Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sounds Like a Good Idea

There's lots of discussion these days about the roles of women. Should we be working outside the home? Have we advanced in society? Are we valued? Do we have independence? Well, there are lots of opinions on these burning questions, but I want to know how in the world we lost The Red Tent.

If you read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, the story of Dinah in the Bible, you will learn that women of those biblical times had a special tent. Once a month, they spent their five "days of the month" in the tent with any other women also needing the tent. They laid there all day, having food brought to them and relieved of their normal daily duties. (By the way, this is an excellent book!)

Now, I know that their lives were probably incredibly more difficult than the modern woman, but at what point did we give up this tent? We really messed up giving up the tent. I think it's a great idea. In fact, I have a tent I think I'll put up in the back yard. They can bring me grapes and salads, and I'll recline, reading a romance novel. Doesn't it sound grand?

A Turkey's Butt

There is an interesting trend in hairstyles these days that may be a good thing for me: the messy look. You know, the kind of hairstyle that looks like you went to bed with your hair wet and now it's all sticking straight up in the back. Dh says many of his female co-workers have these new styles, and he can't figure out if they mean it to look deliberately messy or they actually are. Not appreciating the style, he says they look like the backside of a turkey.

At a restaurant last month, the youngish waitress had styled her hair so that it stuck straight up in the back. Perhaps having had one too many beers, an older man at a table of elderly couples leaned over and loudly told the woman that her hair was sticking up. She just laughed. It did look for all the world like a cow had licked her. I think I'll try this style to the left. Then, no one will know if I forgot to brush it or am just on the cutting edge of fashion.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


It's not everyone that has the opportunity to attend her own Dad's graduation from high school, but yesterday, I did. My dad, a veteran of the Korean War who attained his GED in the Navy, found out that in Ohio, veterans can be awarded a high school diploma from their school if having served during a war, they have a GED and an honorable discharge. So Dad and two other veterans yesterday were given a small ceremony at Purcell-Marian High School in Cincinnati. Congratulations, Dad! I'm proud of you!

Monday, June 26, 2006


Dh was at lunch in a restaurant and really liked the salad dressing. He asked the waitress to find out what brand it was. She went into the kitchen to check. On returning, she told dh that the label said it was "Uh-See-Un" salad dressing. Dh was puzzled as he sat eating his salad, until he realized that "Uh-See-Un" could be spelled out: Asian.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

He's Hot

Our barn is falling apart at the seams. Badly engineered, it is sliding out to both sides and the roof will eventually cave in. All the Bubbas we've had look at it shook their heads in disbelief and told us we'd be better off (financially) to bulldoze it and start over. At first glance, it's a nice barn, but we can see the impending disaster as the beams pull away from each other and the doors sag. We keep hoping for an "act of God" to take it down, but we've not been that fortunate. And, of course, the horses are in there, so we can't really hope for that.

Poor dh. It flitted across his mind that the financing we received for the barn would buy a fast and sporty car. For a brief moment, he was in a little red convertible in his mind. But, selfless man that he is, he will continue to drive an old, beige mini-van so that we have a decent barn for his girls' horses. He always says it's worth it, because he thinks the horse activity builds character and keeps them out of trouble.

We contacted an Amishman builder in this area for an estimate. He arrived in an old van with a driver in a cloud of cigarette smoke, a wizened old farmer that looked to be 158 years old. Jake, the Amishman, was very approachable and amiable. He laughed at our miniature pony when it bit his knee and talked about his children having ponies and how they'd love the mini. He showed us photographs of barns and gave us a few ideas.

Lauren and I, having read several books on the Amish, were curious about seeing a true representative of them. He was no different really, other than his clothing and very slight accent. He had a gentle laugh. After he left though, I remarked to the girls about his clothing, "He looked hot." Anna paused momentarily, and said, "Mom! What kind of hot are you talking about?" We all laughed. Yes, I was very turned on by his straw hat and suspenders.

I think that the only thing that draws me to learning about the Amish is their sense of community and perhaps slower lifestyle that is sadly lacking in today's rushed world. Maybe the quiet, too. Perhaps it's there, though, and you have to look for it.

