You got no Fetchin’ up!

SHORT READ

Her name was Ruthie Maude.  She was in her early 60’s and a slight little thing with a sharp tongue and deep Southern accent. Born and breed in Arkansas she was  a “God-fearin’” woman.  She smoked “More Cigarettes”;  you remember the ones, they were the long, brown skinny ones.  She preferred the menthol kind.  She would lite them off the butt of the last one, a chain smoker.

Ruthie was married to my Uncle Pogo’s brother Dow. Both men had “real” names, but these are the names I grew up hearing from my dad.   She was one of my greatest influences when I was 16.  She and Dow were “Snowbirds”, meaning they would travel from Washington down to Arizona in the winter, Then back to Washington in the spring time.  Like many other Snowbirds, they pulled their house behind them.

While sitting under the Big Leaf Maple where their house was parked on Uncle Pogo’s place, I would sit in a comfy lawn chair with Ruthie Maude and the other old timers who were both family and friends and listen to their stories.

I loved sitting in the warm breeze of summer, with the bugs zipping around us and the smoke from those long, brown cigarettes wafting around.  Ruthie Maude was an extrovert.  She was forever injecting funny and endearing Southern sayings in everything she talked about.

“I’m fixin’ on….”

“You ain’t never gonna ….”

“I’m PLUM worn out!”

“Bless your heart” and many more I can’t think of at the moment.

Of all the sayings Ruthie Maude had, my favorite was “You ain’t FETCHED up right”, “You got no Fetchin’ up”, You gotta fetch ‘em up right…”.

“Fetchin” didn’t just mean “to go get something”.  To her and others from that region of the United States, it meant the way a child was raised.  If a child or adult did something she didn’t think was polite, she would stand her little thin self right straight in front of you and say with a hand on her hip “You got NO fetchin’ up!?  I tell you what, right then and right there, she had your attention!  Then her serious face would melt into a smile and she’s start to belly laughin’.  It was so contagious.

I think about the people who have influenced my life and helped to shape me into the woman that I am today.  As I sit and write this, I can see her clearly laughing, smoking and telling stories from her days as a bare-footed, knock-kneed kid in Arkansas where her dad worked in the Cole mines and suffered from Black Lung.  Talking quietly about her brother “Bud” being one of the soldiers to die during the Bataan Death March after the fall of Corregidor during the WWII.

So many people help to shape our lives while we are being “fetched up”.  Do you remember any of the people who influenced you while you were growing up?

A Pot Hole in My Road Of Marriage

A LONG READ

A big burly man rolled out from under a vehicle on a creeper.  He let the biggest fart I have ever heard in my life, his face expressionless as he looked at me, he rolled back under the rig to finish whatever mechanics task he was working on.   I thought that was the funniest thing ever.  I laughed to myself and tried not to let anyone, including this new employee that I had never met, know that I was about to burst with belly laughs from it being so funny.  I was hooked.  Just like that, my heart belonged to this unknown man on a creeper, who farted.

My mom had just passed in February of that year, in 2007.  It had been a hard couple of months after she had gotten sick.  She went to the hospital on Christmas Eve 2006 and had declared that she was on her way to heaven.  She was ready to go home and it took nearly 2 months for her to get there.  My Sisters and I supported her decision knowing her medical condition was one she would not survive.

I had been alone with my 2 big dogs and a double wide on my family’s property.  After a broken marriage of an unfaithful, mentally and physically abusive husband and 2 tries at shacking up with men who were both unfaithful and would NEVER be a real part of my forever life, I decided that being single was better than the continuing the heartache I had suffered along with the horrid depression that came with it.

My life became my own.  I didn’t make a whole lot of money in my job, but it kept the bills barely paid and dog food in the bowl.  I learned how to control my depression.  I was feeling good and really wasn’t looking to meet anyone.  I was more interested in my fishing hole, my dogs and my job.

May 2008:  Enter big 6’8” burly man.  After the epic fart he had let I was in La-la land pretty much the rest of the day.  I didn’t know what to think, he had just hit me like a ton of bricks.  I got to know him and like him even better.  The smell of Old Spice that wafted around him.  He was so handsome, his full mustache, his quietly funny demeanor and the little bits of thick chest hair that stuck out of his t-shirt teasing me, wanting me to see more of it.  Yep, plain and simple I was “Twitterpaited”, I had the “Vapors” and I had been bitten by the big man bug.

One afternoon as we were walking out to head for home, he showed me a mini photo album of an old ’55 Ford Pickup he had lovingly restored,      He asked if I had any hobbies and I told him how much I liked to fish amongst my other interests.  For a second I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye.  We visited   a while longer and both head for our respective homes.

