DPP 24: Red.

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We had a lovely Christmas Eve with my in-laws.  My youngest picked petals off Grandma’s geranium and asked me to take a picture.  Did I condone her behavior by granting her request?

Don’t answer that.  Sorry, Grandma.   I couldn’t resist all the red.  Merry Christmas Eve, y’all.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

These are the first two tomatoes I picked from the garden.  The first tomatoes are so anticipated.  We sashay into the house with them, skip to the kitchen, fry up the bacon, and immediately gobble B.L.T.’s with abandon.

I need a steady supply of tomatoes so I don’t have to go a day without eating them in season.  Out-of-season tomatoes taste like dirt.  However, by the time the 67th tomato comes along, I have misgivings.  I still want to eat them fresh daily, but I know I need to commit an afternoon to canning them.  Canning is a good thing, I just never “feel” like it.

These feelings never prevent me from planting sixteen tomato plants, so I guess I need to buck up and get busy when the time comes.  I will try not to whine.  On the outside, at least.

 

This about sums it up.

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I had a sinking feeling 2 weeks ago I had nothing to show for the whole summer.  Remedy?  Paint.  Drastic, I know.  But now it is blatantly obvious I did do something this summer.

Restoration Hardware calls this color “Sea Green.”  No way.  One of my kids, whose name escapes me, called it “Robin’s Egg Blue.”  Much better description.  Blue in some light, and green when it feels like it.

Marcus, the Supreme Doubter of my Color Choices, just mentioned that this color is growing on him.  I knew it would.

It was also salsa week.  Maddie picked extra jalapenos, and I threw them all in.  Steamy.

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Behind

It’s deep summer.  Our blogging heroine (BH) has realized she’s out of time.  School starts in less than a month, and last Monday morning dread filled her heart.  She doesn’t have time to write, but agreed to a quick interview.

Ivey:  So.  You’ve had all summer.  What is the problem?

BH:  For one, I hadn’t even started thinking about school yet.  I always need to go through our books for the coming school year, put away last year’s stuff, and order anything I need.  Norris Public Schools called me and asked if Katherine was really coming this year, since I hadn’t sent in her New Student Form, which I didn’t have.    I actually did get her immunizations taken care of before I left for Vegas, so they would actually let her in the school.  Unfortunately, I was even more behind with Maddie’s shots, and she had to receive six of them.  I mean, I was behind.

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Ash and Kat before the big Jonas Brothers concert.  Kat loved it.  Ash…went.

Ivey:  Back up.  Katherine is going to public school?  Really?  I thought you were a die-hard homeschooler.

BH:  I do homeschool, but my identity is actually in Christ, not where my children go to school.  I try to do what I think is best for my kids, and Katherine, her father, and I think this is best.  She is taking 3 classes in the afternoons at Norris, and 2 at our homeschool cooperative.  None at home.  It will be strange, but I’m sure I’ll figure out what to do with all those extra minutes.

Ivey:  Back up again.  Vegas?

BH:  Yes.  I know.  I have the impression people don’t think I’d choose Vegas as a vacation destination.  I must be pretty transparent.  However, since my husband wanted to go to a woodworking convention, and I like my husband, I decided to go.  I filled my days with gawking at immense, sprawling casinos (the Mirage covers 120 acres), while Marcus compared cabinet software.  From my point of view, I got the better end of the deal.

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Yes, an actual picture of our blogging heroine in the Bellagio.  She stood here a long time, as it was 112 degrees outside.

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Best thing I saw in Vegas.

Ivey:  Why else were you so stressed out this week?

BH:  Quarterly tax returns are due next week, and I was a bit, or maybe a lot, behind.  Really behind.  I also do the books for the homeschool cooperative, and I was, for want of a better word, behind.

Ivey:  What did you do this summer?

BH:  Not sure what I did when I was home.  Laundry?  I cooked a little.  Mowed some.  Not sure about the rest.  I gave my pastor grief on Facebook, but I don’t think that took up the rest of my time.

Ivey:  What does the rest of the summer look like?

BH:  A lot more of this:

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And this:

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BH:  In my defense, someone gave me the corn to freeze.  But the 2 rows of potatoes – I brought that on myself.  I noticed my potato-digging accomplice took a picture of the rubber duck potato:

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BH:  The tomatoes are just starting to ripen.  That means canning season is almost upon us.  I mean me. Oh, yes.  Why do I do this to myself?  Ouiser says it best in Steel Magnolias:


Annelle:  Why do you grow them, then?

