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, December 29, 2016

Guac's Up

I've been feeling kind of low, lately.  When I'm feeling low, I sometimes don't want to clean (Oh, who am I kidding?  I never want to clean!) or cook or do anything.

Still, a body has to eat.  Since the Evil Genius is off with his father for the holidays, dinner's are a bit scattershot around Casa de Crazy.  Sprout doesn't usually want to eat whatever I'm having, so it's sandwiches or quesadillas, machos or hot dogs, and usually some kind of fruit.

This evening, while I was feeling sorry for myself in a general, I have depression kind of way, I opened the fridge and found myself at the receiving end of the reproachful gazes of a couple of avocados that have been lingering in there for a minute.  I always have the best intentions to use them, sliced on sandwiches or in salad or something, and then lose my ambition once I bring them home.

I wasn't feeling particularly inspired by anything, so I grabbed the avocados and decided to make Casa de Crazy style guacamole.

And then, because I have been a rather lame blogger for the last few years, I decided to share the recipe and pretend like I got something accomplished.  Woot!

The players:
Avocados.  How many?  I dunno, how much guac do you want?
Purple Onion
Garlic Cloves.  How many?  Umm...depends on how much you like garlic.
Lime, or limes.
Cayenne Powder.  Some folks use jalapeno peppers, and sometimes I do, too, but I didn't feel like seeding and removing membranes and then mincing the peppers.
Salt - I used ground Celtic sea salt because I like it.

Aaaaand...action!

Use whatever method you prefer to get the avocado out of the skin.  I tend to cut it around the equator, lengthwise, give a little twist, and separate the halves, then whap the seed with the knife blade, twist, and pop it out.  A sort of sideways sliding motion, pressing against the cutting board, gets the seed off the blade.  The I slice the flesh of the avocado into cubes while it's still in the skin and scoop it out with a spoon.

Mash the avocado chunks with a fork.

Mince the garlic and add it to the bowl.  For two avocados I used four cloves of garlic because no vampire's gonna get me!

Stir it up.

Slice thin slices of purple onion - I find that one slice per avocado used is a nice amount.  Mince the onion and add it to the bowl.

Stir it up.

A pinch of salt and a sprinkle of cayenne come next.  It's all about what you like, so don't be afraid to season and taste as you go.  For me, a little cayenne goes a long way so I on;y use a light dusting.

Stir it up.

Finally, squeeze in some lime juice.  Use the real thing, you'll thank me.  Or maybe not.  But I think you will.  I used one lime for two avocados, but the lime wasn't particularly juicy.  I would have used more, but I was impatient.

Stir it up.

Ready to eat!  I like it on tortilla chips with little pieces of thin sliced cheddar cheese on top.



You may have noticed something not included.  It's not a mistake.  There is not, nor will there ever be, cilantro in any recipe that comes from me.  To me, it tastes vile, like dish soap, and it flat ruins anything it touches for me.  I have stopped going to restaurants that used cilantro in everything, or changed a recipe to include the nasty stuff.

Feel free to use it if you are among the lucky souls to whom it doesn't taste like an accident in the soap aisle.  Just please don't serve it to me!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fa La La La La, La La La Blah

I'm struggling with myself right now.  I'm feeling tired and worn, not entirely physically and in ways that mere sleep cannot mend.

Because he's on probation, there are things that Someone is not permitted to do, a curfew he must adhere to, and things that he must do to satisfy the terms of his plea agreement and his probation.

There are varying consequences for failing to do what he must or for doing what he mustn't.  They call these consequences "sanctions".

He was doing well enough, but in the last month he's had four sanctions.  He used substances bot unlawful and prohibited by probation.  The first sanction was extra community service and extra AA meetings.  The second sanction was 24 hours in jail.  The third was 6 days in jail.  Now he's on his fourth, a probation violation, and I'm told he'll be in jail until at least January 3.

He's barely been home and he's gone again.

Once again he will not be with us for Yule.  It is possible that he will miss both children's birthdays as well.  I am once again a single mother.

This has an impact on me, on my children, on our collective lives.  Not only do we not have what income he may have earned because he cannot work while in jail, I have the added expense of paying for phone calls and commissary if I choose to do so, and I can't just leave him in there without the means to communicate, at least.  I won't make the kids do without anything, but it does add to my struggle.  This on top of it being a time for spending on gifts and whatnot.

I hate feeling like I can't give my children very much when it comes to prezzies.  Luckily there are others in their lives who make up for my slack, people like Mom and T and K2 and Mizz A, and many more, all of whom love my children and spoil them silly.  At their ages, keeping the power and water on (not a given on a good day) and food available aren't awfully interesting or important, and honestly I don't even do that on my own, so I can't take credit.  Anyway, it's difficult to wrap the power, but sometimes I'm tempted to put a bow on the faucet.

I suppose I am just feeling the usual ebb that comes with this time of year.  I'm so frustrated by my inability to earn income, to manage finances like a wizard, to keep up with myself...everything seems so bleak to me.

I know it's crass to talk about money, but it'd be easier to avoid talking about if so much of one's value didn't hinge upon one's financial worth and if so much of our life in this country wasn't centered on income, on cash flow.
To help combat these feelings, I'm spending as much time as I can manage in the kitchen for the next few days.  It's cookie season, and while I don't have the demand for them that I used to, I still like to make up plates of cookies and give them to people.  I can still manage a little holiday cheer, even when I'm feeling rather in the dumps...and if making (and saying the name of) Snickerdoodles doesn't bring at least a small smile to my face, then I know things are dire, indeed.

