Not Your Typical Holiday Weekend

I approached the latest holiday weekend with a bit of bummed-outedness and a just a wee bit more jealousy as I was reading everyone’s plans on Facebook.

The weekend was not what I had hoped for; Clint pretty much had to work the whole weekend, most of my kids had plans of their own except Micah who spent a couple days with us. Also, I was still suffering from laziness, so I didn’t get as much done as planned. I always have these grand plans of getting a lot done over a three-day weekend, and then Clint’s availability kind of puts a kink in things. We did get to enjoy a nice afternoon and evening with Micah at an outdoor jazz festival. We then went for dinner and back to her place to watch a movie. It was a great time of hanging out with our youngest daughter.

Micah and Clint both love Jazz music!

On Monday, Clint and I tagged teamed  and finally got the house and yard done. I cleaned most of the house first, and then Clint vacuumed (my rehurt shoulder still doest like the monster vacuum cleaner called Kirby) while I mowed around the lilly pond and perimeter of our property (Clint doesn’t see well enough to cut in close to the trees, and he is very allergic to poison ivy). Then we switched; he finished mowing while I steam mopped all the hard floors (pretty much every floor except the bedroom and living room). I finally felt like I managed to accomplish at least something!

After showers, Clint went to the store to get us a nice melon while I finished my gazing ball mosaic project. This is a project I’ve been working on all week. Took much longer than I anticipated, but I was ecstatic to put the last piece of pottery in place; now all I have to do is grout it and repaint the base. I needed a new one because Clint “tapped” my glass one with the weed eater at the first of summer and broke the one I’ve had for years. I like the new mosaic one better though; more color!

My first mosaic garden ball; all that’s left to do is grout it and repaint the stand!

Micah joined us later that evening for leftovers and to catch up on episodes of Eureka and Person of Interest.
It might not have gone like I would have wished for a holiday weekend, but it was good and was more relaxing than a busy one.

For the Love of Peonies or Ant Wars

I really love everything about my peonies. The big beautiful blooms, the fragrant bouquet and the ants.

This wasn’t always so. In fact, my little six-legged friends and I didn’t always see eye to eye. As I watched them do their magic to help bring forth the loveliest of flowers in my garden, I was reminded of how our relationship began – and of a story I wrote about it a few years ago. I wanted to share it with you and a few images of my beloved flowers.

I hope you enjoy my tale, perhaps learn from my mistakes and have a wonderful Sunday!

Ant Wars

I’ve always wondered where the term “ants in your pants” came from.

I often heard my mother exclaim that this child or that wiggled around “like she had ants in her pants.”

But, I don’t really think I ever truly appreciated the expression until this spring.

I was attempting to lighten the load of my double pink peony bush of a few fragrant blossoms, when the little buggers, known as red ants, waged war.

In all fairness, I should say they retaliated.
The ants and I have had a long-standing, shall we say, history for many years. When I first planted my peony bush eight years ago, I noticed that there were an awful lot of ant colonies cropping up around its perimeter.

Now let me pause here to explain that although I love beautiful plants and gardens, I am not what you would call the most prolific gardener in Oklahoma.

That said, I was determined that these little arthropods were not going to rob me of the double blooms that I so deeply coveted. So, for three dutiful years, I sprayed, dusted and crystallized the little red darlins. Some of you may already have guessed my burgeoning mistake – but I was still clueless, as to why my beautiful bush that I tended so diligently would not put on even one tiny bud.

This is where good friends come in handy, especially ones who are much more knowledgeable about gardening than myself. Mine was Deborah. I called her and whined to her about my problem.

She asked, “Do you have any ants?”

To which I proudly replied, “No, I’ve killed all those red devils!” (You must imagine me with my head in the air, hands on my hips and my chest puffed out to get the full effect!)

To say that I felt less than intelligent is an understatement. How was I supposed to know that peonies needed the sweet loving care of those hardy little red workers? The lady at the nursery didn’t tell me. My momma never told me – but then again she was born and raised in North Dakota, and it never occurred to me to look it up on the World Wide Web.

Now, fast forward four years. I now had several healthy colonies of different types of ants; and every year, my bush puts out more and more florets. That is why that year, I felt it would be safe to cut a few to take indoors.

These beautiful flowers never cease to brighten up any vase.

Did you know that ants never forget? Elephants don’t hold a candle to these six-legged cousins of the wasp. The ants that retook the colonies on my property are still mourning the death of their loved ones from so many years ago. That is the only explanation that I can think of for their outright attack on me.

