May 19, 2015

These Days of Wine and Roses...........

School is almost out, graduations are happening everywhere, and the roses are blooming in abundance.  Last weekend we took a mini vacation to see My Fourth Son graduate.  It was good to be back and visit everyone.  We even took the dogs.

Da boyz

My Fourth Son.  When I met him he rode a bicycle and educated me on the reasons why Mongoose was the only brand of bike he would ride.  He is a young man and an old soul, and I love him like my own.

Cousins.....nothing like cousins.......

It's party time.  Note the change of costume.  My Oldest Baby picked the perfect outfit for anything to happen, I must say.  He is the one with the paint covered shorts on.  Make a note of that.

My Oldest Baby and I shared a bonding experience when we got stuck on the side of the road on our way home.  Jack was riding with him in the truck, proudly sitting in the middle with his ears flying back in the breeze of all the open windows.  Shadow was riding with me in her royal carriage of (the allergic alternative to Down) featherbeds with the entire back of the car to herself.  I have about mastered the art of driving, watching traffic ahead, and simultaneously making sure my children are following me.  When they drive badly, though, things tend to go downhill.

When I noticed My Oldest Baby weaving, I slowed down, as did he.  But then he was leaning down, Jack had disappeared, and I was asking, out loud, with some very bad language, what was going on.  Shadow was looking at me with an expression that clearly said "I don't know what your problem is, but I had nothing to do with it.  I'm just laying here minding my own business."   That was about the time he straight up crossed the center line and all I said was "That is IT!" and pulled over to the side of the road.  

It had rained, a lot, the night before.  Storms had moved across the entire state.  When My Oldest Son pulled over behind me, the right front wheel dropped into the ditch, the entire truck settled in for what looked to be a good long nap, my son's head dropped forward in defeat, and both dogs were standing up, tails wagging, ready for their next adventure.  I was happy nothing too bad had happend.  Being stuck is not too bad.  It's happened to me more than once, and being stuck is not a huge problem in this world.

We examined the situation, decided to use one of the (allergic alternative to Down) featherbeds as traction, and then proceeded to rock that truck back and forth, getting what looked to me more stuck with each pass.  Mud was flying front and back, alternatively, and Jack's mind was blown as he tried to stay out of the floor board because the noise of the wheels spinning scared him.  I'm trying to sooth him as I wonder how exactly you blow a transmition, because I'm thinking that will be the next thing that happens to us.  About that time we were rescued by a man name of Mike, who stopped, had a chain, and opened with a joke about a Dodge pulling out a GMC.  He was a great and kind man, gently explaining that there was no good place to attach the chain, and if we were all right with losing a bumper, he would try to gently guide the truck out of the ditch.  We were ok with that, and we got the truck out of the ditch without losing a bumper.  So thank you Mike!  We forgot to take a picture, but My Youngest Baby was now covered in mud from head to toe, and I am pretty sure I have more gray hairs than before that day.  The good news is that my constant harping on what can happen when you "just drop a wheel off the shoulder" has gained some serious street cred and the kids have stopped rolling their eyes when I quiz them about various mechanical aspects before they leave on trips.  Have you checked your oil?  Tire pressure?  Spare?  Do you have a blanket?  Water?  Something to eat?  Extra clothes?  Extra boots?  Gloves?  Map?  Poison Ivy Lotion?  Allergy pills?  You get the drift.  Kids seem to think mothers enjoy asking these questions.  That is not true.  In truth it is exhausting, and should we forget something it is sure to be our fault because we forgot to ask.  It's not fair at all and sometimes a kid needs to be stuck and covered with mud along a semi-busy highway before they start to realize that there is a point to being harangued by their mother after all.  Extra points to you if you can manage to be WITH your child when this happens.  Those memories don't just make themselves, ya know.

At this point it was decided that both dogs would ride with me, as Jack was apparently the reason for all the weaving.  Within the next half hour I inadvertantly rolled poor Jack's head up in the back window, and then did some weaving of my own as I frantically punched buttons trying to free him before he choked to death.  If it's not one thing it's another, don't you find that to be true?  After that, poor Jack seemed not to be hurt except for his feelings, and curled up in a ball in the very back, facing away from me.  I felt terrible, but we made it home safe and sound.  It brought to mind this post, in which Kelsey asked if it was worse to text and drive or parent and drive.  My answer is PARENT AND DRIVE, Kels!  You can turn your phone off, after all.  Not so with children or pets.

