31 January 2008

it's raining men

i've become quite the weather girl.  it seems that most of my entries lately have been regarding the weather and my moanings and groanings about the rain, the ice, the freezing cold.  whine, whine, whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine

and guess what?

i'm not done.  earlier today, i had the heater cranked up on high, and all bundled up cuz it was not quite 30 degrees.  i noticed it got warmer after the sun went down (uhm...??) but i thought it was me, that i was just feeling warmer.

but nope.

it was on the news that the temps did warm up as the night hours progressed.  currently it is almost 45.  i am so confused.  i don't get it.  i mean, it's not like i can write to anyone about it, really.

it's just, well, it makes my head hurt.

and I would know this why?

Every now and then, I realize that I must have given the wrong impression that somehow I am an authority on ev.ree.thing.  I don't mean to do that.  I really don't.  I do think about lots of things, and often will offer explanations based on what I've read, what I've experienced, and what I think.  Usually, I think I make that it clear that these are merely my opinions.  It's nice to be asked my thoughts, and to be able to discuss ideas.  And I admit that I do like being consulted, to think that my opinion matters to someone; well, I do like that others value me and my thoughts like that.

Sometimes I am reminded that it's gone to far.

Like when my guy asked me about the mechanism of clutches and gears while we were driving.  Like when he asked me about the jet propulsion workings of speed boats versus outboard motors, versus pontoon boats.  Like when my friend calls me in a dither because her sink's kitchen faucet fell off and water is spraying everywhere.  Like when a stranger turns toward me in the doctor's office to ask me about the best time to buy gas.

Usually, I offer an opinion.  Sometimes, it is rather informed.  And sometimes it is rather tentative.  But I always explain why I think what I do.  Hopefully that does make it clear that it is an opinion, not an unquestionable authoritative supposition that carries all the weight of certainty.

Sometimes, well sometimes, I wanna ask, "so yeah, uhm, and I would know this why?"  But I don't, because most times, I do have an explanation.  Waving my hands about to illustrate gear sizes and how they mesh; explain that water hates a vacuum and so will rush to fill void space; instruct her to first turn the water valve off under the sink; and I'd say that you might want to fill your gas tank in the evenings or the mornings, not during the heat of the day when the gas has expanded the most.

In response to the pretentiously rude man who demanded to know where he can find a book about disciplining your spoiled teen, I told him after showing him where the parenting books are that if he had further questions, I recommend asking an employee because fellow customers might not always be so accommodating.

Excuse me, but do I have "smart-ass" stamped on my forehead in fluorescent lime green?

30 January 2008

the hemingway experience

in the rain, in the dark, alone.  sigh.

So uhm, yeah, ya know that entry that I posted last night about not having water inside the house and needing a shower, ready for hot tea, and some soup?  Well, directly after I hit "save", my power went.  I sat in the dark, waiting for the power to flicker back on.

Then, I got up and went down the hall to the window, where I could see (or rather not see) that no one else on the farm had power either.  So, I felt my way back to my chair, got the phone, and punched in the numbers by feel.  My landlords were probably dealing with their own reactions to having no power and no water.  So I called my Friend in town whose brood is ill, just to see if she had power.  Yes, but that means little really, and I realized that as I was talking with her.  She offered to put me up for the night, but I didn't think that was such a wise idear, what with sick kids sleeping on the mattress on the living room floor cuz it is warmer there than in their bedroom.  So I declined, offering to pick up some juice or something from the store on my way in.

Then, I called my mom.  This makes perfect sense.  She lives in Arkansas, a mere eight hours away and slightly more than four hundred miles.  Yeah, perfect sense.  While I was on the phone, I noticed headlights leaving the farm; like rats fleeing the ship.

When I was quite chilled, having been on the phone longer than I have been for ages (simply ages and ages, doncha know), I realized that it was doubtful the power would just flicker back on any minute now.  Especially since over a hundred minutes had passed.  I'm slow on the uptake that way.  I was the only one still on the farm.

Mom could no longer hear me over my loudly complaining stomach that had yet to be fed, so I shouted that I loved her and would talk with her soon.  Her reply was lost in the acidic roar of digestive juices eating away my organs, having escaped my stomach and colon.  So, I fed the dogs, in the dark.  Packed my meds, in the dark, and my pjs with extra socks, in the dark, and all my looms and some yarn, in the dark.  Locked the door, and got in the car and drove to the gym, just before they closed and got my little kit with extra toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, deodorant, razor, soap, and shampoo.  While I was there, I called Yet Another to ask if I could drop by for a slumber party.

I did stop by the store, picked up seven varieties of apples (cuz I couldn't remember Yet Another's favorite), two types of creamer (ditto), juice for Friend and her sick brood, bread and cheese for me.  I did drop the juice and an extra tool for the looms that I had given Friend and kids.  Friend answered the door in her down filled coat, gloves and hat.  She explained thru her muffler that she was laundering the girls' blankets that they had vomited on, so she covered them with her blankets, leaving her husband to his own devices (I suspect he was sporting the layered look, complete with skivvies and scarf).  She looked like she aged three years since I had been there earlier that day.  shudder.

Yet Another and I had a wonderful visit.  I couldn't reach anyone out here on the farm today, but I decided to brave it anyway, and returned a mere hour ago, cuz the doggies needed feeding and I was wanting to be home.  If there was no power, I planned to use the flashlight til I could get my kerosene lamps lit.  I'd forgotten I had no water.

At any rate, none of that was necessary, as I now have power and water.  So the dogs are fed, the heat is on, I'm snuggly in my jammies, tea has been brewed.  whew.  Since my landlords' house was dark, and their car was gone, I figured they weren't home.  So I do not know why we had no power and no water.

So, how have *you* been?

29 January 2008

"water, water every where

nor any drop to drink"
~~The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This afternoon, when leaving my Friend's house, Eight and Three (her girls) and her husband sicker than sick, the swollen skies began to seep.   My Friend has been having an awful time of it and there is no relief in sight.  Her children are both sick with whatever stomach virus is running rampant this week, and so is her husband.  The stereotype regarding sick men being worse than children holds true in this case.  Truly it does, truly.

My Friend is about ready to rip his throat out, and drug the kids with cough syrup, just so she can have a moment of peace.  And get the laundry done.  Oh, and clean up the wads of snotty tissues and puddles of puke.  And maybe take a shower, a bath would be better, let calgon take her away.

Instead, my Friend watched me leave with envy, wearily turning from the rain streaked panes.  When it rains, her ants invade.  I say, "her" ants, because she always has ants (I think there is an ant mountain (surely not just a hill) beneath her trailer) but usually they co-exist in peace.  But, when it rains, the ants head for higher ground, and they bring their friends, their families, their entire communities move from their hills to my Friend's counter tops, her bookshelves, and the girls' dresser drawers.  Cuz really, if you were an ant, wouldn't you rather be living in clean cotton undies rather than a crowded dirty hill?

So rain doesn't signal bounty for my Friend.  It signals yet another foe to battle.  I left her and her brood with fresh baked bread.  Next I drove to Yet Another Friend's and we had a very nice, if somewhat drafty visit.  Yet Another Friend likes clean fresh air and so had thrown open her windows to allow the breeze that rain brings to move thru her townhouse.  While we visited, her kitchen floor accumulated puddles as the rain was now no longer a gentle mist, but a torrential downpour.  We should have noticed, yelling as we tried to drown out the drenching roar of rain.  I bid Yet Another stay warm and dry, dashed to my car, and drove home.

The sky was darkening as I headed north out of town.  The fields on either side of the slick surfaced road were swamped.  Mississippi's water table lies close to the surface at all times, so it takes little rain to convert a field to a pond.  This is one thing that allows our growing season to be so lovely and full.  It also proves that Mississippi Mud is not just dessert.

I parked in the mire, and waded thru the muck, and let myself into my own home.  I hadn't washed my hair since Saturday and was really looking forward to a nice hot shower, complete with suds and shampoo.  My awful shower singing is not a symphony, but since it's me and the furrbees, I don't worry about bothering the non-existent neighbors.

My boots were caked with mud, as I had slipped in the dogs' de-grassed playing field.  My hands were furred, from the scritches I'd given Shaddow and Beider.  And my cuffs were drenched, both shirt and jeans.  So I stepped over to the sink, turned it on, and waited.

And waited.   And heard the faint gurgle of air in the lines where water should be.  And then, I went to the bathroom, to try the sink there.  No water.  So I called my landlords.  And they have no water either.

I might have to take my skanky self to the gym; they have a shower.  With water.  I think.

28 January 2008

O! d'ya know?

Judi's January Artsy Essay topic is an ode to your favorite gadget.

O! d'ya know..
I searched my mind for a gadget;
a contraption, a novelty, a flippitty-flue.
I tried to pick something original, something nifty;
something that screams, "oh so very cool!".
I pondered, and discarded, this keyboard, that knifty knitter,
that church-key which is really a magnet, too.
what oh what is my favorite device?
something neat, something nice.
something apropos.

