Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Pig Named Cool Whip

the contentment of pigs

I've been quite busy in my absence.
I still struggle with time management - trying to stuff 10 lbs of turnips in a 5 lb sack so to speak.

I still struggle saying no - cause I really do want to do everything.
The more I say yes, the more frazzled I become and the next thing I know I'm somewhere mid-week, bra-less, in my pajamas, overwhelmed, nursing a latte at 3pm. Sometimes it feels as if squirrels have nested in my brain, and I can't for the life of me think right or prioritize anything.  

When I get overwhelmed like that, I dream the craziest dreams.  Full color, feature length film type dreams.  I had such a dream shortly after picking up half a hog that I purchased locally from a gal that raised it humanely and organically.


Let me talk about bacon for a moment before I tell you about the dream - did you know that half a hog only has about 8#s of bacon on it?  I'm not sure I can convey the disappointment I felt when learning this news.  The butcher had called me asking me gobs of questions like 'how thick do you want your pork chops?', 'do you want your bacon thin or thick?' - that's when I stopped him.  I asked him how much bacon there was.  "About 8lbs.".  My heart (and my stomach) sank to the ground.  I was hoping this half a hog would last us a year - until I could purchase another one.  There was no way 8lbs of bacon was going to last me much over a week, let alone a year - anyhow - I had the bacon sliced thick, but only had them process half of it.  I'm going to try to smoke the remaining 4lbs myself.  Stay tuned.  

The butcher also asked me if I wanted the lard.  I said yes, just because I thought if I had it coming, I wanted it.  What I would do with it, I had no idea.  Of course, if I were still baking pies daily, I could have used it.  I toyed with the idea of making soap.  It just sat in my freezer for a while, and just recently, I gave it to my homesteading neighbor - because I purchased a quarter of a cow and needed the freezer space.


The meat, by the way, is incredibly delicious - and quite different from the pork I had been purchasing at the store.  I still struggle with eating meat - and if I think about it too much it truly bothers me - but for now - I do get my meat locally, raised organically - and it eases my conscious somewhat. I do know that I shan't raise my own birds for meat again, or at least at this writing, I know I won't.  We all know how I change with the wind though.  Don't be surprised if next week I'm ordering birds for butcher!

Back to the dreams - 

I dreamt I had a pig named Cool Whip and we were the best of pals.  Then, I dreamt about that bucket of lard.  I dreamt that I was slightly stalking Alton Brown.  I mean - I've got a total crush on the guy.  I drove to Cleveland to meet him - he was so kind. (that really happened, I didn't dream it!)

In my dream, Alton was avoiding me like the plague, until he found out that I possessed a bucket of organic lard.  The tables then turned, and he was pursuing me.
And that my friends - is the power of hog.

I'll close here with a recipe - it's for ribs (of course) by Alton Brown (of course).

My favorite rib recipe by far - although I do leave the chili powder out of the rub.

Til soon, 

Friday, September 19, 2014


I've missed you.
I've missed me.
I've missed blogging.

Thank you a million times over for all the love and comfort you gave to me last month.
All the cards and notes did my heart a world of good.

I only have a moment today, but I wanted to thank you and let you know that I'm OK.

I'm just as squirrely as I ever was.

Talk soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Hair Past Six

It was just a hair past 6:00AM when I seated myself in my sister's Ford Explorer - put my coffee in the drink holder and buckled myself in.

We were headed to Missouri.
My haphazardly packed vintage suitcase was in the back, and I wondered if I'd packed a hairbrush.

My oldest sister Vivian had taken ill, and the Pastor was summoning the family to come.

At a few hairs past 6:00AM my sister's cell phone rang with the news that Vivian had been unable to wait for us, and decided to go on home.

I've never lost a sibling before.
It's a different genre of grief.

It's losing a partner in crime - childhood memories - it's squinting at the horizon line of life and seeing something that you couldn't quite make out before - and now it's coming into view more clearly.
Your own mortality.

I just wanted to share one quick thing - and honestly, I just don't have it in me right now to say anymore.

In the final two days of my sister's life - she kept talking about a black cat. 
She wanted a black cat - a stuffed one - a real one - a black cat.
None of us knew where this was coming from.
My sister bought a little black stuffed cat for her, and was bringing it to her.
One of her caretakers had a black cat, and was bringing it by for a visit.
We were all perplexed.

