Epiphany, or 20CMB10 as we like to call it

It’s Three Kings Day – Epiphany! We acknowledged the 12 Days of Christmas by being lazy about cleaning up our tree and then this morning, all four of us stepped outside in the frozen tundra of the desert (the lows last night must have been in the 40s — BURR!) to bless the house.

God of Light, bless our house and our family. May this be a place of peace and health. May each member of this family cultivate the gifts and graces you have bestowed, dedicating our talents and works for the good of all.

Make this house a shelter in the storm and a haven of rest for all in need of your warmth and care. And when we go out from this place, may we never lose sight of that Epiphany star.

As we go about our work, our study, our play, keep us in its light and in your love.

It’s a Methodist prayer and we are Episcopalian, but like God really cares. I also don’t think God cares that the marking of the door with the date and initials of the kings should be done in chalk and over the door. We don’t have chalk. My kids’ teachers use dry erase and it seems to work miracles in the classroom. It looks good, right?

This version has the added benefit of being mobile. When the landlords kick us out so they can move in (whenever that will be because they just let us know things are “progressing slower than expected”), we’ll just take our blessing with us. That tile is a gift from my boss. She’s way cool like that and I say so knowing full well she doesn’t read this blog.

Kings’ Day means no more tree. What a mess! Better get out the vacuum.

Wah, wah, waaaaaaah.

I replaced the broken belt with a new one, which quickly burned through like the first after I made a big show to the kids that they had to learn to fix such things. Stink and smoke later, both kids stared at me with bitter disappointment in their eyes. I’m going to try a third belt to salvage the vacuum because maybe I didn’t make entirely sure that the brush was rotating properly. Also, I have to show everyone I’m right and that buying a new vacuum would be wasteful. Until then, the broom does an adequate job.

Christmas is cleaned up. Thank you letters, where appropriate (only to the most elderly of family members), are written. Presents put away. Sadly, the end of Christmas means no more of these (from a former boss),

or worse, no more of these (from the attendance clerk at my son’s school).

I like my gifties. Maybe I can craft a convincing argument that all my friends and family should resolve that in 2010, they will give me awesome gifts all year long. Maybe Hawt Mz could send home another empty bag of these cookies.

Anyone? Anyone?

Christmas Gifts

Gifts we gave. We made all our gifts this year, including zipper pulls for the cousins’ backpacks.

Gifts for the kids. The tree is propped up by presents especially selected by our loved ones for us. Some of us were excited and some of us played it cool.

The leather jacket emphasizes the cool, don’t you think?

Gifts for the dog. Toys marked “chew me” don’t last long around these parts.

Gifts for the future. I pray that I have enough of my children’s great grandmother’s genes to look this good in my mid 80s. She works out every day. Bleh.

Gifts to make me cry. Caddo Artist also gave handmade gifts. It’s too bad I couldn’t catch the detail on the beading along with the way it catches the light. Then again, all I’m trying to pass along is that people not on her Christmas list should be jealous. I’m jealous of myself!

My mom told me that I would have to wait until she died to get this scarf, just like she had to wait until my grandmother died. I didn’t have to wait and how nice is it that my mom is alive? She also recounted in a lovely illuminated letter the story of the scarf and a childhood trip with her mother to San Francisco.

Dreams of our new year. I can count my blessings at Thanksgiving, but I learn so much more about giving at Christmas. Between now and the new year, I’ll be considering the generosity of my family by birth and by choice. This season I’ve been put on notice that the world has the capacity to be beautiful, kind, and creative. I must respond likewise. I’ll have challenges, but I’ll have support. In this way, I (you are welcome on the journey) can continue to dream for a world in which every day we celebrate the best in each other (after you quit gagging, of course).

Dayna is a Few of My Favorite Things

Last Friday, I got my panties tied in a knot. If this has ever happened to you, you’ll agree that it ain’t pleasant. It’s about eleventy million degrees in the desert and any business who has a customer come in the door in this weather (and economy) should fall to their knees in gratitude. Okay. Maybe my attitude was skewed, but honestly the Universe should have been on my side.

