Notes From Cook/Laundress

For most of July, Camp Granddad has been in full swing around here, “swing” definitely being the operative word.

Youngest Grandson, now 9, loves spending time here.  His mother says she is making a sacrifice in letting us borrow him, since he’s the only one of her brood (two teens, one toddler, one diva dog, one crazy cat) without an attitude.

Grandson and Dearly Beloved have spent hours and hours in sweaty sports activities–golf, basketball, baseball, and when they need to cool off, bowling.   YG wants to know how to do it all correctly, so Granddad provides instructions, but in a fun way.  That may explain why, when Grandson decides to hit with his putter from the tee sometimes, he does so with a near perfect swing.

DB has pronounced him a “natural” in all their activities and the word “Phenom” has even been bandied about.  He narrates hilarious videos of their activities and sends them to all the relatives.

There is no question as to whether or not YG will be able to play professional golf, baseball, and basketball.  Of COURSE!  All of them!  The only discussion has been as to how he will be able to play all three at once.   As Grandson lives in Atlanta, he will surely be drafted by the Braves and the Hawks, so he’ll be able to play those sports from the same location, but there is still the problem of going from sport to sport when Away games are involved.

I overheard one of their discussions just at the AHA! moment when they realized the simple solution they’d been overlooking.

(Headslap!)  YG would have his own private jet!

 

 

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent.” » Donald A. Norberg

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

 

Independence, Yes, But NIMBY!!!

Ivy, our granddog Goldendoodle arrived yesterday to stay with us for a week while her Peeps spend a week at the beach.

We were thrilled at the chance to have her for a week.  She’s a fun dog AND Ivy chases squirrels!  Oh, the thrill or seeing those little bastards scatter!  They are as fearful of her as they are contemptuous of us.  When we run out yelling at them, they give us the finger before sauntering off to lean against a tree, waiting for us to leave.  When Ivy goes out, they head for the treetops at top speed.

So, when Ivy’s family headed out yesterday, we came inside to enjoy looking out at our tree rodent-free yard.  Some time later, we heard Scout at the gate, barking loudly, which she rarely does.  Dearly Beloved called the dogs inside, but only Scout came.

Ivy had disappeared.

Imagine our panic!  Her folks hadn’t even reached the beach yet and we’d already lost their dog!  I fired off a Lost Dog e-mail to the neighborhood with a regal photo of Ivy.  I didn’t text my daughter.  I put  Version 2 Scout on a leash and asked her to play bloodhound while we walked the neighborhood.  She began sniffing immediately and my hopes soared.  Hah!  She was just looking for a place to pee–twice, before we even got to the corner.

In the meantime, DB had already headed out in his car.  He was so determined to find her that he said he was prepared to search all night.

While I was waiting for Scout to finish, I received an e-mail from someone in the neighborhood saying that Ivy was safe–she’d seen her with a couple who were trying to locate her owners.  They had called the number on the ID tag, but Voicemail was full, so they couldn’t leave a message.

The clever couple took Ivy home with them and sent a text to the number on the tag, since they couldn’t leave a message.  So, our daughter, on her way to the beach, received a text from strangers, saying, “We have your dog.  She is safe.”

Ivy loved the adventure.  She played with the couple’s Great Dane until DB arrived.  She’ probably bragged about it to Scout.  Ivy’s ID tag had broken off previously and Daughter had handed it to me when they arrived, asking could we fix it and put it back on her collar.  DB did so immediately.  Daughter was so grateful that he’d done so that she may even let us keep the grandkids again.  DB and I figure that we lost only five years of our lives at most.   Scout is giving us reproachful looks that say, “I TRIED to tell you that she’d broken out of the joint!”  

Trauma is exhausting, so DB and the dogs are napping.  Sounds like a good idea to me.  But first,  Ivy has a message for you. . . .

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gceopbRMi

 

 

 

 

Paradise Lost

The activity  at our bird feeders has declined.  Maybe our feathered friends read that the ozone level is at Extreme (even as the legislature is trying to lower ground air standards.)

It might also be that our yard has become a cafeteria for area hawks.

There was evidence of several killings last week–grey fluff, long feathers.  Over the weekend, we visited our son and daughter-in-law in Virginia Beach and when we returned Monday, a gruesome mess on our covered porch indicated that Victim No. 4 fought hard.

