Monday, February 28, 2011

And The Oscar Goes To....

Though Spring can sometimes weigh heavy on me there is one part of Spring that I look forward to every year.  Though dear to me; it is not the blooming of Texas Bluebonnets. It is another gorgeous display that I most look forward to: the red carpet of the Academy Awards!!  I cry every year.

I don't see many movies but I still wildly anticipate the Oscars!  Aaron used to get annoyed because it takes nearly a whole day up.  I have to watch the Red Carpet entrances and then the show (which takes a good three hours.)

"My dear, this happens once a year.  Maybe you can better understand it this way: The Red Carpet is my "pre-game show" and the Oscars is my Super Bowl.  You will spend a whole Sunday afternoon watching a pre-game show, a three hour game, followed by a post-game commentary all for two teams that you are not even cheering for.  And you will do this every Sunday.  I am only asking for this one Sunday a year."

Once I put it to him that way, he has henceforth made sure that I am on the couch with a glass of wine in hand and undisturbed by house or kids for this one glorious Sunday a year! *Muah!*  That is a fine man!

For the most part, I was very pleased with the fashion on the carpet this year.  Penelope Cruz looked amazing!  She has just had a baby and she still rocked a gorgeous ruby dress.  What happened to Nicole Kidman?  You can usually bank on her looking lovely.  It looked like she took her dress out of Jane Jetson's closet this year.  From straight on it looked....OK but from every other angle it looked cumbersome.  Even her hair was a disappointment.  A sleek pony tail is a good go-to but tend to you bangs woman!  It was a bit of a mess.  *tear*

I was disappointed with James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts.  To be fair, I don't think it was entirely their fault.  It was the producers fault.  Who wrote their crap lines?  And poor Anne kept trying to encourage the audience to laugh by awkwardly giggling like a pre-teen.  James would just sort of scan the audience with his eyes looking for someone who found the joke funny.  Anybody?  Anybody?  No?  (Also James, I suspect that you are a smoker.  Please stop.  Your pallor is grey and your teeth are stained.  You have too charming a smile to allow cigarettes to ruin it.)  Also disturbing was the way Anne would "WOO!  WOO!"  like a train every time she introduced a presenter.  It's like she was in the track scene of My Fair Lady.  "COME ON DOVER!  MOVE YOUR BLOOMIN' ASS!"  Anne dear, we all know that you went to Princess School and can be a picture of charm, grace, and elegance.  Please bring that to the Oscars if you should ever be asked to host again.  I did love seeing all of her lovely gowns.  My favorite was the gold fringy one.  I could not blame her for giving it a good shaky-shaky for the audience. 

I understand that these two were brought in to give 83 year old Oscar a face lift but the Academy Awards will be watched regardless of how young and hip it is.  It is the one time of year where a room full of adults, who get to play make-believe and dress-up for a living, gather together to celebrate their craft. This one night (or for at least the three hours of the show) they "act" like adults.  They are in their big girl clothes and he in his gentleman's tux.  Yes, when the show is over they go to after parties that would rival any college frat but for those three hours they are ladies and gentlemen.  Stay classy, Oscar.


Dame Helen Mirren - Her body is so freakin' LIVE!  I don't care if she bought it.  The Dame is rockin' it.  I am not ashamed to say that I have a little bit of a girl crush on her.  I don't care if she could be my grandmother.  She's hot.

Matthew McConaughey - I melted.  Not because he's so pretty but it did my soul good to hear that gorgeous Texas accent tick off the titles of the films he was presenting for. 

The Best Supporting Actress Speech -  was fun and funny!  She apologized for dropping the *F*bomb but it was really one of the highlights of the night.

Kirk Douglas -  He stole the show.  I loved it!  Of course, I have a thing for old men so...there's that.  His flirting with Anne Hathaway and then the way he teased the actresses just before opening the envelope; prolonging their anticipation...  That was awesome!  And that was him, not some writer.  (Obviously.  Because the writers were TERRIBLE!!!)

Randy Newman - what a legend!  He is amazing.  That's all I have to say.

Oprah - Why?  Why does she have to wobble out in her Spanx for every little show?  Go away!!!

Gwyneth Paltrow -  OK, this has got to stop.  I know she sang in her last movie and she did well.  She can carry a tune.  But she is NOT a singer.  She's an actress with a mediocre voice.  Poor Jennifer Hudson (a REAL singer) had to stand there and introduce Gwyneth?!  Gwyneth could not make it through the first round of American Idol auditions!  But she grew up in Hollywood, daughter of a prestigious family, and the Big Wigs of that town go "Oh!  Look at little Gwynn!  She's all grown up.  *Gasp!* She can sing!  Who knew?  Let's have her do it again and again!"  Like doting Grandparents they think she can do no wrong. 

