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due to popular demand...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I was on the schedule at Publix to work on Monday, and have been 'invited' to go back on Wed. and Thurs. Working on a Monday is very unusual for me - I'm never there then, unless  my cohort is taking time off.  I'd like to think it's by popular demand, and there is some truth to that. The disheartening part is it is not ME that is popular. The Sunday newspaper had a Publix advertisement that included a picture of mixed fresh fruit salad. It's a pretty good deal for the buying public, one of our famous BOGO items. Which means that the fruit bowls are half price.

There were three people on the schedule Monday morning to cut melons, pineapple and strawberries. It takes that much labor to try to stay ahead of demand. There is only one person available today to do the work, which means she will never get caught up. And will probably have people standing in line awaiting the top being snapped on the next bowl. Or a long line of irate customers at the service desk, demanding Rain Checks because they were not able to make the purchase.

So I will be off today, knowing that I will work eight hours on Wednesday and again on Thursday. When I will be peeling and cubing pineapple, skinning honeydew melons and cantaloupe to cut into chunks, slicing the caps off strawberries by the quart and halving. Prepping everything I can, as fast as I can, to try to keep ahead of the person who will be cutting watermelon into cubes to make hundreds and hundreds of bowls of mixed fruit.

It's a BOGO: why are you not there??

volunteer 'opportunity'....

Monday, April 21, 2014
After going in to work at 6 and getting off at 2, I drove to Alabama. I'd agreed to be a worker bee with a project the 4-H coordinator was doing with fifty first graders. We met at the Ag. Agent's house, to go over the program, and went to the school after carpool moms and buses got away. Teaching them about the basics of growing things. Like how a fire needs: fuel, air, and some starting source of combustion? Well, plants need the things that spell the acronym: PLANTS...  not sure I can remember all of the different requirements to match up with the letters but I will give it a go: 

Place (to grow), L..?, (light, maybe?), Air, N....?, T...??, Sunshine. Hmmm- water needs to be in there somehow. Just like me to sit in the back of the class and not pay attention...Good thing we are not having a test! It was pretty amusing. I'm Always glad I am not in charge, and can just stand on the sidelines, and jump in when it is obvious some little six year old needs more hands, or seems to be struggling.

The young person, probably a college grad., but they all look like they should be riding their bikes to work... was remarkably well organized.  She had obviously done this more than once and knew the drill. You give each kid a short piece of panty hose, the kind that come up to your knee. Then give them a small waxed paper cup with about three tablespoons of grass seed. I think she said she was using rye. Have the kids open up the 'insert foot here' end of the stocking, and put the stretchy 'mouth' over the opening of the cup, then turn the cup over, so the seeds go into the toe of the hosiery. Remove cup. Then you give them a big red solo cup and have them fill with potting soil. Repeat that process of putting the open end of the stocking over the cup, flip it over, to dump the dirt on top of the seeds. Remove cup. Your knee-high is mostly filled with rich black dirt, with seeds down in the toe.

Basically that's it  Then you say: open your hand flat, and pat the end of the stocking in your palm, until it starts to look like a round ball. You help them tie a knot in the stocking as close to the dirt as possible, to keep the seeds and dirt in place.  If you are doing this with a bunch of kids, you will need to write on the bottom of the small waxed drinking cup, so they are identifiable. Have the kids put a bit of water in the paper cup when they get home, and the stocking will act as a wick, drawing the water up into the soil, so the seeds will germinate. The project was called 'plant people', so they were each given two plastic googly eyes they could glue on the side of that 'ball' of soil, to make it look like a face, so when the seeds sprout, it will look like (green) hair. You will need to tell them to let the glue on the eyes dry for a couple of days before they start to water, or the eyes will fall off.

When you get a picture of this in your head, and think about how it looks: sort of a 'do it yourself' Chia pet???

Reminds me of all those years I did crafts for Bible School/Music Camp. And spent hours and days getting stuff together, tracing, cutting and prepping, to have things ready for a thirty minute class. They would get done in about thirty seconds, after I had spent days getting it all organized, projects ready for them to assemble.

a bit of remember-y...

Sunday, April 20, 2014
I'd pretty much forgotten about hunting eggs as a kid. We definitely did it. But this was many years prior to the invention of plastic eggs. So the ones we used were 'real', had been boiled, and hand-dyed, often cracking in the cooking so the dye would seep into crazed lines if the shell was peeled off. But I doubt that happened often, as we generally wore them out with the hiding/finding process.

I don't recall ever participating in the large scale eggs hunts that civic organizations, churches and neighborhoods plan these days. So it was mostly just my brother and I hiding eggs in the front yard. One would go out and do the hiding, while the other would have to stay in the back of the house and wait for the signal.  Then dash around to the front, with basket swinging wildly, in search of the twelve eggs. I'd generally find nine or ten, and be searching for the few.

