Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm 40! The freakin' bounty!

Okay, so I turned the big 40 today! I'm so happy to be above ground! And as my wise cousin, Tonya, pointed out, with our Welch ancestry, I won't be middle aged until I'm 50.

This is the best birthday ever! It's cool and rainy and I've had tons cards and gifts and facebook birthday wishes. And to top it all off, I get to spend this rainy fabulous day snuggled in tight with my hubby Mr. Daddy Man and our little munchkin Eli, aka Jiggy Man.
Oh...I forgot to mention that I will be shoving chocolate chip cookies by Critty, pretzel m&ms and farmers market cheese bread in my face all the day long, unless I decide to depart to pick up a movie, in which case I may as well take my party size bag-o-sweet and salty goodness with me. And honestly, I'm sure I'll tote the cookies. I mean they are in a tin and travel well.
So anyways, I woke up this morning to a fat pile of gifts and cards from some of my favorite peeps in the universe! It's almost like the big bang occurred again and poof! A new world of cookies, candy, kraut, preserves, butterflies, soap, owls, kitchenware and flower power was created. Ahhhh. Happiness!
Oh...I almost forgot the unending pleasures of spider plants and cheese bread and, of course, PEACE! I got the little spider plant w/baby this morning at the farmers market. And just look at this flower tin of loveliness, courtesy of Wanda at Black Dog Emporium in Lexington, NC. My favorite antique shop! The Peace notebook is from me to me, and already contains some top secret notations on future blog material.
How can one go wrong? It's virtually impossible with my new flower power popcorn bowl/window flower/wall sconce shade/glass piece of joy. Just look how pretty it looks next to my spider plant.
So clearly Mr. Daddy Man knows the way to my heart is food and hand made soap. He managed to get me every single thing I could have possible dreamed of wanting. Except one owl! But his dad bought me one, so we're all good. Check his wise ass out! "Eat the apple, not the m&ms!"
Just zoom in on the kraut--I'm telling you, it's the best in the whole wide world--and the fig and scuperdine preserves Daddy Man got me at Black Dog! These are Heather of Black Dog's grandma's recipes. The stuff of legends.
There were funny and teary cards and kitchenware! I LOVE kitchenware too much. Eli recently destroyed both my red bowls (made in the USA!), so he replaced them for my birthday and threw in a snazzy red cutting board and spoon. Go Eli!
And finally, last but certainly not least, is my amazingly blue and fabulous butterfly. It glows like a fire opal! This butterfly (also found at Black Dog...if you are interested) is mounted by the sweetest little old man, Bill Parke. He does all the work himself and don't worry! The butterflies are not slaughtered. They live their full lives and then are collected after they die. I've wanted one forever and now I have one to enjoy, unless Eli steals it from me. He's making plans already. I can see it in his eyes.
Well, I will go now, snuggle in tight to my Mr. and Eli, and wallow in my 40s bounty! The goal is to finish off all the cookies, bread and candy today, for tomorrow is a new day. Diet day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shampoo Night or A Cat Took a Dump in My Hair

FlexImage by carianoff via Flickr
I was eight years old when I brought the kitten home. It was the summer I started riding horses, and to pay for my lessons I worked in the barn. I had the usual work to do: feeding and watering the horses, shoveling out stalls and sweeping the barn. One of my favorite chores was feeding the barn cats. Every morning they would scurry to the door of the tack room to await their feast of Mighty Cat. I served it to them on shiny aluminum pie pans, like they were royalty.

About once a month, a barn worker would arrive with a new stray to add to the growing population of the farm. Sometimes they were dogs. Sometimes cats. Once we even got a little white goat. But I will never forget the day when Gina Roberts brought a sack of kittens to the barn.

As she crossed the bridge over Miller’s Creek, Gina saw a burlap sack at the edge of the water. I doubt she would have noticed it except that she saw the sack moving. Working at a barn, one learns the methods people use to dispose of unwanted animals. Some are shot. Others are dropped off at the animal shelter. And some people simply put them in a bag and toss them into the river. As soon as she saw that burlap sack move, Gina stopped the car and ran to the edge of the creek. She opened the bag and found two kittens, a yellow one and a tabby. That month the barn population grew by two kittens. I named the yellow kitten Laverne, and the tabby I called Shirley. Shirley was prissy. She had a soft, dainty mew; but Laverne had a loud nasal meow. She followed me around the barn while I worked, climbing the leg of my jeans.