CSI believes the victims to be mourning doves.   (Talk about having something to mourn!) Those birds don’t even feed at the bird feeders.  Instead, they peck around the ground underneath, which makes for a slow takeoff.  Easy pickings for a hawk diving at 120 mph or so.

One day I went outside to fill the bird baths and saw piles of grey fluff.  A few feet beyond lay, like a dropped toy, a baby squirrel.   It had its new furry coat and a fat tummy.  Panda-like cute.  Although it looked untouched, it was still quite dead.

I called the undertaker (a/k/a Dearly Beloved)and we held a graveside service under the doublefile viburnum tree.   Despite my dislike of those darned critters, this little squirrel wrenched my heart.   It had been lying out in the open, so how  could it have fallen from a nest?  Somewhere in the trees, a momma squirrel had to be grieving for the loss of her fat little baby.

My life suddenly became more complicated.  I watch to keep the squirrels away from the bird feeders as usual, but now I also keep an eye out for any lurking hawks.  You know how a hawk sits in a tree and twists its head gracefully to look in any direction?  Out-hawking a hawk at my age isn’t easy because of all the cellophane creaking and cracking in my neck

Yeah, yeah, I know all that stuff about the laws of nature and I have one thing to say about that:  NIMBY!

Not in my back yard.

You’d think that I’d get a little help from Scout the Wonder Dog.  Hah!

A couple of months ago, my dear blog friend Mountain Woman sent Scout a present:  three soft toys.   A squirrel, a shark, and a skunk.  Really nice, huh?

In that same package, she included surprises for me:

IMG_2368Sure, she’s nice, but she’s also wicked.  I did not have a squirrel pillow or squirrel candle holders on my wish list.

Scout unpacked the box and immediately adopted the squirrel as her new favorite toy.

Scout and her surprise packageWhenever she goes outside, she drops it in  the vicinity of the bird feeders, as if  telling all the tree rats, “Come on down.  I don’t care about you; I have a squirrel of my own.”  They could form a conga line around her and she would simply yawn.

Yesterday the yard was invaded by crows.  Sheesh!

DB looks out over our backyard and, as long as the grass is cut, he sees only our little paradise.  I look out with swiveling head, ready to beat on the windows or run out screaming and waving the broom.   Do I think I am Mother Nature?

So far, the coyotes and wolves in the neighborhood have been held off by the fence.  Peter Rabbit still squeezes through the latticed brick, although if I point to it and accompany Scout outside, she will actually chase Peter.

I am going to take a deep breath and enjoy the whole garden scene.  After all, what else could show up?

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(Here is YouTube link to the manufacturer of this feeder, should you have Godfather envy and want one, too.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Nous Avons Un Problème

My family doesn’t post much on Facebook these days.   No pictures of the grandkids (which I understand) but Facebook is also how I keep up with where everyone is.  At the end of May, I’m guessing they’re all at home, immersed in the end-of-school activities.

I wouldn’t know, even if they did post, because Facebook has Frenched me.

Oui!!!

How could that happen?  Believe me, I don’t screw around with Facebook settings.  I wouldn’t know how. For years I never checked messages and notifications because I didn’t  know what those symbols meant.

Just now, I ventured over to the buttons on the right in an attempt to bring myself back to my native tongue.  Fat chance!  All the options are in French.

Que diable?

Dearly Beloved, who claims to have had five years of French, didn’t even look up from his book when I told him of my dilemma.   Pretty sure he’s not ignoring me.  It’s more like he’s telling me, “Je ne me souviens pas de la merde !”

Google translate tells me that’s how to say, “I can’t remember shit!”

If you have an idea of how to get me out of de la merde. . . h e l p!!!

If not, “friend” my family members so that you can tell me what they’re up to.

Until then, Au Revoir, Facebook!

 

PS.  Autocorrect changed my merde to merge.  Thank goodness for friends who know that merde!  (I’ve had to change it three times right here in hand-to-hand combat with Autocorrect.)   Phooey!  That one is the same in French or English.

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Damn! Hot Dog!

My Dearly Beloved hates malls.  You and I have discussed this before.  His mall trauma has, until recently, paled in comparison to his Big Box store phobia.  I’ve always gone alone to those because it wasn’t worth the effort of having to call Security to strap him onto a dolly for me to get him inside.  It leaves so little room for purchases.

Costco is his worst nightmare.