William and I went to get our hair cut, and while there, passed the hour waiting talking to a neighbor. We had a haircut by people we'd known for years. Then, we stopped at the grocery and then to the Farmers' Market in the town square. We bumped into many neighbors, and looked over the many booths. I was looking for pickles. My dill is ready, and as William often reminds me, "Mom. We have to make pickles." So, I found a bushel and got in line. When I got to the table to pay, I realized I was five dollars short. No problem, said the lady, pay me next time you come. "You're kidding me," I said. No really, she was sure I'd come back and give her her money, don't worry. She then called her daughter to carry my produce to the car a block away. She's right, I will come back.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mowing in Circles

I sat on the big Kioti tractor, my legs dangling like a kid and perversely mowed in a circle. All three of the main adult men in my life, my husband, my father and my father-in-law, decry mowing in a circle. My father has gone so far as to say only hillbillies mow in a circle. So be it. I am a mowing hillbilly.

Perhaps because they told me I shouldn't, (perverse: in a contrary disobedient manner) mowing in a circle was attractive. But I think more, it was satisfying to see the circle get smaller and to waste no moment of mowing. Mowing straight, square lines was not important to me. Getting our neighbor's six acres mowed quickly was.

As I mowed, barn swallows swooped in front of me and I wondered if they were protecting fledglings and I was was in danger of mowing over them. I try not to think of that as I mow, what little creatures might be in my path. It has to be done, I tell myself, and I don't look back except for quick looks to see that the mower is doing it's job. Finally, it dawns on me that the barns swallows aren't dive bombing me - they're eating! The mower is kicking up all kinds of insects, exposing them in the now short grass, and the birds are having a feast tonight, compliments of my tractor.

Mowing is a very satisfactory task. It stays done for awhile after doing it, unlike most of my housework. You can't hear anyone, they can't hear you, and you can think. I worked out vacation plans, thought about things I needed to do, and wrote this blog. I mowed until I saw the sun ease its way under the horizon. I mowed in circles.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Debut on the Radio

Wonder what this crazy person sounds like? I'll be reading one of my blogs will be aired on local public radio on Thursday, June 22 at around 6:30 a.m. and again at 8:35 a.m. You can listen online by going to and click on either Windows Media Player or Real Player, depending on which one you have. If you live in or around Louisville, the station is WFPL, 89.3 FM.

It was an interesting experience, and now, I can consider myself a paid author. That's right, you get paid to be a commentator - $25. Considering that I thought when I was recording that I was doing it gratis or to feed my ego, I was pleased to get the email telling me to fill out the invoice for my fee.

Immediately, I thought back to my Compuserve Writer's Forum Days. After quitting my job to be a SAHM, I thought my time had come to fulfill my dream of being an author. I'd always wanted to write - just thought that I'd do it in my spare time. Hah! Life seems to fill in all the empty spaces. On Compuserve, I remember vividly the angry discussions about what constituted an "author". Those online that got paid to write or had actually published a book were offended when meeting someone who also claimed to be an "author" or "writer" because they were working on a book in their spare time. Authors were only people, they claimed, that had gotten paid. (BTW, I believe that Diana Gabaldon, one of my favorite authors, was and remains on this list. I wish I had saved printouts!)

The world of Blogging has somewhat blown this concept out of the water. I am often amazed at the quality and quantity of reading material on the web. (There's also a lot of hubris.) A good number of blogs have loads of readers and commentors, people that are regulars. Some have little ads on their blogs, getting paid a small amount for clicks on them. Some have none. But what makes a writer? Getting paid? Getting readers? Or, just writing?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fresh Produce

It's been cool this summer so far resulting in a good broccoli crop in my garden this year. So, with an abundance of it, I fixed some for dinner tonight. In a hurry, I decided to just rinse it and microwave it while I dashed about fixing the rest of dinner. Around the table, my family began eating and talking. About five minutes into the meal, dh stood up suddenly and spit out his broccoli. "Caterpillars," was his one word explanation.

Seems I forgot about that. Oops. All at once, my teen girls began yelling "EWWWWWWWWW" and spitting out their broccoli, retching dramatically. I casually picked up the one branch on my plate, and sure enough, there were several fat, juicy yellow worms. The spitting continued for a good five minutes. William even joined in, though he'd not eaten any broccoli yet. I'll admit, it turned the stomach a bit.

I'm sure this is one of those stories they'll save up for tormenting me later. It will get re-told at family gatherings and embellished. Like the time I made some chicken with a new spice that I found at the grocery. Okay, I put on a little too much, resulting in the "gunpowder chicken story". And, my dh and Lauren will NOT eat lasagna, particularly spinach lasagna, because one year, they both contracted a virus and threw up lasagna. They blamed the dish and now won't eat it, ever. They ignore the fact that Anna and I did not get sick on the same food. Well, I suppose that stories like this only come along once in awhile and are to be relished. Much like a fat, juicy worm.

