Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday Highlights 2006

I wrote several posts about Christmas memories, so thought I would write now about things I think I will remember about this Christmas.
Of course, if I don't remember by next year, I can always come back and read this post.

Spending several days at Jeana's house, with all our kids and grandkids.

Playing Senior Moments, a gift from Jeana and family, which requires short term memory. Of which I seem to have not much.

Listening to a Christmas story read aloud, and watching the children's faces, softly lit by the Advent candles and the tree lights.

Making cornbread dressing with my daddy's mama's recipe.

Going shopping with my girls and their girls.

Buying my grandbabies yarn and crochet hooks, because they want to learn to crochet.

Watching Katoushka and Lolly sing and dance "Sisters" (from White Christmas, one of my favorite holiday movies).

Listening as Sunshine played "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on the piano.

And Big D and A-man playing "The Little Drummer Boy" as a duet on their violins.

Seeing Pie show Buddy how to crochet--she's left-handed, so teaching her is a challenge for me, but Buddy is ambidextrous, so I'm curious to see with which hand he crochets.

Devan and the other boys zooming down the zip line from the tree house, screaming with delight.

Holding hands in a family circle, praying before meals.

Having my mother and her friend join us, even if only for a few hours.

My husband singing Christmas carols softly, holding my hand, and watching the barely controlled chaos that is our family Christmas.

Spending our last Christmas Eve at my mother's house. What a bittersweet moment, knowing that this house will be sold, the house where she has lived for 40 years, the house my late daddy built. Reminding myself that she is moving on to a new and happy stage of her life, with a man we all love and respect. Realizing that with more than 50 members, we have just outgrown Christmas at anyone's house, and knowing that it won't be the same at another place, but reveling in the fact that we still want to get together, and will find another place.

Rejoicing that our two soldiers
both returned from war this year, safe and healthy.

Realizing that, as usual, I made some mistakes on the family calender, and making notes to myself to correct them next year.

Remembering past Christmases, with those who have gone home before us, and with whom we will be reunited one day.

Watching a video of our family Christmas from 25 years ago.

My parents had four kids. We are all still with our spouses, and among us produced 12 children, who in turn have married and had children--16 and counting, with another due in the spring. Our oldest grandchild will be 15 in the spring, so we are a few years from expecting great grandchildren, but oh how quickly the years go by, and how soon all our grandbabies will no longer be babes, but adults, with families and lives of their own. I pray that we will continue to share each other's lives, and to make new memories to add to those of Christmases past.

Merry Christmas, and the happiest of New Years.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Folger's Vanilla Biscotti

An empty package of Folger's Vanilla Biscotti has been on my kitchen cabinet for quite some time. I saved it to remind me that I needed to write a product review, but I kept putting it off, mostly because when I saw it was when I was working in the kitchen, and not when I was at the computer.
Folger's e-mailed me months ago and asked if I would be willing to write a product review, in exchange for receiving a free sample. I said, why sure, because I love free stuff.
So they sent it
And I drank it.
And it was good.
In fact, it was very good.
I have only been a coffee drinker for a few years. In fact, since I started low carbing. Cutting back on sugar had the strange side effect of enabling me to appreciate the flavor of coffee.
I always loved the aroma. I often said that if coffee tasted the way it smells, I would love it.
But of course it didn't.
Until now.
Folger's vanilla biscotti tastes exactly the way it smells.
A lovely rich vanilla flavor.
I drank it every day for a week, and didn't get tired of it.
I would still be drinking it, if not for the price. At forty-five cents an ounce, it's just more than I am willing to spend for my daily caffeine fix.
But for special occasions, yes indeedy. Yummy.
And by the way, if you folks at Folger's have anything else you would like to send me a free sample of, I will be happy to write any number of product reviews.
Of course, I can't guarantee that they will all be as good as this one.
At least, not unless you are going to send packets of cash in plain brown wrappers.
In that case, we can talk.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Decorating for Christmas

Jeana's posts about Christmas got me to thinking about Christmas trees and decorating for Christmas. The trees I grew up with were real trees. My daddy nailed crossed pieces of wood to the bottom to make them stand up. We decorated with tinsel, glass balls, tons of icecicles, and lots of angel hair, which always made me itch but I loved adding it to the tree. The angel on top floated in a cloud of feathers and angel hair, and it was my favorite decoration.
The tree skirt was a layer of cotton wool sprinkled with glitter. Nearby, a block of styrofoam was the foundation for a tiny sleigh and reindeer, sliding along among a forest of miniature trees.

When Wick and I married, we started with a small tree, two boxes of blue glass balls, and blue and gold tinsel. It was the color coordinated tree pictured in store windows, and to frame it we outlined the front window of our apartment in blue lights. But somehow the tree looked sort of sad to me--sort of sterile and impersonal.

As the years passed, we added decorations we received as gifts, or found on clearance, and then came the decorations our children made. We also started the tradition of giving each child an ornament, so that when our kids married, they would have the beginnings of their own Christmas traditions.

One year I made an Advent calendar for the kids. I didn't have a pattern; I just started cutting out shapes from felt and gluing them together. I put a green tree shape on a piece of red for the background. The calendar part was outlined in gold rickrack. For each day from December first to December 25, there was a different ornament made of felt, gold paint, and glue for the tree: candy canes, fancy globes, a toy soldier, a teddy bear, a gold star, an angel. Each day we moved one ornament from the calendar at the bottom to the tree, and counted the days left until Christmas.

There were always Nativity figures, as ornaments on the tree, or sitting on a table, and always the one with the wooden stable and all the animals gathered around the manger containing the baby Jesus under the tree.

Another year I made stockings with bears on them, and a matching tree skirt. Jeana made a lap quilt from matching fabric, for my mother, and we made fabric ornaments for the tree.

One year we spent hours painting wooden cutout ornaments for the tree. I still have a few of those.

Once our kids were grown and married, I started making new stockings. For the girls, angels in crimson robes with gold sashes. For the boys, angels in red shirts and denim pants. Each one has a gold felt star with the appropriate name on it. I still fill each stocking, no matter where we have our family Christmas, with miniature candy bars, nuts, tiny toys, socks, and a small stocking gift.

When our kids were small and our pockets empty, we made most of our gifts. One year we saved pretty glass bottles and jars, soaked off the labels, spray painted the lids gold, and added some decals for decoration. I bought a big box of Epsom salts. We added a little food coloring, some perfume, stirred well, and poured the bath salts into the bottles and jars as gifts for Nanaw, Grandma, and all the aunts.

As our family grew, I started making a family calendar every year. Everyone's birthday, all the anniversaries, each new baby, the special days of our lives, laid out on the new year's calendar. One for each family unit. All year long, as I check my calendar for appointments, I also see the dates for each family member. I stop to say a prayer, try to remember to send a card, shop for a gift, or make a phone call. The family calendar keeps them always before me, always on my mind and in my heart and in my prayers.

After all, the tree, the decorations, the gifts, it's all about family. The family we came from, the family we created together, the family that has grown each year, the love we have for each other, and the blessings God has bestowed on us.

Merry Christmas. May God bless us, every one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Chirstmas Memory

When I was little, we lived with my grandmother (mama's mother).
On Christmas Eve, my aunts and uncles and cousins came to spend the
We made pallets on the floor with piles of quilts, and at least
one year I remember sleeping at the foot of the bed, between the
grownups' feet and the wooden footboard.
Somehow during the night, rolled in layers of quilts, I slid down between the footboard and the mattress, and when I woke up, I couldn't figure out where I was, or how to get out of
the tangle of quilts.

Our house had gas heaters, and I remember Granny B warning us
little girls to be careful standing in front of the heaters in our long
flannel nightgowns, fearing that we would catch on fire.

The warm air would lift our gown tails into the air, like hot air balloons.

On Christmas Eve, we had to wait for Granny B to get home from
work before we could officially start Christmas. She worked at
Skillern's Drugstore, and often didn't get home until 10:30 or later, with
stories of men coming in just before the store closed, to buy a box of
candy for their wives or mamas, or a pipe and tobacco for their daddies.

On Christmas Eve, we opened gifts from each other, but the
presents Santa brought didn't arrive until every last child was in bed
asleep. I always tried to stay awake to hear the sleigh bells, which Uncle
Grady solemnly told us he heard every year when Santa landed on the

One year, Christmas Day came on Sunday, and of course we couldn't miss church, so Santa Claus came early that year. Late Christmas Eve night, my daddy and my uncle Jim took all of us kids to buy fireworks,
and when we got back, Santa had come!

My daddy said he started with our house that year, and that is why he came early.

