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.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bucket List Meme

I didn't mean to see it.  I didn't want to see it.  But I saw it.  And now I have to do it.  I didn't name it and I'm not tagging anyone else to do it but you're welcome to if you like.

Bucket List - please play along. You would be surprised at the responses. Whether you've done this before or not, be a good sport. Do it again (and take a brain break for a minute)!!Bucket List...copy and paste to your status. Place an X by all the things you've done, remove the X from the ones you have not.

(X) Shot a gun 
() Gone on a blind date  
(/) Skipped school  (I put half an "x" because I never had an unexcused absence, but if I'm being honest one or two of my sick days were more mental than physical) 
(X) Been lost (although I more viewed it as not knowing quite where I was but certain I could find my way to where I wanted to be eventually)(and sometimes I still feel lost even when I know where I am geographically) 
(/)Traveled to the opposite side of the country (Been from Maine to Florida, and almost all the way to California, so half an "x" it is.)
(X) Visited Washington, DC(X) Swam in the Ocean  (SWUM in the ocean)
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Played cowboys and Indians
(X) Recently colored with crayons/colored pencils
(X)Sang karaoke  (SUNG Karaoke)
( X) Flown in a helicopter  (I was quite young but I remember bits of it clearly)
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Made prank phone calls
() Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X)Had children
(X) Had a pet
(X ) Been skinny-dipping
(X) Been fishing
(X) Been boating
(X) Been downhill skiing
(/ ) Been water skiing (Half an"x" again because my grandfather tried to teach me but the skiis kept falling off of my feet!)
(X )Been camping in a trailer/RV
(X) Been camping in a tent
()Driven a motorcycle
( ) Been bungee-jumping (ripcord jumping)
( ) Been Sky Diving
( ) Been Hang Gliding
(X) Gone to a drive-in movie
(X) Done Something that could have killed you… and continue too
(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
( ) Rode an elephant
( ) Rode a camel
(X) Eaten just cookies or cake for dinner or ice cream
() Been on TV
( ) Stolen any traffic signs
(X) Been in a car accident
(X ) Been in the Hospital past 24 hours
(X) Donated blood
(X)Gotten a piercing
( X) Gotten a Tattoo
(X) Driven a four door vehicle
() Ever owned your dream car
(X)Been Married
(X) Been divorced
(X) Fell in love
(X) Fell out of love
(X) Paid for a strangers meal
(X) Driven over 100mph
()Been scuba diving
(X) Been snorkeling
(X) Written a published book/story (poem) (song)
( X) Eaten snails
(X) Eaten frogs
( ) Been in a state championship game/race
( )Biked over 100 miles continuously
(X)Visited at least 25 of the United States (as long as you define "visit" as having driven through on the way somewhere else)(And stopped for fuel at least once)
(X ) Been in a race car

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spending the Lottery Winnings

Wait, what do you mean I have to buy a ticket?

Well.

That explains a lot.

Ahem.

One of my little pastimes is to imagine what I might do with a lottery windfall.  Not a paltry million or two, I'm talking something along the lines of the recent Gabillion Dollar Lottery Extravaganza (now with more Holy Wow power!)


First and foremost, I'd pay off the mortgage on Casa de Crazy, then fix the old girl up inside and out.  Then, buy land up by my mother's place and build my dream home.

Next I'd zero out all of my mother's debts.
I'd buy an RV and travel a little with my family.

Next would come creating a trust for me and my family to live off of.  I'd need it, as I am not so very good with money and would hate to wind up like one of the people on that show about the lottery ruining their lives.

Then I'd set up trusts for my kids and a few other kids.  These trusts would be to pay for education either in college or in trades.  The idea would be to make it so these kids could go and learn without worrying about how to pay for it or carrying a huge debt load after finishing their education.  If any of 'em don't want to go to school, the trust will vest in their late 20's or early 30's and they can use it to fund their lives for as long as it lasts.  For the ones that do go to school, anything left when they graduate is theirs for the keeping.

Then I would set up a scholarship fund of some sort, maybe more than one - something in the sciences, something in music

Next comes what I like to call a reset, or setting back to zero - paying off the debts of friends and family so that they are essentially no longer in the negative but are back to zero debt.  Houses, cars, student loans, all that sort of thing, paid off.  
 Maybe even pay utilities for a year.  Imagine what you could do with your life if you had no debt to worry about, if everything you earned was yours to do with as you wish.  I would do this one time each, but hopefully that's all it would take.  I know more than a few people who could soar on wings newly freed from the fetters of debt.

If it's a big enough win, I would make an official charity out of Everybody Eats, helping folks with no or low income keep their pantries full, helping people get back on their feet, working towards wiping out hunger.  Maybe I would set up a funds-match for Heifer International.

I would also create and maintain The Last Chance Ranch, a place for critters and people who have been written off to get back on their feet again, a place to heal minds, hearts, and spirits.

Once my family was squared away, I wouldn't need a bunch of money sitting around, making me weird in the head - I'm already weird in the head, I don't need more of that - I'd want to give it away and would likely have a very good time carefully, quietly, helping people rebuild themselves, rebuild their lives.  That would make me happy.

