Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pass the Gravy, Please

Another Thanksgiving has passed us by, another one in the books. Where, oh where do the years go? 

It seems like just last year that I hosted the Thanksgiving meal for my side of the family  - the year that my older brother and his family were in an uproar because I didn’t make gravy. 

Little did I know that gravy is the most important part of a turkey dinner. Somewhere along the line I missed out on that crucial information.

It all started this way: I volunteered to make dinner and to serve it at our home for Thanksgiving day. My family agreed to come from various locations in South Dakota and Nebraska and the weather cooperated and everyone was actually able to make it.

After discussing the menu with my daughters and husband, we decided that I would make those yummy company potatoes instead of the traditional mashed potatoes. You know the ones I am talking about - hashed browns with cream of mushroom soup, green onions, sour cream, cream cheese and other wonderfully tasty and “healthy” ingredients all baked together. My family loves them but we don’t have them very often and decided this would be a good opportunity to serve them. 

And so I went ahead with the T-Day preparations. Pies, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, Jello salads, bread, vegetables, a relish tray and of course, turkey. We all sat down to eat and everything was proceeding quite well until someone said, “Where’s the gravy?”

Nonchalantly, I responded, “I didn’t make gravy, since we’re having cheesy potatoes instead of mashed.”

Silence.

And then the explosion. 

You’d have thought the end of the world had just occurred. 

Apparently, one cannot possibly serve turkey without gravy. It doesn’t matter that there are no mashed potatoes to put the gravy on. This had not occurred to me and if it occurred to my husband and daughters, they had not thought to say anything to me. Which leads me to believe that one actually can eat turkey without gravy, but suffice it to say that my older brother and his adult sons all truly believe that it is sacrilegious to do so.

Holy Schmoly. 

This fateful Thanksgiving day occurred many years ago but it frequently gets brought up. When my nephew Justin introduced his finance to me, he introduced me as, “This is Terri. She is the one that didn’t make gravy for Thanksgiving one year.” Hmmm. She’d already heard about me.

But that’s okay. When shopping for their wedding gift I carefully picked out the gravy boat that matched the dinnerware on their registry. Now mind you, they hadn’t registered for the gravy boat. I’m not sure what that says about the new bride. Maybe gravy doesn’t register as highly important on her dinner menus, either. However, in addition to the gravy boat, they received several packets of gravy mix. I’ve never actually used a gravy mix and was quite surprised to see that you can buy so many different kinds of mixes. I also was unaware that you can buy canned gravy and jars of gravy. Because, you see, when I do chose to make gravy, I make it from scratch.
So this year I hosted Thanksgiving again, but only for my mother, my sister, my younger brother and his wife. No older brother and nephews. I totally intended to make gravy to go along with the mashed potatoes and turkey, but by the time I got to that point I was tired and didn’t feel like making gravy so I decided not to. Oh well. 

And guess what? 


Nobody even cared.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Stick your Labels

My friend Carol always tells me that we are a label happy society. That unless we put a label on something, we aren't content. Every so-called condition must be labeled.

At first I just listened to her ramble on; sometimes she would just be commenting, sometimes ranting. As someone who has always been labeled, I didn't give much heed to her ideas on this matter. I am, after all, one of these labeled people she is referring to. I have been labeled bi-polar. I have been labeled ADHD. I have spent thousands of dollars with doctors and counselors to get these labels. Interesting enough, I know I'm not bi-polar, even though they insist on continuing to classify me as such. I might be ADHD, but if I am, I consider it something to celebrate, not a curse at all.

But since I've begun to write for my local newspaper, the Grant County Review, I have been getting some mighty interesting feedback from my readers. As it turns out, all the interesting little quirks that I thought were so abnormal aren't so abnormal at all. In fact, they are very normal. Apparently the only abnormal thing about me is the fact that I am bold enough, or just crazy enough, to write publicly about them! Everyone else has the same experiences, they are just too embarrassed to share them.

