Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back To Work, Back To Fall Sports, Thankfully

I went back to work this week, and even though I really think God intended me to be a lady of leisure, whiling away my days reading and writing and baking cookies and pies and stuff, my husband thinks otherwise. So while Ruby is missing me terribly, it's back to the salt mines for me (do they have snacks and recess and hugs from preschoolers in salt mines?). How about I give you my Ten Things of Thankful for the week?

1. I work with a great bunch of women, so if I HAVE to work, at least it's with people I like!

2. I could not ask for two better assistant teachers. There are what seems to be a million things that need to be done in order to get the room ready for students, and about 999,999 of them wouldn't get done without the two of them. 


I spent HOURS making frogs to go on birthday party
blowers so it would look like the frog was sticking
its tongue out. HOURS. HOURS AND HOURS.
This was the one thing I did by myself....

3. My Primary class changed rooms this year, and I'm THRILLED! The new room is much smaller than my old one, but it's next door to my Pre-K room; no more trips up and down the hall between the Pre-K room and the Primary room to get supplies or books or whatever else I forgot or needed. I'm thankful, and so are my feet!

4. In spite of many recent bat sightings in our building, I didn't have a single one all week. No lizards, either.

5. I pulled a bookshelf out in my new-to-me room so I could vacuum behind it, and what I thought was a bean from a sensory table kept trying to crawl away from the suction of the vacuum cleaner. I used my college degree to deduce that that was no bean, IT WAS A SPIDER, a BIG one, but as long as it stayed near the baseboard, the vacuum couldn't pick it up, so QUICK THINKER THAT I AM, I picked up a nearby hammer (yes, a hammer) that I had been using to fix said bookshelf and, well, I won't have to worry about THAT spider any more. (Before anyone gets all self-righteous about Living Things, I would like to point out that this was a brown recluse spider AND THEY ARE VERY, VERY VENOMOUS.)

6. Volleyball started this week. I won't say I'm thrilled with the amount of playing time my daughter is getting, because she deserves better, but it's still a joy to watch her and her team work together, win or lose (they did one of each this week).




7. My daughter is a pretty tough cookie, but she was upset about Tuesday night's game, and afterwards, one of her coaches, who is not ordinarily a touchy-feely kind of person, took one look at her face and wrapped her arms around her in a big hug, speaking kind words to her and helping take the edge off of a bad night.

8. It's Friday Night Lights time again! Our first home football game was this weekend, the weather was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold, the stands were full, I had a delightful evening with my fellow bleacher buddies, and the evening ended with a Joplin Eagles WIN.




9. One of our best football players and a good friend of my daughter's was injured during the game. It happened on the far side of the field, in front of the visitor's stands, and it took us awhile to figure out who was hurt. The trainers, coaches and the two orthopedic surgeons who are at the games were out on the field with the player, which didn't look good, but when they sent for his mom to come out, we knew it was potentially serious (a sweet note: as Joe's mom came out of the stands and started walking out onto the field, one of our players left the sideline and went over to her and accompanied her - my heart!). He was loaded onto a stretcher and Gatored over to an ambulance. The rumor mill, aka the student section, had his leg practically severed below the knee, but the good news is it ended up being a Grade 2 sprain (I have no idea what that means), and he will be out for a few weeks but should be as good as new after that. 

10. There is an awesome buy one/get one free coupon for one of our favorite* frozen custard places in town that is printed on the football programs,** so my husband and I went there after the game and had a little treat. 

*There are three frozen custard stands in town, and any one of them could be our favorite at any given time, although we're particularly partial to whichever one is offering buy one/get one free coupons.

**I may or may not have dug around in a trash can to get more coupons.

How did your week shape up? Do any dumpster diving? Kill anything with a hammer? Join us in the Ten Things of Thankful by linking your post up below.




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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Project: A Six Sentence Story



Christine never expected to meet anyone while sitting alone, sipping her coffee, at the lunch counter at the drug store near her office, let alone someone as handsome and dashing as Clark, and she certainly never expected their relationship to progress at such a rapid pace; within only a few weeks, they had gone from eating lunch together, sitting at the very lunch counter where they met, to having elegant dinners at some of the finest restaurants in the city, and each time Christine stole a look at him as they dined, she noticed how his dark hair curled just a little where it touched his collar (something she found very endearing) and watched his finely boned hands as he delicately and precisely cut his steak, and she marveled that he wanted to be with her, ordinary Christine, the girl who moved to the city alone mere months before.

