Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can I Help with Those Christmas Lights?

My husband took down the Christmas lights this weekend and it reminded me of the pictures I took a few weeks ago when he put them up. Once he gets started on a project, there's no stopping him. I wish I had more of that in me! I'm the one who works on ten things at once and I'm not sure any of them are ever completely finished. But can you completely finish laundry??? Just asking?
We were working inside and he was working outside.

The two oldest boys put the lights and ornaments on the tree, while Youngest, well, he,...ah...

You get the idea.

It's a good thing the Mortician was in a great mood, because it was cold outside that day, so...

I spent most of my time helping from here.
When he was finished we wandered out to see. My oldest son and I stepped out on the porch and immediately heard a mournful crying. We looked all around, but didn't see the source. We looked at each other and slowly looked up.

Yep, there's Sox the cat! That goofball cat!

As they say,..."curiosity killed the cat".

Do your cats come when you call? This one does not! She was an orphan and I shudder to think what she went through. It took weeks for her to come to us or let us pet and hold her.

So we pondered what to do as she paced in every direction except the ladder.
Since it was cold out and I'm a whimp, I gave up and left the kids to solve the problem. Just being a good mother and all, raising children with good problem-solving skills.
Middleman suggested to his younger brother that they leave the ladder up and hide. There's brilliance in that young mind. She was down within five minutes. I'm so proud!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dreaming about my Garden

Look what arrived in the mail...

Be still my heart...Organic Gardening magazine. Not only will I enjoy the beautiful pictures and reading the articles, I spent some time this morning ordering advertized seed catalogs. I promise to recycle those catalogs when I've finished! (Catalogs are a must-have in rural Kansas).

Receiving this magazine has got my mind working on next summer's garden. Are you starting to think about your garden? I'm convinced that's what these bitterly cold, windswept days are for. I plan to curl up in front of the fire and leaf through garden catalogs to help me make my final plans for spring.

Our soil is less than desirable...rock, hard clay. However, a huge, old organic gardening book tells me that clay soil is full of nutrients, it's just a matter of loosening things up with sand, compost and other additives. We began the process last year. Our first garden produced some teeny, tiny plants. Now I'm interested to see if our soil quality and therefore plant health (size) will improve this season.

For now, I'll brush thoughts of soil aside and concentrate on fruits and vegetables. Which ones to add? Which ones to leave behind? Any new interesting varieties? Must-have tools? (I would like a kneeling pad!). Mmmm...I'm already thinking of the first salad and BLT.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Clubing - Book Style

Book Clubs have proliferated around the world. I understand why because seven or eight years ago a friend and I formed one. We both enjoyed reading and loved the idea of a high-brow excuse to get some gals together every other month. We started meeting in women's homes and quickly decided with all the kids in diapers among the members that we needed a night out! We stormed restaurants all over with our discussions and laughter. Now that most of the member's kids are well beyond diapers, even feeding themselves and some driving, we decided to return our meetings to member's homes.

Last year we changed up our whole system. We brainstormed a whole list of books and fought to the bitter end on the final six for the year...oh, how I kid...no fighting, as far from fighting as you could imagine. We drank wine, jabbered and laughed our way to the final six book selections.

Our system worked so well last year, we repeated it again in December to make our selections for 2009. How do we pick? Do we have a system? Well, sort of...

Enthralling story, controversial topic, exquisite writing style, a little romance...sometimes. We do try to pick one classic, one non-fiction, and one funny read. The rest...just memorable fiction. We usually stick by a rule that at least one member needs to have read the book, but occasionally we stray for a much-talked-about book.

Here are our selections for 2009 (Do I recommend the books with large pictures more? Aaah... no. The pictures just imported into this blog in different sizes and when you have 111 things you should be doing, you just can't worry about such things):

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

The Shack by William Young

Here are the books we considered but did not select:
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival*
Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Last Voyage of the USS Pueblo by Ed Brandt
The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn*
Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte
Fifty Acres and A Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas
Flamingos on the Roof by Calif Brown
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Pope Jane by Donna Cross
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I've read the three with astericks and recommend them!
Happy Reading!

