Every [woman] should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every [woman] gird [herself] once more, with [her] face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past. ~Henry Ward Beecher
As January 1st approaches, I have to assess if I really accomplished all that I set out to do this year - get organized, manage my time better, read more books, focus on the truly important things in life . . . live fearlessly. Then I must put it behind me. Face forward and meet the New Year head on. Because if I'm seriously honest with myself, I have to admit that the only thing organization ever did for me was create a clean slate for new chaos.
Instead of making the same-old-same-old safe resolutions like travel, lose weight, spend more time with family and friends, get in shape, eat healthier, let's accept that we've probably done the best that we can with those tried and true standards over the years. In 2011, step out on a limb and take a chance on a new approach to evolving into a better person:
Say "No" - Say "No" to doing anything - joining a club, leading a group, organizing an activity - that you cannot or will not give your best to. Do not allow a guilty sense of obligation back you into a corner.
Make no comparisons- No matter what the talking heads in the media try to get you panicked about this year, no matter what your friends and neighbors do, spend your time and my money only on things that are important to you and your family.
Live life as a work of art - Cherish experiences over things. Collect beautiful memories instead of stuff.
Foolish versus Fearless - Remember the difference between foolish and fearless and do not do anything to compromise your life or your dignity. This includes skydiving and skinny dipping and other sundry activities of that nature.
Change is not just the coins jingling at the bottom of your purse - It is an uncertain world in which we live. Accept change in your circumstances as God's way of offering a new opportunity or His desire to alter your life's direction.
Be a light of this world - Speak kind words, make charitable contributions within your means, and engage in behaviors that build your community regardless of recognition.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Every [woman] should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every [woman] gird [herself] once more, with [her] face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past. ~Henry Ward Beecher
Day 01 - A picture of yourself plus five facts.
Day 02 - A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest.
Day 03 - A link to your favorite blog/video/web page.
Day 04 - A picture of what you ate for dinner last night, plus the recipe.
Day 05 - A recap of your favorite memory.
Day 06 - A picture of somewhere you've been and a few words about why you went there.
Day 07 - An honest description of your true self. A picture to illustrate might be helpful.
Day 08 - A list: Something that makes you laugh, something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh through tears.
Day 09 - Your best advice for surviving tough times.
Day 10 - A forecast of where you will be and what you will be doing 10 years in the furture.
Day 11 - Three things you hate.
Day 12 - Three things you love.
Day 13 - Two measurable goals for 2013.
Day 14 - The one reason you will never be as cool as you imagine.
Day 15 - Three things on your bucket list.
Day 16 - A picture of something you did that you shouldn't have.
Day 17 - A confession of your biggest insecurity.
Say 18 - A picture of your favorite place.
Day 19 - A habit you wish you didn't have and when it started and why you won't quit it.
Day 20 - A date and a plan for going somewhere you've never been but want to go.
Day 21 - A poem about something you wish you could forget.
Day 22 - A picture that confuses you.
Day 23 - A review of your favorite book.
Day 24 - A picture of something you crave a lot.
Day 25 - A quiz that has no right answers and no wrong answers.
Day 26 - The greatest historical event in your lifetime.
Day 27 - Name the one family member you'd want to end up in jail with if by chance you ended up in jail.
Day 28 - A confession of something you're afraid of.
Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.
Day 30 - A character description of someone you miss.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
- Great for dicing and chopping ...
The Super Slapper
When my husband unwrapped his Christmas gift, a huge grin broke across his face. He said, "Oh you got me one, a super slapper." I received it as a free product from CSN in exchange for using it and writing a review. As it was Christmas, I decided to give it to my husband as a replacement of one we had previously, made by another company out of less durable materials. The stainless steel body of this chopper can withstand the vigorous use my husband puts it through.
This stainless steel chopper is perfect for chopping and dicing small to moderate amounts of onions, vegetables, and even tender meats. And it's so much more convenient than dragging out the big food processor and all its parts.Plus, it stores in a relatively small space, which is important in our kitchen since we don't have a lot of cabinets.
My husband's favorite use for his chopper is making salsa. The chopper allows him to very efficiently prepare all of his ingredients. I like the salsa better when we makes it this way as opposed to using the food processor, because the food processor whips the salsa into a frothy consistency rather than a chunky mixture.
Overall, I think this product is more useful and efficient for chopping than either a knife or a food processor. Depending on how many times the blade is depressed, the user can control the resulting size of the food being chopped. The more depressions the smaller the pieces. Finally, it comes apart for easy cleaning and, again, unlike a food processor, there is no motor to worry about when cleaning the "Super Slapper."
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Two years ago, our Christmas tree was a bush. I didn't know it was a bush, however, until a little neighbor girl asked me, "Why did y'all put up a Christmas bush? My mama and daddy put up a Christmas tree at our house." I of course gave her a talking to about asking personal questions then sent her home until after the holidays. When she left I sat down in the green wing-back chair in the living room and studied the dead plant in the corner holding up our ornaments. The child was right. It was indeed a bush.
Last year my parents drove into our driveway two weeks before the yule and tossed three trees on our front lawn. My mama said, "Y'all can choose one of these to be your tree. Whatever you don't choose I'm taking to your brother's house for him to pick from." What could I do? I didn't want my brother to get the best tree, so in the dark on the front lawn I had my husband hold up each specimen one at a time so I could observe it from all sides. Then he held up each one again so I could again walk around and around determining which had the best shape, height, color, clarity, and carat. We did this waltz until, frustrated, he exclaimed, "We're getting this one," and hauled it into the house.
That tree was 12 feet tall and had only four branches. I later found out it had been dead for two days before my parents delivered it to us because a bulldozer mowed it down along a fence line. My parents didn't want those nice cedar trees to go to waste. We hung 12 ornaments on it and called it Christmas.
