May Madness: Military

Today is Armed Forces Day, the lesser known cousin of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is to recognize those who gave their life while serving in the military and Veteran’s Day is a salute to all those who have served in the military. Armed Forces Day is to recognize the branches of service and those currently serving in them.

In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Truman stated:

“Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, toward the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.” (Copied from Military.com)

An excerpt taken from an article written in the New York Post on May 17, 1952, sums up Armed Forces Day’s utmost importance,
“It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem. Perhaps if we are a little more conscious of our debt of honored affection they may be a little more aware of how much we think of them.”

Read more: https://militarybenefits.info/armed-forces-day/#ixzz5oD73mCy0

While you appreciate your freedom today take a moment to put your flag out or send a care package to someone serving overseas or maybe just send a prayer of safe keeping for all those on duty today. Thank you.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Mum (And Photo Friday!)

As in chrysanthemum, not a British Mom!

In the four seasons world every fall I would put a mum and a pumpkin somewhere near my front door. And every spring I would throw the long dead mum away.

The first year I lived here in the desert southwest I continued the tradition only to have javelinas munch my chrysanthemum down to nothing and roll my pumpkin down the street until they broke it open and then ate it. We watched them do it. I was very sad.

I bought a second chrysanthemum and sadder but wiser put it safely in the backyard. And eight years later I still have the same plant! It blooms two or three times a year.

Look at all those buds!

In the heat of the summer I keep it fully in the shade and in September I pop it back into the morning sun. During the winter it gets full sun. If there is a freeze I tuck it under the patio and drape a towel over it.

Once it blooms I leave the dead stalks until the new growth underneath gets well established. I figure the stalks provide some protection from the sun in the summer and the cold in the winter.

I have been watching my plant for a few weeks now, waiting for a nice amount of blooms to open for a photo Friday shoot.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Massive

I oops’d. I bought a very beautiful jigsaw puzzle and didn’t pay attention to the size. Normally when I do a puzzle I work on the dining room table but I put the puzzle on a piece of foam board. This allows me to move it out of the way if we want to use the table to play games or do a craft project. (We only eat in the dining room on Thanksgiving. Seriously. Once a year, not even Christmas.)

But this puzzle is 27″ x 35″ and won’t fit on my foam board. I thought, okay, I’ll set up our folding card table in the living room, another room we hardly use (only Christmas morning). Nope, too small.

This puzzle takes up a good two-thirds of the dining room table. I know because I put together the edge pieces. Well, most of them, I seem to have missed a few on my initial sort.

Now I am stymied. I need that table over summer break which starts next week. I am waffling between picking a different puzzle to do and looking for a bigger, lightweight, movable surface.

I hope all your problems today remain ‘this small’! 😌

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Menopause

I am cheating today as this is also my entry for Carrot Ranch’s weekly flash fiction topic. This week’s 99 word topic is about growing older. And did you really think I would go the whole month of “M” words May and not address menopause? Silly reader. 🙃 At least I am able to look at menopause with a sense of humor right now.

Menopause

A woman spends the latter half of her life in three phases:

Perimenopause – Characterized by so many different symptoms you are sure you are losing your mind. Coping mechanism is eating brownies while hiding in the pantry. You long to live alone in a mountain cabin.

Menopause – This phase has many false starts.   Six months without a period and then you get surprised by your ‘friend’.  Still eating brownies, you now wake up in the middle of the night and have to endure  hours thinking about brownies.  

Post-menopausal –  The sun comes out again and you live happily ever after.

May Madness: Molars

Molars, as in “my back molars are feeling exceptionally clean today”. Why is that you ask? Because I got a new toothbrush for Mother’s Day. Obviously not just any run of the mill toothbrush. This toothbrush is like the Ferrari of toothbrushes!

My old Phillips Sonicare toothbrush still worked but it was falling apart. The grippy piece was flaking off, shedding shards of lime green all over my hand and the sink. So I asked for a new one for Mother’s Day. And my son upscaled me to a Sonicare 5100 model (it was on sale I think). It is the sleekest thing I have ever owned. All black and svelte it belongs in a New York city apartment.

