meet the posse

Friday, February 9, 2018

pork chops, iron skillets, and the glory of the Lord

Notes from last night:

My hair smells like pork chops. I suppose there are worse problems to have, but I've already washed my hair and I was counting on not having to wash it again for...well, awhile. Like, at least Saturday. So now my options are:

-live with porkchophair and make my sheets and pillowcases and All The Stuff smell like pork chops, too

-rewash my hair and towel dry and comb and mousse and blow dry and flat iron and UGH. it's a total first world ordeal. And I am tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrredddd and the world doesn't care. And all I want to do is read until I fall asleep until I have to wake up again in six minutes so obviously I am handling this like a mature adult and putting off dealing with being a pork head.

The next item on my to-do list besides Confront My Issues is to walk you through how I do pork chops. I promise, even your kids will love this. The first time you give it to them, anyway. Then they will complain every time after that even though they actually love it. I don't know why. It's the law or something.

First you need to start with an iron skillet. DO NOT SIDE STEP THIS RULE. If you don't have an iron skillet, this recipe is not for you. And it can't be any ol' iron skillet, either. This is not a "run to Bass Pro Shops and grab whatever they have in the camping section" event. And don't you dare get something at Walmart claiming to be pre-seasoned. Pre-seasoned with what? Sadness?
Pro tip: you need to wait until somebody's gramma dies and passes her skilletry on to you. Believe me, these pork chops are worth the wait.

Once you get some iron of quality, and by that I mean at least 80 years old, slide it onto a stove top burner and drizzle some olive oil into it. Heat to a high temp - 'til it's smoking. In the meantime, set your oven to 400 degrees. Actually, that needs to be your first step before waiting for the death of Granny. You don't want to have stuff ready to go into an oven that's not fully heated. That's one way to come in last place. So turn your oven on first, get it to 400, then wait impatiently for the funeral procession and the reading of Grandmother's will and hope you got her skillet and if you didn't, then just give up and go chew on a wad of despair. You're sunk.

If you've got all of those other things taken care of, move to step two:

Lay out your pork chops on paper towels and pat them dry. Lovingly. You're about to scald and roast them. They need to know you care.

Now, mix up the following.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
These are approximate measurements, you know. I make this in bulk and keep it in a jar and use about twice as much garlic powder and paprika as the other stuff, and twice as much of the other stuff as the pepper.

 Once you've patted the pork chops dry on both sides, sprinkle the spice mixture liberally  and give it a rub like you're a masseuse on a mission.

Once the pork chops are well patted, rubbed, and seasoned, dirge them as you slip 'em into the hot oil. YOU ARE NOT DEEP FRYING THESE GUYS. I know, I know. Kick me out of the South. Believe me, this will put your fried chops to shame. You just need enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. The dirge is because you care about the pork chop's feelings. It's hot in there, baby.

Sear the chops for about 2 minutes. Flip 'em quick - they're going to be a gorgeous chestnut brown, and pop the whole pan into the oven WHICH IS ALREADY HOT because you were thinking ahead of time about this, just like you were nice to your grandma because you were counting on inheriting her skillet. It pays to be strategic. 

So now you've got the iron skillets with your pork choppeties in the oven. Yeah, I said skillets. Know why I have two? Because I outlasted TWO GRANDMAS, and one of 'em I never even met. I'm just that adorable, I guess. And I honor their memory every day with these things. Anyway, set the timer for 6-8 minutes. Eh, 6 minutes if the chops are thin, 8 minutes if they're on the thick side. OR you can go the smart route of using a good probe thermometer to get them right to 145 internally and yank them out at not a second past that amount of time. If you don't have a thermometer, don't give up. Six to eight minutes is going to get you in the window. And then you have supper on your plate, and sweet mother of Joseph and Benjamin! Let me assure you: 

there is no need for gravy. 


I mean, pile it on if you want, because no Southerner worth her salt should cook for others until she can make good gravy, because it's kind of like our main food group, but I can let these chops speak for themselves. I mean, not really. They're doing no speaking. They're dead. Just like Grandma(s). You gave them the dirge and everything. But let me tell you: one bite of these and your heart will finally know what resurrection hope feels like.

