Archive for the ‘Memory Lane’ Category


Posted: January 13, 2011 in Memory Lane

Linking to a post I wrote before, because I wrote it well enough then and I still feel that way now. So why write it again? Ain’t broke, not fixing.

February 7, 2003 – All Around

(p.s. – Beware the “Laura” and “Calvin” thing. Ah, those were the days.)


But I mean, well, GOD! Look at that, would you? We had that for our Christmas dinner and everybody FELL ON THE FLOOR DEAD, it was that good. And the gravy? That was supposed to be au jus but I thickened it? Was the BEST DAMNED GRAVY I have EVER made. I would totally take a bath in that gravy. And lick it all off when I got out.

(Head’s up, this is where the swearing and the all caps starts.)

Oh, ha. Speaking of gravy. Did I ever tell you guys this story? Back when Bill and I first got together – like, the first MONTH we were together, we were making fried chicken for dinner. He asked me if I knew how to make gravy. At that time, I did not. Because:

1. My ex didn’t like gravy (I KNOW, RIGHT);
2. My Grandmother had never taught me because she was the Gravy Maker Extraordinare and Get Thee Hence From My Kitchen You Amateur;
3. I usually stuck with buffalo wings and plates of asparagus when I was single;
4. I was 23 years old. How many 23-year-olds do you know that know how to make gravy from scratch, I ask you?

So. We’re in the kitchen, puzzling until our puzzlers were sore. He looked at me, looked at the drippings, looked at the phone, and visibly came to a decision. As I watched in growing HORROR, he picked up the phone, DIALED HIS EX-WIFE (who wasn’t actually officially “ex” yet, at the time) and ASKED HER HOW TO MAKE GRAVY. I could hear her incredulous, “You’re kidding, right?” from across the kitchen. But, here’s the thing. She told him, step by step, and didn’t include such waylaying ingredients as, oh, say, HEMLOCK. Which was nice. BUT, she told him in a mocking manner that was all, “Oh HO, you’re new pretty little plaything doesn’t know how to do EVERYTHING that makes you happy, does she?” Which was NOT nice. I don’t blame her, but still. Hey now.

(Of course, if I have to teach Bill’s next little chippie how to make my meatloaf, I’m gonna be all, “… and then you add a half-cup of chopped pickled herring… yes really! Trust me…”)

Anyway. He hung up, I beat him about the head and shoulders, and we made a passable gravy. And then, OH AND THEN, BY GOD, I learned how to make fucking gravy. BETTER gravy. Absolutely fucking AWESOME goddamn motherfucking gravy.

(End swearing/all caps zone.)


New Year’s Eve is upon us. We are foregoing the partying, but probably not foregoing the hangover. Just gonna hang at home and watch movies, and feed whoever shows up. Here’s the planned nosh, in case you need some inspiration for your own festivities:

Bruchetta with toast points
Buffalo Chicken Dip, with tortilla chips and celery
Cheese Enchilada Chowder
– Finger sandwiches (chicken salad, ham, whatnot)
Four Bean Salad
– Chips and pretzels and whatnot

Of course, if you happen to be in the area, you can drop on by! Pajamas are encouraged. Pants are optional.


Posted: December 27, 2010 in insomnia, Memory Lane
Tags: ,

It’s 2:30 in the ay-em, and I’ve been awake since 1:15. I don’t think anyone ever greets bouts of insomnia with enthusiasm. So, dammit.

I’ve suffered with insomnia off and on for my entire life. I distinctly recall weekends spent at my aunt and uncle’s home – they lived the next town over and took me for the weekend at least once a month, from the time I was about two or three, until my teenage years. My aunt would make up the living room couch for me, and everyone in the household went to bed at 9:00. The lights would switch off, goodnight’s would be called, and in very short order I’d hear my uncle’s distinct snore rumbling from down the hall. I’d try to settle my mind to sleeping, and was just never able to manage it. I’d listen to the clock tick, stare out the window at the streetlight, and wait and wait and wait. Sometimes I would cry in frustration – sleeplessness is, after all, an entirely lonely, solitary, frustrating occupation.

