Family (a word that really does not convey enough)

I have the most remarkable family. You may think that your family is special, no offence, but my family is a horse of a different color.

( Here is where I could go into a bunch of one-liners; in-laws and outlaws etc. etc. Only, that is the truth as far as my family is concerned, not just a catch phrase.)

This past Sunday I ran away from my house and went to my Uncle Jim’s house for an hour and a half and two beers. Uncle Jim was always one of my favorite uncles. I have so many. Uncles that is. I love to listen to his stories.  I have always loved to listen to my elders’ stories. I have always prefered them to children. While in my twenties I hated children. I was that mean lady at the grocery store that has sparked playground folklore. (That sounds like someone much older than in their twenties.) I suppose that is why I have a 97-year-old pen pal. No joke.

Anyway………where was I? Oh yes. My family.

My Uncle Jim. I try to get up to see him and my Aunt Siggy not as often as I should. There are lots of things that I do not do as often as I should. During this particular visit, he talked of his armed forces service (which I will save for another date) and how he met Aunt Siggy.

I found/find it fascinating.

I even recorded him speaking on my phone. Don’t tell him. He may sue me for recording him without his knowledge. But I simply could not take notes fast enough on my notepad phone app. I now regret that I did not record from the beginning. I missed some good stuff.

All of this got me to thinking that I should so write this down. That I should interview my whole family for info and write it all down. (big ambitions. that’s me). I have already been regretting recently that I did not pick my Granddaddy’s brain more while he was here about more beekeeping knowledge among so many other things. (pause while I can not type with tears blurring my vision).

So.

So…….

I will be trying to find time to type about my elders and the things that I have learned from them (that would be my knowledge, that way they can’t sue me.) (ha! just kidding.) (they still might sue me) (remember the outlaw thing) (you’re right they would just have me killed) (or kill me themselves. it’s cheaper) (just kidding!!!)(seriously….I couldn’t resist) (it is like a SNL skit live in my head.)(oh boy).

Anyway….

Did you know that Uncle Jim had Top Secret clearance in the 50’s in Berlin? He was one of only 5 US military personnel in Berlin at that time that did? Stalin’s valet was an informant. (silence please.) (Am I allowed to be saying this? If I disappear, you know why.) He also woke up one morning and thought he had been in a knife fight only to find out that he had been tattooed on both arms? (heehee) He has been through Check Point Charlie more than anyone else I know. Aunt Siggy was embarrassed/scared to be seen with him on their first dates in Berlin because he was American.

My Uncle Jim:

My Big Granny called him James Vernon. He whistles everywhere he goes. From inside my Granny’s house you could hear him coming down the street whistling. I would run and hide anywhere I could as fast as I could. When his feet hit the back porch he would stomp his feet like a monster and I would know that my time was almost up. I would squeal and scream while running from one spot to another. Then, I would try to breathe as quietly as I could so he wouldn’t hear me. The back screen door would creak open and his head would pop in. He would say, “I…..Smell…….Croaker Sugar…………………..I smell croaker sugar!!!” Until he located me and held me down and proceeded to chew all of my sugar off my neck and rub his whiskers on my throat.

I have so many stories. So much family. Outlaws. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Stay tuned. More to come.

 

Sisters

The subject of sisterly relationships was recently brought to the top of my subject matter. Not involving me but involving one of my very close, maybe closest, of friends and a third party. So I would like to just speak on the subject of sisters and sisterly relationships.

I have several. By blood and Not by blood.

This person’s third party is disgruntled (for lack of a better word) because she felt that my close (sisterly) friend was (had) not put forth any (enough) effort into their “sisterly” relationship. The first thing that I told my sisterly friend is just this…

