Friday, December 30, 2011

State Cheese

I know it seems like all my posts are about cheese lately. And maybe they are. I don't know what's going on with that. But yeah, I've noticed it too. I might have mentioned cheese in every single little anecdote. Maybe I'll make it my thing. You know, one of those little secrets? Like how Seinfeld mentions Superman in every episode, or Alfred Hitchcock is an extra in all of his movies?

So here's my mention of queso in this one: I went to Ole Miss. I am not a big Mississippi State fan. They are rivals supposedly. Although I cannot remember a year they have been in the same caliber. I guess that's what we get for declaring each other enemies: someone always is blowing the other one out of the water. (Go ahead and insert your Ole Miss football/Bear joke or snide comment about how bad we were this past year here). Football is the place where you get to kid and not take things so personally. Or maybe not. 

But this year, Ole Miss fans turned that statement true. We came to the games to offer our cheery support, but mostly, to see old friends and family. That is how we make football so fun. We were pretty aware that in most cases we were going to lose. It's not an awesome thing when we are bad, but I don't think Rebels are bad sports about it. We keep going, filling up the Grove, and it becomes about something more than football. When we get a big win, it's more emotion and exhilaration than any one of us can handle. We're certainly not jaded. We're all in it together, and in it we will be crowded, beautifully overdressed and spiritedly festive. It's all about people.

Anyway, I can remember when I was at the Grove at a really young age, I was handed a sticker that said "Hate State." And so the hatred is instilled. They get you early. And I'm sure State fans infuse the same malice into the hearts of their younglings too. You know what? I bet this whole thing started in the admissions offices of the respective universities and not on the football fields. I can just see two old men in suits screaming at each other: "And what's with your stupid cowbells anyway? What do cows have to do with anything?"

Now I know. The cows have everything to do with it. The cheese. State Cheese. 

WT's sprayer plane pilot (sorry that doesn't seem like the right word, but that's what I'm coming up with right now) knocked on our door one day--I've got plenty of stories about the sprayer planes around here, but that's not what this is about. He had a gift. The richest, creamiest, strongest, orange cheddar cheese you've ever tasted. That stuff is really good. I can put it on anything. I can even put it on cantaloupe, and I hate cantaloupe. 

I am here to say that there is a way to make peace. Cheese. 

Sure, I was trained to hate Mississippi State, but guess what? I don't anymore. Because they make the best cheese around. I can taste the wonderful freshness of that cheese. That cheese is remarkable. If you don't have any, it is time. Go get yourself some. 

Above: Extremely posed picture of the cheese. Yes, we are eating it tonight while watching the Music City Bowl, but we unanimously decided not to show the real mess we made out of it. But you can see it's almost down to the nub-stage of the cheese--the end of that red wax-covered block of pure goodness.

As I am typing this out, I am watching Mississippi State play in the Music City Bowl in my beloved city of Nashville, I can hear those cowbells that used to really really bug the heck out of me. And although, at first sound, it still makes me want to sew my ears together, I am noticeably more tolerant. Because I understand that those bells symbolize this almighty cheese. So now I have a delicious association with the cowbells, and voila! I have reconditioned myself. 

My point is there should be no enemies. State and Ole Miss, come together. Can't we all just get along? Find a quality about someone or something you know to be your "enemy" that you really like or possibly love. And eat it up. 

I am 50% rooting for State too. Halfway there. Actually, I think I'm one of those people who is always rooting for the team that's losing, if one of my teams isn't playing. 

Everybody pull it together and realize that we are one. One big state. One big cheese. One big State Cheese. 

Sleep in heavenly peace!

Liza Jane

PS: Disclaimer: I am told by WT it's called Hoop Cheese? (Not as clever in my opinion)..Hope I have not offended any State fans with wrong terms or insults about the cowbells. If they lose tonight, I am even sorrier. I feel for you. I know how it feels (Ole Miss bad joke inserted). 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cheese Plate

I wondered around my house for a good 40 minutes deciding how I was going to start doing it: send Christmas off and take everything down. And then I said to myself, giving myself a little sass, "I don't have to take it down today. Who says? I'm not taking it down. There."

There was a knock on the door. Good, something to instigate my procrastination. Who could it be?
And two big white men with white hair and beards stood at my door. Santa? Times two? Could it be? They are here to tell me not to take down Christmas. Santa twins. I can't believe it. Why, Santa Clauses, did you bring any gifts for me? You're actually a little late but whatever.