The Whole World

"Mommy, do you know how much I love you?" asked William. "I love you SO much that the whole world loves you."

At least, it feels that way.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Call to Arms

There are moments when I think she's right. Like when I've picked up yet another banana peel casually left on the end table in the TV room. Or, when the dishwasher is "dirty" but not full, yet everyone piles the dishes on the counter without even looking. I think of my expensive and hard-won education sometimes as I wipe strawberry jam dribbled down the white kitchen cabinets. Endless possibilitites floated in front of me in my younger days . There are snips in time when I feel like an adult again because someone made a positive comment on my writing and wonder what it would be like to work where I'm appreciated.

So, who is she? Linda Hirshman thinks women who stay at home are wasting their education and should be in the work force. At one time, I think I might have been insulted and angry at this interview I found in Newsweek, but not anymore. She seems intent to continue the Mommy Wars, mom against mom, who's right and who's wrong. Women, she claims, need to be working and filling positions of power. Women are better educated than ever, yet our personal lives haven't changed much, she claims and women still do the brunt of the housework and child rearing.

Here are her three rules: "Prepare yourself to qualify for good work, treat work seriously, and don’t put yourself in a position of unequal resources when you marry." Oh, but wait, there's one more: "Have a baby. Just don’t have two. " So, in order to rule the world, today's women should marry a man that is either very into gender equality, or one that is so weak she can hen-peck him into submission. And, we can have but one child - her breadcrumb thrown to us from the table of plenty.

Where would this lead me? Which of my children would I not have had? Lauren, who plays Chopin with enough feelings to make adults misty-eyed? Anna, my sensitive child that writes and draws beautifully? How about William, the one that teaches me to enjoy the day and look at butterflies, and laugh. Yes, we might have a bigger house, more things. But we wouldn't have each other.

I won't debate each of her points. I have many thoughts on them, but my son awaits for some time in the sandbox. Yes, this engineer will be building roads, but in the sand. You see, Ms. Hirshman, I'm not a data point. I don't want to leave my child for the boardroom. I believe in Heaven, but I also believe in another type of immortality. Long after I am gone, I'll live on inside each of my children. They'll remember my words, they'll remember our times together, they'll remember laughter and tears. I'll live in them. And I will change the world, one child at a time. Your writing is for me a call to arms. I will call each of my children to my arms, and tell them that I love them. Stick that into your study.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Our Sophisticated Life

You know you live on a farm when:
Your teen daughter tells your preschool son that his hair smells funny and he replies, "Like what? Horse pee?"

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Two weekends ago, I decided to tackle cleaning the truck. It's a monumental task, believe me. The truck is not only a mode of transportation, but often a place for having lunch, changing clothes, storing toys and shoes. I've found French Fries in there older than my last hair cut, and that's saying something. (Don't you think it rather odd that McD's french fries don't mold? See movie Supersize Me.)

Discouraged, I thought I'd start on washing the outside. In the garage, there is a white bucket that dh has clearly marked CAR WASH ONLY to make sure it isn't used for all sorts of dirtier tasks, like cleaning horse sheaths, and to ensure a clean bucket if ever he wanted to wash his car. Even as I lifted it down from the nail in the garage rafters, I could feel the weight was more than it should be. Then, a bird swooped past me and out the door. I looked in the bucket, and to my surprise, discovered a house sparrow nest with two babies.

The nest is about a foot deep, and contains two, possibly three babies of a house sparrow. I now must leave my garage door open at least a little so that she can come and go to feed them. Obviously, she can't read - CAR WASH ONLY.

As with humans, they grow fast and already have feathers since this photo was taken. We take the bucket down, now and again, to take a peek. I don't know how they intend to fly the nest. It seems we're not the only ones nesting. See PITA Woman's blog.

Fancy Feet and An Interesting Sign

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Today, I recorded two blogs, Lime Green Shoes and an edited version of Over the Coals for the local public radio. If you are wondering if William's taste is shoes has improved, this photo speaks for itself.

My girls and I have always gotten a kick out of this unfortunate placement of this church's sign. The church building itself is to the right of the Porta-Potty. Only in Kentucky.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hey, Girlfriends!

Last night, Lauren played as beautifully as ever, and musically the best (according to her teacher and myself) as she's ever played. Sitting through what felt like hours of Twinkles and London Bridges, I thought back over the years of holding my breath as she and Anna played, marvelling at their interpretation of Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and proudly attending the reception after as their mom. And so, I sat for the littlest ones, smiling to my self.

