Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Living Off the Land

Did you miss the holiday? No, not Mother’s Day. You can’t miss that if you watch television at all. Every jewelry store on the planet makes sure to remind us. Last Saturday was not only Cinco de Mayo, the day for which we stock up on limes and avocados and don’t know why. It was also Naked Gardening Day… according to our cousin Michael. The event seems to be an important one to him as he always reminds us of it on Facebook. Thankfully we don’t live near the man as we choose not to observe the holiday. Our garden is not that big. We did however get our binoculars out and keep them handy in case our neighbors decided to celebrate.

Though we didn’t observe any tiptoeing through the tulips, we did discover a family of groundhogs. The daddy is huge and looks like a bear when he stands on his hind legs. Not like a Kodiak but more like a miniature brown bear with a long tail. His fur is reddish and fluffy but I was not fooled by his cuteness. A few summers ago either he or one of his cohorts stripped the leaves off my mom-in-law’s tomato plants leaving only a naked stalk. The daddy groundhog’s wife is gray and smaller. She tends to make her way over to our yard when she notices the truck is not in the carport. The ground there is soft and dusty and she seems to enjoy rooting around in it for some reason. I nearly soiled my undies the other morning when I stepped outside unaware of her presence. She stood on hind legs as if questioning my being in her space. So I did what any normal person would do. I barked like a dog until she waddled home on her short chubby legs.

Sorry. I have no right to make fun of anyone’s short chubby legs. [Yet another reason to refrain from observing Naked Gardening Day.] I must add she was surprisingly fast for such a plump creature. She scooted her fluffy body under the neighbor’s shed and peeked out at me. Even with binoculars I couldn’t see through the lattice where she hid. I envisioned her gathering her one pup near her side and warning that if a person acts that strange, especially in broad daylight, they probably have rabies.

Hopefully she will not be back. This is the first time David has tried having a little garden in a long time. All he wants is a good tomato sandwich, a few cucumbers for pickling, and a couple zucchinis to make bread. Is that too much to ask? It only cost us $537 to build a raised bed, haul in good dirt, pay the kid next door to help us unload it, and buy the few plants.

Oh and cages for the tomatoes. It makes me laugh at how tall they are compared to the tiny plants inside. David looked at them the other day and spoke with his dry humor. “Somebody has high hopes.”

Yep. We are determined to eat something from our backyard this season… living off the land and all.  I just hope it’s not groundhog.

Home Sweet Salisbury

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Good Medicine

Again I find myself dealing with a lot of pain. So while I’ve had some downtime, I’ve gleaned fresh wisdom and thought I’d share. I’m spiritual like that.

Okay, so I’ve been on Pinterest. Here you go.

“Hell hath no fury like me when I’m slightly inconvenienced or hungry.”

My daughters call that “hangry.”

“Coffee pairs well with silence.” That made me laugh, then I wondered. Who am I kidding? Like David is going to get all chatty in the morning.

For the younger generation:

“You should be required to read a book for every selfie you take.”

For the older generation: [picture Dos Equis guy]

“I don’t always photograph well, but when I do, I use it for my profile pic for years.”

True story:

“Knives are cooler than guns. If I pull a knife you don’t know what I might do; Stab you, open a letter or maybe just frost a cake.”

My husband jokingly calls me a wordsmith. This is really me:    

“Sometimes I use words I don’t know the meaning of just so I can sound more perpendicular.”

Also me:

“Judging from how I react when toast pops out of the toaster, I will never look cool walking away from an explosion.”

What I could have said before I retired:

“The most interesting thing about my job is that my chair spins.”

The sign that used to hang in my office:

“Everyone brings joy to this space: some when they enter and some when they leave.”


“Nothing is really lost until your mom can’t find it.”

Somewhat true:

“When you are dead you do not know you are dead. All of the pain is felt by others. The same is true when you are stupid.”

Also true:

“Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.”

How I feel:

“INTROVERTS UNITE! Separately… in your own homes.”

What you’re thinking about me right now:

“I can’t tell if you’re on too many drugs or not enough.”

What I think but try not to say:

“You are about to exceed the limits of my medication.”

My parenting philosophy as a young mother:

“I plan to give you love, nurturing, and just enough dysfunction to make you funny.”

And it worked!

One of my new favorites came from our middle daughter. I was trying to decide whether to accommodate someone’s request when she dropped this wisdom. “Mama,” she warned. “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.”

