Happy birthday, Momma

Family.

If you are lucky enough to have one, love them hard.

If you don’t love them hard, try to find a way to just love them anyway because they are precious.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this lately as my siblings and I had the honor of working on putting together a party to celebrate our mother.

My sweet mother will celebrate her 80th birthday Friday, but because we are nothing if not efficient as a family unit, we celebrated it last Saturday when all five of her K’s could be with her.

It’s a rare event when we are all in the same geographical location these days, with two of my sisters, Kellie and Kim, living out of state. The other three K’s, myself, Kay and Kevin, live here and have unfettered access to Mom.

Even though all of us are over 50 years old and have our own grandchildren, the fact that we all get excited to be together is testimony to the woman who was responsible for bringing us into this world.

Mom and her 5 K’s

After a month or so of planning, and group messaging such classic messages as, “We are better than this, people!” And “if you don’t answer this message I will shiv you.”, all of us, along with all of my mother’s grandchildren who could be in town and several members of our vast extended family, celebrated.

We ate, we laughed, we remembered. And, we celebrated the woman who brought our lovingly dysfunctional crew together.

We love each other hard.

This beautiful and classy woman – my Mom – is known to most of you as Dolores Hamilton, the publisher of the Iowa Park Leader. If you see her Friday, let her know the impact she’s had on your life by the simple fact she was born. I hope that was something her children and grandchildren were able to convey to her as we celebrated with her.

We Hamiltons are lucky people, and we know it. We value family and the beautiful creature who is the head of ours.

Happy birthday, Momma. I love you and your legacy.

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Pop A Top, again

I’m very excited because, according to the deep research (i.e. one Wikipedia article, a fabulous article in Western Digs, listening to iTunes, and a stroll down memory lane) I conducted this week, Gordon Lake in Iowa Park, Texas, has a shot at being eligible for protection under state and federal laws.

Why? Beer tabs.

Specifically pull rings from beer cans that were manufactured between 1965 and 1975.

This exciting news began with lunch at the lake, as it sometimes does.

About once a week I spend my lunch hour at Gordon Lake. Some days I eat in my car – a pimento cheese sandwich from K&K Foods or egg rolls from Scobee’s – whatever covers my food groups. Sometimes I walk along the shore.

Last week, I made my way down to the shore and found, in rapid succession, two aluminum pull tabs on the dry shoreline, but where water certainly used to be. To say I was excited was an understatement.

I envisioned a couple of old fishermen sitting on the shore in the 60’s, smelling of stink bait and exchanging fish tales with raucous laughter and a couple of cold ones.

So these things are possibly 50 years old, and they’ve been hanging out lakeside just waiting to be found.

Still covered in dirt, I took these pictures of the aluminum ring pulls next to the closest thing I could find, for scale.  Here ya’ go. 

They stopped making ring pulls in the mid-seventies because of two things: 1) Litter, and,  2) People who put them back in the can before they drank were choking on them. The pop-top industry evolved to something we recognize today.

They were highly popularized in 1967 by the Jim Ed Brown hit “Pop a Top”, followed by the lesser known but equally emotional song, “I almost cut off my middle finger opening Daddy’s beer”, written by me in 1974.

The article I read in Western Digs said those beer pull tabs are now considered historic-era artifacts, “a designation that bestows new significance on the old aluminum cans and their distinctive tabs that are still found across the country.”

“Once an artifact attains the 50-year threshold, it is eligible to be recorded as an archaeological site or an isolated find in most states,” said William Schroeder, an archaeologist with the firm Reiss-Landreau Research in Yakima, Washington.

“This means that even beverage-can pull tabs are eligible for protection under state and federal laws.”

I don’t know if I should read that and respond, “WOO-HOO!”, or check to see if I’ve broken the law by leaving the shore with those beer tabs.

There you have it. Alert the media. Iowa Park is possibly eligible for state and federal protection  because, beer tabs.

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Look at what no one is pointing to

Since we no longer have what a sane or sober person would consider a news cycle – I call them news cyclones and end up taking shelter – I have a feeling that we are missing some news that might actually make us better, both individually and as a community of humans.

So I spent the weekend searching for news that didn’t quite make the team, priority-wise, because well, you know.

I cruise Twitter for many nefarious reasons, but I will generally find a couple of good stories on there.

Tucked in between the fist-shaking political posts and comedians trying out their lines in 140 characters, I found a little love this weekend.

The very cool website The DoDo had a story about a movement to donate old comfy chairs to animal shelters.

SAY WHAT?

What a concept, and what a beautiful way to upcycle used furniture. Plus, the pictures wrapped themselves around my heart and made me want to gather up everyone’s old chairs and deliver them to every dog lying on a cold concrete floor.

