Friday, May 29, 2009

So it's been a crappy couple of days...

...which is why I haven't been around. I've got a post or two (or twenty) brewing, so I'll be back in a bit.

I just want to say thanks to the old man at Wal-Mart who restored my faith in the human race this afternoon. Sometimes I think God puts people in our path with the right words at the right time.

Thanks, God.


It's time to let Mr. Jim go. He is steadily declining. He's getting more and more confused and they're transferring him to a rehab center (which he despises). Please pray that he'll die peacefully, painlessly and with dignity.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What A Life!

Mr. Jim's not doing well at all. He's in the hospital still, recuperating from his broken pelvis, and now he's got to stay another five weeks due to his cancers getting worse. I'll spare the details, but suffice it to say they don't think he'll live long enough to get discharged.

It's a sad and pathetic thing. Mr. Jim's got the mind of a young man but his body is betraying him. He's 87 and has lived an incredible life. Joined the Army during World War II, earned a Purple Heart for being wounded at (but surviving!) the Battle of the Bulge, married, raised a severely mentally handicapped son, sold tires for Michelin until his retirement, cared for his wife until she died from Alzheimer's, cared for his son until his death due to his disability and now is living on his own with three types of cancer, which he's had for six years. All this and he still mows his own lawn and drives his own car.

Steve and I visited him tonight and he's barely recognizable. He's having surgery tomorrow to help deal with some blood clots. Please pray that God will ease his pain. I'll admit I'm a little selfish: he's the closest thing I've got to a grandpa and it's so hard to watch him suffer.

Through all of this, he's never hesitated to tell anyone who will listen about how God has blessed him...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reasons I Love My Husband (#956)

The chocolate covered strawberry he bought me at Union Station in St. Louis.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If a Poor Man Eats a Chicken... of them is sick!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved watching people perform. From the first time I saw a play, I was hooked. It was a stage production of Charlotte's Web at Flint's Whiting Auditorium.

I haven't had much opportunity to indulge, though.

One of the lovely things about living in a big city is the chance to see. Plays. Opera. Broadway meets Beale Street at the Orpheum.

Last Friday, Steve and I got all gussied up and Steven took me to see Fiddler on the Roof. With Topol. The real Topol. It was amazing. He was as brilliant as you'd expect if you've seen the movie. He can say more with a simple shrug or wink than you'd think possible. This man is 73 years old but that didn't curb his energy.

At the end, he bowed to the ecstatic audience as if he couldn't get low enough. Amazing.

If this is not enough, Steven has discovered that he enjoys plays and musicals, too. Though he's not ready to spend an afternoon vegged out watching The King and I, he's already said he'd be willing to see Wicked with me in June and he's been singing "If I Were a Rich Man" for the last five days!

Monday, May 11, 2009


Have I mentioned lately that my parents are awesome?

My mom is a quilting genius. She and my grandma made each of my siblings and I a quilt when we were itty, bitty babies. They've all been through a million washes, re-stuffings, little fixes.

Mine is "The Princess Blanket." Isn't she gorgeous? Mine's the best. (I'm the favorite.)

A little aside about the princess blanket:

My dearly beloved is very manly. Except when it comes to my blanket. Then he dissolves into a puddle of gooey softness. Once upon a time, he was just finishing a shower when he heard a key in the lock. Knowing it was too early for my return from work, he wrapped the princess blanket around himself, toga style just in time to see our landlord entering the apartment accompanied by a pair of perspective renters!

"Oops, thought the place was empty," she muttered, shutting the door.


My mom has continued the tradition, making each of her grandkids a blanket, I believe for their first birthday.

Last Christmas, after eight years of marriage, Steve became an official member of the family and was presented with his very own quilt, "The Michigan Blankie." He's spoiled, don't you think? Yeah, he is. It's okay, you can say it. It's okay though, I steal it most nights.

For a wedding gift, my mom made us a picture quilt. It's huge. The left side is my family, Steven's is on the right, and the center strip is all about the wedding. When she showed it to me, I told myself I wouldn't ever sleep with it, only hang it up and stare at it.

I lied.

It's so comfortable! I can't help myself. Especially when I'm homesick, it's so nice to curl up with. Until I wake up to see my grandma staring at me, that is. Then it's just creepy.

I find myself breaking it out whenever visitors come around. What's better than a family photo album? A family photo album that keeps you warm while you look at it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Adventures in Appalachia-Part Four

Just a teeny tiny note before continuing: this saga, this chronicle of Kentucky life is already over and done with. We left Kentucky in 2006 headed for Memphis and haven't been back save for a few short days to attend Steven's graduation. I'd go back in a second if I had the chance.

