Welcome to the world of the Adventurous Bug!

Friday, November 19, 2010

To Bake Or Not To Bake

There really isn't a question there. At least, not for me. If given the opportunity to bake-- I will do it. In a heartbeat. Without hesitation. Aside from teaching the Muttley Crew new tricks, and cuddling with Nearly Husband, it is my absolute favorite thing to do in the whole wide world.

This is probably why I get asked to bake things quite frequently. Sometimes it's requests from family, or a favor for a friend, and occasionally I even get paid to make things. Really, baking makes me happy. That kind of deep down, warm-all-over, utterly contented kind of happy. I don't even eat most of the things I bake (I am, regretfully, a ridiculously picky eater), but seeing others enjoy what I've made is enough.

Now, Grandpa John is in the habit of getting cinnamon rolls from the Senior Center every week. To be perfectly honest, it's not just a habit anymore, it's become a part of The Routine. May God help you if you are responsible for putting a wrench in Grandpa John's Routine. (It's so serious it even comes with it's own capital R.) With his complete devotion to The Routine, he becomes quite agitated when he can't get cinnamon rolls. And we have just begun a three week stint of no cinnamon rolls. In fact, these next couple of months play utter havoc with The Routine in general. Post Office closing randomly in the middle of the week (okay, so it isn't random, it just feels that way), companies holding funny holiday hours, the golf course (where he used to play golf, but now just sits in the clubhouse with the other Town Elders playing cribbage and pitch) closes-- MY GOD! Not the golf course! But, yes. Sadly, even the golf course is susceptible to the Thanksgiving-New Years disturbance.

The point is the cinnamon rolls. When he can't get the Senior Center cinnamon rolls, mine will have to do. They aren't a part of The Routine, but a cinnamon roll is a cinnamon roll in hard times. Any roll in a storm, or something. I guess you can't always afford to be picky. Luckily there are people who LOVE the rolls I make, and who don't treat my beautiful, handcrafted rolls like second best. Yesterday, for Grandpa John, I made a pan of cinnamon rolls. But, for other people who love me and those delightful cinnamon rolls, I made a further five pans. People, you're welcome. (And you're all doubly welcome for not having to suffer Grandpa John's wrath when he has to start his morning by deviating from The Routine!) They turned out, I believe, pretty good. I tried one. It was satisfactorily mouth-watering. I might even go so far as to call it "Yummy" or "Scrumptious" but since I'M the one who made them, that might be pushing it a bit far. (But they were!)

Today I took Mom out to see Miss Belle (she was looking lovely, as always), and we bought her some apple-and-oat treats, because, I mean, c'mon. Who doesn't love spoiling an adorable, sweet, lovey equine?

And then... I made an experimental cake. It's ingredients included cake flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and heavy cream. I was, I must admit, intrigued. No milk? No water? No oil? or butter? or sour cream? Not even cream cheese? Are you sure? So, in order to find out what this bizarre conglomeration is like--I made it. It's presently cooling on a wire rack.

I know what you're going to say. Bug, it doesn't look suspicious.

Don't be fooled! This cake doesn't have any liquid ingredients other than a couple of eggs and heavy cream. HEAVY CREAM, people! I will dust it with some powdered sugar, and whip up (haha) some homemade whipped cream... and we'll see. We'll. Just. See. About. THIS.

And then this happened and it made the whole day completely perfect:

Now... on to that suspect cake!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WAR Liberty Belle

I dreamt of it all night. I woke up at 2am, 2.30, 3.15, 3.45, 4.30, 5.00, 6.00, 6.45-- every time with the same dream. I was late! Every time I awakened it was in that dream-fog. Had he really called? Had I missed him? Had he driven away never to return?

His name is Kavin. Not Kevin, Kavin. He drives for Nationwide Horse Transport, and today he was supposed to arrive in J-City at 6am. He said he'd call when he was an hour out. I kept waking up with that heart-in-your-throat feeling that he'd called and I'd fallen back asleep and forgotten to go meet him. (In my dreams he was a woman named Karen... apparently because DreamBug can't handle names that don't make sense. Kavin? Really?) Most of the great state of Kansas was under a Wind Advisory today-- it was gusting pretty fiercely. By 10am I'd heard nothing, and I was pretty much convinced that the transport had blown over leaving Kavin and his cargo dead in a ditch somewhere.

