A few years ago, I had a brilliant idea to open a coffee house. After all, people were willing to spend five bucks for a crappy cup of Arabica bean juice, so what not provide it and make some of Seattle's profit for myself? It took nearly a year to get everything in order, but when it finally did, Johnny's Coffee House was open to the public. With a menu just as complete as a franchise coffee house combined with a deli sandwich/salad shop, we seemed to have a pretty big hit on our hands. At least it was until some jerk opened a restaurant right next door that gave you twelve inches of subs for five bucks.
With a sad heart, we shut down the kitchen part of it and limped along, trying to keep it open. For two years, we opened it up to the kids of our community after installing a small stage and a huge professional sound system. Local bands came as well as groups from all across the country. In no time, Johnny's Coffee House had a reputation that spanned the nation, and we were proud of that.
The reason we had such a good name is because of the way we treated our visitors. No matter how much money we lost on the shows, we made sure each band was not only paid, but well fed and had a place to sleep. Even though we were harassed by local cops for it (our building wasn't zoned residential), I can't begin to count how many people slept on the floors of a small café in the middle of nowhere instead of stuffed in a van parked at WalMart. I have the pride of a parent when I turn on the radio and hear a band that once played at Johnny's. To this day, I consider these people are like kids to me and have warm thoughts when I hear the name "Momma Johnny" thrown into the wind.
My "staff" was so much more than just people who came in and collected paychecks. They were family. They became my children. Even though we closed our doors on November 13, 2009, I still keep in touch with them (okay, some of them I just stalk on Facebook). They are all growing up to be remarkable people and I would like to think that I had a little bit to do with that, even if I didn't. From the Christmas in July party where Maggie and Molly got thrown into the pool to the practical jokes (poor Erica scrubbed the counters with a toothbrush for waaaaay too long!) to my employees caring for and about my crazy kids, I cherish this part of my life more than any.
I miss you kids, you rockstars, you baristas, and all of you lonely boys and girls just looking for a place to fit in. You were, and always will be, a part of my heart.
Peace, Love & Memories!
<3 Momma Johnny
Today marks my favorite day of the year. The carnival has arrived! Each year, the same traveling company brings in the same rusty, rickety rides that everyone in my small town seems willing to pay too much to ride on. The lights flash, beckoning young and old alike to come try to get the basketball inside a hoop that's two inches too small, all in the hopes of winning a stuffed dolphin that's worth about fifty cents. About ten bucks later, it's tossed over your shoulder as you cruise the strip, deciding which festive treat to snack on before hitting the rides one last time before it's time to go home.
It's not the thrilling adventure of the travelling carnival that makes my heart sing. Lord knows the rides break down more often than they run and the food is probably only slightly tastier than what the local nursing home serves. The noise and smell of diesel fuel is enough to induce a migraine just thinking about it. I probably blow at least three hundred dollars at Old Settler's Days every year, and that's if I cut the kids off and only take them one day. My feet hurt thinking about walking around for six hours while the kids take full advantage of their unlimited ride wristbands and my skin can already feel the inevitable sunburn.
But that's okay. Because today, the migrant workers began setting up the chaos that is our town's yearly festival. Food booths are being put into place and semi trucks full of rides are being hauled onto the brick roadway. The town square is being overrun by strangers and it makes me smile. You see, today is the day that I can get my kids to do just about anything I could dream of asking of them. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean up dog poop, you name it. If I want it done, it gets done. After all, no one wants to irritate the one who controls their carnival adventures, right? So yes, each year the children count down the days until they get to ride those horrible rides again. I count down the days until I can get my kids to do chores without complaining.
As they always say: If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
Peace, Love and Ferris Wheels!
Lord knows I've called him by many names over the past 13 years (many of which I won't type here). He is a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, and a father. I think the title that means the most to him is "Dad" and he tends to parent people who don't even share his DNA. He's a lot like his own father, who passed away last year. He has that same ornery streak and identical giving nature. He even has the same filthy mouth when he gets irritated. Thankfully, it takes a lot to make him mad. If you do, be warned. He'll never forget it. Ever.
