Lillmi's Blog

Oatmeal Memories

After a recent post where I mentioned the missing oatmeal, I received an email inquiring about the cookies.

Sometimes an event perceived as awful at the time can bring great, lasting humor to a family. The entire family can repeat the incident, but not without tear jerking laughter.

I think it’s amazing the choice of lifetime events we can access from our memories.  The feelings of frustrated embarrassment and the hilarious reactions of the teens present on that particular morning bring me such joy .

Parents spend a ton of thoughtful energy trying to choose the activities that shape and mold or at least provide distraction.

The outdoor activities – those involving water, sun and sky are the ones that have lasted with my family – and the kitchen adventures.

Once, after arriving home following a business trip Thanksgiving eve, with 16 or so coming to lunch, I grabbed my recipes and journeyed the seven miles to town to buy groceries.  Well, just imagine what products the store may have been running low on and you can guess the adaptation EVERY recipe would require! It was a catastrophe.  One of the ‘issues’ was the broth for dressing.  So my non-cook brain settled on soup.

Just let me end this quickly for you. Imagine dressing from a meatloaf pan, thick enough to be SLICED, and gray enough to scare anyone off!  To this day, no one even thinks of me when dressing is on the menu.

But, they all remember the day, the laughter and my personal decision to never cook dressing again!!

See, that activity shaped and molded some of the best cooks. I know them all… my children, nieces, husband, brother and in laws. They all have specialties and they all love to cook.  I have to say, the hubs probably became great at cooking out of necessity.

Aren’t I the lucky one?

 

 

What time do I need to wake?

Answer: I don’t NEED to wake!  

Change the sentence, please.  

What time do I want to wake?  

Answer: When I’m needed.

It seems that years spent multi-tasking for someone else has taught me to live my life around the NEEDS of the ______  (you can fill it in).  Moving from one topic or project to the next by spinning quickly was the way to control my surroundings. Staying in control was the point, after all.  Make yourself valuable and you’ll always work, I’ve learned.

No one NEEDS me to do anything.  The children are grown the hubs is really independent and I have no job.  In this new world, I often just sit and think about my next move, because I’m the only one who needs me today.

Before, the deadlines dictated the speed in which I made decisions.  Now, before I know it, I’ve “thought about it” for several hours and imagined many different scenarios, not reaching any destination on that map.

This morning, for instance. I headed to the laundry room to start a load and out of the corner of my eye I saw the beautiful handcrafted pantry shelf by the back door.  Now, I’ve not been one to really care about the pantry… except that the shelves were functional and available. My sweet husband painstakingly built the pantry to my perfect specs. The shelves had to be narrow to fit in a hallway, and I needed it to be sealed so I could clean it properly.  The shelves are a perfect compliment to the kitchen cabinets in the adjoining room.

I spent years cooking every meal for the family, until he retired.  He always cooked some along the way, after I planned it, did the dreaded shopping and always cleaned up afterward.   After he retired, he took over all the cooking responsibilities and that was perfect for me!

No more oatmeal raisin cookies missing the oatmeal for me!

Today, in my new life… learning to NOT WORK outside our home, I am compelled to move that can of beans further back on the shelf so it won’t fall.

BAD MISTAKE! There goes my focus.

Well, just suffice it to say, the cans are all sorted, dusted and neatly placed on those handcrafted, beautiful shelves.  The boxes are all faced to the front and the bags are secure in plastic containers.  The wood has been dusted and

Pantry Shelves, a distraction for a time

little “gifts” left in the corners (screws, nuts, light bulbs, non-working batteries) have all found another home and the beautiful pantry is well organized.  I’ve swept the floor, the cob webs from the corner and even the ceiling. I cleaned the windows in the door and as my eyes wander away from my project, out the windows to the dusty car… but first!

What’s the target for today, I remind myself. 

From the book, Intentional Living, by John Maxwell,  I learned that it’s ok to do new things badly the first time.  I’ll do them again, and next time I’ll do it better — keeping my eyes on the target, completing at least one task at hand, on time without getting sidetracked.

 

An hour later and once again, I’m headed toward the filled washer (now with cool, no suds-water) to start the load.  If I just hadn’t glanced away. If I just had kept my eyes forward, focused on the task at hand, the load would be done!

One step in front of the other, then check back to see what I missed! That’s the plan!

 

 

 

rFor the last several years, I’ve been completely enthralled with my Avon adventure! The people with whom I worked were completely fun and supportive and I enjoyed the semi-competitiveness of the nature of our work.  Those dedicated representatives in the various districts, for which I had responsibility, are as varied as there are representatives. Each is different… each has a different agenda… each achieves it in her own way and each provides a tribute to her heritage and her indomitable, entrepreneurial spirit.

