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16 May 2015 @ 09:06 am
I dropped Mick off at the Greyhound bus station this morning. He's going to Indianapolis for the day, to be a mediator for union dispute. I don't know many details but it sounds like it's going to be difficult.

I was going to drive back to our neighborhood and start running errands, but instead I was lured by what's being called a rapture yard sale. There's a business owner here in town, best known as the founder of Lebowski Fest, and he is selling off his pop culture collection to pay for a new project. My nephew is obsessed with Jambi from Pee Wee's Playhouse. I know Will Russell has a large collection of Pee Wee Herman ephemera so I'm hoping to pick something up!

I stopped to have breakfast at a little French bistro, eating in the dining room by myself enjoying my crepe. I have a million errands to run today but I'm trying to have some fun as well.
13 May 2015 @ 10:13 pm
I’m a freshly minted stepmother – I got married April 26, 2015, so I OFFICIALLY have both a stepdaughter and a son-in-law now. Stella has taken to calling me her “wicked stepmother” while cackling then giggling. I’ll take it – I sense a certain amount of relief on her part, like she wasn’t entirely certain I’d go through with it. I might be reading into more than is there.

I had a really rewarding Mother’s Day weekend. Mick bought me a sweet little tea infuser in the shape of an egg with a small brass bird that rests on top. The bird is on the end of the chain that dangles outside the tea cup. They whole thing rests on a small curved saucer. I showed a photo of it to the kids, and Will asked if it was a steel fascinator. With the Kentucky Derby (their first while here in Louisville!) fresh on his mind, I got tickled that he mistook it for a tiny hat! He also gave me a spoon rest – very practical and just what I was cursing that I needed the other day! Stella made me a necklace out of cloisonné beads, and a sipper/straw adaptor for mason jars. I’ve been eyeballing them for some time, waiting for them to go on sale, muttering about how I’m too cheap to pay full price. Very thoughtful gifts, all.

For my Mom, we went going to the How-To Festival at the Louisville Free Public Library. It is this wonderful event where they host 100 classes in five hours – anything from learning kitchen knife skills to building raised gardens to writing with a quill pen to square-dancing to embroidery to a host of other topics. It is one of my favorite events in Louisville – I was excited she could join me. We started with a knife skills class where we both muttered asides to each other. We separated for a while, then met outside for lunch at the food trucks lined up outside the front entrance. We shared some Korean BBQ tacos, split a black bean & hominy salad, and later a cookie ice cream sandwich. Stella and Will joined us as we were finishing lunch, and we all four headed to a paper crafting class in the basement. Stella made a wreath, Mom & I made paper flowers from old maps and tourism guide books. We all had a really good time.

Sunday, I drove Mick, Stella, Will & myself to Cincinnati. We cooked out at Dixie’s condo. Mick’s older brother Brian and his two kids, Colin & Brianna, were there as well. I snapped a phot of Dixie with her three grandchildren – she looks blissfully happy. The grandsons helped dig holes and plant flowers in her garden. We had a really good visit but I was exhausted by the end of it. I drove too fast home, tired and ready to be out of the car. The kids dozed in the back seat and Mick kept me company up front. I wish I could arrange the same kind of day for my own mother – unfortunately, my brother and his little family are all the way in Austin, TX. Happily, Mom is flying down there this morning for the birth of her second grandson. Poor Cassie looks like she is smuggling a basketball right now – Rob said she moves like a wounded animal. Her petite frame carries the baby ALL the way out front. Her C-section is scheduled for tomorrow.

Mick’s foot has been really bothering him. It was so swollen and painful, at one point we thought he had developed gout. However, it might just be a nasty sprain – regardless of the reason why, he has been hobbling around and trying to stay off his feet. My heart aches for him – I added him to my health insurance once we were married but it doesn’t take effect until June 1.

