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March 5, 2009

Flashback Friday: SNOW!

I was trying to explain Alabama to someone recently, and I told her, “In lots of places, it’s harder to find a snowflake than it is a Democrat.”

With few exceptions I leave politics out of this blog, so suffice it to say that while I shiver when it’s below 70 degrees inside or out, I love some snow and spend much of January through March praying for just a bit.  A little or none is what we usually get down here.

I come by my love of snow honestly.  I have a faint recollection of it snowing when I was about five, and my mom dragging me outside to teach me a few things.  First she patted out a snowman.  We had barely an inch of snow on the ground.  My mom shaped the snow into two tiny balls and placed one on top of the other, but there were so many pine needles sticking every which way out of the snow that it looked more like a porcupine.  My mom was really proud of it and got out the Polaroid and I would kill to have a picture of that porcupine snowman today.

(I don’t tell this part of the story out loud very often because I say “porky-pine” and Bill feels compelled to interrupt and say it’s “por-cue-pine,” and a beautiful childhood memory inevitably ends in marital discord.)

My mom wasn’t through.  Next she showed me how to make two flavors of snow ice cream: the lemon kind where you got a bowl of snow and squeezed a lemon and sprinkled some sugar on top, and the syrup kind, where you mixed snow and syrup.  They were both delicious and I thought we should serve them at my birthday party.

Surely there was another snow or two in my childhood, but the next one I can document for sure occurred in 1990 or so in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Bill and I were in law school.  I’d arrived at law school with long hair, but when Bill and I broke up one time I drove to Birmingham and got it cut short.  Compared to today’s styles it doesn’t look very short (in fact it looks quite bouffant) but it was oh so daring at the time.  More importantly, either the haircut or my sparkling personality lured Bill back.

I got the gold hoop earrings in Turkey and a friend of a friend stole them.  I sure would like them back– they’re real gold and I bargained for them myself at the Grand Bazaar.

This picture serves two purposes.  It proves the presence of snow in Tuscaloosa, and it establishes that the 80’s actually extended well into the 90’s, at least as far as fashion was concerned.

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Few events have been as exciting as The Blizzard of ’93.   It was a Friday in March, and there were rumors of a winter storm, but we were skeptical.  I went to the store and purchased wine, fresh Parmesan and rosemary, and rum.  Late that evening the sky turned green and it thundered and lightninged and started to snow.   The power went out.  The next morning, we woke to over a foot of snow.

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It was days before anyone could get around, and the temperature hovered around 25 degrees.  We tacked sheets over the window and doors and hunkered down in the den by the fireplace, our sole source of heat.  Bill cut down a tree in the back yard and we hauled it into the basement so it could dry out a bit.  Then he sawed it into logs which we brought upstairs so we could cook and stay warm.

We made grits for breakfast, cheese grits for lunch, and grits topped with garlic, Parmesan and rosemary for dinner.

After a day and a half we’d burned the tree and all the sticks we were able to find beneath the snow.  The previous occupants had left some ugly furniture in the basement and Bill cut that into firewood.  I have a sexy picture of him wearing only long underwear, sawing a chest into pieces, but I’m trying to respect his boundaries so I’m posting this picture instead.

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You can see the furniture stacked on the right and all our wet socks hanging over the fireplace to dry.

We had to wait a long time before we saw any more snow, and then it was fleeting.  In 2000 we got about half an inch.  All three boys had come along.  Ever optimistic, I’d bought sleds one August so I’d be super prepared.

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I realize no one looks very happy in this picture (you do know you can click on most of these pictures to make them larger, don’t you?), but the reality was even worse.  Both Porter (clutching Naked Baby) and Drew were gushing snot and were not interested at all in the snow.  Finn rode the sled with Bill a few times, then came inside and fell to the floor crying from exhaustion.  I put everyone in bed for a nap and watched the snow melt.  I cried, too, because I hadn’t gotten the chance to make the boys any snow ice cream and I was afraid that what with global warming and all I had missed my chance.

Last year we got a decent half day of snow when we were down in Gold Hill, and I wrote about it  here.  We did it up- snowballs, ice cream, the whole shebang.

And then last weekend, we got my favorite kind of snow.  No weather people hinted about it days in advance, only to dash our hopes with two flakes and a grocery store fresh out of milk.

