Breakfast Lessons

We had breakfast in the city this morning, at a national chain restaurant that's known for breakfast.

Our waitress was an older lady, a little on the gruff side, and she carried herself with a certain aggression. I'm sure you've met someone like her, with body language that shouts, "I'm the only one around here who works very hard. I hate my job, I hate my life and the sooner I'm done for the day, the better!"

She called everyone "hon" or "sweetie". I think her "hon" and "sweetie" were really code words for "A-hole" and "Bitch".

But there's another kind of waitress in a place like that. We saw her, too. She was probably someone's grandma. She moved a little slower, but she didn't swing the coffee pot around the room like a weapon, the way her coworker did. She smiled, instead of baring her teeth. Nothing insincere or passive-aggressive about her.

It's a fine example of two opposing outlooks on life. You can look at each person who crosses your path as yet another person who expects something from you (which you don't want to give) and is taking time away from what you really want to be doing.

Or you can smile and take the time to look them in the eye and live in the moment.


Antler Basket

Done! This one is for my Sweet Hubs. That is a tiny Coues' Whitetail shed antler. How cute is that?

For those of my readers who have been following a while, or have been to my home, you'll know that eventually I would have to try to make a basket with an antler in it. Mom thought, when I was expecting, that my babies might be born with antlers. I sure am glad she was wrong about that. OUCH!

Antlers are cool. Deer and elk shed them every year and grow a new set. Every. Year. People like my honey go out and find the shed antlers. We use them. Sometimes he sells them. Always, he admires them. You'll find them in our house (at varying times, maybe) as decorations, handles, napkin rings, wine racks, towel bars, light fixtures, a Christmas tree... and now this:


Minimally Me

I hate clutter.

It collects slowly, growing into little piles of crap here and there, like some kind of creepy mold. Papers, junk mail that needs to be shredded, some bric-a-brac that some well-meaning person gave me. I try to have a place for everything and everything in its place. But honestly. WHERE is the right place of a 1910 toy wagon?

It builds up on me, too. I walk around in my day, knowing that there is a pile of crap at home that needs to be faced. So I get frustrated. I put on my big-girl panties and then I get RUTHLESS. The next thing I know, I have sorted out a bunch of things to get rid of.

Then it happens. Something. Some little something will trigger my sentimental streak and the whole process comes to a screeching halt. My clutter-busting train is derailed while I slowly consider all the memories associated with that....whatever it is.

Sunday, it was a little silver-plated jewelry box my Grandma gave me years ago. I don't need it. I don't really have a place for it. But how do I get rid of it?


Autumn Calling

The slant of the sunlight promises cooler days ahead.

Sleep under a warm blanket with cool night air rolling in open windows.

Gardens fade as they get ready to sleep through the winter, while fall flowers pop out orange and yellow blossoms.

Summer fruits and vegetables give way to autumn food. My palate is done with light dinners and chilled salads, ready for heartier fare.

The bugles of bull elk fill the early morning air.

It's so hard to get out of bed in the morning, with the sun still low and the air so cool and crisp. But I do, because Autumn is calling.



Pine Needle Baskets

I live in pine tree country: my home town sits in the largest stand of Ponderosa pines in the world. I'm also a fidgety person. My hands need to be busy pretty much all the time. I tried teaching myself to crochet; I bought a booklet, yarn and hooks and decided to try making this very cute round afghan. The counting must have been too much for me because I ended up with the biggest yarmulke you've ever seen. It's soft and fuzzy and just the right size for Jack (the one In The Box). Since I'm sure it would be offensive to someone for me to be making yarmulkes for non-humans.... I'm laying off the crochet.

So I decided to try making pine needle baskets. No counting. They smell good. I can sew. And I have pine needles. Oh, boy, do I have pine needles.

The first few were OK. Only mildly laughable. One problem with fallen pine needles in Arizona is just how dry they really get. I had to soak them in water so long before they were pliable, they swelled up like a toad. Which results in a loose basket. No woman wants her basket to be loose.

Then I found synthetic sinew at a local craft store and I picked up a bag full of pine needles from our Montana place. Those needles were pliable without soaking, even the brown ones!

Huge improvement! Here is the first basket made from the Montana pine needles:

Here is one I'm working on right now:

I was thinking that a wine bottle holder made this way would be very cool. I could soak it in water and refrigerate the basket and it would keep the wine nice and cool. Outside of the occasional jab with a pine needle (or my own needle), I've been having a lot fun learning this. Each one gets better. :-) 

What is your hobby?


The County Fair

It was on my bucket list. I'd been to the state fair, but never to the county fair. So on Saturday afternoon, Sweet Hubs and I went to stroll around the fair and check out the exhibits and the 4-H Auction.

It was fascinating! The list of entry classes seemed endless. The people who organized the event must have worked their fingers down to the white meat. Wow. Row after row of fruits, vegetables (looking a little wilty that late into the fair), crafts, photographs, was breathtaking. The Bonsai trees were amazing. I did wonder, though. Some of the trees were over 60 years old. Has one person been clipping that tiny tree for 60 years? Was it handed down? Did they buy it somewhere, already started? How does that work?

