Retirement

The question of the day: Where to retire?  Now, “retirement” could happen in a year and a half, so if you were questioning the legitimacy of the question, question no longer.  Then again, we could be in the Marine Corps for another 17 1/2 years as well, so it could be a moot point.  But regardless, I am considering.

Family.  We want to be near family.  This weekend, as our little girl enjoyed her first birthday with both sets of grandparents, she glowed and they glowed and life was beautiful.  We desperately missed her aunt and uncles and great-grandparents, and wished for a world in which we could all bounce around from one side of the country to the other with no time concerns or money issues.  We think halfway might be nice, but when halfway still involves a 10-hour driving trip, frequent visits linger sadly in the future and the past.

Culture.  I miss culture.  The town where we now live reminds me of my childhood hometown, minus the culture.  The size and shopping is comparable, but I grew up near two universities and a community college of over 20,000 students.  There were plays, musicals, operas, art shows, parades, festivals, and visiting tours galore.  Heck, the music school itself sported a minimum of one concert per night, what with all the junior and senior recitals, master’s & doctorate projects, faculty performaces, and band shows.

Rural-ness.  Not sure if there is a noun for this one, so I made it up.  I want the culture, but I’ll live on the outskirts.  Enough land that we can own a cow for milking and (at least every now and then) a cow for butchering.  Chickens, dogs, a cat or two, maybe some ducks on the pond.  Or a creek.  Some way to fish anyway, since I’m planning on seafood at least one day a week.  And a big garden, with a farmhouse and a barn and a fruit and nut orchard, and maybe I’ll even grow some trees with truffle spores so we can eat and sell the truffles.  That might involve a truffle-hunting pig, but I’d prefer a dog….

Community.  I need to be near people who think like us, raise their kids like us, love Jesus like us.  I know of a few such people, and convincing them to move to our state of choice may be high on the priority list (along with the family!).  Organizing a community centered around God and family, or stepping into a community already established, ranks high for us.  We need the support and encouragement, and our kids will need the sweet, wholesome friendships that kind of community would bring along with it.  Siblings can play with each other, of course, but we all need friends.  Iron sharpens iron, after all.

So where will this paradise-on-earth be found?  And will you be joining us?

Disappointment

My phone rang at 7:15 this morning.  The odd suffix, “9999,” alerted me before I answered that it was probably my husband calling from South America.  I wanted to be happy to hear his voice, but since his flight supposedly left there today, my heart sank in anticipation of bad news.  Sure enough, they have been delayed 24 hours.

24 hours may not seem like much, but let me give you the skinny on why 24 hours matters:

1. He has missed (so far) his 30th birthday and our daughter’s 1st birthday, and our 4th anniversary is tomorrow.  His delay means that he will arrive in time to drive home and drop exhausted into bed.  Not much of an anniversary.

2. Our family is coming in town to celebrate Naomi’s birthday this weekend, and some of them are arriving tomorrow.  His delay means that they will be here when he arrives, and we will not have any alone time before company is here.

3. Military members receive a separations pay to compensate for being away from their families, but only if they are gone 30 days or more.  This delay will make 28 days.  So, I’d almost prefer a longer delay to at least receive compensation for being apart so long!  The extra delay without any bonus is hard to swallow.

4. And this is the biggest reason: I’ve just been counting on him being here, and having to adjust my hopes and plans makes my heart feel like a rubber band.  I miss him and need him and just want him here…NOW.

All that said, I know God is in control and has a reason for everything He does under the sun.  I can choose to find joy today or go around depressing everyone I meet.  Neither solution will bring him home any faster, but one will sure make my life and others’ lives MUCH more bearable.  So, don’t let me get you down!  Today is a beautiful day, and there are so many amazing things waiting to be done.  Here I go to do them!

An Introduction

Big Mommy herselfI would like to introduce you to my great-grandmother, Big Mommy, and her heart full of love and trugars.

Eyes shaped like a paisley teardrop and lips not even really there until the edge of her mouth. I picture her missing tooth and the way she tries not to smile too widely because of it. I see her age spots and her legs’ purplish hue from the infected fire-ant bites. I think of her round belly and cock-eyed hips. I smile when she complains that her beautiful white hair is flat and frizzy, just because the curls aren’t kinky-tight. But then again, the years of memories which have built relationship and knowing reveal a whole lot more.

Here she is, one hundred full years old, going on one hundred and one, with her head bowed over the yarn dishrag she’s knitting. She looks up as we approach, smiling big, and pronouncing, “There’s she!” You bend over for a hug, and she leans into you, patting your arm with her handful of dishrag, knitting needle and all. If you’re visiting, we’ll repeat your name three times before she gets it right, and she says, “Bless you, honey,” before turning back to her knitting. Her aqua-blue housedress peeps open between the buttons, but we don’t look, and a stain of brown from pecans and green from, well, greens, and yellow from who-knows-what graces the front. She looks up. “Honey, there’s a bit of paper there on the floor–no, yonder by the chair leg, that’s it.” We marvel, you and I, at her visual acuity. We patiently endure the story about the dishrags for the four-hundred-and-twelfth time. We smilingly accept her offering of dishrag and napkin caddy to take home. And we forget what Big Mommy is really made of.