When I cut the first bloom, I felt the tiniest little sting – I thought I had imagined it. I finished cutting a half dozen or so big pink blooms and took them inside and put them in a crystal vase; that is when I felt another little pinch – surely it couldn’t be? I just rubbed it away and went outside to where my husband was talking to the next-acreage-neighbor.

That is when the ant General set the battalions loose. Right there in front of God, my neighbor and my husband.

A little bite here, a big bite there – mostly in the area of my nether region. I tried, unsuccessfully, to use a nearby tree, the back of the mower my husband was sitting on – even casually swatting with my hand. Nothing would stifle their bites and stings.

I began squirming and wiggling around like a child – you guessed it – with ants in her pants. There was nothing for it, I just had to excuse myself, quickly, and make a run for it. I ran inside to disrobe to find all the offending fighters and surrender.

I don’t know if they are still holding a grudge over my killing their kin or not, but it was a long time before I picked any more flowers – maybe they just wanted to keep all the peonies for themselves.

Ants are not only essential to help propagate blooms, they also are instrumental in helping a new bud escape from its encasing by chewing it free.

The Lost Art of Conversation

Take a look around at children the next time you are at an adult gathering or family get-together.

Do you notice anything odd? What are they doing?

Most would think, “Oh, they must be acting up.” But that is not the case.

Acting up would be better in my opinion then what I’ve noticed.

I’m talking about the trend of children to have their heads buried in some kind of electronic device. Boys tend to be attached to gaming gear, while girls can be found texting non-stop.

What I’ve noticed is that these kids, teens and young adults are not interacting in any way with anyone. They aren’t listening (or butting in) to adult conversations or talking with the other young people in the room.

This has me worried – a bit. Although I can see the merit to having little Johnny or Suzy occupied and not acting up, I worry that they are missing out on crucial social lessons.

Granted these kids will be and probably are more technically advanced than their peers of say 10 years ago, but can they carry on an actual verbal conversation with those they are texting? Still yet, can they converse with adults, or down the road, future employers?

I get it, it is less stressful to keep them occupied than have to discipline them for acting up; hey I always kept crayons and paper handy for emergencies. And yesterday, I would have never attempted to take my two oldest grandsons to my doctor appointment with me without their trusty Nintindo DSi’s, which kept them entertained and out of trouble while the doc and I conversed. But I’ve observed that when kids are submersed in their electronic gadgets, they are oblivious to everything around them.

Although Ethan was aware that I was taking his photo, moments before, he hadn’t even realized I had walked into the room.

Case in point, my grandson was playing his Gameboy while we were out shopping. Even after I asked him not to play it while we were walking, I turned around and realized he was over 30 feet behind me. He had stopped when he became engrossed in a particular level.

We aren’t doing our kids any favors by allowing a total submersion in the electronic world. Do them a favor, have them put the gadgets away for a while and engage them in a real conversation.

As a Mom, I Honor My Daughters

When I was younger, holidays like Mother and Father’s Day were difficult for me. All the cards read what I wished I could say in truth to my parents, but it wasn’t to be.

Larry and Carleta Selzler

You see, when your parents succumb to alcoholism and their own child abuse, they often become abusers themselves. I don’t wish to dishonor my parents, but I simply didn’t have the kind of parent that I could write, You Meant Everything To Me or You Were always There For Me. Thus said, it is important to know that I loved and respected my parents, no matter what demons had a hold on their lives. I also had the extreme pleasure of seeing both of them come to ask forgiveness and accept Christ into their hearts before they died. My mother died of cancer when I was just 30, and my dad died of cancer in 2006.

In spite of the final results, the damage was done, and I spent many, many years struggling with the trauma of my childhood. That is until one day when the Lord set me free. I had struggled with severe post traumatic stress syndrome and was just about at my wits ends. I was a young mother desperately trying to make a difference in my children’s lives and not repeat the damage done to me.

Have you ever had a moment of perfect clarity? The type of clarity that can only come from devine intervention? Well, I have. Even with my swiss cheese memory, I remember the day like it was five minutes ago. I was making our oversized bed in a very undersized room. I was on the far side of the room putting the last pillow in place when the question, “Who am I?” came into my thoughts. And without a missed beat, the answer came from God. “You are Rebekah, Sarah and Micah’s mom, and you are Clint’s wife.” Now, for some of you, that might seem a little old fashioned, even stone-age thinking, but for me, it meant that I was not my parents, and that I never would be.

Rebekah Anne, 8.5 years old; Sarah Danielle, 5 years old; and Micah Elizabeth, 3 years old

Also at that moment, God gave me the complete and a wholly “Him” ability to forgive my parents for each and every hurt they had caused me. Not only forgive them, but to completely love them as the Bible commands each of us. I know this was of God, because I as a human do not or never have had it within me to forgive that completely and permanently. Believe me, I have tried on other occasions and the old bitter feelings always seem to creep back in to the recesses of my mind.

