Saturday, May 29, 2010

He's home!

He's home. He's home he's home he's home!!!

The month-plus-long outage (and midnight shift) ended today! My vampire is currently asleep, but he's planning to wake up soon and go back to sleeping during the night tonight. It will be the first time we've slept together since mid-April.

Not that way. Pull your head out of the gutter.

This morning I told him I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep with somebody else in the bed. His reply: "Oh yeah, are you going to take up all the space and kick me off the edge?"

But Mike shouldn't worry too much. Dante has been keeping his place warm. I don't let animals on the bed as a rule - Dante starts the night off on his pillow on the floor, but somehow during the night he levitates onto Mike's spot on the bed. Sometimes I even wake up with Dante's head underneath my hand. He's bad, but he sure is charming about it.

Now it's time to catch up on all the social activities and hardy partying that we've missed for the past month. I think the plan for tonight is for me to be the designated driver and let Mike let loose and drink as much as he can stand. You know, for medicinal purposes. So he can sleep. Yeah, that's it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Yesterday was our third anniversary. I just can't believe that - it seems like we were having premarital jitters just yesterday, and here we are, old married fogies.

And I absolutely love it.

It's been another super fantastic year. This one was especially big because we went to Europe together and had a blast. Travel really defined our third year together. Football games, weddings, New Orleans, boating, wild and crazy maize mazes, you name it, we did it all and had a beautiful time together.

We haven't seen each other much during the beginning of 2010. In the early months I was tearing it up with my business and doing tax season and enjoyed every minute of it. A week after that wound to an end, Mike was put on the midnight shift at work. But it's making us appreciate the time we have together. And we're really looking forward to a full week or two on the coast to relax, rest, rejuvenate, and reconnect.

It just so happened that last night was the one night of the week that Mike has off, and we were both in the mood for a good steak. So we went to Shapley's and had the best meal either of us had eaten in a while. The steak was like butter, the roasted asparagus melted in your mouth, and as I told the waiter it was our anniversary, he threw in a couple of glasses of champagne at the end of the meal for a toast. It was lovely. We came home to have a dessert of our two wedding cakes from That Special Touch. It's a tradition of mine to order a small Bailey's Irish Creme and a small raspberry chocolate ganache cake every year, but this year they messed up the order and sent me home with a whopping pair of cakes that would feed at least 50 people!

If you're in the area and in the mood for either, please drop by. I'm making myself sick.

I thought I'd include our song in this post. Mike actually picked it out. We tell everybody that it's Pass the Courvoisier, but this one really makes my heart sing.

Here's to more and more and more.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Long long ago, on a farm far far away, I was helping my grandmother clean out a cedar chest. She came upon an old Dillard's bag full of fabric squares. I instantly recognized them as crazy quilt squares done by a very talented hand, but in her enthusiasm of cleaning out, my grandmother put them in the trash pile. Yes, I am a bit of a packrat. Yes, I have family nostalgia and am fascinated by history and geneaology. So I fished them out of the trash and asked about them.

It turns out these quilt squares were made by my gradmother's grandmother Mary Louise, so that makes her my great-great grandmother. She even accidentally left some of my family's trademark white hair among the patterns. A crazy quilt is made with scraps of fabric leftover from making clothes in the home. As nothing was thrown out or wasted long ago, it was very popular during the turn of the century and in the 1930s, during the Depression. You can tell by the fabric that some of it may have even been homespun: it is often heavy, as clothes were made to last for years, if not generations. Mary Louise used this medium to show off her talent at diverse embroidery, and you can spend hours on this quilt, picking out the different stitches and imagining the patches' counterpart clothing.

So Mom, my Tibetan seamstress, took it upon herself to finish this project for me. She even crafted four new squares, noting the family history and names of the relatives between Mary Louise and me. In the spirit of the quilt's beginning, I insisted that no fabric, supplies, or buttons be bought for it - that only scraps and leftover items be used - and I could not be more thrilled with the outcome. I truly love it.

