Archive for March, 2013

My Nanny State Conversation

SwampMan came home yesterday from work quite miserable. “My throat is just so sore from talking!” he said.

I told him that I did not have that problem because I hadn’t talked. My throat was sore from coughing. Even when I renewed his prescriptions, I only had to repeat the word “yes” to the robotic overlord that runs the pharmacy. Then I said “yes” when it asked me if I wanted them automatically renewed. I do not know why SwampMan calls them in every month. I suppose he figures one day he’ll wake up and not need his arthritis medication anymore. Yep. Could happen. Just because you cannot function without it doesn’t mean that one day you will leap out of bed with your joints all healed. Maybe it’s a man thing. Or an optimist thing.

Then I recalled that I did, indeed, have a conversation. It was at our local recycling place. I need to build some raised bed gardens but, since I’m not working, the funds are notably absent.

Well. Let me rephrase that. My funds are notably absent. SwampMan says things like “Buy whatever you need. Just be careful.” I say things like “How much can I spend?” “Not much.” “DEFINE NOT MUCH IN DOLLARS!” “Well, I don’t know.” “How much is in the friggin’ BANK?” “I’m not sure….”

There are some things that I’m extremely flexible about, like the time and space continuum and my plans for next week. I see the big picture and usually don’t hone in too much on the details. I hate details. There are some things, however, that I’m really rigid about, like budgets and bank account balancing and not paying late fees or overcharge fees EVER. This is why we had separate bank accounts so that my spazzing out episodes over money would be kept to a minimum.

To accomplish my goals of raised beds, I’m looking for free materials, and what better place for free materials than the recycling center? There wasn’t a great deal of material to use there. Then I stopped and looked at their glass bottle collection, and walked around their bin checking it out. There were actually a lot of intact bottles. Hmmmmm. I could do an offset stack of, say, three bottles deep with the wide ends out and the narrow ends anchored in the soil. Or I could use ’em in concrete. I walked out to talk to the folks there.

“Can I help you?” the nice man asked.

“Yeah, I would like to use some wine bottles for raised garden beds, but I’m a nondrinker (well, aside from that unfortunate Chilean Merlot cooking wine episode last night, but we don’t really need to mention that). Can I get some of the wine bottles out of the recycling bin?”

“There’s broken glass in there!”

“Yes, I know.”

“You could get cut!”

“I was only planning on getting the unbroken bottles.”

“How many do you need?”

Geez, how many WOULD I need? If I made each bed 4 x 8, and I wanted it to be one foot minimum above the natural grade, how many would that be? I’d have to measure the width and diameter of each bottle that I wanted to use to give a good estimate. My wildass guesstimate was about 400 to start with because my lil’ empty wine bottle at home was not quite 3″ x 3″. That would require about 64 bottles for the 4′ side, and 128 bottles for the 8′ side. On the other hand, some of our residents evidentally drink wine by the gallon, so that would be less.

So I looked him in the eye, took a deep breath, and lied. “About 20.”

“You know, you would have to have the proper protective equipment to go into those bins.”

I’d already been in those bins without proper protective equipment to assess the bottle situation and yet somehow was still alive.

“Such as?”

“Proper gloves, footwear, and clothing.”

I promised that the next time he saw me, I’d have my welding gloves, apron, long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, and work boots.

“Do I have to come to the office every time I want to pick out some bottles?”

“Yes, we’ll need to check and make sure you have the proper protective clothing…. And be careful when picking up those bottles! You don’t know WHAT diseases some of those people might have!”

I told that to SwampMan. When I got to the proper protective clothing part, he erupted in profanity. “Gawddamn Nanny State!”

“Well, I can’t say I blame him. If I faceplanted into a bunch of jagged glass, it would be his ass!”

SwampMan was so incensed over the idea of somebody telling me that I had to wear proper protective equipment into a bin full of broken glass that he never commented on my idea of using wine bottles to build my raised beds. Heh. Somehow I thought that was going to be my big hurdle.

Leave a comment »

Awesome T-Shirts

“Wow, that is an absolutely awesome T-shirt!” the high school cashier at Winn-Dixie told me. “I love it!”

Startled, I thanked her. As a grandmother, I am not actually used to hearing my clothing described as awesome by a teenager. Actually, I NEVER hear my clothing described as awesome by anybody unless it is something that I make myself. Clothing worn for work usually has to be pretty boring unless you are the owner of the business and, even then, you need to dress like you want the employees to dress. And you want them to dress boring unless your business is in the fashion or sex trade.

