Monday, February 28, 2011

Thirty Days of Pictures

Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.

It's The Small Things...

These are a few of the things that make me smile.
  1. The smell of coffee.
  2. Opening a jar of peanut butter and being the first one to dip the spoon in.
  3. The smell of freshly cut grass.
  4. The strange quality of light just before sunset, especially in the spring, when there is just a slight chill in the air.
  5. The smell of rain, and better yet, wet asphalt after a rain.
  6. The sound of birds chirruping in the morning.
  7. The sound of a hundred soldiers singing cadence, and doing PT in the morning.
  8. The distant sound of rifle fire, as soldiers qualify for their weapons.
  9. The smell of WD-40
  10. Pancake Day with Jay.
  11. Hand picked wildflowers, especially when picked by husbands, and particularly if they were nabbed from the front yard.
  12. Really crazy thunderstorms, complete with rolling thunder, and lighting that cracks and makes your hairs stand on end.
  13. The feeling you get when you accomplish a goal.  Even if it's something small, like getting a room completely clean and organized, just the way you want it.  (Yesterday the kids and I cleaned out the basement, threw things away, organized the rest, and then I weeded, cut back the decorative grasses, and raked leaves out of the flowerbeds.  Even though I am sore, and blistered, I feel so good knowing that all of that got accomplished.  I even had the girls blowing up the pool toys to check for holes, and washing the dirt off of them.  Spring cleaning starts in February here, it was 80 yesterday!!!!)
  14. The sound of the tea kettle whistling. 
  15. Rolling around on the floor with kids, dogs, and husband.  (We did that last night, and laughed ourselves silly!)
  16. The feeling of the sun warming your skin.
  17. Compliments on my jewelry.
  18. Learning something new.
  19. A good debate.
  20. Teaching the dog a new trick!  Harley is learning how to shake.  She knows "Sit", "Lay down", and "Get your butt back here!"  lol  She also stays close by without having to have a leash on.  Awesome!
  21. The sounds of a distant train.
  22. Whippoorwills, Bobwhites, Cicadas, and Mocking Birds.  
  23. The smell of hay.
  24. A brand new book.
  25. Re-reading old favorites.
  26. The first five minutes after Jay comes home.  (The house is chaos....the dogs dance around Jay and make it impossible to hug him hello, or for him to take his boots off. )
  27. Making someone smile.
  28. Helping strangers. Or friends.  Or both. :)
  29. Having a completely clean house.
  30. Jay sneaking downstairs before me and doing some of my chores.  

I'll do more later.  I woke up sore from the work I did yesterday, but I slept pretty well, and woke up in a great mood.  It got even better when I went outside and it was already I felt like making a list of things that made me happy.  It never hurts to remember, does it?
I hope you have 30 things to think about to make you smile. What are your top 5?

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Me, Jason, Mom, and my Grandpa Boswell
    Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Day 25 - A picture of your favorite day.
    (All of the days Jay comes home!)

    A Pleasant Surprise!

    I was furiously searching through a trunk full of the flotsam and jetsam I have hoarded collected through the years...and I found this...a story written by my dad. I never did find the photo I was looking for.   I have no clue where it came from, why I have it, or how it survived the fire.  I don't remember the circumstances that led me to having this piece of paper.  I have a poem he wrote because I gave a copy to someone, but this is a complete surprise.  I want to record it here in case something happens to it.  I got a good laugh out of it, I thought you might too.