Another daughter told me once while I was really struggling that “God does not waste pain.” I like it. Today for instance; I wouldn’t have found all these clever quotes had I been able to be in the yard like I wanted. As the Lord says, “Laughter does us good like a medicine!”

So go ahead. Smile like you’re up to something! It’ll be fun!

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I saw a funny picture on Facebook. A man was push mowing his yard through the snow. The caption said, “Welcome to spring in North Carolina.” That sounds about right. Wild garlic poked through the recent snow on the ground giving our lawn an unkempt look; kind of like a wannabe hipster trying to grow a beard. Instead of being cool, he looks like he needs a bath. Back in the day, my parents called them beatniks. Instead of clapping, they snapped their fingers to express their approval. [The beatniks… not my parents. If one of my parents ever snapped their fingers it meant I’d better pay attention.]

Annyyywayyy… I noticed my college age grand-daughter snapping her fingers in approval after a song in church the other morning. It may have been due to holding a cup of coffee in her other hand, but I couldn’t be sure. I can’t keep up any more. Later that day she was writing a speech for her communications class. It was titled “The Color Purple.” I warned her not to watch that movie about Prince all willy-nilly.

“There are some things you just can’t un-see,” I cautioned in my grandmotherly voice. Though I had not personally viewed the film, I had strong opinions.

She laughed out loud but not in a good way. I was offended. Just as I was about to express the fact that I know stuff, she informed me that the movie was not about Prince. She went on to explain the subject matter. At some point I drifted. I wondered about Prince’s identity and his connection to Oprah. If he is the artist formerly known as Prince, what pray tell is his new name? Apparently he is fine being called “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Surely someone could shorten that for him. Maybe just use the first letters as in texting. He could be TAFKAP.

I felt rather proud of my idea and continued to think on it while my granddaughter read her speech about purple. It contained a quote from the movie which was thought provoking yet included a question about God being ticked off… only they used a term that was rather crude. Once again I dared to help.

“You could use air quotes when you get there and substitute urinated,” I helpfully suggested.

She laughed again but not quite as loud when she realized I wasn’t kidding. “No Grammy. The phrase means ticked off. It’s not about the bathroom habits of the Almighty.”

I decided not to share with her my solution to shorten Prince’s moniker, though I still feel it’s a good idea. I mean, why would anyone want to go by such a strange title? It would be like introducing myself as “the chick with hair that used to be red.”

By the way, did you know Prince is dead? Well of course you did. Everyone knows stuff like that but me it seems. One thing is for sure. If I ever watch a movie about the color purple, I hope it includes a tutorial on how to grow lavender. My yard is a mess. Wild garlic is sprouting everywhere giving it an unkempt look. What? You thought those were wild onions? Nope. It’s wild garlic.

See. I know stuff. Feel free to snap your fingers in approval for TCWHTUTBR.

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He shouted and danced and hugged everyone in the room. Our five year old grandson Able had just opened a present from his cousin Marie. You would’ve thought he’d been given the keys to the kingdom. Instead it was a pack of gray socks with colorful heels and toes.

“These are the awesomest socks ever!” he shouted. He hugged them to his chest and made his rounds so everyone could see his fabulous gift. Marie beamed with happiness that he loved them so much. Her mama had taken her and her brother Jesse to Five Below, a discount store, to let them pick anything they wanted to give to their cousin. Though she had questioned the gift, she deferred to Marie’s wisdom. It turned out to be a good move.

Oh that we could all be that thankful!

Some people are born with a natural thankfulness. Others of us have to be taught. After a period of fighting cancer and another mystery illness, I am more thankful now than I’ve ever been. In fact, this was the happiest Christmas I can remember. I had strength to bake, and host, and enjoy the family. My mind was clear enough to remember where I wrote my passwords so I could shop online. My sweetheart has recovered from two surgeries due to kidney stones and I no longer worry that he might keel over before he can help me clean up this mess. We have two local daughters and sons-in-law with their three five year old children who poured out more joy than our tiny house could contain. And though our other daughter’s family lives far away, they are in such a great place and the people there love them like family. My life is so full.

As I write this it’s two days after Christmas and I’m still smiling. Our family theme for years has been “Simplify.” Either that or “If a little cheese is good, a lot of cheese is better.” I love it when I see that lived out in our children. [the simplify theme… not the cheese one.]

