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Just a spot to share some wisdom from God's Word for women of all ages...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Life As I Know It - A True Shutterbug

Digital photography is probably one of the greatest inventions since drive through banking.  We can review our photos instantly, delete the ones we don’t like and retake them over and over again until we get the perfect pose.  We can save them onto our computers, flash drives, CD’s or directly onto the internet and any number of social networking sites.  We basically can share our good side with any number of friends or internationally with video allowing you to “You Tube” that yummy tuna noodle casserole recipe or give a detailed explanation of your last colonoscopy.  I personally love country music videos and good comics.  I occasionally need a video clip on how to change the oil in my car or how to sandblast tile.  The great thing is, our world is more easily shared, compact and handy due to the advances in photography.

I wish my Grandmother had lived long enough to see the endless possibilities to “taking pictures.”  She always had her camera.  My cousins and I were born with a camera in our faces; literally we were photographed immediately after we left the womb…. I’m sure there are some of you who remember the large cameras with oversized bulbs that left you seeing balls in front of your face for days.  None of us even wanted to open our eyes until we were 10.  Every event of our lives was chronicled on film, every birth, death, wedding, and meal.  Especially the meals.  Packets and packets of developed photos were stacked in Grandmother’s buffet along with the negatives.  They were stuffed in drawers and stacked on tables and I think she used them to line the kitchen cabinets.  There were at least 10,000 photos of each one of us stuffing our faces with food (considering there were 17 of us that is roughly equivalent to about 170,000 photos, at the very least.)  Every event was chronicled on film, birthdays, Easter, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and after church on Sunday.  When we got together, we ate, and the camera was flashing.

Later model cameras had the cube flash on top. Every time we went to the store Grandmother stocked up on extra flashes and film.  Sometimes you never knew when she was going take a picture...your fork would be halfway in your mouth or you would be sipping on some tea, or blowing your nose.  It didn’t even have to be a special event; she just loved taking pictures of the family!  They could have bought a second house for what was spent on photo supplies and developing.

Not only were we immortalized on film, we were also videoed.  The video camera was a large black apparatus you carried on your shoulder with a flood light the size of the Hubble Telescope.  It took three of my Uncle’s to balance it while Granddaddy rolled tape.  This was no ordinary lighting system.  If you looked directly at it you could be blinded for life so most of our “home movies” show bodies with eyes squinting and hands in front of our faces.  We don’t know who the actual family members are unless you can recognize a hairstyle, wedding ring, or wallpaper  You think we would have pulled out sunglasses, but who thought you’d need them at 4 a.m… of course that’s when our Grandparents would show up to film what Santa brought.  This was only a problem for our parents who had just gone to bed at 3 a.m. after putting together playhouse stoves and fridges that required four million screws and washers to hold them together.  Forty-seven years later my Dad still breaks out in a sweat in the nut and bolt section of a hardware store.  He can recount the entire evening like it happened yesterday.

Of the thousands of pictures and movie films that were stored at my grandparent’s house several detailed some of the worst fashions in American history.  One Christmas Eve, Grandmother decided it was a good idea to pull out the projector and re-visit past Christmases.  Most of the girl cousins were married by this time and so to our horror our husbands were going to see us dressed in bell bottoms, wide belts and white boots; along with long hair parted in the middle.  You guessed it; she pulled out the 70’s edition.  Needless to say our spouses were in absolute hysterics as we paraded around on film like total fashionistas.  Not that this had anything to do with it, but most of us are no longer married to the men that witnessed this carnival.  There are just some things that should stay in the closet, or pantry, or buffet or dresser, you know???

With today’s technology my Grandmother would have thought that she had won the jackpot lottery.  There would be no stopping her.  She would definitely want a small one that would fit in her purse so she could whip it out at the slightest movement from a family member.  There would be photos of not only of first haircuts, first birthdays, but I’m sure there would be photos of us folding laundry, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn or of course, eating lunch.  The video possibilities would be endless.  No doubt we would all be “You Tube” stars as she captured each enthralling moment of opening a Christmas package.  With the zoom lenses available everyone would know when we had a pimple, trust me, she’d want to make sure the image was saved for posterity.  She would no longer have to color in the faces with red-eye, she could make adjustments in her settings.  We’d have to lace her iced tea with valium just to get out the door without the details of putting on our coat destined for worldwide viewing.

