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~ The Best Worst Pie Ever ~

I made the world’s worst apple pie last night.  No joke.  It was The. Worst.  I was simultaneously making all the rest of dinner, literally working a spoon in every pot, and obviously must have forgotten to put some key ingredients into that thar awful excuse for a pie.

Oh, it looked good. It looked downright gorgeous, and smelled pretty dag-um amazing, too.  But once we bit into it, the illusion was shattered, let me tell you.  Dry.  Tasteless.  The crust  was not quite cooked through.  It was awful.

At that first bite, when the truth became painfully clear, I apologized to my beloved family,  “I am so sorry guys!  This is just awful!”

My Captain rose to the occasion and assured me it was fine.  I expect that from him, after all this time.  Full of grace and patience with me, and my failed effort at dessert, he never ceases to come through for me.

But what surprised me, was my kids.  My teenage kids, who were also swift to assure me it was delicious, and were quick to tell me to stop being so hard on myself about it.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not basing my self-worth on one pie, for Pete’s sake! But I was disappointed that my dessert making effort was not gratified by the oohs and ahhs a truly successful meal ending can produce.

“It’s fine, Mom.  Stop making a big deal about it.  It’s good!”  Varmint, her mouth half full, suddenly chimed in.

This was huge.

You have to understand, that both of my kids are at the age, the painful, arduous, challenging age, of high school.  For those of you who have not yet enjoyed this stage of parenthood, imagine someone pulling your heart, ever so slowly, out of your body, so that it can go independently lead a fulfilling life of its own.   Honestly, that is what it feels like.  I’m not exaggerating.  Those of you who have been through it, back me up here.

I suppose this stage would have been easier for me if I didn’t adore my children with every freakin’ fiber of my being.  Maybe I could have handled it with more grace and poise if I didn’t love them as deeply as I do.  But this whole separating-identities-to-go-on-to-live-normal-healthy-successful lives thing is a bitch.  And I have struggled with this stage way more than any other previous child-rearing stage.

Everything we have worked for, when parenting Critter and Varmint, has led to this very important part of their development.  This is what we wanted for them!  To be strong, good, productive people.  Adults we could be proud of.  Adults we like so much, we would want to hang out with them.

And that’s the kicker.  This stage is also the stage where they absolutely do NOT want anything to do with us, where privacy is what they most require, and where their outward disdain of us is a sure sign that they are further solidifying their own identities.  Which is good!

But MAN, can it hurt to stand by and watch, helplessly, as they push themselves further and further out of the nest.  Fledging is good.  We want fledging. It is, after all, the POINT of all of this nurturing.  For the chicks to get to where they learn to fly On. Their. Own. Rarely do we consider the vacuum left in the nest when they go!

So when my Varmint, a truly beautiful young woman in the full throes of fledging, and all that that implies, makes an effort to extend grace to her Mama, even about a stupid pie, it is a big deal. At least, it is to Mama.

Later, when My Captain and I were getting ready for bed, I mentioned again how kind they were to be so gracious about my pathetic pie. It really had been tasteless and dry and gummy…so bland it was hardly worth the effort of eating.  I wondered aloud what had made Varmint be so charitable with me about it.

He just shrugged, matter-of-factly, “She tasted the love you put in it.”

Then he kissed me, rolled over,  and turned out the light.

Oh….

If you need me, my over-flowing heart and I will be blinking back tears over on my side of the bed.

Don’t judge.

(That was the best, worst pie, EVER.)

 

 

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~ Super Spicy Mama ~

In a fit of  housewiferly  enthusiasm ( ‘housewiferly?’  Just go with it.) this morning, I began cleaning out my spice cupboard.  It’s been on my ‘To-Do’ list for nearly three years now.  Life most certainly takes priority to the expiration dates on my Thyme and Rosemary.

What happened today to bring this item to the forefront?  I couldn’t get my Thyme and Rosemary out of the cupboard because they were, er, STUCK to it.  Apparently some almond extract spilled a while (years?) ago, and morphed into some kind of superglue as it dried.

I haven’t used my Thyme and Rosemary in while, is what I am saying.

As I was removing these ancient artifacts from the shelves, memories of a conversation Critter and I had years ago surfaced and broke free of my little pea brain:  He was in elementary school at the time, and was watching me make cookies, and asked me which of my spices were ‘good’ spices, and which ones were ‘bad’ spices.  I told them they were all good, if used in the right recipe!  But if we took garlic and added it to a chocolate cake batter, well, it might turn out horribly wrong.   I remember so clearly how he pegged me with his chocolate brown eyes and posited, “How would you know if you didn’t try?”

