All of Us!

All of Us!
Finally! All together with enough time to spare (??) to capture a picture of all six of us in the same spot, same time. Now this is a precious photo! I tried to get one last year for our Christmas card and didn't succeed. So when I had the chance I threw out the lasso and rounded everyone up (at my niece's graduation party) to grab a couple snapshots. My oldest son, Casey, and his girlfriend Nika are on the left; and my youngest son, Brady, and his girlfriend Jenne on the right; that leaves Bob and I in the center. (Bob is the one who doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken!!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Good I Have a Three-Day Weekend, Because I Think I've Earned A Day To Play

It’s 4:45 on Saturday morning, and I want to slap myself. Why is it that on the weekends, I wake up so early. Most times I don’t have to, but I do anyway. Lots of times it is my diabetes telling me it is time to get up and check your blood sugar. My blood sugars are what is to blame for making me get up early. If I get up, I’ll just want to try to compete with what I accomplished on Friday. It is a horrible game that I play with myself – I’m competitive, even with myself. Okay, I’m game; I’m up. Bob is thinking he wanted 15 more minutes, but since I’m up, he’s up, too.

Cats are fed, Pongo has gone out and done his morning duty, I’m fed, Bob’s fed, cardio exercises done, half hour on the treadmill accomplished, and I'm thinking today is going to be one of those outside days. It’s a little after six a.m., and there is still dew on the grass. Unable to mow, weed-eat or hand-weed yet, without some part of me getting wet from the dew, it is a good time to do some computer work.

With my Friday post to my blog completed (oops, again, I can’t post it yet because then Sierra will find out what we’re giving her for confirmation), and 3 hours completed on the Sponem book and research, it’s time to go out and tackle the outdoors.

I’ve got lots to do and every time I come outside to work on my gardens, I think back to last week when I got an email from my cousin, Carol, in Minnesota. She finally shared with me some pictures from her garden, but she also told me what was happening in her gardens. I’m so jealous, or maybe more in awe. This woman can rattle on and on about her gardens with all the specific names of the plants. I still think back in amazement as I read her email. In fact, let me share it with you, so you can see what I mean:

"What a beautiful spring it has been although the strong winds this week made short admiring of the Crabapple trees that were in bloom all over our city. My Lilacs (both Old Fashioned and Miss Kim) are blooming and the Poppy heads are about ready to burst forth in all their orange splendor. Jacob's Ladder has been so pretty this year along with my three kinds of Bleeding Hearts (pink, white and everlasting), Violets (not in my garden by choice and really take it over but they are lovely), Violas, Virginia Bluebells are nearly done with their show for this season and the Allium should be open any day. Anemone and Peonies are blooming in another garden and oh so very pretty. My last two mail-order perennials arrived yesterday so need to get them in the garden soon.

Today was spent weeding out weeds and some of the self-seeding annuals, trying to pot up some of the Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate as I always have so many requests for those every spring, people just fall in love with them when they see them in my garden. Sounds like it is going to get very chilly tomorrow with even a chance for snow in the forecast. My garden shed and garage will be full when I move all the Fuschia into them again.

Have started browsing the garden shops for ideas for the containers for the cemeteries but have only bought seven hanging baskets of Fuschia, Spifer plant and one with Million Bells in it. I vowed this year I would wait so that I don't have so much to keep hauling back into garage and garden shed because of the chilly nights and really am proud of myself that I only have seven hanging baskets thus far. Still trying to decide where the Indigo Baptisa will go as I thought I knew just the spot when I ordered it from a catalog and now that snow is gone and I am looking at the spot it just doesn't seem like the right place for it. Have only half of the Cannas planted that my friend, Jane, gave me and still trying to decide where they should all go.

No Orioles or hummingbirds yet and I have had food out for nearly two weeks now (my brother has not had any at his acreage either). I never have them until Mother's Day weekend and they are so reliable but we are getting very close and I have not seen any yet. Don't you just love this time of the year though? Every day when we walk the Blazing Star Trail we see so many beautiful sights with the deer (usually 11 in the group), Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, and lots of birds and of course the pelicans and turtles......I just can't wait to see what appears every day."

Okay, so she not only knows the names of all her flowers, she knows all the names of the feathered friends that visit, too. What a nature diva!!! LOL! By the way, my hummingbirds have finally started showing up and that makes me happy. They are still shy, as they haven’t buzzed me yet, but the level of the nectar in my hummingbird feeder is starting to slowly decrease.

So, I decided today is going to my be “Carol” day for the weekend.

