Monday, January 31, 2011

Writing ideas

Short Story Ideas

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Massage - Wow

Just got back home from my first professional massage, and boy, do I feel better. :) I also felt, all the way home, that I was about to fall asleep behind the wheel, but since it is bright and sunny out, I made it home okay. LOL

Diagnosis - lots of knots, especially in my neck and back, and hamstrings that are so tight they couldn't be lifted. Oops, I guess that could be blamed on a lack of exercise. And maybe a lot of stress and zero opportunity to relax.

I know, it seems that someone who spends as much time alone as I do should be relaxed to the nth degree, but when life itself isn't stressful, my mind starts looping back to the past and wondering just where I went wrong; what could I have done differently to be a happier person today?

Oh, probably nothing. One thing I definitely have faith in is that it's all part of the Master Plan, and I doubt I'll ever deviate from what was already planned out for me.

Anyway, even my hands feel good. *grin* I didn't expect that, but hey, I'll take it. I am, of course, expecting a lot of soreness later today or tomorrow, but I noticed that some of the places that hurt when I went in (my lower back, my hip, and my foot) aren't really hurting anymore. Yay for that. When she was moving up my leg muscle to the end point in my hip, THAT I felt, but it was like, Owwww. Oh, that's better.

So now, I'm drinkingalottawater for the rest of the day, as advised. I was going to start drinking more water anyway. I think my skin is dehydrated. Okay, so is the rest of me. Furthermore, when you drink a 16 ounce bottle of water before bed, and wake up the next morning and you DON'T have to go to the bathroom, that's probably not a good sign. Trying Ozarka water right now. It tastes like nothing, which is what I've always thought water was supposed to taste like, but never did to me. I can always taste the chemicals, minerals, and metals in it. Blech. Makes me wanna hurl, really.

(Please, kindly don't give me your opinion on how I'm imagining things if you are a smoker. We both know you are smell- and taste-impaired. *sweet smile* It's true! Quit smoking if you don't believe me, and you will see the light. And smell the flowers, and taste the most delicate of seasonings. Oh, and you'll be able to breathe without hacking, too.)

So, a professional massage is something I'm definitely going to repeat in the future. I got so tired of giving my boyfriends (over the years) really good amateur massages and then being told they were just "too relaxed" to return the favor. *drumming fingernails* Hey, my effort scales directly with how much I'm feeling loved. :) If I ain't feeling loved, I ain't gonna bother. That's a fact, Jack. On the other hand, how many years is it since I've had an actual boyfriend? 6. Still, for a decent guy, I'd give the same consideration as before. ;) As long as I get my turn, so don't be selfish!

****
I've gotten through 3 bottles of the recommended 4 bottles of water today. Still having trouble choking them all down. LOL I feel really good though. :) No soreness yet. And I think I just got a story detail from the whole thing. hehehe

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Working Through the Block

So, here is what I've been working on despite the fact that my creativity seems to be at a standstill. First, I made myself an afghan (well, more of a blanket, because it's so dense and warm) out of Lion Brand's Homespun yarn. I did most of it in the early fall. I had seen a pattern for a similar afghan on their website, and just fell in love with the color combination. (Actually, I knitted myself a sleeveless sweater and crocheted myself a shrug before that.)

Then I realized that I didn't want to crochet a whole afghan in single crochet stitches because they would be so stiff and knotty feeling. I didn't want to knit it because that seemed like such a dreary prospect and I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep my work going at a smooth and even gauge.

Eureka moment. I redesigned the afghan in Tunisian crochet. :) Probably my favorite stitch because it's an awesome blending of crochet and knitting, and I can work it so fast my fingers fly. And fly they did. I was able to complete an entire strip of the afghan in a day, if I worked at it consistently. And there were only 5 strips to make. LOL

I got about half of the strips seamed together and lost interest because I really HATE seaming. I put it aside for a month and a half. Then I realized that not only was it cluttering up the living room, being a UFO (unfinished object), it was also a tremendous waste of money if I didn't finish it and start using it. There's about $70 worth of yarn alone in that blanket. Homespun is an expensive yarn! Between $5 and $7 a skein, depending on where you can actually find the colors you need. Wal-Mart only carries a few colors, and then only puts out 5 skeins at a time of each color, if they have them.

I know they must have the rest somewhere in the back, because I took all 5 one day and came back a couple of days later to find another 5 on the shelf in the same dye lot... Yeah, I felt a little lucky there. And it means that there's a bag full of that dye lot somewhere in storage but they won't fully stock the shelves for some reason.

Kinda kills the creative process and the rabid desire to make something if you have to wait a few weeks on an order to make it through the mail. I feel like I'm back in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder - waiting for 6 months for that Christmas barrel to arrive - in May. I can't even go to Hobby Lobby in Jackson because they only keep 5 of each skein as well. "But we'll be glad to order it for you!"

So I finished seaming the afghan and left all those stupid loose ends showing because I was just cold and I hate weaving in the ends more than I hate seaming. I figured I could do a few at a time while I'm watching TV. And I did, over the course of a few days. Given all the color changes, there were a lot of ends.

So then I made myself a scarf in tunisian stitch, out of Candy Apple Red Homespun. (K hook, 18 stitches wide - work even until you run out of yarn. End with a row of sc for stability. Only TWO loose ends to weave in.) I wanted a soft warm scarf to match my coat. :) Then I made a grey one, also to match my coat, but I asked Evan if he would like it, and boy did he! :) It made me feel good. :D

Then I decided to see about knitting myself a hat (because a crocheted hat would be too stiff), and found a simple pattern on the Lion Brand website. 56 stitches wide, 2x2 rib, size 10.5 needles, work until 12 inches long, cut and draw the yarn tail through the loops on the hook, pull snug, knot, and seam up the back. Fold up the brim. Piece of cake. Then I decided maybe Evan needed a matching hat for playing in the snow I knew was coming. He loved it. :D I made myself another scarf in "mixed berries" which turned out to be so much prettier when worked up than in the skein. The skein looks like a bizarre variegation, but when it's worked into something, there's a self-striping deal going on that makes it a "painterly" hue. Purples, pinks, etc. Loved it! Not bizarre, just beautiful.

Matt had already asked me for an afghan and a ski mask, so I have the yarn for the afghan ready to take to the hospital. I'll need something to do there. The ski mask has me a little puzzled, so I decided to try to find a pattern for it in Homespun. No such critter.

On Thursday, we all got out of school early due to inclement weather, and I spent a little time with Matt. We sledded a little while, and I realized that his only gloves are fingerless, and his hat couldn't possibly be keeping his head warm. I gave him an extra pair of black gloves I had in my car. I asked him if he wanted me to make him a scarf, and he told me that he really wouldn't wear one. So I left, and went to Wal-Mart to see if I could find more yarn and some gloves for him. They didn't have any ski gloves. Nothing useful for playing in the snow. But I got him some handwarmers and over-the-calf socks to put on because I noticed his were ankle socks and his legs were exposed.

When I found him, he and Zack rode up on their 4 wheelers. Matt's skin was icy cold. So I gave him what I'd bought for him, and he seemed pretty happy with it. As I was leaving, I asked him if he was sure he didn't want me to make him a scarf? His answer was a vehement, yes, now he WANTS a scarf. LOL So now I've made him a scarf. And I'm trying to work out the ski mask. He only wants eye openings but I figure if I make it with a big eye opening, he can pull it down under his chin if he needs to. Well, that one may be trial and error, so I'm in the trial process now.

