A LOOK AT THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF A CONSERVATIVE FREE-SPIRIT

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Venti



I recently learned that the Italian word for "20" is "Venti." My first thought upon learning it was "I wonder why in the world Starbucks uses the Italian word for "20" for their large drinks. The question has bugged me for the last month or so. Why?
Finally, last Saturday, as I drove to Jordan and Erin's wedding, I learned the answer! I had driven two hours on my journey and was in one of Houston's suburbs on I-10 when I realized that I had better take a bathroom break and get a latte. Finally, I found a Starbucks and ordered a "tall" latte with sugar free hazelnut flavoring (by the way, that particular Starbucks makes a very bitter latte with hazelnut). I looked up at the menu, hoping to learn a clue as to their usage of "20" in place of "large" when I noticed 5 tiny little figures immediately below the word "Venti."
They were the following:
2 0 o z.
"Aha!" I said, maybe even aloud. "Venti is so named because the beverage is held in a 20 ounce cup! Thus, Venti!"
Mystery solved.
As a quick wrap-up, I gotta say, "Bevo il latte."

gotta go. I'm learning some Italian while Pop takes a nap.
Love,
Lolly Fabulous

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Wise Words


They're standing on the
corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: Why you ain't, Where you is, What he drive, Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what? And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics. I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father? Or who is his father? People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from?? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa ..... I say this all of the time. It would be like white people saying they are European-American. That is totally stupid. I was born here, and so were my parents and grand parents and, very likely my great grandparents. I don't have any connection to Africa, no more than white Americans have to Germany, Scotland, England, Ireland, or the Netherlands. The same applies to 99 percent of all the black Americans as regards to Africa. So stop, already! ! ! With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap .......... and all of them are in jail. Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' -- or men or whatever you call them now. We have millionaire football players who cannot read. We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We, as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard. We cannot blame the white people any longer.' Dr. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed ...D.

Things you might not have known about Italy, part 1


-It fluctuates, but the Tower of Pisa currently leans almost 13 feet to the south.
-About the cassock (garment worn by Catholic clergy): It costs $450 to buy one off the rack.
-In almost any cafe in Italy, the price of coffee varies in relation to where you drink it: lowest if you order and stand at the bar, higher if you want to sit at a table, and highest if the table you choose is on the sidewalk or terrace, rather than indoors.
-In the opinion of Italian experts: If you only have time to visit one building whilst visiting Rome, it should be the Parthenon. The gigantic round temple with the hemispheric dome is the best-preserved example of ancient architecture in the world, not to mention a masterpiece of technology and design.
-The Spanish Steps are actually French; the money to build them was bequeathed by a French diplomat's will and their primary purpose was to connect the piazza at the bottom with Trinita dei Monti, the church (which was under the patronage of the bourbon Kings of France) at the top.
-$127 Billion is generated annually by organized crime. 80% of businesses regularly pay the Mob protection money.
-The Colosseum was built in an elliptical shape to prevent gladiators from retreating to corners to allow the spectators an unobstructed view of all the action in the arena.
-Getting lost in Venice is a given. Be prepared: Venetians do not give directions by streets or blocks, but in relation to bridges; for example: "two bridges from here" or "after you've crossed the bridge, turn left."
-In addition to being a master violinist and a renowned composer, Antonio Vivaldi was also--at the age of twenty-three--an ordained priest, perhaps because--coming from a poor family, studying for the priesthood was one way he could attend school for free.
-In the fifteenth century, violin string was used to diagnose skull fractures. Guido Lanfranc--a Milan surgeon--would have a patient bit down on the end of a violin string, which he would then stretch tight and strum. If the musical note was good, the skull was fine. However, if it was garbled, then the patient had suffered a fracture.
-This next one should interest plenty of my friends: the "Hook 'Em Horns" rallying call for the University of Texas Longhorns football teams takes on new meaning in Italy, where raising a fist with the index and little fingers extended is a hardcore insult: a graphic way of telling a man that his wife or girlfriend is sleeping around. The hand signal might also be misinterpreted as a satanic symbol--something five Americans learned in 1985 when they were arrested for making the sign in front of the Vatican while celebrating news of a Longhorns victory.
-and lastly--for now--any pig can become prosciutto, but for a pig to become Prosciutto di Parma, it must be a Landrace or Suino Tipico Italiano breed. But that is not all! It must have been raised on a diet of grain corn and whey, must be between ten and twelve months old, must weigh a minimum of 308 pounds, and must be cured in Parma.

By the way, I found all this info in a book I found at Barnes and Noble in Beaumont. It is called Little Known Facts about Well Known Places: Italy by David Hoffman. They make this kind of book about Paris, New York, Disneyland, and Ireland, also!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

From the mouths of babes: Chase

Me, singing to Chase--who is five years old--whilst I am tickling him: Gitchee Gitchee Goo means I love you!

Chase, giggling: You are a funny girl!

Me: Awwwwww, Chase! Didn't your momma teach you that looks aren't everything? I'm not funny looking!

Chase: Yes, you are!

Later:

Chase: You are crazy!

Me: I'm not crazy

Chase: Well, you have crazy hair!

Later:
Chase to me: You can only play my harmonica if you are a kid!

Later:
Chase: Hey, Loralee, do you have an I-phone?

Me: Nope, Chase, I don't have an I-phone!

Chase: Well, maybe you'll get one later!

Later:
Chase, to me: I am not your buddy!

Me: Awwwww! why not?

Chase: I am my Daddy's buddy!


Needless to say, I love me some Chase!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things that are cool about Pop, # 1


He recognizes the flag and refers to it in respectful ways.

