Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Hot Water

Yesterday, after nearly a week of dealing with various challenges our home, and it's odd little quirks which have been incorporated into it's collective being by previous owners, Pa finally managed to get our new hot water heater up and running.

Late yesterday morning, I was finally able to take my long awaited shower. After waiting for what seemed such a long time, the anticipation building higher each day, it was an incredibly satisfying experience. I felt a bit guilty as I realized I was spending more time under the warm pulsating water than I normally would, but I was enjoying it so much! I just couldn't bring myself to cut it short. I justified my lengthy, not so frugal actions by rationalizing I hadn't employed my normal amount of water for bathing purposes in 6 whole days. Thereore, if I extended my enjoyment by even twice the normal time I would still be realizing at least three days worth of savings. I also emerged from the experience in a wonderful mood, which was noted, and enjoyed by my whole family :)

Since we didn't manage our usual shopping trip to town this last week, Pa made a quick run in for a few items to get us by until our next trip in. While there, he decided to stop by Papa Murphy's for a pizza to enjoy during our ....

Saturday Night At The Movies

This week the kids chose Madagascar. Once again they chose well. We all enjoyed this film, which I'm guessing most folks with young'uns have already seen and perhaps moved on to the sequel. If you are not among those numbers, then I would suggest this one is definately worthy of adding to your list of family friendly films to enjoy at some point in the future. However, I see this film is rated PG for, "mild language and crude humour" Although I didn't notice it, I have to admit I was not able to focus completely on the entire film, so perhaps it is not one to simply plop the little ones down to watch unattended.

Today, we are once again enjoying the sun. Not surprisingly this time of year, I understand we are to enjoy it while it lasts. This next week promises to be a busy one for us, as we head out to glean as much wood as we can for our heating purposes before the rain and the wind pay us yet another, probably more extended visit. I've also heard some rumors that the rain and wind may be joined by yet another. Ah, yes, that cranky one with the frigid disposition has sent word that she may be stopping by again soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed her mood has improved a bit since her last rather memorable visit!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

America The Beautiful ??

Less than two weeks ago, in America, we had an election. Before the night was over most Americans were aware of who our next President would be. While not a huge landslide, it was certainly not contestable. John McCain was most gracious in his concession speech. I was proud of him. Americans stepped forward, breaking through both party, and racial barriers. I was proud of my Country.

Naturally, as with any election process, there are going to be those who are disappointed, some perhaps even angry. Eight years ago I was less than thrilled with the outcome of the election. At that time, just about half the citizens of our country felt the same way I did. However, I did not hear words of hatred from the losing side. Most folks were able to continue to foster friendships with those who may have had different political views. Not once do I recall hearing a call for assassination of the then President elect. I do not recall hearing or seeing news reports of vandalism of personal property, bets of when the President elect might be taken out, along with what amounts to cheering any such attempts on. I don't remember anyone feeling physically threatened for having voted for him.

I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at the news reports I'm seeing today. School buses full of elementary school students, many as young as second grade, chanting, calling for the assassination of our President elect. Crosses being burned in peoples front yards. Threats against life and property of our citizens, in retaliation for daring to vote for a man who's skin tone happens to dark. There have been physical assaults. At least one child was suspended from school for daring to wear a t-shirt bearing the image of the next President of our Country.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to think. I am saddened. I'm disappointed, not in the election process, but in the aftermath. I still feel some pride in our nation for so many being able to move past the ugly, hate filled era of our nation's past, but I am saddened to realize that ugliness is still festering unchecked in the hearts of so many in our country. It makes me even more sad, and angry that this unwarranted hatred is not only accepted, but actually encouraged, being taught to so many of our young people, those whose minds should still be at that sweet, innocent stage of life.

While I still have hope for our nation, I find myself thinking how ironic is our name, The United States of America. A week ago, I was proud. Now I'm just disgusted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunshine On My Shoulders...

The sun is shining! It's bright! It's glowing! It's warm! It's beautiful!

There is but a small whisper of a breeze, the ground is damp, but steaming from the warmth the sun's rays are providing. The birds are flitting about, singing their happy song, and the cat's are basking in their chosen places, rather than hiding under whatever form of shelter they are able to scurry to in the quickest manner (as in this weeks backyard photo).