But then you'll have hair that smells just like it, so you might be back to the dirge. Unless you want your hair to smell like pork chops. It's really up to you, I guess. But hey, this is supper under 15 minutes and that doesn't sound like a dirge to anybody. Then with all the extra time you have, you can go wash your hair so your sheets don't smell like last night's dinner in the morning. 

Or you can blog about it instead, which is why now today I get to wash my sheets and my hair. You win some, you lose some. 

PS. I recommend serving these with turnip greens or green beans Cooked Correctly and mashed potatoes (you can smother these in gravy). I'll walk you through my mashed potatoes how-to sometime. It involves heavy cream and bacon grease and tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

shopping carts, the farmer's market, and mutiny

Yesterday I experienced something horrifying and hilarious and a touch traumatic.  I use a nasal rinse thing, kind of like the Neti-Pot, because it is the only way to stay alive with allergies. I admit there was a steep learning curve when I first got the thing, because it's counter-intuitive to everything you've ever memorized or been taught about How Not to Drown. There is a distinct inner revolt from intentionally putting fluid up your nose. However, I am an overcomer, and breathing is important, so I soldiered on.

So that is the back story. Yesterday, I was doing a rinse and noticed, to my dismay, significant congestion in my sinuses because there wasn't an equal amount of rinse draining out the other side. For those contemplating a sinus rinse, just stop reading now, because what is yet to come will either gross you out or give you nightmares.

Anyway, I could tell it wasn't draining fully. If I'd been paying attention, I would've noticed the "Bridge Out Ahead" sign and just cancelled all events and stayed home for the day, but motherhood has a way of distracting you from saving face, literally. Somebody probably barfed up a crayon on their sister at that point, it distracted me from the malfunctioning sinuses, and I went forward with life. If I had only known what was to come I would've just given up and called it a day. As Kenny Rogers says, 'Know when to walk away...know when to run.'

Fast forward to SEVERAL HOURS LATER. I was standing in the produce section of Kroger picking out tomatoes and mushrooms. Let's pause for a moment to point out where I wasn't. I wasn't at a Farmer's Market. For four reasons:

1. Obviously I am a pathetic mother who doesn't care about the quality of produce I feed my family (yeah, like my kids are going to eat mushrooms, anyway. AS IF.) or stimulating economic growth among my local farming and gardening people who are passionate enough to get up at 5 on a Saturday morning to sell yellow squash and clementines. Look, my hat's off to them and everything, but if I'm up at 5 on a Saturday, it's because of my own Clementine, and not because I'm out shopping.

2. Yesterday was Monday, so there wasn't even a Farmer's Market available to make me feel guilty for not choosing.

3. Grocery shopping in the middle of the street with my kids doesn't exactly sound like a situation where somebody doesn't get run over by a car.

4. The Farmer's Market does not provide carts the size of fifteen passenger vans with zero turning radius and squeaky wheels and a little plastic car stuck on the front covered with more E. coli than Chuck E. Cheese's ballpit. And if I'm doing grocery shopping, I want that cart for its aisle-navigating and child-containing prowess. (And the E. coli.)

Back to Kroger, now that it's clear why I was there. I've got the giant cart, the kids contained, and a box of mushrooms in hand. I glanced at my list to see what was next. The list had fallen sideways, so I tipped my head to read it accordingly. A fatal mistake.

The five quarts of saline rinse my sinuses had locked inside now were released. The time had come to drain it out, and drain it did. I panicked. I had nothing to plug my nostril with. This was no mild, unnoticeable drip. The levees had broken. Scout was staring at me in horror. I almost grabbed her shirt to start blotting up my mess with, but there was so much of it that she would've been soaked. So I did the only reasonable thing. I tilted my head back, and pushed my fifteen passenger cart with the squeaky wheel wildly as I ran as fast as I could to the bathroom. Half Pint was delighted because she suddenly decided she had to pee. I yanked her out of the cart and into a stall, grabbing wads of toilet paper to stop the dam. She immediately started scolding me. "Mom, that's the toilet paper for my buns, not for you!" At which point I answered like a calm, mature adult and said, "Hey let's get one thing straight, bubble eyes. We are in here FOR ME SO I WILL USE ALL THE TOILET PAPER I WANT."

