Monday, September 30, 2013

The Art of Convalesence

"Where is that ace bandage?"
I am just finishing up a little doctor-imposed vacation--some recovery after minor out-patient surgery on my right leg. I am a terrible patient.  Not because I  moan and whine (well, perhaps just a bit when someone other than the dog is around to hear me), but because I can't sit or lie around doing nothing.  I like to blame it on my prairie pioneer work ethic, but actually it is because of a serious type triple A personality disorder that has me behaving like a hamster on speed most of the time.

My sister called on Friday evening, and her parting words told the story.  "Don't try to tackle everything that hasn't gotten done in the past four years while you are suppose to be recovering."  

She knows me too well.  

I am the one who attempted to shampoo my living room carpet the morning after I dislocated my shoulder.  I have removed and stored screens suffering with the sinus infection of the century.  It isn't a very good idea to be hanging out of second story windows while your congestion is giving you a case of vertigo. I will admit to having straightening a bathroom closet while being forced to spend some time near the porcelain throne during a bout of the stomach flu.  Now that is really sick!

I really tried this time.  A week before my planned convalescence, I borrowed Season Three of Downton Abbey.  I made it through episode two before I felt compelled to tackle the growing mound of papers threatening to overtake the computer desk.  I do know that Lady Sybil didn't make it.

"Lady Sharon, you must keep icing that leg.  You simply cannot get up and mow the damn lawn.
 I purchased a new book for my Kindle, settled into my cozy bed, and got to the third chapter before I decided that I  must wash the bedspread ...and then the shams...and then the sheets...and then the dog...

"Would someone send this woman
back to work?"
I refrained from cleaning out the refrigerator while looking for the butter for my cinnamon toast, but I did go through the spice cupboard tossing a few bottles that probably traveled from China with Marco Polo.  My first venture in the car was to head to my local spice purveyor to replace said bottles.

I have completely failed to follow doctor's orders, and I am going to be honest with myself and not even try for the remainder of the week-end.

Today I am not planning on taking a nap that will never happen.  I am not going to ice every 20 minutes.  I am not going to keep my leg elevated above my heart.  

I am planning, however, on having my one remaining at-home-minion mow my lawn.  "Cough, cough...I am feeling a bit weak..."

Prairie Sherry


I haven't given you a recipe in a while.  This one came to me from an internet friend.  Seriously, this is tasty!!

This doesn't look as good as it tastes.
Google images failed me here.

Using a large mug:

1.  Melt 1 teaspoon coconut oil in the cup--microwave 20 seconds. I didn't have coconut oil, so I used heart-healthy olive oil.  Tasted fine, and one day I will awake looking like Sophia Loren.

2.  Stir in 2 teaspoons brown sugar.

3.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

4.  Add one egg and beat like crazy.

5.  Stir in 1/4 cup flaxseed meal.  Now I hear you whining, "Where in the heck am I suppose to get that?"  Really, it isn't that hard to find.  I use Bob's Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal.  It is in the specialty flours in my grocery.  Might also find it in the natural and organic foods section.  It's not  a huge commitment--like a dog.  It comes in a small package.  Seriously, you need some flaxseed in your diet.

6.  Microwave for 1 minute 23 seconds (Yes, exactly that!).

Serve in the cup with a pat of good butter, some local honey, or some jam.  It is like having your own little bran muffin for breakfast.  I stirred in some mashed banana before baking this morning.  I am going to try a spoonful of canned pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice tomorrow.

Thanks, Colleen!!!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Art of Closing the Gap Between Dreams and Life

I am just SO darn proud of those Prairie Grlz!
I am not used to meeting my goals.  I used to blow off goals like sixth graders blow off Greek root word homework.  When I turned 44, for some reason, I started taking my goals & dreams seriously.  This hit me today when I was visiting Leigh Bardugo's website.  (She wrote the Fabulous Young Adult book, Shadow and Bone.  I am reading it with one of my students and loving every page.)  Leigh said this:

The gap between the dreams you had and the life you end up leading can be a very dark place indeed. It can leave you feeling bitter and lost, and pretty soon you’re blogging about how no one understands your genius and ordering a tombstone that reads, “Had potential.” But I present the sketch above as evidence that sometimes, after a lot of wrong turns and flailing, you do get what you’ve always wanted most– whether it’s a promotion, or a chance to dress up as a pirate for a living, or The World’s Best Piece of Cake.