Is it awful to already be yearning for cold weather?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cooking at 1600F

I do love jewelry. Surprise! A Southern housewife who likes sparkly things. Who'd have guessed? Though I usually wear the same pieces every day, everything I have has its own story, so my jewelry box is filled with memories and happy thoughts.

I had the opportunity to create some fine silver (.999 silver instead of .925 sterling) pieces of my own this weekend. Millsaps was offering an enrichment course entitled Making Rings with Precious Metal Clay, and boy have I been enriched. Laura T., the instructor, has an large studio out in the forest close to her house in Brandon where any manner of crafting device can be found. Her dogs, Freckles, Doxy, and Sista, come in and out and wind their way through the chair and table legs for a scratch behind the ears. Doxy and I bonded, and she spent most of the afternoon in my lap.

Precious metal clay is some interesting stuff. It comes in small foil packages that are tightly sealed. It's important to work quickly, because though it's forgiving of mistakes and easy to start over, it it's exposed to air for more than an hour, it will dry out and must be put back in the pouch with some distilled water to soften up again.

Once you have the piece in the shape that you want, you must heat it to take out the moisture. We did this on a plain old kitchen griddle at 250 degrees! I love the dual use of household items. Then, in a kiln and over a period of about 45 minutes, you fire your piece. The kiln starts at normal room temperature and shoots up to one thousand, six hundred degrees Fahrenheit over that short time. It was impressive. And a little scary.

After they come out of the kiln, you must temper your piece by dipping it in water with tongs. It makes a pssst! noise, and the forms holding the rings in place violently dissolve, causing a temporary freak-out that the sterling has actually broken.

Here are my original pieces straight from 1600 degrees. You can't tell very well from the photo, but they're covered in a white substance, kind of like a bisque in pottery. I took a steel brush to scrub it off and an awl to burnish. Finally, I ran them through the tumbler to strengthen the metal. The ring on the bottom right might be my favorite: it has fleur de lis stamped into it.
The finished products after scrubbing, polishing, and tumbling.
One of Laura's more fascinating talents is glass bead making. She has hundreds of rods of beautifully-colored glass, an O2 condenser, and a propane tank. Since Mike doesn't even really trust me with the smoker (OK, OK, to his defense, I did set the deck on fire. Just once.), I decided to leave this craft to the professional.

Next I really want to try to do a mint leaf, but that's pretty intimidating. I have gathered the materials, but I can't bring myself to start just yet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mayhem in the Projects

Dear Stupid Neighbor Three Streets Down (not you, Missy),

The dog you hit with a baton this morning is named Max. He lives two doors down and across the street from you. No wonder he wouldn't come to me or anyone else after you took in a few good licks. I'm sure his owners, the Masons, didn't appreciate your calling the cops on him. Why you decided to yell, "I CALLED 911!" at me when Dante and I came upon you and your two large dogs (both on leads - I'm sure we appreciate your so stringently following the rules), I still don't know. When I asked you why you had called 911, you yelled some inanity about how dogs are not allowed to "run around loose!"

Take a minute to think, Stupid Neighbor. Max is a good dog. He was smiling at you. Though I had never met him, he obeyed me when I told him to stop barking. He didn't bother Dante, though Dante was not on a leash either, and Max could have eaten him for breakfast. Max was obviously well loved, well fed, thoroughly brushed, and had a collar on. It appeared that he was out for a joy ride and relishing life out of his fence for a little while. His large stature and dark coloring could be interpreted as imposing, but he is somebody's loved pet, and he was bothering nobody.

Furthermore, once you had retreated back to your house, Officer Braden drove up. He and his precinct didn't appreciate your calling either. You called not once but twice, and you refused to leave your name. You told the Clinton Police to "just handle it," and that it was "not your problem." Officer Braden told me that he had done the only thing in his power: he put in a call to the dog catcher, who would be here in 45 minutes and, upon catching Max, would euthanize him.

Unable to stand that idea, I took Dante home, kissed Mike hello as he came in from the night shift, grabbed some leftover steak, and took the pickup truck back to the scene of the crime.

Mike doesn't appreciate you keeping me from fixing his supper.