Sometimes I would get up and sit in the kitchen with a glass of water, and my aunt would find me just sitting there, blinking, in the dim light coming from the stove lamp. She’d fix me a cup of chamomile tea, sit at the counter while I sipped at it, then usher me back into the living room and tuck me back in. And there I’d lay, blinking at the lightening horizon, until I heard my uncle’s alarm go off and everyone would roll out to start the day. Every time I stayed with them, I walked into the visit with the knowledge that I would get exactly zero sleep – or, any sleep I managed to grab was during afternoon naps laying across the foot of my aunt’s bed, on her folded wedding ring quilt.

I never could explain – to them or to myself – why I could never sleep when I visited them. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the worst news I’d ever received in my young life – that of my mother’s passing, and that of Brad’s passing – occurred at that house, while I was visiting them. That I was there at the time of my mother’s passing was intentional – I was left in my aunt and uncle’s safekeeping while the family dealt with my mother’s hospital stay, surgery, and eventual passing. That I was there when Brad died was just an unhappy coincidence – his accident just happened to occur on one of my weekends with them.

I was also never able to sleep at my friend Elizabeth’s house. As is often the case for kids living in the sticks, weekend sleepovers were common. I’d stay at her place on Friday night, right “off the bus” from school. Then her mom would drive us to Grandma’s in the early afternoon, and she’d stay at my house on Saturday night. Grandma would haul our butts to church on Sunday (this was before she became a Witness and we were attending a Baptist church), and Elizabeth would be dropped back off at home after the service. On the nights I stayed with Elizabeth, more often than not it was my asthma that kept me awake. Back in those days inhalers were little more effective than Primatine Mist, and since she had an abundance of pets AND her home was heated primarily with a wood stove, I was never really able to breathe well. I could handle it for the most part during the day, when our adventures took us outside, and when I was upright.

But at night, laying down, things quickly escalated to the point of near panic. So I would sit outside in the middle of the night, on their front steps in the weak light of their porch lamp, brace my arms behind me and shoulders climbing to my ears to help expand my lungs. I’d do the breathing exercises my doctor taught me, listen to the crickets if it was summer or shiver my ass off if it was winter, and wait and wait and wait. Many times Elizabeth’s mother caught me creeping in or out, and her cure for what ailed me was a hot cup of chamomile. She’d sit me down in the kitchen, or she’d bring it to me out on the steps, she’d pat my head and tell me not to wander around in the middle of the night, and she’d go back to sleep. Leaving me to sip, and stare, and breathe.

Sleeplessness happened less often at my own home, but when it did it wasn’t nearly the exercise in loneliness and frustration that it seemed to be elsewhere. I would simply switch on my bedside lamp, choose a book from my bookshelf, and wile away the hours. Or I’d quietly let myself out the back door and into the screen house in the back yard, where I would sit and breathe and listen to the night sounds. Occasionally my Grandmother, who was a light sleeper, would discover my awake state, and she’d fix me a mug of chamomile tea. We’d sit together in the screen house, or at the kitchen table, and she’d stay up and talk with me until I finished every drop. She’d ask me if I was sleepy, and if I was she’d tuck me back in, kiss my forehead, turn off my light, and leave my bedroom door open a crack. If I wasn’t sleepy she’d tell me to “keep my butt inside the house”, then tuck me in with my book and a glass of water, hunt up the cat and deposit him on the foot of my bed, kiss my forehead, and leave my bedroom door open a crack.

Tonight – this morning – I’m awake yet again. The routine hasn’t changed all that much, I just address my sleepless state with a great deal less frustration than I used to. It’s an opportunity for me to read, or surf the web, or watch something I DVR’ed. Tonight, I have a warm ball of purring cat at my side, an itch to write, and a hot mug of chamomile tea. Funny thing is, I don’t particularly like the taste of chamomile. Some things are just ingrained, I guess.

Here’s the one from 2009, and here’s the one from 2008. And I just realized that for BOTH years I spelled it “pictoral” instead of “pictorial”. WHATEVER. I’m whimsical, okay?

This, by far, is NOT a full and all-inclusive list of everything that went down in this busy, BUSY year. It’s just a few selections that had photographs to accompany the memories.


There was a leak and we realized we needed a new roof:

I had several photography gigs:


I FINALLY made Boeuf Bourguignon:


Bill and I went to Oro Valley, hiked in Catalina State Park, and SAW A BOBCAT!

