May 1, 2015

  • Pop Tarts

    Two days ago I found a recipe online for homemade pop tarts. I printed it out thinking, "One of these days I'll give this a try." Yesterday there was a long thread on Facebook about pop tarts. It's sort of like the universe was telling me, "Melinda, look at this delicious pop tart recipe. Okay, if you're not going to follow through, look at this long conversation about pop tarts. Melinda, MAKE THOSE POP TARTS!" So this morning I made pop tarts for breakfast -- from scratch.

    The recipe is unnecessarily long, mainly because it includes a pie crust recipe. Whenever I make a pie, a make a triple recipe of pie dough and put two-thirds of it in the freezer, divided into two, gallon-size Ziploc freezer bags. So I just grabbed one of those bags out of the freezer and let it thaw. Voila! Three-fourths of the recipe done! When the pie dough was thawed, I divided it into two balls, rolled each ball of dough out into a rectangle, and cut each rectangle into smaller rectangles. I put half the small rectangles on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and opened a jar of homemade strawberry jam. I put a dollop of jam in the middle of each dough rectangle, spread it out to within about a half-inch of the edges of the dough, covered each jam-covered rectangle with one of the remaining dough rectangles, pinched the edges closed with my fingers, brushed the edges with water and then pinched them closed with the tines of a fork. I placed the cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven and baked for 25 minutes. Here's what they looked like when they came out of the oven.

    5.1 poptarts 1

    Next I mixed up a simple powdered sugar/vanilla/milk glaze and spread over the top of each tart. I then sprinkled each one with nonpareils (commonly referred to as sprinkles, but I didn't want to write that I sprinkled the top with sprinkles because it sounds redundant). Here is what they looked like after glazing and sprinkling.

    5.1 poptarts 2

    Not as pretty as the store bought version, but way, way better tasting! I ate two for breakfast. Be jealous.

April 27, 2015

  • Get Your Kitsch on Route 66

    When joyouswind and I began our trip to Arkansas last week, I told her I was making a stop in Wilmington, Illinois to visit the Gemini Giant. I've visited the Giant several times, but Krysten had never seen it. The Gemini Giant is a muffler man; a giant fiberglass statue that once held a giant muffler in his hands. An army of muffler men once dotted American roadsides.

    gemini giant

    The main reason I wanted to stop was to avenge a DNF (Did Not Find) on a supposedly easy geocache hidden just a few feet away. When murisopsis and I went geocaching in Wilmington last year, the area near the Gemini Giant was strung with police tape because of a recent fire and, being the law abiding citizens we are, Val and I did not cross the tape. This time, the tape was gone and Krysten and I made quick work of finding the cache.

    Krysten seemed to really enjoy the Gemini Giant, so I decided to stop at a couple more on our way through Illinois. The next one is my favorite; I call him Wienie Guy, but he's properly known as a Paul Bunyan muffler man. He's holding a hotdog instead of a muffler and stands next to a Route 66 souvenir shop in Atlanta, Illinois.

    paul bunyan

    You haven't really lived until you've driven the length of Illinois right after an ice storm and seen Wienie Guy with giant icicles hanging off his wiener. I have a picture of that somewhere.

    We skipped the muffler man in Springfield because it would have eaten up too much time to get to it. The last one we visited was near Livingston, Illinois at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall.

    harley mm

    You can deduce a couple of things from this photo. This muffler man is smaller than the others we visited. Also, we were enjoying warmer weather 150 miles south of home. There were a few other oddities at this location, including the pink elephant for which the antique mall is named.

    pink elephant

    There was also a giant surf dude (click the muffler man link above and read through the list of known fiberglass giants to find examples), an ice cream cone shaped ice cream shack, and a flying saucer.

    20150418_172121_001If these photos look familiar, it's because seedsower and I visited these same sites on our Xanga Chicks on Route 66 road trip in 2010. I may have even written a post with the same title as this one back then. But we didn't get a peek inside the flying saucer five years ago. In case you're curious, here's what the inside of a flying saucer looks like:

    20150418_172938

    I don't think this one is going anywhere anytime soon. As an added bonus, there was a geocache near the muffler man at this location. I found it a couple of years ago and was able to tell Krysten the general area in which to look and she found it quickly.