For the rest of us I liken it to the scene in French Kiss when Meg Ryan's character indulges in a smorgasbord of French cheese while riding a train.  While the train chugs through the beautiful French countryside "it" hits her.  She grimaces and slowly rubs her stomach.

"Oh God..." she says smacking her tongue from the roof of her mouth.  "Here we go..." she grips the sides of the table, "Stop the rolling!  Stop the rolling!  Spasm!  Spasm!  It's here....LACTOSE INTOLERANCE!!!!"

Every time Gwyneth P. sings that scene goes through my mind.

"Stop the singing!  Stop the singing!  Spasm!  Spasm!  It's here....PALTROW INTOLERANCE!!!!"

I actually really like her.  When they  make the singing stop I'm sure I can enjoy the sight of her again.

Lena Horne - They showed a clip of her singing my favorite of her songs!  She was an amazing woman.  (Get a load of those Victory Rolls she sported.  Perfection!)

Collin Firth - Is it the accent?  He just makes me swoon.  It has to be the accent.  I love how the British are so deadpan.  His acceptance speech was classic.  I loved how he spoke so calmly and eloquently about the fact that if he did not get off the stage soon he would break out into dance in front of everyone.  What a doll!

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. - a great team.  They play off of each other so well.  More of this please!

Billy Crystal - When he walked out on to the stage I felt like a child climbing into Daddy's lap. Safe, sure and comforted. We knew he would be classy, funny, and adorable. Thank you Mr. Crystal. You will forever be the King of the Oscars to me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Facebook Posts Explained

Facebook post: DRAAAAKE *@#$!

This morning I planned to volunteer at the school.  I let Drake out so the kids and I could suit up in the mudroom.  I gave the door an extra shove and locked it to be sure Drake did not push it open.  As the kids and I pulled away from the house we could see Drake at the fence watching us go.  Such a sweet sad face!

Poop.  I forgot to put on his boot....

Snow started to fall as I left the school at noon.  I already started figuring that I would put the cats away as soon as I got home so that Drake could come in for the afternoon.  Poor baby out in the snow.

When I pulled in the driveway I looked for Drake to come greet me at the fence, as is his custom.  However, Drake was no where to be seen.

Please tell me he did not get out.  Then another thought came to me: Is he in the house? 

I tried to remember how the morning went.  I specifically remembered seeing his sad face as we pulled away.  He had definitely been left outside. 

All of this is going through my head as I open the door and...DRAKE!  He greeted me at the door.  He did not jump on me, happy to see me.  He came to me and licked me and then cowered on the floor trying to tuck his little nub tail under.

"Oh no.  You are greeting me with an apology?  This is not good.  How did you get in?  What did you do to the cats?"

His boot was nearby so I put it on him and he willingly went with me to be put out. 

"Oh this is bad...." 

The mudroom has two doors.  One to let you in from the outside and another to close it off from the basement living area.  I noted that the inner door was shut.  I opened it and checked the mudroom.  That door was slightly ajar.  I twisted the knob and it was locked as I was sure I had done.  I guess I did not close it all the way?  I thought I had pulled on it to test it.  I don't know how he opened it but he did.  I shut and locked it again and it was kind of hard to latch.  I hope he did not break my door. 

I went upstairs for a damage assessment:

One loaf of bread was half eaten and the Ziploc it had been in was shredded.  (Note to self: buy a bread box)
A box of cookies had also been polished and the container destroyed.
Someone had slept on the couch.  (No damage done.)
A feather pillow in my bedroom had been torn into.  Not happy!
Sinclaire was found roosting on the boys top bunk and Smee was hunkered down under my bed. 

No blood or fur.  Not bad.

Facebook post: I just slipped on ice.  That's gonna leave a mark.

After getting the house picked up from Drake's break in I prepared myself a hot cup of tea.  I looked out at the snow while the water heated up.  I noticed that Aaron had not covered the grill on the back patio.  I did not want it to get too much snow on it so I decided to go out and cover it. I took maybe two steps off of the steps and my legs completely came out from under me (I must've looked like a cartoon) and BAM!  I landed on my right side.

It hurt enough to make me nauseous which scared me and I thought about staying there on the ground for a good cry.  I was able to get up though and walk into the house.  My right arm feels like I've just lifted a bunch of weights: sore and heavy.  My right hip and thigh are going to have some deep bruising.  The purple kind.  Hot.  I don't know how I landed on my side but also hurt both of my hands.  They are just scraped and the arthritis that was already aggravated is enraged. 

I feel 100 years old.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Honey Butter

The night of (what Kevin declared was) the first big snow of the season, we had a Raclette dinner at Kevin and Caren's.  The walk home that evening was magical.  The ground was thick with soft, dry snow.  The moon was full and lit our way home.  Aaron led the way, followed by Gabriel, Drew and then I picked up the rear.  We all walked in silence as if not wanting to break the spell. 

