April 19th, 2012

Ron and I are getting more and more into “the land” and being self-sufficient. I continue to enjoy raising chickens - and I’ve got a steady customer base for the eggs my chickens lay. I get around 7 dozen a week now. Not a huge amount, but enough to keep me busy at times. Ron set up two beehives this week - and we should start reaping the sweet rewards of that endeavor in about a year. So summer 2013 we’ll try the first honey from our bees. And our garden this year is beautiful! I already use the herbs almost daily in my cooking.

Yesterday I cooked a pot roast, and it was very satisfying to walk a few steps outside and pick parsley, rosemary and thyme to go with it. The roast was so flavorful.

Today I ordered a food dehydrator. It will be here in a couple days. I plan to start now with drying herbs and packaging them for later. I still have some of the herbs that I blended with olive oil and froze last fall. So I imagine when I dry them this year, I’ll again have way more than I’ll ever personally use. However, I can share with friends and family. I’m anxious to dry stevia and see how easily I can use it for sweetening things. It’d be great if it will work out for that. Stay tuned.

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April 15th, 2012

I have a friend, JeNan, who started a blog a few weeks ago. As I read her posts, it reminded me of what this blog was like in the beginning - before I got bogged down in political writing and trying to write things that were SEO-friendly (Search Engine Optimization). I put Google Ad-sense in my blog - hoping to make some money - and I did. Not much - but some. I would search Google “trends” and work hard to write a story on whatever topic was the hot trend at any given moment. Anything to get more traffic since Ad-Sense pays more when more people see their ads.

I learned about how to use key words in my posts so that they’d hopefully show up on the first page of Google searches. If you Google “Remarrying Ex-Spouse, ” a post I wrote 6 years ago comes up on the first page of results. I still have people leaving comments on that post. If you Google “Silence Your Rooster” TMS shows up. Even with no new posts in over a year, I still get over 200 hits each day. Apparently there are quite a few topics that will still put The Median Sib on the first page of Google results.

So I got away from the purpose and inspiration for this blog. In the beginning of The Median Sib, I wrote almost entirely about things in my life - what I was thinking about, my family, my experiences.

The Median Sib will get back to that original purpose. Starting now. If JeNan can write daily for a month, then surely I can write two or three times a week. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I haven’t done much writing lately.

So what DO I want to write about? I’m retired now. For the first time in my adult life, I HAVE the time to write. My goal over the next week is to think about the direction I want to take in my writing. Do I want to write a children’s book? Do I want to write non-fiction? Fiction? However, I want to take JeNan’s advice and WRITE - not just think about it.

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January 1st, 2011

I saw a quote this morning - “Life is a roller coaster. Ride it!” I love it! And that will be one of my goals for 2011. New Years Day is a perfect time to make a new start, to write resolutions and plan for the coming year.

However, to REALLY celebrate the first day of 2011 appropriately, one must EAT appropriately. And that means the traditional Southern New Years Day meal - but with a little Carol-ism thrown in - just to make it personal. Here’s what I’ll be preparing and eating today:

Menu
Hoppin’ John

Cooked Cabbage

Cornsticks

Sweet Iced Tea

 

Recipes

Hoppin’ John

1 can mild tomato/jalopena mixture (RoTel) If you like things a little spicier, use regular RoTel.

2 cans black-eyed peas

1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
1/2 lb link of turkey sausage

Cut the turkey sausage into bite-size pieces - dump everything together and cook. You can serve this over rice or mix some rice in it, or eat it by itself with no rice. It’s delicious riceless or not.

Cooked Cabbage

Core a cabbage. Then chop it into small pieces. Place in a saucepan, add about 1 cup of water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add some butter (1 or 2 Tablespoons). Bring to a boil and simmer gently until tender.

Cornbread Sticks

2 cups cornmeal MIX

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, well-beaten

buttermilk (enough to make a good batter)

Pour into cast iron cornstick pans that have been sprayed with Pam and pre-heated in a 425 oven. The batter should sizzle when you pour it into the pans. Bake until golden brown. Serve hot. I like to crumble a cornstick or two into my hoppin’ john.

