Tag Archives: family

One Skillet Cheesy Yellow Squash Casserole


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium yellow summer squash, sliced in 1 inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning or salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar
½ cup sour cream
½ cup of good salsa
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed medium to fine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Saute the squash, onion, celery and dry seasoning ingredients until soft.  When done, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, 1 cup of the cheddar, sour cream and salsa. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
Mix cracker crumbs and the remaining ½ cup of cheddar together and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.11081142158776871108114425877666


Tonight You Belong To Me (Cover)


Something to make you smile. 🙂

Loving father Benjamin J. Ames singing with his 4 year old daughter, hot pink ukulele and all. “She thought she kept hearing fireworks and couldn’t sleep, so we sang to keep her mind preoccupied. In the end, nothing competes with fireworks.”

Middle Age Manifesto: The Winter of My Discontent


How many times in our lives do we think we deserve more than we were given?  We are settling for Joe, when Johan is out there waiting for us.  You see, Joe and Johan are not the same.


What happened to all the fun?  Youthful smoke mellowed days of partying with friends and letting the sun bake your skin to a deep golden bronze while blasting Zeppelin at ear-piercing decibels.  Reckless and carefree without the slightest thought of future skin cancer, potential liver damage or permanent hearing loss.  Living with no rules, no regard and no regrets.  Thinking only of yourself.21854_103015253054260_541415_n

And by the way, what happen to my fairy tale?  The one where I find the perfect Mr. Right, we make our fortune, live in a beautiful home and have the perfect life.  Where is my piece of the pie?  Are the times to Carpe Diem really over? Is this all I get?

I struggled with publishing this post, feeling apprehensive about showing this negative side of myself.  Then I realized feeling discontented with life is no new thing.  From the Bible to Shakespeare to Steinbeck to the Hollywood big screen, many have lamented over the cards they have been dealt.  In the movie The Family Man, Nicolas Cage plays Jack Campbell, a successful Wall Street Executive bachelor who gets to see what his life might have been like had he given up his perfect life and stayed with his old sweetheart.  Much like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, Jack encounters an angel on Christmas Eve who offers him the opportunity to see life from another path.  After a shocking wake up call on Christmas morning in middle class suburbia, wearing Walmart sweat pants and surrounded by all the other mediocre trappings of normal family life, Jack flees back to the city only to discover his former perfect life is nonexistent.

Upon returning to his bland middle class life, he encounters his now wife Kate who rips into him for leaving his family on Christmas day, letting him know how frantic she has searched for him.   Jack replies “Look, you don’t understand.  I woke up this morning here.  And this is very strange because… this isn’t my house…   And those aren’t my kids…  I’m not Dad…  You’re not  my wife.”

Sometimes I look at my own life and think what happened to me?  As I am surrounded by the cracking plaster on the 80 year old walls of our country home.  The badly patched hole in the ceiling, the unfinished crown molding and the wood floor that still lacks a threshold.  The leftover casualties of the countless DIY projects my husband eagerly starts, but never seems to finish.  I look at the lines on my 50 year old face, the gray in my hair and I do not recognize my own reflection in the mirror.  Who is that person looking back at me?  I look at my daughters, now in their twenties, and think that’s who I am.  I should be out living it up! I’m not this older woman looking back at me.  Frazzled and twenty pounds overweight, trying to manage my household while working and caring for my own elderly parents.

As I am dealing with my parent’s multiple medical issues, doctor’s appointments, bills that need to be paid and trying to determine how to handle the next ball I’ve been given to juggle; I see my family go about their daily lives and I want to scream “I need to be taken care of!”  “I’m hanging on by a thread here!”  “Dear God, please give me another life!”

Then a somber reality hits me like a ton of bricks and just like George Bailey and Jack Campbell, I realize I would be nothing without them.  An empty shell.  A dried husk.  A tumbleweed blowing in the wind.  They are my roots.  My anchor in the storm and my nourishment after the rain.  They are my Zuzu’s petals.  My reality and my reason for being.  They are my destiny.