SISTERLY RELATIONSHIPS DO NOT TAKE EFFORT. THEY JUST ARE. I HAVE A HANDFUL OF WOMEN THAT I WOULD CONSIDER MYSELF TO HAVE A SISTERLY RELATIONSHIP WITH. ONE IS MY SISTER BY BLOOD. ONE IS MY SISTER BY MARRIAGE (EVEN IF ONCE REMOVED). ONE IS MY COUSIN (WHO WAS RAISED LIKE A SISTER). ONE IS MY VERY BEST FRIEND FROM THE WAY BACK MACHINE. OUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE THERE. NO MATTER WHAT. THEY GET ME. ALL THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE CRAZY (THERE’S A LOT OF CRAZY). I CAN BE MY TOTAL SELF WITH THEM AND I KNOW THEY WILL STILL LOVE ME NO MATTER WHAT. EVEN IF I AM A TOTAL BITCH, OBNOXIOUS (OH YES, IT HAPPENS), HATEFUL, OR PATHETIC. I KNOW THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH TIME HAS PAST SINCE I SPOKE TO THEM LAST, BE IT 2 DAYS OR 10 MONTHS OR 8 YEARS…THAT WHEN I DO SPEAK TO THEM, IT IS LIKE I JUST SPOKE TO THEM YESTERDAY. I KNOW THAT NO MATTER HOW LONG IT HAS BEEN SINCE WE SPOKE, IF I NEED THEM, I CAN CALL THEM AND THEY WILL BE THERE. AND THEY KNOW THAT I WOULD DO THE SAME FOR THEM. NO MATTER WHAT. I LOVE THEM WITH ALL MY HEART. THERE IS NO EFFORT INVOLVED.

The third party clearly does not understand the core of the meaning of the term “sisterly relationship”. And I feel sorry for her. She must be a very lonely person.

So let me tell you a story from way back when.

I had a friend. To use the term loosely. Her name was Angie. When I was in Junior High, I lived out of the school district. None of my school friends lived near me. So the friends that I hung out with at home were separate from my school friends. Angie was a home friend. She was a year younger than me. I used to attribute our differences to the fact that she was younger and less mature than I. Quite a philosophy for an eleven year old, but none the less, if you knew me when I was younger, it would make total sense. My Granny and Granddaddy used to call me the 40-year-old midget. Because I acted 40 when I was four.

Anyway….

Angie used to pout when she did not get her way. She used to lay guilt trips on me. She used to manipulate me into doing things that I did not want to do. Most of the time I would eventually give in because I wanted the company. Whenever I did not give in, we would have a fight and she would eventually come around apologizing to me and kissing my ass for a few days to get her feet back in the door.

My parents did not like her. I found out after I was older. I laugh now. No wonder they did not like her. She was a total little spoiled selfish bitch. And we spent a lot of time together. A LOT. Camping trips. Sleep overs. Bike rides. I even have her picture in my scrapbook my mother made for me when we trick-or-treated together one year. I was a playboy bunny (remember 40 years old) and she was my date, Peewee Herman. When she slicked her hair back, she had an uncanny resemblance to Peewee. Ask me sometime, I’ll show you the pic.

Anyway….

We had one of our usual fights and then she said she was sorry and was really nice for a couple of days, as usual. Then we had another fight. I don’t remember if Mom and I really discussed it or if she was just there for me, but I remember hanging out in the kitchen with my Mom and suddenly feeling like I didn’t need Angie anymore. Why was I tolerating her crap???!!! I had other friends, better friends, friends that treated me better, friends that made me feel better.

A couple of days went by…

And Angie came back around….

Saying she was sorry. As usual.

Again I accepted. But it was very short lived. She was in our kitchen on a Saturday when my Mother was at work. Heather was there and whatever Angie said made me suddenly realize that she was not going to change. I had to change. I stopped and looked at her very suddenly and said,”Get out of my house.”

She did not take me seriously…..at first. I ended up physically removing her from our house out the back sliding glass door. I guess you could call it my first physical fight with someone other than my sister or boxing with my Dad (too bad Angie didn’t know I practiced). Oh it really wasn’t that bad. I think.

Heather was freaking out. Though she just stood there with her eyes wide and mouth open as I drug Angie out the door and then out the back gate and screamed that if she came onto our patio (we didn’t have a yard) I would kick her ass completely. I told her I was sick of her shit, sick of her trying to make me feel guilty and I was done. Move on.

I went back into the house and locked our door. My adrenaline was pumping overtime. My sister was still standing in the same spot with the same look on her face. I don’t remember if I hugged her, probably not at that point in our lives, but I should have. She was scared to death. I was after the fact. During, it was all instinct.