All my children have ever known is Christmas trees that came straight from the wild. Trees with multiple choice spikes at the tip-top teasing that each would be best for the angel. Trees with gaping holes in one side where they grew around an obstacle like a fence post or a side of a barn. My children understand that the hunt for the Christmas tree goes on all year, up and down country roads, as we spy cedars that would be perfect and tell each other to remember this one or that one. Still, we end up with vast, room engulfing, evergreens of imperfection.
So when my 9 year-old daughter said to my mother-in-law, who buys her manicured fir from the boy scouts on the corner every year, "Your tree always looks so fake," I cringed. I didn't know which one of us, myself or my mother-in-law, she was insulting and which one of she was complimenting. Having been witness to our long parade of derelict Christmas trees, my mother-in-law took the child's statement as a sincere compliment, which meant I had to graciously accept the insult.
But although, in years past, as front heavy trees have crashed to the floor the day after Christmas, scattering ornaments and needles across the living room floor, I have threatened to throw the whole thing on the curb, lights, ornaments and all and be done with the homely holiday harbinger, I truly do love the thrill of finding a tree in the wild.
|Identifying the perfect tree and sticking with it so it doesn't get away.|
|The men folk haul it to the truck.|
|Cussed into corner.|
|Domesticated and lit in the living room.|
Friday, December 17, 2010
Six years ago our youngest son, who keeps mischief up his sleeve and his pant leg, both, came bounding into our room at 6am. It was a Christmas emergency. "Mama! Daddy! Santa didn't come! He didn't come!" He shook our shoulders and jumped on our bed to arouse us out of our winter slumber. Never mind that he just announced that he had made an unauthorized trip down the stairs on Christmas morning.
Oh my gosh, I thought. I pulled a forgetful tooth fairy stunt, but on Christmas. This is bad. Is the whole world waking up to see that Santa came? How are we going to fix this foul up? It's not as easy as pretending to find a dollar on the floor and making up a story about the specialness of that particular tooth. In a few hours curious friends will be calling the kids to ask what they got. But wait, is it Christmas? No. Today must be Christmas Eve. I think.
Still not convinced of who was right, me or him, I asked, "Are you sure today is Christmas?"
"Yes, ma'am," he cried. "I know it is. Yesterday the snowman [which we use to countdown] held up the number 1. It was the last day until Christmas, so today is Christmas, and SANTA DIDN'T COME!"
Six years later, we're having the same debate. This morning at breakfast we argued over whether the snowman should be holding up 7 days or 8 days. There are two camps. Some of us believe that he should hold up 8 days because, as of this morning, today has not yet passed. The rest of us believe that he should hold up 7 days, because today has arrived and therefore isn't part of the until anymore.
What is the correct method for counting down to Christmas? Even Google doesn't know. Which makes me think this traditional task must only tax my family. Embarrassing.
But, alas, I've found a way to keep it straight. I just hope that whoever developed this countdown isn't related to me. Otherwise Christmas might be a day late again.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Are you hustling and bustling store to store looking for the perfect gift for Grandma Taft and anything at all for Uncle Al? Are your stockings sagging and your feet frowning? Does that little voice inside your head keep whispering, "Well isn't this just another merry damn Christmas?"
Never fear. Everything you need is in the blogosphere (and in cyberspace). Check out CSNstores.com, where shopping is easy and hundreds of items can be shipped to your door in time for Christmas morning magic. CSN is comprised of over 200 websites, including everything from luggage stores to furniture and cookware.
Whatever I decide on, you can read a review in the coming weeks. And me in the kitchen? Well, you'll want to read all about that.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The holidays, despite all their bling and the joy they bring, can also be STRESSFUL. We run the risk of releasing our resolve to live fearlessly and, thus, spiraling into Christmas chaos. Don't lose your presence of mind.
Monday, December 6, 2010
What do I say to kid who asks me, "Mama, do I look like Mater with his doors open?"
If I say no, he'll think I'm patronizing him. He'll think I'm just doing my motherly duty and making him feel better about a kid at school teasing him.
If I say yes, he'll cry. And he'll write bad things about me and my maternal cruelties in his memoirs.
Silence simply confirms his worst fears, that the little girl who said it can see deep down into his soul from where his ears sprout, and that she maybe likes what she sees there. Bleck!
So I said, "You got less rust on your chin."
He went and asked his daddy.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I've been training for a 5K race. Not because I love running. Quite the opposite. I detest the jogging motion. Living by two principles, (1) only run if someone chases me and (2) if I don't run then no one can chase me, I've fared very well over my lifetime, without the nuisance of running.
But then my children and my husband started yammering on about how they thought I couldn't run, meaning I wasn't able, I didn't have the skill or the lung capacity for it. They didn't believe I was capable of running at all. So, in a moment of delirium I vowed to show them.
My vow resulted in training for a 5K race. I don't think this is what people call having the last laugh.
The hardest part of my training has been the hills. Did you know that 90% of the world can only be accessed by going up hill? This fact came as a revelation to me when I found myself on foot looking at what lay ahead and thinking I better go on home the way I came because I'll never master that monstrosity. I even said it out loud: "I'll die before I get to the top of that hill."
- I shushed the nagging voice telling me I couldn't do it and, even if I could, I didn't have to.
- I quit looking at the top of the hill or the long incline leading there. Seeing how far I had to go overwhelmed me.
- I quit thinking about all the hills waiting for me beyond that one. There will always be a next hill to climb. It's best to focus on the one at hand.
- Although, I quit looking at it, I made getting to the top my singular goal.
- I relaxed my shoulders, my arms and my jaw.
- I put one foot forward and then the other foot, and so on, not stopping.
- I concentrated on each step, only one step at a time. Every step toward my goal was a success in and of itself. Each step was celebrated.