When I get that finished, I've got a request from my brother for a hat and scarf. :) I realize that posting comments and updates about things I'm knitting and crocheting is the equivalent of flying a freak flag, but what made people look down their noses at me before isn't getting quite the same reaction these days. I bet that there are fewer people around these days who can do what I can with my hands. :) Since I'm approaching grandmother age, in spirit anyway, it's more acceptable, I suppose.

Here's to keeping me and my loved ones warm, anyway.

**** I finished the ski mask last night. I'll post a picture of it when I find Matt again and he puts it on. It actually looks good. :) Yay, I created another original pattern.

Creatively... blocked

I shared some photos of things I've painted, today on Facebook. Lots of compliments, which I love, but don't often get. :) Yeah, I'm a sucker for the warm & fuzzies.


Once again, I'm wondering what discouraged me so badly from painting. When I quit, I was doing great. And yet when I think about painting now, I have a reaction somewhere between sulking and despondency. Such a feeling of failure associated with that one activity which used to make me so happy.

When it went well. When it didn't, I'd have temper tantrums and once I even completely freaked out and cried over a corrugated metal mailbox. Rippled metal is hard to paint smoothly.


Still, I never turned my home into a showplace of murals and painted borders as I had intended. Now, all of my paint is separated and / or gummy. I don't have the colors I'd need to start again, and what's worse -- I can't even buy them locally because of the huge Wal-Mart screw-over to painters.

I emailed the Dewberrys tonight to see if I am still eligible for my discount as an OSCI. Supposedly, even if I never became an active instructor, I'm supposed to always have that perk. I notice I'm not listed on the website as an instructor, but hey, I did try to do it.

Dyersburg and this area is a creative dead zone. Back in 2000, I hosted two free painting workshops, all supplies provided. It was a make & take, and participants got to take home a paper mache heart-shaped box with a leafy vine they painted on it. Oh, it was a great project. And my sister assured me that I did a good job teaching it.


But when I read the evaluations afterward, I really got my feelings hurt. I think there were a few half-hearted affirmations in there somewhere, but what stood out (and slapped me in the face) were several really mean commentaries in the stack. Some just said it was a lousy class. Some expressed their anger that I didn't turn them into instant rose painters in under an hour. Some seemed unhappy that they weren't getting a very expensive goodie bag and that they thought a paper box wasn't good enough for them. Several stated that they would be glad to take another class from me, as long as it was totally free. *sigh*

But the ones that hurt me the most were family. My mother and my stepmother both gave me a thumbs-down on their evaluations. I still have them here somewhere at my house. They're like poisonous snakes, ready to slide out and bite me, unsuspecting, some time in the future.

You know, it was made perfectly clear in the ad that the project was a paper mache box, covered in faux painting and one-stroke leaves. All of the complainers seemed to think I was there to teach them everything about One-Stroke painting in under an hour. I was two years away from having my instructor's class at the time and still had most of it to learn myself, but I'd been given the opportunity to get the free materials and teach the class, and I thought it would be a gesture of goodwill to my hometown.

Nothing says hometown like bitter and greedy old women.

Two years later I took the certification course (and it was about a $700 venture, all expenses combined). I came home having mastered the techniques and truly painting like an old pro. I set up classes at the local community college. Due to sabotage, none of them ever were held. I don't know *why* I got the treatment I did, but it became apparent that they were so desperate to get SOMEONE to handle their classes for children, they wouldn't let my classes work out unless I agreed to do it for them.

Various things happened. First they wouldn't let me charge the going rate for classes. Then they told me I wasn't allowed to have any of the money for the classes - I'd get a small hourly fee and they'd take all the rest (after they greatly inflated the price for the class) for "administrative fees" because the college is having "funding problems and everybody has to sacrifice". Oh yes, and from my hourly rate I was expected to furnish all supplies out of my own pocket. Surfaces, paint, foam plates, paper towels.... Then I finally agreed to their terms, figuring out how to not lose my shirt paying for materials myself.


And they put me in the fall brochure... which came out far past the deadline to sign up for my class.

The gist of it is that they really didn't want me to teach painting classes. For a college hurting for money, it no longer surprises me that they don't have much in the way of personal enrichment classes. Those classes don't cost them anything but an empty classroom and maybe a paragraph here and there, but they won't do what needs to be done. Another example of someone who thinks about nothing but instant gratification. Sorry, but I wasn't going to sacrifice my grocery money or my house payment to help them along. They will sink or swim without me. I don't even recommend to students that they go there.

So that was discouraging. I painted some gifts for people, and some were received with disdain. I tried to paint in people's homes, but they all cried poor when I told them what (little) I charged. Everyone seems to think that they are too poor to pay for a custom hand-painted wall mural (sometimes whole-room mural) but that I should be glad for the honor to paint their house at my own cost.

I painted in my house, my sister's house, and our house at the lake. I painted some mailboxes and some bulletin boards, and even painted bulletin board characters that I used in my own classroom for years.

It became obvious that I was never going to be able to make a second job out of my painting as I had hoped, and I lost my desire to paint. It was costing too much to keep up with the Dewberrys, and I just needed to get out of debt. Every once in a while our art teacher would hire me to paint a mailbox and I'd grudgingly do so. I should have been flattered that he still believed in me. LOL I worked all of the extra weeks I could, and sponsored a club after school, until I got myself out of debt. In the years since I made it, I haven't regretted it one bit. :) Well, not that. My life is still devoid of love. (I'm still dumb enough to keep trying, though I'm smart enough to realize that's never going to happen for me. I need a lot of distractions if I'm going to make it.)

Now that I've looked back at my old painting pictures, a little bit of the old pull is still there. I want to do something spectacular, but I know that there's not much that will ever come from it. I feel a lot of "I CAN'T!" bubbling out. Where does the inspiration that I need come from?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scylla

All the while I was feeling the pull of the giant whirlpool, I forgot to look out for Scylla, who has taken huge bites out of my heart today. Thanks. I was already hanging over the swirling water, and I really needed something to make me let go of the branch I was hanging onto.

For the record, this is exactly the sort of thing that would drive me to be a downright alcoholic, if I had that inclination. I said a while back that now i understand why people become drunks or addicts, because they are just trying to alter their horrible reality.

I think my semi-happy posts are gone now, and they will be gone for a while.

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below

lyrics cut from "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SOS II

Yesterday I tried one of the recipes for SOS that I found on the net, and though it was so tasty that Quincy pestered me for as much as he could get, it still wasn't quite right.

Seems like I remember it being kind of greyish in color.

I probably overdid it with the worcestershire sauce, because the first taste was just too bland. I think that the two handfuls of chopped onions helped quite a bit. I'm sure my brother wouldn't have approved. ;) He hates onions, peppers, strawberries, pickle relish... All the stuff that makes cooking tasty to me. But I wasn't making it for him. Just me. :D

A couple of recipes I'd seen spoke of making a roux with the flour and grease, but that didn't seem right to me. The recipe I used instructed mixing the cooked ground beef (with no mention of draining it, though I did anyway) with the flour and other stuff, cooking it a few minutes until the flour was absorbed, and then mixing in the milk and worcestershire sauce. Hey, worked for me. No lumps in the gravy, I suppose.

And it gave me some ideas for tinkering with the recipe to make other things such as stroganoff (add sour cream).

I didn't put it on top of anything with carbs. No toast, no rice, no potatoes, no noodles. Just ate it by itself. Should be better for me, right?

Well, I liked it anyway. :) And Quincy loves me for sharing it.