Our middle daughter’s family gave everyone homemade apple butter. So yesterday for breakfast I stirred up an easy biscuit recipe that I haven’t made in years. We slathered that hot bread in butter and sampled different jams and jellies until our eyeballs nearly popped out. I felt a lot like Able and wanted to dance and shout.

You see, last year at Christmas, food was not pleasant to me, nor the smell of it… or even the thought. But now! Oh happy day!

Maybe your Christmas wasn’t so jolly.

Guess what. It’s not too late. I’m going to share my easy biscuit recipe. If I can do it, anyone can. Bake a batch and enjoy the simple pleasure.

Like many wonderful things, thankfulness is a choice. Choose it today lest like me and Ebeneezer Scrooge you have to learn it the hard way. Take sweet Able’s attitude and declare, “This is the awesomest day ever!”

And here, free of charge, is my recipe for easy biscuits with a side of thankfulness. May God bless us everyone!

Easy Biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup mayonnaise

Stir until smooth; dip into a greased muffin tin; bake at 400 degrees til golden [about 15 minutes.] Makes 12; If you use plain flour, add 1 Tablespoon baking powder + 1 teaspoon salt. Serve hot slathered with butter.

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Happy Life

Okay so we got new phones. What kind you ask? Ummm… it’s black… and slippery… and won’t flip open. It has all sorts of little pictures so when I text, not only can I smile, but I can smile with teeth, or while donning sunglasses or a halo. How have I functioned this long by simply hitting the ( and the = to make it clear that I am not displeased with the circumstances? Or I could even hit the semicolon to wink if the situation warranted. But NOW I can express a multitude of moods. I am so (=

Yesterday as my new slick black phone charged, the screen lit up for no apparent reason. I checked to see why I was being beckoned. Actually I found my glasses and THEN checked the teeny tiny print of the beckoning. Would I like to fill out a survey to express my delight at having eaten at Biscuit King in Lexington?

WHAT?!! Hot displeasure filled my soul.

How dare they track my whereabouts! Every time that little permission thingy pops up I make sure to hit “deny.” I DO NOT want to allow the techno-nerds to have access to my personal preferences. It’s none of their business where and what I eat. Now everybody in cyber-sphere knows I like the hamburgers at Biscuit King so much that I intentionally pass seventy five other joints in my own hometown and drive all the way to Lexington to get one. They probably also know that I order French fries without seasoning salt. Next thing you know, I’ll go to order and my phone will pop up with a message to remind me that I like dill pickles on my burger.

Actually that wouldn’t be too bad as I forgot to add those Saturday.

But seriously! I was hot!

Just as I was expressing my justified indignation to my beloved, the message popped up on the black screen again. “Would I like to fill out a quick survey to rate Biscuit King in Lexington?” I only knew that because I had my glasses on.

I won’t tell you what I thought. But David knew. How could he not? We’ve been married forty three years. Okay… so I explained it to him in detail again. It’s nobody’s business…

I already said that.

But it’s not.

I ranted a while longer. What if they steal our identity or hack into our lives? They already know what I buy on Amazon. I know that because every time I get online an ad for Legos pops up on the sidebar. Facebook is the same way. Natural looking wigs modeled by Raquel Welch beckon me to buy as-if I would look exactly like that with the click of a button.

David’s solution was simple.

Calmly he advised. “Just don’t put on your glasses. That way you won’t know what they know.” He received a blank stare as he offered further wisdom.

“Besides, what if they steal our identities? One look and they’ll probably DEPOSIT money. Nobody wants our life… unless they see how we really live. We have nothing, yet we have everything.”

I thought about it and decided he was right. Maybe we’ll run up to Lexington and get a burger to celebrate our (=  life.

But you already knew that didn’t you? ( ;

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Adventures at Sea

It’s been right at a year since the cancer diagnosis. Thankfully my strength has gradually returned. I decided to give it a try. We hadn’t been sailing since last June and the sparkling water beckoned. The Captain charted our course pulling out a map that made little sense to me. It hardly mattered. I was content with a comfortable place to rest where I could soak in the day. The first mate loaded all the gear. After tossing life jackets, fishing rods, extra towels and a picnic on board, she untied the boat and off we went.

The sun hit my face along with a stiff breeze and a gentle spray. I was glad to finally be over the sickness of chemo and able to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes. Just as I was beginning to relax the water became a little choppy. The first mate offered me a snack and looked at me with concern. I assured her I was fine. Nothing was going to spoil our day.

