Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Wonderful Soup Stone

And I swear you could taste the chicken and tomatoes, 
And the noodles and the marrow bone. 

Have you ever had stone soup? If you haven't, well, you're missing out! The recipe is quite simple!

A while back I was lucky enough to have some of the Littles over for the week. They hiked around the mountain, examined all the new trees, played at the ranch and just had fun.

One day I asked them if they wanted to make Stone Soup. I got a look that said, “Mamye has really lost her mind. Doesn’t she know a stone is a rock? You can’t make soup out of rocks!” I sent them outside to each find a good ‘stone’.

“Stone Soup” is an old folk tale. I remember hearing it in second grade. Throughout the years there have been many variations. Basically, it goes like this. A traveler was making his way through a village one day. He was tired and hungry. He started a fire and got ready to set up camp for the night. He pulled out a pot that he filled with water. Then, he added a clean stone that he’d taken from his pocket to the pot. . Finally one of the villagers came over to see what he was doing. He told the villager he was making stone soup. The curious villager questioned him and he said it would taste better if there was a little cabbage to add. So the villager found some cabbage to add. This continued with the curious villagers asking about the soup and the clever traveler suggesting ingredients to add that would make the soup better. Soon he had an aromatic, tasty soup that he shared with the villagers. When everyone had their fill he gifted the stone to the villagers so that they could make stone soup long after he was gone.

The kids came in, each with a ‘stone’ in hand. I washed and scrubbed them until I was sure there wasn’t anything foreign and filled a pot with water. I put all of them in the pot and turned on the burner.

Clean stones to start the soup!
They went off, doing what they do, and I snuck some beef bouillon into the pot so there would be some flavor when they sampled their concoction.

After a bit of hesitation, making sure they weren’t eating dirt, they each tasted the broth. Because of the bullion, it had a nice taste. They approved.

Next we proceeded to see what would make it better. We loaded the pot with extra vegetables, some pasta, some tomato juice and even some meat that was leftover from another meal. The fun thing was I let them pick what to add.

The kids loved it! We all had a lot of fun. And they got to take their ‘stones’ home so they could do it again!
The verdict? Yummy!!

But it really wasn't nothing but some water and potatoes, 
And the wonderful wonderful soup stone. 

The kids were impressed with the Stone Soup we made. As soon as possible, Caleb went to the school library and checked out the book!

Is he checking to see if I told the story correctly?
Not to be outdone, Belle checked out a copy the next day!

Whatever it takes to make them read!
Little did their mom know that she would soon get to join in the fun! Guess what they wanted for supper? Right. They made Stone Soup!

Stone soup at home!
It’s good to know they will remember the time we all made Stone Soup with Mamye and Pap. It’s great to know that together we made a memory.

Just add a little love to the wonderful soup stone, 
And everything will be alright.
Oh, the wonderful wonderful soup stone...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Now shoulda coulda woulda, means I'm out of time…

Another hour; another day; another week, month, year…and she thinks about the things she should have done. But there’s still clothes to be folded, dishes in the sink, dust on the table. And she thinks about the things she could have done. But she’s still in a dead end job, living in a backwards small thinking town, and will never have a million dollars. And she thinks about the things she would have done. But she’d have to been different; braver, smarter, prettier.

“Good morning! May I take your order?” 

But she tries to stay on the positive side of things. She and Baby Girl have clothes to wear. She really should stop calling her Baby Girl. She’s growing up so fast. And Saturday, she’s off and can catch up on all the housework and make their meager abode shine. With the schedule change she’s able to go to the library Tuesday nights because she gets off early. Baby Girl loves to go look at the books and read. She can work on her online class while there. It will take a long time but she’s determined not to be in a dead end job forever.

Small town living is a lot different but all in all, maybe it’s not too bad. She keeps this thought in her head as the prospect of not having to stay forever makes life bearable. She’s knows she’ll never have a million dollars unless she wins the lottery and that’s not happening because a lottery ticket is lunch money.

She can’t go back. She doesn't regret the things she’s done to get to where she is. It’s made her who she is today. She’s braver than she’d ever thought she could be. She’s working on a degree even though it feels like she might be retirement age before she finishes. And she really doesn't look that bad, most days anyway. Would she have liked it easier? Of course she would. And it will be. Someday.