This snow crept up on us all of a sudden, and we woke Sunday morning to covered ground and big fat snowflakes and a good five inches of outdoor fun.

snow3

Snowball In Flight
duowrestle

Innocent Fun?

snow16

The Moment Before Drew Kicked Porter In The Eye
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snow7

It was exactly what I needed, and now I’m ready for spring.

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Go ahead, add your Flashback! Directions and upcoming themes are here.

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Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:38 pmBoys: Demented & Dangerous,Flashback Friday21 comments  

March 2, 2009

Strength From Way Back

My therapist has been paying me all sorts of compliments lately, telling me that I’m a strong woman with a well-defined sense of right and wrong.  I figured that was just good business sense on her part.  With the economy in free fall, a therapist who makes her patients feel good about themselves, (but not too good), will ensure herself a decent income in the coming months.

But then she asked me where my strength came from, and I realized she wasn’t just buttering me up.  She was truly curious.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, on the first day of sixth grade.  Within a couple of weeks I’d seen an orthopedist and was being fitted with a Milwaukee brace for my back.  Over the course of the next eighteen months my doctor tried another type of brace and put me on a strict exercise regime.  My mom woke me up at five each morning to help me go through a workout designed to strengthen certain muscles and prevent my back from curving further.

I did all the exercises. I never took the brace off for more than the allotted hour a day.  I suffered through the hurtful comments my classmates made.  I had a crush on a guy a grade ahead of me, and one day his sister told me he thought I was an ugly dog.  It was one of the only times I remember crying, but I sobbed all afternoon over his cutting remark.

My mom wasn’t impressed.  “It’s just words.  Ignore him.”

I tried to tell her that it was impossible to just ignore someone you’d been fantasizing about kissing, but she wasn’t listening.

I thought I couldn’t endure any more, but I was wrong.  The curvature progressed, and I had spine surgery during seventh grade.

My doctors inserted rods on either side of my spine, and took chunks of bone from my hip to graft the rods into the vertebrae.  My scar runs from the bottom of my neck to the top of my butt.  I was in the hospital and then home for weeks, captive in yet another brace I’d have to wear twenty-four hours a day for nine months.

My surgery was in January.  The brace would come off in November.  Most importantly, tryouts for the high school dance team, known for its high kick line, were in March.

I spent those months catching up on school work and learning how to walk and move in a strange body that was anchored by a stiff spine.  My physical therapist assigned me exercises to do once a day.   I did them all, and sometimes I went through them again, hoping I could achieve greater flexibility. I could bend from the waist and the neck, but not in between.  When I reached over to touch my toes, my back looked like a tabletop.  Arching my back was out of the question.

Some of my most wonderful high school memories involve the years I spent on the dance team. Twenty-nine years and another spine surgery later, several of my former teammates are now sweating with me at Jazzercise.  Sometimes I close my eyes when I’m dancing and pretend I’m in a stadium during half-time.

The other night I was at a restaurant and I saw the guy who’d called me an ugly dog.  I ignored him.

I told my therapist that my strength comes from the fact that I’m a bit like a superhero, a woman equipped with a titanium spine reinforced with screws and bolts. You can’t see them, but in my mind I’m wearing bright gold boots, and I’m confident that they can kick anything that gets in my way.

dorian1
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One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Prank O’ The Day

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:12 pmBlast From the Past,Deep Thoughts,Scoliosis,Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!25 comments  

February 26, 2009

Flashback Fiday: What I Was Doing Years Ago: DRUMS

When I had kids and they all had penises, I figured that Bill would have them doing sporty things. I resolved that I would dedicate myself to making sure that each of them had a hobby he adored and could turn to when his knees had been replaced and his gut was lopping over his belt.

I began early, by buying cheap musical instruments and leaving them lying around.  I’d already discovered that boys screwed with anything in their path.  Why not sow the path with items I wanted them to find?

Finn’s first drum was actually made out of a pancake box and some string.  He wore it with pride in this picture from 2000:

finn drum 2000

(The training potty in the background demonstrates that  I was using the same “leave it around and boys will use it”  theory of potty training, which was a bust.)

We never listened to Barney or Disney music in the car.  I started the guys on the Beatles and Elvis and worked my way up through Blondie, Steely Dan and the Ramones, the history of rap, Johnny Cash, grunge, and everything else on my iPod.  When they got old enough to understand cusses, I had to cut out the Buzzcocks and Eminem and “My Humps“, but overall they got a solid foundation of a variety of musical styles.

