Saturday, May 7, 2011

Number 1

A few weeks ago, Will and I took a trip to Home Depot.  We were on one of those, “let’s fix up the house” kicks.  After we added the essentials to the buggy, you know, bug spray, grout cleaner, and clippers, we came across the gardening section (**eyes start glowing).  I immediately begin grabbing gardening gloves and tiny shovels, my thoughts set on seeds and miracle grow. 

**Voice of reason and logic enter…”Babe, don’t you think we should research a bit before we begin this gardening venture?”--via Will, of course. 

Seriously, holding back tears, I give in.  I hold a grudge for the next two or three aisles, then realize the horrible truth, he’s right.  I know absolutely nothing about gardening, except that, for some reason, I’m really moved to “garden”.  It seems so natural, which it is.  But, also, the thought of wearing gloves, digging in the dirt, and growing something that I can eat is SO Weezer (Steel Magnolias reference), that I can’t resist.

**I really did tell the above story to reference the following

Present day:  Kentucky Derby Day
We all know how the Kentucky Derby works, well, for the people who actually go anyway.  It’s a huge deal!  All the fun stuff that includes, but is not limited to, glorious dress, amazing hat, and fancy little drinks with sprigs of green stuff floating out the top.  That’s the Derby.  I think it would be amazing to actually be at the Derby, but, I’m a commoner (which, by the way, the lovely Kate Middleton has made that pretty awesome), so I’m sitting at home with my lovely family to watch all the fun in amazement.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t play the part, right?

Finding the right dress and hat are key.  That’s what makes these women at the derby so elegant.  But, any of you who know me, know that the one word you would never use to describe me, would be “elegant”.  I look for my dress and my hat, and think, “I’ve found them; Dress…perfect.  Hat…divine!”  About two hours before the derby is set to start, I get dressed.  I look at myself in the mirror, and immediately think, “I look like a gardener.”   And, I do!  Straw hat, “hippie dress”, yep, I am totally a gardener.

I begin making the mint juleps to try and salvage my quest to hit divinity on this fine day.  Let me just say, I am NOT a bourbon fan, but, the royalty at the derby drink these.  I can do this!  I finish making this concoction that smells like death.  I take my first sip, and literally gag, waiting for the dry heaving to begin. 

The derby coverage has begun.  I watch as all these women walk through, celebrities, socialites, heirs.  They look so beautiful and refined, guided by security and bodyguards.  These women are so put together, and so beautifully happy.   I look at myself, and see a gardener.  So unrefined, gagging at these dainty drinks, and watching the derby in my “hippie” dress, legs sprawled, drinking a Miller Lite, seeing as how I trashed the julep.  But, I am having so much fun!  Why, you ask?  Cause this is ME!  I may not be refined in the same respect as the derby divas, and I may not be as elegant.  But, I am me, gardener and all, and I am totally cool with that! 

We are all defined at some point in our lives, “the brain”, “the athlete”, “the beauty”, “the rebel”—come on, the Breakfast Club taught us this!  But, there comes a point in our lives, when we let go of the labels that others give us, and find our own.  The lovely ladies at the derby have their labels, some they were given, and some, that they have been lucky enough to give themselves.  Today, I am fortunate enough to find mine, on my own!  I am a gardener in this crazy game of life.  I am unrefined and far from elegant.  But, I am SO happy with the person I am, and wouldn’t change it for all the juleps in the great state of Kentucky.  I am a gardener and can’t wait to go back to Home Depot to get my seeds and tiny shovel!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Number 29

According to Urban Dictionary, the following definitions apply to, “up the road”:

1.     Up The Road
Deceptively nearby, especially when referring to a destination requiring a car trip. The term applies well in areas where roads are winding and possess very few landmarks, such as in rural communities.
The county courthouse is right up the road. (In reality, it takes about 45 minutes to get there.)

2.     Up The Road
An expression used when someone in prison loans you something. For instance, someone gives you a bag of chips and says "up the road." That means, "I want to see that exact same bag of chips some day".
Here's some cigarettes, up the road, my brotha.

For as long as I can remember, my dad and Uncle Donnie have played Keno on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  I have to admit, I didn’t know what they were doing on those mornings until I was a little older.   Mainly because, whenever I asked where they were going, I always got the response, “up the road”.  I never asked where "up the road" was, I was just content with any answer, I suppose.  The older I got, it became clear to me that, “up the road”, seemed to be my family’s terminology for any place that had anything to do with gambling.  So, the following is the definition for “up the road”, according the Laney-Graben Dictionary:

1.     Up the Road
Any place where gambling is affiliated; can include, but not limited to, a Shell gas station, the terribly missed dog track (aka: Victoryland), Biloxi, and yes, even PhiladelphiaMississippi that is.
a.      Mama, where did daddy go?  He and Uncle Donnie went up the road.
b.      Mama Nell and JJ went up the road, to Shorter (when it was open, mind you).