Just as I was about to give up
not in despair, mind you
my gaze, tired it's true
fell on something so simple, so obvious,
well-loved, well-used

my pen!  my clickety pen!
it's at my right hand.
it's my write hand.
o! d'ya know?

O! d'ya know?!?

Bread Baking

I have a thick heavy bread bowl that I use exclusively for making bread.  It is about a two gallon capacity, that is about eight quarts.  Maintaining a stable temperature is important to the process of rising dough, so either having a thick bowl or wrapping it in towels to achieve a good warm stable temperature is key.

In that bowl, I pour a quart of hot water over a stick of butter (a stick of butter is about eight tablespoons, or a half a cup).  The hot water helps to warm the bowl and it helps to soften the butter, making it easier to mix in with the other ingredients.  I add some salt, about one tablespoon.  And some sugar, about a quarter cup.  And I add about three cups of flour.  This is called sponge, or slurry.

In the meantime (usually after I pour the hot water over the butter, but before I add the other ingredients~~salt, sugar, and flour), I proof the yeast.  Here in the south, yeast cakes are not to be found in the grocery stores, so I use powdered yeast.  Sometimes I use the envelopes, sometimes I use that in the jars.  You can find this in the baking aisle, where the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder/soda, boxed cake mixes are found.

I use a specific bowl for proving the yeast, every time.  It's a thick glass bowl, about six ounces (I think).  Yeast needs to be warm, but not too hot and not too cold, in order to be active, to work, to grow.  Body temperature and slightly warmer is best, I think.

So, after I pour hot water into the bread bowl, I pour slightly cooler water into the proof bowl.  Usually warm water is about the temperature that you might have when testing a baby's bottle on the inside of your wrist.  Warm but not scalding hot.

To that proofing bowl, add three envelopes of yeast (or about two tablespoons, which is about an eighth of a cup).  Yeast is sold in a strip of three envelopes, use the entire strip.  It takes the same effort and time to make a batch of bread (multiple loaves) as it does one loaf, so it seems better to just bake a batch then to only do one loaf, especially since it's the same amount of clean up and dough rises at the same rate regardless of amount of dough.  So I use either all three envelopes in the strip or use about two tablespoonsful from the jar of yeast.

Mix the yeast into the water gently.  It is ok for the yeast to be a bit lumpy, just so that it is all in the water.  While that yeast bubbles and regains life thru the miracle of rehydration, go ahead and mix your salt, sugar, and some flour to make your sponge, as described above.

When your sponge is ready, you will see that in your proof bowl, your yeast has proved that it is active by the bubbles breaking the surface.  Your sponge will now be a more moderate temperature (having cooled when you were mixing in the sugar, salt, and flour) and you can add your proofed yeast to the sponge with no worries of killing off the yeast.

You can now add the majority of the five pound bag of flour to your dough.  Use your hand, it is better than a dough hook, and makes the process more fun.  One hand stays in the bowl, mixing, and the other hand adds the flour til you've got the right consistency.  It will seem very sticky, just add a little more flour til you can see some of it clumping.  Then, dust your mixing hand with flour and the goo will come off your hand much easier than not.

Next, flour a surface that is dry and clean.  I use a bread board (a large cutting board that is used exclusively for this purpose) set at about waist height.  You can be liberal with flouring this surface, as your dough will need to be kneaded and the flour will be absorbed into the sticky dough til it becomes smooth and elastic.  Be sure to continue flouring the center of the board so that your dough doesn't stick to the surface.  Take your time and make adjustments as necessary.

Dump the sticky dough onto your floured surface.  Let the dough rest and wash out your bread bowl.  Dry it and then grease it heavily, using shortening or butter.  Set aside for the moment.  Now move back to your sticky dough on the floured surface, begin kneading.

Kneading is fun!  Use your arms to drive the heel of your palms into and up the dough.  Bring the dough in from the sides, by folding it in.  Also, you can flip the entire dough ball, to knead more thoroughly.  This is helping to activate the yeast and distribute the yeast and gluten throughout the dough.  But wait, Debra, (you say) where did the gluten come into the picture?

If you use regular flour (the bleached or unbleached white flour), the gluten is in the wheat and has already been distributed throughout the flour before you even purchased it.  What you do when kneading the dough is you mix that gluten in the flour with the yeast and this will help it to rise.  You will see a finer crumb in the finished product with good kneading.

If you use whole wheat flour (or whole wheat graham flour), you may want to add gluten (usually available in powdered form, sold in a box, next to the flours) so that your dough rises more than just relying on yeast alone.  Rye flours and other flours, do not contain the same ratios of gluten as wheat flour does, so if you want to have leavened loaves, you might want to add gluten with the yeast.  The reason whole wheat flour doesn't have the same activation as the finer powdered flour (white) is because the process differs.  White flour has been processed to death, the finished product is super fine, a dusting literally.  Whole wheat flour is processed differently, so the product is coarser and the gluten isn't as distributed into the finished product.

My explanations might not be as clear as I would like, but I hope you get the idea.  If not, just ask!  I'll do my best to explain more clearly.

Ok, so how do you know when the dough is kneaded enough?  Well, the firmness and consistency will be elastic and smooth.  Make your ball, then poke it.  Watch to see how the dough responds, does the poked area rise back?  It should hold the depression, but fill out at a nice rate, not too quickly (probably too sticky and you need to add flour and knead some more) and not too slowly (yeast is not working right).

You will gain a feel the more often you do this.  And every now and then, even the most experienced baker will have a flop.  So do not worry overly much if this happens, it's ok and try it again when you are not stressed.

When you feel that the dough is ready, form a ball with it, tucking it so that the top is smooth and rounded.  You want to flip the ball into the greased bread bowl so that the bottom-side of the ball is on top.  Then flip the dough ball so that it is right-side-up in the bowl.  This coats your entire dough ball with the grease that was inside the bread bowl.  Next, cover the bread bowl (with the dough nestled inside) with a clean towel (I have, you guessed it, bread towels that I use exclusively for this purpose) and set the bread bowl in a draft-free warm place so that the yeast can do its thing and help the dough to rise, Rise, RISE (muwahhhahahahhaha).  By warm, I do not mean hot.  You want to nurture the yeast, not kill it.  Too hot, and the yeast will die a death before it has done its duty (and that's sad).

Clean up your kitchen.  Or not.  up to you.  You will be using the floured surface, so don't clean that.  You want to remove any lumps of dough that are matted with flour on that surface.  Grease your bread pans, get into the corners and seams good!  If you do not have loaf pans, do not despair!  You can use an surface that can be baked in the oven.  My serving bowls are great, also I use my cookie sheets, just form the dough into a round loaf and POOF! oh so pretty!

While the dough is rising, go do something fun.  Like the posting an entry in your journal, taking a picture of the dog, or looming yourself a hat.  Check on the dough from time to time, but lifting the towel too often will allow cold drafts to invade the nice warm cozy space the dough is rising in.  Give it time to do its thing!

Most times, it takes my dough about forty minutes to an hour (depends on humidity, temperature, type of yeast (the rapid rise does make a difference), type of flour etc.).  When it is approximately doubled in volume, grease your hand (just one is necessary, but you could use two, if ya wanna, 'sup ta ya), remove the towel, move bowl to where you can do this, and slam! into the dough.  This punching down of the dough allows the build up of gases to release.  You want to gather the dough into a ball and cover again, setting it back into its draft-free warm place to rise again.

This time, it will rise a little less so in volume than it had the first time.  It will rise a bit slower than the first time.  And it will feel a bit different.  Poke it.  It should hold the depression.  If not, let it keep rising.  The second rise is just as important as the first rise.  Don't get all impatient on it now!

When the second rise is thru, dump the dough back onto your floured surface.  This time, your surface need only be scantly floured.  This is because your dough shouldn't be as sticky as it was the first time you used the surface.  You still want to be sure it is floured a bit though, because you will be needing each loaf and don't want it to stick to your surface.

Ok, so you dumped it onto your floured surface.  Take a sharp knife (I use a butcher's cleaver, it's what I had, so it's what I use) and divide the dough into loaves.  Now use the surface's space to knead one loaf at a time.  You knead that loaf in much the same way you kneaded the entire dough ball earlier.  This time you will feel little gas bubbles (like popping bubble-wrap!) in the dough.  Knead it til those bubbles are not so obvious, then shape that dough into loaf and plop it into your pan (or greased bowl to bake or cookie sheet or whichever container you plan to use in the oven).  Do this for each loaf until you have no mo' do'.

I've had as few as three loaves and as many as seven, out of this same amount of ingredients.  It depends on the amount of dough that is created (based on type of flour, mostly, and the growth of yeast) and the type of baking pan I use, or loaf size I make.
Experiment and see what you like.