They had just finished having dinner at the Starlight Room, with its red leather booths and discreet wait staff, when he took her hand across the table, stroking it lightly with his thumb as he said, "I bought a new piece of art, a small sculpture, that was delivered today, and I would be so pleased to show it to you, if you would agree to stop by my home with me before I see you to yours." 

"Yes," she whispered, and Clark ushered her out of the restaurant and into a cab, pulling up a few moments later in front of a large apartment building with a liveried doorman who greeted them with a solemn nod. Once inside his apartment, Christine tried not to show how impressed she was with its opulence as he led her into the drawing room and stopped in front of the new sculpture; she admired the piece, hoping she was making the right sort of comments, as she really knew nothing about such things, when she noticed a door with a heavy lock on it that was tucked away beside the bookcase, nearly hidden from view.

He followed her eyes to the door, smiling a smile that didn't reach his eyes as he said hoarsely, "That's my project room," and a flicker in his dark eyes, the twitching of a muscle in his cheek, and the barely visible beads of sweat forming on his upper lip as he firmly pulled her to him gripped her with fear. "What have I done?" she thought to herself just before he slipped a cloth over her nose and mouth, and she caught only a glimpse of the evil deep in his soul as she slipped away into oblivion to the sound of a key turning in a lock.



Linking up with Ivy at Uncharted for Six Sentence Stories with the prompt "project."


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Best Daddy/Daughter Date Day EVER

My fairy godmother was looking out for me last week when my dad and I decided to go to the Missouri State Fair. Usually, temperatures in Missouri are in the 90s and the humidity high during fair time, but some delightful alignment of the stars (or the jet stream) brought a cool front to the area, making for perfect weather to go to the fair.

Our plan was for me to drive to my parents' house, an hour north of me, arriving by 7 a.m., then my dad and I would jump in the car and head for Sedalia, home of the Missouri State Fair and a good two hour drive away, arriving at the fairgrounds around 9 a.m. or shortly thereafter, just as the gates opened.

I did my part. I got up before dawn, showered, tossed a change of clothes and shoes into a bag for just in case, and took off. Did I let the fact that my brake light was on the entire way deter me? Nope. Hoping I had no reason to stop suddenly, I cruised along past soybean and corn fields, the rain I started out in tapering off and leaving mostly cloudy skies. When I got to my parents' house and went inside, they were in the kitchen, my dad reading the paper and eating grapes out of a big bowl, my mom pouring orange juice. I was anxious to hit the road, but my dad kept reading and eating grapes. Then my mom reached in a cabinet and pulled out a box of Cream of Wheat. 

"I'm just fixing your daddy some Cream of Wheat," my mom said, shaking cereal into a bowl, adding water from the faucet and putting it into the microwave.

"I thought we were leaving at 7:00," I said, to which my dad said, "We didn't think you'd really be here that early."

The microwave dinged and my mom took the bowl out to stir it, only to find it was a big, gluey glob. She added more water, stirred some more, added a little more water, then said, "I have trouble getting it the right consistency sometimes."

"Measuring it usually works pretty good for me," I said.

"I used to do that, but it's quicker just to eyeball it," she said, and I decided to let it go and not point out that her method wasn't exactly efficient. Eventually, the Cream of Wheat was cooked AND the right consistency, my dad ate it, and we were finally off by 7:45.

It was a pleasant drive through farmland and tiny little towns, some of which were mere crossroads; the rain moved out of the area, and we arrived at the fairgrounds a little after 10:00. Now, here's a real perk of going somewhere with my parents, especially to a place with lots of people and parking is a nightmare: they have handicapped permits; we got to cruise right on up and park just a few rows from the front gate. Suh-weeeeet! I put on a hoodie and my dad put on a light jacket (remember the unusually cool temperatures?), then my dad took the cane out that I made my mom make him bring. He looked at it a minute, then put it back in the car, saying, "I don't think I'll need this."

"Uhhh," I said, but I let him leave it in the car, and we walked (very slowly) to the gate and went into the fairgrounds.

Arriving at the fairgrounds. We. Are. Freezing.

