Archive | May 2010

In Memorial

Today, at least in the United States, is Memorial Day.

It’s a day that, in theory, anyway, is set aside to honor our dead, especially those who served in the military.  In practice, it marks the first day of summer, a three day weekend, and barbecues.  Lots and lots of barbecues.

The Memorial Days of my memory involve getting up early and heading to the small cemetery to watch a ceremony honoring the veterans.  At least, I think that’s what we were doing.  Generally, my eyes would have swollen shut because of allergies before the day was over.

Fortunately, through a combination of modern allergy medication, rye-cutting technology, and probably just plain growing out of the worst of my respiratory allergies (and into food allergies.  Grrr.) I was able to visit the Leamington Cemetery twice this week, and still come out both breathing and seeing.

I posted about the first visit already, but when I went again, I was dragging Sis and her family, as well as Dad along.   We put flowers on the graves of both Claybourne Elder and my Great-Grandparents, then I wandered around to see who else I could find.  To start, the graves of my great-great grandparents are right next to my great-grandparents.  I always knew that, but had never thought about it.

While we were there, my grandparents showed up to decorate my great-grandparent’s graves.  Grandpa told the story about when his grandfather died.  He was six years old, and remembered them bringing him up to the cemetery on a hay wagon.  It was January, always the coldest time of the year, but that year was especially bad.  The ground was so frozen they couldn’t dig a hole to bury him, so they used dynamite to blast the hole.

Living in a small town totally rocks.

I also found the graves of third-great grandparents on my mother’s side, Lars and Sidsel Nielson

Lars and Sidsel represent the most recent of my ancestors to emigrate to the United States.  They were living in Denmark, with Lars’s brother and sister-in-law.  The brother and S-I-L heard about a meeting where Mormon missionaries were going to speak, and they were curious.  They asked Lars to come along.

Lars agreed, because, as he puts it, he knew the bible, and he knew at the last days, there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing.  He was going to expose the falseness of these Mormons.

The brother and S-I-L were baptized Mormon after that first meeting.  It took Lars two more.

The story goes that after Lars was baptized, the preachers in Copenhagen hated to see him coming, because here was this Mormon tailor who knew the bible better than they did, and he could often confound them.

This guy shows all the characteristics of the ornery side of the family–the ones who are descended from him.

I thought the potential roommate didn’t show up, so I got frustrated and headed back down to my parent’s house, where I got a call wondering if I forgot the time.  Apparently one of us did.  I was expecting her at 2:30.  I waited until 3:30.  I don’t know what time she actually showed up.

The work on the trailer is nearly finished–all that’s left is cosmetic.  It looks wonderful–much better than even when my parents brought it home.

I wish I could have done more to help.  I spent the morning chasing E and G, and then got hit by a bad stomach bug, and spent the afternoon in the bathroom and laying down.  I’m feeling better, but I still don’t feel well enough to brave a drive home.

So off to bed tonight, then in the morning–well, we’ll see.

Corianne vs. the tortilla

I received one of the best phone calls ever the other day (at least, before the phone call saying Max had been found).  I’ve been trying to rent out my spare bedroom, but have had a hard time finding a roommate. Which, frankly, minus the money issue, I’ve been fine with.  I like living alone.

Anyway, I got a call Tuesday? Wednesday? Sometime early in the week from a girl interested in renting my room.  She’s coming by later today to take a look at it.

I’m the type of person who claims not to be messy, I just have a complicated organizational system.  It’s true.  If I put everything away, I have a hard time finding it.  I don’t, however, have a problem remembering for instance, that one of my brown dress shoes is under the couch, while the other one is in the closet.

Most people don’t understand or appreciate my style of organization, so yesterday, I returned to my home to straighten the house up to the point of presentability.  In the process, I discovered that I have at least twice as much counter space in the kitchen as I had previously thought.  Crazy how that happens.

Well, in celebration of my newly cleaned kitchen and all the discovered counter space, I decided to do some cooking.  ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

I’d used up all of the tortilla mix that I had bought, so I decided that it was time to try tortillas from scratch.  I found a promising looking recipe on recipezaar.com.  It looked simple enough, that I thought I could just memorize the ingredients and amounts, and not bother with printing a recipe or taking my computer into the kitchen.

I should know better.  I really should.

For starters, I thought I needed a teaspoon of both baking powder and salt–which is twice as much salt as was actually called for.  Secondly, I used baking soda instead of baking powder–yuck.