Seriously.  Say "Snickerdoodle" without cracking even the tiniest grim.  Betcha can't.

Friday, December 2, 2016

So That Was Fun

Well howdy, reader!

How're you doing?  Didja have a pleasant Thanksgiving?  Lots of good food, good family, good fun?

Marvelous!

We had a pretty fine time here at the Casa, ourselves.

We've had an exciting week here at Casa de Crazy.  There was Thanksgiving, and then there were some tornado warnings, and then Someone's son welcomed his first child into the world - a daughter - and made Someone an awfully proud grandfather.

Someone was so excited, he lit a candle in celebration.  It's a thing us witches do.  We like to celebrate.  With fire.



There we were, eating dinner and waiting for the brownies to cool enough to nom.  Someone is away for a week, and Mizz A came over to hang out and harass the kids.  I was typing along on Albino Bob when I smelled something a bit...off.

Kind of like a plastic spoon hit the heating element in the dishwasher.  Phew.

So I opened the dishwasher, but that didn't seem to be it.  Then Mizz A saw smoke curling up from behind the stove.

Umm.

No?

I cleared of the stove and asked her to go get the extinguisher that lives just outside the door to the garage.  I had one in the kitchen, but it was quite small and maybe 20 years old, and I wanted a back-up, just in case.

I had Bird stand by to call 911 if need arose, and told Sprout to stay away from the kitchen so she didn't get in the way or get burned or smoked like a sausage.

When Mizz A opened the garage door, she found out that the fire was actually in the garage.  Whew!  So glad my oven wasn't toast!

Umm.

Oh, yeah...but that means the garage is on fire.

Dang.

I carried my small halon extinguisher (the old one from the kitchen) down the stairs and asked Mizz A to open the big garage door.  I went out the front, around into the garage, and hit the fire with the halon.  I'm really going to miss that little giant.  Sniff.

It did the job, that wee marvel, but is now kaput and I will never be able to replace it.  Thanks for your sacrifice, my halon hero!

Just for safety's sake, I popped my 5lb dry-chem bottle and hit the fire spot again.  I emptied it.  It was my oldest dry-chem bottle, and I'll miss it, too.  I worked many races with that as my sidekick, even put out a care fire on the side of the highway and a grass fire once.  Sigh.

Turns out Someone sort of forgot to tell me a candle was burning in there*.  I don't think it was the taper candle**...I think it was the jar candle behind it.  I'll find out whenever he calls.  Meanwhile, what a mess!

I shot a photo or two AFTER I got the fire out and doused the whole area with water to keep any hot spots from flaring up.  


 
Pretty sure that's not right.  Cough.



And that's AFTER some of the smoke cleared.  The inside of the Casa wasn't much better.  Mizz A helped by making the smoke detector (that went off a bit late in the game) shut up and then opening windows and turning on bathroom fans up and down stairs.  Bird took care of his sister and then got a fan plugged in and placed in the door between the house and garage to help clear smoke from the downstairs.


I took more photos, because priorities.  I also called my mother to let her know what happened.  Yeah, I bet she's gonna sleep well tonight...the night before she leaves for a cruise in Europe.  I'm thoughtful, that way.  That white powder on the floor?  Used to be inside my dry-chem bottle.


All that blackened stuff?  Umm...didn't used to be blackened.


For a little while, Mizz A and I played "What the hell WAS that???" with all the charred, melted goo on the crate.  Good times.


Mmm, dry-chem powder...so tasty on the tongue, so lovely in the lungs. 


The cobwebs on the garage look spectacular.  Poor spiders... 


The ceiling above the crate where the fire was may need some love...but right now it looks like a goth kid's bedroom decor dream.


Seriously nifty cobweb action.  Mizz A will get some better photos in the morning with her camera that isn't a phone.  Everything is art, around here! 



More webs.  Groovy. 



So there was a bucket of fish tank gravel and an old TV remote.


This metal candle sconce thingy fared okay, just got a little powdered.  A wipe down will see it right as rain.


Then there's what we think may once have been a traffic light...light, and an old lawn sprinkler.


Now this hurts...Someone's carboys, some of them vintage, cracked.


Won't be brewing any more blueberry-pomegranate wine in there...waaaah! 


See that lovely soot?  It's kinds greasy and Mizz A and I had to wash our hands a bit to get it off.  Blech. 


Pan made it, and I'm glad of that.  I adore that Pan.




A look at the ceiling after most of the smoke cleared.

I will have to get quite a lot of wall and ceiling cleaned up and probably either re-painted or replaced, but that will keep.  Cleaning up the crate will keep.

The kids and cats re fine.  The Casa is fine.  Mizz A and I may have sucked in a bit of smoke, but we're fine, too.  Everyone responded marvelously to a moderately scary situation and the damage was minimal.  Also, we had brownies after, so there was that.

Now, I think we're due some good luck...so maybe tomorrow I will purchase a lottery ticket.

*We are usually very fire safe, and this was a rather unusual oversight.  No, really.  I've been burning candles and whatnot for more than 20 years and this is a first.  Had I known it was down there, I would have been looking after it and likely this wouldn't have happened.  Even so, this could have been far worse, and I'm just glad that this happened while I was here to deal with it and that when Someone comes home, he has a home to come home to!

