Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Here followeth a Casa de Crazy Thanksgiving Day Tradicion:

We hope you have a pleasant, tasty,mellow, comfortable, not-at-all-contentious Thanksgiving day if you are in the USA and an all around good one if not in the USA.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I have a few traditions on Thanksgiving. Not many - the menu, recording the Macy's parade so I can watch it and fast-forward through all the crappy pop music, commercials, and talking heads to see the twenty minutes of balloons, floats and high school bands I'm interested in hidden among all that junk  (although I will have to forgo that pleasure, this year, alas), and my list of some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order and in no way complete:

The house in which I live
The Evil Genius
Gypsy, K2, Mizz A, Kit, Sam-I-Am, PJ, Mizz Beth, Martha 'n' Milo, Avalon, and all of my friends who put up with me when I am most myself and therefor least likable. They are the net beneath me when I fly and fall
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Nature and the way she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Adversity, that joy is all the sweeter (Okay, okay, the joy is sweet enough, so basta with the adversity for a minute, please)
Every creature and plant that I consume to sustain myself, because without the life I take, I would have no life to live
Love - that it exists at all is a wonder, and I feel blessed to know it in many forms
Chocolate, gift from the Gods (yes, even the perversion called "candy bar") (Mmm...candy bar...)
Honeycrisp Apples
Strong hands
Strong spirit
Strong will
Cussed determination not to curl up and die just because life can sometimes be a succession of truly awful, bleak, and desolate days...but sometimes it isn't.
The Internet

I hope you have a blessed day, and that you the things you're thankful for outweighing the things for which you're not.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, from us at Casa de Crazy to you out in the Blue Nowhere and beyond.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Traditiooooooon, Tradition, Tradition!!!

Every year I post the menu for out Casa de Crazy Thanksgiving extravaganza and every year I wonder why I don't just cut and paste from last year because it very rarely changes.

Oh, the people change, and the weather, but what goes down in the kitchen and gets laid upon the table are as reliable as...well...something very reliable.

SI also wonder if anyone cares, but I kind of get a kick out of seeing what y'all are doing and I like to share, so without further ado, here's the eats for Thrursday's T-Day dinner:

Turkey, a 13 pounder this year because we have a couple of extra guests.

Dressing.  Not stuffing.  I like the stuff the gobbler with herbs and use the pan drippings for the gravy, so it's dressing.  No one has complained, yet.

Mashed potatoes (Mum always helps with these and I let her because she is Mum and you don't tell Mum "no" when she wants to help with the taters).

Gravy, of the home made variety.

Green Beans.  Just plain old steamed green beans.

Mashed Turnips and carrots, because Mum and I adore them and they're pretty in the fancy, cut glass bowl.

Can-o-Cranberry, because cranberry that isn't can shaped ain't right.

Sweet Potato Casserole (because Martha 'n'Milo insist on bringing something and that's what they'd like to bring)

Desserts include Chocolate Silk Pie and Dutch Apple Crumb Pie made just for us by Marie Callender (her pie crusts are way better than mine and I'm fine with letter her do all the work) and a Key Lime Pie with a shortbread crust (crust store bought, pie made here).

Whew, I am full already.  How 'bout you - what's traditional at your Thanksgiving dinner?  What's your favorite savory?  Favorite sweet?

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Countdown Beginneth

It is Monday of Thanksgiving week and there is much happening here at the Casa.

Roommates gone, cleaning commences, and while the downstairs needs some love it is the upstairs that will be gone over in the next few days.  My good friend A is coming over to help me, bless he heart and all of her guts.  I could do it alone but would have to start last June to get it all done.  No kidding, the woman is a dynamo.

This is a somewhat traditional post for me - every year I write a little something about this week, as it is the lead-off to The Silly Season and often one of my busiest here at the Casa.

So, here we go.

Monday (today) - grocery shopping for the week.  Baking bread for the dressing on Thursday.  Cleaning house.  Cleaning out the van because I am selling it (long story, more about that another time...maybe).  More cleaning of the house.

Tuesday - band practice.  Making one of the vegetable dishes for Thursday when I get home.  More cleaning, including washing every last dish/bowl/platter that we'll use on Thursday since they're the "good" dishes* and sit all year until I pull them out for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday - cleaning, cleaning, more cleaning (I move slowly, the Casa is enormous, and I am not a good housekeeper so when we DO clean, it's a job).  Making a pie and beginning the defrost for another pie.  Possibly baking a third pie so I don't have to tomorrow.  Cleaning the coffee maker.  Dressing the turkey and getting it ready to pop into the oven tomorrow.  Getting the turkey stock out of the freezer to use for dressing and gravy tomorrow.  Panicking about the butter - is two pounds enough for the day?  Gah!  Making sure the table linens are washed and ready to use and pulling out the "good" flatware**.