A few weekends ago, I stayed with my parents in Valley, and I had the pleasure of accompanying my dad and Uncle Donnie in their trip, "up the road" Sunday morning. 
That Saturday night before, my dad gave me a pre-Keno lesson.  He brought some of those ticket things home for me to go ahead and fill out, so I would be well prepared for our Keno session.  I took about an hour to select my numbers.  I thought, “There has to be some art to picking these Keno numbers”, so I wanted to make sure I had it down.  I had some crazy system for picking my numbers.  I can’t really explain how I did it.  Just know there was a lot of adding, subtracting, birthday recognition, and of course 90210 involved.  Jack picked my last number for me, 82.  Too bad, the numbers on the ticket don’t go past 80.  Of all numbers for a 5 year old to pick, 82, really?   So, I just added 8 and 2 together, and he reluctantly agreed to that.

Dad woke me up pretty early Sunday morning.  After I removed Jack’s foot from my rib cage, I got out of the bed to get ready to go “up the road” and play some Keno, for the very first time.  I was so excited.  For so long, I’ve watched my dad and Uncle Donnie go, and I couldn’t wait to see what it was all about!

My dad and I picked up Uncle Donnie and rode “3 deep” (3 deep is a Valley term; see Urban Dictionary for any confusion), in my granddad’s old Blue truck to the Shell station in West Point.  We walk in and Uncle Donnie and I go straight to the coffee as dad goes to the cashier to turn our Keno tickets in.  I follow Uncle Donnie to a table near the Keno screen, and realize I probably need to pay for my coffee.  Nope, no need.  You know why?  My dad and my Uncle Donnie are such rock stars in this place, they get FREE coffee.  I’m not kidding you when I tell you…I think this is so awesome and I feel quite cocky sitting next to the “locals” at the Keno booth!

We sit down at one of the 6 booths near the Keno screen, and wait for the next Keno game to start.  As we’re waiting, Uncle Donnie notices Loretta has started her shift.  He refers to said manager Loretta, as Woody Woodpecker.  Apparently this chick knows my dad and Uncle Donnie pretty well.  I mean, they are locals here.  I’m curious as to why she has the nickname, but it doesn’t take long to understand once I hear her belt out in what might be the most annoying, yet endearing laugh I’ve ever heard. 

At this point, the games have already started and we’re not doing so hot.  Out of about 7 or 8 games, I think we won maybe a total of two bucks.  I didn’t care one bit.  I had so much fun hanging out with my dad and Uncle Donnie that honestly, the game didn’t even matter.  As we go to leave, Uncle Donnie gives Loretta, aka Woody Woodpecker, a flirtatious goodbye, and we head home. 

Sometimes when we become “adults”, if I can call myself that, we seem to forget the small things that make us so happy.  I am SO lucky to have the family I do!  Fun, entertaining, loving, funny, giving…happy, those are seriously just a few words that describe my family.  And, hopefully, they’ll rub off on me J

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Number 8

A couple of months ago, Will and I ate dinner at a restaurant somewhere in this massive metropolis of Birmingham, and he enjoyed a steak with béarnaise sauce.  I tasted said steak, and thought the sauce tasted better than what I imagine a passionate kiss from Christian Bale must be like (Will, sorry, boo booJ). 

So, béarnaise sauce...that sounds French.  I'll try that! 

Rewind to a couple of weekends ago…Will's hunting and Jack's with the g-parents, so I'm in for a weekend of “me” time.  I'm thinking this was the perfect weekend to practice béarnaise sauce.  This will be one more conquest to check off my list, right?  I do some research and find a recipe for béarnaise sauce. I spend about 30 minutes in Publix trying to decide which type of white wine to buy for this recipe.  I've never cooked with wine, so, I’m thinking there must be some art to finding the right one.  I settle on the classic and cheap Sutter Home Pinot (good choice, right).