With so many relatives, and so many children, the floor under
the tree was filled to overflowing with presents on Christmas morning.
Each of us had a stocking, with a whole orange or tangerine that we
didn't have to share, a whole shiny red apple, nuts in the shell, hard
candy, and some kind of toy.
One year we all got paddle balls--paddles with red rubber balls attached by rubber strings. We spent hours trying to hit the balls with the paddles. When the ball came off the string, Daddy or
Aunt Ruth would fix it by pushing a piece of matchstick into the ball
to hold the rubber string in place.

When the elastic wore out, our mamas and daddies collected the paddles so we would stop hitting each other with them, and next time somebody needed a spanking, they would use
the wooden paddle.

More than once, one of us nearly swallowed one of the
little red balls, that were just the right size to go down a little
kid's throat.

My aunt Clorine made the best divinity in the whole world,
sweet, rich, creamy,
melting on my tongue like snow flakes.
Aunt Ruth's fudge was
straight out of dreams of sugar plums.
Fruitcake, studded with sweet
pecans and jewels of candied fruit,
mama's chocolate cake with hard icing,
Granny B's chocolate and lemon merengue pies--
I can still taste them in my dreams.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Christmas Memory

This time of year I often fall asleep remembering Christmases past. The earliest Christmas memories I have are from when I was about three.
I remember the ceramic mug a friend of my mother's from church made me, a three-dimensional impression of Santa's face, with a gentle smile. I remember the smell of the Christmas tree, and the crackle of wrapping paper as Mama wrapped mysterious boxes. I remember my grandmother warning me not to go into her closet, telling me that if I did, a spider would get me. I remember riding on Daddy's shoulders through the Sears Roebuck store, to look at the biggest model train set in the world (I don't know if it really was, but that is how I remember it). I remember the tricycle Daddy had to adapt; I was too small for it, and couldn't reach the pedals if I was sitting on the seat. So he screwed blocks of wood to the pedals so that I could push them. It was thrilling, riding around the dining table, leaning forward to see over the handlebars! I remember that I got a little doctor's kit, complete with "medicine" bottles, filled with the little colored sprinkles we normally use to decorate cakes. I promptly spilled some on the hardwood floor in the dining room, and then rode my tricycle through them, grinding the sprinkles into the tire treads, where they stayed forever. I remember the sparkly icecicles, the gold and silver tinsel, the bright lights on the tree.
Most of all I remember the Nativity scene under the tree, and how Mama and Daddy crouched on the floor, holding my hands and letting me gently touch each figure as they told me the story of the baby Jesus' birth.
I love Christmas.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Regularly scheduled blogging will return soon

Wick and I went to Branson, MO, the weekend before Thanksgiving. We brought back a major case of food poisoning. Thanksgiving was not even a blip on the radar screen, as we took turns hanging our heads over the porcelain altar (aka the toilet). We missed Thanksgiving at my mother's, with over 50 people, all of whom are her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, for the first time in 37 years. We missed the four-day weekend at Jeana's with our kids and grandkids. We missed Black Friday shopping (which we would have experienced only vicariously, through Scott and Scott relaying their experiences camping out on the Best Buy parking lot). I even missed two days of work on the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Where we got the staphyloccocal infection remains a mystery.

It was, however, the "gift that keeps on giving"---headaches, joint pain, etc. etc. etc. and no I am not going into the details.

Suffice it to say that even now, my mother's cornbread dressing, complete with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, which she carefully dished up and froze for me since we missed the festivities, still has not been claimed from her freezer.

For now, I am sticking with chicken noodle soup, jello, bananas, and Propel flavored water.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nine Weird Things About Me

HolyMama tagged me for this. At first, I thought I would have trouble thinking of nine things. Now I'm thinking....only nine?

1. The pillow I sleep on is flat--really flat, quite worn out, in fact.
2. But I can't sleep unless I have a big fat body pillow against my left side.
3. I still like to sleep with a teddy bear.
4. I want the room to be absolutely dark. As in *no* light at all. No reflections. No lights on tvs that never go off. No lighted alarm clock dials. I'm talking dark, people.
5. I like to sleep in a cold room, winter or summer, under a pure cotton sheet and a home made quilt.
6. I am not an early morning person. Do not talk to me early in the morning. Even if I sleep until 10:00, when I get up it is still early morning, until I have had two cups of coffee with cream and a significant amount of time to actually wake up. Just because my eyes are open does not mean that I am awake and fully functional.
7. During the week I eat the same breakfast every day: two slices of crisp bacon, and an ounce of cream cheese.
8. On weekends I sleep late, and eat brunch, and then only one other meal that day. Brunch is usually an omelet with cream cheese, ham or bacon, onion or chives, sometimes olives, sprinkled with grated colby cheese, topped with On the Border salsa, and two pieces of buttered toast (low carb bread, please), one with lc orange marmalade on it. Oh and coffee. At least three cups. Or two cups of coffee and a cup of cocoa.
9. I am so serious about number 6 that Jeana's kids (my grandbabies) tiptoe around giggling in the mornings, saying, "Shhhh! Quiet! Don't wake up the MiMi monster!"
Which of course wakes me up.

I'm tagging Katie for this meme.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

We Wanted to Meet

Last weekend was We Wanna Meet, in Ft. Worth. About 2 dozen bloggers got together for a couple of days of eating, laughing, shopping, and getting to know each other.
Most of us had "met" each other through our blogs, so in a sense we already knew each other. How much fun it was to match faces to names, to find out that they were all just as cute, as sweet, and as funny as I had imagined, and to share some time together.
Kelsey (Holy Mama) brought Seth, and a cuter, sweeter little dumplin' you would be hard pressed to find (Seth, not Kelsey--although she is cute, she is too tiny to be called a dumplin'). Our daughter Jeana ( graciously consented to her daddy and me coming for lunch on Saturday, mainly I think to prove that we are real, and really as smarty-pants as we appear on her blog.
Lauren ( brought her adorable daughter, who has the most beautiful long hair and the sweetest smile.
Chili ( had me laughing so hard my tummy hurt.
Shannon is as cute as her cartoon, and I recognized her immediately.
Shalee is a hoot in real life, just as she is on her blog.
Minnie is as cute as a button, and her laugh is infectious--no, not like a disease, but like something you want to catch.
GiBee brought her little guy, and he is darling--sweet as his mama.
These are just a few of the dear women we met last Saturday at the Ft. Worth Botanic Garden restaurant. The whole afternoon was .....well, it was indescribable.
Meeting total strangers who we felt as if we already knew.
And not a single disappointment in the bunch.
The restaurant is by reservation only, and we had to share the space with other parties, some of whom I am sure must have wondered who we were, and why we were all laughing insanely. They were just totally missing out, not being at our tables.
There was also a wedding going on, and the person who made those arrangements must have lived to regret it. She opted for the front room, which is large and airy, but is also where everyone walks in the front door, and we kept that door swinging all afternoon.
They had the reception buffet and cakes set up in the center room, which is where we had to walk through to get to the ladies room, and we kept that path pretty well populated too.
We tried to get them to share the leftover wedding cake, but they really frowned on that, so of course we had to order our own sinfully rich, sweet, and fattening desserts. I like to think, though, that all the laughing we did worked off a few of the calories. And even if it didn't, it was sooooooo worth it!
Funny, cute, sweet, hilarious, and beautiful inside and out. That's what they are, those mommy bloggers who wanted to meet in Ft. Worth last weekend.
I can't wait to see them again.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Shirt Off Her Back

Thursday Wick and I were at a required teacher training session all day. One of the women was wearing the cutest t-shirt--so cute I wanted to just take it away from her.
No, I didn't.
But I wanted to.
It was black, with a pink silhouette of a woman's face in profile. Under it, in pink letters, it said, "A virtuous woman", and below that, in smaller letters, some of the attributes of the Proverbs 31 woman. Just adorable, it was.
And I didn't even want it for myself.
I wanted it for daughter Jeana.

If you read her blog, you know that its name comes from Proverbs 31:
25 "Strength and dignity are her clothing,and she can laugh at the days to come."

I even asked the lady where she got the shirt.
She said from her church.
I said, well, I need one like that, for my daughter.
By this time, she is looking around for someone to rescue her from this crazy woman who is obviously obsessed with her shirt.
She said, well, the church in in New York.
And besides, they probably don't have any more.

And when I told Jeana about the t-shirt Sat. (at the We Wanna Meet lunch at the Garden Resaurant at the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens, a whole other blog subject), she said, oh no, she wouldn't possibly be able to wear a shirt like that, because although she certainly laughs a lot, and makes other people laugh a lot, she is not the virtuous woman described therein.

So I guess it is a good thing I did not bodily assault the poor lady and yank the shirt right off her back.

