Monday, October 29, 2012

Your Vote DOES Count--Here's How

Eric and I drug Jenna out of bed at 9am on Saturday for early voting.
We decided at the last minute to do it, so she had no warning.

"Why can't I just vote on election day?" she wailed from under her warm covers.

This is the first time she's been eligible to vote and she's been excited at the prospect.
However, Saturday is the only day she has to sleep in and the 45* temperature outdoors made her want to stay in bed all day.

She got out of bed.  
Grumpy, but none the worse for wear.
She walked right in to vote---no waiting.
That is precisely the reason we do early voting.

The folks running the election were so excited that she was a first time voter.
Since I wasn't allowed to help her navigate the election booth, an election official did the honors.
I wanted a picture of her voting, but that isn't allowed.
That's okay.
The sticker on her phone is enough.

Once we were back in the car, she asked,
"Why did I even vote?  It's not like my vote counts in Texas."

It has been years since political science classes in college for me.  I vote because it's the right thing to do.  I hadn't thought about the electoral college since 2004 when I pulled over on the side of the road and cried---all my myself, when the John Kerry conceded the election on November 3rd.  That election was fraught with controversy, as was the presidential election of 2000, thus the tears and sadness.

The Electoral College seemed broken.  I understand, although barely, the reason it exists.

So back to Jenna's question about her vote counting.
Maybe it will make you feel better if you are "blue" and live in a "red" state, or vise versa.
Your vote DOES count.  Get out and vote!~

The Electoral College members for each state are voted on by the state's residents on voting day. In some states, the electors' names are printed on the ballots directly under the presidential candidates' names or grouped by party somewhere else on the ballot. In other states, the names of electoral college nominees are not even listed on the ballot.
When you vote for a presidential and vice-presidential candidate on the ballot, you are really voting for the electors of the political party (or unaffiliated candidate) by which they were nominated. Take the North Carolina General Statute § 163-209, for example: "A vote for the candidates for President and Vice-President named on the ballot is a vote for the electors..." [source: North Carolina General Assembly].

This is the case for 48 states. It's known as the winner-take-all system, where all electors go with the candidate who wins the popular vote regardless of how close the vote is. So if the Democratic candidate narrowly wins the popular vote in Texas, for instance, 38 Democratic electors (38 being the total number of electoral votes in the state) will represent Texas as a voting block.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Thought They Usually Changed Your Name

when you went into the Witness Protection Program?
I'm just missing the Pacific Northwest this morning and was looking through vacation pictures.  
If you're even remotely interested in the Gambino Crime family, their stories read just like a Hollywood script. Either that, or they took their stories from a Hollywood script.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mother-In-Love or Monster-In-Law?

Photo: Katie & her guy, Preston
Preston and Katie at Lauren's wedding

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know that Preston and Katie have been dating for four years.  Since they were Juniors in high school.

They, like any couple their age, have had some rough patches.
Being a protective mom and a "heart on my sleeve" mom, I reacted.
One thing I did, was to delete many posts about the two of them when it looked like they were broken up for good.  
It's something I regret doing.  
They are gone forever.  It's too bad, too.  
They chronicled important life events for all of us.   

There has been high emotion regarding a number of things---choices he's made that hurt me and Eric.
To say that it's been a tough year for everyone, is putting it mildly.  
Many tears and sleepless nights.  
Much prayer, mighty prayer.

They broke up last spring, but Preston's heart would not let go.  
They got back together in early summer.  Katie's heart, it seems, would not let go either.

The summer was a busy, happy time for both of them.  Preston never brought her to the house, though.
When she finally came over in late summer, to help him pack for college, all my anger at their situation melted away.  She really is a wonderful girl, who loves my son.

On August 24th, they got engaged.

