Sunday, August 31, 2008

Don't Fence Me In

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in.
Cole Porter

When I was girl riding through the Tehachapi mountains, I used to sing that song to my horse all the time. The beat of the song fits perfectly with the methodical rhythm of the horse's hooves along a dirt road. Sometimes right when oak trees would begin to fall away to the mountain pines, I would encounter a locked gate or a fence. How sad I would feel that I wouldn't be able to continue riding to discover where the road lead. But usually it was getting late and I was going to have to turn back anyhow. "Besides," I would think, "that fence is probably holding in a big herd of cattle." And my horse for some reason did not like cattle.

Then the other day, Amanda and I went horseback riding. I rode a Tennessee Walking horse for the first time. Oh what a beautiful gaited trot! Quite different from the jumpy little Arabs I grew up riding. But as we rode the wide open country of the Tennessee hills, with its lush wooded valleys and wide open balds, I was once again reminded that "I don't like fences."

As a matter of fact, at that moment, I didn't care if I lived an hour from Target of if my kids would be forced to go to a Pre-K through HS single room school house, I wanted to live further away in the country than I live now. Which really, I live in a perfectly rural, perfectly distanced from town area right now, thank you very much. But I wanted land lots of land with starry skies above and to ride the open country that I love. And knowing me, I probably would ride until the west commences.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Photographs Amanda Size

My friend Juli from Three Minutes and a Rainbow let her little sweetie run wild through the house with her camera. Her pictures came out so cute that I bravely decided to to the same with Amanda. And here is what Amanda found:

A kitten in Jonathan's shirt drawer.

View from the stairs. There's a DHL delivery slip on the door there. I missed the package drop off I guess.

Now lets take a little closer look at that ceiling light:

Uh huh. See that orange thing? It's a Nerf dart. They are everywhere. We don't even pick them up anymore we just go out and buy new ones.

Um. OK. I actually like this. I think it would make a great title picture for a blog entry one day.

Some fresh tomatoes from the garden.

Looking up the stair hall at night.

Just keeping it real.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Girl Lives Here

Now that Amanda is 4 and the older boys are off to school, Amanda has a lot of time to pretend play. She loves her dolls and play kitchen and other girl things. But it is fun to watch what she does with the "Boy" toys, too. Coming up the stairs the other day with a load of freshly folded laundry, I find this on the top landing:

Dumptrucks o' Barbies. With a nakey Ken thrown in there.

Actually it sorta reminds me of how I got home from some parties some nights during my college days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


This is my AGA range. It's more like a faux Aga. At least that's what the AGA purists call it. It's an AGA Legacy. Regardless, I love it.

However, it is broken right now.

I guess I could have gone for the REAL AGA. The one that boils and bakes and fries and simmers and steams and grills with just a lit pilot light...always lit.The real AGA's are the lowest tech kitchen appliance there ever was with the exception of the dutch oven in a pile of coals.

But a real AGA stays hot constantly. And in anticipation of this southern heat I just didn't think that sounded very nice. Had I known more about the traditional English (real) AGAs, I could have designed my kitchen with a 12' ceiling over the range, where the heat would rise and not heat up the kitchen. Since our kitchen is literally in a separate wing of the house without a second story above it, it wouldn't have been a problem.

But I wanted gas burners and electric dual convection ovens that had defrost fans and pre-programmed heating cycles and steam heat and dry heat and all that so I could churn out cupcakes and lasagna and gourmet meals I can't pronounce.

But the oven clock stopped working sometime overnight so the ovens won't turn on at all(seriously) and the range needs a new mother board. And it also needs new convection fans and 2 new oven lights.

And today I learned that there are only so many ways to take a picture of an AGA range.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

10 Things

I have a lot of pictures on my hard drive. Some are interesting, some are boring, some are fun to look at, some I'd rather toss out. But none the less I have them and thought I'd cull a few of them to put up as 10 Things About Me - with photographs.

So in no particular order I have:

Thing 1

Oh here I am with our little orphan foal. I was think I was 16 years old here and my little brother Jay was 3. Her name was "Annie" (Little Orphan Annie) and her mother died while birthing her. She was born late in the year for a horse, during the summer. My job was to give her the 2 am feedings. I would heat up 6-8 baby bottles, put them in the pockets of my robe and trudge out to the barn to feed her. We were her Mommy. When my folks weren't home we'd let Annie into the living room. My folks could never understand why Annie always stood at the back door to the house.

Thing 2:

I love to sew. Here is a dress I made one summer after my 4th boy was born. I think I was really craving some girly whiteness, eyelet and lace. I designed this dress myself, it has an attached petticoat so I didn't have to wear a slip with it. The pleats in the bodice hide nursing openings so I could breast feed without taking my clothes off. I was pretty clever once.

