Friday, June 24, 2011

Alrighty then!

So the new place is up...still under construction but working as of now.  If you landed here, go over there and check it out.  I will have more loveliness to put up as I chug along...:)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Catastrophic #FAIL or Why Texas Weather Hates Me

if you look closely, you can see the bug who met his maker after eatting all my leaves

Admitedly, it has been a crazy weather season.  I think anyone who may watch television any where could say this year has already been nuts.  This has wreaked havoc with the Beekman seeds I planted.  While my onions and potatoes have done well (except for in this picture where you can see a nasty fat catapiller stripping the leaves) but in the bins further out, the Beekman seeds, well, they got the hell beat out of them.  We, for several odd weeks, alternated between ridiculous hail storms out of no where, then tornados, culminating in a storm that combined the two.  The first four seeds planted, grew to various heights and one by one died a glorious death.  Only the French Breakfast radishes eeked out tiny little bubbles of what they could grow to be...sad indeed.

Now we are facing record breaking temperatures and severe drought.  I am debating planting the next four batches.  We have been trying to move for some time to a more moderate climate and lately, there is finally a bit of action on that effort so I may hold off.  Surely there is some where on the planet thats not over 95 degrees everyday? 

For next year, regardless of where I am, I know I will need some sort of shelter, even if temporary to keep them safe.  So the experiment continues!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy June!

Cutest Cat Twins in the Universe

This is the official anniversary of my time here on Blogger.  It has been a long strange trip these past three years for sure.  I am hoping this month that the great nuggets from this blog are archived in my Volume 1 over on and then I will be moving to  I am shivering with antici...pation.  I hope you move over there with me and I am working on all sorts of odds and ends to make that experience so much richer.  Forever grateful that some of you tend to stick around.  You rock.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I am a Millionaire...again!

For some unexplained reason, I am still surprised when I get these kind of SPAM scam emails.  I assume because of the failing economy over the past two years, these have increased and it seems the Yahoo filters don't stop them.  ANNOYING.  At any rate, its just amusing to me that they keep trying and in case you want to collect the cashier's check for me, here is your chance:


I have been waiting for you to pick up your Cashier Check of $1,759,000 USD (ONE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE US DOLLARS) before I leave the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but you did not show up as I did not hear from you. I am writing to inform you that I have deposited your cashier check with UNITED PARCEL SERVICE there in Nigeria.

For your information, I'm now in Dubai to resume my new job offer and will not go back to Nigeria till next year. Please you have to contact the United Parcel Service of Nigeria to know when they will deliver your package to your resident address in your country.

Note that I have paid for the security keeping fee. The only money you will have to pay is the shipping/handling fee which only cost $95.00 US Dollars to receive your check parcel as agreed with them.

Please contact the company with their below details:

Name: Abu Richard
Tel: +2348181477003

Thanks for your attention.

O'Hagan Ceila 

Should you decide to collect my cashiers check for me, I would be happy to split it with you minus the security fee.  That seems fair to me, right?  LOL

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dallas Comic Con 2011

My favorite thing ever from Halo
 WOW is the only appropriate word to describe the feeling walking into this years DCC.  Living in a household decidedly on the geeky side, it is surprising that we have not attended one previously.  I have long lusted after the potential of heading to San Diego one year, but this was a nice substitution for a few hours. 

Little Monkey has oft requested a trip to a comic store over the past year and expressed her desire to start a series and collect on her own.  Boy did she get a great start!  She bought for her first book a Fantastic Four #44 The Gentleman's Name is Gorgon.  She was pretty excited. After that, she met the great guys at Red 5 Comics and fell in love.  These guys have a series called NeoZoic featuring a strong female lead (of which she bought the first series) and one called Atomic Robo (of which she got four) who is a robot created by Tesla to fight evil.  I will say the issue in which he fights Edison's ghost is greatness.  This morning, she burst out of her room, exclaiming:
"Mom! I was reading one of them last night and it was MADE JUST FOR ME!  There is a character named Emma AND a dinosaur with GUNS!  How cool is that?" 
I think they have a fan...LOL The have a great app if you are interested in checking out first issues of their titles for free.  You can locate it here at Comixology.

After that, Little Monkey scored the sketchbook and autograph of the great and wonderful Todd Nauck. He was quite kind to the 10 year old and that would make every geek mom happy.  Little Monkey keeps drawing, writing and creating her comic strips so who knows where that will lead one day!

Mandatory Spock ears when entering DCC

Meet Joe Dalek

While Little Monkey was going comic crazy, Middle Monkey was loading up on all things Doctor Who.  I have been a fan most of my teen to adult life.  This is a habit I firmly planted in the minds of my children, mostly because they see me wrap up in my Tom Baker scarf every time its a little cold.  They snagged the card for Kevin Leen from whom they intend to amazing purchase sketches from online.  We bumped into The Brother Gromm and their Farbis Tardis that bordered on brilliant.  Middle Monkey wanted to buy it.  When meeting D. Wilborn from Urban Gallery, they commissioned sketches of the 11th Doctor which turned out great. He was incredibly kind to them and graciously provided two sketches for them of their beloved Matt Smith.  (IMHO this should be Peter Davidson but what do I know?) 

From the great and wonderful Oz, oops, I mean David Wilborn

Both girl monkeys loaded up on buttons from Kristin Hogan who was so sweet to my girls as well as Halo.  As you see the first pic in this post is Halo's and too good to wait until the end.  As a food geek and Doctor Who nerd, I can not imagine a more perfect combo in a piece than this.  I am frame hunting today and this is going some where in my kitchen.  I will throw shit out to make a space if I have to...she happens to be super cool as well.  All in all, an awesome experience for the girls and them getting to witness kick ass girl power in action.  Even Kman loaded up on Zombie t-shirts and Conan comics and I scored a Wonder Woman pendant (priorities right?). 