Until today - going through photos - I found this.

My sweet sister Vivian as a child with a black cat.

This photo just tore me up.

I found this sweater today when shopping for an outfit for the services:

I do believe it's 95 degrees in Missouri, but I'm wearing this to the funeral.

I'll be gone the better part of a week - I'm so not looking forward to all of this - 
if I cross your mind this week - do say a prayer.
My mind is aflutter with thoughts like 'is she whole now?' 'is her mind working fully?' and 'why is it that we consider her abnormal?'

My prayer for us is that we'd really really realize how brief our time is here, and that we'd begin to be kinder to each other.  We'd be more understanding, patient, accepting.  We'd put our phones down and look into each other's eyes and have deep conversations.  We'd listen more than talk.  We'd cherish each other. We'd take our eyes off of Facebook long enough to enjoy the sunset.  We'd spend more time with friends and family.  We'd take better care of ourselves.  We'd slow down.  We'd even stop more often.

It's over in a blink.

Friday, August 1, 2014

All the News Worth Printing

A month?
I can't believe it's been one month since I've sat here and jabbered.

Remember that soup that I was making in early July?
It was a premonition.
We've had unseasonably cool temps here, and I've even been chilled at night in the yard at times!

Life is good friends, it's very good.

It's so good indeed that I don't know what to talk about first.

Let's talk about Aaron...we haven't talked about him in, like - forever.

Do you know the child is nearly 19 years old?  
It always flabbergasts me when I look at him - and he's a man - but he's a boy.  But he's a man.  

He's doing great - loving life - planning his move to Chicago.

His cologne lingers longer in the house than he does.
He breezed in last night for a few minutes.
I hadn't seen him for two days - and we'd just sat down to a bowl of Ina Garten's Chicken Chili 
(see, I'm still cooking up the fall foods!) 
and I was so excited to see him.
I ushered him to the table in between hugs and kisses - 
"tell me what you've been up to!"

He brings so much life into the house - I love hearing his stories - Lord - the laughter!
I was saddened when he said 'I've only got a few minutes Marmie!  I'm leaving for a five day camping trip to Wisconsin - I'm just here long enough to pack!' To which I respond 'but what about my hair!?'

And so that's how it goes here with him.
He's happy.
I'm happy.

I told him to be careful - and my exact words were 'now - don't be drinking and fall off the boat and drown - cause things are really looking up in my life right now'.
We collapsed in laughter and kisses - and he blew the horn on his way out of the driveway.
He's a boy. 
He's a man.

On to the yard - 

I've fallen in love with gardening all over again!
I'm so enjoying the changes, and the downsizing.  It's like I have time to think again, and be creative!
I'm not spread so thin that it's all I can do to maintain things.

Here's just a few snapshots...there's still so much work to do here, but I'm just over it - it is what it is.
It'll get done.
I'm waking up to the possibility that there is life beyond being consumed by this old house.

Thank God for kind neighbors with heavy machinery!

Where I sit with my morning tea/coffee.

This used to be the garden where the brick walkway was, and the scarecrow....ah's all lawn now, with a little veggie garden.  I'll get some new photos soon. (like next month!)

 I promptly took out my seeds and planted a little vegetable garden.
I'll get a few beans and cucumbers before the frost.
Today I plant more lettuce and peas.

The chickens are terrific.  I just have 8 now.
I sold 10 to a great gal in my Beekeepers Club.

The bees are doing 'ok'.  I've got a few great hives, and a few not so great hives.
I've ordered a naturally raised half a hog - and a quarter of a cow.
I'm doing well with eating right and have started excersing again, as much as my knee allows...and I've even *gulp* committed to doing the RAGBRAI bike ride (500 miles across Iowa) next year with a blog reader I've not met yet!
I'm in a good, mentally and emotionally healthy place with food and my body.

The best news of all - I'm well.
So is Glenco.
Nary a thing to complain about.
Remember a year ago?
I do declare that it's taken nearly a year of getting that Effexor out of my system for me to truly 
feel like myself again.  
What we've gone through here is a lot.
I know that drug has helped some people - but I believe it's harmed just as many, if not more.
I can't encourage you enough to use drugs as an absolute last resort.  
Let food be your medicine.
If you are going through a hard time - find a friend to be an advocate for you - don't blindly follow Dr's recommendations.  Research things for yourself.  Follow your instincts.

