Thursday, July 21, 2011


My kids call me names - lots of 'em. It makes them giggle so hard they snort. Their favorite is Food Nazi. Earth Mother is another common one. Tree Hugger, Henna Hippie, Natural Nellie, Organic Mama.

In my home you will find chemicals galore and even some junky processed food. I only do what makes sense to me at the time and make improvements one at a time, and I'm good with that. I don't care to present an organic image as though it's an attractive character. It's a work in progress. I figure by the time I'm 60 I will have rid my home of nearly every chemical, be growing all my own food, capturing my own water, and still feeding my kids home cooked meals from scratch when they come home to visit. I will, however, still be going to the salon to have my roots done. Just sayin'.

See what I mean? Total hypocrite. I'm good with that. I only use organic products if they W-O-R-K, and there are many needs for which I've not found such a thing. Yet. Soooo, I will continue to use the mainstream, nasty, polluting, environment robbing products until such time as I can find some natural, organic product that WORKS. I'm confident I'm not screwing my kids out of a beautiful future world in the meantime.

For example. I've watched and read every single informational piece OUT there about natural weedkillers. Tried them all. I mean AAAAAAAAAALL. Did my share. Drove around the world (really just Atlanta but it's shockingly similar) finding unusual, organic ingredients, mixing, fixing, experimenting. Tried the "you have everything you need for a great garden and lawn in your kitchen cabinet" route. Mixed, fixed, experimented. Tried the retail organic stuff. No mixing, fixing, yet still an experiment.

Nuh-uh. None in the same class as Round-Up. Round-Up is da bomb. It's on a pedestal at my house with a spotlight trained on it, almost equivalent with the joy my family and pets give me. Nah, not really, but it is. so. great. You just can't kill poison oak with borax, vinegar or salt. It's a fact. So I'll continue to use Round Up until such time that a true replacement is found.

Note: Replacement (verb, used with an object)

1. to assume the former role, position, or function of, substitute for

2. to provide a substitute or equivalent in the place of

3. to restore, return, make good.

Note key words and phrases above: to assume the function of, to provide an equivalent.

I rest my case.

On the othe
r hand, there are ma
ny organic and/or natural products I have embraced and there are new ones on the market all the time. It's getting easier. The products work and they don't break the bank (another big criteria). Alternatively, I've made my own products for years: window cleaner, all purpose cleaners, laundry detergent, soaps, cleansers, lotions, shaving gels, lip balms, and so on. Making organic/natural products is even better (and usually less expensive) than buying them.

To be fair however, I'm not the only person living in my home, and the other three do not walk the organic road so willingly. So. I have backup in some appropriate cases. I have a bottle of off-the-shelf laundry detergent for the rare occasion that any of the three of the others living in my home might try to do laundry. I have off-the-shelf toilet cleanser in the boys' bathroom. It's difficult enough to get them to swab their own pottie when it's one easy step; no way would they carefully pour baking soda and then vinegar into the pottie, let it fizz and sit, then swab. It's a matter of success and survival. Where to make concessions. What to concede to.

And so it was that I came to use Method brand anti-bacterial kitchen cleanser. Functional, not too expensive, smells good, and not made up of caustic chemicals. Not perfect, but good stuff. In fact, now I know to tell you this, the active ingredient is thyme oil. Here's how I know. Funny story.

Last week the boys and I went to Florida, leaving my hunky hubby and their daddy home all alone. Now then. While he's not a fastidious person, nor is he interested in order or neatness or bothered by the lack of it, he did a commendable job keeping the kitchen man-clean. Not woman-clean, but a fair job nonetheless. I was appropriately impressed.

However. During our absence an army of sugar ants marched in to keep him company. Upon our return, hunky hubby waltzed back off to work during the day to leave me to deal with organizing and implementing their demise.

Day 1: Washed down counters, sinks, backsplashes, handles, faucets, windowsills, underneath of cabinets and any other random surface on the affected bank of countertop, ostensibly to clean whatever microscopic blops of food or sugar to which the teensy soldiers were attracted.

Day 2: Woke up to tripled efforts by the ant army. Hunky husband stopped by pesticide store on the way home and bought Amdro or Terro or something super strong max strength ant bait. Repeated day 1's cleaning efforts and placed ant bait units in appropriate places. Went to bed.

Day 3: Ant armies called in the infantry, the cavalry, and maybe even military from cooperating countries, I dunno. My white countertop looked like a Belted Galloway cowhide from a distance.