As it turns out, there is also a J-Town Kansas. This is where Kavin arrived at 6am this morning. J-Town is nearly 300 miles away from J-City, and Kavin didn't arrive here until nearly 1pm. But he arrived.
And this is what he brought me:

Okay, perhaps this is not her most flattering angle. She wasn't feeling very photogenic, for Pete's sake she's been in a horse box for four days! I would rather get stabbed in the foot with a pitchfork than have my picture taken after being on the road for four days.

Her name is 'WAR Liberty Belle' or just Belle for short, and she's a Morgan horse. In fact, back in 1995, she was my first Morgan horse. We owned her for seven happy years, and then, when I went to college, Belle went to go live with my cousin Mary Ellen in Connecticut. She lived with Mary Ellen for another eight very happy years, but recently Mary Ellen's health troubles have meant that she doesn't have the time we all think Belle deserves-- so she's coming home to me. For those of you keeping track, this means Belle has lived in Kansas, Utah, Connecticut and now Kansas again--which, I believe, makes her more well-traveled than a lot of Americans.

Sending her back has been very tough on my poor cousin. I know exactly how that feels because it nearly tore my heart out when I sent her away. Luckily Mary Ellen has a Dachsund named Moxie (Moxie the Dachsie--get it? HA! Love it!), who is helping her through her sadness. I had Ellie the Shepherd when Belle left for Connecticut, and it never ceases to amaze me how very therapeutic petting a canine friend can be. There is a reason I live with a pack of Doodles, you know!

At any rate, it makes me happy that our menagerie is rebuilding now that I'm home. It makes me especially happy that the rebuilding is starting with the return of our beautiful Belle (I know, I know, redundant--gimme a break)! At one time we had three dogs, three horses, three (barn) cats, and three ducks. This was the perfect household, and I won't rest until it's recreated. STAY TUNED!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday With Nannie

I had intended to grit my teeth and tackle the storage room today. I had a Plan. Really, it was a Plan of Attack. I knew exactly where I was going to start and how many boxes I intended to get through before the sun went down, how many Charity bags I'd fill, and how many trash bags I'd need. As always I ended up with a strange sing-song loop in my head chanting, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Instead I spent the day with my Nannie. She fell yesterday trying to do a load of laundry, so I sat with her today in case she decided to go for a tumble again. She didn't, though she was very wobbly. Nannie's been fighting dizziness all her life, and now that she's 85-years-old with weak legs... well. She usually doesn't fall more than once every few months. Unfortunately this month isn't a normal month. She waited until Grandpa John had come home and I'd gone back across the alley to our house. Then she fell trying to get into bed. Will I ever be able to express how thankful I am that Nannie falls, quite literally, in slow-motion? No. I don't think so. I don't know how she manages it, but I am thankful for it every single day.

*sigh* My wonderful Nannie. My adorable, silly, sarcastic, clever Nannie. My funny, white haired story-teller. Always with her nose in a book.

She is not impressed with shenanigans.

I caught flashes of my Nannie today through the vascular dementia that is trying to steal her from us. We were discussing a cousin and Nannie said, "She's not real big--you know, she's not fat, but she's not very tall." And I said, "She's taller than me, though." And Nannie said, "Honey, everybody's taller than you." HA! THERE'S my Nannie! Most of the time, though, her sentences start vague and end up with her saying, "Oh, nevermind." She knows the words--we know she knows them. They're in her head. Her whole life has been devoted to books--she KNOWS those damn words... they just won't come out. They're stuck in her head like a hair in overcooked caramel. It breaks my heart, and it's breaking the heart of everyone who has known her. She clings to the words the Mayo Clinic doctors told her-- It's Not Alzheimers. And, it isn't. But she's forgotten that they said vascular dementia would progress as she aged, and that, one day, it would act just like Alzheimers. She HATES Alzheimers. It took her father away from her, and then it took her sister. This is not Alzheimers, but it might as well be. We all HATE vascular dementia. We hate it so much worse because, with Alzheimers, many times the sufferer doesn't know they're losing their mind. My Nannie knows. She feels every lost word, confused story, forgotten ending. She knows, but there's nothing she can do. There's nothing any of us can do but sit with her when we can, and try to help her move as steadily as she can through this. She helped teach me how to walk, talk, read, tie my shoes and use the toilet. That woman, incredible Nannie--I miss her so much. But I SAW her today--and that made today wonderful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Weekend of WHOOSH

First thing's first. My dress fits! Even with this dratted water retention (which I'm sure a Dr. Pepper--or three--a day doesn't help with), it fits, it fits, it fits! And, of all miraculous things, the shoes I picked match the sash very nearly perfectly. I know, right? Shockingly good luck! I probably shouldn't say much more than that, as I'm afraid my Nearly Husband might get bored looking at mountain biking websites and decide to see what it is I'm doing here on this "Blog Thing." I would love to post you a picture. But I mustn't!