Try as I might, Max would not come to me, but he did slip back into a backyard. I followed him, noted the "Beware of Dog" sign, realized there were no other dogs in that yard, and realized from Max's demeanor and the footprints in the dirt that this was his turf. I tried to close the gate, but it was broken and looked like it had been kicked in. So I went around to the front door, where I found a key in the lock and the door open and ajar.

The police dispatcher didn't appreciate a THIRD phone call from your street, only because YOU had called wolf twice.

Officer Braden came back, and with Glock pulled, slowly walked through the house, calling out for someone who was fallen, injured, dead, or worse. I followed tentatively, keeping my back toward the wall. I found a note on the kitchen counter that read "R - please feed Max. Love, Mom" dated today. No cars were in the garage, nobody was home, and we deduced that instead of a potential break-in and homicide, this was a case of a forgetful teenager.

Stupid Neighbor, you are retired. You are a male. All of these events occurred on your street. Pull your head out of your ass and make the effort to take care of your surroundings, including the people around you. You will make no friends behaving in the manner you did this morning.

I don't appreciate your careless actions.

Big Bossy Redhead

Dear Irritating Neighbor:
Your dog has eaten three earplugs and part of a phone cord. I know because he left them on our front lawn.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ce Weekend

Once in a blue moon, or a full moon, and sometimes only once in a lifetime does one have such an epic girl's beach trip adventure as I shared this weekend. We laughed. We cried. We ate Special K protein bars. We made The Hangover look like child's play.

The theme song was Tik Tok by Ke$ha.

I suppose I should have known it would be great because of the fantastic company. But the full moon definitely had something to do with it.

It all started out on Thursday morning. Katy, Jess, Mary Stratton, and I loaded up with cinnamon rolls in tow headed for the beach. We stopped at the Purple Parrot in Hattiesburg and each had a plate of crawfish quesadillas. Thanks Auntie Dee. They were fabulous. The rest of the drive down was uneventful with the exception of the 17-year-olds hanging out the windows of their beat up truck, calling us MILFs. A bit of a buzzkill.

But that was far overshadowed by the excitement of an upgrade to the penthouse! And it had an ice maker. Oh, you know I'm trying to figure out where I'd put one at our house.

We unloaded and enjoyed the only 20 minutes of sunshine we were destined to see on this trip, but somehow that didn't manage to dampen our spirits. Supper was at Cosmo's with Christin, where Jess and I discovered painkillers, and we picked up Sarah on the way home. We finished out the night with a dip in the saltwater jacuzzi, a plunge in the pool, and a thrill down the slide.

Friday was one of the most surreally fun days I have had in a long time. We started at the Tanger outlet mall in Foley, where I did some damage at Coach. But hey, our third anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks, and that traditional gift is leather. Mike would say that's because by now I've worn out his wallet. We lost track of time and shopped until 1:30, when our stomachs could not take it anymore. The next stop was Fish River Grill #2, a hole in the wall place with the most fantastic food I've put in my mouth. So hungry, we asked the waitress for some crackers and ranch dressing, so she brought each of us our own "swamp soup," collard greens with blackeyed peas in them. I had the fried alligator, and it miraculously was not a bit tough. And a gratis dessert of pineapple, peach, and coconut cobbler was brought out that was completely out of this world.

Back at the condo, we headed down to the lazy river and made a few laps on the inner tubes.

And then we dressed to head out to Live Bait.
Details of that night are sketchy at best.
But expert fist-pumping ensued.
After four hours of sleep, we were back on the lazy river. Who says we're old ladies? Then we laid out for a while and had lunch at Tacky Jack's.
By way of Alvin's Island for some obligatory tacky souveniers, we headed back to the condo, where we laid out and did our own thing until it was time to dress for supper. We ate our last dinner at Shipp's Harbour Grill and ran into some new friends that we had met on Friday night. What are the odds? I have to say that Shipp's Harbour was my favorite restaurant.

All in all, it was a beautiful girls' weekend with the best company a girl could ask for. Thanks ladies. I wish I could remember and write down all the weird, wacky, wonderful craziness. It will go down in the history books.


Made by Lena