Armed with the weedeater, I’m off to once again create some nice looking edges to my flower beds and yard. I haven’t weed-ate (is that a word?) my lawn for a couple weeks, so it is time. With Pongo out running about and playing with the cats, I can see where he is pretty much at all time, so I don’t have to worry about the milk truck or any other big trucks pulling in and making a pancake out of him. With my goggles on, I start attacking my flower beds and the edges of the yard. An hour later, I can hardly feel my arms. I forgot to mention that a couple years ago, Bob decided bigger was better. I had bought what he called “cheap” Wal-Mart weed-eaters (some I had gotten at Ace!) which didn’t seem to last long. So he decided he would buy me a Stihl weedeater. Now, I have to admit, the Stihl weedeaters are good – expensive, real expensive – but good. The other thing, and it is a bad thing, they are . . . heavy. And, he ain’t my brother! (Okay, sorry old joke – some maybe don’t even know the song!) I have to admit I can’t run that thing for very long at a time. In fact, Bob admits that once he runs that for a couple hours at a time, his back and arms are hurting. too. So, now my arms and my back are hurting. Time to quit with the weedeater and go inside to bring some more laundry out to hang out on the line.

With another load in and one on the clothesline, I decided I would do some hand-to-hand combat with the weeds. I hunkered down in the shade garden and starting yanking away. The shade garden, the 3-season garden, the cutting garden and my huge butterfly/hummingbird garden did not get mulch last year. These were some of the new beds that I put in last year. So I’m trying to see what is establishing itself for the hundreds of plants I put into these beds. I’ll get to putting the mulch on these beds in the next couple weeks. Until then, I need to weed out what is and what isn’t working –the weeds are working but I don’t want them to! Hahaha! Digging in, I’m finding that I will have to replace some plants. But that will come later, once I get the beds done. I’m not putting any more plants in these until I have them weeded and mulched. I can always dig back the mulch to fill in the bare spots. My rose garden is looking good for putting small bareroot rose plants in there last year. The hostas are doing good in there, but then hostas always do good. It will take a few years for the roses to establish themselves and grow bigger but I am pleased for now.

Oh, boy, I just realized that I really need to get some lunch on. So, I hustle inside and throw together some manicotti – we’ll see how Bob likes this! He is not much for anything tomato-sauce-based but sometimes he surprises me. Hopefully, today will be a surprise kind of day. Once in the oven, I am back outside for another 45 minutes. (By the way, I will post this recipe for everyone later). After weeding away for quite awhile, I’m thinking that it is time to head in to pop some cheese bread in the oven, check on the green beans and see how the manicotti is fairing. Bob looks like he is about ready to come in, so the timing might be just right.

All scrubbed up, Pongo’s given a treat (and checked over quickly for ticks – which I try to do each time we come in from outside), and I decided to throw together some brownies quick to put in the oven while we eat, as long as the oven is warm already. Bob’s first impression when I open the oven – which is the same usually when there is something new on the table – is “what the hell is that?” I tell him the same thing each time, try and see first. A few minutes later and no complaints – mission accomplished. He is a picky eater so if it passes the “Bob test,” it’s good. Many years back, he would find it hard to say anything bad about my cooking; now, he knows I won’t divorce him over comments made about a new dish. He has become my guinea pig, of sorts.

Many, many years ago, when I would decide to try something new and would prepare a meal and ask my sisters and mom over. The boys were too little and too picky, but the “women in my life” had more varied tastes and could handle trying something new. My sisters were also starting to come into their “own” as far as cooking went and the women could pick out the simpler things that might be missing. Although I do go by written recipes, a lot of my cooking is trial and error and a little of this and a little of that. Sometimes in the past, it has been hard-pressed to get a “true” recipe out of me, because I might not be positive about the exact quantity of something (a dash is always a dash – isn’t it?), or I may put something different in it the next time.
Anyway, the manicotti just passed muster today and that is all that counts.

With the brownies now out of the oven, the table cleared and dishes in the dishwasher, Pongo has decided he doesn’t want to go outside with me right now. Good time to start up the rider as it is time to tackle the mowing around the farm buildings.

A few days ago, Bob took out one of his most recent presents – a chainsaw he got from the boys for his birthday. While he was out playing, he cut down some little annoying saplings along the house and around the barn and other outer buildings and old rotten branches off some of the trees that were hanging way to low and in my way when I mow. What he did forget to do, however, was to pull them away, so it looks like today I am going to have to mow around these fallen soldiers until he gets the skidloader out to deal with the messes he has created. Boys and their toys – they like to take them out, play with them and then put them back again all neat and pretty in their packages, but how they forget about cleaning up the mess they make in the meantime. Do they ever grow up? Hahaha!

Three hours later and I am ready for some water, so I run the rider down by the house, kill the engine, get a drink and have a seat for a moment. Our riding mower’s power steering isn’t what it used to be, and with winding around so many objects, my arms are pooped and need a break. I’ve got a brilliant idea, maybe, so do I.

I think a 15-minute break, a glass of water and a little slice of brownie will do it. (Hmmmmm....there is a whole row already gone; I wonder where that went...a little detective work shows evidence on Bob’s face plus an empty ice cream pail. Case closed). As you can see, it doesn’t take too much of a detective to solve a case around my house!