While in the Big City, Mom and I saw our Aunt Felicia and her husband, Cal, and their two wonderful Doodles, Sammy and Roxxy. Luckily we get to see them (and the rest of their wonderful clan) again around Thanksgiving! We had a very nice visit as we heard tales of the National Quilting Convention and their trip down the West coast. It makes me so happy to see people I love doing well, and enjoying their lives and loved ones!

We also test drove a few vehicles, as I am in desperate need of wheels (I haven't had a car since I went away to Scotland in 2005) and my mom is hoping to consolidate down to one car. Now, Bug, you might ask me, why don't you just take your Mom's excess vehicle? Well, let me tell you. She bought her second car by selling my car when I left, but I don't want her '02 Tahoe, or her '05 VW Beetle. I want something that's MINE. Just mine. Something that I can comfortably drive around the U.S. in, showing Nearly Husband all the wonders of his new home.

Oh, that reminds me. Nearly Husband isn't American. He's Scottish. In fact, he's still living in Scotland. We're going through the process of getting him a K-1 Fiance Visa so that he can relocate here to Kansas with me, and we can be married and live happily ever after. One of the things I want to do after he's here, but before he's allowed to work, is introduce him to this land I call home. The U.S. of A., with all its amazing sights, and interesting history-- though I think he wants to start by looking at Carhenge. Oh, and I think he said the Grand Canyon too. He threw it in at the end of the sentence like, "OH! Can we go see that place where they're put cars on their noses to look like Stonehenge? I'd really like to see that, cause you know how I love old cars. And, maybe the Grand Canyon too?" That's reason #14 that I love that boy/man-- his complete enthusiasm about silly things. In fact, that probably explains why he loves ME so much, because I am nothing if not a very silly thing.

Sorry about that non-sequitur, I feel full of words and news and nothing is being particular about what order they want to gush out of my head! We got home tremendously late on Saturday night, and I tidied while Mom made an egg souffle for Sunday breakfast. We had company Sunday morning, our cousins Penny, her daughter Jen, and Jen's daughter and son, Morgann and Gavin. I don't think I've had the chance to see Jen since 2000, and I'd never met her kids before. They were so cute, and Morgann just oohed and aahed at the dresses in my closet. She wanted to know if my hometown, let's for the sake of privacy call it J-City, throws a lot of balls. "This," she said, "is the perfect dress for a ball." When she hits 16, I'm definitely sending her that dress.

Sunday night we trekked across the alleyway to Nannie and Grandpa John's house for homemade pizza. This is usually our Saturday night tradition. We used to play cards, but now that the elders are getting elder-er we mostly watch COPS. There's probably less cheating on COPS than there was at the card table anyway!

Today I started "Little Bug's March Toward Household Organization" with the Dog Shelf. This is, to be precise, a seven or eight foot long shelf that holds dog miscellany. Rawhide bones, flavored rawhide bones, rawhide curls, half-chewed bones, hooves, ears, puppy chews, dental sticks, treats of every size, shape and flavor, duck strips, chicken strips, venison jerky, dietary supplements, shampoo, conditioner, special non-shedding shampoo and conditioner, white dog shampoo and conditioner, ear cleansing solution, ear drying solution, ear wipes, eye wipes, pills to make the grass stay green, pills to help joints, pills to help incontinence (my 11-year-old German Shepherd died last May and it got hard for her at the end), soft toys, toys to fetch, toys to pull, parts of old toys, nail trimmers, nail grinders, nail files, an electric razor, and eleventy-seven different kinds of brushes. Oh, and also three years worth of dust. AH-CHOO! I should've taken a picture of it before, but I have the suspicion Mom might read this and she'd beat me to death with a rawhide if I showed anyone. It now looks so very tidy.

I give it one month before it needs done again. But, really, what's the fun of organizing if you only have to do it once?
And, I'll leave you with something to think about.

