Here I am again…

•January 1, 2014 • 5 Comments

…pretty much not where I thought I’d be when I started blogging many, many years ago. I blogged for the first time back in 2005 or so. I sometimes wonder what would have become of this if I’d been faithful to blogging as I am to, say, sleeping, Or breathing. Maybe I’d be up in the Top 100 blogs of all time. Or not.

So anyway, it’s been a long, strange trip. Still living with my brother’s family (thanks so much, Robin & Lainey,) currently substitute teaching for minimum wage (that’s what they pay subs in Paulding County, GA) and working on getting my stuff together to get certified to teach while finishing my master’s degree. What am I thinking?

I’m still quite single. By default I’ve chosen not to date or to actively look for a new relationship. And though there are occasional heart pangs as I see friend after friend (those young and single and those divorced or widowed and single again) announce their engagement or their happy new relationship on Facebook, I’m still not yet moved to even consider it. I have no idea why, because way back when I was a trashy little 25yo, it was the focus of my life. All I could think about was who would be the love of my life? Who would marry me? Who would I stay with forever?

Forever? Hah.

Checking my heart, I don’t *think* I’m bitter, though I’m pretty sure I’m still angry about some things. DWX can afford rent, cigarettes, contact lenses and a girlfriend, but hasn’t paid the pittance of support he agreed to. That would surely have made my life a little easier. Bitter? well, maybe just a little. But I’m working on it.

In more immediate news, in spite of all the things that conspired to keep me from getting to Wichita Falls, I’m here (thanks, Mike.) I got to spend Christmas with Kate and Mike and Daniel and Fiona. I’ve had a wonderful time with my favorite boy, Daniel (who is learning to read!) and Fiona, who I last saw when she was just 7 months old. I wish I was closer.

There’s so much that’s happened since I last posted, but as I sit and type this, Kate and Mike are preparing to go out to lunch all by their big selves, and the sleeping baby will wake shortly and need to be fed and Daniel wants to whup me at Mariocart Racing yet again, so I’m going to hit the ‘post’ button, and leave you all with a “Happy New Year!” to all. I just might edit this at another time to explain the cryptic stuff. And add photos.

And who knows? Maybe this year I’ll post more than three times!

So, two Saturdays later. And a recipe.

•February 24, 2013 • 4 Comments

No blogging for the last two weeks despite my professing a new-found weekly faithfulness to the blog and all that. Here I sit, wondering whether I’ll ever have anything worthy of writing about, ever again. My life is pretty daily these days. I guess that’s a good thing though. Better than the mega-drama of 2009-2010, maybe?

Living in Georgia is pretty nice. Currently I reside in a large room over the two-car garage, big enough for my bed and a desk and my recliner, lots of bookshelves and my wheel. This will change this summer when I exchange this room for the small one that currently houses the two youngest boys who desperately need a little breathing room apart from each other. But for now, it’s big and airy and sunny most days, a refuge at the end of a hallway with a door that closes the rest of the world out temporarily when I need it to.

My brother’s beautiful house is at the top of a serious hill, which affords a great view of the surrounding area. Off the back deck the sunset can be seen in extraordinary color most evenings. And though there’s a street light out front (which, bah…I’d love to take out with a rock) on those evening when it’s not too chilly and the clouds part, the stars are brilliant. Quite amazing, given our proximity to the city of Atlanta.

I find that I do miss the remoteness of northern Michigan, the absolute stillness and pristine sparkle after a huge snowfall. I miss the autonomy of living on my own. I miss my kids…all grown up, with lives of their own in states that are not Michigan. I miss being married and the intimacy of a long-term relationship. I miss the wood stove. I miss Maggie, my silly old lady dog. I miss my up-north friends.

But regardless, I am blessed beyond measure to be living here, in a house full of noisy boys and raucous, barking dogs (our ‘early warning system’) and people who I have come to care deeply about (and who care about me.) I’m in a church full of people who love the Lord with a pastor who makes no apology for teaching the truth from the Word of God.