With another load in the washer and one on the clothes line, I guess I am up to a little more weed-eater action. Very little, but just a little. A half hour later and I think I need to go pull some weeds by hand. Boy, I will be glad when these flower beds have their mulch in them, so it won’t be such a traumatic start to the gardening season next year.

Nestled in the middle of a flower bed, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself when I am digging around because as I look at my plants, I can rattle off their names just as quickly as Cousin Carol can. The only thing is . . . I’m looking at the plant markers and can see their names! LOL! Yep, Carol, I’m not as good as you are, but I can sometimes pretend to be. I’m working on it, though, I promise!

Okay, a few hours later, I’m now a dirty mess, and need to go inside to rest a bit, wash up and get my clothes off the line. Once the clothes are off the line and put away, I have a little time to sit and catch a few pages on my latest David Baldacci book, Deliver Us From Evil. I’m not going too fast on this one, which tells me I am not as interested in this series. But I know that there is a new John Sandford book, Storm Prey, coming out in the coming week, so I have to hurry to finish this first.

A few pages read and Pongo and I need to go for a walk. Once we’ve taken our little stroll and he has done his “big” duty for the night, it is time to think about supper. I’ve been contemplating it all afternoon and early evening, and I’m thinking a cheddar bacon quiche. I love to play around with this quiche recipe. Quiches are something that are nice for an evening meal because they are light. So I’m gathering the bacon, frying it up, take out a pie crust (oh yes, it is one of the few prepared things that I do buy), crack some eggs, mix it up with some milk, grab some cheddar cheese to shred and am thinking I want some other kinds of cheese, too. Okay, we’ll add some grated Romano and Parmesan, too. A pinch of sugar, some salt, pepper, and a variety of other spices (I always have to have a variety!), mix it up, throw it in the pie crust and in 35 minutes, supper will be on the table. Whew! I’m thinking I would like a drink, but I’m tired enough from all the outside work today, if I have one, I’ll be sleeping before the quiche comes out. Boy, it sure sucks to get old! This recipe (in it’s original state) is a Swiss Quiche recipe I have used over and over again from The Primrose Church Cookbook. It is a tried and true recipe that has seen many varieties in my household. I’ll post it, too, with the manicotti recipe in my next post.

Bob’s coming in from the barn, and I forgot about bread portion with our meal, so I take out some dinner rolls from the freezer and throw them in the microwave and, heaven’s to Betsy, you’d think I just pulled them from the oven! Boy, those new fangled kitchen devices are so sweet!! Hahaha! Bob’s happy with this take on the quiche recipe, so I’m going to heading to bed satisfied. A note jotted in the recipe book seals the deal.

A long day, but another fruitful one. Tomorrow’s Sierra’s confirmation and I have scalloped corn to make in the morning to take with. I think tomorrow will have to be my play day for the weekend. Excellent idea – boy, I just surprise myself sometimes when I pull these great ideas out of the hat! But, I'm thinking that I'm just going to be myself tomorrow; I can only handle trying to be Carol for one day -- she tires me out too much!

Monday, May 17, 2010

If My Maid Could Accomplish All That I Did Today, I Wouldn't Need Her Anymore (oh, yea, I don't have a maid!)

I had such a busy, productive weekend, I should just kick myself.

Up at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, I let Pongo out, fed the cats, Bob and I ate breakfast and I’m on the treadmill. Forty minutes later, Pongo has to go out again, so time to end my workout session.

My productive phenomenon sprang into action next by just cleaning out two junk drawers. Yes, I said two junk drawers. Normally, everyone has one junk drawer. Not me. I have so much junk, that I have two junk drawers. After cleaning out those two junk drawers, I now have . . . two junk drawers. Yep, I pitched out all the useless junk, but kept all the “gotta have” junk. But, believe me, it is now “organized junk.” Organized junk in two drawers. Well, actually it is now down to 1-1/2, if that makes it sound any better. But this is junk like, pens/pencils, crayons/chalk for when the little ones come to visit, batteries, etc. So, do you see what I mean when I say it is the “gotta have” junk? Unfortunately, there is still the “really don’t have to have, but I don’t want to get rid of it” junk. Everyone has to have a little bit of that. Maybe I just have a little more than everybody else.

After cleaning out the junk drawer(s), I then went on to my filing cabinet. I pitched out all the old folders that we didn’t need, filed some of the bills, etc., that needed to be filed, and resorted the “junk” file drawer. Yes, I also have a “junk” file drawer. It contains things that I put into folders – organized, mind you – of things that maybe I wanted to do, make, buy, review, etc. Some things were old, some things were never going to be and I had now come to terms with that and felt I could throw the contents of those folders out. It is cleansing myself of as much junk as I can subject myself to getting rid of. I went through some of the farm business folders and pulled out old bills that now have reached their 7-year cycle for tax purposes. I’m holding onto anything after that just in case of the A-word. I won’t say it, as I think it dooms a person/business once you do. So we will just call it the A-word – a nasty five letter word from a nasty three-letter agency that usually only has something bad to give you instead of something good. Nasty, nasty people! But they are nice, nice people as long as they stay far, far away. Oh, well, I am pretty sure that we are in good shape no matter what, but who wants to have to pull out tons of paperwork to hand over to someone just to have them mess it all up. Hmmmm. . .not me or anyone else I know. So, I cleaned and purged my file folders as best I could, or dared.

