Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Garden Hose Glory

I prefer the cold.  I grew up in a place where winters are deep, and wide, and long.  Blizzards blow, and school is canceled amidst swirls of whiteness, fashioned flake by individual flake until the landscape
the houses
the sky itself
is all quieted.

Life slows, and hushes, and pays heed to the landscape's need to sleep.

I don't live in such a place now.  Where I live- where Cabbage Ranch is- there is no quiet snow.  Here, the deepest weather sizzles and snaps, waves up from the pavement in a wiggling mirage.

It is hot.  Ridiculously hot.  I don't glow delicately in the heat. I sweat in rivulets, and my shirt, cap, and even my jeans soak through.  I do not feel pretty...  Definitely. Not Pretty. 

I become convinced we do, in fact, live on the surface of the sun.

But life goes on and we all find some relief, thanks to the often-ignored garden hose.  

Horses love baths when it's hot.

 You're so welcome, Sam.

Hoses are pretty good for Beeps, too.

That's pretty good.

Here's to garden hoses everywhere.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Basketweave Bacon

I like my brother.  He used to sit on me and hock loogies at me.  It's ok, though; in retrospect I was probably very annoying and might have deserved it.  In any event, his evil treatment of me only deepened my resolve to torment my younger sister and I'm quite sure that was nothing but positive.  She needed it for sure

These days, my brother is a nice, responsible person and I'm sure that if he hocks loogies at anyone his wife, my sister-in-law, doesn't know.

These days, my brother also does pretty neat stuff with food.  He likes to grill a lot with man-fire, and he texts my poor husband photos of huge briskets, luscious ribs, beer can chickens, and so on.  Meanwhile, back at Cabbage Ranch, Cabbage is rolling his eyes listening to me insist that tofu really does taste good, as I overcook yet another chicken breast.

Anyhow, my brother and sister-in-law put their creative minds to good use with all their delicious man-food-cooking.


It probably goes without saying that Cabbage is halfway to my brother's house by now.

The Triumvirate

Happy Hour

I hand Beep over each morning to be cared for, very well and very sweetly, by someone other than me. 

I am too selfish to surrender her completely.  I keep the best part of her with me...  I keep her, in the center of my chest and just behind the middle of my skull.  There, her essence lingers while I type, and talk, and work; as I laugh, and have meetings and walk tightropes.  I am not alone inside my skin.  I have the most beautiful baby with me, as much a part of me as when my belly was swollen past my toes. 

I hear the whisper of a nap mid-morning, glimpse a sparkle of laughter in the afternoon, and the feel flutter of a crawl just before evening.  I'm glad I kept this part of her to myself.

Every day after my work is completed, I hurry to pick up Beep from daycare.  I can't wait to get that pretty baby in my arms, to feel her soft skin and kiss her sweet cheek. 

I daydream about her the whole way there, and I know I'll just die if I don't get there soon.  I park the car, I walk up the drive, I knock...  I can't wait.

I'm let in.  I see her, her fair skin and peach fuzz head.  It feels like ages since I last held her, and my arms start reaching.  At last, my baby!

She turns, and sees me.  She smiles.  And crawls away. 

As in, away from me.


Ok, that hurts my little mama heart... More than I'd like to admit.  It smarts. 

Don't you know how desperately I love you?  How I yearn for you all day?  You're my baby!  I grew you in my body.  I threw up for months when I was pregnant with you!  I labored for 23 hours to force you out of my body, and all I cared about was YOU!  You used to pee inside me for God's sake!  And you turn and crawl away from me?!?!? 

Ungrateful little urchin.

I love you so much.  I don't care if you like daycare so much you want to stay there.  You're my baby and you're coming with me.

I gather Beep up, and strap her into safety things, and lock her into our little car.  And all is right again.  We are happy to be alone together, cocooned in our separate seats. 

We're going to fight traffic for an hour, while I feed her Cheerios and we exchange pleasantries like "Ohohohohoh.....Mamamamama.....Dadadada!" 

This is happy hour.  

And I love you, my ungrateful, independent little Beep.    

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No Comment

See the sign on the side of the building in the background? 

Yes, you read it right. 

And no, I did not Photoshop this picture.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Have We Met?

I am complex.  I am misunderstood.  I exhaust myself.

In no particular order, these are things I hereby admit.

1. I am messy.  People have a ridiculous perception of me as being organized, which I most definitely am not.  I wish I was, but one look at my pitiful desk/purse/mail pile/laundry would cause normal people to shriek in abject terror.