Thursday - Turkey goes in to bake.  Dressing is prepared and ready to bake.  Finishing up any last minute cleaning.  Children are shooed outside to frolic.  Friends and family trickle in.  Set the table.  Fill the water pitcher.  Watch TV and baste the turkey.  Make food,food,more food.  Serve.  Eat.  Coma.  Dessert and coffee/tea.  More coma.  Play games.  Pack leftovers to go for guests.  Make cookie dough.  /Sleep well.

Friday - NO SHOPPING!!!  There will,however, be cookie baking.  Lots of cookie baking.

Saturday - take Someone's mother and Sprout to visit Someone.

Sunday - Cookie swap

Monday - sleep until just shy of forever.  Not going out if I don't have to.  Not doing anything if I don't have to.  Does anyone want a couple of children for a few days?  No?  Oh, well, I guess I'll get up and feed them once in a while.

How is your week shaping up?

*These are dishes that Mum and I bought one piece at a time from a grocery store a long, long,looooong time ago.  Service for fourteen including serving dishes, either free or bargain priced with purchase of a certain amount of groceries.  I love them.  Not fancy, but pretty and simple and I like them.

**Not sterling, but some rather lovely and solid stainless steel flatware from the Oneida Company, back when there was a Betty Crocker catalog and we clipped Betty Crocker points from boxes and saved them in a tin on top of the refrigerator.  Service for twelve, and some day I hope to expand it and add more serving pieces and other cutlery, but that'll have to wait a bit because it's a discontinued pattern and getting the pieces I'd like to have will cost a small fortune.  I adore my pattern, bought a few pieces at a time through the mail with little bits of cardboard and postage paid.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Learn, Grow, Change

Disappointed.  Not angry, not surprised, but disappointed.

I know there's a risk inherent to opening my home to others, particularly folks who are strangers in the beginning.  I accept that there are many adjustments to be made on every side and there are certain things, control issues, that I must let go of if I am going to give shelter, give sanctuary, to anyone.

I am not an easy person to live with under the best of circumstances, and when I am not at my best I am a pain in the ass for anyone to deal with.

That said, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that, when living in my home, a body doesn't damage it, they respect the property and the people living here, and they own up to their mistakes.

NOT telling me when property is damaged, hiding broken things, and disrespecting some very basic and necessary rules is no way to behave.

There's a hole in the wall behind the door that tells me it was slammed open or slammed up against hard enough to force the knob completely through the drywall.  There is artwork missing.  There are a number of small tchotchkes moved or missing.  There's a socket plate cracked, part on the floor and part still on the wall.  There's a dent in another part of the wall.  There's a spot where paint was picked at and peeled off.  There's a cup that was clearly on the windowsill but was pushed or fell out into the yard and left there.

The truck has front end damage, bald tires, and a huge dent in the side.  The brakes are gone and the promised repairs never happened.  I don't know when the oil was last changed.  There are food wrappers and pieces of food all over the interior.  Things that belong there are missing, removed without permission and put who-knows-where.  It will be expensive to repair everything, and I will have to ask my already overburdened mother for help with that because it is Someone's truck and it's not okay to give it back to him trashed.

And the cigarette butts.

The cigarette butts all over the garage floor, in the driveway, nestled among the stuffed animals that I have kept through my childhood, tossed out the window into the yard, cigarette butts in places that tell me that the no-smoking-in-the-house rule was roundly ignored, putting me and my son in very real danger of respiratory distress and a hospital visit.  That rule is there not because I don't like cigarette smoke (because I don't like it) and not because I represent all my art and craft work online as coming from a smoke-free environment (because I do, and yes, it matters to folks), but because I am allergic to cigarette smoke and both the Evil Genius and I have asthma that can and often is triggered by said smoke.

I don't really care if it's inconvenient to walk a few dozen feet to smoke in the garage or outside.  That's not my problem.  My health and my childrens' health are my concern.


So many small signs of disrespect, of the people I opened my home to not caring that they were living in a borrowed room, using a borrowed vehicle, using borrowed pots and pans and dishes...


I won't close my heart or my home to anyone who needs a place.  No one gets to change me that way.  I will, however, learn and grow from this experience.

The rules are changing.  They will be simple but not negotiable, and there will no longer be second or third chances.  The first violation will be the last, and there will be no two-weeks notice, not even two-minutes notice - as soon as the infraction occurs, out you go.

There will be rent, and it will  be paid when it's due - no making missed rent up next week, next week, next week.  No.  Pay on time or out you go.

You will contribute to the household groceries.

There will be no smoking of any kind anywhere on this property or in my vehicles.