Well now, that is very interesting. And here all these years I've thought there was something wrong with me.

Ok, maybe there is. Maybe telling others about my embarrassing moments qualifies as having something wrong with me. But I don't think so. I think I just like to make others laugh, I think I just like to share funny stories, because we all need more joy in our days. And all these silly, embarrassing moments are too funny not to share.

So I've decided that Carol is quite smart and has a good handle on the whole labeling issue. I've thought for a long time that all these kids that are getting labeled as ADHD and Hyper-Active are getting an unfair shake, because the label has a negative connotation, and it really isn't a negative issue. The traits that go along with these so-called labels are actually quite wonderful. We just need to understand that teaching children basic self discipline and respect for others will make a huge difference in their lives. And it can be done, despite a society that seems to think we can teach dogs to obey and do tricks, but can't teach our children how to sit still and behave in certain situations.

I think I'll choose to keep the crazy label, though. I kind of like being crazy. It makes life fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Clicking Away

I have this dear friend, Carol. I believe I may have written about her a time or two before. I’m very close to her, almost like a sister. 

Anyway, she lives a fair distance away, but we keep in pretty close contact. In the olden days it was via telephone and up to a few years ago it was via email. And then a couple of years ago, she finally joined the new age and got unlimited text messaging and so now we keep in contact via text. I love technology.

Anyway, she doesn’t travel like I do, but sometimes we do get to travel together, and let me tell you, it’s always a fun experience. Interesting, too, to say the least. For example, a few years ago, when she was working in the tech center at a bank, she was to attend a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah to learn about a new program they would be using at the bank. Her employer, of course, would be footing the bill for her travel expenses, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to go along with her. 

I mean, really. I would room with her, thereby I wouldn’t have any hotel expense. Obviously, I’d be on my own for airfare and meals and miscellaneous spending, but it would be an opportune time to visit Salt Lake City, to spend evenings with Carol and on top of it all, I had a classmate from high school, also named Carol, living in Salt Lake City, and we could get together and do lunch. A perfect excuse to take a little trip.

Carol booked the hotel. That was interesting. I mean, the bank was paying for the lodging. I figured she’d choose something nice, right? No. She scoured the internet for the cheapest lodging she could find in the vicinity of the conference. Seriously? “Carol,” I said. “You don’t want the less than $50 a night hotel. Really, you don’t. Those hotels are not nice. They aren’t. They are dirty and the beds are uncomfortable and the pool is filthy and you don’t want to stay there. Besides, the bank is not expecting you to get a room for under $50 a night. I don’t think you should gouge them. Being frugal is good and nice and ethical, but it is not unreasonable to get a room that is more like $100 a night.”

She wouldn’t buy it. Besides, she said, the pictures on the website looked really nice.

“That’s because they have one nice room and a pretty lobby. They take pictures of those and post them on the internet. It deceives people into believing it is a nice hotel. Trust me. You do NOT WANT THIS HOTEL.”

She booked it anyway. 

Her flight arrived in Salt Lake City ahead of mine. When I landed and shut the airplane mode off on my phone, I saw that I had a text message from her, “The lobby is really nice, but when you go back to the rooms, well, let’s just say that if you drop something on the floor, you will want to immediately dispose of it.”

Sigh.

That night as we were sleeping I was awakened by what sounded like a semi applying it’s Jake breaks at it was rushing through our room. Startled, I sat up and looked around. It was just Carol, snoring away. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. She was determined to cut the entire forest down by dawn, from the sounds of it. So, quietly, I got my laptop out, arranged myself comfortably in my bed with pillows propped up behind me and turned on my side lamp, on the far side of the bed away from Carol, so as not to disturb her. And I started to work. 

You know how the keys on the keyboard make those little clicking sounds when you are typing? Well, I am a family rapid typist, and my nimble fingers were clicking away. After a bit, Carol woke and sleepily, but with a note of anger, asked me, “Please stop with that clicking. It has awaken me and is bothering me.”