My daddy never liked cats much. He said they stunk up the house and climbed all over the furniture. Daddy had his hunting dogs, and they had a little dog, Sam, once, but he stayed outside. I have a vague recollection of a big fluffy cat being stuck at the top of a telephone pole, but it wasn’t ours. I had the usual nameless goldfish, and a guinea pig named Honeydew. Don’t get me wrong. These were all great pets, but I wanted a cat more than anything.

My mother was sympathetic to my wishes for a cat. One evening during the week of Laverne and Shirley’s arrival, she picked me up from the barn. That’s when I sprung the question on her.

“Mom, can I take Laverne home? Just for tonight.”

“Now Joy, you know how your daddy feels about cats.”

“Please, Mom? Just for one night.”

“We’ve got to wash your hair tonight. And your daddy will be upset if he knows we’ve carried a cat in the house.”

“Oh please, Mom?”

Then she sighed and gave me the look. “Well I guess so. But we can’t let your daddy find out.”

Needless to say, I was elated. I made painstaking efforts to create a cozy box for Laverne’s ride home. I gathered some straw and unrolled leg wraps from the tack room and placed them inside a small cardboard box. Laverne fit nicely inside of it and seemed to like her new bed. She never made a noise on the drive home.

We pulled into the garage and my mother quietly carried Laverne up the stairs to the foyer. She left me there with the kitten until she scouted out the den and bedroom. In a few seconds, she came back and motioned for me to come upstairs.

Your daddy’s in the bathroom. Take the kitten to your room, and close the door.”

With the box clutched against my stomach, I smuggled Laverne into my bedroom. I put the box between my bed and the wall and draped the corner of the bedspread over the top of it. After dinner, my mother carried small bowls of milk and water to my room for Laverne. The kitten lapped at the milk with her tiny pink tongue. Afterwards, I lined a shoebox with plastic and straw to make a litter box, which I put on the floor at the end of the bed. Once I had Laverne comfortably situated, I went to get my mother. It was Wednesday night – shampoo night.

At eight years of age, I had a tremendous head of hair. It was so long that it often got caught in the waist of my jeans. Rats’ nests formed in my hair daily. My mother had no small task in maintaining it, and to lessen her turmoil, she set aside one night a week to wash it.

I hated the forty-five minute ritual. I would bend over the side of the bathtub and hang my head under the faucet. My mother would dump a handful of Flex onto my head, lather it up and rinse it out. I still hate the smell of wella-balsom. She never used enough conditioner because when she was finished, I was still left with a mop of knots.

Drying my hair was the most time-consuming part of the procedure. My mother would brush and blow-dry my hair into a silken straightness that amazed even me. And after a little less than an hour, I would emerge from the bathroom ready to battle the next week of tangles.

That night at bedtime, my mother tucked me in so my father would not discover our furry contraband. She set Laverne on the bed next to me and turned off the light. My dreams that night were filled with kittens. I dreamed that my father happened upon Laverne, fell instantly in love with her, and insisted that we keep her. It was the soundest, most glorious sleep I can remember. At least until I awoke to a terrible smell.

I turned on the lamp on my nightstand, opened my bedroom door and tiptoed to my parents’ bedroom. I quietly went to my mother’s side of the bed and tapped her on the shoulder. She woke up, and I whispered for her to come to my room. She discovered what I already knew as soon as she stepped in my room. The odor was terrible. First, we checked the litter box, but it was empty. And Laverne was still on the bed. We searched my bedspread and sheets, underneath pillows and stuffed animals. We looked under the bed and in the closet. We searched for about twenty minutes. Then, just as we were about exasperated, I reached to scratch the back of my head. Tears began to fall from my eyes, and with a whimper, I informed my mother of my discovery.

“I found it.”

She turned my head around and said, “Well, I swanny!”

I don’t have to tell you that it took my mother forty-five minutes to wash and dry my hair again. And I don’t have to tell you how hard it is to do all of that without waking my father. That night, with my head bent for a second time under that dreaded faucet, I learned to cry in silence.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Quick, Easy and PAINLESS hair removal...Whaaaat? BS!

Bubba SasquatchImage by roadkillbuddha via Flickr
What exactly was I thinking when I decided it would be a good thing to fire lasers at my crotch? Who the hell knows? But to answer the obvious questions....No, I was not chugging pitchers of Long Island Ice Teas, smoking weed like Cypress Hill or taking PCP. Please! I ended those days long ago. Uh, no. I was not preparing for a job in the adult film industry....I have stage fright...really! Truth is I was seduced by the idea of never again in my lifetime picking up a freaking razor. Shaving underarms is a pain in the ass...or armpit. Bikini area? Just shoot me.