She was a true shutterbug, and yet her legacy continues.  Her oldest daughter, my Mom, also has the photo gene.  Our family, at least, must pose and re-pose and hold up each gift received at Christmas or birthdays or turn to get the best shoot of the scar from the latest surgery.  I have a little of the gene as well.  It’s force increases as the years go by as it occurs to me what a great treasure it will be to have lots of pictures of my parents for a time hopefully far into the future.

At Grandmother’s funeral we all agreed that it would have been a most fitting to have placed a camera in her hand.  I can just see her telling Jesus to turn a little to the left, His first photo wasn’t exactly perfect!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life As I Know It - Christmas Traditions

It’s the Christmas season!  It is truly the one time of the year that is steeped in traditions and sentimentality.  Trees and houses are trimmed with lights, secular and religious songs resonate in houses and churches, and many spend hours in the kitchen baking special goodies for the family or to give away as gifts.  If you’re anything like me, wrapping paper manages to work its way into everything along with miles of ribbon floating on the dining table.  The sights, sounds and smells of this season are the grandest of all.  It’s especially important to note the One who the season is really about.  I must give greatest pause and praise to the birth of Jesus, his Incarnation here on earth.  This is the most significant event in human history as God sent his son to be born of a virgin, One fully God and fully man to break the barrier of sin between God and humankind.  It is wonderful each year to recount the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.  He who resided in Heaven willingly descended into our world.  He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins.  He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to life.

For as long as I can remember our family Christmas gatherings were always the same.  Once you were about five years old you knew the drill.  I honestly don’t remember missing a one of them up to the time I was about 30.  There was nothing particularly fantastic about the traditions; they were just always the same.  Each year it was the same food, the same house, the same people, and depending on your age, the same gift.  It was wonderful.  You just knew where you were going to be on the night before Christmas and the chaos that awaited.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with my maternal Grandparents.  They lived in a small house on the south side of Atlanta.  My Grandmother owned her own beauty salon and my Granddaddy was a truck driver, commonly known as a “suicide jockey” since he drove a fuel truck.  Grandmother was not a regular housekeeper so there was quite a bit of clutter in their small house.  At Christmas we suspect that she gathered up as much stuff as she could fit into a garbage bag and hid it until after the holiday.  In fact, that housekeeping shortcut may start working for me…then if you don’t miss it after six months, throw out the bag!  My Granddaddy was all about laughter.  He and I had an especially close bond and we cut up quite a bit.  He loved to hear me laugh.  It was pure torture though if he ever decided to tickle you.  There were many times they had to pull out oxygen tanks so the grandkids could catch their breath after a tickle fest.

Everyone started to arrive at the house in the late afternoon anywhere between four and six o’clock.   Parking was limited to the tiny driveway or in the front yard or on the street. You entered the house from the wide front steps guarded by two white columns.  Once you entered the living room you knew the bedlam had started.  All across the hearth of a non-working fire place were what looked like hundreds of presents.  It always looked like Santas elf’s left all the wrapped gifts around my Grandparents four foot artificial tree.  Some years you didn’t even know they had a tree until all the gifts were handed out.  You dropped off the presents you brought and then carefully worked your way into the dining room where the table was filled with bowls of Ruffles potato chips and French onion dip, possibly a ham and lots of other snacks.  Two buffets lined the walls with pies about three feet deep, mostly gifts from patrons at the beauty shop.  It took till about mid-February to finish them all off.

The most intriguing part of our holiday was the special dish that my Grandmother prepared every year.  We have no idea where the recipe came from or why she prepared it in a pan as big as a football field.  It was called “Tallarina” and nobody liked it.  Not a one of us cared for it, so I’m not sure exactly how much eventually landed in the trash can.  This gave great significance to the potato chips and French onion dip because this is what we all filled up on before dinner was served.  Others provided salad and side dishes, all of it the same every year.  What makes this dish particularly interesting are the ingredients and preparation.