My special favorite was the 4-H Auction. The students were required to stay by their animal throughout the days of the fair. They spoke with us about the animal, its type and weight and so on. We were fascinated at the comfort these impressive young people had in talking to a couple of adults. I was also impressed at the fondness the young people demonstrated for their project animal. Later, they walked the animal around the auction ring and the bidding began.

Auctioneers amaze and amuse me. This guy was a handsome cowboy, dressed in a crisp, white, button-down, with his Wranglers, well-worn boots and Stetson completing the look. He had a terrific public speaking voice and did the auctioneer's sing-song so very well. A good auctioneer is key to a fun auction.

One of the animals being auctioned was a cross-bred steer. He was the red color of a Hereford and it so happened that a lovely redheaded lady was one of the bidders. The auctioneer did a great job of complimenting the hell out of that pretty lady by drawing comparisons between her flaming hair and the handsome red hide of the steer; he made it seem like that steer was grown especially for her. Well done.

Best of all, the little livestock auction was like going back 30 years to when this was a tiny ranching town. Everybody knew nearly everybody. People were bidding on the animals raised by young people they knew. One young lady raised a meat goat (as opposed to a goat bred for producing milk or wool). Between giving the goat a name and countless hours of time and attention, she became quite attached to the animal. The idea of her jogging buddy becoming someone's Carne Asada made her cry. Word got out... and a lovely lady from a prominent ranching family bought the goat for her petting zoo.

There were tears on the cheeks of almost every young girl as she led her 4-H project around the auction ring. The boys weren't quite as affected, boys being boys. It was wonderful to see these hardworking, dedicated young people and the town that supports them so well.

Just for fun, here are two songs featuring an auctioneer:


Opinion, Please!

Do any of my readers use one of these? What do you think of it?

Getting Older

Yeah. I'm getting older. And it's starting to show.

Sweet Hubs and I are trying a new thing. Starting today, we are going to give up red meat and dairy for 30 days.

This seems like a drastic thing to do when you have a freezer full of elk meat (which is decidedly red meat!) and you come from a tradition of cooking that includes cheese in nearly everything. The fact is, we're getting older. We are both lactose intolerant and one of has some other digestive problems.

It's an experiment. Will it make any difference in how we feel? Will it make the incessant squeaks and grumblings of my tummy stop? I guess we'll see!

Goodbye pepperoni pizza and so long cheesesteak sandwiches!


An Award!

Yes! Doing the happy dance and making little squeaking noises while I do! Contemplating Happiness has been given an award! Cynthia at Commonplace Crazy called ME a "blog you should read". Hot Buttered Sweetbreads! She also called me quirky, in a nice way, of course. I love being called quirky. It's a lot better than the way my coworkers have called me "the spelling police". 

The most fun of all? I don't even have to embarrass myself by revealing any of my dark, shameful or quirky secrets. I don't have to pass it on to 15 other bloggers on pain of having my nipples turn green and fall off. I get to just sit back and bask in the warm rays of a compliment. Ahhh.

I love Cynthia's blog. Her husband, The Hillbilly, is a regular contributor and she is a English teacher, no less! My favorite kind! Most of the really encouraging things I've heard in my life have come from English teachers. 

I'm telling you, folks: this is a couple I can easily imagine sitting around the campfire with, sipping red wine out of plastic cups and telling hilarious stories. Please step on over to Commonplace Crazy and see who else Cynthia likes to read. 

Look, Ma! No Hands!

(har har har....I crack me up!)

You may have noticed. My blog has a new look!

Please be sure to visit my blog pages. I took a whole mess of stuff out of the side bar, and made a few pages, instead.

Most especially, visit my "My Books" page, and watch for it to fill up. Ever so gradually.

Thanks for looking.

10 Things You Can Do Today To Sweeten Your Marriage

Pick one, pick five or try all ten. I don't care. 
  1. Put down your phone, your laptop, your tablet and the remote... and talk to each other.
  2. Wear something your honey thinks is sexy. 
  3. Whoever is home first, greet the other one at the door when they get home. Yes, get up off your hind end, walk to the door as they enter and kiss them like you mean it.
  4. Spend the time it takes you to drive home thinking about all the things you love about your spouse. If the thoughts that start, "if only...." stray into your brain, push them away and focus on the good things.
  5. Send your honey a naughty text message in the middle of the day. Pictures are good. Just ask ScarJo.
  6. Remember your manners. "Thank you, dear," is a great place to start. 
  7. Do something you've never done before. Something unexpected. Something sexy! Something fun! 
  8. Press "pause" on the mental high-speed to-do list you're playing in your mind and really LISTEN when they talk. Look at him, focus your mind on what he's saying and listen.
  9. Do something indulgent together. Whether it's sharing a box of good chocolate and a bottle of wine, or taking a bath together, take a little break from your hectic life and take it together.
  10. Hold your tongue for a while. If you're tempted to criticize, whine, bitch, moan, complain... just hold it for a while. Remember how it works when you stub your toe and you have to hop around, gritting your teeth, until the pain passes? Try doing that for a bit with your complaints. Especially if your complaint is ABOUT the other person. Try walking it off and see if doesn't just go away on its own.

What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...