So I shamefully fall to my knees and ask forgiveness for being so selfish.  Then say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that I have.  I get up, wash my face, then wash the 8,968th load of laundry and smile as I ask “What are you hungry for tonight?”  Because the simple fact is I am blessed beyond measure and cherish the life I’ve been given.  When it’s all said and done, I still choose us and it is a wonderful life…

Hill Country Sonata


Sunfire sparkling on the Pedernales River

Soaring a red-tailed hawk on the wing

Cedar and Cypress perfume dance on the water

Bull frog on the bank calling out to his love

Fireflies flicker in the wildflower valley

Cicada chorus singing their lullaby song

Whippoorwill lamenting a nightbird’s serenade

Hill Country Sonata playing my memory’s tune

Bending my heartstrings like a sweet lover’s touch

And calling me back to those hills that I love

The Incredible Edible Egg and Putting the Chic in the Chicken Coop


When my family moved to our country home in 1995, we were eager to embrace all the wonderful opportunities that country living had to offer.  We mended the old fence and barn and soon added our share of farm animals to complete our little country haven.  Our animal menagerie included a flock of laying hens and a rooster to give us fresh eggs, but over the years our flock decreased and eventually our fresh egg production came to an end.

Recently, after purchasing a $4.00 carton of organic cage free eggs, I discovered all the eggs were disgustingly runny and obviously inedible.  Having this less than satisfactory experience with store-bought eggs, and being aware of the absolute horrors chickens have to endure in the commercial egg production industry, we decided to rebuild our chicken coop and start enjoying our own farm fresh eggs again.

My husband spent all weekend building the new coop and we went to our local feed supplier and bought 4 baby turkeys, 10 chicks and 1 rooster   Like our Rat Terrier, I too find watching the baby chicks completely spellbinding and I have begun to named them based on their personalities.

My favorite is the largest Black Spanish turkey that I have named Hey Zeus.  He is just a baby, but he’s already trying to strut his stuff.  I don’t think the girls are impressed, judging by the expressions on their faces.

Now for my contribution to the new chicken coop; the decor.  My husband is quite the handy man and we always have wood scraps leftover from past DIY projects.  I found these weathered wood scraps and thought they would work out great for making some homemade signs.

Next I gathered up my acrylic paint, paint brushes and paint sponges.  Then I painted the wood a solid color and outlined the edge with a contrasting color, creating a framed effect.

Then I purchased two different stencils.  One was a cursive type and one was block type letters

Using a sharp pencil, I traced out the word Farm Fresh on the wood using the cursive letters and the word EGGS using the block letters.

Then I highlighted the word Farm Fresh in a bright yellow and painted white eggs around the word EGGS.

Next I carefully painted in the words. You will need a steady hand and a very small detail paint brush.

And here’s the finished product.  Add some eye hooks and a chain to hang it and throw on a couple of coats of clear polyurethane to weatherproof and it’s ready for the coop.  Now to decide what to put on the other two signs.

The coop will only be used to protect the babies while they are growing.  As soon as they are big enough, the door to the coop will be left open and they will have free access to the yard and pasture, as nature intended.  If you would like to help support current legislative efforts in banning the barbaric and cruel practice of battery caged chickens in the US egg industry; please visit the Humane Society of the United States website by clicking on this link:  Help Improve the Lives of Laying Hens

The following information was taken from the Penn State Live website.  You can click on the heading below to see the full article.

Research shows eggs from pastured chickens may be more nutritious

The study compared the eggs of the pastured hens to those of hens fed a commercial diet.

“Compared to eggs of the commercial hens, eggs from pastured hens eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids,” she said. “Vitamin A concentration was 38 percent higher in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the commercial hens’ eggs, but total vitamin A per egg did not differ.”

