Saturday, April 30, 2016

Welcome to a Quiet Saturday

It is rare for us. We usually keep very busy with projects. It is both of our nature, mine and Tractor Man's, to stay busy. Even on the weekends we rarely sleep past 7, referring to 7:00 as "sleeping in". I once slept till 9:00 and Tractor Man let me, assuming that if I was sleeping so late I must be dreadfully ill. I was just tired. We live in a house that we love, but was not well loved by any of it's previous inhabitants. This house has been in his family for generations, but was always a rental. The FARM is is great shape, the house, not so much. So it needs a great deal of flooring, and there is something strange with the ceilings. I'm not sure there is any insulation. The porches are a mess. The eaves need paint. And so on, the joys of an old farmhouse are endless.

Today is quiet for us though. We got up at 7, of course. Went on in to town to get breakfast at one of our two breakfast spots. Had the waitress I don't like. (She is nice she just never brings me the right jelly/honey flavors, but she does know how to get the kitchen to burn my bacon, so I really should like her more.) Spoke with our favorite cashier. (We really need to invite him to the house or something, we like him so well.) Then to the home improvement store. I was a bit annoyed with this, as I work at the home improvement store and spend most of my money there and wanted a break. Alas my 100ft hose broke (kids) and my chickens needed watering.

Of course I didn't just buy a hose. I didn't accumulate all this junk by buying one thing. At the store I enter eight times a week. I had to also get a lemon balm plant and some dill because I'm growing cucumbers for pickling so I'm gonna need to have fresh dill. You know, back to basics and all. I also needed four cans of wasp spray. I'm all about living clean until wasps come around. I would soak every inch of my home in wasp spray if Tractor Man would let me. Bathe the children in it, I don't care! I am at war with those jerks. Don't care about the bees, carpenter bees, spiders, barely care about snakes, but I get all sort of bent about wasps. I'm claiming allergic too. I'm not allergic, but they hurt a LOT and that one time I swelled up and felt a little icky and feverish. Probably from screaming so much, but I'm claiming allergic anyhow. So, as I'm allergic to wasps I needed four more cans. I use a combo of the foaming kind and the long reaching kind. I'm prepared for whatever wasps I need to kill.

Then we went home. I messed with my garden some. Looked for wasps to kill but couldn't find any. (Perhaps I'm winning??) Cleaned up my chicken coop and fluffed their hay and wash and refilled their drinkers. (That's what chicken water thingies are called, "drinkers" I'd have put money on "waterers" but I'd have been wrong.)

Tractor Man picked up some trash. There is a stranger phenomenon here where trash ends up in our yard. Not our trash, just random trash. Part of it is our dogs who absolutely love trash. Part is just a mystery. So every weekend Tractor Man picks up trash. He did that and some weed eating. (weed eatering? weed wacking? what's the verb here?)

Then nothing. It raind for a while, which was pretty fun. Good for my garden. I watched birds at my feeder. We have, what we think is, an Indigo Bunting, and he's my favorite. I made some tea and we drank that on the porch with the pets sleeping under our feet. I read an entire book about medicinal herb gardening.

We don't have TV service here. I could go for an afternoon of HGTV, but it's not to be. I should probably work on my Anatomy course some, but I did a ton of that yesterday. It's relaxing, but also weird to do so little on a Saturday. It is also so incredibly beautiful here.

There is a thing on facebook that shows you your memories of stuff that happened on this day in other years. I do love this feature. It reminds me of how far I have come. Last year at this time I was making my final preparations for my move here. A new, fresh start. It both feels like I have been here with Tractor Man forever, and like I'm still in the fresh start phase. Like my life is both settled and just starting to get to where it's going. I used to feel like I was leaping off a cliff, but now I guess I'm on a very lovely country drive. I'm not entirely sure where I'll end up, but there is direction. I have goals, plans. And no matter what I'm going to sleep in the arms of a man who loves more more than anyone else on this earth tonight. And I get to give him all of my heart.

Today I'm grateful for Quiet Saturdays. My birthday is next weekend, I bet it will be significantly less quiet.

Because blog posts are better with photos, chickens get to free range a few hours a day now and look at this lovely iris that just happened to live near the pecan tree.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Welcome to Short Stories Vol. 1

Bubba Joe and the Lawman orBiscuits are Important

This is part of a series of very short stories. Most of them will be inspired by real people. After the initial inspiration I deviate wildly from the truth. Basically interesting stuff happened, but it wasn't quite interesting enough as it really happened so I changed it a bit and wrote it down. 