Now that I think about it, that would sort of let me out of the virtuous woman category too, wouldn't it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Learning something new every day

Warning: I'm warning you that the subject matter today is "adult". I'm trying to explain what happened in a family friendly manner, but .... well.....if you are easily offended, stop reading now.
One morning half an hour before students were supposed to be in the hallways, I was coming down the stairs from a meeting, when I saw a group of boys in the hall outside the restroom. Actually, more like a mob. And it was the Girls' Restroom.
A crowd of 50 or 60 boys outside a girls' restroom can not mean anything good.
As I continued down the stairs, I realized that two or three boys at a time were going into the girls' restroom.
I flew down the remaining stairs, hustled the boys out of the girls' restroom, and then looked down at the floor.
That's when I saw it.
Oh. My. Word.
I literally had to look twice to be sure I was not imagining things.
There on the floor was a life-size replica of.....(ahem).....a male body part.
Skin colored.
All the details.
I mean, it looked as if someone had been bobbitized.
Except there was no blood.
And it had a strap attached.
So there I stood.
Looking at an unmentionable object.
I couldn't leave it there.
I needed an administrator, but none of the kids would leave--I guess they were hoping I would leave, so they could take another look.
I didn't have on a jacket.
Didn't have a bag.
Nothing in my hands except my daily planner.
No pockets even.
As if that object would have fitted into a pocket.
Not even any paper towels, because high school students think it is funny to plug up the facilities with paper towels.
After some thought, and meanwhile shooing out curious students while telling them that the restroom was out of order.....
I reeled off enough tissue paper to cover up the object, so I could carry it to the administrator's office.
Here I am, with this thing wrapped in tissue paper (it was even weighted, so it actually felt as if I were carrying a body part down the hall), and I have to walk through that mob of boys, down two hallways, around a corner, and two more doors to the office.
I walked in, and put the thing down on the secretary's desk, at which time the tissue paper wafted away from it, and I thought the secretary was going to have a stroke. She started hyperventilating.
We radioed for an administrator.

A couple of mornings later, at about the same time of the morning, someone threw one into the library.
This one was Barney purple. Less detailed. And minus the strap.

That afternoon, one turned up in a boys' restroom.

What the culprits seemed to have forgotten was the security cameras on all floors.
Four people were identified as being involved in the three incidents.
They will be pursuing their education at another institution this year.

I don't know where they got these objects. I don't know where the objects had been. And I really don't want to think about what possible purpose anyone could have for one.

But I have to admit......
teaching is an education for me, as well as, or perhaps more so than for my students.

I just hope next time the subject is
a) more useful
b) less disgusting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Trials of Our Fur Baby's Existance

Frankie, our Pomeranian, lives a very difficult life. He has trouble getting us to understand the simplest of commands.
We don't respond quickly enough when he wants to go outside.
We accuse him of barking at nothing, when he knows perfectly well that there is a child outside riding a scooter in his parking lot.
We buy him dog food that he doesn't like, and he has to go on a three day hunger strike to convince us that we must buy a different brand.
Whenever we offer him a treat of doggie jerky, he has to inspect it carefully, sniff it thoroughly, then take it off to a corner where he can examine it at his leisure, just in case we have tried to slip in a vitamin, heart worm pill, or something equally nasty.
We don't go to bed when he thinks it is bed time, so he has to bark at us and nudge us until we finally turn out the light so he can get to sleep--this, despite the fact that he has slept for a couple of hours on the couch in a brightly lit room--it is bedtime, and he needs for us to go to bed so that he can get some sleep.
Whenever we leave, he is seized with anxiety unless we take him along. He has to sit in the passenger seat so that he can be prepared to take over at any moment, if our concentration should lapse.
He is ever vigilant for 18-wheelers, which he knows harbor other dogs, and he takes it as a personal affront that they are allowed to drive on his highway.
He must also be alert for the presence of round hay bales; although you may think they are inanimate, he knows otherwise. He has seen them moving steathily along the roadway, on the back of a truck or trailer, and they might attack us at any time, with no warning. It is his job to protect us from them.
Also, once a person is allowed to enter our home, he is met with suspicious sniffs, a snort or two, and his departure must be hastened by Frankie barking at his heels all the way to the door.
He has to remake his bed every time I wash his bedding; and he has to roll around on it for several minutes to eradicate the odor of the detergent and softener.
Just when he gets comfortable on the couch, head on pillow, one of us is sure to make him move over by threatening to sit on him.
We are selfish with our bed pillows too, refusing to let him take over the whole pillow.
It's so sad.
Even after eleven years, he just can't seem to get us trained.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Dry cleaning bags

If you have stuff dry cleaned, you know those bags I'm talking about.
thin, filmy, almost insubstantial, but still potentially lethal to babies, small children, and pets.
I don't have any babies in the house at the moment, but I do have a dog, so I try to dispose of those bags safely.
Here's how I do it:
First, smooth the bag into a long strip, by running my hand down the length of it and twisting.
Then tie knots in the bag every few inches.
Tie the knotty strip into a couple more knots, just for good measure.
Then throw it away.
This way, if the bag does manage to sneak out of the trash can, it is too compressed by the knots to be a safety hazard.
Of course, if your dog (or your child) manages to swallow it, you have another problem.
But that is another post.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Going to the Dogs

When we moved into this apartment, we were asked for a picture of Frankie, our Pomeranian, and his medical records (rabies shots, etc.), and informed that the weight liimit for dogs in this complex is 30 pounds.
Since Frankie weighs about 10 pounds on a heavy day, with full fur coat (not his summer cut), we were well under the limit.
Apparently, the managers only consider the weight of the dog or puppy at the time it is aquired, however.
Yes, there are many small dogs here. Scotties, mini-pinschers, toy poodles, rat terriers, and fluffy little mutts whose looks and personality are much more important than their pedigree.
There are some who apparently did not read the terms of the lease.
They have overgrown the standard, some more than others.
For example, in the apartment directly above ours is a dog who started out as a bundle of white fluff not much bigger than Frankie. I think it has turned into one of those huge white Pyrranese dogs used for herding sheep--and it sounds like a baby elephant when it runs across the floor above our heads in the middle of the night.
In the apartment next to that one, we often see a black Labrador on the balcony. He is a young dog, with the sleek shiny coat of a puppy, and he is obviously lonely, since he whines in the most pitiful way when Frankie and I walk past below him. I just hope he never decides to jump off the balcony, because he would most certainly squash Frankie if he landed on him.
Another fellow apartment dweller has three dogs on leashes when we meet early in the morning. One is a definitely legal size scottie.
The other two--well, let's just say that if you put a saddle on one of those puppies, he would be in the same league as a Shetland pony.
Once in a while, we get a glimpse of a large dark hulking shadow peering at us through a patio door-I suspect it is a Rottweiler, but it is hard to say for sure, because we never see him outdoors except after dark.
Which is why Frankie and I take our long walks in daylight hours, and after dark run to the nearest fire hydrant and then duck back into the safety of our apartment.
Frankie is our fur baby, and we love him, but as a body guard he comes up rather short.
Of course, living in an RV, and now in a tiny apartment, what we need--and what we have--is a pocket sized dog.
Obviously some of our neighbors just had no idea how big their puppies were going to get, when they adopted them.
I would have thought that the size of those paws would have been a small (or rather a large) clue.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

RV Woes Update

As I may have mentioned before, a few times, we used to live in our RV. But it has been in dire straits since the last week in June.
The extended warranty company says they are not going to pay for repairs to the inverter, the refrigerator, the sleep number bed, the tvs, vcr, dvd, etc.
Our problems started the third week in June. It's been a mighty long dry spell here in Texas, and no rain fell, as far as I know, anywhere in north or east texas in June--we live in east TX, and we were camping in north TX when the problems began.
The extended warranty company says they are not going to pay for repairs. Why?
They claim that the damage was done by lightening.
In the middle of a drought.
The RV has been waiting since 27 July at the RV repair shop for the extended warranty man to make a decision.
We finally had to rent an apartment, until the RV gets well.
Because we had to rent an apartment, we had to buy a couch, a bed, and a washer and dryer.
Because, as I said, we used to live in the RV, and the RV had all those things, but not working, of course.
Because of the lightening.
Which somehow we missed seeing.
or hearing.
or maybe we just didn't notice.
Weren't paying attention.
Lightening hit the RV, with us in it, and we didn't notice?
So the extended warranty guy said, turn it in on your vehicle insurance.
Now I'm getting paranoid.
What if the vehicle insurance guy says no it was not caused by lightening, and the extended warranty company should pay?
But the EWC has already said no.
Then what?
I'll be posting about all this again, when we find out what the vehicle insurance guy thinks.
If you're still interested.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I was walking down the hall when my assistant principal stuck her head out the door of her office, and said, "Go turn on your tv in your room. I think we are under attack."
From her tone and the look on her face, I knew something serious was happening.
I went directly to my classroom and turned on the tv. I stood there in shock, watching the images on the screen. By the time the second plane crashed into the towers, my room was full of students.
Tears were streaming down our faces. I literally felt sick at my stomach--actually, more like someone had punched me in the stomach.
I wanted to go home.
I wanted to call all my kids and bring them home with me. Like a mother hen, I wanted to gather all my chicks together in one place.
I wanted to know if Jeana's husband was at the airport, and if he was, I wanted him to leave.
I wanted all my grandbabies in my lap, right then, so I could hold on to them, feel their soft skin and their clean scent and their soft breath.
But I had a room full of kids.
And they couldn't go home either.
So we sat there together, watching in helpless horror, as the towers fell, the air filled with debris, thefire fighters and police cried for the lost heroes, the emergency workers ministered to those who had escaped.
We hugged each other, wiped each other's tears, held hands.
It was horrible.
But we couldn't stop watching.
Every time the images of the airplanes crashing were replayed, there was a sort of collective breath-holding, as if this time it wouldn't happen. But it did. Every time.

