Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wet Wednesday!

We have been having a ton of rain lately. Dreary weather does not affect me greatly, but today is officially the first day of summer and I was kind of, sort of hoping for bright sunshine.  No dice, so instead I am looking at gray skies and big fat raindrops. The upside is it's just rain and with no lightning and thunder.  I guess this means no yard work either and I do have some outdoor chores I needed to do.(Notice the muscadines overtaking the fence) I guess I will just have to stay inside and read. Now that I type that it doesn't sound like a bad option for the day does it?

On a side note, since the day is cooler and dreary I am making coconut soup for a light dinner.

Cheaters Coconut Soup (Special thanks to my friend Louay for teaching me this trick)

1 cup of cooked rice divided into 4 bowls
1 carton chicken broth
1 pinch (or 2)
of ground ginger
dehydrated mushrooms (if you don't have them use about 5 fresh mushrooms sliced)
dried lemon grass
dried lime leaves (or fresh lime juice from one lime if you don't have lime leaves)
5 green onions (White part separated from the greens, both sliced thinly)
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
1 can coconut milk
1 cup cooked chicken (cubes or shreds)
1 lime quartered for garnish

Heat the chicken broth, add the ginger then toss in the dehydrated mushrooms, lemon grass, lime leaves and the sliced white bulbs of the green onions. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the onions are tender. Reduce to simmer then remove the lime leaves and lemon grass.  Stir in the chili oil and the coconut milk and mix well. Add the chicken and heat.  Serve in bowls on top of cooked rice. Garnish with the sliced green onion stems and a quarter of the lime. This make a great rainy night meal!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Crazy Train Tuesday

Each week I try and list some of the craziness associated with our dealings with our mother.  It keeps me sane and is much cheaper than therapy. I missed posting last week. Son3 was here and because I had an extra reinforcement I did not have to deal with everything by myself, so things seemed less intense. Special thanks to Son3 who went to her house several times and sat in her blazing hot den visiting her and having refreshments.

Sunday: I am backing up to last Sunday because I did not do a crazy train list last week. Sunday Son3 was sitting in with a jazz band playing at a Sunday brunch at a local watering hole. He got the call sometime late Sunday morning so we decided to run down after church, eat and listen to them for a bit. We asked Mom at the last minute and she wanted to go, so we dropped by her house to pick her up.  When we pulled into the driveway we saw A LADDER AND HER BIG LOPPING SHEARS next to a small tree by her driveway. (She had forgotten she left the ladder out and got caught)
She had mentioned Saturday she wanted the tree trimmed and I guess I just did not get to it in time to suit her. She was angry and felt like we ganged up on her, because every one of us fussed at her. for getting on the ladder to begin with, forget about the fact that she was leaning over it to trim the tree. My Beloved Sister called her after I relayed it to her  and told Mom if she falls from a ladder and breaks her hip she will be going to a nursing home, no ifs, ands or buts.

Monday and Tuesday: Uneventful days

Wednesday: After taking Mom to the dr. we were driving home and she asked me couple of random things then ended with what she really wanted answered.
Mom: Are you going to Aldi today. (Cleverly concealed code meaning I want you to take me to Aldi)
Me: I hadn't planned on it but I can go right now.
Mom: Well I don't want to you to go just to take me, but I am out of cereal and won't
have anything for breakfast tomorrow.
Me: We are already out, we might as well go on.
(I turned on to the interstate which is the quickest route because I don't hit about 15 traffic lights I would run into if I drove the other way)
Mom: Why are you going this way. I never drive this way. We should go the other way.
Me: It's a little quicker, plus you don't ever drive on the interstates anymore, remember?
Mom: I used to, but even when I drove on them I didn't come this way to Aldi.
Me: That's because Aldi wasn't here when you used to drive the interstates.
Mom flipped me off.

Later in the day I went to her house taking care of some business. I told her I had to meet the bug man  the next afternoon and asked if she wanted to ride to the lake at about 2 with me. She said she would like that.  About 10 minutes later her phone rang and a friend asked her if she would like to go with him to visit another mutual friend (who has moved to a care facility) Thursday afternoon.  Mom immediately said "Sure, I have no plans for tomorrow"
I started mentally singing "Chopped Liver".