Coming down the hill I slipped and *poof* plopped down into the snow. 

Drew whispered, "Mom?  Are you OK?"

I was and we both quietly chuckled.  Later Drew slipped too (on purpose?) and we giggled again.  The blue light from the moon, the muffled earth, the softness of the snow...the moment seemed kissed by God.  It was a Honey Butter Moment.  So sweet!  So smooth.

Last Friday the kids were off from school.  I had asked the boys to please sleep in.  At about 6 a.m. Drew toddled into my room and climbed into bed.  I tried to ignore him and pretend that I was still asleep.

"Mom..." he whispered.  "Mom...which ocean is the deepest?"  He kept on asking.  "Are you awake?"

"Ug.  Yes.  Call Nana.  She knows weird stuff like that."  I dialed my mom and handed Drew the phone.  I was then wide awake but Drew and I just laid in bed together. 

As the sun crept in it revealed my slacker cleaning job.  Little bits of dust floated in and out of the sunbeam.

"They look like teeny tiny fire flies!" Drew sighed.

We laid on our backs watching the golden dust.  A strand of some sort of fiber went past and Drew pursed his lips and gave a soft blow.

"Blow the long ones, Mom."

So I did.  When it had been awhile since a "long one" had came through the beam we would raise our hands in the air and swirl them around like we were mixing a big bowl of wishes.  It was a lovely start to our morning.

Today, I've taken a "personal health day."  I ran a few errands and did fold a few loads of laundry but then I quit early.  I took a scalding hot and luxuriously long shower.  Afterwards I wrapped myself up in nothing but a big fluffy bath robe and curled up on my couch to read. 

It was like buttah.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pit of Despair

Remember that scene in The Princess Bride where the hero wakes up in a dungeon and this creepy albino ogre tells him, "You are in the Pit of Despair.  Don't even think about being able to get out of here."  That line kept coming to me this past week.  Grimm as that sounds, it would actually bring a smile to my face.  It's kind of a funny scene and the parallel of being trapped in a dungeon and my life is so absurd. 

I got a lot of PM's and phone calls from friends this week who were concerned and also wanted to let me know that they too have had bouts with Depression.  One friend told me I was brave for sharing about it.  I don't know that I'm brave so much as shameless.  Plus, I knew that there would be lots of people who would tell me that they have been there before and so I felt a little less alone in this boat. 

If one has cancer or diabetes or any other disease, one does not feel the need to hide it.  There is no shame in these diseases.  But with Depression there is.  Here's why:  Depressed people sound like spoiled brat ass holes.

Waaagh!  I just had a beautiful healthy baby and I want nothing more than to disappear from the face of the earth.

Waaagh!  I have a happy marriage, healthy children, no worries and tons of people who love me and I want to run away from them all.

What a bunch of jerks!  Crazy jerks.  Let's face it, when you are in the throws of it you feel crazy because you see how irrational and unbalanced this is.  No one wants to wave their crazy flag.  So one keeps it a secret.

I kept having really good mornings this week and I would think that maybe I was wrong or that the B12 was kickin' in.  Around lunch time I would start to unravel though.  Friday the kids were home from school.  Drew had declared it a "No Trouble Day."  I love when he chooses to do this.  No Trouble Days are when he works very hard to not get in trouble.  He does what he's asked the first time and his manners are gorgeous.  (In a way it ticks me off because it only shows me just how capable he is of being so good.)  So with everyone working hard to behave and have good attitudes we had a lovely morning.  We needed to go to the store to get a birthday gift for a little friends party that afternoon.  The kids moved too slow for my liking and I had no patience for it.  It's like a stick of dynamite with a very short wick.  I could feel the flame racing to the gun powder in just seconds.  I tried really hard to not unleash it on the boys but eventually I'm snapping at them and herding them into the car. 

In the car I tried to tune them out with music.  By the time we got to the store I felt more under control.  We headed into the store and right as we walked in the door Gabriel realized that he did not have his wallet.  He left it in the car.  I'm sure steam was pouring out of my ears.  Through clenched teeth I told him we would go back and get it.  At the car, he can't manage to open the door.  At this point I'm boiling inside.  I went around and opened the door for him.  Gabe got his wallet and I waited, for what seemed to me a painfully long time, while he put his wallet in his pocket.  Then I had him open and close the car door three times.

"See?  Is that so hard?"  I snapped. 

Poop.  Gabriel, always the people pleaser, looked crushed.

"I'm sorry buddy.  Mommy is not feeling well.  Forgive me?"  And of course he did.

We found the gift and the boys pulled their money together to buy themselves a video game they had been wanting for a long time. 

