Friday, November 28, 2014

Forty-Six Years Ago...

...a child was born.

Which, of course, means that today is my birthday. It's been so nice to be with my family to celebrate today, So far, I've blown out the candle on a cinnamon powdered donut (one of my favorites), I've been gifted with presents that include the most awesome vintage Santa (Thank you, Barbie!), circa 1968 (just like me) and another piece to add to my Rankin Bass figurine collection (photos to follow, soon), and, I have the privilege of taking some photos of the people I love.

Later today, my mom, sister, daughter, and I are going antique hunting and we plan to eat dinner as a family in a really nice restaurant in Mount Pilot later this evening. It's going to be a birthday to remember, I think.

Speaking of birthdays to remember, while I've been here in Mayberry, I have been scanning photos from my parents' old albums and it seems apropos to post a couple of them here, today.

First birthday. Surprisingly, I can remember that stuffed donkey. I must have had him for quite some time. I also got my sock monkey that year; it was a gift made for me by my Grandma Molly and I have it still, today. Granted, the pantyhose used to stuff it are disintegrating to dust, making it precarious to even touch the poor thing, but, I still love it.

Apparently, the traditional gift for the second birthday is a set of cleaning tools; I believe I most enjoyed the broom. I was a strange child.

My fourth birthday party apparently consisted of my sisters and one guest, my friend, Clifford. I actually posted this picture on Facebook today, in response to birthday wishes sent from Cliff. He's probably still laughing.

This was my fifth birthday and I remember it quite well because I got to pick anything in the world that I wanted for dinner and my mom promised to serve it on fine china with candlelight. I chose spaghetti, I mean, what's fancier than that? Also, I got a pair of clip-on earrings, which made the whole thing that much more sophisticated. And, lest you begin to think that I only associated with my sisters and boys, the dark haired kid at the table was my neighbor, Nancy. And, despite the unusually androgynous (for the time) haircut, she was, in fact, a girl.

Sixth birthday, and, I'm guessing it was Thanksgiving, because we were at my Grandma Molly's house. I can tell from the blue naugahyde kitchen chair. Also, because I was born on Thanksgiving, and my birthday falls on that day every six years or so.

Year eight, and I celebrated with my good friend, Melanie. Special shout-out to the Country Time Lemonade cans on the table; that shit was delicious.

This is the last birthday picture that I found in the albums that I had access to this past week; I believe I was ten that year, and, apparently had no friends with whom to celebrate. But, that's ok; I had my sister, who, if you look back at most of the previous photos, was with me pretty much from the beginning (you can even see her arm in the picture of my second birthday).

She's here today, too. In fact, it was her idea to stick a ginormous candle in a donut for me this morning. She also gave me the vintage Santa that I am now looking forward to using on my front porch. I'm kind of blessed to have had her all these years and I'm really glad I got to spend this birthday with her.

Happy birthday to me!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It's Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, stuffed to the brim with my mom's traditional sage dressing.

I made the cranberry sauce last night and it is chilling in the fridge; I used pomegranate juice and wine in the recipe this year and mom thinks it is my best effort, yet.

There are two pies resting on the sideboard, pumpkin and chocolate (for the non-pumpkin eaters).

The rolls that mom and I made are ready for warming and I can't wait to dip them into Mom's giblet gravy.

It's going to be a delicious Thanksgiving.

As I type this, four-out-of-seven of us are still sleeping.

Three of us are enjoying coffee and quiet conversation.

Two dogs are snoring at our feet.

It's going to be a peaceful and relaxing Thanksgiving.

Later this morning, we will watch the Macy's parade together.

The boys will engage in an epic battle of Madden Football on the Xbox.

The adults will take phone calls from friends and family, far and near, wishing a Happy Thanksgiving.

And we will miss my Dad at the table.

It's going to be a bittersweet Thanksgiving.

But, we are together. We are healthy. We have enough to eat and roofs over our heads. We have a lifetime of memories to see us through. We are still a family.