Thursday: Got a call a little before 9 a.m.
Mom: I need you
Me: Do I need to call the paramedics and meet them there? (My new first response to her "I need you" calls)
Mom: No my stove won't work.
Me: Will your stove not work or is it your stove clock? (We have danced this dance before)
Mom: No! It's where the stove says 1 o'clock.
Me: (realizing there is no emergency) I will be down later to check on it

Friday: Phone call from Mom in the afternoon before Son2 and Girlfriend 2 were taking her out to eat.
Mom: Guess where I am going?
Me: (Yes, I know but I might as well let her "surprise me) Where?
Mom: I am going out to eat with Son3
Me: No Mom, Son3 is back in New York, you are going out with Son2.
Mom: Oh yeah, and That Girl too!
So now we are all calling Girlfriend2 "That Girl".  I am so happy she has a sense of humor and can laugh with us at the crazy.

Saturday: Nothing more than the usual phone calls (Yes, calls! I probably talk to her an average of 5 times a day) mostly her telling me how terrible her day was. Then I got a call from My Beloved Sister telling me when she stopped by Mom's she was outside cutting down another small tree. (She has a yard man every week and could get him to do this, but whenever she decides she wants something done, by crackie, she means right that minute and John woudn't come until Monday or Tuesday) Have you ever heard the soundtrack from Fiddler on the Roof? Years ago My Beloved Sister and I rewrote the words to the song Tradition. Our version begins: Relentless, Relentless....
MBS: (wearing nice clothes ) I will come by tomorrow morning and do this for you.
Mom: No I'll just get the guy to do it when he comes to do my lawn. !?!?!?!?!?

Sunday: Mom was eating dinner with all of us when I noticed huge bruises on her forearms. I thought she has possibly hit them on her door frame when she was walking from one room to another.
Me: Mom how did you get those bruises?
Mom: When I was trimming the tree between my house and the B's again today some of the cut branches poked through my skin me and bruised me.
THE ENTIRE TABLE: Crickets!!!!!
So much for letting the yard guy do it, huh?

Monday: I have a tendency to get my days and nights mixed up and I am in a terrible sleep pattern right now. I am still awake at 4 in the morning yet I still wake for the day by 7. Monday morning I had to be nowhere and was mentally giving myself permission to sleep in since I had finally gotten to sleep at about 4:30.  At 8:30 the phone rang, a call from Mom.
Mom: We have problems
Me: What problems? (groggy)
Mom: A branch fell from the tree you have got to call them and get them out here today. (We are still on a list to get the tree removed but every weekend lately we have had new storms and trees are falling everywhere. Mom does not seem to understand that trees on houses are removed before trees in yards)
Me: OK (still groggy)
Mom: Were you asleep?
Me: I'm not now
Mom: Well take care of this right quick
Me: (Mentally begin singing Relentless again) Sure Mom, just let me go to the bathroom first.

Call 2 approximately 3 minutes later
Mom: What did they say?
Me: Their answering service answered, I left a call back number.

Call 3 approximately 3o minutes later
Mom: Did you hear anything yet? You need to come look at this!
Me: No and I left my landline number so I can't leave to come look at the branch. About how big is it so I can tell them?
Mom: I am not good at eyeballing. It goes to the porch
Me: (silently) What?
        (aloud) Is it under 6 feet long? (mentally singing): "Let's start at the very beginning. . . "
Mom: One section is but it is in 4 sections.
Me: OK what is the total, just guess
Mom: One is bout 5 feet, another is about 4, the third is about 5 and the last one is about 3 feet long.
Me: (While doing mental tree mathematics) Was this one long limb or was it a shorter limb with branches off of it?
Mom: (crickets) I don't know, and I don't know how to deal with these things. Why don't you run down here and look?
Me: Because I am waiting for the tree service to call back.

Call 4 approximately 1 hour later
Mom: I just got a call from the roof people. It scared me
Me: Do you mean the tree people?
Mom: No the roof people, they want to inspect the roof today.
Me: Mom, did you call anyone to come look at your roof?
Mom: No
Me: Then it is just some roofing company trying to drum up business.
Mom: Well, it scared me, but I told them they couldn't look at my roof.
Me: (Silently) Then why did you call me?
       (Aloud) OK

Monday, June 19, 2017

Positively Monday

As an ongoing method of keeping my attitude in check I record something positive that happened each day. Like everyone in the world some days are easier to find things to be happy about than others, but every single day has at least one good thing in it.  Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper than others to find it. 

Monday: Got Son3 on his flight back to his home. We had a good visit with him and when it was time for him to go home it was time for him to leave. It was a perfectly timed visit with enough days to enjoy him but short enough that none of us got on anyone else's last nerve. As a special bonus, for the first time in his life he left the room pretty much as he found it, and even brought all the linens down and stuck them in the washer before leaving. And I got my car back, so I could go wherever I wanted and didn't have to share.