My brother ,as an adult is a smart, considerate, thoughtful, responsible individual. But as a youngster (plus the Older Sibling aspect) could be a devious soul.  He was notorious for digging a hole just large enough to secret one egg (usually the one wrapped in the foil, which was of course, the highly desired  Prize), and carefully, diligently, maliciously tuck the little uprooted tuft of grass back in place to cover it up. Of course, smiling and gloating, and grinning all over himself the whole time, saying things like 'you're not even close, or 'you're getting very warm', or 'you'll never find it', just to Egg Me On.

Those little people who were running all over the yard this afternoon, searching for eggs that were mostly hidden in plain sight were quite amusing. Even found some eggs that had been sitting there, waiting since last Easter. The adults realized they had discovered eggs from last spring, when  they opened them to find 'stuffing' that was old: surprising those who had stuffed and hidden the plastic eggs earlier in the day.

I remember when my kids were small and we would go to the neighbors to 'hunt'. The plastic eggs were filled with sweets, then hidden for them to discover. After they were found, and the candies emptied out, they were filled a second time with loose change - even  more  exciting to find than sugary treats! After that, just empty eggs - but still an amusing enterprise for keeping them occupied the rest of the afternoon. I think maybe all that frantic running around while eating unadulterated refined white sugar acted to even things out, as I am pretty sure they fell into bed when the day was over. One of them would save treats for weeks, and the other would be voracious, eating monumental amounts of sweets at an amazing rate - then searching out her sister's stash for more.

PS: to assignments...

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Herewith is the recipe for Carrot Cake, as printed in the original Camellia City cookbook. It's not hard, just troublesome, with having to grate three cups of fresh carrots. But the last time I noticed the price of getting one already finished with cream cheese frosting and cute little orange carrots of buttercream decorating the top was around $15. Plus not nearly the same amount of love as the one that comes from the kitchen of Mom...

Carrot Cake
2 cups plain flour, sifted, along with 2 tsp. of soda, 2 tsp. of cinnamon, and 1 tsp. salt (which I often omit, or reduce to a good shake from the salt shaker)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups cooking oil (recipe specifies Wesson)
3 cups freshly grated carrots

All the instructions from the cookbook: Mix together.
Personally: I break the eggs in the mixer bowl, get them blended really well, slowly add sugar to mix thoroughly, then drizzle in the oil. Mix well. Add dry ingredients, mix well. Turn off mixer, add carrots, stirring well. Divide equally into two eight inch round layer pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. Test with toothpick inserted into center to be sure it is done.
Cool on racks. I slice the layers in half, horizontally, with toothpicks inserted to try to slice them fairly evenly with a serrated bread knife with long blade, to make four layers. I've put a large dinner plate down cardboard, traced a circle and cut out, covered with foil, to use as a base, for transporting, so it is flat, instead of concave like putting it on a dinner plate.

1 - 8 ounce block of cream cheese (no point in going the no-fat/low-fat route at this point)
1 - stick butter or oleo
1 - pound box confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
nuts, optional

Bring the block of cream cheese and stick of butter to room temperature in mixing bowl. Cream well, until smooth, then slowly add powdered sugar, being sure to make as big a mess as possible with clouds of sugar wafting all across the kitchen counter. Add vanilla. Put between layers, sparingly, to have enough to coat the sides as well. Sprinkle on nuts if desired (and you know you do!) Let it sit overnight to make it really good. Take to Easter lunch, or give to friend for birthday. Do not bring any home. Only empty cake-taker is allowed back in the house.

there is this profoundly chatty guy...

...who works for a vendor, coming into the stock room at least five days a week. He is constantly talking, making conversation with anyone who will give the impression they are willing to pay attention. Chatty guy, trivial stuff, just likes to talk. Nothing of any importance: today was a (one-sided) conversation about high water in a neighbors' pond, and snakes floating around. Or what he had for supper last night, or the price of gas, or what he's doing next week, or whatever.  Just loves to talk.

The complete opposite of what goes on here. Though I suspect The Guy here is much more interactive with complete strangers than he is here  at home. Is it possible that there is just nothing left to talk about? Or that we've run out of words? Not likely for someone who can [insert blog here] numerous times a day.  I got to thinking about that vendor, who talks incessantly, constantly, endlessly. And wondering which would be easier to live with.

So I posed this question to my coworker, who has mentioned that the guy she has been with for a number of years does not seem to have any conversation left after all this time. Would it be preferable to be with someone who had nothing to say, or someone who made your ears tired every day? Would you rather spend your days with someone who you had to use dental tools on (you know: pulling teeth?) or someone who made  you feel like 'hands up', and saying 'too much information!'