Thing 3:

This was my first sewing project. I was in the 6th grade here. I really liked that shirt, but it had a hole in it. I didn't own a lot of shirts anyway at that time and felt it should be saved. So I raided my Mom's sewing basket and found a little floral embroidered applique and sewed it over the hole in the front....see that little thing in the front? I was very proud of it, thought no one could ever tell the shirt wasn't made like that and went to picture day wearing it. Too bad the hole wasn't a bit higher and more to the left, it could have passed for a very fem version of a Star Trek Communicator.

Thing 4:

This is the car I took my driver's test in. I'm sure all the DMV testers saw that car coming and had to draw straws. All I know is that it took a long time for a tester to come out and get into the car with me. I passed.

Thing 5

Awww, this is me on my little POA pony Cocoa. I'm riding him in Bakersfied so I must have been around 11 years old. Cocoa was a nut, he'd prance so much I'd literally get side aches from all the bouncing. I don't know who that little girl is. I was just riding down the road and a girl asked if she could pet him so I stopped so she could. Her Dad came out of the house and took 2 Polaroid pictures and gave one to me. I think it's the only picture I have of me and my pony. When I grow up I hope I'm nice like that Dad.

Thing 6

Oh this is when I tried to shed my Tom Boy image and be a refined lady. I fooled no one. But got a bunch of free stuff and a cool tiara.

Thing 7

1983 called and wants their hair back!! Thankfully that picture was taken in 1983. My brother's friend wanted to be a photographer and I wanted to pretend I was a model so we had a very convenient user friendship. His portfolio went no where as did my modeling so we're cool. They don't sell Sun In anymore because I bought it all up between 1982 and 1984.

Thing 8

My short and sassy hair cut days. Rick shudders at the memories to this day.

Thing 9

The 7th grade! I had crows feet even then. That was as long as my hair had even been. No surprise looking at those baby fine strands. I remember that shirt. My step mom bought it for me so I could show my pony in Western Pleasure classes. That shirt had the nicest pearl snaps. I would wear it during horse shows paired with my cream with rust/green/blue plaid pants, my leather tooled western belt with the brass covered wagon on a silver background buckle and nice pointed cowboy boots. On school picture day I wanted to wear my best shirt and apparently that shirt was it, maybe it was too nice. Who knows, but I know all the other girls were jealous.

Thing 10

Oh wait! I did model. Actually they just wanted to use the car since it went with the whole theme, but then the people felt bad that we had driven all the way to Indio so they stuck us in there, too. Rick & I. Rick is happy because he had just gotten that back bumper chromed but was then a little bummed when they cropped most of it out. We were paid with a travel gift certificate. We took an anniversary cruise to Mexico and came home expecting Austin. Sorry for the TMI.
And there you have it!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Our family has a new addition! I would like to introduce Abigail Beatrice, born to my youngest brother Jay and my sister in law Tamara. Abigail is welcomed home by big sister Jade, now a mature 2 years old. Abigail is named after our Grandma, Alta Beatrice, we all called her Grandma Bea.

Now Grandma Bea was born in northern, central TX and grew up in West Texas. Her family grew cotton on land that is still farmed by the family today. Eventually she and my Papa settled in West Bakersfield, on a small ranch. By the time we kids came around, her pastures were leased out to Mr. Knoll and his herd of cattle. They were his cattle, but my Grandparent's land, so when we kids went out to visit for any length of time you could find us out moving irrigation pipe in the summer to keep that pasture green. We kids got really familiar with electric fencing too. As a matter of fact, way before I knew what colors were, I learned the first thing one did when you got to Grandma's house was to run into the garage and check for the lights on a box on the wall. If the red light was on, that meant that the fence was on, so be VERRY careful, if the green light was on, just watch out for cowpies. Anyhow, bottom line was that my Grandma was a busy one all her life, raising 4 boys and keeping my Papa happy.

As I got older I learned to appreciate my Grandma for who she was and what she did, not just for her wonderful sweet tea with a splash of rootbeer. Grandma Bea was always one to serve family first. I can scarcely remember a meal where she sat for more than 5 minutes, always jumping up to serve, refill or make someone comfortable at the table and enjoying every minute of it as long as family was around.

In her later years, my Papa would develop Alzheimer's. I would visit my Grandma more and more often then. Those visits would be some of my favorites as my formerly quieter Grandma would chat and chat and chat. I learned so much about her on those visits. She talked about growing up on the farmlands in TX, of how she, my Papa and their oldest baby escaped the dust bowl with only their model T and what they could carry in it, to the times of holding together house and home while my Papa sought work away in other cities for weeks or months at a time, through war times and to the first time she saw the property my Papa had picked out for her in Bakersfield which she would call home for over 40 years ("You want me to live on a SAND HILL?" - she said she would have loved it more had it come with a windmill.)

