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A few nights ago we received a very special visit from the Oracle Known as Steve. If you didn’t know this already, the Oracle Known as Steve has an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge that surpasses the average human such as myself in both intensity and fervor by about seventeen football fields. In our early married days, the Country Doctor consulted The Oracle Known as Steve with a regularity that makes Metamucil look like white flour. The Oracle advised us on everything from furniture placement to produce selection. I still don’t know how we ever could have limped through our first years of marriage without him.

As we visited with The Oracle and his beautiful family, I prepared a fabulous dinner including fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and some broccoli and cauliflower sauteed in garlic, wine and olive oil. Yeah, I know the broccoli and cauliflower in wine and garlic wasn’t really what you were expecting – but it was all I had!

Just as I was about to finish up the potatoes and put this lovely meal on the table, The Oracle Known as Steve stopped me dead in my tracks with one of those life altering questions that makes you regret everything you have ever done and want to start completely over…from scratch…from the beginning… from the dawn of time. He asked me…

“Are you going to make any gravy?”

To the average family member I would have probably responded by saying,

“Get out of my kitchen now!”


“No! I’m not, you gotta problem with that?”


“Do you want to do all the cooking from now on?”

But since it was the Oracle – I fell prostrate on the floor in front of him and said, “Um… no… I wasn’t – w-w-w-would you like to make some…?”

And he commanded me saying, “Wherest is thy flour?”

As you may know, The Oracle Known as Steve and The Country Doctor are both from a large rambling family of nine siblings raised on the rugged Kansas Prairie in a tiny farmhouse where they thrived on activities such as “Knife Trife” a game involving a butter knife, a living room and three wrestling brothers (The CD, THE OKAS, and Mr. Panties). They also learned how to make massive meals – emphasis on the word MASSIVE to feed this family. As the family grew up and got married and had kids – the meals got more and more MASSIVE. During the making of these massive meals, The Oracle Known as Steve can often be found, behind the stove or manning the grill or stirring the soup. His favorite cooking utensils are – king sized black plastic garbage bags – for mixing salads… Industrial sized vats for making soup and sauces… and evidently he needs the back-end of a pick up truck in order to make his gravy.

I did not have the back-end of a pick up truck to offer him, so I gave him my largest frying pan – the one I use to make entire meals for my family of six and watched in growing fear and panic as he started to make his gravy.

I won’t describe the entire process, but I will tell you that he started with a gallon of milk and this is how much was left when he was done.

At some point he made the sad mistake of jumping from making gravy to instructing me as to how to make gravy and that is where I sort of started making a few very small and very discreet faces.

I made this one when he demanded a whisk… no, not that one… a better whisk. Do you have a better whisk? I will need a better one than that one…

Then… he asked for some starchy water from the potatoes I was still boiling.

I said, “Can I just dip some out for you as my potatoes are still cooking?”

He said, “No, I want the dregs at the bottom with the little chunks of potatoes…”

He went on and on about how the dregs from the bottom of the potato water make much better gravy and blah blah blah blah!

My face sort of started to melt into this…

Oh is that right Mr. Oracle?

Tell me more about your potato water Mr. Oracle, and your dregs and your expertise at making gravy because HELLO – I am the mother of four boys and you are not the mother of ANY boys and my guess is that I have made about sixteen industrial sized vats of gravy compared to your single super large frying pan full!

The Oracle Known as Steve never even flinched.

Finally – the potatoes were mashed – the Oracle Known as Steve got his dreggy water, and finished making his gravy and he summoned unto me saying, “Fetcheth me a large containereth big enough to hold his vast ocean of gravy.”

“And Lo – I did fetch unto him a plastic pitcher for ice tea and he did filleth it uppeth to the toppeth and then we filled another smaller pitcher uppeth to the toppeth and then the gravy ceased and there was no more.

While topping off the large pitcher of gravy, I came to an new understanding of the term “gravy boat” as clearly, that is what we really needed…an actual boat… no wait… we really needed a gravy ark.

I placed the smaller gravy pitcher and the rest of the food on the table and dinner was served.

The food was great. The company was fine. We laughed, we talked, we hemmed and hawed, we chortled, we gasped, we heaved, we hoed, we looked at the large pitcher of gravy in awe and wonder, and then we heaved some more, we ate and ate and ate. After a piece of pie and some ice cream we cleared the table. This is what was left…

One piece of my delicious fried chicken.

One half pitcher of gravy.