Fear, however, was holding me back from what was waiting on the other side: confidence and accomplishment. Had I never summoned up the guts to get up and go I would have never experienced the thrill of running down the other side. And, oh, what a feeling that is!
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: What hill is holding you back? What hill are you avoiding because you think you can't climb them? How has this complicated your life and your routines? What's on the other side that you're missing out on because of fear? Today, start climbing that hill, one step at a time. You can do it!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
So my 15 year-old son comes home from a school trip a couple of weekends ago telling me he's discovered the perfect place for us to do our Christmas shopping. He promises me that it's not too far away; just up I-20 a piece. From that point he nags and nudges me about going there until my knees buckle and I find myself in the driver's seat of my minivan heading west on the interstate.
As the speedometer needle swings over to 75, I ask about exact location. "I don't know," he confesses, suddenly not so full of himself.
"What's it called," I say.
"I don't know," he answers again. "But I'll know it when I see it. The sign has cherries on it . . . or maybe those were apples. It's something like the Country Store, I think."
"Is that country with a K or a C?" He ignores my joke and assures me this will be worth the trip. They've got the coolest stuff there; something for everyone on our Christmas list. Approaching every off-ramp, he announces, "I think this is it," then as I make ready to exit, recants, "No, it must be the next one." It goes on like this for miles.
Finally, he commits to an exit and we leave the interstate. He cranes his neck looking in both directions. "Left," he says. "I see it over there."
"Where," I ask, turning left, not seeing anything that looks remotely like a gift store.
"Down there on the right," he points. "Mama, you're going to love this place."
Following his insistence, I pull in and park:
He enthusiastically escorts me in the doors and begins pulling items from displays, demonstrating what they do and how they work and making suggestions for recipients. The jar of water labeled a Georgia tornado would be perfect for his sister. It would entertain her for hours. One of his uncles would be beside himself to open some beef jerky and a Budweiser can cleverly converted to hold a hidden water bottle on Christmas morning.
He has his eye on the 5 lb. candy bar for me (you'll hear no complaints) and an enormous Rice Krispie Treat for his father. Birdhouses of every sort, including an Elvis with the entry through his mouth, catch the boy's attention, making him think of his grandmother. For the relative who has everything? A license plate Christmas tree ornament that reads Luv Trucker, packaged with a Sprite and a Snickers Bar.
He's right, I'm fascinated. I feel like a voyeur looking into the twisted mind of a teenage boy, a road-weary salesman or a typical male at Christmas time. I even find myself thinking that we'll have to check back for specials on Black Friday.
Monday, November 15, 2010
But I'm passive and he was proud and a confrontation over out-of-season decorations really wouldn't have done either of us any good. He probably wouldn't have said, "Oh, ma'am, you're right. We haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet. I didn't even consider how I'm cutting the glory of fall short. Let me go right now and pack up all this junk until after we eat turkey next week."
More than likely, he would have told me to get my bah-humbug ass the hell off of his lawn.
But truly, why the rush? Why the hurry to get to the next destination, the next holiday, the next big event, instead of allowing the season to unfold in its given time?
We all do this. I'm as guilty as anyone else of rushing something; of wishing days of my life away because they're between me and some future event or goal, failing to recognize that the between is pretty darn important in its own right. It's time I'll never get back.
We rush our babies to walk so we don't have to carry them. We rush our weeks to pass so we can get to the weekends. We rush through books so we can find out what happens at the end.
Rushing on to the next thing doesn't necessarily ensure I'll enjoy it anymore than if I wait for it to arrive at its scheduled moment. For example, I've noticed that people who rush the Christmas season, pack up their nativity scenes and throw Santa back in the garage on Christmas Day or the day after, never even giving the Wise Men a chance to arrive and discover baby Jesus in the manger. They don't know that the best days of Christmas come when all the pressure of presents and parties ends, when we can sit around and enjoy the tree and each other in the warm glow of Christmas lights.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: What are you rushing? If it's Christmas, go take down those decorations and concentrate on what you have to be thankful for, like a second chance to put them up again. If it's something else, start today practicing patience. Resolve to enjoy the "between" and everything else in its own time.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I've been humming Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving Song for a week now, so I know the tryptophan coma is almost upon us. Time to brace myself for the influx of family. Time to tolerate my mother suggesting that we talk about something other than politics at the Thanksgiving table, only for her to complain when we rehash the history of who has been to jail, who hasn't, and who tried really hard but couldn't get in.
Personally, I think Turkey Day is the finest holiday we Americans have ever invented. No gifts. Few decorations. And little pressure, except for working hard to not say something that offends the in-laws, like asking, "What is that revolting green stuff in that bowl?" Note: It's a traditional Thanksgiving dish whipped together with pistachio pudding, marshmallows, chopped green grapes and pecans developed by now-deceased grandmother. Who knew?
With all this in mind, I'm preparing to place myself in a Cranberry Fog forthwith. The recipe follows:
1/4 cup cocktail rimming or granulated sugar
1 lime wedge
1 cup frozen cranberries
8 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 cup Simple Syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
8 ounces tequila
1/3 cup orange liqueur
2 cups crushed ice
Run the lime wedge around the rim of 4 margarita glasses. Dip each glass in the sugar. Puree the next three ingredients until smooth. Add everything else and then blend again, until smooth. Here I diverge from the directions, which say to evenly divide the mixture between the four glasses. I say fill your glass first and drink it down to be sure you've concocted an elixir suitable for sharing. Then divide the rest between the four glasses and serve.
~From Peterson's Holiday Helper
As a side note, tequila plays a role in my futile one-time effort to get into jail. My mother really hates to hear that story at Thanksgiving.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I received this e-mail from a friend. At least, I think she's a friend. But I don't know why friends do these things to each other. The e-mail reads:
An interesting fact about October 2010:
This OCT. has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays, all in 1 month. It happens once in 823 years. These are considered money bags months. Pass them to 8 good people and money will appear. Whoever stops this will experience none.