But she was always happy with what she was given. Once I dared to ask her if she ever wished she had a daughter, you know, to help with with the woman's work in the house and stuff. She told me when she was pregnant with her youngest child, baby #4 with three boys at home, she went to visit a friend that had a baby daughter. The whole time my Grandma visited that friend was at the ironing board ironing little dresses for the daughter. My Grandma Bea thought, "Dear Lord, Please don't let this one be a girl!" and sure enough, my Uncle Michael was born a healthy son.

My brother Jay is my Grandma's youngest grandchild and and she had a special place in her heart for the "baby". And since my brother Jay's middle name is Floyd, after my Papa, it is only fitting that his daughter's middle name is Beatrice after Grandma. So little Abigail Beatrice, I could just imagine that if Grandma Bea were here to hold you, the first thing she would say to you is, "Well Howdy Sugar! Aren't you a pretty little thing!" and then make you a spot at the table.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Summer Vacation

Well, since the kids are in school and starting back to the whole school routine, I thought I would empathize with them myself and write a theme.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation 2008

1. Laundry. Lots and lots and lots of laundry.
2. Picked up Lego's. Lots and lots and lots of Legos
3. Poured milk. Lots and lots and lots of milk.
4. Picked up Legos
5. Laundry. Lots and lots and lots of laundry.

But mostly what I did was commute. Commute from home, to football practice, to football practice to home and repeat 2 hours later.

See Austin & Derick decided that football is pretty cool. Which it is. But starting July, they had practice every day, Derick at the Jr High and Austin at the high school. And they needed a ride. Enter me: with a van, car keys and a gas credit card. They NEEDED me to take them to football everyday. So I did. Left everyday at 3:00 and then got home at 4:00. Left again at 6:00 and got home at 7:00. Those 2 hours were spent driving, I just dropped off and picked up. We're country folk out here! We have to drive long distances. Fun.

No really, it was fun. I know, I cool, all that time in the car to bond with my sons. Sure. I buzzed down those windows and cranked up the radio. Only after I heard "MOM!" 5 separate and distinct times did I turn it down and yell back an annoyed, "WHAT?" My usual answer was, "Uh huh" as I cranked up the radio again. This was MY time people! I'm out of the house! I'm on the road, I feel the wind, I've escaped. Don't ruin it for me.

Sometimes, oh sometimes Amanda fell asleep on the last long leg to the high school to drop off Austin. Oh THAT was the BEST! When Amanda was asleep after I dropped off Austin I could pull into Sonic, order a large strawberry smoothie with whipped cream and sneak sips all the way back home, then sneak it upstairs to enjoy at the computer as I checked email. I was living dangerously and sinfully.

But most times I just blasted the radio. And since the high school is just on the outskirts of town, I don't have to drive THROUGH town so most times I didn't even roll up my windows, I just let it all hang out singing at the top of my lungs to whatever song came on, even if I didn't particularly like it that song or know the words. I wasn't any bother really, because everyone else had their windows rolled up. One time however, I was at a stop light when I noticed the car next to me that had all their windows down and a young boy, 9yo or so, in the backseat; eyes fixed on me, mouth slightly agape, obviously amazed at the site he beheld. "Yes, my school boy friend", I thought, "we can't all be Stacey's Mom and have it going on." Me in my new RED mini van and all. Then the light turned green. As his car pulled away I saw him sit back and let out a sigh. Relieved that I was turning right onto the road that leads out of town.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yummy Breakfast Tutorial

Some of my friends have blogs. They are cute and witty and always interesting. They also talk about cooking. My friends like Regi and Juli and Inger. They have it going ON and are taking the blogger world by storm. I'm starting to feel a little left out.

So this morning as I was making myself a hot, nutritious meal, I thought I would join in on all the cooking blog action. Don't get discouraged, I usually don't make breakfast things as complicated as I did this particular morning, but you can file it away for another time if you like.

First, go turn on your computer. My computer takes forEVA to start up and there is nothing more frustrating than having my hot tea or coffee go cold before I can read my first email in the morning.

Then here is what you will need to make breakfast:

I know, Apple Cinnamon oatmeal. I LOVE to live crazy like that.
Yes people, I have kids. Our last 2 glass bowls are reserved for guests

This part gets tricky, but tear open the package, (I tear from the left side because I'm right handed) and then pour into the bowl .

Oops, I made a little mess there. Don't fret about that, it's good not to worry too much about perfection when you're cooking.

