When you give a mom a new bread box…

Friday night, on a whim, I searched Amazon with the words “vintage bread box.”

The old bread box we’d had on the kitchen counter for more years than I can remember was truly an eyesore. And by the miracle of Amazon Prime, its replacement was on our doorstep when I got home from church yesterday morning!

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This little beauty (which I think has an air of “Call the Midwife” to it) has a a much more efficient design than its predecessor, and I absolutely love it. But as soon as I put it on the counter, it got Middle Sister and me thinking about rearranging…

What if we…”

“Well, we can’t do that right now, so what if instead we…”

Half an hour and a ton of moving and wiping up of nasty dust bunnies and grungy spots later, the new breadbox had led to a new look in the dining room:

IKEA cart just moved to the other side of the doorway - brilliant!

IKEA cart just moved to the other side of the doorway – brilliant!

Dining table turned 90 degrees, bench moved to family room, red chair placed at the end of the table for a little extra POP.

Dining table turned 90 degrees, bench moved to family room, red chair placed at the end of the table for a little extra POP.

A whole new look, all because of a breadbox. :)

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Farmer’s market season is officially open!

We’ve been counting down the days, and now it’s here! Our city’s farmer’s market opened today – a treasured tradition in our family.

imageMiddle Sister and I were up before the sun. I made a batch of chai, poured some into a travel mug, and we were off!

We really splurged today, filling our shopping bag with lettuce, tomatoes, asparagus, green beans, and goat’s milk salted caramel dip – after a sample and a visit with the vendor, we couldn’t resist. Tonight’s supper will use today’s haul in asparagus soup, roasted tomatoes, and for dessert something – anything – to dip into the amazing salted caramel!

Breakfast was a croissant from the Farm to Market stall – where all three of our children have worked over the years. The Boy is anxious to get home from college and start his summer job hawking bread for them on Saturday mornings, though he’s been working for them through the school year, offering samples at crunchy grocery stores in his college town. Making this morning’s croissant even more delectable was the fact that today’s bread seller went on and on about what an excellent employee our son is. I was one happy and proud mama!

A rival bakery in town sells freshly made toast at the other end of the market, and the scent was too heavenly to resist. So second breakfast consisted of a slice of coconut/chocolate bread with butter for me, and country sourdough with butter and sea salt for middle sister.

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Not petunias, but a nice sampling of the other baskets our new Mennonite friends were selling.

Our final purchase was a lush hanging petunia basket from a new vendor, a Mennonite family whose patriarch had the traditional full beard. Lovely folks, who sold us a beautiful addition to our back porch.

We were home by 8:15, before the day-long rain we’re expecting had time to get started.

Do you have a farmer’s market near you? I’d love to hear about your favorite vendors and products!

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Fun on Friday

Maybe it’s not everyone’s idea of fun, but today I attended an “Interdisciplinary Symposium” our younger daughter was presenting for at her university. I sat in on a panel of four students, each of whom read a reasearch paper they’ve been working on in their areas of study.

Interestingly, all four were young women, and three of the four had worked on topics relating to women. Our daughter was the “odd man out,” writing about Milton’s use of English in “Paradise Lost,” both as a means to promote British nationalism, and to promote the beauty of the English language itself.

Yeah, sounds pretty dry. But I found it fascinating. Of course, maybe I was biased by my intense pride.

But I was equally fascinated by the other three presenters and their topics. In fact, during the question-and-answer period, I had so many questions and comments I surprised myself. Maybe I need to get out more.

imageAnd the fun didn’t end there! Next I hit a local nursery for a couple of hanging plants and bedding flowers. It’s been “sitting on the porch” weather for a couple of days now, and a little extra beauty in our surroundings is always welcome.

Speaking of “sitting on the porch” weather, there was another addition to my Friday fun. With the coming of spring, the Little Free Library is getting more traffic again. This family stopped by as I was sitting on the front porch and mentioned that they often enjoy borrowing books from the special library. What a joy!

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It’s a great start to the weekend.

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Kansas takes the prize again – another “State of Ignorance” Award

 Actually, today’s award would be more appropriately titled “State of the Disingenuous and Poverty-Loathing State  Government.”

Today our governer (I can’t even bring myself to type his name) signed a bill that showed utter contempt and loathing for those less fortunate than many of us. Among other things, this new law will:

  • Limit welfare recipients from withdrawing more than $25 in any given day from an ATM, drawing on their Electronic Benefits Transfer card – never mind parents with no checking account who need to buy groceries or school supplies.
  • Set a 36-month lifetime limit for any person receiving welfare benefits. Better not have more than one major tragedy in your lifetime, friends!
  • Suspend benefits if the recipient tests positive for drugs. FYI, states that have instituted drug testing for welfare recipients have discovered VERY few drug users AND have wasted huge $$$ trying to find them. Oh, but never fear! Children living in the home of these imaginary drug users will have their benefits designated to a payee such as a neighbor or relative. Brilliant! Because we all know that everyone has a great support system waiting to step in, in the event of emergency.

