Monday, June 23, 2008


Had the best weekend with the kids. Rode on Saturday, and took Allen to buy some Bakugan at Target. They are always sold out, but a kid at school let us in on the secret of Saturday morning shopping. We showed up before horse riding and were able to find what we wanted. Of course, since Allen didn't have enough allowance money, it meant he was going to be in for some labor at home later for Mom. I told him it would involve sweeping the front sidewalk and helping me clean out the shavings in the chicken house. He agreed.
On the way home, we stopped by the farmer's market in town. Got some lovely potatoes, beets, onions, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peaches and plums. Amazing the variety that is in season this time of year. I have been reading a book lately called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which chronicles a year in the life of a Virginia family as they only eat what they can produce or purchase locally, in an effort to decrease the amount of petroleum involved in bringing them their food. It has been inspirational. I certainly am not up for that particular challenge, but it has made me crave the wonderful things the local farmers produce and make me want to support them so that farming in this area is profitable. Cooked up a huge pot of beets just for me for lunch. So sweet and yummy.
Made potatoe salad for Brian.
Got ready to go outside to work, when the rain started and ended up doing laundry instead.
Brian and I went to a farewell dinner for the headmaster at the school our kids go to. The food was great, but the funnest part was the Scottish dancing afterwards. They had four dancers arrive and the dancers cajoled us(all the guests) into participating in a program of at least 10 Scottish dances. Brian and I ended up dancing in about 4 of them and it was the most fun I've had in a long time. We didn't get all the steps right, but it felt so good to be moving after such a big meal.
Today the sun shone bright, so the kids and I headed outside to work. While Allen swept the front walk, Emily and I tackled the weeds in the garden. I offered to pay for each bucket of weeds she pulled and she went right to work. The plants in the garden have been getting adequate rain and we were able to harvest our first zucchini and a small bundle of beets. We were able to weed half the garden before Allen was done with the sidewalk. Got busy shoveling out the chicken house. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Made a lovely mulch pile and filled the compost bin. Gave the birds fresh shavings and straw. Emily filled their waterers. Then she and I went back to weeding and got the worst of it done in the entire garden. She is becoming such a hard worker as long as I'm there to keep her company. (Which helps me work harder as well.) Then we ordered pizza and jumped in the pool to cool off. What a lovely lovely day. 9 days of school left. Can't wait for summer when most days can be like this one.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wild West, part 2

A week later, when Allen was away at camp, Emily and I had the most special time that made me feel my motherhood intensely. She probably thought I was nuts getting all sentimental on her. We went and got our nails done together. At a kids spa. Little tiny flowers painted on my big toe. All I could think of was when I was pregnant with Allen, how I got my nails done weekly and how I hoped that eventually I would have a girl so that we would be able to sit through the hour together and both come out feeling beautiful. Never could have imagined having such a sunny little girl who just giggles her way through life and doesn't mind being with me. And she is GIFTED in the art of selecting polish color for me. She grabbed a color and I thought, "YUCK!" but when they put it on, it was exactly what I had been in the mood for, summery and bright and looking so good on me. All the presents in the world can't replace relationship. I feel so lucky to be her mom, and I told her so. She replies, "You're the best mom in the world!" I wish I could carve that in bronze against the future, and reply" Sweetie, I just try to do the best I can."
She grins and crushes me in a hug.
Soon I was to find out that Best Mom In The World would also involve a 12 Gauge shotgun. Don't know if I've mentioned our pal the coyote, but he has been visiting frequently at the run-through to pick up some chicken nuggets. One time he was charging our pool area (chasing Chloe, who had been barking at him) and ended up in a scrap with both Chloe and Roger. Roger has a bum knee (Mastiffs are prone to injury when they charge around at high speed) and he ended up getting pretty scratched up (bit?) before he and Chloe were done driving the coyote away. After determining that Roger was o.k. , my beloved husband went out and bought ME a shotgun. Yes, ME. I know. So far I am the only one who has spotted this creature in our household. My friend standing next to me on the deck saw it, but Brian has never seen it, nor the neighbor who comes faithfully to hunt for it after it visits. So after a demonstration of ammunition choices and loading procedure and the safety locking device, I was entrusted with a gun.
Still haven't got the coyote. It's been two weeks. I did see him again today, and I can tell you the next time my guineas start screaming and running, I AM READY to get that gun pronto and come to help. I had at least 1 minute's warning today, if I just would have moved faster I would have got him.
Did get a chance to shoot a possum. Poor thing. Caught it in a humane trap, and it was spinning its head incessantly in circles instead of crouching down and just hissing at me. Probably rabid. Absolutely hated doing it, but at least I once again proved I had the stomach to do what had to be done. I've turned loose too many possums not to know a sick one when I see it.
The gun wasn't as bad as I thought it would be- at least not with birdshot. My neighbor has offered to set up some targets and some clay pigeons once the weather settles down and I am definately going to take him up on it.
So, you can see why I feel like I'm on a personal frontier of sorts. What on earth am I going to just suck it up and learn to do next?!
Oh, by the way- did I mention that I'm going to Ethiopia in July with my church on missions?
Yep, really. Pray for me. God has the most amazing way of preparing you for what's ahead and with what's been going on 'round here the last few months, I've no idea what's in store in Africa.
Nite nite for now...

