Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Now It Has a Name

During the hundreds and hundreds of posts I have done in this space, I have talked about my children growing up and leaving home. I have chronicled the magic that was the engagement and wedding our our first-born. I have written heart-felt messages to my loved ones, passionately urged vaccination of children, and marked the passing of time and adding of wrinkles. I have posted a picture of myself making a fish-face.

But nothing (NOTHING) I have written has had the legs of an off-hand post remarking that Husband had decided to stop mowing a strip of our side yard.

People! It's grass. Unmowed grass, I will admit, and it comes from a highly unlikely source, seeing that my very own CPA is the man for whom straight edges and 90-degree angles were invented.

And still...

A few days ago I was stopped in the grocery store and asked how the Lawn Mohawk was progressing. This is notable for two reasons: First, I was in the grocery store, which is not someplace I frequent nearly as often now that the four Boys are out buying their own darned food. Second, in the original post I had called this the Lawn Mullet.  And while I admit that this style clearly is more mohawk than mullet (despite my feeble protestations that the front yard was mowed clean, so our grass was business in the front and...well, you know the rest) you are missing the significance:

Our lawn has re-named itself.

This morning Husband was pulling the garbage cans back from the curb when a passerby stopped to ask him about the new landscaping style.

"Are you letting it go to seed for a scientific reason?" the stranger asked.

"Naw, I'm just being contrary," my beloved replied.

So in honor of Husband, and of the lawn that re-named itself, I may rename the House on the Corner.

Just call us Contrary Corner.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Just Peachy

If you live in or around Small Town, you know that my previous post bragging about the Jalapeño Peach Jam was nothing special. Every single person I know is dealing with PEACHES! PEACHES! PEACHES! 

I don't even want to know how many hundreds/thousands/tens-of-thousands of peaches have flooded into our little corner of Kansas from Colorado during the past week, thanks to a fund-raiser perpetrated by a good cause. And yes, I chose the verb "perpetrated" (as in "carried out a harmful or immoral action") deliberately. Did the organizers not know that just thinking of these run-down-your-chin juicy peaches would cause us to salivate in the local grocery stores, where peaches are pretty routinely rock-hard, and ripen to tastelessness?

One friend, a fellow empty nester, ordered two cases just for herself and her husband. She Facebooked her own peach jam photo yesterday, and humble-bragged that the two of them had disposed of the second case unprocessed, one sticky chin at a time. That is 20 pounds of peaches in less than a week, which is true dedication for a good cause.

I've seen pictures of peach pies, peach cobblers, peach muffins, and clicked on links to "What to Do With Peaches" and "How to Freeze Fresh Peaches." The result was 29 jars of jelly (half spiced, half jalapeño*), one cobbler, and half a dozen meals in which the salad course was accompanied by a stack of napkins because chin dripping is messy. 

Now we are down to one final peach, and while I am amused at the sight of Marie Antoinette staring at it with horror (Honey, a gigantic peach is the least of your worries) I am a little sad that peach season is over. It only lasts one week before perfect ripeness becomes inedible mush, and that week has come and gone. 

I'm eating this peach for lunch then wiping off my chin until next year.

*One of my favorite readers asked for the recipe to the jalapeño version of jam. Here's the link: Jalapeño Peach Jam. I made a double batch and used half of the peppers hollowed out and half with innards complete. This gave the perfect hotness, as far as my timid palate was concerned. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

What I've Been Doing

Okay, I haven't been here for a while. Or rather, I haven't been in this space on the internet; I've been HERE here, as in the spot where I am at any given moment, for pretty much most of my life. (Except for that brief period of dental work when nitrous oxide...never mind.)

Anyway, for someone who is only partially employed, I have been awfully busy doing other things besides writing blog posts. I have:

1. Sung in a women's chorus, which is something I hadn't done since...huh, I think I've never done that before. It was a charming, wonderful experience, and all you Small Town peeps need to be joining this group. Even if you can't sing. Or especially if you can't sing, because this director is magical. That's the only way I can explain how he gets music out of us and makes us do body percussion at a concert, in front of people, which yes, I did.