At home they played their new game in the basement and I stayed up stairs trying to soothe my spirit with hot tea.  I also looked up the directions to the party venue.  When it was party time I again waited 2000 years for my sons to find their shoes, to put them on, to get out the door and get into the car.  Regardless of my preparations for getting there I still got lost.  Map Quest put me in the middle of a subdivision when I was supposed to be at a rec center.  I called Caren who talked me in.  I was not feeling angry but very alone and displaced.  It took the rest of the party for me to pull it together.  I could not wait to leave.  I just wanted to go home.  The party was until 5:30 so I knew Aaron would be there when we got home. I could not wait to just fall into his arms and let him take over with the kids (and dinner maybe?)

However, when we pulled into the driveway it was evident that Aaron was not home.  There were no comforting arms to greet me and no dinner (that the kids were already asking for) on the stove.  Quick as a flash I was mad again.  I called one of his two cell phones (which he did not answer) so I called the other one (which he also did not answer.)

"What's for dinner mom?"

Don't take it out on them....don't take it out on them....

And then Aaron walked in the door.

"I called you."

"I know, but I was..."

"I called both phones and you didn't answer."

"I know, but I was just turning onto our street."

"Where have you been?  Why weren't you home?"

"I knew you guys had the party so I went out for a beer with some co-workers.  Are you OK?  You gonna make it?"  Aaron was talking to me slow and careful like.  It was embarrassing and condescending.

"I will make it.  I'm mad because I had it in my head that you would be here when we got home.  I had this idea of how my evening was going to go and you ruined it.  And I know that's not fair.  You never go out with co-workers, you knew we would not be here, you couldn't read my mind seeing as how you were so far away and not a mind reader.  Ug!  Baby, I hate this!"

"It's alright.  Tell me what happened." 

So I told him how the day had gone and how I really thought this morning that I was pulling out of it.

"All right.  You will," and I finally got what I had been waiting for all afternoon.  I laid my head into his chest and he held me.

"Why is mom crying?"  Drew asked.

"I don't feel good buddy.  Sorry."

"What's for dinner?"


Saturday was good.  I was annoyed and bored with the fact that I had laundry to do and the house to tend to.  Saturday is no different then Thursday.  My job does not change much.  Aaron came home Friday and told me he was getting a bonus.  It sort of pissed me off.  He gets recognized and has goals.  My sister reminded me of the many goals I met: breast feeding for a year, potty training, the kids starting school.

"Their milestones are your met goals.  Not to mention you are still married and to a man that you've been with since you were 15.  You need to re-think what success is."  Well said, Sissy.

To mix it up a little I decided to paint.  I painted a picture for a friend that recently got married.  Caren and her daughter stopped by and I gave her daughter some canvas and we painted together.  Drew wanted to paint too and so I had my kitchen full of easels and budding artists.  It was a delicious little moment.  We capped the night off by all going to a hibachi grill together. (Drew was mesmerized!  Fire, knives, exotic foods...he was in his element.)

It was a good day.  One good day.  It felt good though.  Felt like I may be climbing out of the Pit of Despair after all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Grocery Store Therapy

Valentine's night I told Aaron how I was feeling and what I thought was going on with me.  His hands on my hips, he pulled me to him and kissed my head.

"Are you taking your B12?" he asked into my hair.

"Started it today."

He held me tight while I cried.  (Let me clarify that when I said in my last blog that I wanted to leave it does not mean I am.  I can recognize that this is a chemical issue not a husband issue.  I have a very loving and supportive husband that I would be a complete idiot to ever let go of.  That and he and my sons would be wandering the streets after about 4 days of my being gone.)

Baking Day was yesterday and I did not want to go.  Aaron encouraged me to go and be around my friends.  I was....very short on patience.  I hope they could not tell that I wanted to smack their face.  Ha!  I thought of leaving for a walk.  I had told Caren how I was feeling.  She said if I go for a walk I could take her dogs but she thought I should stay too. 

"You'll be home alone all day tomorrow."

I think she knew that if I left I was not coming back.  Ug. 

I also had book club last night.  We just started it and last night was the first meeting.  Again, it was not an option for me to miss it.  I have to say it seemed to help.  Rather, I think the wine served help.  That's not necessarily good either.  Poop.  Do I have to give that up again?  I make it a point not to drink when I'm down...

This morning I felt pretty good!  Maybe it was just a little funk after all.  But no.  As the day goes on I feel the heaviness settling in on me. 

I went grocery shopping. 

I decided that I should have a sugary warm cup of Starbucks and a cranberry-orange scone.  The grocery store Starbucks does not carry the cranberry-orange scone.  Curses!  Probably all for the better though.  I was just spared unnecessary calories.

Dieting sucks when you are blue. 

This got me to thinking: maybe I'm down because of the diet.  Wouldn't it be awesome to go to the Dr. and have him say, "Ma'am, this diet is really bringing you down.  I think you need to resume allowing sugar in your daily diet.  Continue scarfing down warm baked bread and large bowls of pasta." 

