Friday, December 14, 2007

merry christmas and all that...

This will most likely be my last post until after Jan 1. Today is the last day of school at DC3 and hopefully, I'm headed north, to Colby. Snow is in the forecast, in fact, DC got a trace of snow last night. In Big E, all we had was heavy heavy dense thick pea-soup fog. I drove in that fog until I came up out of the Big Basin. Then, it was hazy and slight fog, but not the heavy stuff where you are afraid to drive very fast cause you can't see a foot in front of your headlights. (Remember, I told you the Basin was a weather line...) Come to think of it, I'll bet what I thought was frost on the grass, north of the basin, was probably snow.

I told Kev, on the phone last night, that I was coming home come hell or high water...or high snowdrifts; whichever is more appropriate. I need my family. It's become a physical need, I ache to see them, to hug them, to just visit with them. While I've spoken to Kev about 3 times each day, and Kat at least once, I haven't been able to talk to Andy. He's been at practice or school every time I've called home, so I need to talk to him and see him.

What's made this whole separation work as well as it has is the simple fact that I've had my parents so close. When I've gotten lonely for a loving face, I've had them to go to. They have been my lifeline these past six weeks. They really have.

Last night, Dad and I made supper. He was hungry for scrambled eggs and bacon, so I took over my eggs and bacon and cheese to use, since I'm leaving today. We cooked together and ate and visited. Then, after supper, Mom and I made bath bombs. They are a Christmas gift for her girlfriends, the gals in her local "red hat" group. I had the fixins, cause I made these a couple times each year for myself and for my friends. I didn't have my recipe last night, so we winged it. And, we got it right! We made rain scented bombs and cranberry bombs and lemon bombs. We colored them green, red and yellow. They looked and smelled wonderful. The best part was the fun Mom and I had mixing them, trying to find pans to set them on to dry, keeping our hands away from our faces...

You see, bath bombs are made of citric acid and baking soda. Citric acid is what candy makers use to make those sour candies like sour straws and warheads. Citric acid is that powder that is on the outside of all these candies that makes you pucker. So, we'd have citric acid AND baking soda on our hands, wipe our faces, or touch our mouths and, whoo whee, was that ever tangy and sour! And we'd laugh, and talk and laugh and talk. It was wonderful.

But, today, today I am going home. Home to my children and to my better half and I'll feel and be complete again. Weather permitting, we'll get a truck next Friday and will pull into Bucklin that afternoon, our new home. Hopefully, this move will be a good move for us, changes for all of us and i hope and pray that these changes make us all stronger and better people, together as a family, and individually.

See you all in January!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the joy of hotel beds

I've spent the last two nights in hotels. Monday night, it was sleeting and icing. We winded up with an inch of ice on everything. While the roads in town weren't bad, I think I made the right decision. I spent last night in a hotel because...well, while the storm stopped, the streets and roads were very icy and slick. The temperature last night got down to 16 degrees and that meant that highways which were wet during the daytime, would freeze overnight.

On Monday night, I stayed at a new hotel in town, not far from the college. I picked it because of it's location to the school--less driving in hazardous conditions for me. And, since the college was uphill, I wanted as little driving as possible. This hotel was so comfortable and nice, wonderful soft bed, nice pillows--4 to a bed. It had a fleece blanket and very soft sheets. The tub was long enough for me to stretch out and the plug actually held the water in the tub, so I filled it up, and relaxed in a nice hot bath. I had an alarm clock that I set and I slept pretty well, waking up at 6 a.m. just like normal.

Last night, I opted for a cheaper hotel. I went cheaper primarily because Kev went ballistic when I told him my room the night before was $100. He went on and on about how, whenever he stays in a hotel, it never costs any more than $75.00. I pointed out that he doesn't usually stay in a touristy town, but stayed in small towns with only one or 2 hotels.

He didn't buy it.

So, being the kind and considerate wife I am, I went cheaper. I went to an older hotel and got a room. This hotel is a "convention" center.'s seen happier days. My room, while ok, was in the back 40. The desk clerk told me to drive around to the back and to enter door #4. So, I drove around back, but door #4 wasn't marked and I noted that the parking lot was higher than the hotel and all steps leading to the building were ice covered. Not a good sign.

