Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Meet Me in Montana

Won't you meet me in Montana,
I want to see the mountains…

Around about year 2000, with the coming millennium and destruction of the universe, a man in town told a group that if he could only pick three people to go with him into hiding or whatever he thought he could do to save himself, that my husband would be one of those people. Why you ask? Because he can fix just about anything!

Yes, I’m married to a MacGyver!

It’s pretty handy really. When the dryer is making a funny sound and won’t dry the clothes, he knows what to do. When there’s a puddle of water where water shouldn’t be puddled, he knows what to do. When the car won’t start, the lights won’t come on, the heater won’t heat and the stove won’t cook, he knows just what to do. Granted, oftentimes the fix is some sort of jury-rig to get by, but it does the job. The downfall is that oftentimes the fix stays some sort of jury-rig! And sometimes the solution is ‘creative’ thinking in a different way. For instance when my daughter complained her air-conditioner wasn’t working in her old Bronco, he told her to roll the windows down and drive 55. Hmmmm.

My husband, Alan, has a dear friend named Olen. In fact, had fate not intervened, our first born son might have been known as Alan Olen or Olen Alan. That’s what kind of friend he is. Funny, they met because he was the boyfriend/husband of my best friend at college. That, unfortunately, didn’t work out, but the guys have stayed friends and kept in touch through the years.

Olen is what I would consider a true mountain man. Think of a modern day Daniel Boone. I think he’d just as soon get up in the morning and hunt or fish for breakfast than ever go grocery shopping! He lives in Montana, where there are trees and mountains and lakes and may actually have that choice. We, on the other hand, live in the dessert. If you like jack rabbit for breakfast, you’d be in luck! It had been a while since they’d seen each other so the idea of the road trip was born!

Montana splendor...
Because he’s outgoing, Olen knows a lot of people. One of those was someone who, through his ranch or some other source, had a bison for butcher. Alan and Olen decided on a split and would both have meat for the winter. Doesn’t that sound rather mountain-mannish?

Texas to Montana is a pretty far distance, regardless. Crane, Texas, to Kila, Montana is about 1,700 miles. That’s one way. How would one go about getting half a bison delivered in an edible state, 1,700 miles away? Enter a MacGyverism!

I’m not sure who came up with this solution, Alan or Olen, and it may have even been a combination of the two. I do know it worked and it was actually pretty ingenious! It began with placing a simple order to Sears. Alan ordered a smaller size chest type freezer from Sears and had it delivered to Montana. It arrived in a little town about 12 miles from where Olen lives. He picked it up, took it home and plugged it in. The meat, already frozen, was then placed in the cold freezer. In the meantime, Alan prepared for the trip. It took him about two days but he and Junior (our dog son) made the trip safely.

They had an eventful week, with fishing, maybe some impromptu shooting and lots of visiting and sight-seeing. But as all good things, the mini vacation had to come to an end. It was time to get back to reality and bring himself, Junior and the bison safely home, all food poison free.
That's a lot of fish!

The freezer, loaded with meat, was hoisted onto the truck. It was plugged into the generator to keep it running. Did I forget to mention the generator? Never fear! They thought of everything. Alan brought the portable generator from home so that the freezer would have power to ensure the food would stay solid.
Friends...looking the same as always except a little gray...

1700 miles and a lot of hours later, Alan, Junior and the frozen food arrived home safely. He had a great time and I got a new little freezer, complete with food!

Oh, I've had all of this life I can handle,
Meet me underneath that big Montana sky…

On the yarn front, I was working on an autumn cowl. The yarn is pretty, the pattern is pretty but they aren’t right for each other. I finished it but even after MacGyvering, it just wasn’t doing anything for me. So I took it all apart. I’ll do it again, differently. That’s the beauty of yarn!

And back to a ball it goes.

Won't you meet me in Montana 
Meet me underneath that big Montana sky...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Eat It

It doesn't matter if it's fresh or canned, 
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it… 

It was probably the last weekend of the summer for Evan to come over. He starts junior high in a couple of weeks and with that, all the pre-activities associated with the beginning of school. We’d had a great school clothes shopping day (another post sometime), and were back at the house. We did our traditional corny ritual of watching a detective show or two before bed then hit the sack. Both of us were tired, me especially! 
The next day we slept in, Evan til noon! I let him because he’ll be going strong soon. We had another corny ritual, what we call doctor coffee. When they were little I let them drink coffee. Judge me if you must. I would fix theirs, about ¼ coffee in their travel mug, to ¾ milk. I’d sweeten it and they loved it. We’ve since graduated to flavored creamers and it’s still amazing. They think so anyway!

Suppertime was coming and I asked Evan what he wanted. We try to please them by having whatever they want when they are here. He wanted steak. So, steak it was. I fixed some vegetables and creamed onions, avocado and tomato as a salad and we called it good. As we ate we chatted. Because I’m such a good cook (insert applause here), the food was exceptionally tasty! Evan didn’t care for the vegetables because it was a mixture with squash, corn, red and orange bell peppers, onion, green chili and tomatoes. That was what he didn’t like, the tomatoes. Anyway, the vegetables and what the mixture included was what spurred the conversation.