Have you ever been into an Apple store? There is a culture there that I just cannot crack. I went to one such den of iniquity to purchase iPods for the kiddos at Christmas and, did you know you can’t just go there and buy some? Nope. You cannot. You can go there and order them online. Of course you can do that at your own damn house too and get them monogramed for free. Also, you might foolishly wait in line to buy those only to discover BUZZ wrong line. Also, there is a sign-in sheet, but you gotta know it’s there, where to find it, and what to do once you’ve approached it. I feel like a moron every time I darken their doorstep.

For these reasons, I’ve been delaying the trip to get my laptop fixed. Friday, I decided to bite the bullet, head to the hills, and get a new battery. If you think I could just go in and buy one, then you weren’t paying attention when I told you about the iPods. Nor was I.

So, it’s eleventy million degrees outside and I pack the kids up for a 16-mile trip to RichMan’s Land to get a new battery at the Apple store. I ridiculously wait in line with my MacBook before realizing that this line is a fantasy. I remember that you have to catch as catch can a, uh, what do you call them? They have a name, those applets walking around. They always send me straight home. Let’s make this long, agonizing story short to say, the kids and I embarked on our next errand – me still lugging the dead MacBook.

Next stop, the dry cleaners to retrieve the on-loan dresses belonging to my Fairy God Sister (I changed her designation as she is decades too young to be my mother). You’ll remember there were two borrowed dresses. Additionally, I dropped off a kid’s dress and a kid’s tie. The kid’s dress went in without stains and came home with rust stains. The kid’s tie went in with a chocolate stain, which I pointed out, and was returned with the same said stain. I didn’t have the guts to check Yvonne’s dresses. The bill for these four items? $47! I should have known to stay home. Nothing good happens in Hell.

I gave up on errands and retreated to sanctuary where I know loveliness awaits me. Handsome Hubster’s great grandmother Inez was a quilt maker. I washed and set out to dry four of her quilts. I thought they were in fairly good condition, but I was wrong.
Even raggedy, I love these fans both traditional and electric. That’s what I’m calling the designs. If you are a purist and want to correct me on the names, then I will require you to send me a handmade quilt, you quilt snob. I may just fill my house with handmade quilts. I’m not sure if you can see in this photo, but Inez cared enough for these beauties that she repaired them. I will find a way to honor her work.
Alas, the dry lines are near the alley by the car port. Once out of the car and en route to the back door, I ran into my pathetic garden. The death sentence of any living thing with the unfortunate luck to be planted here is why, Denveater, you haven’t had an update on my garden. The basil looks great, the hens ate the pepper pant’s leaves, the tomatoes died one at a time with this one croaking while I was in Oklahoma. Sad.
Through the house and to the street out front where we keep the mailbox. Inside, I found something that took away the sting of the Apple shunning, being taken to/at the cleaners, quilts in sad repair, and triple black-thumb death.
Dayna. Dayna. Isn’t that a lovely name? Dayna sent me a gift. It was completely unsolicited. I didn’t even pay her. Frankly, I’ve never even met her, but I love her. I love you, Dayna. Thank you for Going to Seed: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Plants of the Southwest*and for the encouragement as well. I think I will keep writing, even if I suspect you and my dad are in cahoots.

* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?

My Fairy Godmother

Dashing out of town to attend my 20th high school reunion (I graduated early, yes I did), I breathlessly told my friend Yvonne that I had given up finding a decent outfit for the formal turned semi-formal turned dressier than church clothes event, which was, or could have been the first or second night. I wasn’t all that clear. I supposed I could find a cotton skirt or, uh, something not grease/dirt/snot/food stained.

Yvonne is a native Tucsonan, which I find fascinating since they are so rare. Her parents at some point in lineage were from Mexico. With her black-as-night hair, porcelain white skin, and splashy red lips, I can’t help but see her as the visage of 1940s era Tucson, although with four boys aged 9, 7, 3ish, and not yet 1 it has to be the case that she’s sweaty, disheveled, and exhausted at least some of the time.