How about you?  Do you have lottery dreams?  Do tell...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Little Wonders



Today we had some pretty good moments, if of the small sort.

Casa de Crazy had to have a new roof.  The roofers started yesterday and the kids had a blast watching the goings-on.  I had a headache, but it was kind of fun to watch.  The Evil Genius discovered a nano-copter he was given for Christmas and charged it up, and all three of us had a lot of laughs over his efforts to fly it.  Our friend A came for dinner and to play with the kids, and that was a riot.  That was yesterday.

Today the roofers came an hour earlier than they said they would, surprising me with overhead thumps and whacks.  They also finished in less than an hour, cleaned up all the scraps and nails and whatnot in the yard, and removed themselves before I even finished my first cuppa tea.  The new roof looks quite nice and I have hopes it will last as long as the old one and so have to be replaced long after we have vacated Casa de Crazy for friendlier climes closer to my mother.

Sprout and I goofed off outside for a few minutes and I raced her to the van.  She won, but only because I got distracted by a cat.  We both laughed like loonies, which makes sense because I am one.

Errands were rather hum-drum, but I teased Sprout by making animal noises every time the game she was playing on her Papa's phone made a sound.  Lots of meowing, quacking, and bleating in the van, and she was giggling constantly.  She said she likes it when we are silly.  Poor kid, there's not enough silly in her life.  I'm working on that.

This afternoon I needed a nap - up hours and hours earlier than usual and short on sleep, there was no slogging through to a second wind.  I had to sleep.  While I slept, the Evil Genius and Sprout played with his nano-copter.  That poor thing has crashed into darned near every surface in this house.  It's looking a little rough but gamely soldiering on with its flights, and the kids think it's marvelous.  I even flew it a little and got it to hover in place for a few minutes!

If all of this sounds dull, inane, well...it is.  But it's also something out of the ordinary for Casa de Crazy.  Yes, depression is still trying to swallow me whole, and yes, it will likely do so until something else snuffs me, but these little things are huge when they've been absent for so long.  I'll take the grains of sand.  I know that with sand I can build some pretty impressive castles.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let Them Eat Cake

February 15 was my birthday.  I spent it at home with the kids, having a quiet day.  I made some soup, because I wanted to, and I made my own birthday cake, also because I wanted to.

Some folks on Facebook liked the photos of the cake and asked for the recipe, so I asked my not-a-mother-in-law if I could share it since she gave it to me, and one hates to publish a family thing without permission.  She was enthusiastically for my sharing, so here it is:
The players:

For the cake:
One bundt pan, regular size, and possibly another one with the miniature forms or at least a brownie type pan.  I have the bundt pan that my not-a-mother-in-law gave me when she learned I don't have one, and it's maybe a little older than I am.  It's metal, and heavy, and I love it.  She also gave me the pan for mini-bundts, which makes six small cakes of a sunflower design.

One can of baker's Joy.  Accept no substitutes.  Seriously - I've tried other products and have been most disappointed with the results.  It's okay if you like something else better and it works for you, but I'm sticking with my Baker's Joy.

One teaspoon of each of the following - coconut extract, rum extract, butter extract, lemon extract, vanilla extract, almond extract

2 sticks of butter.  Yes, I said butter.  Do it.  You'll thank me.

1/2 cup shortening (I use those handy Crisco sticks.  One half stick is one half cup, easy peasy).

3 cups sugar.  I know.  I KNOW!

5 eggs, well beaten.  I do mean well.  As in fluffy, aerated, ouch my wrist hurts from whisking these bad boys.

3 cups all purpose flour.

1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

1 cup milk.  I use whole because this clearly isn't health food.

For the glaze:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon of each of the flavorings

 Aaaaand action!

Pre-heat the oven to 325 f.

To save some time and effort, I like to measure out the flavorings in advance, into two ramekins.  Interesting fact, the mix of flavors is clear until I add the lemon, then it clouds up.  Weird.  I'm sure there's science involved.

This is much easier if you have a stand type mixer with a whisk attachment.  I love my KitchenAid.

Cream the butter and shorteningtogether until well mixed.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  While all this is going on, whisk the eggs in another bowl.  You want them to lighten in hue, about lemon colored.

Add the eggs to the bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Once they're a mostly mixed in I turn it up to medium speed.

Combine the flour and baking powder.  I just mix mine in a measuring cup.

Add to the bowl, alternating with the milk, beating at low speed until well incorporated.

Add in the combined flavorings, again mixing at low speed until incorporated.  Now turn the mixer to medium/medium high and walk away for a few minutes.  Yes.  Do it.

This is where I spray the everloving heck out of the bundt pan.  I hose that baby down.  Every nook and cranny is well sprayed, the whole interior is suddenly frosty white, no kidding there's not a speck of the non-stick lining to be seen.  I ain't kidding around with this thing.  I give the same treatment to three of the mini-bundts.  If you're using a brownie pan for the extra (and there will be extra), hose it down, too.

Now go drink a glass of water or something.