Now, after your dough is tucked into its loaves; you want to cover those loaves (in their pans, bowls, cookie sheets, etc) with towels and set back into the draft-free warm place.  That dough needs to recover from all that man-handling you've just done.  Let it rise, in the pans, for the third time.

The third rise will be brief in comparison to the other two.  I recommend warming your oven when you begin to form the loaves.  By the time it is warm and your third rise is through, your loaves will be ready to bake.  You will see that the loaves are slightly rounded and the surface has risen some.  Place in oven and bake at 350 (to 375) til done.

The heat from oven will arrest the yeast, so that it only rises some when you begin to bake the loaves.  The surface will take on a uhm baked appearance (harder, browner, more even) when the bread is almost done.  This can take about forty five minutes, depending on flour type and how many loaves are in the oven at one time.

When you remove from the oven, flip the loaf out onto a toweled surface.  Slap it with your open palm/fingers.  You should hear a nice thump, thump thump.  This means the interior is done.  The resounding vibes from inside the loaf should echo back to your fingers nicely.  If it seems sluggish, pop the loaf back in the oven.  You can do that right on the oven rack (the loaf is close enough to done that it will hold its shape).

Darker pans, and metal ones, bake faster and hotter than glass pans and lighter ones.  Make adjustments accordingly.  Allow the loaves to cool somewhat, but you can break into one, tear it open and eat it while still warm from the oven.  I always designate a loaf to do this with, that I can break with whomever is near and dear.  Wrap the other loaves when they are somewhat cool (if you do this too soon, the loaves will get soggy).

Because there are no preservatives in your homemade bread, it will turn faster than store bought breads.  Use what you have within a few days.  Freeze what you think you might not use in a timely fashion.  You might want to slice a loaf before you freeze it, then take out a few slices at a time as you use them.

The main thing is to relax and have fun.  Take your time and enjoy!

Baking Bread

 When I was a child, my mother baked our bread.  Every couple few days, mom would set out her bread bowl, her yeast bowl, her bread pans, her quart mayo jar.  She would clear the table of other items and lay out her bread towels and her bread racks in preparation.  Then she would assemble her ingredients; cannisters of flour, sugar, salt, and butter and cakes of yeast.  Mom would wash her hands and don her apron and direct me to do so as well.

I never helped with the bread, but I made cakes while she let the bread rise.  That way the oven was nice and toasty and the kitchen was warm enough to nurture the rising dough.  And it made sense to actually use the oven while it was fired up anyway.  My mother enforced my own sense of frugality and practicality, over wasteful frippery.

She never used a recipe that I remember.  She mixes and measures, based more on consistency, texture, and feel of the dough.  She took her time and encouraged me to do the same.  Mom would say that the bread will be ready when it is ready and that rushing it according to timed recipes simply wouldn't do, it just wouldn't.

So, when she showed me last November how to bake bread, I jotted notes.  My own bread books and many recipes online were very intimidating and overwhelmed me.  Mom set me at ease, she encouraged me to enjoy the process, to slow down and notice when the dough was ready versus when the clock said that it should be.  In that way, bread baking is much like a baby gestating; you could go by the clock, or you could relax and let it come along when it comes along.  I know that is an over simplification of sorts, but I think you get the idea.

So what follows in the next entry is my explanation based on the jottings and my own experiences in the past two months of baking bread.  I've yet to use a recipe and the bread is wonderful, every time.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Each batch will be slightly different, in part due to the variability of your kitchen's humidity and temperature.  In part, even the barometric pressure of your environment has an effect on your bread.  And in part, your own attitude, your own temperament, and your own ratios of flour to water to yeast to any other ingredient you toss in matters.

Take your time, enjoy the process, and read on.

Clover Honey Butter

Altho there are many brands of honey butter available at most grocery stores, I prefer to blend my own.  At my local co-op, there are honeys but they are very expensive and are no better than those at Wal-Mart.  The co-op had carried a local harvest of honey, but no longer.  I think that the honey I had gotten at Wal-Mart, or Kroger's, or Piggly Wiggly are shelved next to the peanut butter and jellies, on the very top.  It might however also be shelved next to the syrups for pancakes and waffles.  I think tho that is the location of the molasses.  I think that I even saw honey next to the tea.

At any rate, I bought some honey before the holidays.  When I began to bake breads, I poured some honey over a stick of softened butter in a small bowl.  I mixed it up, using a fork to cream the honey and butter together.  When I have fresh bread, I let the blend warm to room temperature.  Otherwise, I keep it in the fridge, it stays fresh that way.

I think that when I was a child, I began to make honey butter, as a very special treat.  I do not think that it was available in the stores then.  I do remember that while I was in undergrad, there was Sue Bee honey butter but I cannot remember exactly where in the store it was.  Most likely pre-made honey butter can be found in the refrigerated section, either next to the butter or next to the cream cheese and other mixed spreads.  Just a supposition on my part, and it is entirely possible that I am wrong; because I've not actually tried to find it.

Honey Butter is tasty stuff that is different than merely spreading butter on the bread then drizzling honey on that.  At least, that's my opinion.  But then again, my neighbor when I lived in Alabama would mix peanut butter and grape jelly in a bowl and then spread it on bread.  I thought that was odd at first, til I tried it and that sandwich did taste different.  It's the texture, and experience, and the mixture of the ingredients is melded in such a way that...well, I suppose it is like bread, you could eat flour, yeast, butter, sugar, salt, and wash it down with water...but that is a different experience than combining those things and baking them into a loaf of bread.

way different.

loaving around

usually, i love bread fresh outta the oven.  then, it is still good when it cools, but not as good as the warm fresh creation.  but!  but this graham bread is even better when it cools, in my opinion.  esp with clover honey butter.  so moist.  so good.

i ate the entire loaf.

in one sitting.

ok, not really.  but i am eating lots of it.  in fact, half of the loaf is gone, within 24 hours.  and it's been me.  i can't even blame the lady-bugs.

cuz i ain't sharing.

27 January 2008

Whole Wheat Graham Flour

makes for coarse bread.

I baked three loaves of bread using whole wheat graham flour, which is a bit different than whole wheat flour.  I'm about to try it now that it is cool.  I had some earlier, fresh outta the oven, with clove honey butter.  Very yummy.

26 January 2008

  Freshly brewed tea, I love it.  Asian Plum White, it's ok, first time to try it.  Maybe it will be better when I don't have a sore throat.  That post nasal drainage taints every taste.

I'm off to curl up under the covers, snuggling down.  I may even read some "of mice and men" but I'm thinking it is time for some nappage.  Since everyone else, including my guy and my furrbees are already engaged in the pursuit of slumbe this dreary afternoon, I think I will join them.


25 January 2008

Brain Fartz and other Faux Paz

It's freezing rain out.  Earlier, there were tons of cancellations, delays, and early dismals.  There were ice storm warnings and watches and many listings running along the TV screen earlier.

I called the gas company back around 4p, to see if there was a delivery on its way.  Ya know, just to confirm.  They sounded harried but were reassuring.

About an hour ago, I heard the gas truck coming in.  I bounded out the door, and realized that all those warning which tend to usually exaggerate what COULD be instead of what IS were dead on this time.  There was a bumpy coating of ice sheathing every surface, including my concrete steps.  It was extreme luck that allowed me to be safe, and sound.

However, the gas man was not.  He slipped when he was coming in, despite my cautions to watch your step.  But he corrected himself and did what he had to do in the house in the case of no gas at all (they have to shut everything down, and one guy has to stay in while the other goes out, fills the tank and then they relight everything, blah blah blah).  The same man who skidded up the steps, fought with my door, which I finally opened for him so he could leave, and I saw it happen before it did.

His foot descended, his weight went forward, his foot shot out from under him and down he went.  A huge crack rang out in the night air, followed by a very painful grunt/groan/scream combo, ending with a few select curses that evidently embarrassed the man since I was standing there (fragile maiden that I am).  The other man, already at the base of the steps, seemed to be trying to voice conflicting concerns (a resounding guffaw and inquiries into the man's health and welfare) so things were quite garbled.  Shaddow was attempting to rush to his aid, altho I was not so sure that he would have welcomed her nosing about his private parts at that moment.  The man stood up, wincing, hobbling and then went down again.

Long story somewhat shorter, he rebroke his leg, which had just healed.  And I thought, rather uncharitably, "ya dumb shit."  I'm glad that I didn't say it aloud.  And I'm glad that it wasn't my dumb-shit ass that was broken.

ice man cometh? (gas man, too)

and the garbage man.

There are few things I dread more than dealing with Bureaucracy, with the layers of double-sided Red Tape, redundant Forms, contradicting Rules, and lack of responsibility.  So this morning, I was not overly enthusiastic when my alarm went off.  Then I realized that it was a good deal colder than it should be.  Oh, I thought, it is colder outside than it was last night.  I now realize that makes zero sense, but at Buzz O'Clock this morning, it did.