Thank you Leigh!  Life is so much better when the gap between dreams and your actual life is very small.  (Note:  The above photo is the beautifully dramatic Leigh.  Doesn't she look like the type of gal who would wear a cape in her senior picture?)

One of my ultimate dreams came true at the Willy Street Fair.  My art spoke to people, the same way it speaks to me as I create it. 

One sweet woman wanted to hang a collage that said, "It Will All Be Okay" in her kitchen.  A mother bought a "You're Beauty Full" collage to send to her daughter who was having a rough week.  A sister bought her sister a Nancy Drew collage that said, "Be the Heroine of Your Own Story."  What a privilege to be part of their lives, in a small way.  I learned many of the things that speak to me, speak to others.  Hearing people's stories was so inspiring.  I have so many new ideas and just bought a new stack of canvasses.  I will be stirring up some art this weekend.  Woot!  

Won't you join me in closing the gap between your dreams and your life?  Reach your potential one day at a time.

Prairie Eydie

P.S.  Prairie Sherry just had her varicose veins stripped.  OUCH!  So I am including this picture of current Jon Bon Jovi for her.  Get well soon, girlfriend!  (I wonder if Jon has problems with his varicose veins?  We are just 6 years apart in age.  It is possible. Doesn't he look like he might be wearing compression stockings???)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Prairie Pa Weighs in On Public Officials and Their Peeps

Prairie Pa prefers to have tulips behind him instead of people.

Please give my father, Prairie Pa, a big prairie HAY-lo!  I was shocked when dad emailed me a guest blog.  I can tell that gardening season is winding down and he is looking for new areas to compete with me in.  He thinks that he has the power to bring back our Russian readers. Either that or he wants to be the NEW Andy Rooney. 
And now . . . my father . . . Prairie Pa. 

Why do public officials, from the President down to the water utility manager, have people standing behind them when making a speech or answering questions? In the old days we had drapes, now we have people.

I remember puzzling over this while watching Rudy Giuliani meet the press after the 911 attacks.  The people made some sense, as Rudy asked questions of firefighters and police officers behind him. But now days those standing behind are merely human potted ferns.

Don’t these people have anything to do? What does it cost us to have them stand there? Why can't they just sit in the front row? Why do they have to stand there gazing at the back of the public official's neck?

People standing behind candidates reached its zenith during the last election. The candidates had more people in back of them than in front.

Imagine the time spent coaching them:
  • keep an idiotic smile (or frown) plastered on at all times
  • no talking
  • no nose picking or scratching in inappropriate locations
  • Look like you really love and understand the pap flowing from the candidate

It is also important to have a good racial mix. Be sure you include those from every voting block, young and old, and every color. And of course, make darn sure Dick Tuck does not sneak in. (I did not know who Dick Tuck was.  I figured some of our younger readers would be in the same boat.  Here ya go!) 

Dick Tuck (born 1924) is a former American political consultant, campaign strategist, advance man, and political prankster for the Democratic National Committee.

I always appreciated people who stand up in front of a large group and say: Here I am! All alone! A confident person! Like Ethel Merman, all alone, in front of thousands.  It was just her against the world, blasting out “There is No Business Like Show Business.” Or what about Harry Truman “Giving them Hell” all alone? Did Johnny Cash need people behind him? Well yes, but it was the Tennessee Three (or was it Two?) and they were playing music. Did Lincoln or Douglas have people standing behind them during their debates—I should say not.

If Bud Selig was alive, this would never happen.   (Ooops.  I don't know who Bud Selig is either - probably because he has something to do with baseball.) 

Allan Huber "Bud" Selig (born July 30, 1934) is the ninth and current Commissioner of Major League Baseball, having served in that capacity since 1992 as the acting commissioner, and as the official commissioner since 1998.

Prairie Pa (and Prairie Eydie)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Art of Accomplishing Goals: WE DID IT!!

We did it!  We survived the 2013 Willy Street Fair--all eleven and a half hours.  Were we successful?  Well, we made enough to pay for our entry fee and the bottle of wine we consumed while selling, so I guess if you count that as a success, mark one on our side.  I can assure you, we didn't violate any open container laws.  The Madison Police Department loosens the reigns a bit for this annual celebration.  I came a bit too close to spending time behind bars this summer with my illegal capitol singing.   I am now watching my P's and Q's.