Next, the refrigerator. I have gotten so much better in the last few years about cleaning out the fridge on a pretty timely basis. Yes, this is a confession – years ago I hated cleaning out the refrigerator. It was always like a 10-ton chore sitting in the back of mind and hanging on my shoulder. But with age comes wisdom – you learn to tackle it before the little army of green guys march in and take over and now you can’t identify what was in that good container which now the whole thing needs to be pitched out because, heaven’s sakes, you wouldn’t want to open it and get a whiff of that!

I am good at keeping leftovers. This is leftover (pardon the pun) from my days of young, when growing up we kept all our leftovers - if there were any. My dad never minded eating leftovers. He would go to the fridge to pull out leftovers rather than eat any junk food or chips, etc. He was good to his body and didn’t clog it with the crap that a lot of us eat today. Unfortunately, he died too young. He was a Type I diabetic like me. Bob is supposed to be my “dad who eats the leftovers” person. He does, sometimes. I take leftovers every day to work for my lunch, so maybe I am more that person than he is. He will eat the leftovers; but not the next day after we have initially had them. He has to wait a day since he doesn’t want to eat something two days in a row. Me, on the other hand . . . I will eat something four days in a row and it doesn’t bother me – as long as the food stays good. It is food and if I made it and it is good, I’m going to eat it. For God’s sake, there are starving children all over the world . . . (okay how many times have we heard that growing up, cringed at it, ate what we didn’t want to eat, but still hated hearing it; then turn around now and use or used that same line on our kids; cycle of life, I guess. Or should I say . . . cycle of lines!).

See, it is therapeutic to get rid of stuff. Old stuff, good stuff, bad stuff, little green stuff – toss it and see how much better you feel. I know that I should follow the motto of others . . . set it in a pile and if you don’t need it within so many days, then toss it. Well, that might be good for some . . . not for me. I am always of that mind set that some day I might need it, so for now I’ll keep it. My someday might not be for a couple or three, four, seven years, but, by George, I’ll have it if I need it. I think maybe that nasty three-letter agency has the right idea of purging things after seven years. Maybe that is what I need to do – have an A-word of my “stuff” every seven years. If I haven’t used it in seven, then I guess it was not meant to be and it can go the way of the “stuff” in my junk drawers that I just pitched this past weekend.

Wow, it is now 8:30 on Friday morning and I have cleansed and purged myself of a lot of stuff. I’ve also gotten three loads of bedding done and hung out. Nothing like crawling into bed with freshly laundered sheets after they have been hung out to dry in the fresh air!

I have promised myself that I would devote a half hour to my cookbooks each day on the weekend, so that was next on my agenda. With the cookies and bars folders cleaned out, it is time to quit putting new recipes in my cookbook binders because I have just run out of glue sticks. Another item to add to my shopping list.

Another chore down and I next spied my niece, Sierra’s confirmation present sitting in the bag, recently purchased the night before. With her confirmation coming up on Sunday, time to get that wrapped and set aside, so I don’t have to deal with that at the last minute Sunday morning. Satisfied with my wrapping job, I still contemplate my choice of gift. Sierra is athletic and more on the, shall I say, tom-boyish side. I wanted to give her something, as with the others, to commemorate their confirmation. Maci, when she was confirmed, got a ring. I try hard to pick something that may be appropriate for the personality of each. My choice for Sierra had to have a little more thought put into it, because she is not much into jewelry, but I went with my first instinct and that was supplemented with something else I spied when I went into Things Remembered. I wanted to get Sierra an ID bracelet – not real feminine, and not masculine, but something in between, so that it fit with her active, athletic lifestyle now and in the future. What surprised me the most was sitting right there in front of me – a not too feminine/not too masculine ID bracelet and dog tag set. Gorgeous! Oops, not gorgeous – but excellent!! Spot on (at least in my mind; and I was hoping Sierra would like it just as much). I added a shiny keepsake box, had all three engraved and out the door I went. Reminiscing over the purchase, I hoped once again now that my choice was spot on. I guess the only thing that will tell for sure will be the look on her face when she opens it. Well, I’ll have to wait until Sunday to see. (Note: I won’t be posting this to my blog until after Sunday, because I don’t want to give away the surprise!)