Now, how thankful are you that you didn't have to give this dog a bath? Because I didn't, and I'm EXTREMELY thankful for it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make It Yes-vember

I have a cold. My body has been trying to fight it off for a week (the rest of my family that were exposed came down with all the symptoms within a few days), but I'm afraid this is one battle I'm just not going to win. I'm coughing, my nose is running like a faucet, I'm achy, tired, and I may be trying to swallow my body weight in sinus drainage. It's pretty gross.

I tried talking Mom into staying home to make me chocolate chip cookies. I haven't seen her laugh that hard in a while, actually. I kept laying it on. "It's nice you're getting dressed up so nice to make me cookies," I said. "Those are beautiful cookie making earrings!" She did kiss me on the forehead before she left which was, to be honest, the least she could do. I realize she's a psychologist, and I understand there are people in the world who need her help--but sometimes I need help too, people. I probably even need a psychologist, and ESPECIALLY a psychologist who makes chocolate chip cookies from scratch.

So, having been left alone with just the Muttley Crew, I made a plan. (I am, as you either know or will soon find out, a very big fan of Having A Plan.) The Plan was thus:

Step One--Make My Own Damn Cookies.

Step Two--Turn On Fireplace.

And, finally, Step Three--Curl Up On Good Couch (after brushing off dog hair from yesterday's post-bath play time) To Read And Nap.

I thought this seemed like a reasonable plan for a sick person. (I also planned to spend the evening alternately packing and introducing my mother to 'Sons of Anarchy', but we haven't ruled that bit out yet.) I was especially looking forward to the fireplace heat and the nap--especially if I could enjoy them both at the SAME TIME.

So I went about implementing my plan. Butter softened, things mixed--oh. Rats. No chocolate chips. (How does a house with someone residing in it who loves to bake as much as I do NOT have chocolate chips?) Okay, I thought. I have baking squares and an idiotically sharp knife. I can make this work. (Helpful hint: when someone tells you their new knife set is "idiotically sharp," it's best if you believe them and act accordingly.)

After bandaging my hand, and (VERY awkwardly) making the world's least round dough balls, I put the first set of cookies in the oven. Cue the telephone! It was Grandpa John asking if I'll take Nannie to her hair appointment because he doesn't want to leave "the cribbage" to come take her, and then pick her up again. This is, technically, the reason I moved home, people. To be of service to my family. I can be of use! I'll do it! Cue some cough drops, the fastest shower I've ever taken, a messy french braid, hastily applied mascara, my SAMCRO hoodie and BAM! Out the door.

Did you forget about the cookies? I did.

Turns out chocolate chip cookies don't burn so much as they turn into little charcoal briquettes. Seems like I would've learned this lesson back in 1990 when I tried making them to surprise Nannie after her migrane-nap. She was surprised then, and I was surprised today! Full circle, folks, just like that.

For the record, the rest of them turned out just fine. OBSERVE:

No naps. No reading. No curling up by the fire. But maybe we'll still watch 'Sons of Anarchy' and eat chocolate chip cookies!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Very Beginning

Let's start small, shall we? This is Cassie. She's a Golden Doodle, she's nearly six months old, and I think she's a tiny Einstein. At least, she LOOKS like a tiny Einstein. She acts like a tiny Aretha Franklin.

I think she's fabulous. Okay, I know, I may be slightly prejudiced. But, honestly. She really is fabulous! She's clever, and silly, and completely full of diva-licious attitude. She barks at couch cushions when they refuse to play with her. Seriously, she's a diva.

She's also completely infatuated with my mom's 9-year-old Golden Retriever, Sandy. They both got baths this morning, and then (after a goodly amount of running around and rolling on Mom's good couch... oops!) they napped together in Sandy's crate. It wasn't Sandy's idea, but she's a very sweet (very harangued) dog and she doesn't seem to mind too much.

Sandy's saintliness probably comes from being harassed for a couple of years by the other two dogs of the house, 3-year-old Golden Doodle sisters, Abby and Macy. Then again, it may also just be the Tao of Golden Retrievers.

Abby and Macy are Cassie's half-sisters, and everybody in the house is at least part Golden Retriever. I think I probably inhaled so much fur during bath time this morning even I'M part Golden Retriever now. When Sandy is trying to hold her head up while the Doodles lick her face, I remind her she's the only one in the house with any real breeding. I think she looks a little proud at that notion. With my blend of Irish/Scottish/Welsh/English/Cherokee, I can't even say I'm as well-bred as Sandy. How sad is that?