Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween From Bo & Blaine!

So if you come Trick-Or-Treating at this particular house tonight, we've got LOTS of goodies for you! (I've had to slap Blaine's hand away several times...."They're for the kiddies!")

Even though it's still daylight, we've got our porch light on to alert the moms that we've got candy for the littlest ones, who are usually brought out while it's still light out.

Happy Halloween!



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ode To Road Construction Workers....



To The Road Construction Worker I May Have Frightened Yesterday:

Dear Sir:

I am so very sorry that I caused you to frantically dive out of my way as I rapidly peeled rubber on two wheels while turning right onto College Boulevard yesterday. I was trying to avoid a jerk in a white Subaru who didn't realize that there were TWO lanes for turning vehicles. The idgit apparently did not see that we would both be able to make the turn at the same time, and so he tried to merge into MY lane, nearly running me off the road, thus causing me to have to swerve in your direction.

(And really, I was quite offended that he angrily blasted me with his tiny little Subaru horn for the next 5 minutes solid, jarring my already on edge nerves. I never appreciate it when Lilliputian vehicles attempt to get into a David & Goliath contest with my giant truck.)

Also, I want to apologize for not realizing that College Boulevard is STILL under heavy construction. Whenever you road construction workers block off all the traffic lanes while marking off impossibly small detour routes with those pretty orange cones, I get anxiety--- because I am driving a huge Ford F-150 long-bed pickup truck, and I'm always worried that the behemoth won't fit into the slim detour lanes.

Yes, yes, I know--- the powerful truck is probably way too much muscle for someone as small as me. And I do hereby admit that because of its gigantic, gas-guzzling, Triton V-8 engine, it frequently gets away from me and barrels down the road like an M1 Abrams military tank during Desert Storm...

(Although--- there are definitely times that I almost wish it really WERE an M1 Abrams so that I could blast witless drivers out of my way with its cannons--- or else simply roll right OVER them...but I digress...)

Anyway, I am truly sorry that I caused you to fear for your life--- but really, I had it all under control. Didn't you notice how I avoided plowing into you by instead driving over that row of orange cones? Seriously, the cones can be replaced, so I think I made the wisest decision and resolved the whole matter with minimal damage.

(Um....well....and I must also apologize in case you overheard me give that age-old southern "rebel yell", YEE-HAH!!, while running down all those orange traffic cones--- and counting them out loud as I ran over each one--- but I must admit that it has always been a dream of mine to flatten an entire row of those ubiquitous, irksome orange cones which cause aggravating traffic snarls by herding 4 lanes of vehicles into one. Surely you can understand?)

But I know that it isn't your fault that the endless and irritating road construction is going on, seemingly forever, on College Boulevard all the way from Quivera to Antioch Streets, and I definitely shouldn't take out my frustrations on you. And I certainly shouldn't have caused you concern for your life. But as I said before, I had it all under control and you were never in any real danger (which is more than we can say for all those pitiful cones, right?)

If it's any comfort to you, may I add here that you are one of the best looking road construction workers I have ever seen? I swear I have never seen such attractive, rippling muscles on a man, and you certainly looked extremely fetching in your jaunty construction helmet while brandishing that traffic banner upon which the word "SLOW" was emblazoned. Your quick reflexes are admirable. And excuse me for being blunt (because I'm not usually so shamefully forward), but if all road construction workers looked like you, I wouldn't mind at all having to slow down at road construction sites since I, like most ladies, always appreciate good "eye candy", and you are definitely a tasty-looking morsel....

Sigh....and in the interest of being honest, I guess I will have to further allow that I just may have been a tad inattentive and distracted during the whole ordeal because I had just left my psychiatrist's office and my brain was still trying to process a bunch of Freudian mumbo-jumbo which always confuses me. (God knows the good doctor tries hard, but he'll never have the finesse and insight of my other therapist, Fred.)

And so I will end this apology by assuring you that I have learned my lesson and will attempt to be a better driver in the future.

Best regards,

The driver of the blue Ford F-150


P.S.* must tell you that I will be coming your way again today as I have an appointment with Fred. But don't worry your handsome head---I will avoid stupid little Subarus at all cost and I promise not to run over any more of your orange cones.



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

UFO City...


The boring gray sweater. I have big plans for red buttons and red patch pockets but right now it bores me to tears. (And yes, I made the stripes "un-matching" on purpose.) (I've never knitted anything with matching stripes in my entire life.) (I did shape the underarms but you can't tell cuz it's curling so much.)

The socks out of "Clown" yarn. (Whenever I get bored with the gray sweater I say: "Send in the clowns....")

The shawl is finished but I'm still working on the lace border that's going to be sewn on. (Yes, it's psychedelic, too.)

And the drop shoulder fair isle sweater. (I cut steeks for the front and the sleeves, hence the facings.) (I know, I know....the button bands don't match.) (The sleeves won't match either.) (I'm going to crochet loops for the buttons....or toggles...or maybe put in a zipper.)

Sigh.....poor little UFO's.....



