Pepper Jelly, Puppy and Persnickity Partner


Someone at work brought in homegrown jalapeños and Serrano peppers.  A bag full.  I had a few habanero and 1 bell pepper so I made 8 jars of pepper jelly.  The dog, cats and husbands whined and complained because the odor of extracting peppers took your breath away.  I’m used to working with peppers so I know how to breathe through the capsicum steam.   I still have half the bag of jalapeño/Serrano pepper mix and I think I’ll can some salsa.  Not today tho.  I need to rest before starting on the rest of the to do list.  Lasagne to ready for baking tomorrow.   Couscous to go with lamb tangine tonight.  Writing on the birthday boy’s ice cream cake.  And court rules to attempt to summarize <– like not going to happen today.


Crush, the puppy, is doing a bit better with becoming housebroken.  We have graduated his kennel from the garage to the living room.  He whined at bedtime, but only until 2 a.m.  🙄

Crush is my constant shadow.   I’m not sure why.   My husband and SOMH care for him more than I do.  I don’t feed him food scraps like I do my cats (long story, bad choice, but too late to change).  But if I do dishes, he lies across my feet.   If I turn to stir food on the stove, he schooches over to lay on my feet.  If I sit, he holds my leg.  If I sit on the floor, he lies across my lap.

Maybe it is because Ajax follows me everywhere and this is some sort of power struggle between the feline and the canine.   Ajax uses his bully tactics to get my attention and Crush uses his cuteness, playfulness to get it from me.  


The persnickety partner…what can I say.  I can’t seem to do anything right this weekend.  I know he doesn’t feel well but he’s not a complainer so he’s just…persnickety.   He’s a man so making suggestions is futile.  He was in an accident several months ago and saw a quack of a chiro and he’s worse off now.  He’s a bit gunshy to try again so he suffers.  Chronic headache, body ache, ill temper.  I hurt for him.  

New Addition


So we brought home a beautiful light yellow lab and named him Crush.  As expected, the other two furry family members are none to pleased.  Ajax, the gray tabby, quickly asserted his dominance by swatting at the puppy.  His displeasure grew whenever I was tending to the puppy.  (I belong to Ajax and have since I brought him home 11 yrs ago.)


Leo, the black tuxedo tabby, puffs up like black tumbleweed and tiptoes around him.  He’s tiptoeing closer and closer and hissed once.  He is otherwise disinterested in the dog.

By day two, Crush was having none of Ajax’s swatting and decided to use his voice.  Two puppy-barks and Ajax backed down.  Foolishly I thought this would be the end of it, but Ajax was just giving Crush a false sense of superiority.  Crush decided he would leap toward Ajax and entice him to play.  Ajax delivered four swats before Crush could even blink.  Ajax was back on top.  Today…day four…is Saturday. We are all home and Crush is having the full family experience.  He follows me around like … well, like a puppy.  So does Ajax.  Ajax was becoming tired of my new companion and Crush must have sensed it because he turned and barked at Ajax.  Crush was back on top.

As of this moment, after a full day of new noises, sounds and routines, both cats and the dog are asleep on the floor among the scattered chew toys, bones and empty water bottles.

Although I am not a dog person, and prefer cats, I must say Crush is very cute.  He will be 100% cuter when he is fully housebroken.  I’m calling him Mr. Piddlepuss.  And why…WHY when they drink water do they splash it all over the place.  


Welcome home baby.

Suddenly there is Silence….

Today is going to be marked down in the history books as the most memorable 4th of July ever.

I flew to Arizona this week to help my daughter with her new baby.  Only the baby didn’t come as predicted.  I arrived and tried the “ok I am here – you may have the baby” speech that worked on me 26 years ago when my father arrived in anticipation of the birth of my first child.  Nope.  As my daughter was not having contractions – at least not hard and consistent – I resigned myself to spending the week with my daughter, my SOMH, and my oh so very precious 20 month old grandson.

Last night, the 3rd of July, my daughter was called in for an elective induction procedure involving a gel at can be inserted three times over 2-3 hour periods.   She had been on this waiting list and we were sure, as this was a long weekend, it would not happen.  We were wrong.  At 11:30 p.m., they called and my daughter came shrieking out of the bedroom…”they called, they called!!!”  In my sleepy, disoriented stare, I jumped up, ran in circles, told her to calm down, and in my calmest voice, told her to “breathe”.  Then I stopped and said “wait, what is happening?”  By then she was on the phone with her husband who had been at the mosque, and in the most amazing multi-tasking fashion, managed to get dressed, brush her hair, talk to her husband and bark instructions to me about the toddler peacefully sleeping in his bed.

