Thursday, November 3, 2011

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition!!

THIS IS A GREAT IDEA! And wouldn’t it be great if everyone would participate?!

As the Christmas holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with humongous piles of cheaply produced goods... merchandise that has been produced at the expense of our very own American or Australian labor.
This year Christmas will be different around here - and I hope it will be different at your house too.

This year, Americans will be giving the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.
There is no longer an excuse that at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Because YES there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people.
Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone ~ and I mean EVERYONE gets their hair cut.
How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
How about massages or manicures?
Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages - and who isn't thinking about some
health improvement?

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates - and that helps keep our money in our local community.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamin's on a Chinese made flat-screen?
Perhaps that lucky/grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed...or lawn mowed for the summer... or their driveway plowed all winter... or maybe even a few games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants around your area ... most offering gift certificates or vouchers.
And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort of person, what about half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint?

Remember, folks this is NOT about helping your big National chains get richer -- this is about supporting your home town Americans.
Americans with their businesses, jobs and homes on the line... and when it comes right down to it, this simple little idea can help them keep their doors open... and so that they don't go under.

I mean, for Pete's sake.... how many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, one done at a local shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would probably LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW that I can find some young guy who's struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK... so you were looking for something a little more personal?
Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Check out the local craft markets/flea markets or market gardens.

Plan your holiday or family outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip.

And how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?
Do we really need to see "professional" actors, when it's even more fun watching the Bob the local butcher play Romeo... or the little girl down the street dancing to "The Nutcracker"?
And musicians need love too... so find a venue showcasing local bands, and rock the house down!

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house?
Sadly, when you buy a five dollar string of lights, only about fifty cents stays in the community. FIFTY CENTS!!
That's just beyond wrong!

Our parents and grandparents celebrated Christmas just fine without the lights and tawdry decorations and expensive gifts... so let's make this the year we get back to the REAL meaning of Christmas!
If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, at least please leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip in their Christmas card!

You see, Christmas should no longer about draining American pockets, so that China can build another glittering city.
Christmas is now about us caring about each other... and us encouraging our local American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams and keep this country strong!
When we care about other Americans, we care about our own communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't even begin to imagine.
This seriously needs to be the new American Christmas tradition.

So go ahead...Feel free to copy this and forward it to everyone on your mailing list
Post it to discussion groups.
Throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city.
Send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments.

This needs to be a revolution of caring about each other...
And after all, isn't that really what Christmas is about?
So c'mon people...let's start putting our own people first, and let's start thinking outside the square.

That said, I would be more than happy for any of you to offer to clean my house for me, or maybe even weed the backyard...
(Hey, I just thought I would save you the trouble of asking. *wink wink*)

(Note: I recieved this is a forwarded email, and even though it specifies "Americans"... as far as I'm concerned, it applies to ALL of us... No matter where we come from.
Just think "local"!!
Let's make this year the year that we TRULY make a difference!)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tamale Pie... nom nom!

Trust me to have things backwards...
Yeah... it may be "springtime" here in Australia, but to old American me... October means cooler weather, and good ol' "stick-to-your-ribs" kind of meals.

Which is why I said that I have things backwards... All you have to do is say the word "October" to me, and I'm suddenly yearning and salivating for my favorite Autumn foods. Or maybe that's "Autumnal"? Hey, I'm sure I don't know...
All I know for sure is that I get all organized, and go searching for the rubber boots and gloves and woolen scarves, and then I want to bake gingerbread men, and Almond Thumbprint cookies. In 80 degree heat.
Which is proof that I'm messed up.

So even though I've been here in Australia for 15+ years now, I still do the whole back ass-wards thing each and every year.
Like clockwork.
And... for the last few weeks, I've had a serious, serious hankering for spicy casserole type meals - but I've had a special craving for Tamales.
Which are impossible to find ready-made here, as are corn husks for making my own.

I will say that I did make some killer Chimichangas last week, (the Old Guy is addicted to them, and would happily eat them every night for a month - which is okay with me, just as long as he goes home to his own bed every night. Just sayin'...) but for tonight, I wanted something a little easier and less labor-intensive.

So I decided to fall back on that old Fall (springtime?) favorite... Tamale Pie.

Tamale Pie


~ 2 T. oil
~ 1 onion
~ 1 pepper
~ 2 cloves garlic, or more if preferred (which I do)
~ 1/4 cup chopped jalapeño pepper (optional for some, maybe... but not for me)
~ 1 pound ground beef,
~ 2 cups tomato pieces, canned or fresh, with juice
~ 2 cups corn kernels, fresh, canned or frozen (Iuse canned)

~1/2 cup of sliced olives (with a little more for garnish)
~ 1/2 cup beef broth or water
~ 1 t. chili powder, or to taste (which in my case means about a tablespoon)
~ 1 cup corn meal
~ 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, jack, or Mexican Blend)
~ salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Chop onion, garlic and peppers.
Heat oil, and cook onion, garlic and pepper until softened ~ about 5 minutes or so.
Mix meat with 3/4 teaspoon salt, crumble and add to pan.
Cook and stir until the meat is done.
Add tomatoes, corn, olives, broth and chile powder.
Simmer together while preparing the corn meal.
Bring 2 cups water to a boil; slowly add corn meal, stirring vigorously to prevent lumping. (Mixture will be a little thick and gluggy.)
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.
Stir corn meal mixture into other ingredients and then place in a casserole dish or baking pan.
Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for about 30 minutes.

And this is what you end up with:

Disclaimer: Not my pic - I have to admit that I found it online somewhere. I also have to admit that it looks a whole lot less messy than mine does, but you get the gist...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nothing much to say...

Other than I miss blogging, and I seriously miss catching up with y'all!!

I really don't know why it is, but even though I'm not working near as hard as I was a year ago, I seem to have less and less time to myself anymore... and even less time for blogging or reading blogs.
I guess a lot of it has to do with trying to get one household up and running from a long, long distance... and trying to shut one down, right here at home.

The renovations here are taking a lot longer than I had initially planned, but to tell you the truth, back when I started this journey of " heading home", I had a lot more $$'s coming in, and they were sure as hell coming in on a much more regular basis.
Nowadays, it's a matter of trying to decide if I want to buy paint or materials... or if I want to buy food.
Or maybe even some sanity. Which would be utterly lovely, I think.

And if it were just me, I know which option I would go for.
And which option my well padded butt would probably highly recommend.
But unfortunately for me at the present time, I have a teenager who seems to be pretty partial to eating at least 2 square meals a day.
And if you've ever had teenagers (or if you've ever been one yourself, I guess) I bet you know that they're pretty much bottom-less pits at times, and they sure as tooting aren't cheap to keep!
And those inevitable "growth spurts" when they try and cram a weeks worth of food into just a couple of short hours? Well.... all I can say is: Oi vey! That's enough growing, already!

I honestly feel like I've been to hell and back the last few months, with one thing or another... and I can't wait until everything settles down once again, and I can at least feel like I at least have some semblance of control in my life again.
Even if I don't really.

There's just been so much happening in my life lately - good, bad and indifferent - but most of it on the "middlin' to bad" side - that even though I know that I need to talk about it and get the weight of some of it off my chest, so to speak.... I also know that I just can't do it right now. I just don't have the energy.