Sweet Iced Tea

4 family-size tea bags

1 gallon water
1 to 2 cups Splenda, sugar or Truvia (depending on your preference)

Put the tea bags in a 1 quart glass measuring cup, fill water and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Let it sit (steep) for about 5 minutes. Pour into a pitcher and add the remaining water to make one gallon. Add the sweetener and stir. DELICIOUS and refreshing!

SYMBOLISM

The blackeyed peas in the Hoppin’ John symbolize coins - a sign of prosperity for the new year. May there be lots of that in 2011. The turkey sausage symbolizes my American heritage - the wild turkeys from the first Thanksgiving. For me, it also reminds me of the land where RT and I live - dozens of wild turkeys reside here. The tomatoes and jalopenas symbolize good taste and spiciness. May I never grow too old to be spicy.

The leaves of the cabbage are a symbol of folding money - currency. Again, may there be lots of that in 2011.

The corn in the cornsticks is another symbol of my American heritage. Enough corn for good health, enough oil to smooth out the rough places in life, an egg to remind me of the newness of life, and the buttermilk to remind me that the sour places in life make the good places all the more sweet. Baking the cornsticks in cast-iron pans reminds me of what the American pioneers used in their travels cross country to explore new lands.

The iced tea is symbolic of my Southern roots. Sweet iced tea is pure Southern!

There you have it! A New Year’s day feast with some traditional and some Carol-grown symbolism attached.

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November 1st, 2010

This morning I took a walk through the woods on the acreage around our house. Since I was walking alone, I took my cell phone and my handgun. As I walked the paths that Ron had so painstakingly made, I was thinking about the uneven ground and how I had to be careful. After awhile, I arrived back at our house. Since I was a couple minutes under my planned 30-minute walk, I decided to walk around the yard for a few minutes. As I walked on the side of the yard near the AC units, I suddenly stepped into a hole - a hole that I didn’t see because the grass covered it up. It was maybe six or seven inches deep. Wham! I immediately pitched forward, landing hard on my right wrist. My cell phone and gun both flew out of my coat pockets. The gun was in a small holster - so there wasn’t any danger of it going off. I just report how they flew out of the pockets to show the force of the fall.

My first thought was “Oh no! Did I break anything?” I used my walking pole to help me sit up and then stand. I picked up and re-pocketed my phone and gun. And then started to gingerly limp around - testing my foot and leg. My hand was a little sore - but okay. My left leg and foot - not so sure. I kept walking - limping - trying to figure out if there was any significant injuries. I called Ron. Of course, being me, I couldn’t talk to him without crying. He wanted to hurry home and take me to the emergency room. After talking for a few minutes and continuing to walk, I convinced him I was okay.

It is now an hour later. I’m sitting in my recliner, and I’m no longer sure I’m okay. I’ve wrapped ice and ace bandages around my foot and leg - and both my foot and leg are aching and throbbing. I walked to the kitchen to get some cereal (hadn’t had breakfast yet) and had a really difficult time getting there and back. Damn! I sure hope I didn’t break a bone.

So why did I title this post “Ironies”? Because I was worried about being injured on the uneven wood trails - but in our yard where I walk all the time, where there are no apparent dangers and where I never considered being injured - that’s where I fell.

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October 29th, 2010

In reading pro-abortion writing, I am struck by people who defend abortion by saying, “If my daughter was raped, I would go with her to get an abortion and hold her hand throughout!” As though pregnancy from rape is a major issue in the abortion debate. Of course it happens, but rape is a minor part of the abortion industry.

However, regardless of how the pregnancy is started, abortion kills a baby. Abortion stops a beating heart. That’s a fact. Two wrongs do not make a right.

President Obama once remarked about his own daughters:

“I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby,”

A book I read recently was Room. The story is written from the perspective of a 5-year old boy who lived with his mother in one room where they were captives. The mom had been there for many years, and the boy was the result of the mother’s rape by her captor. In that one roon the mother had created a world for herself and her son.

When they finally escaped, the mother’s father had a hard time even looking at the boy because the boy was the product of the rape of his daughter. Other people had similar reactions. A news reporter asked her if she felt her captor had ever cared for his son. The mother said, “Jack’s nobody’s son but mine.” And when she was pressed about whether or not she found that Jack reminded her of the painful circumstances of his conception, she said, “He reminds me of nothing but himself.”