On with the show!
Part One is here. Part Two is here. Part Three is here. Catch up, willya?!

The duck. It just sat there. Day after day, gently bobbing in the rushing water. By this time in the year, it was getting cold again. Not cold enough for a jacket, but cold enough for you NOT to go swimming in Clear Creek.

Maybe you wouldn't go swimming, but I might.

I wanted to see that duck.

I took pictures, thinking I could zoom in and see what was holding it in place. Was it real? Was it stuck on something? I couldn't tell.

For days I watched it.

There was nothing else to do.

One day after work, snuck out to the creek bank. Furtively looking around to be sure I wasn't watched, I took off my shoes, rolled up my pantlegs and waded in. The water was freezing! The rocks were slippery, the current was fast, and I almost fell a few times.

Success! I got the duck. I got that darn duck. I guess it's some sort of decoy, though it's not like any I've ever seen before. Some hunter probably had it planted there and I foiled all his plans. At least I like to think so.

I took it home, stuck a marigold in its back and called it a planter. I've still got it. And I was sick for about three weeks after my little swimming trip, but we won't talk about that...

Kind of a letdown, huh?

Kentucky is a magical place. Besides the obvious things like the mountains and the hidden creeks and the glorious solitude, the people are amazing. I'm not naive. I know every place has its good folks and its bad, and I won't pretend some of the people aren't downright creepy, like the time I saw a group of old, bearded men sitting on a porch with shotguns. Another story for another time.

Everywhere you go, people wave. Driving down the street, a wave. Shopping at Wal-Mart, a wave. Passing on the sidewalk, a wave, a how's your husband and a hug if you've seen the person more than once.

I am normally not a touchy person but it's hard to break the habit once you get hugged and handshook a couple hundred times.

If you pass someones house around dinnertime, expect to be invited in for "a quick bite." If your house floods, somebody'll come to your rescue. If your neighbor's got a garden, you've got a garden, too.

If your church has a sing-in, folks from all over the holler will show up to participate. Banjos will be plucked. Fiddles will be sawed. Feet will stomp, hands will clap, shoutin' will commence.

I miss it.

I'm thinking that it's mostly the connectedness that I miss. The togetherness, okay? Yes, the waving and even the hugging. People in bigger cities (in my experience) just don't care about each other. I could run down the street screaming "Rape!" and people might look out their windows at me, but no one would do anything.

I miss our little church, our crumbling trailer, watching the sun set between the mountains. Seeing the people that have lived their for generations delight in the wonder on my face at the sight of mimosa trees covered in blooms. Especially seeing them re-realize the beauty of the things they take for granted every day.

What I wouldn't give to have it back.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Your minds can not fathom the realms of deliciousness that await you.

Saturdays are a magical time here in the house of Curtis. I can get up late, leisurely sip my coffee and cook til my heart's content. Or not. That's the lovely thing. Anything goes.

Grilled Ham Steak
Potato/Caramelized Onion Gratin (with slight adaptations)
Blackberry Grunt

I made the blackberry grunt waaaaaaay back here, so click the link if you want the recipe. You will not be sorry.

Here's the gratin, courtesy of Mr. Brown.


5 or 6 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
2 or 3 Portobello mushroom caps, sliced thin (I'm not really a mushroom person, so I caramelized a few onions to toss in instead)
1 cup grated hard cheese such as Parmesan or Asiago (if you get a good quality cheese and grate it yourself, it'll be so much better, I promise! Avoid the green can!)
3/4 cup half and half
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Using a mandolin, V-slicer or the slicing attachment on a food processor, (or you could just slice them yourself like I did) slice the potatoes approximately 1/8-inch thick. (If you don't want to slice all the potatoes at once, slice them one at a time and build the gratin as you go.) Create the first layer by laying the slices in overlapping rows. Once the first layer is down, season lightly with salt and pepper, then scatter with mushroom (or onion) slices and a couple tablespoons of the cheese. (Don't over-do it on these layers, if you create a barrier between the adjoining potato layers, the gratin won't set.)

Continue building layers until you're out of potatoes or out of room to build, but be sure to save 1/2 cup of the cheese for the top. Pour 2/3 cup of the half and half over the gratin then spread both hands over the surface and push down to work the air out from the layers. Add remaining liquid only if half and half does not come to the surface when you push down.

Sprinkle the gratin with cheese, cover loosely with foil and place in middle of oven for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting the point of a paring knife straight into the gratin. If it goes through smoothly, remove the foil, return to oven, and turn on the broiler just long enough to turn the top golden-brown. Remove, and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Eat. Enjoy. Rest. Repeat.