Mom got home that Saturday and asked what we did for the day. I replied nonchalantly that I threw Angie out of the house and told her to piss off. Mom paused for a moment and replied, “Good for you.”

And that was the end of it.

Angie continued to call and knock on the door for about a month. But I was done. Washed my hands.

We all laugh now when we talk about it. Heather says, “I thought you were going to kill her.” I so wish that I had that learned knowledge and strength to deal with all the future negative relationships in my life. But instead I let others drag on way too long. Thank goodness my sisters were there to support me through them all. Bosses, Ex-husbands, Co-Workers, and Others.

Friends should make you feel good. Sisters should make you feel good. If they don’t- They are not your friends and they are not your sisters.

I am thankful that I am blessed with many sisters. And Angie is not one of them. Sorry Angie. I would like to think that you learned a valuable lesson from me and went on to treat the future people in your life better.

Live and Learn.

Or as my husband would say.

Live. Laugh. Learn.

Big Granny

Coolie-cups remind me of my great grandmother. She always had a coolie-cup on her can of Hams, sitting in her lawn chair in the shade smoking her cigarette, wearing her ball cap that always looked on the slightly too big side.  I think that is because she didn’t like things tight on her head.

She also liked cold sheets (guess that is where I get it from). If you shared the bed with her, she always warned you to stay on your own side and don’t be warming up her side before she got in. (I constantly move my feet across the bottom of the bed looking for a new cool spot once the one I’m in gets warm.)

The feel of a coolie-cup reminds me of family BBQ’s in her back yard under the apple tree. Warm sun, cool grass under your toes and a nice breeze every once in a while. The sound of the back screen door slamming as people move from the house to the yard and vise versa and of my Uncle Jim laughing (he always laughs – even in the worst of times, he finds a reason to smile and laugh).

If there was a blue jay around making a nuisance of himself, she would cuss it and it probably would not be around for very long.

I can still hear her holler, “You kids are gonna get belly aches from eating those green apples!” We never did. At least I didn’t. I never pooped like a tied goose from it either for that matter.

She would sip her beer and we would share a raw onion. She would lean in closer to me and say real low, “I knew I liked you for some reason.” Referring to me loving the onion and none of the other kids would touch it. Then she would wink at me and lightly swat my butt, which was my signal to go play. Sometimes she would let me have a little sip of her beer before she sent me scampering away.

She was the most grounded beautiful soul I have ever seen yet in my time so far and I had the pleasure of sharing this earth with her for seventeen years.

Thank you coolie-cups.

Inspiration

Last night I finished watching Julie&Julia. It was wonderful.

I remember watching Julia Childs when I was a kid. Yes, I watched cooking shows when I was six or maybe earlier. I can’t remember when I started watching cooking shows. I just always have. Along with nature shows so I could then relay to my Mother the entire life cycle, habitat, and behaviors of which ever animal I had just learned about.

But for cooking, I watched Julia and Graham Kerr. Everyone knows who Julia is. For those of you who don’t recognize the latter name, he is the Galloping Gourmet. He was the one that poured heavy cream into anything that would support it. Then he suffered, I think, a heart attack and became reformed. Then launched a new show where he revamped all of his recipes to the lighter and healthier version with strained low-fat yogurt. He still cooks today. He was just a guest on Rachel Ray’s talk show this past week. Or maybe coming up on Monday. I didn’t see the show. Just the advertisement. So maybe I can catch it tomorrow.

And of course, one who holds a special place in my heart, Jeff Smith. The Frugal Gourmet. He was really my fave as far as what he was cooking. His recipes were simple, easy recipes that were time-tested from many cultures. A lot of Mediterranean and Easter European. He taught me that exotic cooking did not have to be difficult cooking. He continued to cook on television into my twenties which I watched religiously. Then the point in time came when there was some sort of scandal involving teenage boys and that was the end of The Frugal Gourmet. He dropped of the face of the earth never to be heard from again. Almost as if he didn’t exist but if you review my shelves of cookbooks, I can prove he did. He is there in several locations.

