Rocket Surgeon: A person with less-than-stellar aptitude. A mixture of "rocket scientist" and "brain surgeon" This phrase describes a person who is neither.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in pictures

It's quiet here this morning.
The falling snow has hushed the world outside.

It's a beautiful snowy day.

I met a friend this morning for breakfast.
Unfortunately he had to eat and run.


Only a few more hours and we turn the page on 2009. 
We've had joys this year. 

Ashlynn was baptized.  What a blessed joy.

I was recognized at work.  A nice pat on the back.

My dorky little story made it as a finalist and placed fourth in a book competition, which means nothing, but it was a fun experience.

We've had sorrows.

We lost a precious one--Dustin Shane.

And gained a precious one--Maxx Shane.
And then lost another, my Aunt Frances.
And then lost another, Jason's Aunt Kala.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Summer invited water balloon fights and crazy kids.

 My brother Steve getting pelted with a balloon.

My Crazy Niece Zoie says heck to the balloons and wields the hose instead.
You gotta do what you gotta do.

Autumn brought grapes, goblins, and bengal tigers.

And lots and lots and lots of leaves.

This Christmas was the best ever for me in terms of contentment.

I did manage to get a tree up in the nick of time.

I have many hopes, dreams, and goals for the coming year.
I love new beginnings.
Fresh starts.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. 
May you have a prosperous 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Everything you ever wanted to know about a Leek, but were afraid to ask

I've been reading this book called "French Women Don't Get Fat". I've been reading the parts I understand anyway.  It's a bestseller and I trust that.  The author Mireille Guiliano (pronounce that if you think you're so smart) claims leeks are magical. 

If you're anything like me, perhaps this will help.
They're hidden on the produce shelf. 
They're a vegetable. 

The skinny French woman has a soup called "Magical Leek Soup".   You are supposed to drink leek broth for 48 hours.  Straight. 
Leek Broth, doesn't that sound yummy?
 If you get hungry, you eat the leeks with a little olive oil drizzled, until the 2nd day's supper, then you have a little fish or meat with some veggies. I'm thinking fried taters and gravy qualifies after 48 hours of leek broth.

And that my friends is why I'm reading this book.

This 48 hour cleansing is the jump start to a great lifestyle change.  Kinda sounds a little like starvation if you ask me, but who am I to question the French?

Yet, there is something about magical leeks that appeal to me. 

I like magic. 
Birthday candle blowing magic, shooting star wishing magic, genie bottle rubbing magic.

I could use a little magic around here. 

For starters, I'd like to:

Magically-have-Ed-McMahan-ring-my-doorbell.  Wait.  Is he dead?

There's just no limit what these leeks might do for me.

I called the grocery store to make sure they carried them before I ventured out.  They did, they were hidden but they were there.  I was curious to how fresh they were.  I pondered how often people buy these things. 

 I had to watch a video on how to prepare them.

I couldn't help but wonder where they've been all my life.

But truthfully, I didn't wonder too hard.

I really didn't think I could handle the Leek Broth.  I know my limitations. Thankfully, the skinny french woman has a recipe on her website for Leek Mozarella with a lovely picture, so I decided why not get a jumpstart on my new year's resolution and prepare a healthy vegetable.

I'm thinking anything covered in cheese has got to be tasty.
Anything that looks like a pasta dish from Pizza Hut surely is yum-o.

Evidently the leek is from the onion family. You only use the white part of the vegetable.

Which means all this goes in the trash. Doesn't that seem like such a waste?  I was half-way raised by my Grannie, who was half-way raised during the Depression. She would have never thrown these out. The skinny French woman says they can be saved and made into stock. But okay, we're talking about me here.  So into the trash they went.

Then you boil the white parts, after you rinse well, because there's a lot of dirt in there.  That's because they're a vegetable, and vegetables grow in dirt.

Kinda looks like a cross between onions and celery, with a severe case of hypothyroidism.

Here's the recipe, if'n you're interested.

2 pounds leeks, white parts only
1 cup fresh basil leaves (I didn't have this of course.  We're talking about me here.)
8 ounces mozzarella
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon wine or sherry vinegar
Salt (preferably freshly ground—fleur de sel works magic) and freshly ground peppe
Yield: 4 Servings
Preheat the broiler.
Clean the leeks thoroughly, and boil in salted water 6 to 10 minutes, until cooked but still firm, then drain.
Put the leeks in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of basil leaves. Cut the mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices, and place atop the basil layer. Put the dish under the preheated broiler, and watch carefully. In 3 to 5 minutes the cheese should start to melt and brown; at this point, remove the dish.
Mix the oil and vinegar and drizzle over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with a slice of country bread.