An awesome day, that included a visit to the zoo, made me cry:


We went to Flagstaff, stayed in a haunted hotel, and saw the live raptor program at the Arboretum:

Aaaaand Billy bought some… stuff… for the zombie apocolypse:


We observed body painting in progress:

Zoe flirted with me:


I started my second sabbatical:

Bill and I went to Payson:


We went to Maine and it was the best vacation back home yet:

We also fell in love with this stuff:


I went back to work:

Bill and I attended MotoGP in Indianapolis with TB and Dys:


I got a new camera:


Another month, another gig:

We lost Grandpa Ed:


I wrote some entries about some of the things I love:

There was Thanksgiving and a puppy:


I met some new boozes:

And some new treats:

And now we’re heading onwards and upwards into 2011. My hopes for the coming year are to pay off as much debt as I can, get a Jeep (yes, I’m aware that’s counter-intuitive to the first point), get my ass to Maine, get my ass to Indy, and get my ass fit.

What are your hopes and plans for the coming year?

Saving the dreams

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Memory Lane, Waking Mind

I’m terminating my Waking Mind site, so I’m just transferring the handful of entries to this post for posterity.


I came across a portion of our collection of newspapers the other day while cleaning.

President Kennedy is assassinated, Johnson becomes President - paper dated 11/23/63.

President Kennedy is assassinated, Johnson becomes President - paper dated 11/23/63.

The first man walks on the moon - paper dated 07/21/69.

The first man walks on the moon - paper dated 07/21/69.

The world ushers in the next millennium - paper dated 01/01/2000.

The world ushers in the next millennium - paper dated 01/01/2000.

Attack on the World Trade Center - paper dated 09/12/01.

Attack on the World Trade Center - paper dated 09/12/01.

Diamondbacks win the World Series - paper dated 11/05/01.

Diamondbacks win the World Series - paper dated 11/05/01.

The War in Iraq begins - paper dated 03/20/03.

The War in Iraq begins - paper dated 03/20/03.

Saddam Hussein is captured - paper dated 12/15/03.

Saddam Hussein is captured - paper dated 12/15/03.

Obama is elected President - paper dated 11/05/08.

Obama is elected President - paper dated 11/05/08.

Remember I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I’d be at the other AcronymCo campus for my Six Sigma training? It so happens that my ex-husband’s sister works at that campus. The weekend before the training (the 7th), while digging around in the devastation that we like to call our “storage room” (formerly Robert’s bedroom) I came across an old Bible of my ex-husband’s, that had been signed and gifted to him from his grandmother. Now, if someone had discovered something like that of mine, I’d sure hope they’d be kind enough to give it back to me. So, with that thought in mind, I e-mailed my former sister-in-law (on the 9th), told her I’d be on her campus that week, and asked if she’d like me to return the Bible.

She responded back on the 10th, and said that they had a ton of such Bibles in their possession (I guess it was a “thing” for their grandmother to give them one quite frequently), so they didn’t need it back. She did say, though, that her parents, in the course of packing up their belongings to move to a property of their own (they’d been living in a travel trailer on my FSIL’s property for quite some time, I believe), came across some of my “childhood mementos” that they wanted to return to me.

I immediately responded in the affirmative, intensely curious about what those mementos might include. After all, I thought that my ex had destroyed everything of mine that he had in his possession (for some entertaining reading on THAT saga, head here and here – remember that I was “Laura” and Bill was “Calvin” at that time). She said she’d drop the stuff off at my desk the next time she was at my campus.

Back on November 14th I posted about the dolls that Grandma used to have on her bed, and talked about how I used to hang out in her bed and play with those dolls.

Then on the 16th, just two days later, I came back to my desk after a training class and found a large envelope on my chair. Inside were the mementos FSIL returned to me – a photography project from high school, some high school essays, the materials from my driver’s ed course (with an hysterical “I’M SO BORED” note that I’d penned to a friend of mine who was in the same course), and a small stack of pictures. Included in the pictures were shots from a trip to California that I’d taken with my Grandmother back when I was around ten or twelve, a few shots of me with some childhood friends and with my cousin Laurel, and this picture:

That’s me on the left and my best friend Kim on the right, in Grandma’s bed one morning after a sleepover, with all of the dolls. There’s two more dolls in the picture than I have in my possession now – they’re either still hanging around at Grandma’s somewhere, or she gave two of them to my sister or my cousin.

Anyway, the timing of my contact with FSIL, my penning of that entry about the dolls, and the receipt of a picture that exactly described what I talked about in the entry, just floored me. I just sat there at my desk looking at that picture, saying “NO WAY!” over and over.