Babies born to those fathers killed in the carnage are five years old this year. Five years without their daddies.
Men and women live with memories, instead of their spouses.
Families sit down to eat, with an empty chair at the table.
Fire fighters miss their buddies.
Police officers struggle to hold back their tears at the sound of bagpipes.

Oh Lord, creator of the universe, father of us all, help us to make sense of these events. Hold those who grieve close to your heart.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Pause for Technical Difficulties

I am not a technical type person. I can run the washing machine and the dishwasher and clean the bathtub and change the sheets.
I can not seem to master anything more complicated than my twenty year old steam iron (which has lasted so long because I hate to iron and hardly ever use it).
Wick was gone this morning, and I had several small projects in mind for my morning alone in the apartment.
First, I tried to empty the ice trays. The ice would not come out. I tried running water over the bottoms of the trays, which did indeed get the cubes out, but melted them to half their size before I could scoop them up out of the sink.
Then, after stripping the bed, gathering up all the towels, bath mat, dog bedding, and other assorted laundry, I started the first of six loads of laundry. That went well enough that I decided to try vacuuming.
We bought a spiffy new upright vac when we moved into the apartment. It has all kinds of attachments, gadgets, even a self-cleaning duster. What it does not have is instructions printed on the vacuum cleaner itself.
I started in the bedroom, where there is not much traffic, and not much dirt on the carpet. I noticed that it didn't seem to have much suction, but I kept moving it back and forth.
Then I bent over to pick up a bit of lint that didn't seem to be affected by the vac, and suddenly the end of the hose (where all the little brushes and attachments hook on, I guess) tried to suck the hair off my head.
That's when I realized that the brush part of the vac was not sucking--only the hose part was sucking. Which is how I was feeling about this whole carpet vacuuming thing.
I wiggled and jiggled every part of the vac, pushed and pulled, tweaked and twisted, and could not figure out how to get the suction to go to the spinning brush thingy instead of the hose.
The hose, however, sucked just fine.
By this time I was on the fourth load of laundry. I had cleaned the sink and countertops, loaded the dishwasher, folded, hung, or otherwise disposed of the clean laundry, and worked up quite a sweat with the vac.
So I thought I needed a little break.
I thought I would watch Animal Planet and drink a coke, and cool off, while I tried to figure out how to make the vac vacuum.
I poured the diet coke into the glass, over the pint-size cubes I had already half-melted, and turned on the tv.
It came on just fine.
The only problem was that I could not figure out how to change the channel.
We went from Dish TV to a weird cable thingy when we moved into the apartment, and while I was not fully qualified to use the Dish remote control, I could at least change the channel.
I have not yet mastered the cable remote.
I can not change the channel.
So here I am, unable to get ice out of the ice cube trays, unable to get the vacuum cleaner to suck properly, and I can't even change the channel on the tv.

And Jeana keeps asking me if I have a site meter.
Can we say technologically challenged?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me--LC sweet snack

Pork rinds have all kinds of uses for those of us trying to cut down on the excess carbs. This recipe gives you a crunchy sweet treat with few carbs and not much effort.

1 package pork rinds
butter flavored no stick spray (like Pam)
sugar substitute (I prefer Splenda)
or a brown sugar substitute

Spread the pork rinds out on a large baking sheet. Spray lightly with butter flavored spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar substitute. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, so that the pork rinds don't get limp from the spray, but stay crispy.
Let cool.

Sort of like cinnamon toast, but without the bread, and with more crunch.
The spray gives it that buttery flavor, and helps the cinnamon and Splenda to stick to the pork rinds.
Works for me.
For more Wednesday Works for Me, check

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dead Lizards and Hanging Dolls

Yesterday we went to visit daughter Jeana and family. Now, with four grandbabies, all lively, intelligent, and full of energy, maybe I shouldn't be surprised at anything that happens.
But some things....

Jeana has one of those full-glass storm doors, with a solid wooden door behind it. It stays open most of the time, so perhaps one can understand how a little lizard might think of the edge of the door as a relatively safe place to perch. The lizard would be wrong. This lizard looks as if he has become permanently squashed into the grain of the wood, being caught on the edge of the door when someone slammed it shut.

Later, we were invited to see a doll bungee-jumping from the top bunk in the boys' room. What we actually witnessed, however, was a doll hanging from the ceiling fan, slow dancing in circles on the end of a long cord, with its blue yarn streaked hair streaming out in the breeze.

Dead lizards.

Hanging dolls.

I'm beginning to wonder if voodoo is in the home school curriculum.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me--Fauxtato Casserole

Wick and I have gotten more serious about how we eat since he got an infection from what started out as a fairly minor scrape on his leg. Blood sugar problems cause slow healing, so we feel that getting and keeping our blood sugar under control is really important. We both like baked potatoes, but since potatoes are not on our menu, we came up with this "faux" potato casserole.

Two heads of cauliflower, steamed and mashed (I use the mixer)
grated cheese
sour cream
chopped onion
chopped chives
crisp bacon, crumbled (or bacon bits)
salt and pepper to taste

Add the ingredients to your taste, just as you would add to baked potatoes. Blend well. Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish. Top with more grated cheese. Bake at 375 until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Yumm. Works for us.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Book Meme

Jeana tagged me for this, and although it took me a couple of days to get around to it (school just started Monday), here are my answers:
Bear in mind, though, that I have totally ignored the "one book" edict that appears in every question--how can a true book lover answer with just one?)

1. One book that changed your life: The Bible. Of course. Five Love Languages. The Purpose-driven Life. Pilgrim's Progress. Little Women. All the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

2. One book that you've read more than once: I read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder almost every year. Usually in the winter. I guess because so much of the action takes place during the winter. I find them soothing and comforting. Jane Austen's Persuasion. And Pride and Prejudice. I've probably read these more than 30 times. I love Jane Austen. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (another winter time read). Little Women. Anything by Agatha Christie--there are so many that I forget the solutions by the time I reread the mysteries. Beowulf. Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights. The Canterbury Tales. The Harry Potter books. Some of my students are diligently looking for clues as to what will happen in the last of the seven, and I have to keep checking their research. Besides that, I like them. Harry is learning that life is not only a battle between good and evil, but that each of us has a choice--each of us has to choose, ultimately, which side has our allegiance.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: my Bible. A survival manual. How to build a boat would come in handy, I think, also how to tell edible from inedible mushrooms, and how to make salt water potable. How to make pottery. Mostly, How to get rescued.

4. One book that made you laugh: Anything by Erma Bombeck. I sure do miss her. Especially the Grass Grows Greener Over the Septic Tank. A couple that I can't remember the authors of at the moment--Raising Demons. And Please Don't Eat the Dasies.

5. One book that made you cry: Little Women. Two parts actually: when Beth dies, and when Jo ends up with her old German suitor, Professor Baehr.

6. One book that you wish had been written: anything that made more than a million dollars for the author. Then I could retire, and just write the kind of stuff I enjoy, without worrying about making a living.

7. One book you wish had never been written: The DaVinci Code. Too many people mistake fiction for reality, and many of them lack sufficient grounding in their faith to distinguish truth from balderdash.

8. One book you are currently reading: A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane. I read a lot of "young adult" fiction, because I enjoy much of it, and because I want to know what my students are reading.

9.One book you've been meaning to read: Oh my word, how can I name just one, when my list runs into the hundreds?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Where I'm From--thinking

Tomorrow begins a new school year. Part of the first week of school is letting students know about me, my expectations, my standards. Part of the week is getting to know them, where they are from, what they expect from themselves and from me.
Our first writing activity will be a poem. All the poems will share the same title, "Where I'm From."
The original poem is by George Ella Lyons. I am posting the "think sheet" I give my students, so if you feel so inclined, you can write your own.

Here's the original poem.

I am from clothespins,
From Clorox and carbon tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I am from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under the bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments –
snapped before I budded –leaf-fall from the family tree.