Ouiser:  I’m an old southern woman (not quite).  We’re supposed to wear funny hats (I do), and ugly clothes (my gardening  clothes are not attractive), and grow vegetables in the dirt (that’s me).  Don’t ask me those questions.  I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules.

Ivey:  Besides canning, is anything else on your agenda before school starts?

BH:  I have wanted to paint my dining room, but haven’t felt like I’ve been home long enough to tear into it.  Ashley pledged to help me before she flies the coop.  So we’ll probably paint my ultra-traditional dining room a lovely shade of nontraditional blue.

Ivey:  Flies what coop?

BH:  Ashley is packing up her clothes and books, which is all she needs, and moving in with Grandma.  I’ve grown accustomed to the idea, I guess.  Our biggest problem now is book ownership.  Half of “her” books are mine.  I actually let her have my nice hardcover of  Jane Eyre today, she looked so big-eyed and needy.  Of my book, that is.

Ivey:  What about the younger girls?  What are they doing?

BH:  They are helping with projects around the house, getting a swim in now and then, and have started playing together again.  I had all this stuff “planned” for them to do this summer, but then wondered what on earth I was thinking, as far as expense and time.  Eventually their creative juices got the best of them, and they started this:

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BH:  The Polly Christian Church, Pastor Prince Charming, presiding

Ivey:  Is that sacrilegious?

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BOG:  The Polly Modern Art/Cafe Shop, and…

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…Bill’s Bar and Grill.  Creative juices, yessirree.

Ivey:  Hmmm.  Thank you for your time.

BH:  Glad for the break.



Compelled, Part 2

I can’t say no to stray cats. Several have come peering through our window on some cold winter evening, seemingly during rather blizzard-like weather. First the kids are horrified, as I try to rationalize that animals outside know how to take care of themselves. But the youngest kids are never convinced, and deep down, under my unfeeling facade, I know I’m not either.

When we first moved out to our acreage, Kelli tried to give me some chickens or some such poultry. She talked about how rewarding they were, that we could show them at 4-H, etc. Other people asked if we were getting a horse. I looked at them like they were crazy. I had a 6, 3, and 1 year old when we moved. Did I look like I needed more work?

Now we have plenty of livestock. A 90-pound yellow lab named Jake, a 15-pound inside cat named Clooney, and an lithe outside cat named Fluffy.

Clooney showed up about 3 years ago. We heard pitiful meowing behind the shop once in a while, then one day saw the object: an emaciated, pathetic, starving, half-grown tomcat. The girls put the previous cat’s food out on the front steps, and waited. He was shy at first, but before long acted like we were long lost family. That wasn’t enough. They brought him in to sit on their laps by the door. Soon it was further into the interior of the house. I told them to get that wormy thing out of here! Their eyes pleaded daily. Finally, I loaded him up into the previous cats’ cat carrier, and took him to the vet for domestic treatment. Since then, he has plumped up, to put it mildly, and pretty much thinks he is the boss, when Marcus isn’t in the house.

Fluffy showed up in the dead of winter last year. He was way too friendly at first, and looked fed, so I knew he must only be lost. But he didn’t leave. Sometimes he would go carousing a couple nights, but he was always back. Soon the food was set out. The pleading started. I said NO MORE INDOOR CATS. Then the heating pad was plugged in, and shelter made for frigid winter nights. Towards the end of the winter, I went to TSC(Tractor Supply Company) to purchase an actual outdoor heated pad for critters.

Last spring our neighbor, Kevin, came to chat. He looked at Fluffy and said, “Hi, Lucky.”

Maddie was terrified that Kevin might retrieve his cat. But Kevin only told us Lucky’s story. Kevin’s friend in town found Lucky after their son’s baseball game. He was in a pretty bad way. They took him to the vet and $500 later, Lucky was cured. They took him home, but realized the dog hated him. They called up Kevin and asked if Lucky could come live with him.

Kevin has 11 other cats, and soon Lucky was getting beat up by other tomcats. Lucky decided he liked our territory better. I also know this because I’ve heard him defending it at 4:00 in the morning under my window. I went outside and told the other cat to “shoo,” to no effect. I tried a few pebbles, then finally a small rock aimed at the intruder. That broke the stand off and Lucky chased him back to the swingset. I didn’t care – Lucky was on his own if he was out of earshot of my bedroom. So much for a pathetic stray.

There are many more stories about Chrysanthemum, who met her untimely demise on Ashley’s birthday; Julia, who was an equal-opportunity biter; and Henry, who used to chase Jake in the back yard. But I will save those stories for later. For now it is enough to know that I am compelled to keep stray cats, but I think that compulsion is exerted from a 12-year old and 8-year old, mostly.