Charybdis

Though I don't regret having spent the entire weekend alone -- I literally have seen no other human beings since Friday night -- I still want to spend my rare day off tomorrow, by myself.

On the other hand, worthwhile and interesting adult company would keep me from falling into the whirlpool that's currently tugging on me. This is what the spiral into depression often feels like for me. A few days ruminating on things that have disappointed me, or even just one colossal event that was enough to cause the tip over the edge.

An overall feeling of internal shakiness that feels as if it stretched outward from behind my navel, with sinuous tendrils creeping up into my arms, squeezing my heart and lungs, and finally stretching down into my legs and feet with currents of lead. I feel like I'm being pulled down to the ground by ever-increasing gravity.

And that trembling that may never show on the outside, but usually leads the way for a lot of unexplainable tears. I hate that. It's the same feeling that precedes hypoglycemia, and it's never escaped my attention that low blood sugar comes on for me with almost instant depression and fear.

Being by myself is probably not a good idea, but on the other hand, who would want to be around me when I'm feeling like this?

Oh, sorry for anybody reading this who expected a story that was concocted to amuse you. Anais Nin, I am not. :) I wouldn't want to have an affair with Henry Miller anyway. He seems pretty grotesque to me. Or maybe it was because he was portrayed in Henry and June by Fred Ward, and I have a hard time finding any appeal in that man either. I still think of ole Fred as Remo Williams. Kind of a slob at the beginning of the movie when he is "killed" and not much better when he becomes The Destroyer. LOL

Still no word from the man I asked out... I would think that by now he'd at least have the courtesy to say no? *sigh*

Oh, to have friends I could visit with when I'm feeling down. I see that other people do that sort of thing all the time. It makes me wonder why I have to feel so friendless.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TV is fixed

Took my brother under 5 minutes to fix it. And it was something simple. Still, I had no clue that was set wrong. I feel like an idiot, but the last new tv to come in my door was in about 1996. I'm just not familiar with all the bells and whistles on them thar newfangled tvs.

Signed,
Ignorant Couch Tater

Dad's Heart Surgery Update

Here is what I know about it so far, but keep in mind I may have some details wrong.

It's not set to a date yet, but it needs to happen soon. He needs (I think) a mitral valve replacement. He's understandably very unhappy about all of this.

He said he'll have to stay in the hospital 7-10 days for recovery, and then he'll need round-the-clock supervision for about 3 weeks after that. He morosely mentioned a nursing home.

I told him that was nonsense. He has three grown kids, and we'll find a way to work it out. That week or so that he's in Memphis is going to be exceptionally hard to deal with, but we just have to make it work.

He says he doesn't want to be a burden, to his family, but I assured him that this is what family is for. It's our privilege to be able to take care of him if he needs us to.

There is, of course, the possibility that the heart surgery could cause a stroke, but he said that not having it will more likely cause a stroke, so it needs to be done. When it's a success, I think he'll feel much healthier.

I keep reminding him of how proud I am he's quit smoking. :) (He smells good. :) My siblings don't understand how I can tell a huge difference, but hey, they both smoky - they don't even realize that they can't smell things well.) It's been six weeks since he quit! He says that he's not coughing at night, not coughing up a bunch of phlegm every time, and he can breathe through his nose again. :D His voice has a healthier quality to it when I hear him speak, though his mood isn't the greatest. That's understandable. It's a scary prospect to know that someone is going to be cutting your HEART, and that heart surgery has only been going on since about 1944. (Props to Drs. Vivien Thomas and Alfred Blalock.)

Another scary prospect is that my paternal grandfather died from heart failure on the other side of the block from my house. Not long after his shift started at Dyersburg Fabrics, he died. I'm not ready to lose my Dad to the same malady that kept me from ever meeting my grandfather. My father's 75. I think he's got plenty of happy living left in him if he'll reach for it. :)

I hope he gets to see his great-grandchildren, though I must caution, don't look at me. I won't be having grandchildren of my own. (If I have to have heart surgery someday, who will take care of me? Nursing home? Yikes?)

If I can take a moment to go on my personal crusade.... See? Just six weeks after quitting smoking, and look at how your health improves. :) Quit now and enjoy the benefits quicker than you thought! (And you won't stink like an ashtray anymore.) :D

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fail

Last night I decided to go to bed a little earlier than usual, and watch TV while I sipped some hot apple cider. Yeah, that's what I get for thinking I could do something simple and comforting like other, more normal people do.

I turned the tv on and got a nice black screen that says No Signal. Crap. I don't know what's wrong. Everything is still all connected and nothing has been moved or jostled.

All the wi-fi apps work, and I can't change the input from TV to... uh, TV.

Now I'm waiting for my much smarter brother to come over and take a look. :( I just don't study TVs. The rare occasion when I watch one, I expect it to freaking WORK!!! Too much to ask?

All right, I'm in a bad mood now, so I might as well write about the other stuff on my mind that is likely petty and unimportant.

One of my classes got 13 students added today because of someone's cafeteria duty being a problem. The bad part is that I can't even blame a specific person for this, and I'm not the only one that got screwed over in the situation. It's my fault for being relieved that particular class was going so well. Now there are about 8 extra clowns in it, one and a half weeks AFTER I finished all my intro stuff. I can't stop and repeat a week and a half now!

I think I'm justified in feeling frustrated about this. I'll be polite, but I'm unhappy.

Might as well go on and admit another likely defeat. It's been almost a week since I asked the guy out, and he has said nothing about that since his only comment which was along the lines of "I'll get back to you."

Yeah, on the order of "I'll call you..." when they don't know your phone number. :-\ Oh yeah, I got the subtext. *sigh*

What am I supposed to think after a week? Keep my hopefulness?

Don't you think that would just be stupid of me? I do.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SOS (---- on a Shingle) LOL

The full wording is NOT my creation, it's a military nickname for creamed ground beef. My mother used to make it when we were little, and she probably learned to make it when she and my Dad were newly married. He was in the Army. (She also made Hawaiian Spam, but that's a different post. LOL)

No, it doesn't look like poop. :) It's ground beef in a cream gravy, and if it's made right, delicious on toast. I would love to go camping and have it for breakfast on a cool morning. Hey, anybody want to get a group together for camping? (Once the world thaws out in the springtime, that is!) I love camping. :)

Over the years, we had requested Mama make it for us occasionally, usually at Christmas. But the last 10 years of her life, the quality of it seemed to suffer a bit. I'm not sure what ingredient she was leaving out, or why, but she did die before we got a chance to ask her how she made it. :(

Tommy and I have looked up recipes for it on the internet, but he says that the ones he's tried have all been bland, like something was missing from them as well. Maybe Mother's Love was missing? Maybe it was just the Worcestershire sauce. ;)

Stouffer's makes a decent creamed chipped beef that is a passable substitute, but it's really salty. Even the military cooks know that you have to soak chipped beef in water overnight to cut the saltiness. Maybe Stouffer's doesn't? Anyway, that's what I had for supper, minus the toast. I can't tell you the last time I've used my toaster. Carbs are bad, man, BAD for me! See? Now I'm thinking "mmmm, toast... crunchy... mmm butter!!" Down, girl!

I'm going to try some of the recipes for SOS that I've found online. I'm reasonably sure that when I find one which is close, I can doctor it up to taste more like Mama's, like I did with Grandmother's Poor Man's Pudding. :)

Camping... Ooh, I need to buy myself a tent.

For several reasons:

1. I gave my tent to Tyler when he needed one. It was just a two-person pup tent, but I was awesome at putting that thing up in minimal light, and I had really totally waterproofed it.