As I was leaving to go for my appointment, I tripped over a huge block of ice that had been in the Furrbee's water dish.  So I unlocked my door and went back inside and got fresh water and set off for the Dreaded Meeting once again.  I don't like to jump in a vehicle and race off, so I was sitting in my car, letting the engine warm up and my Low Fuel light dinged! on.  I knew I'd have about twenty-five miles to drive and with less than ten dollars to my name, I was wondering if I should get gas on the way in or if it could wait til the way out.  I am leery of getting gas on myself cuz I'm a ditzy klutz and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the Dreaded Bureaucratic Meeting making my headache worse with wafting gas fumes.  So I decided it could wait til my trip from town toward home.  Except I forgot.

The meeting actually went well.  In part because I had all forms, bills, proof of income, and identification pre-copied and ready for them with amounts, names, and explanations highlighted in yellow and written in red.  Also, I repeated the mantra "just get thru this and it's all good til next year" til I drowned out the other voices.  It worked beautifully.  Altho it didn't last year.  And that is not a story for THIS entry.  And also in part because my counselor and others were sending warm wishes my way and I felt more reassured.  And also in BIG part because the Officer who I met with remembered the whole fiasco for the last several years (the biggest was last year) and so was very ginger with me.  Normally, that sort of tentative babying annoys me, but this time, it was required and a GOOD thing.  Really.  So the meeting was done and I now have seventy-five bucks in food-stamps monthly til next year, when I shall have another Bureaucratic Meeting.  But I'll deal with that then.

So I get home, and fight with my keys, the door knob, the lock, and my library books with my gloves on (my hands were wearing the gloves, not my library books; altho the books would have been just as effective) and an ungodly odor from the bowels of hellish tombs greeted me.  After feeding the furrbees, I trudged around to the propane tank which is located outside the fenced in yard behind the trailer.  And lo! and behold! the needle was resting on the absolute lowest point it could rest.  Tears of frustration were building but knowing that they would freeze in my now decidedly colder than outside home, I called my gas company who assured me that since I was pre-pay, they should have been checking my gas levels on a regular basis.  Uhm, hm, well since I haven't had gas delivered since last September, and it is a one hundred and fifty gallon tank, I'd say that no, they'ven't been checking and regardless, the point is, now I have none.  Nada.  Zip.  No gas.  As I stressed this point, I remembered that I had forgotten to get gas in my car as well.  I'm an idiot.  A very cold idiot.

So I heard a truck pulling in and thought, "yes!  the promised delivery, so soon!  they must be making amends and rushed right over to get me some needed heat! yes!"  But no, no that was the garbage man cometh.

I'm off to huddle under the quilts.  Perhaps when I wake up, it will be like the Little Princess and I will have heat and lovely things to eat and my aches and pains and sore throat will be gone.  Sigh.  I can dream, can't I?

24 January 2008

Heeeere's Ziggee!

This is Ziggee.  He's a "rat-cha".  That means that he is a mix of rat-terrier/feist and chihuahua.  Ziggee's about six pounds.  He'll be five years old in April.  He's been living with me since just before his second birthday.  He is a good boy (my "pretty boy"), and I never scold him.  I do call him down from the quilt; he usually knows when he has erred and slinks away, combat grunt style.

Ziggee goes into submissive-crouch mode when men approach him.  We're working on that.  Sometimes, he does well; sometimes he gets too shaky and intimidated.  I think he was abused before I rescued him from an acquaintance, who had taken him off someone else's hands, who had adopted him from an animal shelter.  I'm not sure what his history was beyond that, but all those moves took place within four months just before I drove about two hours away and brought him home during stormy weather.

Ziggee loves Shaddow and follows her every move.  Shaddow is resting right now, so I can't get a picture of her because the camera is a web-cam that I've been taking still snap-shots with, so it only goes so far as the cord and as you can see, I'm still working with the lighting and resolution and such.

23 January 2008

Weighing In

Freedom of Speech.  Right to Assembly.  Noble concepts that are often bandied about as though they are clearly understood and are god-given rights.  I do feel that we ought to have the rights to have freedom of speech and assembly.  But I also think that my right ends where your nose begins.  In other words, it is not with reckless abandon that I might exercise my perceived rights.

The first amendment to the Constitution, which most point to indignantly to endorse their behaviors, forbids Congress to make any laws that would prohibit the right of people to peaceably assemble.  Usually, this includes approved petition, in which organized protesters must have a permit to conduct their assembly.  Limits to public speaking includes where (free speech zones) and the assembled crowd size.  Speech which is probable to incite violence does not fall under right to freedom of speech, this is considered hate speech, and is in excess of peaceable protest.

There may be a time for all things under the sun; a funeral is neither the time nor the place for a protest.  In the case of funerals, where emotions are running high, protest can cause distress beyond the acceptable levels.  Several rather prominent cases have recently made the news, with courts presiding and legislation addressing the specific issue of protests held at funerals.  Below are some linked quotes:

"“Family members have a personal stake in honoring and mourning their dead and objecting to unwarranted public exploitation that, by intruding upon their own grief, tends to degrade the rites and respect they seek to accord to the deceased person who was once their own,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote"..."“the interests of families in privately and peacefully mourning the loss of deceased relatives are violated when funerals are targeted for picketing and other public demonstrations.”"

"it turns out that the government (a) can ban loud picketing outside funerals, and (b) can probably ban all picketing immediately outside the funeral, but (c) must allow picketing or marching relatively near to funerals. How near is impossible to tell, but picketers can't be required to stay 300 feet or more away; they probably have to be allowed to march past the funeral, and perhaps even to picket, say, 100 or 200 feet away."..."it's a good bet that courts will find that the interest in protecting the privacy of the grieving at a funeral is at least as strong as the interest in protecting the privacy of people at their homes."

As I've commented on another entry, "ya know, if a group of PFLAG supporters protested a funeral, the entire world would be up in arms about the crass violation of sacred space and the intrusion of grief.  perspective folks, for god's sake, have some respect."

By the way, Fred Phelps, the ring-leader in the circus of church-sponsored protesting at funerals, has been considered problematic from the Courts' perspective for thirty years, having received many reprimands and warnings, which finally resulted in his disbarment about twenty years ago.

the verdict is in

Three loves, Loves, LOVES! her Backpack and Nappy (my map, which i had given multicolor hair).  Three clutched Nappy in her chubby lil right hand and talked to it non-stop while eating.  She kept announcing to me, "Ms. Debra!  Look!  It's NAPPY!  Look!"  Finally, Friend said, "yes, I'm sure she knows, cuz she made Nappy."  And Three would enthuse, "yes!  She did, she made NAPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

I finally had to leave before my face fell off from grinning way too much.

Dora, the explorer

Eight and Three get giddy wit it, over Dora.  Their enthusiasm for many things just bowls me over, but they love, Love, LOVE Dora.  And Backpack (backpack!).  And Map!  and (gasp) BOoooooooooooTz!!  Dora's colors are pink and orange, a ghastly color combination that kids lust after.

So, I made a Backpack, complete with Map, in orange/pink (shudder).  The backpack can be worn as a hat as well.  The separate lil pocket that my Map is in, has little straps on it so that it can be worn by their multitude of toy critters (Three's favorite one right now is a Lamb that she calls "Sheep".  i asked her to show me here Sheep, and she corrected me indignantly, "it's a Lamp, Ms. Debra, a Lamp.  But her name is Sheep.")  All the straps and such can be easily removed (by their mom, I'm not gonna show the kids; I realize that isn't a guarantee, but they might enjoy it for awhile this way, then when the novelty wears off, Friend can go ahead and remove the straps and POOF! it's a hat that they can wear.).  I may have to make another hat so they won't fuss over just ONE.  When they are TWO, Ms. Debra.  (big eye roll)

(i know it's not the best pic, but you get the idea; and my Map is not the same as Dora's.  Dora's Map is a rolled up white thing.  I did mine Map in pink/orange, with funky hair.  kidz might like it anyway)

22 January 2008

 To the left is not a quilt, but soon to be!  My folks (my mother, brother, and father) have created all the stars you see here.  They took pix and eMailed them to me.  I then downloaded them, indexed them, put them onto one sheet of paper, scanned that in to photobucket and POOF! there they are.  I apologize for the poor quality, as I have not yet mastered the whole color/shading thing.  Obviously.

You may think that they are appliqued, but nope.  The stars are done using the depression-era technique, crayon quilting.  The squares are crayon, then outlined (embroidered), pieced together, and quilted (by hand, of course).  When I get pix of the finished product, I will post them.  The colored pencil on fabric that I had posted last month was a sort of variation of that theme.

Oh!  Doggies need fed!

when in Maine, eat lobster.