Tuesday: I had a gathering the fragments day at home.  I took the laundered sheets and towels from Son3's visit back upstairs put the room together, ready for the next visit. Also the Bach Chorale book I ordered arrived. Now i just need to play them daily.

Wednesday: Took Mom to the neurologist. Her Parkinson's is not progressing much at all and we are very thankful for that. Her cognitive function is down a wee bit but she is too tiny to take the medicine to help retard her memory loss. (Clinical trials have found it inhibits appetite resulting in weight loss) So now we begin the process of trying to chunk her up a little.  We are starting with a daily milkshake and trying to get her to add some additional carbs.  Mac and cheese anyone?

Thursday: TheHub is out of town and I had visions of binge watching OITNB but I already binged watched/listened to it. Instead I got to meet the bug man at the lake. I always get to do the fun stuff like that, but the lake was truly beautiful. On the way home I stopped at 2 stores having sales and bought me a few new duds.

Friday: Son2 and Girlfriend2 took Mom out for dinner. This was a fantastic gift to me!

Saturday: This sounds like a weird thing to consider as a positive, but I got the MBR shower scrubbed sparkly clean.  I had neglected it for a little bit and we have very hard water here. Hard water plus soap equals a mess.  Now there is no mess and I WILL resume my usual maintenance.

Sunday: TheHub got home from his trip in the late afternoon just in time for a hamburger cookout and a Father's Day celebration. Mom, Son2, and Girlfriend2 joined us for dinner and we also had a little FaceTime visit with Pip, Son1 and Mama K.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


                      Thinking of Dad today. I miss talking to him and especially miss his laugh.

This picture was taken before he and Mom married, and I never knew him with hair so bald was always a norm for me. When Son2 was about 2 years old he said "Hey Pop, Youse Bolss Headed, Why?" And Dad told him the same story he always told My beloved Sister and Me.
" There are people like me who have to be bald headed. I am so cute I can barely keep the women away from me as it is. Imagine how hard it would be if I had hair. So I have to be bald for your Mother's (or Nan's if he were talking to my sons) sake."
He had a wicked sense of humor, loved life and loved just about everyone in it.  He always said if he had known earlier what it was like to live in a family of women, he would have been forward thinking and invested heavily in Kimberly Clark, Maybelline, and Hersheys, the three essentials of female life.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

All in Favor Say Aye

I have reached that certain wonderful age where wearing shorts in public just doesn't work for me.  I never really wore them many places but I would run early morning errands while wearing them. I do own a lot of capris and I am fine wearing them around and about, but those can get pretty warm, especially on a day like today when it is in the mid nineties with 80 percent humidity and not a cloud in the sky. I had a list of errands to run, which was going to mean hopping in and out of the car about a gozillion times with each stop just long enough for the car to become an oven by the time each errand was done.
What to do, what to do? I was digging through the closet and found 2 lightweight denim dresses.  They are thick enough that you can't see through them in direct sunlight, but light enough to be cool.  Both have waists slightly above the natural waist and have free flowing skirts so air can move around all the places that are usually air restricted.

I wore one today. It has a scooped neck with spaghetti straps, so I did throw a shrug on , but I was relatively cool all day. With a dressier pair of leather flip flops and a straw hat (to cover the low ponytailed bun) it looked almost like a deliberate ensemble.  I actually had one lady stop me and ask where I got the dress (10 bucks at Dollar General about 4 years ago)

I think women years ago were on to a good thing and somehow or another we decided to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. They knew what they were doing when they wore a house dress (Which by definition was not a muumuu, as I always thought, but a cotton dress that was not as dressy as work outfits.) I am going to start wearing these around the house (except for crappy chore days) because they are unfitted enough that I can get by wearing a sports bra, and fitted enough that with a pair of flip flops and a hat I will look decent enough to do my daily running arounds.

Bring on summer! I am ready now!  Who's in?

The dress I wore is actually very similar (hence the need for a shrug)  to this but is longer (lower knee) and the body it fits on looks nothing like this one!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Positively Monday

Son3 was still in town for a visit so I tried very hard to have my car available for him. It was a good week but I was at home so much waiting for whenever my car would return to run my errands that I lost track of time. I must be one of those people who mark time in my memory based of where I was and what I did, because every day this past week has run together. Since I forgot to record the best thing that happened each day and because I have no specific things to jog my memoryI have nothing this week. It was a great week though. We spent a lot of time talking, a lot of time laughing, a lot of time eating out, and a lot of time playing music. (both recorded music and our personal live music) Son3 brought a book of Bach Chorales with him so he could learn them. They are such beautiful small pieces, I enjoyed playing  them so much I ordered the same book to have here.