Wishing now that I had a list for what I wanted or needed to accomplish this weekend, (I’m big on lists – I organize, organize, organize and write lists), I quickly wandered around the house to see what I should be getting done next. I know I am going to be limited on time, because as soon as we eat lunch, Bob already has my afternoon planned. We are heading to the freestall barn to replace some broken boards, reset the freestalls, put in new screws and fix whatever else needs to be done. I throw another load of laundry in and then decided to tackle some housecleaning. In between cleaning jobs, I take out the pan of chicken drumsticks I have marinating in the fridge. It is a morning of simple things – I just took a bottle of Italian/Balsamic Dressing & Marinade and poured it over the drummies. A couple hours later and I am ready to throw them on the grill over low/indirect heat. I grabbed a bag of mini-red potatoes, sliced them in half, added some seasonings (garlic & herb seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley flakes), added some butter, tossed them and then put them in an aluminum pan with a little water added so they don’t burn; covered the pan with aluminum foil and then off to the grill everything goes. These will be okay to leave out on the grill for at least 30 minutes and then the drummies will need a quick check and possible turn. After 1-1/2 hours roasting on the grill, everything will be good to go. Back to cleaning.

After checking the drummies and realizing they are getting close to being done, I note that it looks like Bob is going to be heading in soon. So I quick throw together some sliced garlic bread, set that aside, and put a pan on the stove to heat up some frozen corn. Once I know Bob is on his way in, I put the garlic bread in the oven, check my blood sugar, take my insulin and 15 minutes later we are eating.

Once done eating, and while I clean off the table, put the dishes in the dishwasher, set that to start, Bob is out in the garage gathering his tools and putting them in the skidloader bucket. We head down to the freestall barn so that I can spend some quality time working side-by-side with my hubby and our ladies. We herd the girls out of one alleyway so that we can work on the freestalls there. Next it is carrying in the tools. Bob gets to use some of his new tools for the first time. A couple of his recent Xmas presents - a 28-volt Milwaukee rechargeable reciprocating saw and the same style orbiting saw – are going to be christened today. We (I) have been adding to his 28-volt Milwaukee collection ever since he went out and bought himself the 28-volt Milwaukee impact wrench. I have a feeling we are going to get our money’s worth out of this baby today. We have two rechargeable batteries for these three and let’s hope they hold out for the afternoon or we might be quitting earlier than we think. Armed with his two drills, a bucket for the tools, hammer, coffee cans and plastic containers (from my kitchen) full of lag screws and bolts and nuts, I think we are ready to start.

Four hours later, after running out of bolts and the batteries finally going dead on the impact wrench, we are 3/4 of the way through with what needed to get done. Satisfied with what we had accomplished, it is later than we think and Bob needs to start chores. I, on the other hand, have to get at my mowing. Two hours later, the yard is done, and I am satisfied with what I have accomplished so far. After taking the clothes off the line and folding them, our bed is made and the boys’ bedding will have to wait until tomorrow before I make those beds. No one is staying at our house tonight anyway, so no need to rush that process.

With daylight left, it gives Pongo and I just enough time to go for a little walk. He has been in and out all day, but while we were working on the freestall barn, he had to stick to the house. Back from our walk, I figure I still have some time to hunker down and try to concentrate on researching and writing the Sponem History book. Two hours later, really, two hours, seems like once you get started you sort of lose track of time – and I figure I better make some hot ham and cheese sandwiches on the griddle to feed the hungry milking man once he comes in. Plus, it has been a long day and my blood sugar is telling me I need a little something-something in my belly and veins, too, to get me by.

Tired, mentally and physically, plus full from eating so late, I’m off to bed for sweet dreams in my freshly-laundered-and-hung-outside-to-dry sheets.

Mmmmmmm . . . now this is what makes a good night’s sleep. The only thing that is missing is one of those little chocolate candies the maid is supposed to leave on my pillow. Dang that maid, anyway!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothering Never Stops - Especially on Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all my female family and friends out there! Whether you are a mother or have never experienced being a mother at all, I still say Happy Mother’s Day to you. Being a mother does not necessarily mean giving birth to a child. I think being a female puts “mother” in part of your job description. There is hardly a female that I know that hasn’t at some point in her life taken on the role of care giver, mothering someone whether it be a younger/older sibling, parent, another relative or friend. It is in our nature.

And, Happy Mother’s Day to me, too, if you don’t mind if I say so. My Mother’s Day has not started out as I wanted, as I am writing this from the early depths of the morning of Mother’s Day, awaiting a call from a doctor one-hundred-and-sixty miles or three hours drive away from me. I have been told to stay put until I get that call. That is hard to tell a Mother Bear to stay put when there is something wrong with one of her cubs. I have packed my insulin and pills, my G.P.S. is set to go, I have researched, but I am told to sit and wait, so I decided to write. It is 3:00 a.m. on Mother’s Day, but let me go back to Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day to fill you in on how my Mother’s Day weekend started.

