Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bonnie, Bonnie, Mom of Johnny, How does your Garden Grow?

I dedicated a small spot of my garden this year to herbs. After reviewing our family eating habits I think I better put more of our space to this use next year. I use herbs almost everyday. When you have an abundance of fresh herbs it makes almost every meal better. I planted three different types of basil. I use the traditional Italian basil the most, but when I cook anything Asian I use the lemon basil. I really do not know the purpose of the purple basil. I use it in salads when I want a purple color and basil flavor.

I use my fresh oregano in a stuffed mushroom recipe. I use my flat Italian parsley every time a recipe calls for parsley or I need to freshen something up.

All of my herbs have grown really well except for my cilantro. I just water and use miracle grow sparingly. I have never needed an insecticide. Does anyone know the secret to growing good cilantro? I have never seen it look great in a home garden. The leaves are always small and anemic looking.

I also grew a bunch of tomatoes and peppers. I picked all of my ripe cherry tomatoes the other day and made a cherry tomato salad. Of course I added some fresh basil.
The dressing was 1/3 C mayo, 1 T Dijon mustard, 2 T cider vinegar. This was poured over a pint of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/4 C minced onion, and a handful of fresh basil, washed and chopped up pretty fine.

My confession is that I have not used too many peppers. I have a hard time with spicy food. I do not think I will put them in next year. My new and experimental plant this year was eggplant. I have really bad memories of the eggplant my mother used to cook. I found a recipe for a Schezuan eggplant that was pretty good the first time. The excitement seemed to wane on the second and third attempts. I will try something new next year and probably skip the eggplant.

The big hole in the garden is where the squash plants used to be. They were doing okay but they require a lot of insecticide in Texas. There is some bug that likes to eat the plant off at the roots. I kept them going for a couple of months but while I was gone at one point the bugs got to them and I had to give up on them. I was also having trouble with blossom rot. I know there is a solution and I will have to find it next year.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hitch-Hiker's Guide

I got a call on Monday morning from Jeff. He was planning on hitch-hiking down to Dallas from Winfield. He thought it would take a couple of days to make it. He showed up Tuesday night at about 6:00. It is only about a six hour drive but he got stuck in Oklahoma City for about 24 hours. He was pretty surprised that people would not pick him up in the big city.

He walked through most of the city before hitching a ride in the southern part of OK City. He camped in a wooded area by a truck stop. He had brought some food with him so he was able to take care of his physical needs. Its good to know that all of those years of Boy-Scouting paid off. Fortunately the weather was good, not raining, not too hot. Maybe the Hitch-hiker's Guide should say that you are not likely to get picked up in the middle of a big city. Maybe this is because people in the city are not going out of town. Another big reason would be that a lot of people are just not going to pick up a hitch-hiker. I can honestly say that I am one of those people. I have heard way too many stories.

On Tuesday night Bob suggested that he look into getting a job on the Gulf Coast doing Hurricane Ike clean-up. Jeff made several calls and they were returned the next day saying that if he wanted to work all he had to do was show up with reliable transportation and steel toed shoes. He had the steel toed shes but he had left his reliable transportation in Kansas. His original plan was to drive his bike back up to Kansas and continue to look for a job up there.

He worked the next day trying to get his motorcycle running. It had been sitting in the garage for almost two years. His battery was not able to hold a charge. After he solved this it was still apparent that the bike could in no way be construed as reliable transportation. He decided to take the bike back up to Kansas and get his car and drive back down to Texas for the work. He called me yesterday at about 5:00in Tushka, OK and said that the bike was running ok, but not great. When he took off he was not wearing a helmet. I took a picture of him before he took off on my camera phone. I always take a picture of him before he takes off on a big ride because it may be his last. He always rolls his eyes when I tell him I'm going to take his picture but he always smiles.

So, I have not heard from him since yesterday. The good news is that I have not had a policeman come to my front door regretting to inform me. I am such a worrier. What is more dangerous? Hitch-hiking across country or riding a motorcycle without a helmet? I think my worries are justified.


