Monday, August 27, 2007

The End of Summer

Today is the first day of school in Texas, and that includes Hicksville. I made a point of getting up a full TWENTY minutes earlier than usual to make sure the boys were up and ready in time to get to school before the bell rang, and still managed to be 25 minutes late to work. Of course, that was thanks to the lovely road construction around Big University where I work. I do wish they would tell us ahead of time that they are taking out a *major* section of my normal route to work. Sheesh.

I will be a nervous wreck this afternoon, as they are taking the bus home for the first time since the move, and I've totally convinced they will somehow get on the wrong bus and get left in the middle of nowhere and it'll take me days to track 'em down. I hope E remembered to take his cell phone. I know - it's silly. I mean really, when I called to find out what bus they need to ride home, I was told it was bus 3. THREE. Even when I went to school in AlmostHicksville right outside of Big Town, the buses had more numbers in them! So it's not like they have too much of a chance of getting lost in the multitudes. But still.

You just never know.

I just hope they are not traumatized by their lack of actual trapper keepers that they were to have today. I sent them off at the WalMart to track one down, and last night discovered what they came back with was not a trapper keeper, but rather some kind of expanding file folder thing that just will not do. Unfortunately, before I could give them the lecture about sticking to what the school supply list says, we discovered I had purchased two each of several colors of the WRONG folders that were listed. There goes *that* life lesson, eh?

After all the fun we had procuring school supplies, I decided that I had entirely too many ripe tomatoes and made a batch of hot sauce to can. Once again, despite following my grandma's directions *exactly* - I ended up with 5 pints instead of 8. I have no idea why, but it happens every time. I also decided to put on the big girl panties and cut up my own jalepenos instead of making the hubby do it, then spent the rest of the evening trying to stop the burning fires of hell that was underneath my finger nails, and not rub my eyes at any time. This even after coating my hands in olive oil before starting to cut them up. Hmph. Next time M can do that. Because that was not fun. At all.

Last weekend I attempted making dill pickles. They certainly *look* like they'll taste yummy, but I'm too chicken to open them up and taste them. I think I'll wait until our friends come out and get one of them to taste test them for me. Preferably P. As a former hockey player, I'm pretty sure he'll pretty much eat anything.

The cantaloupe finally ripened and we've been enjoying those for the last couple of weeks. Sadly, one of our vines just died and we don't know why, so I'm hoping the other two manage to stay alive until the fruits on their vines ripen up. We also have about eleventy billion watermelons to eat now. I'm thinking we'll be leaving some of those with the yellow squash in any unlocked cars we come across.

Drat - we went to church in Hicksville yesterday, and I forget to check the cars. No wonder I still have that squash!

I did manage to write out a menu plan, but I forgot to look at it this morning before coming to work, so I'll post that tomorrow. It's the first week of classes here at Big University as well, so I had better get some work done. I'm thinking this grad students are getting a little cranky waiting for their fee waivers to show up.

Y'all have a great week!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hey! Who turned off Spring?

After months of pleasant weather, it seems as though the dog days of summer have hit West Texas, and hit hard. You would think after 30-something years of living out here, I would be used to the heat and it wouldn't bother me.

You would think wrong indeed.

I was enjoying being able to work out in the yard each evening after starting supper. I enjoyed (oddly enough) cleaning my pool in the evening. Listening to the birds. Watching the bunnies frolic and eat my new expensive grass. I enjoyed sitting on my ginormous porch and reading without worrying about heat stroke.

Pfft. Those days are over for a while. Holy cow. I had forgotten how bloomin hot it gets in the summer!

Luckily, my garden seems to like hot. I have cantaloupes that have been almost ready to harvest for a week now (and honestly, I think they are purposely finding some way to stay green just to taunt me because I love me some cantaloupe). I have watermelon that continue to grow and grow. I have so many green tomatoes on the vine that I'm already mentally counting to see if I have enough pint canning jars for all the yummy hot sauce I will be making come September. My four acres one row of pinto beans, on the other hand, only produced a measly 4 plants, but those plants put out alot of green pintos! And like all West Texans, we are cruising parking lots in the evening, searching for unlocked cars to gift with yellow squash.

Because I can only eat fried yellow squash once a week. And our 4 plants are putting out enough to feed Afghanistan. And Ethiopia. I think we could make a dent in Pakistan as well.