2.Watched my body weight in Olympic sports. I did not think that it was possible I would ever tire of the Olympics, but here we are at that point. During that time when I was crying with every single parent in the stands (except the Raismans, who irritated me mightily although I think their daughter is swell), I had several notes:
  • It's highly disappointing that the Jamaican national anthem is not reggae, especially since we heard it many, many times. 
  • A commercial can be delightful the first eighteen times you see it, but that is before you want to crawl through the screen and strangle every one of the butt-dialers and their being-proposed-to sisters. 
  • My new role model is Wayde Van Niekerk's coach. How much do we love her? 
  • Do you think maybe Rio paid Ryan Lochte to take the focus off of anything that might have gone wrong during the games? (see: Mountain Dew-colored diving pool
  • And final Olympic note, Kerri Walsh Jennings, my other new role model. Hope Solo, take a lesson. That's how you finish. 
3. Taught a class. Today was my first day of teaching a college media writing class, and I thought about posing on the front steps to show off my new earrings for a Facebook post. It's interesting that even though I know how to DO something, it doesn't give me a great deal of confidence that I can TEACH that same something. We shall see.

4. Finally (finally), 16 pints of Jalapeño Peach Jam! It seemed like a great idea to buy a 20-pound box of peaches from the fundraiser, but they all ripen at once and even two dedicated peach eaters such as Husband and myself can only eat so many peaches. I hadn't canned for years and the sound of the "ping!" as each jar seals is one of life's most satisfying moments. Bonus points for the foxy kitchen towel, thank you Much Older Sister.

So, what have you been up to?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Update: Lawn Mullet

The Lawn Mullet, mid-August
Many, many readers have asked for an update on how Husband's lawn mullet is progressing. And of course, by "many, many" I mean counting past the fingers on one hand and onto the fingers of the other hand and not the population of China, but quantities are relative, right?

Here it is! The strip of unmowed grass is growing and has started to seed, which in my opinion is even more festive than a simple variance in height. In the heart of his accountant's heart, I believe Husband may be beginning to find this wild-and-crazy phase almost too wild and crazy, though. I looked out during the last mowing to see him carefully weed-eating and evening up the edges, and he's admitted that he wishes the top of the cut was a bit more symmetric.

I mentioned this to a friend, who sarcastically suggested manicure scissors might be the next grooming instrument but when I passed the suggestion on to Husband (ha! ha! ha!) he got a faraway look in his eye and I could tell he was heading for Amazon Prime to see how quickly the tiny clippers could arrive.

I'm not even telling him that another suggestion was to paint the top pink. "Punk Lawn Mullet," while a good name for a rock band, would be a bridge too far.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Day Four (Finally)

This is Day Four of of the Love Your Spouse Seven-Day Challenge, assuming that we are on some unknown planet where days are as long as six or seven of our 24-hour Earth days. Seriously, have you ever known someone so completely lax about the rules of a game? (Well, except for the Chinese, whose gymnasts are NO POSSIBLE WAY 16 YEARS OLD. Ahem. Sorry.)

This photo literally fell out of an album at me a few days ago, and how could I not post it? One of the things I love most about my spouse is his total commitment to being a dad, and here is photographic proof. This would have been Mother's Day of 1992, which Boy#4 helpfully allowed me to carbon date by being three months old in it.

I love this picture. Those little hands! The cheeks! The ties! That denim dress I wore all. the. time! Husband's hair!  Four children five years old and younger.

I was reminded of those little Boys yesterday when I attended the 40th birthday party of the woman who, as a teenager, was their babysitter. Dear L. was having a hard time believing she had reached that age.

"Oh, the 40s are fabulous!" I told her. "You're starting to see your life take shape--this is what you've been waiting to happen."

And then I had to stop talking, because anything after that would just be made up.