Like these old shoes, I feel just plumb worn out at the present moment...

But I'm not ready for the scrap heap quite yet...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Anyone got Q-Tips?

I seriously need to get my hearing checked I think... or else call the Roto-Rooter man to come clean the ear wax out!

See, it was The Lad's 17th birthday yesterday, and although I'm still mad at him and I don't know if things will ever truly get back to normal between us, I'm not a nasty enough biotch to let his birthday go by without celebrating it in some fashion. And last year (his 16th birthday) he was still living in a group home - and not one of the finest in the state, either... so little or nothing was done to "celebrate" the milestone. His records show that they took him to McDonald's... and that was it.
Whoop-ti-do, eh?

And add the fact that his mother basically couldn't be stuffed with planning anything to celebrate his birthday, (she had him for 2 hours access earlier in the week - and then handed him $20 bucks) and I felt kind of "emotionally and morally obligated" to do something at least marginally memorable... ya know?

So I asked him what he would like to do for his birthday, giving him a couple of options... and he opted for a lunch time barbecue with a couple of his mates around. Easy peasy.

I asked him clearly how many people he wanted to invite, and he told me 19... so I went to Costco on Friday to buy the place out. Sausages, party pies, sausage rolls, chips, drinks, chips and even a couple of killer size bags of lollies (candy) because no matter how old he may think he is, he's still a kid - and so are his friends.
And a cake. Can't forget the cake.
A humongous cake because I knew that 19 kids would polish it off, lick the plates and then ask for more.
Because I'm smart that way.

At the end of the shopping trip, I had stuff in the fridge, The Old Guy's fridge, and I even hit up the next door neighbor, asking her if she could store some of it for me.
I was organized, let me tell you what!

So yesterday rolls around, and I was up bright and early, getting pans ready, tomatoes and onions sliced, bowls ready for the chips and candy, ice for the soft drinks, and I even used my favorite bedspread as an emergency tablecloth on the big table.
Everything was perfect.

11:30 comes... and so far we have a couple of kids here (okay, maybe 5 or 6) and they're outside stuffing their faces with junk food, listening to and semi-dancing to some kinda crap on CD's... So I asked The Lad again how many kids were due - and again he told me 19.

So I waited to put stuff in the already ready-and-waiting oven, keeping myself busy slicing even more tomatoes and onions... and in the meantime a few more kids arrive and they go right into stuffing their faces and gyrating to the semi-music. If you can call that stuff "music". (Lordy, I've turned into my parents, I think!!)
But since we were still low on numbers, I continued to wait for more kids to arrive... and I kept busy preparing replacement platters and bowls of food to feed the hungry hoard and running non-stop in and out the back door.

1 o'clock comes, and The Lad comes in and asks if we can start the barbecue now, because everyone is starting to get hungry.

"Okay, well we'll start now, and maybe by the time the meat's done everyone else will have arrived."

"Everyone else, who? Everybody is here already! Who did you invite?"

"I didn't invite anyone - it's your party and you were told that you could choose who to invite. I only meant the other kids that haven't arrived yet. Since there are only 9 of you so far, we still have another 10 coming."

"TEN more? But this is everyone that I invited - and we're hungry now!"

"Noooo.... you told me 19, and we only have 9 kids here right now."

What??? I never said 19! "

"Yes you did.... you said 19 kids were invited!"

No I didn't!

Yes you did.

No I didn't!!!

Yes you DID, you said that 19 were coming!

No I didn't say that 19 kids were coming...I said NINE TEENAGERS are coming!

Oh bloody hell... I thought you said nineteen - and why in the name of all that's holy, would you even say nine "teenagers"? Nobody in their right mind says "nine teenagers are coming to my party"!

Well, because now that I'm 17 and more mature, (yes folks, he assumes that it happens that easily and quickly) I wanted you to know that all the kids I invited are all grown up teenagers... and that there were no little kids invited to my party, so you wouldn't buy balloons or want us to do pin-the-tail-on-the donkey games and stuff!!

Now this is what I was envisioning:

But what isn't what I got.
Which serves me right for "envisioning" anything when teenagers are concerned.

The end result is that I have enough food left over to feed an army.
I have enough sausages and party pies and pasta salad and potato salad left over to choke a horse - Hell... there's enough left to choke a whole herd of wild mustangs. Maybe 2 or 3 herds.

And then what does The Lad decide to ask at the end of the day, when I've got counter tops and tables and fridges full of leftover food?

Can I spend the night at Tom's house tonight?

Omigosh....YESSSS! Help me clean up, and I'll tell you what. If you'll stay for 2 or 3 nights, as a "special one time only deal", you can even supply the food to cover their meals for the next 2 or 3 days! And since there are 6 of 'em, don't forget to take half that monstrous cake with you!!!

But I've still got enough sausages and hot dogs left, that I almost want to break down in tears... I'm thinking Sausages in wraps with leftover lettuce and tomatoes, Toad in the Hole, Italian Rice and Sausages with Pasta... and a gazillion other things that can be done using cooked leftover sausages.

And even then, I think I'll still have cooked and frozen sausages and frankfurters coming out of my ears for another week or so... at least!

Now, the cats are fussy, and I know that they won't touch most of it, but after the next few nights, I think the dogs are gonna think they died and have gone to sausage and party pie heaven!

I just wonder if they'll clean the wax out of my ears, while they're at it?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?

And I'm not talkin' about that fairytale pussycat either, because as far as I'm concerned, that's just hearsay...
I'm talkin' about me - and since I haven't exactly been a pussycat lately, ( if ever) it kind of gives me pause for thought, and worries about my sanity.

So, thanks to all of you (well, the one of you anyway) who have emailed or even called me, asking about my trip home, here goes....

I have been *HOME* to see my family and cute little house... and we just got back last week. I loved seeing everyone, and I enjoyed being on home turf again, but in all fairness, I have to tell you a few other places I've been.

I've been around the twist.
I've been going crazy.
I've been at my wits end, and at the end of my rope.
And I've been in the doldrums as well, because as good as the trip was, the worse part was even "worser" than I imagined it could be.

And unfortunately, the 'bad' overshadowed the *good* parts... which means that besides being around the twist and half crazy and hangin' by various things such as wits and ropes, I've been as mad as a wet hen besides.
I've been so frustrated and dad-gummed MAD, that I haven't had much in me for sharin' or even talking about it all.

And why, do you ask?
Well... in a nutshell, because of "The Lad".

Yes... he went with us. Why? Well hell, I'm asking myself that question right now - just like I have been doing for the last 5 weeks.
And I still don't have a plausible answer.

To be fair, The Lad did do a hell of a lot of work to be allowed to go in the first place, ( or so I thought, anyway) but it wasn't until we actually stepped foot in California that I realized just how conned I had been.
In order to even go, The Lad had to prove to me that he could save the entire amount that he had budgeted for... Plane fare, food, souvenirs, gifts, and money to treat Josh Becky and the boys to a meal out once a week, etc.

He was made to understand that since we were imposing on Josh and Bec, that for the duration of our trip they were NOT to lift a finger, or spend one thin dime - it was all up to the 3 of us. Groceries for the entire family were to be split 3 ways, gas for outting's was to be paid for by the 3 of us, and when dishes or housework needed doing, we were to do it.