And I also really liked that crazy Cajun. Do you remember him? I can’t remember his name. Darn. I will have to look it up. Or maybe some of you will remember (Dad?). He was the one that always drank the majority of the wine bottle he opened to cook with. And he never measured his salt. He would pour one teaspoon into his palm and then put it into the one teaspoon measuring spoon to prove he was on the mark.

His quotes I remember were,

“Salt to taste. Who’s taste? Myyyy taste!”

“Put a little Loooossyanna hot sauce in there. I tell you what!”

OOOOOOOOOO-WHEEEEEEEE!”

I guess he is the reason that I think it is not necessary to measure anything. Then there is the whole wine business. So I have  just come to the realization that this round Cajun man whom I can’t seem to place his name has formed a large part of my adult life. Moving On.

I remember when we first got satellite TV. It was right after the mini-dishes were out (and I paid a small fortune for ours’. I’m talking financing here. But that is a different story.) and DIRECT TV was the only choice you had with it. I had more than one PBS. I had PBS in three time zones. It was like heaven.

Then Home and Garden Television was launched. An entire network of nothing but cooking, crafting, decorating, and gardening. It was my dream come true.

And then. And then…….I remember the day like it was yesterday that I saw the advertisement for the new network that was nothing but cooking. COOKING! Cooking all day everyday. Twenty-four hours a day.  I literally jumped out of my chair and squealed with delight in my living room. Literally. TV-FOOD NETWORK.

I could watch chopping, slicing, sautéing, braising, grilling (the list goes on) until the wee hours of the morning. DAX was thrilled to no end(sarcasm).

There were new faces. Emeril (which everyone now knows), The Two Fat Ladies. Grillin’ and Chillin’ (which was a show with two hosts. One grilled on charcoal (Jack of Jack Stack BBQ. Don’t recall last name.) and the other grilled on gas. They would cook a similar recipes and show the difference between the two cooking methods. The latter host was no other than Bobby Flay). And the show list goes on….not to bore you….back to Julia.

I always wanted to get a copy of Julia’s original book. It is in its umpteenth printing and still cost almost $50 on Amazon today. I just looked it up. *sigh*

But I have decided to learn more about this enigmatic and dynamic woman. She was so unconventional for her time. In a splendid way. I am going to go to the library tomorrow to find her biography and there is also a book of letters and correspondence published. I am so excited. I have said it before and I will say it again. Really…It’s the little things.   🙂

Easier to Breathe

I have seen the morning burning golden on the mountain in the sky.

~Kris Kristofferson

 

I can remember when I first moved to Missouri how mountain sick I was. Missouri isn’t all bad but it is flat. At times I actually felt physically ill.  I can only describe and liken it to a panic attack of sorts. Some sort of mutated reverse claustrophobia.  As time went on it did lessen but I had never been anywhere that level before.

One day not too long after moving to Missouri, I ran an errand with a friend. We went to deliver some tools and farm equipment to her uncle who lived not too far across the state line into Kansas.

As we drove farther into Kansas, a sinking feeling enveloped me. I tried not to look at the horizon which only escalated it. It climaxed when we stopped to pee on the side of the road; middle of no where. Middle of no where was not the problem. I have logged many hours middle of no where. The issue was the lack of cover! We stopped the truck in a small dip in the highway (which was the only variance in the terrain what so ever). No trees. No hills. No bushes. No nothing.

The worst and probably only anxiety attack in my memory swooned over me when I stepped from the vehicle and stood on flatter than pancake Kansas soil. I don’t think I can ever completely explain the sensation. I was light-headed and the foremost thought in my mind was that I might actually fly off the face of the planet with the lack of anything to hold me to it. I had to fight the urge to lay flat on the ground grabbing double fistfuls of grass to secure myself to the earth. Grass that was it. All as far as the eye can see.

I did manage to resist. I stayed upright and fought the nausea. I pee’d, climbed back in the truck and concentrated on breathing the rest of the trip. And that, in a nutshell, is why I hate Kansas. I will never forget it.

This morning I sit on top of the mountain, pines soaring into the pure blue sky. The mountains fade into the distance, varying layers of green and purple, one after the other like sentries. The air is cool. The sun warms my back. I feel closer to heaven. I must be.