Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Breath of Fresh Air

Ahh... fall is in the air. And the Autumnal Equinox is just days away.
For the record, Fall is my absolute favorite season. It has most of my favorite holidays in it, has the cleanest, purest, best smelling air, and the most glorious weather. AND, college football.

For those of you wondering (because I know you are!), my favorite holiday of all is Thanksgiving. It's the one holiday that truly has retained it's meaning, I think... it's a gathering of loved ones (however you define "family"), good company, good food, and all the things that in my opinion, make a house a "home", and what give meaning to life. It hasn't been over-marketed, lost in commercialism, or involve a whole bunch of people in rented suits attempting to extort money. It doesn't involve giving more gifts than you can afford, and it's really about the greatest gift you can give another human being... your time, company, and caring.
I always make a fuss over Thanksgiving. We traditionally have my brother-in-law, but since he couldn't even be tempted by a free plane ticket to brave Alaska's cold version of autumn, I will be desperately missing his company this year. (If you are reading, I hope that makes you feel guilty! Just kidding, because I know it won't...)
Not to worry, though... I will still cook as if I am feeding the entire clan.
And, we also seem to have "adopted" the stragglers over the years... all the people we know who don't have local family to hang with, all the single guys at the fire station who live too far away or can't take leave to go home, the occasional stray hippy... they all have a place at our table for Thanksgiving.
I never ask for help with the meal (in fact, I am offended by it!). I love cooking, I love all my recipes, and I love fattening up my family and friends. If you MUST contribute, you can bring drinks, or maybe an appetizer, or another pie. You can never have too much pie at Thanksgiving. But if you get invited, we really do want you to just be our guest.

Where to start today?
Well, let's start with how refreshing it was to talk to my very best friend in the whole world today. That WAS a breath of fresh air. And since she was stuck in traffic, I was able to finally hold her captive for a lengthy conversation (no small feat, since she has three of her own children who are normally running around driving her crazy!). With all three rug rats buckled into their seats, we actually got to have a conversation that wasn't, "Hey! Can I call you back? Beans is flushing heirlooms down the toilet." Or, "Sure, call me back, because my own children are currently playing with matches."
It's so nice when we get to talk about grown up things, which is, um, mostly our kids. LOL

That was a wonderful start to my day and had me ready to go get things accomplished.
And on my list of things to accomplish:
-Make my infamous Buffalo Wing Dip for College Football Day
-Consider sharing some dip with J and the guys at the fire station
-Go to grocery to insure enough supplies to feed all those people and still make sure there is enough dip left to satisfy my own craving
-Watch college football. Especially the Auburn/LSU game.
-Oh, maybe actually take a shower today.

Yep.. there is ONE thing that I definitely miss from the South, and that's Auburn Football. For starters, I happen to think that Coach Tuberville is attractive, for an old dude. I have been known to occasionally scream, "I love you Tommy!" at Auburn Football games.
Oh, I miss that stadium. And the student section (even though we had to sneak alcoholic drinks in under our shirts). And the band. And "Aubie", the team mascot. And screaming "War Eagle!" until my throat hurts.
Sure would like to be in the stands today, watching the Tigers Vs Tigers rivalry.

Before y'all think I've flipped my lid, any decent southerner will tell you that College Football (especially the SEC) is a religion in the south. In fact, it could probably be said that more people attend the Saturday "services" than they do the Sunday ones in the south. Game Day is nothing to be reckoned with. I know people who have quit jobs because their boss wouldn't give them the day off during a particular game. And, um, I even might know a paramedic or two that drove REALLY slow to a 911 call, just to hear the last couple minutes of a really close quarter. (Oh gosh, I hope none of my former patients are reading this blog now...)
SEC rivalries have broken up friendships, marriages and partnerships. You think I'm kidding? I once had another paramedic refuse to work with me on the day Auburn played Alabama. Fine with me, I didn't want to work with a 'Bama fan anyway.
I have known doctors to have a TV rigged in the ER, and even knew one such doctor who refused to speak to me the rest of the day when my Tigers (Auburn) beat his Tigers (LSU, boo boo boo!) a couple years back. That DID pose difficulty when transferring patients. And we did eventually have to get over it. Of course, that didn't stop me from taking cheap shots about his team for the rest of the year.

In all fun, I really miss the constant fan rivalry that presents itself over college ball. In Alabama (and much of the south), we take college ball almost as seriously as Texas takes high school football. I really do miss waking my former coworkers with the Auburn Fight Song ring tone I had on my phone, or being tormented by their own rings to various other teams.

I recently discovered that I could get the Auburn games on ESPN. I was thrilled. I mean, well.... PAC 10 teams just don't have the same allure as SEC football. Sure, there are some good teams. But have you seen those home-grown southern boys? Like we used to say, "Them cornbread-fed boys ain't playin' around, buddy." They are BIG, BURLY, TOUGH, guys who really know how to play some ball. SEC is serious football, buddy.