I checked with the City of Iowa Park to see if this might be an option for the brand new animal reclaim center scheduled to open in the next month or so, and while it is a possibility the jury is still out on space and other logistics.

Stay tuned.

The next thing I found was a tweeted picture of a high school girl presumably trying on a prom dress. She had sent the front and back pictures of her in the dress to the wrong number for approval.

The recipient, apparently the mother of five children who looked about three to 11 years old, texted back a picture of all of her children giving a big thumbs up to the stranger.

Lastly, let’s talk about Alexa. Developed by Amazon as an electronic personal assistant in a little round box, in the past week this artificial intelligence independently managed to freak out the world.

I don’t own one, but I think she sits on your kitchen counter and takes dictation and commands and answers ridiculous and serious questions.

My understanding is she can do everything from timing a roast to giving you the weather, or even breaking up with a boyfriend via text message. It’s like a friend that doesn’t speak unless spoken to. Until she does.

Scores of people last week began to report that Alexa was laughing in a creepy manner without being prompted.

Again, SAY WHAT?

Since I don’t own one, I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have burned Alexa in a tank of napalm had she giggled for no apparent reason, but the odds are in my favor.

Your assignment for the week: Look up. Look behind that thing everyone is telling you to believe. Look at what nobody is pointing to. This stuff isn’t even at the bottom of the news cyclone, but many times it’s buried in the rubble.

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We’ve come a long way, Barbie

I haven’t played with Barbies in roughly 40 years, but my friends, I sense that is about to change.

Mattel, who is not paying me for this epic endorsement, just released 17 new Barbie dolls honoring “historic and modern day role models from around the world.”

These dolls were introduced this week ahead of International Women’s Day,  which is today – YAY US!

I have to tell you, I was a huge Barbie and Company groupie. I had them all – Barbie, Ken, Skipper, a couple of babies Skipper was in charge of babysitting, and Skipper’s second cousin from her mother’s side – all of whom were blonde and quite tan.

Because Mattel didn’t make a slightly-spastic with reddish-brown hair Barbie, who also wouldn’t tan and preferred jeans, I didn’t identify with my dolls as most of you can imagine accurately.

Mattel is releasing as part of its SHERO program (hold on to your tiny plastic pumps) dolls including famed pilot Amelia Earhart; Frida Kahlo – an incredible artist and the one somebody better get me for Christmas; Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician; Olympic Athlete Chloe Kim and boxer Nicola Adams, among many more.

This is huge, y’all.

This beautiful news comes at a time when Photoshop, Kardashians and “Full Beat Makeup” (read: perfectly applied) are placing unreasonable and unreachable expectations on young women who are already beautiful in their own rights.

And it’s hard to feel beatufiul when you are looking to achieve a perfection that only exists inside a computer program, or in the life of people with their own makeup artist.

I knew precisely one girl growing up who truly looked like Barbie, and she was gorgeous. She still is. But most of us don’t look like Barbie, we look like us.

And Mattel can’t cover us all, but they are getting closer.

So thank you, Mattel. It’s about time and it is appreciated that all girls can have a doll that meets their standards rather than trying to meet the doll’s standards.

Did I mention I really want these Barbies for Christmas?

We’ve come a long way, Barbie.

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Successful New Year Resolutions – I have less than none

We are almost eight weeks weeks into the new year, and for those keeping count I am negative two on my resolutions for 2018.

Besides the ones to “work out every day yada, yada, yada …”, and read more books, I have also failed at things I didn’t even formally commit to, which takes a special talent in the art of failure.

But I’ve never claimed excellence in my mental organization. Like, not once.

Although I never wrote it down, I remembered that sometime last year as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I told myself a good new year’s resolution would be less social media. And by less, I meant none.

Not done, and not done.

When you tell yourself you’re going to take it easy on social media for a while, the same thing happens as when you go on a diet –  the frontal cortex of your brain goes into starvation mode, and says “Mayday! Mayday! More! Gimme more!” Also, it says things like, “You should just bathe in it,” and “Take no prisoners.”

Unfortunately, being addicted to Facebook is probably close to being bulimic in that you gorge yourself, and the only outlet is to purge it back out. Neither kind is healthy, trust me on this.

The other resolution that got me into the negative was one I’ve had so long I just stopped writing it down, and it is this: This is the year I will use better discretion on when and where I dance in the car. Three policemen and about 50 strangers of all ages can vouch for the fact I have broken that one every single day this year.

And what I really meant by “I’m going to read two books a month this year, “ was “I’m going to read a book in the first eight weeks of 2018, and see where it takes me.”