I get home, and realize I have a little time to kill before I start cooking.  So, I curl up on the couch and turn on the ol’ TV.  Now, let me just say this because I have to.  I’m normally not the type of girl who watches Lifetime movies.  Scratch that, of course I am.  Most girls are.   So, I get wrapped up in a real tear jerker, and I mean tear jerker.  You know the one…it causes you to do that uncontrollable, hyperventilating cry until you realize you’re talking to yourself about how sad this movie is?  (Insert look of hope that I’m not the only person who does this).  I do have to admit, however, part of the reason for the tears had to be related to the fact that I popped the cork on that vintage bottle of Sutter Home I bought for the sauce, a little early to get a taste J

Once I’m able to calm myself down enough, after this horribly sad movie, in order to work with a hot stove, I begin to make this white wine reduction for the sauce.  It’s pretty much a conglomeration of white wine (not much left to cook with at this point, by the way), white wine vinegar, and shallots.  I make this reduction, and then realize I need a double boiler to finish the sauce.  Don’t have one.  So, I take a trusty stainless steel bowl and hold it over a skillet of simmering water.  After what feels like hours of whisking my arm away, I’m finished.  I tasted the sauce, and I must say…it’s pretty close to what the restaurant’s béarnaise sauce tasted like.  I was pretty proud of myself.  An hour later, I took an Advil or two and went to bed. 

Last week, I decided to cook the French meal, number 8 on my list.  After practicing the sauce the weekend before, I felt pretty confident.  Normally, I can’t stand when Will stands over me in the kitchen while I’m cooking, watching and tasting (and burning his tongue every single time, no matter how many times I tell him, “it’s hot”).  But this time, as I’m cooking my fancy sauce, I found it to be really comforting.  On a nightly basis, Jack’s in the kitchen about every 3 minutes, either playing basketball with Will or running behind me at the exact moment I turn around, in turn, almost causing a mass collision in the kitchen.  Can we say stressful?  Tonight’s no different, except for the fact that I’m different.  It doesn’t bother me that he’s like a tiny tornado in the kitchen.  I look around at MY little non-traditional family, and I realize how lucky I am to have a boyfriend that wants to be around me so much, he’ll stand in the kitchen just to talk to me.  And, a son who’s so happy and loving, he wants to be near us all the time  Instead of being so ramped up because I’m trying to finish cooking, I’m actually taking the time to enjoy “just being together” as a family. 

In the end, I’m not sure if my meal was 100% French, but it was close enough for me.  I made steak with béarnaise sauce, lemon asparagus, and chateau potatoes.  It was a hit!  Jack even tried it.  According to Will, the sauce was “on fire”! 

I went into this “list project” thinking it would be fun.  I had no idea how much I would learn.  And, it’s just the beginning! Moral of the story…sometimes it takes what feels like a “Lifetime” of experiences, tears, and maybe even a cheap bottle of wine to realize what you love most in life.  My “me” time showed me just how much I love the two men in my life, and how much I adore being with my non-traditional family.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Number 11

Stocking stuffers are the hardest things to consider when giving Santa clues for Christmas gifts.  They have to be small enough to fit into a stocking that would, let’s be honest, fit a very large footed person, and, big enough to be exciting.  Will had the fantastic idea  for a stocking stuffer this past Christmas, that goes by the name of, “Flarp!”, aka…noise putty, aka…flatulence flubber.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s kind of like silly putty in a play-doh cup.  It makes vulgar, yet, hilarious noises when you push on it.  Flatulence flubber, yep, that’s the best way to describe it.

While putting my sweet angel son to bed tonight, I stepped on what felt like, a small rock.  In actuality, it was dried up flatulence flubber.  It took a while for me to figure out that this small, hard, GROSS, piece of hard green solid wasn’t a booger (gag), but a piece of dried flatulence flubber that had been mistakenly left out of it’s home.  After kissing my angel goodnight, and him telling me that he forgot to poop before bed (lovely), I thought, “this hard, old, dried up, flatulence flubber is going straight to the trash”.  I was about to throw it straight in the trash, and then I thought how much it reminded me of tonight’s events.  Stick with me…

As I started number 11(do a split) of my list, I realized how much I had in common with the dried up flatulence flubber.  I started with slow, steady stretches to begin preparation for doing this split.  As I discovered that I could only reach the top of my thigh while stretching, I realized that I was no Jessie Spano.  I wonder if she had this much trouble preparing for her challenging, and, thought-provoking role in Showgirls.  This was going to take a lot of work.  This may just be the first thing on my list that I start, and also, the very last thing I accomplish…hopefully. 

Back to the flubber.  I like to think that about 5, ok, maybe more like 10 years ago, I was somewhat “fit”.  Hmmmm.  Not so much, anymore.  My muscles are exactly like a piece of dried up, compact, flatulence flubber.  In it’s “hey day”, they were quite the smooth gift.  Now, my muscles seem more like flatulence flubber after being left out and unused for some time.  Hard, immobile, compact, and a waste…something that you step on and immediately look at, and shake your head, while picking it up and sending it straight to the trash, which, by the way, is exactly what I began to do.  That is, til I realized, the flatulence flubber, is me…in a sense.  It was once smooth, new, and entertaining.  Now it was all old, dried up, no fun at all anymore.  NO!!!  There had to be a way to redeem this dried up flubber.