Unfortunately, sometime around April when The Lad was having an access visit with his mum, she told him that he was entitled to a $1,000 dole loan. A loan that didn't need to be repaid. (which was totally untrue, because for one thing, he's underage... and for another, the govt takes the repayments straight out of the account before you get paid.)
Well, woo hoo! That was it... He figured that he would be getting that 'free' money, so all his savings went right out the window... and I've never seen so much money disappear out of a bank account so fast in all my life.
Literally... $900+ dollars disappeared in a little over 3 weeks - and when I asked for it to be accounted for, I found that the Lad had been eating damn good at McDonald's, 3 and 4 times a day.

Anyway, to make a long story short, the trip home was delayed, to give him a chance to re-save what he had spent. And it was impressed upon him that no more mess-ups or screw-ups would be tolerated. None...whatsoever.
And that included getting his bowels under control. (can't remember if I mentioned before, but he has a stretched bowel and he soils himself, because he's too lazy to sit on the pot - and he thinks that's okay.)

And he was good prior to the trip... He never had an "accident" in the 4 months leading up to the trip, his behavior and attitude were up to scratch, and even though taking him on the trip wasn't on my list of *druthers*, I had hopes that things would go well.

Unfortunately, DHS (department of human services) told him that they would 'fund' him $100. a day for food, lodging and gas - which was to be paid directly to my son... but he assured me that he understood that the money was to be given directly to Josh and it wasn't "his".

Only, I was conned.

He never deemed it necessary, or even morally 'right' to pay for groceries, accommodation or anything else... other than spending it all on himself. If we grocery shopped, he would throw in 20 bucks towards HIS chips or drinks or whatever - but nothing towards the actual food that we bought for ALL of us.
And no gifts for his teacher, girlfriend, mother or anyone else either. It all went on trendy clothes and hats for himself, to impress his mates back home.

And attitude?
I gotta be honest here and admit that if he had been my own child, I would have been tempted to knock his block off, and he certainly wouldn't have been gutsing himself on McDonald's and Burger King, until his teeth grew back.
And so, because I was unable to do any screaming or yelling or even any grounding or discipline of any kind, he thought that he had me wrapped around his finger, and that HE was in charge.

I would ask him to do something repeatedly... and get no reaction.

Josh would ask something once, and The Lad would practically trip over himself to do what was asked. Impressing his new "mate", doncha know.

Josh thought he was a great kid... and he bent over backwards to show him a good time - never seeing the non-compliance and attitude that we had to deal with when Josh wasn't actually around. Which because we were staying in MY little house just down the driveway from the kids, was un-seen , and quite often.
We had:
Soiled underpants hidden in the suitcase.
Soiled underpants in the garbage.
Soiled underpants flushed down the toilet or tossed in the bushes.

Complete attitude and disregard, when it came to the Old Guy or I saying anything...
And the comments he made about Becky - as in "well she's the woman, and she should have been doing the grocery shopping anyway. After all, it's MY holiday, and I shouldn't have to do any of that "woman" stuff."

He thought he had a new "mate" in Josh, and the reality of the 2 older grandsons avoiding him like the plague, while only the youngest would hang around with him, was totally lost on him.
HE was having a good time, so damn everyone else.

So... I hear ya asking "so what did you do about it?"

Okay... He started back to school right after we got home, and he was totally and completely out of control after weeks of freedom. Physical and verbal abuse of the teachers, staff and other students, and I was copping the same thing here at home.
So... DHS and his service agency decided that he needed to learn one damn hard lesson.
He was put in respite on Wednesday, and he's not liking it one little bit. While he's there, they're gonna have a heap of psychological tests run to confirm what I've been telling them all along....
This kid is narcissistic, as well as antisocial... he's a danger to himself and others ... and he's warped in too many ways to count.
And maybe too many ways for me to continue to cope with.
The best option he's facing, is that he comes back here, (better for him, but maybe not for me) and ongoing and regular respite will be part of his/our future.
The worst option?
I throw my hands up, and simply say "I can't - and won't - do this any longer... which leaves him only eligible for a group home for wayward boys. "They" will never again place him in a private home, so his goose is well and truly cooked.

You know...I always thought that I would cut my right arm off, for the benefit of a child in need.
But when that sacrifice is sneered at, laughed at, dismissed and manipulated to his own self-serving advantage?

Maybe not...

I promise that I'll update you on the trip home asap, okay?
I just needed to get this crap off my chest first... you know what I mean?
It's made me feel dirty and disappointed, and I had to work up the courage to even talk about it.
So fingers crossed, that I can get back on track, and that I'm emotionally able share the "good" stuff with y'all...

Friday, September 9, 2011

We'll never get over it... Nor should we.

This is one of the best articles I've ever read.
May God Bless the fallen... the survivors... and those left behind...



The Wall Street Journal By PEGGY NOONAN

We'll Never Get Over It, Nor Should We
Ten years later, remembering a day of horror and heroism.

People are discussing the geopolitical implications of 9/11 and how the tragedy changed our country, and most of what's been said has been worthy and serious. But my thoughts, as we hit the 10th anniversary, are more local and particular. I'm in a New York state of mind.

There were two targets, Washington and New York. Washington saw a great military institution attacked, and quickly rebuilt. In Washington people ran barefoot from the White House and the Capitol.

But New York saw a world end. New York saw the buildings come down.

That was the thing. It's not that the towers were hit—we could have taken that. It's not the fire, we could have taken that too. They bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and took out five floors, and the next day we were back in business.

It's that the buildings came down, in front of our eyes. They were there and proud and strong, they were massive, two pillars at the end of the island. And then they groaned to the ground and there was a cloud and when people could finally see they looked back and the buildings weren't there breaking through the clouds anymore. The buildings were a cloud. The buildings were gone and that was too much to bear because they couldn't be gone, they couldn't have fallen. Because no one could knock down those buildings.

And it changed everything. It marked a psychic shift in our town between "safe" and "not safe." It marked the end of impregnable America and began an age of vulnerability. It marked the end of "we are protected" and the beginning of something else.

When you ask New Yorkers now what they remember, they start with something big—the first news report, the phone call in which someone said, "Turn on the TV." But then they go to the kind of small thing that when you first saw it you had no idea it would stay in your mind forever. The look on the face of a young Asian woman on Sixth Avenue in the 20s, as she looked upward. The votive candles on the street and the spontaneous shrines that popped up, the pictures of saints. The Xeroxed signs that covered every street pole downtown. A man or a woman in a family picture from a wedding or a birthday or bar mitzvah. "Have you seen Carla? Last seen Tuesday morning in Windows on the World."

The bus driver as I fumbled in my wallet to find my transit card. "Free rides today," he mumbled, in a voice on autopilot. The Pompeii-like ash that left a film on everything in town, all the way to the Bronx. The smell of burning plastic that lingered for weeks. A man who worked at Ground Zero told me: "It's the computers." They didn't melt or decompose, and they wouldn't stop burning. The doctors and nurses who lined up outside St. Vincent's Hospital with gurneys, thinking thousands would come, and the shock when they didn't. The spontaneous Dunkirk-like fleet of ferries that took survivors to New Jersey.