The Santa brothers did bring us something. They point to a huge construction machine and some big, huge, steel black thing they were also hauling. They tell me they are here to install a tornado shelter. Dang, Santas, you did it big this year.

Last spring, WT and I were caught in a twister about 5 minutes from where we live. He was taking me to the airport for a bachelorette party (in the airport? why not?). We were just driving along, not much going on weather-wise but a few drizzles. Then all of a sudden, weird-looking clouds. Then sideways winds and strong gusts. In the next seconds, we can't see a few feet around the car with hail and unbelievable amounts of rain. We were not really that calm until we felt the winds nudging and playing with my car. Both of us turned as white as pearls, and he was giving his best effort at staying on the road.

The drama queen within gripped his hand and told him she loved him. And then said about 3 Our Father prayers. His phone rang. His brother was calling to say there was a tornado close to our house. Correct.

We pulled off the road and drove up into the old cotton gin. But by the time we had gotten to it, we saw the storm moving away towards the east, one big gray and green blob of disaster. Then the sun came out. Like nothing ever happened. Crazy.

Oh and then we ran into another one outside of Jackson. It, also, made me tremble with fear and pray that I may keep my life please.

However, I used to not tremble with fear when it came to twisters. Whenever there was a tornado in Oxford, when we were in college, my friend SV and I used to chase it like Helen Hunt. Stupidly and with some kind of idiotic bravery, we would load up in her white Volvo station wagon (shout out to Pearl--the first lady of vehicle personality) and chase the funnel clouds. I know you're thinking that we are so smart and really should receive a Nobel Prize in Science for our efforts with the many storms we followed around, but we were in it for the thrill. And maybe we had watched Twister one too many times. I think maybe we did because we still sometimes recite the lines back and forth to each other: "When are you going to stop living in the past and look at what you got right in front of you." "What are you saying?" "Me, Joe!" SV and I are proud to say that we know that whole movie by heart. Totally proud of it.

So now that I know I am not invincible anymore because of a couple of close calls, I told WT to get a storm shelter because I am positive that we live in the new tornado ally.

So here it is. That white thing is the door to the underground chamber that could some day, potentially save my life and that of my husband and future children. I hope we will never have to use it. They made me try it out, and now I have figured out that I need to start lifting weights in case a bad storm comes. I had a panic attack when I was inside the darkness trying to open it from the inside. "Okay, just take a deep breath and feel for the huge lever and pull it toward you," the men said calmly to me from the outside. When I got out, I embraced them both for saving my life.

Now that I live out here, I am super duper friendly with people who are sent out here to do something for us. They are probably a little weirded out when I go in for the hug, while they have stuck a hand. But when you don't live in a city, where you used to see hundreds of people a day, the people who end up coming to your house are like gold. I treat all of them as if they were my long-lost aunt or uncle. I want to know how their kids are, if they are afraid of heights, their family history, blood type, and the longest they've ever held breath under water.

These men were so jolly and sweet, I wanted them to stay for supper. But I'm glad they didn't because I really didn't feel like cooking. The man with the blue shirt you see in the first photo was so nice. He pulled me aside and gave me something:

How did he know I like Grey Goose Vodka? Somehow he meshed this Grey Goose bottle into a cheese plate. Then he gave me that cute little fancy cheese knife. See how the knife fits perfectly into the hole of the bottle?

I just thought it was the neatest thing. He told me he does all type of wine art and showed me pictures of some of his art using recycled bottles and corks. I thought he was so nice and so passionate about his art that I felt I should get his info out there: is the name of the website. Tom Root is the name of the man.

It goes to show you that you never know who is going to show up and be an artist in your life. From looking at a person, you really can't tell how talented they are. You have see the art and the sparkle in their eyes, and know that maybe everyone is called to some type of art. I love little surprises like this. I love people who surprise and are happy to share their gifts and art.

Speaking of which, I am thankful to my close friend, Caroline Reehl, my main artist, who has recommended me on her own beautiful blog. Her work is pure loveliness. I hope one day to be able to buy tons of her ceramics and have a whole room full (my future library with huge windows--I've got it all planned).