His fishing pole was in the back of his truck and I asked about it. He had been fishing on his way home in the evenings.  I asked if he would like me to show him a better fishing hole and he said “Yes”.  It was so nice to have someone to fish with.  I had certain ways I rigged my pole and was afraid he would take over and tell me what to do or worse yet, do it FOR me.  He didn’t, he rigged his pole and used his bait and I did the same.  I had made chicken strips and we sat fishing, visiting and munching on chicken strips.

After a couple more weeks, I asked him for dinner.  I wanted to demonstrate my prowess in the kitchen by cooking him a rotisserie turkey breast.  He was on time and my turkey breast wasn’t.  OH, GOD NO!  Things did not go exactly as I had imagined them but the conversation and company were wonderful.  He stayed a couple hours and then it was time for him to go home.

I told him I wanted to see more of him, that I would like us to date and he TURNED ME DOWN!  What?? How could this happen!?  As he was getting into his truck, I burst into tears.  This made him feel horrible.  “Well now I feel like an Asshole!”  All I could think was how in the hell I had let this happen.  Not only did I feel horrible for making this wonderful man feel bad, but I had read him all wrong.  I just could not believe it.

The next few days at work turned out to be fine.  He and I were still visiting and joking around.   We went to our fishing hole and would fish.  After a couple times our fishing chairs were closer together.  Then one day out of the blue, he reached over and held my hand.  It had taken me by surprise as I had set it in my mind that having a friend was better than not having him at all.  That wonderful moment ended quickly when a fish hit one of our rods.  It was a fun afternoon and will be burned in my memory forever.

So began a love affair that was more than I could have expected.  He told me I was a book he “Just couldn’t put down” that he knew “what” would make me happy (pointing at his ring finger and grinning).  We were both caught up in a continual wave of happiness and contentment.  Less than a year later, we were married in our fishing hole.  It was a small, very simple ceremony with only a few family and friends.  Standing on the bank where we fished so much, where we held hands for the first time and now, where we had shared our marriage vows of a happy life and love together.

I wrote him love notes and hid them in his lunch box.  I drew hearts on bananas for him to find later in his day.  He would surprise me with little things like fishing lures, or flowers.  We laughed and we loved and we fished.

Then the first challenge started.  The job my husband had, at my work, was falling apart for him and I.  He was becoming slightly harassed and unhappy around the people we worked with.  It was horrible for him.  I was increasingly defensive about this happening to him.  With great thought, we decided the best thing for him to do was to resign.  He went to work for a local farm, but the pay wasn’t great, there was no insurance but on a happy note he enjoyed his work with the animals and machinery.

After months of making ends meet, trying to find him a new job with better benefits and wages; he went to work at a manufacturer who offered the things he had been looking for.  The greatest downfall was the length of time and amount of traffic he had to deal with.  Long hours on top of thousands of people trying to get home to families meant an exhausted and sometimes grumpy hubby.  Some of his co-workers started showing true colors of jerks and lazy “Job Milkers” You know the type, the ones that take all day to finish a task that would take a normal person an hour.

I remember thinking “we have to get him out of there”.  He was not about to quit a job without another one.  I know now his thinking was of the most honorable kind and that was “I have my wife to think of”.  I don’t think I really took this as seriously as I should.  He went through countless hours of unhappiness for me.  He had “Us” to take care of.  He and I, our world, and he was willing to go through 12 hours of hell every day to make sure he our world and life were protected.

Then the day that changed our lives forever.  July 25th, 2011, 9:30 am.  I was rear ended by a lady who was driving distracted.  She forced me into oncoming traffic where I was hit head on.  The impact sent my dog up into the air and glass from the back window flew forward.  The dash board was broken from my knees hitting it as was the seat.  I couldn’t breathe, my chest and knees felt as though they were on fire.  I grabbed for my phone and called for my husband.  No answer. I left a hysterical message and tried again.

I had forgotten my husband was already at the hospital.  He was there in the surgical waiting room, waiting to hear how his mom did after her knee surgery.  Nurses from the ER entered the room and asked him if I was his wife.  “Yes, but she had a doctor’s appointment this morning.”  They told him “We have her in the Trauma ER, she’s been in an accident.”

Days of working, caring for his mother and wife must have been exhausting.  But he did it with no complaint and nothing but the thought of “I have to take care of them”.  9 months I was laid up.  My broken bones all healed up, my surgeries were done.  I had gained about 70lbs and my nemesis depression was creeping back in on me.