There were only two things I really wanted to do while there (I had checked the schedule of events online the day before): I wanted to see the pig races and I wanted to go to a presentation called "Aprons And Their Uses," because I could only come up with two - to protect your clothes and to use to gather eggs. My dad wanted to eat pineapple whip and see a little bit of everything (except the midway, as neither of us cared about that, although my dad remembered that when he was a kid they had sideshows that he wasn't allowed to go in and he would have LIKED to do that, but I told him I was pretty sure those were a thing of the past). Note: the only other thing he mentioned wanting to see was the antique tractor pull, but as he had to EAT A BOWL OF CREAM OF WHEAT before we could leave the house, we didn't get there in time for that.

We walked inside nearly every building and looked at exhibits. We watched rabbit judging (we were disappointed to have missed the chickens, but they left the day before to make way for the rabbits). We saw the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion steers. We saw dairy cows, which my dad loves because he was raised on a dairy farm, but these dairy cows were assholes and wouldn't let him scratch them behind the ears like the ones he grew up with always did. We saw the Budweiser Clydesdales. WE SAW PIG RACES. We watched a tractor parade. We shared a barbecue pork sandwich. We ate pineapple whip, which we both agreed was okay but wasn't as good as we remembered it.

Baked goods entries.


Fair Queen sighting!

Rabbit judging.

Grand Champion steer

Talking corn.

Mmmm. Pineapple whip.

Big horse, big picture.


This is Donnie. While all the other Clydesdales were standing in their stalls,
Donnie apparently had tied one on last night and needed a nap.


Tractor parade.

Trying to pet the Jersey cows, who were little jerks.


Passed Donnie later and saw that he had finally
decided to get up and at 'em.

And we watched a presentation about aprons*. 

We were both pretty tired by the time we were ready to leave, but my dad's tail was really dragging (and at 80, it's no wonder). In the four years since his retirement from the farm supply store, he hasn't walked much further than from his recliner to the refrigerator, and we walked and walked and walked (slowly, but still). He wobbled a couple of times, but he never fell, even without the cane. In spite of the cloud cover, though, he did manage to sunburn his face pretty good; we thought he just had a wind burn, as there was a brisk wind blowing out of the north all day, but we thought wrong (he has been doctoring himself by putting Preparation H ointment on his face to soothe it...). 

Best Daddy/Daughter Date Day EVER.

Waiting for the apron presentation to begin.
*About the apron presentation. It was held in the Women's Building, on a small stage with park benches for seating. We got there just a couple of minutes before it started, and the way the benches were arranged, plus the fact that only about ten other people were there to watch with us, we realized we were pretty much stuck there for the whole 30 minute presentation, whether we liked it or not. The presentation was done by a woman in her late 60s and consisted of her pulling apron after apron out of a large suitcase, almost all of which she had gotten at yard sales or were gifts from people who found them at yard sales, and holding them up for us to see, She talked about the pretty fabric, she told us that many of them were embellished with rickrack and pointed it out every single time an apron did, indeed, have rickrack on it, and she told us almost all aprons have pockets. She told us some aprons were made from feed sacks, but she knew nothing about the history of the feed sacks themselves. Not only had she done the apron presentation several times at the fair, she also went around to church groups and clubs and such and did the presentation, only THERE, she also played and sang songs that she felt went with the aprons she was sharing. For example, she kept a baggie with some flour in it in the pocket of one apron (remember, MOST aprons have pockets) and would then sing "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake." And after thirty minutes of watching her pull aprons out of the suitcase and pointing out of the obvious, the presentation was over and SHE NEVER TOLD US ABOUT THE USES OF AN APRON.

Apron show and tell. Check out the size of that suitcase!


Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Fair Time!

I love county fairs, and if you've never been to one, then you don't know what you're missing. FFA and 4-H kids show the animals they've raised, and there are craft exhibits and a food show with ribbons awarded for best baked goods and preserves and more, and carnival rides and mutton bustin' and dog and cat shows and a fair queen contest and so much more.



My favorite, FAVORITE part of the county fair is the livestock auction, where steers, hogs, market lambs, and meat goats are shown by the kids and sold to the highest bidder. When my dad owned his farm supply store, he was a huge supporter of the local youth fair (as was my grandpa before him) and bought several steers each year in order to provide each of his employees with a side of beef (and let me tell you, we were thoroughly spoiled by this bounty, as we now have to BUY beef from the grocery store like regular people and it's REALLY EXPENSIVE). And although my friend Christine thinks I'm crazy, I love the hogs the best, because (a) they can't be forced to do ANYTHING, (b) they scream like little girls when they don't get their way, and (c) they entertain themselves in the show ring by eating poop.