Okay, smiling for awhile. I sat in the row from Hell. I got into the hall early and picked the perfect seat. I could see the keyboard; I had a good angle for videotaping. To my right, sat two young girls, maybe 4-5 years old that obviously had fire ants in their panties. Lil' Princess to my immediate right talked the entire performance.

To my left, sat a 5 year old little boy in his mama's lap. He had the bubonic plague or whooping cough or something. Several times, he had a major coughing fit. Aside from wondering disease he was kindly sharing with me, he had another major fit just as Lauren began to play. I have proof on my video camera. The good part of this is that it made me so very mad that the mom hadn't taken him out of the hall, that I didn't cry at her performance.

After the recital, a man came up to Lauren and complimented her on her fine blue dress. "It is SO you and went SO well with your song." Lauren thanked him and we moved off. Later, the man came back again, complimenting her dress. "Are you her mom?" he asked, placing one hand on his cocked hip. I stood a little taller and nodded. "Well, I hope you don't mind my saying so, but you should [he looks to Lauren] sweep your hair up, [he demonstrates with his hands] arrange it in like...say a French Twist."

Lauren and I both at this point are hiding our smiles. I explained that neither of us were very good with hair and that the salons are generally not open at the time of recitals. I asked if he'd help us, but he declined as he didn't do hair. He suggested that Lauren get together with her girlfriends and practice. I didn't explain that Lauren did get together with her girlfriends to practice, but they more likely practicing the perfect running vault onto their ponies or braiding manes and tails, not each other's hair. He was kind though, and gave us an amusing tale for the evening.

We told the story several times that night about how we'd heard that song, Chopin's Nocturne in E-Flat, Opus 9 about seven years ago and that dh promised Lauren a grand piano in return for playing it in recital. She has fulfilled her promise, as has dh. Did it make a difference? I believe so, as do her teachers. Now, if it could only double as a new car or dining room table or something.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Run, run, as fast as you can......

This week is Suzuki Piano Institute Week at the University of Louisville School of Music. Excellent Suzuki teachers from all over the country come for a week to teach students and teachers from all over the country. Lauren is attending it, as she has for years. It is well worth the effort, but strenuous for all.

Today's agenda includes doing our horse and animal chores, driving the 40 minutes to U of L, driving back halfway to meet dh for lunch, drive the rest of the way home to let the dogs out, and help Anna, newly returned from Canada, to retrieve her horse, Stealth from 1/2 hour the other way (requiring a trailer hookup). Then, drive back down to U of L to meet Lauren for dinner and help her prepare for her recital at 7 p.m. Dh and Anna can see to the horse chores tonight, I hope, for we won't be home until 9 p.m. And that's just today.

Later this week, I will be recording Lime Green Shoes and Over the Coals (about dh's grill) at the radio station. I'm looking forward to that. It makes me feel like an adult!

Anna's Mounted Games team, by the way, won second place in the "B Finals" of the Masters' Division of the North American Cup in Canada. This is the first time she'd ridden in the highest level of riding. The other team from the USA, and the farm where we ride, won first place in the "A Finals". Go USA!

Check This Out

I've been encouraging my dad to write some of his memories down, and he began blogging. He's now gone one step further and designed a website to capture his memories. He's a talented writer. Visit his website at My Memories in Time. Be sure to sign his guestbook!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Honk if You Love Jesus

I don't do bumper stickers, so my Ford F150 doesn't have a Honk if.... bumper sticker. So imagine my surprise when I got two honks today from truck drivers, one in the morning and one in the afternoon driving Lauren to and from the University of Louisville. At my age, when a truck driver honks, I think "what, is my wheel about to fall off?" Perhaps I ran over some debris in the roadway, and I'm now dragging a young sapling behind me. Must be something wrong with the truck.

All checks out, so I move to my own appearance. I look down. I'm wearing a modest, not too tight, sleeveless cotton button-down. All the buttons in place. Capris, not shorts. So WHAT, already? I guess he couldn't see my face to know that I have gym shoes older than him. Maybe he doesn't know that, like Maya Angelou said, my "sisters" are in a race to see who reaches my belly button first.

