Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Unexpected Reward for Virtue

I really did not want to go to the town dump today. I did not want to deal with all the bags and the recyclables and the children in the car with me. It was raining and windy and cold. I really, really did not want to go to the dump.

But I also did not want all that crap hanging around and getting in my way anymore. So I gathered up all the trash and recyclables (and the children) and went. We got there fifteen minutes after it was supposed to be open. It was closed.


However! I had seen a car coming from the opposite direction as I was turning into the dump. The road the dump is on is so unpopulated that I thought the odds of that car belonging to the dump lady were pretty good. So I waited a minute. Sure enough, the car turned in to the dump and the dump lady got out and started opening up the gate and unlocking the dumpsters.

I waited until she had parked her car and gotten everything set up before I drove in. I greeted her cheerfully (I'm a big believer in fake cheeriness for the sake of politeness--it wasn't her fault I was grumpy) and started sorting the recyclables to give her time to get everything ready before I drove up the ramp to the trash dumpster to throw in my two bags and pay her.

But when I got out my wallet, she told me there was no charge and thanked me for being patient. Hooray!

You are so welcome, dump lady. And thank you for the kind gesture. It was much appreciated on a grumpy Wednesday morning.

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's a Family Tradition

Not, however, the sort of family tradition of which Hank Williams, Jr. sang. Much more wholesome than that. I speak of a tradition of the MiL's from her childhood that I revived last night for my own children: popcorn and ice cream for Sunday supper.

The MiL has told us many times that this was what she and her five siblings had on Sundays for supper. The reason they had this was because they had the traditional big Sunday family dinner in the mid-afternoon, and so there was no need for a real meal just a couple of hours later. Also, popcorn and ice cream requires little preparation or clean-up, which was probably a welcome change for her mother, what with the relentless feeding of six kids day in and day out*.

A couple of weeks ago, Charlie told me we should have popcorn for dinner. I explained that popcorn is not usually a good option for dinner. Except, I added, if you have a big meal in the afternoon like Grandma did when she was young, and then you can have popcorn and ice cream for dinner.


Charlie was approving of this idea, to say the least. Popcorn and ice cream are two of his favorite things, whereas the sort of nutritious, balanced meals we have for dinner are not usually his favorites.

And then, yesterday we had our big meal at 3 p.m. because A. had to leave to drive back to Blackrock in the late afternoon. This departure was unpopular with the children, all of whom of course prefer Fun Daddy to Boring Mom. So to raise spirits (and also, like the MiL's mother, to avoid cooking and cleaning up again), I let them have popcorn and ice cream for dinner. AND, because I'm not always Boring Mom, I even let them have their ice cream first.

I know. So wild.

I heartily recommend this tradition. It almost felt like a day off from serious meal preparation, because I did the real cooking earlier in the day and it was all cleaned up and done by the time I was ready to just flop down in the evening. There were obviously no complaints about unpopular foods from the children, and even Mia got to eat all the popcorn that inevitably ended up on the floor.

Happiness all around.

I probably won't do it every Sunday, but every once in awhile, I think we'll  honor Great-Grandma's memory with popcorn and ice cream for Sunday supper. Charlie approves.

* She also helped her husband run the family farm and worked as a traveling bookkeeper for other farms. She was a busy person.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ah Yes, I Remember Now

Why don't I make enchiladas--cheesy, saucy, delicious enchiladas--more often? Because it takes forever, results in the whole house smelling like fried food, and makes a damn mess of me and the kitchen. At least, the way my mother did it, which is of course how I do it.

And what way is that, you ask? Well, it involves the following:

One pan in which to cook the filling. In this case, it was shredded duck and black beans (plus onion, garlic, and some of the enchilada sauce), though my mother made them with ground beef.

One pan with hot grease. In my case lard*, though my mother used vegetable oil to quickly fry the tortillas so they don't get soggy.

One pan with enchilada sauce in which to dredge the fried tortillas. My mother always used Old El Paso and so I do, too. I could make my own, I know, but I don't because we are obviously talking about Tradition with a capital "T" here. (Except for the duck and the lard, I suppose. So maybe not so much with the Tradition.)