Saturday, October 24, 2009

By Beth's Request: Bo's Chicken & Herbed Dumplings


(The above is not a picture of my dumplings but I didn't have one of my own handy--so I "borrowed" that picture...)

Okay, since Beth asked if I would post my recipe, I will try and re-create it here. Since I cook without written recipes, I'm going to try and estimate some of the amounts of things, okay? (But I'll try to err on the side of caution, so that if you like the flavor of a particular spice you can simply increase it if you like.) This is the recipe that's been handed down in chicken & dumplingdom in my family since probably the Civil War. (Or the Revolutionary War, who knows?) (Yes I know they didn't have Bisquick in the 1700's but plain flour works just as well...)

(Is "dumplingdom" a real word?)

(Oh yes, and I herb my dumplings, even though they're made from Bisquick.)

Take 1 pkg of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 4 or 5 good sized ones) and put them in a dutch oven pot, add water till it just barely covers them, and start them to boil.

When they are cooked (no pink in the middle), lower the boil to a simmer. Take the breasts out of the water. Break them up into large pieces, and then add them back into the water.

Add to the pot (and I've been known to be really liberal with the spices):

4 chicken boullion cubes

1 Tbl sage (I've been known to add more)

1 - 2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 - 2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbl onion powder

2 Tbl parsley

1 can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup

While you're simmering that for awhile, make up the herbed dumplings. You make the basic dumplings like the recipe on the box of Bisquick. But then I go further.

Mix the following in a bowl:

1 1/3 cup Bisquick

1 Tbl parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp sage

1 tsp paprika

(Toss everything with a fork to mix everything up good.)

Then, add milk until a soft dough forms. And I mean a soft dough---there's been times I added too little milk because I thought I wanted a "firm" dumpling, but they turned out like rubber..eeek! So make it a soft dough.

Okay, then you put your pot of soup on a simmer. Not a boil. And then you've got to "thicken" the soup. So take a ladle and ladle out two coffee cups half to 3/4 full of the soup (no chicken in there). Let them cool awhile (you can put them in the frig if you're in a hurry). Then use flour to thicken both of the cups' liquid--and thicken them pretty gooey and thick. And then after you thicken the liquid in the two coffee cups, raise the temperature of the pot of soup till it's a boil again, and then slowly pour those two cups of thickened soup back into the pot to "thicken" the whole pot of soup, stirring constantly till your whole pot of soup is thick. (Not "glue" thick, but a little bit less than "gravy" thick.)

Again, put your boil back down to a low simmer, and then you take your dumpling dough and drop it by spoonfuls into the pot. I always start in a ring formation and then add them to the center of the ring until the whole entire pot of soup is covered in dumplings.

Cook everything on a LOW simmer for 10 minutes UNCOVERED--not a boil (so as not to burn stuff on the bottom of the pot). Then you put the lid on the pot and LOW simmer them for 10 more minutes COVERED. It may take more than 10 minutes in this last stage. The way you tell if the dumplings are done is if they look cooked on their tops (poke one). Don't be afraid to pull a dumpling out and cut it in half to check if it's totally cooked. (Then plop it back in there to finish cooking.)

That's it! I hope I've written it correctly. The secret is the sage. Most people don't add sage to their chicken & dumplings but it totally makes the chicken flavor come out. And most people don't "herb" their dumplings, but it really makes the dumplings taste better. (God, I hope I wrote this recipe right....)

I've had people tell me these chicken & dumplings were so good "they'd make you stand up and slap your grandma"....

Important for refrigeration of leftovers: If you refrigerate the leftovers, separate the dumplings from the soup into a separate bowl. If you don't, the dumplings will swell up like balloons from soaking up the soup. When you reheat everything, reheat the soup on the stove first, separately, and when it's hot add the dumplings in and heat a little more till the dumplings are hot.



Friday, October 23, 2009

The Colors of Fall...


Fall is here....and the leaves are turning all manner of beautiful colors.

Which means:

1. It's getting colder, and so I need to find my little heating pad which I stick on my feet while I'm curled up knitting.

2. I can start looking forward to snow.

3. The holiday season is sneaking up on us...

4. I better get my butt in gear for my Christmas knitting...

5. It's Chicken & Dumpling weather---but alas, I can't have any because I'm on the Atkins Diet and there's no carbs in that diet; ergo, no dumplings allowed. And let me tell you, I can make GOOOOOD Chicken & Dumplings...sniff....

6. I've got to get ready to spend the holiday season with my family in Texas, yippee! (Blaine is going to meet us for Christmas.)



Tuesday, October 20, 2009



I knitted a garter-stitch, raglan jacket inspired by the colors of the circus. ('s my particular "interpretation" of the colors of a circus....) The sleeve edges and bottom edge are large ruffles and the button band edge is feather and fan. I made a little....uh....pom-ponned "scarf" from the leftover yarn. (Just for the hell of it.) (Or are they tassles?)(And, like my socks, the jacket's two sleeves don't match...)

(You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Little Baby is never interested in my creations. She'd rather get her nightly massage from Blaine, using the clicker as her pillow...