 “Eggs of the hens that foraged grasses had 23 percent more vitamin E than eggs of hens that foraged clover. “Results suggest that grass pastures may enhance vitamin E in eggs of pastured hens more than clover,” she said.”

Memorial Day Honor, Duty and Sacrifice


“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
~ President John F. Kennedy

Freedom is never free.  This Memorial Day I want to say thank you to all the men and women who have fought and died, giving the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our country remains free.  And to all the of the soldiers, past and present, thank you for your service, your dedication and the sacrifices you and your families have made on behalf of us, our country and for Freedom.  It’s a day to cherish family and give thanks for the wonderful privilege of living in such a great country. It’s about the honor, duty and sacrifice of so many American families, just like mine.

The year was 1953, the world was still reeling from the end of  World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the newly elected President and the Korean War was being fought.  All young men of that time period were required to register for the military Selective Service; so upon his eighteenth birthday my father dutifully completed his registration card.  Around that same time he also met my mother and they fell in love.  Following a year-long courtship, they were married in February of 1953.  My mother had just turned seventeen and my father was two weeks shy of his nineteenth birthday.

After their first year of marriage they were eager to begin their family and tried desperately to have children.  But that greatly desired child never came.  They continued to hope and pray for a family of their own, but after the third year of trying, they lost hope and decided they were destined to be childless.

In the early part of 1956, my father received his Order to Report for Induction; he had been drafted.  He was to report to the Fort Ord U.S. Army post in Monterey Bay, California for basic training.  My mother was heartbroken.  How was she going to make it without him?  So they did what all young couples in love do when faced with an unwanted separation, they made the best of it.  They spent as much time together as they could until the day came for my father to depart for basic training.  My mother wrote him every day and missed him terribly, so terribly she began to get ill.  It seemed everything she ate made her immediately nauseous.  This went on for a couple of weeks until her family suggested she might be pregnant.  What?  Could this be possible?

A trip to the Doctor confirmed her families suspicions and gave my mother the blessed news; she was in fact pregnant.  Excitedly, she contacted my father in California to relay the news.  They were both overjoyed!  Then reality set in.  She would have to carry and birth this child alone.  The plans they had made for her to come out to California and live in the on-base family housing were dashed.  She was too sick to travel.  Summer turned to fall and my father completed his basic training.  Then he received his orders; he would be deployed to Germany.

Somehow, he was allowed a short leave for Christmas.  My mother was overjoyed to see him one last time before he was shipped out and they spent a glorious Christmas holiday together.  Shortly after Christmas, my father had to returned to his military duty.  The Army allowed him to stay Stateside until my brother Monte was born on January 15, 1957.  My father learned of my brother’s birth via telegram and the next day he was on a plane to New York.  Once he arrived in New York, he boarded a ship and began his trip overseas.

My father was a good soldier and soon was promoted to the position of Military Police or MP.  He and my mother carried on their relationship via mail.  They wrote to each other almost daily.  My father got to know his first born son by reading letters and looking at photographs.  While serving his country, my father missed all of my brothers milestones.  When my brother got his first haircut, my mother tuck a lock of his hair in with the photo and letter she sent to dad.  My brother’s first tooth, first Christmas, first steps and first birthday passed while my father was on patrol in snowy Würzburg, Germany.

My father honorably completed his military assignment and finally returned home to my mother and oldest brother Monte in the Spring of 1958… Nine months later my brother Randy was born.  And a few years later, I came along.

Although my parents made great sacrifices during this difficult time, God poured out his blessings upon their lives.  What seemed like tragedy was actually a gift.  My mother thought she could never have children, but was blessed with three.  And while my father was serving his country, my mother had my oldest brother to love, care for and keep her company.

After 59 years of marriage, my parents are still madly in love with each other.  Our roles are reversed and I now have the honor of caring for them, just as they have cared for me all these years.  I am so thankful my life is at a point where I am able to devote my time to them and truly enjoy our time together.  They are the best parents a child could ever have and I love them dearly!