Tractor Man knows everyone. Everywhere we go he has to "speak" with at least five people. I know "speak" is already a verb, but it means something a little different. It means the whole act of getting up and heading over to say things like, "How's your mamma?" or "Where is your brother, can't get his lazy bones out of bed yet?". It's super important. Fail to "speak" to someone and it will get around. "I saw Janice at the Piggly Wiggly and she didn't even bother to speak." Shocking. 

I'm getting off track. Tractor Man knows everyone. We are sitting at a local breakfast joint. Enjoying some biscuits and coffee. I am putting all sorts of stuff on mine, two kinds of jelly, butter and honey. Tractor Man puts his usual honey and butter and nothing else. There is also country ham. Country ham is as opposed to city ham. City ham is sweet. Country ham is my heart's true love. We are chatting when he see's a man he knows. He doesn't "speak" though, as they are not really friends. Just does the nod thing. He tells me, "That's Bubba Joe, he is very nice. Used to own a used car lot. I'm not sure what he's doing now." I nod sagely, as if I am going to remember this, only vaguely sure I know which one is Bubba Joe. I assume the big buy. You never meet skinny "Bubba's" ya know? I realize it is definitely Bubba Joe when I notice he has a "Bubba Joe's Used Cars... Trust Bubba" T-shirt on. I am very observant. 
Things get interesting when Billy Westmore comes in. I don't know him, of course, Tractor Man quietly points him out. He is dressed pretty nice. Slacks and a button up. Breakfast runs the gambit on dress. Tension rises slightly in the room. Even Tractor Man pauses for a split second while holding his coffee mug. Mr. Westmore nods to us and we nod back, murmuring our "good mornings". He also nods at Bubba Joe before sitting in the next room. 
Under his breath, Tractor Man tells me the story. Bubba Joe is a small time drug dealer. Now I know, this is the idyllic country, why are people doing drugs? I don't know, probably the same reason they do them in the rest of the world. He only deals with "small stuff", I assume that means pot, because the other main drug around here is meth and I've never heard that called "small". Bubba's side business is sort of a given. Everyone knows. But he's a super swell guy. Mr. Westmore is actually with the State Narcotics Agency. He is working on Billy's case. He has been for a while, trying to catch him in something shady. 
I asked if there was going to be a bust right here at breakfast? I noticed Mr. Westmore on his phone and speculate if he is calling the office to see if they have enough to make an arrest. Tractor man chuckles. "I'm sure not." 
Breakfast ends without incident. Bubba Joe left before us. Mr. Westmore didn't get up and follow him or anything interesting. Everyone just ate their biscuits. Because biscuits are important. And Southern civility halts hunts, temporarily, for biscuits and country ham. 

For more on how important biscuits are please read THIS post. 

Welcome to biscuits

Biscuits are important y'all. If you are not living south of the Mason Dixon Line, east of the Mississippi you might not know this. You might think they come from a can. For almost a year Tractor Man let me make biscuits from a can. He, adorably, called them "whomping biscuits" because you can get the can open by whomping it on the edge of the counter. I have never seen anyone do this, and when I tried I chipped the laminate edge on his/our counter. After a year he suggested I make "scratch biscuits."
Actually backtrack. I made my "drop biscuits" once. I never thought about biscuits having much flavor, more of them being a delivery system for yummy things like gravy. (Which I, alarmingly, made from a packet as opposed to making from some magic that happens in a skillet after you cook sausage, but that's a whole other post.) The point is "My Biscuits" were swiftly rejected and whomping continued for a while.
On to scratch biscuits. Besides Tractor Man, who does know how to cook, I had another source. I work with a man who used to own a restaurant. We will call him Billy. And Billy can cook! So I ask him for his "biscuit recipe" and he laughs. "You take some self rising flour, some Crisco and some buttermilk. Mix them until it feels just right. Don't overwork. The time and temperature will vary based on your oven. Just make them hot enough and cook them until they start to gold." Um... I need measurements! Nope. You don't make good ole southern biscuits with measurements. You take those three things and mix them just right.
So I decide this will have to be a hands on lesson with Tractor Man. He's a really good teacher and my first batch was the best biscuits I had ever made. They didn't rise super well and they didn't have enough tang, but they were good. Second batch was better. Third was hardly edible. Biscuits are hard. And easy. I can now make exactly how many I need, consistently. In my oven the correct temp is 425 by the way. There is still some quality variation, but it's always good. They go great with my homemade jelly and jam. Which is, again, a whole other story.
You need to remember how important biscuits are when I tell you a short story in my next post. Very important. LINK
But for now, blog posts are better with photos so:



Welcome to my severely overcrowded veggie boxes.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Welcome to fighting

Disclaimer: I'm going to use this blog for a whole variety of things. This post is sort of preachy relationship advice. Not really a country life post.