I looked over at her with a stare of disbelief, which, I might add, was totally lost on her, as she immediately rolled over to go back to sleep.

Seriously? 

Sigh.

I shut my laptop, turned off the light, and laid down. Might as well try to sleep again. 


There shall be revenge one day, however. There shall be.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Wash Day Dance

This remodeling project is costing us more than we anticipated.

Oh, I know that is typical. It always costs more than one expects, right? There just seem to be hidden expenses that creep in and surprise people when they remodel, and why should it be any different for us? I knew that would be the case.

But the extra expense that is coming our way this week was not at all one that I'd projected. Not at all.

You see, we put in ceramic tile flooring in our home during this remodel. Took out the carpeting and linoleum and replaced it with tile. I must say, we've had it several months now and we are very, very happy with it. It is absolutely gorgeous, cleans up easily, doesn't show dirt (thank goodness for that), and, well, is just perfect in every way.

Along with the tile, I purchased some machine washable throw rugs for by the outside entrance doors to catch some of the grime that gets tracked into the house. I specifically chose machine washable, as I wanted to be able to wash them myself.

Yesterday we celebrated an early Thanksgiving with my family - just a small gathering of six of us. It has been a busy, busy fall for me, what with craft shows and this never-ending remodel project, and so the house is currently in the "a cyclone just went through two hours ago" decorating theme. I knew my usual dash and stash cleaning method would not even begin to work, so I just resigned myself to the cyclone look for the gathering. However, I did decide to throw the rugs into the washing machine so at least they'd be clean.

For three of the rugs, it would be the very first time they'd be washed. They are brand new additions to our home and this would be their maiden voyage, so to speak. Unfortunately, two of them proved to be unusually thirsty buggers that soaked up an amazing amount of water. This, of course, overloaded the washer, and set it to dancing.

I was upstairs, about as far away from the laundry room as one can get and still be in the same building. I heard the drums beating and the machine dancing and I took off running. Over the hills and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go... Well, not quite that fun. I rounded the corner into the laundry room, where the washing machine had reached dizzying heights of spinning and was pounding loudly as it jumped around like a crazy lunatic. I gotta say, I was more than a bit afraid to get close enough to open the lid to stop the frenzy. Gingerly I reached forward and popped the lid open and, thankfully, it stopped. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and took the offending water-logged pink rugs out and put them in the utility sink to wait until later to spin out on their own.

I rearranged the rest of the rugs and closed the lid and it finished it's spin cycle peacefully. All was well.

Until later when I went to run another load of laundry and discovered that the machine will no longer fill with water. Uh oh. My dear hubby dismantled the thing but couldn't solve the problem, and therein lies the hidden, totally unexpected additional expense due to the remodeling project: a service call and repair from our local appliance store.

Now who would have thunk that putting in tile flooring would have wielded a washing machine repair bill??

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Time is a Funny Thing

Time is a funny thing.

Or at least I think it’s a funny thing. I certainly have a hard time with it, that’s for sure. 

Take last week. I needed to get up at 4:00 am, so I had decided I’d be sure to go to bed early, as in, midnight. Because of this, I was keeping tabs on the time, checking the clock periodically, to make sure I’d make my deadline.

I remember looking at the clock and seeing it was 9:00 pm. “Oh good,” I thought. “I have lots of time left. Three whole hours! That is great.”

And I proceeded to continue working on my project at hand, which is actually always several projects at once. I tend to get a little bored working on one thing at a time, so I will flit from one task to another and then to another and around again. I suppose everyone works this way, but maybe not. It’s just that when I am working on an activity my mind is generally thinking about another one, so I have to stop and piddle with that one for a while. And then, of course, I start thinking about something else I could be doing and so I meander off to work on that activity. This continues until I eventually think about the original project and wander back to it. 

Unfortunately this means jobs sometimes take longer to get done, but it definitely keeps my life more engaging.