I know, you don't want words.  You want pictures.
First, off, it was an incredible fall day--a little chilly when we started to set up at 8 AM, but it warmed to a comfortable 68.  The sky was spectacular.  Willy St. had a pride rainbow!! 
I guess we got started a bit earlier with our set up than most of the vendors.  We had our tent and displays ready to go, and the rest of the street was pretty chirping crickets empty.  Eydie decided to entertain me with her version of adult peek-a-boo.  The humor in that quickly died, and I went out in search of our bottle of wine.  Yes, you can find a bottle of wine on Willy St. at 9 AM on a Sunday morning.  It is just that kind of place.
When I returned, she was still at it.  Personally, I don't think she noticed I was gone.  The guy in the booth across the road was enjoying the show.

At 11 AM the parade began.  Every parade needs a couple of semi-pro hula hoopers...well, at least in Madison you do.  Hula hoopers in sports bras and hippy skirts are even better.  Madsion sets the bar high.

She looks pretty darn prancey, doesn't she!  Is that a word?

Then you need your stilt walkers.
I decided to extend my list of phobias from clowns and mimes to include stilt walkers.  Eydie agreed.  If I ever meet a miming clown on stilts, I will be rocking in a corner for weeks.

Then there are the guys who tried to impress by balancing and walking on these big wheels.  I bet in their youth, these machos woed the neighborhood gals with the size of their Tonka trucks.  If you don't know what a Tonka truck is, you are really too young to be reading this blog.  I was always a sucker for the Tonkas.
Every Madison parade has to have union members raising their arms in energetic fist pumps and singing all the words to "Solidarity Forever."  I just know the refrain.  
Add some Raging Grannies.  These are union members all grown up and retired.  I want to join their ranks in a few years.  They wear cool hats, lots of buttons, and get arrested quite often for their beliefs.  They are really a courageous crew, and that is not a joke.
We did actually sell stuff.  Remember that entry fee and the bottle of wine?  We met so many people who understood what we were doing and why.  The greatest gift to us is when they bought things for sisters, daughters, or friends who just needed "a little something."  We also met a lovely artist next door to us.  Lisa makes beautiful jewelry using silver and semi precious stones. I think she would be classified as a "town girl" in prairie lingo--very classy. We hope to do a Christmas open house with her very soon.

The best thing about the whole day is when family members stopped by to see us and give their support.  These are the poor people who hear us talk "Prairie Grzl" ad nauseum.  Some couldn't be with us, so they kept us going with texts, emails, and phone calls.  This is my brother and one of my darling nieces.  They couldn't be with us in body, but they certainly were in spirit.  I certainly hope my bro can extricate his head out of that bonnet.  It will be hard to explain at work.  Megan, you are rocking that yellow!
This is more like it--sweet  Prairie Lulu with her Prairie Mama.

And here is the Proud Prairie Banner.  Long may it wave (courtesy of Insta Print and a 70% off coupon with Groupon).  

I am certain Prairie Eydie will want to weigh in on the festivities. Tune in on Friday.  

BUT WAIT!!!  A Prairie Pa is joining us tomorrow.  Eydie's dad has graciously provided us with our second guest post.  A Prairie Grlz t-shirt will soon be in his mailbox.  Too much excitement for one week.  

Prairie Sherry

Friday, September 20, 2013


Who is that cat in the comics that makes that sound?  I don't have time to google it, and therein lies the problem.  I don't have time.  This tin is sitting on my computer desk mocking me.  I am not "all ready."  I am not even half ready. "Ack!"  describes how I am feeling right now.    

On Wednesday, Eydie painted this glowing picture of me as the Prairie Grlz cheerleader, forever encouraging her to not give up, and to fight the good fight for the Prairie Grl team.  I think I may have even screamed, "Win this one for the Gipper!"

In fact, my pom pons are drooping.

It is 5:13 AM on Friday morning, and I am just crafting this post. My "to do" list is longer than Moby Dick, and just as tedious. Sorry Melville fans, but I just can't slog through it. 

This is the extent of my Willy St. Fair prep.  Pretty darn dismal, wouldn't you say?  Prairie Sherry had better get her act in gear. Quit spouting off all those platitudes to Prairie Eydie and get that proverbial log out of your own eye, girlfriend.

The real question is how many overused metaphors, similes, and allusions can I pack into this one sorry post?

I shall spare you and keep this brief.  We have a mere 48 hours until Willy St.  Either I get all this crap into the car or not, but the fact is, I will be there.  I will send Eydie off for my raspberry scone.  I will take a sip of perfectly brewed coffee from my favorite travel mug, and I will thoroughly enjoy the day.