    We took a selfie at each stop - the two of us standing between the legs of the muffler men. They all ended up being "crotch shots" and are funny pictures, but I'm not posting them in this post. Maybe not in any post.

April 26, 2015

  • Ghost Tour

    I've been away from Xanga for a little over a week. I was also away from Facebook, my computer in general, and home. Joyouswind and I made a quick trip down to Arkansas for a combined mini-vacation (pretty much just one night and one morning) and three short visits with my mom. Short visits are best for Alzheimer's patients.

    The mini-vacation was for Krysten. She took a week off from work to go with me and wanted to do something "vacationy" and since we've been celebrating her birthday all month (it was a milestone), I agreed to spend one night and one morning in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We got off the interstate somewhere in the eastern third of Missouri and took winding, hilly back roads to Mountain Home, Arkansas so Krysten could grab the oldest geocache in the state. I'd already found that one a couple of years ago, but it's a cool cache and we had time, so we did it. As we headed west from Mountain Home to Eureka Springs, we passed through the town of Harrison where, by some quirk of fate, I had cell phone service, albeit with data roaming. We stopped at a tourist welcome center and Krysten found a brochure for Eureka Springs. She was flipping through it and happened across an ad for the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour and got all excited about it. I'll admit, that was something I'd wanted to do the last time I was in Eureka Springs with Bookmark61, but either we didn't have time or the tour was full - I can't remember. Since I unexpectedly had phone service, I called the 800 number on the ad and purchased tickets for that night's tour.

    We arrived in Eureka Springs around 4:30 or 5:00, checked into our hotel and relaxed for a few minutes. The tour was to start at 8:00 PM and around 6:00 Krysten was getting antsy to find a place to eat dinner so we wouldn't be late for the tour. We considered a few places, finally settling on the Sky Bar on the 4th floor of the Crescent Hotel since it was where we wanted to be. The Sky Bar sounds kind of hoity-toity, but it's really just an upscale pizza joint with a great view. We ordered sandwiches and drinks, were able to eat without rushing through dinner, enjoyed the view from the veranda, and a few minutes before 8:00 we wandered across the hall and sat down on one of the old church pews lining the hallway outside the ghost tour starting point. We waited and waited and I commented that it looked like we were the only ones on the tour. About 8:05, the woman who leads the tour showed up, unlocked the room, entered it and locked the door behind her. A few minutes later she came back out in costume and asked, "Are you waiting for the ghost tour?" We said we were. "The 8:00 tour?" Yep. "Wow, you got here really early! You should find something fun to do instead of sitting around waiting." Krysten asked, "What time is it?" The tour guide replied, "About 7:15." That's when we discovered neither of our phones had switched to Central Time Zone.

    I have a new cell phone - a Galaxy Note 4 - that takes better photos than my camera. The battery was rapidly running down, so we went out to the parking lot and sat in the van with my phone on the charger so I could use it to take pictures and leave my camera in the van. At a little before 8:00 by the van clock - which I'd changed to Central Time Zone around Chicago - we returned to the 4th floor of the Crescent and found quite a crowd waiting for the tour to start. We arrived just as the tour guide unlocked the door and invited everyone to come in and sit down. She told us stories about the hotel known as the Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks and the ghosts that are believed to inhabit it. There is the 17-year-old stone mason from Ireland who died in a fall during construction, the little girl who fell from the top of the fourth floor staircase to the basement floor, the little boy who died of appendicitis, the woman in white who either fell or was pushed from the fourth floor during the hotel's stint as a college for women, the cancer patient from the hotel's stint as a hospital, the quack who called himself a doctor and claimed he could cure cancer, and even the hotel cat who lived there for over 20 years.

    One of the first stops on our tour was the staircase where the little girl fell. Nobody saw it happen, but the banisters are low - built for the shorter stature of the general population 130 years ago - and just from looking at the layout, I'd guess she climbed up onto the railing and tried to stand up.

    2015-04-26 19.13.10

    Poor baby; that was a long fall.