    "Very early in my life, about age two, my father was in prison.  My mother was young, for the time, to be trying to be a single parent, and my grandmother went to court and won custody of me. So, until my twelfth birthday, I was raised by my Grandparents, and my Uncle. Mom would come to visit, but often, it was with a boyfriend, or to take me to a movie theater, when she would tell me to call her "sister" so the guys wouldn't know she had a child.  Well, I usually fixed that with a "Mommy, I mean, sister...".
    Grandma was a strange person.  She used to say that grandpa raped her three times, and she had three children.  He should have walked.  She said that Jesus was her lover.  She prayed almost constantly. I remember her praying one time, and asked the Lord, "What should I do with Jimmie? How can I get him to mind? Well, she must have gotten a message from Hell, 'cause she started switching me some with limbs from the plum tree.
    I washed a cat once.  Well, how does a kid under six know that a cat doesn't like water?  I just thought he wanted to be dirty. I remember him well, or was it a her?  Anyway, ti was a grey tiger, and just did fit into the bathroom sink.  Barley.  I found the cat in the alley.  It wasn't too hard to sneak it into the house and into the bathroom.  I sat it down on the toilet seat and petted it a little, just to get it to relax.  It curled up and lay down to  sleep.
    That's when I went to work.  I plugged the sink, sprinkled in some bath powder, some flowery smelling stuff Grandma used, smelled like Lilly of the Valley or something, and began to fill the sink with hot water.  About that time, Grandma smelled a rat, or some flowers, and asked what I was doing in the bathroom.  Now, I ask you what kind of question is that? What would a four or five year old boy be doing int he bathroom?  I shut off the water, and said "Washing my hands, Grandma." She was curious, but not yet quite suspicious, "Hurry on, now."  That was how Grandma talked.  She was always saying "Be careful, now." or "Don't fall, now." Now? How about later? In any case, I had to hurry, very soon she'd be asking me again what was going on.
    The cat was beginning to look a little strangely at me by now, knowing the door was shut and all.  As I reached for it, it seemed to sense something and just began to jump off the toilet when I caught it, both hands.  Head in left hand and bottom in right.  The legs safely extended between my fingers.  You see, cats were not my favorite friends.  I was a dog person.  Cats would bite me.  OR scratch, so, I'd learned how to hold a cat safely sometime before.  Safely for me that is.  Now, this cat was no dummy.  Just about now, it was figuring out I wasn't about t carry him to the kitchen or something. Squirm as it might, I had a good hold.  By the time I got to the sink, I had hold of a frantic, screaming mass of fur and points.  Sharp points!
    Grandma was banging on the door, "Jimmie, Jimmie! What's going on in there?" What would you say? "Nothing Grandma. I'll be out in a minute." I had to hurry. I plunged the ball of hell through the clouds of suds, and into the scalding water, and started to scrub.  At that instant, time seemed to stand still. I saw the cat's face.  It looked surprised.  Well, more that surprised.  It was more like unbelief, shock, and frenetic all wrapped into one.  To say it's eyes were open would be an understatement.  Like saying the sky is blue. "Oh, really?"  This cat's eyes are OPEN.  I was holding with my left hand, the one with the head, and rubbing like crazy with my right, all over it's body, sudsing it really good.
    Of a sudden, a sound began to radiate from the cat. It began at the level of a  fire siren, and went up from there.  The cat began to scratch.  Now, or sink was porcelain.  If you don't know what porcelain is, it is a glass-like finish, baked onto a cast-iron base.  These sinks were made to last a lifetime.  Well, apparently the cat was loosing one of it's lives.  That cat dug in with both front feet. and began to try to dig a hole in the sink to get out.  Chips of glass-like porcelain began to fly, and I let go.
    Now, I've made mistakes in my life.  Really, I have.  This one was one of my first.  Don't ever let go of a wet cat in a small, closed, bathroom.  It never saw the floor.  The first stop was the door, head-on.  Then, a left turn sent him along the wall over the toilet.  Around the wall that cat went, screaming all the time.  The cat had so much momentum, he just kept going around and around, never slowing a bit.  Grandma got frantic.  "JIMMIE!!!" I tried to unlock the door, but with her pushing on it, and the cat making a round every half-second, it seemed like I just couldn't get it done.
    Finally, i got the latch pulled, and Grandma opened the door, just in time to make acquaintance with my new friend "wetcat".  He hit her with all fours, right on the chest, took one look at her, and she at him, then off again to find some means of egress.  Ol' Trigger, my street mutt was on the dining room and was hardly touched, but up he came!  Tail up, ears up, and off he went, in hot pursuit!  This was just too much.  That cat went straight for the screen door, and went right through it. 
    IT wasn't often that Grandma was at a loss for words, but this was one of those times.  She stood there, int he doorway, staring at me.  Never being a child to miss an opportunity, I slowly inched by her and went hell-bent for the closet.  We had an interesting arrangement with the closets in our bedrooms.  It was possible to pass from one bedroom to another without leaving the closet.  When I was in trouble, I'd head for the closet, and listen or watch Grandma looking for me.  As soon as she would look under the table and start for her bedroom, I'd scoot under the table.  She never thought to look under the table again.  I learned a lot about leaf-table construction in this manner before I was six." -J. Ridenour
    I love this story.  It just goes to show that Miah and I come by our mischieviousness honestly.
    I want to say that I typed this exactly the way it was written, and though the first paragraph could have been cut, I didn't.  I don't think that it was really important to the story, but censoring my dad is not something I an interested in doing.  Everyone in this story has passed away, so there is absolutely no reason that anyone should be offended on their behalf.  I leave it as he wrote it, fairly sure that his memory was accurate, and he said what he said for a reason.  I hope you enjoyed his story.

    No More Hair!

    I just got tired of it!  I thought Jay would have a cow about how short it is, but he keeps saying how cute it is.  He also has this habit of running his fingers through the back of it, even if I just spent ten whole minutes fixing it.  He's not used to me spending much time on my hair, or putting gel or hairspray in it, so clearly he doesn't get why I fuss at him.  lol

    It looked a heck of a lot better just after I cut it, Sue made it fluffy and curled under, but every time I try, it flips up into little curls...