And thank you to other friends and family who have given words of encouragement and praise. It takes a lot of b*lls to blog, in my opinion. So I am going to need all the bells I can get, and you probably know that. So thanks.

Have a creative afternoon!

Liza Jane

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sunshine On My Shoulder

Hate is a strong word. I try not to use it. So I'm not going to use it in my upbeat blog, except for just a second ago. But I want to say for the record that I strongly dislike winter. I definitely feel an aversion to it. My feelings towards winter are mostly negative, I'm sorry to say. I just don't agree with winter at all, and it doesn't agree with me.

I mean everything is dead, dreary weather everywhere, not many veggies and fruits in season, hunting, uncomfortable chill every time I go outside, paleness, low energy, darker hair, winter weight, cold car seats, and a little amount of sunshine. It's the season of cold death. But on the other hand--Christmas, coats, boots and fires are fun things. I put up with winter so I can have hot chocolate and sit by a fire while wearing a beautiful coat and boots. Oh and I like to snow ski, but I think the mountains are pretty far away this year.

Now that I'm done dogging the season I'm currently in and making you feel depressed about life, I'll explain my disdain. I am a summer girl. I was born in the month of August, which means I am a Leo. I don't know if astrology is true or real or what. All I know is I've read about my sign, and I thought the magazine had written an article about me (narcissism? maybe). Leo is the sign of the sun, a fire sign. We love the sun. We need the sun. Picture a lion lying on a rock in Africa with the sun blazing down on him. I'm not saying that all Leos hate winter, I'm just trying to give myself some slack for being a grumpy old man in the wintertime. The way I act this time of year, you would think that someone sent me to Greenland, naked and wet to live in a teepee.

Another thing--on top of all this, it's really inconvenient that I get really cold. Cold-natured? You have no idea. It could be 72 degrees outside, and I'll talk about putting a sweatshirt on. Then I'll get looks from people around me that seem to say, "Something is wrong with you, weirdo." But I would say 87-77 F is my range of comfort. Poor WT has really had to adjust himself to the thermostat. Don't know what it is, but I could be a circus sideshow with my cold fingers and feet. All I need to do to cool down a cup of tea is put my icy fingers around it seriously. But caution if you ever ask me to do this for you--it will be lukewarm within 42 seconds. No joke. I don't care how hot your coffee is.

So lately, here in the Delta, it has been cold, cloudy and/or raining perpetually. Typical winter. Way to go winter. Yesterday, the sun came out. It was blissful. When I was sure it was for real and not some kind of corn field mirage, I ran out in sheer glee! I frolicked in my front yard. My pets joined in joy. We chased each other in circles. I exclaimed, "Oh sun! Where have you been! I love you! Please don't ever leave me again!" And then I turned around, and my mail lady literally had fear in her eyes as she was backing out of my long driveway as fast as she could, dust flying on our gravel road, mail falling out of my left-open mailbox. She'll probably ask for a new route.

After I calmed down, I basked in the shine in our yard for a little while and watched my two cats and dog:

The big one is named Big Kitty. Clever, huh? Well actually we never named it so when we found the little one, we started calling it Big Kitty. I'm not that close with this cat. I love it in its own way, but I was not around when this one came to be a pet at this home. WT used to have about 14 cats (3 generations of kittens). He was like an old cat lady, only he was a young cat man. When we got engaged and decided to remodel the house, Big Kitty was the only one that stayed and put up with all the worker men and machines and what not. He is fierce, an aggressive hunter.

(Side story about Big Kitty: One night last week we were eating supper with some company from out of town. A pretty, yellow bird starting running into the two side windows of the dining room. It was trapped in that nook between our house and garage. I felt terrible for it [see Animal Sensitivity post]. All of a sudden, Big Kitty appeared on one of the outside window ledges. All at the table predicted the outcome. So I yelled, "Fly away bird!" And that's when Big Kitty disappeared from the first window ledge. The bird kept softly bumping into the second window [the one right beside me], and then there was a flash of Big Kitty, flying all the way up to the middle of the window, arms outstretched over his head like he was at a wedding doing Shout. His paws clapped the bird, and he went right back down like he had caught a football. The crowd went wild at the table. Circle of life.)