I love these cows. My kids used to call them Oreo cows.

Anyway, the ants were crawling OVER the commercial ant bait to get to my countertops. I declared war of my own. I got serious. I made up my own slow-acting poison that the unassuming lil buggars would drink, get drunk on, and take back to their queen, who is apparently busily spitting out baby ants quicker'n I can kill 'em, the hoochie. Ran out of Method cleaner so I used my homemade vinegar cleaner to repeat day 1's ministrations, then poured blobs of my heinous killer bait in appropriate places.

Day 4: No ants.

Day 5: No ants.

Guess what. No go ahead, guess!

The Method cleaner was attracting the ants.

That is too left of center for even me to wrap my head around. Here's the bottom line question, and boy it's a head scratcher:

How can it be a cleaner if it attracts bugs??????

This organic/natural concept/battle just never stops, does it......

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Last night at 2:00am I was lying wide-eyed staring at the ceiling fan and giving my snoring husband the stink-eye (unbeknownst to him because he was ASLEEP) and wondering why insomnia is such an ingrained part of my personal make-up. As you can imagine I came up with no good ideas for that question (and you can well believe I've beat the subject to death over the years). So I looked past the ceiling fan and said, "Ok God it's just you and me. Whaddya want to talk about?" As it turns out he wanted to discuss the service project I am committed to do as a part of my summer bible study program. We have several choices but I had been initially and particularly drawn to a specific one called Seven Bridges. What perked my ears when I heard it was that Seven Bridges Road is my favorite song in the world by the Eagles. And yes. I do believe in signs like that. The Seven Bridges is a recovery program for homeless who live under the bridges and in the streets of Atlanta. It's for the last, the lost, and the least, they say. (I love that. Alliteration is a beautiful, powerful tool.) It's a first step program to rescue homeless and then provide placement into a recovery program. Once they go through that program they are connected to a next-step resource at a discipleship home or whatever is appropriate for their personal needs.

Me: So. God. I-I-I-I just donnnnn't knowwwww about the under the bridges thing- yikes. I'm kind of scared about that.

God: You think I won't take care of you when I'm the one that put that project in your head?

Me: Well when you put it THAT way......

God: Remember what I said to Job?

Me: Well no. Maybe. I don't know. Which time? You know I'm not super knowledgeable about Your Scriptures. But I do want You to know I'm working on it.

God: I know. I'm talking about when I lectured Job for pages and pages in your Bible about how powerful I am and how he obscured my plans with words backed with nothing - no knowledge. I told him to brace himself and answer like a man when I asked him things like "where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?" and "have you ever given orders in the morning or shown the dawn its place that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?" and "can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you sent the lightening bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?" and "does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?"

"Well, Missy", He said. "Don't MAKE me direct that lecture to you." (And I'm telling you. for all the world that sounded like 'Don't make me stop this car!')

Me: Ok. I get it. And by the way, I love that scripture.

God: Thanks, my dear daughter. And I love YOU.

So. Even though it was made abundantly clear that I am but a speck in all His plans, I am still everything to Him. Quite a paradox and acutely, remarkably comforting at the same time.

My next prayer to Him will be that He bestow the same comfort about my Seven Bridges project upon my husband. Ha.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Well since you're snivvling

Half a dozen folks I know are snotty. Snivvly, snarfley, honkin, sneezin, hackin sick. I don't know what's blooming right now but it's prevailing over lots of my friends' and family's immune system. So here are my favorite remedies:

Cold Relief for the bath:

2 cups Epsom Salts
1 cup Sea Salt
1/2 cup baking soda
6 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
6 drops Lavender essential oil
6 drops Peppermint essential oil
6 drops Tea Tree essential oil
1-2 tablespoons of oil, whatever oil you choose - almond, grapeseed, olive, coconut

Mix ingredients thoroughly and seal in an airtight jar. Add 1/2 cup of salts to bathwater.

Muscle rub:

4 oz sweet almond oil
3 oz beeswax
1 oz cocoa cutter
15-20 drops Vitamin E oil
25-30 drops Lavender essential oil

Melt all and pour into a mold or jar. Great alternative for those who don't care for the scent of menthol. I found out when my eldest was verrrry leedle that menthol affects him negatively. I put Vicks in the medicine cup of his humidifier and within minutes he was uncomfortable and jumpy and he couldn't stay in the room.

