Quiet moments, and some blather

Yes…yes, I’m still alive. It’s been awhile since I posted, but I have to say I was a running fool. Seems like the whole summer has flown by. While I feel like I have nothing to show for it, I’ve actually been pretty busy. That’s ok…It’s better than sitting around, I guess.  And then, when I have time to take a breath, all the fabulous things I had found to blog about evaporate like flood water on a hot July day.  Amazingly, I was sitting in the living room alone with no sounds other than my Wood Wick candle burning, the traffic outside and the noise of Younger Son taking a shower. It was a lovely quiet moment, albeit brief. Apparently that was just enough to break my writer’s block. Strange, the things my brain will respond to.

The flood situation in Minot is no longer all about being wet, but now about recovery. Most everyone who was displaced has been allowed back into their homes, and the gutting and cleaning has commenced.  We have heard that there is a plan being proposed that will straighten out the river, and provide protection from the river for up to 30,000 cfs (cubic feet/second).   We dealt with upwards of 22,000 cfs this go around. Whatever plan they come up with, it will take a long time to put into place, but Minot will be better off for it. More on that as things progress.

Right now we are sitting in the living room watching a movie called Escanaba in da Moonlight. It’s an old family favorite that we got through Netflix. It’s one of those shows we all agree on, and can have a good laugh over.  There’s nothing like sitting around with your kids having a good laugh.

Speaking of kids, I had the last three days off so I could get them registered and set up for school, which is starting very late for us this year. The flood took several schools in town so the State has forgiven five school days, plus there will be three more tacked on to that will be made up throughout the school year. As a result, instead of starting school August 24th, school won’t start until September 6th. Older Son is a Senior this year, and so come all things associated with that: Senior pictures, applying to colleges and graduation…amongst other things.  Older Son isn’t too hip on the whole graduation tradition, and would rather skip all of the pictures and ceremony. Well, he’s just going to have to tough it out. Some traditions just need to be observed. I think he’s feeling a little overwhelmed with the end of school coming and having to make choices. I don’t envy him…it’s no easy thing to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. I still am not sure what I want to do when I grow up either, and I’m 42.

Younger Son cooked supper tonight. It was a <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/t1IiUAtoNBk“>grilled,  bacon wrapped, vegetable stuffed meatloaf. OMG. That kid is going to make me fatter than I already am. He’s also going to make some nice girl a fine husband one day. He’s got that cooking thing down for someone who’s only 16 years old. This is the third time in the last month I’ve come home to find supper grilled and ready to eat. I’m truly spoiled.

My lovely kitty, Harley, got declawed this week. As lovely as he is, he’s got a taste for scratching everything but the scratching post, including box springs, the dish washer, the heat vent in the bathroom, the living room furniture, and anything Older Son owns. It’s not something I had planned on, or liked, having to do, but it was either that or he’d have to go. The good news is that he is making a remarkable recovery and is up to the usual mischief…except without so many scratch marks.

Now it’s quiet again, and all I hear is my tapping on the key board and the wooden wick of my candle crackling away. Pretty soon I’ll have to get up and put my laundry in the dryer, and hit the rack, bringing  my rare quiet moment to an end, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

Simple things are good things

I found a nice patch of cat mint growing wild in my compost heap this last week, and I thought I would bring a snippet of it in for my lovely cat, Harley. This is cat mint:

I brought a goodly sized piece into the house, wondering if Harley would pay any attention to it or not. I got my answer quickly, as he fairly climbed up my leg trying to get to it.  This is Harley after having grabbed his prize:

I bet Harley spent a good 45 minutes in the back entryway, rolling around on the floor mangling that piece of cat mint to death. In the pictures you can see little bits of it laying all over the floor from where he shredded it. Afterwards, he had a VERY nice nap.

It got me to thinking about how simple things are good things. Harley doesn’t require anything special on top of normal care and affection. It sure does make his day when I bring him a big piece of cat mint, though.

Today I finally got out of the house and went for a walk this morning. It was so beautiful out, and I enjoyed it so much. It was the simplest thing in the world to get out and walk up the street and back, and it got my day off to a good start. I sure have missed walking in the morning, and now that I’m back at it, I feel much better. It’s the simplest thing, but it makes a big difference. Perhaps this ought to be the summer of simple pleasures. I bet if I look hard enough I will have no problems finding multitudes of things that will surprise and delight me in what joy they can bring, with not too much cost or effort.

What about you? What are some simple pleasures you enjoy?

Bummers are always tempered by blessings…

…that is, if you dig hard enough.