Join us if you can--in body or in spirit.  We promise you lots of pictures on Monday.  This was one of our big goals for the summer. We made it!  Go, Grlz, Go!!!!
Prairie Sherry      

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Art of Moving Forward When You Want to Quit

It takes a leap of faith to get things going
It takes a leap of faith you gotta show some guts
It takes a leap of faith to get things going
In your heart you must trust

 - Bruce Springsteen

The Boss can't wait to visit the Prairie Grlz booth at Willy Street Fair.

5 Days Until the Williamson Street Fair!!!    

Sharon and I had a meeting Sunday to finalize our Willy Street Fair booth.  Both of us are struggling with allergy/sinus issues, so we weren't very energetic.   

It turns out we should have spent more time this summer working on all things Prairie Grlz.  But it was more fun to eat lunch at Alchemy, brainstorm ideas to get "More Michael Landon" into our blog, and plot how to land our own radio show (Yes, we often live in a strange, fantasy world).  Now we are rushing to make displays, (luckily we love the distressed look) create signage, and finalize prices.  Oh.  And then there is the marketing & presentation side of everything.  (Luckily Prairie Sharon has figured that out!!!  She didn't like my suggestion of customers just shoving their purchases in their handbags.  Come on Sharon!  This is the east side of Madison.  People are GREEN!)   

The blog.  The etsy site.  The fair.  Sharon and I have taken a leap of faith in all endeavors.  I guess part of taking on these journeys is acknowledging what isn't working.  Over the last three weeks, I have tried to quit everything.  Why?  Because I am tired, plugged up, and feel like my creativity has left me to join the circus.  Truth?    Our blog readership dropped by half after we dropped to three blogs a week.  (Come back Russian Friends!!!)  Our etsy site has lots of blurry photos that need to be retaken.  (I did retake the photos, but there were too many pixels, or some such silliness, so I now have to retake the retakes.)  We are still figuring out our booth. 

Luckily, Prairie Sherry won't let me quit.  She won't let me abandon my creative side in the compost heap, next to the slowly decomposing corn cobs.   So, it is all good, despite the clouds of fear that show up from time to time.  Everyone needs a friend who won't let them quit.

Lets play - "The Glass is Half Full Even Though We Are Not Ready for the Fair!"

  • Sharon and I get to spend the whole day together and we don't have to talk about text coding and close reading of non-fiction text.

  • We will be really close to Lazy Jane's  - which means raspberry scones!!!

  • Sharon will be showcasing her fabulous furniture for the first time EVAH!

  • There will be time to shop at The Green Lantern (This antique/resale shop is above Mickey's and is not to be missed.  Tell Mary Beth the Prairie Grlz sent you.)

  • OH! OH! We get to wear our sunbonnets all day long!

  • We will meet new people and catch up with our Prairie Friends.  Maybe even sing a couple protest songs.

Yep.  It's all good.

Prairie Eydie


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Art of Saying Good-Bye

September has started out as a month of good-byes.  First, we parted with our sweet dog, Charles.  Charley hadn't been well for about a year and a half, but with lots of meds and even more TLC, he had been enjoying life and providing us with a great deal of love.  This is the pup who would start and end each day in my lap. He adored having his ears tickled and each paw massaged.  He could take any one of us from the point of agitation and despair to one of calm and peace.  Who needed mindful meditation when you had a Charley.   

On the week-end before school started, Charley began to fail very quickly, and on Labor Day morning a vet arrived so that we could let him go.  He was on my bed surrounded by his girls and his doggy pal, Rory.  Rory, the older and wiser dog, had seen him through his puppy years and adulthood, always his faithful teacher, and now he was there for this final trip.  I have loved each of my many dogs, but Charley was definitely the gentlest soul of the pack.  Rory has taken his place on my lap, seemingly to know that that this is now his  job to do.
The dorm room, complete with
the lofted bed.
Just a week later, Joli and I shoved that last plastic garbage bag into the car (see "Prairie Packing: The College Edition", September 11th) and headed two hours north to Appleton, Wisconsin where we settled her into her college dorm to begin her freshman year.  Is any mother ready for this?  This mom, in particular, missed the first years of this child's life. Adopted at age of 6, Joli and I didn't share the infancy and toddler years.  She came to me as a very establish little human being.  Her first opinion of me wasn't very favorable, but we have fiercely bonded through the years.  I keep expecting to hear her voice and her laugh.  Her purse isn't hanging from the newel post at the bottom of the stairway.  Her flip-flops aren't sitting by the front door.  Sigh, I even miss her damp towel on the bathroom floor.