2. If my house gets squashed by the pecan tree which hangs menacingly over it, I'm going to need someplace to live. :)

3. If a friend asked me to go camping, I'd like to be able to say yes.

4. Without a tent, i feel too unprepared for the werewolf apocalypse. Yes, that nightmare I had in college about werewolves taking over the world did a number on my head and I like to feel that I'm prepared for a survival situation. Or maybe even just well prepared for camping. :D

(I do love tents and campers. Just think they're neat. Portable mini-homes to get away from it all.)

That Was Difficult

Trying to join a Facebook group that a friend has started, to discuss ways to be a better Christian. Basically, he described it as an online Sunday School class. Everything about it is anonymous, and I have had a very difficult time just getting set up on it. First I couldn't get a new email set up. Then I couldn't find him online to add my phony persona. then I couldn't even find ME online to add as my own friend so that I could find him and his phony persona, to get added to the class.

This is one of those times that people will say Satan was standing in my way, and the whole time I was trying to get it all together, I actually felt like something was blocking me at every turn.

Darn it, I'm annoyed by that. Here I am trying to get with some people to discuss things I can't talk about with another soul on the planet, and I'm getting roadblocked.

Finally I was able to get connected, and it felt like a virtual miracle had taken place. Frustration over. Now let's see if I did the right thing to get added.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weaving in the Loose Ends

I detest weaving in the loose yarn ends when I knit or crochet something. (Knitting is two long pointed needles; crochet is one short hook... got that? *grin*) But I've finished a truly cuddly afghan, and those loose ends are the only thing standing in the way of my triumphant completion.

No, you don't think that's a big deal? LOL Okay, neither do I really. That's an easy achievement for me to accomplish. I've been doing needlework since I was six.

I remember that my mother was crocheting something lacy, and I was absolutely fascinated by the motion of her hands, and the fact that she was creating something beautiful from tiny little strands of string.

She showed me how to crochet a simple chain, and when I made that nice and long, I had her cut it off and I played with it. In my mind, it was one of those gorgeous long dancing ribbons that gymnasts use in their floor routines. Twirling and swirling all around my dancing legs.

I wanted to be a gymnast. I wanted to be a ballerina. But you don't become either of those things when you're from a small west Tennessee town and your parents don't have the money for the classes, or the time to take you to the classes. Looking at my figure now that I'm an adult, I realize both of those dreams were rather impractical. I have an overly generous hourglass figure that would have thrown me way off balance in either gymnastics or ballet, as it turns out.

Soon I asked Mama to show me how to make more than a beginning chain, and she did. But darn it, my stitches weren't even and perfect like hers! She told me that I needed to have patience. Patience to work until I had something finished to look at, and patience that practice would eventually make my stitches soft and even, like hers.

So I practiced with the leftover yarn from her projects. I had a few Barbie dolls, so they gained some fabulous dresses. On my own, I figured out how to work beads into the crochet stitches. Mama was very surprised when I took my handiwork to her apartment and showed her the beads. Apparently I had jumped several years ahead in my independent study. I even created flowing blue and green mermaid wigs for my dolls when I had enough shiny yarn for the project. My yarn and crochet hooks always came from my mother. Nobody else ever encouraged me; in fact, I was discouraged from any creativity because of the possibility I might "make a mess".

One of those people who scathingly called me "Granny" every time I was caught crocheting something went so far as to try to steal a lace tablecloth I had made while I was in my dorm room. I came home from college one weekend and discovered that my glass table (a gift from Mama) and my lace tablecloth were now in her bedroom. She told me I didn't need anything that nice, and she deserved something nice for herself. So she just took my table and my work to boot. I showed a little backbone and took them both back, telling her not to ever steal from me again. After that, she did a lot to show that she hated me. Maybe she always did, but she was very well finished with disguising it by then.

Isn't it ironic that I'm doing such a bad, useless, pointless, wasteful thing with my yarn and hook and yet someone would do something like *that* to take the beautiful result and claim it for herself? (Yes, it is a beautiful tablecloth. I still have it, tucked away now in hopes of someday having a home big enough to display it somewhere. Furthermore, that whole situation still irks me. Can you tell? I should just let it go, huh?)

There is just something magical to me about taking a strand of fiber and transforming it into pretty cloth. Most especially if the finished cloth keeps someone you love toasty, snuggly warm. Currently, Matt has a request in for a soft grey afghan and balaclava, and Evan has in a request for... well, everything. LOL Socks, hat, gloves, afghan, scarf (gave that to him already.)

My sister said she wants me to knit her an angora sweater. Way to go there. Look down your nose at me while I'm knitting a sweater for myself, make snide remarks about me never finishing it (which I did, and subsequently wore out in public because it is the cuteness!), and then tell me you want a sweater that will cost about a hundred bucks due to the expensive materials alone.

Would you like platinum, diamond-studded buttons all down the front as well, madam?

A little irritation grips me about that, because I've made her an afghan that she said she didn't want, sweaters for her sons that vanished unworn, and afghans for her kids that vanished similarly. I never saw them after I gave them to the boys. Other things I made ended up never displayed, but headed for yard sales and the like.

So why would I be that stupid? Sorry, I'm not going to step in there and try to convince her that handmade is better than sweatshop-produced, on my thousands of dimes. :) I love her, but she doesn't appreciate handmade things from me.

Back to my afghan with the loose ends to tuck. I spent a lot more money on that than I have any other project, because of the yarn I chose. I designed it myself, though I did use another afghan pattern on the Lion Brand Yarn website as a color suggestion.

Homespun... mmmm... the softest, cuddliest yarn I have ever been able to afford. LOL 8 skeins x roughly $6.50 per skein = well, it's a good thing I was really committed to this yarn. When my order arrived, the yarn was even more luscious in color than I had expected it to be. Purples, heathers, and painterly colors just sang together. Except for the Plum, which rather bothers me, but I suppose it's necessary to have a little jarring contrast in there. No, I don't really believe that, but I put it in there anyway. It's a gorgeous afghan. Just trust me on that because I'm keeping it for myself. It's my substitute for a warm hug.

And yes, I'd make one for a special someone, if there WAS a special someone in my life. I wouldn't hesitate. But he'd have to be a someone who properly appreciates handmade things.

18 Tunisian stitches across x 18 rows x 5 colors per strip. 5 strips. 2 loose ends at every color-changing intersection. I'm not going to do the math, but that's a lot of loose ends to weave in. You can't leave them hanging, because they yarn is a loose spin and the ends will look ratty in short order.

So I suppose I need to commit to a movie on TV and just weave those suckers in. :) Any movies starring dark-haired brooding types on tonight, do you think?

(In case you're wondering, it's not a Heathcliff fixation. It's pure Superman. Oh, I miss Christopher Reeve!)

Water That Burns

Made you look! No, I'm not performing an alchemical transmutation (though I could, if I log into WoW, transmute pyrite bars into True Gold). I'm just talking about my shower earlier today.

There is nothing like a shower that is almost too hot, on a cold winter day, to make you feel alive and safe.

For me, getting the water to the temperature of almost stinging, takes me back every time to a bath at my grandmother's house when I was five. For some reason I remember that it was October, I had been very cold, and my sister was in the tub with me. The water was on the edge of being too hot, and yet it was perfect for warming me up. I think it may have been Halloween, and we'd gone trick-or-treating and gotten cold.

Today I wanted to just stand under that hot water forever, watching my skin get redder and drier as my tension evaporated. :) But I managed to get myself out of there before the water even started to cool off.