“Did you make it or buy it?” she demanded.

“I made it”, I confessed.

“That is sooooooo cool! I wish I could make things like that!”

“But you CAN!” I assured her. “This one was really easy. I just made random squiggles and dots on a black T-shirt with a bleach pen!” Zoe likes it. She calls it my eyeballs, snakes, and cookies shirt.

The incentive for that particular T-shirt was that I’d had to wear black for a 40th birthday over-the-hill party in symbolic mourning for departed youth. I was going through my T-shirt drawer discarding things that were too raggedy to wear (which were all my favorites) and things that I never wore (such as the worn-once black T-shirt). I decided that, since I was going to get rid of it anyway, might as well do a little experimenting with bleach discharge “dyeing”.

When fabric is dyed, it is usually dyed a lighter shade first, then darker shades until the desired black color is obtained. When you draw or stamp on it with bleach, you really do not know what color you will reveal (Note: Said shirt needs to be 100% cotton). In the black shirt’s case, a nice warm golden brown/tan color was revealed that I liked MUCH better. I have had dark shirts reveal hot pink or purple underneath which is very nice, too.

I started a T-shirt yesterday. It was mustard colored, a men’s large Hanes comfort-soft Tee, a nice comfy inexpensive sort of T-shirt that will be big and baggy and roomy for summertime farm chores. Usually I get my experimentation shirts from a thrift store but these were on sale for less than thrift store prices. I dropped a series of bleach drops in straightish lines in a chevron shape (pointy side down) on the front and back. As you may know, it’s a little difficult to get freehand bleach drops EXACTLY the same size and distance apart since they have a tendency to spread but, all in all, I have to say that I have a *fairly* steady hand. It looks pretty good as is (the color discharged to white with a thin orange ring on the border where the white turns back to mustard yellow). It’s a nice, summery-looking T-shirt that’s more feminine now for my farm chores of putting up fence or wrestling livestock.

But, of course, I can’t leave well enough alone. I must do something about the white. I’m going to use Sharpies with an alcohol dispersal for some contrasting color in the dots. I haven’t actually decided what colors I’m going to use yet.

Comments (8) »

“I’ve Never Been This Sick Before!”

Jacob was coming down with a cold weekend before last when he got to our house. He was coughing Friday night and Saturday night. Sunday, he (and Zoe and Dylan) was picked up by Daddy to go to the National Guard Easter Egg Hunt.

Monday afternoon an exhausted Mommy called me. “Was Jacob sick at your house over the weekend?”

“Yeah, he was coughing, but he thought it might be allergies. What’s up?”

“I got called to pick him up at school. He had a temperature of 102.7.” Yep, I’d say that was pretty sick.

Jacob had to stay home from school Monday and Tuesday. I *think* he went back Wednesday. Thursday, SwampMan began feeling ill and coughing. I went to Mom’s for dinner. He stayed home and ate ramen noodles. He took Friday off from school. Oh, crap.

Friday night, I went and got the grandkids because SwampMan was feeling too ill to ride over. Dylan was coughing that night, and woke me several times during the night crying (in his sleep) for his Mommy because he didn’t feel good. Dylan would NEVER cry for his Mommy if he were awake. Five year olds don’t cry, you see. Only babies. I stayed beside him and rubbed his back and head as he tossed fitfully in his sleep. Then I’d go back to bed (actually, sofa) for a bit and wake up again when he called out. By morning, I was coughing, too. I cooked oatmeal for the kids because the slippery warmth would be soothing for sore throats. SwampMan came slowly out of the bedroom @ 9 a.m. coughing. He immediately went to his recliner. I cooked him breakfast, too, eggs and sausage and grits. Dylan told me several times that his brain hurt (headache) and his throat had something stuck in it (he was hoarse and coughing). Poor Dylan! He wasted his sickness by being ill over the weekend, and didn’t get to take two days off from school like his brother. He was sooooo disgusted!

SwampMan went to work today (Monday). I stayed here (woohooooo!) and caught up on laundry and cleaning that I’d felt too exhausted to do over the weekend with all the steppin’ and fetchin’ I’d had to do on Sunday. Saturday I’d had the kids outside because it was a really nice day. SwampMan got home and told me he probably wasn’t going to go to work tomorrow or the next day. He complained “I’ve NEVER been this sick before!”