Fun at the Renaissance Fair


My husband, youngest daughter and I traveled back in time to the 16th Century this weekend with a visit to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, which is held in Waxahachie Texas weekends each Spring from April until Memorial Day.

1  King Henry and Anne Boleyn.

The festival includes a 35 acre village consisting of artisans that create one-of-a-kind works of art and quaint shops featuring unique handmade jewelry, clothing, leather goods and other fun items.  I couldn’t resist buying a spicy scented bar of handmade organic soap.  Here’s our daughter Caitlin (or Cake as we affectionately call her) with a Gandalf looking Wizard in his sterling jewelery shoppe.

The artists, peddlers and performers all dress and speak in character.  Performance acts include jousting competitions, comedy routines, music, dance and many other unique entertainers on 22 different stages.  All the performances are included in the admission price.

After shopping and checking out a few of the acts we had to stop for some yummy fried festival food.  My husband Scott chose a healthy baked potato (no bacon), but Caitlin and I went for the fried mushrooms and onion rings.

It was a lovely Texas afternoon with clear skies, a light Southern breeze and temperatures in the mid 80’s.

We couldn’t resist a cheesy photo-op as the King and Queen.

Cake fit right in with the Renaissance characters.  Here she is with a couple of Ogres.

This guy is lucky he didn’t get my husbands size 11 boot up his you-know-what after calling out to Cake “Hey, come here horny girl!”  As penance I made him pose for a photo.

We finished the day off by checking out some of the beautiful performing animals.

Majestic birds of prey and obliging elephants.

I felt a little sorry for this long eye-lashed beauty as she patiently carried kid after kid around and around.

What better way to end a perfect day than with a poem inspired by Cake and the Renaissance?

Absinthe eyes

Dancing fairy sprite

  Cast not thy gaze my way

Bewitch another

His heart enslave

And corpse the birds to pick

The Most Influential Man in My Life


I want to take a moment to talk about the most influential man in my life.  His name is Jesus.  I’m not talking about the Jesus of the modern-day fanatical Christian.  The one who condemns you to hell if you don’t believe every word written in the King James bible.  The Jesus who hates non Christians, homosexuals, adulterers, drug addicts, criminals…  No, I’m talking about the immaculate Jesus.  The perfect highest spiritual being, chosen by the Creator to come down to earth in physical form and set an example for us to live by.

Jesus was not a man who condemned and judged people for the way they believed, lived or the mistakes they made.  He loved them, sought them out, lived among them, forgave them and ultimately died for them.  This is the Jesus whose example I choose to follow.  This is the Jesus my soul desires and knows as well as I know my own earthly parents.  I don’t know the Jesus that judges and condemns, nor do I care to.  It’s so heartbreaking to see all the well-meaning Christians judging and spewing hatred, while firmly placing a wedge between themselves and people who may truly need Christ.  The message they are relaying is “I am better than you, you are a sinner and do things I do not approve of, therefore you are not good enough to associate with us.  But if you do as we say, believe what we tell you, dress and act like us, we will let you be a part of our religion.”  Unfortunately, many people turn away from a spiritual relationship with God because of the negativity they encounter in many of today’s organized religions.

A very special friend of mine Cara, a young woman who is wise well beyond her 29 years, recently wrote a post titled I Love You in her blog This Little Light where she made the following statement;  “As a challenge to myself, I don’t often speak directly about my beliefs or the One in which I have devoted my life to following; not because I am ashamed to say so, but because it is my understanding, that if I am being who I am supposed to be, then the need for me to tell others I am a Christian is superfluous. Do I need to tell you I have peach skin, or green eyes, or auburn hair? Of course not. And so my faith should be as evident as the most prominent features — more so! — on my face.”