2. I have to force myself to send thank you notes.  This in no way relates to how much I appreciate gifts, of course.

The one and only time I might have had an excuse for my utter failure to send timely thank you notes, I couldn't use the excuse.  I was newly married, newly pregnant, and completely nauseous.  All.  The.  Time.  Since we went the old-fashioned route and didn't tell the World In General that I was pregnant, there was no good explanation forthcoming as to why so many people had to wait sooooo verrrrrry looooong to receive a thank you note for their lovely, thoughtful, perfect and wonderful wedding presents.  All I can say is, I eked out those 80-some-odd notes after work and in between trips to the porcelain throne.  It took a while.  I hereby claim this as my one and only reasonable excuse for not writing notes in a timely manner.  The other times... I was just a loser. 

3. I love nice linens.  Big, soft, fluffy towels, cute dishcloths, and crisp sheets. Don't know why.   

4. I don't really mind if my baby eats horse hair occasionally.  And she has tried horse feed, while I supervised.  That little green pellet made a nice dribble of goopy green grossness down her chin, over her chest, and onto her hands... Eventually I took it from her.  But only because I realized it might reflect poorly on my parenting skills.  I still didn't really mind.

5. I hate that I can't do it all.

6. I still have 10 pounds of babyweight to lose (above my normal extra fat).  See #5. 

7. I secretly wish I was better at accessorizing my home.  I definitely can pick out paint colors, I know what furniture I like, and I will actually create the art to hang on the wall.  Ask me to put it all together, though, and I am defeated.

8.  I love my baby and my husband more than anything else.  They are my favorite people on earth, and I am happiest when I am with them.  Still, it's nice to have variety, and I miss my far-flung friends and family.

9.  Immediately after completely stressing myself out about having too much to do, I will invariably be struck by an idea for something new and different I want to try.  And so I do, and add one more thing to the list of things to do.  It's an illness.

10. That is all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Sweet and Sisterly Email Exchange

My sister and I had a very nice, very feminine and sweet conversation via email today.  Here it is.

 Is this thing on? 
Are you alive?

Just checking… 

Speaking of checking… Check out the recipe on today.

Do you think I could get an eyeballectomy? Just my left one. It kills.

Work is so busy. I’ve been fried lately. Things are coming under control now – to a certain extent – and my staycation is on the horizon.

Oh, goodie. 

I hereby officially deny you the eyballectomy.  Pirate patches frighten me.


It's like we're finishing each other's sentences.  We're awesome.

Annie: Self Employed

This is Annie.  Isn't she cute?

She is our 5 month old Border Collie puppy, and we just love her.  Annie is beyond sweet with Beep.

Annie's energy and youth has been good for Georgie, my beloved, beautiful, cherished (and aging) constant companion.

Annie loves to play, and Beep and I throw a frisbee for her every night.

She's a great dog...   Except.  She's 5 months old.  And she's a Border Collie, which means her mind never stops.  She wants a job- all the time- and if we fall short/get sidetracked/get busy with non-Annie-related things and don't give her a task... well then, the enterprising young pup just assigns them herself. 

Like this: Repurposing the rosebush.

Now it's a chewtoy/throwing stick.

And this: Weeding the flowerbed.

With no distinction between flowers and weeds.

...And this: Multitasking
I'm guessing Annie's project management went like this:
A) Carry can over (after digging out of pasture) and deposit in front of house
B) Dig nice comfy soft, cool dirt hole to lie in
C) Spread dirt to enhance cool lounging experience
D) Bring over rope at some point for undetermined future use

And finally, her masterpiece:

She has been very busy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Please Send Toys

Poor Beep. 

She is alone in the living room... Nothing to do.  No toys.  No options, except to ponder the possibilities of a coffee table.

Having no better playtime options... in she goes.

In a space formerly occupied by beautiful art books and lovely prints, there is now... a small person. Crouching.

 After a pause, out she goes.

In again.

Someone should do something about the condition of this table and the dust therein.

But in the meantime, a pretty good place to hang.

In fact, it's enough to make a baby happy.  Imagine what she could do if only she had toys.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pig Eggs

Yesterday, I found this at World Market.

It's just the kind of random thing that speaks to me.  Eggs shaped like pigs had never occurred to me before, but it seemed like a good idea.  An attainable idea.  And it was $1.99, which was perfect with the eggs I bought on sale for $0.99.