With Halloween looming, it gave me goose flesh and made my skin feel cool and clammy. So I replied to my friend (at least, I think she's my friend):
Did you just put a curse on me? Even with five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays this month, I don't have time to send out all these e-mails in hopes of receiving a fortune, much less to cope with a curse. A hex is one thing, but a curse, of course, quite another.
Here's the difference:
A curse is a malevolent spell that is purposefully done to inflict harm upon another.
A hex is a spell or bewitchment that can be done for good or for bad. A hex is generally less potent than a curse.
I think it's important to know which kind of e-mail she sent. What if I was due a bag of money this month anyway, whether or not I ever opened that e-mail, BUT, because I read it and didn't forward it to 8 good people, I'm now no longer entitled to receive my money bag. That would be a curse.
But if I read it, ignored it and consequently turned into a frog, then that's a hex.
She replied to me:
Heavens, no. None of us needs a curse. We have far to much to do & accomplish and no idea how to get it all done...
I guess that means it was a hex and that I'm a frog.
Why do friends (at least, I think she's my friend) do these things to each other?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The doorbell rang at about 7 p.m. I was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on dinner so my husband went to greet our visitor. When he opened the door I heard the voice of our across-the-street neighbor. I peeked through the dining room to see her standing on the front porch facing my husband. She held a zip-loc bag with unidentifiable contents.
Now most people wouldn't get at all suspicious about such things, but most people don't live in my neighborhood, on my street. Most people have never had their crepe myrtles trimmed by the neighbor's yard man. Most people have never been accused of not only owning but somehow producing stray animals from the crawl space under their house. Most people have never had neighbors complaining that the fleas in the neighbor's yard came from their yard. Most people have never endured the thrill of being awarded yard of the month in the newspaper then being stripped of it the very next week.
I feared the neighbor now on our front porch had a chipmunk or a bird in that bag; that perhaps she had found it dead on her lawn and was seeking restitution. Likely, she believed our cat had shredded it or one of our children had popped it off with his BB gun or it got lost in our lawn and in its confusion ran out into the road in front of a car, then laid up in her yard to die an untimely death. Neighborhood scapegoats, such as us, come to fear and expect situations like this.
A known coward, I went back to the kitchen and let my husband handle it. Shortly he closed the door and came into the room carrying the zip-loc baggie with the meaty creature all wadded inside. "She made you keep it?" I exclaimed.
"Yeah," he said, tauntingly. "I'm going to put it in the fridge for later."
"For what?!" I squeaked.
"For Kerksey Belle."
"That dog catches plenty of her own chipmunks. We don't need any of the ones the neighbors brought by," I huffed. "What did we do now anyway?"
"Nothing." He looked at me sideways. "It's steak scraps for Kerksey Belle."
"And?" I asked, knowing there was more to the visit than that.
"And," he laughed, "she wanted to know what exactly we're doing in the front yard with those columns."
"So she came bearing gifts so she could ask nosy questions about our architectural elements and get away with it," I summarized. "And then report back to everyone else."
"She wanted to make sure that it's just for Halloween and not permanent."
"Then we'll leave it up until Christmas," I vowed.
I never said we didn't bring this stuff on ourselves.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
This morning as I streamed along toward Sanford Stadium with the rest of the red and black homecoming crowd, something caught my eye. Facing the onslaught of UGA fans and a smattering of Vanderbilt fans, with the beckoning stadium in the background, was a man dressed in a business suit, sans suit coat, holding a briefcase and handing out flyers to anyone who would accept one.
Drawing closer, it became very clear that this man wasn't just any dawg-to-dawg salesman. He is a recently out of work 2000 University of Georgia graduate who went straight to the mecca of alumni networking.
His name is Travis W. Braun. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a major in international business and coconcentrations in management and German. And I know some of you might be thinking that no one but a desperate man would go to this end to get a job. But Mr. Braun is no desperate man. He only just lost his full-time position as a regional sales manager and project manager in September. He still has his part-time position as an assistant director of commercial development.
So desperation is not the explanation for Mr. Braun's behavior; for his dawg-to-dawg sales.
I would guess that he's driven, highly motivated, energetic.
Who wouldn't want to hire someone like this, who, on top of all that, is also innovative, creative, and an outside-of-the-stadium thinker?
All I can add is Go Dawg!
(E-mail me, email@example.com, if you'd like to get in touch with Mr. Braun about possible employment.)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
We southerners, particularly the ladies among us, spend a lot of time asking, "What will people say?"
"What will the neighbors think?"
Well I'm here to tell you, whatever it is, they've probably already said it and already thought it, because whatever it is you're microanalyzing to death and vacillating over has likely already been done, worn, said, seen, and so forth. The best thing a girl can do for herself is acknowledge it. Get it out in the open.
Do you think for one second Cindy Crawford loved that mole on her upper lip when she was 13? I don't know for sure, but I bet she hated when other kids pointed it out or giggled about it behind her back. I bet she tried to cover it up with her hand or her hair whenever she could. Now it's her claim to fame.
What do all of these famous people have in common: Rachel Ray, Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel Maddow, Suze Orman, Nancy Pelosi, and Dr Phil?
Despite being multi-faceted individuals, they have all turned one dimension of their personalities into a powerful brand. We feel like we know them. We know what they're for and what they're against. And they're not afraid of critics. When someone told Rush Limbaugh he's pushy, overbearing and arrogant he didn't take it as an insult. He took it and internalized it. When someone told Ellen DeGeneres she has a weird, off-beat sense of humor, she didn't quit cracking jokes. She turned up the volume.