**Edit - The candle in the photo at the top of the post did not cause the fire.  I repeat, that candle didn't cause the fire.  What DID cause it is a mystery and will likely remain so.  I'm not a fire investigator and I don't really need to know what caused the burn...we handled it and all's well that ends well.  There is no blame to be assigned.  The kids are fine.  They did great.  I'm proud of them.  The cats were annoyed.  They did fine.  I'm proud of them.  Mizz A and I are fine.  We worked well as a team.  I'm proud of us. Someone is chagrined that something of his cause such havoc.  He will live and learn.  We are now getting on with life, because that's what we do.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

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.

Here's the link of you want to view full screen:  Alice's Restaurant

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful

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, unless Mom remembers to record it for me to peruse at her house another time), 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
Mum
Someone
Sprout
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
Bread
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Freedom
Nature and the way she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Words
Song
Dance
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
Laughter
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
You

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 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Cookery

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.

I 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 Thursday's T-Day dinner:

Turkey, a 14 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 usually 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, but this year she's got other plans so I will do 'em, whimper, snuffle, sob, moan).

Gravy, of the home made variety.

Green Beans.  Just plain old steamed green beans.

Green Bean Casserole, because Someone asked me awfully nicely if I would, and I feel obliging.


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.

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).  Also Ice Cream and coffee.  And Tums.  Lots of Tums.

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

Counting Down

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

Someone is out looking for another job and taking care of other business, and the kids and I are terrorizing the cats...er...tidying up a bit.

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) - Dental appointment for Sprout (all good, just a check-up).  Housekeepery of all sorts.

Tuesday - Possibly making a pie, possibly two.  Pulling the turkey from the freezer.  Pulling the turkey stock from the freezer.  Mashing turnips and carrots.  More housework, 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).  Getting the dressing ready to bake.  Maybe making the green bean casserole ahead of time.  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 goes in to bake.  Green bean casserole goes in to bake.  Green beans are steamed.  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.  Sleep well.

Friday - NO SHOPPING!!!  There may,however, be cookie baking.  Lots of cookie baking.  Certainly lots of leftovers eating and probably some Netflix watching.  Almost certainly crocheting.

Saturday - Start figuring out Yule stuff, maybe start addressing holiday cards...or, who am I kidding?  Napping.

Sunday - I'm not gonna and you can't make me!

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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Keylime Bars

This weekend, K2 is having her annual pre-holiday shopping extravaganza home show, and today I'm making some keylime bars to take and share with shoppers tomorrow.  A friend on Facebook asked for the recipe and I figured I could share it here and help spread the keylimey love.

The players:



For the crust you will need:
2 Cups flour
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt (optional)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

For the filling you will need:
4 eggs
5 Tablespoons keylime juice
4 Tablespoons flour
2 Cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Aaaaand...action!

Heat your oven to 325 F.  I don't know what that is in C.  You can find a conversion calculator on the Internetz if you need it.  You can find darned near anything on the Internetz whether you need it or not.

Mix the dry ingredients for the crust well.  


Melt the butter over low heat.  Wow, that's a lot of butter.  This has to be good!



Carefully pour the butter over the dry ingredients and not all over the counter while you're trying to photograph the action for your blog.  Ahem.


Mixa, mixa, mixa with a fork.  Don't get too crazy here or you'll wind up with a tough crusty part, and tough crusty parts are a bummer, man.




Once it's mixed and still nice and crumbly, dump it into a 9 x 13 pan.  Or a 13 x 9 pan.  Your choice.  Sometimes I'm a rebel and use an 8 x 11 pan so I have a thicker crust and deeper bars.  I'm crazy that way.


You do NOT need to grease the pan.  Did you notice how much butter went into this crust?  Pat it down gently until it feels pretty even.  Or you could make it all bumpy and wavy and have kind of uneven bars if you want.  Who am I to judge?



Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes.  


Remove from the oven but leave that thing cranked to 325.  Look at that crust.  Mmm...



While the crust cools a wee, let's move on to the filling.  You can wait for the crust to cool entirely if you like.  Heck, you can just make the filling while the crust bakes and pour it right on as soon as the crust has cooked.  I'm just telling you how I do it.  Anyway, the filling...

Beat the eggs fluffy.



Next, add the sugar, still beating.  Pretend the mixer is all shiny and new and not distressingly worn and weird looking.  Thanks.


Once the sugar is well beaten in, add the salt.  I used Celtic sea salt because I like it, but regular table salt is fine.



Next comes the flour, one Tablespoon at a time.



Finally, the lime juice, one Tablespoon at a time.  Let it whisk around for a bit to get nice and creamy and smooth and tantalizing.



Pour over the crust, triumphant when you didn't spill it on the stove top while you simultaneously dumped and photographed.  Hurrah!



Oooh, purty...



Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes.  It should be well set, so if it still jiggles, leave it in for a few more minutes.



Oh, bubbly wonder!


Let the whole thing cool completely.  Once cooled, you can dust it with powdered sugar or just grab a fork and dive in.  Like I said, I won't judge!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Life Goes On

It's just after 10:00 at night.

The presidential election is being decided as I type.  It'll be a few hours before it's all settled.  I'm surprised at how close it is right now.  My son is worried about the results.  He's 13 and everything is so immediate, so urgent, so impossible, so he's worried.

