Sunday, August 31, 2008

Go ahead and preheat the oven.

For all my displaced Southern friends, looky here at what I found.

If you don't have a Mama to send it to you, this will work just as well.

Happy Baking!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Priorities, people.

I was on the phone with Mama today, catching up from the long time we've gone without talking, which was probably less than 48 hours. A lot can happen in two days.

While we were talking, she asked if I needed her to send me anything. She specifically asked if I could find any good grits. Then the conversation went something like this...

Me- "Well, now that you mention. I do need a few things. Can you please send me some Jim Dandy grits and some White Lily flour?"

Mama- "Oh, you use Jim Dandy grits."

Me- "Yes. Will you please add a bag of Martha White flour for N?" (N is a friend who moved here, too. She is from Alabama.)

Mama- "Yes. Just make a complete list and let me know."

Me- "We think we may be able to get some Martha White flour eventually because some of the stores have Martha White cornmeal. For now, though, could you send some Martha White flour for N?"

Mama- "Yes. And do you want me to send you some White Lily cornmeal?"

Me- "No. I use Martha White cornmeal, so that's fine."

Mama- "Oh, you do."

Me- "Yes. I don't mind Martha White cornmeal but I'd prefer White Lily flour. All I can get are Pillsbury and Gold Medal."

Mama- "I used to use Gold Medal years ago.... can you get dried black-eyed peas?"

Me- "I don't know. I haven't looked."

Mama- "Well, you let me know. Make a list and I'll send it."

If you aren't Southern, you probably haven't even read this far and are in the middle of napping. If you are Southern, you completely get this conversation and may be thinking to yourself about what brands of flour, cornmeal and grits you prefer.

And you might be thinking about how you prefer dried, frozen or canned black-eyed peas. You are also thinking to yourself that my Mama is one good woman to help me prepare for New Year's Day in August.

And, yes, you're so right.

Edited to add: I found dried black-eyed peas at Wal-mart. Dried is the only kind I will cook. I did a little dance right there in the aisle. Well, not really.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Last night Maggie was begging and meowing in despair for a little (or in her case, big) bedtime snack. For Maggie, a snack is a meal.

I went to the pantry and found one last can of Elegant Medleys, her gateway drug of choice. She started out with Turkey Florentine in a delicate sauce. Now she's moved on to the hard stuff- Chicken Primavera in a savory broth.

Knowing Maggie's deep dependencies, I stared at the last can for a moment, listening to the pitiful pleading at my feet, and pictured the insanity that would ensue in the morning if I gave in to the pleading.

And then I totally caved.

I opened the last can of cat food, not just any cat food, Medleys, and watched as Maggie scarfed it down. The rest of the evening was quiet and normal. (Well, normal for our house.)

Then the alarm clock went off this morning and with it, the wailing and gnashing of kitty teeth that greets us each and every torturous sunrise. It's like we have a deranged rooster with fur. Only this rooster doesn't crow. She meows and leaves hairballs on the good rugs.

Most mornings, Hubs takes care of Maggie's needs. This morning was no different, except that Maggie's needs could not be met. No Medleys for her. (Picture the soup Nazi with a can opener.)

I could hear Hubs in the kitchen trying to make his own breakfast with a hungry, angry cat at his feet. I didn't offer any information and just pulled the covers up over my head.

Denial.. It's a stage of grief, you know.

Then Hubs came in our room to make an announcement. I listened from under the covers.

"Maggie is out of Medleys," he said, "so, I haven't fed her."

"I know. I gave her the last can last night," I said from under the comforter.

Hubs continued to get ready for work and I nestled comfortably in my stage of grief. Maggie continued to wail and meow, and then she scratched on the door.

She's declawed, so I guess technically she rubbed the door.


She was out of her mind. Complete detox. I got up and tried to calm her. I explained that we had no more Medleys, but that she would be perfectly fine. I told her I would go to the grocery store after taking our daughter to school.

To Maggie's credit, she is a cat and doesn't really understand English.

As I made breakfast and then packed lunch for my daughter, Maggie continued to whine in a most pathetic tone. I looked at her knowing full well that she had eaten less than 8 hours earlier, and told her that she would indeed live.

She didn't buy it.

In an act of desperation, I opened a can of Chicken and Stars soup, plopped the solid contents in the cat dish, and waited. Maggie sniffed it, looked at me, then sniffed again. Then she licked the tiny, dried remains of last night's bedtime snack.