Suddenly the sky darkened and the seas became quite rough. The Captain assured me he knew a shortcut to our destination and took a hard right into the waves. I held on for dear life as the boat climbed each wave and landed with a monstrous splash. It seemed to me we were taking on an awful lot of water. The first mate advised me to put my life jacket on instead of just holding it in my lap. My heart pounded as I followed her instructions. Up and down we went over wave after wave. I tried not to think about it as my tummy reminded me of the omelet I had for breakfast.

Suddenly the Captain shouted, “There’s too much water coming in! I think we have a leak! I’m going to check it out!” Overboard he went.

“You stay here! I’m going to help!” With that the first mate abandoned ship as well. The two seasoned sailors disappeared under the boat.

Alone I waited.

There was no sign of either of them.

I closed my eyes trying not to panic as I wondered about the sharks they had spotted earlier.

A voice broke into my thoughts.

“Mom? Are you sick or just playing boat?” My daughter asked as she stood looking at my bed full of pillows and blankets and snacks. “Where are the kids?”

I clutched the pillow I was using as a flotation device and smiled. “They’re under the boat making repairs. But don’t worry. They can hold their breath a really long time. Besides, Jesse knows a shortcut to California and Marie brought lots of snacks.”

While my daughter peeked under the bed at her giggling four year olds, I rested against one of the extra life jackets. It felt so good to be back in the land of the living. After a year of cancer treatments, playing “boat on the bed” was way more fun than I remembered.

I’m just glad Jesse can read a map better than I can.

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The Inheritance

My beloved mom-in-law passed away a few weeks ago. She was such a beautiful soul. And funny… oh my word! The things she would come up with. She had special names for certain things in her life; like the big white robe she wore in the winter. Often she warned us not to be alarmed if we saw a polar bear ambling around her house as it was just Big Bertha.

When she could no longer walk with just the assistance of a cane, she began using a walker with a seat. It had a little basket where she would load her gardening tools as she puttered around the yard. Inside the house she would load it with cleaning supplies or laundry for that long trip down the hall. She dubbed it her “Cadillac.”

She had a pink blouse which she always wore to the doctor. More accurately it was mauve, that dusty rose color which was popular in the eighties. Her daughters tried every way they could to get her to wear something besides that godawful shirt as it did her no favors. However she always went back to it. Though mauve is code for ugly, she brightened it with her smile.

We’ve begun cleaning out her home of over fifty years. You can’t even imagine the treasures we’re gleaning. So far we’ve only gotten to the kitchen. We checked expiration dates on the foods in the pantry and laughed so hard at the things she hung onto. David suggested that if the date began with the words “In the year of our Lord,” we could probably assume it was too old to consume. In the back of one especially low cabinet was an unidentifiable figure. It appeared to be a dried corpse of an animal from yesteryear. David’s sister bravely pushed it into the floor with a broom. The four of us stood hovering over it trying to make out what it could have been. David finally scooped it up with the dustpan and took it outside. It was larger than a squirrel and had a funky shape. The sisters told me I could have it as part of my inheritance. I was more than thrilled.

Later as I thought again about the dried up mystery animal, I remembered bringing Nina some driftwood from the beach many years ago. She had expressed wanting a piece to put a little ceramic bird on that I had brought her the year before. Apparently the two treasures never met as she always had lots of projects in the works. In fact that bird is probably buried somewhere in her craft room which our middle daughter lovingly renamed Nanny’s Crap Room. It is an accurate description and we can hardly wait to go through the treasures there.

What I love about Nina’s kids, Jo, Gail, and David, is that they’ve been able to maintain their mother’s great sense of humor as we do the necessary things. No pushing, grabbing, or resentment; just working together to honor their mother’s last wish of having a happy home. The closest we’ve come to fighting so far has been over a pack of bacon.

Very graciously I have been included in the dividing of assets. Along with the driftwood shaped like a varmint, I’ve been given her cement pineapple which was always her southern symbol of hospitality. Though I do not share that same sentiment, I love that she did. I tucked it by my side entrance behind a large hosta lest anyone get the wrong idea. You know how I feel about entertaining visitors I do not know. All you “angels unaware” might as well fly on down the street to someone more Godly. However, if you do happen to knock on my door, don’t be surprised if I’m wearing a mauve shirt. Too bad it didn’t come with Nina’s sweet smile.

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