For the first time in a week, I found myself calling the kids in from their outside pursuits to get started on school. They were reluctant to leave their leaf raking. They're eagerly digging in to their days lessons so they can return to the fun outside. I have yet to hear, "What can I do?"

Keeping my fingers crossed this unscheduled, but very welcome appearance will last through the day. Do I dare to hope it will return again tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Water Woes

Sunday, my son and I both managed to get our showers taken before the latest of our major appliances decided to call it quits. This time it was the hot water heater.

The last few days I've been especially grateful for my working range. As some of you may recall, that was the last appliance to refuse it's services. I've been heating gallons and gallons of water on my stove the last few days, for everything from doing dishes, to washing hair.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the break in the wind gusts, and headed in to town to pick up a new water heater. As it turns out, the old one surpassed the normal life span of a water heater by several years. We were told we definitely got our moneys worth out of it. Good to know.

Once we arrived home from our little excursion, it was getting late,the sky was becoming a bit darker, due to the late afternoon hour, as well as the cloudy blanket above us, which was also providing us with plenty of moisture, for which we weren't feeling so grateful. No point in complaining though. Pa headed for the shop to grab the hand truck, and we quickly transferred our load from the truck and into the shop where it awaits our attention today.

This afternoon, after the kids are finished with their lessons, and have had their lunch, we will once again brave the rain, grab the hand truck, and carefully nestle the water heater upon it's arms. Pa will then wheel it into the house, and proceed to get it set up while the kids and I busy ourselves in other pursuits, none of which will involve water. We're all eagerly anticipating having hot water at the turn of a knob again. I can hardly wait to to once again feel the warm water cascading down over me in the shower.

Lindsay and I were discussing the situation last night. We came to the conclusion that sometimes it's a good thing to be forced to make do without those things we take for granted on occasion. It makes us stop and appreciate those modern conveniences. Come to think of it, this is a great time of year for just that sort of reminder!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Walk On The Wild Side

It's Tuesday already! Our rainy weekend, which followed us into Monday, is still here, but it has been joined by yet another force of nature. The rain is still coming down but, rather than pouring straight down, as it has been the last few days, it has been joined by an old buddy, the wind. Together they are washing over us at various angles. While not my idea of weather related perfection, I have to admit, at the very least, it breaks up the monotony of the steady thumping the rain by itself provided.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a brief break in the downpour. Nathan took advantage of the break and, with a few of our feline family members at his side enjoyed a little stroll around the property, and part way down the driveway to inspect the diversion ditches he and Pa had worked so hard on.

He came running back, burst through the front door, out of breath and wide eyed, exclaimed he had just witnessed an incredible sight! As he was wandering down the driveway, and was nearing the "pond" that he and Pa had constructed to slow the flow of the rainwater gushing down the side ditches, he stopped short, and gazed in amazement at the little family before him. A mama raccoon, and her three youngsters looked up at him from the "pond" where they had been enjoying a drink. Naturally, he named each of the babies. The one who had been playing in the pond is now known as "Splash". "Claws" was holding on to the edge of the muddy soil surrounding the pond. The one he liked the best he named "Peek". Peek was the curious one of the bunch. Mama simply snarled before rounding up her little brood and herding them back into the wooded area on the other side of the drive.

Fortunately, the older, and more protective members of our kitty family had chosen to stay closer to the house for this little stroll. The kittens which accompanied Nathan were easy enough for him to control. Like "Peek", they were curious, but cautious, and chose to stay close by their human's side.

Just another day in the Boondocks..;)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday Dinner And A Movie

It was another rainy day at our house yesterday. We managed to keep busy inside for the most part, and were rewarded with wonderful aromas emanating from our kitchen, filling the house. For me, it was a preview of what is to come at the end of this month, and continuing through December. I'm really going to have to watch myself this next two months, or I'll find myself wearing last Decembers clothing once again!