Always clowning around (ages 13, 10 and 8)

I discovered that day, that although I wasn’t the perfect mom, I was on my way to becoming the mom and wife that God wanted me to be. Did I still have moments of panic? Yes, but they became fewer and fewer until they no longer ruled my life. And although I never had the opportunity to know my mom as a person, my father was still alive. In fact, I had the honor of nursing him to returned health when he had his first bought with cancer. He lived with us for six months and we developed a special bond.

Always, always clowning around, must get it from their dad. (ages 18, 15 and 13)

But on that day, I became so thankful for my daughters; the beautiful children who made me want to be the best mom I could be. So it is why today, when I have no mother of my own to honor, that I wish to honor my girls,  two of which are great mothers themselves. I love you Rebekah, Sarah and Micah – you have kept me grounded and made life worth living.

Their special bond has taught me so much about love and forgiveness. I love you girls!

Related blog: https://dwelchel.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/for-me-and-my-house-we-choose-to-be-moms/

Dark Shadows, A Little Murky (a movie review)

Clint and I got up this morning with the full intentions of seeing the box-office hit The Avengers. When we got to the theater one hour before it started, we were disappointed when we were told that it was sold out. But seeing how we both had been looking forward to seeing a movie, we decided to catch Johnny Depp’s Dark Shadows. After all the trailers looked promising, and as many of you know, I adore fantasy fiction. Besides I remember when the soap opera Dark Shadows was on TV; my mom and sisters watched it, and I remember seeing it a time or two. We must of been fans, because we named our dog Barnabas Collins and our Siamese cat, Quitin Collins.

Canadian born actor Jonathan Frid made TV history playing the misunderstood if not blood-thirsty Barnabas Collins.

After sitting through the flick, all I can say is that I’m glad we went to a matinee, which was cheaper than an evening ticket.

Dark Shadows reinvented

No, I’m being unkind. The film was entertaining and Depp did a marvelous job of taking a serious roll and infusing it with his quirky sense of style and humor. I would even go as far to say that I would re-watch it again if it came on TV for free. Depp was able to find the fine divide between heartbroken and compassionate lost lover and gruesome monster. The intensity of his eyes and lack of facial expression was, as always, a joy to watch – and the hair and makeup people hillariously got Barnabas’s hair perfect.

Could the hair be any more perfect?

The other cast members were all well played; Micelle Pfeiffer was convincing and likable as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard the matron of the 20th century Collins Clan, just as Helen Bonham Carter was despicable as the over-intoxicated and medicated Dr. Julia Hoffman. Newcomer Bella Heathcote beautifully played a girl out of time who was inexplicably drawn to the Collins family, and Eva Green captured the true wickedness of the jilted and scorned witch Angelique. One of my favorite’s in the film was the young and troubled David Collins played by  Gulliver McGrath and reminded me of a young Fred Savage.

Young David Collins sees dead people

Most of the truly comedic moments were pretty much all shown in the various trailers, leaving not much to look forward to. And if you were thinking of taking the kids, think again. This flick is full of not so subtle sexual moments. Although there is no show of skin, except for the plunging necklines of Angelique, the action in the movie leaves little to the imagination. Even the most naive of children would guess what was going on in most of the scenes. As far as horror or gore, there is not much except the over abundance of fake blood dripping down Depp’s chin.

From left: Johnny Depp, Guliver McGrath, Helen Bonham Carter, Bella Heathcote, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley and Johnny Lee Miller.

All in all, I would give this film a C+, and I’m probably being too generous.

Anyway, happy Mother’s Day, and if you want to go see a film tomorrow, get online now and order your Avenger tickets.

Be watching for next week’s review on The Avengers

Edamame, A Good Source of Everything

When my oldest granddaughter, Isabelle, was diagnosed with Leukemia, a lot of things changed in our family’s life. Trips to the hospital, shuffling of her big brothers to various homes, more prayer and lots of tears.

Christian made lifestyle changes for his “Belleydancer”

But one of the biggest changes that my son-n-law Christian, Isabelle’s daddy, made was how he viewed food. They say that you should never undertake a drastic lifestyle change when you are under extreme stress. But Christian has always broke the mold and done things his way. He began researching the correlation between what we eat and illnesses. You see, the year before Isabelle was diagnosed, her mommy, my oldest daughter Rebekah, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Sarcoidosis. Christian was certain that the fast food, high fat, dairy enriched, meat laden diet had something to do with it. So he did the only thing plausible to him – he became a vegan. No meat, dairy or fast food, period. Christian is an all or nothing type of guy and he has lost 95 pounds and is once again running.