Here's the "think sheet."
Objects play



Central events

church experiences



Other people’s words

town or street names


hiding places


what grew in your yard

Relatives’ names

parents work



Tomorrow I will post my own version of the poem. If you decide to play, let me know so I can come visit your site and see where you are from.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Coke Can Chicken

I confess: I changed the name, since this is a family friendly blogspot. What we really call it is B.e.e.r B_tt chicken.
Here's how to make it.
You will need:
A whole chicken.
Half a can of the liquid refreshment of your choice (b.e.e.r, fruit flavored cooler ( I really like the cherry or margarita flavor), coke, fruit flavored carbonated drink, whatever).
Salt, pepper, butter or olive oil, garlic.
I sprinkle the seasoning inside and outside the chicken. Then peel the skin of the breast back enough to stuff in some pats of butter. Or rub the whole chicken with olive oil. This will make the skin crisp up and brown something lovely.
Next, sit the chicken down on the can of liquid. If you push the chicken down on the can, it should balance on its tail end. Set it on the grill and let it cook until brown and tender. Usually this takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how hot the grill is.
The liquid will boil as the chicken cooks, keeping the meat juicy, and infusing it with flavor. If you use an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol will boil off, leaving the just the flavor.
It's even better than marinating or basting, and a lot easier. I always forget the marinade until I am already ready to cook the chicken. And I can never remember to come back often enough to baste.
You may want to put a little foil on the wing tips and the ends of the drumsticks so they won't burn.
Easy, delicious, and my darling is always willing to take care of the other half of the b.e.e.r, and to cook the chicken on the grill.
Works for me.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Am I in the Right Place?

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you think you are where you are supposed to be, but then suddenly you realize that you are somewhere totally different, but it still seems like where you are supposed to be, only it's not, so where are you, and where are you supposed to be?
Well. I have that kind of dream a lot. And since I started teacher training days at my new school, I am having that kind of feeling a lot, even though I am awake, not asleep and dreaming.
The building looks like a school. It has the right name on the front. The people inside are wearing name badges that say they are teachers or principals or counselors or coaches.
So....what is the problem?'s not really a problem. It's more like.....I'm afraid I'm dreaming and I'm going to wake up.
Every person I have met---
Every single person---
has been glad to see me.
Has greeted me like a long-lost friend.
Has told me what a blessing I am going to be to them, to the school, to the kids.
Has offered to help me.
Has blessed my heart.
Has demonstrated love of God, and the indwelling of His spirit.

Today, during a small group activity focusing on our hopes and expectations for our students, people were holding up their hands, praising God, and quoting Scripture.
Especially Hebrews 11:1.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

We prayed that God would send us where He wanted us to be.
He has answered that prayer more richly than I could ever have imagined.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday Thirteen--Who's In Charge Here?

As I have been discussing for what seems like months, we have just acquired new jobs, moved into a tiny apartment, and have major problems with our RV. Here are a few of the things we have been dealing with.

1. We signed our contracts 31 July, after being offered jobs at the Job Fair on 22 July.
2. When we were signing, we asked about new teacher training.
3. We were informed that we would have had to sign by 21 July to qualify to go to new teacher training.
4. But, as I mentioned in item #1, the Job Fair was 22 July.
5. At which time we were told we would be called on Monday, 24 July, for a time to come in and sign contracts, and hand-deliver our teacher service records, official transcripts, etc.
6. But we only received an appointment after two phone calls from my husband, and four from me, over five days.
7. After signing, we were told to report to our campuses immediately, where we would be told what to do for the rest of the week.
8. But the principal would not be expecting us, since he would have assumed that we were attending new teacher training.
9. And, since we didn't sign before 21 July, and thus missed the beginning of teacher training, we will be docked a day's pay for not attending new teacher training.
10. When we arrived on our campuses, the principals were in meetings, were totally astonished to see us, and had nothing for us to do.
11. So we went to the lake to pick up a few things, such as a clock, our dinner plates, and a few other things we seem to feel necessary for living.
12. All of which, we thought, was stored in the barn, where the temperature was approximately 125 degrees, and I felt like I was having a stroke,
13. So I went to take a cold shower, while my darling persevered, finding the dinner plates, but not the clock, despite our conviction that we have at least four somewhere among all those boxes in that hot, cavernous space.

So, today we take the RV back to the service center.


And tomorrow, we report for work.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me--Trash Can Liners

I have a small trash basket in every room. Mostly, they catch paper--bills, catalogs, kleenex, stuff like that. But occasionally someone throws away a sticky peppermint, a wad of bubble gum, or something equally messy/yucky/disgusting, that is hard to get out of the basket.
So I always try to keep some kind of liner in the basket. I've bought boxes of small trash bags, but I just hate buying something just to contain trash. I mean, I'm actually buying something, so that I can throw it away.
So I tried Wal-mart bags. We certainly have plenty of them. In fact, if we got a rebate for Wal-mart bags, we could probably retire a year sooner.
But the bags are bigger than the trash basket, and the part that drapes over the outside covers up my cute little woven basket.
Then I tried the thin plastic bags we get in the produce department to sack up fruit, vegetables, onions, etc.

Voila! Perfect. They are just the right size. They are thin and transparent, so they don't hide my cute little baskets. And just to make sure I always replace the sack when I empty the trash, whenever I unload the groceries, I stash the bags in the bottom of the basket, under the one currently lining the trash basket. So I don't have to go looking for a bag, or find that someone has thrown away my stash. They are right there, ready to replace the one being thrown away.
And best of all, they are free.
Free always works for me.

Moving Misadventures Redux

The agony of moving continues. We ordered a washer and dryer. The store advertised free delivery. However, what the ad didn't say was that it would be 3 weeks until delivery, and someone would have to take off work to be there to accept delivery.
So Wick said he would pick it up himself.
But the store said it would take a couple of days to get the washer and dryer from wherever it was stored.
So we waited.
Then when he went to pick them up, the store still had not brought the washer and dryer down from wherever, so we waited for it to be brought down to the pick-up area.
He brought them back to the apartment, brought them inside, and discovered, once the box was removed, that the front of the washer was caved in.
So back to the store went the washer, another wait for one to be brought down to the pick-up area, and another trip to bring the washer into the apartment.

Next on our list of misadventures is the tv cable situation. Cable service is supposed to be included in our rent. It was supposed to be functioning when we moved in, last week.
It's not working.
So we called the office.
The manager said to call the cable company.
The cable company said this address was not on record.
We called the office again.
The manager called the cable company.
The cable company said oh, yes, that address is good, and the service is operating.
But it is not.
So we called the office again.
The manager sent a maintenance person to our apartment with a list of things for us to do:
things like, turn on the tv.
Put the tv on cable settings.
Set up the menu functions.
All the stuff we have already done.
So we called the cable company again.
They are going to send someone out right away.
Well, not right away.
In three days.
And someone has to be here, or the guy won't come in.
I'm beginning to think that staying in an apartment, which was supposed to make our life easier, is not such a good idea after all.
But the RV still has major problems, like no working refrigerator.

And it may be another couple of months before the RV service center has all the parts, all the permissions from all the warranty companies, and someone available to fix everything.

That "to-do" list seems to be getting longer, instead of shorter.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Moving Misadventures


When we started looking at apartments, we thought we knew what we wanted, and how much we wanted to spend.
We found out pretty fast that we didn't want to live anywhere that was available for what we wanted to spend. So...we expanded our search.
We found two different places that we were really interested in, and talked to the managers at both places. We didn't want to sign a lease until we were certain about our job situation--as in signed contracts. Last Thursday we got assurance that we do indeed have jobs, so we called our first choice.
Unfortunately, the apartment we wanted would not be ready for 6-8 weeks.
So we went with second choice, and got to move in the next day.
We had a kitchen table and chairs, a small tv, two chairs, and an old dresser.
Didn't take long to load it up, or unload it at the other end.
Then we went shopping.
We decided we would buy an air mattress to sleep on for the first month, and each month make a major purchase when we get paid.
We bought the air mattress.
Unfortunately, it was not as much fun as it appears in the picture.
It was sort of like sleeping in jello.
Difficult to roll over without rolling over each other.
And once I got rolling, I rolled right off the edge onto the floor.
So the air mattress went back to Wal-mart.
The we bought a futon.
We brought it home and assembled it.
The mattress was about an inch thick.
The frame was so flimsy that the back sagged when one of us sat down on it.
We returned the futon.
We bought another futon.
This time, we asked for one that was already assembled, so we could see what would happen when we sat on it. It seemed much sturdier.
So we bought it, and took it back to the apartment.
When we cut open the plastic and clipped the strapping that had the mattress rolled up, it was much thicker, and much more comfortable.
Unfortunately, where the zipper was sewn into the cover, about two feet of it had come unsewn.
We looked at each other for several minutes, debating whether to load it up again and return it. We had already waited three days.
I got out my sewing kit and hand sewed it up again.
Then we went to Penney's to buy a set of pots and pans which was advertised for $24.00.
But that price was after the mail-in rebate
and I am prone to lose the coupon,
or forget to mail it,
or mail it and not get it,
but lose the address,
so I can't follow up on why I didn't get it.
so we went to another store, and got almost the same thing, for even less.
Between the shopping, and the assembling, and the taking back, and shopping again,
I think it will be more restful once we start back to work.
I hate moving.
I hate shopping.
I really hate returning stuff.
So the past few days have been more misadventure than adventure.
Friday we start new teacher training.
I just hope it doesn't involve shopping.