We aren’t bulk buyers since it’s just the two of us.  I  joined Costco mainly for the  pharmacy.  My prescription not covered by insurance is about 40% less there.   One trip paid the membership.  (I recently read on Facebook that they make most of their profits on membership fees and break even on most of the merchandise. Must be true with such a stellar source, right?)

But I digress.  Tuesday, it was time for another Costco pharmacy run.  DB came willingly, along with my assurance that I had no long list.  (He agrees that I shouldn’t need to depend on the kindness of strangers when I struggle with heavy items, so he has gone with me several times now.  He’s even dropped the whimpers and martyr face.  His sighs are much softer.)  

Once in the store though, he assumes Old Fart Costco Cart Shuffle position: stooped over the cart, elbows leaning on the cart handle.  Thinking that he might enjoy looking at gardening supplies, I suggested that he head there while I dropped off my prescription for the (gulp!) coming colonoscopy prep.

Silly me.  He wasn’t even browsing.  He’d parked on the right side of the main aisle, phone in hand, looking like he was calling Roadside Assistance.  I longed for a broomstick prod.

We cruised the wine aisles and he showed enough interest to select a few bottles.  Although he’d told me that we didn’t need birdseed, when he saw the price, he stuck a bag under the cart.  Now see, THAT’S why I needed him.  Had I tried that, I would have gotten stuck in bent-over position and needed EMT assistance.  I hate for that to happen when I have frozen items in the cart.

Let me pause here to say that I bought box of authentic Moravian Meyer Lemon Cookies. . .   delightful!!!  DB chose the coffees and his own snacks, but gasped when he saw the price of toilet tissue.   He suggested that we put some of our food items back so that we’d have need of fewer rolls.   Always a thinker, that man.

He was thrilled when we checked out for less than $200 and thought we should lunch there to celebrate.  Call me a snob, but I have never had a yen to try the  Costco food court;  I did a bit of whimpering myself.  Nevertheless, I agreed.  He went to find a table and I got in line to buy him a hotdog.

My order was a hot dog, two drinks, and some kind of barbecued beef sandwich for me.  When I took it to our table, DB asked how much the spread had cost.

$7.62.

He was ecstatic!  He loaded his hot dog with their relish, onions, and mustard and wolfed it down. . . with relish of his own.   For the next 24 hours, he kept telling me how good it had been and no, he assured me, he was not still tasting it.

Today I need to go to Lowe’s to buy soil conditioner.  My man is going to help me load the heavy bags in the station wagon.  He’s offered to buy lunch afterwards at his new favorite, intimate cafe:

La Petit Costco.

(OOPS: My friend Beanie, who taught French, says that it should be Le Petit Costco or La Petite Costco, so pardon my French.  As North Carolina is already deep into transgender hysteria, I wish to offend no one.  Choose whichever you’re comfortable with. . . and let everyone else do the same.)  

 

 

I Gave It the Hairy Eyeball

Despite my Dearly Beloved’s eye rolls, I’m one of those people who brings home the complimentary shampoos, conditioners, etc., from our hotel stays.  I believe I have enough shoe cloths to set up my own shoeshine station.

Not so with the shampoo and conditioners.  Now that we rarely travel,  the silver bowl of freebies in our guest bathroom has not been restocked in a l-o-n-g  time.  It contains only lotions and body washes.  No shampoos or conditioners.

I’ve been using a prescription shampoo and I’m a tub person anyhow, so I’ve paid little attention to our shower amenities beyond noting that there were some bottles of shampoo and conditioners in the shower rack.

A few weeks ago,  I decided I wanted to use something besides the dermatology stuff, so I checked out the stash in the shower and found it sorely lacking;  empty bottles, missing lids, no shampoos and conditioners from the same manufacturer.  Shameful!  As I began tossing them,  I spied a couple of like-new bottles I’d never even seen before.

I sniffed one and found it to have a delicious coconut scent.

Since then, I’ve used the bottles several times. . . enough that the bottles are getting a little low.  Whichever of our offspring who left it here won’t mind, right?  After all, everybody wants Momma to be happy.   In fact, I thought I’d better hint that we need more, so I took a quick picture to remind them which brand it was.

Beach Babe.  Oh yeah, that was it.   Beach Babe.

Then I read the labels more carefully.

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Harrumph!   Really?

Rest assured that the bottles will soon have “Your Mother begs to differ” written down the sides with my best Sharpie.

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People who can finish a shampoo bottle at the same time as the conditioner are truly gifted.

