Quick Thanksgiving Tip

Nov 21 2017

Hey, friends! Super quick Thanksgiving tip for ya…

Here’s the situation: 

This is my son, Ian.

Ian experiences disability. Communication disorder. Intellectual disability. Post-traumatic stress disorder from early-life trauma. And myriad other challenges. His life is harder than mine, in other words. He has to navigate a rerouted brain every minute of every day. It’s unbelievably hard work, and he never gets a break from it. 

So when it’s this kid’s birthday — his 18th, no less — a BIG ONE — I try to actually organize a celebration. Like, plan ahead and everything. Invite friends from his class more than the night before. Prep his preferred foods. Make him feel special and at ease.

Not to brag excessively, but I ROCKED it this year. I invited the friends FIVE DAYS ahead of time. I sent Greg to get the pizzas. And, best of all, I snagged frozen pumpkin pies — his ultimate favorite dessert — ON SALE. Really, this should be a lifestyle blog because I HAVE MY CRAP SO TOGETHER I SHOULD BE TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO. 

The morning of the party, we found some 4th of July streamers, wrapped them around our Christmas tree and, VOILA!, we were even decorated.

I pulled the pies out of the freezer to thaw and patted myself on the back for thinking ahead and honoring my kid in the way he wanted that was also EASY ON ME. Win/win, folks! Win/win.

Toward the end of the party, I put candles in the pies, and we sang Happy Birthday.

Which is when I saw the candles … leaning …

Like the Tower of Pisa. 

And I noticed the filling was a little… soupy.

And the crust was kind of… doughy.

And that’s the moment I figured out THESE WERE NOT THAW-AND-SERVE PIES, friends.

These were RAW pies that needed to be COOKED.

RAW PIES. At the END OF THE PARTY. 

Which is why I share this teeny, tiny Thanksgiving Tip with you today:

If you buy frozen pies, friend,
CHECK THE BOX to see if those suckers need baking.
And, if they do, I don’t know —
maybe BAKE THEM before serving. 

In conclusion, the Pioneer Woman and I are basically the same person, and you should come here for lifestyle and baking techniques more often. 

With love,

 

 

 

P.S. I did bake those pies. 

P.P.S. They were ready 45 minutes after the party ended.

P.P.P.S. My kid was Not Unhappy because Less Pie for his guests meant More Pie for him. So we may still be working on social skills around here, but in my kid’s book, this was a major win.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2018 Retreat Dates are Published! 
Click here for more information.
I’d love to hang out with you next year!

 

Introducing the Newest Member of Our Family… Genevieve the Refrigerator

Nov 20 2017

Dearest, dearest friends,

Please believe me when I say this comes as much a surprise to me as it does to you.

Please do not feel as though I’ve withheld information.

Please do not feel as though I’ve been keeping secrets.

I think by now you and I have Built Trust in such a way that you’ll believe me when I say secrets are my worst thing. I mean, I rock the heck out of keeping Other People’s secrets, but I have very few left of my own. I pretty much tell you All the Things, or, as Greg likes to say when he’s being Particularly Complimentary of my writing, “She’s not inaccurate.” Like, I have two secrets at this point, tops, and one of them is that I put Cadbury Mini-Eggs in my bra so they get partly melty before I eat them. The shell is PERFECT for that — thick enough to hold in all the gooey chocolate without smashing, thin enough to shatter in my teeth when the chocolate’s properly prepared. Now, yes; one could technically hold the mini-eggs in one’s hands until they get warm-but-not-too-warm and accomplish the same purpose, but the bra speeds that process right up, and everyone knows the More Melty Mini-Eggs, the Better. 

So I’m down to one secret now, and withholding information about adding to our appliance family is Not It. This was not part of the Plan, but life so rarely proceeds according to Planm right, friends? I’d like that on a bumper sticker, please: LIFE = Not Plan-Friendly. While sometimes the surprises are difficult and challenging, though, sometimes they’re AWESOME. Amazing. Serendipitous. And Just Delightful. This surprise is one of the latter, which is why I’m ecstatic to introduce the newest member of our family…

 

Genevieve the Refrigerator

Born in 1949, sweet Genevieve is a Hotpoint Super-Stor refrigerator, a behemoth in her day — top of the line, baby — and now a petite little darling. 

I found her on Craigslist in a moment that can only be called Divine Inspiration. 

Now, listen: it’s been a month, friends. A hard, long, amazing, awful, invigorating, life-draining MONTH. Situation Normal, in other words. Still, we’re TIRED. We’re very, VERY tired. In part because we’re made out of human, and as fallible and fabulous as that implies. In part because our kids who experience disability are in the midst of massive transitions to adulthood with all the angst and agony and triumph and sighing and paperwork one might expect. In part because OMG, AMERICA MAKES ME WANT TO FACEPALM TIMES INIFINITY. And in part because the Great Church Disintegration of 2017 continues to be laden with grief. There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak, friends, of watching my husband and young son curled around each other, sobbing because we’re no longer welcome at the camp we once thought was a safe place to learn and live and love each other well. And there’s nothing quite like the fierce joy of releasing things that were never really ours so we can pursue a wider grace and a deeper mercy and a love that knows no bounds. It’s all very Both/And around here these days. Loss and Longing and Love commingled. A month full of Neverending Tasks and Life Lessons and Clinging to Each Other and Really Big Feelings. 