Eventually the flow of saline stopped and I was able to finish my grocery shopping, but not without taking thirty times as long as necessary because the whole event was so traumatizing I couldn't remember what aisle anything was in and had to keep doubling back. And then I woke up this morning and realized all the groceries WERE STILL IN THE CAR. I completely forgot to unload them. Thankfully, no dairy. Next time my sinuses decide on a saline coup, I'm just staying home.

groceries, a water bottle, camp chairs, and a single shoe.
all the necessities for the back of our van, apparently

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Our Annual Family Holiday Letter

Hellooooooo there. It would not be bragging for me to say that this holiday season has been busier for our family than ever. One minute you're putting away Christmas, and before you can shout VALENTINE'S CANDY IN AISLE THREE AT WAL-MART, February 2 springs its shadow - or lack thereof - all up in yo face and it's time to let the real merrymaking commence. And I'm really serious about that: I put the last two Christmas items away only this morning just before realizing what day it is today (time flies!), and though not a holiday we break school for, definitely a day where the only word that matters in spelling is 'Punxsutawney.'

All is well here in the Johnson household. Our kids are generally about average, so that's nice, except for their sense of funny which grows rapidly every day. That's what you get for having two funny parents, so they better thank me when they get old enough to know what's what. Everybody seems to thrive on waking up too early after not sleeping at all during the night. Some things never change. I hope that does.

One annual question we field is why we write a Groundhog Day letter instead of sending Christmas cards like everyone else. Well, I am happy to answer that. First, we want our own place on your mantel or refrigerator. No sense in sharing space with all the other people who are sending stellar We Went to Disney Five Times This Year letters. Plus also, I am a terrible Southern mama, because I don't stick bows on my girls' heads that are, well, bigger than their heads, and then take a picture. So I feel guilty about that whole thing. Not the whole Giant Bow thing. The picture thing. I browsed through all the pictures we've taken of our entire family this year and guess what! There aren't any. I promise you, our family exists, but we spend tons of time together having a BLAST and don't apparently take any pictures of our entire grouping at any given point. Yay us.

That is really the predominant reason for the Groundhog Day letter, because at one point in my life I felt certain, while a total December failure, that I could absolutely get a family photo and worthwhile statement stamped, addressed, and into your mailbox by this worthiest of holidays, February 2nd. But who are we kidding? Social media has made a lazier, slobbier, lazy slob of me than I ever was before, so THIS IS ALL THE ANNUAL UPDATE YOU GET, complete with no photo whatsoever. This is why you're friends with me: to feel better about yourself.

I love you. I'm sorry about the whole 6 more weeks of winter thing. (Not really. It's not my fault. But if it were my fault, I still wouldn't be sorry, because YAY WINTER!)

corrie for the rest of the posse

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

that time my face was stabbed, cut, and burnt

Hi. Hello. So, yesterday I saw a dermatologist about three tiny moles on my face and great news! Two of them are allowed to stay. They are friendly little fellas, apparently. However, we all have that one suspicious friend who is probably plotting to kill us and it's best if we remove them from our life, and that's kinda how Dr. Nopersonality felt about this one. 

So I'm sitting in the exam room, feeling also ultra suspicious that he thinks maybe MY personality needs to be medicated, when the words, "So I'm going to give you two shots under your eye and then just razor that off and cauterize it" were uttered like, you know, with the same lack of emotion as you might expect if you were having a conversation about, say, how frequently to change air filters.

WELL. I shot up off that exam table and said:
"My good sir, I have birthed four children without meds and I am pretty tough, but--"

"Oh, you'll want anesthesia for this," came his reply.

"Yes. I know. As well as my mother, who is in the waiting room, to come back here and hold my hand because that is what moms are for. If I had to birth children out my eye sockets, I'd be medicated for THAT event, so there is no way you're coming at my eye with a needle and a blade and a skin melter without making sure I am dead to the world."