As soon as the Oracle Known as Steve left, his precious dreggy potato water left-over gravy went straight into the trash.

Hey – everyone knows that gravy is never as good the second day!

God is a Muskrat

May 15th, 2009

We have a policy at the garden center that states that if a tree or shrub dies in the first year after purchase, we will replace it for free.

But the guarantee does not cover quite everything…

Customer – I bought a weeping willow here last year…
Me – Oh – what a nice tree!
Customer – Well… it died.
Me – Oh dear!
Customer – I have my receipt.
Me – Thank you.
Customer – So can I get my free tree now?
Me – First, can you tell me how your tree died?
Customer – It looks like a muskrat ate it.
Me – A muskrat?
Customer – Yes, it’s been chewed clean in half.
Me – Oh… Well I’m sorry to tell you that our guarantee does not cover acts of God.
Customer – It wasn’t an act of God… it was an act of a muskrat.
Me – Okay… But I am pretty sure that falls under the category of an “act of God.”
Customer – Are you saying that God is a muskrat?
Me – Uh… No… I am saying that when nature intervenes in the life of a plant… like an ice storm… or a lightning strike… you can’t say that the plant died because we sold you a bad plant…
Customer – So you are saying that God sent a muskrat to chew up my willow tree?
Me – No… not exactly… well sort of… but not really…
Customer – Why would God send a muskrat to eat my tree…?
Me – Uh… I don’t think God sent a muskrat to eat your tree…
Customer – So then it wasn’t an act of God!
Me – Not literally… no… probably not.
Customer – So can I get my free tree now?
Me – No… I’m sorry…
Customer – That’s alright. I probably deserved that muskrat eating my tree for some reason.
Prolonged slightly uncomfortable silence.
Me – Um… Can I help you with anything else?
Customer – Have you got any of those burning bushes?
Originally published August 27, 2008

Show Cats!

May 15th, 2009

Over Thanksgiving we had a house full of company. The Country Doctor’s large rambling family of eight siblings descended on our new house along with all their spouses, children, and varying political persuasions. We had sleeping bags on top of sleeping bags, on top of sleeping bags. Children were squashed so closely together on the floor that it was difficult to tell where one sleeping child ended and another began. In fact their dreams all bled together into one long nightmare where they were trapped in an endless game of twister with their cousins, while their parents argued over presidential candidates. During their wakeful hours, one of the activities that greatly entertained this large pulsating mass of sweaty childhood was our cats.

Here we have Arod

and the limp shaggy blonde is Cookie.

Of course, I am not giving you their real names. I am much too protective of my cats to post their real names on the internet for all the world to see! Plus, they have too many real names and I can’t really keep track of them all. Jack – my real son and maybe that is his real name and maybe it is not, all I know is that is what we call him around here – but JACK – likes to re-name the cats just about everyday.

ANYWAY – the point of this story is that these cats were very popular over Thanksgiving. They were carried and coddled, and hugged, and snuggled, and placed under blankets, and inside of sleeping bags and on top of teetering pillow piles and then the cats would make a break for it and try to escape to find some peace, only to be searched for with great anxiety until they were found and carried and snuggled and dropped and snatched back up and chased and hugged until they meowed for mercy.

Fortunately they are very mild cats. They are also somewhat striking cats. They were also free cats – given to us by a local couple that has a pickle court! Have you ever played pickle? Very fun game. Anyway – we got these little kittens and they grew and grew and got fuzzier and fuzzier and more and more beautiful – so when my brother-in law (Mr. Panties) saw them, he was so awestruck by their fluffy loveliness, that he dubbed them the “Show Cats”. And they have been our “Show Cats” ever since.

My sister, April loves our “Show Cats” and so does her daughter Bellers so whenever they visit, they always try get me to give them one. At which point I tell April the entire “Show Cats” story and then she says, “Rechelle – You’ve told me that same story a hundred times! “

And I Say, “But it is sooo funny.”

And April says – “Not really – not anymore…”

And then I say – “Show Cats Show Cats Show Cats…”

And then she says – “Actually, I don’t think it was that funny to start with…”

And then I say – “SHOW CATS!!”

And then April says something really, really, super, mean or she imitates my laughter making a horrible screeching noise while puckering her face into a wizened old hag as if I look like that while I am laughing!

And then I say – “It is still funny – because I say so! Show cats! Show Cats! Show Cats!”

The point of this story?… I have SHOW CATS! And they are better than April’s old boring NOT “Show Cats”! The end.