We started to fish again and try to get things back to normal.  He was taking classes nights to get his Maintenance Electricians License and still working 12 hour days.  I think about it now and realize how much he was putting into his life and into us.  How in the world did he do it?  I remember asking him how he was doing with various things that were happening and he would always reply “You just gotta do it”.

We started to stay home more, we both started not seeing friends as much.  We were together constantly and surviving; that was it, plain and simple, just surviving. He was losing so much weight, I would bake like a crazy woman to try to get him to eat anything I could get down him.

Last summer he became increasingly grumpy and irritable.  He wasn’t feeling good.  That fall he had his gallbladder removed.  Other than a broken ankle in High School, he had been a pretty healthy man.  Other medical conditions came to light while dealing with his gallbladder and after being bounced from Doctor to Doctor with each one saying telling him he had “this or that” issue that were not quite bad enough to be surgically repaired; he started to fall deeper into what I believe is depression.

I asked time and time again, if he was ok and would always get the answer “I’m fine, just tired”.  I would ask him how he felt and he would tell me he was in pain.  Worry and anxiousness started to be an everyday part of my world.  I found myself with little to no energy, crying at the drop of a hat.  Slowly starting to lose faith in a man whom I had always trusted.  I could NOT understand why we couldn’t get him help.  One of the surgeons we had talked to told him to come back in a few months if he had no relief and he would repair a hernia (that turned out to be a birth defect) that could be the cause of his constant pain.

Then one day, he talked about a new friend, a lady at work, explaining  that he was like a big brother to her.  My already fragile and unstable mind went into a tail spin.  “He is making eyes at someone else”.  My rational brain knew this was absolute crap, he would NEVER do that to me.  My husband is so old fashioned in his beliefs that any type of cheating would not be tolerated. We would have conversations about acquaintances who had behaved that way and neither of us believed in it.

His fuse was short, to say the least.  He was snipping at me more and more.  If I asked if he was mad, he would answer me with an irritated “No.” Oh Please sweet Jesus.  Take care of my beloved husband, hold him in your loving arms and heal him.  Bring him back to me, let him call me “Pretty Girl” and give me that goofy face that made me laugh. I pray these things in Christ precious name, Amen.  Every night I would pray this prayer.

I wanted to grab him and shout “Snap out of it!”, “Wake up!”, “You’re in trouble!”   But I didn’t.  I DIDN’T, I couldn’t.  I HAD to keep him as stress free and comfortable as I could. I had to protect my husband from feeling worse than he was already.  I reassured him so many times that I would be there for him no matter what, that he wasn’t alone, that we would fight this together.  I greeted him every evening as cheerfully as I could.  I asked how his day was, told him to drive safe and always “I love you”.

We would have moments of brief reprise when we would work on a project together or sit quietly watching TV or even on our phones.  We had not fished for months.  We had talked of camping, but had not gone.

We were both becoming sicker.  Him with his physical illness and I with my depression.  My inner strength was nearly gone.  My eating and depression were spiraling out control quickly. It was becoming harder to control my brain, to keep it centered, to keep my mind clear.  It all came to head one Saturday morning.  I had innocently ordered a hose reel from a local hardware store.  When I told him about going over to pick it up.  He became angry and he snapped at me about buying it, that he didn’t know about it first, that to just go ahead and “get the fucking thing”.

Months of hurt feelings, worry, stress and building depression exploded in my brain.  I couldn’t function, my mind wouldn’t work; and the tears were uncontrollable.  I could feel my mind breaking.  I was terrified.  He suddenly became very worried and I know he realized I was in real trouble.  Not knowing how to help me, I know his heart was racing and he was scared.  After a few hours of my mind being out of control, I started thinking “oh God, I have to make the house safe.  I can’t trust myself” I asked my poor broken husband to take the shot guns out of our home.  Was I going to hurt myself?  I do NOT think so, but in my mind, I had to be safe, to make sure my husband knew there was nothing there that could hurt me.  This is it, this is the straw that broke my “Camel’s Back”.  I had broken down mentally, I had failed my husband, I had failed myself.

This was also his breaking point to.  The next weekend, he broke down.  Through a tear streaked face and broken heart and spirit, he could go no further.  It was the hardest thing he’d ever done he said.  He needed time.  He needed space and he needed to find the happy man he used to be.  He was going that weekend to stay with his mom, in our camper.  She was recovering from a tough knee replacement and needed him to help her.  This was the right time for him to break away.  To find himself, to figure out how to live, how to love and how to  come back from the ashes of a broken spirit.

Space…how do you give someone space that you have worried, protected, loved and adored for so long?  I have to, WE have to.  I wish with all I have I had known how desperately lost he was feeling.  I wish I had looked into him harder, deeper into his soul.  I wish we BOTH would have communicated better.