Here's a little fun story: when we were first married and living in California, I made my husband go to the local county fair (we lived outside of LA in a rural county). He had never been to one before and was fascinated by the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion steers, which would be auctioned off a few nights later.

"What happens when they get auctioned?" he asked me.

"They go to the meat processor and get butchered," I answered.

"WHY?!" he asked, aghast. "If it's a Grand Champion, wouldn't you want to breed it?!"

I took a long, hard look at him before deciding he was serious and asked gently, "Honey, do you know what it means to be a steer?"

He did not, and if you don't, either, then I'm totally laughing AT you, not WITH you. Look it up. (This also explains why, when we decided to move back to Missouri, my husband went to work for his dad at the mortuary rather than MY dad at the farm supply store.)

State fairs are like a county fair on steroids and are held in September and October. Besides all the livestock and 4-H exhibits, they also have big carnival midways, all kinds of food vendors, mostly of the fried variety, and entertainment in the grandstand, from tractor pulls to national recording artists.




The Missouri State Fair is in the middle of August. We used to go occasionally when I was a kid, but I hadn't been in exactly 30 years (at which time I did NOT go to see the livestock and I shall leave it at that). I've wanted to take my kids there, since we all enjoy the county youth fair, but it was always held right as school started and we couldn't do it (especially since it's a good three hour drive from here). But THIS year was different. My preschoolers don't start school until after Labor Day, which is really late this year, and I don't go back to work until two weeks before that, so I was free to go to the fair; I only needed someone to go with me. When I mentioned to my parents that I wanted to go and needed to find someone to go with me (both kids were already in school and my husband is still stinging a little bit from the whole "steer breeder" thing), my dad said, "Take me! Take me!"

So I did.

And I'll tell you all about it tomorrow....



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Last Days Of Summer And Other Thankfuls

I had a busy, busy week, this last one before I return to work, and I was not only embarrassingly late with my Six Sentence Story this week, but I'm also running behind on Ten Things of Thankful; however, an endlessly rainy, thunderstormy day will make for a delightful writing atmosphere, so here goes it:

1. Last weekend, we let Emma take a friend with her to the lake house. We didn't leave town until AFTER the football jamboree at a neighboring town, but that turned out to be a thankful in itself, because the girls were wound up tighter than springs and chattered the entire way there. Now that Emma drives, I don't get the pleasure of driving her and her friends places anymore and hearing them talk, and I miss that. This was two hours of teen girl chatter, and my husband and I enjoyed every funny, shocking, silly minute of it.

2. We spent Saturday at Whitewater theme park; the girls rode every ride, flirted with lifeguards, ate, giggled, and enjoyed the last weekend before school starts. My husband and I mostly just enjoyed the girls, plus played my favorite game, Fat or Pregnant, and a new one we developed, called What Were You Thinking When You Chose THAT Tattoo? 




3. We went out to dinner that night with my parents and no one fell down.

4. After shopping all morning at the outlet malls and finding NOTHING TO WEAR ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, we stopped at Mecca, i.e., Forever 21, on our way home and Emma and her friend both found cute clothes to start the school year. Whew! Crisis averted!

5. Monday night, my husband, daughter and I went to a movie as a last hurrah before school started. A late movie, like at 10:00 p.m. AND an entirely inappropriate movie, as it turned out, because it was much, MUCH more graphic than I realized but funny as all get out. Okay, Trainwreck. We took our daughter to see Trainwreck. I KNOW, you don't have to say it.


Pretty much the only ones left in the entire theater.

6. We took the College Boy back last week, but, naturally, he forgot stuff, so on Tuesday, I rode to work with my husband, who was working that day in the same town where our son goes to school (he works several days a week in Springfield and the others here in Joplin). After Kyle and I had breakfast together in a cute little diner downtown, I spent the morning buying stuff he needed or forgot or wanted, dropped it all off at his new apartment, helped him clean his floors really well, then he and I went to a late lunch and went shoe shopping, AND WE FOUND A PAIR OF SIZE 15 NIKES THAT HE LIKED AND WERE ON SAAAAALE!

7. The whole shoe thing was worth two thankfuls.

8. My husband and I left Springfield and drove to a town between it and home where Emma was participating in a volleyball jamboree with her team. It was just exhibition, and nothing really COUNTED, but we ALL know it "counts, especially when you beat one of your biggest rivals. TWICE. Good job, Lady Eagles!