Friday, July 28, 2006

TGIF # 1

TGI Friday was suggested by Katoushka, whose blog is passworded, so no I can't give you the link, but I will say it is hilarious, and yes I am bragging on my granddaughter.

Why TGI Friday this week? Because it is my birthday! No I won't say how old. But since I have already admitted to being married for 36 years, having three kids and seven grandbabies, I'm sure you have a pretty good guess. Oh, and yes, I was a "child bride" (well, not exactly...).

How are we celebrating? We are moving from our RV into an apartment. The RV is staying at the lake, and we will be staying in it on weekends. During the work week, we will be living in a tiny little apartment near the schools where we will be teaching.

The apartment manager has put down new flooring (looks like hardwood), new carpet in the living room and bedroom, and painted one wall in the dining room a deep red, which will be lovely with the red plaid cushions on my kitchen chairs.

I hate moving, but can't wait to get settled. Y'all have a great Friday!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bloggy Tour of Homes

All southern girls love home tours. We want to know how everyone lives, how they decorate, what their favorite colors are. And Boomama has graciously set us up to find out, with her Tour of Homes today.

I wasn't sure if we could participate, since we live in our RV, but sweet, hospitable dear that she is, Boomama said sure! So here we are.

We have been living in this RV for about two and a half years. It's very cozy. Sometimes, it is a little crowded, like when we have company.

But for just the two of us, it's fine. We have a tiny kitchen, a tiny bath, a tiny bedroom--just enough room to walk sideways down beside the bed and get into bed, or open the closet door.

When we lived in a house, Frankie had a crate to sleep in. But there is no room for the crate here, so he sleeps wherever he wants to, which is mostly with us.
The only problem with the bedroom picture is that it is not mine. For some reason, blogger is being uncooperative, and I can't seem to upload my own, but it let me upload this one from the web. The differences are:
1. Wrong colors. Our bedroom is a soft sage green and beige plaid.
2. Too clean. My bedroom is always cluttered with craft stuff, yarn, fabric, or clean laundry.
3. No books. My night stand is always loaded with a stack of books waiting to be read.

Other than than, it's exactly like mine.

The things I miss most about living in an RV instead of a house?
Having room for all our family to gather.
Decorating for Christmas.
So I'm posting a few pictures from previous Christmases. The top and bottom ones are at my mother's house. The one in the middle is at the house we lived in before we started RVing full time. Top: Wick and me. Middle: me. Bottom: my mother with some of her great grand children (several of them are our grandchildren. The others belong to my sister).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thursday Thirteen--Driving Lessons Needed

Wick and I went shopping today, while the RV was in the shop again.
Normally, neither of us is much on shopping. We decide what we need, where to go to get it, get in and out as quickly as possible.
Especially since I have had back trouble.
Since I have to use one of those little electric cart thingies the stores provide.
But today was fun. We were looking at stuff for the cabin we hope to start building soon.

1. We found some really neat brick pavers that look just like used brick, in a rosy red color, not the usual brownish or orangy color.
2. I nearly wrecked the electric cart at Home Depot, trying to back up. Sometimes the aisles are too narrow, or something is sticking out from a shelf, or whatever, and I have to back up.
3. Since I don't back up very well, I usually run into something.
4. But this time, I was actually going forward, and I still ran into something.
5. The guys who work in flooring at Home Depot had a great laugh at my expense--I think I made their day
6. because when we went to the tile department, two aisles over, I could still hear them laughing.
7. In the tile aisle, I of course immediately picked out the most expensive, which turned out to be real marble, which I don't want any way, because it would not be very durable, even though it is pretty,
8. So next I asked about butcher block--not formica, but real wood--which would fit the rustic look we are going for, but is also expensive, and not very practical.
9. When the sweet little girl in that department said well, you can't cut on it, and you can't put raw meat on it, and especially you can't put chicken on it, becaused of salmonella,
10. I quickly moved on. Salmonella. I mean. Yuck.
11. Then we went back to the flooring department so we could look at antique oak flooring, and
12. I promptly ran into a display rack,
13. Which really made the day for the flooring department guys, so we gave up, turned in the cart, and went home.

At this rate, it's gonna take us a long time to get this cabin built.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Stinky Laundry Hampers

If you have a child in your household, your laundry stinks. Whether it is poopy clothes, smelly sweatsocks, or grubby uniforms, the smells can be overwhelming whenever you lift the hamper lid. So here's a way to cut down on the yucky odors.

Start with nylon netting. You can buy it for next to nothing at Wal-mart. It's usually about 3 yards wide, so one yard will go a long way.

Cut three or four squares, about the size of a coffee filter. Stack them up. Put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in the center, bring the corners together, and twist. Secure with a rubber band, or a bread twistie, or a clothespin, whichever you can find in your junk drawer. Don't deny it. I know you have one. Everybody does.

Plop the resulting packet into your laundry hamper. The baking soda will absorb odors, the netting will confine it so you don't have baking soda all over the clothes, and the effect will last a couple of weeks.

When you replace the baking soda with fresh, pour the old down your kitchen drain and run hot water for about a minute to deodorize your sink.

Or use it to scrub your sink, then rinse it down the drain.

If the netting starts to look grubby, just run it through your washing machine, let it air dry, and start again.

Works for me.

Checking My To-Do List

Yesterday, bright and early, I started working on my to-do list. Here's how it went.

1. How amazingly polite and appreciative people were when I called to decline interviews, since I already found a job. Was that actually a sigh of relief that they don't have to interview me?
2. Can someone explain to me exactly what it is that apartment locators do, and what they expect me to pay them for? Because all they have done is call/e-mail me with lists of apartments, all of which I had to then look up on the internet myself, make calls myself, and then go look at myself? So exactly what have they done for me?
3. Can anyone explain to me how it is that I can walk into a major suburban school district HR office, request paperwork, and get it in five minutes, but when I want files from a tiny little east Texas school district, I have to wait at least 24 hours for them to locate the files?
4. I have only a week until I have to be in another city, at work, and my dentist here can't see me until September 25. So I will be looking for another dentist, in the city. I guess it is a good thing that I am not in n excruciating pain.
5. Frankie was not as thrilled as we were about his going to Krista to be groomed.
6. Apparently everyone in the property owners association who knows anything is gone on vacation. The only people still in town don't know anything. I just hate waiting. Of course, it's not as if we are planning to start building the cabin tomorrow.
7. Since we still have to complete our paperwork, find an apartment, move, and get our professional clothes cleaned, I don't think we are going to have time to celebrate by taking a trip.
8. On the other hand, since our RV inverter, TVs, video player, DVD player, GFI outlets, and refrigerator are still waiting to be repaired or replaced, taking a trip might not be as much fun as I anticipated.
9. However, despite minor disappoitments, delays, and frustrations, there has been no interruption in prayer, so thankful prayers are continuing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Monday's To-Do List

1. Call three school districts to decline interview appointments, because we have jobs.
2. Call apartment locators, because we have jobs two hours away from where we live, and that is too far to drive every day.
3. Call last year's school district to ask for employment documents, because we have jobs in another district, and the human resource office needs official copies of our transcripts, service records, and evaluations.
4. Call the dentist and make an appointment to get a jaw tooth capped, which we can now afford, because we have jobs.
5. Call Krista at Grand Paws and make an appointment for Frankie, since now we can afford to have him groomed, because we have jobs.
6. Contact home owners' association to get cabin plan approved, since we can now make plans to start building, because we have jobs.
7. Make plans for end-of-summer celebration, since our summer is almost over, because we have jobs.
8. Revise prayers, giving thanks that now we have jobs.
9. Praise God, we have jobs.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Jobs!! God gave us jobs!!

When we agreed together to resign from our jobs last February, we committed to completing our contracts in a professional manner, which we did.
We also started filling out job applications.
We filled out applications for school districts the length of Texas, north to south.
We went to job fairs.
We wrote letters.
We asked for letters of recommendation.
We requested official copies of our transcripts.
We e-mailed.
We telephoned.
We prayed.
Most of all, we prayed.
We both wanted jobs, yes. For one thing, we have grown accustomed to eating regularly.
For another, Frankie the pomeranian just couldn't be expected to give up his Kibble and Bits for Ol'Roy,
or his Alpo, for Hi-top,
or his Pupperoni for Good Value dog biscuits.
Rest easy, friends of Frankie.
He will not be reduced to being groomed by us, with our dull scissors and cheapo clippers.
He can continue being pampered by Krista at Grand Paws.
And we will still be eating regularly.
Even though it would probably be to our long term advantage if we did miss a few meals.