Another sick-making detail: This bill was heavily backed by the Secretary of the Kanas Department for Children and Families. Another powerful person who despises the poor and pretends to serve children and families.

Here’s where the disengenuous bit comes in. These policies, according to the Secretary and the governor, aim to help low-income people acheive self-sufficiency, lifting them out of poverty by pushing them back into the workforce.

News flash! The vast majority of the poor receiving benefits work at least one job, often more than one. Want to lift people out of poverty? Help them get an education. Force their employers to pay a living wage and to make work schedules that allow for planning ahead for child care. Make it possible for them to get health insurance that doesn’t send them spinning into bankruptcy.

Bottom line, the rich and powerful in Kansas don’t know and don’t care what it’s really like to have limited financial and community resources, to lack a good start in life and a solid education. It’s a lot easier to label those folks “lazy” and punish them even futher than to actually do anything to create change.

And my neighbors all across the state voted for these rich and powerful leaders.

I despair.

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Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I don’t write much about my marriage on Mom Goes On. Been there, done that…on another blog. A lot of the stuff I wrote there was rather unpleasant – difficult times, painful memories.

As...you...wiiiiiiisssshhhhh...

As…you…wiiiiiiisssshhhhh…

But in spite of all those hard times, I am still married. Pretty happily, thank you. To be brutally honest, the fact that The Husband is on the road five days out of seven has boosted the happiness quotient significantly. I think any couple that’s been married almost 30 years can use a little time apart occasionally. As it turns out, a couple that’s been through the kind of crap we dealt with for half our years together can benefit from quite a bit of time apart. (At the risk of TMI, I’m talking about many, many years of major depression, anxiety and panic disorders, untreated attention deficit disorder, unemployment, and resulting financial chaos. Major marital challenges.)

Anyway…

Something happened this morning that just about melted my heart – especially since it took place during the Bad Hair Disaster described previously in this space.

The Husband is on a long haul to Florida this week. He won’t get home this weekend. We were texting back and forth this morning, and I reminded him of a phone call he’d promised to make today. His reply:

“As you wish.”

If you’re as big a fan of “The Princess Bride” as I am (sorry, but my everyday conversation is liberally sprinkled with P.B. references), you’ll know the meaning of this phrase.

It was exactly what I needed to hear today.

 

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A bad hair day is nothing to joke about.

I don’t have anything special going on today. I’ll work in my office and probably have relatively little human interaction. Nonetheless, I can’t bring myself to leave the house with STUPID hair.

hair day 1Consequently, I just spent 40 minutes trying to do something with my unruly locks that wouldn’t make me want to wear a bag over my head. Normally a messy bun is a good option on the day after a hair wash. No dice today. Every attempt left me looking like a pin head from the front and as if there were some kind of animal nest on the back – animals included.

How about wearing it down today? I had some nice waves going. Yeah, that was okay from the front. The back view resembled a scary old witch living in a shack in the woods.

After a good 20 attempts and a LOT of hair ripped out with the hair elastics (my apologies to the next person who has to clean the bathroom), a break was required, before I ruined my makeup with tears of frustration. I sat down at the laptop for a bit to check in with Facebook and WordPress. Forced myself to breathe normally. And then it was once more into the breach.

Bandanna headband to the rescue! Finally I had something that would allow me to leave the house without shame. I mean, I may be getting on into middle age, and I may be just an everyday working mom, but I do still have standards!

hair day 3But the hair debacle made for a rotten morning. It’s enough to make me want to chop off this hair I’ve been growing out for several years.

Please, please, please…tell me I’m not the only one who’s been nearly defeated by HAIR?!?

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Clerical error

There is a reason why I never became a secretary, or a receptionist, or an accountant, or any kind of clerical worker. Any company that hired me for such a position would go down the tubes faster than a flush on an airplane toilet.

Back when I was in college, I had a summer job working for a lumber/home improvement store. I was nearly fired because my cash register drawer never cashed out evenly. I protested. I had been clear in the interview that I’d never operated a cash register. I only got about five minutes of “training” on the cashing out process. I argued that hey, at least my drawer was OVER every time, and not under – so I obviously wasn’t pocketing any cash. No one in the ofice looked favorably on these arguments.

Hell on earth.

Hell on earth.

Then there was the time, when we had two tiny children and my husband was incapacitated due to illness, when I was forced to take on all the household finances. In my own defense, it did strike me as odd that we never received any bills for auto insurance. I concluded that The Husband must have chosen to pay in six-month installments before I took things over. Yeah, right. Guess what I learned? When your auto insurance lapses, it costs a boatload of money to get a new policy.

There was the time more recently when the entire family banded together and banned me from using the ATM for our bank. Back then you had to add up the amounts on checks you were depositing and enter that amount on the screen. I added wrong every time, and follow-up statements from the bank clogged our mailbox.

When our two younger kids were still in high school, The Husband and I became heavily involved in the choir and theater booster clubs. There was a critical need for someone to take over ticket sales for the many events throughout the year. I ended up handling all ticket sales for three years, but not before “losing” $500 or so along the way. It wasn’t really lost. It was just a screw-up in my accounting. Hey, it was a volunteer job, and I did my best. If I hadn’t done it the ticket sales wouldn’t have happened. Sadly, the school bookkeeper was not sympathetic. Happily, no one pressed charges.(It didn’t really get that far.)