I am not a professional relationship adviser. I took a few psych classes in college. I have been in a very bad relationship and a very good one. I have spent years looking at my friends' relationships and trying to figure out what works and doesn't. I have read mountains of books. I tried very hard to save my marriage. I researched and prayed and spoke to professionals. This is one thing I want to share, take it or leave it.

In a relationship of any length there are going to be disagreements. Fights if you will. Everyone has them. Now five of you readers just said, "We really never do." You probably do, but you do them in the way I'm about to suggest so you don't FEEL like it's a fight.

I have these friends. They fight a lot. I'm not hopeful for their marriage. AT ALL. This is why. Let's call them Dale and Jan. Dale will do something that offends Jan. Maybe he forgets to pick up dinner. Jan didn't remind him because she was very busy at work all day. She literally never had time for a one minute phone call. She counted on him to get the dinner. Dale forgot. Not because he's evil or because he wanted to make her angry, but because sometimes Dale forgets things. He wasn't too busy, he just forgot. So Jan comes home and Dale says, "What you thinking for dinner?" Jan explodes. She berates Dale for being so forgetful. She reminds him that her job is busy, important and stressful, implying that his isn't. (And maybe, comparatively it's not, maybe that's why she counted on Dale for dinner.) He is hurt and accuses her of attacking him. Of a lack of understanding that sometimes people make mistakes. She snidely says she would understand if he made ONE mistake, but goes on to bring up a list of his mistakes. He didn't make the bed either. He forgot to make an appointment last month. So on.

This goes back and forth, both of them digging deeper as they get more offended by the jabs of the other. Eventually they tire of it and part. They may even come together and apologize, accept the apologies and smile again. Let it go for now. Until next time when they bring it all back up.

They are fighting in the worst way. For the worst motivations. They are not trying to be understood. Not trying to understand the concerns of each other. They are trying to HURT. This is the signal for me. When you start trying to hurt your partner it's pretty much over. I don't know if you can go back from that, once you stop looking at the person standing before you as someone you want to partner with, someone you care about and want to soothe and support and start seeing them as the enemy.

It leads into the other half of this. The laundry list of past offences. They come up because they are not resolved. They are not resolved because the way you fight doesn't resolve anything. You just hurt someone until you get the cheap satisfaction of hurting then move on. The offence is still there. So, of course it comes up next time. This happens because you do not truly respect one another.

Relationships that work don't do this. Ever. They still forget dinner. It still in an annoyance. But the offended party says so, the offender listens until they understand why. Forgiveness happens because dinner is not nearly important enough to waste any time being bitter or angry. Because in the grand scheme of things this was nothing. The unsupported feeling is resolved by caring and nurture. They get a pizza and laugh about it, both grateful for each other, and both resolving to be an even better partner.

This isn't really an advice post. I don't know what you do if you are like Dale and Jan. For myself, it was just one of the negative things in my marriage. We tried, but lacked a basic respect close to strong enough to repair it. It was habit for us, almost an addiction. Guilt/blame/pain/tears/exhaustion. I left. But I learned.

My current partner taught me more about forgiveness than I had ever considered. Mostly this, "I forgave you because what we have is more important than what you did. But before I told you I could forgive you I made sure I really could." For him forgiveness is absolute. Either the offence is enough to destroy what we have or it's not. If not he needs me to understand how I hurt him so I don't repeat it.  He never brings up past offences because they are totally resolved. He's not saving them in the cave of his heart like some pain dragon.

I guess that's about all. I don't know what you would do with this information. I guess know I'm judging your relationships. I don't know if it WILL last for Dale and Jan, but I'm pretty sure how I feel about if it SHOULD last.