I’ve given up a lot since taking it on.  Not because anyone said I had to, but because the job was extraordinarily fascinating and empowering and exciting and joyful and really made me feel needed and wanted and important and successful – ah, there it is… SUCCESSFUL!

I have met and now enjoy knowing the most incredible group of women. They come from all walks of life, and as you may expect, bring with them their own little quirks and joys.  I’ve met those from other countries, other socio-economic backgrounds and different belief systems. Their music, their food, their values – more than entertaining and enlightening,  They, above all else, have made my time with Avon meaningful.

All things must change, I hear.  Avon became New Avon, with new values and ways of working. They finally pulled the trigger on the tough decision of eliminating the balance of my position with the company.  I’m sure someone had empathy with us, but I didn’t see it anywhere. That’s NEW Avon. Heartfelt sentiments would be the old Avon.

The good thing… a new adventure begins soon.  As with every job opportunity, I’m taking with me a new set of skills. Taking a look at our place in this world at this time… Ronnie and I are surprised to see that, it’s really time for us to take time for ourselves.  Another new challenge awaits as I figure out how NOT to work for anyone else.  Think I can do it?

My first job was at the ripe old age of 15 and I earned $1.00 per hour.  Since that time, I’ve worked with the exception of maternity leave for a few months with each child.  Amazing how time flies!

So, as I look back at all the people I’ve met, the children I’ve watched grow, the changes in the world around me and the exceptional working women I’ve known… it’s been a great run.

I loved working for the global Avon. As with any large ship, it takes a long time to make it turn around in the ocean. I wish I had been there earlier to enjoy the calm seas.

I have to say thanks to Avon for yet another milestone in my life… the opportunity to stop and acknowledge a long working history and the return to something more fun. Now my goals will be mine alone- what a change. It was inevitable.

Shabby Chic Dog

We saved her.

She arrived on the first day of school… and was still in the driveway when I came home from work.

A day or two later, she’s still in the car port. We realized she couldn’t walk very far because her pads had slipped. Someone told me that their pads slip when they are chasing a vehicle down the black top road (probably trying to keep up with her owner).

How rude! 

Someone brought this lovely creature and left her in the Texas August heat, without water or food… to fend for herself.

Now, let me tell you that I am/was not a “dog” person per se. I’ve had cats for over twenty years and only twice in my life did I own a dog… jointly, with siblings.  So, keeping a dog- especially, a HUGE dog was not in the plan. 

We advertised, posted her on Facebook, told everyone we knew that we had a beautiful, white, house trained dog living with us that needed a home. We had her spayed,  groomed,  everything we could to make her appealing to a new  home.

She’s still here.

And her name is Trixie Honeysuckle. She has three pillows and rotates between them throughout the day. Did I mention she is Large?  She weighs 72 pounds and the vet mentioned that her ideal weight is 80. She walks on a leash, sits for treats, LOVES to ride in the truck… and she’s ours.  She knows where her home is and can make her way back without us. 

So, a large white dog in a 2100 sq. ft. home, with no fenced yard, means we sweep, dust and vacuum daily. We bought a Ferminator… God’s gift to dog owners… and we brush, bathe, pet, cuddle and walk our baby on schedule. It’s a good thing the hubs is retired!  We’ve made friends with the vet, vet-tech and the spa keeper.  

We’ve met neighbors we hadn’t become acquainted with previously, because they have dogs! We buy silly toys we haven’t had in the house since the grandchildren were babies. We always have cheese cubes available, now. They are the “gold” treat.

Today, exactly 7 months since she came to us… I redecorated the living room.  No longer will you see olive sofa’s with long white dog hair clinging to the sides… or her long white offerings laying on the dark coffee table.  I found the perfect decor to match the perfect dog — shabby chic. 

So, don’t come looking for her now, she belongs in this home… our shabby chic dog, in our shabby chic home! 

Perfect.  

Bling and Volunteering – OES

Today I was privileged to participate in the initiation of a lovely young woman to a local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. She’s blonde, cute, a young mother, a caring person, as far as I can tell.  She walked tall and appeared to learn alot today. 

I’ve been a member of the Order for 15 or so years. I’ve filled a variety of stations (offices) and performed a number of special duties in honor of women and men who have served faithfully and taught many behind them. I’ve been honored to teach a few who came in after me, and I’ve even led the funeral service for a dear saint, whom I will never forget.

In our Order, there are women we admire, heroines from the Bible, heroines of our Order. They represent the different stages of our lives and we learn from them, to be patient, courageous, kind, hard working, loyal and faithful.

I love the Order… it’s filled with opportunities to serve others. There are so many choices- you cannot do everything.  All that we, the members, do is surrounded by bling, pomp and circumstance, and joy of loyal friendship. We tend to lean toward projects that help women, but we don’t leave the men out. 