Super-Cool Husband is my best friend and on most days, I would do just about anything for him. His job keeps him inside the dusty, greasy confines of trucks, tractors and that filthy shop. For hours every day, he stays inside that nasty building, sweating and getting dirt in places God never intended him to. It thrills me to no end that he feels the need to share this grime with me at the end of every day by failing to take off his boots at the back door. Or by not putting his grease covered clothing in a separate pile instead of lumping them in with all of the other clothes in the bathroom. A fine layer of shop dust and mysterious stains cover my couch and the black crap on his ever present ball cap has left marks on the ceiling of my prized Jeep.
It's not that he doesn't care about how difficult it is to keep a house clean when there are three young girls, seven indoor cats and four dogs that run in and out freely. It's not that he doesn't appreciate the fact that I just mopped right before he walks in with muddy feet and three wet Newfoundlands in tow. It's not that he doesn't love the efforts that I put forth to make our home nice. I think he just loves me so much that he wants to leave his mark so that we never forget he exists. Not even for one moment. And we never do.
While many father's across the nation ask their families to buy them expensive gifts to commemorate the day today, Super-Cool Husband only asks for a few small things. He'd like his laundry to be done and to have his socks actually folded and put away instead of being left in the basket. He'd like dinner to be hot and ready, just like any other day, and he never puts in a special request. After all, his motto is that enough hot sauce can make anything edible. He asks for the sun to rise and set, and for his children to be happy and healthy. After all, that's all the man really needs in life.
Today, the Syd Award for Best Dad in the World goes to my husband, for being just that. The best dad a girl could ever ask for. And to reward him for his 23 years of service, I won't hog all of the peanut M&Ms today.
Peace, Love & Warm Squishy Thoughts
I haven't done very much (other than swallow Tylenol like I own stock in the company) since my little mishap the other night. My couch and an oversized ice pack have become my best friends over the past forty-eight hours. Today, I finally started to be able to move a little better. In reality, that just means I can pee without thinking of the benefits of Depends. The kids have been playing and arguing all day, just like normal, and I even managed to get off my butt long enough to mow the lawn (I thought the vibrations of the riding mower would feel good on my sore back. Joke's on me...).
When I came inside and reclaimed my cushion, I added some Motrin to the Tylenol mix and started to realize the reason people shouldn't take medication of any kind on an empty stomach. Enter the brilliance of God when he created avocados. I ate the whole thing and then played a few hours of Candy Crush. All the while, I ignored the pre-pubescent voices in my house and actually relaxed enough that the kinks in my spine are going away.
My twelve year old spawn has been asking since noon what I was going to make for dinner. My gut instinct is to tell her a story about how when I was her age, I was making the family dinner myself. While I walked to school up hill. Barefoot. In the snow. And all that.... But I didn't. Instead, I told her more than once that I planned on grilling turkey burgers for dinner. Not only is this a household favorite, but it's a pain in the ass to make. In other words, for me to be a temporary cripple and still be willing to slice and dice veggies for an hour, you'd think they'd e stoked about it.
And they were. Or so I thought. Just as I ran out of lives on my favorite time killer and started to pull myself up to go cook, a weird smell wafted into the living room. It took me a few minutes to realize what it was. Greasy, nasty, soggy grossness. My child took it upon herself to make a plate full of pizza rolls. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, except she made them in the microwave, which leaves them the consistency of wet bread. Now my tummy has turned, and her belly is full and I don't think I need to bother getting out the cutting board any time soon.
My name may not be Martha or Julia or Betty, but my turkey burgers are worth killing for. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow to decide who's going to die. But I'll make sure the pizza rolls are well hidden first.
Peace & Love!