This is perfectly stated.  A true Christian should not have to convince others to follow them in their beliefs.  Christ’s love and influence should be apparent in everything they do.  My heart’s desire is that the peace and love of Christ is magnified in my words and deeds every day.  I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I let myself and others down, but I am still loved.  Just as He loves the Buddhist, the homosexual, the loving grandmother, the adulterer, the newborn baby, the drug addict, the bigot, the atheist and even the judgmental well-meaning Christian.

May peace and love be with you all the days of your life.

You of Ebony Eye


Young, beaten, starved you came
I know you, I said, we are one in the same
You of ebony eye, flashing white caution
Tango is the dance for us
I bend and twist to your lead
You show me the steps
We perfect our dance
I know you, I said, we are one in the same
You of ebony eye, flashing white caution
Trust is the virtue we build
I bend and twist to your lead
I give you sustenance
You nourish my soul
I know you, I said, we are one in the same
You of ebony eye, flashing white caution
Time the harbinger that foreshadows
I bend and twist to your lead
Grizzled and gray we race
You take the lead
Furlong by furlong
I am left in the dust

For Cody, today his 24th birthday.  May we have many more my old friend.

Bring it on Down to My House Honey


The little boy front and center is my dad Kenneth (aka Ken, aka Benjamin, aka Ben).  My dad grew up in Central Texas during the hard lean times of the 30’s and 40’s.  He was the second child in a family of eight children.  His family was dirt poor and barely had enough money for food and clothing.  In order to survive they all spent many long hours out in the fields, picking cotton.  Life was hard, but they got by as best they could.  The one thing of great value that they possessed was their talent.  The whole family consisted of a hodgepodge of talented musicians, singers, songwriters and storytellers.

His family had very few possessions, but there was always an old guitar or fiddle in the house.  When my dad was about six years old, he was allowed to start learning to play the guitar.  He was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn and like the rest of his family, was blessed with a natural talent.  He learned to play by ear while listening to a songs on the old battery-powered radio and then figuring out the correct chords to play.  In no time at all he was playing entire songs and singing along.

One Sunday after church my Papaw, who later became a minister himself,  invited the Preacher over for Sunday dinner (in the South dinner is the meal served at noon and supper is the evening meal.  (For a of humorous explanation of supper vs dinner check out the Real Southern Men blog:  http://real-southern.com/2011/07/13/twanglish-lesson-supper-vs-dinner/)  After dinner, which I’m sure consisted of fried chicken, pinto beans, collard greens, cornbread, and tea cakes for dessert, my Papaw was eager to show off his son’s newly developed talent to the visiting Preacher.  Papaw said “Ken go get your guitar and play us a little something.”  Little Ken acted shy at first, but with a bit of prodding from my Mamaw, he tuned up his guitar and belted out the following song:

“Well, bring it on down to my house honey there ain’t nobody home but me.  Bring it on down to my house honey I need your company.  Yeah, your momma won’t fret if you bring it over here.  Preacher won’t know and the neighbors don’t care.  So bring it on down to my house honey ain’t nobody home but me.”

To this day my dad is still hilarious and full of mischief.  Thank you Dad for showing me the importance of music, the art of storytelling and most of all for having such a great sense humor.

Springtime Girls


My life is lived in Seasons.
I woke in the bosom of Fall.
The greenness of youth transformed.
Replaced by a new, more vibrant beauty.
Warm reds, golds and yellows color my canvas.
Brisk air and shorter days stir the desire to move on.
To migrate to the next chapter…

I like being Fall. I am Sister.  A pet-name bestowed upon me by my own sweet parents. These are my Springtime girls.


My oldest precious daughter is Baby Sister Girl.  She came to me in the Spring, like the first tender blossom, stretching her tiny face toward the warm sun, full of wonder and eager to meet every challenge put before her.  She is strong, she is confident, she is a go getter.  She knows what she wants out of life and she will stop at nothing to get it.  You always know where you stand with her, she pulls no punches.  I have made my share of mistakes in tending to this flower, but in spite of my shortcomings, she has thrived.  Her roots are strong, her core is solid.   In a field of flowers, she’s the one your eye is drawn to.  She is my pride and joy.