The old woman with her grandchild in a stroller. On the stroller she had written a sign in magic marker: "America You Are Not Alone, Mexico Is With You." She was all by herself in the darkness, on the side of the West Side Highway, as we stood to cheer the workers who were barreling downtown in trucks to begin the dig-out, and to see if they could find someone still alive.

The notes neighbors left under each other's doors. "Are you OK? Haven't seen you and just thought I'd make sure all is all right." The flags in every bodega, on every storefront, in the windows of apartments, up and down the proud facades of Park Avenue. My beautiful cynical town covered in flags, swept by love and protectiveness toward our country.

At first we didn't know what to call it, so we called it what happened. "Do you believe what happened?" "They think he died in what happened." It was weeks before we called it 9/11. Sometimes tragedy takes time to find a name.

We were half crazy those days. We were half nuts and didn't know it. The trauma on Tuesday was followed in the middle of Thursday night by a storm, a howling banshee that shook buildings—thunder like a cannonade, lightning tearing through the sky. And then there were the stories. We kept hearing about guys who dug themselves out of the rubble. We'd hear a guy came out of the rubble and said, "There's 20 firemen down there in an air pocket," and we'd all put on the news and it was never true. I will never forget this one: As the first tower went down some guy on the 50th floor grabbed a steel girder that was flying by, and he held on for dear life and it landed on a pile of rubble 30 floors below and he got up, brushed himself off, and walked away. That wasn't true either. The stories whipped through the town like the wind, and people grabbed onto them.

And there were the firemen. They were the heart of it all, the guys who went up the stairs with 50 to 75 pounds of gear and tools on their back. The other people who were there in the towers, they were innocent victims, they went to work that morning and wound up in the middle of a disaster. But the firemen saw the disaster before they went into it, they knew what they were getting into, they made a decision. And a lot of them were scared, you can see it on their faces on the pictures people took in the stairwells. The firemen would be going up one side of the stairs, and the fleeing workers would be going down on the other, right next to them, and they'd call out, "Good luck, son," and, "Thank you, boys."

They were tough men from Queens and Brooklyn and Staten Island, and they had families, wives and kids, and they went up those stairs. Captain Terry Hatton of Rescue 1 got as high as the 83rd floor. That's the last time he was seen.

Three hundred forty-three firemen gave their lives that day. Three hundred forty-three! It was impossible, like everything else.

Many heartbreaking things happened after 9/11 and maybe the worst is that there's no heroic statue to them, no big marking of what they were and what they gave, at the new World Trade Center memorial.

But New York will never get over what they did. They live in a lot of hearts.

They tell us to get over it, they say to move on, and they mean it well: We can't bring an air of tragedy into the future. But I will never get over it. To get over it is to get over the guy who stayed behind on a high floor with his friend who was in a wheelchair. To get over it is to get over the woman by herself with the sign in the darkness: "America You Are Not Alone." To get over it is to get over the guys who ran into the fire and not away from the fire.

You've got to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What's up with blogger, dagnabbit??

Okay... so I've been having issues off and on with the blog for the last few weeks, and to tell you the truth I don't know what to do about it.
Hell, I don't even know if I want to do anything about it at this point in time... and maybe I should just grow up and focus on the good stuff coming up, without incurring further headaches for myself.

My blog page won't load, and when I attempt to sign in, I just get a "this page can't be displayed" message. Well... not all the time - obviously - or you wouldn't be reading this mini-tantrum right now. But it happens often enough, that I just want to smack the dang thing.
Repeatedly, about the head and shoulders.
Which leads me to believe that I might have some anger management issues going on here.

But I really, really, really want this thing working right now... because I'm full of words and emotions and stuff regarding the upcoming trip home, plus I've got a new handy-dandy point-and-shoot camera, for sharing all the (probably incredibly boring to you) California/new house/family/ touristy-type pictures that I intend on taking, and I just want to share it all with you.

And if you think you just detected a smidge of whining and carrying on like a 2 year old who can't have a lolly pop for breakfast... Well, you're probably right.

Just be grateful that you can't actually see me stomping my feet.
Because stomping my feet causes my thighs to jiggle... and if there's anything worse than a 50-something year old woman whining and sooking like she missed out on an ice cream, simply because blogger isn't cooperating with her, it's that same woman allowing y'all to see her horrid wobbly thighs jiggling wobbling.
Wobbling like Weebles .

Not that my thighs are really in-the-the-least-bit jiggly or wobbly.
No... really.
Because they're actually incredibly toned and taut. And tanned.
I swear.
I just used the "wobbly thigh" comment, because I like to use a bit of "artistic license" every now and again.

Now please excuse me while I go slam some doors, or kick the tires or something.
See? That's my anger management issues sorted...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beef Bulgogi... nom nom nom!

I have a new love... and for once in my life, everyone in the household is in agreement with me!
Last week at Costco, we managed to hit a day when they had all their little sample wagons out, (for some reason, I usually miss out) and this Beef Bulgogi was one of the featured sample items.
After going back... and back... and back... to ummm... "taste-test" it until I thought I would burst, I kind of felt morally obligated to buy some. And man-'o-man, am I glad I did.
It was soooo delicious, and so simple to prepare, that we ate it several days running.
It was cheap, it was convenient, and it was a hit all the way around - even with the basically "non-meat eating" Lad.

But, since the trip to Costco usually takes us most of a day, (it's about an hours driving time, one way, and then I have to see everything before heading back home) I decided to go looking for a recipe on-line, rather than wait weeks and weeks for my next "fix" of smooth, velvety, and slightly spicy goodness.
I managed to find several wonderful recipes, but this is the one we ALL agreed was our favorite... but I do have to admit that they were all good!

(photo and slightly adjusted recipe from 365 Days of Happiness)


1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup chopped green onion
a small amount of grated or finely matchsticked carrots (I used about 2T's grated)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2+ tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
small splash of chili sauce, or 1/2+ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Place the beef in a large Zip Lock bag.
Combine soy sauce, sugar, green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and ground black pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl, adjusting the 'heat" to your personal preference.
Pour over the beef and smoosh it around in the bag to make sure that all the beef is moistened.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat a BBQ using high heat, or use a large skillet - and lightly oil the grate or pan.
Quickly grill/stir-fry the beef until it's slightly charred and cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Voila... you're done!

Simply serve with large lettuce leaves, so you can wrap your own... or wrap with mixed salad greens in mountain bread or tortillas.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

California, here I come!

Well... I'm not going home permanently at this point, but I'm "going home" for a couple of weeks next month anyway! Yay me!

It's taken an awful lot of work and planning, and on-going headaches to even get to this stage, but at least I've now got all my little ducks in a row, and I can actually start packing my bags!
We would have been there months ago, (I initially planned for May-June) if not for The Lad... but all those hiccups (okay, more like intense labor pains, rather than hiccups) are now out of the way, and it's all systems go, from now on out.

See... The Lad wanted to go with the Old Guy and myself, and after a lot of wrangling and to-and-froing, I got Child Protection and the Dept of Human Services to agree to allow him to go. You know... kind of like a "once in a lifetime opportunity/ educational" thing... and as a reward to him for all his hard work on getting his life back on track. (and truth be told, he's done an amazing job and I'm extremely proud of him. Most of the time.)
BUT... I insisted that he prove to me - and to the departments as well - that he could budget and save the money for the trip himself.
Every last penny.
He needed to save for not only a plane ticket, but for souvenirs, food, lodging, gas and all that kind of thing. He needed to be 100% self-supporting, while on holiday.