Ooh, I hate it when the water gets cold on me in the wintertime. That's a whole different kind of discomfort.

I used the jasmine shower gel I'd gotten during my stay at the Las Vegas MGM Grand during fall break. Having stayed there twice now, I'm beginning to think that Stephen King was describing some other hotel and not that one. On the other hand, perhaps his description of the place comes from an earlier time before it was remodeled.

The Stand was written sometime in the 80s, after all. It's possible there might have been a fountain big enough to dive into back then. :D The lobby fountain standing now is more of a potted plant holder, though it is definitely a beautiful sight.

Trashcan Man's dive into that cold water fountain must have felt every bit as delicious to his burned skin as my nice hot shower did for me today.

Instant warmth when you are cold is a precious thing. I remember being in the second-stage recovery room at a surgery center in Memphis, and eventually being put into a nice recliner, covered with a blanket, and having warm air channeled under the blanket through a big tube. I hadn't realized I was so cold until that warm air began to bathe me. Ohhhh, what a wonderful feeling. I mentioned that this wasn't the first recovery room; the first one was the immediate post-surgery wakeup on the operating room gurney. I remember distinctly my fear at waking up about to vomit, and being absolutely blind.

That turned out okay, though, because even though I literally had gone blind from the sodium pentathol used to keep me asleep, there was a nurse there by my side the whole time. I just couldn't see her, so I didn't know she was there. She took care of everything for me. :) I don't know if the blindness and nausea were normal or if that means I am allergic to the anesthesia, but I'd like to never find out for sure.

On Friday, we took three of our classes outside, because the temperature was right and the kids begged us to. I was out there in my parka, gloves, sunglasses, and at one point with my stadium blanket wrapped around my knees, yet still I was cold. I believe it was the wind that was the problem. The kids were running and getting heated from their activities, but I was sitting still. At some point the blessed sun came out from behind the clouds, and I got that warm-safe-place feeling.

I keep remembering being that cold on Friday. There is a strong possibility that's why I've enjoyed my showers this weekend so thoroughly. ;)

Snoooowwww!

It snowed last night, we got out of school today, and I got my Sunday back after all. LOL

When it comes to snow and snow days, I am still a little kid. :D I love it. Maybe it's because I'm not forced to drive in it on snowy days -- I often don't work on good snowy days -- but it's so pretty and fluffy, how can you not love the way it blankets everything and makes it look clean and charming?

When I was a kid and my sister refused to play with me in the snow (Her HAIR, for heaven's sake - refused to wear a hat because it would mess up her hair... she was definitely a vain girl), I swore that "when I have kids" I'm going to have snowball fights with them, go sledding, build snowmen, and build snow forts with them.

So here we have snow on the ground, a day out of school, and where the heck are my children?? Okay, so I don't have any. I didn't try to "trap me a man" by getting pregnant, and now I'm the weird one for simply being old-fashioned. *rolling eyes*

Truth is, I'm looking over the edge of never being able to *have* any, because as my (by the way, OLDER) sister keeps saying, I'm "getting on up in years." I take offense to that statement. I'm only 39, and I figure I've still got about 5 years left. Right?

So yes, the proverbial biological clock is ticking, but I'm not letting it call my steps. I believe it's part of the divine plan. Either that, or I need to go and have it out with Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis for deliberately making NO strands in the web cross with mine. That's just not right, and if I have them to blame, I'd like to file a complaint, please. Either that or I'll steal their scissors and create one massive snarl in the tapestry of fate.

Aww... I just looked outside and the snow is going away. :( Sad face. It could be gone from all the streets for all I care, as long as there is still a thick blanket on the grass.

I'd still like to see a big enough snow for me to make some colorful snow sculptures. :) I'd be out there with spray bottles of colored water to make it all look extra pretty. And perhaps to make my gorgeous creation into a colorful block of ice that will make one big OWWIE should anyone try to kick it over.

Evil, yes? >:D

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Scarf-i-ness Part 2

When Evan was here today and saw my red scarf, he said, "Wow!!!!"

When I showed him the grey scarf I started late last night, his eyes lit up. :) So when I finished it tonight, I went ahead and gave it to him, and showed him how to wear it to keep his neck nice and warm. :)

It's nice being able to finish something with speed. When I become a vampire, I'll get even more accomplished, as quick as lightning.

I'm kidding.... :)

I did convince Evan to do a few things he didn't really want to do. Finish his milk. (said he drank nearly half of it... I told him I only filled the mug 3/4 to start with and I didn't want him to waste it) Take a shower. (He wanted to wait until he had HIS shower gel, but I had some that was non-girly smelling. Some of my spa aromatherapy gel.) Brush his hair after the shower. :D (I'm such a nag. LOL) I didn't have any trouble convincing him to eat his scrambled eggs, though, because I believe he was fairly hungry at the time.

Earlier today we saw a virtual swarm of birds in the yard. Apparently my yard was the lunch break area for about a thousand birds. They were after the fruit on the Bradford Pear tree and the dogwood tree, most likely. I'm wondering now if the leaves I left lying in my yard somehow made it a better eating spot than the other yards.

It was kind of weird. If we knocked on the window, they all flapped and took off with a huge rushing sound of "Fwoom!" and then came back down a few minutes later. Kinda neat, kinda Hitchcock moment.

Sled... of Cardboard?

My friend Clay made me think of this. He asked on Facebook if anybody knows where he could buy a sled in Mississippi. It seems that his state is suffering the same dilemma as Tennessee -- an impending snow and no access to sleds for sale.

Darn you, retailers! Have you no faith that kiddies will want to go sledding in that rare snow? Or that their parents might want to join them? Seriously, what's up with that?

After various people made suggestions for the sporting goods stores to try, I suggested cardboard. No, it wasn't facetiousness! It was desperation last year that led me to an online search for cardboard as a possible construction material.

And you know what? I found a LOT of mentions online, and even some municipal sledding competitions, for cardboard sleds.

Granted, I'm not going to design a huge vehicle-type sled -- just something simple with a curled front edge, maybe sides, and most likely a nice slick duck tape covering with a generous slathering of bar soap as well. :)

I have a big slick box still in my house that my flatscreen TV came in. Because of the slick photo covering, it won't be useful as a mulch layer, but it might help on a sled. :D And I've got purple and red duck tape here at the house. Wahhaahhaa!

You may be wondering right about now, why don't I go and buy a sled? Because it's a challenge. A freaking challenge to find a sled to buy around here! Also, because I love the challenge of making something useful (or just fun) out of an improbable material. I love to recycle. And wouldn't it be a hoot to tell stories of a cardboard sled?

I just flat-out love making things. I'm totally excited about the red scarf I finished last night, and now I'm halfway finished with a grey one. :D The only thing better than making something useful and nice-looking is having someone else compliment my work and say nice things about me. I am such a sucker for nice comments. :D :D :D

I have considered that my students might be interested in creating a sled during class. After all, my class is an engineering-for-beginners class. (Don't look at me, I had no choice in the matter when they yanked me out of my Language Arts class and put me in there!) We do have a huge bin of cardboard just outside of my classroom. Free materials! On the other hand, getting enough duck tape might just require a grant from a local business. LOL That is some expensive stuff!

Side note - Clay just posted that he has purchased some sheet metal underpinning and is about to engineer something! Yay!!! I'm so jazzed about that potential! GO Clay GO!

Here All Day, with Java?