It is Saturday, and untraditionally, today is my Mother’s Day. My boys and Bob are taking me out to eat today as both the boys will be gone on Mother’s Day – Casey back to Chicago for his football game and Brady off to play Home Talent baseball. Casey and I had to take a quick trip to pick up the boys’ present to Bob for his birthday (which was last weekend). When you have one son out of state, you learn you have to wait on gifts sometimes. After milking and chores are done and Bob comes in, he opens his gifts – two glazed donuts, a bag of peanut M&M’s, and a new chain saw. Happy that he has another new toy to play with, he jumps in the shower to get ready to take me out to eat. Casey and I are showered and ready to go. We are now waiting on Brady, who has been golfing since 8:30 this morning. It is cold, rainy and windy — not ideal weather for golfing, but it is a fundraiser for one of his good friends who has cancer. People learn to tough it out when it comes to doing special things for people close to us. Nine holes later, Brady is at the house and we are all off to eat at Longhorn Steak House in Madison.

Back at home again, after eating and I have a new addition to my gardens. For Mother’s Day the boys bought me a gorgeous blue stone/ceramic bird bath. It adds a little extra needed color to the dreary day in my gardens.

Brady headed back out to the golf course to help with the rest of the day’s fundraiser and Bob headed to the barn. While waiting for some of Casey’s clothes to dry, we decided to watch one of the Netflix movies I had recently gotten in the mail - Brothers. Casey initially said he would only be able to stay for a half hour, but probably a half hour before it ended, he headed out. It is now between 7-7:30 p.m. After the movie finished, the rest of my non-traditional Mother’s Day evening was spent working on my recipe books. I grab something to eat. Bob, in from the barn, isn’t hungry. It is now 10:00 p.m. and Casey calls to say that he is now home in his Chicago apartment, safe and sound. So tired from the day, I head to bed.

At 11:30 p.m., my phone (charging on my bed stand and after the last four months with my Aunt, never far from my reach) starts to ring. It announces the caller, saying “Casey.” I wonder as I quickly grab for the phone, why he is calling at this hour. The caller speaks, “This is Bobby, Casey’s friend. He wanted me to call you right away to tell you that I just rushed him to the hospital.” I “calmly” shout into the phone, “Bobby, what happened?” Bobby say, “I don’t know. I only live five blocks from Casey and he called me and said he felt like he was having a heart attack, he couldn’t feel his left side and he had been vomiting black stuff for 20 minutes before he called me. So I ran over and got him and we are at the hospital.” “Which hospital,” I inquired. He said, “UIC (University of Illinois Medical Center).” I quickly told Bobby that I would pack up and be out the door in just a few minutes and would head right down. He said he didn’t know how long he would be able to stay and I said that is okay, I will get down there right away. I’m packing my insulin and pills, chargers and speedily getting ready. I tried Brady, but to no avail, so left a phone message and then texted him. I started texting his girlfriend, Jenne, (knowing that she was out at a bachelorette party, but maybe she had caught up with Brady by now), when Brady called me back. I told him I was heading to Chicago and wanted to know if he wanted to come along. He said Jenne was just meeting up with him and he had been out at the bar next door to his house with his friends after the golf fundraiser. I said that is okay, and I could pick him/them up. Then my phone rang again, the phone calling system on my phone announcing Casey’s phone. This time when I answered, I was greeted by still another new voice - the charge nurse from UIC. She immediately told me that Bobby had mentioned to her I was going to head down. She said, “I don’t know exactly where you are at, but I understand you are a few hours away.” I confirmed that I was about three hours from the hospital. She said, “Can you just hold tight until we get a diagnosis, because I know the weather is not conducive to travel and we don’t need you out on the road in inclement weather, if you don’t need to be. I should be able to let you know something in 45 minutes”

Okay, as I grit my teeth – you want me to wait almost an hour while you diagnose my son which would then put my ETA at almost four hours. Hmmmmm....pretty brave to tell a Momma Bear to put away that maternal instinct of run to take care of a situation or just to be there, if need be. “Okay, a compromise of sorts then,” I said to Kathleen, the charge nurse. “Tell me what exactly what you are thinking is a possible diagnosis. I know (1) he is in a lot of pain, (2) that he didn’t have feeling on his left side, and (3) he was vomiting up ‘black stuff’ for almost 20 minutes before coming into the ER. Are we looking at possible appendicitis, something worse, or what” She paused for a moment and then said, “Kidney stones. My gut reaction at this point is kidney stones, but we won’t know anything further until we get the pain under control and we run some tests. Give me 45 minutes.” Okay, I conceded, “45 minutes.” She ended with, “here is the number at the ER and if I don’t call you back in 45 minutes, call this number and ask for me.”