Thank you so much Dallas Comic Con for making it such a great experience for girl nerds!  There are a lot more of us out there than you think...:)

Consorting with the Dark Side

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One person CAN make a difference

I was watching TV this morning and again, energy company commercials are running trying to scare people into forcing elected officials into keeping subsidies in place.  Seriously, people, get with industry that posts BILLIONS in profits can afford to pay their taxes!  Jobs won't be cut from it but if they do, I would be okay with it being this guy:

Chairman and CEO, EXXON MOBIL CORP (XOM), Headquarters: IRVING, TX

In 2010, R. W. Tillerson received $28,952,558 in total compensation. By comparison, the median worker made $33,190 in 2010. R. W. Tillerson made 872 times the median worker's pay.

Seriously, its time for Americans to be outraged.  Click here and search for ANY of the corporations that operate here and see what they are paying the guy in charge and then explain to me why they can't pay taxes.  I just don't believe it.  Vote for candidates willing to end corporate welfare.  This is a way to help our country by ending subsidies that could pay our debt!  Tell a friend, write a letter to your Congressman, DO SOMETHING!

I submit a much better way of spending a tiny amount of money...feeding people:

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Comforts of Home

Cross posted at Vet Voice and Daily Kos

I love my home.  Although I wished I owned my own, no matter where I live, I make it my own.  After years of living in large places, downsizing allowed me to choose only the things I love and cherish them.  In today's society that thrives on reality television, I think the idea of this has diminshed a great deal.  So many people need crisis as a distraction and things as comfort.  I hope that people wake up this morning and look at this squarely in the face and recognize the shift that needs to occur, both in themselves and this country.

Last night, I received a call from my brother and I was instantly transported to a call from my sister on 9/11.  Living in Hawaii at the time, I was not yet awake to have knowledge of the most horrific sight I have witnessed in all of my 42 years.  That day, it took me eight hours to get in touch with my brother, who was to have been working in the Pentagon on a contract.  I can not ever remember being more frightened in my life.  My entire family worked in Federal or Local government buildings at the time and the lines to all of them were jammed.  Waking up to another call, yet on the other side of the emotional spectrum, was surprising.  I can honestly say, I never thought I would see this in my life time.

Most of my life I have lived as a military dependant and now, sharing my home with a combat disabled Veteran and former Gitmo guard, I have never more acutely aware of how much I love my home and its comforts.  The love of my life lost much of his hearing, his ability to sleep at night and friends he worked along side.  Outside of being an operator myself, I believe I am supremely aware of the sacrifices made by service members as well as the greatest asset we have; I am so grateful for our intellegence community and special ops groups.  THIS is how you get something done.  This is the best of the best and it is great to see when it works.  I also am thankful that our Commander in Chief was willing to commit to the decision and its execution.

Too often Americans go through our lives, focused so narrowly that we do not do enough.  I know I am not one of those.  I work to feed and clothe the homeless, to help facilitate elections and educate the populations.  I have given up days of my own to ensure fair and accessable elections, I write letters to members of government, corporations, and organizations.  I say the things that other people are frightened of.  One day I hope that in some small way, I inspire others to do the same.  As impatient as I can be, I am not going to sit around waiting for that to happen.  In the spirit of some peoples new found patriotism today, I ask you to do something, anything, to make your country a better place.  If everyone would pitch in, even just an hour a week, we could restore our country to its former glory.  This cannot happen without all of us.  Stop relying on someone else to fix our economy/community/government.  Do something.  NOW.

Need a suggestion?  Too easy:

Volunteer--Teens can get busy right now. Go to Do Something and sign up today!

GOTV--No matter your political party, you can help get people to the polls on Election Day. Just one day to volunteer is not a lot to ask. Contact your local Party office or Candidate of choice and tell them you want to participate in the GOTV events in your area.

Register to Vote--If you aren’t registered to vote, please do so now. As a grown up that lives in this country, there is really not an excuse for not being responsible enough to exercise your civic duty. If you still don’t, then please don’t complain. You sign away your rights to complain about any politicians when you decide not to elect responsible representation.

Give money--Not everyone has millions to give to charity, however did you know that 40 meals can be provided by a food bank on approximately a $10 donation? Each pay day, I find the extra $5 or $10 to give, even when times are so tight for us. There are many charities that could do so much even with such small amounts, find one in your area.

Teach--Change the world. You could be the teacher that inspires a child that cures a disease, develops cheap renewable energy or engineer’s world peace. It could happen.

Write a letter or Make a call--What is an issue that is important to you? It takes less than 20 minutes for most organizations to make a call or write a letter of support/complaint/request to legislators that can be influenced by their constituents. Many causes will have letters that auto-populate so that you don’t even have to write the text which takes less than 5 minutes. While it may seem trivial, even in 2011, this is how things get done. Don’t believe me? Ask the folks in Wisconsin who are slowly getting recall petitions filed against many of their state politicians. This started one signature at a time and now it’s in the thousands. Each one makes a difference. You can make a difference.

You already do stuff? You got this covered, you are on top of this? Consider sharing then with people that don’t. Information and education. We can change the world this way, I believe it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-check it out!

My love for this can not be described but the shear number of stars in this video make me believe wholeheartedly in how awesome everyone thinks these guys are.  I have missed them so!  ENJOY!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Hair Perry

My disdain for Repub Governors goes way back.  This year, between failing to coming up with a solution to our education issues to now misusing his position to push a religious solution for wildfires burning out of control not far from me, I can say that I continue to be furious that we can not get people in this state to vote against him.  I would very much like to win the lottery and move very far away from here.

