Homemade Fun

Homemade Fun:

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
2. What I create will be just for you.
3. It’ll be done this year. That gives me a good 6 months to get it done!
4. It will be a surprise.

The catch is that you must repost this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog. The first 5 people to do so, and leave a comment telling me they did, win a FAB-U-LOUS homemade gift by me! Oh, and be sure to post a picture of what you win when you get it!

We have more than enough, thank you.

My first day off from my new job, and I was still exhausted this morning when I got up.  Sat around all morning, drinking coffee then some house cleaning, and completely forgot that we had planned to go to Syracuse, Nebraska for their Germanfest and watch the weinerdog races.  Yes, I am obsessed with dachshunds.  If anyone has one  to give away, let me know. I will die a happy woman knowing that, once again, I owned a doxie.

After watering the garden and picking a butt load of cucumbers, I found I didn’t have enough jar lids for my pickles.  So Dr. K and I went shopping…and ended up with much, much more than we’d planned.

We drove by a small market on our way to a ginormous one, and saw that they were having their annual produce extravaganza.  People lined up along the sidewalk, waiting to fill the carts with everything from pineapple ($1.50 each) to Bing cherries ($1.89/lb) to huge heads of broccoli ($.89 each).  Dr K. could live on fresh fruit alone and never complain, so we ended up buying  pineapples, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, bananas, nectarines, two kinds of cherries  and purple plums, as well as broccoli and  crisp, fresh green beans.  But we forgot to get jar lids for my pickles.

So we went on to mega market to get jar lids. When we got there, THEY had a produce sale as well, so Dr K  bought a 20 lb box of Bing cherries for 1.29/lb.  There was also pork roast advertised for  $.98/lb, and since I had promised some co-workers I would bring them (someday) some of my prize-winning tamales, I got a huge pork roast, a bag of masa, and corn husks to make said tamales.

Again, I forgot the jar lids.

So, we went on to  (((shudder))) the W-place, where we picked up cat food, cheeses, spices, toilet paper, and a tube of Poligrip (don’t they all go well together?). Jar lids….spaced off again.

When we got home and unloaded all of our bags,  my neighbor was there, and asked if I needed jar lids—she had way too many and didn’t want to throw them away. Ka-CHING! She also gave me about a gallon of small cukes.   Only bad thing was that, with all the fruit and other produce to cut up and bag for the freezer, there was no time to make pickles. So…Dr K sat down to watch one of his Kung-fu movies and pitted cherries and sliced and diced fruit to put away in the freezer. I decided to go ahead and make pickles, 6 quarts, plus I cooked up the pork and prepared it so I could make tamales tomorrow.

The kitchen is a disaster area.  Fruit, vegetables and dirty dishes piled everywhere. With the Dr’s help, we have about 20 quart bags of fruit salad in the freezer, 6 quarts of pickles, and 5 lbs of cooked, shredded, and seasoned pork to make into tamales…tomorrow.

And all because I didn’t have enough jar lids.

Thank God for Books


I remember the day I first looked at a book and realized there was more to it than pictures.  I couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 at the time; I was sitting in our family car with my mother while the older kids went into the library to check out books.  There was a magazine on the seat, a comic book.  I picked it up and saw the little bubbles above the characters’ heads, and seeing those strange markings in those bubbles, it dawned on me.  Those people are saying things, and this is what tells you what they’re saying!

 I learned to read in kindergarten. Dick, Jane and Sally.  Always doing things together, being kind to each other, having a mother at home and happy to see Father when he would come home in the evening from the office.  So different than my life where there was so many siblings, bickering, scrabbling, hitting,  and a father, who, when he came home from work, we avoided as much as possible because he was easy to anger and seemingly eager to become angry. People in my books lived lives where families would smile at each other, hug, apologize, and go on outings without worrying about the car breaking down and their dad taking out his frustrations on the closest person or object because he was unable to fix it .  Families who would have sit down meals without shouting and threats of beatings with a belt if you didn’t eat everything on your plate.  Families that didn’t have to worry about what the rest of the neighborhood was saying about your family behind your back.  Families that rarely worried about having heat, electricity, water, and food–every day. Families who would actually  talk about and plan for the future, not just parents telling the children that they can get the hell out when they turn 18 and by God then you’ll appreciate everything you’ve been given, until then you do as I say or else.  And families who would touch without hitting, converse without insults and threats, families that prayed together and loved and supported each other.