If you walked away from the batter and let the beater do its job for a few minutes (I've let mine go for as much as 15 minutes before), you will have a pale, silken batter that smells delightful.  Spoon it into your bundt pan.  I usually fill my pan 1/2 to 2/3.  The rest of the batter goes into the mini-bundts or the brownie pan.

Place both in the oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until done.  Mine take almost the whole time.

About 30 minutes before the cakes come out, make the glaze by combining the water, sugar, and flavorings in a sauce pan and heating to a boil, stirring often until the sugar is completely melted.

If it's done before the cakes, just turn off the burner and let it sit.

The mini-bundts are usually done about 15 minutes before the big one, so I pull them out first.  You can leave them unglazed, or spoon some glaze on the bottoms, wait ten minutes, and carefully pull them from the pans and put 'em on a plate.  Spoon more glaze onto the top if desired.

If you used a brownie pan, just spoon a little glaze on the top and leave it alone.

When the large cake is ready, pull it out and spoon about half the remaining glaze onto the bottom.  Let it soak in, and let the cake cool for about ten minutes.

Plate the cake* and evenly distribute the remaining glaze from the pot around the top.  Let it cool completely, then devour it.  Or, you know, save some for company or whatever.

I will not make this cake unless I know other people will help eat it, because I WILL eat the whole danged thing.



*Seems like lots of folks have their own method for de-panning this kind of cake.  Mine is to place the plate over the pan, centered, and carefully flip it.  I say a little prayer and lift the pan, and if the gods are kind and the the fairies feel like picking on someone else that day, it comes up without a fuss, leaving behind a beautiful cake of beautifulness.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love, Love, Love


Once upon a time, I would tell people that I only know one way to love - absolutely.  There were no gradations, I loved my mother the same way that I love my cats the same way that I loved my friends the same way that I loved everyone.

That still holds true in many ways.

The love I feel for K2 is no less or more than the love I feel for my mother.  The love I feel for my children and Someone is no different than the love I hold for A or Gypsy or the other K or even my ex-husband.

I can understand where this might cause some consternation.  After all, if I love them all the same, how is anyone special?  But they are special, every one of them.

The love varies in intensity and application, but always absolute - what I love best about one is not the same thing as what I love best about another - but they're all tangled up in my heart and plucking on one string makes them all vibrate.

Today's a good day to be thinking about love, what with the whole Valentine's brouhaha going on.

You are loved.  You are.  Yes, even you, the one who feels alone in the world.  You are loved.  I love you.  Not in the abstract, but in a very real way.  I don't have to know you to love and appreciate your place in this world, because this world is awesome and it couldn't be this awesome if you weren't adding your light, your reflection, your voice to the mix.

I hope that whoever you are, wherever you are, you feel loved - not just today, but every day.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Let's Get Physical

Oof!

Sometimes mental illness isn't just mental.

I'm taking a new (to me) medication to treat my depression.  I believe I mentioned?

Anyhoo, the depression seemed to abate about a micron's worth, but that may have been a combination of therapy (I started that, too) and placebo effect, because it rallied and is back with a vengeance.

Foolish mortal, thinking that wee pill could tackle such a monstrous monster!

Depression isn't jut wandering around in a beige cloud of nothingness.  It has some physical aspects, too.

I ache.

All over, but especially anywhere I've hurt myself in the past - my back, neck, toes that I broke, the foot that I broke, hand and wrists that I broke.  Hey, I've broken a lot of bones.  Proof I used to be active, anyway.

My psyche is screaming.

It's difficult to get out of bed, but even in bed I feel all the twinges and complaints of a frame that's been carrying too much weight - physical and mental - for far too long.

I know it'll get better, or at least tolerable, but right now, folks, I feel as beat as a bongo at a hipster hootenanny.

How are you doing?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Alive.

I'm alive today.

Today I am alive.

It hardly seems an accomplishment, not something to be proud of, not like climbing Everest or saving someone from a rampaging lion or performing open heart surgery.  But it is.

For me, alive can sometimes be a victory.

I am alive.

Tired, yes, and worn.  My eyes are puffy and my hair is a mess.  My shirt is torn and my pants are stained.  But.  I am alive.

I made it through the dark hours, when my mind would not stop, not even slow, not for a moment relent and give me peace.  I made it through the sibilant whispers, insidious voices telling me that I am a failure, that struggling, that the constant fight, all of it, is useless, pointless.  I made it through the loneliness that washes over me and drags me under every.  Single.  Night.

I am alive today.

I am mentally ill.  I don't slay dragons.  I do battle with my own mind, a psyche that has been turning on me since I was a child.

I am alive today.

Alive.

So many warriors of the mind have fallen, but I am still here.  I am not always well armed, but I fight tooth and nail, scratching and clawing at the ravenous beast that has consumed so many souls.  I can't make it give them back, but I can keep it from swallowing me whole.

I am alive.

I am alive, and I am mentally ill, and the two aren't always compatible but I make them work.  I'm not weak.  I'm not stupid.  I'm not being punished by god or gods.  I'm just wired differently.  My brain malfunctions on a cellular level and there's no fixing it.  No quantum mechanic to turn a wrench and make it right.

I am alive today.  Some days, today, alive is all the victory I can claim, but it is still victory.

I am alive.