Now the time of giving space and soul searching begins.  I can’t bring myself to stop texting him “Good Night”.  He seems to want to talk more. I make certain I am cheerful and happy when I see him to help him from worrying about how I am.  I have to quit cutting him off when he speaks.  We both are so desperately broken.  I miss him so very much.

Take the time to nurture your spouse.  Take the chance to tell them they are in trouble, as they probably don’t realize it, just like my husband didn’t.  Even I didn’t realize how much trouble I was in.   Take care of yourself.  Never take for granted the other person will always be there; the start of the slippery slope is not communicating.  It’s not enough to say, “I love You”, you have to show it every day.  Sometimes you can’t always work your problems out on your own.  In a marriage, you are a team.  Teams have to work together.

I hope, as I’m sure my husband does, that we can sort all of this out.  That “absents makes the heart grow stronger”.  Dear Jesus, give us both the strength to live through our days while away from each other, guide us on the path you want us on.  Carry us and most of all hold us in your loving arms so that we may weather this storm.  Help me dear God, to clear this Pot Hole in my road of marriage.

My Cat Eye glasses from the 70’s

It was 1973 and I got my very first pair of glasses.  The ever popular “Cat Eye” glasses.  By this time, the era of these adorably ugly plastic glasses had nearly run it’s course.  But not for me!

I was SO excited to pick out my very own glasses after my eye examination with our local Ophthalmologist, Dr. Alm, a dear man who was quiet and gentle.  With some help from the nurse and my moms approval, I settled on a beautiful pair of blue, marbled frames.  They were a baby blue with pearl white wisps through them.

My beautiful picture

On a hike near Mt. St. Helens in the mid 1970’s

 

The nurse made the necessary notes on the prescription and said they would be ready in a week or two.  It seemed like it would take forever for the lenses to be made for them.  I couldn’t wait for my mother to get that call from the eye doctors nurse, telling her that my glasses were ready to pick up!

Finally!  I was sitting at the little fitting table where the oval mirror stood with it’s spotlessly clean looking glass.  The nurse got out her pliers, dipped the ends of the ear part into some sort of magic warming sand (so the ends would bend easily) and fit them to my head.  She used both hands to adjust them, then asked me to look in the mirror and see how I liked them.

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

They were beautiful!  All I could do is smile when my mom asked “Well?”.  I loved them and couldn’t wait for my friends to see them!

First thing when I got on the bus the next morning, it seemed as though all the kids were looking at me in awe.  One girl said “I wish my mother would let me get cat eye glasses.”  I floated on a cloud the rest of the day. Even my teacher complimented me on them.

Were you lucky enough to have a pair of “Cat eye” glasses?  Tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Garage Sale fabric = inexpensive and fun clothing

I always look for fabric at Garage Sales.  The blouse on the left cost under $10 to make including the appliqued flowers.

1004151515 The flower appliques are made from buttons I had in my button can and I used various shades of size #10 crochet thread to made crocheted button flowers from a picture I saw on Pinterest.

There wasn’t enough of one color of either piece of fabric to make a whole blouse in my size.  I really wanted the body to have the light color fabric, which has a vertical stripe.  I dug around in my fabric stash and Bingo!  I  found another chunk of fabric I had for years and it was the perfect accent color for the sleeves, button strip, etc.

Never pass up that garage sale stuff.  Put as many of your crafting talents into your project.  I’ve turned this blouse into a showcase of a few of my garment constructing abilities.  Wear your art!

 

My quest for the perfect pie crust

 

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A pie

My mother grew up in depression era Iowa, the oldest of 3 daughters of a Share Cropper.  She milked cows before going to school and again as soon as she came home.  Her 2 best friends were a pig named “Herk” and a mule by the name of “Coley”.

My grandmother was an old school, meat and potatoes farm-wife cook.  You woke up to a hot breakfast, came into a good lunch and  at 6 o’clock a filling supper with sliced bread on the table and always a pie for dessert.  My favorite part of supper was knowing I would be able to dig into that yummy, mouthwatering pie and be in food heaven.

I watched my mom very closely when she cooked.  I wanted to be just as good a cook when I grew up.  I remembered the coffee she put in every beef pot roast,  that is now my “secret ingredient” in my pot roasts.  The fluffy pancakes she would make every Sunday morning with lots of hot coffee for the grown-ups and milk for my sister and I.  The thing I loved the most was company coming over.  Whether it was my dad’s fishing chums, a neighbor or family members;  everyone was welcome.   There was always a cake, pie or cookies of some sort for them to sit around the living room and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee.