Now, his family put up resistance and only acquiesced partially to the diet change, and Isabelle flat out said NO! She is a very picky eater, especially after the months of chemo. But for the most part they are eating much healthier with mostly fruits and vegetables in their diets. After six months, even Christian has put fish and some chicken back into his diet.

The dilemma is family meals. We do try to all eat healthy, after all, I have lost 158 pounds in the last year and a half. But we still have meat as our main source of protein. One night, after Rebekah had gal bladder surgery, I decided to make  them dinner. Bekah was easy, just a can of soup. The kids requested mac and cheese with hamburger – I know not exactly healthy, but hey I did use 90% lean meat! The problem was Christian. What was I going to make him that would be good and satisfying. I had green beans and a natural fruit salad, but what to make him for protein?

He loves mushrooms and edamame (soy beans), so I decided to make him a dish with those ingredients. I searched the web but couldn’t find a recipe I liked, so I did what I always do in these cases, I wing it. I started by sautéing minced garlic in olive oil, after about 30 seconds, I added fresh sliced mushrooms. While they were simmering, I shelled the edamame – you can get them shelled, but you have to boil them. I opted for the fully cooked kind that all you have to do is defrost and shell. I’ve done both and not sure which I prefer.  When the mushrooms were just about done, I added the edamame and stirred to just heated. Next, I removed them from the fire and added a couple squirts of lemon juice and about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

Parmesen Edamame and Mushroom

I was really nervous about this dish, because Christian is also very particular about his food. But later that evening he texted me to say thanks for the meal and to exclaim how delicious the soy dish was. I guess I hit on a keeper of a recipe, plus I impressed my son-n-law – a bonus!

Edamame is kind of the wonder food of this millennium. It is very low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin K, Folate and Manganese. A serving size of around 5.5 ounces has 17 grams of protein, more than any meat, with only 186 calories and 8 grams of fat. Also, you can get them dry roasted to keep in your purse, car or backpack for quick protein snacks.

There really is solid research about reducing dairy, red meat and fats from your diet. Christian discovered that countries that don’t include these foods in their diets have significantly lower incidents of cancer, heart disease and other life threatening illnesses. I don’t have all the research, but maybe I’ll do a post on that at another time. For now, I just wanted to share this amazing new dish with you! I hope you enjoy it as much as Christian.

Parmesen Edamame and Mushroom

2 cups fresh sliced mushroom

2 cups shelled edamame (soy beans)

1 T of minced garlic; enough olive oil to sauté mushrooms (I started with a couple tablespoons but kept having to add more)

1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese; lemon juice (optional)

Prepare your edamame prior to cooking. Either by boiling or defrosting and shelling.

Begin by sautéing garlic in heated olive oil just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, stirring until nearly done. They should be lightly golden.  Add the edamame to the mushrooms and stir until they are heated well through. Remove from heat and add couple squirts of lemon juice (this helps cut the fat) and the parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

To read more about the benefits of edamame, check out Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/9873/2#ixzz1uZyeuBBu

To read about Isabelle’s journey, check out her blog at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/belleydancer

Fear the Juice!

You know, it really is true what they say; necessity is truly the mother of invention.

Well actually this could be classified as more of a discovery rather than an invention; but it was of my own making.

My discovery, invention or technique came about from those dreaded four words my husband begins uttering about this time every year, “Let’s get a watermelon!” Now, I have nothing against watermelons. In fact, I rather like eating them. But its the ensuing mess that makes me cringe.

You see, I have an aversion to messes, especially sticky, hard to clean messes. The kind of messes my husband makes when he cuts up an often way too large watermelon. Juice everywhere: on the counter, all over the sink, on the floor, a trail of drips leading out the door when he not so carefully takes out the rinds. And if you have ever tried to clean up watermelon juice, you know that one wiping up will never do the trick. Sometimes I run into sticky spots days later.

Even though I hate the mess and often try to discourage him from bringing the offending fruit into the house, I usually  lose the battle. So one day, I decided to take a scientific approach to my problem. How to cut up the melon without all that juice ending up all over my kitchen? So, here just in time for the melon eating, seed spiting season is my simple and foolproof way to mess-free melon extraction.

1. First, always wash your melon prior to the first cut. You never know where the big boy has been laying.

2. With a large knife, cut it in half lengthwise (I used a seedless melon for this tutorial.

I use two knives: a large butcher knife and a medium paring knife. Always be sure to wash the outside of the melon before you make your first lateral incision.