As it turned out, I was not able to coordinate baking times and temps to accommodate baking any of my initial bread choices to go with Pa's creation for dinner last night. I did manage to come up with another option though, which turned out to be an excellent choice. I searched many of my recipe files, and I searched online for ideas. After my search, and some thought, I came up with a savory muffin recipe which required minimal alterations in baking temps for those items already taking up space in the oven. I simply turned the heat up by 50º for the last 5 minutes the ham was in the oven, pulled it out, and popped the muffins in while the ham rested for 15 minutes. The acorn squash was perfectly happy for that last 15 minutes at a higher temperature. The whole meal was a complete success, and we were left with plenty of leftover ham for lunches and meals to come, including the bone, which I'm eagerly anticipating utilizing in a bean dish this coming weekend.

With a yield of 12 individual, beautifully browned, fragrant muffins for the four of us, the kids were delighted to realize they would have leftover muffins for quick and easy breakfast treats for a couple days as well! Once I managed to tear myself away from the comfort of my bed this morning, I was greeted by the welcome sight of two spent muffin liners, neatly folded at their places on the table. Hey Mikey! They liked them! :) Following is the recipe I came up with...

BC Muffins

2 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick)
8 slices bacon, fried crisp, reserving grease
1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup (more or less) powdered milk
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 375º
First off, fry your bacon up, nice and crisp. Set aside to drain, and remove the pan from the heat so the oil can cool down. Then go ahead and grate your cheese, setting it aside.

Now, spoon your baking mix into a bowl. Add the powdered milk, and mix it together. Add the egg, 2/3 cup water, and measure 1/4 cup of the now cooled bacon grease in. Mix until everything is moist. Now crumble your crisped bacon in, and add your grated cheese, mixing to combine well. The mixture will be thick.

Spoon mixture evenly into 12 prepared muffin tins. I lined the tins with paper liners. Alternately you could lightly grease and flour the tins. The mixture should fill the tins at least 3/4 full. Pop the pan in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. or til the tops are a light golden brown, and they test done.

Pop the muffins from the tin and allow to cool a few minutes for easier slicing (and fewer burned fingers!)

The young'uns enjoyed these muffins as they were, while Pa and I enjoyed the addition of a pat of real butter. Our young'uns have also informed me these are great consumed at room temperature for a breakfast treat the next morning

Last night, Pa and I enjoyed our weekend movie. Baby Boom, starring Diane Keaton was a delightful, humorous adventure about a childless by choice, single career woman who finds herself in a different role than she ever imagined, that of a single mother. This role is thrust upon her unexpectedly by the passing of a long lost relative, and results in some highly entertaining predicaments, and of course some alterations, both in her personal, and her career life. This was not what I would describe as an incredibly moving film, but a great, fun movie, which I would recommend for older teens through adults.

Happy Monday! I hope this is the beginning of a fantastic week for you all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Crackers And Lace

Yesterday was an odd day for me. For some reason I felt "off", antsy, nervy... At some point, I decided perhaps a bit of knitting would relax me. Perhaps I was right. However, it didn't take me long to realize an intricate lace pattern, particularly one that I've been working on for a long time with excellent results, and am near the halfway point on, is not the knitting project to choose when feeling "off".

The first row of my 10 row repetition went okay. About halfway in to the second row I allowed myself to become distracted. I discovered it is easier to become distracted on an "off" day. While this was discouraging, it didn't upset me too much. I had made mistakes in this pattern before and managed to work it back and re knit it. I then proceeded to attempt just that. It was then that I discovered while attempting to knit an intricate lace pattern when one is feeling off may not be the best idea, attempting to fix a mistake when feeling jittery is a hugely bad idea! I somehow managed to drop a stitch, and between the complexities of this particular pattern, and the fiber I was working with, along with my aging eyes, all I managed to do in attempting to correct my error was to make it worse.

Perhaps a more experienced knitter could have frogged the piece back to a point they could start afresh. While I've got a couple years of experience behind me, I've still got a ways to go. My eyes aren't that good, and I was nowhere near the the top of my personal best. My beautiful lace creation is now history. I am now considering whether to start this same piece over from the beginning, or if I should opt for a different pattern. There are a couple patterns I'm interested in trying but, they both look even more complicated than the original pattern I was working on, and at least one of them, while really quite nice, and it does possess one quality that would be even more desirable in the finished product, has a less intricate finished look to it. Ah well. I think I'll work up a swatch of the other one, then decide.

On a brighter note, I did find something to do yesterday which made me feel much better. It chased the jitters away, made our house smell good, and in the end, I was rewarded with smiles all around.