Forty-six minutes later, I called the ER and asked for Kathleen. She came to the phone and said she was working at the moment in a different part of the ER and would put me on with Casey. Casey, in a raggedly painful voice, said, “they are 99% sure it is kidney stones, but I can let you know a little later. I just need to sleep so I don’t feel the pain.” Kathleen then got on the phone and said, “I would suggest that you don’t travel tonight, if you want to come down, but wait until morning breaks and then we will know more.” Morning breaks? Isn’t that what happened at midnight? Okay, then I will do what I do next best, research. Okay, if this is what they think it is, let’s find out what kidney stones have to say about themselves...

Well, a half hour later and I am now up to full speed on everything I needed to know about kidney stones, that I didn’t know before. I’ve never been up close and personal with kidney stones before, never had to research them. But what I did find, perplexed me (and later I find out has perplexed Casey’s doctors, too). Kidney stones are most common in men. More so, men in their 40's and up. Casey is today, one week shy of his 26th birthday. Hmmmm... Kidney stones are more prevalent in males who drink beer and pop. Casey does neither. He has never drank any alcohol and does not drink pop. Hmmmmmm... I have now learned how you treat kidney stones that are passable, how you treat those that are not passable, and that it is more than likely once you get a kidney stone, that you are going to get another.

It is now 3:30 a.m. and Casey calls me to say, “my phone is about to go dead, but the CAT scan showed that I have two kidney stones. They say that I can go home shortly, so I called my friend and co-worker, Kimberly, and she is going to pick me up and take me home.” Casey then went on to say that he felt so sorry for his friend, football comrade and hero, Bobby. Shortly after they arrived at the hospital, Bobby got a phone call saying that his best friend since fourth grade had just passed away from an overdose. Casey said he felt so bad, because this big guy who has Casey’s back on and off the field was crying and there was nothing that Casey could do for him at the time. He went on to say that apparently Bobby doesn’t “use,” had come from a bad neighborhood in Chicago, now lives a couple blocks from Casey, has turned his life into good and had been trying to get his friend to stop using. Sometimes, I have learned, even our best intentions don’t always turn out how we want them to. My sympathies to Bobby for his loss. My kudos to Bobby for having Casey’s back one more time. Casey then ended our conversation with “I will call you when I get home.” I told him I loved him and would wait for his call.

What to do until then? I started to write this post to my blog.

At 5:30 a.m., Casey called to say that he is home and needs to go to sleep to get away from the pain. I told him I would call him in the morning. He said that if he felt better and a little more pain free, he might go to his 11:00 game just to watch, not to play. This game, in which he, as he is called by the league as “Deuce Deuce” (because of his love of the number 22 – it’s a Dallas Cowboys thing – need I say anything more than Emmitt Smith!) where he will have to sit and watch. This game where this scrawny little kid runs as one of the best in the league, catching a broken finger eight weeks ago, then a broken thumb the following week, and two weeks later, a concussion. This game where his team is covered by ethnic diversity. This game where the teammates have your back, on and off the field. He’ll watch, just because he wants to be there if he can.

I called him at 7:00 this morning to see how he was doing and to ask the mother’s prerogative question, “Should I come down?” Hey, it is Mother’s Day! It is the one day I don’t have to explain my actions, just because it is my prerogative. “No,” he simply said. “I’ll be fine, plus I’ll probably be sleeping most of the time and there is nothing you can do.” Hmmm... “okay, then,” I answered. “Just promise me you will drink plenty of water. I mean two to four quarts. It will help.” “Yes,” he said. “That is exactly what the doctors told me. I’ll do it if it is what is going to help get these things out. But they said the first one is ready to come down through and it will pass in a day or two. The second is in the intestines and will take probably up to a week. They also told me that passing kidney stones is a lot like childbirth.”

Yes, I thought to myself, it probably is. But once you pass that stone, you don’t get to hold, cuddle, coddle and protect it for the rest of its or your life. Being a mother, that is my prerogative. I get to do just that and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As for me, for now, I'll stay put. I'll do my mothering from the every-reaching tentacles of my cell phone. But I'm there in a flash if either of my boys needs me -- its my prerogative. I'm a Mother.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I "Shrewly" Am Busy, Busy, Busy

My horoscope today said that I should “Remind people how much they mean to you.” What better way than to do some of what I do best, and that is to share a recipe I recently received.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love to cook and bake, and bake and cook, so I am always adding more to my list of recipes. By the way, I was finally able to sort through my ever-growing pile of recipes last weekend and now have them in folders, ready to be bound into my individual category binders. One step down, major step to go! I love doing this because it gives me a chance to revisit recipes and try some new and try some old. My binders have been crying out for some major attention from me and it is about time I give them their due time. Each gets tender loving care when adding new recipes, as I index and cross-reference each with other category binders (i.e., a Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo recipe may go in the Pasta binder, but it will be cross-referenced in the Seafood binder index so I know where to find another shrimp recipe when I want it). But it will also be indexed in a few different ways in the Pasta binder index (i.e., under fettuccine, under shrimp, under Alfredo). It is all in the details, baby, all in the details. That is my forte’ and if I can’t busy myself with details, I am not a happy camper.