There were no instructions, so I googled it.  No help (and, because Google couldn't help me, I expected the sky to darken and heavens to fall).  Then I gathered my courage and proceeded with the classic egg-frying setup.

No, I haven't ironed that cloth recently (or ever).  Why do you ask?

I preheated my pan to medium-high, sprayed it liberally with cooking spray, and dropped in my pig mold. 

I hesitated to crack my eggs directly into piggy, so instead I cracked them in a bowl first.  I felt very organized and mature.  And then I looked at the eggs still whole, in the bowl, next to the shells.  And I thought, Let this be a lesson to you, eggs.

Next, I carefully poured the eggs into the hot pan.  A little seeped out from under piggy, and I started to panic.  Started to wonder if this would work.  Started to wonder if piggy was warped and uneven and all my hopes for Egg Greatness would go unrealized.

Then the seepage stopped, and I relaxed.  And turned the heat down to medium low.

 While the eggs cooked in the mold, I had nothing else to do.  I turned my attention to wondering about this mysterious object.
 It came with the mold, but I couldn't imagine what it was meant to do.

Except lord over its eggshell kingdom.
Yes, I know.  I have bad lighting and wrinkly cloths.  Luckily for me, I also have this.  I thought it was a pig egg, but if it's upside down, it's a smiley face. 
Because I used two eggs, and piggy was pretty much filled, it became apparent the eggs would have crisped on the bottom before cooking through.  More importantly, I'm not a fan of slimy whites.  I punted when I decided my next course of action should be to stick the pan under the broiler.  I turned it on, slid the pan in the oven, and said some Hail Marys.  Then I started wondering if my pan was oven-safe.

I left it a couple of minutes, and out it came, all cooked and kind of over-easy- perfect.  How serendipitous.

Some salt and pepper later, I transferred it to a plate.  At that point I began wondering how I would get this pig-shaped egg outta the pig-shaped mold.  

And then it came to me...

 Yeah, that's right.  The unidentified pig-on-a-stick is an egg remover.

Actually, I'm sure not. But it worked.  All I needed was something to carefully loosen the egg from the sides, and the mold came free. 

After a quick trim of the seepage, it was a perfect piggy!  Hooray!  Paired with toast and garnished with the mystery pig device (drink stirrer? yolk popper?) this is a fun breakfast.  Paired with bacon, an ironic meal. 

The verdict: piggy is simple to use and made cooking eggs really fun. 

If you had more reasonable expectations of piggy and cooked only one egg at a time, or you're freaky enough not to be disgusted by slimy whites, you could probably skip the broiler step.  As a bonus in the one-egg setup, your upside down piggy/smiley face would be a cyclops.

I'll probably run back to World Market and get more molds to speed up cooking for a crowd.  And by "a crowd" I mean Beep, who can mow down eggs like it's the last day on earth for chickens.

I hear you can use silicone molds for pancakes, which has further appeal for pork-pairing possibilities.
P.S. If you can figure out what the pig poker is, let me know.   

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Derby Day

The first Saturday in May is a day I celebrate every year.  It's Kentucky Derby day.  Or, as I like to call it, The Greatest Day of the Year!!! 

Some years, we have a party at Cabbage Ranch, while other years we head for the local racetrack or even just stay home.  Any way you slice it, Derby day is just a great day. 

I love horses and I like watching horse racing, but it's about more than that for me.  It's the one day of the year that I feel like all eyes are on the horse industry.  Everyone hits pause on their non-agricultural, air conditioned, fly-free, horseless lives... and celebrates this beautiful animal and its breathtaking athleticism.

Of course, for some, it's more about the hats.

Earlier today, I rode Sam, who is my Thoroughbred.  Much like those seen in the Derby, he raced when he was younger.  Not like them, he was slow and lazy.  These are not exactly desired qualities for a successful racing career, so eventually his previous owners gave up on Sam and his lack of motivation, and he found his way to me.  I asked him to learn to jump, and he obliged.  He enjoys his work, in part because nobody asks him to move too quickly. 

Here we are... This was the best angle I could get while juggling a 1300 pound horse and an 18 pound baby.  Obviously, the arena we rode in was very dusty. (My dust-coated exterior in no way affects my enthusiasm for interacting with the public.  I run errands with wild abandon while covered in dust, sweat and horse snot.  Retailers love me.)