Needless to say, there was NO sleeping that night.  I received periodic texts from my daughter who informed me that a cockroach crawled on her hand in the car (we have determined it was a leaf) and that she only needed one gel application to begin laboring.   Apparently, my daughter doesn’t have a high tolerance for pain.  She was, to hear her tell it, SCREAMING in pain.  She begged for drugs and they gave her something to calm her.  It only made her sleepy so she loudly complained that she needed more time between contractions.  There is no drug for that.  Apparently, when she reached 5 cm, they prepared to give the epidural.  She had it, but it didn’t take.   Not at all.   I cannot write what it is I am sure she must have been saying…err…screaming.  She pushed her precious son out in three pushes.   I received the news at 7:55 a.m. from my SOMH…proud baba!   The first text from my daughter was obscene exclamations…and “you chose to do it without medication?!?!?  What the hell is wrong with you?”

Shortly before 10 a.m., my SOMH picked me and his older (so cool to say that) son up and off we went to visit.  He asked me to drive as he could not stay awake.  Trust me…when he needs to sleep, he cannot be awakened.  He went right to sleep in the hospital room when we got back and I snuggled my new grandson, while tired momma got her snuggles from her other son.

But this happy and joyous story has a slight selfish downside…as it is still Ramadan, I have been fasting.  Technically, I would be excused as I am traveling, but I am with my Muslim family so fasting is not difficult.  Only its Arizona … in July … with nonstop unpredictability and routine changes.  The migraine that has decided to join me started the day I left (and had to deal with flight delays, new itinerary, etc.) and despite medication, will not leave.  As momma, baba and new baby are staying at the hospital, I could not let the pain overtake me when I had my grandson in my care.  This child is stealthy.   Very well behaved, mind you, but moves from point A to Z in a split second and finds the one object he really should not have (my iPad, eyeglasses, pointy screwdriver, blade to the food processor).  I felt I had no choice but to break my fast so I could down a double dose of headache meds.  I haven’t eaten anything except a piece of bread, but my stomach is rebelling from the pain.  It’s not gone, but subdued.  

At home, my grandson and I decided to pack a bit as tomorrow is moving day to a bigger apartment.  I packed, he unpacked.   I decided we should play instead.   Well my grandson had A LOT to say.  He chattered on in his special toddler language for at least 1/2 hour nonstop.  He has serious conversations with his water bottle and the pie tin.  He spins himself around in circles and kicked the soccer ball, all the while discussing somethings very serious.   It was adorable but exhausting.  You know the conversation where they are definitely trying to convey something and you playfully agree and then they pause, waiting for you to do whatever it is you just agreed to.  I love those moments.  The intent conversation.   But now, I am relishing the silence.   Habibi is in bed…sound asleep…I managed to make sense out of the kitchen packing and cannot hold my eyes open, but I want to regroup.  I need to sleep…my headache demands it.  But it is too quiet now… 

Snowmaggedon Jonas – 1/22-23/16

Thirty three inches of snow fell on us over the weekend.  With the wind blowing, there were drifts four feet or more.  From the comfort of our warm home (alhamdulillah), it was beautiful to see.  Our backyard is unbelievable serene.

  
During the snowfall on Saturday morning, my husband and I took the truck out for a drive and it was more than breathtaking.

  
But then chaos happened…the transmission went out in the truck – fortunately not until we were pulling into the driveway.   No way to move it.  Then, as the night wore on, I complained about being cold…but I’m always cold.  Turns out this time it was legit.   At 1:15 a.m., my husband even woke up cold.   There was no heat blowing thru the vents.  We had forgotten to dig out the outside vents.   So at 1:30 a.m., we dress in full snow gear and make our way to the back of the house through waist-high snow.   We can smell gas.  The gas vent is covered.   I started shoveling away clearing the vents and pipes.   Hubby got the back vents cleared.  Still no heat.   Well, there was heat, but it wasn’t blowing.  Must be the filters.   Sure enough, by 2:00 a.m. we had warm blowing air again.   After the worry over CO2 passed (our meter broke a few days ago), we managed to get back to bed and sleep…until 5 a.m when my sister-in-law called.  Although she could get home, there was nowhere to park.  She needed to come here to sleep.   But our roads were not yet plowed…we live off the beaten path and they finally got to us at 7 this morning…so even if she could get through the winding farm road from the nursing home to our side of the ‘ville, she’d have to go up a steep hill and down an unplowed road to our house.  Needless to say, she went to a motel.  See, if you are unfamiliar with snow emergencies, you get cited for driving unless it is absolutely necessary and if your car is parked where the plows need to go, you get towed and heavily fined.

