Monday, October 31, 2011

Dogwood Monday: Week 6

After a crazy weekend of snow and ice, I'm surprised that more of the dogwood's leaves are not on the deck, creating an icy mess.
A few leaves do remain on the tree, sure to wrap up their fall job in the next few days.
And here I am just getting used to the splendor of fall.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Whole New World

We awakened to beautiful sun today, though my front sidewalk was an icy mess.
The trees in my yard fared just fine, though the same cannot be said of other trees in my neighborhood, as the sycamore across the street can testify.
I'm lucky that I didn't lose electricity, though many people in New Jersey aren't so lucky.  And I keep reminding myself that despite the cold, it's only just the end of October.  Let's hope that tomorrow night's ghost have some polarfleece on underneath those sheets.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I'm not really sure what else to say about this, the first snowstorm of the year.  It's a nor'easter in October (!) and the snow is falling at a terrific pace.  It's a damp and wet snow, as the leaf and snow heavy tree branches in my neighborhood can attest.
Even the leaf-free apple and pear trees in my yard are suffering.
Old man tree is hanging in but despite the smile I sense he's not amused.
Here's hoping this isn't a sign of another heavy snow winter in my immediate future.

Friday, October 28, 2011

All Y'all

The other day, fed up with the phrase "you guys" I tweeted that the next time I hear that phrase I'm going to throw a punch.  I think we all know that's not much of a threat.  But in a world in which young female college graduates earn an average of $47,000 a year while young male college graduates average a shade over $59,000, I'm not inclined to ignore the passive preference for men.

On the east coast, I've been assured that "you guys" is gender neutral and inclusive.  I'm not buying it.  For one thing, guys isn't gender neutral, no matter how much the user wishes it so.  For another, there are plenty of non-gendered choices available.  Instead of starting your e-mail to men and women with the phrase "hi guys" how about "hi folks"?  I've a (male) colleague who always uses the phrase "friends" (a la FDR).  I like both of those very much.  I use y'all, and it works quite nicely.  The point is that there are options and those of us who spend time in the company of young people, setting examples of how to treat people, should explore them.

In my government classes, I don't refer to Congressmen or committee chairmen.  I reference members of Congress and committee chairs.  I'm the mother of son whom I've raised to believe that men and women should be treated equally.  He's a guy who watches women sports, who says y'all, who wouldn't dream of believing that he is better because he's a boy.  

In the meantime, I will wage my quiet war against "you guys" and Internet, I'd like y'all to help me out.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Wisdom

On Monday, after enduring five years of discomfort, I finally made the jump and consented to having my last wisdom tooth removed.  The first two and I had parted ways when I was 10 years old in a procedure that featured the removal of 7 other teeth (yes, for a total of 9) and left me forever reluctant to see a dentist, let alone a dental surgeon, again.

I lost wisdom tooth number 3 in 2001 when I was living in Nebraska.  Other than the fact that I drove myself home after the procedure, I don't have any memories of the removal.  On Monday the last tooth and I finally parted ways.  It had been aching for years and I had delayed removal based on the ill-advised theory that the pain you know is worse than the pain you don't.  The impetus to finally have the tooth extracted was the on-going discomfort it caused and the fact that it was a hulking behemoth of a tooth intent on destroying other teeth in the neighborhood……not a good arrangement, my dentist assured me.

Though I knew it had to go, I was terrified.  No one likes dental surgery - least of all me - and in my case fear of the surgery was compounded by the fact that the procedure would require me to be down for the count, however temporary.  I've an irrational fear of being temporarily disabled, a fear magnified when I became a single mama.  I know that I can ask others for help, and I sometimes do, but I much prefer a world in which I am functioning.

Enter T, whose presence in my life persuaded me that being temporarily out of commission wasn't a disaster.  She drove me to the surgery (ignoring my appeals that we instead go shopping at the Tractor Supply Store), carried me home afterward, and served me the soft and bland cuisine the newly wisdom-toothless are permitted to enjoy.  In short, she made a difficult procedure utterly endurable, allowing me to face my fears and laugh at myself in the process.

That's a tall order.  Out of the experience, I've learned a few more lessons in pursuit of the age-old wisdom that a burden shared is a burden halved.  I've been reminded of the power of laughter and sympathy and why it is that two is more powerful than one.  The tooth is gone.  And better yet, I gained a lot in the process.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Real Life Conversations with JT: California Dreamin' edition

The backstory:  When we visit our California relations, JT and I avail ourselves of their fancy ice and water dispensing refrigerators.  We didn't have one of our own in New Jersey, so at home we made ice cubes by hand.  JT was always impressed by the automatic ice lifestyle and he longed for a share of the action, but he was convinced that such luxuries were only available in California, as was revealed when he came home from a visit to a friend's house last summer.

JT:  At X's house, their fridge makes cold water and ice, like in California.

Mama:  Oh yeah?  That's nice. 

JT:  How do you think they can do that in New Jersey?  Do you think they once lived in California?

