Taste in Music: Four Years in the Making

We went to get fried chicken tonight for dinner. I had the best of intentions to make a chicken pot pie but ran out of time and got so hungry I almost ate the dog (not really).

On our way back from the chicken joint my four year-old son says to me, “momma, turn on some tunes.”

I turned on the radio; it was tuned in to our local FM station. Cheap Trick was playing and Jdubs continues with, “momma, that’s rock-n-roll. But I want the Spanish song, not rock-n-roll.”

I tell him that I don’t have the Spanish song and that all we can listen to for now is the radio and I ask, “do you like rock-n-roll? Or how about country music?”

As I flip the tuner to a country station Jdubs says, “I don’t like country music. I like rock-n-roll and Spanish music. Yeah, that’s my favorite, Spanish music.”

So for you, Jdubs here is the “Spanish song” also known as, Cancion del Mariachi.
It’s a pretty awesome tune made famous by Los Lobos and Antonio Banderas in the movie, Desperado.

Playing Cat and Dog

I had no idea what I was going to write about tonight when I came home from work… then this post magically wrote itself. Jdubs and I were wrapping presents. This is what happens when a 4 year old who can recognize a few letters does for gift tags.

Momma, will you write letters for me?

Then we ditched the packages to play with the cat.

Ah, momma, Pussums wants to play with me.

Then the dog got in on the action, and we played cat and dog and kid for a while.

Ruby: "You wanna piece a me?" Pussums: "Bring it. I can't wait to slap you"

Here’s Ruby trying to be playful. (I wish that darn ornament wasn’t in the way, but you will see it in every frame.)

Pussums: "you are so gonna regret this!"

Pussums is definitely ready to take a swipe at Ruby. Fortunately, for Ruby, those paws are sans claws.

Puss is fired up. Ruby: "I double-dog dare you."

Puss is supremely pissed. If I could hear her kitty voice I think she would say: “oh no you didn’t. No way that’s going to fly up in here.”

Pussums slinks away to provide more "personal" space.

Here’s Ruby with two batteries on her shoulder saying: “I dare you to knock these off.” (very bad reference to a very old Duracell battery commercial.)

Too bad I didn't have the video going to capture the little dance before they both darted up the stairs.

The aftermath of Cat and Dog—the dog pounced at the cat, scooting the tree over 3-4 feet; the cat peeled out on the tree skirt and bolted up the stairs with the dog in hot pursuit. And Jdub’s package is left behind.

Good Day for a Black Wedding

We just got in from a wedding where the bride and groom had a flair for the dramatic. There were echoes of tradition—there was a wedding party with girls on one side and boys on the other. But that’s about where tradition ends. There was a groom’s cookie and a bride’s cake made of cookies, no real cake.

The color theme was black and white, which makes for simple elegance. The decorations were very creative yet inexpensive, but somehow really cool and fitting for a winter wedding. There weren’t any fresh flowers.  The bridesmaids carried purses.

The groom wore a  white suit, black shirt and tie and black and white wingtips. All he needed was a white Fedora to have the “zoot suit.” The bridesmaids wore black and/or white dresses of various sorts, nothing screamed bridesmaid. The men wore black suits and ties.

And the bride said “to hell” with tradition and wore a black dress—no white here. She also wore Corral vintage inlay boots in black and white, of course. LOVE IT! ( I can relate, I wore a black and red flower print dress for my own wedding.)

The bride in a black wedding dress.

I was very impressed with the innovative ways to use sticks and plow discs. Most of the decorations utilized something we have in abundant supply in Arcadia. Mesquite wood– painted black, silver, white and some with a touch of bling.

Mesquite branches used in creative ways.

Antlers, the common ones you find in the back pasture where the carcass is long since decayed, with a black wash on them to accentuate the crevasses. There were shot glasses. I poorly assumed that they were for shots, right? Nope. It’s for a shot of milk to go with your cookie. Jdubs did about 10 milk shooters and wanted to save the glasses for later. It was awesome. The antlers were really cool.

Focus on the awesomeness of this antler--painted silver with a black wash.
Pretty bride in black ... tired, fat lady in red.

The bride, in black, looking fresh as a flower and me (gawd, I need a vacation and a binge diet).

The bug in a Rudolf tie.

Jdubs wore his Rudolf tie – he insisted on wearing a tie like his daddy.