My youngest is Cake.  She is another Springtime girl and like her mother, she is an old soul.  Cake is the Ghost Orchid, a precious and rare flower.  She is one of a kind, she is unique.  She marches to the beat of a different drum.  She is excentric and hilarious, delicious and irresistible.  Cake is a bohemian, a gypsy, an artist.  Cake does not conform, she does things on own her terms.  She is tender, compassionate, loving and kind.  She is the most optimistic person I know.  Evil does not exist in her world.  She teaches me something new every day.


I am Sister, the mother, the teacher, the gardener entrusted to the care of these Springtime Girls.  My harvest is rich, my basket is full.

The Blood Bank Incident


Last week my darling daughter Rachel asked if I would like to go with her to donate blood.  She donated once before and the blood bank had recently sent her a card letting her know that her blood had gone to a young boy in need.  She was so excited to know that her blood had actually helped and she was looking forward to donating once again.  I know that donating blood is so important and God bless all the people who donate regularly.  That being said, I have never donated blood before and was not totally comfortable doing so.  I remember the blood drives at my high school and seeing my friend’s pass out in the hall after giving blood, so I had a negative impression of the whole process.  But I wanted to do my part to help and seeing Rachel’s enthusiasm spurred me on to give it a try.

We arrived at the blood bank and went through the screening questionnaire and had our iron levels checked.  Mine was only one point above the lowest limit allowed… this should have been my first clue.  We were escorted to the donation area, our arms were prepped and poked and we settled back to wait until our bags were full.   Everything went pretty well until the phlebotomist removed the needle from my arm.  I started getting fidgety and feeling a little queasy, then the room began to close in on me.  The phlebotomist jumped into action with ice packs, juice and a package of Oreo cookies.   After about ten minutes, I felt fine.  The last thing we were told was to be sure and have a hearty meal for dinner.

Well, I hadn’t been shopping lately and the cupboard was a little bare.  There was a Tom Thumb grocery store right next to the blood bank, so we decided to run in and grab a few items for dinner.  When we got to the checkout line Rachel said “Mom, I don’t feel very well, will you go get me a juice?”  I sat her down on the end of the checkout counter and ran through the store trying to find the little bottles of cold juice.  Now, any other time I would have known right where to go, but this time I went from one end of the store to the other, frantically searching for the juice.  I finally found some cold coconut water and ran back up to give it to her.  But then I thought, I better pay for this first.  So I went over the self checkout line and chose to pay by cash, but the stupid thing wouldn’t take my dollar.  I thought, you’ve got to be kidding me!  I took my bill and smoothed it out, then tried again with no luck, then back to smoothing when I heard Rachel say “Mom I can’t see!” I’m panicking, what do I do, what do I do?  After what seems like forever I finally get the damn thing to take my dollar and rush the coconut water over to Rachel.

Here baby, drink this.  “Mom, I’m hot and I can’t see anything.”  I’m thinking, people can’t die from giving blood, can they?  Then I hear “Mom, I’ve got to go to the bathroom… now!”  Well, one thing I know for sure, this Momma is not about to let her baby mess herself in the Tom Thumb checkout line!  So I grab her up and put her hands on the cart and ask one of the cashier’s to help me get her to the restroom.  Rachel can barely stand up, much less walk, and I’m thinking this cashier must think we are drug addicts or something.  I look at her apologetically and say we just gave blood and she is not feeling well.  Meanwhile, Rachel is saying “Mom, I can’t see anything!”

We’re trotting along with the cart, trying to hold Rachel up, but her knees buckle and she starts to go down.  When she does, she hits her knees on the bottom rack of the cart and the jolt brings her back around.  We finally make it to the restroom door and I thank the cashier and let her know I can take it from here.