I called his phone repeatedly today and got nothing. Finally I called the guy Jeff has been staying with and asked him if he had seen Jeff. He let me know that Jeff had come in at about 5:00 AM. He had not anticipated that the weather would cool so much. He had to make several stops because he got too cold because he was wearing inadequate gear for the conditions. Maybe this is something he should put in his yet to be written book, Motorcyclist's Guide to America.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Navy Beats Army at the Dallas Galleria

Yesterday Bob and I put on our matching Navy Midshipmen shirts and went to Macy's to sell shopping passes to raise money for the military ball held for all Service Academy cadets and midshipmen at Christmas time. The passes were $5 each and allowed you to take a 20% discount on almost everything in the store, except for what you probably wanted to buy. There were other charities trying to sell the passes too, so we were competing with blind orphans for charitable dollars. I tried the sales tactic of reminding victims, I mean customers, of the freedom they enjoy because of the military. So really, the Blind orphans are having a trickle down benefit from our military ball because they live in such a great country. There were a lot of people who said that they were graduates of the Academies and many who had had children or grandchildren who had attended an Academy. Everyone who had an academy association bought one of our passes. We were successful at getting sales from people who were really going to buy something and were not just window shopping. Non-English speakers were not good targets. Poor things just could not catch the verbal complexities of getting a bargain. This is pretty funny because when I go down to Mexico, getting a bargain is my main goal. My children get a little embarrassed when I try to bargain in my broken, pathetic Spanish but even this humiliation does not stop me. Does Pince Caleron still mean the same thing it meant when I was a kid? Because this is a phrase often shouted at me when I walk away without buying anything. We never shouted anything inappropriate to the people who just walked away from us. Maybe we are just more refined. I don't know how we fared compared to the other charities, but Bob and I sold more tickets in our shift than the West Point parents sold during any of their shifts. We were the only Naval Academy parents at the Galleria. So we did our part. Go Navy! Beat Army! We did!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Down, Set, Hut


Look at this football face! Joe's soccer team nicknamed him the big IF last year. He has that intimidation factor look. He does not really have the skills at this point to match the face, but when he gets it all together he will be awesome.

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This is Joe and his best friend Daniel. I think this picture is funny for two reasons. First, and most obvious, is that Joe is about 2 or 3 time bigger than Daniel. Joe plays right guard. I am not sure, but I think that must be equivalent to playing right field in baseball and we all know what that means. Jeff and John both played right guard when they first started playing football. The Muir boys have never been know for their ball handling skills. But, to quote Regina Moss, swim coach at RHS, " I can teach anyone how to swim fast but I can't teach anyone how to be tall." You never now how things will end up though. Megan kind of looked like this when she stood next to her friends in grade school. Amazingly, after puberty, some of the little kids were bigger than she was and she was definitly in the middle of the group as far as her size. Daniel plays tight end. Both boys are working really hard, which is the second funny point. Neither boy has ever really worked hard at a sport before. Last year I tried to get them to practice running at the track. I was heard to tell them that Grandma Stockam could shuffle faster in her walker to try to motivate them to put more effort into running. I thought I was unsuccessful until the last day of track. I really wanted them to run around the track without stopping at least one time in the summer so I told them that I would pay them $5 per lap. I had $10 in my purse and I was really sure it would stay there. Amazingly enough Joe ran 4 laps and Daniel ran 7 laps. That was a surprising day. The lesson learned: When boys are motivated they can do anything!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Childhood Obesity Crisis Breakthrough


This is Joe at his first official football game. colts Vs. dolphins. We have discovered something amazing. Joe puts on his football uniform and he can do anything! He can run and never get tired. He can workout for two hours without whining. He can take instruction from the coach without talking back. Look through that helmet and through the mouth guard at that huge smile. He absolutely loves playing the game. I think it is a good thing he is big and a good thing he lives in Texas where football is big.

At the time his game started Hurricane Ike was blowing through Dallas. We had high wind and constant rain and not one complaint.