At any rate, I was busy zipping from one task to another and the next thing I knew it was 2:00 am. Where oh where did all those hours go? I couldn’t believe it was that late - or early, as the case may be - already. And I still needed to wash up before heading to bed. Four AM was going to come awfully early. As I turned the light out and snuggled down under the covers it occurred to me that since I’d be getting up again in just over an hour, I’d probably be wise to not go to bed at all. It might be easier than trying to get up at 4:00 am. I’m not sure I even finished the thought, though. I just fell asleep.

A few days later I had arrangements to pack the car and leave for a town located 90 minutes away to set up for a craft show the next day. My plan was to be on the road at 5:30 that evening. I distinctly remember checking the time and seeing it was 4:00 pm and realizing I had 30 minutes to finish what I was doing and then start loading my beloved Poppy. (Poppy is my hamster-driven car.) 

The next thing I knew it was 6:00. 

How did that happen?

Seriously, how did it go from 4:00 to 6:00 in a matter of like, 15 minutes? 

Now you might be thinking, “This girl had best get herself a watch.” Except that I own and wear a watch already, so that doesn’t do me much good. It’s even a SmartWatch, but of course it’s really only as smart as the wearer, and sometimes the wearer isn’t smart enough to tell it what to do. 

I am pleased to report that these two incidents did lead me to rekindle the habit of setting alarms on my SmartWatch so that I get to bed in a timely manner or quit working on a task at a certain time. I’m also pleased to say that this benefitted me greatly this week: I put a pan of brownies in the oven and instead of setting the timer on the oven, I set the timer on my watch. My rationale was, “If you’re downstairs when the timer goes off, you won’t hear it.”

Huh. Downstairs? How about two miles from home? Yep. I was driving down the highway, heading into town when the timer on my SmartWatch started to ring. At first I couldn’t figure out why it would be making such a racket, then I remembered those brownies in the oven. Fortunately I was close enough to home that I was able to turn around and get them out of the oven while they were still perfectly wonderful for eating. 

Thank goodness for technology. Now, if I could just use it consistently….


Monday, November 12, 2018

Preparing for Advent

Yesterday I made a trip into Minneapolis.

From where I live in NE South Dakota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, which we call the Twin Cities, is the nearest big city - and it's about four hours away. I can get to the western edge of the metropolitan area in three hours and twenty minutes from my front door, but to get to the shopping areas, I've basically got to figure four hours.

And of course, depending on the time of day and the season, maybe even more time, to allow for additional traffic or bad roads due to the weather.

I love going into the Twin Cities. I seldom go to Sioux Falls or Fargo, which are the preferred shopping areas of most of my friends. And in all honesty, Sioux Falls and Fargo have most of the same big name stores to shop at, so it's not that I have to go to the Cities to get what I want - at least not in most cases. But there is something about Minneapolis/St. Paul that feeds my soul. Maybe it's the way it's laid out. Maybe it's the cars zipping on the freeway around and though the city. I really don't know why, but periodically I just have to go there to nurture my spirit.

So yesterday was actually one of those times when I really did need to shop at a business that does not have a location locally, other than the Twin Cities: IKEA. I had ordered a cabinet from IKEA and needed to go in to pick it up. And I decided that this would be the day I did most of my Christmas shopping, too.

Boy oh boy, was I successful! I left immediately following church Sunday morning and got home at 11:30 that night. And I found almost everything I needed for gift giving this year! What a wonderful day. I couldn't believe how many people there were out shopping, though. One store had a line that must have had 50 people in it, all waiting to check out. Fortunately, the store was adequately prepared and the lined moved quickly, so I didn't have to wait long at all.

But I kept thinking, "It's only November 11th. It's going to get worse as we get closer to Christmas!" And said a silent prayer of thanks that I was doing my shopping now.