If there’s any problem with all of this, I suppose it lies within myself. Did you know that I’m actually sort of shy? I have developed no social life to speak of, despite living here for more than a year now…not anyone’s fault but my own, really. Building a network of friends with whom to lunch or to drop by and visit with is so hard for me. Looking back, I realize that one of my dearest friends has been so for more than 40 years. My other closest friends have been friends for two or more decades. But the older I get the more difficult I find it to put myself out there to make new friends, likely due to my  own peculiar reticence.

So. Enough pity party for now. I’m currently cooking dinner, something I don’t have to do too often thanks to there being two other responsible adults in the house, both of whom are very good cooks. But this stuff is easy and satisfying. The recipe came to me from my sister Patty, labeled only as ‘Pretty Good Pork Chops’. How can you go wrong with that? Here’s the recipe in anecdotal format, enough to serve 3; double it for four or more, et cetera.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour mixed with salt, pepper, a touch of thyme and a little paprika

3 good-sized pork chops (sirloin cuts are best though I personally favor center cut)

Large pan, heated with 3T olive oil

Dredge the chops in the flour mixture and brown WELL on both sides (takes about 8-10 minutes if done right) Don’t let the pan burn.

1 or 2 good-sized onions, sliced into thin-ish rings

3 cloves garlic, peeled

12 ounces dark beer

Chicken broth (at least 12 ounces, more if the pan’s bigger or there are more chops)

Remove the chops to a plate, toss the onions into the pan, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. Brown over a medium-low heat until carmelized (5-8 minutes, usually.) Add the garlic, the bottle of dark beer, and replace the pork chops on top, along with any juice left on the plate. Pour the chicken broth over, almost to cover the chops. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 1-1.5 hours, turning and moving chops occasionally. When everything falls off the bones and the liquid is cooked way down, you’ll know it’s done.

Serve with smashed buttery new red potatoes, or regular mashed potatoes or rice, and a salad. Even better as leftovers (a good enough reason to just go ahead and double the recipe from the outset.)

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Post-dinner note: it was really good. Enough left for lunch tomorrow.

What? I promised that I’d blog *every* week? What was I thinking?

•February 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

Because I promised that I’d try to blog weekly, and because I have so many dedicated fans (ahem, cough, sputter etc. ad nauseam) here I am, after having remembered back on Thursday that I’d said this, back when I actually had something to say but opted to knit instead. And now, not much to say. It was a challenging week that started with me up early Sunday, not for church but to make a 37 hour turnaround/1248 mile trip from home to Shreveport, Louisiana and back. I’m still exhausted and would desperately love a massage but can’t afford one. Heating pad it is.

Oooh! Look! Roving! Handdyed yarn! Handspun yarns! (Attempted diversionary tactic.)

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And so, honestly, I have nothing to say of value that would add to the collective wisdom of the world. Perhaps tomorrow.

I just have to wonder sometimes…

•February 2, 2013 • 3 Comments

…and then sometimes, I don’t.

For those who still occasionally drop by here, a short update on my peripatetic journey. I remain in the Atlanta area, home to beautiful weather (for the most part) and the worst air quality in the country (go figure.) Living with my brother and his beautiful wife, the three boys and several sweet dogs, I am blessed to be here and yet still a little off balance. Our living situation hearkens back several generations past, where a maiden aunt might have lived with other family and helped out with child care and laundry and cleaning and cooking…hey! That’s what I do. For now, it’s working and I am appreciative. The way I got here is pretty well documented in posts going back to August 2009, which will not be rehashed here and now.

In December I flew to Detroit with my oldest nephew, rented a very.big.truck (adding that to my list of life skills now: can drive big box trucks) and made for the west side of the state to ransom my belongings from the storage unit where they had been residing for FAR too long. The garage is now home to much of that. It’s been too cold to get in there and actually do much, but I’ve been able to pull all my dyeing equipment/dyes/stash yarn from the bins (mostly) and set up a dye studio in the basement. Now if I could only afford the base yarn! (Just kidding. -ish. I actually had some left, which is now in my Etsy shop in glorious color.)