Success, in my case, lies in the semantics.

To reiterate, it looks like I will not be in beach shape by June. Or, at the rate I’m not going – August even.

I will sit in my shame corner and acknowledge I gorged on the all-you-can-eat social media buffet with wild abandon.

I’m a slow reader.

I can’t deny my disco destiny, and I won’t. But it’s February 22 and I’m still standing, looking for a good book and a swim suit made by Spanx. I’m still making no hard-core commitments on social media, because … I’m probably a self-masochist at heart (note to self: get a therapist).

And dancing, always dancing. I’ll take it.

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Olympic dreamers

If you’re like me, you are suffering from an Olympic-sized hangover.

No booze is required for this hangover, only staying up late on a school night (or several in a row in my case) to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang staged in South Korea.

Therefore, it’s all I’ve got for this week’s blog.

I’ve been an Olympic nerd my entire life – both summer and winter – but for reasons that may be somewhat obvious, I’ve watched them through a different lens this year.

Of course, I take enormous satisfaction when the USA takes home a gold, or any, medal. I’m an unapologetic homer.

But a few things struck me as I’ve watched this year.

With all of the contentiousness in the world, the Olympics have been a reminder to me to look at mankind  as a product of the same creator, even if national pride is the dog we have in the hunt.

My favorite sport to watch so far has been the half pipe and the  gold medalists in both the women’s and men’s event were who I was rooting for – Americans Chloe Kim and Shaun White.

They are incredible athletes who happen to be American.

It was clear early on that every single person in the competitions trained hard and had big dreams, regardless of their country of origin, or who they were competing for.

Chloe Kim, only 17 years old, is the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from South Korea. After her gold medal win, her father called her “the American Dream.”

I’ve had my DNA tested since the last Olympics, which puts a whole new spin on how I view them, because I realize I might be hoping a distant cousin crashes out on her giant slalom run, which is not a way to bring the family closer.

Suddenly, as someone who now knows I’m more than 50% German, it hurts far less to see them leading in the medal count so far. Ireland, who claims a full quarter of my DNA,  hasn’t played much of a role in the winter games, with five athletes competing in four events and no medals so far, or probably at all. I get my sporting chops, it seems, from my Celtic blood.

I also found out I have no native American in my DNA at all, which puts me in the same boat as Chloe Kim, only a few generations later.

It does my heart good to see the athletes of the world putting aside their differences to achieve the same dreams. It is, I think, humanity at its best these days.

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May the pours be with you

I spent the last week doing what a lot of people around here have been enjoying lately – having an extended and unplanned out-of-body experience.

Nope, we aren’t new age freaks, we’re just in the epi-center of an epidemic of flu, strep throat, or a mutant form of viral cold, and any combination thereof.

I, thank the Dude, fell into the latter category so I could move around and stuff but I couldn’t feel myself doing it.

Except for the water boarding, which I’ll get to later.  I could feel that.

Ever-thankful I have so far escaped the flu (knock on all wood, forever), this thing I’ve had carries it’s own set of rituals.

First, sleep. So much sleep. For a few days, I was averaging about 14 hours of relative unconciousness.

Second, self-inflicted water boarding which is the antithesis of sleep, but necessary in exorcizing  the demons. Each day I would do this to myself by way of something you can legally purchase at a drug store called a Neti Pot.

I call it a snot genie, but whatever.

It flushes out anything within a 6-inch radius of your nose that may be harboring snot, but not before it takes you on an epic journey right up to the brink of death by self-drowning.

Seriously, you haven’t lived until you watched yourself do this in a bathroom mirror, my only survival technique was to pant like a dog. Again, this was the only time last week I was consciously in my body and it isn’t a pleasant memory.

Third, I poured. A lot.

I poured saline water into the snot genie, then into my face.

I poured cough medicine with codeine down my throat.

I poured a few cups of NyQuil and learned to love it.

I poured a shot of Crown. Maybe more, who was counting?

Each time I poured, I quickly toasted to the quick return of health to all the people with the flu and strep, and for those who have avoided it,  because I knew if I didn’t hurry I would soon be unconscious.

But if you do get this stuff, may the pours be with you.

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Get you a cup … of Padre Pods

The best ideas come from the most unlikely places.

I had almost – almost – given up on Facebook as having any redeeming social value.

Between the balsamic vinegar Brussels sprouts recipe debacle (a recipe I found on Facebook, by the way) and a constant World Wrestling Federation-style barrage of people trying to change other people’s political affiliations, I was close to requiring a flak jacket and gas mask when I logged on.

Then Padre posted Wednesday morning.