Many years ago, when my now grown daughters were young, I had a recipe for cheese crackers that my children really enjoyed. Somehow, after so many years, and numerous moves, I managed to lose this recipe. Since being introduced to the joys of cyberspace, I have spent countless hours searching in vain for this particular recipe. I have, however found several recipes that came close. Yesterday afternoon I decided to try tweaking one of these recipes just a bit to see if I could come up with a satisfactory rendition of the original recipe. The results of my experiment fell short of my expectations, but my family, especially the two youngest members of my family, were thrilled with the results. That made me feel good, and the physical aspect of working the dough was just what my jittery mood needed. With my families overwhelming support, I plan to experiment a bit more with this recipe in the very near future. I have all kinds of ideas to change it up, and expect I will end up trying various options before coming up with what I will consider the perfect cracker. Naturally, I'll be keeping you all updated on the progress ;-)

Lesson learned: When feeling jittery, kitchen utensils trump knitting needles!

Saturday Night At The Movies

Last nights feature event was one the kids chose from the list I had put together for them through Netflix. Over the Hedge was an excellent choice that the whole family enjoyed. Some portions had the kids laughing out loud, others found Ma and Pa chuckling, and many received laughter from all four of us at the same time. We also enjoyed trying to place the voices we knew were part of the cast, including William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Wanda Sykes, Gary Shandling, Bruce Willis and more. I'm going to have to go online to see how many we guessed correctly. This is an animated film I would recommend for the whole family.

Pa's roasting a ham for dinner tonight.He's popping an acorn squash in beside it for a side dish I was rather hoping to make some bread today, but the timing wouldn't quite work out. I may make a quick bread instead, maybe cornbread. Or perhaps I'll go with a casserole bread, which is a yeast bread but not quite so time consuming. I've an old cheese bread recipe in mind. I'm thinking that would go well with the rest of the meal... Tomorrow, I'll let you know what I ended up doing, and perhaps, provide a recipe..

My day is rapidly getting away from me! Must step away from the keyboard...

Hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Here Comes The Rain Again...

Thanks to all those who've been leaving such wonderful comments the last few days! I truly appreciate that you are taking the time to respond, and the thought that went in to such meaningful words!

With last year's storms still fresh in my mind, compounded by this years long term forecasts for the season, and what seems like an earlier arrival of the heavy rains, I'm experiencing feelings of more urgency in my preparations for the winter ahead.

Every year Pa and Nathan spend hours working on the diversion ditches alongside the driveway. Fortunately, the rainy season is preceded by the usual wood gathering and processing, so their muscles have been prepared for the hard work. Yes, it happens every year, and we expect it, but this year it seems the heavier, longer lasting rains have come earlier than usual. The diversion ditch, and the holding pond have already become a challenge, the water flow exceeding the carefully constructed borders, and blowing out, resulting in the erosion producing streams flowing freely down our drive, which makes me a bit nervous about what may be in store for us as the season progresses.

While Pa and Nathan diligently work with their shovels, as the rain pounds down on them, Lindsay and I are warm and dry in the house, working on other seasonal chores. We knit and crochet. We work in the kitchen, creating baked goods, warm, comforting meals, and of course, cocoa mix, for those chilly winter days to come.

In addition to those things which keep our minds and bodies busy this time of year, I find myself wondering what I may need to add to my grocery list. Considering the early onslaught of heavy rain, and the expected warmer, wetter weather this year, I feel a need to stock up a bit more, and earlier. Who knows when the floods will begin, and how bad they may become in our area this year? I would be surprised if 101 did not become impassable at least once, if not more often this year. Even if Pa and Nathan manage to keep our driveway in a state which would allow us to navigate it, we may be cut off from our weekly shopping trips, perhaps for longer than a week at a time.

I also wonder if this may be the year our electric bill will be based on an average for a time. UPS does not deliver to our home as it is. Fortunately, living in a smaller community, we are able to arrange to pick our packages up at their office, so long as we are provided with tracking #s. That arrangement doesn't work for others though, such as the meter reader. Like us, he has equipped himself with a pickup, and tires which allow him access to rougher road conditions than many, so he may be able to make it up. I rather hope so, as the kids enjoy his visits. I'm just hoping it doesn't get so bad that we can't make it up and down our rather lengthy driveway ourselves! Although none of us would really mind the walk if it came to that, we really don't relish thought of leaving our truck at the bottom of the drive, on the road, out of our sight, as others in our area have found it necessary to do in years past. We've been lucky so far in that respect. Keeping our fingers crossed that our luck holds out.