In any event, Yvonne dashed into her closet, pulled a few hangers off the rack, and sent me on my way. MIL pressed my lightly rumpled dress and the 7 YO girl helped edit my jewelry for the first night. I love this BCBG dress. I’m just a breath too big for it and probably should have used scaffolding to hold stuff in. As it was, my pantyhose only lasted an hour or so before being stashed in Caddo Artist‘s handbag. The pre-prom photograph doesn’t do the dress justice.

Yvonne had me doubly prepared for Night Two. I forget the label on this draped-neck number. Also, sadly, I don’t have a photo of the bottom half of the dress and its soft sweet double ruffle at the hem. I do have this.

I’m sure I was saying something endlessly fascinating like, “Yes, I did so go to Norman High School. I did too. I swear to God we went to high school together.” Alternatively, it may have been, “Yes, I do remember the time I got involved with that ridiculously good crowd of smart, kind-hearted, and responsible kids who for whatever reason committed 7 felonies and 13 misdemeanors together.”

What I lack in photographic evidence of Yvonne’s excellent taste and generosity in loaned dresses I have in spades regarding shoes. Yes, Yvonne even sent me forth into reunionland with footwear more lovely than Cinderella’s. While the dresses and shoes must return to the owner, this photo of my feet with my sweet’s is mine forever, just as Handsome Hubster is mine to have and to hold (unless, of course, we have some sort of hard drive failure).
Thanks big time Yvonne. I would have been nekked and barefooted were it not for you.

Mother Earth Day

About mid-way between Earth Day and Mother’s Day, Caddo Artist sent me this:

Caddo Care Carton Contents:

Sandy Springs Buffalo Meat Jerky, Hinton, OK
Pepper Creek Farms Dip Mix, Lawton, OK
EEMB Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix & Peanut Butter Brownie, Lexington, OK
Lasley Roasted Peanuts, Eakly, OK
Scott Farms Tortilla Soup Mix & Reds, Rice, & Spice, Altus, OK
Sooners Salsa, Amigo’s Salsa, Ardmore, OK
Native Roots Market Bumper Sticker, Norman, OK

That there first item was done et straight’way. The brownie soon follered and the salsa wern’t long for this world. I’m not saying that Caddo is fattening me up for reunion slaughter; I am saying I haven’t exhibited much self-control.

Caddo included a card with the quotation, “There is nothing more honorable than motherhood.” I have plans in the coming days to disprove this, but for now, I am embracing the honorific. A separate note read, in part, “I wanted to send the apple pie, it was a party in your mouth with every bite!” The tease! I guess there is honor in motherhood, but cruelty in friendship.

Okay, while she did everything as I have written, the expanded contents of the note were personal, touching, inspiring, and directed straight my way. Perhaps there is nothing more honorable than motherhood, but for sure there’s nothing more humbling than reflective generosity. This mother of three who takes care of her family and friends so well is certainly most honorable.

That’s Right, Kale Chips

The most insanely fantastical librarian gave Hawt Mz. Molly a tip on kale chips, which she then passed on to me in lieu of getting emotionally involved in my daily drama. Now all ya’ll will benefit from a resourceful woman-to-woman, educator-to-educator network.

Right prior to the kids’ spring break, the perfect storm of crazy busy, interpersonal frustration, and a visit from Aunt Flo hit like police brutality. I met my teacher guru in a dim corner of the breezeway where she gave me excellent advice, which was to get as ugly as I needed to get in private, then use that to inform a more calm voice.

Hawt Mz. spied me purging my soul and afterward brought me from the dark into the garden’s light with a gift of beets and kale. The produce was about to go to the chickens because it was time to harvest, but our farm stand wouldn’t be open until after spring break, or so she claimed. Then she passed on the kale chip recipe.

Washed & dried kale
Oil to cover
Salt to taste

I translated this to 1 Tbs Kosher salt, 1 Tbs oil, kale.

The sheet on the left is straight up. The sheet on the right uses 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but the vinegar kale took on a deeper green.

Here they are, crunchy, over-salted chips. That’s right, “salt-to-taste” is way less than 1 Tbs of Kosher salt. FYI, the vinegar chips were mo’ betta’. Generally speaking, kale chips taste like paper thin, ultra crisp Veggie Booty.
You could totally replace the salt with Lowery’s or BBQ seasoning or popcorn seasoning or powdered cheddar or qual quiere.

