Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mama Bean's World: The Hanging of the Wreath

Mama Bean's World: The Hanging of the Wreath: My 6'5" husband is terrified of heights. I know.  Hilarious.  He IS heights. He is taller than me on a ladder. Anyhow, because of this v...

The Hanging of the Wreath

My 6'5" husband is terrified of heights.

I know.  Hilarious.  He IS heights.

He is taller than me on a ladder.

Anyhow, because of this very genuine fear, I get the task of hanging our wreath out our second story window.

I am not scared of heights in the least.

I am, however, scared of falling.  Or more specifically crashing through the ledge.

The "ledge" where the wreath hangs is about18 inches wide.  It's is made of stucco.  In our home contract it said very clearly "The second story ledge is for decorative purposes only and is not designed to bear weight."

Well, let's just say I may not weigh as much as a bear, but I am no petite flower, either.

Also, stucco- or sucko- is very scratchy.  As is plastic fake pine garland.

If I can walk you through how this process works every year....

I shake out the wreath.  Half the needles fall off.  The downside of living in the desert-- everything dries out.  I then determine if it is worth saving.  This year, yes.

I test the lights.  It's a long strand because when we used 2 strands, I accidentally put them up so that 2 female ends matched up.  Oops.  We were good to go this year.

I then remove the broken screen.  It is broken because I yanked it out 7 years ago and quite honestly, we keep forgetting about except for twice a year-- when we take it out to put up the wreath and when we pop it out to remove the wreath.

I then go out onto the ledge.

This year, I faced an additionally obstacle.  Pigeon poop.  LOADS of it.  Earlier in the year we had a little nest.  Of course, before I started to brush it off the ledge I yelled down to my husband and daughter who were working on the other outdoor decorations in the garage

"Look out!  I'm brushing off the pigeon poop!"

Which naturally caused my husband to come out of the garage and yell up:


And, then of course, he got smacked in the head with dried up pigeon poop.

"Um, I was telling you to look out for the pigeon poop that I was brushing off."

I do not think his thank you for the warning was particularly heartfelt.

So then I get out on the ledge.

The dog, a retriever, now decides that this is the perfect moment to play fetch.  I kid you not.  So as I'm hanging out there, my knees grinding into the stucco, she brings the tennis ball to the window.

"Um, Skip, can you please get your dog down?"

And naturally, Skip the Gifted, takes the ball and throws it.  So the dog returns it.  Because that's what retrievers do.


So he throws the ball. Again.


I have now begun the process of winding the garland around the railing.  It is scratching the crap out of me, but so far, so good. 

My husband was below. laughing at my game of fetch with the dog.  Because at this point, I have given up on Skip's ability to handle it and now I am playing fetch with the dog, while hanging out the window.

Then we have to center the wreath.  I need Mr. I'm Terrified of Heights's assistance with this.

We do our normal "a little to the left... no your left... turn it a bit... that's too much...." and my knees are now bloody stubs.  It's like kneeling in grits.  I saw that in a movie once.

Throw the ball.

"How's that?"  I yell down-

"Looks good!"

I put on the ties-

He yells  up--  "It moved..."

frackety frack frack...

"And now?" I asked in the pissy I'm-hanging-from-a-ledge voice.

"Um..."  because he's walking a fine line between me losing my shit now, while suspended on the ledge or losing it later when we leave and I see that it's crooked and blame him for not telling me....

"FINE!  How's that?"  I am such a bucket of sunshine while my knees are shredding and my heart is racing for fear of crashing through the stucco ledge.

And here's the dog.  Throw the ball.

"Great!"   he says.  And I can tell he's not lying. 

Now it's time to put all the ties on.  Skip is tasked with handing me the straps.  At this point he decides to have the conversation about why the sky is blue.

No joke.

He thinks it looks bluer at the ocean because the sky reflects the water.  I explained that the water is actually reflecting the sky.  And could he please hand me a tie.

No seriously, water has no color.  Yes, that is a fact.  Water is colorless.  Yes, if the sky were red, the ocean would look red.  Would you please hand me a tie?

Seriously, Skip, this is not the conversation I want to have right now.

My husband is in the driveway laughing.

Then my daughter who has now come upstairs to join us in the fetch-wreath hanging game says- very loudly-

"WOW!  That little ledge can hold your big ol' butt?" 