I was listening to my Italian language cd on the way home from supper tonight. I was distracted so what Pop said as we neared the "cross-roads" didn't sink in for a moment. When it did, however, a huge smile popped up on my face.

"Old Glory is flying high today, isn't she?"

Even with the confusion that comes hand-in-hand with the Alzheimers from which he suffers, he remembers the nickname of the flag of our nation. How cool is that?

Lemon Rosemary Pork Chops

So, I had my first guests since I moved here to Buna. Jamie and his Daddy, Jimmie, came over to have lunch with Pop and me. I made way too much food!
-I baked a cake last night.
-I chopped up cabbage, carrots, yellow and red and green peppers and 1/4 of a purple onion for a coleslaw. I added about 1/4 of a cup of italian dressing in lieu of mayo and vinegar.
-I stir fried yellow squash, zucchini, orange zucchini, and the rest of the onion in olive oil and pepper.
-I cooked some whole wheat rotini pasta.
-I soaked pork chops in an oil, lemon juice, and rosemary marinade and then grilled them.
-I made tea with apple mint, pineapple mint, and lemon balm mint flavor--fresh from my garden.
I kinda wish I could grow my own real tea leaves, but I think that'd be a serious project.

The meal was delicious, though no one brought their appetites so--there were a TON of leftovers Guess I know what we're having for dinner! The company was nice. Though it was slow-paced, the conversation was nice. Afterward, we talked a bit, had cake, and took a tour of my garden. It didn't last long, but it was enjoyable.

Since I still don't have a camera, I'll have to forgo pictures of the meal and the people who attended ! Needless to say, the lunch looked delicious and the company was great. Perhaps next time, I'll be able to take pictures.

See ya after the weekend,
Lolly Fabulous :)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

I haven't been writing the last few days. It isn't because I don't have anything about which I can write. I actually have started two--maybe three (I can't remember if I started it or just thought about starting it)--blogs that remain in the saved location for unfinished blogs. I can't seem to finish them. And I have guests coming tomorrow and I'll have to pack for my road trip which begins Saturday. I'll come back noon on Monday. I figure that I prolly won't be writing anything until Monday evening at the soonest. Maybe I'll spend Tuesday catching up.
Anyway, I'm just so tired that my muse is sleeping. When Phineas and Ferb are over, i'm getting a shower and heading to bed.
See y'all, Tuesday.
love,
Lolly Fabulous :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers-yuuuuuuummmmmmmm!


Okay, so today I baked some stuffed jalapenos! They ended up VERY tasty! :)
Here is how I did it:

some olive oil, heated in a pan.

two small jalapenos
two cloves of garlic
1/4 of a large onion, cubed
add the above items to the heated olive oil and stir 'em around until the place is starting to smell good.

then, add:
1 pound ground sausage, brown it.
three romas, cubed
4-6 cubed mushrooms
a stalk of celery

a large sprig of thyme
about 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
two to three small sprigs of cilantro
about 5-7 stems of basil
take 'em off their stems and chop all those herbs up--tiny! and add 'em to the ground sausage mixture.

Cook everything together, stirring frequently until sausage is cooked.

Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350. when it is hot, cut the tops off of 4 green bell peppers, scoop out all the insides and replace said insides with the sausage mixture. Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes!

It really turns out well. Hope y'all enjoy!
Love,
Loralee Fabulous ;-P

Lets call it "azul"

This IS my blog, yeah? I want to be able to write what I feel, what I am doing, or whatever. So, I'm going to do so. I'm asking ahead of time for your patience as I rant a tiny bit.
Didja know I'm going to three weddings this summer? One is for my cousin, Sam. One is for a college friend, Randa. And one is for a young man whom I've known since he was three. He turned 21 a week ago and in 5 days he'll be getting married. He is a wonderful kid. I love him and his family more than I can express. I moved to San Marcos--fresh out of the military--back in '92--when he had just turned 3. I lived with him and his parents. They were a wonderful example to me of Christian people, Christian marriage, and Christian parents. I had just turned 23 when I moved there. I was single and ready to embrace my new life as a Christian and a college student.
Now, I'm two weeks shy of 41. How many years have passed? Let's see--Almost 18. That 3-year-old is getting married. I'm still single.
Sometimes I have to wonder if there is something wrong with me and my friends who love me are just too kind to tell me. I know I'm not perfect, but I truly think I have a lot to offer the right Christian man. I have lived a happy life. I'm not usually so whiny about all this "marriage" junk. I like my life in general. I know I serve a purpose as I am. But today--I suppose--is one of those days when I just wonder if those dreams I've had since I was still in single digits--to be a wife and a mommy--will ever come to pass.
Okay, I guess I'm done. Thanks for listening, Dear Readers. I'll be back in a happier mood later, I'll bet.
Love,
Loralee "not so" Fabulous Ford

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Second Mile Christian


Yesterday, during the morning sermon, Jamie was discussing "the second-mile Christian." The basic idea he was trying to teach us was that of devotion and commitment to God. Most people are content to be just a "first-mile" Christian. They agree with the idea that there are actions which must be accomplished if we say we are Christians. "But" they will say, "I will only do exactly what is commanded of me and nothing more." This kind of attitude really concerns me. Is there really any "only" as a Christian?
There are two things I want you to consider, Dear Reader:

1. Consider the text where Jamie began--Matthew 5:40-42
"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat, also.
Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of
you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you."