The truth? My recollection of my 40s is sketchy at best. Those were the years when I was mostly trying to keep the kids out of the street and vaccinated, and I wasn't always successful with either of those things. Boy#3 had a reaction to the pertussis vaccine and wasn't able to get that shot until last year, at age 25. He also was the two-year-old who managed to unlock the front door while I was upstairs putting a load of laundry in the washer. He was delivered back to me, still barefoot and pajama-clad, by an extremely irate stranger. I was appropriately scarred by the experience, and could describe the scene in vivid detail even today.

In fact, the day-to-day from those years has pretty much disappeared. I remember the high spots and milestones--the first day of kindergarten for Boy#1, when I cried and the world continued to turn; Halloween costumes; sitting on the living room floor putting names on school supplies; emergency trips to the hospital for breathing treatments. I don't remember what we ate for breakfast, or anyone's favorite color, or how in the world I existed on so little sleep.

It was a constant balance between feeling inadequate and realizing that hey! I was doing it so I must be adequate!

I look at those little boys in this picture, and I look at the fine men they've grown to be, and I don't quite know how we got from that Point A to that Point B. All I know is that something visceral makes me smile when I think of that unremembered decade of my 40s.

And even while I know I couldn't do it again, I know it must have been fabulous.

Monday, August 1, 2016

That Which Doesn't Change

Okay, all of you married people on Facebook, is the Seven Days of Spouses craze hitting your area yet? In Small Town, it is a Big Thing.

Normally this is the kind of thing I ignore--"Here is my favorite flower! Now I'm tagging two people, who need to tag two more people who are going to tag two more people, and pretty soon we're going to know the favorite flower of every person in the world!"

This game of tagging, though, involves posting a picture of you and your spouse every day for seven days. And those pictures can be from any time during the relationship. I was tagged a few days ago, and I have jumped on this bandwagon with undue enthusiasm.

As it turns out, being married 32 years means that looks-wise, things have changed somewhat significantly for both Husband and me. (Here's proof.) He was cleanshaven when we got married, grew a beard six weeks later, and hasn't shaved it since. I was unwrinkled, naturally blonde, and a size 10 for the two minutes of my life that I was a size 10. I am none of those things now.

Today's picture isn't just about looks, though. It probably says more about the two of us than any other picture we own. It was taken during a professional photo shoot in Husband's home town as his parents were getting ready to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

We hadn't told anyone we were engaged yet so I was just hanging around the studio while the photographer posed the extended family this way and that way and brought in grandchildren and shoo-ed out in-laws. The photographer was kind of a fussy guy (Husband's childhood friends, you know the guy) and it was taking a loooooong time. Also, it was hot.

When all of the scheduled shots had been taken, there was one pose remaining in the pre-determined package. (This was before the days of digital photos and film was expensive, so unlike today's photo shoots that go into the thousands of shots, poses were limited.)

With just one shot remaining on the roll of film (yes, that long ago), Husband called me over. "Let's have him take one of us," he suggested. "That way we have at least an idea of what we might do for an engagement picture."

So I jumped up onto the photo bench, folded my hands, and began smiling. I smiled, and I smiled, and I smiled, and the photographer fussed with the lights, with the camera settings, with the drapes, with the way my hands were folded, with the flash, fuss, fuss, fuss. It was getting hotter and hotter under the lights. And all this time Husband's two brothers were teasing me.

"Say 'cheese!'" "Smile bigger!" "Look like you're having a good time!"

I responded in the only rational way one could respond: I made a fish-face at them.

Finally the photographer was ready. I quit clowning around and he snapped a perfectly lovely non-engagement picture. What I didn't know was that just as I made the fish-face my future brother-in-law had taken a picture with his own camera. That picture, which was presented to me as a birthday gift three days before Husband and I were married, shows a calmly smiling young accountant cuddling up to what appears to be a raving lunatic. It was accompanied by a poem that talked about "the one that didn't make the paper."

I don't know what happened to the picture the professional photographer shot but the fish-face photo is one of my most prized possessions. It hangs on a wall in the House on the Corner as proof positive: Looks may change but smart-aleck is eternal. Also, Husband knew exactly what he was getting into, and he married me anyway.


The poem, which sometime over the years apparently fell prey to silverfish. Ack!