My brother, who’s been self-employed most of his adult life (successfully, I should add) has been part of a networking group here locally for quite some time. It meets on Wednesdays at 8am. Not my favorite time to be up, dressed, functional and social. But two weeks ago I decided I should get up and go and so did. Wow! What an amazing group of people! And it was that very meeting that made me realize just how much I’ve crawled under a rock for these last three-plus years. Shut down most social outreach. Although I can be found on Facebook, I seldom post anything. I’m on Ravelry and have a group that daughter Kate-the-Great set up years ago (more on her in a moment) but have only been there to update the divorce situation and explain why I’m not there. I’ve got a Twitter account, but can count the number of times I’ve tweeted in two years on all my extremities (with a few left over.) Just kidding. It would take two extra hands to do this. All these beautiful photos on flickr that no one sees. I even have a Pinterest page. And then I wonder why my business has been so…not there. Not growing.

Once upon a time I had a blog. My own domain. And for the sake of time and money, well, more properly, out of irritation at the amount of time I had to spend fiddling with html and photos and stuff (…sidenote: much easier these days) just blew it away one November evening when I was in a foul mood and it was up for renewal. Felt like I had nothing of value to add to the conversation. And then things went downhill as I bounced from one blogging platform to another, which, of course, is how I wound up here on WordPress, because I knew I had to stop somewhere. (For $18/year I can have this as my own domain. Sezso right over the top of this draft. And I’ll let you know when it happens.) So, fwiw, I’m here, at least until I can come up with $18 in disposeable income. ;-)

:::I totally should NOT have posted the links to my old blogs. I just lost 1.5 hours rereading old posts. Life was a little more idyllic 8+ years ago, even the knitting and spinning part of it, back when it was all new:::

Anyway. My sweet Kate. She acakend USAF hubby (married EIGHT years in July! How did this happen?!?) are in Texas now, and parents to two of the most wonderful, incredible, beautiful, intelligent, clever, gorgeous, loving, amazing grandchildren a gushing Nana could ask for. My Danny, who was but a newborn mere hours ago will be FIVE in May. Fiona was born a Texan by accident back in late September. I miss them more than I have words to say. My own baby boy, Nick, mChubberly!arried his childhood sweetheart Miescha (the beautiful girl who worked for me several summers when things were good) in January last year. He is USN and stationed on the west coast. I’m not sure how I’m gonna get there, but before they PCS them somewhere else I need to visit. They had a wedding for their 6 month anniversary (not really, but that’s how it worked out) and I haven’t seen them since. :::dramatic sigh::: I miss my kids.

I’m going to try to blog at least once a week. I seem to recall that once upon a time there was fairly lively discourse at my blog site, that we had a lot of fun, and even though I didn’t always think so, it appears that I might actually have had some things to say. No promises, but I will try. Thanks for stopping in.

Next up: Online dating. WTF?

Ravelry and Facebook…it’s their fault I don’t blog anymore.

•April 15, 2012 • 4 Comments

I like Facebook. I have enjoyed catching up with some old friends, being reminded of birthdays and being able to quickly post a salutation, getting exciting news of family events almost as they’re happening, learning new things I never thought I’d need to know from pages I’ve ‘Liked’ for one reason or another.

And I love Ravelry. The last three projects I knit came directly from the amazing collection of free patterns. I’ve found obscure yarns in someone else’s stash that were exactly the color and dyelot I needed to finish a project. I was walked through the agony of my divorce by the totally amazing and incredible women of the Casting Off group. And although I belong to more than 40 groups I only really read and post in two or three, which I suspect, is more common than most Ravelers would admit, simply because if we checked all the groups every day the laundry would never get done, we’d be out of food, and sleep would be a nonissue.

But it would seem that both Facebook and Ravelry appear to take up a lot of my time. So I’m blaming Facebook and Ravelry for why I haven’t posted in this blog for :::a lot::: more than an entire year. Which is not to say that that they’re actually guilty, only that I’m blaming them.