Do remember that you must have a pan measuring about 30’ x 60’ and an oven that can accommodate it.  The interior of the pan is lined with two large boxes of wide noodles.  No kidding.  I don’t even think you have to take them out of the box.  It takes an entire day to brown the three pounds of ground beef it calls for.  You will cry for a week after chopping up three large onions along with three bell peppers.  These are added in at the end of the day since they only have to cook for five minutes.  The remaining canned goods provide the moisture needed to soften the noodles while cooking.  I am certain that my Grandmother stored a caldron somewhere the size of a swimming pool to stir it all together.  We never witnessed the mixing of this concoction; we only saw the finished product.  The next three ingredients provide the tomato taste necessary for an Italian dish.  It included two large cans of tomatoes, you know, the size restaurants buy for feeding about 100 people.  Next are two large cans of tomato paste and two large cans of tomato sauce.  This alone would make enough tomato soup to feed their entire town or at least take care of a homeless shelter for days.  Oh wait, there’s more….remember we’ve got to add enough liquid to get those noodles soft.  Next one large can of ripe black olives with juice is added and then one large can of whole kernel corn and the liquid are stirred in.  Be sure to salt, pepper and add chili pepper to taste.  I don’t know how you would know what it’s supposed to taste like since there is nothing on earth to compare it to.  The topper of course is a half pound of grated cheese.  I thought it would have to bake for three days, but the instructions say to cook on 350 degrees for one hour.  I know what you’re thinking; you’re going to run out to the store to get all the ingredients so you can make this huge combination Italian – Mexican fiasco for yourself.  It’s such an easy thing to throw together if you wanted to feed the entire NFL.  I have no idea how my Grandmother ever got the pan in or out of the oven.  I’m certain my Granddad must have helped.  Never once was it dropped.  We all had to go spoon out our helping from the stove top.  I believe it would have caved in the dining table.  Just remember to have someone bring the green pistachio salad to go with it!  Very Christmassy!

The bedlam started when we opened gifts after filling our faces with lots of pie.  We tried on multiple occasions to open gifts in shifts, but it just never worked.  There was so much wrapping paper we were still pulling it out of the light fixtures in July.  Since the sisters and sisters in law all got the same thing, only one had to open their gift and everybody knew what was in their package.  It was the same for the brothers and brothers in law and for all the girl cousins and boy cousins.  The only problem was if it was a clothing item, it might not fit and there were no receipts to make a return.  Grandmother simplified her shopping just like she de-cluttered her house – one bag fits all.

It was the same every year, kids running around, the house filling up with gifts and family and the tell tale smell of Tallerina baking in the oven.  Of course, there were times when some of us had our differences, but as a whole, my Grandparents house was filled with laughter and love for each other.  There was never any jealousy, though – since everything and everybody’s gift was always the same!

By the way, the Tallerina recipe is accurate, just in case you need to feed the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir this season.  You can even take home leftovers!  May each of you be blessed and have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life As I Know It - The Simple Life

Years ago I lived in a little country house that did not have heat or air conditioning.  One part of the year it was like living in a freezer and the other part of the year it was like living in your own private sauna.  We had four rooms and a bathroom.  There was only one closet and a pantry for storage.  Fortunately I had not been married too long, was fairly poor and didn’t own much.  A lot of people would say this was the simple life.  Simple included having to build a fire in two wood stoves for basic warmth.  One stove was long and rectangular and it was easy to burn your fingers while adding more wood.  The other one was a little pot belly stove with a design that made it impossible to start a fire.  One advantage was that you could heat water on top of the stoves to provide humidity in the air.  That was a good thing since the smoke plumbs could choke a horse.

The stoves only heated the rooms where they we located.  We heated other rooms with portable space heaters.  One stayed in the bathroom permanently, I’ll just leave it to your imagination as to why.  The other one was moved around to where it was needed.  There were times during the winter you could see your breath in the bedroom.  We had an electric blanket on the bed that was always on a setting of 10.  Little good that did when it was 28 below in the room and icicles hung from the light fixture.  The curtains swayed when the wind blew year round.

When it was time to get up in the mornings I had to go turn on the space heater in the bathroom so it could warm up enough to take a bath.  I would turn on the water in the tub, there was no shower hook up, and jump back in the bed for exactly 10 minutes while the tub slowly filled up.  I wore a robe made of gorilla hair and lined with seal blubber.  Sexy was an understatement.