Our prayer was to be open to where God wanted us to be,
to achieve whatever He wants us to achieve,
to learn what He wants us to learn.

I was offered a job this morning, at the job fair, by the first school I interviewed with.
Within half an hour, Wick was hired to teach at a middle school just a few blocks from the high school where I will be teaching, so we will be riding together still, even though not on the same campus.
Both the principal and assistant principal who interviewed me were interested in my faith story, how we left our jobs trusting that God would put us where He wants us to be. In fact, I believe that is why they offered me a job.
God is so good.
Now, we pray that we will use the gifts He has given us to His glory, and according to His plan. Please pray with us.
In the district where we will be teaching, we are going to need all the prayers we can get.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday Thirteen--Stuff I Learned This Week

Since our Rv, which we live in, has been in the shop for a week, we have been visiting our kids. These are things I have learned this week.
1. It always takes longer to get where you are going than you think it will.
2. Every time we stop, I *need* a coke.
3. Every time I get a coke, I Need to stop again.
4. The more times we stop, the more cokes I drink.
5. The more cokes I drink, the more often we have to stop. (anybody else seeing a pattern here?)
6. Leaving one Pomeranian alone with five cats is probably not a good idea.
7. The cats can get into places where the Pom can not go, but the Pom can't find a place that the cats can't go.
8. Kids love helping to strip a chicken carcass, because it is greasy and messy.
9. There is an amazing amount of meat left on the carcass even after you think it is stripped.
10. All little girls raised in the South need to know that *white* meat chicken salad is the only acceptable version to serve to company, although leftover *dark* meat is perfectly acceptable to serve to one's husband for lunch.
11. My daughter Jeana does not know how to pronouce "victuals" and neither does my husband.
12. Two of my grandchildren prefer to watch movies at maximum volume; I'm talking loud enough to rattle the windows.
13. My dil Jamie is a great cook, and if I stay here much longer, I won't be able to fit into any of my clothes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Salvaging Left-overs

Don't you just hate to waste food? I do. That's why I save up all those little dabs of food--a spoonful of green peas, a bite of mashed potatoes, a tad of meat loaf. At one time, I save all those little bits, kept them in the refrigerator until they turned green, and then threw them away. Somehow it seemed less wasteful than just chunking them immediately.
Next, I tried eating those last few bites as I cleared the supper table. OOOPS......every bite went straight to my hips and stayed.
And stayed.
Obviously, that was not the best solution.
What to do?
Having parents and in-laws who grew up in the Depression has marked me for life.
Use it up.
Wear it out.
Make it do.
Or do without.
So here is how to use it up, and make it do, without wasting food.
Depending on the size of your family, and the number of teenagers you feed regularly, you will need some kind of freezer container, somewhere between a quart and a gallon capacity.
It needs a lid that seals securely.
Make a space for it in your freezer.
Now, every time there is just a dash, pinch, or smidgin of something left over, throw it in the freezer container.
A few bites of roast.
The last five green beans.
The zucchini you had such good intentions of making into zucchini bread, but never got around to.
Don't ever throw anything away.
Save it all in the freezer container.
When it is full, make soup out of it.
Depending on what kinds of leftovers you have, your mixture may be a little dry. If so, add a can of tomatoes, or tomato sauce. If you haven't put in anything starchy, add a cup of rice, or a couple of potatoes. If you like your soup spicy, add a couple of spoonfuls of salsa.
If it doesn't seem flavorful enough, add some ham base, or chicken base.
If you think it needs more veggies, add a can of mixed vegetables.
If you have plenty of time, make a big iron skillet full of cornbread.
Or serve the soup with crackers or garlic bread, and a fresh salad.
You might even want to top it with a handful of grated cheese.
It turns out different every time, depending on what you've been cooking, but it is always good. However, if there is any left, feed it to the dog.
Once is good.
Twice is better.
But leftover soup is the end.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Phantom Paw

Last Tuesday we took our RV to be repaired. The service manager told us it would take at least a week to make the necessary repairs. So, since we live in our RV, and living in it while it is in the shop is not very much fun, we decided to go see our eldest, Ron, and wife Nikky, northwest of Houston.
We have one small dog, Frankie the pom. They have two outside dogs, black mouth curs named Sunshine and Moonbeam, and five indoor cats: Gizmo, an oriental; Jaden, a white long-hair; Twitter, a lovely smoky blue-grey; and the twins, Castor and Pollux, nearly identical grey striped tabbies.
Frankie thinks he would like to play with the cats.
The cats think they would like to ambush Frankie and tear him to shreds.
No one has actually come to great harm, but small puffs of fur often float through the air after one of their confrontations.
Night before last, Frankie ran around the end of the couch and found himself surrounded--ambushed by three of the five. The other two were sitting on top of the aquarium, snickering.
The twins like to climb up their cat "tree" and leap down suddenly, when Frankie least expects it.
Sometimes they hide in the dining room chairs, and jump on him as he walks underneath the table.
The other night, about 3:30 a.m., Frankie, who was sleeping in our bedroom, started barking. Wick told him to be quiet.
He was quiet for a minute.
Then he barked again.
This time, I told him to hush.
He did. For about 30 seconds.
Then he really started barking.
And he wouldn't hush.
So finally, I decided maybe he needed something. I don't know. A drink of water?
To go outside? What does a dog want, at 3:30 in the morning?
So I got out of bed and reached for my robe.
That's when I saw it.
A paw.
A cat's paw.
Hooked menacingly.
Waving to and fro under the bottom of the door.
By the time I opened the door, the paw and its owner had disappeared, but Frankie was on the trail.
I'm sure Ron and Nikky wanted to throw something at him.
By the time I caught up with him, drug him back to the bedroom, and shut the door, I was wide awake. Frankie barked once more, then curled up on his pillow, as if nothing had happened, and started snoring softly.
Wick was snoring loudly.
No one else was stirring, not even a mouse.
So I did what any sensible person would do, at 3:30 in the morning.
I lay in bed, counting cats, until I finally fell asleep again.
Fortunately, the cats were also asleep, or had lost interest.
Tonight I'm planning to roll up a rug and put it against the bottom of the door.
Just in case the Phantom Paw tries to strike again.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday Thirteen--Pork Rinds

Wick and I have been working at low carbing for quite a while now. Truly living the low carb way means either giving up most of our comfort foods, or finding ways to replicate them without so many carbs. If you are low carbing, pork rinds are your friend.

1. Pork rinds as a substitute for chips with a sour cream based dip.
2. Mix melted butter with a little salt and pour over microwaved pork rinds as a sub. for popcorn.
3. Mix melted butter with cinnamon and brown sugar substitute for a sweet snack.
4. Combine pork rinds, mixed nuts, and pumpkin seeds, as a sort of trail mix.
5. Mix pork rinds with pecans and cashews, then add the same kinds of seasonings you would use to make Chex Mix (garlic powder, butter, worcestershire sauce, among other things).
6. Crush pork rinds and use as breading on chicken or fish.
7. Crushed pork rinds can be the basis for faux stuffing for turkey--e-mail me if you want the recipe.
8. Use crushed pork rinds on top of faux-tato casserole (made with cauliflower instead of potatoes) instead of bread crumbs.
9. Pork rinds come in a variety of flavors:
10. Barbecue
11. vinegar and salt
12. cheese
13. Use crushed pork rinds as the basis for faux bread pudding, instead of the usual bread.

Number 13 is the one to which Jeana is referring in her Thursday Thirteen today. I'm sure she will be happy to explain the experience to you ;)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Keeping in Touch

Some of us are blessed with large families; on the down side, some of our family members don't live close enough to visit frequently. Little ones forget names (and sometimes faces) between visits.

Our solution is mini-picture albums.

Get a couple of those pocket-size picture albums--you will want one for each child. Gather up photographs of distant relatives, or close relatives who live at a distance. Use a permanent Sharpie to label each picture on its transparent sleeve, including relationship to the child.

Once or twice a week, take your little one on your lap and page through the mini-album. Tell stories about each person. Little ones love to hear the same stories over and over, and the stories will provide a "hook" for remembering who the various family members are.

When you see the relatives in person, you can remind your child, "This is Aunt Maude, who makes the best pineapple cake in the world!"

Or, "This is Uncle Jerry, the one who got bit by the chipmunk!"