I'm not.

The thing is, as far back as I can remember doomsayers have proclaimed that if this candidate or that wins, our country will crumble.  Various fates have been predicted.

And yet...

And yet...

Life goes on.

In the morning, when I wake and am bombarded by glee, misery, gloating, wound licking, and general post-election hangovery...I will still look for the hungry and try to feed them.  I will still do laundry.  I will bake cookies and play Candyland with Sprout.  I will empty the catbox and probably say a few cuss words as I clean up a puddle of pee from whichever cat has decided that litter boxes are for chumps.

I will play games on Facebook.

I will worry about bills.

I will plan dinner.

I will pester my children to do their chores, please, now, hey, chores, hello, can you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

I will ask how I can help people who need helping and strive to embody compassion, love, kindness, patience, and even occasionally wisdom.  Sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail and always I will hope and work to do better.

I will ask the gods to send the rain we've not had but desperately need.

I will watch National Geographic on Netflix and be thankful that my ex-husband lets us use his account so we can see so many beautiful and amazing things on our television.

I will crochet.

I will strive to help Cygnus walk his rocky path, and I will strive to walk mine with all the grace I can muster (scant though it be sometimes).

I will continue to love, as I always have.  Hatred is  cage in which I refuse to be captured.  I will love openly and freely and fiercely and madly and absolutely.

Nothing about this election can possibly change who I am at my core.  Nothing about any of the candidates or what the winner proclaims or attempts to keep or change about our laws, our nation, will alter one iota of my fundamental ME.


I will try, as always, to keep my integrity intact, and there's not a law on earth that can force me to do otherwise.

So, yes, life will go on.

It doesn't matter, this political brouhaha.

Life.  Goes.  On.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mondaying

Well it started nicely enough with a long snuggle with Sprout on the big comfy bed and a slow wake up.

She asked for a bologna sandwich for breakfast and I obliged.  Heated some sausage biscuits for me.  Poured some OJ.  Settled at the table for a bite and some dinking around on the computer.

But then...

Then the cup of OJ levitated itself, turned over, and send an orange wave of utter, citrusy destruction flowing across the table and onto my computer, phone, and plate of biscuits.  Before I could even reach for a towel, juice was dripping onto the floor. And my feet.

One dishcloth and half a roll of paper towels later, it seemed like I had it all cleaned up, but my computer had a black screen and wouldn't talk to me.  Oh.  No.

As I ate an OJ infused biscuit, I pondered what to do.  Screaming and crying seemed like good options, but maybe I shouldn't just leap right into panic mode.

By the way, slightly orange juiced sausage biscuits are not horrible.

I decided to turn off Albino Bob and restart him.

So far, so good.  My keys may be a little sticky because they're the recessed kind and I can't pop them off for cleaning, but I'll live...and so, I believe, will Bob.  Now to finish breakfast and see what else Monday wants to throw at me.  Oy.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I know I've written quite a bit about depression of late.  I have an idea that it gts boring, reading about it, but in part I post because if there's someone out there who is looking for words, maybe mine will help...and if there's someone out there who is trying to help, maybe these posts will help...and sometimes I need to get things out of my head somehow, and writing about it helps.

So here's another thing about depression.

I had a pretty good day, today.  The Evil Genius is hanging with his father, and Someone offered to hang out with our daughter while I took some time for me.

I spent a few hours with K2, catching up and whatnot.

I found (thanks to K2) a new crochet pattern to try.

I came home and got some dishes done, listened to some music, had a bit of peaceful family time.

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, for no discernible reason, I felt like I could cry.

In the middle of cooking dinner, I felt overwhelmed by sadness.

As the linguine bubbled in its pot, I felt a sense of futility.

As I stirred the mussels in garlic tomato sauce with white wine, I felt miserable.

As I seasoned and tasted the spinach, I felt empty and useless.

This is depression, the thief of joy, dimmer of color, taker of contentment.

It comes out of nowhere, flies back into nowhere, doesn't give a body a target to aim at, smashes and grabs and disappears, leaving a lingering greyness to life in its wake.

Nothing and no one can cure this.  It is to be endured, survived as best as can be, borne until it fades away for a brief respite.  It doesn't make sense, it can't be reasoned with, there is no logic to it.

I hate it.  I don't hate much or many, but depression?  Yeah...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thoughtfetti