Head table with creative decorations of mesquite branches.
How many of us have a candelabra in the attic? Whip that bad boy out and spray paint it black and string some bling-- then BOOM.
This center piece really was the coolest. None of those typical arches with garland strung on it. No little white lights. Mesquite branches and bling.

The bride and groom exchanged vows in front of this arrangement. It was huge and beautiful. The photo doesn’t do it justice—it was about 10 feet tall and made of …. You guessed it, mesquite branches. There were crystals, beads and sparkles. It was not traditional, but really pretty, classy and most of all, creative.

Cheers to the Nichols!

Random Gift Awesomeness

I’ve been shopping around our downtown and online and at Walmart in search of gift greatness. And I’ve found a few items I love.

Electric kettle – this rocks. The best $11 I spent at a hardware store. I use it every day sometimes more. I make pressed coffee in the morning and in the evenings I have a little hot cocoa or a decaf coffee. This kettle works great – heats up very quickly, faster than the microwave.

Starbucks Via is a great stocking stuffer. And it goes well with the electric kettle … It is great for that single cup.

Subscriptions to awesome magazines. I love Cook’s Illustrated. (OK Williams-Sonoma isn’t a magazine, but the stuff in it is way cool).

These are awesome little gifts for your kids’ teachers or work colleagues. They are little covers for travel packages of tissues. Boaz has them in our little town. They even gave me three little gift sacks to package all my teacher nick-knack gifts together.

Feeding the Critters

My parents were out of town for a few days at a conference, so we had to take care of “the critters.” Today we woke up to snow and hit the high temperature for the day before noon. It was a wet snow that mostly melted by the afternoon, perfect for snowball fights and snowman building. The ground was too warm for it to stick, but it should be interesting tomorrow.

It wasn't as cold as it looks. Pretty all the same.

My husband went this morning to check on things and feed. I took the afternoon shift.

On my way out to the ranch I saw this pretty oak tree. (this was a southern-facing tree, so no snow).

Oak trees are awesome. I think this one is a post oak. Can't be sure and I wasn't going to find out for sure in my fancy pretty boots.

When I drove up, two of the four horses greeted me. The sun was going down, the wind was blowing and it was starting to get really cold.

Sugar and Bucky. I've always been partial to red roans.

They had to get a closer look …

Bucky (aka McCool) had to see for himself.
Then Sugar had to go and stick her nose in it.
I think this is such a cool photo.

Before anything can happen, I had to change my boots. Pretty, fashion boots to working-hard-rubber boots.

Taking Kelly's advice ... changed my boots before tromping around in wet manure.

My husband said he ran out of feed after the morning rounds. Before I went to the ranch I stopped and got a couple bags of feed (this was when Kelly, at the feed story, passed on friendly advice to change boots. check.). Once I opened the saddle house (aka the tack room) to get the cat food, I found, hmmm curiously, three more bags of feed.


The barn cats are almost feral. Most can be persuaded into a little petting, but a few are very skittish around people except for my dad. He can woo almost any animal into trusting him.

Barn cats are awesome critters. The keep the mice and snakes away.

Although this fluffy Tom cat crawled on top of the saddle house and stared down at me.

Snake-killing Tom Cat says: "I'm not coming down and you can't make me."

The weaning calves were looking for a bite to eat too. They saw me and starting coming briskly to the barn. I gave them an extra dab since the cold was coming on. With an expected low in the lower 20s, a few extra cubes couldn’t hurt.

Sore thumb? Who sticks out like a sore thumb?

This corriente calf looks out of place among the black baldy/Angus calves. We’re currently eating a corriente hybrid out of our freezer—good eats!

Happy critters.

Then I went in the house to feed the indoor cats, only to find that they opted out of the litter box 😦

Christmas CATastrophe

I was doing a little Christmas shopping this afternoon and decided to get a few stocking stuffers for the family, including the pets. I found this gem for $5 and couldn’t pass it up.

I don’t think Pussums was as excited as I was.

Christmas CATastrophe

This is only the first time trying her new “dress” on … I’m sure we will need to put it on again for Christmas Eve.

Perspective and Practice

I’ve been thinking about this post for 30 days and there was no way to write this in advance. On November 1st I decided to write a blog a day. Tonight marks the 30th post for the month of November. And I’m proud that I completed the goal. It’s been a struggle, I couldn’t’ have done it without the help of my husband in the evenings. November is a very busy month in general for our family and especially since the end of the month leads up to two of the busiest days in my annual calendar, not counting Thanksgiving.