For some reason, people think it's a good idea to own a pool. The bigger the better, right? Last summer, we installed a 36,000 gallon above ground pool. For once in my blogging history, this number is NOT an exaggeration. After battling with it all last summer, and working to get it open this season, I've decided to offer you all a bit of advice if you're ever in the market to buy a pool: Unless it comes with a full time pool boy named Jorge, don't do it. Buy a pool pass to the local park, fill your bath tub an extra inch and splash, or go sit under your running garden hose. It's all a better way to spend your time. At least, my time would be better spent that way. Lord knows it would make my whole life safer.
You see, not only am I allergic to everything God created, but I am also accident prone. Not that cute, "oops I just stumbled teehee" kind of thing like you see in the movies. Not the "this is going to be a funny story someday" like my friend Erica blogs about (for real, go to www.ericaluckedean.com
and read her survival story entitled "I Survived The Bikini Wax Disaster"). She ooopses funny on a daily basis. Me? My accidents usually end up with the question of "how much money is in the bank and can we really afford a trip to the emergency room this week?". Add this personal quirk to my phobia of water, and you end up wondering why on earth I have such a huge, wet contraption in my back yard.
Tonight's injury comes courtesy of that damn pool and my beloved fifteen month old Newfoundland Murphy. I was standing on a ladder, leaning in to vacuum the bottom of the pool when Murphy decided he wanted to get in the water, too. I could hear all 120 pounds of him putting his paws on the bottom rung and told him to back off. Like every well trained farm dog you see in the movies, he obeyed immediately. Within seconds, he had all four feet planted firmly on the ground next to me, his tail and tongue competing to see which could wag the fastest. I smiled and praised my little buddy for being such a good boy. Too bad the phrase "good boy" is always followed by an immediate head rub. Guess who jumped up to get one? Guess who fell down to give one?
I can't be mad at him. If you've ever seen the face of a Newfie, I challenge you to feel one negative thought towards him or her. Besides, the pulled muscle in my back and giant bruise on my butt gives me a good excuse to spend all day tomorrow on the couch, being waited on hand and foot by my grateful children.
Oh who am I kidding? They'll be in the pool since it's clean now.
Peace, Love & Advil
Every year, we take a vacation down to Kentucky Lake to visit with my SisterBestFriend Kim and her family. We rent a cabin at a resort near her home and enjoy the sun and water for a few days before heading home and beginning the countdown for the next trip. This year, we decided a four day weekend wasn't long enough and made a week long reservation. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it during our usual weekend, so we have to wait until the end of June. Our cabin sleeps fifteen so instead of being roomy and comfortable, we invited extended family and friends to come along for the party. You know, 'cuz we're smart like that.
In fourteen more days, we'll be loading up the Jeeps and hitting the road, cramped and excited. I already have the address plugged into my GPS and a playlist made for the road trip. The list of requested travel snacks has been made and instructions of what to pack have been issued. Grocery lists and menus have been started and my mind is spinning with all of the things my kids want to do while we're there. Jokes on them, though...
Ya see, I don't care what they want to do. This trip is all about two things and two things only. Having fun and making sure Kim is directly involved in every moment of it. Sure, we'll go out on the boat and play cards and cook out. We'll probably hit the mini-golf course and the Chuck E Cheese Rip Off pizza joint again. And, much to Son-Of-Kim's chagrin, we'll even hit the local buffet restaurant while we're there. We'll collect sand and shells on the beach and relax in the pool. Maybe we will even go visit Nashville this year, I don't know yet.
I just know that the one day I'm looking forward to the most is two days before we leave when Kim and I run off to have some alone time together and do something reckless and ridiculous. I'll have to let you know later just what we are planning on. Maybe I'll even post some pictures of it. I can't freaking wait!
Peace, Love & Patience!
There is only one thing in this world that could possibly sooth my aching heart after the season eight finale of Criminal Minds. Yes, it will be September before I can see new episodes of my favorite FBI Profilers in action again (le sigh), but the end of CriMi meant that I would soon find out just what was hiding in that damn trunk.