And as of April, he was doing so good.
That is, until his mother stepped in and told him that he could get a "free" dole loan of $1,000 off of Centrelink!! (welfare)
I tried and tried to disabuse him of the notion, and I told him he needed to get in to Centrelink and ask them himself what he was entitled to... (which at his age is nothing - and I knew that) but I also stressed that this was to be money that he earned or saved himself... not money that was simply handed to him by Centrelink or Santa Clause or even by winning the lottery.
But did he listen?

In April, when I asked him to give me a bank statement showing how much he had saved (and at that point, he should have been well over the amt needed for the plane ticket, since he had been saving since January) I was knocked for a loop when I saw that he had managed to spend ("blow" might be the better term) over NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS in less than 6 weeks!!!

And every last cent of it went on complete and utter crap!

Stuff like McDonald's for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and I was worried that his appetite seemed to be off!?)... treating who knows how many friends to Pizza Hut and the movies once or twice a week...
On that bank statement, there was not one single thing that he would end up having any evidence of.
He simply figured that I would never find out!
And his excuse?
But mum says that the dole will give me $1,000... and I figured that with what's left in the bank, I would still be almost $100 ahead!

Okay, kid... all bets are off. I'll just call the Department and ask them to arrange alternate accommodation for you while we're gone, because you will NOT be going with us. Since you figure that you're smarter than I am, and that you know more than I do... And because you don't even have enough spending money to go on a trip overseas, let alone the price of a plane ticket, you can just go into the EAU unit at school! (educational accommodation unit, where kids with disabilities learn 'life skills' that prepare them for independent living)
You could have stuck a fork in me, because I was well and truly DONE like a roast dinner!

But, sucker that I am, I gave him another chance... with the proviso that his bank card was now to be left in my capable little hands at all times, and he could only access it when he took money out for his room and board, as well as his fortnightly spending money - which I highly recommended that he save, from now on out.

And it's worked. He's saved enough that we went down and paid for our tickets to California the other day! (okay, so he was $187. short and I paid the difference, but I already told you that I was a sucker, didn't I?)
So at this point, we're just killin' time (and continuing to save his pay) until the middle of August... when we can get on that plane and fly away from here - if only for a few weeks!
(And contrary to The Lad's wishes, we will not be dropping by Chicago to see where Eminem lives, and to get his autograph! Sorry 'bout that, Mr. Eminem...)

California, here I come... Right back where I started from !!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yard reno's.... a little closer to home...

Well, we had another "work-bee/garden party/sausage sizzle" here at the house yesterday, and it was pretty much an unqualified qualified success. Mainly because although we got heaps and heaps of work accomplished, The Old Guy wasn't exactly in "work-mode" yesterday.
Not that he should be - because it is my yard, after all.
And with all the friends that showed up, there wasn't much room to move without bumping into someone else.
And in a yard the size of mine... that's really saying something!

So anyway, today all of the branches, trimmings, and piles of whacked off greenery are still laying scattered from one end of the yard to the other... because they never got hauled off to the tip.
And I see little hope of it being dealt with in a timely manner, anywhere in the foreseeable future anyway.

And what little work The Old Guy did do, he did on his terms, and no one else's. I mean, c'mon... if we're planning on putting weed mat down over all the gardens, and then dumping the grass clippings and old straw and garden mulch etc on top of the weed mats... wouldn't it make far more sense to do that first, and then cut the grass?

But nooo... he felt that it was more important to cut the grass first, dump the 16 loads of grass from the catcher right IN the garden beds, and then inform me that we could easily shovel it all up later, put it in the wheelbarrow and then replace it once the weed mat was down.
But he did do the more "manly" stuff (okay - in his eyes anyway)... like pushing a mower around and around in circles, and then sitting down to a cold drink and supervising.

Then when we girls put our heads together, and decided to pull out an old star-post in the front yard that was braced to a now non-existent rose bush, so that it could be used as a brace for the water faucet, (it was just copper tubing coming up out of the ground with a faucet on top) he just took off in the truck without saying a word. And I thought : "bye-bye birdie"!

Once we finally got the star post in place (it took us almost an hour, numerous broken fingernails and quite a few less-than-lady-like swear words) and were just in the process of tying it to the copper piping... he came back.

With a fancy scmanchy, perfectly sized post that he had put together at home.
And a post hole digger.
Which meant that the post we had battled with for almost an hour, had to be pulled out again. And dirt was dug up and dumped unceremoniously onto the beds that we had in perfect condition - and ready for the weed mats!
But I have to admit that he was right, and his post is far superior to the patch-job we girls rigged up.

So all in all, we managed to get quite a lot of serious work done yesterday, and this morning I'm not only counting the huge piles of refuse, but I'm counting my blessings.

I have some of the most fantastic, wonderful, helpful friends in the world!
Friends who are willing to slave their bums off for me, break their nails and backs for me... and for nothing more than my undying gratitude - and maybe a few sausages in bread.

And the Old Guy?
I think I'll keep him.
After all he does barbecue a pretty delicious sausage!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Long distance renovations...

My brand-new "Little House on the Edge of the Woods"....

Pickin' WEEDS... not flowers! And all that mint on the left? I'll bet it smells just awesome!!

Don't know if you can quite see it, but that's a pond down on the left...

Looking back up, towards the house...

Not sure what was goin' on here... but we'll git 'er done!

The garage door that is going to be converted to a powered lift up door, leaving this side as a garage... and the other side will have a window put in... because it'll be turned into either a living room or master bedroom.

Future home of the infamous "killer swing"! HA! And Donovan there? Well, he will work for just pizza and beer... how cool is that? Becky will just do it for love...

Can you see the goldfish and koi? Me either, but give it 2 months!
Or maybe in the light of sustainability and growing my own, we should put crawdads in there! lol!!

The field fence will be pulled out, and good ol' white picket will be put in...

Yep, all the flowers are there, none were picked, plucked, or stolen. All accounted for.

He's done a pretty good start all around, with the landscaping! And can't you just see that porch rail all repaired and purty-fied?

It's going to be sad to see the Bay Window go, but it's not as nice as it looks in the photos.
I'm hoping we can either find another greenhouse window like it or a slightly larger Bay window - white, and double paned.

First pond back near the top of pic in the center behind the brush. A lot of promising rock work started... and more that's still buried under years of growth.

End of uncovered path, with another one through that sea of green somewhere.

Part of the reason why this place was listed as a diamond in the rough...

My son said : "Mom, we'll get these cleaned out and probably seal both ponds with a pool type material that can be sprayed, once we trench in a drain. This one has a cascading waterfall that will pump the water back into it shown in the back there under the blackberries."

It's gonna look real nice once we get the irrigation goin', to keep it nice and green.

The background is pretty much solid vinca minor, ivy, and ferns.

And probably some mountain misery, with poison oak thrown in for good measure.

He plans on a stone veneer beneath the fiber cement board siding to cover the ugly footings.

Josh said : This was the shallowest septic I've ever dug but the good news is it's all good!

This is about the property line in the back corner of the little section that needs the siding.... which will come once all the windows are done.

Oh wow...I'm really loving this "long-distance renovations" thing!