Then, as I was bored in the last couple of weeks, I took 4 different balls of sock yarn and decided to see how many different socks I could make out of them. Here's the first one below. (The cable part pulls it in like ribbing but it fits nicely.)

Then here's a pair of my "un-matching" socks with a feather & fan cuff and 2 different type heels.

This little green sock is my favorite, don't know why.

And below is Leonard, staring at me, as usual.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but he always gazes at me like I'm the biggest idiot in the world.

(Don't say it...)



Friday, October 16, 2009

Crash McGoon Strikes Again...


ooh, Jackie Blue...
You like your life in a free-form style,
You'll take an inch but you'd love a mile,
There never seems to be quite enough,
floating around to fill your loving cup....
ooh, Jackie Blue...
("Jackie Blue", Ozark Mountain Daredevils)


I'm trying to get up my nerve to go back to Walmart...

I need to go because I've started a new, very enjoyable hobby--- beading --- and I need some little doo-dads called "crimp loops" or some such. (My mother turned me on to this addictive hobby and she gave me hundreds of wondrous, gorgeous beads made of glass, crystal, cloisonne, filigree metal, abalone, etc.) Anyway, the "crimp loops" are used to make closures for necklaces and such. I've made three necklaces so far which are long enough to go over one's head without needing a clasp closure. (I simply tied knots in the beading wire to join the two ends.) But now I want to make some shorter necklaces which will be too small to slip over a person's head; thus, I'll need "crimp loops" and clasps to make up the closures. (If interested, you can click on the pic to see the necklaces more closely.)

But... um... I'm feeling rather cowardly to show my face at Walmart so soon after the Coffee Aisle Incident.

I don't know what it is between me and Walmart but I don't seem to be able to get in and out of that dang store without committing some kind of major blunder. And the Coffee Aisle Incident was a definite blunder--- and is still weighing heavy on my mind. And on Blaine's too.....

Lord, but that man acted like The Coffee Aisle Incident was a completely chaotic donnybrook, which caused me to indignantly defend myself by telling him that it had been an unpleasant incident for sure, but not to the overly dramatic extent he was claiming. I remarked that I certainly hadn't heard anybody screaming "Oh, the humanity!!"

I mean, dadgum! It could have happened to anybody!

But I did learn some valuable lessons from the whole event:

1. Don't stuff your little coffee bean bag so full of coffee beans that you have trouble closing the bag with those little wire tie-tie's on the two sides of the bag, as this common mistake may cause one to lose control of the bag... and then, in a panic, begin madly fumbling and juggling the bag absurdly before dropping the stupid thing entirely, causing a wild shower of approximately 150 coffee beans to bounce their way down the aisle like Aggie marbles;

2. Should you spill that entire bag of 150 coffee beans as described above, it is best NOT to yell ugly cuss words like "Holy Shit!" when you realize that the 150 coffee beans are bouncing up and down at least three feet off the floor, creating chaos and bedlam on the coffee aisle;

3. Should the other people on the coffee aisle start slipping, tripping, and falling on the 150 coffee beans (which by now have merrily bounced their way down the complete length of the aisle) do not continue to holler more ugly cuss words since you've already offended and shocked everybody with the "Holy Shit!" epithet;

4. Don't even THINK about getting down on the floor to try cleaning up all the errant coffee beans...

.... JUST GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE AS FAST AS YOU CAN, no matter what insults Blaine is emitting.


And then there was that dreadful Changing Room Incident.

Okay, as everybody knows, I... uh.... can sometimes lose my temper a little bit.

(Let's not go there, okay?)

(Thanks... where was I?)

Oh yes, the Changing Room Incident.

So one day I was shopping for jeans and I went to the changing room to see how the pairs I had chosen looked on me. The changing room attendant waved me back towards the left end of the two rows of cramped try-on cubicles. I pushed open the door of one cubicle and surprised a lady who was in there with her daughter.

(They must have been shopping for bathing suits because the lady was half nekkid and trying desperately to squeeze herself into a Catalina bathing suit which was obviously too small for her.)

"This cubicle is OCCUPIED!" the furious lady yelled at me. "You should have looked under the door to check before you entered!"

I quickly backed out of the cubicle, apologizing profusely. Then I turned to search for an unoccupied cubicle. I was irritated, thinking to myself that the lady had been overly harsh with me, since people accidentally charging their way into occupied cubicles is a common gaff in the world of trying on clothing.

And then it happened....

I overheard what the lady remarked to her daughter....

"God, what a total DUMBASS," she exclaimed loudly, loud enough for ALL the occupants of the changing room area to hear.

And I know... I know....

Yea, verily....but I know I should have just let it go. And I'm very ashamed at what happened next... but I was feeling rather grumpy that morning and her insults had irked me even further. And then... before I knew it... it just popped out.

"Oh, shut up!" I snapped back at the lady.

And then all hell broke loose....

"What did you say to me?" the lady screeched, bursting out of her cubicle snorting with both nostrils like an angry bull, now completely stuffed into the too-small Catalina bathing suit.