Oh, the horror. Those with addiction will do anything for a fix.

I left the house, took my daughter to school, and went straight to the grocery store. I am happy to say that we are fully stocked in Turkey Florentine and Chicken Primavera. I even added in a Souffle as an apology.

Maggie? She is fine. She has been well fed with a clean bowl.

She made it through her own stage of grief- Anger. I'm so glad she's declawed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Works for Me: Moving Tips

I wrote this several weeks ago before Operation Chaos. My addendums are in red.

Here are a few tips that have worked for me when moving in or out of a home.

Some I learned the easy way. Some, well...

1. Packing- If you are packing your own household goods, you are able to organize items in boxes. If movers are doing it for you, be sure to group items together in advance.

It is a good idea to put small items in a Ziploc bag or small plastic container, especially tiny toys. Otherwise, you will be digging through a huge box filled with all of those Polly Pockets.

Ahh, such a sweet kid. How naive am I? No matter how much you sort and group items for the packers, they still throw things in boxes at random. Real tip- Supervise.

Always label the box containing the coffee pot! You'll be glad you did the first morning in your new place.

I have to chuckle. Most of the time, a good packer will label the coffee pot box for you. I said good packer.

2. Pack the following in your suitcase or small box you will take with you:

Set of sheets for each bed
Towel for each family member
Roll of bathroom tissue
Shower curtain and rings (if new home does not have shower doors)
Comfortable shoes for everyone
Plenty of cat food. wink, wink

When you arrive at your new place, everyone will be able to shower and get to sleep and you won't have to dig through boxes to find what you need.

If a moving company is moving your things, take anything sentimental with you. Tow a trailer if you must. They can't replace baby pictures or your wedding gown.

Mine made it okay, by the way.

3. Repairing nail holes.

Fill small holes with Spackle, then dab with a paper towels for textured walls. Let dry and paint.

For large holes, you will need joint compound.

In a pinch? Use toothpaste!

4. Plan for the first meal in your new place.

By the end of the first day of unpacking, everyone is tired and hungry and probably sick of take-out. Plan a simple meal in advance. One jar of spaghetti sauce, pasta, and a loaf of french bread is quick, easy, and hearty.

This tip only works if your pots and dishes arrive. Otherwise, you end up eating tacos for days off of Christmas dishes.

5. If you are moving out of town, make sure your prescriptions are updated and refilled. It may take some time before you find a new doctor or a pharmacy you like.

6. When traveling with a fish, the car's cup holder works nicely.

Don't ask.

7. Never let a mover ship any personal documents (social security cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, pending bills, etc.) Always take them with you. Otherwise, they could get lost or worse- stolen.

This is one thing that has never happened to me. I take after my grandmother. Important stuff stays in my purse. Just kidding.

8. When traveling with a cat or other pet who can't stay in a hot car for a long time, plan for picnics in the shade when stopping for meals.

You can also stop at a curbside pick-up restaurant and just eat take-out in the car. Take-out in a hotel room after a long drive is also much nicer and more relaxing than searching for a restaurant at 10:00 PM. Fast food gets old, fast. Get it? Fast? Food?

Any other tips you would like to share about moving, packing, getting a house ready for a new owner or tenant? I'd love to read them!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What God Will Do

What does God do when your life is going along smoothly, happily, without a real care in the world, (compared to a mother whose child is hungry and she has nothing to feed her or a father who is struck down with cancer and can no longer work?)

What does God do when you think you've been through it all, an ongoing battle with depression, the stuff of life that happens, but what sometimes feels like it happens all at once?

What does God do when your child loves her school, her friends, is doing well academically, and you feel so blessed in the opportunity that (you think) you know is rare?

What does God do when you fall in love with your church, your home, your neighbors and you are so grateful (but never grateful enough,) savoring in the moment in life when everything is going along smoothly, happily, without a real care in the world?

I'll tell you.

God moves you.

He challenges you.

He plucks your family from their cozy nest and plops them in what seems to be the middle of nowhere.

He lets tiny battles of sadness and anxiety rise up in what was once a Cease Fire Agreement.

He leads you to a new school that makes you a little unsure, but thankful nonetheless.

He allows a moving company to make such a mess, such an inept attempt at packing, storing and moving household goods that even the cynical you is still in disbelief.

What does God do?

He knows all, sees all, is in control over all and all the while He never takes His eyes off of you and your little family still shaking off the goose down you left behind in your cozy nest.