 

 

 

 

The Pool

The season that the guys in our family look forward to all year has finally arrived.  They aren’t kidding when they call this March Madness.

Since I like to select teams that I want to be able to root for, I cross a number of teams off immediately.   Kentucky, I just don’t like the coach.  If the politics of the state are so crazy,  I don’t choose teams from there, either.  (I think my Texas blogger friend there understands.)

This year, our youngest daughter didn’t have the time to spend on her selections, so she has one of those automatic quick picks:  her teams are the ones that are favored in every race.   Another family member has a ballot with all the historic favorite teams.

Of course we have the “experts,” the guys who watch basketball all year, read the sports pages religiously, and mark their selections with the confidence of their own superior knowledge.

But the ballot that is my favorite is the one completed by our youngest grandchild, little Miss NotQuite2.  Her brothers helped her, but she made her own picks, using a combination of methods.  Whenever possible, her brothers imitated the sounds that teams’ mascots make and she chose her favorites.  The Oregon Ducks, for instance, were a shoo-in.  When mascot mime wasn’t possible, she’d touch one on the screen, with much encouragement from her brothers.

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So how is all that working out?  Last night, while the superfans spent the night near the bottom, w-a-a-a-y up at the top, all by herself, was Little Miss NotQuite2.

Her mommy recorded it in her baby book.

Madness, indeed.

 

Y’all Hear That?

Usually when Dearly Beloved and I drive to Indianapolis in the winter, our visits  trigger an arctic blast of frigid winds and stinging snow.  So why do we go in winter?

We go to witness the Indiana religion:  Basketball.

This is oldest grandson’s senior year in high school.  He doesn’t plan to play in college, so we went up to watch a couple of his last games.  As soon as we crossed the state line into Virginia, we found snow covering the ground.  Surprisingly,  the farther up we drove, the less snow we found.  The temperature rose to 70 that weekend.

By the time we reached Indiana, we didn’t need the usual assortment of snow boots, gloves, or scarves.  Heck, we didn’t even need a coat.

Old Man Winter must not have recognized our car.

The pale residents of Indianapolis immediately hit the sidewalks as if someone had rung a citywide fire drill.  They walked their children and pets, bicycled, jogged, and crowded every outdoor restaurant table in the city.

Our grandsons reminded us of kids on a snow day here in North Carolina, basking in the warmth!

DB and I have come to realize that these two grandsons are Midwesterners.  They were born in Indiana and have never lived anywhere else.  Livermush and hushpuppies have probably never entered their vocabulary, much less their stomachs.  I don’t know if they even eat grits.  Their only nod to southern cuisine is the cartons of Cheerwine that we take for them when we visit.

There is not so much as a hint of southern inflection in their speech.  “Southernness”  must not be passed along through DNA,  but there was one brief incident which gave us hope.

Senior grandson went out with a girl-space-friend (not a girlfriend, he pointed out)  on Saturday night.  While he was out, his younger brother texted an urgent message to him:

When you’re on the way home, please stop someplace and get me some sour Gummies and sweet tea.

HOPE, right?

 

Fooling Around

I read somewhere that it takes 15 or 20 minutes for coffee to get someone started in the morning.  Since we make ours with half-decaf, half-regular,  it doesn’t seem unreasonable for me to take 30 to 50 minutes to vacate the twilight zone.

Sunday morning, before the coffee even finished brewing, Dearly Beloved looked out the sunroom window and casually announced:  Look.  There are two squirrels copulating on that oak limb.”  

He continued his narration without any encouragement from me.  “Now he’s run  off and she’s up there cleaning herself.”  

TMIBC.  Too much information before coffee.

A similar scene took place in plain sight later that afternoon.  DB figured it was the male practicing free love.  It made me curious, so I looked up some information on the mating habits of grey squirrels and learned that it was the same female probably, different male.  What a bunch of bastards those tree rats are.   Sheesh!

The female is fertile for less than a day, however, she puts out a scent that calls male squirrels in the neighborhood, thus filling her dance card all day.

We may as well forget Groundhog Day.  It doesn’t matter how much more winter weather we have because my plantings will be screwed right along with those squirrel hussies.  Let’s see. . . the gestation period is about 45 days, and it takes mommas about seven to 10 weeks to wean them.  Yup. That means the little bastards will hit the ground to start digging and chewing about the same time all my warm weather plants are starting to really look good.