Evan is spending the day with me, for many reasons. His mom has gone out of town for a couple of weeks, his dad is out of town working in Big Sandy (yes'm on a Sunday -- he needs the work), I'm the one with the new computer and updated World of Warcraft account - LOL, and most likely to take him to Java Cafe sometime. Okay, and he tells me I'm his favorite aunt. :D Brownie points!! I gotta have someone to love me in this world, you know?

So you see, it's not always just ME who is hanging out there at Java Cafe. He loves the place. Said yesterday that it makes him feel "fancy". :) I do not know if we will go today, though. We've been there together three times this week already, and it's rather expensive.

Naturally, a 10 year old boy doesn't understand that $4 for a cup of coffee is pretty high. He doesn't understand how hard it is for grownups to come by money either. And he seems to have some idea that everyone in his family is rich. :)

From my perspective, I guess that's how prices have to be. I imagine that the location is a pretty pricey one, as far as just the rent is concerned, and we all know that I fail at anything business anyway. So I just suck it up and enjoy going there *occasionally*.

Plus, there is the issue of all that caffeine being good for him or not. Yesterday I said the caffeine might be bad for him, and he practically jittered as he said, "Noitisn't! Noitisn't!" It could have been a fine joke if he'd realized just how buzzed he already was. LOL

He arrived at 6:30 this morning and I was too exhausted from a night of little sleep and tons of nightmares of a boiling sea, teeming with sharks, all biting with crunching teeth into my back. I really do hate waking on the edge of tears and in pain. :( It happens too often, though the shark dream is a new one. I was also burning up when I woke, which explains dreaming that I was swimming through boiling water that was pink with blood. I went back to bed.

I told him he could climb in the bed with me, but he said he wanted to sit on the couch and read. I kept fading in and out of consciousness in the bedroom and I just couldn't help it. Quincy would wake me up every now and then to go outside, but then I'd trudge back to bed almost dead asleep. I vaguely remember one of those zombie walks to the kitchen door that I barely even opened my eyes.

I feel a little guilty, but I really needed my Sunday to rest, and I knew that I wouldn't get it after agreeing to babysit. BUT, he needed a place to stay, and I love the little fella dearly. :)

Right now he's in the living room, reading "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and sniffling. I guess he hasn't recovered from his cold. (My cold too, now -- I'm not recovered either.)

I need to figure out what to feed him, because he's extremely picky about eating and I don't keep food in the house for kids. I barely keep food in the house for an adult. You know, if it's not there, I won't eat it. And it's not that I eat much anyway. But at this point in my life I have started to absolutely fear food. I know that if I eat a few ounces, it'll turn into a few pounds on my body.

Hmm. I bet this is how eating disorders start. Except that with me, I'll stop eating and be a freak of nature that doesn't lose a pound. Yeah, I think I'm developing an unhealthy fear of all food.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Scarf-i-ness and a Clarification

* My reason wrapped around asking him out was NOT bogus. (I'm still hoping that I'm just too much of a worrier, and he'll say yes, and maybe yes to dinner too.) :) The favor I asked of him is a real one, because he's great at what he does. Hey, get your mind outta the gutter... I wouldn't know about *that*! :)

In the interest of keeping things light, breezy, and not sad, we bring you this brief interruption from the world of the artist:

Okay, so tonight I finished the red scarf I was crocheting for myself. It took exactly one skein of Candy Apply Red Lion Brand Homespun yarn, and I think it just might be the perfect length for me.

Draped around my neck, it hangs to just below my waist, and looped through itself, it bunches up all around my neck. But that's how I'll be wearing it under my coat, and with it peeking out very cutely at the collar, it doesn't make me look like an idiot.

It's kinda stylin', actually. :D I can see myself wearing it with a long-sleeved T-shirt at work. Think I might make myself another one in grey, and if someone special begs it from me, depending on the someone, I'll probably just give it to them.

It doesn't have long ends hanging when worn like that, but since it is really just a collar supplement for my parka, it doesn't need anything dangling to add bulk to my front. Dangling ends get snagged, caught, pulled, and yanked, and I don't want to be the Isadora Duncan of my generation.

It's unisex, before you start. There's no fringe or girly pattern to it - just soft, crunchy texture that feels snuggly around my neck. So the boys may be getting one each as a gift.

If I did have a fella, I'd definitely make him one. :)

Quincy doesn't seem to think that a scarf is the right accessory for him, on the other paw. He really does prefer a pullover. I should find his. I just hate the way they make his long beautiful hair mat up.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Okay, so... I did it.

I did ask the guy out, *sort of*. Yes, I did it in an email, and of course I know how absolutely lame I was to do that. I can't help feeling that my doing the asking is just fundamentally *wrong* anyway. It's truly the last time I will let myself feel any emotions for someone who doesn't express any interest in me to start with.

Admittedly, it was a cowardly way around asking him directly, but I'm getting to the point of not caring one way or the other about it, and I suspect that may be God's lesson for me in all of this. (Go ahead and ask, because the ones you want to say yes will always say no, and you shouldn't waste energy getting your feelings hurt over it anymore.)

The rather pale response I got is a little hard to fathom, from my point of view. I don't know if I embarrassed him, stepped on his toes, or just made him think, "Oh God, please just not HER." Could be, you know. Maybe he was avoiding my second, almost unhidden question about having dinner with me.

I could second-guess the whole situation all day long and never pull the truth out of my wishful thinking. My band-aid analogy still stands. I'd rather be told right up front there's no interest, than for me to keep imagining that there might be some inkling of a chance. Rip my band-aid off fast. It'll hurt, naturally. And it might even tear my fragile skin and make it bleed a little bit. But I'll heal. I'll get over it. Hopefully I will learn and just give up on that entire failed section of my time as a human.

I thought I had killed the sweet little girl that still believes in fairy tales. She's the one my father regrets has vanished. She won't be standing in her crib in the morning with a huge impish grin, holding her arms out and waiting for Daddy to get her out of bed. If she's smart, she'll stay in bed with the covers pulled over her face.

I'm a bit dismayed that some part of me is still thinking that way when I know that real people generally disappoint you, and you can't necessarily point the finger of blame at them. You can't help who you love, and you can't help who disgusts you. *sigh*

I'm not going to say who he *is* here, and I may not tell anyone who doesn't already know I was working up my nerve to ask him. My brother, sister, and nephews all know, and a few friends at work encouraged me to just give it a try. They seem to think I'm worth knowing. :)

Holding on to that belief myself is giving me a little trouble. With every day that passes in my life, I understand that it's far too late for me to be trying to find someone.

I would like to know if I just messed up the one or two chances I might have ever had, or (suspicion alights) if there ever really was any chance for me. Oooh, yeah, I have been thinking about that for the past 10 years.

Maybe it's because of what happened with Jake, but in all honesty, I know it wasn't my fault because he was lying to me the whole time. He was just trying to hide from his baby's mother. But she finally caught him and saddled him with 3 more kids, rapid-fire, one right after the other. He's obviously a man of weak character that I didn't need in my life, but he left me with a feeling that I wasn't even good enough for him. If I had known about the truth, I would have broken up with *him* and told him he should face his responsibility to his child. Finding out made me feel sick inside. That poor kid.

Oh sure, "There is someone for everyone," but did you ever think that if that's absolutely true, that it might just be an average? :D Really -- I'm not kidding. Now throw into that mix how many people have double- and triple-dipped with their multiple marriages, and you'll realize that leaves a lot of people with no one at all.