I drove back around front and decided to go through the lobby. My room number was 840. But I wasn't on the 8th floor, there are only 2 floors. I was on the main floor. I found the odd numbers of the 800's, but no even numbers. So, I went up a short flight of stairs and down a hallway, where I found another hallway. I trudged down this second hallway and found the even numbered rooms. Yep, the back 40. My heater had one setting, high. The tub wouldn't hold water. The pillows were thin, worn, and flat. I used three to sleep on, that's how thin they were. The bed...well, the bed wasn't a new mattress and sagged. I woke up at 3:30 and 4:30 and 5:00 and gave up at 5:44.

Today, I'm tired and I hurt. I have a kink in my neck and back. I'm going home tonight though--come hell or ice, I'm going to sleep in a bed that's comfortable. No more hotels for me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"weather" or "weather" not

I'm trying to decide what to do.

You see, the weather forecast isn't good. We're supposed to have freezing rain and snow starting this afternoon and on through the night. Tomorrow's forecast is for snow.

I can:
  • drive to Big E tonight and hope and pray that I can get here tomorrow.
  • stay in a hotel room tonight here in DC, ensuring I can be at work by 7:30 a.m.
  • drive to Big E and get stuck there tomorrow, which would leave no one to work at the library.

Then there's tomorrow...

  • I can plan to drive home tomorrow night on slick and icy roads.
  • I can plan on spending the night again in a hotel.
  • I can be stuck in Big E till Wednesday.

I just don't know what to do. I have to decide though before I leave here tonight. I'm guessing that I'll get a hotel tonight, but...well, we all know weather. It might not DO anything at all, and then I'd be out $80 for a hotel room that I didn't need. But, I'd save $30 on gas too. And, then tomorrow, do I plan for the worst and go ahead and get a room, or risk it and drive. I'll wait till tomorrow, because...well, you never know when it comes to weather.


I didn't get to go home to see my family this past weekend--because of weather. I stayed in Big E, alone and lonely. Well, sort-a.

Mom and I drove to DC on Saturday and I ordered my new refrigerator. We did a small amount of shopping, but not much. Then we drove home. I'd stopped at Blockbusters and rented some movies to watch, so when we got home, I watched one. Then I got ready for Big E's Christmas potluck. Mom told me to walk over to their house around 6 and I could ride up to the school house with Daddy. (The school house is now the community center. The school closed in 1970 when Englewood consolidated with Ashland.) So, around 6, I drove over to Mom and Dad's house--no one was home. They'd already gone up to the school house--without me!

I got myself there just fine. Because the weather was nasty, the numbers of people at the party was pretty small. I think we counted 32 people. And, I was the youngest adult there. There were 3 kids there, but they came with their grandparents. I was surprised at the number of people who I didn't know! I mean, the total population of Englewood is 60 people--not counting those who live in the country, so add another 30 to the area population. But, I'd guess there were 10 people I did not know. (Some drove over from Ashland and some are recent "emigrants" to town.) Unbelievable! That's 1/3 of the total group! But, I had a nice time visiting with those I did know. But...most of them are getting old and are looking old. They should still be in their 40's - 70's; just like they were when I lived there!

On Sunday, I watched more movies and went to Mom and Dad's to do my laundry and just hung out with them for the afternoon. I feel just like a college student again.

So, while I missed my kids and my husband terribly, it wasn't a bad weekend at all...

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Big Basin

While I'm really getting tired of my 53 mile and 1 hour drive one way each day, I always look forward to driving through the Big Basin.
The Basin is a large sink hole. It's a mile in diameter and about 100 feet deep. The walls are very steep. The State owns 2/3 of the Big Basin and have a prairie preserve on it with a herd of buffalo. The buffalo don't spend a lot of time down in the basin, and it's always a treat to see them. I've seen them in the bowl of the basin twice in the 6 weeks I've been driving. Yesterday, some of the bachelor bulls were in the basin grazing. They are huge!
I like the Basin. It's beautiful. When I was a little girl, I used to imagine seeing the Indians swoop down the hills into the basin to attack a wagon train. Something about that terrain just always make me think of the Indians and horses and buffalo. I also used to imagine building a house on the north east side of the basin. The house would be down on the side of one of the hills facing the basin. I imagined sitting and looking out southwest facing windows watching the sun set, overlooking the basin itself. I'd still like to live there...if the State didn't own it and if I could own it.
Legend has it, that when they built the original highway through the basin, that some of the large equipment fell further down in more sinkholes. I don't know if that's true, but that's the story we all heard as kids. It could be true, as there is a small wetlands area on the west side, and since this is one big sinkhole, it could still sink.
The basin is kind of a weather changing area. By that, I mean the weather on the north side of the basin might be better or worse than it is on the south side. And, during the winter, the road through the basin can be pretty nasty. I don't know why, but the weather from the beginning of that mile across the bottom of the basin can be completely different than the weather at the end of that mile.
Yes, there is a "Little Basin". It's south east of the Big Basin and is the home of St. Jacob's Well, a natural spring that was used by the cowboys during cattle drives. They'd leave the Cimarron River in the morning and drive cattle up to the Well then on up to Dodge the next day. St. Jacob's Well has never gone dry. Never. We went down there one summer several years ago. You drive on the Preserve around the Big Basin and park and walk down to the Well. It's not an easy walk. Personally, I didn't think I'd want to drink the water was covered in cottonwood leaves and cotton pods and was rather nasty looking to my mind. But, I'm sure to cattle and cowboys, it looked wonderful. It's fenced off from the Buffalo now, to keep the water "clean" and to protect those hikers who venture down. Buffalo are tempermental and very dangerous.
Anyway, I digressed a little. The Basin is my favorite part of my drive and probably the only part I'll miss. I'll be driving one more week, then we'll move into our new house and I'll have a much shorter drive, and more importantly, my family will be with me again.