Just as obviously, my boots don't match my half-chaps.  Ariat no longer makes that pretty brownish color you see on my chaps, and I wear boots out faster than chaps.  When I went to buy more boots, I discovered I couldn't even GET the right color.  Don't blame me, blame Ariat.  On second thought, don't blame them- they make great boots.  I dress like a slob at the barn regardless of my boot/chap status.

Beep was at the barn too, with her pink boots and her plaid Dora the Explorer cap.

At least her boots match the rest of her outfit.  And she's cleaner than me, too. 
This is where each generation hopes their children have more. 

Like matching clothes and cleanliness.

I also hope she likes horses.  She doesn't have to- having and loving horses are what Cabbage and I have chosen.  She deserves to have her own interests, make her own choices.  But I hope she chooses to love them, for all the breathtaking beauty, sweet moments, daily discipline, and boundless joy they can bring to a person's life. 

Here's to Derby day, The Greatest Day of the Year!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Me, Myself, and... Ay-yi-yi....

About Me
My parents could not have imagined this turn of events.

My midwestern, suburban upbringing was not exactly aiming for this result.  There were no boots in my childhood closet, nor were there horses out back.

I swam and played tennis at the country club.  I played soccer and dabbled in ballet.  I went to summer camps and did homework at the kitchen table in our saltbox colonial house.  I was surrounded by successful executive males, and dedicated homemaker females.  

I wanted something different.  I wanted a horse.

One Christmas, my parents made the fatal mistake of actually giving me what I'd always craved.  I received an envelope with the promise of a few horseback riding lessons....  And that was the beginning of the end for my other childhood pasttimes and the start of a new lifestyle.

I eventually went to college and found a community of like-minded people, along with a firm conviction that I could feed my ambition by having an exciting career working with horses and the people who love them. 

Even later, I found the one man on earth who would put up with my manic projects, hairbrained ideas, faults and foibles.  Support my independence and my hours at the barn.  Ride a horse with me. 

On Motherhood
Our baby girl, Beep, derailed my riding, but she was worth it.  She has my eyes, rides and wears boots, and she loves books as much as I do.  She fills our house with loud laughter- hers and ours.

Photo Credit: Pamela Strohl Fine Art Photography

I read a million books about her development, I research a lot.  Ultimately, I listen to my heart and wing it.  Call it informed instinct. 

About Domesticity
I try to be domestic, but it's really not in my schedule.  Or my nature.  I work, I commute, I get cabin fever when I'm home too much.

I rejoice in a clean house, tidy closets, ironed clothes.  Or I think I would...  I don't really know, because my house is always a mess. But I like to get ideas about having a more beautiful home.  Sometimes, I try them out. 

I am a foodie at heart.  I like to cook and- when I don't burn it- we eat well.  I really appreciate exotic and best-quality, home-cooked foods.  I also appreciate leftovers and grilled cheese.  And occasionally boxed mac and cheese.

The Right Side of My Brain
Ahhh... Right brainedness.  Creativity.  Color and words.  It's good to be home again. 

This is the neglected part of my gray matter, as I use it less for my job and more for my (nonexistent, there-are-only-so-many-hours-in-the-day) hobbies.  Which, as I can dimly recall, once included creative writing, art, and a few random forays into sewing. 

I am a discriminating reader, and I used to devour books at an astonishing rate.  Now, I'm glad to keep my eyelids open long enough to read just a handful each year.  So they have to be good ones.

Thank You
...For reading what I put here.  Just for that, you're my favorite.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cabbage Ranch Cowboy

Here at Cabbage Ranch, you will find...

A cowboy loving his baby and her mama.

He wears boots, a belt buckle, and a hat.  Every day.  Don't ask him to wear shorts or flip-flops, cuz they just aren't him.  His legs never see the sun. 

Cabbage's boots track in dirt.  His button-down shirts host hitchiker bits of alfalfa, hay, and horse hair.  They sift off in a dirty path through the house as he cooks dinner, kisses his girls (Beep and me), and tends the animals.  A cowboy version of a breadcrumb trail. 

He's usually on a mission: to bundle up his baby girl, to save a horse, to kiss me, to change the tv channel.  He's a softy with a romantic streak.  He's a capable, smarty-pants, confident, love-his-family type of guy.

And even though I hate to clean, I love his dirty boots, his alfalfa-y shirt.  Plus his legs are whiter than mine, which is an ego boost for me.

At least I'm not the palest person on earth.

It's these small things I cling to in my everyday life.

Next installment: Non-Domestic, Suburban Ranch-ish Wife... Yours truly.

Photo credit: Pamela Strohl Fine Art Photography