I park like an old lady, easing my car into the spot, stepping on the brake, easing off the brake, stepping on the brake, letting up, mashing down, until all of my passengers have whip-lash and I'm parked deep enough that my rear bumper doesn't get knocked off. Not only do my children and husband razz me about my lack of skill, by-standers at Wal-mart stare at me when I exit my car. So I say, "I know, I park like an old lady. I failed that section of the driving test."
When I claim it, because it is rightfully mine - whatever the neighbors are saying or thinking about me - I claim my fame. Claiming my fame transfers the power to me.
Today's Assignment: In your Book of Lists, make a list of all the things the neighbors think and say about you; even the stuff that really bothers you when they say it (especially that stuff). Decide right now that you will own it. After all, it is yours. Right now, pick one thing off of that list, the one thing that you want to overcome your insecurities about, call up a friend and claim your fame. Brag to her about it.
Tomorrow, brag to another friend about it. Once you're comfortable with that, brag about it to a stranger.
Before you know it, fame will feel good.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Helen and I were perusing our menus at the Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay's restaurant at Atlantis in the Bahamas. We discussed the various dishes, considering their culinary merits. After all, we could only each eat one entree. We wanted it to count. We wanted to order well.
I ordered the salmon, which probably sounds like a cop out, since every menu in every restaurant all over the planet lists salmon on it. But no other salmon in the world was as tender and divine as the one delivered to my table. I received a large portion, perfectly seasoned. It practically melted in my mouth.
Helen ordered the cilantro grouper. As soon as Helen said it, our waitress replied, "That's a stew."
Helen smiled sweetly and answered, "Okay."
I thought that was an awfully strange response to the waitress's statement. As a friend, I couldn't let Helen dumbly agree to whatever the waitress said. I asked, "You know she said that's a stew?"
Helen smiled and nodded.
"Helen," I barked a tad louder, afraid she couldn't hear me over the din of other diners, "a stew. She said you ordered a stew."
"I know," Helen snapped.
It was my turn to answer okay, even though it went against my theory. I believe that if a waitress warns me about what I ordered, even if it's a seemingly benign warning, like I've ordered stew, she's trying to send me a serious message, encoded, of course. Following my theory, I immediately change my order. She's giving me this information for a real reason, not just because I've ordered stew.
Helen, I learned, doesn't share the same hairs-bristling-on-the-back-of-the-neck suspicious nature as me. She prefers adventure. This is what Helen got for her devil-be-damned attitude:
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I find that when the kids go away for an extended period of time, like to camp, it's always nice to make them feel special upon their return. We cook a meal we know the kids love or spend time together playing a board game or go to a movie. It's important that they know they were missed and that their father and I are happy to have them home again.
This year, I think we've really gone overboard, and I'd like to go on record as saying it was my husband's idea. At any rate, there is something waiting for them in the garage when they get home. It's all shiny and new. And it truly says we missed them in a way that no other gift can. When they swing back those garage doors on August 1st, they will know just how much we love them and need them around here.
Most assuredly, it will leave them speechless. The down side is that, on their very first day home, they will probably get in a big argument about who will use it first.
What do you think:
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Last week's newspaper is on the grass in our front yard. As you face the house, it's resting on the lawn on the left between the driveway and the front walk, near the struggling dogwood tree. It has been there since last Thursday, when it was delivered. This week's paper has now joined it.
It's still there because I'm running an experiment to see how long it takes before someone other than me picks it up and brings it inside. So far, everyone is waiting on me to do it. I know the mailman is probably running his own experiment, since he walks by it everyday and hasn't yet placed it on our front porch. I guess he figures he's already feeding our dog (a treat a day), why should he get the paper, too?
Our neighbors, though they are unaware, are in on the experiment, as well. I'm trying to find out how long it will take for one of them to come walking over and kick it onto the front porch or say something to me about it or stand in her front yard and stare menacingly in the direction of our house.
I'm wondering how much longer I can go on with this little project, as the sight of that newspaper is starting to eat at me every time I pull in and out of the driveway. I try not to look in its direction, but the contrast of the bleached white pages against the deep green grass makes me look every time. Some days, I believe I'm spiraling into a mini-psychotic state, deluded by the idea that the newspaper is itself conspiring against me.
This is driving me mad, mad I tell you. If someone doesn't pick up that newspaper soon, I'm going to bonk. My family doesn't like it when I bonk. Why is the mailman doing this to us? Why doesn't he just pick it up and put it on the porch? I think he's mumbling about me under his breath every day that he brings the mail and that glaring indication of my loss of control is still there.
Do I have to do everything around here?
I can see this isn't going well; not how I planned. Experiment aborted. I'm going out to bring in the old news.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
6 a.m. The clock radio comes to life and the morning newscaster sends his message through the static. "The king will be back tomorrow night," he says.
In my reluctant-to-face-the-world state I immediately jump to the conclusion that all the rumors about Elvis were true all along. He's not dead and tomorrow night he'll be on stage singing, "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog cryin' all the time." Behind my closed eyelids, he's wearing a white, bedazzled jumpsuit with his hair slicked back and he's doing that pelvic thrust move that nearly brought the country down. I try to calculate how old he would be now, but the math proves too difficult at 6 a.m.
Then in that hazy midland between wake and dreaming, I decide God must have sent out a press release over the AP wire. Jesus will arrive for the 2nd time tomorrow night. I conduct a brief inspection of my soul and inventory my transgressions and determine that this may not be the best time in my life for the Rapture. Readjusting my pillow to block out the annoying static from the radio, I send up a prayer asking for mercy and forgiveness.
But wait! My groggy brain returns to the Bi-Lo check-out lane where I vaguely remember reading the cover of a tabloid announcing the disappearance of Michael Jackson's body. Dr. Frankenstein, from somewhere in the deep recesses of my convoluted neural pathways, shouts, "It's alive!"