I had no answer, but to this day have not wasted a perfectly good chocolate cake batter finding out.  Still, he had me dead to rights.

This year, Critter started a new school.   We pulled him out of his old school for various reasons, the largest of which was his extreme unhappiness, and plunked him (gently) into The Friends Meeting School in Ijamsville, Maryland.  Understand, he has been with the same group of kids since Kindergarden, and now he was going to be in a completely new, and smaller circle of peers. It was a clear case of the devil you know, versus the devil you don’t know.

OH HOW WE SUFFERED GREATLY in the days leading up to his first day at Friends!  In his mind, there was no end to the possible tragedies ahead of him.  “What if I fail?”   “What if they hate me?”  “What if they bully me?”  “What if I make no friends??”

Again and again it was, “WHAT IF I MAKE NO FRIENDS?!”

Finally this past Monday, the first day of school had arrived, and before he got out of the car at the drop-off lane, I pegged him with my own chocolate brown eyes and posited, “But what if you did?  How would you know, if you didn’t try?”

He had no answer; I had him dead to rights, and he knew it.

I’m very pleased to report that we’re on day three at the new school, and Critter is happier than I have seen him in a long while.  And check it out…..he’s made a boatload of really nice, good friends already.  All is good these days at The Little Cottage!

I just hope….I really really hope…that he doesn’t turn this back on me and demand I try putting garlic in the chocolate cake.

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And speaking of which…I have to figure out how to get almond extract superglue out of cherry wood grain.  Pray for me.

Love,

Mama

 

 

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~ What in the Googly Moogly is THAT? ~

Well, first off, I’d ask you if you even know what Googly Moogly means.  And if you didn’t, you probably don’t catch a lot of what I say, is what I’m saying, says I.

What?

THAT, is actually THIS:

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My beloved, Gigantic HAND.   The HAND that will be on our float for Poolesville Day on September 17th this year, in…. you guessed it….Poolesville, Maryland.

This is the chosen symbol this year for PRIDE, our community pro-civility movement.  This HAND, simply put, is the reminder to everyone that DOING THE RIGHT THING is still COOL in this world.  Think of it as a HAND up.  Or a HAND outstretched, instead of the fists we’ve been seeing so often in the media as of late.  THIS is the hand of solidarity and goodness.

And, er, we ain’t done yet!!!  EEEK!!!  All summer long I kept thinking, “Meh, we’ve got plenty of time!  Plenty of time!  September 17th is forever away!”

But today it struck me that it’s less than a month away.

After I hyperventillated for a few minutes, I put my paper bag down, and reminded myself that I’m not alone in this venture.  In fact, My Captain, and another father, Brian, have done all of the armiture.  Mr. Gemmell, a local art teacher, had the kids design and build the hand.  And me?  I’ve been on the phone a lot.

Like, A LOT.

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A master delegater and encourager, that’s me.   (Varmint asked what ‘Task Master’ meant, and I bellowed at her, “Quiet, Peon! and get back to work!”)

We have had kids from all ages, and all over the community helping us with ideas, paper macheing, and painting! We’ve had others donate their town hall (Thanks, Barnesville!) and their trailers, and all kinds of advice!

So picture the finished hand, outreaching to those in need, on a trailer as a float for Poolesville day!!!  Picture people walking near it with signs saying “BE THE DIFFERENCE,” “MAKE A DIFFERENCE” and “LEND A HAND,” while throwing candy out (gently, per the powers that be), while music blasts out with a zippy beat.

It will be nothing short of awesome.

Unless it falls horribly flat, in which case it will suck, and I’ll have to hang my head in shame. But I am shameless, so that really isn’t an issue, now is it?

But just try to imagine our finished product!  What a statement it will be!!!  Think Animal House,

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without the, er,

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mayhem.

Course, if that is the comparison I am going to make, the obvious other comparison would be that….

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this is me.

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Don’t  judge.

Poolesville Day.  Saturday, September 17th, in Poolesville, Maryland.  Find out more at:  http://www.poolesvilleday.com/

Come and see our HAND float.   We have a lot of PRIDE in it!  I think the Parade starts fairly early in the morning, so don’t be late!!!

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See you there!

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Love,

Bluto…..er, I mean…Mama

 

 

 

 

 

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~ Sexy Hobbit Feet ~

I think we’ve already established that I have feet so calloused, they make alligator skin seem soft and supple.  Was it 2012 we discussed that in ~ Walking On Hot Coals ~ ?  I remember how kind and non-judgemental you all were about it back then, so I have absolutely no qualm about sharing another sexy aspect of my tootsies with you.