For the past week, I keep thinking of things I should have taught Joli.  Does she know that if she dries that new shirt in a dryer that it will end up fitting her niece's Barbie?  Certainly she won't forget to refrigerate the mayo.  Did I remind her exactly how to get her prescription filled and that she shouldn't wait until the bottle is empty?  Of course she knows these things...well, I am not so sure about the laundering directions for that shirt.  She will be just fine, but I still worry.  And the fact that she will be just fine makes me realize how quickly time passes.  My granddaughter, MaeLi, turned seven this week.  That can't be!  I just have one at home.  That can't be!

How does a mom and grandmom deal with all of this?  Well, I cry in my room sometimes.  I throw myself into mindless tasks.  I cook far too much food for two.  I look at puppy pictures on dog rescue sites, and remind myself that we can't think of that until spring. I text my daughter and remind her about the shirt and the mayo. Fortunately for me , she always responds.

Prairie Sherry

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Art of Maintaining Sanity

Struck me kinda funny seemed kind of funny sir to me
How at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

(This is "The Boss??????")
---Bruce Springsteen

I am currently struggling with the art of maintaining sanity.  Forget the art of garnishing zucchini pancakes or the art of arranging my herb garden.  I just need to make sure that I wake up every day clothed in my own mind. 

Three weeks ago I returned to my job as a reading specialist at a middle school.  My own kids also returned to school.  (And all God's people said - "AMEN.")  It feels like all my creativity has been leached into the business of organizing reading levels, packing lunches, and filling out forms.  

I have dragging myself through each day, but it hasn't been much fun.  I have watched a lot of Oprah in my 45 years and know that you get back what you put out.  So, I am careful not to say things like, "I am really tired" (instead I say, "I am waiting for my 2nd wind.") OR "I need to go buy more make-up" (instead I say, "I am beautiful even with dark circles under my eyes.").  Truth? I am exhausted and need to apply concealer with a trowel.  

Yesterday was the worst.  It was 6:57 AM and I was driving to work, already waiting for my 2nd wind.  I had spent too much time the night before listening to Rachel Maddow talk about Syria.   The question looping through my mind was, "Does anything I do really matter?"  That was when grace showed up.  Right when I needed it (after unlocking my classroom door) and in the correct amount.

A co-worker had left a sweet note for me on my desk.  Next to the note was a paper cone of homemade sugared almonds (And I would like to pessimistically point out that sometimes grace goes out to lunch and doesn't come back.  I didn't get a single sugared almond...and it was my birthday.).  Not five minutes later, a friend (Guest Blogger Lena!) came in with a large pile of burlap (This is grace?  Who but Eydie would find grace in burlap?).  After a marketing telephone call with Prairie Sherry, I have been wanting to make little burlap "pillow cases" for the Prairie Grlz collages.  BUT, I wasn't sure where to buy burlap or if the burlap would smell funny or how much it would cost or if it was a good idea or if I could make them with a hot glue gun since I can't sew . . . .  Problem solved (and I can sew and I do have a sewing machine).  Let the non-smelly burlap experiment begin.  The frosting?  Later in the day, a friend bought one of my Nancy Drew collages.

Wow.  Three reasons to believe. 

Look for the grace that surrounds you!  Better yet - give a teacher some grace and you don't have to wait until Teacher Appreciation Week. (For those of you who don't know, it is in May - you can mark your calendars now.  I know.  I know.  Teachers are SO greedy.) 

Prairie Eydie 
(Prairie Sherry)

P.S.  Here is an Anne LaMott bonus quote for you:  

“Hope is not about proving anything. It's about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”  

(P. S. 2
And I would just like to share that I have a couple of "mean girls" this year in my classes who are bound and determined to make me cry.  Bring on the grace, and lots of it.)

(P.S. 3
If you wait until Teacher Appreciation Week, it may be too late for dear Sharon.  The girl needs some sugared nuts.) 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Prairie Packing: The College Edition

Clothes. Lots of clothes.
I took my daughter, Jo, to college yesterday--freshman year.  I will save the mommy angst and tears for another post, but I will share the packing.  This has been a process that has stretched over one long month--all of August. Actually it started even a month earlier when the sheets and towels I had ordered arrived in early July and were then deposited in a corner of the family room.  "There's no room in our bedroom, Mom," and youngest daughter, Maia, agreed.