(The attached photo is of the basin It's taken from the highway looking southeast. I borrowed it from And, a note. For some reason, my formatting didn't come out right on this. I left blank lines between the paragraphs, I swear I did...Someone doesn't like me today...)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Things about Christmas...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I don't mind wrapping nice neat boxes, but anything else, gimme a bag.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. But I might think about a real one next year since we'll be close to the farm and can just cut a ceder tree...we'll see, haven't run that by Kev yet. On the other hand, Mom offered me her tree--6.5 foot with fiber optic lights...

3. When do you put up the tree? I usually do it Thanksgiving weekend. But with the move and all, we didn't put anything up. I did bring our tree to the College Library cause their tree fell down when we tried to set it up.

4. When do you take the tree down? January 1. The 6th at the latest.

5. Do you like egg nog? Yes, I do. I made some last year, but put to much rum into it. Undrinkable. Kev and Andy like that store bought stuff.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I really can't think of one gift that stands out. So, I'm going to go with all the homemade gifts that Grandma W. made me over the years. She'd embroidery pillowcases or tea towels or she's crochet pillows or blankets or rugs. Always something different, but always special.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. I have at least 2, maybe more. One is Miss Kat's, one is one that I made in High School.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Kevin's folks and my folks and the grandparents.

9. Easiest person to buy for? This year, it was the menfolk. But usually it's Miss Kat. It's becoming harder to buy for Andy too. I like to get special gifts, something that you wouldn't normally buy, but also something that you need. I have to be practical!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? What are these? Are they something I should be sending out to people? Really? I like getting them, but hate sending them. This year, well, don't be lookin' for one, cause it just ain't happenin!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Gosh, maybe those crotchless pantyhose? Yeah, that's it. (You can read about it in the January 06 archive if you missed the crotchless pantyhose story.

12 . Favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? No particular time, I usually start thinking about it in September. This year, it's haphazard at best. I'm thinkin' that everyone will be getting jars of pickles, jelly or salsa. So don't be disappointed gang!

14 . Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope, don't think so. Can't remember doing so anyway!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mom's pecan pie. It's not as sweet as most pecan pies.

16 . Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored

17. Favorite Christmas song? Little Drummer Boy

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Whichever. I like having family come to our house, and I like going to their house. I just really like being with family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. I usually don't put anything on top. Mainly because most of my ornaments are Garfield ones and...well, I haven't found a star that I like and an angle surrounded by a fat orange cat seems...wrong.

21 . Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? I think Kev and I both grew up with the tradition to open the presents on Christmas morning. We let the kids open one on Christmas eve though. But, we usually have 3 different Christmas celebrations, so it's often the week before, the week after, and Christmas day.

22 . Most annoying thing about this time of year? The mass of people shopping every weekend.

23. Favorite Christmas ornament? I think all my Garfield ornaments are special. Guess I don't have a favorite one.

24. Favorite thing for Christmas dinner? Dessert

Concerts and responsibility

I got a phone call at work yesterday at 4:00 in the afternoon.

It was Miss Kat, who was in the middle of a crisis.

"Mom, where's our ribbon? I need ribbon for the concert tonight."