A plate of grated cheese to sprinkle on top of the filling before rolling the enchiladas up.

And the baking pan with a layer of enchilada sauce.

It's a complicated dance. There are tortillas frying in hot oil, tortillas being dredged in sauce, tortillas being filled and rolled up, and the cook and everything in the kitchen inevitably ends up covered in enchilada sauce.

Then again, when it's all done and cleaned up . . .

Worth it. Though I would recommend getting your mother to make them for you if she doesn't live 2,500 miles away.

* Because the MiL just rendered some and sent some to me via A. the Courier. Thanks, MiL!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

After Due Consideration

On days like today, when it rains for hours and we spend a lot of time inside and the noise levels increase in proportion to the inches of rain that fall . . . then I have to make a decision. The question is this: Are the weather conditions outside more miserable than the children's conditions inside?

If it's just raining and not too cold, then no. So I put on my jacket with the hood up and go sit outside in the rain while the three musketeers run around getting soaking wet and whacking each other with sticks. It's damp, and it's cold, but it's better than inside. Because it's at least a little quieter and no one is physically climbing on my body.

Later in the winter, when the weather conditions involve below-zero temperatures, feet of snow, and serious wind chill, I may well decide it's preferable to stay inside and listen to the shrieking acrimony. But for now? Get your jackets, kids. We're blowing this popstand.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Where Sleeping Dogs Lie

Ever since we moved to this house, I've been saying we need to get a dog bed. Of course, I want Mia and her old bones to have a comfortable place to rest in the house--where I suspect she will be spending the majority of her time when the really cold weather finally descends--but mostly I just want her out of the damn way.

The way our living room is laid out, there's a perfect race track all around the perimeter. The children of course take full advantage of this, and they spend a lot of time literally running in circles, sometimes to the soundtrack of Billy Idol*, sometimes pretending to be animals, sometimes just running around like morons because, well, because they're children.

And where does Mia choose to rest her enormous old bones? Yup, right smack in the middle of their track.

She's so big, she would literally span the entire width of the space between the end table and a chair. I can't count how many times the kids have fallen over her. Lucky for them, she never bites, even when startled, but it was obviously not an ideal situation for anyone.

So I finally remembered to ask A. to get her a bed. He did. We put it in a nice little out-of-the-way alcove of the living room. And of course . . .

Not who I was trying to get out of the way, actually, though it would be nice.

The children hopped right on and wrestled on it for awhile, but Mia? She tentatively walked around on it for a second when I called her over to it, but then gave me a canine, "NOPE," and settled back down in her usual inconvenient spot.

I moved it to a different spot next to the recliner, thinking maybe she wanted to feel still part of the action without actually being in the action.


I moved it under the window next to the table we eat at, thinking the proximity to food might be enticing. 


I sat on it with her. I sat in a chair next to it and petted her while she stood on it uneasily. I patted it to remind her occasionally that she had her very own bed.

Nope, nope, nope. For four days.

And then, today when the kids were doing their NASCAR impression and she was tripped over for the fortieth time, she finally gave in.

Good dog, Mia.

* I still love Billy, I do, but the daily (sometimes multiple times daily) repeat of this one CD is starting to wear on me. There are only so many times a person can listen to "Mony, Mony" with the background vocals of two screaming children before the nerves get a little stretched.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Person I've Become

Last night as A. was cleaning and skinning a duck outside on the picnic table, the following words came out of my mouth:

"Jack, don't run off with the hatchet."

"Cubby, don't bring that duck foot inside."

"Jack, leave the neck alone. It's bloody."

"Charlie, Daddy's butchering the duck. Do you want one of the wings or a foot to play with?"

To that last one, A. shook his head in amusement and said, "Listen to yourself."

Indeed. Funny how we become 36-year-old people our 16-year-old selves wouldn't recognize, isn't it?

Thursday, October 13, 2016


For bravery in the field of combat--otherwise known as taking small children on walks every day, no matter the weather, and despite the fact that I almost always have to carry the toddler home again--I receive the highest honor that can be bestowed upon me by my children:

Weedy flowers to stick behind my ear.

And in my coat buttonholes.

Buttonhole bouquets are way better than medals.