Saturday, June 27, 2009

Couple of Old Sayings

I thought about some things we used to say as kids:

"You stink like cyarn!"
I don't know how to spell it but it rhymes with yarn. Somebody told me that the paper plant used a ditch filled with water, and when the water evaporated the "cyarn" was the chemical left over and made a terrible smell. Now cyarn doesn't sound like a chemical name to me, and it pretty much stunk all the time around the paper plant, so what gives? Anyone with paper-producing expertise?

"He's dead as a doornail."
I used to think it was a nail in a door, but I think it's really spelled doorknell because I read that word somewhere, but now the Mad Cow has stolen the truth from me. Anyone?

Also, for some reason that made me think of the time I was in the 4th grade and got to go the regional spelling bee (I won at school on the word parallel after a smarmy 5th grade boy demonstrating a superior attitude spelled it paralell). Some teacher drove and another named Miss Moore rode in the front, then myself and a girl named Ruthie were in the back. Winston may have been in there too, because I remember being crowded and sitting on the hump in the middle. Anyway, Ruthie was telling us all the chores she had done so far: got up at 5 AM to feed the animals and fix breakfast for her brother, etc. and I asked her if she lived on a farm (because doesn't it make sense that if you get up that early and do chores you might be a farmer?). Miss Moore proceeded to bust a gut laughing for some reason which I didn't understand and said, "Arnold, you crack me up." (She always called me Arnold, which made me feel that I, the homeliest nerd in class, had a cool nickname. But now that I think about it, I think she called everybody by their last names.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Pool, But This is Less Maintenance!

So the way we cool off in the yard now is to jump on the swing and get Daddy to run us over his head - wheeeeeeee! You can't tell how high this thing is really going, but let me just say all the neighbors better close their shades if they don't want me peeking over the fence!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Out of Lemonade

These boys decided last night to sell some books. They spent about an hour and a half going through Drew's bookshelf and working on pricing and signage. I pulled out a few to keep (you just CAN'T sell Shel Silverstein - he's classic!) and set them free the next day. I helped carry out the big table, but the rest was all them. Drew set up quite a nice display I think, though early on I thought it looked more like a chair sale. Before you get all mad at how hot and miserable they look, let me say that I suggested a shady spot, provided them with a big umbrella, filled up thermoses of ice water, and even provided a pitcher of ice water and styrofoam cups to offer their customers. Drew suggested selling ice water for $1 but I taught him that if your customers are comfortable and happy, they'll browse longer and possibly buy something. A nice neighbor told Drew he should only give ice water to people who buy 2 books or more.

They stayed out about 2 hours, attracted a friend from around the corner who wanted to hang out, and made $6.50 (prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.75). After they paid the friend $1 for helping bring it all in and letting them play with his electric scooter between customers, they netted $2.50 for Lucas and $3.00 for Drew. Tough work for the money. Maybe we'll check into Ebay - less risk of dehydration!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My First Teddy Bear

Lucas and I are proud to announce the arrival of our first homemade teddy bear. He has no name yet, and he is very pitiful. As my mother pointed out (in a constructive fashion), he appears to be hand-sewn (though I did a good bit on the machine) and I did not use matching thread. It's my first attempt - I was in a hurry and pink is what was in the machine. Then that ran out so I grabbed blue. I personally think his head's too big for his body, but he is precious to me and I love him anyway. It was a pattern I found on the web from some French person, who referred to knots as "nods" and introduced me to a section I never knew existed at Hobby Lobby: doll joints. You read that right - his arms and legs move and his head even turns. (I know, I know...Superwoman!) And seeing how he's so tiny but I bought enough fur for a larger bear pattern that I started out with, it looks like all the cousins will get bears for their birthdays and any upcoming holidays!