During the winter the field mice moved in.  They took up occupancy in the pantry.  I knew it was bad when they started getting their own mail delivered to the house.  I had to move all the food products to a metal cabinet so the only other storage space in the house was a four story house for the mice.  They built a playground out of cereal boxes and I watched the babies climb up the box and then slide down the interior wax paper like a slide.  I knew we had to dispose of them when they started watching TV with us and called in pizza deliveries. 

We moved into the house during the summer.  It was so hot my dog crawled into the upright freezer to cool off.  The layout of the house prevented proper air circulation so we prayed for winter.  The year we decided to plant a garden we had a drought.  A small half acre was cleared for planting however, my husband, who had a tendency to go overboard on projects, planted 5 rows of corn, 18 hills of squash and 48 tomato plants.  All of this effort went into feeding only the two of us.  Fortunately the beans and the corn never came into fruition.  The tomatoes and squash however, were a bumper crop.  I had never seen so much red and yellow in my life.  I was calling people in the phone book to see if they wanted free vegetables.  In addition to taking on this project it was decided that we should also raise chickens and sell the eggs.  The barn was cleaned out and we hauled home 40 laying hens.  Raised as a city girl I had never had dealings with chickens.  They laid approximately every other day so I was washing poop off of 20 eggs a day.  My husband miraculously disappeared when it was time to wash eggs.  There is truly only one word to describe chicken excrement, but this is a family blog.  I would haul cartons of eggs to work to sell and give away or toss at unsuspecting citizens.  Once we had a chicken thief in the neighborhood that left the barn door open one morning.  The chickens were all out in the yard and it looked like it had snowed.  I coaxed in all but 13 of them.  I decided my husband would have to find the others when he got home from work.  I wasn’t going to climb any trees to save a chicken.  I have my pride.

We also had a little cocker spaniel named Duke.  One day some friends needed to give up their little female cocker named Chancy.  She was a bit shy, but Duke was an Italian Casanova and had his way with her all night.  I had never seen a dog so happy.  A few months later we were blessed with nine puppies.  Of course, it wasn’t two or three puppies, but nine.  When I carried all of them to the vet I had to make two trips in the door.  One trip included a laundry basket full of puppies to sit inside the vet office for everyone to play with and then a second trip to haul in the proud mom and pop.  Chancy was always slightly nervous and never failed to leave a treasure for the techs to clean up.  A friend’s dad was a vet and he gave me a group discount.  I certainly felt I deserved it with 11 dogs.  I was almost his entire clientele.  I cried when they had their tails nipped.  New to the puppy business I didn’t know they weren’t born with the cute little cropped tails.  Our brood included three white pups with little brown patches, four buff colored babies and two chocolate brown angels that were twins.  Ultimately it was fairly easy to sell or give away our little cuties.  Chancy even went to live with my Aunt and Uncle in Kentucky.  I would tell you their adventure getting her home, but you would think it was fiction.

One night my husband was not home and there was a ruckus in the hen house.  I looked out and a possum had invaded the barn.  The chickens were screaming at the top of their lungs.  I went and got a little .22 rifle, not that I knew how to use it, and ran out to the barn.  I opened the door and raced in.  The door slammed behind me and the latch flipped around and basically locked me in. Okay, it was 10:00 p.m. and I am in a barn with 40 hysterical chickens, an ugly possum and a rifle I don’t know how to use.  My cocker spaniel stared at me from the kitchen door.  You know, there is only one word to describe chicken…. oh, well.  After about 15 minutes I finally managed to use the butt end of the rifle to work the door open and free myself.  It's a wonder I didn't shoot myself!  It seemed like an eternity.  You can only imagine my relief for fresh air and a bathroom.

After a season of chickens we decided to sell them and see if we made a profit.  Considering the original purchase, cost of feed, what we made on selling eggs and the money from the sale we calculated that we had broken even.  Of course, that didn’t include the cost of time to water, feed, decorate the barn and sew all the cute bonnets for their heads! 