And then the changing room attendant, who had heard the whole exchange, came running in and began berating me loudly like there was no tomorrow.

"How DARE you tell another customer to 'shut up'!?" she exclaimed. "Everybody knows that you are supposed to look under the door of a cubicle to see if it is occupied or not!"

And then, to my utter mortification, the occupants of three other cubicles emerged from their cubicles to add their own scathing criticisms of me!!

"That was SO RUDE!" one of them hissed. "Were you raised in a barn?! You should be banned from Walmart!"

Good God, but had I just instigated an actual riot in the Walmart Women's Changing Rooms?! Could a person be arrested for telling somebody to "shut up" in Walmart? And so, in a panic, I dropped the jeans and fled, my face burning red as a beet with embarassment. (And so I didn't get any jeans that day...)

(Yeah, I know... But have no fear, because my temper is a frequent uncomfortable topic in my sessions with Fred. His exact (and embarassing) diagnosis for that type of my behavior is "Bo goes back to Junior High.")

(Fred's favorite saying to me about how other people perceive me is "You are not what you FEEL; you are what you DO.)

(Which, when I think about it, is really scary......)



And then there was the Men's Underwear Incident, which I maintain here and now is Walmart's fault.

Blaine and I were shopping together one day and I had insisted that I be the one to push the cart. And I've talked about this before--- about how Blaine doesn't like it when I'm the one who's pushing the cart. He complains that I "don't look where I am going" and crash into things--- and he calls me disparaging names like "Crash McGoon", which really irks the daylights out of me.

I mean, it's not like I've ever had a four-cart collision, you know? For God's sakes it's only a dang Walmart cart. So what if I lightly brush against a few objects here and there? And for that matter, I think that Walmart should install Stop Signs at certain dangerous intersections, like the one between the bakery and the produce section.

(The lady who went.... uh... headfirst into the Valencia Oranges bin was quite understanding about the whole thing.)

Anyhoo, there we were that day, shopping in the clothing area, and Blaine was AGAIN moaning and groaning about how I can't "drive" the cart right.

"Holy Hannah and I'll swoney!" I exclaimed, losing patience with him and this whole issue. "You are such an ass! We've been in here for nearly two hours and I haven't touched one single thing with this cart---and yet here you are griping!"

And then I pushed the cart right smack dab into a rack of men's long underwear.


Naturally, I was utterly exasperated by this appalling turn of events--- and so I attempted to clear my way out of the whole mess by madly thrusting long underwear aside while roughly jerking my cart clear, totally not realizing that one of the rather large, multiple-page cardboard price-tags of one of the underwear pairs had entangled itself on my cart.....

And then, after I'd made a couple hard tugs on my cart--- and to my horror--- the whole entire rack of that damnable underwear suddenly tipped over, coming perilously close to falling completely over--- and I had to grab it to keep it upright, at which point I managed to shove my cart away where it promptly knocked to the ground several packages of men's boxer briefs which had been stacked on a nearby shelf--- all of which caused such a commotion that every Walmart customer within 100 feet stopped and stared, all while Blaine laughed his head off....

(I'd really like to forget that whole incident.)

(Sigh again....)


And, unfortunately, there is another thing I do at Walmart which causes all who know me to come to the belief that I am as nutty as a fruitcake. (And whether or not I truly AM as nutty as a fruitcake is beside the point.) And I am confounded on what to do about this issue because it's something which is totally automatic and natural to me.

It is that I talk to myself out loud as I shop. And I don't mean mumbling a few "hmmm's" or "that's nice" comments here and there. No, I have entire conversations with myself. I also argue with myself, berate myself, tell myself jokes, and ponder a plethora of issues with myself.

But surely I'm not the only person who has ever talked to herself in Walmart? Surely there's others??

I never thought anything about it, to tell you the truth. I mean, who cares? So big deal, I've said things out loud like "I wonder if I should get this frozen pizza that's on sale? No, the last time I got it Blaine said it gave him diarrhea...", or else

"Good Lord, would you look at the price of Poppin' Fresh Biscuits?! Hell, I can make my own with Bisquik for a lot less than that---and, frankly, I wish someone would take a rolling pin to that idgity-looking Pillsbury Dough Boy...", or else

"I wonder if anybody will notice that I've got twice the number of items for the '20-items-or-less' cashier? Naaah, that guy behind me looks dumber than a box of rocks...."

And a good friend of mine, Carrie, who has caught me talking to myself in Walmart on more than one occasion, states that I look like a "complete looney toon" when I'm doing it.

But what the hell--- I don't care what people think. Looney toon or not, it's a free country, dammit.

Where in the heck was I going with all this?

Oh yeah, I'm wondering if I should show my face at Walmart so soon after the Coffee Aisle Incident. I really do need those little crimp loop thingies.


There are three Walmart's in Overland Park. I've only shopped at two of them. There is that third one on Metcalf....

Yeah, that's it. I'll go to that one....