Peter McWilliams wrote:

Definition of a victim: a person to whom life happens.

And doesn't life just happen to us all?
I suppose it depends on what we do with it.
Will we dwell on it, or let it destroy us - or will we find the gumption to get up and start over?

I feel like I must have been in the front of the Gumption line when God was handing it out.
I'm not sure where I get it from, but I flat out refuse to quit, give up, see thing negatively, or believe that life is anything less than what we make it.

I'm looking forward to August - not with butterflies in my stomach - but butterflies in my spirit.
Somethin' good is about to go down.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Maybe it's Menopause

You know the jingle
"maybe it's Maybelline"?

That's what we sing around here, but we change the words..

"maybe it's menopause!"

I just sang it a few minutes ago in the kitchen.

It's the 1st of July. predicting a high of  82 degrees today, with humidity in the 3,498% range,  and I'm up in the kitchen making vegetable beef soup.

I'm sure Glenco and Aaron can't wait to get their mouth up on a bowl of hot, hearty beef vegetable soup on a steamy July day such as today.
Maybe I'll bake a pumpkin pie.

What would possess me to make a pot of this today?

Perhaps it's that my veggie drawer in the fridge is starting to resemble a morgue.
I'm going to call Glenco to the fridge soon to see if he can identify some of the contents.
I'll cover the veggies with a paper towel and somberly pull it back as Glenco looks on in horror.
 'Yes!  I recognize that leek! The last time I saw it was at the Piggly Wiggly -
 that had to be over a week ago'.

It's time to make some soup, y'all!

Last night I made this for dinner, and it was a hit.

Recipe  HERE

Strawberry Poppyseed & Bacon Chopped Salad

The only problem was that Aaron ate all the bacon up on me. 
I was perplexed, as I'd cooked it before I left for the day, only to find it mysteriously missing when it was time to assemble the salad.
Aaron was also mysteriously missing.
He knows better. 
 I could have flown into a rage when I noticed the bacon missing!
Or started crying.
Maybe it's menopause!
(seriously - I never fly into rages, I really don't.)

As delicious as the salad was without the bacon, I can only imagine (and trust me I did) how great it would be with that divine salty crunch.

In other news, we had some pretty hardcore storms hit the area last night.
I lost a potted plant.
I shall rebuild.

In other other news - I found out that I have a torn meniscus in my right knee, and some bone on bone action there as well.  Couple this with the tendinitis that is still in my right shoulder and forearm - I'm a hot mess.
I could barely raise my right arm today.

As I stand out in the garden with my fork...I feel like I'm standing at the ocean with a Dixie cup.
You just have to laugh, you know?

I do promise to post some pictures of the carnage that is my yard.

I cannot tell you the grieving process I've been in over it.
Literally - all the steps.

I in no way mean to make light of the loss some people have experienced, but loss - is loss.
Yes, the loss of my garden doesn't compare to the loss of other things - but I do believe that we need to even grieve and process the small losses in our lives.

Shock:  How did my garden become such a hot mess?

Denial:  Wait, I can do this.  Sleep is overrated.  We don't really have to do anything else this summer other than yard work, do we?  Order a pizza and let's get busy!

Anger:  Why won't anyone help me?  Don't they like yardwork?  Who planted all these stupid plants!?  Why do things keep growing!?  I want to move to a retirement community.

Bargaining:  OK, OK - I can do this.  I should just make it a LITTLE bit smaller - I mean come on - look at all the time you've invested in this.  It's so lovely!  Everyone will miss your gardens.  Maybe you could just mass plant - yes - mass plant - that would be easier than the cottage garden.

Depression:  All is lost.  I have no life.  Who am I without gardening?  No one will ever like me again.  Why would anyone want to come here?  I'm such an idiot!  I've created a monster!  I'm old!  I'm crippled!  I can't do this anymore!  I don't want to do this anymore!  Is there really life outside the trowel?  I'm going to move to Florida and take up Zumba and macrame.

Testing:  This is where I am now.  Making peace with simple.  Making peace with a little well done.

Acceptance:  Stay tuned.  : -)

As always - I encourage you all to love your family hard today, live a little slower today, and be grateful for.every.little.thing.

Like hot soup in July.  

Til soon.