That small but unwieldy initial pile started to grow like mold on an overripe peach...spreading, spreading, spreading until tables, chairs, and most of the floor were covered.  This is the room where the family TV resides, and soon we found ourselves sitting closer and closer together on the sofa as the room filled.  In order to reach the laundry room, I had to navigate piles of underwear, a large area rug, a tower of textbooks, stacks of jeans and t shirts, and laundry baskets filled with shoes and school supplies.  I found one of our dogs staring longingly at an ever-growing pile of energy bars, packs of gum, fruit chews, and veggie chips that was threatening to topple off the top of a shelf.  I found another trapped behind a pile of floor cushions growling at a box fan.

Then the garage began to fill--a refrigerator and toaster, boxes for packing, a lamp, a chair.  One of the two cars found itself at the curb for the duration of August.  The lawnmower was left outside.  I sucked in my breath so I could squeeze into my car.

This past Sunday was suppose to be packing day, but said daughter came up with a long list of additional items that needed to be purchased.  You would think that she was going to the University of Antarctica.  I am guessing that Appleton, Wisconsin, population 73,016 (oops, make that 73,017 now that Jo is there) probably has some sort of commercial venture that sells things like paper for a printer, laundry soap, and six packs of Hansen's Natural Soda, but Jo felt she needed to make those purchases in Madison so that we could cram those into the car as well.

After a long day of work on Monday, we began loading things into the car.  We found that you can get a dorm refrigerator into the back seat of a Toyota Corolla.  We were going to pack clothes in boxes, but soon began filling garbage bags just so that we could get more into the trunk.  Fortunately Jo isn't terribly tall, so we were able to pack one garbage bag right by her feet in the front passenger seat.  It was like an additional air bag, providing her just a bit more safety for the two-hour trip.  Both of us had to lean our weight onto the trunk lid to get it to close.  I prayed that the whole vehicle wouldn't explode in the night due to the extreme pressure.

The tree.
Ninety-seven percent made it in.  I convinced her that the winter coat, boots, and mini Christmas tree could wait until October 5th when I arrive for Family Week-End.  The car seemed to ride a bit low to the ground, but I am sure that was just my imagination that I could hear the undercarriage scrape on the pavement.
Jo's is settling in for her first year at Lawrence University, and while it seems terribly quiet around here with just her younger sister and me, we will survive.  In just nine months, we can haul that load right back again and use the family room for summer storage.  I am looking forward to that. There is a certain family closeness that develops when you watch TV sitting on each other's lap.
The trunk.

The daughter.

Prairie Sherry

Monday, September 9, 2013

Prairie Purge, Take 2

Prairie Ma makes a statement without saying a word.  EXCLAMATION!

I am sure you all remember the liberating, decluttering of my bathroom (Prairie Purge - July 17, 2013).  I bravely rid myself of Clinique bonus buys, stinky lotions, and an alarming amount of coral blush.  I am like Oprah (well, in most ways I am NOTHING like Oprah - but give me this), when I find something that works for me or that I like, I want to share the joy.  Pass it on.  Pay it forward. 

Can you feel the love and harmony?

Last time I was at my parent's house, my mom and I were getting along great.  We had a fun day of shopping and strolling through my dad's flower gardens.  It was all vanilla lattes, BLTs and Care Bears.  Until... until I needed some hand lotion and innocently went to find some in my parents' medicine cabinet.  My self-righteous, Prairie Purged self could not handle what I saw behind the cabinet doors. 

This is just one section of their medicine cabinet.  Note the row of Exclamation perfume, saved from my high school years.  (I alternated between Exclamation and Sand & Sable.)  Can you spot the older than dirt - older than Moses - older than Mickey Rooney nail polish?  Or the piggy paste?  Prairie friends, here is a fun game - can you find the Clinique bonus products in the cabinet?

I had to pay it forward and Prairie Purge my parents' bathroom cabinets.  Oprah would want me to share the joy of calm bathroom shelves.  Shelves only filled with products that are actually used.   

Sadly, my mom had no interest in throwing things away and organizing.  She thought a better idea was to go to bed and be well rested for another day of shopping.  I can be kind of a bully when it comes to sharing the joy.  So, I made my mom declutter her bathroom.  I both found and found out many interesting things.
  • Mom likes to lengthen the life of her ancient mascara by adding tap water.  A resounding Glamour DON'T.