Tuesday nights are a special occasion at the Raine House when Pretty Little Liars is on. Those not interested in the show are banished from the living room and ordered to be silent while friends and family gather. Sometimes it's standing room only. Sometimes Super-Cool Husband has to drag a chair in from the other room (yes, he is a loyal viewer along with the rest of us girls). We haven't gotten a new couch even though our cushions are torn (and one completely missing) because it seats almost all of us and I can't bear to buy a sofa that is less roomy. Dinner is prepped all day so that it is ready in time that we won't be munching and crunching at the magical hour of 7 pm. Often times, we gather an hour earlier, just to re-watch the previous episode and catch little clues we think we missed. There have been occasions that we see something that isn't really there, and solve the entire mystery only to find out how wrong we are forty five minutes later. Well, some of us are wrong. Super-Cool Husband is usually right and one hell of a walking spoiler alert...
Tonight's season premiere was well worth the wait. Without doing any spoiling of my own, I must say kudos to the entire cast and crew of the production. The trunk thing, great little double entendre. And Aria in the Vice Principal's office? All I can say about that is well played Marlene King, well played. The storyline of the show is so different than the books, but somehow, the main characters seem to be written in a way Sara Shepard would write them. While some people watch serial television for the plots and the actors and the flashy clothes, as a writer, I tend to catch the littler nuances of the script and this is one show that rarely disappoints. (Okay, I like the eye candy too so where was Caleb this week? Just sayin")
But what I really love about my "Tuesday TV Parties" is the gathering of people that I love. The looks on their faces when a major twist happens, or when they are worried about a character, or laugh at a funny quip, or discuss Hannah's latest fashion choices is something I don't get every other day of the week. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have six daughters who, while they have their own issues, at least none of them are messed up in murder and blackmail and espionage and conspiracy. I hope they never end up like one of these girls, but I would love to put a warning out there to all of their future friends...
Better not mess with my kids. They've seen every episode of Pretty Little Liars and know how to screw up your world if need be...
Peace, Love & Lies
In honor of Maurice Sendak's birthday today, I thought I'd channel my inner-Max and find those mysterious and wonderful wild things. Everyone has their own creatures of delight and comfort, those crazy beasts that stay by your side through thick and thin. I could count mine and end up running out of fingers before I'm done.
Abby is my beastly friend. She's twelve pounds of aggravation and fury, coupled with unconditional love (except that she does demand a weekly dose of Chicken McNuggets or she gets a little pissy). She runs out into the wild yonder and bravely faces the three grizzly bear gorillas that live in our front yard. It doesn't matter that they each outweigh her by over a hundred pounds. She's frisky and she's fast. In other words, Abby wins. Every time.
She has an uncanny ability to sense evil monsters from a mile away. It could be the mailman, a wayward truck driver or even a pizza delivery guy. It doesn't matter if it's Super-Cool Doggy Daddy... If she smells testosterone, she lets us know. Loudly. You'd think that twelve pounds of bark wouldn't be so loud. Thankfully, she doesn't have a bite to match I suppose.
Abby is great at playing pretend any time she feels like it. In a moment's notice, you will find her sitting on the back of the couch, basking in the sunbeams, purring like a kitten. Less than a minute later, she'll be chasing a mouse across the field, like all great beasts of hunt would do. Laying on the floor, she snaps flies right out of the air better than Mr. Miyagi's chopsticks. She doesn't know she's a dog, let alone a little dog.
She doesn't know what it means to settle down either. Even after falling from a mountainside this weekend (okay it was just a three foot drop, but to her it was a mountain, so go with me here), she broke her leg. If it were me, I'd be doped up and whining, demanding my people to feed me and take care of me. Not Abby. She thinks she's a superhero. She still runs toward the door and tries to climb onto the couch and wants to play with the gorillas. She won't stay put on her padded spot and just wants to play. And I have to admit, she's a pretty nimble little tri-pod...
I think we should've named her Max.
Peace, Love & Vivid Imaginations For You All!
It's one of those days. You know, the kind where nothing really goes wrong, but you can't see the right in any of it no matter how hard you look? I don't enjoy spending time being negative, but sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today is one of those times.