It's going to be a blessed Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

About That Pie

My mom didn't feel like I did justice to the pumpkin pie post, so, I thought I would share the recipe as well as the process involved in making a pie from scratch. If you're the kind of person who already does this, I apologize in advance for boring you with this recipe. If, however, you are the kind of person who buys their pies from the bakery or from the frozen food section of the local Piggly Wiggly, you may find this useful.

The recipe starts with whole, fresh, sugar pumpkins. You can easily find these in the produce section of that Piggly Wiggly this time of year, or, you can slave over them in your garden all summer long, battling squash bugs like it's your job (which, it will be; squash bugs are the devil).

Slice the pumpkins open, scoop out the seeds and slimy membranes (reserve for roasted seeds, if that's how you roll), place cut-side-down on a cookie sheet, poke rind with a sharp knife in several places to allow steam to escape, and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size and thickness of the pumpkin. You will know the pumpkin is done when a fork will insert easily into the rind when poked (dirty!).

When the pumpkins are done baking, allow to cool until they can be easily handled. Peel the rind off the pumpkin, place flesh in a bowl and puree with an immersion blender until smooth (or, use a blender. Or, a food processor. Or, if you are feeling super-Hulk-like rage, beat the hell out of that shit with your bare hands, whatever floats your boat).

Allow the puree to sit for an hour or so and drain off any excess liquid that accumulates. Then, in a mixing bowl, blend together:

1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup hot water

Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for about an hour at 375 degrees. The center of the pie will be slightly jiggly, but, don't freak out and stick it back in the oven; it's done, I promise.

Now, hopefully, your pie will be lovely and Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving-picture-perfect, mine, however, turned out super-unattractive this year. I blame the homemade crust that Mom insisted we make (I suck at crust! The Pillsbury Company exists for a reason!). However, whipped cream can hide a multitude of sins, so, if your pie is ugly like mine, go forth and build a three or four inch whipped cream hat on that sucker and call it good.

Or, you know, just eat the damn thing; it may look ugly, but it tastes amazing.

True story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And Then There Was Pie

Today has been a little more productive than yesterday, heavy emphasis on the "little". I did manage to meet Phoebe for lunch and I baked the pumpkin pie for our holiday dessert.

The pie is pumpkin, from scratch; I even used the pumpkins that I grew in my garden. And, I wore an apron, which, makes it a bit more of an authentic effort at the "I baked all day" fantasy than beating an egg and spices into pumpkin puree while wearing jeans and a t-shirt does.

In my mind, anyway.

Now, I'm sitting in a recliner, counting the minutes until The Teenager and Barbie arrive from the Front Range, at which point, the party can really get started. And, by "party", I mean foot rubs and wine drinking (The wine drinking will exclude The Teenager, just in case you assumed that I have lost my parenting edge).

Tomorrow, Hugh and the Man-Cub arrive and we will add video games and naps to the party plans. Because we are party animals, I mean, obviously.

Anyway, it will feel really good to get my people back under one roof for a while, and, I'm not just saying that because there will be pie.

But, I do like a good pie.

Monday, November 24, 2014

This Should Feel Wrong

Mom and I were planning to drive over the mountains to Colorado Springs early this morning so that she could make it to an appointment with her arthritis specialist, but, when she checked the road reports at 5:00, she decided to reschedule the appointment for another time; there was just too great a chance of running into the storm predicted for the area.

So, instead of driving three hours in high winds and white-out conditions, we got an extra couple of hours of sleep. Then, we drank coffee and snuggled under blankets in front of the television with the satellite tuned to The Food Network.

And, with the exception of several brief moments in the kitchen-where we whipped up thirty-two breakfast burritos, a pot of chili, and a pan of cornbread-we have been here all day.

I honestly feel like I should be ashamed.

But, I'm too lazy to care.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Bake

I made the trip to Mayberry yesterday and I will be here through Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted to be here, today, because it is Mom and Dad's anniversary and I wanted to spend it with Mom. When I asked her what we should do today, we both agreed that staying busy would be best, so, we did what we have always done prior to a holiday: we baked.

Mom taught me how to make her famous crescent rolls. Well, actually mom demonstrated to me how to make them; I won't actually consider myself to be capable of making them until I am required to do it on my own one day...many, many years from now (rolls are Mom's domain until the day she can no longer wield a rolling pin, y'all).