I’ve stated before that I wholeheartedly believe my ex-husband’s family are good people. I know they didn’t participate in or condone the destruction of my belongings, and they were very kind to return this stuff to me. With as much as these kinds of memories have come to mean to me, I’m even more grateful that my ex’s craziness stopped at him.

These cloth dollies used to reside on my grandmother’s bed. When she went to sleep at night they’d be moved to her headboard. She made two, and my mother made two (I don’t know who made which). Some cold mornings, when I was very small, I’d pad into Grandma’s room and get into bed with her (I just heard her voice in my head, “You awake, Tiffy? Come get in here with me.”). We’d lay there and talk for a while, and I’d play with the dolls. She never let me take them out of her room, and ALWAYS when she made the bed, she’d put them back in their place among the pillows.

After Grandma’s funeral, I visited with my Uncle Fred and his girlfriend Simone, who were by that time living in Grandma’s house. I took home two very important mementos that belonged to my grandmother – her recipe book (which is DEFINITELY a “thing I love”), and this particular dolly, which had always been my favorite:

She rode home on the airplane on my lap. I held her and paged through the recipe book and cried. My poor seat neighbor didn’t know what to think.

Not too terribly long afterward (I know I wrote an entry about it but I can’t find it), Uncle Fred sent me a box of stuff. Among the ribbons I won in horseback riding competitions (a satisfactory complement of blues, among the reds, whites, greens, and yellows), a few knick-knacks from my childhood bedroom, and some grade-school papers, were the other three dollies. Simone convinced Fred to part with them, which is tough to do because he’s fiercely protective of anything belonging to Grandma or my mother.

They don’t live on my bed – too much ribbon and lace to tempt the cats into mayhem. They reside in an upstairs closet until the day that I have a guest room, and then they will live on that bed.

They make me happy.

I have very, very few mementos of my early childhood. VERY few. When my mother passed away and I went to live with my grandmother, my sister (then 18) moved into my mother’s home. She lived a lifestyle that was, shall we say, less than gentle on my mother’s possessions. And, too, she was a teenager, with a teen’s lack of respect or care for preserving family mementos. Then, there was a fire that destroyed much of what should have been cherished. My sister salvaged some, and my grandmother had some. Now some is just kind of scattered around Grandma’s house, now inhabited by my Uncle Fred and his girlfriend Simone.

My mother enjoyed “doing” ceramics. She was all about those ceramic rooster statues and wall hangings that were all the rage back in the 70’s (like these – not mine, photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons). She also loved to make ceramic frogs, like the one I wrote about previously, and this little guy pictured above.

The sponge frog lived under my mother’s sink, and held brillo pads and scrubby things. I remember it starkly, clearly, vividly – a background detail of my childhood that never really jumped to the forefront of my mind until I saw this little guy under the sink at Grandma’s house, back when Bill and I stayed there in July (hmm, I have yet to write that installment of the Maine Saga).

I kind of squee’d, “Hey, I remember that frog!” Simone leaned over my shoulder to see where I was pointing, and said, “Oh, yes, that was your mother’s, would you like to take it home with you?”


So, now he lives on TOP of my sink, holding my kitchen sponge. I look at that little froggy and I think, what a strange thing life is. My mom made him in Maine in the 70’s, he lived under her sink for years, he survived a fire AND my sister, wound up at my Grandmother’s somehow, lived under HER sink for years, and now he’s in Arizona. Fulfilling his froggy duty as a fixture on MY sink.

I don’t know. He just makes me happy.

Taoist Biker put this song in my head today:

It’s one of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs, though I always have wondered at the meaning of the line that I used for today’s title (well, and yeah, a lot of their other lyrics are equally as puzzling). I love almost all of their albums entirely, though I’m not a huge fan of the last one (Coda). I can thank my ex husband specifically for getting me into Zeppelin – one of the few good things that I took away from our relationship.

He had all of Zeppelin’s albums on vinyl, and we’d sit for hours in his room, or mine, and listen to them. And make out, heh. Also, EW. ACK. BLECH.

At our wedding, our first dance was to Thank You. Yeah, because THAT’s what a seventeen year old will pick for her wedding song. Still, it held meaning to us. And now I can listen to THAT song without getting icked out. Growth. Progress.

Hmm. I had little else to say, today, other than Led Zeppelin. I like ’em.

Like TJ said, “It’s NaBloPoMo, and they can’t all be winners.”