Monday, October 12, 2009

At Least I Admit It...


Okay, I admit it. I cry at the sentimental parts of movies.

The problem is, most people consider the particular times I cry during certain movies as ridiculous. They say I cry at "the stupidest things"---that I'm too sentimental---and that I'm too emotional. They also can't understand how in the heck a cartoon-movie could move somebody to tears. (But hey, I ask you, WHO DIDN'T CRY when Bambi lost his mother?)

But I'll let you be the judge.

Here are the times I've bawled during a particular part of a movie--- which caused whichever one of my ex-husbands or friends who was with me a load of embarrassment:

1. I cried when the stupid chickens finally flew their haphazardly-made airplane over the fence of the chicken farm in "Chicken Run". I was married to the biker man at the time and he and every kid in the theater turned to look at me with total disgust when I burst out crying while saying: "They made it! They finally made it!"

2. I cried during "Beverly Hills Chihuaha" when Delgado got his police dog badge back. Blaine looked at me like I was a nut.

3. Lord Jesus, but I totally (and I mean TOTALLY) bawled my silly head off during "Homeward Bound--The Incredible Journey" when I thought the old dog wasn't going to come home. But then, at the last second, the good ole dog appears, loping tiredly over the hill, and his kid sees him.....OH HELL, I'm bawling NOW just THINKING ABOUT IT!!

4. Okay, I bawled in "The English Patient" when he flew her body home. I thought that was so romantic.

5. I sobbed during the award ceremony in the first Star Wars movie, when Princess Leia gave the medals to Luke, Han, and Chewie. I mean, I bawled for the entire time they walked down that aisle. And all the friends I was with kept trying to shove popcorn-butter-soaked napkins into my hands, trying to shut me up.

6. I cried hard during "The Perfect Storm" when that one sailor, who was about to drown, said: "My kid is gonna take this hard..." (but wouldn't you cry at that part?)

7. I cried during "The Deep Blue Sea" when, as the floating sea research facility was flooding with water, a bottle of booze floated by LL Cool J and his pet parrot (and LL Cool J was playing a chef who was a recovering alcoholic) and he was highly tempted to drink it.....but he decided to be noble in the situation and didn't succomb to the temptation. (Um.... let me admit a little secret here. If I thought that me and my pet parrot were about to DIE by being chomped by genetically mutated sharks, I'm sorry but--recovering alcoholic or not---I'd drink the damn booze!!!! Man, I would totally grab that bottle...I would drink that stuff so I'm sorry. Where was I?)

8. I totally BAWLED out loud in the theater during "Toy Story", when Buzz and Woody finally made it onto the moving van truck. Again.... every dumb ass kid in the stupid theater looked at me like I was a crazy loon. And I got mad and yelled out: "So what!?? Didn't you ever have a Mr. Potato Head or a Barbie or something that you loved?"

9. I cried during "Date With An Angel" when the angel came flying in, in all her glory, to rescue her boyfriend from the totally insane Phoebe Cates.

10. I cried during "The Boy Who Could Fly" when his little brother FINALY made it around the block and triumphed over the neighborhood bullies. Hey, don't laugh---that dang movie was GOOD. My mother didn't believe it until she watched it herself---and even she had to admit it was heartwarming...

11. Okay, I cried during "Ernest Saves Christmas", too.

(Yes, I know---I just admitted that I watch "Ernest" movies..... * q


Friday, October 02, 2009

Hey, I Gave It My Best Shot....


* (By the way, Anonymouses, you're starting to get on my nerves....and also, my friend Amy has asked me to stop responding to your nonsense. And I value my friend Amy---so BACK OFF. The party's OVER, ya hear me? I'm changing the subject.)


A lot of people have asked me recently about why I don't like Blaine's parents---especially his mother--- and why I went into total rebellion mode when they visited this past week, where I hid in my room for most of their visit. (Which, of course, is one of the rudest sins one could commit against guests in one's home.)

And yes, I know that I have a reputation for being a scrapper---and that I can be irritable on certain principles that I hold dear to my heart---but I promise you, hand over my heart, that 99% of the time I am a very loving person, using my best southern manners to everyone I encounter with a true desire to get along with all of the people in my little world. And for 16 years I truly gave my very best shot for a decent relationship with Blaine's mother.

But it wasn't to be---no matter how hard I tried. Blaine's parents never gave me a break and treated me like a dog for 16 years, criticizing everything I ever did/said/wore/or talked about.

Blaine's mother is the worst. That woman defies all manner of compatibility, no matter how much one grovels at her feet---and believe me, I have groveled at her feet plenty over the years.

But this time, when I returned from Texas after two long train trips in the space of one month, one after the other--- first after the tragedy of my grandmother's death, and then second after going to Dallas for some birthday celebrations--- I was more than EXHAUSTED.

I was shellshocked and fatigued, having experienced a myriad of emotions in a short period of time---from despair at my Mamo's death to happiness for my sister's family during their birthday event---and I had no emotional defenses left for the usual ugly treatment of me by Blaine's parents.