My guy and I have been missing each other.  His messages are extra special and I've been careful not to call his cell when he might be busy (sleeping or interviewing or whatevering).  When I got home from my landlord's, I decided to see if his cellular service was any good.  So I tried to call, and didn't get thru.  I tried again, and he answered, saying, "hey baby!"  It makes me smile.  Before the call cut out entirely, he had a chance to tell me that his colleague (who is currently interning there in Togus, Maine) was driving them both over to his girlfriend's for a lobster dinner.  I told the annoying er-er-er-er signal to enjoy the dinner, and the rest of the visit, and the return flight, and that I love him very much and since he was no longer there, aren't I an idiot for continuing to convey my well-wishes to an electronic device?

Why, yes.  Yes, I am.

sharing the good chucks

consider it

21 January 2008

weather or not

Are ya having any weather?
(uhm, scuse me?)
weather, are ya having any?
(yes please, one sunny side up)
very funny.  what's it doing outside?
(it's dark, we don't have any weather)

When I woke today, I thought, "YES, today is the day I will finally don my pants and go to town.  I will go to the doctor and get my blood drawn, which should have been done weeks ago.  I will go pay bills, including the way overdue phone bill.  I will go to the library and return books.  I will go to the post office and send Bonnie's hats and scarf.  I will accomplish some serious shit."

Then I hopped in the car and drove off.  And did none of those things, because altho last Tuesday was King's birthday, it wasn't celebrated last Monday (like I thought); but it is observed today.  So, I'll do the serious shit tomorrow.

Today, I visited my Friend, the mother of Eight and Three.  It was a very good and very looooooooong visit.  So when I got home, my guy had left his message that it was, indeed, very cold in Maine.  Wish I was there to warm him up.  Four whole degrees Fahrenheit is damn cold.  No matter where you are.  In fact, the highs tomorrow there are lower than the lows here tonight.


20 January 2008

my moon, my man

Well, my guy flew from Memphis to Togus, Maine today.  I'm sure he had lay-overs somewhere along the way, doubt there was a direct flight.  I've not yet spoken with him, but have called his cell and left a message for him earlier.

This is the last interview for him, for internships.  Apropos, it is with the very first VA in the US.  I know that he is glad that this past month of travel is over, I am too!

I hope he enjoys his visit there.  Lots of snow, Kathy assures us, and c-c-c-c-cold, for sure!  As far as here, in MS, it has been chilly; about 20 degrees.  Caledonia's kids are back in school (two tornadoes on January tenth took out a portion of the school, tore up the town, wiping out several churches and a number of homes) and everyone is bouncing back on there feet.

The local news is forecasting freezing temps every night this week, with 15 degrees being tonight's low.  During the day for this week, the forecast shows highs in the low forties.  I can cope with that.  I'm sure you are tired of my whhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiining.

I know I am!

Morning Thunder!

yup, russ!  a stampeding buffalo, creating some morning thunder!  since i ought to limit my caffeine, this wouldn't be a good choice for me.  but i have used it in years gone by, perhaps during those same years as you did.

Vanilla Apple White Tea and Yarn Selection

I love Celestial Seasonings, they have quality teas, and their packaging is extra special.  I almost hate to throw out the boxes, which are covered with quotes, explanations, and other factoids and useful information.  Including the quotes, this one was featured on Vanilla Apple White:  "Happiness is the ability to recognize it."  by Carolyn Wells.

For several years now, I've developed a habit of visiting the tea area of stores (if they have them) and purchase a box of either a favored blend or a new blend that I'd like to taste.  Sometimes the tea is tasty and becomes a favored, and sometimes it isn't exactly what I'd buy again.  The Vanilla Apple White Tea is fabulous and will be a favored for some time!  It is flavorful, a tad sweet, and is good hot, cold, plain, or with milk.

Now, I also visit the yarn department (again, if it is there).  There, I have more restraint and can actually walk away without a skein in hand!  I have quite a selection of yarns at home already and have a few projects in mind.  There are a few I have started, but have been too scattered to focus on them at the moment.  I'm learning that if I am too scattered, and try to work on them, that I can completely ruin the project.  In most cases, I can undo what I have done and save the work.  But other times, I've truly ruined the project, and then feel badly when I realize that I didn't listen to my self when I was feeling too scattered and frazzled.  Sometimes yarn soothes, and sometimes I am too frustrated.

Oooooooooh, tea's brewed!

19 January 2008

While I am crafting, I listen to audio books.  So currently, I am listening to "Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track:  Selected Letters of Richard P. Feynman".  When I am in a reading mood, and am able to focus on the written word and am not otherwise occupied with my hands; I've been reading "Tortilla Flat" by John Steinbeck.

It's been cold, especially for Mississippi.  I think that part of the chill that seems worse is because my home is a very old trailer.  Altho I have attempted to seal what I can, by layering plastic over the windows (this is something that I have done for years, not only to help with heat, but also to help with the cold...in general to reduce drafts); trailers are not known for being well insulated or even well constructed.  It seems the very walls are so porous that dank bone penetrating cold seeps in, settling into me.

I'm from PA, so I do know how cold it can be.  The house we lived in for the majority of my teen years was over 150 yrs old, yet had fewer drafts than this trailer.  I wear layers, keeping snuggled as much as possible and wear my hat to keep my head heat in, my ears warm, and most of the time I am ok.  The propane heater has two settings, low (which is three cells) and high (which is six cells).  I've been drinking hot tea, and have been warming me from the inside out.

Somehow, I missed the warmest window of the day, that early afternoon period when the air is the warmest.  I meant to take my shower then.  When I was a teenager, I didn't have running hot water.  So I took tons of sponge baths, or else took very tepid shallow baths in the tub.  At times like these, when I dreading shucking my clothes; I know that at any rate, I'd rather have the hot water my shower here provides than repeat that time in my life.

I know some folks think that it can't be that bad.  And since that is relative, I must agree; compared to folks who have no heat, and therefore are extremely cold inside as well as out, I do not have it that bad at all.  Compared to someone who is sitting inside a toasty home, even if the air is cold outside; well, perhaps there is no real comparison possible.  It is about ten degrees warmer in here than out there, and since out there is about 30 degrees right now; perhaps you can see my point.

Well, I'm off to shower (ahhhhh, heat!) and bundle up again.  I can't type when I wear gloves, but I have made some good wrist warmers that extend down over the backs of my hands, so that I do have some ability to move my fingers freely, typing and crafting are options then.  And next week, I will begin to visit the wellness center, taking showers there, and staying in the warm toastiness.  Plus, Leona may have opened the coffee shop so I can sit for hours with a two buck tea with refill.  And there is the library too, for siphoning their temperate air.  It's just that leaving the house isn't always an option for me, so here I am.

later, dude(tte)s!

18 January 2008

i love it!!

oh the irony of it all

k, just a reminder, I live in Mississippi.  It's been getting chilly at night.  That's ok, I'm not complaining about that.

It's just, well, the counties SOUTH of me, here in Mississippi, are receiving snow right now.  The counties north of me are not.  Oh the irony.

Also, on the news tonight, an accident at the entrance/exit for Walmart; where the drivers were rushing to the store to get bread, milk, and toilet paper (that last one is what I hope they are buying).  There was a jam so the drivers in the cars that were turning in got all excited about the POSSIBILITY of the snow drifting northward and omg, we might have some flakes!  nevermind they won't even touch the ground.  let alone stick.

17 January 2008

I'm Back!

My guy and I drove home, to my place, this afternoon.  Then shortly afterward, he drove home from here to his place (about an hour and a half).  Sunday, he flies to Togus, Maine for his last interview for internship positions.  He'll be back to Mississippi Wed, and I will probably see him next weekend.  So, I'm about ready to call it a night.


(there, i called it)

16 January 2008

Biloxi Lighthouse

So, my guy and I are driving along the Beach Boulevard in Biloxi.  He is stunned and at a loss at the devastation that is so clearly evident still, over two years after Katrina.  Since I have never been here before, I don't have a full appreciation; but I can see the wreckage, the vacant lots, the empty ruins, the efforts to rebuild.  Of course, there are the casinos and the waffle houses, but there are more missing than present.

In the middle of the road, there is a puny lil lighthouse.  I do a double-take and snortle a bit (a snortle is a snorted chuckle), saying incredulously, "that?  is that the famed Biloxi Lighthouse?!  THAT is what now graces our mandatory Mississippi license plates for the next five years?!?!  THAT?!?"

"yes, yes, yes," he assures me repeatedly.

"are you shitting me?  the damn street lights are just as tall and way wider than that celebrated Lighthouse!  I mean, that has to be a scaled down model of the real thing," I say as I wave out toward the water.

But nope.  And here is the proof.  check it!

(**edit:  the biloxi lighthouse is literally less than 50 ft tall!  when i said the street lights are larger, i really meant it.  that's why i thought it was a scaled down model of the real thing.  but, nope!)

15 January 2008

my and i

i just wanted to say i mightn't be posting much over the next couple days.  fear not, sweet lads (laddettes)!  my guy and i are spending some quality time and all during the very brief lull.  possess much glee!  (uhm, have tons of fun!)