  • Mom has 26 different products that promise to boost the curl in her thick locks.  She admitted that none of them work.

  • Dad has been storing his shaving supplies in the guest bathroom because there was no room in his own bathroom.

  • Mom had a bread bag stashed with the last bits of bars of soap.  You know, the part most people just throw away.  We had the biggest fight over that bread bag of nasty soap bits.  Mom was insistent that it was good soap and could be used.  I used the broken record technique and kept asking, "By who, Mom?  Who is going to use this soap?"

  • The cabinet is home to my dad's gall stones.  I took a photo of them, but decided not to use it.  We are already down 40 Russian readers and I don't want to lose any more. 

  • Mom saves the barf bags from . . . actually, I have no idea where she got the barf bags from.  I told her no one was going to rummage around in her bathroom for 15 minutes when they have to vomit.
  • Dad keeps purchasing more and More and MORE toothpaste and "Working Hands" lotion because he thinks he has run out.  (Note:  Dad never has to buy toothpaste or working hands ever again.  Remind him of this if you ever see him roaming the aisles of Costco.)
Three hours later Mom and I were done.  Mission completed.  I paid it forward.  I can rest easier knowing dad now has medicine cabinet real estate and that my mom isn't endangering her skin with rancid Bath & Body lotions.  Life is good.

Prairie Eydie

P.S.  Next time I visit my parents, I am going to take on my mom's freezer full of rugs. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Prairie Portraits: Take Two

"So have you found your senior pictures?  queried Prairie Eydie.

"Well, it took some searching, but here it is, " replied Prairie Sherry. 

"But where are your other poses?"

Poses????  I wish you could read this like I am saying it right now.  Really draw out the "o."  

This is it.  The pose, the picture, the photo, the everything...  This is what was put in the yearbook, on the mantle, and sent to the relatives.  There were no "poses."

This is the difference between 1985 and 1974.  Well, there are a number of other three presidents.  

When Eydie came up with this idea of posting about our senior pictures  I envisioned comparing two photographs--3/4 face, simple sweater, sepia background.  Then she hauled out her massive portfolio, and I knew that Eydie was not of my era. Twelve years younger, she would be my much, much...much younger sister.  Her graduation photo memories and mine do not jive.

I remember buying the turtleneck for this photo--100% polyester--the miracle fabric. The thing was so unnatural that when you would perspire, little balloons of liquid would form in the underarm area.  This was not the era of"breathing" fabric.  I think I still bear the scars of polyester burns on my thighs from those bell bottoms I had in four colors.  I later took this sweater to Europe for my "year abroad."  I ended up selling it to a guy from Turkey who was in Denmark on a worker's visa.  It is probably still being worn, because fiber like that will last forever.  

Back to the photo session.  It was in the 90's the day of my appointment.  I was excessively and increasingly dewy (one of those euphemisms my mom liked to use) as I drove my dad's VW bug through downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Remember those underarm balloons of collected sweat?  I had them.  When I got to the photographer, a tad wind-blown, the assistant slapped some blush on my checks.  It may have been called rouge at that time. Obviously, I wasn't into the "five minute face" as I am now.  Snap, snap, snap and we were done. In and out in 20 minutes or less.  I think we had ten proofs to choose from.  My mom said none of them really looked like me, so we chose the least offensive.

My whole package probably cost $39.95.  I think I spent $400 on my latest graduate's photographic montage.  We have the full length pose, the three head-shots (three different locations), the sport gear  pose.  I put my foot down when it came to the pet pose. Dragging two delinquent cockapoos into a photographer's studio was not in the cards.  There must have been 198 proofs to choose from because we were in the photographer's shop so long that my eyes were crossing.  I think they do that on purpose so that you don't realize that you are adding zeros on that check. 

Here's just a few of my classmates as they appeared in the high school yearbook of Eau Claire Memorial in 1974.  I wonder if Mary Hayes and Rachel Harry have pulled out their "poses" recently? They are the two girls in the midst of all of that machismo.  I notice that they wore those polyester turtlenecks as well.  I also notice that my haircut looked a lot like James Heideman's (center).  

My hat is off to my "little sister" Eydie and her 1980's classmates who broke the mold, threw off the polyester of conformity, donned the gaucho pants, and dared to demand two poses or even three.

Prairie Sherry