And did I mention some serious binge watching of Orange is the New Black? (Yep, the entire season in 2 days) See how smart I am? Now I have an entire year to wonder what happens next. I love it when I do brilliant things like that.

Son3 is leaving this afternoon and I know I will miss him very much, but will be glad to have total control of my car so I can go wherever I want whenever I want. I won't have a ton of time to miss him since he is coming back with Girlfriend3 in August for a couple of weeks. When that happens we are going to introduce her to the Gulf Coast, the lake place and Southern cuisine. (Specifically grits, BBQ, boiled peanuts, and fried okra)   

This is going to be another weird week since my normal is turning upside down again, but I promise I will try and jot down the best things that happen!  Hope y'all all have a wonderful week also.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Orange Is The New Black and Prison Food

I have no idea how many of you watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix, but I am hooked on it and have been waiting and waiting for the new season. Well, the wait is almost over and tomorrow all 13 episodes will be up and ready for some intensive binge watching. TheHub is going on a business/pleasure trip to NYC Wednesday which should give me several empty evenings to curl up with Crazy Eyes, Piper, Alex, Tayste, and the rest of the gang.

Son1 texted me yesterday with an idea.  He knows I love to cook and I certainly do love a theme dinner so he suggested I come up with a theme meal for the beginning of the new season of Game of Thrones.  I thought it  was a great idea and then I remembered OITNB airs first, so why not start with it and see if it is something I want to continue?

I started researching prison food (because yes, I am nerdy like that), which seems to be pretty much just slop that the kitchen can create on a one dollar per meal, per prisoner budget. I really don't want to begin with that kind of meal, but while I was researching it, I found several "recipes" for meals the inmates from various institutions create from items sold in the prison commissary. That sounded like a little more fun to me. (Probably no more appetizing but at least more fun).

I did have to run to the grocery store because I have very few things that are sold in the canteen in my personal food stash.  I will also be perfectly honest and admit I used my appliances rather than dropping a rigged 'hot' power cord in a paper cup of water to make it boil. (If you are so inclined to play with water and electricity you can find directions here) I also did not crush anything by stomping on it while wearing my flip flops, and had to guess the sizes of some of the items because I have never been in or bought anything from a prison commissary.  I am assuming most items are sold in smaller packages since there is no refrigeration in the dorms and little storage area for personal items. I have no idea if inmates have some method of securing their purchased items or not. I am just  guessing but I think  theft might be an issue if there was not.

I learned that for the most part the people who are able to purchase items from the commissary need an outside source of money to fund their accounts since most prisoners earn just a few dollars a week, and canteen items carry a luxury price tag.  The items they buy are not only for their personal use but can be used for trade. I guess prison is like outside life and everything has a price, but there currency is not king.  Everyday useful items reign supreme.

From the things I researched it seems breakfast is the most acceptable cafeteria meal, because it includes 2 pieces of bread and a packet of jelly or syrup along with oatmeal, grits or some similar cereal option.  It might not be the best meal but it seems far from the worst. Additionally any unused packaged option like creamer, or jelly is taken back to the cellblock and some of the inmates carry their bread slices back in their shirt pocket.

The first of my trial foods is what is known as a Cadillac. I have no idea why it is named that because I would call it a mocha. Evidently instant coffee is an important/must have item, first because it is coffee and coffee is essential for some of us, but it is also a tradable item( Second only to cigarettes). I used one spoonful of instant coffee, 1 pack of instant hot chocolate and stirred in a cup of hot water. This is one treat that could be made using hot tap water, since neither requires boiling water.  I found it to be so/so.  It was neither bad nor good and would have had a richer flavor if I had saved (as recommended) the packet of coffee creamer from my breakfast tray. I think instant coffee is pretty unpalatable by itself and this definitely made it drinkable, and after enough time it might even become an enjoyable beverage. Dunno, but I don't want to spend any time in the big house just to find out. I will give this a solid B

My lunch today was Pig Soup.  I do at least understand the name this time, because it is based on pork ramen noodles.
1 pack pork ramen noodles
seasoning pack from the ramen
3 cups water
1 pack dehydrated vegetables (I had to punt here since I have no idea what veggies or how large the packs are. They only cost a dollar so I assume they are very small. I used one envelope of Lipton vegetable soup and dip mix. I poured it into a sifter and was left
chopped summer sausage
fried pork skins

Put the water in a boiler and bring to a boil. stir in the ramen seasonings then add the noodles and dehydrated vegetables.  Cook until the veggies have rehydrated and the noodles are very soft.  Add the chopped summer sausage and continue cooking until it is warm. Right before serving toss in some crumbled fried pork skins. The pork skins do become soggy rather quickly but taste kind of like bacon would if it were cooked in the soup.  This was not bad, in fact Son3 has been my in house guinea pig today and he liked it perfectly fine also. It is a little salty for my taste but I am not a big salt fan, and to be honest if it had some fresh vegetables cooked in it, it would be a delicious soup. As is I will give this an A- but with some additional veggies I would upgrade it to a solid A.