Check out his latest move of utter stupidity HERE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

eat local: CSA week 2

nom nom nom

On my second week of CSA, the farmer brought to me:

U choy, Bok Choy, Pok Choy, Pole Beans, Parsley, Red onions, Tomatoes, Red Leaf Lettuce, Fingerling Potatoes, Squash, my Egg Share and I bought a Cantaloupe

It’s been a weird week. Because of the storms, they have had issues with any of the greens that normally would have been available and a large portion of this list, I would never have used. Nonetheless, we got busy. I failed to get the name of the squash but one of the volunteers told me that they are best used like cucumbers and boy was she right! I have used the mandolin to slice them for salads and some nights we have had them drizzled with balsamic vinegar…YUM. The parsley, tomatoes and one of the baby onions were used up in my favorite bucatini recipe from Rachel Ray that you can get here. The choys have freaked me out but at the suggestion from the CSA, we opted for grilling them. I took the baby bok choy and split them down the middle, rubbed them with garlic, sprinkled with salt and pepper drizzled with olive oil and threw them on the grill. I didn’t leave them on long and turned them back and forth frequently until the leaves just began to wilt. Pretty tasty business…some where in between celery and lettuce in taste and texture. I think I would actually use them again.

I feel like the Iron Chef and I am enjoying my cooking challenges. What are you cooking this week?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Post: The Disaster

     This is a first for me so a big HUZZAH for the first guest post here.  The author is quite serious about this "using the imagination" thingy and since this blog was started because of her, I feel an obligation to provide her a format whenever it tickles her fancy.  I was quite surprised to find this waiting for me when I got home last night and have transcribed it here.  Minus the auto correct, I will advise I have made no corrections for syntax, punctuation, etc. because, well, that just wouldn't be right.  In case you haven't read her bio, the author is 10.


The Disaster

I live on Cemetery Dr. It’s not the ideal place to live for a 10 year old girl. My street, I am the only kid on the street, the rest of the houses are abandoned it’s only me and my brother. My mom and dad are in the airforce we try and video chat with them every night, but something has been happening lately. They haven’t been video chatting with us but the sergeant has, he has been saying there are strange figures coming out of the mist and they are hovering figures over them and soldiers have been disappearing. He says our parents are still at the base but are very sick, and the sick soldiers have been the ones disappearing. He says blue lights have been coming from the mist and paralyzing the soldiers when they are well and they get sick, very sick. When I heard the news I started crying after we heard about mom and dad. Strange figures out of the mist started happening here in California, along with earthquakes, tornados and tsunamis, and this doesn’t make sense, SNOW. Strange figures, strange weather, what is happening to the world? I heard a “crash” slammed the window. “JASON,” I screamed. Jason came running into the room “What is that?” screamed Jason. “How am I supposed to know?” I exclaimed. He got shot with blue light from the strange figure. “I don’t know how to take care of you,” I said with tears running down my face. So I turned on the TV and tried to find any information but the TV wasn’t working now. The next thing you know, the computer isn’t working so I never find out what condition my parents are in. 5 years later, my dad walks through the door along with a broken arm and leg, with a crutch and says “I’m here.”

The End

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good Morning

In greeting the sun,

I find my day begun,

It’s just as well.

Resolute in my plan,

Where previously I ran,

It’s just as well.

Do what I must,

My decisions I trust,

It’s just as well.

I know that I am okay,

My vision no longer gray,

It’s just as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

eat local: CSA and Cooking

This week was our first pick up from our CSA share. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how we would like it but overall I am mucho impressed. Aside from being a foodie and loving to cook with fresh stuff, I found the quality far better than the organic I buy in the store. I also calculated out how much we are spending and this came in as cheaper for us (a family of four). Definitely will be doing this again!

Bubble, bubble...
I have some pics to share and some ideas for what to do with the things we picked up. I love to cook so this isn’t a big deal for me but I recognize everyone needs some inspiration from time to time. My biggest piece of advice is it isn’t really that hard. Some things you get right, some things you mess up. I am constantly evaluating “how can this be better” when I eat. Don’t be afraid, branch out. 
A pasta sauce is always a great place to add loads of veggies or use up some you may have over ripe or wilting in your "crisper" drawer.  You also don't have to always make it from scratch.  There are a couple of great canned sauces and a few jars of them that make acceptable bases for whatever you can dream up.  For these meals I was looking for both fast and incorporating fresh ingredients.  My leftover sauce became topping for home made pizza another day!
This was more tasty than I can describe!


One pound of ground turkey, browned

One jar of your favorite marinara (I love Mario Batalis!)

One red tomato, chopped

One yellow tomato, chopped

Two Tablespoons of chopped garlic (yes, I add extra to everything)

Through all of this in a pan, stir; simmer on low for 30 minutes with the lid on. Stir every couple of minutes. This can stay on as long as you need if you want to throw together a salad or finish a load of laundry. When you are ready to eat, heat water in another pot to boiling, adding a couple of teaspoons of EVOO and a pinch of salt to it. Once the water is at a good rolling boil, drop in the fresh pasta (bought a couple of packs at the pick up), stir to coat with the olive oil and boil for two minutes. Drain and plate. YUM! (Yes, it’s that easy)

Love the color of free range eggs!