My husband adds "Just when I think she can't say anything funnier..."

Yeah,  she's freaking hilarious.

After 45 minutes of wrapping, repositioning, fetching, tying, I get it done.

The wreath is hung.
Now the obvious comments are "Why not get a ladder?"  Our driveway is too steep where we would need to put it.

Or even better-- "Why not hire someone to do this?"

Never.  Because the annual hanging of the wreath is a family tradition.

You have yours, we have ours.

Now excuse me, while I go put on the bandages and first aid cream on all my scratches.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mama Bean's World: Why Thanksgiving is my Favorite Holiday

Mama Bean's World: Why Thanksgiving is my Favorite Holiday: I love Thanksgiving. Of course, there are the obvious reasons- food, wine, family, friends.  And pie.  Let's not forget pie. I love to c...

Why Thanksgiving is my Favorite Holiday

I love Thanksgiving.

Of course, there are the obvious reasons- food, wine, family, friends.  And pie.  Let's not forget pie.

I love to cook.  I love to entertain.  I love my family. When I was single, I always had huge parties with my friends.

I love the smell of turkey cooking.  Right now, I'm making broth with the carcass and the house smells fantastic.

I had a friend share with me why he loved Thanksgiving-- of course, I went on and on before he explained why he loved it--- about my love of the food, the party, etc.

Then he explained to me that he came to the US at 12 as a refugee the week before Thanksgiving.  He said he was so overwhelmed with the kindness he was shown- the food, the clothing, the care.  He said it would always be his favorite holiday because it reminded him about how fortunate he was and how much he loved this country and its opportunities.

After listening to people complain seemingly nonstop about seceding and how our country is going to hell, this made me smile.

And I felt a little silly that for me the holiday seemed to be about drinking and eating.

But tonight, I really sat and thought about why I love-  ADORE-- this holiday.  Like my friend, it really does represent more to me.

For some reason, growing up, the holidays always seemed a little stressful.  There never seemed to be enough of something-- what that something was I never really understood.  I think maybe my mother had such high expectations of everything to be like a Norman Rockwell painting that when it didn't (which when does anything ever work out like that?) it felt like a failure to her and then perhaps to the rest of us as well.  The day never seemed to go smoothly.

But then I moved away.  My first Thanksgiving away was spent in Ecuador with other US foreign exchange students.  I was given the task of making the meal-- I had never cooked for that many people, let alone a big meal like this.  The turkey needed PLUCKED for crying out loud.

It turned out great.  We had a fantastic party- just us "kids."  I'm still very  close with some of the people that I shared that day with.

The next Thanksgiving I spent in NYC.  I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  I skated in Rockefeller Center.  My friends opened their homes to me.  It was perfect.

And every year away from home, my Thanksgivings were great.  Not that they were horrible growing up, just a little stressful.  When I moved to Las Vegas, we had a covered dish party every year.  My single friends would hang out all day and we would drink, play games, and simply enjoy the day.

The expectations of perfection were gone.  Every year was a little different.  And while I do plan the meal out- I do a time line, I label the bowls and serving spoons-- my expectations are simple- don't give anyone food poisoning. 

The first year I was married, I asked to cook the turkey.  No one in my new family knew I could cook.  They thought I was some Ivy League stockbroker trying to impress them.  Needless to say, I CAN cook and I have been happy to make almost every Thanksgiving turkey since (I had to skip the year I was pregnant-- which I fought about- then was VERY glad-- I did show up with 14 pies for 12 people, however!).  I love doing it.  LOVE it.

And my sole expectation is still no food poisoning.

Every year something silly happens.  One year we had a grease fire in the oven when I dripped the basting liquid onto the heating element-- but it worked out.  This year, when I took out the turkey to flip it (yes, I flip my turkey-- the first half I cook breast side down, then I flip it so the skin browns-- and it works.  Aside from the first degree burns....), anyhow, I left my oven mitt in the oven.  It has rubber on it.  Nothing like toxic fumes to liven the holidays!  I've forgotten things.  Like putting out the cranberry sauce (that's just wrong...).  That first Thanksgiving I cooked for the Beans involved me nearly severing my finger (that worried everyone-- not that I was hurt, but that dinner was going to suck.  I would like to point out that my late father-in-law kept the knives VERY sharp).