My son got in touch with me last week and asked about installing a couple of security cameras down at my new house, so that he (well, we, because I want to see too!) could keep an eye on the place. And I agreed...
We'll go in halves - with me supplying the materials, and him supplying the free labor... and if that isn't a good deal, I don't know what is!

There will be cameras front and back; basically so that they can watch out for break-ins or those damn squatters coming back. But the beauty is, that not only does he get to keep a watch on things when he's at work or at relaxing at home, but I can see it too. (it's accessible by anyone with the password)

I can watch him working on the house, I can watch the wildlife (which also includes the grandsons ;) wandering around, and I can see - and hear - everything that goes on. I can even get on the mike and say "son, is that your second glass of iced tea in 20 minutes? Get back to work... NOW!"
Now really... I ask you - how cool is that?

Josh has been busy as a bee, sourcing materials and supplies, and I can't believe at how fast it's all coming together! I even got a message asking me if I want a dishwasher installed, and pumps put in for the two fish ponds, because he's got an electrican friend in to check what needs to be done wiring-wise.

He's already found me several appliances, (burnished steel) but at this point we just have a white side by side fridge with water and ice-maker.... Handy for those glasses of iced tea on the porch... Know what I'm talkin' about?

And the cost for the electricals and the electrician friend? We're gonna trade for his labor costs, with some extra chicken wire that my son has laying around the place.
The good ol' "barter system" is alive and well!

I am just thrilled to pieces with this place... and although I know it's not everyone's cuppa tea, I can see the potential just sitting there staring us in the face... and I believe it's going to be a wonderful project.

Oh... and the neighbors are wonderful!!! lol!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A day to myself... *sighing contentedly*

A day to myself... Oh, doesn't that sound lovely?

It's something that doesn't happen very often, and at times I've wondered if I would ever see an entire day to myself again - a day completely and entirely to do only what I want to do.
But hallelujah, and pass the potatoes... today is the day!!!

Young Lad has been sent packing to a friends house for the weekend, and the Old Guy has been told in NO uncertain terms that I want the entire - and I mean ENTIRE - day to myself today.

No phone calls, no one dropping in and waking me from a nap and then asking "oh, were you sleeping?", (no, I just like to drool and make guttural snorting noises with my eyes closed, every now and again. It's FUN!) no visitors, no door to door salesmen, and no stress.
I need it... to recoup, breathe deeply, relax, garden or even just nap the day away... and to just put all the stress and worry of the last several months right out of my mind.

Now, I don't know how it ever came about, but people like me for some reason. Which means that they hang around a lot. And I like them too, if the truth be told... but in small doses. I've never been one for constantly talking on the phone, or wanting to live in someone else's back pocket on a regular basis.

Because what most people don't even realize about me is that I'm pretty much of a loner. I remember back when when I was young, and someone once asked asked me what I wanted to "be" when I grew up... and I replied "A hermit".
Or a cat.
Which worried the school psychologist, I think.

But hermit... or cat... either one would do me... as far as I was concerned anyway.
Neither one is very big on idle chit-chat, and neither one feels obligated to put the kettle on for visitors, 4 or 5 times a day.

Both potentially have fleas, (but only one is drawn to licking their bottom - hopefully. Never having actually met an honest-to-goodness hermit, maybe I'm wrong there.) and they both enjoy thoroughly their solitude and "one-ness-with-nature".

Now don't get me wrong... because I want you to know that I do love my friends. I just wish that they could all get together and schedule their visits all at one time, so that we could get it over and done with in one go.Which would at least leave me a regular day or two or three a week to myself.

So on this particular, glorious Saturday, I've banished the boys to their boyish pursuits, put the phone out in the shed where I can't hear it, and I've put a notice on the door saying:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A wee bit anti-climatic - but I GOT IT!

Well... it's official!!! I got the house!

I think I did anyway. Because to tell you the truth, I'm still sort of still holding my breath, until the actual keys are in our hot little hands...

Lordy... you have no idea how hard it is doing real estate business long-distance, especially when the sellers are major p.i.t.a's and seem to relish knocking you for a loop every few days.

We made an offer... they countered.
We made another offer and they refused it, putting more stipulations and roadblocks in our way. So we offered again... and they countered again.
Finally, at long last, I guess they got tired of the whole "back-and-forth-ing" we were doing.... and they accepted the final offer.
At much more than we should have paid, if they hadn't been total idiots about the whole thing in the first place. I mean... what kind of people bid - and buy - a house totally unseen by either themselves or their agent? And then realized that they just bought a hell of a big pig in a poke - and then later expect 'us' to help them profit from their stupidity.

And it didn't help at all that for some reason my son has a life that doesn't entirely revolve around me. He's been kept busy with the grandson's, and getting engaged to our wonderful Becky, on top of opening a new shop in Angels and working late, late nights at the hotel... all while attempting to have a life of his own. Factor in the time difference and his working hours... and it was nigh unto impossible actually having a conversation about things, so we had to rely on missed messages and chats that went along the lines of:

Son: Are you there, Mom? Mom? Well, I guess not, so I'll talk to you later. Gonna get some sleep now. xoxoxo

Me: I'M HERE I"M HERE!! Dang... well, send me a message next time you're on, okay? Love you!

Yet in spite of it all, and the headaches that it caused, my wonderful son was willing to run himself into the ground for his mama and her dream... and he'll be amply supplied with green onion cakes and love in the years to come, let me tell you!

Anyway, enough blathering.... Just feast your eyes on this sweet little sentence!

Sale Pending MLS# 555xxx - 725 Sq Ft. - 0.36 Acres
2 Beds, 1 Baths - Bring your skills
Invest in your future

Not that you'll exactly be feasting your eyes on the house itself, but let me tell ya... it is just what I wanted! And the eventual squatter damage actually worked to my advantage, since I now have a basically clean slate to work with - and a son who can perform miracles with just a handful of tools and a little ingenuity!!

Diamond in the rough

Living room/kitchen area which will be turned into a kitchen/dining area

Garage... which will be turned into a step-down living room, with an additional bedroom and laundry room.

From the current living room (which will soon be a dining area)

Notice the lack of half the cupboards, swamp cooler - and even the kitchen sink?

It's my "home sweet home"... and it's going to be fun sharing the changes with you as they happen. And yeah... most people would call it a dump, but to me, it's perfect in every way because we can renovate/landscape and put our own spin on things!
And to tell you the truth, if you look at the first picture, you can almost see my son's driveway right at the back left corner of the house - so it's all about "location, location, location" baby!!.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My idea of peace...

I'm currently working on a post and doing my darndest to get my old camera program up and working again... so that I can share pics of my place.
Pics that will require y'all to give me your honest - and I mean honest -even if it makes me cry - opinions on what I need to do to make this place more presentable and "sellable".

Because the sooner I sell, the sooner I can be home... and sitting here:

“The best kind of friend is the kind that you can sit on the porch with,

never saying a word...

and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What I'm competing with...

The house down the street (2 doors down from mine) is coming up for auction next weekend, and I've been haunting the place, and I've been at every open house they've had so far. (3 and counting)

As well as haunting the poor real estate agent - and I'm afraid that he thinks that I really want to buy the place. But I'm also getting a bit worried that he thinks that I have designs on him, so I may have to control myself and fore go the next open house on Wednesday.