“Uh, yes, you have!” I assured him.

“WHEN?”

“The last time you had a cold.”

“NO! I’ve been sick for FIVE DAYS now!”

“Just like the last time you had a cold.”

“My ribs hurt from coughing!”

*sigh* I rolled my eyes heavenwards. Apparently he could not hear the paroxyms of coughing emanating from my body at regular intervals.

“Bring me medicine! And a Coke! And what’s for dinner?”

I’m going to have to go to the grocery store again tomorrow if SwampMan takes off work. Somehow that Chilean Merlot that I had in the kitchen (strictly for cooking purposes) vanished while I was making supper. Must have evaporated from the heat.

Leave a comment »

Zoe Takes Good Care of Mommy (and Everybody Else)

Princess bedThe kids went home late Saturday afternoon just before Mommy went to work. This was the first time since her new job began that the kids were going to be there while she tried to sleep Sunday after getting off work at 8 a.m. I was a little worried about it. Mommy called me on the way home from work on Monday morning.

“So, how did it go? Were you able to get some sleep?” I queried.

“It went well. When I got home, I put my phone on a classical station, put my ear buds in, and went to sleep. I vaguely recall Zoe saying ‘I sleepy’ and crawling into bed, then saying ‘No, I not sleepy!’ and getting up. When I woke up, though, I had all her stuffed animals tucked in on both sides of me and even on top of me!”

I thought that was very sweet of her. She likes to go to sleep completely surrounded by her babies (with just a tiny little Zoe-shaped space left in her bed for her) and generously shared them with Mommy so that Mommy wouldn’t feel alone or afraid. Poor Zoe probably had to nap without her babies!

When Papa snoozes in his lazy chair, he usually wakes up with a bear or monkey on his lap with a blanket on his knees placed there by Zoe. NONE of the other grandchildren have ever given Papa baby dolls and tucked him in while he napped.

Comments (1) »

My Protectors

An acquaintance heard the rumor that I might not be working, so she dropped by in the middle of the day to check the veracity of that particular rumor. She parked outside the gate and called my house. She was astonished when I answered.

“I heard that you weren’t working, and I can’t believe it! I’m right outside your gate! Can I come in?”

“I was running around the house frantically searching for my purse and keys because I have to hit the feed store. Gimme a second, and I’ll be right out!”

Once I got outside to the gate, I explained. “I didn’t want you walking in, because Puppy likes to jump on people.” At that point Puppy, who had been sleeping, came trotting up.

“Holy cow, that’s the biggest German Shepherd I’ve ever seen! If he came up to me inside the gate, I would have passed slap out!” Puppy eyed her. He didn’t make any aggressive moves, but lay down at the fence so he could keep an eye on her.

We talked for a little while. She had to get home, I had to get to the feed store but, as we were speaking, Thanksgiving came ambling up the driveway to see what I was doing outside the fence.

“Is that a TURKEY?”

“Yeah, that’s Thanksgiving. SwampMan wouldn’t kill him for Thanksgiving because he got too fond of him, and now he follows me everywhere as my self-appointed guardian. I couldn’t eat him now, either.”

“He’s really big, too!”

Thanksgiving eyed her suspiciously through the fence. He made angry turkey noises at her. I believe he was inviting her inside so he could kick her ass properly. Luckily she doesn’t speak turkey. “Well, aren’t YOU the pretty one!” He looked at me and made chirping noises, urging me to step inside away from this stranger.

“It was so nice to see you. I’m glad that you left that place! You stayed waaaaay too long!”

“When you come back, call me so that I can meet you at the gate! Don’t come in if I don’t answer the phone.”

“Trust me. I am NOT going inside by myself!”

That’s a good thing. I don’t think our homeowner’s insurance covers attacks by turkeys.

Comments (1) »

Announcing a New Detective Paco and Wronwright Adventure

There’s a new Detective Paco and Wronwright adventure up at Paco Enterprises.

Here’s an appetizer:

“Take a gander at this.” I produced a circular showing a mug shot of Soto and the reward being offered for his capture.

Nick grimaced. “Man, that is one ugly face. What’s that thing on his neck? Looks like a tattoo of a frog.”