14 January 2008

The Bells will be ringing...

Greta is getting married on Friday!  Wahoo!  Congrats, baby girl, congrats!

Hatz 4 Bon

Bonnie lives in Rochester, New York; where it is still very much winter for a few more months.  So I made her a few hats.  First, see the blue hat, that is in two of the pix below?  Well, actually, if you look in the background of the first picture I posted a coupla entries back, the yellow loom that was on the bed held the first stages of the very hat you see finished in the first two pix in this entry.  Neat, huh?  I also had made her the soft hat on my head in the third picture (I made it a few days ago) and the baby blue hat with white that I am holding on my hand (I made that last week).  The baby blue hat has an interesting swirl on the top that I tried to capture here.  You don't see me modeling it, cuz I can't.  It won't fit on my big ole head.  I've removed all the doors on my home so that my big ole head won't get stuck.  Now it's time to lay me head down to sleep. g'n'nite

getcher suitee on!

oh, yeah, so i donned my suitee and went swimming, which is wonderful!  i don't swim so much as do a water workout.  i just recently learned how to swim, so i'm best on my back.  swimming, that is.

below is a pic of the backside off my hat, with the tassles, and the condom, which i am holding.  see?  look, ma!  i made it myself!

swimming with the fishes

Earlier today, my guy and I went to the gym and had a very pleasant surprise.  See, a few years back, when he asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told him a year's membership at the gym.  It was there that I lost the weight from two year ago and there that helps me keep it off.  So I asked the following year for a renewal.  Which he gave me, cuz he loves me and is a swell guy.  (wink)

So today, when we got there, we expected that it would be renewal time.  And when I asked if the girl could check to see if my account is current (cuz I couldn't remember if it was up in December or if it was the end of this month), she said, "yup, til Dec 21, 2008".  I smiled, thanks, I called over my shoulder as I pulled my guy away from the desk and down the hall.  But, he protests, I didn't do it!

Last fall, I had complained about one of the women that works there and how she treated me on several occasions, which I was overlooking for a long time (cuz I hate confrontation); but when she diss'ed my guy and all, I knew enough was enough.  And I took my case to the business manager, and complained.  I pointed out that he pays for my membership every year and doesn't deserve to be mistreated in such a manner.  That he pays each time he goes, and that should be more than enough to ward off this woman's snide comments and rudeness.  And the business manager agreed with me.

I think they gave me a free year.  And I'm not gonna complain.  I was wondering why I never got the renewal notice.  And now, I know (i think).

merry christmas to me!
merry christmas to me!
merry christmas to MEEeeeee

13 January 2008

finally, it's happened to me

shhhhhhhhhhh our secret.  that's my guy in the background.  i finally installed his webcam and took this still pic.  of me in my hat.  behind me is my bed, with the conrad argosy opened and a hat being loomed for bonnie (shhhhhhhh, don't tell her, k; our secret, wink).  behind that is my guy, in his gym clothes (he would not be overly happy if he knew he was in the shot, so shhhhhhhhhhhh, we don't tell him, k?  our secret.  (nodding)  pinky-swears.

behind him (which he is standing in front of my propane gas heater, warming his buns, contemplating to-do's) is my kitchen.  that's right, i sleep in my living room.  why?  cuz that's where my bed is, sillies.

tis the promised pic!  more to come i am sure.

my guy and i are resting, shhhhhhhhhhhhh

wahoooooooooo!  my guy is HERE!  he came a few hours ago. snicker.  he got in awhile back.  snicker.  oh the sexual connotations of it all.

and!  he remembered to bring the webcam.  it's still out in the truck i think.  but soon pictures are to be posted and you might, might, even get a chance to hear my very non-enunciated voice.  i tend to sound like i am slurring, i've always had that characteristic.  growing up, mom would slowly instruct me, "eee.nun.see.ate."  yet over the years, i have packed em in for presentations of various sorts (motivational, work-related, mental-illness-related, family-related, and other miscellaneous relations) with good to great results and evaluations.

The House Pictured

Remember last Labor Day Weekend when I went to see Greta and then to see my guy?  Of course you don't.  I do remember that, because I so rarely leave the farm to go visit anyone now.  I used to think nothing of hopping in my car and zipping here or there.  Over the last five years, traveling has become problematic.  By "traveling", I mean anything more than a trip to town and back, a whole 25 mile round trip which leaves me exhausted.

Greta had been asking me all summer to come visit her, three hours away in the Shiloh (Tennessee) area.  I had been feeling particularly off last summer, fighting a well-entrenched infection in my lungs in the heat and humidity of Mississippi when breathing is already a chore was very draining.  I drove up and stayed with her for several days, just prior to the labor day weekend.

As we drove into Savannah (uhm, Tennessee) from her home, I saw a pinkish house and did a double-take.  The house actually was not pink.  The roof was.  It wasn't that rusty clay brickish manly shade that some roof tiles can be.  No, it was pink.  It gave the entire house a rosy glow that was quite the eye-catching spectacle.  Or it was for me, for Greta, it was not eye-catching at all.

But she indulged me and let me drive by several days later while gassing up so I would be ready to go to see my guy the next day.  Once I pointed out the house, she gasped in glee.  It was empty.  In fact, it was not just vacated, but sort of trashed inside.  I know this because we parked and I went up to the house, the front door was opened and so I entered with caution (it turns out that the back door was hanging open and some of the windows were missing).

I may have written about this last fall (I think I may have, but am too damn lazy to go find it at the moment).  So I won't tell you what all we found and our enthusiastic oooooooooohs and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhs.  But I will tell that if you look at the pic in the previous entry, you will note that I am holding up a mailbox.

Savannah had a few years back opened a new highway which branches off from the main street precisely at the point where the house sits.  The old part of the road that continues past the house dead-ends at Cherry Hall, a historic landmark where the ferry used to be.  So the house had been reassigned an address.  Because so much of the mail, and many organizations and individuals no doubt, continued to use the old address; the mailbox has both the old and new address numbers.

My guy lives just outside of Oxford, MS and I live just outside of Starkville, MS (closer to Pheba really, but if you don't live in Pheba, you have no idea it even exists.  except you, you know Pheba exists, and since you know it exists, I ought to let you know the correct pronunciation, which is:  FEEE-BEEE as in the girl's name Phoebe).  Our homes are about an hour and a half apart (or about 110 miles).  My guy comes to see me most every weekend.  This is just another example of the awesomeness of my guy.  He loves me.

Plus he likes the peacefulness of the farm.

12 January 2008

the point was

This is me, September 2007.  Greta sent the pic to me a week or so ago.  I flipped thru the packet, then shoved the pictures back into the envelop and then stowed the packet away, hidden from view.  I dug it out today, because I wanted to actually LOOK at myself.

I don't look at me.  I don't see my self in the mirror.  I might focus on my teeth, or my hair, or some other piece and part of me.  I don't give physical self attention, any more than the hurried cursory token that is a painful aversion.  That might be why I take the fastest showers you've ever known.  I jump thru them, scrubbing myself quickly, thoroughly, toweling off just as roughly and completely.  Then clothing myself in elastic pjs, with t-shirts and stretched sweaters and socks.  Utilitarian, warm, snuggly, comfy.

Two years ago, I lost thirty pounds.  I've kept that weight off, stayed within the five pound leeway (because women do bloat monthly, and shed that bloat as their hormonal tides wax and wane).  The plateau has become a plain.

Now it is time for me to begin to lose again.  So, I need to give my body attention.  I need to exercise.  To do that, I will feel myself.  I will sweat and be aware of my body.  And to do that, I need to be able to see me, feel me, to accept me.

I don't seek reassurances, negations; "you are not fat".  I don't take comfort in qualifiers (medication issues, side-effects, and inadequate levels of thyroxine).  I don't ask my guy, "do these pants make me fat?" cuz it is not the pants' fault.  I know I am fat.

I am not pleasantly plump.  Or pudgy.  Or big and beautiful.  I am fat.  In fact, at 200 pounds and 5'6", I am obese.  My body mass index is lower than what some might think, because I am dense (in more ways than one) but no matter how you slice it, I am morbidly obese.

I could write a ton more, but I won't.  At least not in this entry.  But I will say that I am seeing this picture of me, and realizing the actual impact.  I cannot ignore my weight, my health, my laboring heart, my stressed joints, my huffing/puffing winded lungs that gasp for air.

This is me.


well crap.  i had a nice long entry, very raw.  it took lots to do and then my computer shut down and i lost it all.  so maybe something later, huh?  it won't be the same, but maybe it will be better.  or at least cover similar sorts of material.  i need to look into getting the physical connection (the power cord's or the computer's port needs help i think) fixed so this doesn't happen.

