Wednesday, June 23, 2010


As I'm pondering the fact that I need to clean out my closet again, something I do a couple times a year, I've made a decision. With each year I get older, my goal is to have less crap in my closets, the garage, the attic, etc. than the year before. I don't want my kids to have to go through piles of crap when I die. And attention to my parents: I have no intention of systematically and sentimentally combing through all your crap when you die. I'll be hiring an estate sale specialist to do that. No offense, but I don't know of any possessions you have that I need to add to my crap.

Um, sometimes I get in these moods when clutter drives me crazy. And right now it's bugging me. Our garage is out of control. My closet is ridiculous. There is crap on the dining table, the dining table that I try to keep polished and pretty even though no one ever sits there except Junior and all his HAIR. Speaking of Junior, he proudly rolls around in the mulch when I go outside and make eye contact with him. What is that about? Then he comes in the house and leaves a trail of dust and mulch everywhere on the already disgusting carpet.

I think I better go clean something to get out of this mood.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spoiled, but not a brat.

I am feeling a bit spoiled. Friday we leave for San Diego. A few days after we get back, I leave for DeeBee's where she and I will spend the week sipping margaritas poolside. In July we have potentially two more trips, Houston and Seattle. (Actually, Houston is nothing to feel spoiled over, but Seattle could be really cool.) And before I know it, my summer will be over.

Sometimes if I'm feeling a bit spoiled, I think back to the "plasma days." Those would be the low times, several years back, when I would go to the local plasma center for an extra $25 for groceries. Eww. The last time I donated, I came home and found myself with my face plastered to the cold tile floor because 1) it helped me feel less nauseous and 2) I didn't have the strength to get up. I think Alan was a little freaked out. It was the last time I donated for a reason.

I also remember a time when I was sixteen and living with Mother and Dale in a 900 sq ft, very modest home. My room consisted of a twin bed and the washer and dryer. When the house belonged to my grandmother, that room was used as the pantry. There were occasional water bugs in there, and I recall a night when a HUGE one ran across my comforter! Oddly enough, we really weren't poor and I couldn't have been happier living there.

I'm not saying I know what it's like to live in poverty, but I've lived through tougher times. Haven't most of us? I know enough to appreciate that this will be the view from our hotel Friday night. :-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pantry Meals

We've coined a new term around our house - "pantry meals." That's when I totally don't want to go to the grocery store, so much so that I'll come up with a meal by throwing things together from the pantry and fridge. We're very wasteful, a trait not uncommon among fellow Americans, when it comes to food. If you looked in your pantry right now there would probably be canned goods that keep getting shoved to the back, or better yet, saved for when some organization's having a canned food drive. So I've really been trying to use the food we have on hand instead of the constant throwing-it-out. That usually means I come up with something involving pasta, since it would be sinful to NOT have pasta and tomato sauce available at ALL times. Last night, however, I made my own version of a potato casserole. Certainly not a dish for dieters, but that wasn't my goal. My goal was to stay away from HEB.

It must have been good, because Alan had about 4 helpings. That may not be saying much though, since he could probably eat hash browns every day of his life. From a 9 x 13 pan, I think we have one serving left. Anyway, here's the simple recipe:

Green Chile Potato Casserole (because I had to give it a name)

4 slices bacon
1 can diced green chiles
3 tblsp minced onion
1 bag frozen shredded hash browns
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup sour cream (just guessing)
1/2 cup melted butter
shredded cheese for topping
salt and pepper

I cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces before frying, cooked until it was nearing the crispy point but not quite, drained the grease and then added the green chiles and minced onion. By the way, I would have used a freshly chopped onion if I would have had one. From there just cook the bacon to your desired doneness. Then I tossed the bacon mixture with everything else in a huge bowl except the cheese. I'd go easy on the salt since the bacon's so salty already. (You're going to think you need to add liquid or more soup or something, but the frozen hashbrowns have plenty of water in them.) Spread in a slightly greased or sprayed pan and top with whatever cheese you have. I went light on the cheese, only because I didn't have very much. Bake it around 400 for 30 minutes maybe? I don't know. I would even turn the broiler on for a few minutes at the end to get some crispy action going. We ate it as an entree, but it would be a great side dish as well. Oh, and we like to add Louisiana Hot Sauce to any dish like this.