For those who don’t know, soda is just sodium bicarbonate, and unless mixed with an acidic ingredient, will taste horribly bitter.  Powder is sodium bicarbonate and something that acts as an acid, like cream of tartar.  Powder can be substituted for soda, but soda cannot be substituted for powder.

Needless to say, the first batch of tortillas didn’t work out.

This morning, having realized my mistakes, I decided to try again–using the proper amount of salt, and actual baking powder this time.  The results were MUCH better–even though once again, I didn’t have a copy of the recipe.

So, here’s how I made the tortillas:

Flour Tortillas

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c oil OR shortening
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c warm water or milk

Mix flour, powder and salt together.  Cut in the oil or shortening.  Slowly mix the water or milk until the dough reaches a consistency that is neither too dry nor too sticky.

Divide the dough into balls–both times, I got about eight.  Place the balls on a plate, then cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest–the recipe says for a half hour, I waited perhaps 5 minutes and they turned out just fine.

Heat a dry skillet over high heat for several minutes.

what homemade tortillas SHOULD look like. I don't have a picture of the duds, but they were--yellow. And they didn't have the little puffy spots.

Thinly roll out each ball–I don’t care about shape, but you may want to try to keep things as circular as possible.  Cook on the skillet for 30 seconds on each side. The dough should get brown spots.

I can roll out two tortillas in the time it takes for them to cook, so I’m usually rolling and cooking at the same time.

Allow unused tortillas to cool completely then store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  You may want to separate each tortilla with a paper towel, just in case.  They can be re-heated in the microwave or in the skillet.

In case of emergency, call someone else.

For those of you who are curious, I think we’ve figured out what happened to Max yesterday.  See, the dog that lives next door to my parents thinks their yard is her yard, and she doesn’t like the little dogs that occasionally come and invade.

When Mom let the dogs out, Dixie was probably around.  Of my two, Max is definitely the aggressor, so he’s usually the one who ends up in the power struggles with other dogs.  Dixie probably chased Max off in a direction he wasn’t familiar with.  If he wasn’t completely lost then, he may have run into other dogs who continued to chase him further and further away from the territory that he knows.  Maybe he was trying to get back to the house where he lived before he came to me; I don’t know.  I really don’t think he meant to run away, I honestly think he just got lost.

All I know is that the first words the girl who rescued him said to me was “He’s been so sad.”  Of course, Lulu and I had been quite sad, too.

I’ve been thinking about how I handle myself in times of stress, and the answer is, not very well.  Yesterday, I did what I needed to to get Max home, but my instinct was to find a corner somewhere, curl up in a ball, and cry.

My reaction to Mom’s “I’ve been a school teacher for 20 years, and this is a Very Important Lesson” voice doesn’t help, either.  I know she’s trying to help when she says stuff like “You need to take Max and Lulu for walks around the neighborhood, so they’ll know how to get home”, but what I hear is “This is your fault, because  you didn’t make sure that Max and Lulu know where we live.”

Although, I’m not sure that Max and Lulu know where they live, they tend to get confused as to which stairwell leads to our house, so trying to make sure that they know where my parent’s house is might be a losing battle.

Lost and Found

It’s been a rough few days.

Yesterday, we worked to the point of a) exhaustion and b) where we didn’t know what to do next.  The trailer is–well, it’s hard to say.  I form a different opinion of how bad things are every time I go in.  All I know is that Dad wants the B-I-L’s opinion before deciding how next to proceed.

After spending all day yesterday on the phone, trying to describe to various salespeople what parts we needed, Dad and I went on a shopping trip to the city.  Mom opted to stay at home and watch the dogs. Notice dogs is plural.

When we returned home after a few hours, the first thing I did was go and check on my babies, and found the dog–singular.  Max had gone missing.

I can’t even begin to explain how out of character this is for my little boy.  Max is my velcro dog.  Yes, I often can’t find him, but that’s because he’s directly behind me.  But, Mom put the dogs in the backyard, went shopping, and when she came home, only Lulu was there.

Max isn’t as smart as I think he should be–but that’s because I make an unfair comparison to my last black and white dog, who was at least half border collie.  But he’s smart enough to know my parents house, and to know when we are here, that this is where he needs to stay.