Busy, busy, busy. All my time spent nursing and sitting with my dying Aunt, (God rest your beautiful soul as I love and miss you so much), things were sort of getting behind at home. I am now trying to catch up on all those little things that eventually turn into big things when left unattended to. I caught up on my filing for the farm. When not able to do that for four months, it becomes quite the pile. This is now all neat and put away in their respective folders in the filing cabinet. The next thing I have to catch up on is putting everything into Quicken since the beginning of the year. I don’t like to fall behind on this as it gets to be an even bigger pain in the butt later down the road. So, that is probably going to be priority number one on my “next to do” list.

Well, that would be after I catch up on my outside work which actually needs to head to the top of the list. There are more plants to plant, mulch to put down and trees to trim. But Bob and I have other projects around the farm that also needs to be done. He has his priority list and I have mine. We try to combine a little of his with hers and work together on some of these. He has a “need your help” project in the freestall barn that is at the top of his list now that he has crossed off working on the mower.

My mower is starting to get to that point of “no return.” It was also in need of some tender loving care. It has a hole on the top of the deck where it continuously spews out grass right at me until it finally gets plugged up. Then at the beginning of the mowing season this year, one of the tires that guide the deck cracked right where it is welded onto the deck. It started to become more of a pain wondering when it may fall off, so Bob just yanked it off where it was cracked at the deck. This caused a hole on the right side of the deck, which then created an eruption of grass from both sides of the mower. At some points during the last mowing session I had, I looked like what is left on the ground after Edward Scissorhands had a go at a few hedges – covered with expelled green stuff. This became too big a problem so I got my major mowing done this past weekend and Bob took the deck off to take it in to get some welding done. They called last night to say it is done, just in time to get started again this weekend. At least now I won’t have to don a rain jacket to stay away from being bombarded with mowed grass.

The poor seat on my 20+ year-old Cub Cadet mower was also shot. Our anniversary was not a very happy one this year, as it was the day before Auntie died. But Bob tried to brighten it a little for me by pimping my mower out. Well, as “pimped” as a couple of old fogeys like us can get. He got me a new seat for the mower. (You can see it doesn’t take too much to please me.) At least now I don’t have to throw a towel over it to cover up the rips in the old leather seat, plus it has a higher back. A little more comfortable on some of the bumpy rides I have to take over my mole-tunneled lawn.

Now, that is another problem. I need to get these moles (or maybe they are shrews or voles) under control. I’m not the only one with a yard pest problem. My sister, Suzi, confessed to me a couple months ago that they have new “friends” who have decided it was time to party in their yard. Voles. Voles, shrews, they are all about the same, aren’t they? I’ve been calling them shrews, so maybe in Wisconsin they are the Shrews and in Minnesota they are their up-north cousins, the Voles.

According to Suzi and Greg’s pest control person, they have adopted around fifty! My yard is bigger and it is part of the farm – I must have a whole village-worth. I imagine they have retired here now and are building condos and whole retirement villages. Hopefully, they don’t invite the Minnesota cousins down, or I am having thoughts of putting the tiller on the mower and just having a go at it with the entire yard. Now that would be almost comical to see, little shrews flying through the air as I furiously dig paths through the yard. They probably burrow too deep to even get them that way. I bet they are putting me on their terrorist alert list, as we speak.

Our cats find them, and apparently don’t like the taste of them, because they leave them laying around for me to find. I yelp when I do find them, and then get a shovel and throw them over the fence and just hope they decay or that something bigger, that doesn’t have such a persnickety appetite, will come along and eat them. Thank God, Pongo just sniffs at them and walks away. He is as picky as the cats, which is good for me. I don’t think I would want him feeling he overate on a shrew meal and then leave me a little present in the house. (Okay, wish I had never said that because that will be all I can think of now for a while.)

All this work to get done, now I am starting to feel a little tired. Maybe it is nap time . . . but then, I am not really sure what that is anymore. I’ll just have to grab one of my new books (David Baldacci’s “Deliver Me From Evil”) and work on that for a little bit. At least, then I don’t have to think about dealing with those shrews. And, I “shrewly” am not up to that at the moment.

So, before I forget or doze off to sleep, here is the recipe I wanted to share with you:


Rich, dark chocolate sandwiched between two layers of shortbread cookies.

Shortbread Cookies
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup salted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Chocolate Sauce
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon salted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 325*F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. To make the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate chips and the 1 tablespoon butter in the top of a double boiler, being careful not to let it get too hot--the chocolate will burn and the butter will separate. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

3. Cream the sugar and 1 cup butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir until well incorporated.

4. Shape the dough into 20 1-inch balls and press them into 2-inch-long ovals. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake 17 to 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely.

5. Dip the flat side of each cookie into the chocolate sauce and press the 2 chocolate sides together to make a "sandwich." Let the cookies rest on the cooled baking sheet until the chocolate hardens a little.

Happy Eating!