Big Mommy doesn’t live in Arcadia anymore. Big Mommie doesn’t drive tractors–or cars, since she turned 95–anymore. And, even more importantly, Big Mommy doesn’t cook biscuits anymore. But I’ve been to the farm. I’ve ridden the tractor. I’ve sampled her biscuits. Those pieces of Big Mommy’s life that lie somewhere in the past shouldn’t be forgotten. Good or bad, I must try to remember all the trugars that have been forgotten along the way.

I remember going down to Arcadia, to Big Mommy’s house. Three hundred and fifty miles was an all-day drive. My dad pulled off the highway by the sentinel palm trees, I saw the cactus my cousin kicked, and the cows mooed at us from behind the fence. I didn’t marvel at the fact that the cows knew when I was coming; it was a momentous occasion to visit Big Mommy, so of course they would know! I couldn’t decide what to do first: pick an orange and eat it, feed a rotten one to the cows, check out the cookie jars, ride the tractor, what? But hugging Big Mommy superseded all those things. She was always in charge, always the one who cooked biscuits and pancakes and eggs and bacon for breakfast, always the one who drove the tractor. She was the farm, really.

I miss those days, but there is no way to go back the way they were, to bring my children to that farm the way I knew it and introduce them to the Big Mommy of old. But wait; maybe there is a way. Trugars. They are the magic that makes the past the present and the present the past. Big Mommy used to tell us trugars about her childhood, her young adulthood, her life. We would sit on the worn green carpet of that farmhouse and beg for them. We would take a seat and ask, “Oh Big Mommy, will you please, please tell us a trugar?”

“Oh pshaw, you don’t wanna hear any o’ that ol’ hogwash, do ya honey?”

“Yes, we do!” We nod our heads rapidly, open our eyes wide, and lift our eyebrows high to accentuate our eagerness. Big Mommy must feel wanted, above all.

And so she tells them, these stories we love. As children, we sit at her feet, wide-eyed in wonder at Big Mommy’s adventures. Or perhaps, as adults, we watch the younger generation and stand against the wall with arms folded, cynical because our adventures haven’t turned out the way we hoped for. But let’s back-track to simpler years for just a little while, sit on the floor in a comfy corner, and listen as Big Mommy tells us some trugars.

My Little Girl is One!!

My baby girl, Naomi, will turn 1 tomorrow.  I am so proud of her and happy for her and in love with her, and how my heart wishes my Wayne could be here to celebrate her too.  Since he’s out of the country (thanks, Marine Corps!), would you mind celebrating with me?  Here she is, the darling:All the best to you and yours!

“Big Momie’s Basics (by request)”

For all those mouths watering after my great-grandmother’s biscuits…er, excuse me, biscuit, your wait is over.  I found the recipe in her own (sometimes misspelled) words in a cookbook she compiled for us over fifteen years ago:

Biscuit

Helpful little hands have helped to make biscuit many times.  Memories were established and now it’s time to pass the art as I learned it on to those anxious to pick up the know-how learned.

My favorite flour for all the following “makings” is “Pillsbury Self-Rising Flour.”  It seems to contain the just right amounts of leaving to a good product.

I sift enough of this flour into a big bowl or container to use.  I push aside enough flour in middle of the container to make a “well” to work out to edges from.

Making biscuit is an art and you have to practice and form your best way for best results as I did.  If you don’t make a prize batch the first time just keep on trying as I did.  Once you have done this remember just how you did it–how much–how soft the dough and how little you could handle the dough to form good biscuit.

Do not work too much flour into the dough at first.  Gradually add until it doesn’t feel too soft or stick to your hand.  Reach this point then clean your fingers and hand and lift the dough and work flour under it gently adding flour to outside of dough for better handling.  Just practice and you’ll learn how as I did.

Now:

In the “flour well” put enough shortening say as large as 2 eggs.  Measure 1 cup (note from Audrey: as aforementioned, this “cup” was a blue and white coffee mug with a broken handle) buttermilk.  Add about 3/4 tsp soda over the shortening or in the buttermilk.  It takes buttermilk for good biscuit.  Mix with hand or maybe a spoon at first until the right amt. of flour seems to be in dough.  Clean hands and sorta “tuck flour” under the dough and gently handle and squeeze off enough to make a size biscuit you want.  This you place in palm of hand and with couped hand sorta tuck in the edges and form a smooth outside.  you can pat the dough out on a floured surface and cut if you want.  Bake 475 degrees on a greased baking sheet.