So far, I've eaten them twice.  They aren't terrible.  They ain't taters and gravy either. 

I'm still waiting for the magic.
So far, I've gotten better results from birthday candle blowing and shooting star wishing.

But Wait.  Somebody's at the door.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Random thoughts on a Tuesday

It is Tuesday, isn't it?

The last couple of days a sickness with the ferociousness of the Egyptian plagues came through this household.  It hit Jason about 7 minutes and 34 seconds before it hit me.  I have never been more thankful for a home with two toilets.  I spent the night hugging the commode and praying for Rapture.

Speaking of Heaven, I had the most delicious taste enter my mouth over the holidays.  Well, maybe not the most delicious, but pretty darn close.  Along with the celestial taste came one of those time machine moments and I was transported back to my grandmother's kitchen, fresh cookies baking, and the Tennessee Waltz playing on the radio.  My amygdala, that little part of my brain that stores memories and emotions, was on fire trying to place the taste of this fine little cookie.  I think that's the amygadala, if not,  just pretend I'm as smart as I pretend to be.

These cookies are Caramel Wafers.  They came from The Netherlands, their website on their cute little box says but I can't for the life of me find how to get more of this divine little boogers.

Not on an entirely different note than boogers, my big dog Drew has dribbled, piddled, vomited, and chewed up a curly headed doll in the last hour.  Jason says he can't handle prosperity.  Afterall, we do have 2 toilets.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aperture what?

I got a fancy schmancy camera for Christmas. 

It's got a lot of initials and numbers on it.

Things like ISO sensitivity, 

and Active D-Lighting, 






These initials I savvy.


I hate to be a braggart and all, but despite my lack of understanding of this photography lingo and/or settings, I can do some pretty amazing things with it.

Like this.

And this.

I think this one belongs in a gallery or something.

If only I could attain a cooperative model, I'll be pro in no time.

Help.  Somebody.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Good Tidings To You

This has been a good Christmas season.  I think I'm taking a liking to it.  I've been a Grinch, a Scrooge, and a Humbug most of my adult life.  That started happening after I quit getting so many presents because these little despicable things called "grandchildren" entered the family and stole my thunder and my "baby of the family" status.  But I'm not one bit bitter about it.

We have a white Christmas this year.  Before you have quintessential visions, stop right there.  It's not a bit pretty.  There isn't anything pretty about snow blowing 50 mph. 

We had a beautiful communion service last night at church and that is the beautiful part of it all.  Amid all the wrapping paper on the floor, the turkey carcassess, the pine needles stuck in sock feet, pause for a moment (or more) and ponder the miracle and beauty of Christmas.  With all the complicated things in life, this is truly the most simple.

A virgin.
A stable.
A baby boy.
A hope for a lost world.

Merry Christmas.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Verizon: We Have a Problem

I discovered this in the bathroom trash can.  Before you judge, let me state this disclaimer.  I'm not a full fledged dumpster diver, yet.  I do know a couple people who are, who may or may not be related to me.  I don't usually make a habit of digging in the trash, especially the bathroom, but it caught my eye.  Lying there amid the used toilet paper rolls and wads of hair that I pull out of the drain daily, was an innocently folded piece of paper.  A note perhaps?

But after a little more investigating, it becomes evident what this is.

This is not just a note. 

This is a poor kid's cell phone.

This is not your ordinary cell phone, this is a flip/slider phone. A new design in the cell phone industry.

What are they teaching kids these days in school?????

Questions to ponder:
1.  When is she going to learn to spell you?
2.  Who exactly is kaydin?
3.  Where do you plug this thing in?

WARNING:  A kid who has begged for a cell phone, and been denied because she really has no business with one, might resort to this!

Reminds me of a great story I read once, where a homeschooled teenager wanted a pair of thong panties.  Her mother refused to buy them for her, therefore she was forced to use her creativity and resourcefulness and knitted herself a pair!

Problem solvers!  I just love 'em.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Manhood Declining?

I am absolutely loving the new Docker's Campaign, Wear the Pants.  Click on over to Docker's to read this "man-ifesto" to get an idea of all this.

And to think they're catching a little flak from all this.  People are saying this ad is sexist.  Good grief.  I love America, but sometimes I just don't get it.  Mostly these allegations are coming from women, naturally.  Like these comments:

If people think children are misbehaving and cities are crumbling all because of our "genderless" society, they are sorely mistaken. Sure, we'd love to see men "man up," but and if they think that great changes will occur when guys put on khakis, well, fine then, try them on and let's see what happens. As for men being the ones to "wear the pants," well, we're sorry to break it to you, but ladies have been wearing pants, voting, working, running homes, and sipping lattes for a long time now. And we like it.