This morning the wind has stopped, the sun is out and the sky is clear.  We started the digging out.  It was beautiful out there.  My husband fought his way through the hip high snow with the snowblower.   At one point, it “malfunctioned” and didn’t blow snow until I was right in its path.   I was covered head to toe in snow.  My beloved husband swears 16 ways to Sunday it was an accident.   Nevertheless, we forgot our advanced age and a battle ensued.  It was fun.

  
After finishing our driveway, locating the mailbox across the street and helping a few snow-blower-less neighbors dig out, we came in for homemade chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  And Advil.   Lots and lots of Advil.

Happy New Year

I think 2015 was the fastest year of my life.  I am so happy to be back home with my soulmate and sometimes, as I drive through the farmland and bumpy “main streets” of my small hometown, it is almost as if I never left.

This past year brought me face-to-face with self-acceptance and my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety.   I learned I’m pretty ok just the way I am.  And who I am apparently needs help from others.  And that is ok.

This year brought fear of retaliation because of my chosen faith.  Not just for me directly, but for those in my family whether they have chosen Islam or not.   I have learned that the media truly wants us to be hateful beings because in real life…my real life…I’m greeted with smiles, chit-chat and all the other simple niceties that go along with a loving, happy community.  My scarf may created curiosity, but not hatred.

As for this coming year, I have only one goal.  Continue to be true to who I am…who I really am.  And be ok with that.  I suspect I will have moments of fighting it.   It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks and I’ve been running from myself for a very long time.   I will continue to accept the fact that I am a good person and people in my life love me…for exactly who I am.

Happy 2016 blogisphere.   I hope it is a good one for us all!!

Thanksgiving Hangover

Is there such a condition as “excessive need for validation”?  I mean my therapist already pointed out my rather unhealthy need for approval – mostly from myself, although I tell myself I’m a liar and well, that’s a whole other ugly circus in my brain.  But I found myself overwhelmed with that warm, squishy, happy feeling in the pit of my belly when last night as my husband sent me a simple text saying “thank you for a wonderful day”.  So simple but so meaningful.

See, this Thanksgiving was our first together as a married couple and although I missed my daughters in a most unspeakable fashion, I was determined to make a long overdue happy family Thanksgiving for my husband.  This included bringing his mother here from the nursing home (doctor’s approval, transportation arrangements, etc.), assembling his two boys (and hopefully not stepping on their mom’s plans for the day), cooking for the first time for my sister in law (who is also a dear long time friend), and convincing my dad to spend the holiday with us (one ever so-slight twist of the arm and a promise of a trip to the local gun range to target shoot on the day after).  Sorely missed was the rest of my family…my two girls, their significant others, my grandson, my sister and my beautiful nieces and nephews.   Maybe next year…

I roasted the largest turkey I have ever had, nearly 20#, and made all the fixings.  Brussels sprouts, peas, corn, biscuits, stuffing (in and out of the bird), mashed potatoes and gravy.  

My husband made the pies and in doing so can no longer pretend he doesn’t know his way around the kitchen or how to read a recipe.  My dad, despite being told to please sit and relax, chopped the garlic and stood guard over the simmering butter and onions. But other than that, I did the rest.  Oh…there was the comical carving of the beast.  First I tried, but the giggles from the men standing around gave me stage fright so I suggested my eldest SOMH take a stab at it.  He does, after all, work in the food industry.  He said working at Burger King does not qualify him to slice up a large bird.  So I turned it over to my dad who tried to mimic his grandfather’s talent for being able to feed 20 people with a 10# turkey.   Everything else was getting cold and quite honestly, the puddles of drool at my husband’s feet were making me nervous.   I reached in and yanked off the drumsticks, said “good enough” and we ate.   

Dinner conversation was very nice.  My husband asked his eldest son about voting in the next election and the room got quiet.  Politics.   At Thanksgiving.  Seriously?  See my dad, my husband and the younger SOMH can actually discuss things like that – they see eye to eye.   Same pretty much for my sister in law.  But the older SOMH and me…uh…no.  My dad, in his usual way, saved it by announcing loudly “let it be known I did not start this conversation.”   That made us laugh and I was able to peel my glaring eyes off my husband.