Well, thank goodness for small communities that still believe in raising children free range, because while I was crying, and searching, and crying, and making lost dog posters, and crying, and praying, Mom was gathering the neighborhood kids into a search party.  And while they didn’t Max, a couple of the boys told their mom that they were looking for him.

Well, the mom happened to see an employee of a local sandwich shop grab Max as he was trying to cross the highway, so she knew who had her.  The mom was then able to get us into contact with Max’s rescuer, and I once again have two dogs.

I know that I’m not going to have Max and Lulu forever.  I know that they were five years old when they came to live with me, and they haven’t gotten any younger.  I know that they are just dogs–if there is anything as just a dog.

Right now, though, Max and Lulu are my reason for living.  There are days that they are the only reason I get out of bed.

I know that I need something else to hold on to, but right now, I’m glad that I just have something.

And I’m so glad that Max is home.

Family Roots

So, my sister has a problem.

Well, really, my parents have a problem.

And if my sister and my parents have a problem, so do I.

My parents bought a used camp trailer last year, and it was in pretty rough shape.  It is now in worse shape for the winter, as my sister discovered as she came down yesterday to prepare it for the season.  Bad enough that the roof and at least two walls will need to be replaced.

And, as I don’t have anything else to do at the moment, I was drafted into helping.

I got to do deconstruction.

I genuinely enjoyed the drive down.  It probably had a lot to do with the fact that it’s now legal for me to drive my car, so I wasn’t as paranoid about cops, but I’m going to claim it had everything to do with the time of year.

I spotted several largish patches of wildflowers–indian paintbrush and globe mallow. I could see meadowlarks singing their hearts out on fence posts, and saw perhaps a dozen hawks and eagles.  I could smell the sagebrush, and the alfalfa that’s ready to cut, and the rye just starting to bloom.

And then my nose stopped working and my eyes started to swell shut.   Ahhh, spring.

I came into town a different way than I usually, do, mostly because I wanted to stop and take pictures of wildflowers if I saw any more,  and I had a car pass me, that I later passed, and I didn’t want it to see me stopped on the side of the road.  Yeah, I’m insecure like that.

I drove though what I consider my real home town, the place where I lived until I was 8.  It’s been more than 20 years since we moved, but it still feels like home.

I figured, since I was already there, and my eyes were already swelling shut from the rye, I might as well swing by the cemetary, to find the grave of Clayborne Elder. (You can read about him here)

So, here’s the thing.  I know the Leamington cemetery.  I know a lot of people who are buried in the Leamington cemetery.  Heck, I’m related to perhaps half of them.  But I’ve always known that.  I’ve always known that my Mom’s ancestors settled the area, and I’m still related to at least a third of the population in and around this community.

But that’s all my mom’s side.  Clayborne Elder is–different, somehow.

I found his grave, and discovered that it’s very well taken care of.  There’s a fence around it, and the old sandstone headstone was replaced by a granite one at some point.

The plaque underneath says he came across the plains. "Faith in every footstep", and whatnot.

When I saw it, I started to cry.

My roots in this area run deep.  I always knew that they did, but when I was standing there, realizing that this was my family–from my paternal line, surrounded by maternal ancestors, I felt them go even deeper.  It’s weird.  I felt the family connection, and also the connection to place.

This is where I belong, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

view from the Leamington Cemetery

Craftiness

Max has claimed any current and future crochet and knit projects for himself.  He’s discovered that he loves to play with yarn, probably because I don’t like him to.

Well, I’m nothing if not an indulgent dog mom.

I didn’t start out to make a dog toy.   Really.  I wanted to make a pair of lovebirds (you do have to sign in to see the pattern, but it’s free, and you can tell them not to send you stuff).  Max kept begging to play with it.

While I was making it.

After it had been sprayed with a bitter agent.

sigh.

Anyway, I noticed that the cup I had was about the same size as a mini tennis ball that Max doesn’t play with very often,  I popped the ball inside my crocheting, and it was a perfect fit.  I finished crocheting around the ball.

Max LOVES it.

really.

Those thumps at the beginning of the video is me bouncing the ball in front of the camera.

I did it!

I made it to church today, at least to Sacrament Meeting.

I have a hard time with church during the summer, well, a harder time.  The schedule flips around, so rather than having sacrament first, Relief Society is first, and sacrament is last.

It’s a lot easier for me to go if I know I can slip out after Sacrament and not attend the other meetings, than just coming at the proper time for sacrament.