11 January 2008

Lurker Lurk aLot

When I saw this online, I thought about those interviews with an anonymous source that is shot in shadows and silhouette.  And then, I thought of me, Lurking Lucy.

post-holiday pudge

  my pants shrank.  all of them.  i'm sure of it.   otherwise, why would i have difficulties zipping them, huh?

he taunts me

The world's largest salad was made in Spain, on the plains, in the rain, jump off the train, oh! i am so lame.  sigh.

The salad was made of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, olives, and onions.  It was huuuuuuuge~~6,700kg (which is 14,000 lbs~~yes, that's right, fourteen.thousand.pounds).  Twenty chefs assembled it in three hours, but only after sixteen hours prep work.  Cuz cleaning, chopping, mixing, etc. takes time, and effort.  Then after the official weight was logged, local restaurants received and served it.

Oh, how the kiss-my-ass happy bunny taunts me. damn his happiness!

and i might try to scribble a sketch or a story

as seen at this site which is loaded with fables, stories, tall tales, and other very cool resources.

folks' tales

You may not know this about me, but I love tales (cuz that's what little boys are made of...no, that's not right.  cuz that's what history is made of!).  Folk tales especially, tho well told tall tales are a treat.  I've always been a storyteller, starting when I was three and spoke my first words.  I could talk before that, I'm sure, it was just that I didn't really have much to say at that time.

Stories change over time, in slight ways, from society to society.  Similar themes run throughout the world, like threads woven into tapestry, with no one culture laying claim to any theme.  However, the ways in which stories are told, the characters, the events, may be very particular indeed.

So while we may be able to name a variety of tales that are similar in nature to each other, there are some particular versions that really shine; grabbing the spotlight in its ability to tickle our fancies, awing our minds, hushing our hearts, or standing out in some other gripping manner.

I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you, my sweets.  There are audios, books, sites, and all sorts of formats that I will share with you from time to time.  When I do, I'll try to use the subject "folks' tales" so that you have an idea regarding the contents and can skip over that entry if you want or clue in if you are interested.

If you do like audio books, then I recommend the narrators of this (cuz their voices really give great character development):  The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Tales from Africa, by Alexander McCall Smith.  It includes a letter from Mma Ramotswe.

10 January 2008

please bring back my bonnie to me, to me

Earlier today, Bonnie had left a message for me; she was watching CNN and there was a weather report, highlighting tornado damage here in Starkville.  She worries about me and the furrbees.  After psych'ing myself up, I returned her call.  I've been thinking about her lately, and this was a good prompter.

We had a pleasant conversation, with the usual stilted then rushed conversational style of mine; it is a huge task for me to be conversational esp in verbal contexts, when i am feeling outta sorts.

Bonnie truly cares for me, and we very rarely speak on the phone.  But it was so great speaking with her earlier.  It was like she's got my back.

and that's sweet.

do NOT panic

I've got it under control.  Just barely, but it is getting better.  I am prone to anxiety and have taken (and continue to take) measures to cut down on my exposure to triggers and other stressful events.  But ya gotta breathe, ya know?  Ok maybe you don't, but I do.

This week has been a very strange week for me, because I have been able to not worry about going anywhere, or meeting any deadlines (like, omg, Christmas! 5 hats done, 27 to go, loom, girl loom!).  I think that I have probably been feeling a little delayed anxiety, cuz I've been having lots of heart palpitations (which I've had palps before, and often enough that I know when and why and what has contributed; I'm pretty in tune with me, ya know?); these are more like squiggles and wiggles.

It's as if you were holding a cat or a puppy, too tightly to your chest.  Ok, now for an even longer time.  Wait for it.  Tighter.  Longer.  Now, that's it, that critter is trying desperately to squirm away from you.  Ok, now imagine that squiggling wiggling critter is inside your chest instead of clasped to it.  That's what I mean by I've been having heart palpitations.

I went thru my little (ok, it's lengthy) checklist that includes (but is not limited to) things like:  medication?  caffeine?  topics of worry?  period?  sleep?  sugar?  exercise?  food?  fluids?  You get the picture.  Last year, when Walt was accessible, I'd IM with him lots.  And I knew that if I was wigging out, that I could let him know and that he wouldn't freak and make it worse.  And sometimes, just letting him know that I was skittering about would help me to defuse a bit and feel somewhat more safe and ok with the moment.  Walt's not accessible anymore (he died last April, big adjustments all the way around, and selfishly, I miss him most at times like these).  I cannot even imagine the depths to which his best friend, his wife, his love must miss his presence.  Since Bonnie doesn't use the net, and I don't use the phone (especially during times when I can't speak for crying, it's very frustrating for me and confusing and worrisome for the other party); we keep in touch via snail-mail.

Most of the time, I don't call anyone, as I said earlier; but at times like these, the last thing I wanna do is call my guy when I am in the midst of freaking.  It can be very disorienting for anyone to get a call from someone in the grips of panic; it tends to spawn panic.  It involves too much effort for me to calm someone else when I cannot even calm myself.

So for now, this format will do.  As long as it works.  And right now, it is.  Much better, thanks.

08 January 2008

political parties' primaries

The below is an excerpt from an eMail I sent to my mum.

I've been reading some about the primaries and New Hampshire's resulted with Hilary Clinton taking the Dem seat, closely followed by Barack Obama.  I wonder if they aren't gonna buddy up for the presidency, the one choosing the other for vice-president candidacy.  I hope they do, and stitch up this next term.

It's gonna take more than four years to get us outta these messes, but it'll be a start and maybe they can get elected again in '12.  I know, I know, let's get this one under way first.  Don't count the chickens before the eggs hatch.  But I can count the eggs, can't I?

Super Tuesday is Feb 5, with many states' primaries that day. 
Mississippi's isn't til Mar 11th.  Kentucky, Guam, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and West Virginia are after March (mostly in May, a few in June) for the Dems.  What I don't get is that some states have two separate days for the primaries for the Dems and republicans.  Some, like Montana, are months apart.  There is an awful lot I don't get about the process.

John Edwards sorta looks like John Ritter.  That's not important, just an observation.  McCain sorta looks like Nixon in the jowls.  That's not important either.  Are Huckabee and McCain related?  Huckabee's wife is Janet McCain.  That may be important, but probably not.

Rival Sandwich Maker

Remember last September (or was it October, c'mon you should know this, wink) when I bought a featherbed (queensized, $20; i am awesome!), a blender (a very good one for about ten bucks; i rock!), and a sandwich maker (2 bucks! i awesomely rock!)?  For some reason, I've not used it for all those months.  A big reason is cuz I don't buy bread; very rarely my guy will buy a loaf.  When it goes bad, with mold, I give it to Shaddow (she loves moldy bread and I think it helps her doggie-immunity.  cuz i need to tell myself something that makes me feel better about giving her moldy bread, her favorite).

Well, since I've been making my own bread, I have bread (funny how it works that way).  Yesterday, I sliced some up (of the very last of the very last loaf) and stuck it into the Rival and then some provolone and some smoked turkey and voila!  mmmmmmmm.  it was so good, i made another today.  Tomorrow, I may try making an egg pocket.

Cuz I'm outta bread.

07 January 2008

Operation Oven Cleaning 2008

Well, there was no putting it off any longer.  So I donned my do-rag, my gas mask, my extra tank (and really what good is just one tank?) of oxygen, and my pink panties (just seeing if you were paying attention) and armed myself with the degreasing foam and paper towels and sponges and rags and scrubbies.  Too bad I forgot to use the latex gloves that I had purchased expressly for this task, but my how soft my hands are now!

And set about to cleaning the oven.

Now, I'd never cleaned an oven before (well, ya know, I clean my microwave oven on a regular ~~ some say excess ~~ basis), but I knew that it'd be a messy job.  Cuz any job I do gets messy, but oven cleaning is deemed messy by all.  I have a very old oven (so old that none of the dial digits are readable past 200) that might be the original appliance for this very old trailer.  It is that olive green that was oh so popular during the 50s, 60s, and early 70s.

I like my oven; it's gas.  I don't have lots of criteria for favored ovens.  It also is wide enough to hold most regulation/standard-sized pans, sheets, and the such.  Altho it only has one wire rack now (I'm certain it had at least another in years gone by), I am but a solitary being and how many racks do I need at any one time?  So it suits my needs quite well.

And! it is the first oven I have ever owned (or ya know, rented, cuz I don't own the trailer; but that's just semantics) that is right about chest height (my chest, though for some it might be head height).  This is awesome!  Cuz it makes it so much easier to check on items, and so much better for me to get roasters out.  This cuts down on severe burns and trips to the ER.  Trust me, this is an ideal feature for me.

Generally, I google everything.  I mean, ev.ree.thing.  But it didn't even occur to me to google, "clean oven" or "oven cleaning" or any other sort of combination of phrasing that might pertain (such as "huffing degreaser", "mainlining easy-off fumes").  Shocking, I know; but it's a vital step to my development.