9. The previous weekend, while we were at the lake house with my parents, I was talking about how much I would like to go to the state fair, not having gone to it in 30 years. I've wanted to go for a long time, but school keeps starting earlier and earlier, making it impossible to go during the week, when there are less crowds. But since our school year is starting a week later than usual, there was actually time to go this week. My dad said, "Take me! Take me!" And I did. And no one fell down. And there will be a follow up post soon.


As if it weren't a bad enough picture of me,
my dad made a goofy face EVERY TIME I
took a picture. EVERY TIME.


10. And Thursday, my daughter started her junior year of high school, which is completely surreal. She's going to have a tough year, with one AP class, three dual credit classes, two weighted classes, plus volleyball this fall, show choir all year, student council vice president, theater, and a social life. Here's to hoping we BOTH survive it!




And now it's the weekend, my last before going back to work on Monday (meetings, cleaning the room, preparing for classes, but no kids yet). Be thankful with me and link up, below. 


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Grave: A Six Sentence Story


When they chose this desolate land to homestead on, with nothing but sweeping prairie and no neighbors for miles, it didn't occur to them that some day, they would want to marry off their daughter; Sarah was but two years old when they made the trip via covered wagon, bumping over rutted trails made by Indians long before being forced further westward, but it was here the little family made their home on this hostile land.

They made a life there, Sarah's father working from daylight to dusk to tame the rough land while her mother ran the household and taught Sarah to read and write and to sew and cook and keep house, and when she was nearing 16 years of age, Sarah's parents decided it was time to find not only a husband for her but someone who could help Sarah's father with the farm work. He made the long journey to the nearest town, returning a week later with a young man that he thought would fill the bill for both himself and his daughter, but Sarah demurred any feeble advances the young man put forth, and after a few weeks of homestead life, he asked to be returned to town.

Her parents tried once again when a fellow headed to Indian Territory passed by, and although the young man was not easily dissuaded, Sarah again refused all advances, and her parents sighed at her stubbornness and resigned themselves that she preferred to live her life in their home as a spinster.

Through years of harsh winters and searing hot summers, too much rain and too little rain, insect infestations and cyclones, they persevered, the three of them, until Sarah, hair gray and skin withered, buried her parents, first her mother, then a few months later, her father, in graves she dug herself in the hard ground and with great effort, on a little rise at the edge of their land, next to the other two that had been there for so many years now that they blended into the landscape. Sarah continued on her own for a short time, until the day she couldn't any longer, and the prairie then began to creep back and reclaim its territory, thistles taking over the cornfield and wildflowers pushing into the little house, while the tall grasses grew up and up, finally free, until nothing was left of any of them but the whispering of the wind.


Linking up with Ivy at Uncharted for Six Sentence Stories with the prompt "grave."
  


Friday, August 14, 2015

The-College-Boy-Is-Back-At-School List Of Thankfuls

We moved our College Boy back to school this week. It's bittersweet to see your kids go off to college; we spend 18 years getting them ready for this moment, only to want to turn back the clock and make them small again. 

That's freshman year. By the time they're, say, juniors, you kind of finding yourself counting the days until summer vacation is over and you can send them back to college, even if you feel a lump forming in your throat the night before they go and shed a tear or two after you drop them off. Here's my somewhat feeble attempt to find the thankfuls in his leaving:

1. Most (but not all) of the stuff he brought home in May and PROMISED to take to his room before Memorial Day weekend is now out of my house and in his new apartment.

2. We will all have enough hot water for our showers.

3. Ruby can nap in peace without threat of him swooping her up and forcing her to be carried against her will.

4. He and his sister won't be fighting over the car anymore (which is kind of funny, really, since we have crappy cars and they're fighting not over who gets the good car, but who gets the LEAST crappy car).

5. We won't have to hear the old bowling pin he uses to prop his door open (old house, nothing plumb) fall over onto the hardwood floor when he trips over it.

6. Our salsa bill will plummet.

7. Actually, our entire grocery bill will plummet.

8. We'll be able to see the top of the little table in the entry hall where he piles his stuff when he comes in the door.

9. Pasta can go back on the menu, since he won't eat it.

10. He's halfway through with his undergraduate degree!

I'm not going to think about how I'm going to miss talking with him, his bear hugs and shoulder rubs, his laugh, even those size 15 shoes in the middle of the floor. 


For the record, he does NOT go to Arkansas;
it was a free shirt.

What are your thankfuls for the week? Link up with us. Please?



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