We’re taking a belated honeymoon this month – rather, it was postponed until between spring and summer semesters for Mick. We’ll take a bus to Chicago, then a train to Essex, Montana. We’ll spend three nights at an inn in the Glacier National Park. We’ll reverse the trip and be back in time for Mick to teach a summer school class starting June 1. I can’t wait to get away from Louisville together, get some time alone. The place we’re headed has no cell phone service. The inn has no televisions or telephones in the rooms. There is a bar with wifi available but that is all. We will travel very lightly – one backpack each, a camera bag and a small cooler. Since we will be fairly isolated there at the inn, we don’t want to eat at the hotel restaurant three meals a day. We are going to pack in our own travel food – hummus and fruit and cheese and chocolates, crusty bread and pickled eggs. To tell the truth, it’ll be the same kind of food we take every time we travel together. The first trip we took together, we met in Chicago. I took a bus and he’d taken a train there a couple of days earlier so he was there to meet me. I had just the one bag with a small purse packed for day trips in the city. Lesson learned from other trips – never pack more than you want to schlep yourself! So I’m planning this trip in late May very cautiously, very carefully. It’ll still be cold that time of year, so layers will come into play. I can’t wait!!
24 March 2015 @ 04:30 pm
Quietly and with little fanfare, Mick and I joined the gym. I didn’t go while he was in California last week, opting instead to hold the couch down and mope and binge-watch “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I also cleaned house and played with the critters, but it was overwhelmingly low key and tended toward the mope. Aside from that, we’re doing well so far – going three times a week and trying to get stronger while still coddling our brittle and broken parts. We both have foot problems so we have to keep to low impact exercises. After a year of recovery on my foot, I took a single Zumba class and injured it again, so I am being extremely cautious this time around.

However, that is not to say that I’m not pushing myself. I don’t know the names of the machines aside from treadmill or elliptical machine, but I study the illustration that shows how to properly use it, which muscles it targets. Heck, I don’t even know the names of most of the muscles. In 2012, when I was really exercising a lot and lost all that weight, I would find sore muscles that I scarcely knew existed. I remember being amazed to find muscles on the sides of my stomach getting defined. Last night, I worked out at a good pace for about 45 minutes. Treadmill at a good clip and a sharp incline, then moving between different machines to work mostly on my upper body. Near the end, I moved to this torturous-looking set of machines. One you have to move your thighs outward to move it, and the other you have to squeeze your legs together to move it. Since I was seated and just moving my legs, I was idly working out, reading texts and catching up on my online life. I was sort of messing with the weights on it, figuring out what felt like an effort but was still do-able. I realized I was moving 100 pounds with my thighs on both exercises – I have no idea if that is average or not, but I got tickled at the number.

Today? I have this sore muscle running on my inner thigh. It isn’t debilitating, it is just definitely THERE. Some muscle on top of my shoulders and onto the top of my upper arm is tender, but otherwise I feel really good. I’m excited about getting more physically active again. I can’t go as full-tilt as I did three years ago – I’m more cautious where my feet are concerned.

Mick and I have talked long and hard about this. I want to spend as much of my life as I possibly can with him. My good health, while not a guarantee, is certainly a move in the right direction. We support each other and want the same thing here.
19 March 2015 @ 04:18 pm
Mick went to California last weekend. He flew out there last Friday for a labor union conference. However, he is taking his time coming home – taking a meandering bus ride through Minneapolis to visit a friend from college before heading home. This morning, he is en route to Iowa. He will get back Saturday evening. I’ll meet him at the Greyhound station and happily take him home.

It has been a long week. I’m on call and carrying the pager, so I can’t venture too far from home. It was warm this weekend so I turned off the heat in the house. My stubborn nature kept the heat off until last night, I was watching a movie and realized my feet were freezing. Wasabi had crawled under the blanket on my lap and was purring there – very out of character unless it is 4am and I’m trying to sleep. I checked the thermostat in the hallway and realized the house had dropped to 56 degrees. I turned the heat on but still kept it low. I went from there into the kitchen and started to wash up dishes from dinner. The water pressure was really low. I frowned and started checking the house for a leak somewhere. I didn’t find one – I even checked the main water shut-off but the tap there was all the way open. I posted a question on my neighborhood association page and quickly received an answer from a neighbor down the block – there was a water main break. I walked out front and saw water streaming down the street, and a taped-off area across from my house. I walked over to look at it more closely – the water was furiously bubbling up from under the street, taking chunks of the curbstone with it. The city worker confirmed the water main break caused the low pressure, and that when they got a crew to work on it the water would be turned off for 4 or 5 hours.