This part, adding water is really crucial. I think on the package of oatmeal it tells you how much water to put in, but I just wing it. Just like Grandma used to do in the old country (Bakersfield). Now you CAN heat water up on the stove, but I use this InstaHot here on my sink. I know the traditionalists will hate that, but come on, it's the 21st century, open your mind.

Now you pick up your spoon and stir it around a bit. I usually stir with my right hand, but I had to take the picture. You can use whichever hand you are more comfortable with.

Make sure all the oatmeal gets wet.

Looking pretty good.

Almost there...

...wait about 5 minutes and WaLa!

I know this is a lot of work for a weekday morning. But if you discipline yourself enough you will be able to get out of bed almost effortlessly and have hot breakfasts like this when ever you want.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

They're Going Baaaaaaaaack!!

It's the most, wonderful time of the year.
The leaves are all falling,
The school bell is calling,
And folks of good cheer!
It's the most, wonderful time of the year~

Yes, it's soon to be that time again. Time to put on all those scratchy new clothes, pack up the new backpack with the brand new crayons that still have sharp points and all the paper wrapped around them. The binders, the book covers, the rulers, the pencils, the white board markers. Time to get up with the sun and trudge that whole 100' feet to the end of the driveway to wait for that big yellow school bus to be whisked off to new classrooms, new teachers, new student lists on the door. Isn't it grand?

Oh you homeschool moms just shush. There's no need to wonder how on Earth I can send my little lovelies to be taught life lessons by perfect strangers. Strangers who studied through at least 5 years of college and testing and teacher credentialling just be able to teach my 2nd grader math. So wonder no more. It's easy. It's called fly out the nest little ones and return to me each afternoon to tell me all about it. All about your new friends, your old friends, your new grade teacher, your cafeteria lady, your art teacher, your Spanish teacher, your theater teacher, your music teacher (ya their little school has lots of teachers) and I'll tell you all about how I got to do laundry and Lego pick ups and dishes and sweeping and eating my lunch in peace and quiet for the first time in 10 weeks.

Such a glorious time.

Oh and Amanda is laughing at Jonathan because she doesn't start school for another year yet.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

2 Years in the South

Well here we are closing in on 2 years since we moved into our new home in the 10-OC. We've moved in, and out, and in, and out and repeat once more. We're getting to be experts in moving.

Even if our house did catch fire and then did get hit by a tornado and it does still have water running underneath it, we have had a nice time living here. The kids' schools are nice and the students even nicer. We're learning to navigate the roads TN style and things that may have bothered me in CA just don't seem to be that big of a deal anymore, you learn fast that Tennessee just happens.

Like the other day after I took oldest son to football practice.

Our local bridges have recently been inspected and the 2 bridges we use to get to town are on the "unsafe" list. Both are being redone at the same time. The smaller basically one lane bridge is being replaced all together, the larger bridge has been narrowed to one lane while the other side gets retrofitted. To regulate traffic flow on this now one lane bridge there is a stop light at each end on the bridge. I've come to expect delays here....up to THREE minutes. The injustice. Anyhow coming home from football practice I see that my signal is going to turn red so the car in front of me stops and so do I. Interesting though, it looks like the traffic on the bridge is not moving anymore. I take a more intense look. Well, wouldn't you know it, a truck with an over sized piece of farm equipment seems to have gotten wedged in between the concrete barriers on the bridge. Well in CA peeps would be getting pretty upset, but not here in TN. Nah, the stuck truck just gives one the opportunity to spit some chew out your open window non-moving vehicle, wave to the fella in front and behind, check your truck's oil levels and maybe kick the tires once or twice. No problems here. But I'm from California, so I do a quick U-turn (it's county roads out there, you can legally perform U-turns there, but you cannot in the city of Franklin) and take the one lane country bi pass road passed Wyonna Judd's old place and connect back to the section of road I need to be on.

Or there was that time I went to Puckett's to pick up some hamburger buns for dinner. It was late afternoon and I knew I was taking my chances but fortunately they weren't out of hamburger buns when I got there so I grabbed a pack as fast as I could, but I bet they were out when I left. See, Uncle Lester was there and he being my neighbor and all, just HAD to update me on all the local things going on, that went on, that will be going on, that may be going on, what would have been going on and on and on for at least an hour maybe even two. Husband was going to send a search party, but I did make it back home before dessert was served.

Then there was the time when we didn't have our Internet hooked up yet and so I stopped by the library to use their computers. I had about 200 email to read. I read a total of 12. But I was there for 3 hours and 26 minutes and had the run down of the history of the area told to me by some locals born and raised here. They told me that before the Natchez Trace was built our little road didn't go all the way through. To get up to where our house is one had to cross a creek 3 times and then you were at a dead end. And there was always no good going on at the dead end. I can see now where our troubles started.