6:01 a.m. The morning newscaster's voice undulates with the static, as if he knows I'm still in bed and it is his sole objective to force me from between the sheets. He says, "Lebron James will blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."
Lebron James? Who died and made him king? I exasperatedly think.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
~ John Adams, July 3, 17776, in a letter to Abigail Adams
When Adams wrote this letter to his dear wife, regarding how Americans should remember and celebrate their Independence from the mother country, he obviously had no idea how the government he was forming would get in our way. What began as a simple assertion of a people's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, has become a bureaucratic conflagration.
Verily, one might argue that Adams's memo of proclamation, calling upon citizens to light bonfires, bear arms, illuminate the skies, and participate in sports & games, serves as the justification for our modern ATF. July 4th, if commemorated properly, is prime time for alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. For who among us has not witnessed a man igniting an explosive, meant to light up the continent, with a cigarette in one hand and a PBR in the other?
Ponder that over your game of horseshoes today. It's not only your right, but your obligation as an American citizen.
Happy 4th of July! Celebrate it according to tradition.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
From Gone With the Wind:
Scarlett: Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war; this war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. Besides... there isn't going to be any war.
Brent Tarleton: Not going to be any war?
Stuart Tarleton: Why, honey, of course there's gonna be a war.
Scarlett: If either of you boys says "war" just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door.
Just like Scarlett, from the moment we exited the womb, we southern girls were taught the gift of gab; the skill of conversing. BUT, we were also taught what polite ladies shall not, under any circumstances, discuss with others - politics, money, religion, sex; which, in my opinion, doesn't leave us much to confer on.
Our strict training in the ways of womanhood has resulted in two common outcomes:
- Southern girls often resort to whispering at a volume their friends and enemies alike must strain to hear.
- Southern girls tend to chatter on without thinking about what they are saying, but avoiding all controversial subjects.
Who among us hasn't had a girlfriend who talked so much that she never heard anything we had to say? She was always preoccupied thinking of what she would say next, and sometimes blurting it right over the top of our own words, as if she didn't even need us in order for the conversation to occur. And most of it was mindless twitter, anyway.
Who among us hasn't done that herself on occasion?
Raise your hand if you've ever tried to share an exchange with a woman who spoke so confidentially it was almost a secret from you, as well as the world. Leaning in as hard as one can to detect the almost inaudible mumble of a friend causes one to grow weary of the tete-a-tete, and usually just plain weary.
Are you are guilty of such quiet crimes? Am I?
The gift of gab is our southern discipline; thus, we must be disciplined about using it. We must not fear it. Our voices can make a difference in the world, without ever hinting at un-ladylike qualities.
First, we must break our bad habits. Those of us who speak in tones so low the earthworms can't even feel the vibrations need to find the courage to speak up and the discernment to know when to remain silent. Those of us who prattle on about this, that, and the other, but nothing of substance, should practice the art of breathing between sentences and phrases. Once that is accomplished, then we must learn to listen.
Second, we must decide how we will use our gift of gab to make the world a better place; the world at large or the world within arm's reach. Once we have honed and refined our gift, as our mamas and grandmamas would want, we will discover its power.
Third, remember to banter about the weather, the kids, the grocery store coupons, the car repair garage. It's good for us. Small talk makes the world go round.
The Final Word:
A study in the journal of Psychological Science found that people who spend time talking to others, having both deep conversations and sharing chitchat, report feeling happier than their silent counterparts. Therein lies the crux of the matter: If we are nattering on without pause or if we are emitting at a decibel for which the human ear is not tuned, then our partner in conversation is rendered to silence, and, therefore, not happy.
Friday, June 4, 2010
It has been determined that my husband is blind to my figure flaws. And, according to a friend, such blindness is a sign of true love.
But I know what really means true love and it has nothing to do with how my butt looks in these jeans.
As I ironed shirts for my sons last night, my husband breezed into the laundry room and shook his head at my work. "You don't know what you're doing," he exclaimed at me. "You're making a mess of those shirts. Why do you keep spraying on starch like that. Those shirts are so stiff they belong on a body in a morgue. Why'd you put the crease there? That's not where it goes. And the collars. My gosh!"
You may not know it, but these are beautiful, sweet, romantic words. He means every one of them from the crevices of his soul, and he cares enough for me to be plainly honest. I love him for it. Even more than that, though, I know he loves me.
The next thing he says is, "I'll finish these shirts." He grabs the iron from my hand, and caps the starch, and rearranges the shirt on the ironing board, and shoos me away. He doesn't even expect me to stand and watch him like he does when he fixes the dishwasher or pays bills on-line.
This, my friends, is true love.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
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Here's wishing you a green, bug free summer.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
My husband sees me through the eyes of a blind man. To him, my figure is the same as when we first met, way back when we were 21. The body of a woman who carried four babies to term, and then carried four babies on the hip for years, doesn't register on his retina.
A friend told me that his vision difficulty is a sign of true love. Perhaps it is, but true love is no reason to go out and buy a string bikini and wear it onto the beach in front of God and everyone. Just because my spouse's eyeballs are cataracted by cupid certainly doesn't justify me exposing my saggy belly skin to everybody else on the beach. They aren't blinded by true love, but they might be blinded by me in my near birthday suit.
And here's the thing. If all the other matronly mamas' husbands are also blinded by love, then they are looking at me as I walk by and whispering to their wives, "You'd look better than her in a bikini." Love is blind but the neighbors see in high definition.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
You never know what might be in a kid's imagination, until you give him the opportunity to release it. My 10 year-old son and two of his 4th grade classmates produced this video. After watching it, I still don't quite understand his imagination, but I was definitely entertained.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Yesterday I faced a conundrum. Someone forced me to take a hard look at what I'm teaching my children to value and to make a difficult decision.