After that I could settle down, and in thinking about how good it was to see everyone, and to see the boys there to share that time with their friends, it brought this poem to mind, by Ernest Dowson:

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for awhile, then closes
Within a dream.

With all the roses blooming and all the love and joy around, it seemed only fitting to make some Rose Petal Jam, so I did.  The recipe is within the link, and I highly recommend it. It is absolutely wonderful, as well as beautiful, and it doesn't take much time to do, either, once you pinch the white parts out of your petals.  For me, spending awhile touching rose petals and sorting them out was my favorite part except for hearing the lids pop.

A warm bath for you, my pretties.......

See how pretty they are just in the pan?  Blogger is having issues with me uploading pictures today, so I can't show you what they look like after this, but they will lose their color.  Do not worry, it will come back as soon as you add the lemon juice.

Eye appeal, check.

This is the finished product.  It tastes as good as it looks, and how could you not take advantage of all those petals, just sitting their waiting for a practical purpose to their lives?  They aren't just pretty faces, ya know.  They have worth that goes way beyond that.

I'm listening to more lids pop right now, having been up late with dearly beloved friends, some of which spent the night, and up early this morning getting them all sent off for their days.  I'm good like that.

Just some of the boys er, men in my life.  Some have been in my life longer than others. Okay, ONE.  Some are new.  All are cherished, 3 of them since the day they were born.  Guess which 3.

Next I am going to see about using the rose petals to make jelly, and you can find that recipe here.  For the price of the sugar and some lemons, why not?  And next spring I am going to try to catch the Violets in time, too, as this recipe works for several edible flowers listed at the bottom of that post.

They are not long, these days of wine and roses...........The jam and jelly that I am making during these days will be my handmade gift this year.  I hope it has been infused with all the love our family has seen and commemorated this weekend.  The memories these boys share with us, their parents, span what I hope they always remember as the best years of their lives.  Those years have certainly been some of the best years of my own.  Thank you, boys, for all the nights no one slept, the empty cans of chewing tobacco, the 16,000 firecracker stunt, the firsts, the lasts, the list of foods I make that are, according to you, "the best", and the yet to happen.   Make the most of every day you have and you will always have a good life, even when you are stuck on the side of the road.  I will try to be with you when that happens, but you really don't need me, at least for that, any more.  There will be other things, no doubt, and we will get through those too.  Never doubt it.  Knock 'em dead, kid, you graduate, you.  The world is lucky to have you.

May 11, 2015

Mother's Day..........

I had a special present for Mother's Day this year, when The Beautiful Redhead called and said she was coming Friday night and spending the entire weekend.

She asked me what I wanted for a present when she got here, as she is the designated "present buyer" for such occasions.  This is what being an only daughter often means in a family of boys.  I made it clear that the only present I wanted or needed, I already had.  Time spent with grown children is the rarest of gifts, and I had already hit the mother lode.

The Beautiful Redhead has grown up. My little girl has grown into a smart, capable, gorgeous woman.  She comes from a long line of these.

Pictured here are Clara Hamilton, Forrest's 2nd wife and step mother (although she was never considered anything but "mother", Helen Hamilton Hooker (my  mother's mother), and Geri Hamilton, first wife of Dobby (Wayne).

This has always been one of my favorite pictures of Big Grandma.  It was taken in the basement of the Methodist Church in Browning, Mo., I believe after my mother's wedding in 1960.  See the suds on Clara's hands?  These fine ladies were cleaning up after and someone grabbed a camera and instead of making duck faces or sticking out their tongues, they grabbed a broom and posed.  They knew that life involved a lot of hard work but that was no reason they could not still have fun together.  In fact, that is how memories are made.

It will always break my heart that these wonderful women did not get to know her.  It seems so wrong and unfair.  I also know, though, that what is born in the blood will come out in the bone, and that they are within her.  When she wonders where her strength comes from, this is part of the answer, and they will never let her down.  When things go wrong and she feels like crying, but laughs instead and redoubles her efforts, and that is just as it should be.    