I loved watching my mother roll pie dough.  She would dust our kitchen table with flour,  use a fork to take out a ball of dough from her mixing bowl and lay it down in the flour.  Never handling it too much.  “You don’t want to ‘Mother’ that pie dough to death or it’ll be so tough, it won’t be fit to eat!”  She would always give me tips of how to handle pie dough the right way making sure I knew it wasn’t bread dough.

Making pie was like second nature to her as I’m sure it was with most women her age.  Her recipe was the basic Betty Crocker pie dough recipe.  Flour, salt, lard (Crisco at our house) and of course, Ice water.  Her wire pastry blender was so old and beat up from making a life time pie crusts that the red paint on the wooden handle was nearly worn through.  Her rolling pin was never washed, but only wiped down with a clean cloth. She would stand at the table, cutting in the dry ingredients while turning the bowl and only looking down a couple times while watching Merv Griffin opening his show with some sort of crooner-type love song.  Of course the front of her apron always had two hand sized spots of flour on them because a dish towel wasn’t handy.

She had 2 very old tin pie pans that my sister still uses to this day. “Juice Saver” pie pans that were deep dish and wider across than the normal clear glass Pyrex Pie Plates.   Her pies were mouthwatering, juicy and the crusts were perfectly flaky.  At least in the eyes of a 10 year old tom boy girl.

I made my very first pie the year the Mount St. Helens erupted.  In 1980 I was a freshman in high school.  It was a blueberry pie for my dad’s work picnic and boy was it UGLY!  The blueberry juice had bubbled up through the steam slits leaving dark purple puddles on the crust and it seeped out through the edges where it hadn’t been sealed properly.  Ugh…mom said “It’ll be fine”, which was her generic answer to what ever it was which was clearly NOT fine.  I put it out on a table at the picnic, one of the ladies sliced and served it with juice running everywhere due to my not adding enough flour in to the filling mixture to thicken it.  We took three quarters of it home and it ended up being a nice treat for our chickens that evening when my sister fed them.

Fast forward 20 years in my own kitchen.  I had gathered together all the gadgets I needed to mix my pie dough.  A rolling pin which I had broken in on many batches of cut-out cookies, an old wire pastry blender I was lucky enough to find at a swap meet.  It was  like my mom’s, accept mine has a little tab at the end of the handle to put your thumb on.  I had a beautiful cranberry Pyrex bowl to mix my dough in and I was ready to go.  I had tried my best to make a pie dough that I was happy with, trying not to “Mother” the dough too much while mixing it.  I tried recipes that had ingredients like vinegar, mayonnaise even eggs.  Nothing was as good as what I remembered my mom’s pie crust tasting like.  Finally I saw a recipe for pie crust that called for milk.

I decided to go for it.  I didn’t like the taste of regular Crisco.  I wanted to try the Butter Flavored kind.  Wow!  What a difference in taste that made!  Changing the liquid to milk, I was really starting to like this new recipe.  I also started rolling my pie dough out onto a flour sack type dish towel.  I sprinkled flour onto it and rolled out my dough.  It made it way easier to control my rolling surface and clean up was a snap.  It was also easier to take the towel out into the front yard and shake out the flour and bits of raw pie dough for the dogs and little birds to enjoy.

I tried to remember how my mom had put it all together.  How did she crimp the edges?  How many slits in the top do I need?  I checked out cookbooks and looked at pies in the bakery sections of Costco  and Safeway.  The one thing which stood out in my mind, really made me say “Holy Crap!” was Turbinado Sugar.  More commonly known as “Sugar in the Raw”.  The sugar crystals are much bigger and have a slight Carmel color to them.  Sprinkled on top of these bakery pies gave them  a “finished” look;  as though the baker actually CARED about the finished product.  So after a light  spray of water from a water bottle, I sprinkled the Turbinado Sugar lightly all around the raw dough and decided on cutting 6 slits in the top of the pie.  I decided on this amount as they could also serve as cutting guides.  I suppose other people would cut 8 slits for smaller pieces.  I would rather a person enjoying pie and coffee in my home get a good, hearty piece that will give them something to come back for like my mom’s did with her guests.