"Mama, what do oak trees do?"
"They grow tall and wide and produce acorns."
"No, but what do they REALLY do?"
"Ask one and see what it says."
She did.  It didn't answer.  I told her to listen differently.  She did.  Now she won't tell me what it said.
~~~~~
Code enforcement came by the house yesterday.  Some kind anonymous soul called them to complain about trash and debris in our yard.  They knocked on the door, told me who they were and why they were there, and let me know that my yard is fine.  Nothing wrong.  They didn't understand why they were called.

There is no trash or debris in our yard.  There has not been.  There will not be.  Since Someone got out of prison he has been coming over in his spare time and cleaning up the yard, in fact.

I explained that I knew who called, even though they can't tell me...same person who has done all of the calling since she moved in next door, and it was likely because they don't like us and are trying to harass us into moving.  The officers were not happy.  They know they've been out here before for nothing and don't like that kind of BS.  Code enforcement and law enforcement are not meant to be used to bother neighbors or try to make their lives hell.

I was polite, friendly, and helpful.  I listened and answered with a light tone of voice and with respect.  They apologized profusely for bothering me, and I answered that they have a job to do and I don't grudge them doing it one little bit.  They appreciated that.

Every time they are called out here by Anonymous for nothing, they become a little less inclined to think kindly of her.  They will always respond and come to the house, but they will also likely keep note of how often they are sent on a wild goose chase.

I suspect Anonymous will be finding herself on the receiving end of a nuisance citation from local law enforcement if she keeps this up.  I suspect I may feel the need to stop making nice if she keeps this up.  I suspect I may look into whether I can bring a suit against her for harassment if she doesn't cut it out.  I suspect she will learn the hard way that I will not be budged once I dig in my heels, and that kindness and compassion will move mountains but pissy assholery will garner less than nothing from me.

Some folks just have to learn the hard way.
~~~~~
"Mama, where should I plant my oak tree?"
She found some acorns and wants to grow trees.  She has an idea that it will be instant...but trees are not like microwave popcorn.  Trees take time and patience and there is no guarantee.  I suggested planting them in the woods.  If they don't turn into trees, then perhaps they can at least turn into a squirrel's breakfast.
~~~~~
Someone has been working in the yard and garden.  11 days back out in the world and he's already cleaned up 2 years of neglect in about 1/3 of the space I've ignored.  I'm so NOT a yard work kind of person!
~~~~~
I believe in second chances.
~~~~~
"I want to be a veterinarian."
"Okay."
"When can I be one?"
"Well, you'll need some specialized schooling and whatnot, so maybe when you're a grown-up, but we can find ways to help animals long before that."
"I'm going to feed the kitties!"

It's a start.
~~~~~
I'm in love with the way the sunlight slips gently into Casa de Crazy through the windows and gives a pale golden glow to everything it touches.  I am not often a person of favorites, but I do hold Autumn highest in my seasonal esteem.
~~~~~
How are you doing?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bitch, Moan, Complain, Woof

Sigh. I'm trying to be my better self, but I'm annoyed and my compassion is slipping. The neighbors have a rather bark-y dog, looks and sounds like maybe a hound mix. It barks and barks and BARKS incessantly when we're out in our yard. It stands at the fence (which they put almost to the property line so it's quite close to Casa de Crazy) and hollers and growls at us constantly. The neighbors knows the dog does this and will occasionally make a half-hearted attempt at hushing the critter, mostly consisting of yelling the dog's name several times and then ignoring it as it continues to chastise us for existing. It seems supremely disinterested in making friends or being congenial. While I'm adept at ignoring noise for the most part, it is awfully difficult to ignore or be tolerant at 6:30 in the morning, or when we're outside dealing with the trailer, playing in the yard, even trying to have a simple conversation while enjoying the lovely weather out there. Bark, bark, barkbarkbarkbarkBAAARRRRRK!!!! We can't even walk to the mailbox or the shprt distance to the van without an explosion of woofs and general sounding of the hound alert announcing "DEFCON 5, THE HOTTENTOTS ARE COMING, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD WOOOOOOOOOF!!!!!" They haven't shown any interest in or effort towards teaching any of their dogs manners, and as they are usually indoors when the dog is outdoors, they just ignore the muffled noise inside their house seemingly without regard to how it disrupts anyone else's day. The dog is being a dog, telling us to keep away