Mama:  They must have a fridge from California.

JT:  They must. I wish that we could get a fridge from California.

Mama:  Maybe someday, honey.

As it turns out, some Californians bought us a fridge for my birthday and Christmas (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and now we're making ice cubes and cold water like those fancy left coasters.  Come on over for iced drinks at our house, Internet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Real Life Conversations with T: Marketing edition

The backstory: I was trying to find a corporate web site for a corn dog company who used to sell corn dogs in the midwest, and T had some thoughts on the matter.

Me:  Well, it looks like they don't have much of a media presence.

T:  It's corn dogs, honey, they sell themselves.

She has a point.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dogwood Monday: Week 5

Cold evenings and mornings seem to have arrived to stay; I've even broken down and turned on the furnace.  Pesky is busy getting ready for winter and enjoying the fall weather.  The dogwood tree's leaves have turned completely as of this week, though many remain on the branches.
If memory serves, the rest of these leaves will fall down by the end of the next week.
In the meantime, I'm loving the morning light and the idea of Old Man tree getting ready to face the winter.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Corndog Saturday

Last year, I made an effort at frying up some corn dogs and it ended in dismal failure, with corn batter everywhere (though not on the hot dogs).  Determined to succeed in this mission, I never gave up hope.

What you need, it turns out, is a good recipe and a girlfriend who once worked in the competitive world of corn dog cuisine. 
Last night, we got out the fryer and went to work.  I used Pioneer Woman's recipe.
But the technique was all T and Internet, this woman knows her way around a fryer.  She lined up the items for dipping into corn dog batter: hot dogs, little smokies, and cheese sticks.
And fry them she did.
Once you've got the fryer out, you might as well get some waffle fries going.
Waffle fries taste better with cheese sauce.
Suffice it to say that we met our saturated fat dietary requirements last night.  It's a food group in itself, there at the top of the government's food pyramid.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adult Nirvana

Longtime readers will recall that this blog regularly features postings about my flooded basement.  There was this timeAnd this.  And let's not forget this time.  Or perhaps you prefer to read about when it all started?

You get the picture.

After the floods of Hurricane Irene and the follow-up fill of the basement courtesy of Tropical Storm Lee, I began to fantasize about a permanent solution.  The amazing JP, plumber extraordinaire, got to work and now I have a sump pump.  It's quite impressive looking. 

And it spells the end of my illustrious career in basement water removal.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dogwood Monday: Week 4

Fall has truly taken hold around here, with days in the 60s and nights in the 40s.  It's perfect weather for soup suppers, sleeping with the windows open and morning cups of coffee with a cozy sweater and the company of the dogwood tree in my backyard, which embraced fall this week.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Perfection

We had amazing autumn weather today.  To make it perfect, we made grilled haloumi and apples to eat with our afternoon cocktails.
And baked potato soup for supper.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Generationally Speaking

My parents are in town for the week.  The trip has been planned for a while and as summer transitioned into fall, JT was excited at the prospect of watching playoff baseball with his grandfather.  It was unexpected that the playoff baseball would feature the St. Louis Cardinals, the team JT's grandfather taught him to love.  And love is an understatement.

As of this writing, the Cardinals lead the National League playoff series 3-2.  The last three games were in St. Louis and JT and his grandfather have watched them all.  Last night, I was too exhausted to stay up and watch the last few innings.  So I went upstairs and fell asleep to the sounds of baseball and my son and his grandfather talking about the game and the team that they love.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Real Life Conversations with JT: Manly edition

The backstory: We watch a lot of sports at this house, which means that JT has a steady diet of beer and Viagra adverts in his life.  He finds both perplexing and I've noticed that these ads lead him to have a certain world view, as was the case Monday morning when he spotted a man on a motorcycle driving the mean streets of New Jersey.

"That guy uses Viagra," JT informed me.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"I watch TV Mama.  I know that guys who ride motorcycles need Viagra."

Note to Erectile Dysfunction drug manufacturers: I think this phenomena is known as an unintended side effect.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicken Hooker

Known to the world as Henrietta Chicken, this dog toy is the fave of some dogs of my acquaintance.
T and I dubbed her the Chicken Hooker because……..well, it's obvious, isn't it?
Though she's been known to stay in Florida, she's no stranger to the street corners of greater northern New Jersey.
Henrietta is the frequent companion of Bibi and Sam, though Sam ardently believes he has the market cornered on her affections.
Last Saturday, Henrietta had herself a busy day.
At one point, T tried to offer Hen safe haven, but the Chicken Hooker loves her work. 
She opted for a Saturday afternoon lay-about on the hammock.
If I know the Chicken Hooker, she won't be at rest for long.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dogwood Monday: Week 3

I had one of those Mondays that confirms every stereotype of the first day of the week.  I woke up late, surfacing to consciousness, glad to discover that the dream in which I had lost my driver's license and debit card was in fact not reality.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that the dark fall morning induced me to sleep an extra 45 minutes that I did not have penciled in to the schedule.