The kitten is named Blue, well Delta Blue. WT brought her home from the farm shop in November. She had been abandoned by her mother and siblings. She was smaller than my hand. She had piercing blue eyes. I didn't know if it was a boy or girl, so I gave her some warm milk, put her in a box and named her Blue. Later, there was nothing blue about her, and we found out she is a girl. My friend Sarah told me it was weird that she was named Blue. Okay then, Sayrah, I shall name her Delta Blue. I mean once you name an animal, you can't just change it. But you can alter it a little bit.

I love my little Delta Blue. I've gotten way too close with this cat. I'm sure Big Kitty is wondering what the heck he did to make me hate him so much. I try to pet him, but there's just no chemistry there. This kitten is so fast and frisky. She is also really strange. She sucks on on the end of her tail while she sleeps, curled up on one of WT's boots in the garage. Although, I think that's from being separated from her mother before the breast feeding stage was over; how do you explain the sideways running? She runs with her butt first and then her head, and back and forth. But somehow, she moves forward. She loves people too. Amazing little thing.

This is big Jackson, checking everything out. Note his beautiful winter coat, the burnt orange silkiness of it.

At first, Big Kitty and Delta Blue did not get along. Blue, being the sweet little frisky thing she is, ran right up to Big Kitty, and he swatted her away like a fly. I got mad and reprimanded Big Kitty for being such a bully. But then after we put Blue outside to be a hunter of mice like Big Kitty, and after some spying, I got the gist of their relationship.

I don't know if you've ever seen Million Dollar Baby, the movie about the older man who trains the young girl to be a world champion female boxer? Well anyway, my cats are like Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood if that makes any sense at all to you. Big Kitty is like the old, worn out, anti-social trainer who is teaching this sweet, abandoned, energetic and lovable girl to be a great boxer, or hunter/outside cat. In the following photo, he is showing her how to use the restroom outside. See how much Blue admires Big Kitty, watches him so closely so she can do it like the best of them.

Big Kitty shows her how to bury it so she won't use the corner of our garage anymore. Don't they look like father and daughter? He lost all his daughters during the renovation of the house, and her father left before she was born. He's the only father she's ever known.

This is Jackson, getting some sun, staying far away from the crazy cat scene, and wondering why in the world I am taking a picture of Big Kitty going to the bathroom in our yard.

You can just feel their closeness. It's just so special with their rough start and all. Don't get too emotional. Pull it together.

Delta Blue chased me and Jackson when we started our walk, moments after this picture was taken yesterday. She followed us for a long way, and then ran sideways into a creek. She started meowing because she couldn't see us anymore. I got worried and thought she might get lost out in the farm fields forever, so I walked back to the house so she would follow me there. When I got there, ole man Big Kitty was on the driveway, pacing back and forth, meowing and wondering where Delta Blue had gone. I could have sworn I saw them give each other a tearful hug when Blue ran up to him.

But anyway, got a little sidetracked. The point is that I enjoyed the sunshine. I looked at it like I had been living in a basement for months. I was utterly grateful for the blue sky it brought too. And the pretty sunset.

It made me think--how often do we not notice the sun and all it's doing unconditionally for the world? I took it for granted for a little too long. Everything depends on the sun. Your life and the life of everything around you are nurtured by the sun. Do we say thank you every day for the many gifts of the sun, and how the earth is a perfect distance from it so that it sustains life here? For the warmth and light and energy it delivers every single day? Why should we ever forget about it?

Just think about it for a second and try to remember to thank God for the truly remarkable gift of sunshine.

Have a good evening!

Liza Jane

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Animal Sensitivity

It happened in this past year. It was a day that would change my life forever...a day that would change every aspect of my life permanently. Everything I had ever known flew out the window as I started my new life anew. 

Wedding? Oh yeah, that was pretty wild too. But I am talking about the day last January that I decided to stop eating meat. And yes sir/ma'am, that technically makes me a vegetarian. 

I prefer not to use that word though. I would like people to label me by my eating habits with something not as derogatory like herbivore, or lean, green, plant-eating machine. As soon as you say that word around here, the funny eyes come out. You know, the judgmental rolling of the eyes and then the interrogation that follows. That word seems to be cryptic and hateful to some people. Then there's the debate that follows that turns into a screaming match. Before you know it, there's a referee, and you're pulling one of your closest friends by their hair and saying, "And I'm thinking about being a vegan too!! How do you like that?"