These days I once again live in the country.  I have a lovely home, heat and air and a different husband.  But, some things don’t change…. I now have 10 chickens, 3 goats, 3 dogs and a cat.  Seventeen critters is way down from about 51, and you might call me crazy, but I guess I still like the simple life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

               Thanksgiving is a great time of year.  You don’t have the hype that surrounds Christmas and shopping for gifts.  The weather is cooler and you can finally breathe after surviving a summer of insufferable 90 degree temps where your makeup drips off your face like a melting popsicle.  The leaves have changed to beautiful gold, red, and yellow and the blue sky has a much deeper, clearer hue.  You smell the hint of smoke sifting from the fireplace and the tastes of the season are richer and fuller.  I like to go where they make sorghum syrup and although eating this delicacy stirred up with about half a tub of butter placed on top of a white fluffy biscuit will make you gain 15 pounds on the spot…..the aroma is intoxicating.
            Most of us spend time thinking and contemplating the things we are thankful for.  Of course there is always family (at least most of them), and our health (unless you are over 50 and then you’re just grateful you’re vertical), our friends and neighbors (always check them out before you move into a neighborhood so you can be grateful).  Many are thankful for church and church family, and the awesome blessings given to us by the Lord.  With a lot of the hardships all of us have faced as a nation the last couple of years, most are grateful to have a job and food on the table.  At this writing we’re thankful that we have had the mid-term elections and all the campaign ads are off the TV now. 
            For us, we are always thankful if the house is still standing after I’ve cooked my portion of the Thanksgiving meal.  A tradition for us for years is that we would have a spaghetti dinner on Thanksgiving Eve, normally a quick meal that involves boiling noodles, browning the meat and pouring on the sauce.  It gets really fancy if I heat up some garlic bread and fix baked potatoes.  I’m not very patient, so I love to turn the heat on the cook top up to high so things will cook faster.  While supper is going I usually have other items in the works for the feast the next day.  Being an over achiever I like to fix the turkey, sweet potato soufflĂ©, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, 7 layer salad, provide cranberry sauce and supply and the ever illusive pickled peaches.  I have learned to share all this cooking fun with my other family members since all they had left to bring was the carrot sticks.
            One year in particular I was working and had come home to start all the festivities in the kitchen.  Needless to say I was in a rush and had everything going at once.  My husband was not at home and had gone to pick up his kids and was visiting his mother briefly before he and two young boys hit the door and all hell would break loose for the evening.  Mind you, they were great boys, but periodic visits limited my ability to cope with the increased decibel level upon their entry.  It was like going from a peaceful bubble bath to the back side of a roaring turbo jet in 20 seconds flat.
            While I was boiling and stirring I heard a little sound that went “poof!”  Nothing serious, a slight poofing noise in the kitchen could be anything.  I then detected the smell of something burning.  Nothing on the stovetop had stuck to the pot yet and the oven was working properly.  The cook top was a counter mount and I opened the cabinet door underneath to get another casserole dish when I discovered the wiring was on fire.  Now I am not the panicky type but I do believe my entire life flashed before my eyes.  I knew better than to throw water on it (I’m too embarrassed to tell you HOW I know this) and searched frantically for my container of flour.  Locating it behind six bags of sweet potatoes I gingerly tossed an entire container of flour by the handfuls onto the fire. I did have the foresight to turn the knobs to off to stop the flow of electricity to the cook top.  Finally the flames had stopped licking the bottom of the cabinet and I took a look around.
            There was flour and soot everywhere.  Everywhere.  Believe it or not, a little five pound bag of flour can expand to look like three dump trucks of pastry dust have been unloaded in your kitchen. Every cook pot and casserole dish under the cabinet was filled with black ash.  The kitchen was smoky.  We were definitely not having spaghetti for supper.  I picked up the phone and called my mother in law’s house.  My brother in law, who just happens to be a firefighter, answered the phone.  Really, what are the odds of that?  I asked if my husband was there and my brother in law said he was.  Being the wonderful fellow he is, he asked how I was doing.  I squeaked out something about the cook top catching on fire and needed my hubby to come home.  I believe at that point I was formally blessed out for not calling the fire department immediately.  Honestly, the fire department was only two minutes down the road.  He did not even give the phone to my husband, but called on his radio to the station and I heard sirens coming before he told me they were on the way and hung up.  I guessed my husband was on the way, too.  Plus there was no way to get all that soot cleaned up before firefighters entered the house.  I just hate it when the house is a mess and we’re having guests.
            I would probably break down and cry if I re-counted the portion of this story about the many trips up and down to the electrical panel and back to the kitchen made by those wonderful firefighters and their boots.  My husband was able to re-wire the cook top to their satisfaction and our evening resumed.  So, we had sticky noodles, half cooked ground beef and sauce, a kitchen that looked like it had been invaded by a small militia armed with soot guns.  The boys tried to pack the flour and throw it like snowballs.  There was still quite a bit to cook along with loading and unloading 431 dishwasher loads later of pots, pans and casserole dishes.
            It took about three years before my family would let me bring anything except the carrot sticks for Thanksgiving.  I donate regularly to the firefighter fund; it’s either that or invite them over for the holidays.  The family just doesn’t like to come with the fire truck parked out front.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Goat Tails - The Sequel

