This Instead

Basically we’ve been working endlessly.  Between my husband and sons repairing and hauling trash out of one of our rental properties every Saturday, and me working three jobs plus homeschooling, there’s been no margin.

Today coming home from my early morning job, modest winter rays were just reaching across the fields.  I felt a flicker of hope; maybe this Saturday we’d escape for a bit, leave the work for a day and drive to D.C., go to the free museums, eat a picnic lunch (I’m aware that it is winter and cold, but we aren’t finicky), and just enjoy putting some road between our unending work and our tired hands.

I came in the door and asked whether we needed to work today on the rental.  Yep.  That meant I’d be home with the littles and needing to get my business tax preparation done.  Have you ever tried to focus on numbers, receipts, deductions, and reimbursements while little people tug on your legs?  It is rather hard.

As the coverlet of night was pulling itself across the darkening sky I grasped at one last chance at fun.  “Let’s go to That Fish Place!”  It’s an enormous pet store near us with lots of rodents, snakes, lizards, fish, birds, and best of all, a touch tank with sting rays.  We unashamedly use it as a free zoo.

My kids bopped from display to display “OOH, MOM, a RAT!”, “MOM LOOOOOOK!”, “MOM, can I have a hamster if I buy it with my own money? (insert endless negotiations here)”.  I gave myself time to look at the Skinny Guineas; hairless guinea pigs!  They are so hilarious!  I watched the hamsters nestle together in piles to sleep.  I talked to the birds.  I remembered my childhood dream of living in a greenhouse with a stream flowing through it, tropical plants thriving, birds flying freely among the branches, and a deep blue swimming pool at the end of the stream.  My bed would be a hammock among the trees and all floors would be slate and could be hosed off.  I digress.

God bless my husband for giving me time with the sting rays.  I’ve visited them before, but I’ve never had such an enchanting time.  Today they bestowed all sorts of attention on me.  I wiggled my fingertips near the edge, and I had four or five lined up waiting to ascend the edge and flop over top of my hand!

At one point I looked up and there were a dozen or so people patiently waiting for the rays to circulate, but I had them all in front of me!  Either I was standing where they are usually fed, or I am a sting ray whisperer (what joy would THAT be!), or most likely, God gave me a gift, sending his little ones to cheer me.

Oh how they succeeded.  With great wonder I watched them approach, slide up the short wall, lift their front lip/snoot/flapflapthing and touch my fingers, then hopping a bit to cover them, then tilting and gliding over them.  I spent almost an hour greeting them, touching them, and enjoying their unique personalities. img_2124God provides.

Mercilessly Raw

It used to be at a wedding

Or a graduation party

Your quirky uncle sitting next to your friend

Dogs weaving about underfoot

Holding precariously thin paper plates which droop under the weight of pistachio pudding and hot dogs, early summer’s kind light a balm for the awkwardness

Of world’s colliding

School World ran headlong into Family World, and Extended Family World

And it was as odd as pistachio pudding smeared on the hot dog bun

Separate both were fine, together…

Hmm.

Every sign in now

We pull up to the All Worlds

And now we know how cousin A votes

And that neighbor B got a new wife

And high school friend C wants us to sell products on her downline

And acquaintance D is a racist after all

And the person E we once respected posts nonsense

And there’s no pistachio pudding

And all the awkwardness

And lately

Savagery

Disagree with me?  LEAVE MY COUNTRY

Disagree with me?  GROW A BRAIN

Disagree with me?  (insert insults of choice)

It is a forum

It is where people “are”

But why have they brought swords and shields and napalm and vitriol

Forums are for discourse

Not violence

Not hatred

Not

This.

 

 

The Making of a Guacamole Snob

49759018_10157329399733352_5595100230606389248_oIt is a gift and a curse.  Giving you this recipe for the most delicious guacamole will both enable you to make it on demand, endlessly, but too, it will render you incapable of lazily enjoying some at most restaurants, for you shall know what guacamole can truly be, rather than the sad, under-salted mash set before you.  I have been known to request a slice of lemon at table so that I could “fix” the guacamole.

  1. Get a shallow dish, like a pie pan, and mash 2-3 avocados with a fork.
  2. Cut a plump lemon in half, juice it in your palm, straining out the seeds with your fingers, directly onto the avocado mash.
  3. Wash a bunch of cilantro; on average I’d say pinch off 1/4 of the bunch and mince it fine; you’ll have perhaps 1/4 c.  Add in.
  4. Finely chop a nice red tomato or two and add in.
  5. Take 2-3 jalapeños or Hungarian wax peppers, de-seed and mince finely.  Add in.
  6. IMPORTANT STEP:  Take one yellow onion, mince finely and place in a separate bowl.  Take a spoon of sugar or salt and add to the onion and squeeze it in your hand to fully incorporate it.  Let it sit a minute.  Pour hot water over it and let it sit a few minutes more.  Pour the contents into a strainer and rinse with cold water.  (This step removes the strong sulfuric taste of the fresh onion, allowing it to contribute to the other flavors without overshadowing them).  Add to the rest.
  7. Stir all that goodness together.  Generously season with salt.  Taste with a chip so you can factor in the final saltiness of them together.  If the flavor is dull, add salt and lemon juice until it sings in your mouth.

Don’t like cilantro?  You can leave it out, but you should question your life choices.  The guacamole, however, will still be worth eating.

Happy feasting!