I also see now why I never had any romantic pictures taken with my newborn babies wearing nothing while I wear a white gown and gaze at them with an awed expression - I was going for that here but it came out looking quite vacuous. Not invoking "what an angel the Lord hath blessed me with" but "Yuk yuk! Looky-here what I done got!" (the latter spoken in Goofy's voice)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Thoughts on My Grandmother

I miss the old days. I miss going to Mamaw's house after church for Sunday dinner. (Hey Grampa, whaaaaaaat's for dinner? HeeHaw, anyone?) There was a meat plus creamed corn, black-eyed peas, collard greens (never touched the stuff myself), fresh cornbread and sweet tea. My special concoction was to mix the corn and black-eyed peas then crumble the cornbread over it and mix it up - YUM! And we were taught how to make a cornbread shake I guess, by crumbling the cornbread in a bowl of milk and eating it with a spoon - also good eats. But the first time I did that in front of non-family I was greeted with "What the HELL are you doing?"

And this dinner at Mamaw's was in the 70's and early 80's, not the late 80's when she moved in with us after my grandfather died and dinner was a sliced-up tomater and 4 green onions! Where the hell's the cornbread?! By then she was being a little passive-aggressive that the family now consisted of my mother coming home late from work, and Tracey and me sometimes. Scott was off at college, so until he came home there would be no 4-course meal.

Some more funny things I remember:
1) Mamaw didn't mind tickling your back, but it was more of a back SCRATCH, so you could only stand it for a couple of minutes. Maybe that's how she avoided having to tickle for long periods of time.
2) She held the steering wheel at 7 and 5 o'clock and didn't turn the wheel hand over hand. She scooted one hand over to the other and pulled the wheel, then did this repeatedly till she was done. She also drove really slow when I was young, and much faster when I was older.
3) She liked to get silly and dance sometimes, but they had the worst albums at their house - Eddie Arnold (one album featured Kay Arnold!), Make the World Go Away, Tennessee Ernie Ford. The best one was jokes told by that country fella with a cousin named Cletus who said "Hawwwwwwww" all the time - Mad Cow's got his name. (addendum 6/15/09 Jerry Clower)
4) She called my grandfather by his last name his whole life, but called her 2nd husband by his first name.
5) After my grandfather's funeral we spent the night with her, and as we were going to sleep she said, "I know I talked ugly to him, but I miss old Papaw."

Now I've done made myself cry, so I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Flash from the Past

From the Sunday, June 14, 2009 Mobile Press, authored by Debbie Freeland:

"Patsy Fincher took first place in the Appetizers Cookoff sponsored by the Mobile County Farmers Federation Women's Committee at the Jon Archer Agricultural Center. Her winning dish was special spinach dip. Quanna Driskell took second place with her snowpeas with chicken, and Maxine Wahl won third place with her stuffed bread appetizer."

Now read this out loud, but do a couple of things first:
1. Drop your R's
2. Channel Olympia Dukakis from Steel Magnolias (do NOT imitate Julia Roberts - totally unauthentic)

This should now come out, "Pat-seh Finchuh took fuhst place..." Are you smiling yet?

Now this just put a huge smile on my face because there's a picture of 3 smiling ladies holding trays of food, and I thought couldn't that be me? Wouldn't my grandmother be proud of me for that? That's such a Sylacauga-ish article and I imagine Irene reading it and saying, "Well I declare! Looka-here Sherry Nell at these ladies. I've got to call Mattiebelle (yes, really) and tell her to look at the paper."

My grandmother's friends were all so nice and one of them even sewed a prom dress for me (that would be the dear sweet Mattiebelle, who seemed to be about 6 feet tall somehow). Now they were all nice except for that one who thought she was "Miss Asterbutt" and had to be told to "step to hell!" (I sense that my mother is now picking up the phone to call me and give me a tongue-lashing for this one.)

Their conversations were so funny - which grocery store had their tomatoes on sale and for how much, what they were wearing to the Eastern Star meeting, how was that new catfish restaurant that opened last week. But the absolute best phone call of all: "Hey...I heard they got Mrs. Johnson up at the funeral home. Let's ride up there and see how she looks." If I'm lyin', I'm dyin' (and feel free to come on by). I guess in a small town if you know the undertaker, you can get a backstage pass before the show.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sorry for the Out of Order Pictures

I was cleaning out my closet the other night when I came across this dress. I made it in 1996 to wear to a banquet. (Can't you tell it's 1996 by the white hose and permed hair? That wasn't even the year I permed my hair 5 times in 12 months!) At any rate, I found it in the closet and put it on - gasp! It still fit! I paraded into the bedroom where Dean and the boys were, and Dean says, "Did you just buy that dress?" Shock and awe, people, shock and awe. The dress still fits and apparently looks like something I just bought! So that started my sewing itch again.