A year later Finn progressed to a real drum.

boys music 2001

By then he knew that he needed to enlist his brothers in his musical journey and they were happy to oblige.  Drew gravitated to the guitar while Porter would happily play anything, including kazoo.  I banned the kazoo after an hour.

In 2003 Finn had just turned eight.  Santa brought him the coolest tiny drum set ever.  He banged on it all day and begged for lessons.

finn drums xmas 03

He’s now gone through five years of lessons and a set of drums from the pawn shop. After his third year of lessons we decided to invest in the drums you see here. For Christmas and his birthday he asks for a new cymbal or a double bass pedal or some other addition. Apparently drums and their accessories can expand until they engulf your entire basement, leaving only enough room for your family to huddle in the corner when the tornado sirens blare.

Here’s a snippet of what I hear every afternoon.


Finn Drums from anneglamore on Vimeo.

I can sleep through gutbusting jam sessions like this. I think that makes me mom of the year.

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Join in and add your Flashback! Directions are here.
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1. pendy (circle of life)
2. Sir Nottaguy-Imadad
3. Jessie – Many Februarys Past
4. Janie (Feeling Fourteen)
5. Observations of an Earthroamer (Kim)
6. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect
7. Andi (1 year ago)
8. liz
9. Brandy
10. Marissa (Motley Crue & The Scorpions)
11. wakeforestmama
12. rainbowcreek – three is better than two

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Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:27 pmFlashback Friday,Music: Give Me A Beat!19 comments  

February 24, 2009

Worst Burger-Maker Ever

I never saw it, so I can’t be sure, but I suspect that my mom’s hamburger recipe went something like this:

NO MORE COMPANY HAMBURGERS:

Take 2 pounds of hamburger meat and leave it on the counter all day.  Make sure the meat is segregated from all available seasonings so the cardboard flavor of the ultimate product is preserved.   Form thick patties and grill the hell out of them for one minute.  Serve.

I remember taking a bite of one of her hamburgers.  It was protesting cow flesh encased in crunchy carbon, pressed between two buns from the day-old bakery.  I ran outside and spit it into the bushes and earned a spanking for my efforts.

While I’ll happily cook Thai Chicken, Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta and Feta Cheese, Bowties with Peas and Prosciutto and  Korean barbecue,  I’ve never made hamburgers for my kids.  I don’t believe in torture.

Bill, on the other hand, can make a burger.  We’d been married for years before I agreed to try one, but it was delicious.  He pats the meat as if sculpting a masterpiece, marinates it in a combination of Dale’s sauce and exotic spices, and tends the grill while I prepare pillowy buns, sliced red onion, several kinds of mustard, cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes.  It’s a fabulous family meal, but Bill is the key ingredient.

Every Sunday I sit my Type A butt down and plan all my meals for the week.  Last week the boys requested Bill’s hamburgers and I penciled them in for Thursday, thrilled to get a night off.

Thursday I was home from work and watching Messer and Montana flirt on CSI when Bill called to say he’d forgotten that the baseball draft was that night.  He wouldn’t be home until after eight.

“Honey, your boys will starve.  I need you to come home and make dinner before you go,” I said.

“Can you say that again?  I think my Blackberry is on the fritz.  I thought you said you needed me to fix dinner.”

“I do.  It’s hamburger night.  I haven’t made hamburgers in my life, and you know the story about my mom.  She–”

“I remember.  Live cow inside a carbon crust.”

“Well, it clearly gave me emotional scars, and I don’t want to do that to the boys.  I’d rather feed them cereal,” I said.

“I’ll see if I can run home before the meeting and get them started,” Bill said.

On CSI, Stella had subjected the mysterious substance on the debutante’s dress to an array of scientific tests before identifying it as Cheese Doodle dust.  Then I heard Bill dash in and call Drew.  They puttered for a few minutes and Bill left.  The charcoal was lit, the patties were marinating, and I didn’t have the vaguest idea of what to do next.

I called Bill.

“When do I know the fire is ready?”

“The charcoal will be white around the edges.  Then you put the hamburgers on and cook them until they’re done.”

“Roger.  How long is that?” I asked.