In order to accomplish a blog a day, I had to really think and plan ahead. There were days when I would sit down at 8 or 9 p.m. wondering what I was going to write about that day. Some days the blog seemed to write itself, especially when I could recognize the gift of that day.

My favorite post was when my son got my camera and secretly took photos (A Photographer in the Making). That also happened to be one of the most viewed posts of the month.

The hardest post to write was about the Penn State child abuse scandal. (Little Lost Boys)

My favorite photo project and title of the month was When Frost Happens. This was one of those that wrote itself.

Writing daily has made me buckle down and be disciplined. The rigor of daily reflection brings perspective. This exercise has literally made me stop and “smell the roses.” Blogging consistently makes me re-frame everyday moments. It also makes me consider things more thoroughly and thoughtfully.

For me, writing is probably my single best skill. I majored in communications with an emphasis on journalism. I’ve been in PR and marketing communications jobs for the whole of my professional career. I’ve been in jobs before where my main function was to write whatever needed to be captured. Since my professional career began technology has gone from typing into a word processing typewriter to micro-blogging on Twitter with my mobile phone. Who could have imagined that?

Writing is a skill; it’s a job; and it’s a gift. Anyone can learn to write well but not everyone is a gifted writer.

Writing is cathartic for me. I’ve kept some form of a journal since I was 12 years old. I’ve been working out my emotional tribulations by writing about it almost since I was able form words into sentences. No matter if writing is a necessary skill in today’s information age or if you are a gifted writer, practice makes you better.

The awesomeness of blogging means that you get “published” every day that you decide to write. With the tools available you become a content generator. The downside is that there is a lot more content out there to sort through. But the main thing is to continue to do it regularly. Consistently producing new content is like major league at-bats. The more you’re up at the plate the more opportunities you have to hit a home run.

Happy blogging, Y’all.

Pink Slippers

Today has been an extraordinarily busy day … so tonight when I came home from a 12-hour work day I put my pajamas on. I figured why bother changing out of my work clothes only to change again later. Part of my nighttime attire includes a pair of slippers because we have tile or stained concrete in the majority of our house. Hard floors = cold floors in winter.

Every year someone in my family gives me slippers, which I love because I always need a new pair by the time Christmas rolls around. My feet are always cold. Seriously, the only thing colder than my feet is me arse. (But that’s another story.)

The Christmas before my son was born my mother-in-law gave me a pink, furry bath robe and matching slippers. The set was like a little piece of cloud wrapped around my very pregnant middle. And of course the slippers were awesome since my feet hurt and were incredibly swollen most of the time. I packed this robe and slippers in my bag to take with me to the hospital when our son was born. What typically is a two-day process ended up being a five-day stay.

While my son was in the NICU, I shuffled down the hospital corridors in my robe and slippers. I looked like a grizzly bear, all grouchy and postpartum puffy. My house slippers were my only footwear, and it was hard to walk, for obvious reasons. And since my hormones were so completely out of whack I could be fearsome to deal with, like the most ferocious of felines.

I still have the slippers and wear them sometimes. But before I left the hospital, my husband dubbed them the pink slippers of fury because of the tangles I found myself in while wearing them.

So now it’s a family joke and all I have to do to “mean business” is to point to my feet in the pink slippers and our little son will say “no momma, not the pink slippers of fury.”

The infamous Pink Slippers of Fury

Manic Monday

The first day back after a long holiday is hectic to say the least. The organization I work for produces a large community event the first Thursday after Thanksgiving. A service organization I belong to has its biggest fund raiser on the first Saturday in December. These two events always fall within the same week and it’s always a three-ring circus at our house and offices. The events themselves require lots of coordination among various parties to make it all happen. We rely on volunteers to do almost everything. And we are thankful to have their help.

There are many community folks who partake of these events without much thought about the planning and initiative it takes to throw a party on this scale. I’ve been planning events for the whole of my professional career. I have an aptitude for it and a great deal of experience actually doing it. The thing about events is that they always happen.  Some how they just happen.  And you can plan and plan and plan, but there are always things that come up that you can’t anticipate.  By experience I know that I have to “plan” to deal with the hitches, as they happen. It’s a lot of work and really stressful, so let’s just say I’ll be so glad when Sunday comes.

Some days I’m envious of my cat…

Pussums, the cat who has it all.