How many neighbors does it take to pen a goat?  More than anybody on Orchard Ridge Trail wants to admit.  Oddly, the electric fence still was not working properly and our precious little mama goat continued to get out.  My neighbor up the street was very worried that she would make her way up to his wife’s flower garden.  They have invested in a flower bed that is the size of a city block.  Irresistible plants reside there providing an endless buffet for any goat.  Recently all three goats secretly followed Greg up the hill to their house and found wonderful treasures there.  Mr. J decided that immediate action was called for before their garden looked like it had been hit by a whirlwind.

Mr. J drove his little golf cart to the goat pen daily to make sure Little One was in her pen and then made multiple trips to Tractor Supply to get necessary supplies to ensure the pen was properly electrified.  Our next door neighbor, just stopping by for a visit, got in on the festivities ultimately touching the fence to test it and got shocked.  He’s bald now.  Well, he was bald anyway.

Ten replacement plants, $300 in golf cart fuel, and a $100 investment in a larger controller was installed and electricity was flowing properly through the wires.  A tester was applied and it lit up like a Christmas tree.  Finally our neighborhood was satisfied that we had successfully contained little mama goat.  We celebrated with flags and a parade, complete with a motorcycle ride to help cover expenses.  (This is normal in our town.)

For the last few days mama goat has been standing on her little hill in the pen and has hardly moved.  We are convinced that the singe marks down her side and pillows of smoke emitting from her fur are evidence that she has been converted.  It was a baptism by fire resulting in regular prayer and a tent meeting scheduled for next week.

We won’t talk about the tattoo now embedded on her neck from the copper wire wrap on her collar.  It spells “gotcha” in four different languages!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Goat Tails

I love my animals.  They are a constant source of joy and hilarity.  There’s just nothing like a chicken following you around the yard like a dog or watching the goats literally skip across the yard with glee!  They have distinguishable social skills and are eternally grateful for each morsel you feed them, until it’s gone, of course.

To provide extra safety to our goats we recently installed an electric fence inside their penned area to keep our little Houdini’s from getting out in the yard.  We don’t mind letting them graze while under supervision, but when they are not being watched they morph into locusts and devour everything in site.  Our bushes were unidentifiable all summer….just naked.  Our neighbors thought we had been hit with blight.

Ok, so the electric fence was installed more for my piece of mind and to hopefully recover some semblance of green in the front yard before winter.  Selfish, I know.

We were basking in our success of installing the fencing and relieved we did not have to worry about them escaping and cleaning out the chicken feed when our little mama goat began to appear in the yard.  She is smart.  She would wait until we weren’t looking and sneak out into the yard.  We would put her back in the pen and in less than five minutes she would be back in the yard.  We could not believe she was making it past the electric fence.

Now you have to understand, all we have to go by is the pulse light on the charger box to know that the electricity is running through the fence.  We don’t have a suitable way to check each line as of yet.  Greg suggested maybe I should touch it, but I’m just not ready for a perm right now.

After several days of trying to watch how this goat gets out, Greg has his bait of it and chained her to a tree inside the pen to teach her a lesson.  I told him goats don’t think quite like us so I’m not sure she understands the deeper underlying message.  They’re smart, not philosophical.

This morning we unhooked our little lady goat and within two minutes she was out.  At this point I decided I was not going to be outwitted by a goat.  That’s just too embarrassing.  I may not be smarter than a fifth grader, but I’m sure smarter than a goat.