One of our old traditions on Game Day was to pack the house full of as many people as we could, make lots of horrible-for-you-but-really-yummy treats, fire up the grill, and get ready for some football.
My Buffalo Wing Dip was a tradition in it's own right, and had folks hoping for an invite or at least asking me to bring it to their parties.
Before I get in TOO much trouble with some of my old pals, I should add a disclaimer.
I stole the recipe.
From another friend.
OK, OK, she gave it to me. But now, it's MINE. heh, heh, heh.

I don't usually share my recipes, but since it's stolen, AND really yummy, I'll post it, in case you have a Game Day of your own:

8 oz cream cheese
2 cans of chicken, drained
1/2 bottle ranch dressing
1/2 bottle Frank's Hot Sauce

Put it in the crock pot until everything is melted and simmered for a while. Serve with tortilla chips. Or eat it with a spoon, like my husband has been known to do.
If you are an LSU or Alabama fan, you should also add a cup or two of Ex-Lax to your dip and not share it with any of your Auburn friends.


Anyway... that's MY plan for the day. I've finished just about everything on my to-do list except for taking a shower and watching the game, which comes on in a couple more hours.
Hopefully I return with victorious news. Mostly because otherwise I will be moping all day. And suffering the usual post-game day gas and bloating.

Until I return from my football induced coma...

Happy Moose Trails!

Monday, September 15, 2008

For the Love of Artillery

So... one of the many pleasures of living on a military base (eyes rolling, exuding as much sarcasm as I can muster), is military training exercises. Especially when they come with no warning.

I woke the other morning vowing to knock on my neighbor's door and yell at her for slamming doors and stomping up and down the stairs. Or inviting a herd of wild bison into her house. Because that's what it sounded like. And I was ultimately annoyed by whatever was rocking the foundation of my little shanty, too.
Um, until I looked outside and noticed her car wasn't here. So I vowed to go yell at the other neighbors. Until I noticed that they were also not home.

Confused, dazed, and really irritated that the herd of wild bison had also woken dear little Beans, I stomped down my own stairs, bleary-eyed Beans in tow, to make some breakfast. And when I remembered that the smell of coffee makes me barf these days (which I forgot until I had it brewing and spent another 10 minutes over the porcelain with Beans laughing at me), I was even more annoyed at the world.

Well, I eventually (um, sort of) got over my bad attitude. Or at least managed to throw myself on the couch in disgust and glare at the world with a fresh cup of hot cider (which does NOT make me barf), and try to get my bearings.
After HOURS and HOURS of coping with earth shaking booms (and a phone call to my husband), I finally realized that the herd of wild bison running up and down my neighbor's stairs was actually compliments of the US Army's heavy artillery, being fired at some range.
My husband SWEARS the artillery is miles away. Swears that it might even be across the river.
I don't buy that. It sounds like they are in my back yard.
Not only did I WAKE to the sound of artillery at 0600 hrs, I went to BED to the sound of it, close to 10 pm! (2200 hrs, for you military sticklers.)
And I only got a slight respite, because the following morning, I again woke to what sounded like a much closer herd of wild bison running up and down the stairs. Like maybe even in my own house.
I even tried to escape the sound, which by this afternoon was driving both me AND Beans a little insane. I decided we needed a trip to Delta Junction, for a hot cocoa at Jitter Junction (my favorite stop for coffee, and if you ever go through, make sure to be really sweet to Sam and give her a nice tip! The girl works hard and makes great coffees! Oh! And ask her for the trivia question of the day, just for fun and to see how dumb you are).
Well, the whole trip into Delta was a bust. I got to Jitter Junction just moments after she had closed and locked up for the day, so no hot cocoa. And the ground was still shaking from the artillery, which very well COULD be across the river, now that I've heard it in town too.
We decided to head back to the house and sulk. And take a nap.


You know, ordinarily I'm not crazy about having to make a trip to the Big Town (Fairbanks). I mean, I DO love the drive, but like I've mentioned before, town is too noisy and crowded, and I always end up leaving pretty annoyed.
But in light of the artillery, um, maybe our trip to town tomorrow isn't such a terrible thing.