Although I miss being able to hang my clothes outside to dry this time of year, the wood stove does a fine job of drying our clothing. We're grateful for our truck, and for the wood gleaning opportunities in the area this year, so we can heat our home, and dry our clothes in an affordable manner. Now, if it would just stop raining (pouring!) long enough for us to make a few more trips to add to our wood pile!

If, like us, Mother Nature has brought a bounty of precipitation your way, rejoice! It's a blessing to be able to bring our own form of sunshine into our families lives! Bake a loaf of homemade bread, and enjoy the resulting aroma(not to mention the taste!). Make some yogurt, and turn it into a yummy treat. Create something really cool from items you might normally toss in the trash. Find a good book, gather your family about, and read it out loud. Enjoy the opportunity for togetherness the season has provided!

A happy weekend to all!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Boondock Perks

It was yet another fun trip to town yesterday. Pa dropped us off at the Library as usual. We entered the building, and the young 'uns headed towards the book drop off. After depositing their bags full of books and turning around to head towards the aisles to choose from the seemingly endless offerings for this week, one of the Librarians called their names, and asked them to come to the desk. They did as requested, and I stood in the background, listening as I perused the books in front of me. Both Librarians behind the desk proceeded to explain why they had called my children over. It seems a new book had recently been ordered. They explained this book was not even in the system yet, so they would not see it when searching on the computer, but upon noticing this title they had immediately thought of them. My daughter, Lindsay is now first on the list to recieve this book, the latest from one of her favorite series, The Cat Warriors. Once again, the folks at our library, their fondness for my children, and their attention to detail amazed me.

Our location, a small community, associated with a slightly larger, yet by the standards of many, if not most, still a very small community, certainly not a city, does have it's drawbacks. We find ourselves searching in vain for many items not available in our area for purchase. There are certain amenities that require hours, if not an overnight stay to access.

Yet, I feel blessed to live where things flow at a slower pace. Folks have the time, and the inclination to savor the delights that are so easily missed when one feels rushed to get from one place to another, always being pushed along by the crowds, the traffic, the feeling of urgency to get to the next destination. We enjoy a different set of amenities here. Folks have the time to stop and smell the roses. Conversations spring up between the aisles, and in the lines at the grocery stores. Rather than getting angry, grumbling about the hold up in the lines at the Post Office during the holiday madness, folks smile and get to know those they share the line with. There is joking between the customers in line, as well as the folks behind the counter, who greet you by name as you take your turn in front of them. Librarians get to know their patrons. Strangers more often than not are simply friends you have yet to meet.

As we went about our day, heading to the grocery store, I found there were a few items I simply could not find on the shelves. I was frustrated, but found myself looking about me, noticing a few other people in the aisle. I knew, as I began explaining to my children what it was I was searching for, that someone would come to my aid. Sure enough, a lady spoke up. Two of the three items I was searching for would probably not be available in any of the grocery stores in the area. However, she said, I could probably find them at the larger of the two Health Food stores in the area.

So, yeah, there are some inconvenient aspects of living where we do. There may even be times when I get frustrated enough to complain a bit about some of those inconveniences. It doesn't take long though, for me to reflect, and realize I am on the winning end of the trade off, and there's not a thing I would change. Life is good in "The Boondocks".

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today is Costco day! I'm looking forward to discovering what did and didn't come in from my latest order. I'm still thrilled at the discovery that we have this option. Today's order includes the beginnings of my holiday baking supplies. Next week I need to make a phone call and see about availability (and corresponding order #s) for items I need or desire that are not included in the "catalog" we were provided with. Although we have found there are some items that really aren't that great of a deal, or that we can pretty much count on finding at the Grocery Outlet for less, there are a lot of great deals to be had, and I'm just loving having this additional $$ saving option available.