The secret to good omelets is one Tablespoon of cold water per egg you are using. Have anything you want to go on the inside chopped in advance (at this point I also put meat and veggie ingredients on a small plate in the microwave for 20 seconds to take the chill off from the fridge). Drizzle the pan with EVOO and let it heat up on medium for a bit. I pour in the beaten eggs when I can feel that the bottom of the pan is warm. You let this coat the pan, swirl it a bit and when it begins to look cooked around the edges, use a small spatula to pick up the edges. Once the omelet is released on the edges, shake the pan a bit and the entire piece should be able to slide back and forth because of the EVOO you put in. At this point, I break small holes with the spatula into the base and let the remaining runny egg fill these places so it will cook. Once it begins to look cooked BUT NOT DRY I put the contents on. Using the handle of the pan as a guide, place your meat/veggie/cheese combo along one side of the egg base. When this is done, use the spatula to gently fold over the empty side and cover the contents with it. Leave it in for a bit to heat/melt it through and slide it out on a plate. This also takes practice and if you want a super stuffed omelet, sometimes it breaks. This doesn’t matter because it’s tasty and you can use some extra bits of the stuffing to cover any tears. Eat up!

In progress, wild boar sausage and fresh made pasta

Finished product, weird color but SO tasty!


Aside from being a hunter extraordinaire, my man tends to load things on the grill for me once or twice a week because he is awesome like that. I find if I have everything selected that I know I will use as ingredients during the week, the actual cooking during the week is faster AND gets done instead of reverting to the “eggs and toast anyone?” This week, he grilled 6 chicken breasts and 6 wild boar Italian sausages in advance. The chicken breasts were consumed with a great salad and I took two of the sausages to prepare with the pasta. For the sausage, I sliced these in circles and put them in a pan with a bit of EVOO on medium low with the lid on. Periodically, I flip the slices over. This allows them to heat through and get a crusty exterior while waiting on the pasta. I put on water in another pot to boiling, adding a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt to it. Once the water is at a good rolling boil, drop in the fresh pasta, stir to coat with the olive oil and boil for two minutes. I grabbed two plates and divided the sausage between them, returning the skillet to the eye quickly. I used a pasta fork to pull the pasta from the boiling water and put it into the skillet with the drippings, adding about 2 Tablespoons of pasta water. I dropped in 3 Tablespoons of basil pesto (Whole Foods 365 brand is great to have in the fridge but you can make your own). Stir quickly here to incorporate the pasta water with the pesto and coat the noodles. I divided this between two plates and got to the eating part. This whole process was about 10 minutes since I had pre-cooked the sausage.

All in all, it was a great experience and I am looking forward to future boxes. This is just two days of stuff so I will have another post later with more stuff.  I think this has made the eat well and in season thing MUCH easier. Find a CSA in your area and try it out. Remember, cooking is not about being perfect, it is about experimenting and learning about things you didn’t realize you could do! (And you can do it, I know you can!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Soundtrack of My Life...So Far


     It’s no secret that we are music people. Aside from all three monkeys playing instruments, Little Man and Little Monkey both are performers. I hope that in some measure, it is because music has always been a requirement in my house, whether in the car driving to the store or at home in full “clean the damn house” mode, there has always been something blaring for everyone to dance and sing their hearts out to. Recently, I was having a conversation with Middle Monkey about an old episode of Ally McBeal where it was discussed how everyone has a soundtrack song, something that defines them, their go-to melody but as much as I love music, and all types of it, there is no way I could pick just ONE song. Songs tend to define periods of my life…it seems impossible to pick just one. For that reason, I present the soundtrack of my life so far…

Bad Bad Leroy Brown (1973) My parents where music people in their youth. This is the first song that I can remember singing at the top of my lungs in the backseat of the car and getting in trouble because I said “damn town” in the lyrics. What can I say, I was a rebel early in my life.  Later I would find that this was the anthem of the Redcoat Marching Band because of the line "junkyard dog"...I felt vindicated sitting next to Granddad in his seats in Sanford Stadium.

You Sexy Thing (1975)/Play That Funky Music (1976)/YMCA (1978)  These songs began my life long love affair with funk music and disco.  With Earth, Wind & Fire, The Bee Gees, and all things Village People, I learned that shaking my groove thing was something I loved to do.  It also made roller skating pretty damn cool too.

Heartache Tonight (1979) This song is why I love all things Eagles.  I was 11 and the cool teenager down the street (Angie) who drove a T-Top Trans Am told me every time she heard this on the radio, she knew she was going to get into trouble before the night was over.  She was grounded from using her car often and had to take the bus so I knew this was both true and the greatest thing I had ever heard.  Later in my life, many times I would use the same excuse when Rock Me Like A Hurricane came on.

Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough  (1979)  First album I every saved literally every piece of spare change I could find around the house until I had enough to go to the record store.  This is the memory of Michael I retain, along with that of long gone record stores.  I miss them both.

Rappers Delight (1979) My first pirated song.  I would sit at the radio with an old school tape recorder, wait for it to come on and record it over and over again until I got the whole thing.  I knew it backwards and forwards and still to this day, LOVE THIS SONG.

Black Out (1982)/Photograph (1983)/Shout At The Devil (1983) This started my Freshman year in high school and pretty much defined where I was headed for four years musically.  While I still threw in Beastie Boys and Run DMC while rocking my fat laces, this is what I bought and these are the concerts I went to see.  This music was particularly helpful in drowning out the family when you wanted to pretend they were not there...LOL  IPods now make it much easier to use any music to do this.

Your Love (1986)  Every time I hear "Josie's on a vacation far away..." I can't help but be transported. This album marked the beginning of me trying to figure out what being a grown up was.  I am not sure I did very well at that but post-graduation, you do what you can with what you think you know. 