My coffee pot is slowly dying, so it rose to the occasion with the sort of half-assed attitude that I could tolerate on a Friday but that made Monday morning that much more unsettling.  I missed virtually every light on the way to school and then taught three periods in a row before I came up for air.  The afternoon featured papers to grade, one more class to teach, and then a trip to the grocery store.

But when I got home, the dogwood greeted me with a reminder of the cool quiet mornings that will surely be in my future.
I'll take it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Indian Summer

I spent the weekend in the woods with T and we enjoyed the warmth of two lovely Indian Summer days.  I made some amusing pictures that I will be posting later this week.  In the meantime, this picture makes me smile.
That's happy.  What else?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Real Life Conversations with JT: Baseball Allegiance edition

The backstory: We are baseball fans in the Sassafras family and, among other things, that means that JT has a genetic obligation to disdain the big-money Yankees.  Some days that easier  than other days, as it was on Friday morning, the day after the Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention by the Detroit Tigers.  JT and I were reviewing the game when the following conversation occurred.

Mama:  A-Rod didn't get a hit when the bases were loaded.  That's what 32 million a year can buy you.

JT:   Heck, Mama, I'd could have struck out for them just for 32 bucks a year.

His grandfather is so proud.

Friday, October 07, 2011


I got my first Apple Macintosh computer in 1986, when I was in college and Apple made it easy for college students to buy a personal computer.  The typewriter I received as a graduation gift couldn't compete.  That year, my journal went digital and I began to write all my papers and assignments on the computer.  A few years after that, a roommate of mine dubbed the computer the 'puter and I call it that to this day.

A few years later, when I was in grad school, I traded up for a new Mac.  That Mac came with me to my first teaching job and saw me through more writing than I could have ever dreamed possible.  Research, lectures, essays and lessons all came forth from that little box.  It still felt like magic.

Just before JT was born, a third Apple came my way, this one an orange iMac.  In 2002, I switched to the MacBook and became a laptop disciple; it's what we use at my school.  I'm on my third MacBook and cannot imagine life without this little machine.  I jokingly call it my brain,  but it's no joke.  My music, my photos, much of my reading and most of my ideas are on this laptop.   

Last night, as I sat with my MacBook on my lap, working on a lesson for classes next week, JT had his iPad in hand, studying for a Science test and a History quiz.   Thanks to that iPad, he can carry books and school notes wherever he goes.  He makes digital and audio clips with ease, sometimes studying Spanish by hearing his own voice speaking back to him.  It's a marvel.

Thanks, Mr. Jobs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Apple Envy

The possum ate the apples off of my trees, so I had to comfort myself with some apples from a local orchard.  JT was impressed by the disparity between the largest and smallest of the apples.
As for me, I was just glad of an abundance of apples. 
I've already made a batch of fried apples, T took some to dry, and I've got plans for applesauce and apple pie. I do so enjoy the taste of fall.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Last Friday, I persuaded T and JT to join me in a local corn maze. I enjoy myself a little corn maze confusion and this was no exception.  JT and T were patient - sometimes amused, I daresay - and even when we got lost, I enjoyed myself.  At one point, as we tramped through yet another familiar row of corn, T announced that she didn't want corn for supper.  And then we were off and running, reciting every possible corn dish we could think of: corn muffins, corn pudding, corn on the cob, corn dogs, corn relish, corn bean mash, popcorn…..we covered all of our corn bases.  Then we spent the rest of the weekend making jokes about hominy.

Years ago, I read JT a book about a bunny named Willa.  When something made Willa happy, she'd say "that's happy, what else?"  Willa seemed to believe that happiness could be available in abundance.  I feel a lot like Willa these days.  It's so very nice to find myself in a place of easy companionship and easy laughter; of shared jokes and future filled with more of the same.   That's happy, I keep thinking to myself.  What else?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Dogwood Monday

It's week two for the weekly dogwood pictures and a little more fall color can be seen on my tree.  We had a cool fall weekend around here; the sort that puts me in a mind to make chili and grab an extra blanket for the bed. 
I'm hopeful that we will enjoy some cool, sunny, fall days this month.  My folks are coming to visit next week and if the trees in my backyard are any indication, it looks as if they will enjoy plenty of lovely fall leaves.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Real Life Conversations with T: Condemnation edition

The backstory: I have a neighbor who sets off his car alarm nearly every Saturday morning.  And it's not a quiet alarm.  No, it's a honking, blaring, 8:10 am call to arms.  And the car's owner seems stunned when it happens, so we hear the alarm run through the cycle a couple of times before the offender finally manages to turn off the noise. We heard it this morning.

Car:  Honk, honk, honk.

T:  Damnit, that alarm goes off every Saturday. If that guy can't handle the technology,  he can't have a car.  He goes back to a horse and buggy. 

And then we're laughing while the horn is still screeching.  And I'm reminded why this girl won my heart.