    One of the most haunted rooms in the hotel is Theodora's Room - Room 419. Theodora was a cancer patient during the hospital era. Her room is booked months and months in advance, but on that night, it was empty. We got the special bonus of being allowed to go inside Theodora's Room. Most of the rooms in the hotel have been updated with modern king-size beds and flat screen TVs, but Theodora's Room has been kept painted and decorated in the style of the rooms during the 1930s. The walls are a dark turquoise with gold stars painted on them, like a stylized night sky.

    crescent hotel theodora rm

    According to the tour guide, Theodora likes her room kept neat and messy guests might leave the room and return to find their bags packed and placed in front of the door.

    On the second floor, we heard about Michael, the Irish stonemason who fell during construction of the hotel and landed in what is now Room 218. He supposedly plays pranks on guests and staff members, pulling covers off the bed during the night, getting fresh with the women... nothing vicious. This is where the only kind of scary thing occurred on the tour. Everyone was standing around Room 218 and the rooms flanking it. Krysten and I and a couple and their son were at the end of the group, well back from the doors to the rooms. There was a short hall to our right, at the end of which was a pair of glass doors leading out onto the veranda. As the tour group moved forward, the five of us were trailing behind and just as we were crossing in front of the offshoot hallway, the glass doors banged open and shut quickly - two times.

    crescent hotel hallway

    As we worked our way down the floors, I was getting excited. I've known for several years about the morgue in the basement of the hotel and was looking forward to finally getting to see it. Back in 2005, the TV show Ghost Hunters filmed an episode at the Crescent and captured images both in Theodora's Room and in the morgue. We walked down the staircase to the basement, through the spa area, past the laundry room, and into a narrow hallway.

    crescent basement

    We gathered in the room where bodies of cancer patients were picked up to be shipped home. After a showing of the Ghost Hunters clip, we were divided into two groups. One group went to the autopsy room, and the group Krysten and I were in went to the meat locker, where the infamous Dr. Norman Baker stacked bodies sometimes for months while he continued to bill the families and send letters from the patients who had been duped into signing blank papers when they filled out the hospital admission paperwork.

    After we'd been locked in the meat locker for a few minutes, we were released to visit the autopsy room. It was eerily lit with black lights. Our guide had one of those Ghost Buster gizmos that's supposed to pick up electromagnetic energy. She'd tried to get it to work on the banister of the fourth floor and the door to Room 218 and in Theodora's Room, but it was stubbornly silent. In the autopsy room, however, in front of the locker where the ghost hunters recorded an image, the thing lit up and beeped wildly.

    20150419_211935

    We didn't see anything or capture anything in our photos, but it was fun to visit a morgue in the basement of a Victorian era hotel.

    So, at the end of this long post, you are probably wondering, "Do you believe in ghosts, saintvi?" The answer is yes. I have experienced some very odd things that cannot be explained otherwise. I view time as a panorama, all happening at once. The past is happening over to the left and the future is happening off to the right and I'm somewhere in the middle. Sometimes there's a glitch... a hiccup... a wrinkle in time... and we get a glimpse of what's going on over to the left or off to the right. If it's to the left, it's paranormal activity; if it's to the right, it's psychic phenomena. I know that doesn't explain things like poltergeists (and those doors banging open and shut... twice), but I also believe in a spirit world. I'm a Christian and believing in spirituality is a tenet of my faith. Christians who believe in angels but pooh-pooh ghosts have not read their Old Testament. I have no answer for who opened and shut those doors. Could it be Michael the stonemason? I'm not ruling it out.

    crescent exterior

     

April 12, 2015

  • Somebody call the Doctor!

    It's been a fun-filled weekend. Last night was Wine & Canvas with joyouswind and murisopsis. It was Doctor Who night.

     

    4.11.15 W&C

    Krysten is an exuberant painter, Val is a meticulous painter, I am a minimalist and a rule follower. Plus I was a little out of it and missed some of the directions. I wasn't happy with my painting at first, but it's kind of grown on me.