Since I doubt there is even a self-cleaning option on my antiquidated oven, I set about spraying foam.  And wiping down.  And spraying foam.  And then scrubbing with an old toothbrush (cuz I can be extremely anal about details that way).  And wiping down.  And spraying foam.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Rinse.  Repeat til squeaky clean.

I even removed the floor of the oven, and enlisted the bathroom tub as well as the kitchen sink.  Then I rinsed with clear warm water (which is not an easy task without a hose that would reach to the oven.  which may be a very good reason that hoses are not accessible to me).  I laid out fresh aluminum foil on the floor of the oven, because this is something that has helped me to not need to clean ovens in the past.  It's just that this time, well ya know, exploding marshmallow and burnt chocolate.  Need I say more?  I think not.

The oven is so sparkling clean that I'd crawl in there for a nap; if it weren't for the fact that now I'm too dirty and would soil the freshly scented oven.  And ya know, it's not wise to stick your head into a gas oven for a prolonged period of time.  I feel so dirty; I need a cold shower.

Cuz I used all the hot water.

Beider update

Beider is more and more docile with me, altho he is not very social with the other furrbees.  He doesn't fight them (except when he is eating; so I feed him outside while the others are inside, chowing down) but he isn't overly friendly with them either.

I see him hesitate on the fringes, watching the others play their reindeer games.  Sometimes, it seems he starts to join in, but then I think the mere sheer joy of their enthusiasm confuses and scares him.  I feel for him.

It's like he's Emo-dog.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with my gp for all the lab work that I've been avoiding.  It isn't that it should be such a big deal, and in truth, it really isn't.  I've just made it so.

I used to have blood draws at least once every three months.  It got to the point that my blown veins would pool under my skin for a good third of my arm every time.  Usually by the time I'd leave the office, both of my arms would be shot.  The meds I was taking made me slow to heal, so I would just be getting over the last of the bruises when the next blood draw rolled around and it would be blackened pools on the inner aspect all over again til the next time.  The folks that would see me at the gym, the library, the coffee shop, the grocery store, the pharmacy, and around would sometimes give me wide berth.  My sweat and my breath was acrid and no matter how many times I brushed my teeth and showered, I could smell myself.  And if I could smell me, I knew that I must reek to other folks.  That combined with my bruised appearance, with multiply layers of various browns, yellows, reds, and sick tans, the concentric circles that radiated out from punctured needle marks; well, I think that I must have look like I was a druggie.  In truth, I was.  Of sorts.  Albeit the drugs were prescribed and I took them in the manner designated.

Eventually, we got it all sorted.  We switched me over to some other drugs, because those that had stabilized me for the previous three years were now causing me to suffer more so from the side-effects.  So we tried a few things til we hit on the right mixture that seemed to work, keep me fairly stabilized with minimal side-effects.  Yes, there were drugs that would keep me more stabilized, but had horrible consequences that actually created more problems.  And yes, there were drugs that have fewer side effects, but don't provide enough stabilization.

So I am now doing better than I had been.  In lots of ways.  Blood draws are not such a big deal anymore, I don't think.  It's just I don't want to have to go thru anymore adjustments.  I don't want to find out that some level is wrong somewhere.  I know that doesn't make tons of sense, cuz it would be better for me to know, than not to know.  And I know that they need to monitor the condition of my liver, my kidneys, and make sure that my thyroid levels andmy blood sugar levels are within range.  I know that it isn't just for me, but for minimizing liability for the gp.  I totally get all that, and I agree that those things are good and make sense.  All that rationality doesn't change a thing about how I dread this.  Feelings aren't informed by knowledge.

06 January 2008

There are certain things that I don't usually write about much.  There are all sorts of reasons, one main one is that I appreciate the respect that folks show by not sharing my information with others without my permission.  I would like to think that I extend this same courtesy to others.  If it is his story to tell, his information to share; then let him do so.  That's the general idea.

But I've come to realize that seldom is a story entirely your own.  Other people play roles in even the most solitary of stories.  Or maybe that is the justification that I need to tell myself so that I feel less awkward about sharing something that is predominately my guy's (and not mine) to share.

It is mine too, though.  Because so many things about one you love do affect you, are your concern; their stories and yours become interwoven.  Just as my own complex set of idiosyncrasies and conditions affect my guy, so too do his own struggles affect me.  Our relationship demands much from us both, just as we both benefit so very much from each other.

All that is a very long intro (and feels exaggerated~like I am creating a mountain from an anthill of coffee grounds; altho I know that I haven't misrepresented anything) for what I'd like to share now.  More often than not, I do not know how to be supportive and loving and accepting (and all those other qualities that I just know I am capable of feeling and demonstrating) of the man I do love and want to love completely.  My guy has taught me, encouraged me, supported me, loved me in the very ways of being human, a good loving person; and he's done this the very best way possible, through example.

My guy struggles every day, every moment with his own set of complex conditions that affect his self esteem, his sense of self-worth, his feelings of inadequacy, and so much more.  His own depression taints his every thought, dousing doubt over everything.  He also has an inattentive subtype of ADHD.  Yet he is the most loving, most encouraging, most supportive partner any one could want.  He is absolutely wonderful with me, for me, to me; never browbeats me, or makes me feel stupid, or berates me when I am so very less than wonderful (wink) myself.  But he is the most self-loathing man I've ever known, while being the best man I've ever known.

It shames me that I do not extend the same assurances and patience to him that he does to me.  Please do not rush to reassure me; I know that no one is a saint, and I do not expect that of myself.  What I do want of myself, is that I not snap at him impatiently when he so obviously does not deserve my caustic snipes.  I wish I knew how to respond to his self-loathing.  I wish I knew how to be supportive when my capacities are tried. 

How do I demonstrate my love for him, when he hates himself?

education: get it, use it

Our local FOX affiliate (I know, cringe, sorry) has been airing a call for participation in a contest they are holding.  They are asking folks (students) to make their own 30 second commercial to get students to stay in school.  What are they calling this contest?

"The Drop-Out of School Campaign"

That makes as much sense as the town's banner that reads:

                CHILD ABUSE

05 January 2008

And the ads just keep on coming

The other night, just before my guy left, he drew my attention to a commercial on TV for SunSetter Awnings.  He said to look at their hair styles, their clothes, and then said that he thought it was a showing of a late-70s ad.  It's the John Ritter look-a-like that clinched it for me.  Harry, in a polo.  shudder.

And to think I too could call right now, in the next five minutes, and get my $200 discount certificate that I can apply toward the cost of a $1000 awning that I can lower in just sixty seconds! 

funny things come in small packages (just don't tell your boyfriend that)

oh my bleeding eyes

i want to be encouraging to everyone who expresses their creativity.  really, i want to.  but this?  this is not the piece to that should have been selected to represent crochet, in all its "slink sophistication" &/or "funky fun" glory.

Sharing more stupidity

Cuz this year has started with a BANG (I set my oven on fire, it's gas, and marshmallow burns, explodes actually, at very high temperatures; don't try this kiddies, just take my word for it); I thought I would continue to share my stupidity.  I managed to slit open my thumb.  Hand wounds gush blood, much like head wounds, or foot wounds.  Or any of my wounds, come to think of it.

The thing about thumb wounds is that trying to clean, then bandage while applying pressure gets to be tricky (and sticky).  It also means that you are reminded of just how much  you use that appendage.  Lest you forget that you've damaged it, it will let you know anew with a freshet of blood while sending all sorts of blaring screaming signals to your brain.  Which had you been using your brain in the first place, you might have not slit your thumb in the first place.  Or used your oven as an incinerator.

And by you, I mean me.

talkin bout my guy

Today was my guy's interviews in Little Rock.  And rock they did!  I spoke with him just a few hours ago and he said that he felt good about the place, the peeps, and the position.  wahoo!  In fact, he was so stoked that he drove all the way back home to Oxford tonight.  Which means he gets to spend the night in his very own bed.  Tomorrow he heads out to Knoxville (it's about an 8 hr drive, will use Sunday as a rest day to prep for the interview on Monday).

Way to go, babe!

tit bits

ok, i wasn't gonna confess this, but i gotta share the stupidity.  the other day when my guy was leaving, i went out to wave him off and see him on his way.  beider, the newest dog, was feeling very needy and so i was scritching him while my guy was backing the truck up.  i took my attention away from the damned dog and the damned dog didn't want my attention to stray, so he scrabbled at me.  the doggie equivalent of waving for the stupid human's attention.  so i realized what was gonna happen, as it happened.  his paws have claws, the claws are not trimmed.  those nails are sharp and they shredded my skin in whip-time.  unfortunately, the skin shredded was located on my breast and ohmifuckingawd, did that hurt.  yes, yes it did.  i swear i've not felt that particular sort of sensation since i got my nipples pierced (for a scant few months in spring 2003, see a pattern here?).  in fact, i checked to see if the damned dog drew blood.

my landlord honked his horn as he drove past.  just add flashing him to my list of faux pas.