The public schools in my county are out for summer. The private school my children currently attend, however, is still in session for another week. And therein lies my problem. Two of my 12 year-old son's friends, who are liberated to revel in summer's bliss, invited my child to revel with them. They asked if he could go to the beach with them for the day, today, a Friday, a school day for my 12 year-old.
There I found myself caught between the importance of education and what I know to be fleeting opportunities for youthful abandon. In an effort to put the decision on the shoulders of others, I told my son he could not go if he had any tests or quizzes scheduled for today. He smiled broadly at me. He didn't have any obligations of that nature.
I explained to him my concern over the message I would send him, and his siblings, for that matter, if I allowed him to skim board all day instead of stare at a whiteboard for eight hours. He assured me, however, that he understands the importance of studying hard and doing well in school. "Sometimes, Mama," he argued, "a boy just needs a mental health day." And he cartoonishly convulsed to emphasize his point.
Sending him out of the kitchen, I insisted that he leave me to ponder it for awhile. I thought about the last time I did anything spontaneous or slightly irresponsible. Nothing registered. Apparently, without my constant attention to all the details and serious commitment to the to-do list, nothing will get done and all will fall apart or come to a screeching halt.
Then I considered all the people who have died without notice; up and keeled over without warning. I pictured their to-do lists scribbled on paper on their kitchen tables with nothing crossed off. Friends and relatives mourn their absence. They cry. But no one says, "How will the grass ever get cut now that Gerald is gone?" or "Who will service those accounts Jane's been in charge of?" No, Gerald and Jane are six feet under having never unchained themselves from their to-do lists and life marches right on. The grass gets cut, the accounts get managed, and their to-do lists get thrown away, unnecessary remnants of lives concluded.
While I don't want my son to be 32 years-old, sitting on my sofa, watching reality TV, wearing a wife-beater shirt, with his right hand shoved in his unbuttoned trousers, and his left hand transporting a PBR from the end table to his lips, I don't want him to take himself too seriously either. Although I may regret it and find myself kicking his 32 year-old arse out the front door someday . . .
I landed on the side of youthful abandon and sent my son and his skim board to the beach with his friends. The whiteboard can wait until Monday.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
So we're driving through one of those dark, narrow parking decks with small arrow signs pointing us in directions that they don't appear quite committed to. Those signs reserve the right to change their mind when a car comes through the maze in the opposite direction.
Out loud, I say to myself, "It's hard to maneuver a car in here," to which my young daughter responds, "What does maneuver mean?"
Her brother, only slightly older than her but adamant about exerting his intellectual dominance, replies, before I can, because I'm winding my way up the tower of Babel in the wrong direction, "It means poop."
Now, while he desires to crush his sister like a brainless bug under the sole of his intelligence, he also loves to fit in potty talk whenever he can. "No it doesn't," I correct, still peering through the dark for a parking space.
"Uh-huh," he insists, "I've heard you and Daddy talk about cow maneuver; how y'all are going to put cow maneuver on the garden."
"Honey, you mean manure. Cow manure."
"I do?" he asks, surprised. "Then what is cow maneuver."
"It's what they do at rodeos."
Saturday, April 24, 2010
If my mother gives me advice, I think she's judgemental. If my mother gives my friends advice, they think she's wise (and that she is very, very cool).
While at every turn I fight being like my mother (a fight I'm losing), my friends all say they want to be just like my mother when they are her age (but they'll be just like their own mothers).
My 8 year-old daughter says she wants to be just like me when she grows up. She always seeks my approval. But ultimately it will be her friends who treat me like a rock star.
The whole cycle is just so twisted.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Dixie Carter died.
I didn't think things like that happened to people like us, Southern Ladies. I've been so naive. Now this. It changes everything. If something so unmentionable can happen to Dixie Carter then it can probably happen to me, too.
Am I ready? Have I hostessed enough garden parties, attended enough UDC meetings, baked enough casseroles, been to enough football games, grown enough tomatoes, eaten enough cucumber finger sandwiches, taught enough Bible School, mulched enough magnolias to enter through the pearly gates and recline in my heavenly home along the banks of the Suwannee River?
Miss Dixie, I hope that sweet chariot swings low for you and carries you on home, where the angels sit you down to a fine meal of fried chicken, okra, butterbeans, summer squash, sweet iced tea, and Mama's homemade mashed potatoes. And I hope all your kinfolk, who went on before you, are gathered around that table, too, talking and laughing and telling stories and generally welcoming you. What a wonderful celebration it must be when a Southern Lady gets to the other side.
Rest in peace, Miss Dixie. All us girls down here, now that we know the Lord will send for us as someday, as well, have got a whole lot of silver to polish so we can be ready.
You hear that, Lord! A whole, heap of a lot of silver to polish, so please don't show up for the party before I'm expecting you.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold.
--Old summer camp song from Jennie Arnold Edwards YWCO Camp
I've been humming that tune since I got back from my annual girls' weekend with sorority sisters from my college days. I firmly believe every southern girl should cultivate two kinds of friends:
- The ones who knew her way back when
- The ones who know her now
Friends from back when allow us to be that silly, giggly girl from our teens or twenties. The one who told that bad Santa Claus joke any time she had the floor. The one who sunbathed on the roof in February so she would be ready for spring break in March. The one who pretended to like champagne and who re-enacted the When Harry Met Sally cafe scene, in public places, whenever she got the whim. They're the friends with whom we shared a wardrobe and our wild side.
Way back when friends forgive us for ditching them for a date with a boy. They recall all the gory details of Pledge Formal and don't mind if we've chosen to forget them. These friends remind us of when we weren't mamas and wives and responsible working adults. We are bound to them by history and they love us.
The friends who know us now are just as important. They accept the sophisticated, polite, lady-like woman we've grown into without ever comparing us to our past. They keep us from lingering too long in yesteryear when the present isn't all we thought it would be. They support us. They civilize us.