At the time when I started to experiment with making pies, all I had were metal pie pans.  The dough was good, but didn’t seem like it was getting brown enough on the bottom.  This is when I discovered Crockery Pie Plates.  Ones that had been made of clay on a potters wheel.  I have 4 or 5 of these beautiful pie plates.  They’re spendy, but well worth the money as the finished product is so nice.  I experimented with different pies and found my new pie dough recipe along with baking them in the crockery pie plates was an absolute winner.  The smell of a pie cooking makes the whole house happy.  Cracking a window or opening your front door allows that smell to waft out into the world.  Driving up our driveway and smelling that good smell of pie baking is a treat in its self.  Walking over to the kitchen and seeing that beautiful pie plate with a yummy looking creation in it is just icing on the cake!  The flaky crust, the little bits of crystals reflecting on top and a peek into one of the steam slits seeing a piece of apple,  cherry or strawberry gets your mouth watering and ready for that first scrumptious bite.

After what seems like years, I have found my groove when it comes to pie crusts!  The HOLY Grail of pastry!  I love to watch a person eating my pie.  Their eyes light up, they stop chewing and say “this is REALLY good”.   It doesn’t taste like my moms pie.  It does evoke the same reaction people had when eating her pie.  People talk about my pies like they did hers.  That’s as good as it gets for me.  The feeling I get when people leave my home and I know they enjoyed their selves;  that knowing the time they spent with us made them feel good.  A full belly topped off with a delicious piece of pie will do it every time.

 

Miss Sarah’s Pie Crust 

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup butter flavor Crisco or regular butter (at room temp)

1 teaspoon salt  (lessen this amount if you’d like)

1/4 to 1/3 cup milk (enough to make a workable dough)

Roll out 1/2 of the dough on a floured surface to 3″ bigger than your pie pan.  Place dough in pie pan so that it falls over the edges of your pan.  Fill with your choice of pie filling.  Roll out second 1/2 of dough and place on top of filling.  Fold dough  away from you and under its self.  Crimp how ever suits you.  Spray or baste with water and sprinkle ample Sugar in the Raw on top.  Bake at 400 degrees until juice bubbles and pie crust is golden brown.

 

My secret to being a happy narcissist

1990's little sexpot

“I’m lookin’ kinda cute” so says I to my husband as we’re headed out the door on our way to somewhere.  He chuckles, replies “Yes you are” and away we go.

After getting my swim suit on, I exclaim to no one in particular, but in the general direction of some of the ladies from my swim class “do you not LOVE this polka dot tankini?!”  A muffled laugh comes from the lot of them and then that endorphin releasing sensation of the “atta-boys” that I crave!   “Oh! That IS cute!”, “Where did you get it from?”, “I love that swim skirt too!”  My 300lb ego has been boosted and OUT I go, all a flutter and feelin’ good with the other ladies to the pool for our aquatics class.

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Hmmmm…I hear what you’re thinking right now, is this gal REALLY this self-absorbed????  My answer is a resounding YES! I recently read a blog on line about how to tell if you’re a narcissist and according to that article, I’m a complete and utter, born and bred down to the bone narcissist.   UGH!

I do post pictures of yummy things I make onto social media sites.  I love to see what people have to say about it, how good it looks or how tasty it must be.  The comments left by friends and friends of friends make me feel good. It’s instant gratification to receive positive comments from people.

My social media is filled with endless photos and stories of all the great things I do.  Whether it’s a sewing project, an afghan I’ve just finished crocheting or a counter full of hams I have just retrieved from my smoke house.  You can get lost in the pictures and comments of (and about) projects and things that I do.

When I blurt out comments about myself as I did in the lady’s locker room, it’s an accidental positive affirmation for me, if that makes any sense.  The reactions of people around me are mostly smiles and laughs.  The last I knew, if you’re not happy about what a person has said or done, its more than likely you’re not going to respond with smiles and laughter.

I was born with an overabundance of personality.   My dad used to tell me I was “Vaccinated with a phonograph needle”, (a phonograph needle plays vinyl albums, hence if you were vaccinated with one, you talked a lot.)  To be quite honest, I’ve NEVER met a stranger and I am an extravert.  REALLY???  Nothin gets past you!

All of that being said; does this mean I am truly a narcissist?  That I am a self-absorbed individual?  I know people who would tell you I would absolutely give you the shirt off my back.  I have others who believe very strongly, that I am very conceited.

I really do enjoy doing things for people.  When there is a death or an emergency, I’m all in for standing up and getting the job done and receiving nothing in return. However, If I do something nice for you and don’t get some sort of gracious reply, I probably won’t ever do anything for you again.

This means, unless I get back something for my act of kindness, I’m going to be unhappy, have hurt feelings, or even be pissed at the person who has failed to acknowledge my good deed.  Then again, NOT acknowledging a person’s kindness could be construed as narcissistic.  “I don’t have to say, ‘thank you’, she KNOWS I appreciate what she does!”  AND “assuming” gets us back to the old adage of it making an “ASS out of U and ME”, at least that’s what the old timers used to say.  Either way, to not say something as simple as a “thank you” is just plain bad manners.