It all started in 1993. I'll just list everything in chronological order, beginning with the first day I ever met her, in the days before Blaine and I got married at Lake Tahoe, NV. And I'll let you make the judgment of whether or not I tried "enough" over the years to get along with her (and paid enough "dues")--- or whether or not you think I was a complete jerk this past week when I committed the ultimate "southern manners" sin of being a bad hostess.

1. (First night I met her, two days before Blaine and I were to be married in 1993, when I offered to make the family dinner and made my Texas Country-Style Stew recipe.) She took one bite and asked loudly: "Why is there RED in the stew? What in the heck would make it RED?"

This remark mortified me. I was raised "Southern", where every child is indoctrinated that the worst sin in the world is to criticize a lady's cooking. In fact, you are taught that you must actively COMPLIMENT the hostess' food, no matter WHAT!---even if you're served dog shit on a plate! Per my southern upbringing, I ignored Blaine's mother's horrid remark and kept politely chatting around the table with various other relatives there---but the harpy REPEATED the remark even LOUDER! And then when I ignored it again, she repeated it again LOUDER so that everybody HAD to acknowledge it. (And the other relatives looked horrified as well.) Finally, I quietly replied: "There are some tomatoes and a little bit of tomato sauce in the stew."

But she kept muttering about the "redness" of the stew the rest of the meal.

This.....was only the beginning....

2. (Over a period of the next 4 years of Blaine's and my marriage) Every single solitary meal I ever cooked, she would ask about the ingredients. Her pet peeve was cumin. She would always ask: "Does this dressing have cumin in it? I hate the taste of cumin." For FOUR solid years!!! And the only thing I ever put cumin in was chili and Indian food! And I had never served her chili or Indian food!

When I complained to Blaine he said she truly didn't like cumin and wasn't trying to be critical. But I didn't think so. I knew she knew exactly what she was doing and was intentionally trying to be rude to me. So finally I got so tired of her asking if my dishes had cumin in it that I decided to play a trick on her to prove to Blaine that I was right---to prove that she WAS just trying to be rude.

So I made a grand meal for a holiday one year--- and I put cumin in everything. I mean, I put that damn cumin in EVERYTHING. I even put cumin in the fruit salad and the hot rolls. I even sprinkled it in the ice tea. But at dinner I sweetly informed her that I had respected her wishes and hadn't put cumin in anything. Sure enough---after she finished eating-- she praised everything, saying: "FINALY, at last, your food is much better because you have stopped adding cumin to your dishes. Cumin is such a bitter spice and it ruins the flavor of anything it is put in."

Yes, I did laugh my ass off later, privately, after everybody had left and I was alone with Blaine---and confessed to him what I had done. (He just rolled his eyes....)

3. She has always talked bad about me when she's within earshot of me! I mean, she actually WANTS me to hear her! And other people near me hear it, too! But never once have I said: "I can hear you....."

4. And then last winter, tragedy struck. She had to have knee surgery---and her husband is elderly and incapable of helping a heavy sick woman who can't walk. And not one of her four children would agree to go take care of her, which I found sad. And then, two days after surgery, she developed a severe complication--- post-op pneumonia, which can be fatal to elderly people. Still....none of her children would go take care of her. And add insult to injury.....her doctor solemnly informed her that her recent breast biopsy was positive for cancer. She would need a mastectomy as soon as possible after she recovered from the pneumonia, when her lungs could tolerate anesthesia again.

She was so very sick. And none of her children would take care of her. And so, being a nurse, my nursing oaths simply would not allow me to leave an elderly lady to languish without good nursing care. Her situation was lifethreatening. And so, without hesitation, I paid $900 to go on the damn Amtrak train to dadgum New York to take care of her myself. (It was $900 because I travel in those little rooms on the train---and I'm frightened to death of New York because it's so big.)

But when I got there, she treated me like a yard dog for the entire time I was there! One time, she asked for some chicken noodle soup. I set the pot down on the stove and God forbid but I set it down on the big burner, even though it was a smallish pot. She actually screamed at me: "Don't you know you NEVER put a small pot on a big burner?" And then when her husband came in from shoveling snow she immediately (before he took his coat off) screamed at him: "Bo doesn't know how to use a stove! She put a small pot on a big burner!"

But back to me making the damn soup. When I put the soup into a bowl I said: "Hold on a second, and let me put this bowl on a saucer or something so you can hold it in your lap." And then I reached into their plate cabinet and grabbed the first small plate I could see. I put the soup bowl on it and then took the soup into where she was sitting, in front of the TV.

Twice, she made me take the soup back to the kitchen and remove some of the noodles. (Like Campbell's really puts "too many" noodles in their soup, but what do I know?.....)

Then suddenly, while she was loudly sipping her soup, she stopped in mid sip and a light came into her eyes---as if she had just thought of something extremely urgent.

"Bo!" she screamed. "You called this plate a saucer!"

"Um....and so?....." I said, wondering what in the hell she was going to complain about this time.