    As I was dropping Miah off at school this morning, she jumped out of the Jeep to pick these for me.

     (Somebody is just like her Daddy!)
    Also, I'd just like to point out....THERE ARE FLOWERS!!!  YAY!!!

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.

    Idle Wednesday

    The ingredients, base oil, soap flakes, essential oil, whole dried lavender flowers. (The white plastic thing is a soap mold, but I didn't get to use it due to the lack of Vaseline.)

    Bees wax. It smells heavenly.  I bought it from a man who has his own beehives, and so it is organic and fresh.

    Potting the soaps.  I ran out of Vaseline, so I had to use aluminum foil to keep the soap from sticking to the bowls.

    The cream soap, setting and cooling before I put it in it's final container.

    The cream soap. It's very moisturizing, and especially great for washing your hands after you've washed dishes.  I keep a small spoon next to mine to keep from contaminating the soap with dirty hands.

    The lotion.  It's very thick, and goes on like a salve.  It is lavender, tea tree oil, and calendula. It's also good for burns, scratches, and bug bites, because of the medicinal properties of the essential oils.

    From left to right, lavender soap, juniper and balsam soap, and in front patchouli soap.

    I ground some of the herbs, and left some whole, so the red soap has two different rings of herbs.  I thought it would look cool. The first "bar" of soap was made by cooling the soap in a square bowl, cutting it into pieces, then pouring hot water over it and molding it into another bowl. This makes it lumpy and chunky. Not for any other reason than to look cool.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Photo: Google
    Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Day 21 - A picture of your favorite night .
    (My favorite night didn't have a photo, and it's something that Jay will remember, but not for anyone else to know about.)

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Day 20- A place you'd like to travel to.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    day 19 - a picture of you when you were little.

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    The Countdown to Thirteen Begins

    When Jeremiah and I got married, he was PFC in the army.  In case you don't know, PFCs don't make any money at all.  Dirt Poor is a good way to describe it.  This being the case, when we went to the store to pick out the rings we presumably would wear for the rest of our lives, I hated all of them.  Not only that but they were ridiculously expensive, so I picked out the cheapest ring set (all three rings) which also just happened to be on sale.  I wasn't a big fan of them either, but I didn't want to bother looking elsewhere.  Lets just say I didn't care much about the rings.  I had other things on my mind. 
    We decided to get married completely out of the blue.  We weren't even dating at the time!  We had gone out for a year in high school, and after a trial separation we became best friends.  We were hardly apart from each other.  My baby loved him, and he loved her.  When he went to basic, he wrote me letters telling me how much he missed us, and how much he loved me.  He'd been telling me this for a long time, so it was nothing new...but the longer he was gone, the more I missed him.  After being shipped to Kuwait for six months just after he was sent to his first post, He started calling on a regular basis, sometimes being able to talk to me for hours.  Neither one of us really remember what led up to the "let's get married" moment, but suddenly after one particularly long conversation, I was on a mission to plan a wedding in less than two weeks when he would be home on leave after returning from the desert.
    The day Jeremiah got home, he was riding a Greyhound bus.  I had to scramble to get someone to drive me down to Nashville to get him. (I was too scared to drive in such a big town alone, it freaked me out like crazy) My brother drove with me, and after a crazy ride, and him running the exact same red light three times, we found the station.  Now, Jay and I have always had a strange connection.  Since we met back when he was fourteen, it seemed like he could read my mind.  Anytime I walked into a room he immediately looked up, no matter what he was doing, and was always looking me straight in the eye.  This time was no different.  I walked into the station, and he was sitting at the end of a long bench, head cast downward so far that it seemed to be between his knees, his huge army issue duffel stuffed to the max laying between his feet.  I stood there less than thirty seconds before he looked up and his eyes made a beeline for mine.  He got to me so quickly that I barely saw him move.  He grabbed me and hugged me so long that my brother started making goofy comments behind us...

    I don't remember a single thing the rest of the day.  All of it is a complete blur of excitement and craziness.  Less than three days later we were married, and making plans to move to Fort Benning. 
    The one thing I remember Jay saying to me that week was that someday he would buy me a better ring.  At the time, I didn't care all that I told him that when we had been married thirteen years he could.
    Next year will mark the thirteenth year that we have been married, and in order to truly celebrate our special anniversary, Jay bought me the ring set in the pictures posted here.  We picked them out and bought them today. While I was sweating over prices, the one ring that really jumped out at me was  one the clerk handed me.  I stared at it for a long time before I counted the stones in the middle.  If you'll notice, there are thirteen stones on the top. Twelve in a square, then one large on in the middle.  I actually teared up a little.  I knew then that this was exactly the ring I was going to get, and damn the price.  Jay was trying talk me into that one, but it was three times the amount of money I wanted to spend.  Jay is just an incredible guy though, he stood in the middle of the store and told everyone how much I deserved it, and well, I do, dang it!  I get to wear the engagement ring for a year, so I get to have the engagement I never had, and on September 13th, 2012, we are going to renew our vows, and I will then wear the wedding band.  Jay is also going to get a new ring, but as he says, "I'm not in that much of a hurry."  He likes his ring, but he also wants the rings to match, so he'll get around to it.