Evan wasn’t sure about squash. It was yellow squash and Alan told him how his mamaw had cooked it when he was a boy. He told him it was fried and he loved it. Evan said he’s never eaten fried squash! From there, Alan reminisced about the okra his mamaw used to cook. It was fresh and she cut it into pieces then battered it in a mixture of cornmeal and flour. Next she fried it until it was crispy and brown. He told us it was his favorite food that she had made.

After a minute I told them the favorite food that my mamaw used to make. It was what we call ‘goulash’. It’s made of hamburger meat, macaroni and tomato juice, and there are many variations. Most families have had it at one time or another. In college, my friend Doreen always wanted to make me American Chop Suey. Finally, one day we had the chance. She prepared the meal and was so proud to serve…goulash! It must be universal!

We sat for a moment more, enjoying the food and each other. Alan told Evan he’d have memories of what Mamye had cooked him when he got older. I asked Evan what his favorite food was that I had made him so far. He thought for a while and finally said, well it’s that noodle stuff. I said spaghetti? Nope, that’s not it. It had an orange sauce. Macaroni and cheese I asked? No, not that. We thought some more and he added that it had meat in it. Alan started to laugh and said Hamburger Helper? Yes Evan exclaimed. That’s it. That stuff’s good! We giggled. One day this summer while they were here I had fixed Hamburger Helper for their lunch. They were hungry, I was in a hurry, and it was there. I never dreamed it would make such an impression!

It’s bittersweet that the kids are getting older. I know the time we’ll have to spend together will get to be less than it is already. He’ll have his activities and his friends and he’ll be busy. He won’t want to come over to sit with Mamye and Pap and watch silly detective shows on TV or eat leisurely suppers. He’ll be starting his journey to adulthood. I just hope that occasionally we can get together.

Maybe someday, when his grandkids are over enjoying the weekend, they will have a conversation at supper. He’ll take a bite of something that will spur a memory about how well his Mamye made Hamburger Helper. He’ll remember the fun times that were had when he stayed over. He might even share his story with them and ask what their favorite thing is that their Mamye makes. I bet it won’t be Hamburger Helper!
Have a big dinner, have a light snack 
If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Remember I told you there was a lot of rain at the beginning of the summer? Apparently that was the allotment for the season because since then all it’s been is hot. Not just summer hot but record breaking temperature hot! For that reason it’s been small knitting projects, things that don’t sit across my lap and finishing things that were already finished except for working in the ends. I might or might not have a whole basket of things like that!
Rainbow Birthday Cake Cowl
Homespun from Ft. Davis, simple cowl
Orange Montego Bay scarf
Dishcloth set, Tribble, Grandma's Favorite, Ballband Dishcloth

I guess in the long run it doesn’t matter what you make or what you cook. What matters is the feelings attached to the action, from both ends. I’m glad Evan likes my Hamburger Helper. But mostly, I’m glad he associates it with good memories.

So eat it, just eat it…

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Color My World

As time goes on, I realize…

Here it is, summer already, and I’m finally taking time to think about spring. Time seems to move so much more quickly than it used to. We had more rain than usual this year. In the dessert, any moisture causes the ground to explode into a cacophony of color.

Moisture...started with snow.
Spring brings blooming flowers, singing birds and allergies! We start thinking about new beginnings. It makes most people happy. The many layers of winter are replaced with lighter, brighter clothes. The days are longer and we feel better. We want to do things. We want to move!

Early peach blossoms...and early peaches!
Iris...at night, with three blooms and up close.
Yellow...from the car but pretty.
Purple...wildflowers or weeds??
More yellow...there were probably three different crops of yellow flowers.
Color...solar light and Easter Eggs.
Enjoy the time. It’s a time of renewal. It’s refreshing. It’s a drink of water before the long hot days of summer; and it is a hot summer!

And dreams…

My online knitting group plays this great game called Texas Highways Dishrag Tag. Here are the instructions.

The team captain starts and sends a box to the first knitter on the list. That knitter then chooses one of the enclosed balls of yarn and knits a dishcloth for the next person on the list. They keep the second ball of yarn, any goodies that were enclosed and the new knitted dishrag as their gift. The box is packed with the cloth just knitted, two balls of yarn, goodies as the gifter sees fit and the finished dishrag.

We used a priority mail box from the post office, the kind that you can stuff as much as you want inside and only pay one price. That way everyone paid the same price to mail the package. It’s mailed priority mail and when you mail your box, you post a message to the list with a "Tag! You’re it!" and the name of the person you are mailing to. We had 3 groups with 5 ladies in each group.

I got my box off without taking a picture, but JoAn, the recipient, (who had picture trouble as well), seemed to like everything. Here’s what she said: “I got my package yesterday from Jayme, thanks, it was great. An orange and white dishrag and scrubber, a knitting journal, some luscious hand cream, two nice colors of dishcloth cotton, and a very nice note. I have tried to send a pic, but something isn't clicking on this computer..... The pics are in the photo gallery, but seem to be staying there...lol...”

My prize. I used the orange yarn to make JoAn's prize.
Mine came and inside I found an amazing ‘Garterlac’ dishcloth and as a bonus, I also got an ‘Almost Lost Washcloth’ as well! There were also some great Werther's caramels. Stephanie H was even gracious enough to print both patterns for me!

It was fun. I hope we do something like it again, soon.

Color my world with hope…

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!