Does anybody sew? It's an itch you get to make something, and it's kept me up past midnight sometimes to try and finish something. I took lessons at the sewing store (Miss Brenda, so there Mad Cow!) when I was in the 7th grade and made a fabulous pair of khaki pants with a waistband and zipper, thank you very much. I proudly wore them to school, and unfortunately had to ride home with my good friend Winston from school that day. In 1979, riding home with Winston meant jumping in the back of the pickup truck. Well, as soon as I threw my leg over the tailgate, RRRRIIIIIPPPPP! Goodbye beautiful pants. Apparently the zipper was fabulous but the rear seam was lacking.

At any rate, I've made lots of clothes for myself over the years, all still hanging in my closet collecting dust because you just can't throw away something you made, and nobody at the Goodwill wants your unfinished seam edges. I've also made a shirt for Drew and boxers for Lucas. (Now that left sleeve wasn't REALLY that much longer than the other, he just stretched it out.) So luckily, I still had fabric and notions for a pink skirt that I bought 2 or 3 years ago (when the itch leaves, it's gone for quite a while), but the boys have to be right up under me, you know, so they needed projects too. So I pulled out the books to let them look (I used to belong to a sewing club that sent patterns every month - that's how addicted I was). Lucas settled on a teddy bear and Drew wants gloves for some reason. I'll post pictures of the bear as he comes along and also the gloves ("if it doesn't fit, you must acquit" - also 1996 I think.)

Anyway, I finished the pink skirt in time to wear it to dinner tonight, so that itch was successfully scratched. And in this economy, sewing your own clothes is going to be as valuable as growing your own vegetables. I wonder if Michelle Obama can sew?

Serious Baby Questions - I Mean Really Serious

Another wonderful baby conversation in the car with the boys. I have no recollection how it started. If the Mad Cow lets up a little I'll add it in later:

Lucas (6): Mom, can babies ever die on the day they're born?
Mom (41): Yeah, they can.
Drew (12): Of course. Babies can die BEFORE they're born. (the tone here is DUH!)
L: How does that happen?
D: Lots of things: not enough to eat, too much alcohol...
L: Are you ALWAYS asleep when the baby comes out?
D: What??? You're NEVER asleep when the baby comes out!
M: Yes, SOMEtimes they have to put you to sleep.
L: When?
M: Well, if they have to (do I say it? what else can I say?) cut the baby out of your stomach really fast.
L: I thought they ALWAYS cut the baby out of your stomach. (No, that's not the usual way.) So why would they have to do it really fast?
D: Like I said, if the baby's sick because of too much alcohol or not enough food!
Who taught him this stuff?

The next day Lucas asked if my belly button flipped inside out as he got bigger, and also if Drew was in there at the same time as he was. Other questions have included why boobs don't go away after the baby's grown up (oh, sweetheart, they may not go away, but they sure get closer to the ground!).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Favorite Song

This has apparently been around a few months but I just heard it this morning – GOOD STUFF!!! That’s all I have to say about that.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Lonely Diners

So we decided to eat out Friday night at a nice restaurant in the area (we'd had our Waffle House fix earlier in the week). The kids showered and we all gussied up a bit. Then things went downhill. It started with the reservation:
"Can I get a reservation for 4 at 7 PM tonight?"
"NO! We're not open at 4!"
"No, it's for 4 PEOPLE, at 7 PM."
"Oh, sure. You said 4? At 7:10?"
"No, 7 PM."

Then we a completely empty parking lot. The waiter (henceforth known as W) indicates he knew who we were when we drove up (being the only reservation of the night, apparently). He takes our drink order - would we like sodas, tea, water...? Dean orders a cocktail.
"Uh, sir, we don't sell alcohol. They should have told you when you made the reservation." HUH???? There's a bar right in the front! Dean decides to run down the street and get a bottle of wine. While he's gone, the kids ask for a Dr. Pepper and root beer. The waiter squenches up his face, "I'm sorry, we don't have root beer OR Dr. Pepper."