Our third dish for the day was going to be our dinner meal.  Was is the operative word here. I made the Pad Thai, mainly because we love Thai food, but after one taste each we changed the name to Bad Thai. It was so salty it was not edible for either of us.

1 package oriental ramen noodles
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste

Cook the ramen according to the package directions and drain well.  Stir in the peanut butter and soy sauce.  Combine well, then add hot sauce and stir again. This had none of the delicious Thai flavor I love and instead was a heavy, salty dish. The peanut butter flavor was overpowering. Possibly if I had used crunchy instead of smooth it would have been a little nicer taste and texture.  I think having the salty ramen , salty peanut butter, and the additional salty soy sauce was salt overload. Maybe if I had used tamari rather than soy sauce it might have made a difference. Maybe not, and I am not going to spend any time or effort trying to improve on it. So after one bite each this went down the garbage disposal, Son3 ran to Chick Fil A,  and I grabbed some leftover chicken salad from the fridge.

On reflecting Son3 did mention that even though we found this terrible, someone facing eating unseasoned poor quality food might find this a delicious alternative, so I am changing my prior grade of F to a C-

That brings us to our last dish. This is supposed to be a cake that is made when someone's time is up to celebrate his/her release. It is not a cake at all, but it does look somewhat like one and would be something festive to have for a special occasion if you had limitations with what you could do.

1 package Oreo type cookies
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
few drops of water if needed
1 individual serving size pack of peanut m&m's

Separate each cookie. Crush the tops of each cookie into very fine crumbs. This must take an inmate a long time because it took me forever and I was using a mortar and pestle. When you have very fine crumbs, stir in the mayonnaise. (Don't be grossed out by the mayo. It turns out that mayo is the oil for prison cooking and you don't taste it, I promise.) Mix well than press the mixture firmly into the bottom of a bowl making a cookie crust,
Scrape the filling from each cookie bottom into a bowl. Stir all the white stuff to make a smooth paste then add the peanut butter.  Set aside.
Crush the remaining now plain cookies into fine crumbs. Add the filling/peanut butter mix to the crumbs and mix very well. Spread it on top of the crumb crust. Crush the peanut m&m's and sprinkle them evenly over the "cake'.

The taste of this was quite good.  It tasted kind of like a Reese cup with cookie crumbs in it. My only issue was that the bottom layer fell completely apart. My advice to anyone in prison would be to add all the crumbs to the peanut butter mixture and just call it a mousse rather than a cake. I was not a fan visually of the crushed m&m's. I had rather have plain m&m's on top of it and forego the additional peanut flavor. It is strictly my esthetic though.  The crushed ones still tasted pretty good. The picture to the right is a cross view of how it looks once cut, though cut is a misnomer. You actually have to spoon it out, but it is ok and still tasty even if it is messy. I will give it a B.

 And now I am gong to share a few thoughts about what I learned today. Many states contract out their prisoner food and the average daily budget is 3.71 per person. Rather than prepare low sodium meals for those with medical needs, the food is largely unseasoned and bland so no changes are needed except for the occasional uber restricted diet.. People observing a Kosher or Halal diet have must fresher , much better tasting, and higher quality foods so a lot of non-religious prisoners pull the religion card to try and get them.  Evidently here is an intense vetting process for approval, because those special religion based meals cost much more then the 3.71 daily average.

Besides the cost of the meals there is a more insidious reason for keeping the food quality poor. Many inmates refuse to eat the really bad meals and prefer to cook their own foods from items purchased at the commissary. The money generated from the commissary goes back into the prison budget, and is supposedly used to pad money for whatever is necessary for that particular institution.  But now that so many are privatized does the money go to the prison or to the profit column? I have no idea but it is a question to ponder. I am paraphrasing a quote I read from a prison guard. When the food is not good the prisoner will not eat which creates a lot of hungry people in less than ideal conditions. When people are hungry they get angry and angry people in a confined space are  powder kegs ready to ignite and is not safe for the inmates or the staff.

I have no solutions, but I do have a lot of respect for those ingenious enough to figure out how to survive.