"This IS NOT a saucer!" she bellowed. "It's a luncheon plate! Don't you know the difference between a saucer and a luncheon plate?"

By now I was getting angry and so I just sat there, biting my tongue, looking at her with a blank expression on my face. But she persisted.

"I asked you a question, Bo!" she continued stubbornly. "Do you or do you NOT know the difference between a saucer and a luncheon plate?"

Of course I do know the difference but I wasn't going to play her game. And no way was I going to answer that question. So I simply asked her: "Do you want me to take the luncheon plate away and get you a bonafide saucer?"

5. Also the whole time I was in New York taking care of her complaining ass, she criticized my beloved Bass Pro Shop rubber fishing boots. One night, after I'd pulled them on in preparation to go and get her some take-out pizza, she forbad me to wear the blasted boots. God, the fight we had over that---and she actually took her own sneakers off her feet and commanded me to wear THEM instead of the rubber boots. Finally, after I'd had enough of the arguing, I pronounced with finality: "There is TWO FEET of snow on the ground---I'm wearing the boots!"

6. The whole week I was taking care of her after her surgery she made me sit on the floor. Yes, the floor. During her convalescence, she always laid on the couch in her little back room where she watched TV during the day--- and the only other sitting furniture in there was her husband's chair. Since she always laid down full length on the couch it wasn't possible for me to sit there. And she instructed me NOT to sit in her husband's chair as "he didn't like anybody but him to sit in it"---even though he stayed the whole week watching TV in their living room! And when I asked about bringing another chair in, she said: "I don't think there's anything that we can move conveniently....."

Yeah, I sat on that damn drafty floor for a week. And when you have three stress fractures and chronic arthritis in your horribly painful back from 22 years of lifting patients during a nursing career, sitting on the floor is excruciatingly uncomfortable. I knitted socks to try and keep my mind off the pain. And she made fun of my knitting with handpainted yarn, TOO!!!!

7. Since I was brought up southern, I have the southern "good manners" habit of cleaning my room when I have been a guest. So on my last day as a guest in their house, I stripped the sheets off my bed to launder them, and then I re-made the bed with fresh sheets. I also cleaned the bathroom that I had used. I also dusted and swept/mopped. When I was finished, it was spic and span clean, like I had never there.

But she wouldn't let me launder the sheets. Instead, she told her husband: "Bo probably doesn't know how to use a washing machine and dryer, and I don't want her messing them up. So you do them."

And when Blaine's mom noticed the cleaning I was doing in the guest room and guest bathroom on my last day there, she said: "And when you clean my own bathroom, make sure to get under the raised toilet seat."

Well guess what, I thought to myself. There's not a damn thing in the "Southern Lady's Handbook of Good Manners" that says I have to clean any area but where I stayed. So I most certainly did NOT clean her other bathroom. (I would have if she'd been nice to me but by now I was so pissed off that I wanted nothing more than to get on that Amtrak train just as fast as I could.)

But when Blaine's parents left our house this past week, after having been our guests for nearly a week, they left the bed unmade, messy, and with the comforter and sheets lying half on the bed and half draping onto the floor. And I noticed that Blaine's mother had used my Elizabeth Arden shampoo and conditioner that I had hidden in my bathroom. And the sink was filthy.

8. During their visit this past week (if you read my recent Twitter posts about it) Blaine's mother heard me talking about how the doctor wanted me to lose some weight to get rid of my high blood sugar from diabetes. She remarked: "But if you lose weight your face will get jowls!!"

Thanks a lot, I thought to myself. I've never had jowls no matter how much I've weighed but perhaps she knows something I don't? And yeah, why lose the weight the doctor told me to do? Why don't I just frigging DIE OF DIABETES??????

When I carelessly replied that I "didn't care" if I developed jowls, she actually seemed to become enraged, hollering out loud: "You mean you don't care about your OWN FACE?"

9. But the worse thing she did to me was the following:

Earlier, before their visit here, when she found out I was going to Texas (both for my Grandmother's death and also later on for my sister's birthday party for her children), she kept insisting to Blaine that he needed to "arrange it" for her and her husband to come visit me at my mother's house while I was down there!! She didn't even ask ME---or my MOTHER! And she's NEVER even met my mother or spoken to her!! But she kept insisting on it to Blaine, over and over. Her excuse was that they were "thinking of a driving trip to see San Antonio and the Alamo--which is only a few hundred miles from Bo's mother's house..." She was totally IGNORANT of the fact that in the south, you absolutely NEVER ask somebody you don't know if you can come visit! You need an invitation. And neither myself nor my mother had issued any sort of invitation.

Especially after we had experienced a death in the family!

But no, she kept bugging Blaine about it. But every time Blaine told me she had asked about it again, I told Blaine that it "wasn't a good time". I told him my mother was in mourning after her mother's death and that we would be doing "too much traveling back and forth from Louisiana and two different Texas cities, including Dallas, to entertain guests at my mother's house."

Blaine didn't buy it and got quite impatient with me for this. He told me he suspected that I "didn't like his parents"---which is true, but I wasn't going to admit it to him. So I held fast and stuck to my story that "it's not a good time".