I went home and immediately set up the coffee pot for the morning, filled a pitcher and some jar with water. I filled another container and left it in the bathtub for when I needed to flush. Wasabi was thrilled when he found the container in the tub – he thinks it is his own personal drinking pond! I did a load of “A-list” clothing in case this goes longer than a day – the rest of the wash can wait. I gave Gypsi Benadryl and put her in the crate in the basement. This week, she has been sleeping upstairs with me as it makes me feel safer alone in the house. I knew that the crew was going to start working overnight and she’d flip her lid over “intruders”. I went to bed early but was awakened at 3:30am by the sounds of a jackhammer outside my window. I never fully got back to sleep – I’d drift off and someone would shout and wake me up all over again. Wearily, I got up at 6am to find my water was still off. I washed my face in cold water and gratefully had a cup of coffee.

It is an inconvenience, to be certain, but hopefully no worse than that. The city is very efficient getting things like this resolved quickly. I went home on lunch break, though, and found the whole block was barricaded. They are still working on it – so still no water. I’m working from home tomorrow – I hope it is done by then. I’m planning to treat myself to a new Cuban restaurant in my neighborhood tonight since I really can’t cook at the house.

Mick feels guilty that he isn’t here while something goes wrong with the house. I pointed out that this isn’t something wrong with the HOUSE, it is the water main break on the street. There isn’t anything to do about it whether he was here or not. It seems like every time he leaves town, something happens with the house. However, it is an older house so something is ALWAYS going down. While I miss him something awful, I’m glad when he gets to go out on jaunts like this.
31 January 2015 @ 04:45 pm
The livejournal app is problematic. It doesn't work on my iPad at all, and while it works on my phone, I can't pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard.

I rarely use a computer these days - I'm usually on a mobile device. I think I need a new blogging platform. My 13 year anniversary (!!) with livejournal is next month - there were a few quiet years, true, but I've been loyal this whole time.

So... What next?
05 December 2014 @ 08:49 am
Sometimes, life as an honorary stepmom is difficult. I watch the kids make decisions that seem so pig-headed and short-sighted and are exactly the kinds of decisions that I made 20 years ago. Some days, I just want to scream at everyone in frustration. Last night was NOT one of those nights. Some nights, everything CLICKS and you get an idea of what you’re working toward as a family.

This has been sort of a rough week at the house. We had plans to go to the movies together Monday night but it was indefinitely postponed. The kids had a terrible fight over matters so petty and insignificant I won’t even talk about them. By the time everyone calmed down, it was too late to go to the movies – I was really upset with everyone as I was looking forward to it as well. With people on different schedules, it is hard to get all four of us together at the same time.

Last night, I met Mick at the bar near campus – he actually starts work there tonight as a part-time bartender. We both got a text from Stella earlier in the day – she said she had good news she wanted to share when we were all together. Mick said he hoped she wasn’t announcing her pregnancy, but we both agreed it was likely job-related. We left to head home about six. I started dinner – I roasted a pork loin. We coated it with a paste of crushed garlic, rosemary, dry mustard and olive oil. I also roasted sweet potatoes for everyone. We had the last of the green beans and cranberry relish. I told Stella it would be a couple of hours until dinner was ready so she headed upstairs for a nap. Will played video games until Mick & I started rearranging furniture, then he jumped up to come help us. For Thanksgiving, we had switched the living room with the dining room – there was more space in the front room of the house for the dining room table with the leaf in the middle. We hadn’t put everything to rights until last night.