I didn’t realize how hairy my feet have gotten…specifically my toes…until I had a pedicure today, and proudly suggested to the owner of our beloved nail salon here in Poolesville that she put a picture of my newly painted toes up on their Facebook page.

I mean, who doesn’t love a fun watermelon design on their toes during the summer, right?

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But when I got home and saw the picture on facebook, I realized not only are my piggly wigglies painted in perfect watermelon regalia… my hairy hobbit toes showed up in full force too!

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Look at these puppy paws, will you?  And I am the person who suggested this picture get plastered on Facebook for the whole town to see.  Could I possibly be more of an obtuse dork?

There was only one thing to do about this.  I had no choice but to strut it, as if I meant for this to happen all along.  I embraced the Hobbit in me, and am putting it out there for all of you to witness, as well.  If you’re going to accept me for my crocodile soles, you might as well love me for my furball toes.

Sounds like a country western song:  (Sing with a heartfelt Twang)

“She’s got crocodile soles,

and fur ball toes,

and I love her, God knows,

heaven help me!”

Look, I’m not saying it is a GOOD country western song.  I’m just saying if you put it to music, it would play well.  I’ll try to get My Captain to record it for you. I’m sure he’ll sign right up.

Don’t judge.

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~ Nothing To See Here…~

Our little town has a special group dedicated to the promotion of civility.

It started about a decade ago when concerned folk wanted to squash negative behavior, like bullying, and just plain rudeness, and bring back politeness.  You know, reinforce kindness and charm and, heck, just put the true back in True Blue.   They dubbed this concept PRIDE, which stands for Purpose, Respect, Integrity, Dedication, and Effort.

The townfolk  wanted to bring to the forefront of our community’s consciousness the concept of pushing these ideals a little harder than those currently being pushed via social media, Hollywood, and Pop Culture.

This year, I went to a meeting of PRIDE.  And within a half an hour, I had signed myself on to be in charge of building the PRIDE float for our annual town day, otherwise known as Poolesville Day.

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What would the float be???

Every year, PRIDE comes up with a catch phrase.  Last year it was “Stand Up,” as in stand up for people, stand up against bullying, stand up to injustice.  This year, the phrase is Be The Difference.  As in be the difference to someone. Be the difference if someone is getting picked on.  Be the difference if you see someone who needs help.

Be the difference and lend someone a hand.

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As in, be someone’s rescuer!  You never know how much your help might mean to someone!

So we decided the float would be a giant, extended “Let Me Help You” hand.  As if someone were reaching down to lift someone else up.  Think Sistine Chapel…

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It’s a beautiful idea, isn’t it?  I thought of it myself.  Well, I thought of stealing DaVinci’s idea, anyway…   You might say I’m artsy fartsy in a totally plageristic sort of way.

But I’m most emphatically NOT artsy fartsy enough to actually BUILD such a concept. That was where the middle school art teacher, Mr. Gemmell, and his students at John Poole Middle School came into play.  In the space of a week, some chicken wire, some scrap wood, and some paper mache, and Bada Bing, Bada Boom, THE HAND was born.

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I love it.

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And throughout this summer, we, and some student volunteers,

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are going to finish the armature, and get the beauty painted.

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Our good friends, The Stottlemyers, loaned us the trailer.

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And our dear friends The Browns,

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in conjunction with the beautiful town of Barnesville,

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are loaning us the storage space and work space.

Reverend Ann, from our local Episcopal church, donated the funding.

And My Captain?  He got volunteered to be the structural engineer.  He’s SO PLEASED with me for signing him up!   You should have seen his face when I told him the news!  (ahEM.)

We (and by we, I mean THEY) got the claw, er, I mean, THE HAND loaded onto the Stottlemyer’s trailer, and immediately Varmint began to worry that it would fly off the trailer in transit.

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She had visions of a giant hand flying off the trailer and hitting a busload of children or something.  Or worse yet, the pizza delivery guy.  She was seeing mayhem, I tell you!

“Meh!” I exclaimed, “It’ll be FINE!”

Varmint, Critter, Mike, and Grandma Jane had little faith in my assessment.

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As did, I’m happy to say, My Captain, who has been around the block a time or two with my over-zealous optimism.

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So he got out his trusty-dusty-rusty winch straps, and secured that sucker DOWN.

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I offered to give him a hand……

Baahahaahahahaahaahhahaahah!

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As did Critter.

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And finally,  The Hand was seen being hauled through Poolesville and Barnesville, to where it will be stored until we can work on it later this summer.

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Oh, and we also went through the McDonald’s Drive Thru, and acted all non-chalant, like, “There’s nothing to see here, just a 6′ armless hand.”

No one batted an eye…..Garsh I love this town!!!!

Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

(And pray for My Captain!)

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