Win or lose both teams line up for the good game routine. The Colts happened to lose this time 0 to 6. Joey wants to get better so we will put him in a spring league and maybe let him play arena football this summer. I am just glad he has found a sport that he loves!
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

RHS Wins! 27 Game Losing Streak Ends

September 23, 2005. That was the last time Richardson won a football game. That is until last night when they beat Denton in a 21-0 blow out. The bad news is that I stayed at home and watched Home Alone with Joey while Bob went to bed early. Joey begged me to take him to the game so that he could hang out with his cool friends and their even cooler parents who actually don't mind socializing at the game even though they do not have any kids playing football, in the band, in the drill team, or even in the high school at all. Quite honestly, even before RHS started this losing streak we did not win many games. I think when Megan was a Sophomore back in the fall of 2000 we may have won 2 games. Its been all down hill since then. When John was in high school, RHS only won that one game in September of 2005. He graduated June 2008. One game in three years! But as long as my kids played in the band we attended every home and away game. I used to put a tiny motorcycle helmet on Joey because when we would go to the games he spent all of his time running up and down the concrete steps and I was afraid he would bust open his head. He was only two, three, and four years old at the time so he had no interest in sitting on my lap for 2 1/2 hours. Maybe the memory of monitering him during all of those games while constantly losing has flavored my desire to attend RHS football games. I was kind of feeling guilty last night about not taking Joey to the game and promised him that I would take him to the next home game, even before I found out that the losing streak was over.

Go Eagles! Beat Anybody, please!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What I Would Do For Free Movie Tickets

I had the TV on the other day and was watching Good Morning Texas. A segment came on about the Sisters of Savings. This is a group of African-American women who find great deals and share them with the rest of us. So they had a great bargain this time. All you have to do is go into American Eagle and try on a pair of jeans and you get a free movie ticket to AMC. If you buy a pair of jeans you get 2 tickets. I went to Valley View Mall and tried on a pair. The first problem was really evident. "Don't you have any jeans that have a longer zipper?" I asked. A two inch zipper is just screaming popover. So the saleslady looked through all of their stacks and found some jeans with a 2 1/2 inch zipper. I was determined to get the free ticket so I took them into the dressing room and tried them on. That was when I developed a provable theorem. The length of the zipper in your jeans should be the sum of the number of children you have given birth to plus two. According to this theorem I need a 7 inch zipper. That is about right. There is a purpose for wearing mom jeans. They hold our stomachs in because we have lost that ability. I think American Eagle is just too cool for me.

But the fact remained that I only had one ticket and three family members who would want to go to a movie. So today I went to the Galleria Mall to another American Eagle. This time I looked through the stacks myself in case yesterday's saleslady was just trying to humiliate me. I might be able to understand why someone would want to buy jeans that are already ripped and frayed. But what I really don't get is why anyone would want to buy jeans that are strategically wrinkled and faded like they have been stretched over a really tight cameltoe for six months. That is the very look that I have tried to avoid all of my life. I remember my high school home-ec teacher would always stress how to create a good fit. She called the particular look being used on all American Eagle Jeans a crotch star and said it was the mark of horribly ill-fitting pants. The stretched over the crotch look was worse than wearing your pants too short. Fortunately, I did not have to model my new look for the sales people so they could verify that I had really tried on the jeans and looked as bad as they thought I might. The cashier handed me two tickets even though I did not buy the jeans. Mission accomplished.

So with three tickets we can go to a full priced movie! The only cost was my pride and dignity. Any suggestions? For the movie, that is. I already know I could lose ten pounds and get lipo and a tummy tuck to look better in those jeans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Third Funeral Cancelled

Yesterday Megan left a message for Jeff on Facebook telling him that his grandpa was calling police stations and that his mother was calling hospitals because we were so worried. We had not heard from him for two months. This motivated him to call me. He said that he was kind of embarrassed to call because he had not gotten the job at Rubbermaid that he was sure he was going to get. Factory jobs are like that. They are so fickle. You can never really count on your factory job. There are so many variables, but one certainty. They are not really stable these days, especially in a weak economy. So he was waiting for something great to happen before he called home. His phone was also destroyed and he had no money to replace it.

I am really relieved that he is okay. The scenarios running through my mind were pretty wild. The reality is far better than my visions.