I have had the week off, and had many plans for home improvement and catching up on housework. Generally, I get more done while I am home alone than I do with the boys here. This week, I have been sick for the third week in a row with this blasted head cold that’s been going around. The good news here is that I have had a LOT of sleep, and while I’ve not been productive AT ALL, I will probably heal up all the faster for having  just laid around like a slug. I can tell you that being a slug has helped me catch up with my blogs in the last few days, so there’s a blessing.

As my faithful readers have witnessed, my new kitty, Harley, can be a little bit of a challenge sometimes. This morning, however, he was all about snuggling. I’d forgotten how fabulous it is to hold a purring cat. I’ve really enjoyed how affectionate Harley is between playful and grumpy moods. I was just sitting here reading blogs while holding a loudly purring Harley, and smelled something horrible through the one nostril that’s functioning today. I thought for sure that one of the boys had left dirty socks lying around, but I could find nothing. I even smelled myself and I appear to be fairly clean smelling. I smelled the cat and he didn’t smell bad. I searched around the living room, but couldn’t find any source of the odor. Where the heck was it coming from? I gave up my search for the stink, picked Harley up again and went back to my blog reading.  Pretty soon, there’s the smell again. And then, I realized…Harley appears to have some issues with flatulence. That’s right. Not only is my cat perverted and naughty, but now he gets his jollies by expelling  Silent-But-Deadlies. What’s the blessing here? Apparently, nothing has crawled under my couch and died.  Even so, note to self: Don’t squeeze the cat today.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives predictions of what kind of weather we’re supposed to have. The prediction for Region 12-The High Plains, has been right on the money so far this year. For February 19th-28th is says: “Snowy periods, then sunny, cold.”  Sigh. Yep, that’s exactly what we’re experiencing. Today we have -25 with the windchill.  The good news here is that my friend, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, hasn’t lied to me yet. I will take that as a blessing because it tells me that March is supposed to be much milder, and I’m looking forward to that.

The last bummer I have for the day is that I have several boxes I need to go through in my basement. The blessing that tempers this bummer is that most of  that chore is done, and there are only about 10 boxes left. I’m betting that I will be able to throw, sell or give away most of what’s in those boxes, leaving me with very little I need to keep. Most of the items I will keep are things that belonged to my children as infants, and I will pass that on to them when they have their own kids…thereby leaving me with even MORE storage space. Yes!

Finally, the biggest blessing I own right now is the pot of chicken and wild rice soup that bubbling away on my stove top. Time for me to go grab a bowl and let that most delicious steam from the soup unclog my head while I eat it. I hope you all have such a blessed day!






Noises parents make come in handy for other things

Did you ever notice that once you become a parent you begin to make all sorts of sounds you didn’t know you could make? They come from the depths of your gut unbidden, but forced out in an effort to cause the behavior your child is displaying to cease immediately. They are obnoxious noises, and all parents and children recognize them when they hear them. I think we are genetically programmed to make these sounds because sometimes words just don’t get the message across in a timely manner.

“Ah, ah, ah!” Now there’s a classic. However, I think my favorite is the one that sounds like the bad news honk on a game show: “ENNHHHK!”  I guarantee you that I never voluntarily made this sound until I had kids that became mobile. It bubbled up from the depths of my being  just in time to keep Older Son from jamming a toy into an electric socket one day. And, it worked.

Fast forward 17 years later, and I still find that sound popping out of my mouth. It hasn’t happened as often in recent years, but I found it popping out this morning.

Time: O’Dark-Thirty.

Place: My bed

I’m laying in the dark having a very strange dream about this guy I used to work with at The Big Box Store (more on that in another post), and my alarm goes off. Enter Harley, my perverted kitty.  Just as I have freshly beaten my snooze button into submission for the second time, he jumped up on the bed,  cuddled up to my neck and purred loudly.

Now, I am a sucker for a cuddly, purring cat, but given Harley’s recent perverted proclivities I was instantly on my guard. Sure as the sun rises every day, he got up and made a motion as though to assume his favorite position. Without even thinking about it, The Sound burst forth from my lips. To my astonishment, he quit. He just gave it up and lay down, never missing a beat with the purring.

Hm…apparently that sound works for other things too. Perhaps I should use it on the pervert who cruises my Toy Department?

Perverts – I just can’t get away from them

I’ve become aware of a guy that has been hanging around the toy department lately. I’ve seen this guy around town, here and there, for the last couple of years. It’s significant that I’ve noticed him, out of a population of 38,000, and have never formally met him.  He sets off my perv-dar, and now he’s been showing up in the Toy Department. No, wait…he’s showing up in MY Toy Department.