Again, drama ensued.  Eric and I think finishing college should be priority number one.  Loving and supporting another human being is a big (ginormous!) step, physically, emotionally and financially.  
It is the financial part that hangs us up.  Once you're married, all the bills your parents once covered, fall to you.  Our health insurance company doesn't care that we still think he's ours to take care of.  They, neither one, have jobs that offer health insurance.  

Really, I can fret and carry on til the cows come home.  It serves no purpose.  It doesn't change the fact that they are engaged.  

But what can I change, surely I can change something?!!

I can change my heart.

I, as I've mentioned in the past, have an amazing Mother-In-Love.
She is supportive, loving, and accepts me--warts and all.
I call her "mom", at her request; and do it without hesitation.  It is an honor.
She has been a perfect example of how a MIL can behave.

I have seen some ugly mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships.  
Movies have been made about it.  
Books have been written about it.  
There's even a reality TV show about it.
While we can all watch and laugh, the truth is, that scenario is painful---for everyone.

I refuse to be that mother-in-law.
I will choose, instead, to follow my own Mother-In-Love's example.
I will change my heart.

It won't be so hard.
I love the kids and want to be a part of their lives as they move forward--together.

January 3, 2014 is the date they've set to be married.
I choose to be a Mother-In-Love and not a Monster-In-Law.
A blessing and not a curse.

Thanks, Mom, for setting such a great example of Christ's love in the face of worry and doubt and hurt feelings.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sometimes You're Just Too Tired

Hobbes spends in inordinate amount of time grooming himself---at least in my opinion.
He'll groom so long that he falls asleep with his tongue still out.
He even goes so far as to 'wipe off' the places where we pet him.
Manners are not his strong suit.
Nor is his tolerance for paparazzi.
Shortly after I took this picture, exposing his penchant for cleanliness, he moved outside to a more secluded spot to finish his nap.

Friday, October 12, 2012

To Be Determined

Biology 101

Read through the definitions below and answer the following question.

Is this "Early Girl" tomato plant of the determinate or indeterminate variety?

de·ter·mi·nate Adjective /dəˈtərmənit/ 
  1. Having exact and discernible limits or form
    • the phrase has lost any determinate meaning
  2. (of a flowering shoot) Having the main axis ending in a flower bud and therefore no longer extending in length, as in a cyme

in·de·ter·mi·nate Adjective /ˌindiˈtərmənit/ 
  1. Not certain, known, or established
    • the date of manufacture is indeterminate
  2. Left doubtful; vague
    • many felt that the ending rendered the story incomplete, or at least indeterminate
  3. (of a judicial sentence) Such that the convicted person's conduct determines the date of release
  4. (of a quantity) Having no definite or definable value
  5. (of a condition) From which a diagnosis of the underlying cause cannot be made
    • indeterminate colitis
  6. (of a plant shoot) Not having all the axes terminating in a flower bud and so producing a shoot of indefinite length
I hated to do it, but it was time.
Time to clean up my garden beds.
So many things are still very green, but this tomato plant had taken over. 
It produced fabulous tomatoes beginning in June, all the way through end of September.
In fact, it was still producing tomatoes.  
They were just no longer ripening.
My parents used to collect all the green tomatoes and let them ripen in our basement.

I don't have a basement (or any extra counter space).
I also remember that those tomatoes didn't taste any better than the store bought ones.
I gave all my green tomatoes to the chickens and deer.

By the way, the plant is an indeterminate one. 
Just knowing there are two kinds can be helpful when deciding what kind to plant each spring.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Office Assistant and the Fundraiser

"Hey, did all the chocolate get bought?!"

"I wanted the dark chocolate with almonds!"

 "I distinctly remember calling dibs on the dark chocolate with almonds when she brought the box in!"

 "It clearly says on the box that there were once 60 candy bars in here.  Are they really all gone?!"

 "Maybe one got left on the counter or something?"

 "Maybe one dropped on the floor.  If it's a dark chocolate with almonds, I already have dibs on it!"