from its territory, warning its humans that strangers are near, and telling the world at large that it's ready to protect its pack. I get it. What I don't get is how any human who is kept by a dog could let it go apeshit that way and not teach it when to warn and when to be silent, how any human can keep from responding when their canine family member is going off like that. Dogs bark to communicate. Letting them bark constantly like that tells them that they don't matter or that they need to be louder and more urgent to get your attention. Also? It's rude as fuck. So now that you've read this far, question: What do I do about it? The neighbor is the unpleasant one,. When she saw me unhitching the trailer yesterday she rather hopefully asked if we were moving. So dejected when I replied no, we aren't moving, I was just keeping the trailer here now so it's handy for me. Trying to talk to her is like trying to hug a thorn bush...awfully prickly, not really productive, and not likely to be worth the effort. So do I call animal control? Code enforcement? The cops? Do I find some canine Valium and feed it doctored hot dogs? What's a gal to do?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

In With the New

I have a new boyfriend.

I met him at Lowe's a couple of months ago.  Mom was with me, and she thought he was pretty nice, too.  She approves of him.  She thinks he'll be a huge help with getting chores done around here.

Do you believe in love at first sight?  I don't know how I feel about that.  I think we can convince ourselves that we're in love only to find it fading as quickly as it came over us.  But this?  This is The One.  I knew as soon as I saw him.  After we met, I spent hours daydreaming about him as I stood at the sink, stared out the window, and washed some of the unending piles of plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, and goddess knows what else was in the sink at any given moment.

He's not flashy, but he's nice to look at, he's quiet, confident, he works hard, and he does dishes.  He does dishes!  Eeeeee!

He's also nice to touch.  Smooth, firm, steady on his feet, well  leveled.  He moved in yesterday and is already integrated into life at Casa de Crazy.

He's not camera shy so I took some photos of him just after he got settled.  He's quite comfortable and I think he means to stay.  
He fits right in, and I'm hoping that this will last a long, long time.  
Even the kids are delighted to have him here with us.

Would you like to meet him?

Have a look:

 Oooh, sexy devil...
 Hmm...so strong...
 He has a big heart...

Oh, yeah...
Wait, what?  You thought I was talking about a person?

Oh...umm...no...no...but I guess I can see where you might think that.

Sorry 'bout the confusion.

Now if you'll excuse me (and even if you won't), I'm going to go fondle my new love, push a few of his buttons, run my hand lovingly across his front, and see how much of my dirty (dishes) he can handle at once.

How're YOU doing?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thoughtfetti

I am preparing for race week.  What this means for me is a little house cleaning, a little taking out the trash and laundry, a little doing of dishes, a little planning of menus, and a lot of making sure things get put into the van so when I go set up my registration area, I have what I need and don't have to make trips.  I'm lazy and don't want to make trips.
~~~~~
After race week, I'm going to Ohio with the kids to camp and hang out with friends and not do much of anything.  I lam looking forward to simply being in a place that I love with people that I love and no obligations to perform, vend, organize, or whatnot.  First things first, getting through race week mostly intact.
~~~~~
Next Saturday, Someone gets out of prison.  He wants the opportunity to talk and work things out.  I can't, in good conscience, deny him at least the opportunity...but if I am true to my feelings, true to myself, I can't give him false hope.  My emotional heart's tired and not in it.  Loneliness is no excuse to hurt another person, and I'm already hurting him with this ending.
~~~~~
Autumn nears.  If the crunchy brown leaves on the driveway aren't clue enough, today I hauled trash out and pottered in the garage for a little while and I didn't feel as if I was going to melt into a puddle after five minutes, and my clothing wasn't soaked with sweat.  The mosquitoes are trying to convince me that it's still summertime, but it's a losing battle.
~~~~~
A friend of mine did an adult activity book called 'Murica, and it's available on Amazon.  It has caused me much laughter.  Go check it out, and maybe order a copy - you'll likely find something in it to make you chortle, and you'll be helping an independent and truly marvelous person make ends meet.
~~~~~
The Unpleasant Neighbor has many dogs.  That's okay, I have many cats, I don't judge.  However, several of her many dogs are quite vociferous.  Especially when we exit casa de Crazy and try to enjoy our outdoor environs.  Yarf.  Yap. Bark.  Woof.  WoofwoofwoofwoofwoofWWWWOOOOOOOOOFFFFFF!!!!!