Without explanation. Without excuse. But not without purpose.

What do you do?

You wait. You pray. You cry. You laugh at the absurdity,the disbelief, and the frustrations.

You settle in the new cozy nest that you've found once again called faith. You lean not unto your own understanding but rely on His Will, His Love, His Sovereignty.

In your own humanness and shortcomings, you try to fluff this faith nest for your little family, nuzzle them and find shelter from the cold.

You give thanks that your living God, the one true God has created this nest called faith.

And you wait to see what He will do next.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This is why cats were never nomads.

Several people have commented and asked about how Maggie coped with the move. Rather, they've really wanted to know how I coped with moving Maggie.

Y'all are sweet, considerate people.


It took us about four days to arrive at our new home. Two of those four days were spent driving across Texas. Everyone knows that Texas is its own country. Not because the people are proud but, because it is huge.

I'll just tell y'all now that Maggie did not ride in the limo.

For most of the trip, Maggie was fine. She just slept in her carrier, rested next to our daughter in the Pilot. Maggie's problem is not riding in the car; it is stopping in the car. See, when the car stops for long periods of time, Maggie thinks it is time to get out. She starts to meow and whine and literally shake the carrier's door with her paw.


Then she runs her tiny tin cup along the cage door in defiance.

"When I get out of here, I'll show them!"


On our first hotel stop, Maggie got out of her carrier, looked around and hissed. We realized that she saw herself in the mirror and gave herself the business. When she understood that the uppity, arrogant, non-threatening, fat cat was just her, she relaxed and fell into her normal routine.

She ate like there's no tomorrow.

With each hotel stop, Maggie did the same thing. Sniffed around. Meowed. Ate. Used the potty box. Then she would relax.

Once, I think she looked at me and said with her cat eyes,"Is this the place? Can't we just live here? I'm tired of riding in the car."

Or maybe that was me talking to Hubs.

Anyway. Maggie survived and did very well for a cat with bladder control problems. She's just glad we are out of the car and finally home.

Me too, Maggie. Me, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Regular, Creamy or Al Dente?

Did you hear that?

That was me sighing with relief because I now have Internet access. The modem came via UPS yesterday. I'm sitting here at the laptop with my Diet Coke. Could life be more perfect?

I'd like to go on record and tell y'all that, although I feel like I am smack dab in the middle of nowhere, this town does have some modern amenities. I mean, we do have indoor plumbing and central heat and air.


I am going to have to send Mama a grocery list because apparently the truck that delivers White Lily flour and Jim Dandy grits does not drive this far west. The grocery stores only carry Gold Medal flour and Quaker grits.

They mean well, I'm sure.

Bless their hearts.

Now, I must go and catch up on two weeks of blogging, so just be patient. I promise to return to my regular drivel by tomorrow.

Points to the person who knows where the title of this post is from.

Edited to add: The answer is My Cousin Vinny. Here is a clip (quote is near the end.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coffee and Prozac

Well, I still haven't found the German Coffee Pot, but I did happen upon a nice Chinese one at Wal-mart. Now I'll have two coffee pots on hand for any caffiene emergency, so if any of you happen to stop by one day, rest assured that your Juan Valdez hospitality needs will be met.

Dinner was excellent. We went for steak and one thing about living in New Mexico is that there is no shortage of beef. I'm so glad I never jumped on the vegan chuckwagon.

I hope to get internet service soon. There have been other pressing needs (like searching for coffee pots and restaurants) but, let me tell you that blogging at the library is starting to get a bit creepy. There are people in here who wheeze heavily and one guy with headphones talked to his computer.

I'm glad they keep those vertical blinds open. Goodness knows what would go on in here if they didn't.

Also, I have to hurry and get Internet fast or the librarians may start to recognize me and that would hurt my anti-library reputation.

As for the Prozac, don't worry. Yet.

Give me my Chinese coffee pot and DSL, and the tremors will stop.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Tale Of The German Coffee Pot or Why My Husband is Taking Me Out To Dinner

We are here. All of our stuff hasn't arrived yet, but we're settling in.

Note to moving people- If you show up at some one's house, especially a someone who has a lot of dishes and what-nots, and you already have stuff on your truck, and let's say the someone tells you that there is no way on God's green earth that all of her stuff is going to fit on the truck, LISTEN TO HER.

I'm just sayin.'