*whips our prescription pad.  Scribble, scribble.*

"Now go home and eat a plate full of those peanut butter cookies Kathy made yesterday."

I shopped with out a list today.  Dumb.  So, I went up and down every aisle.  It was kind of nice to just stroll around with no agenda.  Well, there is the need for groceries at the house but nothing feels all that important right now.  Yes, there is a 4 foot high pile of laundry to tend to and a sink full of dishes and my family would like to eat but...c'est la vie.

I bought some hair bands.  This morning I thought a loose and romantic side braid would be lovely but I did not have any hair bands.  So instead I have loose and romantic down hair.  I also bought things to make my own cranberry-orange scones.  Screw you Starbucks!  Hm...what else?  A decorating magazine, some new markers and a birthday card for my sister (even though her birthday is not until June.) 

The greeting card aisle was an unexpected pleasure!  If you are ever needing a pick me up you should try perusing the cards.  I was quite amused; tickled even.

So, I'm home now and must really face that laundry pile up...  Sorry for the extra blog but it is theraputic and sometimes dark and twisty moods can be a fabulous muse.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Prayer Request

In my past I have suffered from seasonal depression.  It took me quite some time to even figure it out because it was very suttle at first and also there always seemed to be situations in my life that explained it. 

The first time I really realized it though was the first year I was married.  Happy in love, my life seemed so stress free.  I remember telling my Grandmother that life had never seemed so easy before.  Aaron and I lived in a shoddy apartment complex that was built some time in the 60's.  Our downstairs neighbors were migrant workers who practiced their mariachi music at night.  We were working hard to get out of debt but life was delicious!  I had never been so free.  I made my own decisions and (after a 6 year long distance relationship) I was finally with the love of my life everyday.  It was the best! 

That Spring, however, I was overwhelmed with sadness.  I remember driving down a Bradbury Pear lined road in North Dallas near our home.  Covered in white or pink blossoms, it looked like the streets were lined with bouquets.   I wondered how I could be so sad when the whole world was coming to life.  Why was I sad when my life was so good? 

This "phenomenon" occurred again (or at least was noted again) one Spring when we lived in MO.  I had this urge to run away.  I loved my family and did not want to leave in a permanent way but I just wanted to escape for awhile.  I suddenly remembered feeling the urge to "run" when I was in college.  I think it was my sophomore year.  My parents had just divorced so of course I was sad.  I would drive down a long, empty country road on my way to school and I remember often having the urge to keep the car going down that long road to no where.

I visited my family and friends in Texas that Spring.  My kids and I went to the children's museum with some friends.  While we had lunch my friend Tara asked me if everything was OK.

"No,"  I told her but I could not tell her what was wrong because I did not know myself.  I don't think I had figured it out yet.  I think I was blaming it on just hormones having just gotten back on birth control after about a two year hiatus.  (9 months pregnant, one year nursing)

The following Spring we were moving back to Texas.  I was so happy to be moving back but it was in the throws of my seasonal depression.  This was the year I figured it out.  We moved before our home in MO had sold and we were house hunting in Houston.  We lived with my mom in the interim.  It was very stressful so I figured my short temper and emotional lows were due to moving (one of the three most stressful things in life.)  And living with my mother was not it.  Mom was great and the kids were loving greeting her when she came home from work.  I would make us all dinner and then mom and I would sit on her back patio together and have a glass of wine.  It was the best part of my day!

My days were totorturous though.  I could not stand for my kids to touch me, my temper and patience were short, my friends were far, and my family was displaced.  Since Aaron had just started a new position, he was working very late. So, I was chalking my depression up to all of these factors. 

One day I had started my morning off by chewing out my toddlers for asking for breakfast.  Low point.  I was horrified by my behavior.  I knew it was irrational.  I went to my room to pray.  I recalled a Psalm: Why so downcast oh my soul?  Why so disturbed with in me?  Put your hope in God for I will praise Him my Saviour.  (That might not be exactly it but you get the gist.)  I wept and sang a song with the same words of the Psalm.  The song continues with "Bless the Lord, He's the lifter of my countenance."  But I did not feel hope and my countenance was not lifted.

At some point during this transition, a light bulb came on and I realized that this has happened before and that it happened in the Spring.  I recalled trying to change my major nearly every Spring semester, desperate for change.  One Spring I broke up with Aaron.  I started to put together the times where I felt the need to take off and run away from life.  From a good life!  What?  And I realized I was depressed.  Not just sad but I had the capital D Depression.

To say I was upset is an understatement.  My family has a history of Depression so it was not surprising but I knew what this could mean.  I tearfully prayed and begged God to take it away.  I had read that seasonal Depression can lead to something more permanent.  I was so afraid that it would stick.

I also did not have the most sensitive of husbands in regards to this disease.  I still don't know that he would even admit to calling it a disease. 

"There is no reason any one living in America should be able to say they are depressed," he has argued.