A child is a child. Our heritage influences us - but we are our own selves. Why is a child whose father’s a rapist any less entitled to life than one whose father is a teacher or a businessman or a drug dealer or a miner?

It’s a difficult question. And when I debate abortion with myself - because I DO understand both sides of the debate - I keep coming back to the fact that there ARE some black and white issues in life. Some things are simply wrong. And killing an innocent human life is one of those things - regardless of parentage or circumstances. Once a woman is pregnant, it is no longer only about her body. Her body houses the baby for 9 months, but the baby is a separate entity. “My body - my decision” is simply a cop-out - a way to sidestep to real issue of abortion.

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  • RealChoice: October 2010 pinged this post.
  • July 3rd, 2010

    (Sophie, Carol, Lily on the last day of school for students
    Walnut Grove Elementary, May 2010)

    As I walked out of Walnut Grove Elementary school on May 24, 2010 - my last day of teaching before retirement - I felt melancholy. I walked across the parking lot and got into my car. Then I looked back at the school where I had taught for the previous three years. I was ready for retirement - MORE than ready for retirement. I had taught for 30 years, and the joy that I’d experienced during most of my teaching career just wasn’t there anymore. I loved working with the kids, but the bureaucracy and paperwork and counter-productive demands of the county administration were wearing.

    Despite being ready to retire, however, I was also acutely aware that I was leaving what I would always consider one of the best experiences of my life. I hated to see that particular teaching experience end.

    In August 2007, I started teaching at Walnut Grove - the school where Lily was in first grade. I was the reading specialist - a position I truly loved. I taught there again the next year - when Sophie started kindergarten and Lily was in second grade, and the next year when Sophie was in first grade and Lily was in third.

    Altogether I taught at Walnut Grove for three years. Those years are the “good old days” that I will look back on with fondness. That first year I drove Lily home from school on most days. As we walked to the car each day, we’d talk about how we were “school buddies.” Many times we’d pick Sophie up from daycare, and they’d stay with me until their mom or dad got home from work. We’d run errands together, go home and cook dinner together, or sometimes I’d take them to their mom’s office.

    During the first half of the second year, we had “reading club” after school. We’d sit around the reading table in my office, and we’d read together. I was determined to help both girls get better with their reading. I was a reading specialist, after all! It’s ironic that the reading specialist’s grandkids struggle somewhat with reading! I was determined to get them over that “hump.” Then we’d head out to the car, and I’d tell them how much I enjoyed being with my two “school buddies.”

    Unfortunately that second year at Walnut Grove was the year that Lily was diagnosed with leukemia right after Thanksgiving, and all our lives were changed. Because of her treatment for leukemia, Lily couldn’t attend school the second half of that year, and she was unable to attend school the first half of her third grade year.

    When Lily was diagnosed, that was the end of the reading club. Our lives were suddenly crazy - and, quite honestly, neither Sophie nor I was ready to continue the reading club without Lily. And Lily was in such intense treatment, reading was the last thing on her mind. For the remainder of that year, Sophie and I were together a lot. I’d take her home from school, or, if Lily was in the hospital, we’d go to the hospital after school to visit. I became closer to Sophie and she was my only “school buddy” for a long time.

    It was January 2010 - about a year after diagnosis - before our lives became somewhat similar to how they’d been before Lily’s diagnosis. They had Brittany now - their babysitter - who picked them up from school on most days. Still, though, there were days when one or both of them would ride home from school with me. I treasured those days. Really treasured having both my school buddies with me again. I knew I would be retiring soon and that the days of teaching at their school were numbered.

    Most days I’d see one or the other in the hall as I was going to pick up kids for my reading groups. Sometimes Sophie’s teacher would have me to come to their class to do a reading lesson.

    Then there were some days when, although we were in the same building the entire school day, our schedules didn’t coincide, and I’d realize at the end of the school day that I hadn’t seen one or the other of them all day. And on those days, I’d make it a point to go to the car rider line and chat with them until Brittany picked them up. Often in the middle of the school day, I’d go to the cafeteria when I knew Sophie’s class or Lily’s class was eating lunch, and I’d stop by their table and say hi for a minute.

