Monday, November 30, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #9

9. You try to prepay your gas and are told, "I'm sorry, but that's against our policy. You'll have to pump first."

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #10

10. After potluck, you forget your crock pot full of beans in the car for three days. Instead of holding a funeral, you put them in the refrigerator to thaw.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Blog

Little Nuggets

A little slow-moving, since the blogees often get grounded from the computer, this one belongs to the kids. They are allowed to freely share their every thought and feeling. Carefully censored, of course. (Meaning all the dirt on me gets edited.)

Feel free to offer comments or helpful advice, especially on school writing assignments.


It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

As a semi-reformed procrastinator, I put off Thanksgiving prep until yesterday morning. There was a time, ok maybe even last year, or the year before, when I waited until Thanksgiving morning and then remembered all the things that should have been started at least one day in advance. So, for me, I wasn't doing too badly.

Though if anyone says anything about wiping pumpkin off the ceiling, I have no idea what they're talking about.

The only problem with my clever plan, is that almost everything in the world I needed to turn out a nice dinner was still packed. I had to haul in all the kitchen boxes from the cottage, and all the food boxes, too. It's getting too cold to leave canned food outside here, since eventually it will burst.

Even with all the boxes, I couldn't find my measuring spoons. Still haven't, for that matter. I had to run to town anyway, so now I'll have two sets. Eventually. What with the trip to town for Jack (note: you don't really think I would go to the store the day before Thanksgiving for MY benefit, do you?) and Damon being sick with the Whine Flu, I didn't get nearly as much done as I wanted. In fact, I nodded off on the couch trying to get him to stop fussing. Half past midnight, and I woke up enough to get the soy chicken skins in their overnight marinade before keeling over again.

First thing in the morning, I had to run to town one last time (note: ditto) before beginning my meal prep and trying to get my disaster area cleaned up so we could eat. As the day wore on...and on...and on......things began to drop off the menu, one by one. No way was I getting rid of the mashed potatoes and gravy, though.

I'm not even a little bit ashamed to admit that I always use instant mashed potatoes, whether for every day or special events. They taste better, and are faster and cleaner besides. Sounds like win win win to me! (Tina always made the real mashed potatoes for our holiday dinners.) The only reason I departed from my luscious tradition this year was a nice lady from church gave us a 5 gallon bucket filled with giant homegrown potatoes. So, for the second time in my life, I tried my hand at home-made.

If anyone blathers on about blenders and mashed potatoes, don't listen to them. I don't have any idea what they're talking about.

I boiled the potatoes, but since I was running every shorter on time, my obliging kitchen helper, Tiggy, had to help out with the mashing. She added the milk just like I told her to, and mashed her little heart out. That doesn't sound so good. Let's just say she tried real hard.

Tiggy and I had another little surprise up our sleeves. While Jack was busy frying the chicken skins, she and I sneaked down and got our kitchen table out of the shop. The long, farmhouse-style eating counter was fine for everyday, but we wanted to be able to all sit down at a table for a special dinner. Together.

The first anyone knew of it, we burst through the kitchen door, grunting, perspiring, and with difficulty maneuvering the legs around the door jamb. Voila! Instant family dinner! (Some chairs would have been nice. We made do with the piano bench, stools, and Jack's office chair.) It was a roaring success, if by success you mean slopping sparkling cider on the new tablecloth (oh wait - that was me), and swapping uncultured stories, like when Devon's pants fell down on the playground - while he was dangling from the monkey bars. Some of these stories have already been told to the pastor on his Bible study visits, I'm sorry to say. And it wasn't long before we discovered that our potatoes were mashed in name only.

It was perfect.

The only thing that could have made it better would be to have the whole family with us, too. We missed you guys!

Until next year,
Always thankful

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do You Know the Muffit Man?

He lives on Prairie Lane!
~ Lyrics courtesy of Devon

The other night I sent Damon out to empty the kitchen trash. This is a pretty normal activity for him, since he's my #1 Trash Fella.

He came back in cackling, having startled a cat in the process of ransacking our garbage. In this case, "startled" translated into "climbing the telephone pole".

A few minutes later, he and Devon crept back out, hoping to "startle" the cat again. And so they did. I don't blame them for their excitement. For many years now, we have had a cat-killing dog. Word spread around the neighborhood feline population, and we had very few visitors. Certainly none that climbed telephone poles. (Mayer lives in a new home in California now, with his own irrigation ditch to swim in. We felt that a west coast outdoor dog would have a difficult adjustment to being a Montana outdoor dog. There's quite a difference between +30 and -60!)