"Baby, that's exactly how you KNOW you have depression.  When your heart perpetually aches while you are living the "good life" you know you have Depression."

The thing that was different for me then for the others in my family who had battled this disease is that mine seemed to be seasonal.  I got on-line to see if there was such a thing.  Sure enough there was.  In the winter.  Lot's of people will struggle with a seasonal depression in the winter.  Makes sense.  Everything is dead.  In some places, the weather keeps one cooped up in doors.  But I was not depressed in the winter.  I Googled some more.

I finally came upon information that most Depression is a B12 deficiency and that some is ALLERGY RELATED!  Ding, ding, ding, ding!  That made sense.  I had always suffered from terrible allergies during the Spring.  And what is B12?  More investigating ensued and I began to medicate myself with B12 vitamins and allergy meds.  I also tossed my birth control because those suckers can be the culprit too sometimes.  (The only thing was in college I was not taking BC so I lean more towards the allergies.  As one ages though and having had babies all the hormones and other chemistry was all tossed about so....I think all of these things played into it.) 

For the past 3 years I have not had any problems with Depression.  The last few weeks however....

It's been slowly coming on and at first I was blaming it on things in the house that were not working, my husband, my children...  Yesterday was Valentine's Day.  I woke up to a bouquet of flowers and a beautifully wrapped jewelry box.  It was accompanied by a love letter from my husband.  Inside the box was a gorgeous piece of jewelry.  I stood there in my beautiful mountain home staring at this token of love from my husband who adores me while my healthy happy sons slept and I felt nothing.  Not loved, not peace, and certainly not joy.  In fact I felt the urge to run.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Step Closer

Some of the Baking Day ladies were a little...bothered...that I refer to them (and our other neighbors) as The Mountain People.

"That makes us sound like Red Necks or something!"  groused one.

"Oh're not red necks.  I know Red Necks and Mountain People are a whole other thing entirely,"  I told her. 

Red Necks welcome one and all with wide open arms and wide gaped smiles.  Mountain People are friendly but more recluse.  Red Necks are a little rough around the edges.  Mountain People are tough around the edges.

I am not a Mountain Woman and I have been good with that though, lately I have been recognizing that it may do me well to have some of that Mountain People "know how."  Caren has recognized it too. 

When it snows here life goes on.  Schools are opened, appointments are kept and parties are still held.  I am not so ready for that yet.  Last week they did close school because of the sub zero temperatures but there was only an inch of snow on the ground. 

Upon moving here I had started the weekly Pizza Night that my family has enjoyed with friends in Texas, here with our Colorado friends.  On the day that school was closed, I let that weeks host know that I would not be coming to Pizza Night.

"It's just too cold, Kathy.  I think we are going to just hunker down and stay in."

Not five minutes later, Caren arrives at my door with my produce box from our organic co-op.

"By the way," she said as she dropped my box off on my table,  "I talked to Kathy and you are absolutely coming to Pizza Night tonight.  The roads are not bad and you can ride with me and Aaron can meet you guys there.  I won't hear anything contrary."

"Um...OK..." I said as she turned to run out the door.

"Sorry!  I gotta run because I don't want my fruits and veggies to freeze!"

I IM'd Aaron about it and he responded: " Of course, we're not missing Pizza Night!"

Of course.  Produce won't last two minutes out there but we are forging on people!

Last week I was nervous about running errands because of the snow on the roads.  Caren offered to take me to run errands but first I had to let her give me a driving lesson.  She took ice driving lessons when she first moved here.  There is a school where they take you out in an SUV onto a frozen lake.  I kid you not.

"You can't hole up in your house the entire snow season.  You'll be in there for months!"

We took her truck.  I felt down on the side of her seat and raaaaaaaaised that puppy up.  Then I moooooved it forward.

"Would you like me to grab the booster seat for you?"  Caren laughed.


So the rules are that you go down the hills in Neutral or a low gear if it's a very long hill.  Caren first had me go down in Drive so I could feel the difference.  While in D she had me slam the breaks to force the car to slide on the ice. 

"Now lift off the break and gently break this time.  Good.  Again.  Gently.  If you start to slide do not slam on your breaks.  Always ease into it.  I know the instinct is to hit the break but that will make you slide more.  And don't rely on anti-lock breaks to save you.  They won't."

The next lesson was to go down the hill in N and see how that felt.  Again she had me force a slide and regain control.  You can still slide in N but the car responds much better to the breaks.  In D the car still wants to go forward (and a little side ways).

Caren had me drive our loop because you can encounter pretty much every type of road condition on it.  It was very scary which she said it was good for me to be scared.  Much better to be scared then to drive with false confidence.  That's good because I was on the verge of tears a few times.

"You can cry if you need to.  Now slam on the breaks again."