Living in the Wild Wild West

I Believe I am turning into a frontierswoman of sorts. I don't recognize myself and my hobbies anymore.
It all started on Mother's Day, when my son gave me the gift of being more than I wanted to be as a Mom. (Only your child can ask you to do something you'd hate to do and end up with you doing it cheerfully so they won't see what a wussie you are.)
I had a headache after church that day and the family was letting me rest. I absolutely couldn't sleep, so I decided to visit the neighbor's pond and take the kids fishing. They'd been wanting to for a week or two and if I didn't take them, who would? Besides, they were trying to be so quiet for me and I knew the peace of the pond and a hook in the water would really help my head.
Turned out, it was a great day to fish. Minutes away from a mighty storm, overcast and the fish biting on liver like they hadn't eaten in a month. Allen pulled in four or five little brem, I must have caught three or four and midway through it all, I pulled in a huge catfish, just shy of two feet long. Absolutely couldn't believe it. Lovely fish. Sent the kids running to the neighbors to see if they wanted the fish for dinner. Nope, not today. Neighbors came down to admire the catch. I put it on a chain in the water. The kids were blown away. Kept pulling it up just to look at it. Allen turns to me and says, "Can we have it for dinner?" I say, "No, honey, I really don't want to have to carry it home- it's pretty heavy." He fishes for a while. Sits thinking, in that way he has. Says: " If I catch another brem, we'd have enough for a good dinner." " I know, honey, but I really don't want to have to haul these fish home and I'm not sure brem is good to eat." (Not to mention that I really didn't enjoy the last time I cleaned a fish, 15+ years ago) Neighbor mentions that brem taste a lot like perch, and they're big enough to keep over about 6 inches. Allen looks hopeful and casts in the spot they've been hitting hard. I feel a bite and pull in a nice brem, at least 6.5 inches long. I put it on the chain so the kids can keep enjoying this rare day. Allen says"I can't wait for this summer- Nana told me she's going to take me fishing and she'll cook up anything I catch when I visit them." (Nana did NOT mention that Papa Ted gets the fun part of finding the good fishing spot AND cutting up the lovely filets afterwards.) I think, you know- I once cut up a lovely rainbow trout just to impress my new hubbie and it was the loveliest thing I've ever eaten. My little boy just wants to try fresh fish. Everyone in these parts loves catfish fried up fresh. I am going to do my best.
About then, Brian shows up to help carry the fish home and I place a frantic call to Dad. "Is there any special trick to fileting a catfish?' "Nope- just a sharp knife." So I get my knife nice and sharp, pull out some pliers to hang onto it with and go to town.
Did I mention that my plan for killing the fish was to place them on ice for an hour or so? My husband had volunteered to club them on the head for me, but that seemed so brutal. Well, the sweet sleep on the ice worked very well for the brem. Being such a little thing, it took some delicacy to get the filets off without any skin or bones attached. But I finished proud that I had some scraps big enough for us all to taste. AND with very little blood spilled as I mainly stayed out of the organ cavity.
At which point Allen says"Look, Mommy, the catfish is breathing!" "Nonsense, honey, he's been in the ice for hours." OH WAIT! The blasted thing is gasping at me!!!!! Into workshop for sledgehammer for hubbie's original plan. One gentle thump onto catfish noggin and presto! Relaxo! Let the knifework begin. Thirty minutes later, two huge filets are ready for the fry pan. I send Brian to the grill with some steaks in case the culinary adventure disappoints. I roll the catfish in a cornmeal mixture and fry them up in a hot iron pan. Amazing how they shrink as they cook, but still plenty for the four of us. I serve them with tartar or ketchup or lemon as options for the kids. Emily chows down. Amazing. Eats her whole plate and declares herself full. Allen eats all of his brem (Quite tasty, I concur), but only manages a few bites of the catfish before he says he doesn't like it and would rather have some steak. I only get one bite of the catfish before I decide I don't like it and move on to the steak. If there is a next time, I will use a beer batter and will deep fat fry it.
So, the day ended with an unexpected new self-label: Fish preparer. And I actually did a good enough job that it didn't gross me out.