I try to ignore it, sometimes talk to it and try to reassure it that we're all good, try not to let it bother me, but when I am trying to sleep and it's before the sun is up and the kids let the dog into the yard as they leave for school and it barks incessantly and no one in their house wants to get up and let it in, and when that barking is done at the part of their fenced area that is almost on top of the outside of the wall against which my bed rests on the inside, well...I'm only human.  It wakes me up every damned morning.

On the upside, if the irresponsible humans who have done nothing to train their critter friends and generally ignore them leave the dogs out during the day, they let me know when anyone has come down the driveway, so it's much more difficult for people to sneak up on Casa de Crazy.  I do try to find the good in things.  Woof.
~~~~~

This made me laugh entirely too hard.  I neither know nor care if it's photoshopped.  A laugh is a laugh.



~~~~~
I learned a new crochet pattern.  It's meant to be a peacock feather but I kind of modified it to be a leaf-ish thing.  I'm thinking of making a shawl of a whole mess of them.  First I have to make the whole mess of them, but I can do that while I ignore the TV of an evening.  It's a tiny thing, really, but many tiny things can be made into big things, and I feel pretty chuffed about it.
~~~~~
If you are on Facebook, check out the Bangor, Maine page.  I adore it.  If it were in the cards fro me to relocate to Bangor, Maine, that page would be one of the motivating factors.  I could happily live in a place where even ONE of the officers has that kind of good humor.
~~~~~
This song was stuck in my head today.  Now it can be stuck in yours.  Cyndi Lauper has some serious vocal chops and I respect the hell out of her talent.

~~~~~
What're you up to, these days?  Small or large, what's making you happy?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thing

I got out of bed today.

Oh, sure, I know, big deal.

Well, yeah.  It IS a big deal.  There's this Thing in my psyche that doesn't WANT me to get out of bed, or do anything, so it can tell me how useless I am.  When I disobey the Thing and get up, it gets angry and yells at me.

So I got up and listened to the Thing grumble and complain about what a waste of time it was.

Then I did things.

The Thing doesn't like when I do things.  It wants me to curl up and stare at nothing and do nothing and feel like nothing.  The Thing feeds on all that nothing, and it's always hungry.

So I got up and did things.  Maybe it won't seem like much to anyone who doesn't have a Thing in their psyche, but it felt like moving mountains to me.  I took trash out.  I cleaned a cat box.  I swept cat poop up from the floor in the room they've decided looks enough like their toilet to suit their needs because I left the cat box I cleaned for too long.  I did dishes, and then some more dishes.  I fed the outdoor kitties and pet them.  Then I did more dishes because there are always more dishes.  I cleaned my toilet.  I cleaned the toilet in the hall bathroom.  I took a nap.  I shuffled through the leaves on the driveway and crunched them under my feet.  I made a lap for the indoor cats to claim in the name of Kittykind.  I am writing this blog post.

All the while, the Thing is grumbling and growling and telling me how it's too much, it's not enough, it's pointless and useless and so am I.  It's not a very nice Thing.  It doesn't like for me to feel good about anything, to be proud of myself.  It hates my music, photography, art.  It hates when I sew.  It hates that I figured out how to watch Netflix via the Wii because the Evil Genius's PS2 crapped out on us, and I figured it out on my own. 

The Thing likes to hit below the belt.  It tells me I'm a horrible mother, that homeschooling my kids is is ruining them, that every person who tells me I should put them in public school here in Redneck Central is right and I am wrong and that I'm not smart enough to teach them.  It tells me I'm going to be lonely for the rest of my life because really, look at myself, who would want anything to do with that mess?  It tells me everything, everything, everything is futile.

Despite the Thing in my psyche, I got up today.  I get up every day.  Maybe not for long, but I get up.  I wash a bowl.  I make breakfast for Sprout or encourage her to make her own.  Maybe I sweep a room.  Maybe I do a load of laundry.  Maybe I run an errand.  Something.  I do something.

And then maybe I go lie down again, because Thing wrestling is exhausting.  And maybe I think about all of the nothing I got done and feel bad.  But maybe I don't lie down, because Thing wrestling is constant and I have to remind it, remind me, who's running this show.

Happiness is not a choice.  Depression is not a choice.  Dragging my tired, depressed self through one day and into the next IS a choice.  I don't always want to, but I choose.

Every time I get out of bed, the Thing loses.  Maybe some day, if the Thing loses enough battles, it'll quiet down and let me have a few minutes of peace in my head.  I'd like that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mondaying

It's late Monday evening and I'm just now getting dinner cooked for Sprout.  Macaroni and cheese, if you'rs wondering.  I think the girl could happily eat it every day.  Hot dogs go well with it, in her mind, but not tonight.  Not home made, she spurns that...nope, nothing but the blue box for my kiddo.

The Evil Genius is spending a few days with his dad.  I always miss him when he's away, but it's also kind of peaceful, and he has fun with his father, and it's probably for the best that he's not here right now because I'm not well.

I had such terrific plans for this Monday, but things started going south last night and just kept on going this morning.

My right eye started to hurt last night.  Just out of the blue, this kind of stabbing throb.  When I gently touched my eyelid, it felt like my whole eyeball was bruised.  It doesn't look bruised.  It looks just like an eye.  Eventually I realized that the OUCH! mostly came when my eye was adjusting to more light - when I looked at my phone or computer screen, walked into a room with more lights on, that sort of thing.  Since I usually sit in the dark, that wouldn't seem to be a problem, but...I sit in the dark at my computer, and I couldn't look at the screen without feeling that stab-throb.

No idea what caused it, I figured I'd just go to bed and get on with Monday when it came.  I had plans that included baking cookies, hauling my trash to the dump, and a friend coming over and doing some plumbing for me.

The best laid plans, right?

My eye hurt in my sleep.  In my sleep!

All morning I had to sit with my eyes closed because keeping them open meant adjusting to sunlight, which bloody hurt.

My friend came and did the plumbing, and I called Mom to see if she could help me with the dump run because I didn't think I ought to drive.  Bless her, she drove down and did  most of the work because my stomach decided to rebel and...er...never mind what.  I didn't mean for her to have to deal with all that grossness, and I appreciate that she stepped in and spared me the horror.

On top of all that, like a really awful cherry perched atop a garbage scented, barf flavored, eye pain sundae, was the depression which just laughed and laughed and reminded me that this is as good as I get to have it why I will be alone for the rest of my life because who would want me, all stove up and constantly struggling?

Stupid depression.  Shut up.

I gave up on the day and crawled into bed a little after the dump run, fell asleep, and pretty much stayed that way until just before eight o'clock when I woke up and realized that I really should fix dinner for Sprout.  Luckily she's pretty handy in the kitchen and got herself some snacks while I was in a coma slept.

To hell with depression, I will cook dinner for my kid.  Good thing she's easy!  Once she's fed, cuddled a bit, and in bed, I'm crawling back into my bed because I don't feel like taking on whatever Monday has left for me.  I'll eat tomorrow...or the next day...