The next time, the boys took Clancy. Clancy chases cats, not eats them. Maybe a nibble once in a while, but no more. Well, this time they caught larger prey than feral felines. With a bay and a lunge, Clancy took off after the deer, racing off into the night.

A few minutes later there was still no sign of him, so Damon and Devon went out to look. They were gone for quite a while, considering that one of them was scared of the dark. In fact, not realizing they were still out hunting, I turned off all the porch and entryway lights.

A few minutes later a light bobbed up the driveway. They had found their prodigal and returned home, huddled together in the sub-freezing temperatures, holding aloft a lantern like a double Diogenes.

That little story ended with a sawed-off milk carton set out full of cat food. Poor Diesel didn't have any left, and I had to buy him some more. If the neighborhood cats don't get it, the raccoons will.

November 28, 2009

Damon has been sick with a fever for several days. At first I thought he might be trying to milk out a couple extra days of vacation, but no, he was really sick. He couldn't possibly have held soap under his arms for 3 days running.

Having been asked to sing special music Thanksgiving night at the Lutheran church here in town, I made all my plans accordingly. Late in the day yesterday, I found out the program was actually in a couple of hours. All right, well I can roll with that.

When I got there, they started the program, following their bulletin to the letter. I read it repeatedly, but there was no mention of any special music at all, never mind my one little song. I stayed for most of the program, but still no music, and no sign of the person who had asked me to sing. Oh dear, oh dear. Feeling very awkward, I finally decided to duck out a few minutes before the end of the program.

The offering afforded the perfect opportunity. With all eyes turned elsewhere, I sneaked out the door, slipped outside, and began tiptoeing to the car. Just then, a side door burst open, and to my horror I saw the pastor, in full ecclesiastical garments, running to stop me. Since I had seen her moments before, alone on the platform, it wasn't hard to guess that my stealthy departure had suddenly become most conspicuous.

As we walked in together, she explained that she had been just about to call for me, and when she looked up, I was gone. Since the floor didn't open up and swallow me, I went ahead and sang. I'm sure the bright glow came entirely from my beautiful crimson cashmere sweater. It went well despite everything, and several people even asked me to come back.

I promised not to sneak away again.

The next adventure has already happened,
Noni Beth


Monday, November 9, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Damon started it. Told to leave the water hose trickling so Dad could use it in the morning, he instead left it on full blast, turning part of the driveway into an amateur skating rink. We all had a good laugh about it, little knowing the icy havoc our innocent guffaws would wreak.

Devon, being the sort of boy he is, reasoned, "If that much water was so funny, then a lot of water will be even funnier!" And, ever one to find his own drummer, he dragged out a few supplies and went to work.

The next morning, Jack got up long before sunup. As he went out the front door, an ominous hissing sounded off to the left. Imagine his surprise when he found a gnome sprinkler blasting a fine spray of water over the yard, and puddles all through the grass! Muttering, he made sure the water got turned off.

Every last drop froze into a crystalline wonderland. Quickly, too - after all, we're not in California any more. Bare branches coated in ice, icicles from our drain spout, and a rigid lake where our lawn used to be. Saddest of all was the gnome, still smiling through his glacial tears.

There's No Place Like Gnome

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

60 on the Nose - California or Bust

Not us! We are still here!

Mom and Dad took off today, and it's amazing how much faster the truck goes, even up the hills, when it's empty. I could be wrong, but I think Dad was even going a bit over 60 at times. Some people might imply that my stuff was too heavy, but that's just plain unkind. Most of it was Jack's air compressor and generator. All the boxes of canned food, the kitchen table, clothes, and oh maybe just a few boxes of books were mere trifles, I assure you.

It was hard to say good-bye, so we put it off as long as we could. I had to run an errand in Plentywood, so Mom drove me in, following Dad in the truck. A couple of times I thought I heard her muttering something about wishing and slowing down and not passing trucks and stuff, but I could've been mistaken. It was pretty faint.

We all ate lunch at a cute little diner in downtown P-wood. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how many french fries a person can consume, and all too soon the dread moment arrived. We walked them out to the truck, except for Tiggy, who hobbled. (She had dropped a humongous board on her foot last night and badly bruised her foot.)

After a sad-but-short good-bye (after all, it was 1:00 pm and they had many miles to go before bedtime), we hurried to the road to wave till they were out of sight.

That turned out to be quite a while. The main drag of Plentywood is very flat and straight, and has to be at least a mile long. At 30 mph with a stoplight, well, you do the math. Our arms grew tired as we waved and waved and waved. They disappeared around the bend at the far end of town, and we lowered our arms. All except for Devon. "I can still see them," he insisted, still waving. I finally had to remove him bodily from the sidewalk.

We are all waiting eagerly for them to come back. For now, the house is quiet, and very, very empty.