Of course, being Thursday, and the end of October festivities now over and done with, today is also our Library and shopping day. Due to last weeks fun, we didn't manage to do our regular amount of shopping, so I'm looking forward to that even more than usual this week. I do have to admit though, it was kinda fun "making do" with what we had on hand for the last week. I find the challenges of figuring out new ways to utilize our stores to be highly entertaining, and we usually discover at least one new favorite dish out of those weeks. Of course the big secret to that is stocking up on those items you know you'll use when they're on sale. I'm hoping to find a few more of those types of items today.

Another thing I'm hoping to find on the grocery store shelves today is some bread making supplies. I'm not one to settle for plain white when making my own bread. I prefer to get a bit more creative than that. Naturally, I have plenty of my own ideas ready to incorporate into my yeasty experiments, but I have also found a few recipes I'm really looking forward to trying. There's one in particular that was suggested by a dear friend that I'm anxious to try. This calls for some ingredients that I hadn't considered in the past, and they are all on my ever growing shopping list.

Speaking of bread making supplies, I was tickled to finally talk to the manager of the bakery at Albertson's last week. She sold me 10 bread bags for just under 10¢ a piece. While I can get them a bit cheaper on line, I would have to purchase such a large amount at a time that it would seem a bit silly. I'll continue my search for another source, but in the meantime, if necessary, it's good to know I have this option.

The young'uns have been becoming a bit antsy with all the rain we've had this last week. They were okay the first few days, but it's wearing thin. We're starting to get a bit more creative with busy work for them. I'm rather hoping my bread making endeavors will serve as a distraction for them as well. Naturally, there will be some "extra" dough for their personal creations, to be baked right along side the larger, more conventionally shaped loaves. Mmmm. I can hardly wait for that wonderful aroma to fill my house!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud To Be An American

Yesterday evening, while watching the election results, I felt, more than any time I can remember, like I was watching history unfold. I remember the assassination of JFK, of MLK Jr., and of Bobby Kennedy. Although those were historic events, I didn't feel that awareness as I do now. I also remember going to the moon. I knew that was a historic event, but I didn't feel it quite the same way I felt it last night. I expect that has to do with age. Perhaps I was just young enough at the time of those past events that it didn't quite make it through just how historic those things were.

Last night was different. I'm older now. I have children and grandchildren and I am very aware, sometimes painfully so, how current events can shape their future. Being an older parent, of two relatively young children, I have seen and heard their expressions of wonder at some of those historic events I myself have witnessed. Last night Pa and I were joined by our two youngest. We watched together as history unfolded in front of our eyes.

Once the the numbers had come in to the point it was obvious who the next President of our country would be, I had experienced what seemed an odd combination of emotions. I was moved to an incredible level by the emotions being shown by Obama's supporters on the screen. It wasn't the whoopin' it up party as usual. It was raw emotions. It was hope. I saw Jesse Jackson in tears. I watched as Martin Luther King III spoke. I couldn't help but wish his Father had lived to see the moment. His dream was being realized. I saw hope in the eyes, in the posture of every person in those "camps", no matter the color of their skin. I saw Americans of every hue, age, and both genders moved to tears, not just for the victory of their candidate, but for dreams realized, and for hope.I was also thrilled to note that our country, for this historic event was not sharply divided by party lines. It would seem the majority of Americans voted for the person, rather than the party. For the first time in years I feel like we are not a divided nation. We are one United States of America.

Two men made me very proud last night. The first of those men was John McCain. He gave an incredible concession speech. While congratulating the new President elect, he called for unity, and declared his intentions to do all he could to work with, and assist his former opponent in the task ahead, which no doubt will be a very difficult task indeed. John McCain showed real class. He proved to me that he is all that I believed him to be. He is a man I would be honored to sit down and visit with. Although the odds of that happening are less than my winning the lottery, I've no doubt it would be an entertaining, and educational meeting. He is a good man. No, he is a great man, who has served our country well, and I expect he will continue to do so.

The second man who made me feel such pride last night was our President elect, Barack Obama. He stepped out not in arrogance, not in pride. Rather he took the stage with his trademark cool, calm, capable presence. He spoke of hope and of change. He spoke of unity, but those words were not conveyed as the empty promises of those who have gone before him. His words, his expressions, his whole demeaner seemed to be agreeing. He really seemed to mean it. His acceptance speech was not one of gloating, it was one of hope, and incredibly,a note of humility.