And then, last month I bought a car. With a loan. I did all the paperwork myself, including setting up automatic withdrawals for our monthly loan payment. So there! I learned from that car insurance debacle!

And then yesterday I got a letter saying that the payment hadn’t gone through because our bank declared that we have no account. Picture me slamming my head against the table repeatedly as I read this interesting news. Twenty minutes and three phone calls later, I finally learned that the account number listed on our checks (which I bought over 12 years ago for an account we opened 29 years ago – we don’t write that many checks) has an extra two digits. And that in 2007, a federal regulation required the last two of those digits to be dropped. So for all these years we’ve been using checks that have the wrong account number on them. Turns out The Husband knew not to use those two digits; he just never thought to mention it to me. Now I’m wondering why the institution issuing the loan didn’t know that checking accounts are only supposed to have 8 digits… See? It’s not really my fault!

Today I’m trying to remind myself that I do actually have some strengths. I can write a coherent sentence. I know what the word “coherent” means. Apparently I have found a job I can do well, because I’ve managed to keep it for 11 years.

That’s probably because it requires very little clerical work.

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A day that will live in infamy.

I didn’t realize it until our oldest did a very funny post about it on FB today, but April 13 is apparently a red-letter day for our family.

The first major April 13 event took place the year our daughter was in 6th grade. We were out for a family bike ride, she hit a curb in an empty school April13_calendarparking lot, and her arm ended up looking exactly like Harry’s in “Chamber of Secrets.” Remember when Lockhart removed Harry’s bones? Rubber arm. The Husband rode in the ambulance with her to the hospital, while I (very shakily) led the two littler siblings home on their bikes, made a trip back to the school parking lot to throw the two remaining bikes into the back of our van, and then back home to wait through a VERY long afternoon of phone call updates about doctors, x-rays, and scheduled surgery. Two days later we were at the children’s hospital for the insertion of a metal plate with screws and a long rod from elbow to wrist. And a couple of months after that, there was a second surgery to remove the rod.

It was at least a year before I could drive past that school parking lot without a shudder.

Our second big April 13th came only a couple of years ago, and has much happier memories. It was the day we found out that same daughter was dumping her boyfriend of three years in favor of a great guy who had been an excellent friend through some rough times. Dancing and great celebration ensued, at least on my part. In the words of Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

So here we are on April 13 again. I’m rather hoping it’s pretty uneventful, in comparison.

 

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Pictures from the road

The Husband likes to send photos of funny things he sees on his weekly travels. This one was the most recent:

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His interpretation: Falling exclamation points will make you drop onto a bacon sandwich.

It reminded me of this one, which we’ve joked about since we were first married:

high-beam-headlights-symbol

I’m sure you’ve seen this indicator light on your dashboard. Things we’ve imagined it looks like:

  • a jellyfish
  • a speeding bullet
  • a duck eating a sandwich (You have to concentrate to see this one. The duck is facing to the left.)
  • Crystal Gale in a wind tunnel (Okay, we’ve been married a long time. Anyone remember Crystal Gale? Loretta Lynn’s singing sister? She had straight, dark hair long enough to sit on.)

Accepting any additions to the above list.

Happy Sunday, all!

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On fire!

Just home from our short road trip, and “on fire” seems an appropriate theme for the overnight.

On the way down, we drove through the Konza prairie. This time of year, it’s pretty likely that you’ll run across a controlled burn as you go, with the purpose of maintaining the ecosystem. It’s quite a sight – especially at night, though we passed through during the daylight hours going both ways this time. It occurred to me that for  

someone who wasn’t familiar with this practice, it’s probably pretty terrifying to drive along and see miles and miles of billowing smoke, with lines of fire that sometimes come right up to the highway. We passed a patch of burn this afternoon that had gotten just a little too close to the highway. Several police cars and rural fire trucks were on hand to keep things safe. Thankfully, having lived many years in Kansas we’d seen it all before. I won’t say it’s a “ho-hum” kind of thing, but we at least know it’s nothing to be alarmed about.

IMG_1659The next fire incident took place as we came into town and approached The Boy’s dorm. This was apparently the early stages. After we picked up our son and were headed out to eat before the opera, we passed the scene again and the car was completely engulfed in flames. For some reason a fire truck wasn’t called right away; it only appeared during that second sighting. Weird.

And finally, after the show (if you ever have the opportunity to see the opera “Cold Sassy Tree” by Carlysle Floyd, I’d recommend you give it a miss – the whole thing was hideously atonal and simply sounded like screaming mixed with cats in heat), these guys were “on fire.”

I’ve never paid the extra $$ to have the option of posting video on my blog, but maybe I should reconsider. Shockapella, our boy’s barbershop group, gave the crowd remaining after the “kiss and cry” session a little taste of their music, and it was awesome. Our boy is second from the right.

Hoping your weekend is “on fire,” too…in a non-emergency sort of way.

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