    It was the “being there” that was so wonderful. With all the upset of Lily’s diagnosis, it was good for the girls to know that I was at the school should they need me. And sometimes they needed me. Once I stayed in Lily’s classroom for over an hour - just Lily and me - while she slept on pillows in the back of the room. I stayed there with her so her class could go to lunch and then to recess. When she had fallen asleep, the teacher and kids knew she was exhausted from all the chemo and they tiptoed and whispered as she slept for over two hours. Sophie worried about Lily, and on the days that Lily had to go to clinic, Larisa (their mom) would email me Lily’s blood counts or to tell me that the spinal tap had gone well & Lily was awake and eating - whatever the news for that particular visit - and I would go to Sophie’s class and let her know. She was concerned, and knowing that Lily was okay or that her counts were good was a comfort to her. Sophie’s teacher was really thoughtful - and perceptive. Sometimes she’d send Sophie to my room - just for a quick Grandma Carol hug.

    And then sometimes - especially when Lily first returned to school and got tired so easily - her teacher would send her to my room to rest for awhile. We had a special “resting chair” that I kept in my office. If I was working with children, she’d come in quietly, we’d set up the chair, and then I’d continue with my reading group while she rested.

    As part of Lily’s 504 plan, she “tutored” a kindergarten child each day for 15 minutes to help with her own confidence and reading. I helped Lily make her “lesson plan” and gather materials. I was thrilled that my planning time coincided with the time that she and Kate read together because that meant they could do their work in my room each day. I would sit at my desk and do my work while Lily and Kate read together. I loved being the proverbial fly on the wall as I listened to the two children interact. Reading with Kate was Lily’s favorite part of the school day.

    Getting the teaching position at Walnut Grove had worked out so well - so many things came together at the right time. I had taught in the school system for many years and just happened to learn of that position the day the previous reading specialist turned in her notice. Within 15 minutes, I had my application in and almost immediately got the job. Was it part of God’s plan so I’d be there when Lily was diagnosed? I don’t know, but I’m sure glad it worked out that way.

    School will start again in August. Lily and Sophie will be attending a new school that is being built in their neighborhood. Many of the teachers at their new school will be teachers from Walnut Grove since the new school was built to relieve the overcrowding at Walnut Grove. And I will be at the school a lot - not as a teacher but as a volunteer. I will meet their teachers, and I will volunteer to come in each week to work in their classrooms. Most likely I’ll help kids with reading. Some days I will pick up the girls after school. Or, if one of them should get sick, I could be there quickly to get them.

    It won’t be the same, though. The past three years were almost magical for this grandmother, and I will always remember those “good old days” with a smile.

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    July 2nd, 2010

    I’m entering my second month of retirement, and I’ve discovered that I’m not a horrible housekeeper, after all. During my working life I was scrambling to get up, dressed, fed and off to work each morning, and by the time I got home in the evenings, my energy was low and I barely managed to do what absolutely HAD to be done. Then weekends were for catching up - something I never actually did. Now I’ve discovered the glory of the calm, retired life.

    I awaken each morning, amble into the kitchen in my jammies and prepare my mug of coffee. Then I sit in my recliner and enjoy my coffee and catch up on the news - either online or on TV. Then I make breakfast and see Ron off to work. Sometimes he and I will take a walk before he goes to work.

    Next I get a shower, get dressed and then, at my leisure, I make the bed, take care of dishes, laundry, generally straightening things. I stroll out in the yard and fill the bird feeders, check the garden to see if anything needs to be harvested. I might hoe some weeds in the garden or trim the rose bushes.

    If I have something planned for the morning - like walking with Meleah, babysitting Evey, being with Lily and sophie, appointments - whatever - I just do all the leisurely stuff when I get home.

    The house stays straight and looks company-ready ALL the time. No dishes piled in the sink, no crumbs on the kitchen floor, no laundry piled a mile high. The pantry is neat and organized. Laundry is folded and put away. I can actually find what I want in my closet.

    I’ve always read that a cluttered home increases stress. Now I’m seeing the evidence for myself of how a clean and organized home makes for a calmer life. It’s nice.