Kiss (1987)/Brass Monkey (1987)  Who doesn't love Prince and the Beastie Boys?  These were my favorite getting ready to go out to the disco songs.  Greatness.

Silent Lucidity (1990)/Jeremy (1992-video)  These songs became significant because of my oldest two monkeys.  One loved Silent Lucidity as a lullaby and Middle Monkey would have been named Jeremy if she had been born a boy.  Two great and theatrical bands from the Seattle sound.

Come to My Window (1994)/Longview (1994)/Fly (1997)/Slide (1998)/Happy Day (1998) This string of albums represent a period in my life where I struggled to find my footing as an adult and make decisions solely based on what was best for my kids.  I am not sure that they were always the correct decisions but it's what's made them what they are (and they are pretty damn awesome) so I will take it.  (I don't care who you are, Johnny was smoking hot in that Slide video...:)  To this day, Better Than Ezra remains one of my all time favorite bands and I continue to see them in concert at least once a year.  As a side note, though its not the best recording, I put that video up for Happy Day because we were at that show.  Middle Monkey texts me from the front row simply with "Happy Day!!!"  As a mom who has tried to give my kids great musical experiences and positive songs to embrace, this made me very emotional...

Happy (2003)/Ugly Side (2003) Another of my all time favorite bands and I was sad to see Socialburn fall apart and Blue October not really regain the epic feeling generated with the History for Sale album.  I cross my fingers on both.  This marked a transformative and largely painful part of my life that lingered for another six years.  Still looking for the sheet music for Ugly Side because that's a tattoo I am still waiting to get.

So What (2008) This is the anthem for my resergence.  I think this was when I conceiously decided I was entitled to a great and glorious life.  Many Pink songs have this feeling and she is one of my favorites.
Breathless (2008)  Another great BTE song, these were lyrics I sent to a wonderful man.  I felt I knew him my entire life (even though I was 19 when we first met) and to be reunited in our advanced age seemed impossible.  Despite the odds, that broken soldier came back into my life and we are both much better for it.  He was so touched by the lyrics that he went out to buy the album and we have been together ever since.  It was a glorious day when I could take him to his first BTE show.  This band continues to by my road trip music, my need-to-feel-better music and my in general go to band.  Lucky for me, they have tons of material and all of it great!

Hot Chocolate (1970's) What goes around, comes around.  I play Hot Chocolate's Greatest Hits in my car, open the sun roof, crank it up and make my kiddos sing at the top of their lungs with me.  It feels good.  Here is hoping the music and art of being silly rubs off on them.  I would be so happy to hear, years later, one of them does the same with their kiddo in the car.

     While certainly not comprehensive, this is a list of those songs for which strong emotional responses are produced.  They are so ingrained in my life, it is impossible to hear one and not be transported back to those times, both good and bad.  Music is powerful in that way.

     If posed the same question, what's your soundtrack?  Can you put it on just one song?  I hope some of you have the same wonderful problem as I!

Dark Matter

For you, I have this dark and grimy thing to reveal.

It floats and consumes me,

so quietly that I put my hands to ears to muffle the unbearable. 

This place that hides the pain of my life so quietly I have put this away.

This place that bears the brunt of my screams.

This place that never lets me wander too far from its grip.

This dark, quiet, echo in the place where I sometimes hide.

I bring this to you for your help.

Your light.

I am frightened no longer of the dark and grimy thing

but of what happens when you see all of it

and I can no longer hide the pain from you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Road Trips and Grown Ups

Grandma's House

I got to go home this last week.  It has been a while since I have visited and it is something that always makes me think, I want to move back to Georgia.  Much like anyone who feels a connection to a place, it is really hard to put into words how it feels. 

Valdosta State University

When Middle Monkey decided to go to college there, it was an even bigger deal.  Now my desire to move is even greater than I could have anticipated.  I scheduled a trip and her and I set out with for a visit to campus.  I expected her to enjoy it but the level in which she did surprised even me.  My old man processed the transition much like anything in his life, without barely a passing concern.  Middle Monkey, however, has embraced this next chapter with a joie de vivre that even I could not have imagined.  A couple of times during the tour, I placed my hand on her shoulder and asked if she was okay.  Once I had to ask  "Are you going to cry?"  To which she quietly responded "I might."  It was a beautiful day and a gorgeous campus.  I too kept thinking "I want to live here!"  I can only imagine how it feels to be her right now.

It was good to see Grandma, the azaleas and the furry babies.  The sunshine was pretty spectacular too!

Uncle Sam


Today I exhale
I have no more worries
because my path is clear

Today I exhale
my mind turns from restless wander
to one of focused calm

Today I exhale
and breathe deep the wind
the light, the rain

Today I exhale
marrying my purpose
with my joy that fills my heart

Today I exhale
resolute in my path
and viewing happiness as a welcomed friend

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beekman Seeds, Week 2

This past week, we finally got everything started for the garden with my Beekman heirloom seeds. Considering what it looked like before, I was happy how it turned out. Since we are in a rental and potentially moving this year, we wanted something portable that could go with us if we move. I also have not spent time learning to cultivate container gardens (other than herbs) but I have read so much lately of the ridiculously amazing things people are doing in small spaces. (A wonderful book that I found for a resource in making these things amazing is Gardening In No Time by Tessa Evelegh.)

We found these great bins at Costco that we altered by drilling drainage holes in the bottom. I put a layer of rock in the bottom to assist in drainage and then filled with dirt. Of course, I had some help:

Jack approves the dirt selection

Once everything met Jack’s approval, we planted four of the heirloom seed packets that were ready (carrots, turnips, spinach and radishes) as well as one bucket of garlic and onions and one of potatoes. Many moons ago when my boyfriend was a child, he described to me a manner of growing potatoes inside a stack of old tires. While it seems odd, the pinching off of some leaves and cover with dirt in multiple layers over time made a lot of sense. We are trying this in a container this year to see how it works.