We sat down to a late dinner around 8:30 and everything was perfect. The pork was flavorful and juicy – Stella declared that we need to make it at least once a week. Everyone ate their fill and talked to each other. Stella’s good news was that she’d been hired on full-time and given a promotion at Target. She was hired in as a seasonal worker a couple of weeks ago but has managed to impress her bosses. It seems she spent three hours organizing the grocery section the other night – she was fussed at for spending too long at the time, but later, they recognized her attention to detail and reassigned her to the cosmetics department. I’m so proud of her. Will was talking excitedly about starting his new job next week and I offered to take him out this evening to practice driving a stick shift. His whole face lit up – he said he’d been really hoping I’d offer to do that soon. They are looking for a cheap car for the winter, a beater that will get them around town. He’d had his eye on a standard transmission car for seal on Craigslist for several months – he noted that the stick shifts take longer to sell and are cheaper. He wants to learn to drive a stick so it gives him more flexibility when shopping for a car.

After dinner, I asked the kids to clean up. They immediately agreed and Mick said that if they’d just scrape and rinse all the dishes, he’d run the dishwasher in the morning. Will offered to take care of it after he got up since the three of us would all be at work during the day. We went into the other room and watched an episode of “The Bridge” while still listening to the kids clean up from dinner. No squabbling, no arguments – just soft domestic sounds of the house. We took the dog in our room with us to ease her into sleep before it was time to put her in her crate – Mick & I made an early night of it.

It all seems really average, doesn’t it? It hardly seems to be something to strive for, that quiet evening at home. However, there was a tranquility there, a domestic peace that isn’t always present. I told Mick that I wanted to praise the evening out loud – it makes it easier to remember the next time we have a really bad day in the house. At one point, I asked Will if they were still glad they moved to Louisville? I know they were uncertain at first – they miss their friends and their dog, but I felt like they’re doing far better here. He said yes, they were.

I want them to thrive here, to get to take a breather and figure out what they really want, what is next? Take time to decide what direction to take – college or vocational training? I’m happy they’re both working so they can set back a little money, but it isn’t the most important thing to just work work work.
Not gonna lie. I'm about to be really lazy here, and just post an email I sent my family today.

Hola, mi familia!

I think Mick has reached a new pinnacle… While the bartenders at Rubbie’s recognize him as a regular, the regulars have now accepted him as one of their own. When I walk in, whoever is sitting by the door will let me know, “He’s waiting for you. Saved you a seat and everything.” Ah, but recognizing his “old lady” (their words, not ours) isn’t enough. Last night, one of the regulars offered to sell him moonshine. A couple of the other guys there looked shocked and said, “Whoa whoa whoa, you’re selling to him? You don’t know him!” The moonshine seller maintained that Mick was okay… So, in case you were wondering, apple pie moonshine is the yardstick of being a regular.

So, only one of Stella’s sisters is coming this weekend. The older sister, Victoria, owes her father money and can’t miss the hours from work to pay him back. Apparently the girls have to buy a lot of their own clothes and school supplies. She didn’t have money for something, so he paid for it and she has to pay him back. This guy, her father, is a piece of work. So I asked what she owes money for… She went to an ROTC camp a couple of years ago, and still owes her father $100, her grandmother $50 from it. It isn’t that he expressly forbid her to go – he’ll point out that she has obligations and she makes her choices, then he’ll make her life miserable for weeks afterward. Victoria leaves for boot camp in June – I’m doubly determined to help make a weekend work for all three of the sisters between now & then. So, only her youngest sister Libby will be here this weekend. I’ll pick up Stella when I get off work and we’ll drive together to Mount Sterling. I think she wants Will to go with us, but he & Mick had plans to go to the Moth tonight. This is a special extra one this month as part of the Slant Culture Festival.

Stella is doing really well at Target – they’ve already been offering her additional hours, and a ____ (some corporate doublespeak word for manager) suggested that they’d be interested in keeping her after the holidays. Last night, a raccoon walked in the front door. It went for a clothing rack and started yanking clothing off hangers, trying to make a nest. Stella was one of the people trying to help corral it – they used a croissant from the Starbucks up front of the store, but the raccoon outsmarted them. It lunged and grabbed the croissant, ran into the dressing room. One of the customers complained about the raccoon, why didn’t one of the people working there just pick it up and carry it outside? They finally coaxed it out of the store. Stella thought they shouldn’t have rehung and sold the raccoon nest clothing as new.