My second Christmas, at Big Grandma's house.  Mom was expecting my brother, Superman, in May of the next year.  

I am at the age where I can see all our paths through life and what was discarded and kept along the way.  I realized that The Beautiful Redhead has already made many wise decisions sorting through her life and wondered which memories would always be with her.  I also realized that whatever path she takes from now on, she is capable of handling it.  It came as a bittersweet realization. 

Do you ever look at your children and wonder how many things they will never remember that you will never forget?  I spend what seems like a lot of time doing just that.  I think that they might not remember with their minds, but they will always remember with thier souls, whether they ever put it together in their minds or not. Children grow up and all those tedious mothering moments have a huge payoff.  The only trick is, you won't get to see the results for 20 to 25 years.  The first part of those years seems to take forever, but the last part seems to happen very fast.  It's a phenomena that really has to be experienced before it can truly be believed, but I highly recommend it.

Mom and I at my first wedding.  She was 42, I was 18.  

I continued wondering about the grandchildren she will give me.  I did not bring it up, though.  We are just past the stage where she confidently states that she is never having kids, and I don't want to push it.  heh heh.   I am sure they will be outstanding little people, at any rate, should any of them decide to show up.  ;)

Mostly, though, I just basked in the fact that she was in my house.  Superman and Wonder Woman came over Saturday night and I so enjoyed watching she and her uncle sample different kinds of beers, getting more jolly by the hour.  It hit me that she was a grown up woman several times and all I could do was just accept this fact.  I don't know why it keeps surprising me, but it does.

She and the twins went to church with me on Mother's Day, and I told her how much it meant to me to have an hour each week where I can sit with my arm casually around the boys and just be with them.  I know they will leave home soon and I am happy for them but..........well, it is just another step that will take them (possibly) farther away from me, physically.  But in their hearts?  They will never be far away, this is my greatest hope, and all the moments that lead up to that time will be cherished.  By me.  Understand that they are still rolling their eyes and telling me to calm down, but this will pass as soon as they are out their on their own.  This is not my first rodeo in this area and I will be there when they call, or better yet, come back home.

We observed together how much they have grown up and I saw her weighing and measuring their progress like any good older sister and my heart was full to overflowing.  She learned it from me, but it was handed down through generations and each of us are just links in a great chain that flows unbroken through time.  This is a great comfort to me.  Also, she wore The Locket, which always makes me so happy, and I wore my mother's wedding ring, which I never go anywhere without.  The only sad moment came when the only good picture I have taken in years did not get saved on her phone.  I think I will just hire someone to take actual pictures of all of us.  I am not happy with this new digital picture phase we are going through.  Too undependable.  I'm gonna take it back to old school, for old school never lets me down.

Included in our weekend shenanigans were finding two grass snakes taking cover in the corner flashing of the house ("you just STOOD THERE, mom!")  which I guess I will have to hunt down and relocate, an introduction to the best neighbors on earth, who have raised a baby squirrel to teenage years but whom did not decide to make an appearance, a trip to Wal Mart on a Friday night which was......interesting to say the least, and visits with other extended family that she does not get to see very often but loves very much.  That's all I can tell you.  If you want to know more about  our shenanigans, you have to show up for them, and then you will have to keep the secret too.  :D

We both missed our Charli-girl, and spent a lot of time looking through pictures and videos.  This was The Rockette's first Mother's Day and The Rock Star had planned her a relaxing day at home without having to go anywhere.  Personally, I highly approved of this gift, as that has always been one of my favorite things on earth. I think it worked, because The Rockette sounded very relaxed and happy when we spoke on the phone.

At a basketball game, already cheering.  The big question is whether she will be a Mizzou or KU fan.  This is new for our family, but we are trying our best to be open minded.  It's a sports thing........and a KC

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  Everything I could have hoped for.  If you are a person who agonizes over what flowers to send your mom, and if you were to ask for my advice, just go home instead.  Spend some time with the people who raised you.  You can find wildflowers all along the roads, just pick some of those if you must. Your mom values your presence above any other gift.

Oh, and the Creme Brulee French Toast?  It's a keeper!  We served it with raspberries and it was perfect.  I declared it our new breakfast whenever we are able to be together from here on out, and The Beautiful Redhead discovered the challenges of foodie photography.