Well, I almost think it's impossible to be a vegan right now so don't worry about that. I love sweets and custard and real cinnamon rolls too much. Not to mention cheese, my drug of choice. I'm addicted. And there's nothing like fresh eggs (I've got plans for a chicken coop in our side yard). But there's something about not eating meat that either slightly irritates people, or just plain ticks them off. 

If you find someone else who doesn't eat meat, you embrace each other in a big vegetarian hug. They know our pain. At restaurants, in stores, at homes, and all around you the smell of bacon and sausage, cheeseburgers and steaks. And oh the ridicule! The judgment! 

But it's everyone's choice. If you like eating meat, good. I know how you feel because I loved meat. I could eat a cheeseburger faster than you could order yours. A sausage biscuit was my favorite thing in the world. If it was a pretty one (perfectly greasy and cooked well with a flaky, buttery, big biscuit sandwiching) I would stare at it for a little bit and admire it, get a little emotional before I gobbled it up in a world-record. The smell of bacon would and still does make me drool at the mouth like my dog. Don't even get me started on enjoying a BLT on a wonderful summer's day: ripe, red tomatoes with some crispy chopped bacon, with homemade mayo seasoned with Cavender's, adorned with basil leaves and a little green lettuce. Oh my goodness, why did I do this to myself? 

But you get my drift. I loved it like the best of us. My husband said that the first time he saw me eat a hamburger, he knew he wanted to marry me. Yikes. Thank goodness he didn't change his mind when I opted for the ravioli at our rehearsal dinner. 

Why did you make this crazy choice, you ask? Simply put: I found out some stuff I didn't know before. I was rolling my eyes in condemnation at my roommate and close friend last January. How could you give up meat? I started bucking up for the famous carnivore's debate with the plant-eater. MBC, being the non-confrontational pal she is, handed me a book: Skinny Bitch. Oh God! Not that book! Really? You're going to take advice from a book that is calling you a bitch?!

But I read it. And then I cried. Then I did some research. And then I cried some more. There was no going back. To make matters worse, my instinct told me these people were right. Those skinny bitches!

They made some good points that I don't feel like getting into: how our bodies and digestive systems work as humans, how the meat and milk industries operate, research that has been done on the effects of eating mass-produced animal, the fear in the animals.

And here's another tidbit: I am really health-conscious. Nutrition and how it works is my thing. I love to feel good because of what I ate. So I realized there are two equal kinds of people in this world--those who are going to enjoy the taste of what they eat and eat it no matter what they know about it because they love it so much (they're thinking life is short, and eating should be fun and tasty), and those that are in it for what it does, the feeling afterwards, the energy and longevity it brings. And that's okay--both kinds of people are both loved by God and are equal in deserving the fun of life. Obviously, the best thing is to find ways to combine both of these things, taste and health.

As a flabbergasting surprise, this decision has affected much more than just my meals. All of a sudden, I don't prefer to wear leather or hunt. I know hunting is a sport. It's a sport that my husband loves with a passionate intensity. I've seen him run out of our house at 6:30 in the morning with only his gun and a thin pair of boxers in 30-degree weather because he thought he saw "a huge buck, trying to get out of here before I make a kill!" 

And then when he did make a kill, all I could think of was the deer I used to know in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, the family of them at Radner Lake, my other peaceful place for walking. The deer would walk up to me, I would wave at it and smile as I stared at its beauty. It seemed to smile back at me. I would walk toward it. It would walk toward me. I would be a little freaked out because it was so close. Then it would start eating again. I would start singing a bright and cheery song in the woods in a really high-pitched voice like Snow White. Then the squirrels were dancing around, and birds were landing on my hands and shoulders. A beaver comes out of the water to do a little solo. The frogs are backing me up in this happy little song about where my prince has gone. Too much?

Anyway, WT and I like to go hunting together. I don't go deer hunting. My Snow White memories will not allow me. But I like to go with him duck hunting. He loves it and enjoys it so much. The point is that it brings him joy. And deer, supposedly, are overpopulated around here, which brings chances of widespread disease apparently. As for the ducks, it's a quick kill--there's no fear or torture I don't think--and he's as giddy and sweet as Glinda the Good Witch afterwards. That's what he likes the most. His main hobby. Although, I can't go out and admire his bloody, dead deer, I do enjoy getting up before sunrise and getting that fresh air. I like to listen to everything wake up. It's fun to watch ducks and geese fly in on a gorgeous, sunny morning. Not to mention watching my husband have a great time. And I think it's fun to shoot a gun every now and then. 