Two minutes with this baby and my teeth feel like I just walked out of the dentist’s office.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Monday

Lots of people aren’t thrilled about Mondays. Back to work, back to school, back to the being responsible routine. I, on the other hand, actually like Mondays. After having small child and spouse underfoot for two days I am ready for some quiet solitude. For a few hours of not hearing demands for food and where is…

Already this morning I have hung the first load of laundry out to dry and put a second load in the washer. And I cleaned the family room carpet and the kitchen floor. I was going to clean the rest of the floor downstairs next but I am thinking maybe I will wait until tomorrow. The dirt certainly isn’t going anywhere and I am feeling low on estrogen. I need to make sure I take some ‘me’ time today. Do something relaxing. Which I can do because it is Monday!

Happy Monday! 🌈

Summer Bucket List

It is here, the last full week of school. We will have two hormonally challenged individuals spending the entire summer together. I can hardly bear the thought of it.

Keeping small child entertained all summer is no picnic. Left on his own he would spend all his time in front of a screen. Even though he is eleven it is not enough to simply tell him to turn the computer/tv off and go find something else to do. Believe me, I have tried that. Mostly he just lounges around complaining that he is bored, ignoring any suggestions I make.

I want him to do things he enjoys besides video games and cartoons. I want him to explore his creative side and get some exercise. I want him to have a good summer.

All year I have been jotting down ideas. The hard part is most of these things will have to be done together which could be good or bad. Kind of depends on how hormonally challenged we are feeling on any given day. The hope is we each get an hour or so for ourselves in the morning and a second hour in the afternoon.

The big goals are not to let one or two bad days derail the whole idea, be flexible, and once in awhile shake things up and go have an unplanned adventure. (Every summer I plan all these get out of the house ideas and every summer the heat or monsoons press us back indoors. So adventures this summer will be spontaneous because if we think about it we won’t go!)

I have decided the first day of summer vacation we will go to lunch at our favorite ice cream place (they serve food too) and discuss plans. And then we can head over to the new Hobby Lobby (conveniently located in the same plaza) and maybe find a project or two.

Here are some ideas of hopefully fun things to do:

  • Swimming. We have a pool and once I get him in the pool he loves it. Last year he made a lot of excuses to not go in which was really annoying. This year he won’t have a choice. For Easter I bought a bunch of pool toys to help tempt him into the water.
  • Book Club. We do make it to the library on a regular basis and we can easily find YA books we both enjoy. I thought it would be fun to read a book at the same time and then discuss it. Maybe have a themed lunch that day to go along with the book.
  • Cooking. My son has shown an interest in cooking and baking. Every once in awhile I’ll let him plan a meal/dessert, shop for it, and prepare it. A great way to practice so many skills.
  • Christmas. I am going to get a craft kit or two and we can have craft time for a few weeks. He can make Christmas presents for relatives. So much easier to do it now than when he is juggling school and sports.
  • Take an on-line class together. The local community college participates in ed2go. ‘Drawing for Absolute Beginners’ seems perfect for us.
  • Movie nights. It is getting harder to find movies we all enjoy (and haven’t already seen), but not impossible. Popcorn helps.
  • Skee ball. Skee ball is hands down our favorite arcade game and we got a small version for Christmas. Playing tournaments with innovative prizes will be fun for all.
  • Board games. We have a ton of games and go in spurts playing them. I have a secret goal of playing each one at least once!
  • Sketchbooks. I like the idea of doing something creative together, but not too structured. The Sketchbook Project seems like a good idea and it is pretty cool to think of our work going on a tour and then being kept in an art library. I ordered a book for each of us and splurged on the digital addition. There was a 20% off code when I ordered which made the price a little easier. This should pair well with our on-line drawing class. Hopefully after the class he will be more confident in his skills and it will be cool to have before and after sketches for both of us.

This year our vacation is near the middle of the summer break which is nice. We are going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which we are very excited about. This will help divide the summer into two halves, the first being what I think of as swim season. Very hot and dry and then the second half which may be the rainy season. (Monsoons are pretty unpredictable.) But it will be good to have inside plans because rain or heat are both unpleasant to be out in.

Also, right after vacation I am having my hysterectomy. They do it robotically so it is not the big deal it used to be. But I will still have one to two weeks with limited lifting, bending and twisting. And no swimming for four to six weeks, a killer!

I am hoping small child will be helpful those first few recovery days. I suspect I am kidding myself. A more realistic prediction is that while Mom is knocked out on pain killers he will be grabbing all the computer time he can!