Out of all the flower seeds I planted, only the zinnias came up. They are now blooming prettily along my porch, along with snapdragons and marigolds. I lost one of my lavender bushes, and I think my spanish broom has bit the dust, but I finally found me an old fashioned purple Texas lilac bush that is adjusting well. As well as honeysuckle, purple lantana, and a gorgeous red crepe myrtle that will look lovely against our buff colored brick. One of these days, maybe if I can get M to mow the lawn this weekend, I'll take pictures and share. But you'll have to promise to ignore the weeds around the edges of my landscaping, as they seem to love this hot hot weather as well.

Not to mention my ugly not-so-easy set up Intex pool.

The boys claim they aren't ready for school, but E has already started marching band practice in Hicksville, and seems to enjoy that. I think they have really enjoyed their lazy summer. I know they've enjoyed sleeping until 10 or 11 am. I know *I* would enjoy that. I've started waking them up around 9:30 am so they can start getting used to earlier bedtimes and earlier wake ups. We won't discuss how that earned me the title of Evil Mom. Heh.

My mom-in-law begins her 2nd hard core round of chemo on Monday. If you have time, please drop a prayer to the deity of your choice for her to respond well to the treatment with few side effects, and grace and wisdom for her doctors. As well as patience for M & I over the next few weeks. We plan on taking off most of next week to go up to Amarillo to help out when we can, and also to take the boys on a little mini summer vacation. They need to have that, since so far their only trip out of town was to San Angelo for a funeral. I'd like them to have some happier summer trip memories if possible.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

When In-Laws Become Family

When you marry, you not only gain a life partner, but a whole bunch of new family members. If you are lucky, they like you and you like them, and Christmas and Thanksgiving and kid birthdays and family reunions are pleasant and full of memories.

If you are blessed, some of those new family members take in you into their hearts and love you and you do the same to them. Eventually there comes a day when they are no longer "in-laws" but just family. Beloved family.

I have been blessed. My darling hubby's family is not perfect, and there are those that I'd just as soon never see again, but for the most part, I've grown to love these folks as though I had grown up with them. Even crazy Aunt Dottie. Especially Aunt Dottie - because that girl has some *wild* stories! For each family member, that moment where they became *my* family was different. For Aunt Dottie, it was the first time I met her, the day after MDH's father had passed away (Dottie was his dad's sister). She came up to me, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear "I'm the hussy of the family." I loved her instantly.

For Uncle Cooper, it was the first Christmas in our first house. We bought it when E was 2 and I was pregnant with J. By the time Christmas rolled around, we had two little boys and I threw everything I had into making that first house that we owned a home.

Now remember - I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. I now spend a day and a half just putting up the tree and decorating it. Making my home full of Christmas cheer is something I love to do. But a decorator I'm not. Back then, decorating was buying things here and there, and getting hand me downs and throwing them together. Most of *my* decorating sense at the time was left over from living with 3 other chicks in my early 20's - which could be called "Party Girl Chic 1988" at best.

That Christmas, Uncle Cooper and Aunt DeDe came by the house after seeing his mother. They live in San Angelo, but drove up to see his mom who lived in Lubbock pretty often. And they always made time to come see us, and they just *adored* E & J. At the time, they didn't have any grandchildren, and I think our boys were substitutes or something. So they dropped by for a visit, and shortly after Cooper came in, he looked around my home, and turned to me and said "Isn't that tree pretty? DeDe, will you look at this house? Boy - this whole room is just great. Mysti - you did a great job."

And with that, Uncle Cooper became family. I was very fond of him before, but that moment of affirmation soothed the soul of this young mom and wife in a way that even I didn't realize I needed. I felt like that maybe, just maybe, I was getting this wife & mom thing done after all.

We had many years with Uncle Cooper. I can still see him watching a little E or J and saying "DeDe, will you look at that?" with boundless pride and love at something they had done, whether it was crawling for the first time (which E did at 8 months at their home in San Angelo) or waving a toy and grinning. Uncle Cooper was as close to a paternal grandfather as my kids will ever have, as MDH's dad passed away before we married. He was a man who loved his wife and daughter, and never said an unkind word to anyone unless it was warranted. And even then he was more likely to keep his counsel I think than to be ugly.

He worked for Santa Fe until his retirement, and then spent his days golfing as well as with the Silver Hair Legislature. And last night, after a battle with leukemia, Uncle Cooper passed away. The world is much sadder place without him. And this morning, my heart is breaking. I know he's in a better place. But I already miss him so.

Please keep DeDe and Denise, his wife and daughter, in your prayers today. And my husband, who was always so close to him. Today will be hard for all of us. This weekend .... well - I just don't think I'm ready to think about it yet.

I still can't believe he's gone.