Did y'all notice that this verse wasn't just a suggestion? If we were doing a grammar lesson here, it would be pointed out that the phrase "(you) let him have your coat, also" is a command. Interesting, yeah? Jamie is right about the idea that going the second mile is a sign of your commitment to God. If you're choosing to commit yourself fully to Christ--and I mean by that, to become a Christian--then you ought to always go the second mile--as a matter of course.
I've never understood why 20% of the people in the church do 80% of the work. It is usually said "tongue in cheek" but it is fully true in most cases. However, if every person who obeyed the Gospel went the second mile (as is commanded) then IMAGINE the work that could be done in spreading the border of God's kingdom?

2. Consider this Scripture: Matthew 22:36-39:
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him
'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second
is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Just a thought--The first part of the above Scripture is covered by what was said earlier, so let's address the second half. "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Imagine if we treated everyone we ran across in the same self-preserving way that we treat ourselves. Imagine if we took care of the physical and emotional needs of our brothers and sisters--without hesitation. Imagine if we gave everyone else the same benefit of the doubt regarding their words and behavior that we give ourselves. Imagine if we did ALL of these things because that was part of what being a Christian was all about? Yeah--Imagine that!

Imagine this, also. I've said all that I have said and still haven't gotten down to the point I intended to make in this blog. It is a good thing I'm a woman and can't preach, yeah? I'd be making people mad all over the place for preaching too long. ;-P The main idea I wanted all of us to think about is this one: Is the second mile truly just an option for Christians who want to REALLY dedicate themselves to the service of God? OR, is the second mile what is EXPECTED of us by God? I truly believe that the second mile is a command. God expects us to do everything and anything we can to help our fellow human beings. I guess the question is: Do I? Do you?

Just some food for thought, Dear Readers.

Love y'all,

Loralee Fabulous :)


Friday, July 16, 2010

Haze


I've been here in Buna (Texas) with Pop for two months today. It has been a very interesting time for me. It has been an experience which is the EXACT OPPOSITE of my time with Guy and Gal up in Kilgore. He is almost always kind to me. If he isn't kind, I know that it is because he is in the midst of a "four hat" day. He almost always offers to pick up anything heavy for me. He wants to help in any way he can. I only have to ask for help and he gives it. He has never once called me a rude name. I find doing things for him are usually a pleasure. Of course, I'll admit--as I'm a human being--there are moments when the selfish little girl in me rears her head and I don't find it a pleasure, but I do it anyway; however, that is a digression, yeah?
The hardest part of this situation is really having to help him wade through the sea waters of confusion which accompany every person with Alzheimers. I cannot imagine what the world must look like for him. I often wonder if it is like those commercials that they're playing now about allergy medicine. The person is functioning in their lives, but everything is in a haze. Once they take the allergy pill, the haze is lifted and the person can smell flowers and see colors and enjoy their world.
I can imagine that this is what the world is like for Pop. One moment, he can see everything clearly and is enjoying himself and the next--blammo!--the haze is dropped and he is in this very very alternate reality. I say this because--really--the reality changes sometimes every second. I am often amazed at what he does remember. Sometimes we are sitting at the DQ and he'll tell me a short history of the house which sits next door. It was the house in which he was married. It belonged to the parents of his wife. He remembers that--at the time of the ceremony--the house was located in a--now defunct--nearby town, BessMay. The house was located near a then-active plant of some sort. When the plant closed, the town went legs up and the house was moved over to Buna, right next to the DQ.
And then there are the two, or three, or four hat moments. Moments after he tells me about the "wedding house", he may mention that it'll take us a while to get back to Buna--since we're in Oklahoma!!
Even with his brain functioning in a less than normal way, it is amazing to be around him. The things he comes up with are amazing. Tonight, he was certain that we HAD to stay here (though he didn't really want to do so) because we were the last defense against marauding teenagers dressed in their Halloween costumes. Then after a little nap, he was earnestly trying to convince me that we really didn't need to get out there in the dark to cut down those branches in the yard. What is even more amazing is how I--often--have to do mental gymnastics to figure out a way to calm him so that he can feel comfortable.
It is all so weird and normal and great and terrible and I really feel for him. And a part of me is praying that this doesn't happen to me. My luck is that I'll be a mean brat like Gal was. I really don't want to be mean.
Okay, this is becoming a bummer. I think I'll go.

Love y'all,
Loralee Fabulous :)

Wordology # 2

I love words. I guess as a writer, I kinda have to love 'em, yeah? They are the tools of my trade. I have a large number of books--that I have bought at Half Price Books over the years--that deal with language and words. Even the gardening book I'm reading--whilst I've been setting up my garden--discusses etymology at times. I've found myself fascinated lately by little tidbits I've learned here and there. Well, y'all--Dear Readers--are gonna have to deal with my fascination, I suppose.

Have ya heard the word "passel"? Its meaning is basically "an unknown large amount." For example: "Then cookies that ma o' yorn is a'bakin' shore smell purty good. I shore 'nuff could eat me a passel of 'em."

'Passel' comes from this odd quirkiness of spoken English. If there was an 'r' before another consonant in the middle of a word, it was the tendency of English speakers to drop the 'r.' Several of our words have stemmed from this bent of ours: cuss from curse, bust from burst and of course, passel from parcel. The word originated in the 15th century, but didn't become popular 'til the 19th century.

Anyway, there is some wordology for ya!
Hope you enjoy.
Love,
Lolly Fabulous

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Avoiding Fern and Wild Mushroom Salad


Have you ever considered--Dear Reader—the purpose of a garden? In my case, it is to nurture herbs and veggies and pretty little flowers so that I can eat 'em or smell ‘em or look at 'em. Sometimes, it is even all three. Each plant has an ultimate purpose to me, yeah? The basil, thyme, and mint will go into an omelet or on top of some chicken baking in the oven or into a gallon of freshly brewed iced tea. The Four O’clock, Hibiscus and yellow roses live to make me smile when I look at their beauty. (Yellow flowers are my favorite. They just make me happy, ya know?)