But what I really want is to get an idea of what this particular house has to offer, and what the possibilities are for achieving their asking price - or an even higher price - for my place.
You know... what kind of work, detailing, painting, etc that I would need to do to reach the same 'standard' as it were.
And to tell you the truth, I think I'm slightly ahead of the game on several counts. Maybe not all... but some, anyway.

Their place may offer three bedrooms, and I only have two... but my bedrooms are much, much bigger. And one of theirs - in my opinion anyway - well, it's not even really big enough to use as an office or a babies room. Put a baby crib and changing table in there, and the poor baby would have claustrophobia in no time. You honestly, couldn't swing a cat without getting fur in your mouth... even if you wanted to.

But both of my bedrooms are big, with one that's almost huge...(sadly, not mine) The biggest of my two bedrooms would easily fit 2 double beds with room left over, and my room, even with a queen sized bed in there, there's still has enough room left over to throw a small party. Well maybe an exceedingly small party, but it's still plenty roomy.

And although the yard down the street is neat and tidy, it's tiny... and the fences are so low that you couldn't walk outside naked without the neighbors seeing everything that God gave you. Not that I have any desire to walk around my backyard naked, but at least in mine, I could, if I really wanted to.
Mine is secluded, it's woodsy, and it's completely and utterly private. Lots of lovely little nooks and crannies and "rooms" that are secluded from the rest of the yard... if that makes any sense.

It's also weedy and overgrown (again) and it needs a bit of tidying up, but there's enough room for 6+ units if someone wanted to buy it for development.
I would hate to see that happen, to tell you the truth, but once it's sold and I'm back in California where I belong, what they do with it won't be my concern anymore.

I'll admit it...they have a much nicer kitchen - if pretty much dated - than I have, but with the Kit-Set kitchen I mentioned in my last post, I reckon we could bring that part of the house up to snuff fairly easily and cost efficiently.
As well as bringing my bathroom into the 20th century. ( I would say 21st century, but that may be reaching for the stars just a little too much.) Mine needs the shower cubicle replaced and a vanity put in at least, but that's fairly easily done. I'm not going to say cheaply done, because it won't be. (the shower unit needs to be custom made because it's slightly less than 'standard' size) But one or even 2 days work will bring it up nicely, I think.

All in all, both houses are pretty much comparable square-footage wise, but my bedrooms and my yard are much bigger than theirs...
So if they can ask (and get) $240k next weekend, I have pretty high hopes of realizing slightly more than that, when this place goes up for auction.

Lounge (living) room

Kitchen and dining area

The largest of the 3 bedrooms (and whoever took the photo was standing right against the wall... so it's pretty darn small. Nice walk-in closet though.)

Backyard... from corner to corner

It does present well, doesn't it?

The bathroom looks nice, but the tub is pretty small and shallow.

Kitchen looking into the dining area, with the lounge room right around the corner. (in the background.)

Backyard... again, from corner to corner.

Here is a great opportunity to acquire this neat and solid three bedroom brick veneer, which is perfectly positioned near primary & secondary schools, and all amenities. Comprising three bedrooms with built in robes, a good size lounge with gas heating throughout, and a spacious kitchen & meals area with slidingdoors out to the neat low maintenance yard. The single garage has workshop space and remote roller door, and the big bonus is direct house access into the living area. There is also side access into the yard with enough space for a trailer etc. Other features include secure front fence, aluminium windows, and plenty of potential to further improve.

Anyway, I have semi-high hopes... and I can't wait to see what price this place brings next weekend!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm shameless...

Yes, I'm shameless.

Not that I want to be... but I have to be, if I want anything to get done around this place.
I have to be ruthless and shameless and a whole lot of other "lesses" in order to get my house in order, I think. I have to beg. And I have to plead.

Partly because I'm a girl, and because a lot of the manly "men" type of things elude me. Not that I'm not willing to give 'em a try, but because I just don't have a clue about a lot of building/patching and maintenance thingies. I've tried... and messed things up time and time again. And I've even gone to the trouble of searching out professionals... who when they give me quotes, immediately send me into sticker-shock and have me reaching for the smelling salts, before I swoon.

Is it because I have tits breasts and they figure that they can take advantage of me?
Is it because like P.T.Barnum said "there's a sucker born every minute" and the so-called 'professionals' think I'm "it and a bit"? (well, to be honest, it wasn't actually P.T. Barnum who said "there's a sucker born every minute" - it was a banker named David Hannum who was too stupid to get out of his own way and who took Barnum to court, while trying to cover his own arse.)

Okay, so to get back to my tales of woe... and how I solved things once before...
A couple of months back, I had a " work-bee/garden party/sausage sizzle" thingie where I invited all my local friends around to help me out with the yard work, (it was a fantastic day, and we got heaps done!) and I'm seriously thinkin' of doin' it again...

Only more or a work-bee/garden party/house maintenance/"happy hauling days" kind of thing. I'll put all my worthless treasures out on tables, invite all and sundry to come along and slap some plaster and paint around, pull some weeds, pull some bales and hoe some corn... and hopefully help me knock together a kit kitchen from Bunnings... and in return, I'll fill their bellies, entertain them with witty conversation, and then let them start hauling away the crap treasures that I can't bother packing to send home.
As well as the half empty bottles of shampoo and potions and cleaning products and cutesy hand towels and oven mitts and knick-knacks that I once thought I couldn't live without.

And to add to the whole "I'm as poor as a church mouse" and I can't afford to pay market price for a bunch of shonky contractors thing, I also seriously hurt my back and knee in a fall a few weeks back, and in spite of chiropractors, physical therapy, potent pain meds and all that other hooey, I'm still getting around like a frog with one leg tied behind my back.
I lurch to the side and bump my arse a lot... and we won't even go into how moody and irritable I've been with it all.
(now's the time for you to say "thank goodness she hasn't been posting!!" - although I prefer that you wouldn't... and that you'll all reassure me that you've missed me - even if I've been so crabby that folks around here are wanting to break out the crab leg crackers, and serve lemons on the side of me.)

I want to get this work done... and I need to get it done asap, because I need to get this place whipped into 'sell able' shape so that I can sell up and go hooome....
So start gathering up your work gloves and tools and whatchamacallits and bring your appetite as well... and we'll get 'er done!

To be continued...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I live with mere mediocrity

Martin Luther King had a "Dream" and he got out there and told the world... And it changed not only how people around the country thought and acted, but it also changed history.

Last night, I had a dream... and in that dream both my eyebrows fell off, and I ended up gluing false moustaches in their place.
Which leads me to believe that I'm not really destined for greatness.
No, really... I'm not.

I'm just mediocre.
Now, I'm not saying that in any self-depreciating way. I'm just stating a fact.
Oh, when I was young - when I had my whole lifetime stretching out in front of me... I had dreams of being someone special.
I had dreams of making a difference... and dreams of someday standing on stage accepting a myriad of awards for a whole slew of wonderful accomplishments.

I wanted to be a writer, and move people through the power of my words.
I wanted to be a horticulturist and surround myself - and others - with the beauty of plants.
I wanted to be an archaeologist and understand and unearth ancient mysteries - and hopefully, find a few dead bodies in the process. (preferably old ones)

And I wanted to be a singer of ballads - like an early Joan Baez. (well, that one was mainly so that I could meet James Taylor... who would somehow be amazed at my soul-stirring ballad perfectness, and who would sing "Fire and Rain" to me... and then we would eventually launch into soul-stirring duets in front of a roaring fire.
(preferably a fire in a fireplace... and not a Smokey the Bear kind of fire.)