Padre is a Presbyterian minister in Waxahachie whose real name is Matt. I went to school with Matt, and I still follow him because he has never posted about Brussels sprouts and I’ve never heard nor seen him use a childish moniker to describe somebody he disagreed with. Also, I think he’s a great guy in general.

According to his Facebook post, he woke up to a broken coffee pot, something akin to a sign from God to go back to bed in my world. And I told him so.

His other friends took the opportunity to put his coffee pot in their prayers; and one opined it would be good material for his Sunday sermon.

But the best came from another friend from school, Kent, who suggested the Padre dip coffee grounds like snuff until he could make it to the store to buy a new coffee maker.

That’s when a cottage industry was born – coffee pouches to put between your lip and gums in a dire emergency, and waking up to a broken coffee pot qualifies as a dire emergency in my world.

I even came up with a name – Padre Pods.

Looks like I’m going to need some financial backers for this venture; also some test subjects (no chihuahuas, please) and a whole lot of espresso roast beans.

I think we can do this, with the Padre’s blessing. Send all checks, test subjects and beans to the office.

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I wouldn’t cook this again for all the sprouts in Brussels

We are about to go on yet another culinary journey, so strap in and grab the air freshener.

This week for  the first time in my entire life, I cooked Brussels sprouts, and I did it on purpose.

I’ll spare you all the gory details on the history of my now-irreparable relationship with the nasty vegetable, but I will admit it is one of the two vegetables that made me involuntary gag as a tender babe. It was also a vegetable that even our dog wouldn’t eat for me.

I accidentally ate a good one a few years ago in Boston, then saw on Facebook recently where a friend from high school was “obsessed” with balsamic vinegar Brussels sprouts.

That got me to thinking that little Kari’s tastebuds may have changed. I never even thought about my smeller.

Last week, I bought fresh Brussel sprouts and in a grown-up move, used them for something besides heads of lettuce for my Barbie’s fancy dinner parties in her condo.

I oven-roasted them instead, which made the inside of my house smell like it was permanently downwind from the porta-johns at a chili cookoff.

The after party

Suffice it to say I was not the most popular person in our household of two people.

The smell was so bad, I formulated an emergency plan to remove them from the oven and quickly dump them in to the balsamic vinegar and honey blend to contain the damage.

But the genie was not going back into the bottle.

When the timer went off I rushed over and opened the oven door too fast, which fogged up my glasses with hot stench. I tripped running the cast iron skillet to the bowl and scared the dog who mistakenly thought she was at a chili-cookoff.

The entire time, my husband kept asking, “You didn’t know? You really didn’t know?” Like I had pulled the ultimate practical joke on him at the expense of my own physical well-being.

The Brussels sprouts were actually pretty good, and would have been better had I eaten them in a wind tunnel lined with Glade Plug-Ins.

I know you were wondering.

Pro tip for Brussels sprouts: There isn’t enough Lysol in the world. Or less dramatically, there is, but it takes 3 hours and 48 minutes of focused and well-timed work to make it happen.

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God Bless the Bloated Road

It’s not often a person can brag they went around the world in a month, but here we are.

It wasn’t just me, but my entire family that went on this journey and we never left our kitchens.

I left December a few pounds heavier after the culinary road trip that took us to Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and of course, the deep south.

Every year at Christmas my family picks a food theme that will cleanse our collective palates of turkey.

This year we chose Mexican food, and my Mom’s house was full of tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, queso, enchiritos and sweets – all homemade. We are amazing when we travel together, and even moreso when we cook together.

Nobody messed up, and there will be nobody to bring paper goods to the next event, so we’ll probably travel to the Sandwich Islands next year.

A week later, the culinary adventure continued in South Carolina when my daughter (who is not Italian, that I know of) greeted us the first night there with her homemade spaghetti. The next night they took us to Brazil with some great steaks, then off to Germany when my son-in-law made Schnitzel.

When it was my turn for the trip’s itinerary, I chose our roots.

This means I went all the way to the redneck branch of the family that likes to sit on the porch with our crazy and a mason jar full of … homemade (of course) beverages.

That’s right, my leg of the trip wasn’t to a glamorous place, unless you consider banjos elegant dinner music. I took us to the woods where Spam and potatoes are fried together openly and with no shame whatsoever.

And it was good, as long as you don’t consider my husband’s opinion about Spam and the people who eat it.

We ran out of year before he could take us to his country where the food is brown and vegetables that aren’t spelled p-o-t-a-t-o are not on the menu.

It just occured to me what I really got for Christmas. Pounds – delicious ones and a lot of them. And I have just enough time to get into shape before our next trip.

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