Whirlwind catchup:

  • Left my home in Grayling, MI to move in with son in Greenville MI, 1/2010
  • Left Greenville MI to move in with daughter and son-in-law and grandson in Bossier City, LA, 6/2010
  • Lived in Louisiana through the hottest summer on record in many decades, without a/c in my car.
  • Left Bossier City, LA to move in with my brother and his three young sons in Dallas, GA, 11/2011
  • Wondering what’s next in store as my brother is getting married 6/1/2012
  • Still here in Dallas, 2/2013, have a small dye studio set up in the basement and all my stuff is here now. Feels homey.

I have possessions in three states one and a half states. Most of my household belongings remain in a (rather ridiculously expensive) storage unit in Grand Rapids, MI (go figure…) I have my dyes and swift and electric skeinwinder with me now, and a dye studio in the basement! And due to the undeserved kindness of someone with whom I’ve done business for many years, I’ve been able to dye a little sock yarn and some MRHP laceweight. My Etsy shop, which has been closed for months is open again. I have a few pounds of roving on the way to me to be dyed. I’ve got three (no! Four!) custom dye orders in the works. I didn’t expect thing to happen as they have, but God works in mysterious ways and I’m just marvelling at how He’s orchestrating things in my life.

The kids. My nephews, 8, 9, and 14. It certainly wasn’t in my plan to be dealing with school-aged kids on a daily basis again…I’m a NANA, for cryin’ out loud! But there they are and here I am and so far it’s working out. My brother likes to call me his ‘au pair’ which amuses me to no end as there is simply nothing about me that fits the definition, but it pleases him, so. Okay. ;-) Plus, he cooks dinner. In fact, I haven’t had to cook dinner hardly at all since leaving Michigan, because Kate did all the cooking when I lived in Louisiana. It’s quite a treat. (I dust and vacuum, I do laundry, and I’ve been known to pick up the slack with the dirty dishes from time to time. But NO cooking. I’m delighted.)

The family news: another baby for my Kate, due in early October. She and Mike and Danny are still stationed in Bossier City, LA at Barksdale Air Force Base. Marriage for Nick and Miescha, 6/30. Nick (now in the Navy!) is stationed in California near San Diego. I’m in Georgia. How did this happen? My little family, all cozy and close, now spread all over the US? I find myself wishing sometimes that they were still young.

What’s new? Not much, save for I started this on April 1 and now it’s the 15th.  So now, like always it seems, I will push the POST button without adding anything more to this because if I don’t it’ll be June. Or July. Or 2013 before I finally post it.

To all y’all who are still with me here, love and hugs!

Oh, no, where does the time go? Take 2.

•March 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I seem to have had my train of thought derailed. I was getting ready to write and post the next segment of the Cautionary Tale, when time simply slid right past me. The whole month of February, in fact. And were it not for some diligence on my part (finally!) March might just be going the same way as well.

It’s exceedingly beautiful in Shreveport at this time of year. The temperature and humidity are user-friendly, the trees are in bloom, though not with allergy-inducing pollens (yet) and I can get outside and walk without heat prostration (that starts to happen in about 5 or 6 weeks, though.) All in all, a wonderful time of year.

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Things are moving forward on the divorce front. After Scott left in August of 2009, things settled down and we just sort of lived life in different states…like, a state of confusion perhaps, a state of disinterest…of boredom. In any event, all was quiet. Until January 2011.

It seems he’s met someone, is in love and wants to get married. Told me that she’s beautiful, wonderful, the woman of his dreams…I’m not entirely sure why he had this conversation with me, about his 6 hour phone calls lasting late into the night, about spending the night at her house (uh huh) and more. Why would you tell your wife those things?

I suppose to make sure she understands that you’re really asking for a divorce.

And that’s where things went awry. But that’s a tale that won’t be told until, as they say, the shoutin’s all done. I promise to spill as much as I can and still keep my PG-13 rating. ;-)

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I’ve been thinking about a new skin for this blog. D’ya suppose it’d help me post more often? Nah, me neither. I’m going to try out something different I think, just for fun. Watch this space here. [_] (Just kidding.)