There will be no eating or drinking of anything (even water) anywhere but in the kitchen, the dining room, or outside.

If you use it, clean up after yourself and put it away.

I will not get up early, stay up late, or change my schedule to give you rides anywhere.  Ask 24 hours or more in advance if you want a ride and if I can, I will, but it will be at MY convenience.

You may not borrow one of the family vehicles.  Don't ask.

You may not borrow or remove anything from this property - no taking my camp chairs, my grill, my coolers, my camping gear to the lake, camping, your Aunt's pool party or anywhere else.  Don't ask.

No, I will not give you the WiFi password and no, you may not use my computer.  You certainly may not change passwords, security settings, or anything else on said computer, nor may you download anything, watch pornography, or do anything legally questionable.

If you damage it, you repair or replace it immediately.  If that means you don't have money for DVDs, cigarettes, beer, or whatever else you think is more important, too bad.  Never borrow what you can't replace, and understand that yous SHOULD replace it first and foremost.

I will not loan you money.  Nope.  There will be no "I need gas to get to work and will pay you when I get my check" or "Can I have a couple of dollars for cigarettes?" or anything else short of a life-saving item, and even then I will likely want proof that a life hangs in the balance.

You may not bring another person to co-habitate with you, or even to spend the night, without asking me first, and more that one night means they pay rent, too.

You will help with the chores when they need doing.

If you use it, you replace it.  If you ruin my cookware, you replace it the next day.

Turn off lights if you're leaving the room, even if it's only for a moment.

If it's not yours, don't touch it.  Don't let your friend touch it.  Don't let your child touch it.  You are responsible for any damage done by anyone you bring to this house.

No drugs.  None.  Not kidding.  I WILL call the blue-light taxi service.  Do not test me.

No drug dealers or anyone who is high.

No fugitives from justice.

Do not bring drama to my house.  Do not bring anyone or anything that might bring drama to my house.  Drama includes but is not limited to stalkers, abusers, out of control addicts, law enforcement of any kind, or snark from the neighbors.

Do not lie to me.

Do not steal from me.

Do not break your word to me.

Those last three are not negotiable, ever.  No wriggle room.  No forgiveness.  The rest?  Yeah, I'd like to be all hard assed about it, but honestly, I know there are circumstances and I AM a compassionate being and I WILL do my best to help a body out as much as I can, but I'm not going to allow anyone to cross my personal boundaries again.  No one has any right to ask it of me, and I'm working hard on the firm yet gentle "No."

Everyone has lessons to teach, lessons to learn.  I am learning.  I hope that I taught something good, something that will carry my former roommates on into strong, healthy, positive lives.

We live, we learn, we grow, we change.  It's a bumpy ride, so hang on tight!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Low, Today*

*But it will get better, it will, if I can just hunker down and hang on and not let it sweep me away, if I can endure, it will get better.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Many Ways

There are many ways to look at this old world and the people in it.  There are many ways to respond to what is happening around us.  There are many ways of being.

I posted this on Facebook earlier today:

What good have you done, by helping just that one?

To that one, I have made all the difference.

There will always be another, and another, and another.

One at a time.

And if that one, that lonely, only one, is all I ever make a difference for, then it is enough and more than enough, but I will never stop striving to find the other, and another, and another, and maybe, just maybe, they will find their one, and then another, and another, and we will ripple out and out and out and inexorably roll in greater circles until we return back to ourselves and fins that, just one at a time, we have swept over our wide Earth and made the change we never thought could be when it was just that one.
There are many ways to make a difference.

Here are some (feel free to add more in the comments, I know I cannot have covered everything here):

Volunteer to help veterans in the USA:  Volunteer VA

Help a veteran find a home by donating or volunteering:  National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

Find and support or volunteer at a food bank: Feeding America

Crochet sleeping mats for the homeless:  Make a Plarn Mat

Help the homeless:  35 Ways to Help the Homeless

Help people all over the world (including the United States) help themselves:  Heifer International

Help provide one of the most basic and necessary of elements to people who face its privation:  Water

Help provide for medical needs:  Doctors Without Borders

Help people locally and globally:  Oxfam is a good place to start

Concerned about the Syrian refugee situation?  You can help others help out in Syria, at the source, to give hope and perhaps help build a better situation before anyone has to leave their home:  Hand in Hand for Syria

Help provide shelter:  ShelterBox

Find someone who could use a hand to get back on their feet - we all struggle with our load sometimes, and knowing that there's a friend, a family member, even a stranger there to help us carry on, to be a cheerleader, sometimes simply believe in us when we falter and doubt can make all the difference.

One at a time, we can help stem the tide of fear, anger, hatred, hunger, poverty, and privation, just by facing it with small acts powered by compassion, kindness, and love.