    Before you get excited and start looking for invitations to this happy event, let me tell you now, don't bother!  When we first got married I wanted to do a ceremony alone in a special spot, but we had to have an official attend to sign the papers.  As luck would have it, there was no judge, so I had to get married in a baptist church!  Gag!!  So, this time we will be completely alone, in the place of our choosing, and we will have our moment.  I can't wait to tell him all over again that I will spend the rest of my life with him.  Only this time we both know exactly what we are in for.

    Thirty Days of Pictures

    Photo: Tasha Martinez, Facebook

    Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Before I post Jay's essay, I wanted to clarify a couple of things.  Jay stated that the girls wrote letters that we never sent, but in actuality, I let them post those letters here, and here.  The woman that wanted her dog back was more more crazy than he lets on also, leaving comments about my bad parenting, and sending facebook messages and emails that were above and beyond what any normal person would do.  I hate to think about these couple of days because as good people, we were truly torn.  Honestly in the end, the only reason I let Ben go back to his original home (where they are still in city code violation and by the way I did not call the city, though I should have.) was because I did not want to wake up some morning to find a crazy lady camped out on my porch.  Visions of past experiences with Jay's mother come to mind. There are a couple of other minor details that he fudged to make the essay "nicer" for his teacher, but I can let those go.  

    The Decision
    All parents are forced to make tough decisions.  Amongst many other decisions, parents must choose which foods their children will eat, what music their children may listen to, and what types of television and movies their children are allowed to watch.  While these decisions may provide structure and protection, perhaps more important are the morals we espouse and the behaviors we display.  My wife and I were recently forced to demonstrate our values with such a decision.
                Having recently lost a beloved black lab almost a year before, I was hesitant at first when my wife mentioned getting another dog.  Due to my wife’s great powers of persuasion, soon after our first discussion she began looking online for a puppy.  She found a few options, but it did not take us long to settle on a golden retriever mix named Bentley.  His owners were giving him away because they owned more animals than the city allowed.  We were glad to help them out with that problem.  A few days later, we drove over to their house.  They were a very friendly couple.
    Bentley was a good fit for us. He was a very friendly and curious animal, and warmed to us instantly.  Our chihuahua, named Dobby, even liked the puppy.  That was the sign we were looking for, as Dobby rarely encountered another dog that she didn’t try to eat.  We thanked the couple profusely for the gift they were giving us.  In retrospect the tears the woman shed were a sign of what was to come, but I think our joy prevented us from noticing the abnormality of the tears.
                We took Bentley home and spent two days with him.  Both my daughters were completely smitten with the dog.  My wife and I gave in and let him sleep in the bed with us for the first night, telling ourselves that it was temporary and just to help him adjust.  We were happy; he was happy; life was good.  Our family had fallen in love with this dog far quicker than I would have believed possible.
                Then the telephone rang. 
    The number listed on the caller ID belonged to the couple that had given us Bentley.  Wondering what they could want, I answered the phone.  After I answered, it took a moment for me to understand what this woman was asking of me.  She wanted Bentley back.  She was crying, claiming that she couldn’t stand to be apart from her puppy any longer.  At first glance, this may not seem like such a dilemma.  We had just received the dog, and hadn’t really had time to integrate him into the family.  At the time of the first phone call, my children were in school.  My wife and I talked about what the right thing to do would be.  We decided that we would tell our children that we had to give the dog back.  It might hurt, but it was morally right.
    This was an excellent decision until we actually talked to our children.  No parent wants to hurt his or her child.  My resolve weakened when the tears started flowing from my children's eyes.  The choice became much simpler, either hurt some woman I didn’t really know, or hurt my children.  I called the couple back and told them that we were sorry, but we couldn’t take this puppy back from our daughters.  From the telephone came more crying, a little begging, and an offer of money.  She hung up in tears.  After just a few moments her husband called us back and explained that he was worried that his wife might hurt herself over this animal.  It was then that I broke.  I could not let a human, who appeared to be mentally disturbed, to hurt herself for my family’s happiness.  Although it hurt my children, we tearfully gave the dog back. 
    To help with the grieving process we allowed our children to write angry letters that we never sent.  We felt this would allow them to release their anger in a constructive, yet peaceful way.  We soon found another dog to adopt. She had been abused and needed a home as much as we wanted a companion. The happy ending makes it easier to know we made the right decision, and hopefully made the lesson easier for our children to learn.