I already have some sprouting and will put those pictures up next week. Have you planted something yet? It’s good for the soul, try it!

It does help if you have some help...even if that help is kind of
 lazy for the most part.  :)

Mango supervises the project

 Have a great week everyone!  Peace to you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All Things HBO

I can remember the first time I saw the letters "HBO" together and it actually meant something to me. It was the fall of 1981 and my parents had cable. The concept of cable didn’t really make sense to me and I was blissfully unconcerned. The TV was one of those big console monstrosities that ::gasp:: we had to crawl over and flip channels with a knob. It was awesome. Somehow that year I got to piece together Jaws and Orca for the first time and it continued to fuel a lifelong monster obsession that HBO still continues to satisfy.

I have not concealed the fact that I have become ridiculously attached to True Blood. I know you have heard this before here, here, and even here so I will not take up the space and time to annoy you with continued details except to say that it is slated to premiere June 12, 2011. WOOT!

This is the part of the post where I admit, I just don’t seem to ever get enough HBO. This year is the end of one of my FAVORITE shows, Big Love. I have watched every single episode in all these years, in the beginning because I just could not fathom how I could find it interesting or become involved in the story. I do not mind saying, HBO knocked me upside the head with that one, whew! I have been on the edge of my seat, all these years, watching how things unfold. It is one of the few shows I can say without question is just as good in its final stages as it was in the beginning. I share equally the love for Barb and watching her discover her life as the hate for Nicki. Oh, how I wished Nicki had left the family for the prosecutor…such a GREAT story line for a character I really have disliked (in this respect, Chloe is brilliant!). I will be so sad to see the last episode and my life will never be the same. I can only hope one day there is a movie so that we can really see where the Henrickson’s end up.

Game of Thrones Pictures, Images and Photos
My newest and possibly my worst obsession to date is Game of Thrones. When I saw the first teaser over a year ago, I had a meltdown. The sets, the costumes, the language were music to my ears. This led me to a dangerous obsession to the great George R.R. Martin’s series that has resulted in the inability for me to read anything until I finish this series. I am on book four and book five comes out in July. I am just screwed; I may never read anything else. I swear it’s more addictive than the Harry Potter books. So sophisticated and elegant, I mean HBO cast the glorious Sean Bean as one of the main characters. Are you kidding me? My head might explode.

Game of Thrones debuts on April 17. If you haven’t read the books, get started. If you haven’t been to the blog, go here. Bow at the feet of HBO and tell them how great it is…you are going to just freak out when you get into the first couple of episodes…I promise. Check out the trailer here.


I need to sit down and rest now. The thought of it is overwhelming.

Winter is coming bitches.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Bad Mother

Society is fickle. What most has amused me this recent news cycle is how fast we have gone from talking about the Tiger mom to Tiger blood.

While I have just a little to say about either, it has made me think about the way I parent. I will admit that I did not read Amy Chua’s book but also that I have no intention to. The sound bites the news has provided gives me enough information to sort out that I don’t care about the context; much of it seems, well, abusive. I really would not care how often my elementary age child forgot her mittens, locking her outside to stand in the cold so she would remember NEXT TIME just doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t matter to me if she was really nice just before this event or recognized her error just after and apologized, Amy is just mean. That is the kind of thing that will scar a child and as Bear will tell you, possibly physically as frost nip can set in FAST. Maybe the Tiger mom watches the temperature and only undertakes such extreme measures when it WON’T produce such results. Regardless, as I said, that’s mean and I don’t care how great your kids grow up to be.

The over saturation of Mr. Sheen as late has also saddened me but quite honestly, it has given me an opportunity to parent. See kids; see Mr. Sheen and how he is behaving? This is not normal. This is not something to aspire to. This is not a role model.

Mainly, in both examples, I have recognized that I have tried to raise my kids in a way that will make them functional adults. Don’t get me wrong, I have babied them when they needed, spoiled them unnecessarily but provided structure that children desperately need. So far, my children have managed to be relatively normal, without the rampant sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle that seems to be reflected in the media as appropriate for their age. It makes me laugh when I hear people complain about their kids not going to bed or sleep and how at 11 PM at night, they are begging and bribing to make that happen. Since I had my first child, quiet time has been strictly enforced. At 8 PM every night, the television and computers are to be turned off. When they were too little to read on their own, I would spend that time reading to them and as they learned, they read to me. Even as seniors in high school, the oldest still head to their rooms with the youngest. Sometimes they read or the older ones web surf but the intent is still the same, they are to be quiet as not to disturb their siblings. Having this kind of pattern in the house allowed them to adjust and calm down from a full day of playing and over stimulation. I have never had difficulty getting children to go to sleep because they understood that the routine of quiet time was intended to provide this. Now as they are older, occasionally on a Friday or Saturday night, they will stay in the living room later when we are doing family movie time, but not every time. This means at 8 PM, I also get my own quiet time to read or spend the time distressing from the day.

Having that kind of parenting philosophy, I have a hard time understanding the parents that freak out when their children start Kindergarten or go away to college. These are milestones to celebrate! Not once do these parents think of the burden they are placing on the child? If you are despondent and crying when a child does something that is supposed to be great for them, you are setting them up to feel that in some way they are responsible for your feelings/crying/sadness. I would be mortified if I put that kind of emotional baggage on my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I miss each and every one of them when they are not here but I also so carefully guard and cherish the time I get without them. You cannot parent so wholly that you forget who you are as a person. I think this is the greatest contributing factor to “empty nest syndrome” because people put so much into the children and make them the center of everything that they forget they are their own human beings.