So, after much thought, I called on some good ol’ olive oil.  Hey, what do ya know, a little olive oil brought that dried up flatulence flubber right back to life.

Moral of the story…Number 11 is gonna take a lot of work.  But, I’m not too old and dried up quite yet to complete this task.  It’s just gonna take a little work to get my muscles, and myself going again.  And, a little olive oil won’t hurt either J

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Quest

I have a great, I mean, GREAT life.  But, at the tender age of 29,   I’ve come to the realization that although my life is full, it’s not fulfilled.   This realization came after being a crying passenger in a car bound for Helena, my new found home. 

After 6 months of living in Helena, I can honestly say, this is where Jack and I are meant to be.  But, I have to admit, I do get a little homesick at times.  A couple of weeks ago my “modern family” made the familiar trip back home to Helena, after visiting family and friends in Auburn.  I suddenly realized how much I miss my life in Auburn.  Not because my life isn’t great in Helena.  It is.  It’s more than great.  For the first time, I feel like everything is right!  I think because I came to this conclusion, I began to think about me, which is something I haven’t done in quite some time. 

That sounds bad…let me explain.  For so long, I have been a mom, a single mom.  My life has centered around Jack, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!  But, like most moms, not just single moms, I lost myself some in the process.  I worked, cooked, cleaned, read books, wiped boogers (which by the way, is true love, cause boogers make me seriously gag!).  Fast forward several years to when I meet Will, my best friend.  Luckily he looks like Kurt Cobain too.  We fall in love, yada yada, and decide to shack up.  Let me just say, Will and Jack are the best things in this world, so the two of them together, under one roof, with me…couldn’t be a sweeter life.  Because my life is so great, I started wanting more.  It’s kinda like the way Jack views ranch dressing.  It started out as just a dressing, but turned into so much more!  He loves ranch dressing so much, he wants it on pizza, fries, twinkies (gag again).  That’s how I view this revelation.  I love my life so much, I want even more.  I want to be fulfilled completely.  I have a son that is my life and I’ve found my soul mate.  Now, I want the rest of my “wants”. 

Back to the car ride where I started crying, and probably freaked Will out a bit.  I started thinking of how much I missed feeling needed.  Now that Jack’s getting older, and Will helps me SO much, I thought I wasn’t needed as much.  I talked to Will about everything, and how I felt like I didn’t really have a life outside of being mom and super duper, hot, sexy, funny live-in girlfriend.  He made the suggestion that maybe I needed to do more for “me”, do things that fulfilled me. 

Because I’m such a super smart human being, I only surround myself with those like me.  Will started this craze, with the whole, “doing things to fulfill me” thing, and my female best friend Kristin continued the trend of smart ideas.  She told me how she was going to make this list of 29 things to do before she was 30.  What??!!  That’s perfect.  You mean, like traveling around the world?  Yeah, not gonna realistically fit into anyone’s life that has responsibility, right?  More like, shooting a roman candle out of my hand type stuff, is what I’m thinkin.  I’ll have a few things that are a little more exciting, of course, but it’s my list, so I want to do things for me!  Things I’ve never done, and have always wanted to.  Ya know, little things that may mean nothing to some, and big things that may mean the world to others. 

So, here’s the plan.  I have my list of 29 things to finish before my 30th birthday on December 7th, 2011.  I’ve got less than a year to do it, but I am determined to finish.  I’ll share my experiences here, and try to post pictures of me completing a number on my list, starting, failing, or whatever.   I really am excited about doing this, and I think it will be something I’ll remember forever, as cheesy as that sounds.  Wish me luck! 

"The List"
1.   Watch the Kentucky Derby in a big hat and a sundress
2.   Catch, clean, and cook a fish
3.   Eat at a restaurant that has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
4.   Have my palm read
5.   Skydive
6.   Stand on the Continental Divide
7.   Wear stilettos to dinner
8.   Cook a French meal
9.   Have a slumber party
10. Drive on a busy interstate for 29 minutes (for those of you who know me, this is the scariest thing on the list)
11.  Do a split
12.  Learn to play golf
13.  Eat cavier
14.  Learn to drive a stick shift
15.  Crochet a scarf
16.  Read 11 Pulitzer Prize winning books
17.  Start a blog (Boo Yah...done!)
18.  Eat 29 different types of sushi
19.  Learn to Rhumba
20.  Get Bobby Flay's autograph
21.  Change someone's life
22.  Go "all in" on a bet
23.  Host a dinner party
24.  Watch a sunrise
25.  Learn to use a pogo stick
26.  Learn all the words and karaoke to Spacehog's "In the Meantime"
27.  Snow ski
28.  Fire a pistol
29.  Play keno with my dad