    Wine & Canvas is in South Bend, Indiana so it was 11 PM by the time I got home. I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed. By the time I let Boo out and got him settled down for the night, it was 11:30. I dragged my tired body upstairs, put on my spring nightgown, sat down on the bed and my stomach gave out a huge growl. Brett's been on night shift, so our meal routine has been all wonky. I've been making supper in time for Brett to eat before he leaves for work, which means our main meal of the day has been anywhere from 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon, which means I've been skipping lunch and by 11:30 at night I'm hungry. So I went downstairs to get a snack, in the dark so I wouldn't get Boo stirred up again, and I took it upstairs to eat, which I never, ever do, but Boo had finally stopped barking and I really couldn't listen to any more of that. I ate my little snack, my stomach stopped growling, I brushed my teeth, walked into the bedroom and started shivering uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering and everything.

    I've been trying to fight off some sort of illness or infection for the past couple of weeks, which is why I was so tired at 11 PM. I'd had chills a couple of nights earlier, but this came on so quickly and it was much chillier. I ended up falling asleep wearing my winter nightgown, with the electric foot warmer turned on, and hugging a heating pad. I was bumming because Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful day and Krysten and I had plans to go biking. I woke up a few times during the night -- that's nothing new -- but I woke up feeling better. Too late to make it to church, but better. So, Krysten and I went to the 3 mile bike trail that runs from Niles, Michigan to South Bend. Three miles was just the right length for me to feel like I'd gotten a little exercise without feeling like I wanted to die. Krysten brought her puppy Jack along and a three mile jog (with a few stops for water and rest) FINALLY wore that dog out! It's the first time in his not quite 10 months of life that he's been too tired to get into mischief, although he was still pulling on the leash right up to the hill near the end of the ride, so she might need to find a longer trail when he's a little bit older.

    4.12.15 bike trail

    That was this afternoon. Tonight I have that burning feeling behind my eyes that is telling me a fever is starting up again. As a special bonus, I have a sore throat. If anyone knows of some weird virus that causes a fever at night, feel free to share that information with me.

    My goal for this week is to rest and recharge because next week is going to be exhausting. The good news is that Brett is back to a regular day schedule this week, so we should at least get back on track with our meals. Maybe my throat is sore because it's mad at me for skipping lunch and eating late night snacks in my bedroom. Yeah... that's it.

April 7, 2015

  • Baking for Boo

    I have been growing more concerned with the origin and quality of the treats I buy for Boo. I try to be careful about buying Made In USA dog treats, but there are no guarantees where the USA manufacturers purchase their ingredients. So, I decided to start making homemade dog treats. I've been making breath treats for several years now and Boo has always like them. They are made with brown rice flour, activated charcoal powder, fresh mint, fresh parsley and some wet stuff like eggs to hold it all together.

    My first effort beyond the breath treats was a basic dog biscuit recipe. Boo likes them, but I'm not happy with the way they turned out. Too soft... too pale... I have to keep them in the freezer and thaw them out one or two at a time. My next endeavors were more successful.

    dog treats

    The heart shaped treats in the jar on the right are peanut butter, banana and oatmeal. I think there's some honey in there, too, but I can't remember the recipe off the top of my head. Boo loves them.

    The little bone shaped treats in the jar on the left are homemade Greenies. Boo will eat them, but he's not crazy about them. The ingredients include kale powder, wheat bran, coarse ground cornmeal and peppermint. They are good for his teeth and gums and the peppermint helps sweeten his breath.

    The large bone shaped treats in the big jar in the middle are a variation of the basic biscuit recipe. This time I added a cup of finely chopped fried bacon, a tablespoon of bacon grease and an extra egg yolk (only because I wanted to brush the biscuits with egg white before baking). I baked them at a slightly lower temperature for almost three times longer so they would be browner and crispier than the first batch I made. Boo, of course, loves them because... duh... BACON!! I made them 1/2 inch thick because that's what the recipe said, but I used such a large cookie cutter, I should have gone down to 1/4 inch. Next batch...  For now I'll just break off smaller pieces.

    Dog treats are no harder to make than cookies, recipes are easy to find, and it's comforting to know exactly what ingredients are in the things I give Boo to eat.

    DSC08134

    I added this photo of Boo at the request of my friend Michel. This was taken while it was still quite cold and snowy. Boo hasn't worn his sweater for several weeks, since the temperature got above 20 degrees F. He used to love to sit outside in the snow when the temperature was only around 10 or 15 degrees and he would refuse to come inside until I put on boots and went out to get him. Now he is older and the cold makes him shiver. I never thought I'd put a sweater on a dog, but I never had a little dog in a cold climate before.

