Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Saturday, April 28, 2018


Y.S. Eco Bee FarmsPropolis 1000
You might notice that for the first time in 9 years I have placed ads on my blog.  In an effort to help my family financially, I am bravely stepping out into the internet to explore the possibilities of doing what I love and having it help fill our needs by adding a few affiliate ads.  Any purchase made by folks who click on a link on my blog will earn a little commission for my family.  Not too shabby.

I tried this once before, several years back, when monetizing first became a thing.  I set up my links and excitedly went back to my home page to view the new look.  But the ads that had been posted were of products I don't support or use, and would never endorse.  It was the shortest lived ad campaign ever.  I deleted the ad widget immediately.

Things have changed.  I can now choose the exact products that I myself use and totally trust.  You will see our family's favorite herbs, children's products and other items I have ordered and loved.  Many will be from Amazon because since moving to the boondocks, Amazon has become a lifeline... our very own supply-plane-on-the-Alaskan-fronteer ("De plen! De plen!"), our personal Wells Fargo Wagon ("Yesth it could be...sthomthin' sthpecial, justh for me!!!").  Also, chocolate by mail, am I right?

I hope those few dear readers that I have (you know who you are; the ones who click on my new post within minutes of my having posted it) will not feel betrayed or disappointed.  It's a brave new world, and I need to find a way to work from home.  I'll tell you briefly what I like about some of the products now and then.  So, tune out here, if you like!
  So I often share my love of honey bee propolis with my friends.  I use YS Organics Bee Propolis.  Bees create and coat the inside of their hive with this "bee glue" to combat viral, fungal and bacterial growth.  I know bee products like pollen, propolis and honey are being used in other countries to prevent diabetic amputations, and to fight anti-biotic resistant bacteria.  A good start already.

I was born with Gilbert's Syndrome, which makes my bilirubin count high and my immunity low.  I get sick a lot, or used to.  One day when we were all dying of the black plague, I called my midwife to warn her.  "No biggie, I'll just load up on my propolis."  She said.  She taught me about it, and I tried it.  I counted each time I began to feel yucky and then subsequently did not have to take to my sickbed for a week.  After 17 illnesses were skipped, I quit counting, convinced that - for me, at least - this stuff worked.

*SCARY DON'T-SUE-ME DISCLAIMER*  I am no doctor, so  IF you decide to try it, use with caution, follow directions and don't use if you allergic to bees.

I like to take mine with some zinc and vitamin C.  I call it my Magic Elixir.


That wasn't so bad, was it?  This ad thing will be an experiment.  If I don't like it, I will stop again.  Also, if I become ridiculously wealthy and loose my earthy connection to my poor Irish roots, then of course, full stop.  We can't let that happen.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Yes, We're Open!

The very first time we drove down the winding lane and the long, tree shrouded driveway that led to our someday-house, it was only to see if the commute for Guy would be tolerable, if the house was too far away from civilization, and if we could even "see" ourselves living there.  It was late, after sunset, and the wooded lane was sinking into darkness.  Natalie wept, "Dis is scawy, I don't yike it here."  The little voice in my heart-head that protects my children from all harm decided right then and there, if this place scares my baby, we can't possibly consider it.

But somehow that first of first impressions disappeared when I saw the place in the daylight; green slopes and mossy boulders, pines and oaks and deer trails. As possibilities solidified into plans, we began telling people about our new house and I found myself saying, "Well, it's an hour away from Sac, in the woods, but we can be to Walgreens in 20 minutes, and to the nearest little market in about five."  I had to prove to myself, by way of convincing others, that moving this far away from what was familiar was somehow a safe and, dare I say, good idea.  It's like pretending to enjoy green beans so your kid'll try 'em; oldest trick in the book, in reverse.

One of my big worries was that there would be nothing to do here once we settled in.  I pictured Little House on the Prairie, listenin' to Pa' play the fiddle on Saturday nights.  I was looking at harmonicas and wool long-johns on Amazon, and whittling tutorials on Youtube. 
Boy, was I wrong.

I am just amazed at how much happens here.  I think when we lived in the city, we were so surrounded by hustle and bustle that it felt busy.  Sure, we did an occasional gallery hop, or attended a summer concert in the park, but since moving here we have enjoyed so many new experiences.  Small town life is slower, it's true, but it takes itself seriously, and folks are dedicated to their hometown pride in a new and unexpected way.  Shop keepers tell you about their secret swimming hole ("Shhh, don't tell anyone.  This is for locals only," the owner of the antique store had said.  *GRIN*, she called us locals!), neighbors wave as they drive by, and yes, some places will even offer to carry a tab for you.  There are parades of all sorts, and car shows, and craft fairs, and golly, Winthrop, sometimes I feel like I'm in The Music Man.  No joke.

One of our new explorations has been to pick a town (there are about 10 in the area) and stroll the main street (not on Monday... or Tuesday... or sometimes-but-not-always Wednesday, and certainly not after 5pm, or 4 maybe.  Or lunchtime...)

...and wander through shops.  We don't make a day of it, doing a whole street in one go.  We just do a few shops at a time.  Ancient hand-hewn stone buildings that used to be banks or jails are now antique stores or boutiques.  One Monday (oops, we hadn't got the No Mondays memo yet) we took the kids to Jackson to wander down main street, a particular gem/bone/Native American shop in mind, only to find it closed, of course.  Wandering along we looked through picture windows and remarked, "Wow, cool!  We'll have to try to come back to this one..."

I whispered to Guy that I knew there was a candy shop down the way a bit.  He gave me a nod, and we headed there in hopes of an OPEN sign. 

Yay!  Bless you, Train Town Candies!