But, of course, these were families in books.  Fictional Characters.  I could not fathom a group of people living this way, unless it was in some faraway land like Siam or Illinois.  It wasn’t normal.  Normal is what you wake up to each morning and go to bed from each night.  Normal is not expecting trust, tenderness, security, and forgiveness from the ones closest to you for fear you will be ridiculed for being “weak”.   Normal is being tough, cynical, sarcastic, crude, and keeping your distance from anyone who isn’t.  Because they aren’t normal.  And when I did actually meet people who lived in a loving home enviroment, I just knew they were fakes. I hated phony people, so I avoided those and kept company with friends who I felt comfortable with.  Friends who were just as  cynical and tough as I was, friends who could be trusted not to be trusted upon, friends who used fists instead of words, downing alcohol instead of facing life head on.

I left home as soon as I was able.  I was 17, and married a really nice guy from a really nice family. Yep, one of  those phony families who got along, were glad to see each other and sad to see them leave. I mocked their sentimentality, made a point of  being out of the room when they were leaving after visiting. It made me nervous, to watch them hug, kiss, weep loving tears, and promise to keep in touch.  There was no acrimony, no snide remarks made when someone was out of earshot, no threats of  bodily harm if the other didn’t agree with them. I never thought that my mindset was wrong…after all, it was normal, to me.  And the saddest thing was that I didn’t learn to change my ways when my children were born and while they grew.  Since I had known only stern disinterest at best from my parents, I truly believed  this was the correct approach to raising children.

I rarely cuddled my babies, because I never saw my mother cuddling babies.  That was a job left to the older siblings, who only did it because it was their job.   I spanked my children because, of course, this was the acceptable form of discipline I grew up with.   And spanking lead to beatings, which is the normal course of  punishment, or so I’d been taught.  Along with the physical abuse came the verbal abuse, because, of course, this was how it was in my own childhood.

But reading books through the years taught me that there was another form of life out  there in this world, one where love and respect ruled, and pain, guilt, and suffering at the hands of a parent was not the norm.  Sad to say, I didn’t learn these things until later in life, after my children had become adults and parents themselves.  I met and married a man who, even though he was raised in an environment  that made mine look like the life of Dick, Jane, and Sally, is tender, loving, kind, and respectful.  This man, who was told over and over again by his alcoholic mother that she didn’t want a son, who spent a good part of his early childhood in a childrens’ home because his mother didn’t want to be saddled with a boy child, is the sweetest, gentlest man  I’ve ever met.  How did he turn out this way?  He is an avid reader, and learned through books, as I did, that his childhood was not  normal, and that only he could change  his life for the better.

I want my children to know how sorry I am that I was such a defective mother.  If I could do it all over again, I would look at my children as the unique creations they are, and cuddle them and let them know that, although our family wasn’t all Dick, Jane, and Sally, they were, and are even more now, loved.

Thank God for books.

TMI part II (the oak mite bite saga)

We have a huge oak tree that shades most of our large back yard. 

We don’t have the pleasure of sitting beneath the ol’ oak tree, wiling away our lazy days of summer, though.  The oak mites have stolen that one freedom away from us.

Oak mites fall into the category of “No See-Ums”..almost invisible to the naked eye. They inhabit oak trees and the grass around them, and love to crawl up you legs or down your back, find the most embarrassing spot on your body, and bite away.  Mosquito bites are innocuous compared to oak mite bites. I think I’d rather be stung by a swarm of bees than to be bitten by one oak mite.  Why? Any other backyard insect bite stings, itches a bit, then eventually goes away. Oak mite bites sting only when you touch them, but they really STING! and then the itch….scratch the itch, the bite starts to sting, then the terrible itch, which makes you scratch, bringing on the sting, and so on and so on. This can last for days, even weeks. The only sure way to rid your oak tree of mites is to cut it down. But since we are not at liberty to down a tree in a yard that we rent, we coat ourselves with insect repellent and  spend our evenings in the yard inside a screened gazebo.  Poor Dr K…every time he mows the lawn he has to take off his clothes immediately after and take a shower, and his clothes go into the washer to prevent mites moving on to some other unsuspecting victim.  Even with all the precautions we take, we still have bites, most of them in the area where clothing is tightest (waistbands, underwear, bra, etc.). Nothing seemed to sooth the pain and itch of oak mite bites…not colloidal oatmeal baths, no ointment, no antihistamine pills, no large doses of adult beverages, nothing. Until one day Dr K found a new hydro-cortisone cream at the pharmacy that seemed to do the trick.  We spent a romantic evening daubing the cream on each others bites, murmuring sweet little “Son of a Bitch that itches!” and “What the hell, I have a bite on my _ _ _ _!”   I happened to look at the directions printed on the back of the tube and,cringing in disgust, showed it to Dr K.:

Scanned Picture 2

Too Much Information

” Do not use by putting directly into the rectum by using fingers or any mechanical device or applicator.”