April 2, 2015

  • Somebody is Purty Thirty today!

    Today is April 2nd. Exactly 30 years ago today, my life changed forever, for the better. It became filled with a whole new level of adventure, learning, frustration, anger, creativity, cunning, bewilderment, new perspectives, amusement, entertainment, heartache, headaches, uncontainable joy and unconditional love. On this day… well, technically, it was late at night in Hawaii so it would have been tomorrow in Michigan… On this DATE 30 years ago, this beautiful person came bursting into my life…

    Krysten 1985

    … and my life has never been the same… and that’s a good thing.

    Happy Birthday, Cookie! I wish you all of the things you have given to me over the years that have enriched my life. This is not The Mother’s Curse, but The Mother’s Blessing. Because even those times you peed on the ceiling, ran from the police, tried to fly off the mountain, blamed Jesus for eating the chocolate cake, broke curfew, and all the other tests of patience and endurance you threw at us, made me a better parent and a better person. You made me think fast, be creative, step way outside my comfort zone, and learn to respond instead of react.

    Krysten 2013

    Today you are a beautiful, talented woman who deserves to be loved and valued for who you are. But you will always be my Cookie.

    My life is so much better because you are in it!

March 18, 2015

  • Tea Party

    I invited a friend over for lunch and decided to try out some new recipes and have a tea party.  I made an easy tomato basil bisque, made even easier by the lack of fresh basil in our local grocery stores. I just used the dry stuff in my spice cupboard. I also substituted lactose free milk for the buttermilk.

    tomato-basil-bisque-sl-x

    To go with the soup, I made orange and cranberry tea sandwiches. The "orange and cranberry" part was in the spread that I made last night. I bought a small loaf of thinly sliced white bread - possibly the first time I've ever bought white bread - for the sandwiches, spread the bread with the orange and cranberry spread, and added smoked turkey and a cheese made with bits of black pepper. Of course I cut the sandwiches into triangles. They were delicious. A few sweet, seedless red grapes completed the main course.

    tea-sandwiches-sl-x

    For dessert I made Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Creme. I had to make a couple of substitutions to this recipe. The half-and-half was substituted with lactose free milk. I couldn't find instant espresso, and not sure I would have been willing to pay for it if I'd found it since I only needed a half-tablespoonful. I substituted what we had in the cupboard - vanilla flavored instant coffee. I had all the other ingredients on hand and made the dessert last night. I poured it into three mismatched antique teacups I've had for years and never found a good reason to use.

    chocolate-espresso-pots-de-creme-sl-x

    At nearly the last second, I realized I hadn't thought about what to drink with our 'tea' and had a moment of panic until I remembered the little tubes of Crystal Light in the cupboard. Each tube contains just enough powder to flavor a 20 oz. bottle of water. I mixed three bottles of raspberry-lemonade Crystal Light and poured them into my glass pitcher. Voila!

    crystal lite

    Since there were only two of us, I cut all the recipes in half, but there was plenty of sandwich spread leftover, along with a small bowl of the bisque, a handful of grapes, and the last teacup I filled last night which was only about 2/3 full. So I made an extra sandwich and cut it into triangles, reheated the bisque and my husband was able to enjoy 'tea' when he arrived home from work. It was a fun and different thing to do and I plan to keep a couple of those recipes in my repertoire.

March 15, 2015

  • Pi Day

    3.14 Pi pie

    I suppose it's fitting that Pi Day seemed very long - indeed, at times unending - to me. It was a day of fun and work, pleasure and pain, uncommon activities and common chores. The day started early, after my all too common struggle to fall asleep last night. When my alarm went off this morning, it took five full minutes for my tired brain to stop incorporating Stairway To Heaven into whatever I was dreaming and tell me to wake up. It then took another 15 or 20 minutes for me to gather the energy to stand up. Needless to say, I was a bit later leaving the house than I'd planned, and I'd made it as far as the township park a mile or two away before I realized I'd left my phone on the charger. Luckily, the park was a good place to turn around.