It is sad really. There is a high rate of divorce at this time in life because I think there are parents who then blame the other one for how crappy they feel minus children in the home or they never cared to nurture the relationship with their spouse. This is a disservice to your children. As I said before, I have tried to raise my kids in a way that will make them functional adults. They should be able to do their own laundry. Mine each took over that responsibility for themselves between the ages of ten and twelve, which ever coincided with the age that they were tall enough to reach the controls and empty the washer. They also have known by the age of thirteen how to cook a few basic meals, scramble an egg, make a grilled cheese, an omelet, bake cookies or muffins, how to read a recipe and how to use coupons. Each saves their own money and knows how to calculate tax when purchasing items with cash. Frankly, I am constantly surprised and saddened when I hear of the college age kids that have no knowledge of how to do their laundry or iron. This tells me they had parents that continued to do their laundry and ironing until they were 18, really? How are you preparing a child to be an adult if you can’t teach them the basic skills they need to know to survive without you simply because you don’t want them to be without you?

My oldest is almost done with his freshman year of college and my middle child heads to college in August. I have seven more with the last one and then she heads out. I think that is exciting for them. I will miss being able to talk to them each day and being involved in their decision making processes but that is what helps them detach and grown up. Will they get everything right? NO. Did you? NO. Do I think I have prepared them as best as I can, YES. You don’t have to be a hard ass Tiger mom and you don’t have to be a push over either. My son went to college with a skillet, a cookbook or two and the knowledge of how to use them. He wields an iron better than I do and I am sure he still needs to clean his room but I don’t worry about that stuff. I taught him how to take care of himself. That is what a parent is supposed to do. Not belittle a child and make them into your own ideal and not to make them so dependant that they can’t function as an adult without you. I have a great sense of pride and joy in every single thing they do because some little part of every accomplishment is a foundation that I helped create. I look forward to the last one getting out and doing her own thing. That means I have even more time for books, great food, travels, movies and adventures yet to be written. I have hobbies and interests that have nothing to do with my kids or being a mom. I am grateful in that way that I have parented myself just as well. I do not feel less a person without them here. I am not depressed or worried that my life will be empty. Some people think this makes me a bad mother. But I believe I must rejoice in every single part of my life because it is mine, and I just happen to be a kick ass mom.

When all else fails, I remind myself that no matter how bad their decisions are so far, none of them are warlocks with fire breathing fists.

Go me!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Good Life

I hope I live my life as well as my cats.  If I can be this happy, I have done something right!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Woo hoo, it's Oscar time!

oscar Pictures, Images and Photos

Woo hoo, my favorite time of the year! For our Oscar party this year, instead of our typical appetizer menu, we are opting for a full sit down menu on the fancy dishes (cue the applause and screams of delight from the girls). We are going with a deep fried Camembert served with raspberry preserves and hunks of crusty bread, followed by Cordon Bleu with an accompanying soup. YUM!

This year is probably the first one where there are a vast amount of nominated movies. I am on a self- imposed refusal to see Black Swan because, I will be honest, I hated Requiem for a Dream. I may pay to rent it on DVD just for Vincent Cassel because I adore him but I think it is sad that everyone just went crazy for Natalie (in part for her willingness to the lesbian route) and are sort of neglecting some of the other brilliance around. I think it is a foregone conclusion that she will win, but I will say I wish it was Jennifer from Winter’s Bone.

I think the decision to have James Franco and Anne Hathaway host is a good one. James has been putting many a tease out on Twitter and I am looking forward to seeing them together. I find both of them equal parts funny and very relatable.

One film I will recommend out of all of them that you decide to check out is Restrepo. I make no secret of my feelings about how desperately we need to get out of Afghanistan and this movie gives a good glimpse into what life is like on the ground for our service members. President Obama, I know you read my blog…considering the troubles we are having here in our country and that Afghanistan has repelled invaders for 100 years, please bring our troops home. They need a mental health break and our country needs the one billion spent there every four months. Thanks for listening.

Who are your favorites and why?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Commercialization of Everything

Cross posted at Daily Kos
valentine heart Pictures, Images and Photos

      After a comment on last night’s Glee episode and multiple conversations on Facebook over the past few days, we began the conversation in our house about holidays. Sitting here, stuck at home again on another snow/ice day, I posed the question, “As Americans, don’t we commercialize everything?” While this debate started regarding pending Valentine’s Day plans, it actually translates into more holidays than not. What I always find amusing in these conversations is that the historical fact or original tradition is somehow pushed aside to allow a condemnation of a practice that, for the most part, we all participate in. I think the biggest difference in my home is that we tend toward making things for gifts and cards on a regular basis because I want my children growing up understanding the significance of each occasion. In that same spirit, they all each also learn the historical facts available regarding said celebrations. It is funny how when we get twisted about the “commercialization” we neglect the “factual inaccuracies” of the same days. While my church is part of the UCC, we embrace the culture and celebrations of all religions because many of us came to this church from being raised as something different altogether. Because of that, even though I am not Catholic, I celebrate Ash Wednesday and give up something for Lent. We discuss in class and service the real intention of this practice of sacrifice. I am glad my children understand this and have an opportunity for such enrichment. For example, in the last youth service trip Middle Monkey took part in, they went to Washington D.C. to participate in a seminar on responsible sex education and to lobby Congress on this. They were joined by students from all 50 states and multiple denominations. Part of this was them getting to participate in and receive instruction on a Passover Seder with the Jewish students. This was a very powerful experience for her, helping her understand the history of Israel, solidifying her own faith search and bonded her with her Jewish friends. I believe each holiday, whether it is our own or not, provides these opportunities for each of us.