But you know, it's all okay. I have had my expectations really low for a long time. :) Don't expect much and you won't be disappointed, even though it does make all of the color drain out of the world.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Art Journal - Heart Surgery


Yes, I believe Andy Rhodes is right... reminds me of the opening for _Tales From the Darkside_ as well. I was going for a blood vessel look with the trees. I inverted the colors and boosted the saturation after I colorized the picture with red. (In case you were wondering how I Photoshopped that, and I know you weren't... LOL)

The beginning of that show always gave me the cold chill up my spine. I think it was the sound effects. And that high-contrast color-inversion didn't help much either. Cannibals cooking people in their hot-tub... ewww... Liked the one with the vampires, though. Marcia Cross must have been a teenager then!

Art Journal - Snow


Not quite what I was hoping to achieve. :)
I meant that if the weather is going to start making my bones ache, it would be worthwhile if a bit of lovely soft and fluffy snow would go along with it.

God's Plan for Me

I have always believed that my life is running according to God's master plan. Sure there is a little room for free will, but ultimately, things happen because they were planned that way.

It does make me wonder why some people work so hard to have happy lives, yet never have things that they want and need; while others just sit back on their duffs and just absorb all the happiness that comes their way.

Yes, I realize that I probably don't know the turmoil they may be going through inside, but at the same time, it irks me a little bit that there seems to be a necessary tradeoff between what I have and what I need and want.

Of course, anybody reading this would say that I don't have the right to complain, because I don't have their problems, their bills, their unloveable spouse... And they always assume that I'm talking about material possessions. Basically, I have what I need. I worked very hard and sacrificed a bit to get to the point where I am today. The only debt I have is my mortgage, and I have a home to show for it -- one that I'm trying to improve. I have two degrees, but I paid for them myself with scholarships and extra jobs. And so on...

Sure, I could have spent my 20s and 30s living a wild and free life, but I was relatively quiet in that respect because I was looking for something I still haven't found yet. Suddenly I have jumped the demographic from young to old, and my life is still devoid of love. Occasionally I feel it mildly from my family, but what I really wanted was to have a family of my own. A husband, children, grandchildren... okay, stop me if you've heard this from me already. :)

Please do not blame the divorce rate or even your own unhappy relationships (or lack thereof) on me. Your heartbreaks were not my fault! I can't ride in and save anyone myself. Hey, nobody ever rode in to my rescue. :) I learned to save myself. After a lengthy punishment for making bad choices, of course. You'd think I'd learn somewhere along the line, not to trust anyone. I still keep on doing it, stupid as that may sound, and then I have the nerve to be surprised when they disappoint me. (Pollyanna has got to go.)

I'm not too damaged to make anyone happy. There were some pretty awful things that happened in my life, but I've dealt with them and pushed them to the back of the shelf where they won't bite any more. I don't have rabies from the bites and I get a tetanus shot every 2 or 3 years, because I'm clumsy. See? I've had all my shots and I'm house-trained too. LOL

On the other hand, with the way things have gone over the course of my life, trying to be a nice person has seemed pretty pointless. If I look at it in terms of just needing to make God happy, I'm on the right track. I'm sure that should be my sole concern here, but I just can't help wishing that living right (or as right as I can) didn't leave me in solitary confinement forever. It sure does feel like solitary -- it's true. I feel alone. It doesn't stop me from praying, but sometimes I really do just wish for a hint.... Just one... please?

The "Footprints" poem made a huge impression on me when I was young, so I keep hoping for a sign, but I still feel that would be out of line to pray for that. Who am I, after all? I'm nobody and nothing. What the heck am I doing here anyway? I feel like a grain of sand on an endless beach, destined to never find my way into an oyster shell. Forever the outsider.

Maybe some day it will be clarified for me. :) You think?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

3 Years Ago Today

If I can find the original blog post about this, I'll paste it in here. I'd rather not have to re-remember it all. Still too fresh on my heart.

3 years ago today, I got a phone call from my sister. Our mother's home health nurses said she had only 3 days left to live.

I got there as fast as I could, and they were right. In exactly three days, she died. She and I were alone together, and after I finished talking to her (I'm pretty sure she somehow heard me, even though she wasn't wearing her hearing aids), she opened her eyes wider, looked right at me, and died.

I'd given her a dose of liquid morphine not long before that, so I know she wasn't in pain -- she was just slowly drowning, fighting for every breath. I remember wondering if she was afraid, but she didn't look like it while she was holding my hand.

It probably sounds strange, but I still don't feel that I deserved to be the one who saw her go. She was my mother, but somehow I still don't feel that I was worthy of that moment.

Autumn Memories of my Grandmother

Autumn Memories of my Grandmother
Every time I walk through a grocery store this time of year and see the caramel apple wraps, I think of my paternal grandmother.

When my sister went to Kindergarten, I was left with my grandmother all day while my father was working. I was four and this was during the time when my brother, sister, father, and I were living in my grandmother's 2 bedroom tiny little house while my mother was presumably enjoying herself in our 3 bedroom family home that she'd had our father kicked out of.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if it was just part of a plan on my mother's part to have a nice new house all to herself and at the same time rid herself of the nuisance of husband and children. Other times I suspect her thinking was skewed by her drinking and other influences I've heard about. Is it disrespectful to speculate along these lines, and will I be very truly sorry for thinking this way when she's gone? (I originally wrote this in 2007, a year and a half before her death. Yes, I have regrets for thinking this way.)

I remember a few things about those days with my grandmother, other than the time she chased me into the bathroom and broke her paddle swinging at me, but hitting the toilet instead. I don't remember being a bad kid, but dad's always telling me I was "a little imp." Hmm. Small demon, huh? I hope I wasn't as bad as that sounds. I remember plenty of things about everyone around me, but I can't quite get a sense of myself. It's like I don't exist unless I have something which mirrors my reflection back to me.

I remember a time that she bought a watermelon from Mr. Reddick when he came by with his produce truck. She bought a lot of veggies from him, especially sweet corn. The watermelon incident still hurts me to think about it, becaues i sked her if I could carry the melon in from the truck - up the stairs from the street and up the stairs from the yard to the porch - about 8 all together. At first she wasn't going to let me carry it, because it was heavy and she said I'd drop it. (And let's face it, I was a clumsy kid even then at age 4.) But I begged, and she let me do it.

And I dropped the watermelon right in front of the door, on the porch, after I'd managed my way up all those steps. I remember crying for several reasons. First and foremost, I cried because I was really looking forward to eating the watermelon, which was a rare treat. I also cried because I was embarrassed at having screwed up so royally in front of nice Mr. Reddick. I cried because I knew my grandmother was disappointed with me. And last, I cried because I was afraid I was going to get a spanking for dropping the watermelon.

I remember Grandmomma didn't even seem angry about my accident. Maybe a little impatient because of the mess. I guess I was so torn up about the whole thing that she didn't even think about spanking me.

I think Mr. Reddick gave us a second watermelon to replace it, and things worked out better as the day wore on. I don't remember being sad anymore about the watermelon, but I do remember being surprised that he gave us a second melon.

On one of those autumn days when apples were coming in, I remember that she got some of those sheets of caramel that are put over apples on sticks, then placed in the oven to melt down over the fruit. I recall that I asked Grandmomma why the caramel was in those weird sheets instead of in wrappers that I was used to (Dad would sometimes bring home a bag of Brach's Pick-A-Mix candy with caramels in it). She told me that it was so children could make caramel apples without anybody having to get burned melting the caramel.

And then if I'm not mistaken, she told me to stop trying to sneak bites of the caramel wraps before we'd put them on the apples. LOL :D Even now when I pass them in the store, I'm sorely tempted to buy and eat, what is to me a caramel roll up.