I didn't do any of those things.

I grew up, studied hard, and eventually found myself working in the field of medicine... in Oncology.
And I loved it. I really did.

But it all fell by the wayside when I had my children.
Suddenly, my dreams shifted... and it was all about them.
Encouraging and nurturing their own forms of greatness.
It was about giving them wings so that they could fly and find their own worlds... and by doing so, I was somehow leaving my small legacy to the future world.

Oh I don't know that I did a very good job of it, and I certainly wasn't the mother - or inspiration - to them that I wanted to be... but I think I did alright.
I raised 3 wonderful, caring, involved, and thoughtful children, but I honestly think it was more by the grace of God... than because of any overwhelming constant, prodding input from me.
And now I'm attempting to make a difference in the life of the Lad... and I think we're making wonderful progress

I guess that there's just something in me that needs to "give" to others.
And after years and years of soul-searching, I've finally realized that it's not because I want praise and adulation, (well, to tell you the truth, I knew that one already) or some fancy-schmancy headstone trumpeting to the world that I made a difference...
It's simply because I want to give children the key to their own futures.

I'm no saint.
I'm not special.
I'm just mediocre.
But I surround myself with potential greatness and I (hopefully) infuse small people with a hope for their eventual future.

And that's enough of a dream for me.
Funny eyebrows notwithstanding...

Some one just shared this with me and it really struck a chord...

"During your life, everything you do and everyone you meet rubs off
in some way.
Some bit of everything you experience stays with everyone
you've ever known, and nothing is lost.
That's what is eternal... these little specks of experience in a great, enormous river that has no end"
~ Harriet Doerr

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Date night at a dive...

I've had a battle on my hands, trying to teach The Kid some never-before-learned "life skills", and I'm happy to say that we've made some pretty good progress.
He's getting pretty proficient at doing his own laundry with all the sorting, soaking, hanging out and all that goes with it... plus he's cooking for the family, doing dishes, etc.
(Just don't tell him that today is "scrubbing the toilet and cleaning the bathroom day", or I'm afraid that he'll bolt for the hills and I'll never see him again!)

So anyway... last night I was too lazy tired to cook and we decided to go to The Royal Mail hotel just up the road from here. Now the last time we were there, I had one of the best meals I had had in a long, long time, (succulent, delicious garlic prawns) so when it came to choosing where to go for dinner, it was pretty much of a no-brainer.

Not only did I not have to cook, and I could have my fill of Garlic Prawns, but The Kid could practice some important life skills... such as calling and reserving a table, ordering the meals, table manners, paying the bill, etc. (unfortunately not with his money this time, but still...)

Now, I worked until 6pm and he had booked for 7, so I reminded him that he needed to shower earlier, so that I would have time to fancify myself when when my little charge left.

Unfortunately, he took the whole "date night" thing very seriously, and he spent almost 45 minutes in the bathroom... showering, doing his hair, brushing his teeth, slapping aftershave on his little peachy-fuzzy face and even cleaning his ears!

Which meant that I barely had time to change my clothes and run a comb through my hair, but I could do little else in the way of looking presentable...
But Ce la vie I guess.

Once we got to the restaurant, he did a terrific job of ordering, getting drinks (a pitcher of Coke)
and making conversation ... and asking me things about myself for a change, and not carrying on endlessly about Eminem - thank goodness!
All was going well until he took a couple of bites of his chicken parmigiana, and realized that it was still raw inside... and that there was a bit of stringy plastic stuff between the chicken and crumbed coating. He did well with going back to the waitress and requesting another meal.. and luckily, the next one was cooked to perfection.

Unfortunately, I was pretty well disappointed in my garlic prawns, (more like shrimps in a butter sauce this time) and the choices of "sides" was less than inspired, and since the raw chicken had basically put him off... we decided that enough was enough. He went up and asked for a doggy bag for meal, and then went back to the "sides and salad bar" to top the chicken off - "to eat tomorrow for lunch".
Once we got home, he made me a cup of Sleepy Time tea, and he even thanked me for paying for dinner!

I'm beginning to see a glimmer of hope here with The Kid.

At long last!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just some updates....

I know that I've been slack lately, but I have to admit that quite a lot of you have been sending me private emails, and asking 'what's going on with ____ or ____ or have you heard any more about ____.
And so, I'm gonna do my best to bring you up to date.
Because we all know that I've been causing you a lot of sleepless nights, and keeping you from living life to the full.
And I apologise for that.

So here we go.

1. The Kid.
The placement with The Kid is going good. I would say it's going "great"... but that would be fibbing. Oh, don't get me wrong... he is a good kid, but because he's been in care for almost 14 of his 16 years, it's been a real battle teaching him "life skills".
How other carers could completely and totally allow him to skip showering and tooth-brushing... and allowing him to take the train to Melbourne on his own, at 15 years of age, I don't know. But they did.
And now I'm gettin' grey hairs because of it.
And I'm going hoarse as well, I think.

2. The Hay Bale garden.
Now this one did a lot better than even I expected... even though it took a while to take off.
Once it got going though, it's just going and going and going... kinda like an Energizer Bunny garden.
The tomatoes and eggplants are still producing, and showing no signs of stopping... I have peppers of every description still coming out of my ears and I've run out of room in the freezer, and I can't even freeze anymore!
So if you've though about giving this thing called "hay bale gardening" a try - I say GO for it!!

3. Moving Home.
Yes... I'm going home.
Soon. But how soon? I dunno. We're still waiting on the property next door to my sons place, although we're also still working on the manufactured home option as well. Because... I mean, who wouldn't want to have 2 homes? I guess most people would prefer houses in different areas of the country, but this 2-in-1 idea is going to suit us right down to the ground.
Because I have ideas...
One house will be for livin' in... and the other will be used as a B&B. And hopefully, (we're working on this one) the B&B can be used as a "get-away" once a month for a returned serviceman's family.... or a deployed serviceman's family - completely and utterly free of charge.
So, as you can imagine, even though things seem to be going slowly right now, there are lots of plans/decorating ideas etc, going on behind the scenes.

4. Cleaning out junk prior to moving.
Well, thanks to my friend Jenny, this one is just about under control. We cleaned out almost all the kitchen cabinets and threw stuff away and gave stuff to the Salvation Army... and to be honest, Jenny scored most of my Tupperware, because quite frankly, it's not worth trying to ship back to the US.

Then we hit the linen cupboard... where Jen also scored heaps more stuff. Along the lines of towels and sheets and doona covers and even a quilt or 2. And the rest is now sitting in the Salvos, so I'm down to next to nuthin'...
But just enough to do me.
Which will make the moving men happy, I'm sure.

Then we hit my bedroom... and I'm not going to say much about that mess, other than I was beginning to wonder if I was going to survive it. It was hot and dusty and never-ending and overwhelming... going through all the stuff that had been sitting in the back of the closets for years and years... and believe you me... I was getting cranky!
But we did it. Eventually.

So there ya go.
You're all up to date.

To be continued....


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