Posts are better with photos so let's look at this now:


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Welcome to your dreams

I was driving the other day to pick my children up at school. We love the school here. It is very small and friendly. They are enjoying it. Without disparaging the schools we left behind I do want to say that they are better here. That was a major consideration for me. I moved here mostly for Tractor Man. But being confident that the move would be good for my children was necessary as well.
Okay, that was a bit of a divergence from what I meant to say. I was driving to pick the kids up. I went a slightly different way and saw new things. One of them was a house. My dream house. I have never been IN this house, but I see it all over the place here. It is a Sears Kit house. And it's beautiful. Look:
Isn't it lovely? I think the one I saw may have been a slightly smaller version, I don't remember it going back three windows deep. I think just two. In any event it was gorgeous. And run down. It will fall apart soon. Tragic. No fear, there are tons of this house up here for some reason. I especially love that window on the second story. 
I get the boys in the car and point it out, "This is my dream house... only not a falling down version." Youngest kid says, "That is not a dream house, Dream Houses are big." I say, "Not my dream house, my dream house is actually pretty small." Middle kid says, "Then I think you should be able to get that some day." And youngest kid (he's 4) says, "Maybe the reason so many people don't get to have their dreams is because they dream of bigger things then they need." 
Think for a moment about all the wisdom in that statement. Have we wasted time that we could have spent attaining our REAL dreams while trying for bigger things that we needed? Have we forgone happiness because of greed? Did someone, well meaning, tell us to "Dream Big"? Is dreaming big really a virtue? 
I once heard an Oprah quote where someone said something like, "Now that I have attained my dream, what do I do now?" and she replied, "Dream a bigger dream." It sounds like outstanding advice. I held it close to my heart for a very long time. I'm not so sure now. Maybe the goal shouldn't be "more" but should be "enough". Not that I ever want to stop progressing. But isn't that different from attaining? I hope my focus is on improving, not acquiring. 
At this moment I am in my kitchen with a cup of coffee. There is vanilla and sugar in it, delightful. My dog is sleeping and snoring quietly. The front door is wide open, you can do that here. One stinging insect got in but I killed him. Tractor Man is getting ready in the bathroom. He is listening to Finnegan's Wake while he shaves. Cicadas are singing. It is very sunny but the shade of our huge oak is still keeping the house cool. Not for long, it's summer in The South, soon we will have to shut the door and turn on the air. Why on earth would I want anything more than this moment? All this peace and beauty and love. I couldn't possible dream bigger than this. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Welcome to Snakes in the house

We had mice. They are gross. Kinda cute, but totally gross. So I cleaned. Cleared out closets, dressers, cabinets and so on. Got two cats. Mice population went way down. I joked with Tractor Man that we needed to get a snake and let it loose in the walls.
Not two weeks later my middle son backed out of his room saying, "No. There is a snake." I barely believed him. I open the door and guess what? Yup. There really is a huge long snake on their dresser.
I'll admit. I kinda freaked. I mean.. it's not a tiny snake. I called Tractor Man's father and he came over. We tried to kill it, which I'm not proud of. Super snake is ticksy though and it hid somewhere. Which left me with a hidden snake in my children's bedroom. Delightful.
Tractor Man left work early to rescue his city girl from the terrors of a rat snake. He's dreamy like that. Of course by the time he gets home we have lost the snake and everyone is hiding on our bed. He sits my boys down and explains that the snake is safe and likely terrified. And almost certainly it has escaped through whatever hole it came in. And it worked! My children, ages 4, 9 and 10 went to sleep that night without worries. Tractor Man told them they were safe, so they were.
And I guess I got my wish. I believe a snake lives in our walls. I like to think it is keeping us safe from mice. I have not seen another mouse ya know. (No "evidence" of mice either.) My kids decided he's our friend and part of the family. His name is Fred now. He lives here. I guess. Oh, and apparently I was not supposed to kill him. I was supposed to put on gloves and pick him up and put him out in the yard. Because picking up wild snakes should be the obvious answer. Now I know.
"Welcome to the country"

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Welcome to the Country

I hear it at least once a day. I hear it when a snake has gotten in my children's bedroom. I hear it when a giant, presumably man-eating, spider is in the bathroom. I hear it when thousands and thousands of delicious blackberries grow in the yard. "Welcome to the Country."

I was a city girl. I've never lived anywhere like this before. This is an honest to goodness farm. And I live in the middle of it. In a shack. In the woods. I came here to find myself. To reconnect with the woman I let go of a long time ago. I came because I want my children to understand where food comes from and what hard work means. I came because of heartbreak and love. It's beautiful and hot and sometimes scary and painful. And it's mine. My country. Even though I have never lived anywhere like this before, my soul said, "I am home" when I arrived.

So welcome. Welcome to the story of a city girl moving to the country. Of learning to garden and can. Of battling snakes and stray cows. Of love and healing.

Geography is important. More important than I ever knew. I need to be here. Right here on this very farm.