So now I have some knowledge of how to drive on the ice and snow.  I can build a fire.  I am cooking from scratch.  I made these for Valentines:

The details for making these are on my recipe page.  Click tab above.

Now I don't do it all from scratch and not all of the Mountain People do.  Caren over achiever.  One day I walk into Caren's house and she beckons me to her stove.

"Come here!  I want to show you this."

I peeked into her pot and saw a white, thick...something.  She took a knife and started cutting long slices through it.

"It's curds and whey.  I always thought it was like a porridge or something but it's actually a part of the cheese making process."

Caren makes her own cheese.  (And yogurt. And she's slaughtered a hog.)  On several occasions I have come to her home and found these white discs floating in a pan of water.  It's cheese.  I don't know what kind of cheese she makes but I love it!  Kevin and I ate almost a whole wheel one day.  One recent afternoon Caren offered me her cheese to eat with a pear.  She set the wheel in front of me and handed me a knife. 

"That's the cheese you helped me with that one day.  Tell me what you think."

I am not quite sure how I helped but the wheel looked a little funky so I must have.  I took the knife and cut a slice.  It was good but sort of crunchy.

"It's good but...and please don't be offended's sort of like...the texture is like eating plastic," I said with a mouthful of cheese.

"Um...Michal, that's because you have to cut off the rind."

Ah!  Of course.

At least I keep Caren laughing.  She has been showing me the ropes to mountain living.  Invaluable!  Whenever I do something "mountainy" she says: "You're one step closer..."  I feign horror and we both laugh.

The other day at the bus stop she said, "look at you!  You look like a Coloradan!"

"I do?"

"Yeah, you've got your boots on and even though it's cold you aren't all bundled up."

"'re right!"

The other thing about Coloradans is they do not really "do" hair and make up.  It's more about practicality here and maybe a bit about being "one with nature."  Fashionable shoes are set aside for something better suited for the terrain.  (The other day I snowshoed over to Caren's.)  Big woolly socks are donned rather then a cute knit pair.  I had a cute knit pair but they did not keep my feet warm.  Probably acrylic.  It's gotta be wool.

Today Caren and I did some baking to prepare for Valentines Day.  All from scratch.  Frenchy foods with Frenchy names and cookies hand dipped in an espresso ganache.  Three times I had to go back to my house to get an ingredient or tool that we did not have.  Upon one of my arrivals Caren burst into laughter.

"I have got to take a picture!"

"What?  Why?"

"Look at you!  Your jeans are stuffed into wool socks, stuffed into snow boots.  You have yak tracks on and your Valentine apron is hanging out of your coat!  Oh Michal, you are one step closer...!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Drake Update

It's been a week with Drake the Gimp.  According to the vet, we needed to keep Drake down and off of his foot as much as possible.  We also needed to keep his cast/splint dry as possible.  So to take Drake out to use the potty in the snow, I had a plastic "glove" made of an i.v. bag and gauze to tie it on. 

The first day home, Drake was good about staying down due to his sedative.  That night Aaron carried him down the stairs to put him to bed.  At about 2 a.m. I woke up to Drake crying and barking.  I nudged Aaron awake who mumbled something and then we both fell back to sleep.  Around 2:30 I awoke again to Drake crying, barking (and now) banging on the mudroom door.  I tried to get Aaron to go down to see if he was OK but he insisted the dog would go back to sleep.  Then Drake hit the door so hard I thought he might of come through it so I got up, put on my contacts and headed down to check on the patient.  Aaron was not far behind me as the noise level was picking up. 

Apparently the sedative had worn off.  We found Drake up on the built in storage bench in the mudroom.  He had flipped the light on and was trying to work the door knob.  He was very antsy and shaking a bit. 

"Man! Is he OK?"  Aaron asked.

"Yeah....I think so.  I think the sedative has worn off and so he probably needs a pain pill," I estimated, "and the bathroom."

So Aaron got the leash and I gloved Drake's cast.  Aaron took him out and then came back in after what seemed like 5 minutes. 

"Dang!  That was the longest pee ever!" Aaron announced as he lead in a much more subdued Drake.  Poor Aaron.  That night the temps were way, way below zero.  In fact, they closed schools for the next two days because -17 was unacceptable bus stop weather.  Aaron went to bed but I was wide awake so I opted to stay with Drake and pet him until he fell asleep.  I stumbled back up stairs around 3:30.  (I thought this stuff ended 6 years ago!)

The next day Drake hobbled about on his foot.  All in all he did pretty good.  I managed to take him out on the leash for potty breaks.  The cold was biting (Yuck!) and he peed forever.  My poor cats had to be locked away in the laundry room where their litter and food was.  They usually sit in one room of the house all day anyway.  A big dog like Drake does not do well in small quarters for too long.  This was reinforced later in the week.