Today I spent a good share of my day unloading the haul in my car, taking price tags off and sorting through it all. Putting items away. Soon I will begin boxing and wrapping: I've vowed to get it done early this year because I really want to sit back and enjoy the Advent season, the time of waiting and watching for the coming of the Christ Child. In just two short weeks, Advent will begin, and I want to  delight in Advent and Christmas this year, instead of being all stressed out.

Advent always gets missed outside of church and it's such a shame. Christmas is so big and beautiful, we should spend Advent truly preparing our hearts for it. For me, Advent had become such a time of hurry, hurry, hurry that I had a hard time focusing on the preparation for the Christ Child.

I pray this year will be different.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Do As I Say

Recently we installed a new garage door.

It was a much needed replacement. Our old one had cracks in every panel and each time we opened it sounded like it would be the very last time it opened.

In fact, sometimes it refused to open. It would struggle, loudly, to lift itself a few feet and then abruptly come to a halt, refusing to budge another inch. We’d hit the remote again and it would gratefully sink back into its resting position. With a little coaxing and some physical help from either Tim or I, it would grudgingly try again and finally get into the full open position so that we could either drive the car in or out of the garage, whichever we needed to do at that moment. And then our poor, tired garage door would happily sink back into its sleepy-time (closed) setting. 

Kind of like me, now that I come to think of it.

Well, anyway, we’ve known for a while now that we should replace it. Tim and I have been talking about it for a couple of years, actually. This is one of those household tasks that I consider a “man’s” job, so I leave the doing of it to him. I don’t know why, exactly, but there are certain tasks around the house that I consider a man’s work and garage door replacement happens to be one of them. 

Of course, this means that replacement of the garage door may never actually happen. Just sayin’.

Another man’s task is water heater replacement. This is a bit of a side note, but in a bit you’ll see where I’m going with it. A few years ago our water heater started to leak. A slow leak, but a leak, nevertheless. I pointed it out, repeatedly, I might add, to my dear, sweet husband, and suggested a number of times that perhaps we should get a new water heater. He gave me his standard response, “Yes, we should.” But then failed to act on it. 

Then came the day when the slow leak suddenly became a fast leak. As in, the basement was flooded with water and Tim was screaming at me to help him mop this water up because it was spreading everywhere and he couldn’t keep up with it and the drain wasn't taking it fast enough and water was going everywhere and we had a major problem and what was I doing just standing there looking at him and I needed to do something and I should be helping him and get some towels or something and there’s 80 gallons of water in this thing and they are going everywhere and the water is coming out too fast and……

And he’s madder than a wet hen and I just said, “Gosh, if we’d replaced this one of those times when I’d suggested it back when it was just a slow leak we wouldn’t be in this situation right now, would we?” 

Which of course just made him more angry. Surprise, surprise.

But back to the garage door. A month or so ago, Tim and I were standing outside and I mentioned that we really should be thinking about replacing the garage door. Tim gave me his standard reply, “Yes, we should.”

To which I responded, “So, do you want to do it now, while the weather is nice? Or would you rather wait until it actually breaks completely and it’s 30 below and the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour? Because I will not come outside and help you if you do it in those conditions.”

The next day Tim called and ordered the garage door. 


Monday, November 5, 2018

Difficult Husband

I don’t know why husbands are so difficult to deal with. I mean, they seem perfectly reasonable - until you get married.

And then WHAM! They suddenly become so unreasonable.

Take, for instance, mine. We’ve been married 36 years (mostly) lovely years. Yesterday we were out in the garage working on a project together. We do this periodically. Not too often, otherwise, we would not still be married, for we always squabble when we work on projects together. 

For some reason, during these projects, Tim forgets that I am always right. He somehow gets the silly notion that he is sometimes right and I am wrong. And hence, we then have disagreements. 

It would be so much simpler if he would just remember that I am always right. 

And then we were loading some shelving units that I’d purchased at Hobby Lobby onto the top of my little Poppy. Poppy is my California Poppy orange colored Chevy Sonic. She is a snazzy little car that gets me where I want to go and I just love her! She’s a four door, but she’s pretty tiny and I take her to craft shows loaded to capacity - including a Roof Bag strapped to the top, with those Hobby Lobby folding racks underneath the Roof Bag. It works quite well.