How're you doing?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Beige Illusion

I have good days.  I do.  And every day I know that I have much to be grateful for.  I know this sorrow, this grief, this darkness, is an illusion.  When I'm in the middle of it, it feels awfully real and permanent, but I cling to the certainty of past experience - it will pass.  Eventually.

Today I am struggling with feeling useless, pointless.  The tremendous stone of "Why bother?" is trying to crush me.  I'm staring out at the world through futility colored glasses.  It just kind of came over me all of a sudden, the way that it does, and walloped me upside the heart.  There is no cure for this.  There's only endurance.

So I endure.

And I distract.  I can't ignore the feeling entirely, but maybe I can distract myself a little, and so I try.  I'm working on a crocheted thing for Sprout, who announced that she wished I would make HER something with the soft yarn.  In fact, she wished I would make her a circle.  So...a circle I am endeavoring to make.  It's not perfect, but she's five and doesn't notice, or care.  All that matters to her is that she asked and I am making, and I'm using some lovely soft yarn and soon she will have a circle for whatever a child of five needs a circle for.

The Evil Genius and I chatted about this Pokemon Go game he and Sprout are playing, and we decided that maybe later could be a nice time to go out and ferret out and stops in the area.  I don't pretend to understand all of the details of this game, but I've cottoned on to the fact that one must go into the world to reload on balls that are intrinsic to the playing.  I wonder if I could be forgiven for the lazy extravagance of taking the kids through some fast food joint and then motoring around our neck of the woods in search of Pokestops.  It's a loose plan, we'll see if I can make it happen.

I learned how to crochet a feather/leaf design.  In the grand scheme of things, who cares?  But I learned something, a tiny little nothing of a something, and that's a kind of triumph over the weight of entropy that makes it difficult to breath, sometimes.

I am still fighting a war with my own brain.  This battle, today's, is a losing one, but I can't win them all...at best, I can hope to win more than I lose and meanwhile keep slogging along until I get to the other side, where perhaps the sun is shining, I don't feel so damned lost and lonely, and maybe I can string together some good days into a necklace for my memory to wear when the bad days start knocking me around again.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

History

I suppose every generation has their one day in history that defines their era.  Where were you when so-and-so was shot?  What were you doing when thus-and-such happened?  For me, it's centered around September 11, 2001.  

What I was doing, just before I found out about the towers, and then the Pentagon, was sleeping.  At that time, T worked a late shift so we tended to get to bed late and thus up late.  I was wakened by the fellow who'd come to do the annual termite inspection.  As we chatted, he asked if I'd heard about the plane that crashed into The World Trade Center, I imagined a Cessna or other small aircraft.  He said he'd heard about it on the radio.  I turned on the TV (we had satellite, back then, and could watch darned near every channel known to mankind) and found a new station.  I saw the smoke and watched with disbelief as the whole thing unfolded, a horrid spectacle.  I even videotaped it because...I don't know why.  Maybe I didn't want to believe it and needed lasting proof.  Maybe I thought some day I would want a reminder of this surreal day.

Things I remember about 9/11/01:

I was dazed.
Calling friends and asking had they heard?  Did they know?  What was this new thing happening?
Waking T and telling him, standing in the living room and watching the TV, unable to turn away.
Walking outside and looking up at the sky, and the emptiness of it.
The unusual silence of a day with no aircraft going overhead.
The juxtaposition of our ordinary day with the extraordinary horror of what happened in New York City and in DC.
Crying, off and on, all day.
Anger.
A desire to do something, anything, to undo what had happened, or to help, or to fix it.
How empty the roads were - no one was driving anywhere if they didn't have to.
Wondering if there was more to come.
Watching the towers.
The realization that I was sleeping when the first plans hit, and I would have been sleeping still, unaware of this monumental thing that would shake our nation to its foundation, if not for the advent of a termite inspection.

Later there would be stories of heroism, and there would be liars and thieves who claimed a part in all of it in order to gain, and there would be stories of families blown to pieces, of people leaping rather than burning, of people going back in, back in, back in, refusing to give up as long as one more could be saved.  There would be politicians, politics, anger, rage, demands for justice, for revenge.  Later still would come the arguments about cleaning up, rebuilding.  Then the laws would change, and change again.

Destroying those buildings, taking those lives, was only the first part of a plan that still to snakes its way through our world.  The fear generated on 9/11/2001 continues to this day.  Reactionary laws created ripples that our children's children will feel.  We've given up countless freedoms in the name of safety, of prevention, of punishment.  There are those who would wrap us further up in the name of protection, wrap us in steel and barbed wire and "Keep Out" signs.  Those who would see every person armed, and those who would see every person disarmed.

For me, 9/11/2001 was shattering, not because we could be struck on our own soil - just because it hadn't happened before didn't mean it never would - but because of the hatred and fear it woke in my fellow citizens.  Because of life wasted in the name of religion.  Because I'm used to people hating what I am (no one who wears the label of Pagan or Witch can be unaware of hatred in the name of God, we deal with it regularly) but not used to that hatred striking on such a tremendous scale.  It was also the beginning of a long, slow crumbling of some fundamental rights inherent to making us the society that garnered such hatred in the first place.  Therein lies the triumph of the perpetrators of the event.  It wasn't just the immediacy of the destruction...it was and is the prolonged disintegration of a nation into a fractured society full of isolation and distrustful, angry members.

Along with our innocence, along with life and property, we lost our cohesion.

I will not forget 9/11/2001.  I will not forget watching the towers fall, nor the loss, the inexcusable waste of life.  But also, I will not allow fear to take root in me.  I will not let fear feed on ignorance and grow into anger, nor anger to blossom into hatred.
On this day, fifteen years later, I celebrate the best things that came out of one of the worst days, even as I mourn the continuing losses we experience on a daily basis.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Morpheus?

I slept last night like I haven't for quite a while.  Deep, and dreaming, and still.  I woke a few times, but not the kind of restless waking that leads to hours of staring into the darkness while my mind whirs busily through its business of nothings.  Not the kind of wakings that happen when one is perhaps not alone in their bed  but is beside someone they trust completely.  The kind of waking that usually is followed by nestling closer to that someone before sighing contentedly and falling back into the welcome weirdness of sleep and the resting mind.

No one was with me.

Well, not no one.  There were the usual cats, and later the usual Sprout.

I don't know what phantom was there in my room last night, but I felt as if they...he...was watching over me.  It felt like there was an arm around me, and a kind voice telling me all was well.  I couldn't have fretted if I wanted to, with this being there.

Whoever he was, wherever he came from, I'm grateful, and he's welcome to return at will.  Sleep like that is to be treasured.