Yep. That's right. ANOTHER trip to town. That makes three weeks in a row. THREE weeks in a row.
Going to town always messes up our whole family's routine. It takes one of my husband's few and precious days off away from us (we don't count going to town as a "day off" because it's so stressful). It messes up my entire system of laundry, bread making, and general household stuff so that no matter what, I return home and we are very behind and swimming in a pile of stuff to catch up on, and then there's Beans. Town especially disrupts Beans, who is annoyed by the long drive, and even more put out by not getting her naps on time OR in her own bed. She's rather particular about things like that.
Not to complain about my sweet daughter, because I love her to pieces BUT...
None of my other kids were like that. My boys were always pretty flexible, for the most part. I thought my middle son was finicky (he's mildly autistic and routines are VERY VERY important to him) but, he's ain't got nothin' on Beans' need for routine.
Drives me a little batty, frankly. My husband and I are BOTH fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types. The type that would be thrilled to throw the kids in the car and head out on the open road to go do something really cool.
Or I should say, I USED to be like that, until I tried to do that with Beans a few times. Let's just say that flexibility is not in her bag-of-tricks. The girl knows what she wants and she's gonna get it or else, buddy. And if she doesn't get it, she's gonna make EVERYONE miserable with her.
So, I suddenly became one of "those" parents, who's activities are dictated by a 10 month old tyrant who wants a nap in her own bed with her lovey ("baby") and her blankie, who only wants to nurse in her rocking chair and nowhere else, and who will scream her head off until you take her back home, even if it means screaming the entire two hour trip back home when you ignored her initial request to be there (home). Which she did the last time we came back from town past bedtime.

Ah, I digress....
So, tomorrow, we are going to town to finally butcher our chickens. The fun part will be visiting with my friend M, and trying not to throw up around gross chicken butchering. Hopefully I am successful in that endeavor. I would hate to barf at someone else's house. And get a taste of M's wild high bush cranberry butter that she has spent all week making and putting up. Mmmmm...

Oh, and to look for maternity pants because my belly is already expanding past my collection of "fat pants" that I owned from when I lost my pregnancy weight from Beans.
You know, I had JUST gotten back into my size six jeans, and now, for the second year in a row, I am going to be bound to pants with elastic in them. And I can say with confidence that I haven't seen a "real" bra in two years, between maternity bras and nursing bras. (You know, someone should really focus on a line of attractive nursing bras... things that make husbands happy, instead of dowdy mommy bras. Honestly.)

ANYWAY.... I'm supposed to be keeping this G-rated so I can still be linked to the Delta News Web, so, enough about undergarments. The fact remains that my ever expanding waist line needs pants with elastic in the waist, so I don't feel like I have a tourniquet around my belly button.

Yup, back to town tomorrow. As a concession for making me travel to town for the third week in a row, my husband has decided to take me to breakfast at the Diner on the way out of Delta Junction. Well, I do supposed a buffalo sausage omelet (with buffalo sausage, cheese, olives, onion, and mushrooms-um, hold the fungus) WOULD make me feel a little better.
And then after that, I am totally boycotting any more trips to town until October 1st, when a sweet friend celebrates a (5th) birthday, and we go to yet another doctor appointment.

Oh! Update for Family, again:
So, I hated our trip to the doctor so much that I finally took some advice from a friend and a few other moms. I'm looking into the Birthing Center (which is midwives and the whole natural child birthing stuff). Not sure if I will pass their intense screening process with my history of preterm labor, but I have an appointment with a midwife to find out. If I don't then maybe they can direct me to a doctor who's not a putz.
Um, also not sure I can handle the whole no-drug-child birthing experience, so I may have to really think about that. As much as we are crazy hippies, the whole water-birthing/home-birthing/no drug birthing thing really doesn't resonate well with me...
But the bonus is that they won't nag me about breastfeeding while pregnant, and won't mind if we can't find a sitter while we are in labor- or if Miss Have It My Way (um, Beans) won't stay with the sitter.
We have yet to leave her with a sitter because she can be so particular and irritable about things. Her daddy and I are going to have to be extremely comfortable knowing that the person watching her won't get too irritated and cause her bodily harm. Or sell her to the gypsies. (Oh, that was a favorite threat of my own mother!) Or call me in the middle of labor demanding that I pick up my Screaming Mimi. She could try the patience of a saint. Seriously.
As we used to say in the South, "Bless her Heart and God love her."
Anyway, the birthing center welcomes the "whole family experience" for the birth. Not that I really want my whole family there, witnessing it or anything (hey, we aren't THAT close, ya know what I mean?), but it's nice to know that Beans won't be kicked out either, should we need to bring her along.
Anyway, I should have an update on that for you guys after the 1st of Oct.

OK. So, a trip to town tomorrow, and hopefully an interesting wildlife and foliage report.
Rumor through town is that we are supposed to possibly get some snow. Still haven't seen it on the Dome though, so we'll see. meanwhile, temps are hanging in the 50s by day, 30s and 40s by night, and the wind has picked up a little more attitude lately, causing a lonely howl to rattle through the town. I LOVE IT!

Alright then. Off to lull myself to sleep with the sound of artillery (which is STILL going.) Oh, I will be so grateful to escape that for a few hours tomorrow!

Until next time,
Happy Moose Trails!