We told the kids they could get an ice cream or a bit of (slightly pricy though worth it for the ambiance) candy.  It was hard to choose!

The shop keeper told us that this used to be a toy store, specializing in wooden trains, balsa-wood plane kits and other unusual toys and puzzles.  He has every kind of cookie cutter you could possibly Ever Need.  But once the Walmart moved in a few miles up the road, he almost went out of business.  He and his family began making fudge and selling candy to try to stay afloat.  It must be working.  I've been in there three times since our first visit, and there is always a little crowd.

Well, a big crowd, if you include us!

The big boys, busy with big-boy responsibilities, don't usually join us in our wanderings.  I wish they would.  I love marching into a store with all six of my kiddos.


I told Guy the other day that I am really starting to like it here.  It only took a year.  To be fair though, my new responsibilities have taken time to get the hang of.  Just like an old train, I started out slow and took a while to get my rhythm.  

I think I can.

I think I can.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What makes me smile


This makes me smile.

Every stinkin' time.

I don't get excited about a whole lot of technology.  Most of the stuff the kids use kinda' bugs me.  But this here weirdo filter smacks a smile on my pout almost as wide as, well, Ellie's.

It's on my phone's home screen.  
It makes me giggle right out loud sometimes. 
 Out of nowhere.  
I turn on my phone and just...

 look at it! 
Tell me you're not smiling!

Are you a naturally happy person?  I'm not.

  I guess there is fruit that is naturally sweet and other that is just super healthy.  And then there are lemons.  And bread fruit.  Oh, and durian.  I'm not that bad (If you've never had durian, just rub your hand in your armpit and then lick it.  That, my friends, just tasted better than durian).

I'm not sour, really, or nasty.  Bland, maybe.  

One day on my mission my companion and I were walking FOR-E-VAH on a long country road in the Costa Rica heat.  Our supposed destination was much further than we had been lead to believe, and this was back in the day before everyone carried a designer rain barrel full of water everywhere.  

We were parched!  No, way more dry than that.  Crazy dry.  Sahara-mirage-in-the-dessert dry.  Just before the hallucinations set in, we saw a grove of huge trees hanging with some sort of giant citrus fruit.  They were a glowing yellow, and as big as a grapefruit.  We didn't know what they were, and we didn't care.  We ran to the trees and grabbed a low-hanging potential-water-bomb.

I ripped into the flesh with my nails and was blasted by the most intense lemon smell I'd ever experienced.  My dry mouth pointlessly tried watering, but those weird "sour sensors" in the back of my jaw, you know, the ones that make you cringe when you see a baby suck on a pickle (the ones that are tingling right now as you read this), wouldn't give my throat the satisfaction.  I paused, wondering if I could possibly get through the face-punch of acid that was about to come, all for the sake of moisture.  My desperate fingers found the pith to be about an inch thick, and after a struggle, I finally held a much smaller orb of the palest yellow in my hand.  

My eyes watered at the Pledge-like aroma as I pulled off a translucent wedge, and both bravely and desperately, popped it into my mouth, bracing myself for the explosion of eye-squinting and shuddering.


Well, almost nothing.  The slightly dry membrane held what could be likened to very, very watered-down, warm lemonade.  It was so simple and bland that it was perplexing.  My sensory system felt lied to.  Either my nose was broken or my tongue was. 

But otherwise, it sort of did it's job.  Attacking the tree, we downed 3 or 4 apiece, and though we didn't feel quenched, we were held over till we finally reached the next house on the eternal road.  As still-thirsty young missionaries, we were bold, of course, and fearlessly knocked on the ancient wooden door. 

A squat little woman with a bowlegged walk and a dear smile met us at the door.  She wore a print skirt and a different print blouse.  A towel-turned-apron held on for dear life around her plump middle, and exhausted, dusty flats clung to her feet, her ashy, foot skin bulging in complaint. We skipped right over our usual introductions, and asked very frankly, "Pardon, Senora, could you please gift us some water?"  (Yes, that is how you say it in Costa Rica.  Isn't that lovely?).  Her surprise at seeing two American girls a foot taller than she on her porch, with no other motive but thirst, called out the old mother in her, and she did what all good mothers do; she took us to her kitchen.

We sat in a cool-ish, red tile-floored, whitewashed kitchen at a large, plank table, very unlike any place I had seen in my 5 months in the country.  We were presented with two mismatched glasses of, ironically, lemonade.  Sweet and tart, it teased us for having enjoyed the bland water balls in the orchard.  A painfully thin old fellow sat quietly on a chair near the stove, his sun-faded clothes drapped loosely on his leathered skin, and listened as we visited with the little old mother.
And that is all I remember.

All but one thing... we told her of our impromptu harvest (and apologized for taking fruit from what we learned were her trees), and shared our confusion over the strange fruit.

"Limon Dulce!" she told us... sweet lemon.  That's what we had eaten.
The name seemed oddly wrong, but yes, I guess they had been sweet... ever so slightly.  I was just glad I hadn't known the name before tasting them.

So I guess bland isn't a terrible thing.  It's a beginning point, at least.  I'd love to be a cheery strawberry, bright and bold.  Who doesn't smile when they see a strawberry?  Or a peach, just pushing it's way to the front of the happy little fruit parade with is kitten fuzz and it's humorous booty.  You can't have a peach-juice-dripping chin and take yourself too seriously.  Even the banana, though bordering on silly, seems like the comedian of fruit.  It's even shaped like a smile.  But alas, though it will never shine from a well lit stack in a grocery store, a limon dulce will bring comfort in it's own weird, neither particularly spectacular nor disappointing way.  It does the job, though it might need encouragement to bring out a smile.

like that funny face
 at the top of the page.