Each day, I nurture my garden. I water the plants at about the same time every day. I have chosen the evening because I want to allow the water I shower upon this foliage to be as useful as possible. Water is completely and totally necessary for the life of a plant. You cannot just throw the seeds on the dirt and never water them and then expect them to live and flourish, can ya? If--by some chance--they actually germinate, they will be tiny, weak, pale, little plants who don't produce much of any worth. That outcome for my plants is in total opposition to the ultimate purpose I have for them. Therefore, I do what I can do to nurture them and to give them every opportunity to grow into what they can be--tall, green, beautiful plants from which I can harvest enjoyment.

While I water, I look in the dirt which surrounds my precious little plants to see if any weeds have popped up. When I first began noticing these nefarious, green beings, I wasn’t sure if I should pull them or not. Having never had a garden before, I wasn’t sure what the “purposed” plants ought to look like. What makes it worse is that these little sprouts coming up out of the ground are kind of pretty. I almost feel a little badly when I pull them out. Even the wild mushrooms provide tiny feelings up guilt when I wrench their roots out of the dirt. Those pests grow faster than anything else I know! If I don’t uproot them regularly, I may end up eating fern and wild mushroom salads for dinner at the end of the summer instead of tomatoes, zucchini, squash and cucumbers. For the very reason that I am certain I would hate a fern and mushroom salad, I daily spend several minutes of my garden time picking these annoying things out of the dirt and throwing them as far away from my plants as is possible. The deal about weeds is that they take some of the water and fertilizer and energy from the dirt. This energy is designed to be used by the plants to grow them into their ultimate purpose. It is really important for me to get those weeds outta there--cuz if I don't, the plants I WANT to grow into something tall and beautiful will stay small and weak and ugly. If I let the weeds grow, my precious plants will die eventually. So, I spend some of my time every day, digging up those cursed interlopers.

In the mornings, I go out to my garden to collect whatever herb I've decided I want to use in my breakfast omelet. While I'm there, I do a little bit more nurturing. Often I choose my omelet herb by noticing which herb needs to be thinned. Thinning the herbs is very important as it allows the remaining stems to grow larger and more useful. I'll have ya know that watching a plant whose leaves were tiny--say 1/8th of an inch--grow to 2 inches in length is really kind of rockin’ cool, ya know? When I see them grow because I took care of them, I feel accomplished. (I really like learning new things—and I especially like being good at said new things!) And, in the end, helping these herbs to grow helps me because I get larger herbs and more produce to use in my kitchen. When I nurture my plants, they nurture me. It is a lovely little symbiotic relationship.

After Bible class last night at Vidor, I began thinking about how our spiritual walk ought to be a lot like gardening. We should nurture ourselves in our walks with God. By daily communication with God, we are giving ourselves what we need to be as useful as we can to Him. We don’t really expect to rise up out of the waters of baptism fully grown and mature Christians, do we? We have to work diligently at growing, through study and prayer and good works. Daily—maybe even at the same time every day?—reading/studying/praying helps us grow. We won’t be pale imitations of Christ then. We’ll be bright and vibrant in the Lord. We won’t be weak Christians then. We’ll be full of strength and character and will be able to help ourselves overcome the trials, temptations, and tribulations of this life we live. We won’t be lacking in what we offer up as our produce. Instead, we will harvest the fruit of the Spirit—not only in ourselves, but also in other people. We then will fulfill this ultimate purpose God has for us. This will only happen, however, if we nurture this relationship we have with Him.

As I mentioned, in my physical garden, I work hard to keep the weeds out of the paths where my creations are growing. Spiritually speaking, we must take the weeds of sin out of our hearts and minds and fill them with something else more useful (Psalm 119:11). These spiritual weeds will choke us ‘til we die. Again the hard part about it all is that sometimes we can’t or won’t recognize these weeds as the sins they are. They’re too beautiful to be sins, aren’t they? Oh, but they ARE sins, Dear Reader. They are. We must learn to recognize our own sins and work diligently at weeding them out of our hearts and minds or—someday—we’ll be eating the spiritual equivalent of fern and wild mushroom salad. That’ll be one hot, wilted, nasty-tasting salad, y’all AND we’ll be eating it for eternity if we don’t keep ourselves as pure as we can.

In my physical garden, I thin out the plants nearly every day. In our spiritual lives, there will be times, during which we will have to put aside things we like—or even love—in order to walk on the path which will lead us to Heaven. It is all a matter of what is really more important to us. As a reader, I often find that I have to put the story I’m reading down and reach for my Bible. Reading in itself isn’t a sin, but forgetting to study in order to find out what happened when Constancy fell through the barn door into an underground cavern isn’t so good, yeah? Thinning out the things in our lives which distract us from growing is imperative to our continued growth as Christians. There is just no getting around the fact that we can’t do everything we want to do and still have our eyes on God. He has to get the best of us. Like the little stems in my garden, He has to get the best light and the most room in our lives.