The kale chips were a fun diversion from my bad attitude, but keeping me emotionally afloat is a community where people recklessly embrace each other with new ideas, thoughtful advice, and perceptive support.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Those who know and love me understand that I am going to let them down at the holidays. It’s just not my thing – not that I haven’t tried. Not that I haven’t tried to do it up, that is, not not that I haven’t tried to let folks down. It’s inevitable that I let you down, because even though I try, I’m not that good at doing it up. Huh?

Point is, I suck at holidays regardless of my intention, but I’m a spectacular holiday voyeur. If I were to do Valentine’s Day for all ya’ll, I’d give you the gift of clean, fresh air. TreeHugger just posted a list of the plants I would consider for you. How cute is this Philodendron oxycardium (in lay terms, heartleaf philodendron)? It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day and a good air filterer to boot (whatever “to boot” means). Incidentally, you can buy a whole book, How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office, on this subject. Maybe you could even pair the plant and book.*

I’m sure that I’m breaking some bloggy rule by reposting for a third year in a row an excerpt from a Valentine’s Day past post, but no one is paying attention anyway. This year, I think I might rather like some Garbage Soup.


February 12, 2007

Please don’t go out on Valentine’s Day and drop a chunk of change on flowers that were coated in pesticides, kept in a green house, and shipped across the country. What is that supposed to say? “I love you so muchly that I’m giving you something unnaturally begotten. Also, in its making a part of the world was poisoned. Lastly, even with the aspirin dissolving in the water, it’s doomed to die leaving nothing to show for the cash. THIS is the symbol of my love for you.” Please. Save your money.**

I am compelled to request that you forget the expensive roses! Instead, share this recipe for Garbage Soup, from Dining with the Desert Museum* (with editorial). It would be good for your wallet, the environment, and an honest statement about the longevity of love.

water (the elixir of life)
vegetable waste (eggplant sounds like elegant fare for a Valentine dinner, but gack!)
coffee grounds (from the pot you shared over morning breath)
eggshells (you already walked on them so they are nicely crushed)
other similar kitchen waste (so not the shit you sling at each other like monkeys after the kids are in bed)
not grease (this is about living plants not the yummy goodness of slaughtered lambs)

DIRECTIONS: Chop waste in food processor or blender with equal parts water. Mix it up until it’s as convoluted as your fights. Bury soup around outer edges of plants along side the hatchet.

Commercial fertilizers can kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil. This recipe for plants can be used in lieu of those fertilizers. Can you feel the love?


* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?

** Populist, perhaps you could illuminate for us the reasons why guys buy temporary tokens of their love as you told me outright last year, “Your understanding about why men give Valentine’s gifts is obviously different from mine.” I’m willing to wager dollar to dime even in this recession that you know a damn sight more on the subject than I do. What would Grace think?

My House of Carbs

Look at this, wouldja? Just look it! Robyn gave me some Amish Friendship bread.

Robyn isn’t Amish. I think she just wanted a bloggy shout out. She’s such a blog whore. If it were possible for me to exist in Arizona, or Earth for that matter, without Robyn – forget it. It’s not possible and I don’t want to contemplate an Earth without her. I wanted to hate her friendship bread because she’s always so sickeningly spectacular (Girl Scout leader, social worker, gaiety engineer), but I couldn’t. The crust was sweet and chewy, the center oh so moist. I still don’t want a baggie of dough sitting on my counter cluttering my tidy collection of clutter, thank you very much, but I’ll take more bread.

Ah, but this wasn’t my only gift of grub. The Interim Rector’s wife gave me some of her Irish soda bread.

Her ingredient list includes currants, orange peel, and brandy. Add some butter and lightly toast it. HEY OH! She recommends marmalade or honey as a topper. I have it pictured here with the last bit of the Hubster’s aunt’s pepper jelly. You wouldn’t want to use it, but it sure makes a pretty picture.

Once again my friends shine with generosity.