Will is still looking for work – he has put in an application at another temp agency but specified he wants office / call center work and not factory work. He was told those jobs have a long waiting list. He has heard back about some other things he applied for – he even put in an application to be a cook at Rubbie’s. I sent him the link for jobs at Kroger just this morning – I hope he can find something soon. He is getting frustrated - he is trying to work with his brain, not his back, but he is having a hard time getting his worth recognized as such. He’s a sharp guy – I’m reaching out to friends, trying to help him find something. He occupies his time at home playing guitar and working on his bicycle – he’ll play video games once in a while but rarely. I was more nervous about him living there than Stella – he was more of an unknown – but he is helpful around the house and pays attention when I ask him to do something differently, point out something about the way the household is run. So far, so good.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t bumps now and again, that we don’t get frustrated or wish things would go differently… but it works more often than it doesn’t. I’m trying to be very consistent, clear with my expectations, even-keeled. Having said that, I’d like to offer a few apologies to Mom & Dad:

I’m so sorry every time I didn’t log off the computer, or I downloaded something without asking first.
I’m sorry for every single time I ate the last of something and didn’t put it on the grocery list.
I’m sorry for every time I said I’d do something later because I was too busy lounging right then to take care of it… and then maybe I took care of it later, but more likely I didn’t until I was reminded again.
I’m sorry for being a know-it-all.
I’m still sorry I never logged off the computer. I know I already said it – I feel like I should say it twice.
I’m sorry for leaving my things strewn in common areas of the house and not cleaning up after myself.

Whew. I feel a little better. However, I suspect the apologies will continue to flow as I realize what a colossal idiot I was in my early 20’s. Rather, as I really explore and plumb the depths of said idiocy. Nothing like a refresher course in being twenty to hold that mirror up to your own behaviors.
Sometimes, when one of the kids does something particularly bone-headed, Mick will declare that we never did anything that dumb… and then we try to recount something in the same vein that we did that was even dumber.
It has never failed yet – we have ALWAYS done something even more dumb. It helps keep a little perspective.

Our Thanksgiving dinner looks like we might be up to 13 people – Brian is trying to get his kids to accompany him that day. Exciting but a little daunting. After the girls leave, I’m starting next week on prepping dishes and planning out timelines to get everything done. I’m glad everyone in my house is willing to help out in the kitchen – it makes things so much easier. I wish I was able to join you all in Texas, but even without that, I’ll have a memorable day!

8, Amanda
24 October 2014 @ 10:11 am
Yesterday was rough.

Two nights ago, Wasabi slipped out as we were trying to get Gypsi to go out one last time for the evening. The dog was tap-dancing in and out of the door, dodging all efforts to grab her collar. Wasabi darted for the open door and I caught him. I scooped him up and put him next to his food dish. I got distracted and he made it outside. I called for him and rattled his food dish but he never came. There was a frost advisory so I figured he’d be home soon enough. I got up at 2am to use the bathroom and tried to call for him again. – nothing. I got up for work at 6am and tried again – still nothing. Will was home all day so he put out a dish of cat food on the table on the back porch, figuring he’d holed up somewhere for the night and he’d come home when he was hungry – he never showed.

I printed flyers for the neighborhood, and added a “WASABI LIVES HERE” sign for the front door of the house. My friend Sherri came over after work and she, Mick & I walked around the neighborhood, putting up flyers and talking to neighbors and calling for him. I feel like someone thought he was a stray and picked him up. I even stood and talked to the neighborhood cat lady on the street. She & I talked a few years ago when I was out walking Merlot and she has declined since then. It was like she was circular breathing so she could talk non-stop. She berated me for having an indoor/outdoor cat. I didn’t want to hear the lecture just then – my skin was crawling with anxiety. I let her go for a while but instead of blowing up at her, I just started crying to make her stop. She may be helpful – she knows all the strays on our street.