I can make all the plans in the world but really, I have no idea how the summer is going to go. Fond memories? Or a nightmare best forgotten? I am assuming no matter what we will both survive. No one has ever actually died from hormonal teenagers or menopausal moms, right? RIGHT?

May Madness: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

I got a wonderful surprise gift from Mother Nature today, rain! Last night we had a lovely thunder storm and this morning it is cool and cloudy and we’ve had more rain fall. Pretty rare this time of year and I love it! Thank you Mother Nature.

Every year what I truly want for Mother’s Day is to not have to think about dinner. I am responsible for dinner 364 days a year. This doesn’t necessarily mean I cook dinner every night, yet somehow I am responsible for the fact of dinner.

It is 100% up to me to plan dinner be it cooking, leftovers, eating out or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. If we go out 90% of the time I have to pick the restaurant.

I want one night where I don’t have to think about dinner at all except to eat it. I want to be told we are going to such and such place at whatever time. Period. No thinking involved on my part.

It won’t happen of course. And yes I have articulated this desire loudly in years past. Last year there was no plan made by child or spouse and we ended up eating leftovers or sandwiches or something. One year they wanted to go out and I told them to pick a place and they couldn’t manage that and they dithered until it was too late to go out.

Now I will admit they usually make breakfast and clean it up. I get the impression that they think that is enough and maybe they are right. Maybe I am just being greedy. A whole day without meal responsibility? Blasphemy!

This year I am picking up the no dinner plan vibe as well (maybe I am wrong) so I have Plan B ready. The Cubs game is on at 4:00p and I’ll make popcorn and drink the pink fizzy lemonade I got at Trader Joe’s and pretend I am at Wrigley Field.

Small child will make himself mac and cheese and spouse will sulk that there is no dinner (he did all that work on breakfast!) and ostentatiously eat a bowl of cereal. And thus another Mother’s Day will end.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: MMMM

For my son’s end of season bowling party this morning I made a cookie sour cream cake. It was surprisingly easy and I really liked it because it wasn’t overly sweet.

Is this a little blurry? I really need to get my eyes checked.

Here is the recipe as written (mostly) in Betty Crocker’s “New Cake Decorating” book:

2 cups flour 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
16 creme filled sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped
(I used Joe-Joes from Trader Joes)

Preheat over to 350°. Grease and flour 2 round pans (8″ or 9″). Beat all ingredients except cookies on low speed 30 seconds, then on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl. Stir in cookies. Pour into pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 10 minutes in pans. Cool completely.

For the topping simply whip 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream with 1 tablespoon of sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff.

Spread half of whipped cream on top of first layer, then top with second layer and remaining whipped cream. Decorate with halved cookies and cookie crumbs.

My changes: Next time I would bake at 325° for a dark, non-stick pan. I also added a layer of cookie crumbs in the middle, chopped a little finer then what I put in the cake. And I would whip a full cup of heavy cream to make a little more ‘frosting’.

The middle layer.

I had no idea how quick it was to make homemade whipped cream. I thought it took forever to whip cream! I think the chilled bowl helped. No more canned stuff. Now I am excited at the idea of making flavored whipped creams for pies!

I wish I had a gummy worm to put in the ‘dirt’.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Mission

My mission today was to do a photo Friday post. I have been taking an on-line nature photography course and picking up some great tips. And this morning serendipity struck! I found a spider (I believe a Wolf Spider) trapped in my dog’s food dish. And we have had two javelinas foraging through the neighborhood the last few mornings.

Javelinas can be dangerous so I try and keep my distance. I saw them up the street when I was returning from school drop off this morning. I planned on washing my car, taking advantage of a cloudy morning. Just in case I grabbed my camera and put my zoom lens on. Sure enough, a few minutes later they came down the street and went into the wash next to my house. Another neighbor came out with his son to look at them, from safely across the street.

I went to the middle of the yard and snapped a few quick pics. And then one of them heard the shutter clicking and I slowly backed away. (But not too slowly!) As they worked their way down the wash I was able to go in my backyard and take their picture from behind the safety of our 5′ cinderblock fence.

Wolf spider, did he think they were real flowers in the bowl?
Don’t call me pig! Javelinas are actually related to the elephant family.

Til tomorrow…