It is hard to imagine myself as a little plot in God’s garden. But I am. And I—and you---must treat myself as a cherished plot of dirt whose only use is to grow fruit worthy of God’s admiration. The question—once again—is do I? And do you?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts on the evening and basil



There is just something about the evening, yeah? At this exact moment, Pop and I are sitting on the carport listening to the sounds of the insects and enjoying the breeze. The sun is down and all that is left is the murky blue sky and a few spots of pink.
About an hour ago, I watered the garden. I usually do so in the evening because I read somewhere that if you water--even in the morning--when it is so hot outside that the water dissipates and isn't very beneficial for the plants. It also just seems like a soothing kind of chore, ya know? I'm breathing in the fresh country air, listening and watching the water leisurely soak all the plants. I also take the time to check to see how things are going during this time of the day. Today, I noticed that a few of the flowers I planted are starting to pop their little heads up and I imagine that in August sometime I might see some pretty flowers. In the vegetable part, I'm happy to report that I see some green little beings sprouting up in the Summer Squash and Okra and Cucumber section of the garden. So far, the tomato and green onion rows aren't as exciting because they were already "alive" when I planted them. They're just getting bigger--a tiny, tiny bit--every day. I really love watching these things grow. It is very calming--this particular 'chore.' If I were a wagering gal, I might even bet that my blood pressure has dropped since I began this little project. (yep! I just checked it and it is 110/78. That isn't bad for someone who is 40.11.31, is it? and yes, if you're wondering, i actually stopped to do that math on that age thingie. 11.31 is the month and its fraction of a person who'll change their age in 3 weeks!)
I also really enjoy the mornings in the garden. That is the time that I go out and do some thinning. If I'm planning to make tea that day, I'll go out and cut out a handful of mint to add to it. I also cut whichever herb I'll be using in the eggs so that they'll be washed and ready when Pop awakens. Thinning is supposed to be good for growing plants because it allows whatever is leftover to grow more abundantly. I noticed this morning that one section of my basil container has REALLY big leaves. I also noticed that it has very few basil buddies living around it. The other sections of the basil container have several other "buddies" and the leaves are all smaller in general in those areas. So, today, I decided to do an experiment on the basil. I'm going to leave the big basil alone to see how large it'll grow and I'm going to thin--just a bit every day--the other areas to see if what is leftover will begin to grow larger now that I have thinned the area. They have mostly stayed small so far--for a month or so. I'm interested to see how the thinning process affects the basil that is left behind. Have I kept them small for too long a period? or is there something in them genetically which will allow them to grow larger once their competition is gone? It'll be fun to see what happens!

anyway, how funny. this started to be a blog about evenings and it turned into a blog about one of my favorite new subjects--the garden. Figures, yeah? So, in order to bring it back around to evening, I should tell you something silly about me. Evening has always been one of my favorite times of day--especially the time when the sun has gone down but it is still light outside. It has been my favorite since I was about 13 or 14 because I used to imagine that when I was in college--years in the future at that point--a guy would be at my dorm door to pick me up for a date. I imagined going on double dates to a play at the theatre or to dinner. I remember thinking that surely it was all going to be so much fun. The funny part is this: I never lived in the dorms during college. I don't think I was ever picked up at my home--wherever it was--for a date. (I think most of my dates were friendships which slowly morphed into something more than friendship) Even so, it is still my favorite time of day. There always seems to be something pure and hopeful about that time of day. I've never been able to figure out why it is so, but it is so. Could be that it'll always be my favorite time of day. :)

I gotta go. It is almost Pop's bedtime. Hope y'all are having as much fun reading and I am writing. :)
Loralee Fabulous

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Really Forgetting What Lies Behind


On the day that I officially moved here to Buna, I began my day in another tiny town called Whitehouse. I stayed the night with a couple whom I adore, Lynn and Mary. As I was preparing to head out, Lynn and I were looking at a map, kinda making a strategy for my trip home. I was to head south to Ponta (pronounced Pon-tay, by the way) and then turn left on 204. On the way to Nacagdoches, I was to pass through two oddly named towns. The names of the towns? Reklaw and Sacul. Weird, yeah? According to "legend", the towns were named by former outlaws who wanted to be the opposite of what they used to be. Instead of naming the towns after their old outlaw selves, they named the towns the EXACT opposite of what they used to be. Former outlaw Walker named his town Reklaw and former outlaw Lucas named his town Sacul. I will put in an aside here. I looked online to confirm this story, but haven't found anything to accomplish that task yet.
Okay back to the point. If this story is true, then I kind of have to admire these two men. They endeavored wholeheartedly to forget what lay behind them and reached forward to what lay ahead of them (Phil. 3:13) They left behind what they'd known their whole lives--THEIR NAMES--in order to shed their old lives of sin. I wonder how many of us can say that we'd go to that length to get rid of our old sinful selves.
I'm not saying that we should change our names as Christians, but what I am saying that we should be TOTALLY dedicated to living a life which pleases our Lord, shouldn't we? I guess the question is: Do we?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Learning to Learn