I took the circular back from him and put it in my pocket. “That’s not a frog. It’s Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security. He got it when he was released from a federal detention center; kind of a sarcastic tribute. Or maybe an act of defiance.”

“What’s he defying? Good taste?”

Read the rest! It has all the appurtenences of a good detective yarn: A beautiful woman, faithful sidekick, hardened criminal, sleazy politicians (but I repeat myself) and a happy ending. What more could you want? (Hey, he’s not handing out cash, sorry.)

Comments (1) »

Even the Mummies Had Hardened Arteries

Per AP, (via Instapundit), the mummies had atherosclerosiss. It wasn’t unique to Egyptian mummies, either. Peruvian mummies had it, as did Aleutian mummies and mummies from the southwestern desert areas of the U.S.

Reactions to the study were, of course, mixed. Doctors said that perhaps there is a genetic link to atherosclerosis. A researcher said that we need to follow a healthy diet, exercise, and not smoke unless we want to end up like the mummies. I note as a point of interest in the article that the older mummies were the ones with evidence of atherosclerosis, and they were about 43 years of age at the time of death. The ones without atherosclerosis were about 32 years of age at the time of their death. Hunh.

Well. I don’t believe that following a “healthy” diet, exercising, and not smoking is going to make me immortal, so I shall ‘be like the mummies” one of these days if by “be like the mummies” he meant “dead”. Grin. I also note that a diet high in whole grains without pesticides or the diet of a hunter gatherer does NOT make one immune to atherosclerosis. The intensive exercise that they did gave them arthritis. And nobody smoked cigarettes but perhaps inhaling the smoke from cooking fires gives the same effect.

Comments (1) »

Should I Improve the Outside of My House Now?

Since I was taking time off to fix the place up (reroof, put up fences), I mentioned painting and landscaping to my little brother. Note: The livestock had eaten all of the landscaping during a drought when I let them into the yard to graze. I am, therefore, starting over with a clean slate, as it were.

“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea!” opined my lil’ brother.

“Um, why?” I asked curiously.

“Well, look at it from the point of view of a thief. He’s looking for the greatest return on his investment in time and thievery because he’s risking his life for valuables that may be in that house. ”

“Riiiiiight. And the only way he has of knowing what’s INSIDE the house is to base it on the appearance of the OUTSIDE of the house!”

“And there are a lot of unemployed pissed-off people right now. Thanks to Obama, they think rich people owe them. You have a house. Therefore, you are rich.”

“YOU FIXED UP MOM’s PLACE AND PAINTED IT!” I protested.

“And somebody’s home almost all the time. Besides, her place is wood and would deteriorate if there weren’t a fresh coat of paint. Yours won’t.”

I have to say that I do not find fault with his reasoning. If I were going to break into a vehicle, it would not be an old clunker. If I were going to break into a house, would I break into one where it looks like the inhabitants can’t afford paint?

I have to think about this some, because I really wanted to get the outside all pretty again. But, when I go back to work, I probably couldn’t keep up with the maintenance necessary on the shrubberies and flowerbeds.

Comments (2) »

Dylan’s Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

Dylan told me he was starving. “Well, what do you want? French toast?”

“Only if it is in little rectangles and comes from Burger King!” Dylan declared.

“Not gonna happen. How about pancakes, then?”

“Pancakes are BORING. I want something different, like pancakes that taste like pumpkin pie!”

Hmmmmm. I put a cup of their favorite dry pancake mix in one bowl. I broke an egg in another bowl, mixed it, then added the vegetable oil and milk. I opened a can of pumpkin and put three tablespoons in the milk/egg mixture, and stirred it in. Then I added 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of ginger, and maybe an 1/8 tsp. of ground cloves and stirred it all in. Then I thought about it, and added maybe one to two tablespoons of sugar to the flour mixture so that it would be a little sweeter. Then I dumped in the pumpkin/egg/milk mixture, mixed it with a whisk, and ladeled the pancake mixture onto a hot cast iron grill that had been buttered.

“So, young man, do you want syrup on the new pancake taste treat that you have created? I dunno if it will taste good or not.”

“That’s okay, Meemaw, I will eat them anyway, even if they are yucky. Can we put whipped cream on top?”

“Sorry, Dyllie, you ate all my whipped cream last weekend and I forgot to get more!”

“Well, how about marshyellows on top? You HAVE to have marshyellows!”