Here's more:
“The intent of the campaign is to put forth a new definition of masculinity, one that embraces strength and sensitivity and appeals to men who can change a tire AND a diaper,” says Jennifer Sey, Global VP of Marketing for Dockers. “We’re not trying to shame men. We want to make them laugh at themselves and at the state of manhood. And, at the same time, encourage them to dress up, man-up and embody today’s new definition of masculinity.”

Here's a slideshow I found called "An Emasculating Manhood"
Here's another link if you'd like to read this person's opinion.

Docker's is just trying to sell khakis. Personally, I wish men would step up and be the men of yesteryear.  I'm interested in your opinion.  What are your thoughts?

Auntie meets P-Dub

There are very few people who have caught my fancy in this life: River Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Dr. Oz, and Pioneer Woman in that order.  Oh, and maybe Jason.  I guess I should throw him in the mix since I've chosen him for the rest of my days. 

 Since my  First Attempt had been a colossal failure, I made a fast trip to OKC to meet one of these obsessions of mine.  River is dead, Brad and Mehmet are waaaaayyy famous, so by process of elimination that could only leave PW. Yes, I got to see her, meet her, talk to her, and give her Chex Mix, because I'm a dork that's why!

I met up with my lovely Aunt Jeanne and we drove over to Barnes and Noble to wait in line.  The line wasn't bad at all, it just went halfway around the store.  We sat and drank coffee and had a good visit.  It took us one hour to get through, once it started moving. 

When we finally made it to the table, PW was convinced that she knew my aunt.  I know you.  Don't I know you?  She studied her, asked her last name, asked her where she lived.  I thought any minute she would take out a knife, cut fingers and become blood sisters with her. Meanwhile, I'm jumping up and down beside her, waving my arms frantically, yelling, But I'm your #1 fan! 
Finally she surmised that maybe Jeanne reminded her of the actress Diane Ladd, of who neither of us were familiar.  Ree said to google her.
So I did.

This is my Beautiful Aunt.

This is Diane Ladd.

  Jeanne asked how she stays so thin eating all that butter, which she gave all the credit to Spanx for helping her out.  My mind went completely blank so I gave her a bag of homemade Chex Mix, minus all the nuts because I had eaten them on the drive up.  It was her own recipe that I had made the day before, which is probably lying in the trash in the B&N bathroom.
The nuts were the best part anyway.

I was able to untie my tongue to tell her I had driven up from Amarillo.  She asked if I was staying the night. 
I think she wanted to invite me to supper.
But I had to get back to the man I've chosen for the rest of my days.
Oh well, maybe next time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa, his reindeer,a couple of friends & a hummingbird

I have a crafty niece. 

She's a little artist.

This is her and three of her paintings last year.

  And here she is with her paintings this past May.

Some people have nicknamed her Hummingbird.  If you've ever met her, you understand why.  She's a flitter.  Flitting here, flitting there, flitting everywhere.
She doesn't sit still in school. She doesn't sit still in church. But give her a paintbrush or other creative medium and she will sit still for at least an hour.

She spent Saturday creating with clay.

Here are some of her creations. 

Santa, Rudolph, Frog, Toucan

They are tiny really, but loaded with detail.  A little disproportionate to each other; as a reindeer should be bigger than a frog and a toucan, but it's all good.

I just love Rudolph.

He reminds me of the dog on How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Remember when the Grinch puts the antlers on the dog, and they're too heavy, so he face plants with his butt in the air.

This reindeer needs his antlers sawed off a little too.

But the reason I love Rudolph the best, is because of one sweet little detail. See that little smidgon of white under his tail? 

It gives me hope.  My little niece does pay attention.  Maybe not to fractions, and maybe not to sermons, but when she sees the white tail deer running and leaping over fences, their tails are up, white flags waving back and forth.

And so it is with Rudolph.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enjoy Every Moment

Yesterday, Friday the 18th,  I broke something very dear to me.  I almost cried really.  It was a beautiful handheld mirror given to me by some very dear souls, one of which has passed on, for high school graduation.  I have used it to check the back of my hair or apply mascara almost every day for the past 16 years, until I dropped it in the toilet and shattered it. 

To top it off, I really hate having to put my hand in the toilet to fish something out, I really do.  To top that off.....
Seven years bad luck. 
And then I thought, Seriously Angel, get a grip.  You know that is all bull hockey.

And I do.

I think.

I really think Friday the 13th is bogus.  I'm not a bit afraid of that day.   I've successfully survived too many for it to concern me any longer.  Then there is the black cat crossing the path thingie.  I'm always tempted to turn around.  It always crosses my mind to change course.  I always look for a speck of white on its tail or ear.  But I normally continue on my path.  Unless I'm feeling unusually skittish that day.