He won’t wear a collar so I had him microchipped. I know that won’t help unless someone takes him in to be scanned, but it is something. He is neutered but not declawed, he is licensed and current on all his shots and flea treatment. I miss my cat. As I was headed to bed, I saw the closet door was shut so I started to crack it open – he likes to sleep in there on top of an old backpack. I stopped myself and got a little weepy all over again. I’m doing all I can – I have him listed as a lost cat with Metro Animal Services. My contact info is current on his microchip. I’m going to put a Craigslist ad up, and use a couple of other petfinder sites today. I’m desperate to get my cat back.

After dinner, I was cleaning up dishes and putting away leftovers. I squatted to get a plastic container and my hand slipped. It felt odd, but I didn’t seem to be hurt so I ignored it. When I started the garbage disposal, there was a loud grinding sound. I turned it off and reached my hand down in there…

(and may I say, this is a PHOBIA of mine, putting my hand down into the garbage disposal. I’m terrified it’ll spontaneously turn on. I even get iffy about anyone else being in the same room while I’m doing it. My brain points out oh-so-helpfully that they could trip and fall and hit the switch for the disposal and then my hand would get chewed up. Mick walked into the kitchen and I yanked my hand out when he walked anywhere near the switch. I really hate reaching down in there)

…and found chunks of broken glass. I fished out 5 pieces, one the curve of a bottom of a shot glass. Will confirmed he’d broken a glass earlier but thought he got it all out. Between squishy green beans and pieces of broken glass, I had my fill on the disposal. Really. I’m good for a WHILE.

Mick headed in to watch some Netflix with Stella and I headed to stretch out on the bed and have some alone time. That was when I noticed that I’d ripped the nail off my index finger. I sighed and headed to the den to find the nail clippers. I hate uneven nails, so I just cut them all to the quick. My fingertips feel stubby and stupid and clumsy today.

It isn’t even that all this is the worst day I’ve ever had – not by a long shot. But Wasabi going missing is a punch in the gut. I love that cat.

Today, Mick canceled his afternoon classes to go look at a space with a buddy of his. The friend performs railroad and protest music – Mick writes and is trying to start a small press. They are both involved in the IWW together. They are looking at office space to share for their artistic endeavors, and let their local union branch piggyback on the space. If the price is right, I think it is a great idea. He’ll be home by the time I get there from work. The kids are packing and getting ready for their trip to Cleveland – they leave tomorrow. I’m taking them by a store so they can buy a phone for Stella. Afterward, we are going to have dinner with my parents and maybe play cards. Low-key, mellow evening – I’m very much looking forward to it.

UPDATE: I just heard, Wasabi came home!! Wet and hungry, totally unapologetic, a fresh scratch and some missing fur on his nose, but fine otherwise. He is so GROUNDED.
02 October 2014 @ 11:36 am
Last night, Mick & I were snuggling together, just on the edge of sleep. He had a bad cough and had to sit up a couple of times. I’d hand him a bottle of water from my side of the bed, wait for the coughing to subside and then get settled again. This was happening about every 20 – 30 minutes, and eventually the cough lessened a little. He would still explode into coughs, but not bad enough to sit up. The way we were snuggled, we were facing each other. Unfortunately, because of the angle, he kept coughing into my face.

Finally, about 1am, when he started coughing again, I snapped and told him to turn away, keep coughing on me. And it dawned on me…

I had just yelled at my boyfriend. For coughing. In his SLEEP.

He turned away and I could feel the hurt radiating off him. I immediately felt terrible but I couldn’t unsay it. This morning, he told me I hurt his feelings and I apologized profusely.