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Daniel’s growing so fast, his vocabulary seems to be doubling almost weekly, he’s not yet 3 but wearing size 4T and 5T because he’s so tall. Morphing into Daddy’s boy except for bed time and booboos. (He calls Mike ‘Dats’. It’s too stinkin’ cute.)

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Nick’s taking passed the PST for US Navy SEALs this morning! I’m incredibly proud of him. He’s had a dream of serving in the military since he was young.   :::scratches head:::  But it’s his dream and he’s gone after it hard and fast. He’s going to jump ranks, if I know my boy. He’s a hard worker and got some ambition too.

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Put all the yarn in my Etsy shop on sale for 20% off for a while…Spring break sale, perhaps. Enjoy!

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Clicking ‘Publish right now, or this will sit in the ‘Drafts’ pile until April or worse. Ciao!

A Cautionary Tale, cont’d.4

•January 24, 2011 • 2 Comments

Just another Saturday morning. Way, way too early to be up on a morning she didn’t have to work. But she was heading over to the storage place to see what she hoped would be Dawn’s ex-boyfriend.

She grabbed her checkbook and tossed it into her purse. Before heading toward the coffeepot, she took another long, critical look at her reflection. She wondered how old Dawn was. She wondered how old she looked. At just weeks short of 31, she still got carded regularly, though whether that was due to her youthful demeanor or simply caution on the part of those selling alcohol she could neither tell nor care. Peering closely into the mirror, she saw no sign of silver hair, no indication yet, at least, of damage from the Florida sunshine. “I still look pretty young,” she decided.

After a cup of coffee fortified with a shot of her father’s homemade Kahlua, she headed for the warehouse. The tall gates were opened, and there was a lot of traffic around the storage units as people moved stuff in and out and around. She caught sight of Scott heading toward the office. She parked the car in front and deliberated whether she ought to wait for him to come out to her, or if she should just go into the office and see what he had planned.

He was shaking hands with a couple who had just rented a unit. He set the contract down on his desk and went over to a map on the wall showing the layout of the property, pointing out just where they would find their unit. She surreptitiously glanced at the signature on the bottom: ‘Scott Brickel’, it read. He had nice handwriting. For some reason, that seemed important. (In the long run it wouldn’t matter a whit.)

He finished with the couple, and as they left, he turned to her, holding his arms out for a hug.

“I broke up with Dawn last night. And, her car was finished and she doesn’t need my help any more, and she’s seeing someone else too, so that worked out well, right?” he said, hopefully. And reminding her of what she’d said last night after he’d kissed her, he gently brushed her lips with his own. Just that small action made her feel giddy, stirring something inside her that she quickly forced back. It was not nearly time, and clearly not the place.

“We shall see,” she responded. “Are you working all day? Should I maybe come back another time?”

He ran a hand through his curls. “I didn’t expect to be working today. My dad was supposed to be here by now, but he stayed down in Stuart on the boat last night so I had to open. But I can hang the sign and just keep an eye out for anyone needing me. We have to go buy the parts now. I can drive…”

“No!” she nearly shouted. “I mean, I can drive. And we can put the top down.” Memories of last night’s harrowing drive down I4 would remain with her for a while.

While he picked out the brake parts she checked him out. He was a smoker (not a problem, as she was a veritable chimney herself.) He seemed quite sure of himself though this was perhaps betrayed by the observation that he bit his nails. He had an excellent tan and an athletic build. His hair, probably in need of a cut, ran to curls. His eyes were astonishingly blue with the curliest, longest lashes she’d ever seen. He had a broad smile revealing two rows of chicklet white, utterly straight teeth, and beautiful, full lips, the top one brushed by a healthy mustache…ginger in color! There was a small cleft in his chin, a strong jaw. He was not classically handsome, but he was indeed, beautiful.

“We’re ready,” he said, turning from the counter. “He’s given us his discount. That saved you about $19. Not great, but it’ll buy lunch.”

“Was that a subtle hint?” she queried, writing a check for the parts.

“Nope,” he smiled. “I’ll buy lunch when we’re done.”