So now that I have you thinking about whether or not you fall into the category of “narcissistic”, I also need to point out the negatives of being a Happy Narcissist.  Deep down, inside, I don’t WANT to be self-absorbed.

Other than to put myself together in the mornings, I hate looking in the mirror. I see people walking past mirrors and taking long, sideways glances at themselves.  It’s like, almost creepy, the way some people do it.  That’s not me.  I hold doors open for people, I say thank you. I’M the one in the checkout line who will let the person behind me go ahead if they have less than I do.  I will give you my beloved hanky if you’re crying.

My beautiful picture

I even had a cloth hanky back in the early 70’s!

It all comes down to this.  I have no clue if I’m truly a narcissist or not.  I am, by no means, a perfect personality.  I have my bad days right along with everyone else BUT,  I laugh easily, I talk freely and I enjoy my life.  Guests to my home enjoy being around here, they’re comfortable.  I say funny things which make people laugh. I smile a lot and people smile back. To my way of thinking, there is nothing wrong with any of those things.   If all of this means I’m a self-absorbed person, with a true “narcissistic” personality, so be it.

At the end of the day, I’m a cool person.  I can accept the eccentric narcissistic person that I am.  I can also look in the mirror and like the person who looks back.  In my opinion, that’s the important part.

So, tell me, do you think you’re a happy narcissist?

90 degrees & haulin’ fire wood

My beautiful picture

My dad, Gordon Lancaster,  while out cutting fire wood in the 70’s

On a summer evening, while eating supper, my dad would sometimes say “Ma, how’s about you pack us a picnic lunch tomorrow for cuttin’ fire wood?”  I would stop chewing whatever was in my mouth and just LOOK at my dad.  My heart would start to beat faster and the bite of supper I had in my mouth turned into a gigantic cotton ball.  Oh, God NO!!!

Cutting firewood was always done on a hot and dry summer day.  My dad had a ’66 Ford pickup that he had stuffed a diesel motor in to.  This was before it was cool to have diesel motors in pickup trucks.  He had an old canopy on the back of it so that we could ride back there and he could haul things under cover.  The poor old thing would go anywhere and he was SO proud of it.  I always laughed when it came rumbling up the road.  It was one of those sounds a person hears and instantly looks up to see what’s coming.

He would load his chainsaw, a gas can that looked as though it had been through a hay baler, an old ammo can from the war in which his blade sharpening file and extra chainsaw blades were stored in and an ax into the bed of his truck. My mom would come out of the house with a picnic basket in one hand and a round aluminum Thermos water jug in the other hand.  Dad would place them in the back of his truck, my sister and I would climb into the cab and away we went.  This was quite a job as dad’s truck not only had the usual gear shift but he also had a 2-speed brownie transmission gear shift sticking up through the floor about a foot.  One of us had to sit with our legs toward the passenger side of the cab and it made for a horribly uncomfortable ride. As soon as we were situated he would turn the key and the old Ford would rumble to life.  He’d look over at us and say “AND we’re OFF! Like a herd of turtles!” I would laugh and my sister would roll her eyes and away we went.

He always cut firewood in the Gifford Pinchot national forest of Southwest Washington State.  It took us about an hour and a half to drive up to McClellan Meadows.  Up the Columbia River Gorge through Stevenson and on up into Carson.  I knew we were almost there when we got to the big corner at Old Man’s Pass.  I started looking to see if I could find my gloves I had stuffed under the seat on the last trip while my sister starred out the window.

The only air conditioning we had was the kind you had to roll down.  The person sitting in the middle of the truck seat, with both windows down got a steady flow of air from both windows being down, which was nice when you were on pavement.  When you got on a gravel logging road it became dust being blasted on you constantly and it  went EVERYWHERE.  Up nose, in my ears and down my throat.  I tried to  keep my eyes closed most of the time to try to keep the dust out of them, but I still ended up rinsing grit out of them when we got to where ever it was we were going.

My beautiful picture

Pre-teen Tomboy – Sarah- standing on a felled Doug Fir

When we got to the wood cutting area, dad would slow down and start to look for firewood logs.  We would pass a clear cut with other wood cutters already set up and cutting.  My dad would mumble under his breath “Sons-a-bitches”. Uh-oh, this meant we would go where there was no one else and cut our firewood there. This particular time he found a place about 20 feet up on a hill from the road.  He stopped the truck and said, “There we go!”  I know my jaw hit the floor and my sister let out a long, irritated sigh but dad parked the truck up the road a bit and said, “Let’s get at it!”