“Your change is $1.02. Thank you. Come back again.”

And I wonder, wonder, wonder what I'm gonna do… 

I was probably more excited about them than they were but at least the Christmas presents have come in handy with this cold weather!
Headbands and vests for the girls, beard hat and vests for the boys
Wearing it well!
Just like the big boys!
Even sent one out of state!
He says NO...well, maybe!
Love those Littles!

Coz shoulda coulda woulda, can't change your mind...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

May we all have a vision now and then 
Of a world where every neighbor is a friend.
Happy New Year!

May we all have our hopes, our will to try...
You and I...
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Say what you wanna say 
And let the words fall out. 
Honestly I wanna see you be brave!

There we were, gathered in the ‘Take a Break’, our version of an employee lounge. It was a birthday celebration and someone brought a delightful cake for all to share. I deposited the half piece on my party plate and placed a luscious bite in my mouth. That’s when she said, “That’s why you look the way you do”.

I jumped on the chair, glared down at her and said, “Yes, people do mistake me for you all the time. Mind your own business, you hateful wench!”

But really, as I choked down that one bite and all joy I’d had from the taste, I quietly put the rest in the trash and left the room. She won.

The meeting was going well. Ideas were being discussed and plans were solidifying. There was a question about a grant. That’s when he said, “I’d rather deal with terrorists and snipers than your program”. Several people smiled and a few even broke into spontaneous laughter.

I didn’t find it funny. But I smiled, like the rest, and sweetly said, “Oh yeah? Well, stick it in your ear or your nose or anywhere else that might be convenient!”

That’s what I said in my head. Actually my feelings were really hurt. And I was embarrassed. But I smiled with the rest and acted like I agreed. He won.

It was supposed to be a pep talk. The door was closed and the right things were being said. Then out came, “Have I ever lied to you?”

Jumping up I screamed, “How the heck should I know? Does ommitance count?” But like the good girl I am, I didn’t mention specifics. Instead, I politely replied with the expected, “No.” She won.

Why is it not acceptable to say what I think, what I want to say? Why can’t I defend myself? It wouldn’t have to be snarky. I could keep it polite, not bringing myself down to their level. But I don’t contradict. I don’t make waves. And sadly, the word bullies win.

I have three little granddaughters. I love them dearly and want the best as they become young ladies. I hope they are able to stand up for themselves and what they think is right without ridicule or insults. I want them to be strong but kind, to be assertive but gracious and to be articulate but polite. I want them to be brave. I want them to defeat the word bullies.

Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy.
Fallen for the fear 
And done some disappearing, 
Bow down to the mighty.
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue!

Believe it or not there was a yarn bombing, right here in Odessa! Well, sort of anyway. It was at the Museum and it was their interpretation. I didn’t completely agree it was a true yarn bombing but it was fun anyway. Here’s a few pictures.

Wrapped up.
Bikini skater?
Kathy and Pippi Longstocking!
Someone's grandma is  missing an afghan!!
Borrowed from the living room couch?
Strange creatures in skirts!
Pole not dancing.
And here’s my own little yarn bomb on my deck. Because I can.
My own private yarn bomb!
And since your history of silence 
Won’t do you any good, 
Did you think it would? 
Let your words be anything but empty.
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Friends in Low Places

I'm not big on social graces, think I'll slip on down to the oasis...
Oh, I've got friends in low places...

One time I was in San Antonio with a group of friends. We’d heard about a killer margarita, the specialty of one of the restaurants on the Riverwalk. So the group of us girls, about six in all, decided we’d take a walk down the river to see if we could find the origin of this famous concoction.

The Riverwalk is in downtown San Antonio. It’s a tourist attraction, but not really a river. It’s actually designed for flood control. In 1921 a disastrous flood along the San Antonio River claimed at least 50 lives. The bypass channel was born. An architect named Robert Hugman dreamed up the plans for what eventually became the Riverwalk. Today it’s a mecca of hotels and restaurants, all one level below the street. It’s a winding maze of people and vegetation. There are even ducks, swimming in the murky water.