And let's say that when you promise that the rest of the stuff will go on a second truck and that it will arrive just a few days after the first truck and the someone who has a lot of dishes and what-nots pretty much tells you she doesn't believe it, LISTEN TO HER.

All hypothetical, of course.

We've been in our house for two whole days. Besides unwrapping dish after dish and discovering that the movers packed my onions in with other food items, we have been bored to tears.

I, personally have been driven to tears because after two whole days of unwrapping dish after dish, I still haven't found my coffee pot.

In the middle of my own personal Operation Chaos, Hubs and Daughter decided that they would make up folks songs for entertainment. (We still don't have cable.) Hubs was playing the Irish flute and Daughter was playing a Native American flute. (We have odd musical instruments.)

During the folk song musical, Hubs made up a song about a woman who could not find her German coffee pot. I have no idea why it is German. Somehow it segued from the Irish flute.

I then made up a folk song about the man married to the wife who could not find her German coffee pot and now we are all going out to dinner.

This is where you would insert a really good Christopher Guest clip if you had the energy, which I don't, because I can't find my German coffee pot.

P.S. I am blogging at the library. Intercessory prayers would be appreciated.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To Southfork, James.

If any of you get an itch to take a long road trip halfway across the country with a cranky cat, a child, a husband, suitcases, and more snacks than should be allowed in a moving vehicle, let me give you a piece of advice.

Don't do it unless you absolutely have to. Or unless you have a full supply of Diet Coke. And some really cool kid movies.

We just arrived in our new hometown in New Mexico. The terrain is a lot like West Texas, including all of the black, white and brown spots of cattle moving and grazing on the vast open plains.

Well, some of those brown spots aren't exactly moving. Ahem.

And sometimes the wind blows across the vast open plains and you catch a whiff of the brown spots that aren't, you know, moving. My husband calls it the smell of money.

I say let's put that money in a bank made of airtight containers.


On our way here, we stopped in Amarillo, Texas. Hubs and I had been to Amarillo years ago where we ate at The Big Texan.

The Big Texan is the home of the 72-oz. steak. If you eat the entire steak within a certain amount of time, it is free.

But, here's the clincher. In addition to the colon-clogging slice of beef, you have to eat all of the sides. Seriously, it's that little bowl of cowboy beans that will send you over the edge.

The Big Texan also offers a free limo ride to and from the restaurant. Hubs thought it would be fun for our daughter, (at least that's his story) and he called for a driver to pick us up at the hotel. We waited in the Hampton Inn lobby for our limo to arrive.

It was a white, stretch limo with huge longhorns on the front.

Our driver was wearing a cowboy hat and wrangler jeans. I looked down, expecting to see cowboy boots, but instead, he was wearing authentic, heavy-duty work boots. OSHA has gone and infiltrated the safety standards of the cowboy limo driver and ruined it for the rest of us.

We climbed in our limo and cruised on down I-40 with the longhorns on the grill leading the way. I felt just like J.R. right before he got shot. It was exactly like the old western days when cowboys would climb in their stretch stagecoach to go out for a good steak.

Very authentic.

When we stepped in The Big Texan, we were surrounded by a taxidermist's retirement fund. Every animal that has fur is on the walls. Vegans, turn your heads.

Our waiter, Kyle wore a cowboy hat, boots (not orthopedic ones), and an authentic sheriff's badge. You never know when someone needs to be arrested and taken in to the Marshall in the limo.

Hubs and my daughter drank from plastic boots. I felt safe knowing Deputy Kyle was close by in case they started to get crazy and start smashing their plastic boots on people's heads. A brawl will spoil your steak dinner every time.

Our steaks were delicious. You just get better steaks out west. My peach tea was the best I've ever tasted.

We quickly toured the gift shop, complete with boutique quality rattlesnake items but bought only a few postcards. Our daughter was happy with her free cowgirl hat and empty plastic boot cup.

On the way back to our hotel, our cowboy limo driver tied a special knot in our daughter's cowgirl hat. He said her hat had a hurricane knot and she needed another knot that would loosen if it got caught on anything.

She is now officially ready to rope any stray calf on the range.

All within OSHA standards, of course.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good-Byes: Part Two

Funny thing about animals. They just know.

The morning the movers were going to arrive to load up all of our household goods, my daughter and I drove to our house to meet them. We hopped out of the car and there, sitting on the porch, was our old friend, Pilgrim.

We hadn't seen Pilgrim in a while. To refresh your memory, Pilgrim was the intruder on the porch. The sweet one who liked to lounge on the wicker furniture. (The one who could have easily replaced Maggie.)