    Once I was finally underway, it took an hour to arrive at my first destination - a Wendy's in Kalamazoo. I just needed their parking lot, which was the closest place I could leave my van so I could walk down the road a bit to find a puzzle cache. In honor of Pi Day, geocachers were encouraged to find a puzzle cache today to earn a virtual souvenir, and attend a Pi Day Event to earn another. I had the puzzle cache coordinates figured out, thanks to a friend who is much smarter than I. Perhaps if I'd consulted with my friend before leaving the house, he would have suggested I bring a pair of snow boots with me. I didn't even think of it, since pretty much all the snow in our yard melted this week (Brett says, "FINALLY!"). I was more concerned with mud than snow, so I was wearing my old, worn out hiking boots and because they're worn out I had the foresight to toss some dry socks and a pair of sneakers into the van before leaving The 'Duh. I stood on a little stone wall and stared down a slope covered in deep, crusty, icy, filthy snow. I stared at a particular spot and my geo-senses were tingling, but thought, "I really don't want to walk down that slope. Maybe the cache is up here, somewhere in the wall." I stuck my hand in various cracks and holes, but I knew in my heart I was going to have to go down that slope. So I did. And the snow was well above the top of my hiking boots. But I found the cache exactly where I knew it would be and earned my souvenir, and did it quickly enough to make it to my next stop...

    3.14 gtpc

    This is where the event was being held. A geocaching event is a group of geocachers getting together to sign a log and socialize. Sometimes there is food, sometimes geocaching, sometimes games, and sometimes just the log to sign and everyone rushes off as soon as they've written their name down. Today there was pie. The bakery/restaurant was having their own Pi Day celebration: A free slice of pie with every purchase. There was quite a crowd of geocachers there when I arrived. This was the nearest Pi Day event to my area an hour away; judging by the big turnout, I suspect it was the nearest event for at least an hour in every direction. I saw some people I know, and some people I'd met once or twice, and some new people I'd never met before. I had my hand crushed before I could block the handshake. I had some good conversation and signed the log. Then I stood in line to buy a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie and get a free slice of ABC pie (apple blueberry cherry). I was going to eat my pie for breakfast, but there were too many people and I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, so I got the slices to go and left. I'd had to park in the IHOP parking lot next door. On the other side of IHOP was an Arby's that was no longer in business. In the Arby's parking lot was a geocache. I walked over and found the cache, then I stood and looked at the IHOP and decided it was a sign from God that I'd had to park there. Who am I to ignore a sign from God? So I went inside, got a nice, quiet table for one and ate breakfast.

    Once I'd eaten, my business in Kalamazoo was complete and I headed home. I spent the hour or so before Brett got home starting laundry and pulling a package of hamburger out of the freezer and sitting in a sleepy fog, staring into nothingness. Once he was home, we headed off to Berrien Springs to find an easy puzzle cache in the library so Brett could get his souvenir. It was a quick find and we were back in the truck and pointed home in no time, but Brett was hungry for lunch so we decided to stop at Baguette de France for sandwiches on our way out of town.

    Here's the thing about Berrien Springs; it's the world headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Even though Baguette de France serves meat sandwiches (the SDA encourages vegetarianism), they were closed today because Saturday is the SDA sabbath. Okay, we'd passed a Pizza Hut... we could backtrack and get sandwiches there. Nope. It was a carryout Pizza Hut and they didn't do sandwiches there. So we backtracked again and went to Subway. As we were getting back in the truck, Brett said something about salsa and it reminded me that I needed some white pepper in order to make another batch of salsa. So we backtracked again to the local grocery store and I grabbed a jar of white pepper and went up front to pay for it. There was a customer dawdling at Register 1 and a cashier diddling with the bags at Register 2. Nobody was at the other two registers. I went to Register 2 and the cashier ignored me, so I moved to Register 1 and stood behind the dawdler. Just as the person in front of me FINALLY handed over her check to pay for her purchase, the cashier who had ignored me at Register 2 decided I needed to step down to Register 4, where I had to wait while she logged onto the register, and then got shoved aside by the cashier who had appeared out of nowhere to remove the drawer from Register 3. Now I remember why I don't do my grocery shopping in Berrien Springs.