It’s just a single restroom with the sink right beside the toilet and thank God it was not occupied.  I drag Rachel inside and get her on the toilet with mere seconds to spare.  She is teetering on the toilet and I have to hold her up with one hand while running cold water in the sink and trying to splash her face with the other.  After a minute I hear her say “I feel better, I can see again.”  I say, great why don’t you go sit down in the lounge and drink the rest of your coconut water.

As soon as she is out of the door, I begin to feel weird and hot all over.  I strip off my hoodie and begin splashing water on my face and even drinking water right out of the bathroom faucet.  Normally, I would NEVER drink water in a bathroom, but I’ve since discovered that you will do the most unusual things when you think you’re about to die.  Unfortunately, the water doesn’t help and I begin to slowly nod out. The last thing I remember thinking is, I look like one of those junkies on Intervention right after they shoot up with heroin.  Then I slide into darkness.

After a minute or two I come back around and to my horror I’m sitting in a wet puddle.  Yes people, I had wet my pants!  Now this is the first time in my entire adult life that I have ever wet my pants.  Even in my younger heavy partying, passing out drunk days, I never wet my pants for Pete’s sake.  So, as I am struggling to get to my feet, the door suddenly opens.  There stands some strange lady looking at me with this awful shocked expression on her face, I think she actually gasped.  I’m sure I was quite a sight, with my wet face and hair, mascara running down my cheeks, wearing a white wife beater, with my hoodie thrown in a heap on the floor and a big wet spot on my jeans.  Poor lady, I bet she thought, wow, this store has really gone down hill!

I put myself together as best as I could, wrapped my hoodie around my waist to hide my shame and go out to collect Rachel.  As we are walking out to the parking lot we turned to each other and in perfect unison say “I’m never giving blood again!”  I follow with “I hope I don’t get mouth herpes from drinking out of the bathroom faucet.  To which Rachel replies “Yeah, and we better find another place to shop.”  We hug each other and begin laughing hysterically, thankful we survived and happy to have yet another crazy memory to look back on.

The Roots of My Raising


“The roots of my raisin’ run deep
I’ve come back for the strength that I need
And hope comes no matter how far down I sink
The roots of my raisin’ run deep”   – Merle Haggard

I come from a long line of horse people.  Allow me to introduce you to my Great Great Grandfather, George Washington Ivey and his horse Rondo.

Grandpa Ivey worked cattle, and like all good cattlemen, he relied heavily on the skill of his horse.  Grandpa knew Rondo, a stud horse, was high-spirited and a little crazy when he bought him, but that was why he wanted him.  He worked long hard hours in the saddle and needed an alert horse to be aware of his surroundings and to warn Grandpa if something was awry.

One evening, after a hard day of working cattle, Grandpa rode up on a closed gate and got off Rondo to open it.  When he turned his back on Rondo, the horse took advantage of that unguarded moment and reared up, coming down on top of Grandpa.  With pounding hoofs and gnashing teeth, Rondo almost killed Grandpa .  After a long struggle with the horse, Grandpa was left with a crushed eye socket, a permanently blinded eye, broken cheek and badly mauled hand.  He somehow managed to gain control of the horse and with sheer will and determination he rode Rondo back home.

Upon arriving home, later than usual, his concerned family ran out to great him.  Bloody and beaten, he dismounted his horse, tied him to the fence post and tumbled to the ground.  When his teenaged son’s saw what the horse had done, they immediately got the gun to shoot Rondo, but Grandpa wouldn’t let them saying “No you aint killin him, it was my fault and that’s too good an ol horse to be shut of!”

This story was relayed to me by my 95 year old Mamaw.  George Washington Ivey was her Grandpa.  My Mamaw is tough as nails and quite a character in her own right.  She still lives in her own home and I’m sure she will be making an appearance here on my page before too long.  Yes, the roots of my raising run deep.