You want to try this.  Trust me.

May 9, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend so far........

My daughter is here for the weekend.  Yes, The Beautiful Redhead herself is in the HOUSE!

So far, only myself and My Oldest Baby have showered, the Overnight Creme Brulee French Toast is ready and waiting in the fridge, and My Oldest Baby has warmed up something called Buffalo Wings Pepperoni Rolls for breakfast, because he just can't wait.

I have my favorite old T shirt and a pair of the boys' old shorts on, with an ELASTIC band, that's right.  I did not shave my legs, either.  We are planning some shenanigans, good meals, working on the flower beds, and general lazy laying around.

We are also going through old pictures and trying to get them somehow scanned into a place I can download them with my limited technical "skillz".

I have no idea when that might be coming.  You know me.  *shrugs*

and in other news, the devil's members continue to rise.  I tend to think they are probably poisonous.  Ugh.

The stump with the transplanted Lambshire around it and an unwelcome guest rearing it's ugly head.  The first one wilted.  You can see the remains at the 4 o'clock position in this picture.

Get thee behind me, satan.  Is that an insult to poisonous mushrooms?  I'm not even sure.........

May 6, 2015

Treasures and Terrors.......

A few things...........

You know the saying about how "a watched pot never boils"?  True, also, with seeds.  I have placed the Sweet Pea along the fence, where it holds it's own but is not twining up the fence yet.  When The Beautiful Redhead was about 3, I called her "sweet pea" one evening and she looked at me very seriously, then wrinkled her adorable little brow and asked "Did you just call me sweet pee?  Thus began her floral and faunal education.

The Four O'Clock's have been springing forth and the Astors have their heads above aground, but there they just sit.  I clipped back some Panseys to make them bush out.  The Lavendar, well, I don't even want to talk about the Lavendar.  It's apparently not my thing.  Yet.  In fact, I am a little bit mad at Lavendar and sorely disppointed in my Lavendar specifically.  It could not care any less.  Oh, well.  Same goes for the Lily of the Valley, although I continue to watch hopefully, fool that I am.  How it can be so hard to get something that will take over started is, at present, the great mystery of my life.  Which reminds me, I have a very good life.

Digging around in the dirt of an old stump that I am going to plant Lambshire all around, I found this.

It about scared me to death, and, call me what you will, my first thought was "devil's, ahem, member".  I don't know if it's supposed to be a mushroom or if it's some kind of fungus or what, but I left it alone to find out.  Because I like to live without a safety net, I guess.  And I also am contemplating what my first thought reveals about the way my mind works, but that is another post, my dears. Anyway, if you know what this is, let me know.  My nightmares will thank you.

As if to make up for it, this afternoon I found this.  I just bent down to pull up a thistle and there it was, waiting for me.

This took me back to what seems, in retrospect, to have been many afternoons spent with my mother on a blanket in the yard.  I cannot be sure if we did that kind of thing all the time or I just remember the one time we found a four leaf clover.  Either way, my mother carried that four leaf clover in her wallet till the end of her days on earth.  It brought her back to me in a way that is becoming quite familiar.  When I planted the Morning Glory seeds along the fence she was with me.  I clearly remember the first time she planted them, and how excited she was when they came up, and it happened down here.

Part of her legacy to me is the fact that I am putting in lots of flowers, both perrenial and wild.  She loved the wildflowers, as I do, and I have spent many days recently slowly walking through my yard and transplanting the great variety into the beds.  Wild Phlox, Daiseys, Bachelor's Buttons, and Four O'Clocks will line the driveway and house. 

 Iris will bloom along the ditch in front on the street.  Just about any kind of flower you can imagine that grows wild will make bigger and bigger beds until there is hopefully little left to mow.

At least, that is my plan.  Next year, just more.  Maybe move 'em around a bit, but basically just let nature take over.  I plan to just pull it out and give other people starts every year.

Also available is plenty of ground cover, in the form of vines, including Trumpet Vine galore.  I planted a couple of Willow trees, along with Honeysuckle and a Wasillia Bush from Janine.  I don't know if I spelled that right but either I did or spellcheck doesn't know the difference either.  This is what the world has come to.

We will see what happens.  Despite the appearance of the Devil's member, we will just focus on the four leaf clover.