You may remember him from this photo:

I went inside to get things ready and my daughter stayed on the porch to visit with Pilgrim. After a while, my daughter came inside. Pilgrim lounged on the furniture a little longer and then he disappeared once again.

That evening, I was at our house, cleaning and packing up last minute things. I saw a gentleman begin to walk across our front yard and I went outside to ask him if he needed any help. (My polite way of asking why he was in our yard.)

"I'm looking for a cat," he said.

I asked him to describe the cat, thinking that was a pretty lame excuse for someone who was poking around. When he began to describe the cat, I knew this man was for real.

"He is gray and white with a bobbed off tail," he told me.

I told him we knew his cat and that my daughter named him "Pilgrim."

He laughed and said that Pilgrim's real name was Max. As we began to talk there in the driveway, I learned that Pilgrim had been a stray. This man and his wife took him in.

Pilgrim still liked to roam, so they let him keep a bit of his wild side by allowing him out during the day. They were worried this evening because Pilgrim did not come home on time.

As we chatted, the man's wife rode up on her bicycle. She had been out looking for Pilgrim as well. I told her that we knew he was cared for just by looking at him, and that he was so special to our daughter.

Within a few minutes, Pilgrim (Max) slowly walked across the street from the neighbor's yard. The woman reached down to pick him up and he began to purr. I reached over to pet him one last time as he nestled his head against his owner.

Bye, Pilgrim. You are welcome on the porch any time.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Good-byes: Part One

There has been a whirlwind of activities at our house with packing up things ourselves, getting things ready for the movers, cleaning the house, cancelling services, starting services, and all of those little tasks that must be completed.

In the middle of all the chaos there have been some sweet surprises.

One morning, we spent a few moments on our dock by the pond. We do this quite often, nearly every day in the summer. Since we moved in last summer, we've fed the turtles and the fish. In fact, I think we may be their primary source of Bunny bread.

Sometimes we see only fish. Sometimes we just catch a glimpse of one turtle's head in the brackish water. Many mornings the turtles circle around at a distance, popping up their heads to observe us, but never swimming close enough for us to see them.

On this particular morning, as soon as we stepped on the dock, the fish swirled beneath us, just as they always do. Then we saw a turtle, then another, and another. Pretty soon, there were five turtles swimming and diving and waiting for their treat. Within a few minutes, a turtle we've never seen before, in the entire year we've lived here, swam up to our dock.

At first he wasn't sure he could trust us. He's probably experienced the feeling of a hook in the middle of bits of bread before. As the other turtles nibbled, this new friend peered up at us beneath the water's surface, investigating our motives.

Eventually, he trusted us or found the yeasty smell of Bunny bread too tempting, and he took a bite. Still, he never popped his head above the water so we could see him clearly. He stayed just below, in the comfortable, safe surroundings of the pond.

Just like all of the other turtles, he received a name, Leather. And he joined with Mossy, Rocky, Buddy, and the little guy we just call Little Guy to tell us goodbye, as we leave our pond hoping to return to them one day.

With a full loaf of Bunny bread.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Room without a view.

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I wrote a post. Wow, how time flies when you're not having fun.

OH, I kid. Packing and moving and cleaning out the refrigerator is fun. In fact, I think we'll plan that for our next vacation's agenda.

The fact is that I'm tired, but I am not too tired to blog. If I ever tell you that I am too tired to blog, then send an ambulance to my home. I guess that would be tough since y'all don't really know where I live.

But anyhoo.

Our movers arrived earlier in the week. There is something unsettling about watching a perfect stranger sort through and handle all of your belongings while you stand by and just cross your fingers, hoping they don't break anything and then you buy them lunch.

Now we are staying in a hotel that is like a little efficiency apartment, complete with a kitchen and working oven.

Staying in a hotel room with a kitchen is very positive in the planning stages, but once you've watched weird strangers pack your dishes all day, you kind of wish you had a regular room without even a microwave so that you are forced to go out to eat. Instead, you end up making macaroni and cheese for dinner using the hotel's cheap, thin pots and plastic spoons.

The awesome part is that you can feel good about serving up the mac 'n cheese you made in the hotel room even though Chili's makes the exact same kind from the blue box and everything because your little girl thanked God that her mommy is a good cook during the blessing.

And with that last run-on sentence, I think I'll close.

More of the exciting saga of moving tomorrow...