As Barack Obama stated last night, I have no doubt he will in the years to come make some unpopular decisions. I will be surprised if he does not make decisions that I disagree with, perhaps in some cases, quite strongly. But, I believe that all he does he will do because he believes it is the best thing for our Country. I dare to hope that he is right. I do not expect him to be perfect. I realize he is human after all. I know for a fact that he will, if given the opportunity, do at least one thing I will disagree with. However, that is something I don't believe should be a political thing in the first place, and I am fully capable of conveying, and hopefully instilling those personal beliefs and values to my children. I am also concerned about how one other issue that could personally affect me and my family may unfold under his leadership. This is an issue that is very important to me, and if I was one to vote for a person on a single issue then I would have voted for the other candidate. However, I realize, perhaps more than any other time in history, we need to look beyond one or two issues. We need to look at the whole very big picture. I have hope that the best person for that job will be taking over in the Oval Office.

I am, once again, after eight very long, painful years, proud to be an American.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One More Halloween Down

As with the majority of American families with children, yesterday was a busy, fun filled day for us. Naturally, our young 'uns took their sweet time deciding on their choice of costumes for the end of October event. As a family, we shy away from the scarier aspect of the evening, tending more towards fun and creative costumes to add to the parade of candy seekers at the mall. We also enjoy creating our own disguises, rather than opting for the generic options available in the stores. While this adds to the fun for us, it can also result in a bit of anxiety when the big decisions come late in the game.

Thursday, rather than our usual Library and grocery shopping day, we headed straight for the thrift store, where we desperately searched for the items we could turn into the costume Nathan had decided on for the season. Fortunately, Lindsay had made it easy on us this year. She had chosen to go out dressed as a mouse, which just happened to be what Nathan had chosen for his disguise last year. To expand on the theme, Nathan decided he wanted to go as his favorite critter of the moment, a cat.

There are, of course, ready made cat costumes available, which would have made my chore a mite easier, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, I've found most cat costumes are either intended for the very young, or the young adult female seeking a more alluring effect. I was thinking neither would be appropriate for my 11 year old son, and so the search was on!

Initially we were in search of an oversized black hooded sweatshirt. I figured I could create ears easily enough by simply pulling up some of the excess fabric in the large hood. We were unable to find that particular item though, so we had to get a bit more creative. What we found ended up to be the conversational piece of the thrift shop!

In the children's section we found a girls black fur coat with a lovely long fur trim adorning the outside rim of the hood. We tried it on Nathan, which resulted in hilarity from all sides, especially from some Hispanic ladies standing nearby. Between bouts of laughter I could make out the words "Nina " and "Nino". Yes, I could certainly understand the mirth. Although there were some language barriers to overcome, we were able to communicate to the point I was able to explain my intention. All, including other shoppers observing the whole thing, agreed it was a great idea.

Thursday evening, we set our purchases off to the side and I had a heck of a time attempting to sleep while brainstorming how I was going to pull this costume off. Yesterday morning, I began by carefully snipping the decorative fur from the hood. I then cut a shorter portion off, and was delighted to see the larger length had a natural kink to it. One end of this larger portion of fur was then hand sewn on to the back of the coat. After trying it on, Nathan was happy, both with the placement, and the natural kink. It made a perfect tail! I then cut the smaller length of fur in two. Again, I was tickled to note the natural kink, and even more amazing, the point each had on one end. All I had to do was carefully stitch the fluffier end down on the top sides of the hood and we had ears!

A pair of Ma's black pants, the coat zipped up, and hood over his head, Nathan was all but ready to go. As Lindsay donned her costume, I proceeded to draw whiskers on Nathan's face with the black body makeup pen I had purchased for just this occasion. I then turned to Lindsay and did the same before we all marched outside for the big photo shoot.

At the mall, the kids' costumes were a big hit. One lady even warned Lindsay, the mouse that she might need to watch out for Nathan, the cat. We did notice some changes at the mall this year. I was happy to note there were fewer store bought costumes than in years past. Folks were being much more creative, and came up with some really great costumes for their children. It was fun seeing the different ways folks chose to unleash their creativity, and to see fewer repeats within the crowd. I'm rather hoping to see this trend continue. For our family anyway, it just adds to the fun.