Confusion ruled for me, being a Mom, I mentally had many thoughts run quickly through my head--what's the ribbon for...Crap, where is the ribbon...Can't she use something else... Maybe I gave the ribbon to Kim...Wonder if that box is still downstairs...what kind of ribbon...she'll probably hate any ribbon I have...didn't all my ribbon have wire in it packed I want her going through the Christmas boxes...

Miss Kat evidently needed ribbon to "decorate her flute" for the concert. It was their Christmas concert and they were given permission to decorate their instruments with tinsel or garland or ribbon.

I reminded her of her Santa hat and suggested she wear that. I also told her to look in one of the Christmas boxes--in the store room for some garland.

She didn't call back, so I'd guess she found what she needed. My hope is she put it all back and away.

This is the first concert I've ever missed. The sad part is Kev missed it too. My excuse is I'm 150 miles away. Kev's excuse is, it's his last night of bowling, and he couldn't find a substitute. We are probably being called bad parents by those in the community who noticed that Miss Kat was watched only by her big brother (who absolutely refused to take my camera to get pictures.)

I'm sure there are lots of rumors, I probably just up and left Kevin and left him the kids. Our divorce will probably soon be announced. I'm sure I left him for another man...or maybe another woman. My poor children, stuck with such parents. After all, their Mother just up and left and their father, the wretch, is sitting at the bowling alley probably drunk as a skunk instead of supporting his child and her concert. (Maybe someone will think he's drunk as a skunk at the bowling alley because I broke his heart...yeah, that's it...I broke his heart by leaving him with those poor children to raise while I ran off to Bermuda with my Latin-lesbian-lover. yeah.) OK, back to reality...

The interesting thing is, Kat was fine with neither of us being able to attend. She understood our other commitments. Oh, she didn't necessarily like the fact that we couldn't be there, but she understood. She didn't throw a fit, she didn't pout. She just accepted reality and went her merry little way. Andy stepped in and offered to drive her, watch the concert, and bring her home. My kids are growing up.

I find it interesting...that society now demands that we parents put our whole lives on hold for our children and their activities. Yes, being a part of our children's lives is important. Showing them our faith, confidence, support and pride is important. But, I think that by putting all our needs and responsibilities behind those of our kids is making our society a much more selfish society. It's all about me, me, me...and you have to be there for me, me, me and if you're not there for me, me, me...then you are bad, bad, bad.

The fact that my child understood why her parents couldn't attend, and the fact that she accepted it, tells me that Kev and I are doing something right. That not only do we give our time to our children, but that at times, it's important for them to give something back to us. And this time, it was time for Kat to realize that while we might want to be there for everything, in reality we can't. And, we weren't there because we didn't care, but because we couldn't. And even though we weren't there, she still had to be there herself. She was fulfilling her responsibility just as we were fulfilling our responsibility.

I think that's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Kev and I packed quite a bit this past weekend. We packed the store room which was mainly in totes and boxes except for my pantry area. That primarily consists of pickles, green beans, tomato products, jams and jellies, and some basic staples that I keep stocked up on. Most of the veggies and jellies are items that I've canned myself--using products from our garden or from produce or fruit that friends have shared. Glass jars. Fragile glass jars.

But, Kev and I figured out a good system. We (he) got a box that had gotten wet and cut it into strips. Those strips were placed between the jars to cushion and protect the jars. It worked really well, and we both liked finding a use for those boxes that were unusable otherwise. As long as no one drops any box, we'll be fine.

After finishing up the store room, we moved into the basement family room. We started boxing my CM albums and supplies. Do you have any guesses as to the number of boxes that are labeled "CM stuff"? Yeah, it was scary.

I was a consultant for 10 years. When I deactivated last year, I still had lots of supplies. I have enough circle punches to last me, and 8 other people, a life time. Let's just say they didn't sell well. Last time I had counted, which was a few years ago, I had 15 full photo albums. I know I have more than that now, because I had started two new ones for the kids right before I quit, one for Andy's High School years and Kat needed a new album too. I haven't worked on any albums for a year now. I just haven't been motivated. Maybe, when I unpack my CM stuff at the new house, I'll feel more motivated again and work on them and get caught up. Maybe. We'll see.

But, we packed something. We talked about packing more, but neither of us wants to pack items that we see and use daily. Kevin wants the house to feel like home until we leave. I feel the same way, so most will wait until after the 14th of December. That's my last day for the semester and we can finish packing that next week. We'll take possession of the new house on the 20th of the month. The kids are out of school on the 21st. The Berends family Christmas is the 22nd. Yeah, I know. Good planning on my part. But hey, we packed...something!