I walked down the side of the pen and found the escape hatch. They just have to have a space big enough for their head to get through – but she was having to get on the other side of the electric fence – plus Greg had put a collar on her wrapped with wire and prongs so she’d get an extra shock.  Don’t tell PETA.  Greg got her collar and pulled her back into the pen and we made a trek down to the escape hatch.  Little mama goat walked down with us and decided she’d give us a demonstration!  Yes, pride cometh before a fall….. apparently the bottom wire of the fence was not hot as she slipped underneath it.  Then she walked over to the hole and tried to go through it.  Just as she did, the wires coming out of the collar got hung in the fence and she backed right into the upper wires of the electric fence – those wires were hot!  I’m not quite sure of the exact voltage she felt for that brief moment…..but I do believe I heard a distinct buzzzzt.

Of course, this gives new meaning to the old idiom “to get someone’s goat”….
I’ll go see to my stylist if I want curls. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Life As I Know It - Moving II

When my husband and I decided to make a move to the mountains we had no idea that it would take a year to sell our house.  Just before the real estate market was making a severe downturn, it was getting hard to sell a house since our commissioners decided they wanted the county to look more like brick and mortar than green space.  The housing market was flooded with new homes and there was little opportunity for us re-sellers.  We went through three real estate agents in the course of the year.  Each one was nice and did what they could to bring in a buyer.  Each new agent meant a barrage of questions, interviews, more paper to fill out, photos to take, and lockbox to install.   These also meant arrangements had to be made for the dogs when a potential buyer wanted to see the house.  I was more concerned about the dogs getting out of the house than of them hurting someone.  They would have licked them to death and helped them carry out anything they wanted if they had been thieves.  Then, of course, there were the open house events.
We always hoped this would bring a multitude of interested people to the house and our buyer would come through.  How do you comfort a real estate agent when no one shows up?  It was beyond me.  We left again with the dogs while she packed up two weeks worth of groceries to take home.  I didn’t have the heart to ask her to leave some for us.
We had already started our search for our mountain home and had met a very nice agent.  She began to learn our taste for a house and after hours of searching the internet on our own, we would send her a list of properties we were interested in and she would go preview them.  Then when we made our trek to see them, she only carried us to the ones she knew we would like.  We still make referrals to others for her services.
In desperation after we let our third agent go my husband decided to put out a “For Sale by Owner” sign.  This would save us a ton of money at closing and it was certainly worth a try since we had had no offers.  We designed our own flyer and put it in a cylinder holder and prayed.  Everyday we went down and counted how many flyers were there to see if any had been taken.  We soon discovered that most of them were taken by our neighbors so they could see what we were asking.  We had to reduce the price three times.  Even our neighbors were getting desperate for us to leave.
The funny thing about our street was that it was an older established neighborhood and rarely did a house go up for sale unless someone died or went into a nursing home.  When we bought our house we knew all of our immediate neighbors and we all helped each other.  When we initially looked at what would be our home and walked through it, I am the type of person that opens closet doors, drawers and cabinets to get a real feel for the house.  After about twenty minutes of inspecting I raced to find my husband and our agent and exclaimed, “the owner must have died!”  Things just were not in place if someone stilled lived there.  All the furniture was there, but there just wasn’t enough clothing in the closet to suggest a live in owner and significant amounts of dishware, toiletries and hangers were missing.  I just hoped they hadn’t died in the house and I didn’t want to know the details.  It did turn that the owner had passed away, but in a nursing home before getting to come back home.  I was sure it wasn’t because he missed the green and orange pineapple wallpaper in the kitchen or the gift wrap paper in the bathroom, all fixable.
We really became concerned when we both had found jobs in our new mountain location and we had no home there and had no prospects to buy ours.  Fortunately my husband was in sales and could stay at home, but I wound up making arrangements to live with my niece and her husband in a nearby community and came home on the weekends.  My dear hubby decided that when he saw someone stop and get a flyer he would race down to the end of the yard and ask them if they wanted to see the inside of the house.  I would have given anything to have this on video.  He was quite fast getting out the door.  I think he missed me.  Much to our delight we ultimately found our buyer this way.  She was very impressed with how clean and nice our house was considering the price range.  We had lowered the price, but hey, we couldn’t just give it away.  She signed a contract that night.
Great, now we were homeless.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Life As I Know It-Moving