And yes.... the reality was that there is NO WAY IN HELL that I would allow that critical, rude woman to come down there and visit my beautiful, artistic mother's fantastically lovely house, interrupting my tranquil and enjoyable visits with my mother. Especially since Blaine's mother and father yell at each other all day long, screechingly loud, a la George Costanza's parents on "Seinfeld"---for REAL!!! They really sound like those two! Plus, I knew Blaine's mother only wanted to visit because of her morbid curiosity about my mother---and that she would be critical of my mother's art and carry back cruel and unkind gossip about it to her family and friends.

And so I triumphed in preventing her from coming to my mom's house in Texas. But she wouldn't let it die.....nooooooo, she wouldn't. So, the night she and her husband arrived at me and Blaine's last week, the absolute first, most astonishing thing she did was to put me on the spot, saying: "Why couldn't we stop at your house in Texas? Do you know that we were actually IN your mother's town--in an uncomfortable motel?"

But I didn't give a shit. And from her angry statement I knew that she had tried to force the issue with Blaine until the last possible moment--even going so far as to drive hundreds of miles out of her way to my Mother's town to see if Blaine would capitulate at the last minute. And so began my final rebellion. And also because of that completely discourteous and ill-mannered audaciousness of hers, I finally developed the cojones to stand up to her--- and I looked her right in her beady eyes and firmly told her that a social visit would not have been possible due to "circumstances".

I also told her that southern mourning can last "a couple of years". (And I had also secured my dear mother's promise that Blaine's mother would NEVER be allowed to darken her doors.)

* * * * *

Now, lest you think that I'm just a bitter daughter-in-law who likes to do the proverbial cliche thing of bitching about her mother-in law, let me tell you what all I have done throughout the years to try and garner her love (because it's true---for 16 years I sincerely tried in vain to get along with her):

1. Sent her umpteen bouquets of flowers for occasions;

2. Sent her umpteen presents of expensive jewelry;

3. Kissed her ass constantly, complimenting her over and over;

4. Defended her when Blaine said something disrespectful to her or said a cussword in her presence (yes, I have actually yelled at him in front of her, telling him NOT to cuss in her presence or talk to her in a disrespectful fashion as she is his mother, and mothers are sacred beings);

5. Never forgotten her birthday;

6. And I made very humble "amends" and apologies to her (per AA dictates) when I got sober.

But when they came this past week, I'd had it with all her shenanigans. In fact, I had had it so much that I did break my inbred southern manners' traditions. Yes, I did. I committed the unforgiveable southern sin....

I was a bad hostess.

For 4 out of the 6 days they were here, I hid in the bedroom pleading "illness" and a "nerve" problem. Blaine was totally pissed off at me. He got so mad at me that he actually called MY OWN MOTHER in Texas to tattle on me!!!

(But evidently my mother defended me because he dropped the issue after that phone call and just wearily explained to his parents that I was "sick".
) (Thank you, Mother. I knew you would understand....)

But he told me later that it was a family scandal that would "take years to be forgotten".

But I don't care.

Because I kept my sanity throughout the ordeal, ya know?

And besides, I had secretly called Fred, my therapist, and told him the whole thing. He said it was okay what I did, and that what I had done was an acceptable "self-preservation coping skill during a toxic situation."

And if I have Fred's blessings, that's all I need.



Thursday, October 01, 2009

Hell Must Have Frozen Over....


Well, I'm home from Texas....and I admit that I'm a little blue about it. I miss my family....

Before I left I took the above picture of that other fountain Mother is building. I took the picture at night because the candles are so pretty. She still has some work to do on it, like putting a blue tile mosicing outline around the edges and also a structure to hide the pump--- but you can already tell it's going to be really beautiful. And she may put a larger bell in that top alcove.

And then I came home on the good ole Amtrak train. (I have a love--hate relationship with that damn train line) And I wore my new hat--- so I don't think any of the other passengers had any doubts about which state I was coming from....

And then, when I got home, I found that the dang "bubble" is still here. I wish I knew what that thing was. I've taken pictures all over the house but I never catch "bubbles" in any other room---only up there at the top of the stairs. Weird, isn't it?

Anyway, the reason hell must have frozen over is that I am actually knitting something.....(don't faint, now).... that is plain gray.

Yes, you heard me right----the Queen of Psychedelic Knitting is actually knitting a gray sweater out of Cascade Eco wool. It knits quickly which is nice. And it has a nice "hand" and texture, knitted on size 10 needles. Even Blaine liked it and asked me to knit him one in the solid gray. But he NEVER wears sweaters---maybe once a year. So I just don't know......

But....never let it be said that I don't put my personal touch on all my knitted items, whether psychedelic or plain gray. So since this sweater is going to be a cardigan (an oversized, baggy, comfy one), I bought some buttons for the front, and some smaller ones to put along the sides of each sleeve cuff. And I'm thinking of putting red patch pockets on it, too......

Yeah, I know.

Blaine laughed, too....