So he stared at me like HOW ARE YOU EVEN ALLOWED TO LIVE ANYWHERE BUT A PADDED CELL but let my mother come back. She had Charlotte, who, as you all are aware, is a real treat. Charlotte cuddled up with me and he attempted normal conversation once more during the process of numbing, cutting, and burning.

"So, what's her name?"
"Charlotte Clementine."
"Charlotte is a nice na-- wait, Clementine?"
"Clementine's her middle name?"
"That it is."
"Well. Charlotte is very well behaved."
"Aw. Thanks. She's faking."
"Ok, now I'm cauterizing it."
"Yes, I know. Burning flesh smells so nice."

Moral of the story: I'm glad to see the mole gone. He was glad to see me gone. My face hurts.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

remind me

My week started off like this:

buddies, awake or asleep
Can I get a collective "Awwww!!!"? Children are so easy to appreciate when they're harmlessly asleep. But it's not always like that.

Yesterday I dropped by a friend's house to pick up a couple items. Although what I needed was in her fridge downstairs, she wasn't there. I mosied upstairs and found her sitting in one of her son's bedrooms. I took a brief mental note of my surroundings. My friend was sitting on the bed, wearing her outdoor gardening clothes. Her red hair, speckled just a scant amount of grey, was pulled back but wisping around her face. She was sitting in a pile of hundreds of old photos, also known as #memoriesarethequickestwaytoderailwhateveryouweredoing. Her second daughter is being married next week, and she was picking out some favorite childhood photos for display.

"If I could freeze a period of time, it would be when the girls were so little," she said. "When we lived in the house in the woods, and were out on the lake every weekend..." She trailed off, then looked up. "The time goes fast."

My friend is the least emotional person I know. I've known her for 18 years and I could count on one hand the number of times I've seen her cry. She didn't even cry when she said this. She was just matter of fact and a dash wistful. But far be it from her to wallow in superfluous sentimentality. So when she said this, I really slowed down to let her words sink in.

I know every young mom has heard "They're only little once!" and "The time goes fast! Treasure every moment!" and if this google search is any indication, they're all tired of hearing it. I must confess, I "get" it, but I don't. The reason the young mothers are drawing the line in the sand of All The Things Not To Say To Me is because they are right in the daily trenches and maybe all they want is a glass of wine or a nap or the luxury of peeing alone. And you can laugh about it and think I am being hyperbolic, but every bit of that is true.

But the reason the old mamas keep saying All The Forbidden Words is because they have more than an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom. They have hindsight. They were there. They were in the trenches. And then life happened and in all the long days and short years, their kids grew up. And maybe they have regret and maybe they have wisdom and maybe all they can do now is offer up some words of advice, ill-timed or not.

So to those seasoned mothers who keep saying apparently all the wrong things:

Please keep saying them to me.

On the days I take someone to the potty for the 35th time in an hour, please remind me that they won't always be so dependent.

On the August afternoons that my two oldest are arguing about who gets to put the star on the Christmas tree four months from now, remind me that their conflicts won't always be so simple to solve.

When we have yet another sleepless night, please remind me that sleep issues are not just an indicator of my obvious parenting failures and that we will get through it.

When I am convinced my child will want to breastfeed until she is 25 years old, please - PLEASE - assure me this isn't true.

When my baby wails until I pick her up, remind me that her needs are simple and look like a cuddle. Remind me that it doesn't actually get much easier than that. Keep reminding me that little needs are simple needs. I will file this one under "Things I Need to Hear, Not Want to Hear," and ask that you preemptively forgive whatever disgusted look I give you.

When my kid cries loudly in Walmart, remind me that we all feel that way while in Walmart; my child just has the sense to vocalize.

When my girls make a giant mess and forget to clean it up before moving on to the next thing and I ask, "Why didn't you clean this up when you were through?" remind me that "I guess we forgot because we're children" is a totally valid, honest answer.