Bill sighed.  “You just cut into one and look at it.”

“Dude, give me an estimate.  Is it more like five minutes or thirty?”

“I’d say fifteen,” he said.  “But that’s just a guess.  I can’t believe you cook these fancy dinners and don’t know a grill from your ass.”

“I can buy a grill.  I’m from the Tiny Kingdom.  I just can’t use one,” I said.

We hung up and I headed outside to face my nemesis.

Drew was at the grill, tongs in hand, carefully spreading out the charcoal.

“I think it will be at least five more minutes before the fire is ready,” he said.

“Hey, do you know what you’re doing with the fire?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am.  I watch Daddy.  I know how to grill the hamburgers, too.  Can you reach a cookie sheet for me to put them on?  It’s too high for me.”

“No problem.”

I returned with a cookie sheet, tongs, an oven mitt and the patties.  I hovered over Drew for a bit, feeling like it would be child neglect to leave him with a sizzling fire and a plate of raw meat.

“Hey Mom, I can do this myself.  If you want to finish your show you can,” Drew offered.

I took him up on it.

The hamburgers were the best ever.

The look on Drew’s face as we applauded his culinary skills wasn’t bad either.

dow

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One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Mysterious Disappearance of Feathers

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The theme for this week’s Flashback Friday is “What I Was Doing X Years Ago, Where “X” = Any Positive Integer”

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:33 amBoys To The Rescue,Let's Eat: Meals and Recipes21 comments  

February 19, 2009

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Coveting A Cape Buffalo

When I went to Africa, people told me that it would permanently change the way I looked at the world. “The land goes on forever, and instead of SUVs and Starbucks you see elephants and zebras,” my sister told me. “It makes the Tiny Kingdom seem very small and insignificant.”

Once I arrived in Kenya, I understood what she meant. The grass stretched out endlessly, dotted with acacia trees and giraffes. It was gorgeous and peaceful, and I was almost able to forget that Bill and the boys were half a world away.

We first stayed at a camp made up of tents. The bathrooms were glorified port-a-potties, and although they were located only a few steps away from the tents, the owners warned us to be extremely cautious about using them at night. Cape buffalo were active after dark and would come close to the tents. Those cape buffalo were something else. They had horns, hairy chins, bulgy skin hanging off their faces and piggy eyes. Cape buffalo were ferocious and killed people and lions.

We were instructed to turn on our flashlights and wait for a Masai warrior with a spear to come to the tent and escort us the seven feet or so to the potty so we wouldn’t end up as a midnight snack. I decided not to drink anything after 3 p.m. and avoid a standoff altogether. Although most people think of lions when they think of Africa, it was the bloodthirsty cape buffalo that gave me nightmares.

Africa 06redo 171

You must pack lightly for a safari, and thus your clothes have to be laundered along the way. Many camps offer this service. You bundle your dirty clothes, fill out a slip that itemizes them, and they appear, clean and fresh, at your tent in the morning.

As I filled out my laundry slip I encountered some problems. First, the paper stated that “Ladies undergarments will not be accepted for laundry.” That was odd. My panties were the smallest, thinnest, easiest item to wash, and fun to look at besides. The form also said, “Occasionally cape buffalo and hyena raid the laundry yard. The lodge accepts no responsibility whatsoever for guest clothing damaged during cleaning.” Those cape buffalo again. I’d heard all about their murderous ways, so I was surprised to hear that they had a hygienic streak as well.

I asked about the underwear exclusion, and was told that African men consider it beneath their dignity to wash women’s panties. They’re not so different from my boys after all, except that the Masai wear red blankets and carry spears.

When I taught Drew how to wash clothes, the darks were not a problem. Cold water, detergent, check all pockets, and press start. But as I coached him through the whites, I encountered some resistance.

“Okay, same deal, but we’re washing on warm. Turn the button to warm, add the Tide, and then add the whites, piece by piece.”

Drew began adding socks, kitchen towels and pillow cases, and then he screamed. Porter came running.

“I touched lady panties!”

“Drew, that’s just my underwear,” I said. “It’s part of washing the whites. Just pick them up and toss them in. I wash your underwear all the time.”

“Where are the panties? Where, Mom? I want to see them,” Porter said. “And I thought ‘panties’ was a bad word.”