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    June 15th, 2010

    The mom of a child battling cancer asked for someone to sit with her daughter at the hospital for awhile this afternoon so she could take care of an errand. I volunteered. The child has relapsed twice from a malignant tumor. Although I got to the hospital on time - even a couple minutes early, the mom had already left, and the child was sleeping. The little girl didn’t look like the same child I met a year ago. Her face and belly were swollen from the steroids. As she slept, she moaned occasionally. When the nurse came in to take her temperature or to administer meds, the child cried out - actually she growled - and fought - “Don’t touch me!” “No!”

    The nurse was calm and reassuring. Steroids do that to a child. I remember when Lily was going through the first phase of treatment for leukemia and was getting heavy doses of steroids - she’d growl, too. Yes, literally growl.

    So I sat in a chair for three and a half hours and watched this little girl - a little girl who should be outside playing with her friends, going swimming, enjoying a summer of fun. But she is in the hospital, in pain and being treated with drugs that change not only her outward appearance but her personality as well. Her innocence, her childhood have been stolen by cancer.

    EVERY single adult in the country should be required to spend at least one afternoon in a hospital room with a “cancer kid.” It changes your perspective on life. It changes your priorities. It makes you profoundly grateful for your own blessings in life, and it makes you profoundly determined to do WHATEVER you can to end this atrocity. It makes you determined to bring attention to the need for more research on childhood cancer. NO child should ever have to endure what these precious children must endure.

    I’m very proud that Lily’s foundation - Lily’s Garden - has funded an endowment at the Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to further research on childhood cancer. But that is only a fraction of what is needed. There IS a cure out there. There IS a cause of cancer. And only more research will find the causes and the cures.

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    June 7th, 2010

    So it’s Monday morning - and the summer lies ahead, along with retirement. I started Weight Watchers anew this morning. I can keep my food diary on my Droid, and I have a Wii Fit upstairs that I pledge to use 5 days a week.

    Today is one of Ron’s and my anniversaries. 41 years ago today we were married for the first time. I’ve never taken the time to figure out exactly how long we’ve been married. Married 6/7/69, divorced 12/18/97, remarried 9/5/06. Someday I’ll figure it out. For now, I figure 28 1/2 years the first time, and then add 3+ years the second time. So we’re into 31+ years. We should’ve remarried on December 18th, and then we could have just picked up where we left off in counting. -)

    In my exciting schedule, I have a dentist appointment at noon today. Tomorrow I have an appointment for my yearly mammogram. Fun times! I’ll fit a hair highlight/cut appointment in either today or tomorrow if my hairdresser can schedule it. Then I’ll drive down to my mother’s for a couple days later this week.

    Goals for this week:
    (1) stick to Weight Watchers points maximum each day
    (2) exercise each day
    (3) keep basic household chores caught up (laundry, dishes, bed, watering plants, general straightening)
    (4) have healthy dinner prepared each evening
    (5) do something for someone else each day
    (6) do something FUN each day

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    March 27th, 2010

    55 days until I retire after over 30 years of teaching. I’ve taught 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade and 7th grade. The past six years I’ve been a reading specialist. Probably a third of my years of teaching were spent in 2nd grade. I think my favorite grade, however, was 5th grade.

    And now, I’m 55 days away from the end of my formal teaching career. I am certain that I will be a teacher until the day I die - whether it’s teaching the grandkids to cook, teaching s Vacation Bible School class or tutoring to pick up some extra money.

    What are my plans for retirement?
    (1) Will get my pilot’s license. Yes, you read that correctly. Ron has his pilot’s license and owns a small airplane. I fly with him often, and I think it would be great for me to also have my pilot’s license and be able to do the flying occasionally. Plus, I’d feel more confident on flights if I knew that - should the need arise - I could land the plane myself.

    (2) Get my house in order. I start days off with lots of energy and the go-getum to get a lot done. By the time I get home from work, I’m exhausted with only enough stamina to do whatever is necesary. Thus, there is a lot of organization that is lacking in our home. I don’t like clutter, and I am looking forward to having the time to get everything organized and in order. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

    (3) Raise money for Lily’s Garden.

    (4) Volunteer in some capacity to help children who are dealing with cancer.

    (5) Spend more time with my granddaughters - including my new one - 2-week old Evey.

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