Frogs, Dogs, Various and Sundry Others: Part 2 – Bubby


God knew what he was doing when He brought my husband into my life.  I couldn’t imagine sharing my life with someone who doesn’t love animals and nature as much as I do.  Luckily, my husband grew up on a ranch in Montana and has been around dogs, horses and livestock his whole life.  I genuinely believe that people are guided into our lives for a reason, and not just by chance.  The first time I looked into my husband’s eyes, the strangest feeling came over me.  It was as if I recognized him, like he was a part of my family, even though we had never met before.  So, it really was love at first sight and we soon discovered we were very compatible in many ways, not least of all our love of animals.

As our life together progressed, it was quite natural for me to give him a burro for his first father’s day gift, and just as natural for him to give me a goat for my birthday.  Our girls grew up with dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, ferrets and even a racoon or two.  We rescued this litter from a friend’s attic after the mother was found dead.

Our home life was great and there was never a dull moment around our house, but each year we couldn’t wait for June to finally arrive.  This meant the girls were out of school for the summer and we were headed to the Texas Hill Country for another camping adventure.  Of course, this also meant making arrangements for our animals to be cared for in our absence.  One year, all plans had been made, my parents were going to take care of the animals.  Our camping gear was packed and we were planning to head out right after the Memorial Day weekend.

One morning, the week prior to leaving for our trip, we woke up to discover that one of our goats had given birth to a healthy billy kid.  Sadly, she was struggling to give birth to a second kid and she desperately needed help.  We immediately took her to our Veterinarian, but unfortunately she and the second kid did not survive and we were left with the orphan kid to care for.  We headed to the store, purchased a bottle and some goat’s milk, and proudly became the new parents of a baby billy goat.

Instantly the girls fell in love with him and dubbed him Gruff, as in the fairly tale the Three Billy Goats Gruff.   We soon found out that much like a newborn infant, caring for a baby goat is a round-the-clock job with feedings every 3 to 4 hours.  My parents were glad to feed and water our other animals every day, but bottle feeding a newborn goat every couple of hours was a little bit much to ask of them.  Not willing to give up our greatly anticipated vacation, we decided to take Gruff camping with us.  We bought some powdered kid milk replacer, several gallons of bottled water, made a snug little bed for him in one of our large dog travel kennels and we were off.

He was actually a lot easier to travel with than any of our dogs ever were.  He followed on our heels everywhere we hiked and was always the center of attention with our campsite neighbors.  It turned out to be a great vacation and wonderful memories were made for all of us.

We returned home and Gruff settled in as the newest member of our family.  Being raised in the house and yard rather than the pasture, he was totally unaware of the fact that he was a goat, and therefore considered himself to be a dog.  He would run down to the front gate with the dogs to greet our visitors.  And like most members of this family, he soon got his very own nickname.  Maybe because he was the closest thing to a little brother my girls would ever have, they started calling him “Bubby”.  He was known as Bubby for the rest of his life and brought us so much love and joy.  I can still hear the girls calling his name, BUBBY!  Then you would hear a high-pitched mehhhh!  And Bubby would come running to them.

He lived to have many great years as our beloved pet.   When he closed his eyes for the final time last year, I cried like a baby.  We are so blessed that you were a part of our lives.  Until we meet again on the Rainbow Bridge, I will continue to love and miss you, my sweet Bubby.

May 1998 – October 2011

 The Rainbow Bridge http://petloss.com/rainbowbridge.htm

Apple Fritters


I love apple fritters, but the ones available at the local donut shop tend make my tummy a little upset.  Something about the oil they use.  So here’s my homemade version.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup peeled apple chopped into small bits
Coconut Oil


2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk together milk and egg and stir into dry ingredients until just combined.  Fold in apple.  Pour about 1 1/2 inches of oil into skillet.  Heat oil on medium high heat.   Use a big spoon and kind of dribble batter into hot oil until you get the size of fritter you want, they puff up a bit in the hot oil.  Cook until brown, then flip and cook the other side.  Transfer to cooling rack placed on top of sheet pan and glaze.

Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl.  Drizzle over apple fritters.  Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side.