I’m running on very little sleep for the last month and it is making me crazy. Since the kids moved in, I’ve become such a light sleeper. The cat isn’t helping things, either, he is used to us sleeping with the door cracked for him. We shut it when we go to bed to block out the sounds of television, lights from the rest of the house. Wasabi will stuff his face under the door to howl and dig, then wants to make biscuits on my gut when he finally gets inside. I was so irritable last night, I tossed him off the bed a couple of times until he left me alone.

I feel like I’m wearing my raw nerves on the surface of my skin; I have no filter right now. Things have been so hectic and busy lately, I can’t quite catch us; I can’t get a good night’s sleep.

I asked my folks if they have a comped Sunday night room at the casino across the river. I think we could use a night away and sleep in a dark, quiet, anonymous space.
30 September 2014 @ 07:27 am
I’ve joined the Louisville TimeBank but it is slow getting started for me. For one thing, I have very little free time recently. Since Will & Stella moved in with us, I am hustling to spend enough time with Mick, enough time with the kids, enough time by myself. Unfortunately, the time by myself is the first to be sacrificed. I’m trying to do better with that – I’m trying to actually schedule time for myself in the midst of the whorl of activity that my house has become.

Yesterday, Ann came into town to drive a family member to the airport in Louisville. She came by the house and had a large breakfast with us: scrambled fresh eggs with pepper jack cheese, fried green tomatoes with cocktail sauce (HOW HAVE I NEVER TRIED THIS HEAVENLY COMBINATION?!), bacon, country ham, drop biscuits and fried rhubarb. We all ate hugely and then sat in a drifting, quiet food coma for a while. I don’t eat like that during the week, but I lave everyone getting together on the weekend for a big breakfast like that. Stella declared the fried green tomatoes so delicious, we should plant even more tomatoes but never let them ripen.

I sliced them about a quarter inch thick, then briefly soaked them in an egg / buttermilk wash. I dredged them in seasoned cornmeal, then fried them in the leftover bacon grease. The rhubarb was from the batch we froze earlier this year – I just heated canola oil in a pan, dumped in the defrosted rhubarb. I covered it with a lid and let them cook a few minutes until it broke down into shreds. I let everyone sweeten their own – it makes a thick pink mess than goes perfectly with split biscuits. If you’ve never tried country ham, it would be a surprise. It is a drier, saltier ham than you may be used to. All in all, a wonderful meal. Ann bought several of the ingredients for it – when you make most things from scratch, it isn’t difficult to make a meal like that on a budget.

Afterward, Ann & I left – we went to a used bookstore to find some new books for her son, had some ice cream at the Comfy Cow by University of Louisville, and tried on clothing at a discount clothing store near my house. I found the dress I want to wear for Halloween – it is bright orange and made of some artificial material. I felt like an outer space stewardess in that dress! It is buy one, get one – so now I’m searching for someone who wears a 1X or 2X dress as well.

Tonight, I’m heading home to make a pone of cornbread – Stella started pinto beans with jowl bacon this afternoon. I think I’ll stop and buy some red onions as well to make quick pickled red onions. I made them in Texas when I was staying with Cassie & Rob, and they paired nicely with the little street tacos we made. Usually, I like to eat soup beans with this squash relish my cousin Vanessa makes, but I’m out of it right now. I’ll take Stella to a neighborhood supermarket to mail something she sold online, and I’ll buy a couple of red onions. We are working our way through the cupboard this week – Mick gets paid tomorrow, thank goodness. We are running out of food to cook. Our food bill has more than doubled with two more adults in the house. Will gets his first paycheck this coming Friday, and Stella doesn’t have a job yet. She sells a few things in her etsy shop, but that serves more to invest in more materials than as a viable income. She has an interview for office work on Wednesday for an office job. I suspect we’ll have to outfit her from my wardrobe as she has very little clothing of her own.

Money is tight. It gets to me sometimes – there are nights when I just can’t stand the thought of cooking at home again, but we have to and we stick to our budget. I’m not going into debt for carry-out Chinese food. Instead, we stretch meals and eat mostly vegetables – meat is more of an accent in meals. We learn from our mistakes in the garden, and plan to expand next year with a larger raised garden and better-enriched soil.