I do remember that after the apples were made and I was happily munching on mine, she wasn't eating one. I asked her if she wasn't going to eat one, and she said she'd have sugar problems if she ate all that candy. She would make desserts for us pretty often, and barely touch them or not eat them at all. Maybe her diabetes was the reason she made her pear salad so often - a dessert which never appealed to us children. It was a pear half on a lettuce leaf, with shredded cheddar cheese and a maraschino cherry on top. All I remember ever wanting to eat was the cherry LOL.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Broccoli, Nacho Cheese, and the Lake House

Yes, I really did go there. :) Last night, the cheese "sauce" on the broccoli just seemed like a suggestion -- it was hardly anything I could taste on the veggie. And let's face it, I only eat broccoli for the cheese sauce, or dip, or whatever. A means to the end of making me eat green vegetables.

Tonight when I was heating my leftovers for dinner, my one meal of the day, I decided to toss in some of the Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup in the cabinet, with some milk. The flavor was a bit strange to me at first, as I was expecting cheddar cheese (or some facsimile thereof that was supposed to pass for it).

Now I still have leftover broccoli, enough for a couple more meals. Bleh. I get so TIRED of eating the same thing day after day just to avoid wasting food!

The idea to make soup out of it did occur to me, but I took my blender to our house at Kentucky Lake, so that we could make margaritas. At the time, none of us could really afford to just buy a blender for twice-a-month visits, so I thought I'd be the big person and lend mine.

And it's never come home. Furthermore, I don't go to the lake very often. I would, but what's the point of me driving two hours, alone, and then sitting in the house, alone, for a few days. I can do that right here at home, without having to drive.

This is a point of contention with my father. The lake house was supposed to be a big family get-together, and we just aren't getting together. My sister often has to work, my brother is working a lot of weekends now, and though I have every weekend off, being there by myself isn't any fun.

He says that I should take my friends. Eh, I don't have any friends that want to babysit me up there. All of my friends are married or so attached at the hip to their boyfriends they do not want to go to the lake with me. I don't have any close friends who are single.

I told Dad that if I had a boyfriend, I'd gladly take him up there for some romantic weekends. Ha ha. I could see the hair on the back of his neck stand up on that comment. His ears turned red. His eyes widen.

Then I let him off the hook with, "Oh Dad, you know I don't do that sort of thing." I believe it makes him feel happier to know there's absolutely no romance in my life than for me to have someone special I might make out with.

Monsters in the dark

When I was a little girl, my father would drag me (sometimes literally) through every local haunted house that would spring up around Halloween. More than once, I heard him say gruffly, "Ain't no kid of mine gonna be scared of the dark."

Even as a little girl, he would send me to prove I wasn't afraid, through our long, darkened hallway, all the way down to their bedroom. My task was to find my way in total darkness through a hairpin turn in their bedroom, walk all the way into their shower, and knock on the wall shared with our living room, to prove my bravery.

Inevitably he would take the opportunity to do something horrible to scare me. Even then I knew it wasn't the darkness I should be scared of -- it's what waits in the darkness. First the setup, and then the gotcha, knowing full well that small child is afraid and taking advantage of it to frighten them even worse.

I can't remember a single time I didn't come back crying and terrified to a room with my family laughing at me. Every single one of them. Funniest thing they ever saw. Hello, alienation.

Because I had failed the test, I'd be doomed to go through every local "spook house" that sprung up in the fall, under my father's duress. I remember being on the steps of one and locking my legs so that he couldn't get me up on the platform and through the door. He yanked me up the steps and on the way up, I cut my knee. I remember he kept a hold on my arm and pulled me through the whole thing, bleeding and crying.

And he made that statement that always made me too scared to breathe, "You better stop crying or I'm gonna give you something to cry about!"

(At some point in that era, I remember hearing on the news that people really have been murdered in haunted houses. The remains of a Wild West outlaw named Elmer McCurdy had even been in one for years before someone discovered that was a real wax-dipped body in there!)

I remember thinking that he didn't care that I was hurt, and freaking bleeding, for gosh sakes. Not once did I have the thought my Dad was being benevolent in his attempts to cure me of my fear of monsters. The jury is still out on that idea, and I'm 39 years old. I know my father loves me, but I have to wonder how he got that whole misguided idea about how to "cure" me of my fears.

Even then I knew that darkness itself is fairly harmless.

But monsters hide in the darkness. If you are a myopic small child, you get to see a lot of them illuminated by the moonlight in your bedroom. They move, though they make no sound. (Well, sometimes there are rustling sounds.) They come after you in your nightly nightmares. And you know that no matter how much you cry out, nobody is going to come running in the night to comfort you.

I truly can't recall a single time anyone woke me up to tell me it was just a nightmare. Sometimes I would wake myself up afterward, shaking and crying, desperately peeping out at the rest of the room from my covers, hoping that the creatures didn't follow me out from my dreams.

During that part of my childhood, I learned that the worst monsters don't skulk under cover of darkness. They are able to hide from most adults. But they show their true faces to children who are too afraid to defend themselves and can't put words together to describe what is happening.

During the fall, I went with my sister, her younger son, and her boyfriend to "Magic Screams" in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They had the "Magic Springs" theme park open at night, Halloween themed, and with two spook houses. I wasn't worried to go in the haunted houses, but wouldn't you know it, both times I wound up being dead last in the group, and they always made me shut the door. I was a little angry about that and the fact that my sister was horse-laughing at me, thinking she'd get a real treat when I collapsed in a heap sometime soon, probably wetting my pants as well.

The first one was called "House of Phobias" and got to laugh at her, because the whole thing fairly freaked her out. She screamed and squealed and yelled "Oh my God!" through the whole thing. On the other hand, I was always able to see the people in their costumes coming at me. I realized that whenever I turned and stared straight at them (and I don't have a pleasant dead-stare) they always went right back to their corners with a "why bother" shrug. hahah. No fear. I was bored, even when the guy came out and chased us with a chainsaw.

The only part of that place that bothered me was the claustrophobia room. I don't know how they did it, but when I passed through the black curtains, the curtains were pressing in on me like they were filled with air. Consequently, my lungs were devoid of air. I'm a bit claustrophobic. There are worse things to be embarrassed about.

When we went to San Antonio to see Tyler's Basic Training graduation, we went though the "Ripley's Believe It or Not" haunted house. Once again, I was dead last in the group. *sigh* Same scenario, different details, except that in this one, people would wait till we were around the corner and then come running up from behind, yelling and screaming at us. Aha, tricky, tricky. I have to admit, the first time it happened, it startled me. I was ready for it after that, but with the dust, the smell of all the latex and fake blood, and that crazy spinning light tunnel at the end, I came close to vomiting when we finally left.

You may remember an episode of "The Bionic Woman" with Bigfoot many eons ago. At some point in that episode, there is a spinning light tunnel. I suppose that Bigfoot is such a mythical creature that he must move through a passageway beyond space and time, instead of being a family's practical joke for many decades. Rows of lights that circle around an arch over and under the walking path. The lights move, giving the illusion that you're in a spinning tunnel.

(So in case you didn't already get the news -- Bigfoot was a hoax. When the original man in the Bigfoot suit died a few years ago, his family spilled the beans with his blessing.)

In that tunnel, I became so dizzy that I closed my eyes to walk and held on to the person in front of me (Evan, I think). It didn't help. I still felt like that walkway was going to zip out from under my feet. At the end of the tunnel was an elevator that only went down.

Fortunately, it wasn't the elevator to Hell. It was just the elevator down to the first floor of the building, because we had completed the haunted house.