I guess my animal sensitivity worsened when I fell in love for good with the animal of my life. We are closer than two peas in a pod now, out here on the farm. When you're in love with one animal, you have become an animal person. I am exactly that now. I adore this big boy:

Now is as good a time as any to introduce you to this handsome fellow who transformed me into a dog lover. This is a picture of him from last August after I moved in. That's his summer cut. This is not the last time you'll be hearing about Jackson (Jacksey Poo) I'm sure. He is the other love in my life so there's no doubt he'll be making appearances in these posts. 

So, ladies and gents, the point is that it's all about standards and compromise. I live in a world where both of those things are more than necessary. But one thing is for sure: every little thing is for your joy. Just make sure you're having fun. And your way of having fun might not be someone else's. And that's all right.

Have a fun day!

Liza Jane

Monday, December 26, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I am going to tell you two things in this post: one I am proud of and the other I am not, glory and dishonor.

This is a cajun oyster casserole. I added the "cajun" to the recipe. It was wonderful. And I made it. I have been second-guessing and third-guessing my cooking since I got married. This was a big victory for me. This recipe was passed down from my fabulous great grandmother, who used to make this stuff in Central America. I would have made her proud. To me, the epitome of glory is this picture. It doesn't look earth-shattering but it is. Trust me--there was a tiny portion of leftovers. And they were bid on like an auction when we were cleaning up.

I made this for a Christmas Eve family gathering at my aunt-in-law's house. She lives about 45 minutes away, and this casserole and my perfectionism made us notoriously late for the party. A cousin said, "Y'all would be late for your own funeral." He was right, and after a few events like this (one of these was my own stinking party), I realized something.


I am about to reveal something about myself to everybody who happens to read this. It's a flaw--it's making me feel a little vulnerable right now so I'm just going to get it over with: I am one of those chronically late people. I seem to be forever tardy, no matter how much extra time I give myself. It's the something I'm not proud of. I seem not to care what I'm going to: a wedding, an appointment, church, party, job interview, Christmas Eve family gathering, almost everything.

I know it doesn't speak highly of me. If you are reading this and have ever waited on me, I know you are sitting there nodding and shaking your head at the same time, remembering a time that I drove or ran like an insane person, swooped in or out breathlessly, felt really bad, apologized way too much, looked frantically for my lipstick or whatever I didn't have time to put on, thought everyone there hated me, and then acted scatter-brained and discombobulated for the whole event--whatever it was. Sometimes I manage to feel relaxed after a while, but that is rare and is usually done by the grace of the other people around me.

I go through phases when I get better about being on time. I think I had a little one a couple of months ago. But I think I owe it to the fact that I had no idea how long it would take me to get to places so I would give myself so much extra time, I could read a whole Vogue issue in the doctor's office. Being in the country, you've got to plan ahead.

Every little thing you do needs thought, preparation, research (where is it and what time does it start, do I have the address, is my GPS going to take me to an abandoned warehouse, do I know the general location of its neighborhood, and if not, where is my cell phone so I can call someone who knows, why can I never find my cell phone), skill, some good songs on some good XM stations, maybe make a CD real fast in case there aren't any, water and some kind of easy but healthy snack food with plenty of protein in it, a trash bag for the snack food, book and laptop in case there is ever any extra time for that (2 time passers? yeah right--hilarious), and don't forget your phone, of course.

So living out here is awesome, but really challenging for my chronically late self. And it's been around for a while. I don't where this bad flaw came from. I've got flaws all over the place, but this is one of the ones I'm most ashamed of. I wear it like a scarlet letter even hours after my tardiness. Sometimes I think it came from the expression "fashionably late." I will gobble up a positive connotation of a word that means you get to be as slow as Christmas and take your candy sweet time.

Or maybe it's the thrill of the drama--making it on time despite everything. But then you don't get there on time. There are no cheers or trophy for your record-making travels--all the many obstacles/roadkill you hurdled, innocent by-drivers you yelled at ferociously and then mouthed apologies to in the next second, speed limits broken, husband given the attitude--to get there right when the clock strikes. You and the group you made late are hustling in disgrace and indignity, as the crowd watches y'all walk down the aisle right in front of the bride. Your face is burning red with utter shame.