We walked along until we found what we were looking for. There was no wait and we circled a table, outside, at river’s edge. The waitress brought large baskets of fried tortilla wedges and bowls of spicy, fresh salsa. We watched the people walk by and visited as we snacked and chatted, awaiting our beverages.

Several tables were occupied. Nearby was a romantic couple and in another spot, a family with small children. Another table had a group similar to ours, women together, most likely doing just what we were; enjoying the atmosphere and each other’s company. That’s what we thought anyway.

One of the women stood. Correction; she tried to stand. With a little help from her friends she made it off the chair and staggered inside, one of the others holding her up. The two at the table were left laughing hysterically. To get inside to the restroom two steps needed to be scaled. After a couple of tries the friend got her inside, presumably all the way to the women’s room. After a bit, still supported by the friend, she came back and tried to make her way to her seat. Without the assistance of the other woman she would have slid to the ground. She was smashed.

We watched curiously, to see what happened next. One of the ladies from the table approached the two, while the other stayed seated, still laughing. We thought she had come to help. No. she had her phone out and was taking picture after picture. The poor inebriated lady was cognizant enough to realize what was going on and begged her to stop. They both just laughed at her and said wait until they put the snapshots on Facebook. Finally the trio made their way back to their table where her friends encouraged her to finish the drink she had left. Knowing no better, she continued to sip the poison they fed her.

We shifted our interest back to our visit, paying no attention to the other table. All was going well until one of the girls at our table exclaimed, “Gross. That is disgusting.” Of course we all turned to see what was going on. The intoxicated woman had thrown up all over their table. Did her friends help her? After they laughed and took more pictures.

The group finally got up, dragging their friend, and staggered away. Hopefully they made it to their hotel down the river. The wait staff, young people, seemed to take it in stride. Utensils and dishes were removed from the table. A water hose and mop appeared and disinfectant was sprayed. The table was scrubbed and set up for the next (unsuspecting) guests. It was a routine occurrence we were told.

I was embarrassed for the lady but mostly I felt anger towards her so-called friends. How could they make the entire situation such a joke, laughing at her and taking pictures which probably made it to some form of social media? How could they encourage her, knowing she couldn’t stand alone, to have more alcohol? Those were not friends. They were cruel, uncaring, individuals.

I hope when she was able to function, that she could recall some of the events of the afternoon. I hope she re-evaluates the people she calls friends. I hope she questions their actions and how they reacted when she needed them. Most of all, I hope, if they ask her to go again that she’d have the sense to say no, she was busy. Besides, they weren’t all that much fun.

Well, I guess I was wrong, I just don't belong,
But then, I've been there before...

Speaking of friends, an Internet knitter friend sent me a package the other day. She crocheted (which isn’t the same as knitting but it uses yarn), some really cool coasters! What a nice gesture! Thank you Jo!

A friend is someone you respect and who reciprocates that feeling. It’s someone whose company you enjoy. It’s someone you like to be around. It’s someone who will support you and likes you, even on your bad days. A true friend celebrates your best and would never post stupid pictures of you on social media. Everybody needs a friend. But first you have to be a friend.
These are my friends in high places! Funnest group ever!!
Oh, I've got friends in low places...

Monday, June 2, 2014

You May Be Right

I may be crazy.
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for...

The story you are about to read is mostly true. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

I wasn’t looking forward to the trip. Two is company and three is a crowd so the odds were stacked against already. But business is business and I can endure anything for a couple of days. It started wrong. I’d waited like I was supposed to, so we could go to the airport. I took a quick bathroom break and Monica was gone. She hadn’t waited. Phoebe was already there and had sent a text saying so. But the routine is for travelers in the building to catch a ride to the airport. Together. It was an omen of what was to come that I didn’t even recognize.
Thankfully the airline had open seating. Because my boarding pass was a little further down the line than the other two there was no chance I’d have to sit with either of them. Farther along in the trip I’d realize I’d meant I didn’t have to sit with any of them because one of the travelers brought company.

The first leg went well. Or maybe the gin and tonic made it seem that way. There was just time for a quick coffee before the next plane. But Monica needed food; chips and dip at the airport restaurant. I went along, sipping my coffee but worried about the time. Monica wasn’t concerned. Finally, desperate, I said I’m going. Monica laughed but settled the check and we all walked out. Spotting the sign above the line I said, girls, they are on the ‘B’ group. They started to run because they had ‘A’ boarding passes. I laughed, but it really wasn’t funny.