But it's not about the food.  Or the follies.

It really represents to me the time when I decided to be myself.  Not the child that I was, but to simply be me.

I had a choice.  Life could be a series of perpetual disappointments, of woulda, coulda, shouldas.  Or, it could be this amazing adventure of wonder.  Of enjoyment.  Of gratefulness.  Of embracing everything that is right and not obsessing on what is wrong.

It's when I broke the mold in 1989 as I made sure there were no feathers on the turkey and guessing at temperatures in Celsius, and decided that my life was going to be a great, fun story. I learned that I defined myself; I am not defined by other people or my circumstance.  My life would be an adventure shared with fantastic friends.  Not a burden to suffer through with obstacles in my way.

And every 4th Thursday of November I am reminded of that.  Of all the good things in my life, not what is lacking.  Of my own good qualities, not my shortcomings.  That life is wonderful because I choose, and will always choose to see it that way.  I define myself and my life.

And a wonderful, full life I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

My America, The Real America

On election day, a friend of mine posted that she was off to vote for the "real America."  She is a good person.  I like her.  But I think her version of the "real America" is very different than mine. When I saw the distinct difference in the crowds on election night, I turned to my husband during President Obama's speech and said "See- that's MY America.  That's what I see when I walk out my door."  He said "You have your next blog." 

In my America, we work together.

In my America, children shouldn't have to worry if there will be a next meal.

In my America, religious differences are celebrated and respected, not vilified and criminalized.

In my America, every child has an opportunity to a quality education without regard to his or her parents' financial stature.

In my America, small businesses are given the freedom to grow and prosper, not thrown under the bus to make room for large corporations.

In my America, global warming is real and ocean levels are rising; what to do about it is discussed, not if it is happening.  It is.

In my America, legal immigrants are welcomed and respected.   They bring with them their work ethic and desire for a better life-- the ideals we all share.

In my America, people look different from each other-- their skin color, their eyes, their hair, their clothes.  They have different traditions and different ideals which makes us a richer country.

In my America, people appreciate how fortunate they are.  They don't say they've done it on their own after receiving a public education and living in a safe society.

In my America, people have compassion and understanding for those who have fallen on bad times.  They don't judge because they know some day it could be them.

In my America, people can distinguish between fact and opinion.  Editorials are editorials.  Opinions are welcomed, but simply saying something louder and more often does not make it a fact.

In my America, gay people have the same rights as straight people.  They are not condemned to hell.

In my America, we respect our veterans by not just hanging a flag out or wearing a pin, but by offering them jobs after their service to our country and making sure their benefits stay intact.

In my America, women have more rights over their own bodies than the government.  Always.  In every situation.

In my America, we don't outsource our manufacturing to children in sweatshops in foreign countries to make a bigger profit.  We know that is wrong not only for our children but for the children of the world.

In my America, people have a voice.  The people who knocked on doors have more influence than 12 wealthy men running negative ad campaigns.

In my America, young people count.  They are the heart and soul of our future.  Their future should not be financed to keep a voting block happy.

In my America, senior citizens still contribute.  They bring experience to the table.  They shouldn't be made to be fearful.

In my America, a family is defined by itself, not an outdated painting.  Parents need to take responsibility for their children. Or make sure they are in the care of someone who can.

In my America, a woman has every opportunity that a man has.  Women are not simply categorized into one stereotype, but it is accepted that each woman has her own unique voice-- whether that is to be a mother, a business owner, a leader-- or all of the above.  The same as a man gets to choose.

In my America, healthcare decisions aren't dependent on your bank account or a clerk in a health insurance office-- your healthcare decisions are made between you and your doctor. Our health care shouldn't be determined by profit motives and the bottom line.

In my America, we support each other because we know it is a global economy and we must work together if we want to continue to have all the privileges we have been given.

The face of my America is diverse.  It is focused on the future, not the past.  It is proactive, not reactive.  It is growing.  It is innovative.

It is simply the best place in the world for any man or woman to achieve his or her dreams.  I live a life that my grandparents would have never imagined. 

I feel sorry for those who feel this isn't the "real" America or the "traditional" America. 

My America is wonderful.  

And you are missing out.