The kids will feel more comfortable, because the names, faces, and stories are familiar. The relatives will love knowing that the babies they love so much are learning who they are.

Just be sure that the pictures are reasonably up to date, and actually look like the people.

It works for me. Let me know how it works for you.

P.S. The reason you need one for each child is that the older kids won't want the babies to slobber on *their* book. This is according to Emily (4), who doesn't want baby Will to slobber on her book.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Company in an RV

We had several family members visit last week, and people have asked how we manage to have company, living in an RV.
It takes a lot of creativity.
A lot of patience.
And a lot of love.

The RV paperwork says it sleeps six, but doesn't say anything about space for all their stuff.

The couch makes a queen sized bed.
The table makes an almost double size bed, big enough for two small children, or two adults who really love each other.
One kid slept in the recliner.
The three dogs are all small, so they curled up with whomever would give them a few inches under the quilt.
So the sleeping part we had figured out.

The next part was what to do when Peepaw gets up at the crack of dawn, and the kids want to sleep until noon. That's when we started playing musical beds.

The couch bed turned back into a couch, and whoever was sleeping there came and got in bed with Mimi (that would be me).
The table bed turned back into a table, and whoever was sleeping there came and got in bed with me.
Usually, by this point, I gave up and got up.
Then all the bedding, pillows, and bags were gathered up and put on my bed, around and on top of the children sleeping in it.
At that point, we could start breakfast.
We made big batches of pancakes, bacon and sausage, and everyone zapped their breakfast in the microwave as they got up.
We used paper plates to cut down on dishwashing.
We cooked on the smoker and grill outside as much as possible.
We spent most of our time outside, in the water, on the boat, or in the yard.

My darling put up a clothes line outside for the abundance of towels, swimsuits, and damp clothes, since the tiny bathroom has only one towel bar, and all the stuff hanging from the shower made it a little difficult to take a shower.

The trick was getting the kids to actually hang their stuff on the line.
Another difficulty is that the line is higher than my head, so some of us had a little trouble reaching that far.

The adjustments, the aggravation, the inconveniences are all worth it, to have so much time to spend with those we love.

As I have said every year for the past four years.....
Maybe by next year, the cabin will be built.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Something's Fishy

It's been a doggy kind of week. In addition to our pomeranian, Frankie, our son and dil and their three kids, we also had as guests Oreo the Boston terrier, and Gracie the pug mix. Remember, we live in our RV, so things sometimes seemed....well....just a bit crowded.
Last night I was making barbecue brisket sandwiches for supper, and odor.
Not a pleasant odor.
Not rose petals.
Not the wild honeysuckle that grows between our place and our neighbors.
Not the doggy odor of three wet dogs---well, yes, that too, but something else......
Some indefinable odor....
An unpleasant odor.
A bad odor.
A really bad odor.

So, being a mama and grandma, I asked if anyone had forgotten to flush the commode.
Or stepped in doggy poo, of which we had an abundance, especially since the canine trio are expert panhandler, and (especially Gracie the pug) pros at the sad, deprived, starving expression that elicits hot dog bits, stray chips, and all kinds of other non-doggy treats from gullible humans (naming no names, to protect the guilty).

It wasn't stinky sneakers.
Not damp towels that had been used again and again over three or four days.
Not something in the trash, since the trash had been taken out earlier.

It smelled like dead fish.

That's exactly what it was.

One of the dogs had found a dead catfish in the shore, and of course did what dogs do--she rolled in it. Apparently several times.

Unfortunately, baby shampoo, which is what I bathe Frankie with, does not take away eau de dead catfish.

Neither does lemon juice.

Or Febreze.

You just end up with a combination of flowers, dead fish, and a hint of citrus.

Not exactly the home fragrance one dreams about.

Poor Gracie. All those baths, and she still stunk.

But she still has those gorgeous eyes that just melt your heart.

(Note: I tried numerous times to upload a picture of a Boston terrier, but for some reason it just didn't work right. Sorry, Oreo.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thursday thirteen--What's Been Happening This Week

1. Son Scott and two of his kids, Buddy and Sunshine, have been with us at the lake.
2. We have gone out in the boat.
3. We have been swimming.
4. We have been smoking---no, no, not that kind of smoking--cooking brisket and chicken in the smoker.
5. Scott has stacked up firewood, picked up all the kindling, and raked the dead leaves and burned them. Yay!
6. The washer and dryer have been on double duty this week.
8. I did actually hang three loads of laundry today.
9. Then it actually rained, so the clothes on the line may be a little moldy by tomorrow.
10. Gracie the pug mix and Oreo the Boston terrier and Frankie the pom have learned to share the couch, and sleep in an untidy bundle. They all snore.
11. Wick and Scott cleared the brush around the storage barn, and it looks much better.
12. I got hit in the head by the boat canopy bar, the kitchen cabinet, and by falling over in a lawn chair, but I didn't spill my grape cooler.
13. Pie and her soccer team won their regionals, and will be going to nationals in Iowa!

Thursday thirteen bonus points:

14. Watching the kids blow up fireworks last night.
15. Snuggling with Sunshine on the couch under a quilt while watching a family friendly movie.
16. Having time to talk, at leisure, about trivialities and about heart thoughts.
17. Weather in the 80s during the first week in July!
18. Instead of 100-105!
19. Scott's home made peach ice cream--yummmmmm!
20. Chicken salad made from the leftover smoked chicken--also yum.
21. God is giving me peace about the fact that we neither have jobs yet for this fall.
22. Did I mention rain? The lake is low again, so we are hoping for a downpour tonight, and then sunshine tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me--Another use for Zip Bags

Last week I talked about using zip bags for packing daily changes of clothing.
Another good use for these little bags is when picnicing.
I saturate several wash cloths, fold into quarters, and pop each into a sandwich size baggie. Then I drop them into the cooler.
They are great for wiping sticky hands and faces.
If someone falls down, that frozen washcloth makes a great mini-ice pack, flexible, and not too lumpy if you need to lie on it (for bumps on the head).
And they are re-usable, unlike packaged wipes. After a few hours, the cooler ice will have melted, so there is some water in the bottom. Rinse out the washcloth in the cool water, and reuse.
I keep my oldest raggediest washcloths for this purpose.
And you can rinse out the baggies, let them dry, and reuse--just be sure you rinse well, because soapy residue, although it may not be visible, will certainly affect the taste of your sandwiches.

Works for me.

Knockin' My Noggin

You know, sometimes God just has to knock me upside my head to get my attention. This time, it was more than once.
A couple of days ago, we took our son and two of his kids out in the boat to swim in the middle of the lake, away from the jetskiers who love to zoom through our little cove because there are no snags or trees there.
My darling put up the canopy so I wouldn't get burned, and off we went with an armload of towels and a cooler full of drinks. We anchored in deep cool water, and everone jumped in. Within twenty minutes the wind blew up hard, the waves were whitecapping, and the sky was dark. So we headed back to the dock.
We were within sight of the dock when WHAM! One of the canopy straps broke, and the metal bar fell on my head.
Next day, I was cleaning out the cabinet under the sink. I found that about half a bottle of dish detergent had leaked out and turned into a kind of goopy paste, we had both paper plates and paper bowls that I had thought were used up, and a small electric grill that I had completely forgotten we had was hiding way at the back of the cabinet.
I raised up to get a rag out of the sink to clean up the goopy soap stuff, and banged my head on the top of the cabinet.
That smarted.
Then, yesterday afternoon, we were sitting out in the yard talking, while son tended the smoker, on which were cooking a big brisket and a juicy chicken, which meant I would not have to cook for two or three days. I was sitting in one of those molde plastic chairs,on a slope, in soft ground (sandy soil), and husband had just handed me a cold frosty wine cooler, when I felt the downhill legs of my chair start to sink into the ground.
It was like a cartoon, slow motion fall. Very slow, but without time to catch myself, jump out of the chair, or even yell "help". I smacked my head again, scraped up my arm and leg, and now have a purple knot on my other knee.
At least I didn't spill the grape cooler.
so that is three times in three days.
Three bumps on the head.
How does this have anything to do with God?
Well. Last night I was squeegeeing the shower, thinking about putting in a load of laundry, and wondering in the dim misty back part of my mind why we still haven't found teaching jobs for the fall.
Suddenly, plain as anything, I heard Him say, "The place is not prepared yet."
Oh. My.Word
God speaking to me in the shower, stark nekkid, thinking about laundry and cleaning the shower walls. Is that sacriligious? I don't even know how to spell that.
Wick and I agreed when we resigned that we no longer belonged at the place we were last school year. We agreed that God had some other place in mind for us, plans for us to accomplish something for him somewhere else.
Why hasn't He showed us yet where?
"The place is not prepared yet."
Okay, God, you have my attention.
Just as surely as if You had knocked me upside the head.
Prepare us.
Prepare the place.
We're waiting.