Phoebe and I waited for luggage while Monica went to check out the rental car. I grabbed the suitcases and we met at the escalator. It was while waiting for the clerk to bring the car that I first saw. Monica had something on her shoulder. A cartoon picture popped into my head. It was a mad little character with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I looked at Monica and saw the same thing except there was a devil on both sides. Monica held out the keys and one of the devils climbed down and started shaking them. Devil 2 started shouting how people accused Monica of being aggressive and she wasn’t aggressive or pushy so someone else better drive. Phoebe and I stared, dumbfounded, and finally Phoebe took the keys. The devil went back to her shoulder.
The trip to the hotel was actually pleasant. We talked. We made dinner plans. We checked in and suddenly one of the devils climbed down and said I’m going to my room. What time tomorrow? Another coworker was meeting us so I told them I’d text when he got here.

Phoebe and I were headed towards the restaurant when Chandler arrived. We waited while he parked and he walked over with us. After dinner we set out for our rooms. My phone was on silent and I had missed three texts. There was one from Devil 1, one from Monica and another from Devil 2, all demanding a time for meeting in the morning. Already tired of this, I texted back and the arrangements were made.

Early the next day the six of us squeezed into the rental and headed towards the meeting. Customarily, though not required, the group sits together. Monica and her two personalities went to a table with other people present. They sat down while we sat at the table behind. She turned and said she couldn’t have her back to the speaker so she had to sit at another table. D1 and D2 giggled and waved.

I had plans for dinner since the five of them were going to be together. Nobody objected so I went ahead. The next morning we were gathering in the lobby for the last day of the seminar. Monica was already there with her two personalities. I checked out and sat down beside her. D1 came off her shoulder to tell me how they had to walk to a restaurant and eat alone. I was shocked. The others left you? Oh, no. We didn’t want to go with them. Well, I thought, that makes the situation a little different. I didn’t say it but they didn’t have to eat alone. They chose to.

That day we all sat together like we were supposed to. The speaker presented and sometime that afternoon Phoebe got a message from the airline that our plane would be delayed by about three hours. She shared the information with the rest of us and Monica panicked. She and the Ds were afraid we might get stuck and not make it back home. So we left abruptly. Chandler went to his car and Monica was driving us to the airport. I sat in the backseat and was along for the ride at that time. I was fully prepared to wait at the airport because most of the time I have delays anyway. But D1 and D2 had other ideas. They decided we’d drive home. By that time neither Phoebe nor I cared.

We did, however, want to call to make sure everything would be acceptable since we were traveling for business. Monica and her Ds refused. It’s fine they said. We asked about calling the rental agency to tell them we were keeping the car. No need said the Ds. We asked about calling our boss. Again we were told no. That decision was vetoed and Phoebe made the call. After some negotiation it was decided we could drive the six hours home.

Immediately Monica and her Ds stated they were NOT driving all the way. Fine. Let’s just get this over with I thought. I was settled in the back seat when we stopped for gas. After arguing with Monica, she locked the car and we went inside. She handed Phoebe the keys so she thought, because of the prior comment, that Monica was finished driving and got in the driver’s seat when she went outside. I was paying and glanced out the window. I watched as the Ds began moving all of my belongings from the back to the front seat. I didn’t like it. When I went to the car I told them so. Dammit Monica, why did you do that? They teared up. In a shaky, quiet voice she said I don’t think anyone I work with has ever cussed at me. (Really? Maybe not so loud that she heard but I know it’s happened.) The Ds gave me the stink eye. I didn’t apologize and got in the front seat. They pouted.

The whole way home Monica would say something, and if either Phoebe or I disagreed she’d send one of those devils down. The shaky voice would come back, the crocodile tears would appear and the pouting would commence. That would last a while then she’d return to her obnoxious self, the Ds would go back on her shoulders and the cycle would begin again.

It was a tiring ride with lots of pauses in the conversation. Phoebe and I survived but neither of us wants to travel with a group like that for a long, long time!

I might be as crazy as you say.
If I'm crazy then it's true.