Now, the kitchen is warm and toasty and smells a little bit like what I imagine Heaven to smell like. Dad would be proud.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Throwback

About a million years ago (that's, like, six years in Blog Time), I used to do a weekly flashback post on Fridays. I called it the Friday Flashback (because, well, duh) and I enjoyed writing it. Since I have become a half-empty nester, I have found myself lacking for blog content, so, I thought that I might bring back the flashback posts.

However, Fridays tend to be a hectic day around here, and this will only get worse with the Man-Cub's basketball schedule, so, I am going to aim for Thursday.

And, hey, look! Today is Thursday!

So, here is a little something that I actually wrote for Rocky Mountain Moms back when it was a functional website (ah, the days of being an unpaid community blogger)....

Yesterday, my eleven year old son arrived home from school later than usual and in tears. Actually, he was more than just in tears, he was sobbing, sobbing so hard that it was difficult to understand what he was saying and, the story that he told me once I finally managed to get him calmed down made me want to sob.
Which, ok, that's a lie, it made me want to scream and, eventually, I would.
So, the story is this; while riding his scooter home (we live less than six blocks from the school), he spotted a dog sitting on the roadside. Thinking the dog might be lost, he approached, leaned his scooter up against a tree and proceeded to check the dog's neck for a collar and tags. The dog barked and my son backed away from him which is when an old man across the street started yelling at my son to "stop kicking his neighbor's dog".
My son tried to explain that he hadn't hurt the dog and was merely looking for a collar but the man was on a roll and began yelling at my son to shut his mouth and to stay where he was because the man was going to call the police.
So, because he has been taught to obey his elders, my son stayed right where he was while the man, who clearly had no intention of (nor reason for) calling the police, glared at him from his front porch. From what I have gathered, my son remained in that position, crying his eyes out, for fifteen to twenty minutes before following the advice of two neighborhood girls and scooting home to tell me what had happened. 

As he related the story, he was shaking, his breath hitching in his chest and he finished with "I was just so scared!"

I have never really understood  "I saw red" as a figure of speech until precisely that moment.
I hustled my son into the car, drove to our hardware store and told my husband what was going on (or, as our employees would have you believe, I stormed into the store, demanded that my husband "get in the car right. This. Instant!") and we drove to the man's house to what? Demand an apology? Shame him into oblivion? I didn't know but I knew that I couldn't let the matter stand for two reasons; one, my son wasn't in the wrong and I wanted him to know that we will always stand up for him and, two, when an adult uses the threat of calling a police officer to scare a child when no crime has been committed, he had damn well better be prepared to have a police officer show up on his doorstep to call him on it.

Which is why my husband called the officer on duty and asked him to meet us at the man's house.
We met the officer in the drive-way, explained the situation and, aided by the neighborhood girls who had witnessed the entire scene and who were more than willing to give statements to the facts; approached the man to get his side of the story which ended up being a total denial of having said anything at all to my son or to the girls. He was also about three sheets to the wind and not very bright which may, or may not, have contributed to his actions which included calling my son a liar.
Thus commenced the screaming.
I am not a violent person by nature. I avoid conflict whenever possible and believe that harmony and goodwill should reign supreme but, let me assure you; I will not stand idly by and allow an adult, who should know better, to terrorize my son for no better reason than to entertain himself (the neighborhood girls informed us that the man had laughed when my son scooted off crying. He was actually proud of himself for making an eleven year old kid cry).
In defense of my cub, I said some not-very-nice things. Rather loudly.
The man did not apologize but I am relatively certain that he will think twice before threatening another kid.
My son appears to have recovered from the experience and now understands that he doesn't have to obey every adult and that certain situations dictate that he simply walk away lest his mother have another opportunity to go she-bear on some poor old drunk lacking the common sense that God gave a titmouse.
I just wish there had been a less painful way to learn the lesson; my throat is really sore today.
This is an original post to Rocky Mountain Moms Blog. Michelle can also be found at Ms. Congeniality where she is currently formulating a plan for World Peace, one angst-ridden teeanger at a time.