Do I really believe that all superstitions are bull hockey?

Then why do I throw a pinch of salt over my left shoulder when I spill it? Or never  walk under a ladder?  Did I inherit this from my dad who is a superstitious guy, or my Grannie Silcott?  She said it was bad luck to change a calendar before it was time, or open an umbrella in the house, my brother won't eat cherry pie on a drilling rig, and I'll only pick up a penny if it's on heads.  I heard one time of someone who, if found on tails, would turn a penny over to heads so someone else could have good luck.  That's nice.  I doubt it works, but it is a nice gesture.

I guess I'm more superstitious than I thought.  But mostly I'm upset about the mirror, the sentimentality of it all.  That some things are irreplaceable.  That people are irreplaceable.  That time is so valuable and yet we squandor it. 

My dad sent me a forwarded email with a note that he thought I'd like the last line.  It read "Enjoy every moment of every day."
And so is my prayer for you.
Treasure the moments.
Cherish the people. 
Forget about the possessions. 
Take time to tell others they mean the world to you. 

To you:  You Mean The World To Me.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best & Worst Teacher Gifts

I never ever remember buying a gift for a teacher.  I'm not sure we did that when I was in school.  Maybe my parents were clueless, but I don't ever recall any student buying the teacher a gift.  It could be I didn't notice, but either way it's not in my memory bank.

The first year I taught school, I was stunned at all the presents children gave me.  I carried them to my car and drove to my mom's house to show them off.  I just had no idea that people did that.  She was just as stunned as I.  Every Christmas, Valentine's, and Last Day of School, I would cart my goodies to my mom and we would oooohhhhh and aaaaaahhhhh over them. 

The years have passed, and the last ten years of teaching have flown by.  The presents have come and gone.  Some have gone to good use, some have gone to a charity, some have gone regifted, and some have gone to the trash.

Perhaps a teacher is on your Christmas list this year.  Perhaps you're a procrastinator and haven't bought a gift yet.  Perhaps you are racking your brain for what to get her.  No need to rack any longer, I have gone to the field and done some cold, hard research.  I interviewed teachers far and near, well, uh, really just near, to discover the best and the worst teacher gifts.  No need to thank me.

Coffee mugs
These are probably the most often given gift to teachers. My coffee cup cabinet is crammed full. This came across on the best and worst list. You've got to know your teacher; some hate them, some love them. The reason given for worst gift was they either didn't drink coffee or they already had so many. Rather than a mug, you could always go with a gift certificate from a local coffee house, listed among the best. It's probably a good idea to make sure they drink coffee first.

Classroom gifts or gift cards
These were mentioned as some of the best gifts. Any supplies for the classroom or gift cards to a teacher supply store are well appreciated. Teachers spend so much money out of their own pockets stocking their classrooms, this is always helpful.

Food If you are an excellent, out of this world, make a person start moaning kind of cook, food is always good.  If your child constantly has head lice or urine smell on his coat, not so good.
One teacher told of melt in your mouth Christmasey goodness cookies that she received.  Another teacher received a homemade cookie mix in a jar, but the jar still had dried spaghetti sauce in it. 

Candles and Lotions
The cabinet next to my crammed-full-of-coffee-mugs-cabinet is my crammed-full-of-candles-cabinet.  Candles and lotions were on the best and worst list also.  The worst being they don't like the scent or have an allergy.  Again I'll say, you need to know the teacher.

Gift cards/certificates/cold, hard cash
It may seem impersonal, but teachers appreciate them.  Who in their right mind wouldn't?  It can be to a restaraunt, a bookstore, one teacher even got $100 Visa Check card once.  Secretly wishing that child was in my room this year.  One Christmas, a room mother collected money from the children.  She then created a corsage using rolled up five dollar bills.  The teacher bought herself a pair of shoes with the gift money, and the children loved it every time she wore those shoes.  Perfect.  Just perfect.

The best gift winner....overall.....repeated again and again.......would be,

The kind from the heart that doesn't cost anything. 
Yep, those teachers.  They do love kids, and it is very evident when something is sincerely given. 