I found the lunatic. Right there in the car. You know, people shouldn’t try my patience when I have two long pointed sticks in my hands. Thank goodness for my yarn and needles. I was knitting so I wouldn’t hurt somebody. Now I need the t-shirt!

You may be wrong for all I know.
But you may be right.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Somebody's Knockin'

Should I let him in? 
Lord it's the devil would you look at him… 

A wooden deck makes a distinctive sound when walked upon. If it’s a pitch black night in the mountains, and you’re all alone in a house in a strange neighborhood, it’s kind of scary.

It was spring break a couple of years ago. We’d gone to the mountains to our house there. I was off for the week but not everyone else was, so after the weekend they headed down. I stayed, alone.

The house is in a residential area. Although most of the homes around are vacation homes, a family lives across the road, full time. It’s nice because they keep an eye on things and would be there if I had an emergency.

I was relaxing after a day of exploring downtown, watching re-runs on TV and knitting. Suddenly I heard steps on the deck. These weren’t baby steps. Clomp, clomp, clomp. What? There shouldn’t be anyone coming to see me. I didn’t hear a car. Maybe it’s George from across the street?

I froze in my seat. Who could it be? What should I do? Summoning all my courage I got up and peeked out the window. There was someone, in a shirt, plaid looking, walking in front of the railing on the front deck, in the grass. It was a stealthy walk, lumbering really. My first impression was a hunchback like I’d seen on horror movies as a child.
Things look different in the dark!
My heart in my throat, I decided to turn on all the outside lights so that I could see who this creature was. I was locked safely inside, peeking cautiously from the edge of the curtain. What did I have to lose? I flipped one switch, then the other. I watched from my safe place, trying to decipher the actions of the outside visitor.

Suddenly he reversed directions. Instead of heading to the door he was further out on the lawn. There is an aspen tree in the yard, with a section of wire fence around it to protect it from the wildlife. He backed into the fence and it startled him. Up on his hind feet he stood. The hunchback was a deer!

When we visit the mountain house we usually bring corn and hay for the deer. They wander freely and we enjoy watching them. The extra food entices them to stopover. They linger as they eat and we get to observe and appreciate nature that we don’t usually witness. Apparently this little guy enjoyed the feast so much he wanted the last drop! He’d stuck his head into the sack and it stuck on his antlers. He wasn’t able to get it off and was stumbling blindly around the yard.

I felt bad. Fortunately though, I had seen a video before the others headed down the mountain. It showed how dangerous a deer can be. They rise up on their hind legs when threatened and slash their razor sharp front hooves around, pawing anything within reach. They can maim and kill with their front legs.

Watching futilely, there was nothing I could do to help the innocent creature. He flailed about. I had visions of policemen questioning me as they found a poor young buck with his head in a corn sack, dead, in the road. The S.P.C.A would come on the scene and newscasters would be everywhere with cameras, trying to catch a glimpse of the abuser, me.

He moved forward again, coming up between the house and the gate. He struggled and thrashed and finally got the sack off of his head. He looked up and it was like he saw me watching from the little crack in the curtains. If a deer could smile, he did. Then he took off, gracefully leaping to the driveway and sprinting away. It was our lucky day.

Somebody's knockin' ...
Oh, somebody's knockin'...

It’s so nice in the mountains. This last trip was extremely pleasant. It rained and the temperature was cool. When outside, there was need of a sweater or jacket!

Two of the littles came with us and they explored, hunted snails and played until the were exhausted. 
Umm umm good!
Frogs and snails...
Bryce came up and Alan took the boys to town so we got to explore the thrift shops. That’s our fun thing. I found a vintage set of TV trays in pristine condition. He found some of his beloved Pyrex! I also found a folding dresser mirror. It’s beveled and I like it a lot. The outside is a little scarred but that’s okay. We had a good time.
Set of four!!

Folding beveled mirror. Opens like an easel.

It's so nice there. We eat, relax, eat and just enjoy.

Every time I go up it’s that’s much harder to come back down the mountain.

But I do.  At least it rained at the house while we were gone. But needing a sweater? Not at all.

Somebody's knockin', should I let him in?
Lord, it's the devil would you look at him...