So there you go - a meat and potatoes meal.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Changes, finally

I totally snagged that photo from the internet, but it is similar to what you might see along a West Texas road. I like the stormy skies, too, which is what we've been experiencing the past couple of nights. Also, WOW Blogger! You finally decided to update the template selections. What's it been, three, four years?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A simple life.

I've been amused by the dog park. Stepping inside those gates is like stepping inside an episode of The Dog Whisperer. It's so funny to watch 20 or so dogs figure each other's temperament out. They know almost immediately who's safe, who's the aggressor, who's a little scared, and they take care of it. Sometimes I wish humans were more like dogs. Except for the part where Duke peed on a woman's bare leg today. That was highly inappropriate. And embarrassing.

Oh, and before we started going to the park, we thought Duke was a big dog. He's apparently not so big:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Boys and Toys

Alan's purchase at an auction last Saturday:

For Alan this was spur-of-the-moment, because he only had 24 hours to research and consult with those in the know. Alan doesn't do spontaneous very often, but this is telling of how much he's been wanting to have a bike again. I have to admit, it's pretty.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Making up for how much time I spent on the couch yesterday.

I consider today my first real day of summer. The weekend doesn't count because 1) I had to work Saturday, and 2) having weekends off is normal. Having the first Monday off, therefore, means vacation. I should have gone to the school to take care of a deadline that was due Saturday and to also do some filing. Like what exactly is the district going to do with the data they needed Saturday? Nothing, so I'll just skip that for a while.

I should have also started and/or finished painting the new porch ceiling. The only time to work outside right now is in the morning, with temps well over 100 by afternoon. But I passed on painting as well. I see no forecast for rain in our near future, so the bare wood can be exposed a while longer.

Instead, I did something I enjoy which was go to the nursery, look at plants, buy a couple, and play with dirt. I did something else I like which is to cook, so I made a big pot of red beans, and will soon be grilling steak and baking cornbread. Alan had to be at a wellsite all day in the heat with no lunch, so I promised him a big dinner.

I also took Duke to the dog park, where he found and made what he seemed to think were his best friends for the 20 minutes we were there. I even got to see Bailey for a short time at the eye doctor. So all in all, it was a great start to summer va-cay.

My next post will be a picture of Alan's spontaneous purchase over the weekend.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

21 Months

Sounds like the gestation period of a large mammal. Actually it's the period of time that I can't seem to stop calculating, thinking back to, adding to. There have been some very rough parenting moments the past 21 months. Moments we haven't shared with pretty much everyone except family members who needed to know or we needed them to know. That makes me feel guilty and awkward because I know we're keeping "secrets" and feigning normalcy. People can get their feelings hurt when they feel they aren't important enough or close enough to you to be confided in. I've allowed friendships to suffer, because it was easier to distance myself than take a chance on someone asking too many questions.

We've experienced a lot of emotions - sorrow, disappointment, shame, anger, extreme fear, and oddly, relief. Sometimes your kids do things that at the time you're really upset about, yet you know in the back of your mind you'll laugh about someday. These are not the kinds of things we've experienced. It has sucked, and I have sucked as a parent at times.

Feeling shame is a big one, because shame led to envy. Alan quoted something to me a few weeks ago that was an "a-ha" moment for me. He said that Dave Ramsey (of course it would be Dave Ramsey that Alan is quoting!) said something to the effect of "Greed is when you want what others have; envy is when you don't want others to have what they have, just because you can't have it." Ouch. That totally hit home with me. Shamefully, I've had some moments the past few years when rather than respect and admire and be happy for people who seem to have great lives and wonderfully-balanced kids, I've envied them. That's horrible. I really have been trying to change that the past few months, and thankfully that poignant quote is a reminder of how ugly that green-eyed monster can be.

So why mention all this now. Yesterday was the last day of school, a day some teenagers might do some "celebrating," yet we were not woken up in the middle of the night with distressing news. But I woke up several times looking at the clock and wondering. Thank you God, for the peaceful night. It was a milestone, of sorts. And I've just been feeling this increasing need to release some of this, whatever it is. I can't find a word for what I'm carrying around.

Having said all that, life is not horrible. Some things are really good. But even the things that aren't still have value, like little opportunities for growth. I may not look back and laugh at some experiences, but at least I can look back and be thankful for what I learned.