I've read that tardiness is a subconscious form of disrespect, a direct way of saying "I value my time more than yours, and I hereby decree that I am late because I am selfish and think that you don't deserve my punctuality. Take that." That's basically what the article says. I think that's somebody reading a little much into things and making millions of readers feel like bad people. But on the off-chance that the author behind that thinking is right, and I am maliciously causing the suffering of delay subconsciously, I  have decided to change my evil ways.

Now I don't make New Years resolutions. Why? Because if it's a New Years thing, it doesn't have a chance with me. I won't take it seriously. It will probably last until January 17th at the most. To make change, I have to really want it for myself. There has to be a change in my will, a desire to grow up and act like a woman. I don't think I'm a girl anymore. But when I'm late, I feel like one. And not in the good way, where you feel bubbly, giggly and flirty inside. Being late isn't fashionable to me anymore. I am really late on making this decision.

So whatever your resolution, make it something you really want for yourself, and for the people around you who would have to put up with it if you didn't make the change.

Have a good night, and I hope you had a magnificent Christmas!

Liza Jane

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Before I start talking about Christmas, I want to give you a true story:

W.T. (my husband) snores, I would say like no other, but I have had heard worse and have heard tales of worse. But at any rate, I am a bad sleeper. I can hear the cat walking on my car in the garage from our bedroom across the house with a fan blowing on me. Not really, but I am a very light sleeper. The fact that my husband is a major snorer makes things even more challenging.

The night before last was just plain funny. W.T. was doing his usual, and yesterday was my first day of working at a retail store in Greenwood, 45 minutes from our house. I had to do something about it.

I shook his shoulder a little bit and said, "Baby, why don't you roll over on to your side?"

W.T.: "I love you, Baby! Of course, I'm on your side! What do you mean?" as he rolled halfway to his side.

I couldn't help but laugh. Good. Glad he is on my side; he's a good man to have on your side. He continued to half-speak, half-grunt and use a language unbeknownst to me.

And then he said: "I just must have left it at Pawpaw's house."

So I said, as I touched his arm: "What did you leave at Pawpaw's?"

W.T.: "My coat. It must be on its way. Throw that ball!!!!" Now he must think he is playing with the dog? While trying to get his coat from his grandfather's?

Me: "Who is bringing your coat?"

W.T.: "The man---with the weird..." And his voice trails off, following by a big fat snore.

Oh no, I would much rather be entertained with eavesdropping on his dream than listening to that business.

Me: "What happened with the ball, baby?"

W.T.: "It's guurggllee brraammenn eessh nabbyy...ffiinnddyyy eearrlyhhaa." I can't directly quote here but you get the point, it doesn't make any sense.

Me: "What? You threw it into the lake?" Now I know this is wrong, trying to superimpose actions into his dream, but I felt I was losing him to the monstrous loud noises that keep me up.

W.T.: "I just don't know. You can never tell these days. Just take it to the highway...we will see about it."

Me: "What do you mean?"

W.T.: "Let me fix it!! Just let me handle it!!!"

I try not to read too hard into what he says in his sleep. It hasn't been helpful in the past.

Me: "Okay. It's all yours." I find it's best to just go with the flow when conversing with sleep-talkers, if you're lucky enough to get them out of the rubbish-talking stage.

W.T.: "They're on their way, okay? Don't worry."

At this, I just fell back onto my pillow and laughed really really hard. He's so adorable. The guy is just too cute (I hope he doesn't get too embarrassed when he finds out I've been gushing about him to the world via the Internet). This kind of thing happens I'd say every 6 nights. I love it. But the snoring continued because of course, he went into the next phase of sleep while I was in the first phase of wakefulness.

I wondered into the living room. And what I saw there was gorgeous:
Oh Christmas Tree. A good Christmas tree (to me) is symmetrical with a chubby bottom, slimming up to a perfectly pointed and centered, star branch that points to the ceiling. The perfect tree is fragrant, green and decorated as well as possible, with gifts underneath. This is our first tree, and I believe it's the best-looking tree I've ever seen. Wish you could see it in person.

I get the point of having a Christmas tree, why it brings joy. It's alive--breathing only good things into your house. Watch the way its branches reach upward like praising arms. I think there should be a Christmas tree or some kind of tree in your house year-round. Think about all that oxygen, all that wonderful scent. You just feel better being in the same room--calmer and slightly happier. Notice that the next time you stand close to a tree. "Tree-hugger?" you might be thinking. And the answer is yes, and a hugger and lover of everything else.