Perhaps it is Ford F150 Awareness Week and they're honking their appreciation of my fine ride? Does that sound hokey to you? Well, while driving I hear on the radio that it is National Accordion Awareness Month and this week in particular, is Headache Awareness Week. Gee, I think if you had a headache you'd be aware of it, wouldn't you?? This is also Clothesline Awareness week. Who thinks up these things? Does this use my tax dollars (no doubt)? Maybe it's a ruse by the card manufacturers. But, to whom do I send the Clothesline Card?

Anyway, I see from the list that my truck isn't featured for the month of June. No doubt the driver was bored out of his mind. He couldn't have been honking at me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


The debate about whether the government has the right to eavesdrop on phone conversations is interesting. There are those that say we should not be giving up our right to privacy so easily and the slope is slippery. On the other side, some are willing to give some privacy in exchange for safety. Sometimes, my mind slips to the possibilities of a poor government agent assigned to monitor my phone lines:

Conversation 1: "Yes, William is using the BIG POTTY now, can you believe it? It is such a relief. He's gotten over his fear that the water will splash his butt."

Conversation 2: "No, I don't think I'll get rid of all the chickens, and about bird flu, your husband is more likely to bring it home from duck hunting, I think."

Conversation 3: "Okay, I'll come pick you up in five minutes."

Conversation 4:"Okay, I'll come pick you up in five minutes."

Conversation 5: "Okay, we'll hold dinner for you."

Conversation 6: "Okay, I'll come pick you up in five minutes."

The agent will be asleep before the hour is up. Not the stuff of soap operas, is it? I doubt that anyone will find exciting fodder by listening to my lines, but I understand the reluctance for ordinary Americans to open their lives for inspection.

What's next? Perhaps what blog you read or websites you peruse? I heard on NPR:

The Justice Department has requested records for millions of searches
made on Google, AOL and other popular search engines in an
effort to bolster its case for an online pornography law.

At present, the information sought is broad data from the search engines, not individual information, though it seems individual information is already often sought on criminal investigations. Still, if the government is like my kids, and I think they are, if you give them an inch......

I doubt the founding fathers had any idea about the possibilities of the today's world, and that grown men could sit in the privacy of their home and webcam photos of their privates to 12 year old girls. No one would have known that many men can lure impressionable young girls into illicit conversations or meetings using their computers. Would it have changed their ideals? Would the Constitution be written the same today? (Actually, I think if they had to write the Constitution today, it would never get written but be locked up in litigation for the next 200 years.)

What about you? Would you be willing to turn over your search engine information to fight child pornography? Think carefully. Have you ever Googled your name? How about your child's name? Your address? Maybe a credit card number because you heard that if it comes up.....?
Telephone numbers? All that would be in the data, because it was part of a query on Google. Yet, they say this data could help fight the child pornography industry, which is more of a threat, in my opinion, than terrorism. What do you think?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Chicken Lickin'

William has named his chicken: Chicken Lickin'. Here he is on our front porch, holding her. They are in front of a flag that got wet in today's torrential downpour.

Today's William quote:

"Can a lady drive a car (pause) if her leg isn't broken?"

Letter dictated to Mommy by William:

Dear Anna (his sister),
I want you to come home. I miss you and well, I wanted to say, well, I want to see you. Where are you?
Love, William
Age 4

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Letting Go

Once, when the girls were young and I was idealistic, I remember having said that I'd only want to homeschool if I were able to afford to travel with them, to show them the world. As time went on, and despite a lack of schedules determined by school officials, we've developed our own calendars, activities, and a menagerie of animals that prohibited being gone for periods of time. We've done some smaller trips, to Florida, to Texas, and our annual jaunt to the family reunion in North Carolina.

As the girls have gotten older, however, they're getting opportunitites to travel through their horse riding competitons. I was the one that was supposed to show them the world! Last year, Lauren went to Germany. She returned from Nashville last weekend, and Anna is off to Ontario, Canada today. Lauren thinks a trip to New Zealand is in her future.

I am happy that they have these opportunities, but I will admit it is difficult to send them off to another country with other people, friends though they be. But they are getting older, and it's time to let go, and trust that they can handle themselves in the larger world.

Supervised that is. In their grown up bodies, I still see glimpses now and again of the child they still carry with them. Last week, I had left the van up at the barn, and needed to drive it down to the house. I asked Lauren if she'd like to go get it and drive it down. "YES!" she said immediately, and then, dh and I smile as we saw her happily skip like a five year old up the driveway. I hang on to moments like that. The time is fleeting, and sooner than I'd like they'll be off on their own lives. For now though, I know they'll take these trips, but they'll come back home.


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