At any rate, we were loading the racks onto the top of Poppy and I wrapped some Bubble Wrap around the antenna to protect it from the racks. Dear, sweet Tim commented that I’d need to take that off, afterwards.

Really? 

Seriously? 

What was he thinking? That I didn’t know that I would want to take the Bubble Wrap off the antenna when I was finished hauling the racks around?

Sigh. Like I said, sometimes I just don’t understand husbands....


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween Blues

Ah, it’s Halloween. Or rather, the day after Halloween, but I've got a Halloween memory to share with you.

Every year it creeps up on me. Like it’s October 1 and then PRESTO! It’s October 31 and those costumes I was going to make for my two children aren’t done. 

Every year. 

The only thing that has changed is that I now have to mail Halloween treats to my adult children. Yes, you read that correctly. I mail Halloween treats to my 29 and 30 year old daughters every year. Well, this year they are 29 and 30. Last year they were only 28 and 29. I mean, they aren’t 29 and 30 every year. But you get what I mean.

And my son in law. Of course I include him. But only because I don’t want him to feel slighted. Realistically, I know that he thinks getting Halloween treats in the mail from your mother when you are an adult is incredibly silly, because he was raised in a proper family where one is actually taught that one should grow up at a certain point in their lives. 

I, however, do not believe in growing up and so I, personally, have not grown up and have not advocated the growing up of my children.

Anyway, back to my dilemma. 

Each year Halloween would pop out of no-where and even though I would have a great concept for costumes for the girls, I would not have actually made them…yet. The yet is the crucial word, for I always managed to get them made. I think the only year I used a pre-made costume was the year Alexandra went trick or treating as Santa Claus. Other than that, I always made their costumes. At the last possible minute.

One year I had decided they should be Crayola Crayons. The girls agreed that was a fun idea, and so, in my head, I planned the entire costume. When Halloween arrived it was a rainy, dreary day. At the end of my work day, I stopped at the local variety store and picked up some poster board, then got the girls from daycare and we headed home. 

Thankfully, this would be a quick and easy costume. I made pointed hats for the girls to wear, punched holes and tied strings on so they could be secured under their chins. I used markers to draw the Crayola logo/design on the “body” part of the poster board, rounded out the necklines for their chins/heads and cut out arm holes. I made them big enough to go over their winter coats because this is, of course, South Dakota. Then I took everything out onto the front porch and sprayed it all with a sealer, since the rain would cause the marker to bleed. Rain would ruin all my hard work in no time flat, and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen.

I semi-permanently taped my daughters into their costumes, handed them their pumpkin buckets and off we went. 

Now, since we live in the country with no neighbors, trick or treating requires getting into our compact car and driving to the neighbors’ homes, to the grandparents’ homes and into town. And that’s when I discovered the problems with these cute costumes. They were too big and they were not flexible.

Consequently, my little girls, who were about three and four at the time, could not bend their knees to go down steps or to get into the car. Or to sit on the seats of the car. They also didn’t fit in the car with their crayon points on. 

Sigh. We ended up taking the crayon points (hats) off each time we got into the car, and I had to lift the girls in and out of the vehicle. Which then meant I had to tie the pointy hats back on each time we got out of the car and had to lift the girls up and down the steps to houses, since they were unable to bend their knees adequately for stairs. Maybe this whole Crayola Crayon costume, made on the cheap from poster board, was not such a good idea after all.  

We broke seatbelt laws and safely regulations that night as I drove around with two little girls standing in the back, rather than sitting. Thankfully it was dark and the cops were more concerned about children crossing the streets safely than errant mothers transporting children illegally.


However, Kat and Al were as cute as can be in those crayon outfits, even if I do say so myself. And I didn’t even break my arm or tear a muscle patting myself on the back.