He has some decisions to make. Desperation is like that. What once seems totally undesirable now has appeal. I could jump in and save him but he does not want that. He is very independent. He does not want finacial help from me. We talked about his options. I hope he makes some good decisions based on our little talk. I am grateful he called. I told him that I prayed for him today and asked Heavenly Father to help him overcome his fear about calling home, to know that I was not angry with him, just concerned; that I would not judge him, but offer consoling words. Our family is praying for him.

As I was saying this prayer earlier today I got the feeling that this is how Heavenly Father feels toward us when we become complacent in our relationship with Him. The point is you can always call home.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Funerals in a Row. A Third in the Works?

Saturday, August 23,2008 was my mother's funeral. Usually, if you attend a close family member's funeral you get a pass and do not have to attend any one's funeral for at least 6 months. You just have to use terms like its too soon or my grief is too fresh. Everyone understands this and no one wants to see you crying uncontrollably in public. So how did I end up at a funeral one week later?

On Wednesday morning, August 27th, I got a call from Pat telling me that she had just received a call from Sammy Owen who could not wake up her Father. She called 911. He had had a massive heart attack sometime that morning. He had gone for a period of time without oxygen. Pat said the situation looked grim. She was right. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support. Life support was removed on Friday and he died shortly after. Cindy did not have money for a burial so she decided to donate her husband's body to science. She was planning to have a little memorial cookies and punch reception at her house in lieu of a funeral. I was called by Pat and Dorothy to help plan this little event. I could not just sit by and help plan an event that was so short on what was needed. I brought up the point that a death without a funeral was like shacking up. Sure you could do it but was it good for the kids. Dorothy called All Saints Catholic Church and put a memorial service together for the next day. So how did I end up at a funeral one week after my mother's funeral? I insisted that one be held and helped plan it. You can't really do that kind of thing without attending.

I am going to have to say it was a beautiful service. It was comforting and dignified. Matt Owen's brother did the eulogy. He is a doctor and gave statistics about deaths from first heart attacks. He also linked his brother's death to his use of cigarettes. In addition he told stories about how his brother was always there to help him almost instantly and with out question. John Wiseman sang I feel My Saviors Love and I know That my Redeemer Lives. This was when I felt the freshness of my grief. I really had a hard time during the last song especially because it was a sung at my mother's funeral. Fortunately, Karen Holburn had a pack of Kleenex in her purse so that I could wipe my eyes and blow my nose. I was a mess.

After the service, we went to Cindi's house where we had some wonderful platters of food provided by Jason's Deli and paid for by one of Pat's neighbors who had heard about the Owen's problems and had compassion for them. We live in a really great neighborhood. There is so much support! The elementary, junior high, and high school PTA's all sent out letters to let everyone know what happened and about the special account set up to help this family out. Matt was only 50 years old. They have a 15 year old daughter and a set of twin boys who are 13.

I have really been worried about my son Jeff. I have not heard from him in two months but his friends had heard from him as late as a month ago. I was telling my father that I am going to give him one more week before I start to panic. I need a few days to clean my house and work on the yard before I start on the next disaster. My father decided that he could start to panic today. I think that is because I cleaned up his house really thoroughly last week and he does not worry about the yard. He called the police department in the town we last knew that Jeff was in. They have no record of him. This is good and bad. He is not in jail but where is he? He also called a Navy recruiter where Jeff should be drilling. They could not share any information because of privacy issues but they promised to give him the message if he is actually drilling there. Bob checked the mail today and found his phone bill . He has not made or received a call since July 21. I got to thinking about this and I have a new theory. I think he lost his phone or broke it. Megan and Rachael got on Facebook and found that he had signed in on August 24. That was six days ago. You can't sign into Facebook if you are dead. I had Megan leave a message for him about how we are looking for him and how he should call. The message also contained info on how to replace a phone even if he still has time left on his contract. I am still looking forward to hearing from him.

Having lost a child has made me kind of weird. I know that any of my children could die at any moment and this is pretty hard to bear. Where is my hope? I think I buried it with Matthew. But so far it does not look like I will be attending a funeral for the third Saturday in a row.

About Me

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I am a stay at home mom but the clock is ticking. My husband and I only have one child left at home. I enjoy shopping and finding great bargains.