Dean comes back with wine and W proceeds to get the wine opener stuck in the cork. He makes small talk while glancing nervously at the bottle, then excuses himself to the kitchen. While he's gone, fruit flies swarm our table and we all take turns slapping at them. He returns with the wine poured out into a decanter - guess they dug the cork out with a knife. He leaves us with 2 cloudy wine glasses which Dean cleans with his napkin.

We place our orders, enjoy delicious salads, and proceed to wait an hour for the entrees. Lucas asks at one point, "Why are we whispering?" to which I reply, "When you're not saying nice things you should whisper so they don't hear you." Somewhere around 8 PM the chef comes out to say hello and explain the liquor license issue, and also tells us about his struggles in this market, etc. We empathize with his plight and appreciate his plans for the future - things will be great! (I hope he doesn't notice me swatting gnats out of my face.) Then we wait another 10 minutes for W to come back with the squenched up face and tell Dean, "I'm sorry, but they just told me we're out of mushrooms....I can go up to the store and get some but it'll take a few minutes." WHAAAAA???

Finally dinner comes, and other than Dean's entree being cold and mushroomless (other than THAT Mrs. Lincoln...), everything's delicious. Drew declares his the best gumbo he's ever tasted (even better than the white chili?!). The chef does one more drive-by then takes off, and W finally brings a bill about 30 minutes later. And never comes back....ever. Dean has to get up and KNOCK on the kitchen door to pay the bill. (We'd really like to leave now...please?) Then we walk out of the empty dining room to the empty parking lot and go home.

At least W didn't ask us to turn off the lights and lock up on our way out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

God Bless the GBS!

We had a very gung-ho babysitter (GBS) the past 2 days. She told Drew how much she loved cooking and he told her about the upcoming cooking camp he's signed up for, and they decided to look up a recipe, buy the ingredients, and cook it up the next day. He suggested gumbo - he wanted to cook that on the Boy Scout camping trip, but we'd dissuaded him from that. I mean, it's requires a you know how Dean slaves over his ROUX to get it just right? It's hours of standing and stirring and that's before you even put all the SEAFOOD in! (You can see here I was thinking about how much this shopping trip would cost and would it be edible afterwards.)

Well, I forgot to ban the gumbo when I left for work this morning, so when I walk in this afternoon, the house smells like bacon and onions. I mean, it's not bad, just different. They're so proud of the "gumbo," which GBS prefers to call "white chili." She found the recipe on and it looked pretty easy, so off they went to buy potatoes, frozen shrimp (you need a microscope), bacon, onions, canned clams, and half-and-half. GBS says Drew did most of the work; she just chopped onions and supervised. They even cooked rice!

So I had it for was pretty good! I did have to pick out pieces of bacon to bite off the meat and lay the fat aside, because they didn't cook it very much and there was quite a bit of fat left. And I'm really worried about how many calories I ate because the main ingredient was half-and-half, and it really was WHITE soup! And I asked Drew what the stringy greenish things were - leeks? - and he told me those were the clams.....huh???? I did find a few sea monkeys, er...I mean shrimplings, in my bowl, but it was mostly potatoes.

So overall, it was tasty if a bit unhealthy, I didn't have to cook it, Drew was proud of it, and I haven't run to the bathroom yet with cramps, so I deem it a success. Thanks, GBS!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Newest Thing!

So who knows about geocaching? We do now - it's become an obsession. We spent a weekend in Auburn with "GeoJester65" and "Funkygirl" who taught us all about it. We came right home and found our first cache right around the corner. I mean, look at all the loot in that thing! Of course, you only take one thing if you leave one thing of equal value. And then there are microcaches which are tiny metal pill containers dangling from tree limbs, poles, etc. So fun!

So now I realize that the couple with the baby wandering around the empty lot down the road last year were actually NOT homeless drug addicts looking for the next hit, but geocachers who got interrupted and tried not to give up the location to the "muggles." I myself am probably mistaken for a vagrant, especially when the boys and I are wandering aimlessly behind businesses poking at rocks and bushes and looking over our shoulders. So far the police have not been called, but just give it a little time...

P.S. Go to to check it out - it's free but you need a GPS or you can download an app to your phone ($9.99).