 "Fine, I'll just take the box.  At least it smells like dark chocolate with almonds.  Cheaper too."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have to Kill It

Fair warning: There be snake pictures ahead.

a yardstick, not a ruler

Stumbled upon and killed shortly thereafter.
Far too close to the house for me to adhere to my Live and Let Live policy.

9 rattles

 Things I've learned about Diamondback Rattlesnakes today.

1. I already knew that number of rattles does NOT equal age of snake.  Rattles are formed each time the snake sheds its skin.  There were 9 on this one.

2. They aren't called rattlesnakes for nothing.  They rattle loud and clear that it's time for you to move away.  Loud like a backyard-full-of-cicadas-at-nightfall, loud.  You will never, ever mistake the rattle for any other sound.

3. Once a snake is dead, it is very easy to tell a male from a female.  Assuming you aren't afraid to handle the dead snake.
 I'm not.

4. Regarding "Thing I Learned Today" #3---I wanted to know if I had a male or female snake on my hands.  Female rattlesnakes give birth to live young in September and October.  The brood is usually between 9 and 25, 12 inch long babies.  I'm thrilled to be able to report that this snake was a male!

5. This snake was probably at his full growth potential.  Lengths are between 3"9 and 4"9.  He was exactly 4" long.

6. Most of all, I learned that my "Live and Let Live" policy is fluid.  I would very, very much liked to have found a way to relocate this boy, but it wasn't possible.  I do not have the tools to do it properly, nor was I ready for my encounter with him. 
 If I had been somewhere further from the house, I'd have just walked the other way.  
They are, after all, premiere hunters of all things rodent.  
My hope is that he lived a long, happy, celibate life and got dropped into snakey heaven full of easily caught dinners of slightly inebriated mice.

PS....No, I didn't skin him.  Yes, I kept the rattles.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tastes Like Chicken

 What do you suppose this is?
Animal intestines?
A growth on an alien?

Well, it is a growth.  Just not on an alien.

It's pretty big, too.

 Not to be confused with a Chicken in the Nestbox.
They're certainly the same color though.
They also taste the same once they're fried.
We won't tell her that. 

photo credit:
I haven't eaten a wild mushroom since my childhood.
Every spring, when the May Flowers would pop up and the last frost had passed, my dad (sometimes mom, too) and I would start the hunt for Morels.
A treasure hunt for sure.
The picture above must be staged, as I never saw them growing in batches above the greenery.
I spent every single hunt, bent over, moving brush and plant life to find them.  
It wasn't a good hunt unless I came home with a couple ticks on me.

Every serious mushroom hunter has their favorite "spots".  Places they don't tell anyone about.
They also have different theories about where morels grow.

My dad's theory was that they grew under/around downed oak trees.  Also, near a flower that I have always called a May Flower.  There's no such flower.  Anyway, it was a white flower that would pop up very early in the springtime, just as the undergrowth would begin to grow. 

I digress.

Morels don't grow in the Austin area.
They do, however, grow in the dried mushroom section of the grocery store.
$255.00 per pound!
Why are they so expensive??

It appears we can put a man on the moon, but haven't perfected cultivating the morel.
One website says, "It can take years to master".

Anyway, back to the orange monster in the first picture.
It's called Chicken in the Woods for a reason.
You can eat it!  

I did a couple hours of research on this mushroom.  
Getting violently ill or dying was not something I wanted to  deal with on Saturday morning.  
Luckily, this mushroom doesn't have any other mushroom that looks like it.  
That's where mushroom hunters/eaters get tripped up.  
The morel has a look-alike.  One you most certainly don't want to eat.

I broke off a little piece of the CiW mushroom, prepared it like my folks had prepared morels and found it to be very similar in taste to the morel.  
Also, very similar in taste to fried chicken.
I won't have to hunt very long for this mushroom in the future.
It was growing under a tree, not 15 feet from my chicken coop.
Maybe there's more to the name Chicken in the Woods than I know.