I like solitude, willingly tell anyone that peace and quiet is a Good Thing. I guess maybe, possibly, I should be thankful for what I have, and appreciate the fact that I do not have tired ears?

if you are offended ....

...by the  word 'piss', now would be a good time to quit reading. I am going to be doing considerable griping about cats and the pungency of my carport. Also seeking advice as to how to resolve the problem without committing mayhem on the neighbor's felines. It has long been a nuisance, and I am getting profoundly weary of stop gap measures that are obviously not adequate at stopping the problem.

There are at least two 'strange' cats that come by on a fairly regular basis to visit the 'buffet'. We put out dry food and some small amount generally gets left in the bowl in the carport where my own personal cats are accustomed  being fed. Then the cats that live in the neighborhood, one a bob-tail, and the other just a big, hulking bully come around and go 'hissss....'  Which causes the cats who live here to back off and surrender the remaining food.  Then the roaming visitiors do what obnoxious male cats do - mark what they now claim as their 'territory'.

So the inside of my carport always, always, always smells like cat piss.  And if that is not unpleasant enough (for the person who has to clean it up, as well as you, dear reader), they, on a regular basis, leave little piles of crap. I'm pretty sure it is not my cats: one is litter box trained, and the other goes out in the yard... which leaves the random, roaming visitor to be the one leaving evidence of their assumed ownership.

I've always thought I preferred cats over dogs, as they are not so high maintenance. Being more capable of self-care, and managing life without human assistance, I've always felt like they can get by on their own, without our interference with their lives.  I know dogs can live in feral colonies too, and survive without store bought food, but cats just have that independence about them, where as dogs - well, they are dogs.

All this to say: I periodically get to my limit. And did just that this afternoon. While the carrot cake was baking, I decided to attempt (again, another fruitless endeavor, I am sure) to eliminate the problem. So I poured bleach out there on the concrete, where I have been sprinkling baking soda in a effort to absorb the odor. Then a drizzle of detergent. And got the hose to wet it all down. Took a broom and stirred it all up, sweeping to and fro to spread it around, and hopefully eliminate enough of the delightful aroma of cat piss that they will not be back before daylight spraying their territory again.

The homemade disaster occurred when I was sweeping. There was apparently enough of the product of cats to create ammonia. And when mixed with bleach - creates a noxious gas that brought tears to my eyes, and a coughing fit. Yes: I know. I read all the haz.mat. warnings, and know better. After not knowing better many years ago, and mixing that same deadly combo. when cleaning the bathtub/shower stall, nearly asphyxiating myself, I really do know better. But it never occurred to me that there was sufficient ammonia in cat piss to present a problem. Now we know, right?

my assignments...

for Easter lunch: squash casserole, deviled eggs and (a great family tradition:) carrot cake. The carrot cake recipe is from the Camellia City Cookbook. The original cookbook, with red plastic binding. Typed on manual typewriters when I was in high school, by the stars of the class, complete with typos and various mis-keyed letters, floating bits of alphabet. I've made it numerous times over the years as it was originally the Official Family Birthday Cake. Back when daughters were small enough to generally eat anything that was put in front of them. As well as having never been exposed to white sugar-fied commercial bakery cake with gobs of butter cream icing. Now I only make it once a year, as a command performance, when it is a requested item for the Easter lunch.

I've already made the squash casserole - did that as soon as I brought groceries home, and put it in the fridge. And waiting until the last possible minute to boil a dozen eggs. I thought I had some, but that carton was nearly empty. And experience has taught me that they are so much easier to peel when they have 'matured', I know not to even try as soon as they come in the house. So I will boil my eggs for devil-ing when I get home from work today, while I am doing the onerous grating for the cake.

I nearly forgot that I had agreed to run to Sam's Club and get a second ham. The hostess decided that one eight pound ham is not enough pig for the crowd that is expected. And it is much easier for me to get another than for her to go across town. So I jumped up yesterday afternoon, and dashed out in the pouring rain to search for a second porker. I am not eating that, so I do hope that I will not forget to load it up after we go to church in the morning. It would be a horrifying tale to have to say that TP ate a  whole ham by himself, though I am pretty sure it is possible.

I will finish up my assignments this afternoon, and be ready to head north after we go to earliest church Sunday morning at 8. I haven't been to a sunrise service on Easter Sunday morning since I was about ten years old, remembering how cold I was in my finery: lacy ankle socks, shiny black strap-on Mary Janes, full-skirted gingham dress with stiff organza pinafore (and shabby sweater) waiting in the dark at the football stadium for the event to start, so it would be over and I could go home and get warm again. So ... I think getting organized enough to get there at 8 is sufficient for me.