3. Using the large knife, cut a grid pattern of approximately 1-2 inch squares. Be sure to cut all the way through the meat but not through the rind, or you will have defeated the purpose of this little experiment.

Cut carefully, avoiding a puncture wound.

4. After the grid is finished, use a smaller knife to cut the melon from around the outer wall of the rind.

Cut all the way around and down to the bottom of the mellon rind.

5. Using a good size sturdy spoon, begin scooping the meat out of the rind in a layering pattern.

The perfect spoon is the key to success!

Be sure not to get too excited at this point or you will flip melon everywhere! Continue this step until all the melon is removed. Repeat the process with the second half of the watermelon.

Don’t get too wild with your scooping or you will still end up with a mess.

6. When you have scooped out all the meat, being careful not to spill the juice, remove the rind to your compost bin or neighbor’s pasture – did you know that horses love watermelon rind?

See, all the juice is inside the rind bowl and not all over your kitchen.

7. Enjoy your tasty summer treat in perfect bite-size pieces without the huge sticky mess!

If you like to eat your melon straight off the rind, then this method is not for you. But if you fear the juice as much as I do, then this will be your new best technique.

Aside

Versatile Blogger Award

I am not what you would call an active blogger. In fact, if I get in one blog a month, I feel fortunate. I began Through the Lens a year or so ago as an outlet for all the leftover photos, stories and thoughts I had while working as a photojournalist and reporter.

I admire those of you out there that are faithful to talk to the internet world each and every day – I only wish I had that kind of discipline. One blogger that I read on a daily basis is Stuff I Tell My Sister (http://stuffitellmysister.me/2012/05/08/versatile-blogger/) by an old friend Paula B. Her blogs are something to look forward to (yeah, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition – sorry Kim, couldn’t be helped). They inspire me to look on the brighter side of this world. As a former journalist, I tend to be too serious. They also make me long for childhood memories of fun with family and friends.

Paula honored me recently by passing on the mantel of the Versatile Blogger Award. She was honored by fellow bloggers and one of the stipulations is to share seven random facts about myself. So here I go:

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1. The smell and sound of leather and tack make me happy and take me back to long rides with my very faithful friend, Sparky – the best darn horse a girl could have. Think Lassie with a longer tail. Without that four-legged friend, I would not have had any special memories of my childhood.

Sparky was a half quarter horse/half welsh pony. But he was the best darn natural cutting horse around. I learned that the hard way while chasing a farmer’s cows.

2. My dream was to become a veterinarian, which is really ironic since my super sensitive nose can’t stand the smell of dogs! And don’t even get me started on puppy breath! I much prefer the smell of horses

I wasn’t a very good photographer back in ’75, but I still love this pic of Sparky romping in the snow.

3. I am a giant mosquito magnet. If there is one within a hundred feet of me, it will zero in on me and suck until it strikes gold and leave behind huge welts.

4. I have binocular vision (kind of like a horse). My eyes both focus separately from each other – makes seeing 3D impossible. It also makes me see ghost images and makes me jumpy (kind of like a horse). Do you see the pattern forming here?

5. I am a really big geek. I love ALL things Star Trek; I have seen every episode of every series made, even the last one. I also love Star Wars, Lord of the Ring, and pretty much any fantasy fiction!

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6. I have been repurposing things long before it became a trend. I remember revamping some very old and ugly dressers for my bedroom, dying old bath rugs to match, painting a gilt mirror and decoupaging and old found jug to complete the perfect 70s bedroom.

7. When I was a teen, I said I was going to be single until I was 60. I in fact was married at 18 and a mom at 20. I spent the next 25 years doing the best job in the world, being a stay at home mom of three beautiful and unique daughters and wife to the craziest man I know. I now have the family that I never had and have been busy making memories with them and now with my soon-to-be seven grands!

Clint and I always laughed at this photo taken right after Bekah (daughter # 1) had her first baby. She joined us for a day out with her two sisters who happened to have just dyed their hair blue (Micah) and red (Sarah). She had just bleached her hair really blond – very patriotic

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Me and Papa with the “GRANDS.” Ethan Danger, McKenzie Christian, Isabelle Jade, Owen Caleb, Aeden Lily and Carea Bailey. Chole will be here in August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am supposed to pass the mantle on to other bloggers, but as of the moment, I know none except my daughter who blogged her daughter’s experience fighting cancer. Rebekah journaled on Isabelle’s Caring Bridge site. If you want to read some truly inspiring, sometimes funny, often heart wrenching blogs, then check out www.caringbridge.org/visit/belleydancer.

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Isabelle was able to perform in her end of the year dance recital.

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