So back to the need for validation and the sweet text message.   After dinner dishes were cleared and the pumpkin and apple pies brought out and almost completely consumed in a single sitting, my husband stood looking at the kitchen.  The pots, pans, dishes, turkey bones, etc.  My husband always pulls his weight at the house and I could see it in his eyes that he was calculating where he would need to install the 2nd and 3rd dishwashers if this was going to be an annual event.  I shushed him away.   His mom was getting ready to leave and the dishes could wait.  The younger SOMH had already succumbed to the turkey coma and missed the pies.  (The dejected look on his face when he saw the empty pie pans was priceless.  I told him there was a whole 2nd untouched pumpkin pie in the fridge and watched his eyes light up.)

I tackled the kitchen and without people in my way, I was able to get it done in under an hour.  Just as I was putting the last dried pan away, I received the text message.  I was happy to join the boys on the couch moments later.   They were all asleep.   So my husband must have subconsciously sent me that text.   That simple thing made all of the conscious compliments and laughter seem slight.  I think those who suffer with similar personality issues will understand.   And will agree that the Thanksgiving hangover (backache, indigestion, headache, and oh-so-achy feet) is worth it, even for just the smallest subconscious text message.

Oh Canada!

  
Over this Labor Day holiday, we traveled to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, by way of Niagara Falls, New York, to see the Orioles play the Blue Jays and knocking another park off our list.

This was a very fun trip.  We left home late Friday afternoon and made it to the hotel by 11 pm.  We had a good night’s sleep and got to the Niagara Falls attractions early. This was good for several reasons.   One we beat the oppressive heat (although it caught up to us by the time we left) and we didn’t have long lines to wait in.   We got right on the Maid of the Mist boat ride.   I have painful memories of being on that boat years ago.   Caught upfront and unable to move or breathe from all the water blowing onto the boat.   But the boys chose a good location and I stood behind so I was blocked from the mist for the most part.

After the boat ride and the obligatory climb to the side of the falls to get more drenched, we walked over to Goat Island and thought about doing Cave of the Winds but we were really itching to get to Toronto.  We headed back and then drove into Toronto.  Traffic was horrendous.

We made our way to the Hard Rock for a very late (and ridiculously expensive) lunch and then took a walk around Toronto.  There was some sort of religious rally going on and although it is very, very nice to see the respect each group had…in that no one was disrespectful or angrily debating back and forth…they were all gathered on one street and singing or preaching over loud speakers.  You couldn’t hear anything clearly.   But nonetheless it was a “city” experience for sure.

Day two of our trip was dedicated to our baseball stadium tour.  What a great adventure this was.   We headed out early and found parking right by the stadium.   That turned out to be a mistake even though we hung around for over an hour after the game.   If we thought traffic was horrendous the day before going into Toronto, we were treated to traffic that is something much more than horrendous.   It took at least an hour and a half to get close to the QEW.

  
But back to the game….we all had our jerseys on and boy can those Canadians rib ya!  The very helpful stadium security guards kept trying to direct me to the Blue Jays Store.   I obliged them, but they didn’t have any Orioles gear there so it was a wasted trip.   I told them so.  😉

Before the gates opened, we had the pleasure of seeing Caleb Joseph who stopped for a photo with the boys.  I hurried to find a convenience store to get a black marker in case others came by.   As soon as I left, Ubaldo Jimenez, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop came in.  Machado and Jimenez posed for photos with my SOMH.  

The fans were very into the games and there was one loud mouth that really made me mad-but the boys thought he was funny so whenever I got angry, my husband would get irritated.   I really should be banned from major sporting events.   I have a bad (and short) temper.   Case in point, the drunk behind us would slap the chair beside me to “make noise”.  It shook my seat and that was just too rude to handle.  Temper took over so I beat on the seat with him and he quickly got the message.  I just got a lot of stares and a nasty bruise on my fist.  The girl in front of us would get up and dance around and point to us whenever the Blue Jays scored.   (She must have been exhausted since the Jays beat the O’s 10-4.).  After the game, we received a lot of condolences from the polite Canadians and one strong suggestion that we return to our country.   That made me laugh since his Hispanic accent was pretty thick.

After the game, we hung out for an hour or so waiting for players to come out but no luck.  After awhile, I went in and asked the security guard if he knew when the players would be out and he said they would go out the back by the busses.   We scurried off, but the guard there said we were too late.   Bummer.   

Then we drove the 7 hours home.  Seven long tiring hours. 

So I think we are done with the stadium tours for 2015.   We hoped to hit Pittsburgh before the season is over, but SOMH starts his own fall ball baseball season this coming Satirday so we will have our own home games to see.