When I think I didn't get much accomplished during the day because LOOK AT THIS MESS and I AM NOT EVEN SURE THESE PEOPLE BRUSHED THEIR TEETH and ALL I DID TODAY WAS HOLD PEOPLE AND WIPE TEARS and EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EVERY SINGLE THING WE OWN IS DISTRIBUTED INDISCRIMINATELY ON THE FLOOR AND BY THE WAY I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR SUPPER BURGER KING SOUNDS GOOD MMKAY?, remind me that my children are hearts to nurture and not just projects to manage. And that the condition of relationships always outweigh the condition of the house or the condition of supper.

When  I'm convinced I'm ruining them: remind me that you felt that way, too. And you made it! And your children grew up! And they are functioning, contributing adults in society! And you didn't ruin them! And it will be okaaaaaaay!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I'm and feel guilty about taking time for myself, remind me that my kids deserve a happy mom.

When my girls muster up the courage to confess something wrong they'd kept secret, remind me to be gentle because cultivating integrity and honesty and trust starts when they're young.

When my teen makes choices that injure relationships, remind me to keep loving. And remind me that everybody gets to make their own choices.

Older mamas, I need you to keep reminding me of what's true, even if your delivery isn't winning gold medals. I need you to not wonder if you're saying the right thing and be willing to risk saying the wrong thing because there might be truth in both. I need you to be in my life, cheering me on, helping me laugh, letting me cry, and reminding me of what's important.

Because when I walk into the bathroom and see this:

partners in crime, awake or asleep

I need you to remind me that they're only little once, and that the time goes fast.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

savings, spendings, and customer disservice

I would like the hidden camera men who have lately been filming the staged (for THIS CANNOT ACTUALLY BE HAPPENING) customer-service-related meltdowns in my life to step forward, because I owe them a heartfelt punch in the schnozz.

Now, let us discuss mathematics and secondhand clothing. I promise this ties together.

We took a little shopping jaunt to my favorite consignment shop. $72 worth of clothing was laid upon the counter. I walked out after paying $9 cash. Here's the break down:

Original tag prices: $72
After tag sale discount: $32
My in-store credit applied to the sale: $23
Remaining balance: $9

Now, my dears, what was the value of the clothing we purchased? $72? $32? $9? And did I spend $9 or did I save $81?

Value apparently is in the eye of the beholder. Which is why I want to viciously attack the hidden cameramen. It's not funny anymore. I've spent the last ten weeks of my life in a battle, apparently to the death of my sanity, with customer service. My mother-in-law could place her hand on a Bible and testify that she saw me become a venom-spewing demon. BLESS HER for still loving me. And for not walking out the door with all my children promising that she was taking them to a better place. She just kept reading books to them. What a woman.

I've remarked on customer service here, and my outlook hasn't changed.  If companies would hire me to teach a day seminar on appropriate customer service, it would change the world and I would be rolling in wads of cash.

Sidenote: Just in case you're the head of a company who wishes to do just that, this is my bullet point seminar:
-How to listen and pretend you care
-How to apologize for things that aren't your fault
-When to argue with a customer; quick answer: never
-Speaking the language/dialect of the people calling in: a quick guide to winning friends and influencing people
-How to love and adore the angry people you'll be talking to all day

-Automated systems: how to make fussy people even fussier in 5 quick keypad pushes

My most recent come-apart was when we landed in a local Verizon store. The external speaker on Lumberjack's phone recently bit the dust. Not a problem, and we could totally live with it in an alternate universe, but he keeps on-call hours and having a phone that you can hear ringing is a necessity. Especially in the middle of the night. We hoped for a repair; no dice. We faced the reality of buying a new phone. At this point it might've been in everybody's best interest for me to shout JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL and leave the store with my hands dramatically flying. I didn't.

Instead, with us now in her clutches, the salesgirl rattled off a stream of numbers that sent my head spinning.  Apparently there was A New Phone That Was Just Released Yesterday. And if you buy it today, you'll get a $300 bill credit. And then you'll get this premium offer of only paying $27/month for the next 24 months (this might as well be the rest of my life). And because he's a hospital employee Serving The Community, there's this additional discount. Oh, man. Thank you for your service, Sir. You are a real hero. Please Look Away While I Magically Apply the $300 Bill Credit Twice and make it look like you're making money off this dumb thing. OH WAIT. That sounds like a great sales tactic! I'll actually tell you that if you buy this phone, you'll make money off it!