Riding down 17-92 toward the warehouse, she noticed the ABC liquor store, conveniently located just outside the warehouse gates. “I’ll just be a minute,” she said, pulling in, “unless you want to come in with me?”

He hopped out of the car and walked in with her, greeting the man behind the counter by name. “So, you know everyone in Sanford, right?” she asked. They reached the walk-in cooler where she grabbed a six-pack of icy Heineken Dark beer. “I’ve been in Sanford for years and don’t know as many people as you seem to have met in your…what…8 months here. Will you drink dark beer?”

“I’m actually not really a drinker,” he revealed. He reached past her for a 2-liter of Pepsi. I’m a pop drinker.”

“Pop! That’s a funny thing to call soda!” she said.

“Soda!” he replied, “that’s a funny thing to call pop!”

“I keep forgetting you’re not from around here,” she said. “I wonder what other things you mid-westerners have different words for.”

“We say ‘ruff’ for the top of the house”, he offered. “Not different, just different pronunciation.”

“You’re from…Michigan, right? I’ve never been there. What’s it like?”

“Cold, snowy. I’d much rather be in Florida. especially the Keys.”

She paid for the beer and Pepsi, and as they walked back to the car, she said, “I’ve lived in this state for more than ten years and I’ve never been to the Keys.”

“I’ll take you some day,” he said, solemnly. “There’s nothing quite as beautiful as watching the sun set over Mallory Square. The people gather nightly to watch, and applaud the sunsets.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” she replied. “I’d love to see the Keys,” she thought to herself.  “How did I never get there?”

He offered her the key to his room so she could put the beer in the mini-fridge. “Wow, this is really small,” she observed. There was a nice bathroom and the huge sound system typical of most young guys and not a whole lot else. She availed herself of the surprisingly tidy bathroom before heading back outside.

When she stepped out into the heat, she could see that he already had the car up on a hydraulic jack. He’d taken off his shirt and was lying on it under the car. She cracked a beer and watched him complete the job quickly.

He let the car down off the hydraulic jack (borrowed from one of the guys who rents a unit to do his car work in, he’d told her.) Putting the tools away, he then shook out his shirt, slipped it on and opened the driver’s side door.

“Test drive. Are you coming with me?”

“Yikes!” she said silently. “Sure,” she said aloud.

He pulled out of the warehouse and into 17-92 traffic. His driving was much better than the previous evening. Perhaps it was just the van? He took a corner into a neighborhood and began to stop and go, applying the brakes, easy, then hard, trying them at different speeds.

“I think you’re going to be okay,” he said. “See? No more screeching and squealing.” He was right. He’d done a great job. Her car was quiet again, and…bonus! It stopped when you needed it to!

“Thank you so much. I know this would have cost a fortune at a garage.”

“So when do I get my payment? When can I drive it?” he grinned at her.

She asked him if he’d heard of the Zellwood Corn Festival. He gave her a curious look and told her that he’d not.

“It happens every year. It’s this big festival they hold in a corn field with music and beer and crafts and most of all, corn on the cob and ham and potato salad. It’s fun and if you’d like to go, it just happens to be today and tomorrow. Are you free tomorrow? If so, you can drive there…carefully.”

He grinned at her. “I’m up for it. What time?”

“I will be here by 11am. My brother and his wife were planning on going with me. You’ll like them.”

They were at the warehouse now. He turned the car off and invited her to come in and hang out for a while. He turned on the music, pulled out a well-equipped tray and a bag of very clean pot, and rolled a neat joint. Striking a match to the end, he inhaled deeply. Taking another hit, he offered it to her. She declined, and opened another Heineken.

“I do need to get some food,” she told him. “I haven’t eaten yet today.”

“Two beers and nothing to eat yet? That’s not good.”

“Well, you see, beer is like a food. Beer is made from grain and grain is food…”

He stubbed out the joint and grabbed her hand. “We’re going to Carli’s for one of the best subs you’ve ever eaten.” He started in the direction of the shop outside the gate on the other side of the liquor store. As they walked, he didn’t let go of her hand.

 
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