Five years ago we moved from the city to the country, well the mountains actually.  It was hopefully a dream come true.  Originally we started looking for a second home to retreat to, however the more we looked, we decided that the upkeep on two homes would be somewhat costly, and we probably would not get any rest at either home.  Everyone in the community we were looking at said we’d move there permanently.  They were right.
The idea of living in the mountains was heavenly and we loved the idea of slowing down to the pace of life enjoyed here.  We began our quest to purchase a home in the mountains.  Our house had to sell first before we could make the big move.
We had already spent a considerable amount of time upgrading our home of fifteen years to the way we wanted it. My mom and I literally spent hours painting every wall, every door frame, window frame and shoe molding.  The job was made a little easier by the fact that we were ultimately going to replace all the carpet so we did not have to put down any drop cloths.  If I was vertical, I was painting.  I went to sleep at night with my arm moving up and down in brush strokes.  I had nightmares of paint dripping off the ceiling.  I always kept one room in order as the clutter of paint cans, brushes and ladders throughout the house drove me nuts.  I love for my home to be orderly and neat so I was almost ready for a rubber room before we finished.  Something clean, white and sanitized was starting to sound very appealing.  I had even taken down and re-painted 31 cabinet doors in our kitchen and put on new hardware.  My husband stayed out of the way until it was time to install the flooring.  I don’t know that he really had any projects going at the time, but he found lots of reasons to hide out back in his shop.
Once the painting was finished everything looked fresh.  We discovered that we could install our own hardwood floors and this part fascinated my husband.  He took a “quickie” course on floor installation and we were off.  We took up the old flooring which terrified our dogs and made sure we had all the proper tools for the project.
Now just as a side note, we had a private joke about our house which was built by a man that begged, borrowed and bartered to custom build this home.  All of the closet shelves hung at an angle, towards you.  The clothes rod was galvanized pipe (he was a plumber).  There were holes big enough to hold sixteen penny nails over the stove top to hang pot holders on.  His wife probably nagged him to get her something up there to hold her pot holders in a handy place…..so he drilled three big holes over the cook stove, stuck three big nails in there and probably said, “there you go honey!”  I’m guessing she lived with it since they were there when we moved in.  Bless her heart.  The basic gist is….in our house it wasn’t just cheap….it was Bonker cheap.  (Not their real names to protect the guilty).
            While prepping the floors for hardwoods we worried that the house was not plumb.  We were certain that there would be some major cutting involved and lots of anguish and gnashing of teeth throughout the project.  Some good friends came to assist and much to our surprise the house was plumb and the project flowed from the living room to the kitchen and the laundry room without a hitch or a transition piece.  We were elated! 

Next we were to install the remaining flooring in our guest bath off of the kitchen.  We had a “soft” spot next to the shower so my husband decided to inspect the problem.  Much to our horror, the floor joist had been cut out to provide room for the toilet pipes!  We could have fallen through to the crawl space at anytime while taking care of business.  I personally would have died from embarrassment.  Headlines:  “Woman Lands Cheek Down from Falling Floor and Dies from Over Exposure.”
We were finishing the project around the holidays and had to shut down the bathroom until after Christmas.  My husband was frantic knowing this had the potential to put me over the top while decorating and hosting a family Christmas event.  He admired my resolve and maturity as I posted an “Out of Order” sign on the bathroom door.  I went to the other bathroom and threw up.  Oh well, so much for maturity.
We did manage to complete our project before Christmas and were very proud of our accomplishments.  Our improvements were going nicely and I had managed to maintain and element sanity throughout the process until the carpet delivery.  The carpet dimensions had been mislabeled and there was not enough to finish every room.  The installers decided to go get another piece and make the cut for the hallway.  That was fine until we discovered it was a different dye lot and didn’t match.  Our sales lady tried to convince me it was the shadows from the darker hallway.  Who was she kidding?  I know beige from slightly darker beige any day of the week.  She made a trip out to the house to inspect the carpet and she was immediately convinced I was right.  Could have been the dogs growling at her the whole time, but I doubt it, the color difference was obvious.  In a good faith move the store agreed to remove the hall carpet and allowed us to put the hardwood flooring down the hall and gave us all the transition pieces for five doorways.  It made all the difference in the world.  The dogs, however would not leave the carpeted rooms and it got rather tiresome to have to carry them across the hardwoods to potty.  We bought rugs to put down the hallway.  Figures.
After almost fifteen years our house looked more like us than the previous owners.  It was time to sell.