In all fairness, I don’t know for sure that this guy is an actual pervert, or a kid- toucher. I do know that there is something about this guy that causes all the pervert radar receptors I own to flash bright lights and run around in circles shouting “Danger, Danger!” I can’t even tell you what exactly it is about this guy who that sets me off, but he gives me the same feeling I’ve gotten from other suspicious individuals I’ve run into over the years. I hope he decides that my Toy Department isn’t the place to hang out any more. I’ve noticed the last couple of times he’s been around that he’s left the department as soon as he locked eyes with me. I do try hard to school my features, but perhaps he knows I’m onto him.  I’m guessing that his Mother Bear/Toy Department Guardian radar lights up when I come near. Grrrrr…

On the home front, I have pervert problems of a different nature. As my 18 (Yes, that’s right…I’ve gained 7!) Faithful Readers will recall, we have gained a new family member here at our little house on The High Plains. Harley has become instant family and fits in well. That is, until it’s time to sleep.

Harley is a real lover. He loves to cuddle and craves attention. He makes the rounds at night and sleeps with all of us, with the exception of Older Son. He keeps his door closed because Harley likes to pounce on his feet. The 2nd night Harley lived with us, he hopped into bed with me, cuddled up to my neck and purred loudly. I drifted off to sleep thinking how lucky we are to have chosen such an affectionate cat, but then everything went south in a hurry.

The next thing I know Harley is licking my chin and has his feet planted in my chest, kneading my flesh with his toes. Ok…that’s not so bad. What really floored me was when he got up and tried to have his way with my arm.  That’s right…he got up, straddled my arm and went to town. This, of course, caused him to be instantly ejected from my room.

The next night, no problem. I’m thinking that he’s got the idea that he’s got to behave or else, and life is good. Nope. That was just a ruse to lull me into a false sense of security, because the next night after that he did it again. Yes, ladies and gentleman, my cat is a pervert. Sigh…It appears that I am surrounded!

Meet Harley, and a good hot supper for a cold day

We had quite an eventful weekend at our little house on The High Plains. My eleven faithful readers will recall that I have been looking for a gently used feline to join our family. Well, we found one…meet Harley:

Harley got his name from the rumble that comes out of his throat when he purrs, which you can hear all the way into another room if he’s feeling particularly enthusiastic. He’s still a kitten at nine months old, but has some good habits and training established. He’s got lots of personality and fit in well from the very moment we brought him home. It feels good to have a cat in the house again.

So what does Harley have to do with a good hot supper on a cold day? Absolutely nothing. I just happen to be cooking a nice hot supper and am going to post the recipe here so I don’t lose it again. I’m making a family favorite, Chili Spaghetti. I wanted to make it last night, but I lost the recipe and had to go digging through my email to find where I’d sent it to someone else.  Posting it here will allow me to find it a little easier next time it gets lost. I have a hard time holding on to recipe cards for some reason.

What we call Chili Spaghetti is more well-known as Cincinnati Style Chili. It’s not your average chili flavor given the use of cinnamon and allspice. Some recipes even call for a little bit of cocoa. It’s served poured over spaghetti noodles, and we like it served with shredded cheese. It’s a good aromatic, savory dish for a cold crappy day like , when it’s -20 and everyone has a cold. It’s fabulous left over, and I like to make large batches of it and freeze some for later use. Here’s a little bit more on the history of it from Wikipedia, and the recipe I use is posted below.  I found a recipe on-line and tweaked it a bunch until it was just right.  I’d like to thank my friend Susan for exposing me to this dish, and for keeping us stocked with the spice packets for a long time until I found my own recipe…it’s become a family favorite that we can’t do without. Enjoy!

Sparrow’s High Plains Chili Spaghetti
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 large onions, chopped (I only use one)
1 qt water
2 lbs ground beef
1 14-16 oz can tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 large bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp salt (opt)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Cooked Spaghetti, enough for six servings

Optional, chili beans (cooked in chili) and raw onion to serve with.

In a large skillet, saute the garlic and onions in hot oil or butter. Add water and heat until simmering. Add the beef raw, smashing into very fine pieces with a fork and wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Simmer for three hours, stirring periodically.

Serve with shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Beans or raw onions are optional.

A picture IS worth a thousand words

When I saw this picture, I just about fell out of my chair laughing. The expression on this cat’s face is priceless. It’s quite obvious that he or she is unhappy, and the thing that struck me about this picture is that I identified with this particular expression. I can’t tell you what it is exactly, but perhaps it’s a cross between disgust and being pissed off. Or perhaps someone stole this cat’s lunch when he’d been really looking forward to it? All I know is, when I see this picture, I know that I have felt like what this cat looks like.

This picture courtesy of Bunny Food

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