Seriously, is it too much to ask to just throw on a bathing suit without shaving first? I hate shaving, and while I love the idea of being such a great feminist that I refuse to shave anywhere, I'm just not that cool. Or brave. I mean really, you should have seen my legs after wearing a cast for 30 days. Full on Yeti!

Ladies, listen and listen good. (insert picture of my mother with her head cocked slightly to the side, scowling and pointing a finger). Nothing, and I mean nothing, is painless or quick about laser hair removal. They should call it razor hair removal. The pain is paralleled only by childbirth and I know this to be a fact.

I had to interrupt my razor hair removal for my pregnancy. And during childbirth I actually remembered the Jedi nurse telling me childbirth was equally painful. (insert picture of Jedi nurse hooked to lie detector and needle pointing to TRUTHFUL). And that is the main reason I have not continued on with it. I'm a straight up chicken. Besides, I figure my son Eli will eventually worry the patches of hair left on my body right out of their follicles before he leaves home, so why bother?

Because I've already paid for it! To the tune of three grand! Yes, it is true but shameful. Please note: It was pre poverty. Believe me, I could think of better things to spend three grand on now. Like a queen size mattress. Student loans. My son's first car. Okay, he's only 18 months old but he'll be driving. Some day. And I'll need car money.

For now I'll just continue charging that old Lady Remington, at least until I get brave enough for the pain or cool enough to be hairy.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gone Pa

My son Eli will be 18 months old on July 24. In the office he has a bookshelf with his books on it, and on the shelf above is a small framed photograph of my parents. My father passed away in October of 2003 and my mother passed in March of 2005. Not having my parents here to share with Eli is one of the most difficult things about being a mother.

Today Eli picked up that picture of my parents and started jabbering away. He carried the photograph to his little pallet on the floor--his cozy place, the place he wallows--and kissed it. After a few minutes he brought the picture back in the office and put it on the floor. I sat it on my desk and in a few minutes he came over to see it again. I pointed to my mother and told him, "This is your Granny Jackie Beshears." I pointed to my father and said, "This is your Granddaddy Beshears." He pointed to my dad and said, "Pa. Gone. Gone Pa." Then he looked toward the hall and waved and said "Bye Bye."

I cannot tell you how overcome I was with joy and sadness, all at once. Just to feel my father was near me again, that my parents are a part of Eli's life. The tears were pouring but I didn't let Eli see me cry. I wouldn't want him to feel like what he's done is wrong. Now I feel a connection with my parents and Eli that I hadn't felt before. And for this I am grateful.

My parents, Bill and Jackie Beshears, in the 70s

Monday, July 12, 2010

Our Garden

This year we started our first garden. We began with planting three blueberry bushes. From there we built one above ground bed lined with newsprint and bordered with concrete blocks. We had a good rich mix of dirt to plant our cauliflower and 196 onions. Yes, I love onions. My garden monster sister Gina gave us some zucchini, squash, cucumber and tomato plants but we were too busy for a while to get them planted. Time....this was our main problem.

Still, my cauliflower was gigantic! Too gigantic, in fact. And with all the onions we were out of room. But my cauliflower was eaten by bugs, so three days after Memorial Day I pulled it up and planted the cucumbers, squash, more tomatoes and zucchini.

At this point, the onions are all pulled and, while my neighbor's garden is all finished, I'll be picking my second cucumber and my first tomato today! We are also getting a small but steady stream of blueberries even this first year.

Here are some pictures of our garden taken a few days ago. Blueberries first!

Ahhhh...Yummy blueberries, which Eli loves to eat. And we are so happy about that!

Cucumbers and squash...not sure which kind yet. Ha! Tomatoes and, of course, the garden frog.

Now these tomatoes are bigger and almost red! The biggest one will be picked today!
This is my volunteer squash...butternut squash we think. Steve calls it my pet squash. To the right of it was my pet tater plant that produced 5 ugly little potatoes I was too afraid to eat.
Hope we get enough veggies to share. Next year we will plow a big spot in the back for a whopper garden. Wish us luck tilling and mulching this fall and winter. Compost should be easier with the compost tumbler my sister Robyn is giving us. Woohoo!