Free, heart-felt gifts:
  • A half empty bottle of perfume from mom's dresser.  So sweet.
  • A handmade angel named for his teacher.  Ahhhhh.......
  • Half eaten box of chocolates wrapped in Saran wrap.  How precious.
  • A child's worn teddy bear. Doesn't that just make your heart hurt??
  • Personalized gifts with the children's names on them.
  • A card from the parents telling how they appreciate them.
  • A letter written to the teacher and copied to the principal and superintendent describing the difference they are making.
  • Moms who volunteer to watch the classroom so the teacher can go Christmas shopping!!  Wow!  Check with your child's school first to see if that is allowed, but what a treat to know your class is left in good hands and you don't have to take a day of leave for it.
You know the old saying, "It's the thought that counts."  All the teachers I interviewed had a hard time thinking of a worst gift to mention and many are currently suffering from guilt pangs, lost sleep, or are in counseling for critizing a precious gift from a child.  The second it passed their lips, they were wishing they hadn't said it.  I could be gracious and keep quiet, but frankly, it's too late now.  Face it, some gifts are just unnecessary or clutter or unnecessary clutter.  Trinkets, stuffed animals, apple thingies, premade gift baskets from Wal-Mart, and aprons for detergent bottles all made the worst list, with a lot of guilt afterwards, I must add.

Merry Christmas.

This has been a public service announcement by Angel.

Monday, December 14, 2009

One more reason to be thankful you are not a cow!

Here are the facts.
Cows are baby machines.
If a cow is not bred or if she does not have a calf on the ground, she's wasting money.
She's basically taking up space and eating the grass.  She is not earning her keep.  The cheapest and easiest ( not quite the cleanest) way to determine if she is bred or not, is to preg check her.
No EPT tests out here.

Load her in the chute,

and feel for a calf.

He loves his job.  He really does.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Day of Dumb

Six out of seven days of the week, I either
A) forget to lay out some meat to thaw for supper or
B) it doesn't thaw. 

I use these for a great excuse not to cook and order Chinese.

Yesterday, I laid out some catfish fillets to cook.  We occasionally eat fish.  Sometimes I just want something different, ya know?  Well it just so happened, as it does 6 other nights of the week, that is was not ready to be cooked at suppertime. 

I had already had my afterschool-4:00-stressed out-shoveanythinginmymouth-binge and wasn't real hungry when Jason came in from breaking ice, feeding cows, opening and closing gates, putting out hay in -3* windchill and 30 mph winds.  Somehow he missed his 4:00 binge and was starving.  Being the Martha Stewart like wife that I am, I did the only thing I could do aside from feeding him a bologna sandwich.  I opened a can of salmon and fried up some patties. 

In case you don't know me very well, I need to confess something right here and right now. 


I can't cook.

It's not my favorite thing to do, and I'm not really that good at it.

But I can follow a recipe, and the recipe for salmon patties is on the can of Honey Boy Salmon usually. But not this time.  There was some other bizarre salmon concotion on there.  So being the Martha Stewart like wife that I am, I winged it.  I knew I needed eggs and bread crumbs, and onions and I just whupped 'em up.  They were edible and halfway tasty.

Fast forward to tonight. 
I need to cook the catfish that is now good and thawed.  I have made it a couple of times, but I don't know from where I got the recipe.  Because of my great salmon patty success from the night before, I'm at about a 7.4 on the richter scale of confidence.  I can do this.  I start pulling out some seasonings.  I remember using cajun spice before, a little garlic, a little lemon powder, and maybe some season salt. 

I drizzled some olive oil, covered the fillets with seasoning, and stuck them in the oven to bake.  As I was returning the spices to the shelf, the season salt got turned around, and I discovered that instead of Lawrey's Season Salt, it was Julio's Seasoning, excellent for fajitas, chicken, steak, and a sundry of other things, not including fish. 

We had Mexican fish tonight. 
Fortunately, the Cajun overpowered the Mexican and this is sounding like a bad joke, so I'll stop there.

Second dumb thing I did:

I fed a stray cat on the porch.
I did.
I know better.
But it's cold.
And it was right there on the porch.
Looking pathetic.
And cold.
And hungry.

Wouldn't Martha Stewart have done the same thing?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Joy of Pets

I have these two dogs.

A couple of maniacs, they are.

Between the two of them, I think they share one brain.

They live outside and that's good.

But lately we've had a cold snap, and that's putting it lightly.

Our current conditions are 18*F + 30 mph winds = 1* wind chill. 

A great blue northern has settled on these golden plains, dusting a fine white frosting on the grasses, blowing anything that isn't tied down, and turning the most good-natured among us into down-right grouches.

So, the maniacs get to come inside for the night.

It's a simple case of cause and effect. 
The temp goes down  ----->  the dogs come in -------->  my blood pressure goes up.

They run.
They roll.
They sniff.
They fart.
They slobber.
They wrestle.
They fart.
They dribble.
They lick
They chew.
They fart.

And finally........

they lay down......

and they fart.

And fart.

And fart.