So I did what anyone in my position would do. I went online. I scrolled through Facebook. I read articles. I watched every Michael McIntyre video I could find. I drafted Christmas lists. I decorated for Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas, which is just one holiday now instead of three because I do not have time for 3 holidays in less than 2 months. There are pumpkins on my porch and stockings over the fireplace. The tree is up and fully decorated. I planned a living room remodel I’ll never execute, and then I planned two more. I ate 37 bowls of cinnamon rice crispies and made 3 giant pans of lasagna. I started selling furniture we’ve stored in our garage for far too long. And I shopped Craigslist for things I don’t need. 

Which is when Genevieve appeared.

And the heavens parted.

And light shone down.

And Jesus said, “DO YOU SEE HER, BETH? SHE’S ONLY $300, AND SHE MUST BE YOURS.”

I agreed with Jesus except the part about $300 — sometimes Jesus doesn’t understand Craigslist pricing — so I offered $200 and bought her for $250. 

Then I told Greg our Good News; that we were replacing our Much Larger, Modern, Functional, Ice and Water Dispensing Fridge with a Much Smaller Fridge from 1949 that Probably Works and Has a Tiny Freezer and No Ice Maker and Will Need Defrosting! ALSO, SHE’S SO PRETTY AND MATCHES OUR STOVE. 

Greg was ecstatic.

Then I told him he got to drive two hours in the middle of his work day to deadlift it into our truck, but not to worry because I also volunteered my father and my spindly little 11yos to help with the lifting, and — BONUS — my pretty princess self to supervise. 

He was over the moon.

And so Genevieve has joined our lives and our hearts. And I am love-loving her all the livelong day. 

Please join me in welcoming this newest addition to the Woolsey home.

With love,

 

 

 

P.S. Little Ms. Genevieve lived the first 68 years of her life in beautiful old craftsman house here in Oregon. She shared her space with a wood and oil burning stove. When the house was purchased recently, the new owners decided to remodel the kitchen. God knows why. 😉 Thus the need for G’s rehoming. Our research says she may run quite happily for another 30+ years. Or she may crap out next week, in which case she’s getting a new compressor and becoming the world’s raddest kegerator. This is what we call a classic win/win. 

P.P.S. As you may already know, given our crowd-sourced kitchen remodel project of yesteryear, Ms. G joins Betty the stove (1956) and Bud the Wiser, our bear beer bottle opener (2016). Betty, of course, is named for my grandmother, Betty June, who wanted Everything to be Fancy All the Time, and Genevieve is named for my great, great aunt, Betty June’s older sister. Bud is named for Budweiser because beer. We’re all doing well and settling in together, and so far Bud and Betty haven’t smothered Genevieve in her sleep, so I assume they adore their new sister.

P.P.P.S. Not to brag too, TOO much, but Genevieve is the easiest and quietest and prettiest little fridge that was ever born, and I loved her the moment I laid eyes on her. 

P.P.P.P.S. Greg asked if he gets to have a 1950’s housewife to go along with Betty and Genevieve. I think Greg might be trying to commit suicide. Kind of like Death by Cop, except this is Death by Wife. Betty, Genevieve and I are still offended. Also, we three cuss like sailors. 

THE END

Except that I JUST POSTED THE 2018 RETREATS. I would love (love, love) to hang out with you at the gorgeous Oregon Coast in 2018. Check out the link to learn more about the 4, small group retreat we’re offering this year — a retreat for book lovers, one focused on food and wine, one on writing, and one on mindfulness. If you’re looking for rest, respite and relaxation in a warm, welcoming community, these are the retreats for you. If you’re offended by stories about stuffing Cadbury Mini-Eggs in my bra, on the other hand, you might want to skip these. 😉 

Quick Life Tip

Nov 6 2017

Dear friends,

Just a teeny, tiny quick tip for you today.

If somebody says, “Hey! You look really nice today,” maybe just say thank you.

Thank you is enough.

Thank you is not as awkward as Other Options.

Thank you is socially appropriate. And, sweet friend, you actually do not need to offer an excuse for looking nice.