You--dear reader--should know that I am what I call a "real reader." Other people might call me an obsessed freak, but I don't listen to them! Right now I'm reading a book called Lone Star Sanctuary, a book about a gal trying to foil the evil plans of a psycho murderer by escaping to the horse ranch of her estranged grandpa. I've just finished reading a trilogy by DH Parker (Constancy's Waltz, Dark Diamond Reel, and Fiddler's Lament).
Tonight, I added my fifth book in a week to my pile (yes, I've been reading all those in a week. Maybe there is some truth to that nickname "obsessed freak" after all, yeah?) This new book is actually an anthology. The writers were all Americans who have Italian heritage. When I saw the book on my piled of recently unpacked books, I thought it would be a good addition to what I was now reading, seein' as I'm studying Italian. I thought that knowing the mindset--through the written word--of "Italian" Americans (i.e. Americans), it might help me understand the language as well. That was one smart move.
First, I must admit that, though I totally believe in the Rosetta Stone system of learning a language, I sometimes cheat in the learning process. I chalk it up to a lack of patience. I want to know NOW! The way I cheat is that I have the BabelFish website (http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_txt) up and I'll translate words now and then--if the pictures don't make sense.
One day, up onto my computer pops a picture of a boy with his arm around the waist of an older man. His conversation bubble said "Io voglio bene mi nonno" or something really similar to it. The page also has pictures of other people together saying similar phrases. I was stumped. What could this phrase mean? I knew bene mean something akin to good or well. So, I went to my faithful Babel Fish website. It pasted in the phrase and pushed the Translate! button. Up came a translated phrase which was something similar to this one: "I wish well for my grandpa."
{I want to pause here for a moment, Dear Reader, and request that you forgive me. My brain is turning 41 in three weeks (well, more actually, if you add seven months in utero, yeah?) and, well, it is getting a bit tired. I might not remember every single detail with spit shine detail. } I must also add to my "confession" that I might possibly be called naive. I just kind of believe what people--or computer systems--tell me. So, I believed the BabelFish translator and put that idea into my head as I'm learning Italian. Sooooooooooooo not a smart move. That isn't really what it means.
I was flipping through the anthology. I figured I might learn a few phrases that would help me in the learning process. I was right. While "flipping", many phrases in italics caught my eye. (the italics meant it was a foreign language) so I stopped and read a few of them. A smile appeared on my face when I read the phrase ti voglio bene. I thought, "I KNOW those words!" Then I felt kind of a cold shock wash over me when I read the translation that followed. It said "I love you." What? I thought it meant that other phrase about wishing well. Nope. This made much more sense anyway. I was relieved. I REALLY did think that the original translation was really weird, but just chalked it up to some Italian cultural thing that I would never understand since I wasn't raised up in an Italian culture. (That last statement made me wonder "What kind of culture WAS I raised up in? sorry for the bad grammar. The answer to that question will have to be the subject of another blog, however.)
Anyway, I learned my lesson. Don't necessarily trust the translation capabilities of a computer system. I guess I need to make some friends of some native Italian speakers, yeah? Whatever the case may be, I had a great adventure figuring out the real phrase. Learning is just so much fun.
I hope you're having fun, too.
love,
Lolly Fabulous!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Simon and Garfunkel Squash


Okay, today I made--with the help of my trusty kitchen herb garden--what I've decided to call "Simon and Garfunkel Squash."
I cut a large butternut squash in half length-wise. I scooped out all the seeds (they went into my compost heap) and then placed the two halves, flesh side down on a cookie sheet with about 1/4-inch of water in it.
The stove was pre-heated to 400. I placed the squash in the oven and baked it for about an hour.

Meanwhile, I went to the garden and took at least two large sprigs (or the equivalent) of each of the following: o/' o/'
o/' parsley
o/' sage
o/' rosemary, and
o/' thyme o/' o/'

(get it? Simon and Garfunkel squash?)

I chopped all that up in very tiny little pieces. When the squash came out, I scooped out all the soft, baked flesh out of skin and placed it into a lovely old-fashioned "Grandmommy's mixing bowl." I added some butter and the chopped herbs and mixed it all up together, and I might possibly have said aloud "Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom" cuz it was "deliciano" as my big sister says.

Today, I also cut up a TON of my various mint leaves, placed them in my tea pitcher after having added the freshly brewed tea into it and let it all steep for approximately six minutes. I added ice. I poured myself a tall glass. I enjoyed it. I might even have thought, "Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom" as I sipped its lovely mint-iness!

Hope y'all enjoy, too!

Lolly Fabulous! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Steak with Honeycot Marinade



Pre-Script: I'm super tired. I don't think this'll be the best blog I've ever written.

Last week Marilyn bought Pop and I some steak. When I make the grocery list, I asked for hamburger and chicken. Since we'd had pork chops the night I was making the list, I decided not to order that meat. Instead, I wrote something akin to "some meat--you surprise us!" It ended up being steak.

So, last night, I decided to make a marinade. I chopped up--skins and meat--6 honeycots. (they're kinda like an apricot, but not as orange) I juiced two small lemons. When I was making the marinade, the smell of lemon was HUGE. I thought at that time that--perhaps--I should have juiced only one lemon. However, when I tasted the steak--though I could taste the lemon--it didn't seem like it was too much. Just for your information!

I also chopped up a handful of basil and a few sprigs of cilantro from my kitchen garden. I encourage anyone trying this recipe in the future to add more of each of the herbs as their taste in the finished product was very very mild. I also added a ton of pepper. Y'all know how much I like that stuff, yeah? I put the steaks in a seal-able plastic bag along with the marinade and let is work its magic for a day. Then I grilled it tonight. I also stir fried yellow squash, onions, zucchini, carrots, and celery with a bit of olive oil, some chopped tarragon and sage. Again, I think I may need to use more of the herbs in future.
Okay, so the finished product. Both the steak and the veggies tasted good, but they weren't like "Wow, party in my mouth." I'll prolly have to try again and tweak the marinade a bit and see if I can't make it more fiesta-ish. :)

BASIL HONEYCOT MARINADE
6 honeycots, chopped until they're mush
2 lemons--or limes, I suppose.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Mix 'em all together and marinate the steak

STIR FRY VEGETABLES

a bunch of veggies, which ever one you want!
some olive oil
two sprigs of tarragon
one sprig of sage
two little deals of garlic, minced

cut up the veggies,
cut up the herbs
pour the olive oil in to the pan, heat it.
add the minced garlic and let it cook up a bit.
add the veggies
add the herbs
stir until the veggies are cooked to the way you like them cooked.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Suing Arizona? I'd laugh if I didn't want to cry so much.