“I can’t pick them up,” Drew said. “They’re nasty.”

“Good Lord. Just pinch them at the edges and throw them in the machine. This is ridiculous,” I told Drew.

He retrieved my underwear from the hallway where he’d hurled them and flung them into the dryer. At this point they were looking as if a cape buffalo had gotten hold of them.

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever had to do,” he said.

“Yeah,” Porter said. “Key word: worst. I don’t want to learn how to do laundry. I’ll just clean up the kitchen every night because there aren’t any panties there.”

I looked at my laundry slip again. I’d had experience with males washing my underwear against their wishes, and it was an unpleasant one. I sent my safari clothes to be cleaned, but I washed my underwear myself.

On the first game drive, we discovered a group of lions flopped lazily under a tree. It was obvious even to me that they had just eaten.They could barely keep their eyes open.
reallazylion
Our guide told us that the lionesses do all the hunting, but the male lions muscle in and eat until they are full. Only then do the women eat what is left.

The guide kept talking, but I was thinking how much our house in Alabama resembled the African countryside at mealtime. Night after night I prepare meals, and I have to restrain my three cubs from slurping up the food until it’s properly blessed.

After they’ve eaten, the boys grow heavy-lidded. They complain that I have the nerve to ask them to clean up the kitchen when what would be best for them, obviously, would be to go directly to bed. If I don’t eat quickly enough, they get seconds, and thirds, until I’m left facing an empty skillet and forced to graze on a container of cherry yogurt to fill my stomach.

It’s not just dinnertime—if I want to eat, I have to guard all my food carefully. When I order Girl Scout cookies, I purchase an extra box of Thin Mints and hide it in my pajama drawer. I learned the hard way that if I don’t, the males will have devoured all the cookies moments after they’ve been placed in the pantry. I wondered if the lioness had a stash of zebra meat hidden in some bushes for a similar African emergency.

As the trip progressed, I began to wonder whether I could bring a cape buffalo home with me. I could train him to guard the evening meal until I’d had a chance to serve a plate of food for myself, ensuring that this lioness wouldn’t go hungry. I’d have to expand the laundry room to accommodate him, but then he could stand sentry over the boys and guarantee that they washed all the laundry, including mine, before I told him to relax and let them return to their Legos. The boys would be protected from bullies, because they could say, “Hit me again and I’ll sic my cape buffalo on you.”

It was such a marvelous idea that when we got to the airport I faxed Bill and asked him to see whether the Tiny Kingdom is zoned for cape buffalo. He suggested that perhaps I’d overdosed on anti-malarial medication and recommended that I sleep as much as possible on the plane.

I still don’t have a cape buffalo, but I sometimes dream about them. In my dreams my cape buffalo isn’t the nightmarish barbaric animal I’d feared at first. He’s my hideous but beloved partner in setting these boys straight.

God knows that I have one teen already and two approaching that age, and that I need that cape buffalo soon. I have faith that my special buffalo is on his way. Best of all, He’ll send me one who’s quit eating humans and developed a taste for grits. I can’t wait until he gets here.

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Enter your Flashback Friday link below! For instructions see here.


1. Sir Nottaguy-Imadad
2. Observations of an Earthroamer (Kim)
3. Ladybird @ LaVidaLadybird
4. Andi (a bribe to get married)
5. Marissa – A Night Out
6. christina
7. Rebecca (Puppy Love, Stolen)
8. Brandy
9. doni@RainbowCreek@Home
10. doni@RainbowCreek@Home

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Posted by Anne Glamore @ 7:10 pmFlashback Friday,Wanderlust: Travel Tales14 comments  


Welcome to the Kingdom

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I'm Anne Glamore, wife, mother, lawyer and blogger. I have three boys, and I'm desperately trying to train them to become Southern gentlemen, but that may be an unrealistic goal. At this point I'd be ecstatic if they'd quit farting at the dinner table. If you're new here, check out the Readers' Favorite Posts below or browse through the Categories. I write about my attempts to teach the boys about peckers and sex (which we call "making googly eyes"), my struggles with hepatitis C and spine surgery, the boys' adventures with fire and pets, my mom's death from ovarian cancer, my love of cooking (with plenty of recipes) and anything else that crosses my mind. Join me on Twitter or StumbleUpon or Email me. I'm happy to speak to your group or club.

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