Think of that for a moment. Instead of lamenting the commercialization, why not becomes an ambassador for the intent?

Below I will give you a couple of examples of the historical information, how this translates in my home and how, where applicable, it is handled at our church. If just one thing inspires you to think differently of a holiday or possibly approaching a church you may belong to about celebrating in an alternative manner, I believe it would go a long way to wipe out the ignorance that so permeates our society about not just these occasions but how we look upon each other.

Valentine’s Day – This is the holiday that started this discussion. February has long been a month to celebrate romance from the Middle Ages, to Roman times onward to the Victorian times in which Valentine’s became more elaborate. The History channel has a great discussion regarding these traditions here if you would like to read more. In our home, we bake sweets, make cards and write letters for our “sweethearts.” Often we celebrate for several days in advance, watching our favorite movies or reading our favorite poems. Last night we watched Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece Romeo & Juliet. I never fail to feel so moved by phrases like:

I am eternally grateful that such love of L-O-V-E has been inspiration for many a great literary work.

Halloween – This is one I always find a bit humorous when I get into debates with “Christians” that feel this is a satanic practice. That is completely and utterly false. While there is some belief that pagans celebrated the harvest by dressing in costume to scare away “demons” that came out at the end of summer, Celtics fashioned it to a festival meaning the end of summer. A more complete list of how these festivals have evolved over the years is found here. Our church celebrates the children’s trick or treating on the 31st, followed by All Saints Day in which we honor those that have left us and then the third day of this celebration is Dia de Los Muertos in which the children decorate goblets that are placed on the altars for their ancestors. Living in an area rich in Hispanic culture, I am glad my children have grown up learning about this practice, understanding it and even celebrating with their friends. While my cookie decorating is coming along, I am not yet to the point of being able to create such interesting sugar confections but I keep working on it.

Christmas & Easter – I lump these together because they are both debated as over commercialized and factually inaccurate. These are two dates that are simply false on the Christian calendar. Chosen by Roman Emperors to forge bonds between Christians and Pagans, each were intended to blend the customs of both into festivals that would overlap. (similarly, the books of the Bible chosen by in a way that was thought to be most effective to control the Christians as well as incorporate some Pagan traditions, but I digress). While I do not advocate everything on this site, this gives a good breakdown of how these Pagan customs were written into scripture. [As a brief side note, the movie Agora does a great job of depicting how the hostility at this time between Pagans and Christians was tearing society apart all over the known world. In that context, you might be able to understand the reasoning behind what sometimes seems a ridiculous decision.]

Just as we know there is a great amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest December 25th was not in fact the birth of Christ, Easter is not the actual day of resurrection. Though as Christians we know that this holiday is calculated by the calendar (the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox) and is traditionally depicted with rabbits and eggs, we persist in complaining about its commercialization. These traditional icons provide the closest and most obvious evidence of their Pagan counterpart as a fertility holiday (I mean how many people really think about the Christmas tree as Pagan?). What I would love to see is Christian churches advocate the study of historical documents (likely existing in the Vatican archives) and find the closest proximity to the actual birth of Jesus as well as the actual date of his crucifixion (which would have been part of public record and by which the actual date of the resurrection could be extrapolated). I recognize this will never happen. Corporate America relies on the income these holidays provide and the religions on the world rely on these fixed dates to organize the activates of their congregation. Still, it does make me get a bit inflamed when the debate rages about the “War on Christmas” starts every year. I want to scream “how about a war on facts?” Our church celebrates in the traditional way but also celebrates the Advent and talks about the historical significance and political nature of the times around the birth of Christ. For Easter, they also discuss and honor the Passover and discuss the history of the persecution of this time. In our house, we honor the birth of Jesus by having birthday cake on Christmas Eve (since this is the time our church chooses to celebrate as well) and we talk about the original Christmas story. On Christmas, we sit around our tree, which we try to decorate with handmade ornaments and exchange gifts. Each year, some of these are handmade, some are for “knowledge” and some are for joy. That can take many forms but often the cards, tags and paper are homemade/recycled/repurposed, the “knowledge” takes the form of leather bound literary classics and music and then a few something’s for each individual specific to them. I shop all year so I don’t have to get caught up in the shopping frenzy and as I have discussed at length, I strive to do so without the financial burden it would leave behind.

I could continue; the green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, the hypocrisy of Columbus Day, the factual inaccuracies of Thanksgiving and the creation of Groundhog Day and its much celebrated pageantry. I know there are a number of these incidences that can be listed and quite a few folks who will be very upset with me for pointing them out.

So that it is not subverted in any way, I would like to specifically state that my point here is this: We are in control of how we celebrate our lives and honor our holidays. Instead of being upset of the commercialization of things, be a living example of the truth. Have your friends to your table to feast and share stories, laugh and appreciate each other. That can happen any time of year on any occasion or no particular reason. Yes! You should love your “sweetheart” each and every day, but is there anything wrong with taking time out after the hectic holiday season that precede it to spend special time to honor and renew that bond? Just as you hopefully would on an anniversary? While I hope everyone celebrates their love every single day, the fact is most people get caught up in the day to day grind too often. I take it as a time to put on the breaks and say “you are so special to me and I am so glad you spend your life with me.” If anything, I think the world could use a bit more of that in a world where precious gestures of peace and love seem to be fading.

Come on, who's with me?
“One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun."
(Act I Scene 2)