It doesn't matter that I have friends and family that love me. It doesn't matter that I have six helping hands at the ready whenever I need them. It doesn't matter that I am fat and sassy and somewhat healthy and want for nothing. Ok, I want for a lot, but I need nothing and am too cheap and/or lazy to go get what I want. And the thing I really want is something that can't be purchased. If it could, the inventor would be a millionaire.
The one thing that would make my life absolutely perfect right now is a sudden cure for pet peeves. We all have them, some more than others. Normally, it's no big deal. You notice something, you fix it, you move on. But what happens when you get smacked with the biggest one right in the middle of a busy day? And worse, when the very thing that is bugging you is happening for a reason either beyond all control or because of a greater good in the end?
I live on a farm. We have a well. It goes dry sometimes. I don't think I hate Super-Cool Husband's ex wife more than I hate a dry well (and that's saying a lot). Right in the middle of doing dishes. Just as the pool is half cleaned and still needs hours of vacuum love. Just when there are hands to wash and toilets to flush and laundry crying out for freshness. I should be glad I showered this morning already. I ought to be happy the pool is almost done. There should be dances of joy going on in the kitchen that there was only one pot left to wash. And lord knows there should be nothing but gratitude coming from me that my kids were working so hard in the yard that their hands got dirty. But I'm not. I'm grouchy. So I quit my housework and decided to write my daily blog.
And I smiled. This week's Syd Award for Oozing Awesomeness goes to Tamara. Logging onto the website, I found that she'd left several lovely notes on my blogs and made me think about her, instead of my grouchiness. Tamara is a woman who I've known since I was just out of high school and have only recently reconnected with. She lives states away, but with the click of a mouse, she's right here whenever I want her to be. She's so stinking positive all of the time, it's hard to hang on to an ounce of negativity just by looking at her beaming grins. She never knows how much I need to see that sometimes and today was one of those days.
I don't care that I don't have water in my well. It just means I have to concentrate on other tasks that need doing. It means that the lawn can be mowed and the floors can be swept and I can sit on my butt and do what I have been ignoring for the past few weeks. I can write. And if and when the grouchiness returns, I can just make my characters blow stuff up or something! Or I can go look at Tami's smile again....
Peace, Love & PMS!
Plant a garden, they said. It will be a good thing, they said. Produce your own food and be self-sufficient, they said. It's a great way to bond with your family, they said. And so, at 7:00 this morning, I was headed to the local produce stand to buy plants and seeds. They weren't open yet, so we changed destinations and arrived at a nearby Menard's after a short twenty minute drive. Due to the early hour, we had the place to ourselves. Well, ourselves, some employees that ignored us and a bunch of birds that seemed happy to chirp away in the sunlight. I was excited. It's been a while since I've had decent fresh vegetables and could practically taste the juicy tomatoes and the crunch of the peppers. The birds singing only added to the promise of a good day, even though I'd never planted my own garden in my life.
Once we'd made a few purchases and headed back toward home, we found the stand was now open so we stopped in and bought even more plants. Watermelons and zucchini and cantaloupe and spinach and radishes and, and, and... I still have no idea why I didn't stop at one flat of plants, but we had a five thousand acre garden all tilled and ready to go, so why not? Maybe I'm exaggerating, but after the day I've had, it sure seemed like 5000 acres. The temperatures never hit above 75, but it was sweltering in that barren field today. With two of my daughters playing the role of farm hand, we worked until I had blisters and a slight case of heat exhaustion.
After a long morning, we got it done. The plants are now taking root and we should all be able to sleep tonight knowing that this summer we will be a little less reliant on produce stands and grocery stores. Hopefully, Mother Nature gives us an ample supply of rain so that we don't have to haul water by the bucket load to quench thirsty plants. In a few days we will begin our weekly habit of going back to weed and prune and do other general whatevers that gardens need. Something tells me that it's going to be a long, tiring summer as I discover what it is like to have my very first garden. Just thinking about it makes me realize how inexpensive vegetables at the grocery store really are. To a lazy person, anyway.
Peace, Love & Lots Of Stir Fry To You All!