Thursday school was back on and it was Science Fair.  I had volunteered (foolishly) to judge from 9-3.  (Note: Gabriel got second place in his division!  No, I did not get to judge his division.)  The Chimney Dr. was also coming on Thursday so Drake was going to need to stay in his mudroom.  Caren had volunteered to go by and let Drake out at some point during the day.  When she had touched base I asked her how Drake did.

"Did he pull you down the hill?" I asked

"No...I just put the glove on him and then let him go on his own."  Genius!  "Man!  He can pee!  I swear he peed for like 5 minutes!"

"Oh, I know!  It's crazy!"

"Good thing he does not pee in the mudroom or he would flood you out.  That boy's gotta tank!"

So a new routine had been falling into place and then the weekend arrived.  Saturday we went to a Chocolate Festival!  That's right!  It was quaint, adorable and delicious.  For $5 one gets 6 samples.  After 4 I had to quit.  I have not had many sweets since my diet began 4 weeks ago.  Plus I had an amazing chocolate was tapped out on "cheats" and felt kinda funny...  There was a candy shop next door to the festival where Caren and I hit the jackpot on gambling themed candy for our Valentine party.  (Pun so intended.)  After our time there our family went to lunch.  We started to head home around 2 p.m.  Aaron wondered allowed how Drake did in the mudroom for 3 and 1/2 hours. 

"Eee...yeah...that is probably not going to be good.  Dang!  I forgot all about that."

Sure enough, Drake had eaten Aaron's straw cowboy hat (the one that he kept the whole time we tubed down the Guadalupe), a pair of the boys ski goggles and his plastic glove. Poop. 

That night we had an impromptu dinner at Caren's.  Raclette.  The raclette experience is something like hibachi.  There is a grill on the table where Aaron and Kevin grilled sliced flank steak, chicken, tuna and veggies. 

Each place setting had this little "skillet" with a wooden paddle.  The skillets are for melting the raclette, a type of stinky cheese.  The skillet and cheese are placed under the grill so that the cheese melts.  Then you slide the melted cheese off with the paddle, onto the grilled meats and veggies.  YUM!!!  Caren and Kevin like to have this with the first snow.  Though we've had several snows, they claim that Saturday's snow was the real first snow of the season.

It had started snowing around noon that day and did not stop until sometime yesterday evening.  This made it even more difficult to keep Drake's cast dry.  Even with the i.v. bag-glove we would not have been able to keep snow out of it because the snow was so deep.  Every time he came in from a potty break there would be packed snow all down the back of it.  (It's actually just a half cast, a splint, that is wrapped in cotton, then gauze, then tape.  The splint is made of that cast plaster so it has to stay dry.)  I tried putting a sock on it and then covering it with a plastic bag but when he came in the bag was gone and the snow was still packed down in the sock and cast. 

Aaron was the worst though!  He kept letting the dog out with no protection and for anything.  Not just potty!  He would let him out to see the kids or chase a rabbit.  Really?  No help, dear!  One of the times Aaron let him out back, he leaped off of the back steps, took two large gallops and jumped the retaining wall that surrounds our patio.

"Aaron!!  Oh Drake!  You are so dumb!"  He did this all three legged though and seemed to be unscathed.  Scared me to death.

This morning I took Drake in for his follow up.  They were going to remove the bandage to examine his foot and then my vet was going to show me how to wrap it. 

"Oh...this is pretty wet in here..." tsk-tsked Dr. Jeff.

I explained how the glove had met its demise and the Husband Factor.

"'s looking like the splint is in good shape.  That seems pretty dry still."  Yea!

When Drake came in last week his broken toe sort of dangled separate from the paw.  Usually all of the toes are held tight together.  Well, now Drake's toe is tight with the rest of the paw and the swelling has gone down.  Woo hoo!  Looking good!  He's been given permission to start taking walks to the bus stop and back but no farther.  He is still on hiatus from Caren's pack.  We will get an x-ray next week and that will give us a better idea as to when he can resume playing with his buddies.

"You are still looking at another 4 weeks or so with the splint on."  This was great news!  He originally told me 8 weeks!  Sounds like it's 5-6 now.  Sweet.

Dr. Jeff then showed me how to wrap his paw and ankle in the cotton, then put on the splint, followed by wrapping with gauze.  I'm to put a little cotton between his broken toe and also some to pad between the splint and his leg.  Then (the best part!) I wrap the whole thing with medical tape.  Today's color was purple!  Drew is going to be so thrilled as that is his favorite color.  The last "cast" was green which is Gabriel's favorite.  So the vet sent me home with both colors.

Aaron will be getting a lecture tonight because what the vet did today can stay put as long as things don't get mucky and too wet.  Otherwise, I'm going to have to cut everything off and re-wrap it.  Drake is very cooperative but it is a two man job.  If Aaron keeps letting him out willy nilly then it's going to get gross and I'm going to have to change it.  I'd rather not.