Friends who know us now chat with us about the mundane details of daily life and never grow bored with the conversation. They love our children like we do. They loan us a bottle of wine on a Sunday night or a pair of shoes on a Saturday. They feed our dog and pick up our mail when we go on vacation. They carpool our kids, bring casseroles when we're sick, and attend every Girls' Night Out, no excuses. We can count on them.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: We take our friends for granted, expecting them to be there when we have time for them. Today, be intentional about your friendships. Contact at least one old friend with whom you have fallen out of touch. Plan a get-together - a movie, dinner, a tour of homes, whatever - with a current friend. Gold and silver are too precious to let them slip away.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
HGTV is running their annual dream home sweepstakes. And of course it fits right in with my fantasy of making an abrupt left turn and veering off on a new adventure.
Not that anything is really wrong with my current adventure. Most days present me with something completely unexpected, like one of my kids telling me at 9 p.m. that he needs a poster board for a project due THE NEXT DAY, or one of them vomiting in a paper bag in the back seat on the way to school after he looked perfectly fine at breakfast, or me walking out of the mirrored YMCA door and slipping and falling down in the parking lot, spilling the contents of my purse on the asphalt, five lipsticks rapidly rolling toward the storm drain.
Yes, my life is definitely high adventure. But sometimes I do get carried away thinking about up and doing something completely different, out of the blue. A move-in ready home in the middle of the Arizona desert sounds like it could satisfy my wanderlust.
So I filled out the form and entered the random drawing. As soon as I clicked the SUBMIT button, panic seized me by the throat and kneed me in the gut. It shook me like a rag doll, shouting, "You fool! What if you win! What will you do then?"
"It comes with a car," I sputtered. "A 2010 GMC Terrain."
"How will you ever get the car back to Georgia?" panic pried.
"It comes with $500,000 dollars," I countered.
"Just enough to pay the property taxes and take one round-trip flight out to see your prize," panic pointed out.
By this time my eyes were bugging out of my head, but I didn't give in. "I could have fun there, being somebody different than I am here. That house is sleek and contemporary, up to date and new. Plus, no one would dare throw-up in the back seat of my new Terrain."
Panic tsk-tsked me, wrapping itself tight around my chest. "You're a southerner right down to your double helix," it said. "You have absolutely no idea what to do with yourself in a desert with no humidity."
I fought back panic, held it down and instructed it to cry mercy, and I entered again, to show it who's boss. But it refuses to say uncle and as the February 19 entry deadline approaches, I can feel it rising to its feet again. How will it treat me if I win?
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Thursday, between afternoon activities, too far from home to make a pit-stop there, my boys and I had about an hour to kill. Because I am a good, good mother, a virtual Queen of the Mamas, I took them to a sports bar & grill. Every inch of wall space was covered with televisions, all tuned into different channels, none of which was HGTV. While I found myself over-stimulated, they found themselves in boy heaven.
We ordered a couple of greasy appetizers in the food categories that will someday be life-threatening to them, when they are in their 40s. They scarfed it so fast it was a wonder the waitress had any fingers on her right hand after setting down the plates and retracting her arm. She looked scared, like she had reached into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo without thinking.
Before piling into the car, again, to drive to our next destination, I told the boys to go to the restroom. I did the same. I'm pretty sure they didn't wash their hands because they all three were impatiently waiting for me when I exited the Ladies' Room. "Mama," gasped my 10 year-old, "there were girls in our bathroom." Using his hands to indicate an enormous amount, he repeated, "Lots of girls! Everywhere!"
Hearing this made me momentarily panic. Did I go in the wrong bathroom? How mortifying. I would do something like that, too. I glanced at the doors, to check my attention to detail. Nope, I entered the correct lavatory. "What were girls doing in the Men's Room?"
Excitedly, he said, "They were in their cheerleader uniforms and stuff like that."
Seeing my look of consternation - although he wouldn't have used that word to describe it, he would have said SHOCK - my 12 year-old explained, "Just pictures of girls, Mama," which sent my head reeling in another sordid direction. But before I could address that thought, he added, "and there're two flat-screen TVs in there, too! I love this place." Then he sighed.
"It's a wonder y'all ever came out," I responded.
The worst part of the whole scene, was that I felt jilted; not just for myself, but for all women everywhere who have ever been to a sports bar & grill. Because all I had in my bathroom was a baby changing station and a dusty, plastic palm, sure signs of discrimination. No wonder there weren't any girls in my bathroom.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
How do you answer that question? Does gray matter because it's that vague place between two definites? Does gray matter because it's what we get when mixing black and white? Or does gray matter because it's what makes a rainy day cozy?
No. Gray matters because its what we think with. It's that slimy stuff inside our skulls that enables us to do calculus, tie our shoes, dream about dancing pop tarts, and make a decision to either walk on the wild side or to walk the straight and narrow. And gray matters because it's what Roger Day sings about on his new CD, aptly titled, Why Does Gray Matter?
The CD is a collection of 14 songs all about the brain. It's perfect for the science classroom. Introduce a lesson on the parts of the brain with Sara Bellum, the Brainy Girl. Motivate students to get ready to do their best work with Get Your Brain in Gear. Make them giggle with a sing-a-long to Monkey Brains. Inspire kids to feed their brains with nutritious foods with Brain Food - Eat it Up!
And by all means, play my favorite track to emphasize the difference between the duties of the left and right brain with the highly entertaining tune The Left Brain/Right Brain Song.
Elementary school science teachers need this CD in their collection. As an extra bonus, the CD comes with a copy of all the words to each song so that children can engage with the music, even the first time they hear it.
Sing a-long. Dance a-long. Learn a-long. Visit Roger Day's web site to listen to song samples from the Why Does Gray Matter CD and to buy your own copy today.