Oh, can I, now? Can I, please?! BECAUSE THAT IS EXCITING MAGIC.

I pointed out the holes in her application of the bill credit. I pointed out how there's no way a customer is making money off a phone when they've paid every penny of $648 for it. (And plus also it is A PHONE. To replace a DEAD SPEAKER. A piece of hardware that probably cost all of FORTY CENTS in the first place. And I am not opting to pay $648 FOR THAT.) I held my own. I insisted the value was not what she thought it was. She insisted we were making money. Real cute, Princess of 8% Commission-on-this-sale.  Your attitude makes me want to throw things. And it's not my money.

I stood firmly rooted to my position. I wouldn't budge. She took the Boy you are really an idiot for not believing me tone. Madam, I'm about to dial 1-800-LOSE MY JESUS. There is no way you can keep your job as a salesgirl and Verizon stay in business if you are actively selling all of your products at a loss. Quit pretending this is what you are doing. At this point it was totally sweet timing that my little cherubs were apparently emaciating away from Total And Actual Starvation. It was super helpful that apparently in that same moment they completely forgot how to behave like human beings. It made for the optimal excuse for leaving the store.

"I will think about our options," I said, hoping the hashtag #nothingthatyouveshownmeisanoptionandplusyouareawful wasn't blinking too brightly above my head.

Regardless of how you view savings, I see it as spendings. I didn't actively save $81 at the consignment shop; I simply spent $9. And no matter how many times a sales clerk magically deducts a one-time $300 credit and insists that I am turning a profit by spending $648, I refuse to believe that money works like magic. The flip side is tantalizing, I must confess: if what she says is true, and that valuable discount can be achieved by the average customer, think of the discount if I worked there! The apparent solution is to put my application in straight away so that I can work alongside her because we obviously have the makings of an epic friendship. I can't wait!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

quicksand, twitter, and hashtag casserole


Apparently I used to have a blog that I updated with some hilarious things every now and again, and sometimes made people cry in a beautiful way (beautiful crying is way different from ugly crying. I hope to death I haven't made anyone ugly-cry).

Apparently this is that blog, and APPARENTLY I LEFT MYSELF SIGNED IN.

Totally fortuitous. If I hadn't, bye-bye-bloggie. I'd have no idea how to get back into it, starting with the signing in process.

As I'm writing this, there's a bar at the top of my screen that says the blog host doesn't support this browser and it may result in unexpected behavior.

Puh-leez. I've got kids. Unexpected behavior from a browser window has nothing on that.

Since we last talked, we've finished some septic work in the backyard, acquired chickens, got rid of the chickens, had a baby, put our cat through eye removal surgery so now he is worth even less, canned a million jars of fruit jam, refinished our bathroom, mopped my floors probably twice, and didn't sleep. I know, I know. All of it, excuses for why I abandoned the blog. I learned to hashtag, I've gotten on Twitter, I'm still eating gluten, and I won't touch kale. I've read a lot of good books that have warmed my heart, challenged my paradigms, and had me sobbing in my tea by the last page. Speaking of tea, I've given up drinking it sweet. #majorlifechange #whoamIeven #Idontevenknowmyselfanymore   And speaking of books, I've written my own and am ruthlessly pursuing rejections by literary agents until I find a magical combination of right time, right agent, right mood. And a bunch of other rights I haven't stumbled into yet, but I'm sure they're out there. Self publication is not in my cards or in my pocket or in the stars or whatever the saying is. I'm not touching that event with a ten foot pole.

Speaking of touching things with a ten foot pole: you know what I used to really think about a lot as a child that had me frightened for a very long time? Quick sand. Funny how that turned out to not be as much of a problem in adulthood.

Lots of things to be glad about. The absence of quicksand is at the top of my list, no two ways about it.