Our meetings are combined with two other wards, also, so there were a LOT of people there.  I don’t do well with a lot of people.  I kept reminding myself that I was in the very best place, doing the very best thing to combat my agoraphobia.

The things you learn at 2:30 am

Yes, it’s 2:30.

I actually went to sleep at a decent time, then woke up when both dogs, having been “mysteriously” forced off the bed by someone who is an active sleeper (whoops) started barking at me to let them back on the bed.

I then decided that I wasn’t going to go back to sleep, because of the heartburn, and the runny nose, and the general lack of sleepiness.

That’s okay, I’m a hypochondriac, and have the medicine collection to prove it.

Now, even though I’m a hypochondriac, I don’t like taking any more medicine than I strictly have to(hence my problem “forgetting” to take my anti-depressant).  So, zantac (or the generic version thereof) for the heartburn.  I’ve known for a while that most sleeping pills contain the same medicine as benadryl (or the generic version thereof) so I compared labels, to figure out if I wanted to take an allergy pill or a sleeping pill.  This is what I discovered:

Okay, it’s hard to see, but they contain the exact same amount of the exact same medicine.

Wal-Mart, I’m feeling ripped off.

Granted I don’t really know why, I doubt I paid more than $3 for either bottle of pills, and they each came with 100 capsules.

Just to make things absolutely clear as to the label for both of those bottles:

For the record, the sleeping pills won, just because they’re smaller.  And now I’m sitting here with the jingle from the Friskies commercial where you get a cat’s eye view of a catnip trip stuck in my head (you know the one) waiting for it to kick in enough that I can go back to sleep.

Life continues. Really.

It shouldn’t be possible that my sinuses are so stuffed that I don’t have anything to write about, but there you go.  I haven’t left the house today, except to walk the dogs.  So, I completely failed in my goals.  I consoled my self by deciding that I’m doing my part to lower my carbon footprint, as I haven’t driven anywhere for, oh, four days now.

Yeah, I know.

My goal for tomorrow is to go to all three meetings.  I’m feeling good about it now, but when tomorrow comes, and I get all shy, well, we’ll see..

Sis is headed down to the parents house on Monday, she and the Bro-in-Law will be camping–next weekend? Sometime soon, anyway with the B-I-L’s brother and his family, before they move to California.  I’m debating going down.  I had to prepare the camper by myself last year, and it sucked.  I don’t want to do it again.  However, I really should help Sis, because I prepared the camper by myself last year, and I know how much it sucks.

Also, if I’m ever in a position of power of a company that sells paper tissues, I’m totally going to start hiding prizes inside the box, like they do with kid’s cereals.  I mean, if you’re going to go through half a family-sized box of kleenex by yourself in one week, you need some sort of reward, right?

Ugh.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about depression is what I call the emotional hangover–the time after I’ve been in a good mood, when things get extra hard.

It was describing these emotional hangovers to my family doctor that led him to believe that I had manic depression.  When describing these symptoms to a psychiatrist, she disagreed.  She thought that because I was happy so infrequently I didn’t know how to deal with it.  While the Lexapro has helped deal with these hangovers…

Today, besides recovering from G, I’ve been extra aware of the physical manifestation of depression.  I’ve been stuck in that annoying place between sickness and health.

Last week, I happened upon a local PBS station airing the first part of “This Emotional Life”.  I watched, fascinated, and noted when the next part would be shown, and made sure to be home so I could see it.  The first part talked about relationships, which made me cry.  The second part talks about negative emotions, which made me cry.  The third part is about positive emotions, and hopefully, it won’t make me cry.

I’m extremely interested in all things mental health, especially depression.  I was especially interested in the new therapies and research talked about throughout the program.

What really impressed me was research showing that chronic depression physically changes the brain; people with chronic depression have smaller hippocampuses (hippocamipi?) than non-depressed people.  The flip side of this is people who have received treatment for depression, whether through anti-depressants or electroconvulsive therapy have normal sized hippocampi.  Experiments with rats have shown that anti-depressants and ECT actually cause the hippocampus to regrow new cells.

I know it’s sad that the only thing I have to report on for my Friday is a TV show, I promise to do better tomorrow.  I’ve set a goal–to go to the temple grounds, at least, if not inside, and to go somewhere–the mall or Wal-Mart or somewhere like that.  Not to do any shopping, mind, but to be surrounded by people.

We’ll see how that goes.  I’m hyperventilating a little just thinking about it.

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