Way too much information.  Anyone desperate enough to use this ointment in such a manner would probably be thinking,what else could I use? My toes? A bottle brush? Someone else’s elbow?

Suddenly the bites on my body didn’t seem so bad.  Fortunately they were  all on the outside and I had a multiple of  application choices. Heck, I could probably rig up some mechanical device to use if I wanted to.  Thank you, mites, for staying away from places that hydro-cortisone cream forbids us to go.

Too Much Information

I may have been born in Nebraska and lived in the same state all my life (occasionally slipping over to the state of Confusion for a vaykay), but please don’t judge me by this fact.  I may have been born at night, but not last night, I’m not still wet behind the ears and I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Even though I’m land-locked, I’m not brain-locked.  I love to keep up with the rest of the world, which is why I now have running water, electricity, Charmin, and microwave popcorn. And this gosh darn thing called the internet.

Internet access opened a whole new world for me. I found, and am still finding, interesting information about countries, societies, classes, cultures and traditions, recipes, quilt and crochet patterns, family histories, and last but not least, I met my husband (((big mmmmmwah to Dr K!)  via a chat room in Yahoo! (Room # 19, Friends Over 40, to be exact. Will be 10 years ago in just a month or so).

However for every bit of intellectually stimulating info I gained, there were dozens of other bits of “less than desirables”–things I knew existed but didn’t realize there was an actual demand for in depth information, photos and blogs for.  We all know what I’m talking about…sexual deviations, gory autopsies, bloody corpses, car wrecks, train wrecks, Walmart. We are eye-witness to every event, issue, word and photo that the world deems important enough to post on the net.  And being exposed to these things, usually while we are alone with our computers, we become immune to their effects, and stupidly believe it’s all socially acceptable because no one is there to slap our hands, cover our eyes, and stop us.

Somehow, since the world of the internet has been opened up to the  unwashed masses, society has loosened it’s sphincter around polite conversations and manners. Perhaps the Goddess of Civility assumed that, since we can witness it all via the internet, it’s time to consider JEI (Just Enough Information) passé, and accept–no, encourage–TMI (Too Much Information).

Not long ago, Dr. K and I made the agonizing decision to cease frequenting our favorite restaurant, one with lovely outdoor seating, great food, and micro-brewed beer that came  closest to the beer he loved in his fatherland.  Not because of a decline in the quality of food or service, but because in three consecutive dining occasions, the conversations carried on at nearby tables were inappropriate for any environment, unless that environment was a hospital for mentally ill lepers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t want to pay to eat there.) From a drunken business woman at the next table shouting obscenities and instructions to the poor sap on the other end on having intercourse with his contract and the horse he rode in on, to a woman whose large bandaged leg propped up on a chair blocking the traffic to and from the tables behind her. (“OH, you think it looks bad now?” she said loudly to her companion,” You should have seen it before it was lanced! There was pus oozing out everywhere!), to parents encouraging their kids to throw rocks at the fish in the koi pond, our dinner dates were being ruined by people who exude bad manners and TMI.

We hadn’t gone out for some time until last night, where we went to a local Asian restaurant for a change of pace from our usual backyard summer barbecue fare.  The place was nearly empty…nice, until the hostess seated a man right next to us.  When I say “nearly empty”, that means out of 75 or so empty tables, she puts this guy at the table next to us, like it’s the last table available.  For his sake, he should have asked for a more secluded table, because once he was seated, he picked up his cell phone, called someone and used both his and her full name and the name of his business*. ‘Hello, is this MaryJane Doe?  This is Bob Sled, director for SirKidsalot Kastle.  I’m calling in regards to the incident that occured today between your daughter Heather and our employee, Don Wienower. Mr Wienower has been suspended without pay indefinitely.  We take pride in the care we give, and I apologize for his behavior…blah, blah, blah’.

Hoo-kay…now there’s a bell that can’t be unrung.  TMI to the prosecutable degree! Can it be that people today think the world revolves around only them, and that everyone else is deaf? Are they so accustomed to social interaction with just themselves and the internet that they’ve forgotten that, outside their homes, there are still a few social guidelines to make public gatherings a relaxing treat? That there are people out there who really don’t want to know about the gangrenous infection on your leg or who you just fired for inappropriate behavior?

Or perhaps there’s a simpler explanation; parents just stopped teaching courtesy and manners to their children. Yes, parents.  Teachers have enough on their plates educating your offspring without having to take on the task of teaching respect.  Could be, these kids spend most of their out-of-school time at places like SirKidsalot Kastle and only see their parents for a few hours everyday. And for those few hours, the parents are too exhausted from the workday to spend quality time with their family…and just want to be alone to surf the net.

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the stupid.