Maybe, for example, do not say, “Yeah, I would’ve worn my usual jeans except I put them on last night to go out, and I realized they smell like butt. I suppose I should’ve expected that since I can’t remember the last time I washed them, but it still came as a surprise. I sprayed them with perfume, which, as you might suspect, made them smell like Perfume and Butt. It really wasn’t an improvement over Just Butt, but at least it’s the smell of I Tried, you know? I wore them anyway because I was already running late, but I vowed I would not wear them again until I actually wash them because I have standards. Eventually. I have Eventual Standards. So, because I’ve put on, like, 30 pounds over the last couple years, I only have the one pair of jeans right now, which means the inner thighs are practically see-through and in imminent danger of ripping and presenting a serious social hazard. This dress is the only other thing that fits. So, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, that’s why I look nice, I guess. My butt-smelling jeans are on the fritz.”

Maybe do not say that, because then the complimentor will look at you, and you will look at the complimentor, and there is no where to go from there.

In conclusion, YOU MAY SQUIRM at compliments. They may make you itchy and uncomfortable. But I assure you — and TAKE THIS FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS FROM RECENT EXPERIENCE — it is way, way less awkward to just say thank you.

Repeat after me: JUST SAY THANK YOU.

Your Friend,

 

 

Gun Rights AND Gun Control: What If We ACTUALLY FOLLOWED the Second Amendment?

Nov 5 2017

I can start this blog post one of two ways: I can either tell you I’m the proud daughter of a Marine who responsibly owns guns, in which case you’ll think I’m a proponent of Gun Rights, or I can tell you I’m a pacifist Quaker married to a conscientious objector, in which case you’ll think I’m a proponent of Gun Control.

You’d be right.

Yes, I am.

I’m also, quite frankly, BAFFLED by the conversation about guns in the United States of America, and if I could just take one minute to Piss Off All the People, I’d  like to propose a solution.

It’s just, I have this idea, after 1,000 conversations with my gun-toting father who floated it first, and after 1,000 more chats with my peacenik friends… that we could do this RADICAL THING in America and ACTUALLY FOLLOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT.

Usually, public conversations on guns go like this, “I HAVE A RIGHT TO MY GUNS BECAUSE THE CONSTITUTION SAYS SO,” and then, “BUT PEOPLE ARE DYING,” and then, “BUT GUN RIGHTS,” and then, “BUT GUN CONTROL,” and I realize I may be being simplistic here, but the Second Amendment LITERALLY ALREADY SOLVED THIS PROBLEM.

Have you read it recently? The Second Amendment? It’s only 27 words long, but I rarely see it quoted in articles debating gun rights and gun control. It goes like this:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In other words, yes; Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. And yes; that right shall not be infringed. AND ALSO, these rights are to be exercised within the parameters of a well regulated militia. TRAINING, in other words. ORGANIZED. Within a COMMUNITY of people that supervises and monitors the use of said weapons. 

Listen; I get it. I understand that there are Originalists and Textualists constantly debating what Militia means… what well-regulated means… what exactly is “necessary to the security of a free State”… and whether any of those refer to individual rights, community rights, states’ rights or all of the above. But regardless of how you interpret any of those definitions, it remains that our Founders set parameters and presumed some type of coordination, administration and management of our arms-bearing citizens. And it remains that we currently have none.

I’ve heard my friends and I’ve seen the memes that if we did nothing after Sandy Hook, we never will. I’ve felt the same hopelessness watching the innocent die month after month, year after year, and I doubt that today — the day 26 more Americans died in a mass shooting, this time while sitting in church in Texas — will be the reason we finally act. But although I give in to despair for a time, I refuse to dwell there. I refuse to stop talking about it. I refuse to stop pushing for solutions that both protect the fundamental American right to bear arms AND the fundamental human right to basic safety.

Maybe we could start by actually following the Second Amendment. Or maybe that’s far too practical. I’m curious what you think…

I Have Won at Low Expectations

Nov 1 2017

I have won.

I’m pretty sure I have won for all time.

I have won at helping my children set the very lowest of low expectations for their mother so that all their tiny dreams can come true.

As I mentioned previously, we are, for practical reasons. already celebrating Christmas. Therefore, I asked my child what he wants this year. He replied, and I quote,

Could I please have a bar of soap all to myself?

That’s what he wants. It’s currently the only thing on his Christmas list. He considered asking for a giant cardboard box but thought that might be too pricey. I kid you not.

In conclusion, I expect my Low Expectations Lifetime Achievement Award to show up soon.

The End

P.S. Another Woolsey kid has the following items on his Christmas list: potassium nitrate, aluminum powder, iron oxide powder, and, if there’s room in the budget, fireworks fuses. I’m not to worry if we can’t afford the fuses, though, because he says he can always use finely rolled toilet paper if necessary. Furthermore, he assures me he doesn’t need brake fluid or gasoline at this time because we have plenty. So, while I’ll be putting my gold plated Low Expectations trophy on my mantle any day now, I haven’t yet won the one for Discouraging the Making of Homemade Bombs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ah, well. We can’t have everything at once, now, can we? Baby steps, friends. Baby steps.