He gassed up his chain saw, checked to see if the blade was sharp and started up the hill leading up from the ditch to where the firewood was.  To this day, I still don’t know how he saw a firewood log up there from the road.  He managed to find the worst places to cut where there wasn’t a “Chinaman’s chance in hell” of there being anyone else around.  It was always in a spot that was hard to get to.  We would see other families cutting wood where the logs were lying near their rigs, being able to cut the logs up and throw them right into the back of their trucks.  Easy!  Not us, dad seemed to think it made us better kids if we had to suffer when cutting fire wood.  As if wasn’t already bad enough!

Once he got up on the hill I hollered up to him and asked how he was going to get the wood rounds down to us.  DUMB QUESTION!  He says “Oh! I’ll give ‘em a shove down and you guys stop them from rolling across the road and down the other ditch.  What??  All I can see happening is my sister and I getting squashed by huge rounds of wood.  I asked him how we were supposed to stop them and he says for us to put our foot up and stop the round as its rolling across the road.  Then he said we could find a big branch, hold it on the ground and let the round roll against it. That THAT would work too.   I have NO idea what my dad was thinking or if he was just testing how tough we were, but we got ready to catch wood rounds as dad got his gear ready.

He fires up his McCullough chain saw and pretty soon, here comes the first round.  Dad yelled “Here it comes!” Both of us froze.  I had found a big limb in the brush and my sister had decided to use her foot to stop the wood round. As it came crashing down the hill, I got ready with my limb to stop it.   Just before it hit the ditch, I chickened out and stepped to the side.  It landed with a THUD, bounced up a little and luckily stayed in the ditch.  We got the idea of standing each round of wood up on its end so with each one we built a wall of wood that would help to stop the others as they came crashing down the hill.

On those blistering, hot days up in the Timber, the dust and the bugs stick to you like glue, especially when you’re doing anything physical that makes you sweat.  By the time we took a break for lunch, all of us were covered in dust and dirt.  Dad lifted the old wicker picnic basket and water jug out the truck bed and we all had a nice long drink of that ice cold well water from home.  That water was so wonderfully cool and felt so good going down.   I started to drink too much and dad warned me “Better not chug that or you’ll get a belly ache”.  I’m here to say, that at NO time when I was hot and thirsty did I EVER get a belly ache from drinking water too fast!  It was one of those things parents always said that never made sense, but had a hint of warning and you listened immediately.

As we ate our lunch, the bugs would gather around us. Little black flies would come from every direction, landing on us and our food.  They would buzz around our ears, try to get to your eyes; I’m sure I swallowed at least one with a bite of lunch. Mom had packed the usual, baloney sandwiches, homemade cookies and a few apples.

After lunch, we worked until there was a full load of wood for the old truck.  We got all the rounds loaded up and could finally head home.  The trip back home was the exact reverse of what it was heading up into the timber.  Heading back down the gorge, there is a big old cedar tree just past a tiny little place called “Skamania Landing”.  More of a wide spot in the road, but there was a store with a tiny café in it.  Anyway, when I would see that cedar tree, I got excited, because I KNEW we were almost home!  To this day when my husband and I drive up that way, as we pass that cedar tree, I always point out, “there’s my tree!”.

Getting home meant a whole other job started; unloading the truck.  Dad would get his chainsaw and all of its stuff out and we would climb into the back of his pick up and start unloading wood.   At first it was easy, just shove it out the lowered tail gate and it would hit the ground where it would be split up later.  But then, after you get so many chunks on the ground they started to stack up.  My sister would usually stay up in the truck shoving wood out the back while I was on the ground moving wood rounds out of the way.  Of course, she would never really stop shoving them out of the bed of the truck while I was moving them and having the chance of maiming me with a chunk of wood was too good to pass up.  She always managed to smash a finger or squish me in some sort of way.  This was ok of course, as I would happily have done the same thing to her if it had been the other way around.  Finally!  Our job was over and our day of wood cutting was done.  We could sit down for a while before supper and rest.  I know as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light.

I think about going for firewood now as I sit in my air-conditioned home and think very fondly of those days of cutting firewood.  Although my sister still makes me ABSOLUTELY crazy and knowing how awful the dust and bugs were; I would happily go one more time with her and my dad. Just to be around the smell of the timber on a hot summer day, to listen to the wind blowing through the tops of the trees; the funny “thud” noise your feet make as you walk through them.  Even to hear the sound of those horrid flies buzzing around my head.   It’s funny how some of the things I hated most as a kid, are now some of my most cherished memories. How I would love to go back to those times, just for one more day.