One year 17 students in Texas received scholarships to allow them more freedom while they studied for the ministry. 15 more were awarded scholarships to continue their college education… or to complete a certificate course in their area of work. And that’s on a state level. Locally, many students in all the communities received smaller contributions toward their education.  Thousands were contributed to Breast Cancer research, the Galveston Burn Center and the multitude of projects sponsored by Worthy Matrons around the state. Recently, we focused on the service dogs that help save lives.  

Our Chapter collected 300 pairs of flip flops to send to the Air Force kids who were volunteering (as part of their job) in an orphanage in Africa. There are so many rocks, the kids can’t keep shoes on that won’t tear up… so we helped our service kids, help the small children. The cost for mailing them was riduculous, but they couldn’t be bought in Africa, so, mailing was what was required.    One year, we made lap blankets for children at the hospital. Once, we collected stuffed toys and gave them to the law enforcement folks. When they have to arrest a mom and dad, these toys give the children something to hold onto during the terrible process.  Who else will do these things? 

It’s been a fun-filled year. A year of service and friendships, new friends and new goals set for the future… all to start a new year with new officers, new plans… new folks to help, new students to help and new women to train to carry on our work.

Most of my female friends don’t understand this committment to the greater good.  Yep, we spend our money on bling… but we give and raise more for the good of others. Yes, we spend much of our free time with the members of our Order, and we miss new movies and don’t spend much time reading… but we are doing good. Whatever avenue a person can find to volunteer to help others is good. It’s good for the soul, good for those being helped, good for our country to help one another.   For me, it’s a matter of breathing… we should help, as we breathe. I just love dressing up to do it!

Oatmeal-less Cookies!

    It’s a cool thing to have a ‘sweet sixteen’ party for your firstborn. All night… boys and girls played music, danced, talked.. and talked! And, then… the non–cook mom, decides to be very motherly and bake cookies.  Of course, this one action changes the entire event from a beautifully planned party to a hilarious memory for life!

Jenn was turning 16 – in January! Freezing out, ice everywhere and we were living in a small mobile home at the lake!

Not much room for girls to spread out with all their gear, but we’re determined to make it the best birthday ever! The invites are cute and hand delivered, the house is cleaned from top to bottom.  About twelve young teens filled our small living area with sweet sounds of laughter and gossip. The boys are on one couch, the girls on the other. All are eating chips, and salsa from the coffee table and the music is blaring! The girls dance, the boys watch them.. I fondly remember those days!

 I decided to make oatmeal cookies for munching later into the night, since they all brought their sleeping bags and planned to camp out on the living room floor.

I gathered the usual suspects for cooking… a cookie sheet, mixing bowl, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, raisins, recipe..and began to mix away.  Excitement grew as everyone watched as the master created great food! Carefully, I mixed and placed small amounts on the cookie sheet for baking. A few of the girls came to “help”, so they got the spoon.

Nearing the prescribed baking time, I noticed a little smoke rising from within the oven. Deciding there might be something in the bottom of the oven, I waited.  Finally, the SSSCCCRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEAAAACCCCCCCHHHHH of the smoke detector shocks this cook into reality! With the assistance of ALL the excited teenagers we gingerly open the oven door and smoke billows out!

When one is baking oatmeal cookies, it’s a great idea to put oatmeal IN the cookie batter!  Much laughter followed and a re-do is in order. I apologized for embarrassing my beautiful sixteen year old.   Laughing all the way, NEW eggs, NEW sugar – you get the idea… and we are ready to go again. This time there were more folks willing to assist!

Into a freshly cleaned oven, the cookie sheet is placed. So proud, I was… that I could teach these children a valuable lesson about beginning again, cleaning up one’s mess, and the rewards of trying hard to succeed. I actually rationalized it in my own mind that I did this as a learning exercise!

A few minutes passed and all is well. A few more and there is a touch of smoke. KNOWING it’s leftover melted cookie dough, I let it continue to cook.  HEARING the familiar SSSSSSRRRRRREEEEEEEAAAAAAAACCCCCCCHHHHH of the smoke detector almost made me wet myself! My daughter nearly melted into the wall. Don’t all mom’s know how to bake?

 

This mom went back to NON-COOKING birthday parties. The story surfaces at every family holiday meal, when I’m asked… “Mom, did Poppie cook….. or you?”  Then we all laugh again and remember the memorable evening when Jenn turned 16!

Hours

When will I get my hours right?

You know… like the right hour to get up in the morning.

The right hour to stop for lunch and of course, the right hour to go home from work so you can see the front of the house in the daylight.

Then, there’s the right hour to quit working in front of the TV and enjoy the family.

Last, but not nearly the least is the hour that one must shut it all down and head down the hall to the bedroom. You know… that place where all the hours of the day come back for a visit before the hour arrives to get up and start again!

I just love that I have 24 hours to play with… each and every day.