I'm confused. Ummm, The President and the Department of Justice are suing Arizona because of the recently passed immigration law? Huh? Isn't the sunny state's law a near-mirror image of the federal law? How are they upstaging the US Government? They are OBEYING them. This doesn't make ANY sense AT ALL. Here are some thoughts I have on the whole deal:
-Racial Profiling? yeah, and that is why there is specific language in the Arizona law which prohibits stopping a person just because they look Hispanic. So that complaint doesn't fly with me. Sorry!
-Why are people who haven't gone through legal channels to be here angry that they are being asked to show identification. We're CITIZENS who are here legally and we're asked to show our I.D.s, too. Why the whining? Additionally, uhhmmmm, I can't imagine a single American who--whilst visiting a foreign country--would become upset and angry and cry "foul" and "bigotry" if we were asked to show our VISA or ID by the authorities of said nation. We would just show our I.D. because, uuhhhmmm, that is the law.
-If the DOJ says that the "patchwork" immigration laws across the nation would "seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement" then why aren't they disallowing and fighting against the "patchwork" laws in our nation which allow sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants? Why are they doing a Luby's with the laws? They pick and choose which laws they'll allow and which they'll support. My guess is that the President and the DOJ have some ulterior motives for their behavior.
Why in the world have and do so many people in Mexico think it is their God given right to be able to come over here to America and live. and often when they do so, they a) do so without going through proper channels, and b) don't pay taxes, and c) avail themselves of welfare and free medical help, even though they don't pay anything into the system.

The deal is, the Arizona law is simply striving to secure the border. They are keeping the drug dealers and illegals out. Securing the border is REASONABLE. Asking for I.D.s is REASONABLE (and the law). Expecting the people who live here to add to the money going into the system instead of just taking it out is REASONABLE. I do not get what the problem is here. I do not understand why the President and the DOJ are suing Arizona for obeying federal law. But then a lot of what our President plans to do doesn't make sense to me. Especially this lawsuit. Really, Mr. President? REALLY? You're suing someone for doing what they're told to do. I think that is a just a little loco.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Garden: Day Four-Finally!

Cherry tomatoes, complete with paint stirrer marker.
A long shot of the whole garden: Herb Garden to the left and in-ground section to the right.
The Hibiscus on the day after I transplanted it. It has a beautiful flowers!
A close-up of the in-ground part. Green onions, cucumbers, summer squash, red delicious tomatoes, cherry tomatoes. Back row: Swiss Chard and yellow rose in the reddish pot.
The herb section. Lots of mints and other herbs.

The Garden: Day Two and Three in Pictures

Pop sweeping up the carport while I worked on the "de-grassing" the garden.
the garden half-done at the end of Day Two.
The Garden totally de-grassed after Day Three. It sure seemed to take forever to get this garden ready for planting. Can ya see the lines made by the tiller?
Here I am celebrating finishing with an action shot! The garden is ready for planting!
Transplanted Hibiscus at the head of the garden. This was done at the end of Day Three.

The Garden:Day One in Pictures

This is what the garden space looked like before I touched anything. I picked this spot because it has a dappled sunlight in the afternoon--which is the harshest sun of the day.
Pop holding a pitchfork, ready to help. Before we did any work, he and I went back and searched through the all the sheds and workspaces to find whatever tools we might need to accomplish this project.
So, here is what we found! From left to right, a hand tiller, the pitchfork, a broken shovel, a post hole digger and an oddly shaped shovel. We used all of them at one point or another, excepting the broken shovel.
I dug a border so I could see what I was doing as I continued working on this project. It is probably about 4 feet by 6 feet. I knew that I couldn't do all that digging in one day, so I took pictures to show y'all how it all came to be. This is how it looked at the end of Day One.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Progress