Furthermore, the females will be about ready to put out the word, er. . . scent again.  The obnoxious little bastards mate twice a year.   Wonder what we can do to counteract that sex scent next time, assuming we can’t lock all the fertile ones under the house for the day.

For awhile, I thought I had the solution.  Remember smudge pots?   There are to be zillions of them sitting in road construction warehouses everywhere, a dime a dozen, right?

Wrong.  The smelly old kerosene ones might work, but they’re pricey.  The new ones burn lamp or citronella oil.  Not enough stink.

Speaking of stink, I admire the Kentucky legislator who’s raising one in her state. Have you read about Rep. Mary Lou Marzian?  After the KY legislature passed another pro-birth measure, this one making any woman seeking an abortion to have counseling 24 hours prior, Rep. Marzian came up with legislation which could help prevent unwanted pregnancies and unwelcome sexual advances.  Her bill, HB396,  would require men seeking erectile dysfunction-type drugs to have at least two visits with their doctors as well as a permission slip from their wives.   Only married men would be able to obtain the drug and they would have to swear on a Bible to use it only with their wives.

Rep. Marzian is a medical professional and knows that the drugs cause risks for men and she wants to protect them from themselves.  Headaches, runny nose, body aches, vision problems, dizziness. . . .  If her bill passes, those pill users would have their permission slip-signing wives right there to nurse them back to health.  It would reduce medical costs, something any legislator should embrace, right?

As for the problems in our garden,  if Monsanto and Dupont and all those GMO-loving companies want to produce a corn containing birth control for tree rats,  I’ll see to it that ours are the best fed critters on the block.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authenticity!

I’ve never been to Mardi Gras or, for that matter, to New Orleans.  In fact, I’m not even sure I’ve ever been to a Cajun restaurant,  although I did win a  Cajun cookbook on Velva Knapp’s blog a few years ago.

It was time for my Dearly Beloved and me to step out of our evening routine.

Mardi Gras night, here we come!  DB wasn’t as enthusiastic as I.  He’d pictured an  evening by the fire with a glass of wine, watching the New Hampshire primary returns.

We were stepping out, all right, but at our age, we step cautiously.  Our favorite little neighborhood restaurant was doing up Fat Tuesday.  Close enough!  They’d promised a King’s cake direct from New Orleans.   How much more authentic could it get, I ask you?!   Not only that, one of the restaurant owners is a Louisiana native and used to march in the Mardi Gras parade.

He was 8 years old at the time and played clarinet.

Even though we arrived before 6,  all the tables and booths were full.  They had outdone themselves;  decorations adored the walls and hung from the ceiling, and twinkle lights in Mardi Gras colors encircled the room.

We bellied up to the bar to wait for a table.  I passed up a Hurricane drink in favor of my usual glass of red wine, content to watch the bartender mixing a steady stream of the cheery-looking drinks in large glasses.  I slipped several strands of the necklaces around my neck.  They were strewn around everywhere.  Authentic beads!  Oh yeah!

Dearly Beloved could not decide between the specials for the evening, so he ordered a trio of Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Creole, and Shrimp and Crayfish Étouffée.  He pronounced it one of the best meals ever.

When our server came around with the King’s cake,  I chose carefully, not so much in search of the baby, but opting for a slice that wouldn’t turn my teeth purple.  I selected one in the golden yellow section.  DB told me too bad, that if I’d gotten the Baby Jesus, all my sins would be forgiven for the year.

I think it meant I’d get a free dessert.

DB said he’d had King’s Cake often during our years in Memphis because one of the guys in their office went down to New Orleans and picked one up every year.  He hadn’t particularly liked it–he remembered it as tasting very vanilla-ish.  This one wasn’t; it was deliciously light, with a hint of lemon.   I was glad that DB is gluten-free these days–he’d have loved this one.  In fact, I was tempted to order a second slice to bring home for breakfast this morning.

The atmosphere was festive and bright, yet cozy. DB admitted that it was much better than the evening he’d planned.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

This morning I was telling a friend about our evening and how much we enjoyed it.  DB came in toward the end of our conversation and asked,   “Did Mary tell you about our big Mardi Gras night?”

“She said it was fun and that the food was great,”  our friend answered.

I knew what DB was going to say next before he opened his mouth:

Did she tell you that she ordered pot roast?

sigh.  No.  I’d omitted that part.