I admitted that I did, in fact, have marshmallows and would be happy to sprinkle them on top of the pumpkin pie pancakes. I asked Jacob and Zoe if they wanted marshmallows on top of theirs, too. Yeah, that was a VERY silly question!

Papa got up as I was cooking the second round of pancakes. “Dylan invented a new recipe for pancakes this morning. Have one!”

“What is it?”

“A pancake. It’s a….” which was as far as I got before SwampMan, who does not leap out of bed spreading sunshine and light through the house, grumped “You KNOW I don’t want pancakes!” and stalked to his lazy chair, in which he flopped.

Dylan’s face fell. He looked down at his plate. He really wanted Papa to taste one. Time for a come to Jesus meeting with SwampMan in which I quietly explained, through smiling lips and gritted teeth, that Dylan would be VERY disappointed if SwampMan did not taste a pancake, and I, in turn, would be quite distressed if Dylan were to be caused any pain since he was so very proud of himself. SwampMan repented the error of his ways, more or less.

“FINE!” SwampMan grumped. “You got a little one?”

“Yep, I have one about the size of a fifty cent piece.”

“Bring it”, he said with a total lack of enthusiasm.

I went back into the kitchen.

“Hey, this is REALLY good, Dylan!” SwampMan said. “It tastes like pumpkin pie!”

“That’s cuz I invented pumpkin pie pancakes this morning!” said Dylan. “There were no pumpkin pie pancakes anywhere in the world before now. And it was my idea!”

“Hey, you got two or three more of those pancakes? I’d like more!” said old grumpybutt.

“You want ’em Dylan style?”

“I’m afraid to ask, but what is that?”

“With marshyellows, butter and maple syrup.”

“Good gawd, no! I mean, I’m sure they’re very good that way, but, Uh, just some butter and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, please.”

“Yeah, those marshmallows were a substitution for whipped cream, which is what he really wanted.”

“The boy has good taste, except for the marshmallow thing!” opined SwampMan. Unfortunately, I don’t know, since I can’t eat wheat. I have to judge how it tastes by smell alone now.

The boys were deciding what they would invent for breakfast tomorrow. I heard the merits of brownie pancakes and peanut butter cookie pancakes being debated. Oh, my. I better hit the grocery store tonight for ingredients.

In the meantime, I have been to the dollar store to purchase hot pink Dora faux crocs for Zoe because Zoe lost one of her very cute shoes, and I had promised the boys I would take them to the store and let them pick out seeds to plant. The boys got new shirts because it didn’t seem quite fair to get new shoes for Zoe and they get nothing. I believe that they are wearing those new shirts along with their good pants out in the barn where they and Papa are painting their BB and .22 gunstocks camouflage. Facepalm time. After removing the facepalm, I noticed the missing shoe wedged underneath Papa’s lazy chair.

The boys got hot dogs at a vendor outside the hardware store. Zoe did not want a hot dog. I don’t blame her. The hotdog vendor guy was a little scary looking.

When we got home, I went through some options for lunch with Zoe. “NO!” was the response to pretty much everything. *sigh* I had forgotten an important point about dealing with 2-year-old tired, hungry, grumpy toddlers that miss Mommy. The answer to every question will be “NO!” Don’t ask ’em what they want or whether they want something. Just fix it and feed ’em.

I looked down at the tearful little face raised up to mine. Hmmmmm. We needed something FAST. And we needed something that she likes. I glanced around the kitchen for some quick inspiration. Bananas on the counter. Oooooh, she loves bananas. Bread on the counter, too. Hey, if peanut butter banana sammiches were good enough for Elvis…. Two minutes later, a half sandwich of peanut butter and banana is made, the crusts cut off, and it is cut into a pretty flower shape with a cookie cutter. It’s a girl thing. Anyway, PB & B was gobbled down and more demanded.

The boys will be inside any time now demanding food. Usually when they ask what’s for dinner, I answer something like flaming hog balls, chicken nostrils, or eyeball soup. It doesn’t really matter what I say, one or more is going to say “I don’t LIKE that!” Finding that you are getting broccoli and rice instead of “steaming pile of goat entrails” would probably make it seem a little more desirable in comparison, ya think?

Comments (3) »

While Zoe is Watching Dora the Explorer…

I’ve been amusing myself watching medical music parodies. One of my beautiful nieces will be a nurse soon!

Comments (1) »