But anyway, our living room only has 3 pieces of furniture in it plus the tree and presents: a book case from W.T.'s grandfather, a card table from his grandmother and the comfy armchair that we recently got reupholstered in an elegant fabric (newlyweds). I sat in the chair, thinking about our tree, thinking about Christmas.

I stare at the gifts we came up with. The Christmas Spirit I'm sure everyone knows is about giving and loving. I'm stating the obvious when I say it's about family, and loving other people, and loving God and thanking God for Jesus and his birth into this world.

But I just wonder if people know why they feel the spirit when they do. I first felt it when one of my gifts to someone else came in the mail. I am most proud of this gift because I put a lot of time and effort into it. I felt it--the ever-elusive spirit of Christmas.

It might just happen whenever we do something loving. I think loving is our blood and air--the only thing that keeps us alive and awake. Giving is our water and food. Loving God and thinking about God is beautiful and also a quick way to get there. Mostly, I believe the action of giving is the major catalyst to the Xmas Spirit. Being present with family and friends is the third way. If you want to spread it a little bit, sing a Christmas carol.

So I am thinking about you on this Christmas Eve. May it be truly merry and bright for you, filled with love, happiness, God and giving. Here's to you and yours!

Merry Christmas! Cheers!

Liza Jane

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Start

I thought to myself, "I don't even tweet or write posts on Facebook. How would I ever keep up with a blog? I don't even answer the phone or text people back sometimes. I hardly check my email. I don't even know how to work the printer at our house. A blog?"

I was thinking this as I was surrounded by a wonderful group of girls telling me to start a blog. One of them already has a blog, and I think it's great. It is fun to read what other people thinking. Lord knows I have a lot of thoughts though. And I'm pretty hesitant to lay everything out there that my brain happens to come up with, but I promise to be honest but at the same time, respectful--real but at the same time, kind. I promise not to take you to the dark side; I will most certainly keep it positive because there is always so much more going right than going wrong. Maybe both of us will realize how exciting life really is--every day. Most of all, I just want to see if there's any way I can help out.

You see, these thoughtful girls had just heard me go on one of my spills about life in general. I love thinking about it. I get deep but at the same time, life is so funny. It's important to keep it free and light. Perhaps that's the paradox: everything is important, but at the same time, only one thing matters. I'll let you think about that.

These girls I was talking to form a fabulous group. One among them in this group (the closest to me-- figuratively and literally sitting next to me) introduced me to the Pioneer Woman a couple of years back. I almost think that the pioneer woman is responsible for my marriage. She too was a city girl turned country, having fallen in love with a charming, but tough man who spent most of his time outdoors. That is my life. Love in the country. Leaving the city, starting a new life in a place where nature is king and rules all aspects of life. I am a 25-year-old farmer's wife. Yep, it's a country girl blog.

But I'd like to think it's not just that. It's an outlet for me, and an inlet for you. Something to create for me and something to inspire you. Maybe just to make you smile or laugh or cry or think about something for a second. Whatever it might be, (and I promise it will vary from day-to-day, month-to-month because my thoughts and feelings are about as shifting and messy and all-over-the-place as a tornado) I hope it will make your day a little better, and mine too. I don't want to get too personal, but I hope it will do something.

This lovely group I was talking to was asking me about marriage. I just got married almost 5 months ago. My response was apparently truthful but moving. I'm not one to sugarcoat, but I would like to think I get to the comprehensive gist of it all. I include the beauty and the beast, and for that reason, I think I can give a rebellious view of what it's all about. My friends picked up on that, and gave the push that pulled me here. So first off--I want to thank my friends, you know who you are, for the push. Here I am--happy to tell you what I think about love, marriage, change, growth, youth, and life in general.

And it probably makes it pretty interesting that I live in the Mississippi Delta. Let me tell you something, brother/sister, this place will deceive you. It may not look at first sight like the most exciting place in the world, but there is way more here than meets the eye. You wouldn't believe.
This was my sunrise view yesterday morning when I was rubbing my eyes in bed. I want to share. Just because I am so thankful.

So.. let the conversation begin. Happy holidays!

Liza Jane