Monday, January 5, 2009

An Unexpected Opportunity for Some Serious R & R

When we first moved back to my husband's small town and he took over responsibility for his family's funeral home, we learned so much about the role of a funeral director. My eyes were opened to the compassion and stability my husband would provide to so many families. I also learned that someone needs to be available to answer the funeral home phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The first year my husband was that person. It was a challenge and we are thankful that we now have another employee with whom to share this responsibility.

Sometimes a situation will arise that offers an opportunity. Last week my husband oversaw a funeral in our building and the family asked if he could drive their loved one down to the Branson, Missouri area for a burial. 99.9% of the time we find a way to fulfill each families wishes and he agreed. My husband calculated the drive time and realized he would need to spend the night. The night, you say?

Over the years, we have heard about the Big Cedar Lodge in the Branson area and an idea was hatched.

I stowed away and after the burial, we headed south to the Big Cedar Lodge. Have you been there?

The road leading to the property winds all around through the woods and sports a "Don't even think about riding your motorcycle on this road" sign. The registration and nearby buildings are gorgeous, both inside and out with a post and beam design, beautiful stained glass and glorious views. We walked over to a cozy coffee house and sat out on the patio in the January 65-degree weather?!?! Can you explain that temperature to me?

Several lodges overlook the valley and this was ours, Falls Lodge...

Our room had a fireplace, jetted tub and balcony. We enjoyed the sunset from that balcony. We were also joined by many creatures, very similar to the room shown here...

no big deal when you are married to a hunter who has more mounted animals than this mini-collection.

Later we ventured to one of the restaurants. You may wonder about a Devil's Pool Restaurant or a Buzzard Bar, but we ate surprisingly well. KC Strip for him and Shrimp Pasta in Marinara Sauce for her.

Big Cedar Lodge is owned by the Bass Pro Shop, so you won't be surprised to learn that I anticipated a bait shop feel with a hunting lodge setting. Thankfully, I was wrong! The property and lodges do have a wildlife theme, but they also encompass all the modern ammenities with a few surprises thrown in. Artisan ironwork graced every building and our room was spectacular. My partner in this sneak getaway was a huge part of the package...you'll have to come up with your own on that one.

We're back to the real-world, re-charged, ready to wrangle boys and take care of business.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year, I think!

At the start of a new year, I began to reflect on the previous year and thought to write some words on 2008.

Hmmm...2008 was an exceptionally difficult year for my family and reflections don't seem like such a good idea right now. So how about some resolutions? I just love to dream.

1. I will get my tushy moving again and permanently reclaim the in-shape bod I had for about six months back in 1998. I was chasing around two boys, 2 and 4 years old, while my husband was in Mortuary Science school in Kansas City (home on the weekends). My social needs were being met during tri-weekly exercise classes. I can do this!

2. I will become a Mother Extraordinaire, keenly interested in any topic brought forth by one of my boys and infinitely patient with their... shall we say... creative antics.

3. I will fall madly, deeply in love with house cleaning.

ha ha ha ho ho ho hee hee wha ha ha ha, tears coming, oh...oh...oh gasp gasp snort. Those are so good! Quite possible, too!

Oh, alright, let me try again-

1. I will periodically take some time to re-balance my brain in light of my chosen loves: school, job, volunteering, shopping, cooking, gardening, reading...and most importantly, kids, husband, family and friends.

2. I will work to organize more and develop the habit of actually looking at the calendar each and every morning. No more relying on the brain for 2 or 3 day stretches as the brain does not appear to be as elastic as it once was.

3. I will expand the garden by adding more potatoes and corn. I will put in a strawberry bed, blueberry bushes and an asparagus patch. Planting the flower and shrub beds in the back yard will also be on the list. I will definitely have less weeds (oops, can't control that one).

4. I will continue on my quest to keep unneeded items moving on to people who need them.

5. Under intense pressure from my brother and his wife, we (I'm saying we here my Mortician buddy) will expand our recycling efforts. Milk jugs, cardboard, glass bottles, food scraps (into the composite pile, couldn't that count...somehow???).

6. I will budget my grocery needs. Sniff, sniff...sob...hiccup. I love grocery shopping! This one could be very difficult, but I am committed.

Okey dokey, that should do her. I'm optimistic about 2009! This year will bring many wonderful, memorable experiences to my family and friends and a new beginning to our country. I wish you all many blessings. Happy New Year!