramma's excel. She can't cook. When people hear about my Mexican gramma they are instantly envious of all the wonderful home cooking I must have grown up on.


Everything she cooks has an orange tint and we call Thanksgiving's entree "Gramma's Mojave turkey." One year my cousin asked which of the mounds of gray stuffing was the boneless mound. Gramma told her it was the one without bones. There wasn't one without bones.

We've tried to take over the meal making responsibilities, but we end up having to sneak food in because she won't let us help. She massacres the desserts with her little dessert knife and even though she decided to start using foam plates and cup (for easy cleanup) some years ago, she still washes the foam plates and cups. 

She believes men should be revered and women belong in the kitchen, which my dad loved, but I had to nip in the bud after Mr. D and I got married. "He was capable before we got married and he still functions quite well," I told her when she told me to go fix my husband a plate the first Thanksgiving we spent there. The old ways were steadfastly ignored by the daughters but have been moderately re-applied by the granddaughters. We aren't our husband's servants, but we aren't above serving them either. If Mr.D asks for a bowl of ice cream while I'm up, I will gladly oblige him. If he sits in his chair and mimes a bowl at me, I'll probably break his arms. Moderation in all things, people.

My grandma is a spitfire, though, and she's made hard choices and lived under difficult circumstances, but her sacrifices are the reason I am a second generation American. 

Everyone's tree sprang from another orchard. Keep that in mind.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Learning New Words With D.P...

I like words.

I like words so much I've even been accused of making them up, but why would I do that when there are a plethora of words already at my disposal? Knowing such an abundance of appropriate verbiage is available to the common man makes the excessive use of the few more base words a crying shame. My stepfather used to say that cursing was the sign of a feeble mind. I guess he wold know as his vocabulary consisted mainly of four letter words announced at varying volumes.

To be fair, I find words to be difficult to come by too, at times, and if accused of using sentence enhancers too liberally would be found guilty. Just ask my kids. They will happily toss me under that bus and giggle as it runs me over. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite words. Feel free to share any of your favorites.

Pedantic: adj. Excessively concerned with details or rules.

For example: Our church often rents basements or apartments from members for the missionaries. Thus, if the church rents the space for the missionaries, it is the living space of the missionaries and, as with any rental contract, the owner is no longer free to come and go from the rental space as they choose. Because that's rude.

It's even more rude to willy-nilly enter said living space and rearrange the furniture.

My companions and I lived in a basement we called the "bowling alley," and the little old lady who owned the house would regularly come downstairs and rearrange the furniture. It was kind of unnerving to come back to our private space to find everything moved around on the whim of the nutcase living upstairs. So we decided it was time to remind her of the specifics of the contract when she came down one day to rearrange unaware that we were still there. We sat her down and kindly asked her to leave the sitting tools where we put them and to stop moving our beds around. When we said the word "couch" to describe the sitting tools, she lost her mind.

Her: "It's a settee!"
My companion: "Please stop moving the settee and the couch."
Her: "That's a loveseat."
Me gritting my teeth and calling on all of my patience: "The point is, stop moving the furniture!"
Her: "It's my house!"
Me: "Shall I call the Mission President then?"
Her: *mumble mumble mumble* as she walks away.

Another word that fits well in this situation is deflecting. For example:

Me: "Stop hitting your sister with that shoe."
Deflector: "It's a sandal."
Me out loud: "Seriously?!" You know what I mean! Stop it!"
My brain: "Then by all means, carry on."


Me, calling name of wrong child: "Eenie, stop screaming!"
Meenie, the child who is screaming: "I'm Meenie."
Me: "You know who you are! Shut-up!"

This one literally just happened: (Literally as in "just this minute" literally, not figuratively as in "my head literally exploded.)

Meenie:"I'm gonna punch you in your stupid face."
Me: "Don't tell your sister you're going to punch her in her dumb face."
Meenie: "I said I was gonna punch her in her stupid face."
Me: "My mistake. Punch away, I guess?"

My favorite is when dealing with a gaggle of children who don't belong to me, though I am responsible for them, as in a Sunday school class. It gets tricky here because I can't just smack them on the back of the head when they give me lip.


Me: "Don't wipe your nose on your dress."
Child I can't smack: "It's a skirt."


Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Girl's Best Friend...

Way back almost twenty years ago, I served a mission for my church in Spokane Washington. There was a serial killer at large at that point and my first glimpse upon leaving the airport was a giant billboard asking for any information one might have concerning the murders. They did not catch him while I was there. Also, a volcano had erupted on the other side of the mountain (i.e. other volcanoes in the chain) barely fifteen years before. "That was long before you got there," you might say. "There's nothing to worry about." Yeah, don't care. It was in my lifetime, thus not long enough ago, but I digress.

One of the areas I served in was Post Falls, ID. Yes, I know that's not Washington, but it's only half an hour away. It's a Mormon thing.

Anyway, I met a family there whom I still love to this day. They had a dog named Shasta. Up until my mission, Shasta was a brand of soda. While in Washington I met a Shasta (girl), a Shasta (dog) and learned about a Shasta (mountain). So much Shasta.

So Shasta, the dog, was pretty chill. She had been with Steve and Jodi before there was a Steve. Shasta was a constant source of comfort to Jodi during troubled times. Shortly after I went home, Shasta went to "the farm" and Jodi swore there would be no more dogs for the Nelson family.

I got married, had kids and came back to visit a couple of times. While I was adding children, the Nelsons changed their minds and added a black and white pup they called Oreo to their family. Oreo Cookie Nelson, so dubbed by their daughter Emily was one of the first dogs my children had ever really encountered. They were terrified, but Jodi told them it was Oreo's house, and after a day to adjust they calmed down. It's kind of Jodi's fault we've had the doggy debacle repeat in our home for so many years. It's a long, nonsensical story which, if I told you'd be inclined to tell me I'm wrong. Thus I'm not telling the story.

Years passed, as they are wont to do, and Oreo went to "the farm", too. They have since welcomed a new four legged friend, Adelaide Pantalones. The Nelsons aren't dog people, they are a dog people. There seems to be only two camps of people, those who hate dogs and those who love them, so it is interesting to find a happy medium in our all-or-nothing world. I really like that.

Lastly, and here is my point, their daughter Emily was six when I met them and but for a sprinkling of years there was always a dog at her side. Now that she's grown, she has continued the tradition. Her dog Jax has been a constant, comforting presence to Emily through some exceedingly troubled times as well. I am told he is an awesome dog.

It's almost like Shasta never went away.