    So we came home and I logged the puzzle cache and then started chopping peppers and onions and tomatoes to make the salsa. It's a lot of work, but it's not hard work. It's tedious work and I have to wash my hands a lot. I wash them before I handle the veggies, I wash them after chopping the peppers so I don't accidentally touch my eyes and get them irritated. I wash them multiple times while chopping the onions because... onions... I wash them several times while chopping the tomatoes because they get covered in tomato juice. Once the veggies are chopped and simmering, I wash up the knives and the cutting board, the measuring cups and spoons and the canning jars and lids. By the time I'm done with all the hand washing and dish washing, my hands are so dried out the touch screen on my phone won't respond to my fingers.

    Making and canning salsa takes about three hours from chopping, to processing, to washing the last of the dishes. While the salsa was still processing, I started making tacos, frijoles and rice for supper. That took about an hour. We ate while watching a movie and Brett washed the supper dishes when the movie ended. I am exhausted, but I enjoyed geocaching again after a long winter hiatus, I enjoyed our outing to Berrien Springs in spite of being pushed around by grocery store cashiers, I enjoyed making salsa, the tacos were okay and the pie was delicious. Now I am blogging about my day because I'm too tired to get off the couch and go upstairs to bed. Plus my feet hurt.

    How did you spend Pi Day?

March 10, 2015

  • An Open Letter

    Dear Justin Harris,

    1327425394-harris

    I am not giving you the title of “Rep.” Harris because I’m pretty sure by this point most of the citizens of Washington County, Arkansas would like to “rehome” you to Oklahoma.

    Everything I’ve read about your situation boils down to the simple fact that you, your wife, and presumably your three sturdy looking boys were terrified of a six-year-old little girl. (From the timeline of events, it appears she was actually only five at the time, but I’m willing to give you that extra year if it makes you feel better about yourself.) Or maybe you were really terrified of the bad publicity of an elected state official, on committees dealing with the welfare and education of children, returning two tiny little girls like we used to return empty Coke bottles to the gas station back in the 60s.

    Here’s one of the things that bothers me most about this debacle; when you adopt a child, you are her parent. Not her “adoptive” parent, just her parent. And she is not your “adopted” daughter, just your daughter. And when your child has a serious problem, it is the responsibility of the parent to move heaven and earth to fix it and keep on loving her regardless of anything and everything. Had one of your sons developed emotional problems and disruptive behavior, would you have given him away? Do you think for one second that your sons haven’t wondered the same thing? You have set them such a sterling example of love and responsibility.

    Here’s another thing that bugs me. When this story broke a few days ago, you were quick to throw Bible quotes at reporters seeking a statement from you. Quotes about persecution. Poor, poor Justin Harris can’t understand what all the fuss is about. Guess what? That Bible you like to quote has a thing or two to say about adoption.

     Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12

     Here's another one:

     “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:14-16

    So, you are an adopted child of God who has behaved reprehensibly, blaming everyone else for your poor decisions, which resulted in the sexual assault of a kindergarten-aged child. More than that, until the internet backlash, you stated that you and your wife were the victims in all of this. You’ve been such a naughty, unrepentant adopted child of God. Do you think He will rehome you? You do realize that Protestant fundamentalist Christian theology only leaves one option if that happens. Oh, I forgot! Protestant fundamentalist Christians don’t believe in rehoming. Because…

    28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30

    Okay, just one more Bible quote and then I’m done with you.

     It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2

    I’m going to give you a nickel’s worth of free advice, and I’m going to do it in one word: Repent. Not that I’m judging.

    Okay, maybe a little.

    Okay, maybe a lot.

    I’ll do my own repenting just as soon as I post this letter to the internet.

     

March 7, 2015

  • Irrational Euphoria

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    This photo was taken on Thursday evening. Poor Boo should have been wearing his sweater, and not just because he's approaching the end of his grooming cycle and starting to look scruffy. It was windy and very cold.

    Today, the sun was shining, there wasn't any wind and it got up to 40 degrees. We were warned by the media to beware of "irrational euphoria." Let me reiterate: the sun was shining, there wasn't any wind and it got up to 40 degrees. I don't see anything irrational about ripping off my coat and one layer of clothing and frolicking in the sunshine.