Special Cold Tea

Boil 4 cups of water.
Grate a 1" piece of ginger and put in teapot. Add about 5 or 6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Add a dollop of honey or Agave nectar - 2-3 tablespoons (to taste).
Put the lid on teapot and allow to steep a few minutes. Strain into your teacup to avoid getting bits of ginger.

Commercial favorites:

Pure-Aid Hot Patches they contain menthol and capsaicine. Great for chest or between shoulders.

Ocean - helps open up nose and sinuses without harmful (and addictive) decongestants or steroids.

Fishermans Friend lozenges - same ingredients and recipe since the 1800s. Not organic, but no artificial ingredients.

Hot water bottle, heating pad, and humidifier. The good old staples of cold war.

Heal quickly!!!

Friday, July 01, 2011


This is my favorite Robert McCloskey book, even more than Make Way for Ducklings or Homer Price. He wrote it in the 1940s and won a Caldecott for it. I have an old copy of it that was printed in the 1960s and the illustrations were homey and warm; the illustration of the kitchen reminds me of my Grandmother's old kitchen. My Mom read it to me, then she read it to my sister, then I read it to my little brother. I read it to both my kids so often they could recite it verbatim.

I went blueberry pickin' this morning. I got up early and drove to my favorite Pick Your Own blueberry farm with a cup of Southern Pecan coffee and the sunroof open. I always think about Blueberries for Sal when I pick blueberries. I got out of the car and walked into the field between the rows where many of the blueberry bushes are so tall they provide sort of an arbor to walk down. It was peaceful, sun was shining down in broken streaks through the branches, birds were singing and a couple of bluebirds were fussing at me, and my toes were damp from the dew. Life was good. I was putting handfuls of berries in my bucket and eating one every now and then when a plump, juicy one was just too much to resist. I thought "wouldn't it be funny if I heard a rustle of leaves and a 'plink, plank, plunk' from the other side of the row.

No such luck. I'd rather it have been a baby bear, to tell you the truth. But no, it was two women who had come to pick berries together. Guessing they were in their 70s. They enjoyed each other's company and while they were picking they conversed. N-o-n-s-t-o-p. Theyyyyyyy talked about vitamin supplements, they talked about their husbands' declining health and vigor, they talked about sales at the grocery stores, what they cooked for dinner last night, their hip pain, their thin fingernails, their droopy eyes, droopy boobs and shingle butts and other minutia. Sooooo much other minutia. My ears began to throb. Where in the heck was my quiet, lovely, early morning outside time where I could marvel at God's handywork while I picked blueberries so ripe and juicy they were all but dripping from the bush? listen to birds tweet and squawk? squench my toes in the dewy grass? I moved to the other end of the field lest my throbbing ears begin to bleed. It was a little quieter there but I could still hear the Prattle Twins. From that distance they sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher, which was a vast improvement from the pastiche of subjects they'd discussed in detail within my earshot.

Decidedly they have a different archetype for blueberry picking. Theirs is one of camaraderie and conversation, mine of solitude and meditative time, admiration for nature. At least I came home with a gallon of blueberries, which have now been washed and at the moment are drying on trays with the fan blowing on them. When they're dry they'll go in the freezer until they're individually frozen, and from there into Zippie freezer bags.

I guess when I'm 70 I may be one of those women - the ones who are in the moment, who don't care who's around or who hears them, who feel compelled to loudly discuss inconsequential and somewhat private drivel in public places - after all, to be fair that describes the entirety of this blog, so who am I to judge??? See you prolly didn't care to know the details of how I was preserving my blueberries, but I hadta tell you.

A few more of my favorite childrens' books:

This was a particularly special book to my kids, who never had blankets for woobidies but other objects instead. Every single time I read the name Owen I thought about screaming it the way Anne Ramsey did in Throw Momma from the Train. Never did. But I thought about it.

Gerald McBoing Boing is a hidden Dr. Seuss treasure. I always had to read this one using appropriate voices for each character.

As it turns out, my youngest son IS Gerald McBoing Boing.

This one is a favorite because my hunky hubby used to read it to my kids aaaaaaaaaaaall the tiiiiiiiiiime. Another one they could recite by rote. The reading of it produced a particular cadence, sort of a rhythm that always made me tilt and rock my head and shoulders like I was doing the snake. No matter what I was doing, when I heard them reading Dummer Hoff, my head and shoulders were movin'.

I don't know whether my kids loved Corduroy or if it was just me and they tolerated me reading it to them. It never was one they asked for by name, but I always threw it in anyway. Such a sweet story.