So, I managed to finish almost all of the garden today!! All that is left is to plant the hibiscus seeds that Paul--from Hwy 92 coc--gave me on Sunday a.m. and three other plants. I have the seed packets somewhere in my room; however, everything I own is stacked and piled in there and I haven't had time to unpack it. I have NO CLUE where my seed packets are. When I find them--hopefully no later than bedtime Saturday--I will endeavor to plant them ASAP.
What I DID do today was this:
-re-potted the new mint, sage, and Rosemary that I bought Saturday.
-de-legged (dunno what else to call it) the Polka Dot plant I bought Saturday. Basically, what that means is that I cut the five long stems of the polka dot plant at roughly the same low point on their stems. The purpose of this action is to allow the plant to become more bushy. So, I cut the original Polka Dot plant at about 6 inches from the dirt. When new branches start growing from those cut spots, they'll grow more sideways--kinda--allowing the plant to grow more sideways; thus allowing it to be more bushy (like a bush) than leggy (think that model Twiggy--tall and think with no shape or curves or anything).
When I finished that particular part of the task, I got two larger pots, filled them with dirt and began a process which could be considered monotonous. I took each of the cut stems. At each section where new leaves were growing, I cut the plant at the seam. I stripped the leaves from the bottom of the old seam and stuck them in the dirt of one of the aforementioned pots. Basically, I did this same thing--over and over again--until each of the originally cut, leggy stems was "planted" into the bigger pots. After some regular watering, those cut "parts" of the Polka Dot plant will grow up and become big Polka Dot Plants. I will then have to do the same process over and over again until each little plant is sufficiently bushy. Y'all, I wouldn't be surprised if Polka Dot Plants were something you should expect as a gift from me--sometime in your future. I have this terrible feeling that those green leaves with Fuchsia dots which grabbed my attention at Betty's Blooms in Silsbee may become pervasive, omnipresent, ubiquitous--EVERYWHERE in my garden sometime soon.
After all the re-potting was done, Pop went to get his wheelbarrow and we hauled all the plants I've bought and grown in the last two months to the garden area. They'll stay contained plants, but I wanted them to get sun on a regular basis. They've been on the carport since their "births" and probably aren't as fabulous as they could be because of it. Who knows what I'll have in a week? They'll be getting direct morning sun, dappled afternoon sun, and direct evening sun. Should be okay, I hope. I did notice that the two transplanted fuschia bloomed today--LOVELY blooms--but they were a bit wilty looking. Hmmmmmmmm. I wonder if the dappled afternoon sun doesn't provide them enough direct sunlight. Those things sure do like their sun I'm told. In Jamaica, they climb all the walls and fences along the highway and are always large and beautiful and right, directly in the Jamaican sun. I'll wait, I suppose to transplant them again. I don't want to subject them to another shock of transplantation so soon after the original one.
I know that I said this next statement in an indirect and subtle way earlier, but I'll restate boldly: I DROVE A WHEELBARROW TODAY. YAY! I know it may seem very dorky of me to be excited about that fact. However, I will make two more statements of importance:
A) Yes, I am a dork; however, I like myself, so it is all good. Bring on the dorkiness, and
B) I really think the key to staying young and alive and healthy is finding joy and fulfillment and happiness in the little things, like--say--driving a wheelbarrow full of plants which YOU helped make, yeah? I say "GO DRIVE THAT WHEELBARROW, Y'ALL!!!" ;-)

Okay, I also planted the tomato seedlings in the hanging basket. Originally, I planted all of them in the hanging basket. As I re-read the directions (have no clue why I did that) I noticed that each section of the hanging basket (top and bottom) was really only supposed to have three or four seedlings. so, I took all of them out, laid them carefully on the dirt and then proceeded to pack up that hanging basket properly with only a few seedlings in each section. Aftewards, I planted all the remaining tomato seedlings in my actual garden. Ya know, the part I dug grass out of with a post hole digger? They were the VERY FIRST plants I planted in my real-in-the-ground-garden. YAY! I'm still driving a wheelbarrow! I also transplanted my green onions and seeded my cucumbers and summer squash. I know it may be too late for everything, but I look at this endeavor as practice or experience or whatever. At the very least, it is FUN!

So, now, excepting the seed packets hidden in my room, my garden is DONE! Yay! Now all I need to do is show it a little TLC and we'll see what happens.

As I get pictures processed (or eventually get a phone with a camera) I'll post pictures I've taken of this process. I hope y'all are enjoying it as much as I am.

Love,
Loralee Fabulous ;-P

P.S. I went to the Ace Hardware right here in beautiful downtown Buna to see if they had something for me to mark the rows. The nice lady in the garden department gave me 12 paint stir sticks just for marking the rows. How cool is she? So, now my vegetable rows are marked--with permanent black marker--by partly submerged paint stirrers sticks!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Wonders of Wordology # 1





Have you ever had one of those moments--perhaps while in college full-time--when some of what you're learning in one class overlaps into another class? A semi-recent example I can remember from my own life was the breathing/warm-up exercise which I learned in acting class which was also used--in a slightly altered form--in my voice and diction class. Sometimes--more rarely--something in history would show up in a literature class IF we happened to be studying things in the same era. The same thing is happening in my "real" life right now. Here are some things I have learned:

A) Lavandino means "sink" in Italian. I had heard--on airplanes--of restrooms being called "lavatories", so I didn't really think twice about it. But, when I began reading about lavender in my garden book "The Bountiful Container"( Stuckey and McGee, 2003),(thanks Vicky!) I was amazed at the intriguing tidbits I learned.

"The herb we call lavender is not named for the color, even though most of its flowers
are lavender-hued. Rather, it is the other way around: the color is named for the
plant.
The genus name, Lavandula, is derived from the Latin verb lavare, meaning
"to wash." Through many centuries, starting with the ancient Greeks and Romans,
homemakers have included lavender in the rinse water to impart a clean fragrance
to the household linens; they didn't know it, but they were also disinfecting.
Lavender was used in medieval times to clean the air in musty sick-rooms, and
was one of the most popular "strewing herbs" (scattered over the floor and allowed
to dry, for an air freshener).
Initially, it was the clean fragrance that appealed, and there was also a general
sense that the presence of lavender in a sickroom was healthful. Until the
beginning of the twentieth century, lavender was even used to dress battlefield
wounds.
Now, modern science has verified that the herb does indeed have antiseptic
properties, and so those long-ago homemakers had the right instinct.

B) During Eight Grade, I was in choir. And I have been singing often for the last 18 1/2 years since I became a Christian. The term "sotto voce" was taught--and done--plenty of times throughout the years. It means "a dramatic lowering of the voice." It isn't quite as quiet as pianissimo, but still--pretty quiet. It was, therefore, supremely easy for me to learn the Italian word for "under" which is "sotto." Strangely, though I learned them at the same time, I have a harder time remembering the word for "on" and "in." I think "in" is "negli" but I"m not sure. I'll have to re-do that section, I believe!

I'm sure there will be many more interesting "word" lessons in the upcoming months since I'm learning a lot of new things lately. Hope they help broaden your world--or at least not make you fall asleep whilst reading my blogs! ;-P

love ya,
Lolly Fabulous :)