My Funny Valentine

Dear Grace,

I am just so distraught to hear about your dog. When I lived with you during those summers, she and I used to cuddle on the couch and watch movies. And when I ate Pop-Tarts I always fed her the unfrosted edges. I remember when you and Gordon first got her and she had that one floppy ear. She is the loveliest dog.

In other news, Abe and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day in our own weird, non-celebratory way. All day my students (who came to class laden with flowers and heart-shaped chocolates) were asking what Abe and I had planned for the holiday. I felt increasingly guilty when my answer was continually “Errrr . . . nothing?” My students were all shocked and dashed as they see Mr. Adams and myself as some sort of ideal-romantic-love beacon. So in order to assuage my own guilt at not planning some sentimental gift or date, I quickly made a card for my Valentine-hating husband. 

When Abe came to get me from work, he was waiting for me with a bouquet of pink roses and hydrangea. My favorite! We might not be the best at Valentine’s Day, but for us I think we did pretty good. Now we are watching Friends and eating sandwiches in the living room like we’re college roommates. It’s the best.

Although I am wishing I had some chocolates right about now . . .

Love Always,

Millie

 

P.S. If you need some card inspiration, I made a version of this one for Abe last year. Naturally, it was a big hit.   Image result for i love your butt let me touch it forever

Negligence At Its Finest

Dear Grace,

How in the world do you do all that you do? It feels like I am constantly rushing to get things done; rushing through planning and grading, rushing to school, rushing to scouts, to church, to dance practice, etc. Due to aforementioned rushing, I have decided to compile a list of everything I have been neglecting lately just so you know my letters to you have not been the only things on the back-burner.

  1. The Food
    • I have never been the sort of person who could consciously or subconsciously skip meals. In fact, most of my thought processes seem to revolve around what I am planning to eat next. But if I am being completely, totally, unabashedly honest, I haven’t made Abe a home-cooked meal for a week. Mumsie would be shocked and dashed. I just can’t seem to pull myself together at the end of my long days to cook anything, so Abe will sweetly give in and order pizza or fetch breakfast burritos or let me heat up frozen corn dogs. My skin and wasitline are certainly paying for it.
  2. The Dishes
    • Despite the fact that we have not been eating real food lately, there is still a mountain of dishes to be done. How does that even happen?
  3. The Laundry
    • I might get the laundry into the washer and eventually into the dryer, but it has been sitting in mountainous piles in baskets waiting to be folded. When it comes down to it, I probably will just rewash everything because it is all a sad, wrinkled heap by now.
  4. The Exercise
    • Besides teaching my dance classes, I cannot think of the last time I purposefully exercised.
  5. The Hair & Makeup
    • Five out of five hairdos this week have been messy buns. Emphasis on messy. Abe’s teenage cousin has taken to calling my hair The Tumbleweave due to its sad resemblance in both color and texture to our beloved desert plant. I also ran out of face makeup about a month ago and have not made the time to go out and buy more. Given the fact that our diet of grease has been doing a number on my skin, I don’t look much better than the acne-infested students I teach.
  6. The Cleaning
    • Where does one even find the time to clean the bathrooms anyway?
  7. The Patience
    • I think Vanessa may have picked up her habit of eye-rolling from me because it feels like I have been doing this a lot. Or maybe I picked it up from her? I find myself rolling my eyes at my students, the teenage girl drama of my dance team, my scouts, even sometimes at Abe (Heaven forbid!). Most recently I found myself losing patience at a Cub Scout pack meeting. One of the leaders decided we needed to do a group cheer of sorts at the beginning of each meeting. The eight-year-olds started off with a steady beat befitting their age and abilities, the nine-year-olds added a beat slightly more complex, and then the ten-year-olds added theirs. I was actually slightly impressed and for a brief moment thought it was a good thing for the boys until the leader who started it all cried out, “And now I’ll add a cha-cha of my own!” She started flapping her arms about wildly, slapping her body in an inconceivable pattern, and stomping carelessly about the gym not caring for the steady beat set by the young boys. It was clearly an attempt at an impromptu Stomp performance, but we all sat there awkwardly patting our legs while she flailed about, literally to the beat of her own drum. I was so bewildered I couldn’t even roll my eyes, and I certainly neglected masking my impatience that night.

What this all boils down to is negligence. Not purposeful negligence, but negligence nevertheless. So I repeat: How do you have time for it all? Sometimes the thought of adding one more thing to my schedule actually brings me to tears. I keep reflecting on it all and asking, “How can I possibly think about adding a baby to this mess? How can I even think about adding more classes, more involvement, more reading, more cooking, or more anything?” I have always known life as an adult would be busy, but my word, does it never end? I surely can’t go on neglecting things forever.

Love always,

Millie

P.S. Tell the kids we miss them and talk about them all the time. I hope we can come visit you at least sometime this year! We will try our best not to neglect that.

Desperation’s Garage Sale

Dear Grace,

Believe me, I understand completely with regards to feeling like you are so behind on everything that it was as though Christmas was not celebrated as you hoped it would be. This year it hardly felt like Christmas at the Dutchman House. But maybe that has something to do with the weather here in the Southwest because the high today was 75 degrees, and that’s just awfully hot for January.

I feel like I even sluggishly approached the New Year, which is thoroughly unlike me. I usually have 20 goals planned and even a yearly theme picked out, but this year I barely have an inkling of what I would like to accomplish and I am waiting for the “opportune time” to begin my resolutions. Heaven help me.

But I do know that at very least the one thing I do want to tackle this year is STUFF. Abe and I have so much stuff. We live in a house meant for five or six and shop like we’re a family of twelve. We’re both descendants of rainy day types of folks and we save all sorts of things just in case. Of course there is nothing wrong with preparedness, and we have food storage that has saved us countless times when we have found ourselves in a pinch, but things are out of hand. For example, Abe owns entire wardrobes in various sizes. Whereas I pretend like I don’t have a ton of stuff but I really just sort through things then put them in a box in the garage. Then I think to myself, “Hey, where were those one shoes?” and then I rescue them (and more) from the box in the garage. Obviously, it is a very productive process.

This weekend Abe and I found ourselves in one of those aforementioned pinches and decided it would be the perfect time for a garage sale to help us bounce back a little. It was quite the white trash affair. We only have one folding table which we piled high with unwanted kitchen items. Abe constructed “tables” out of cardboard boxes which he covered with old sheets or curtains where we piled as many knickknacks as possible. Then I ransacked our closets for every available hanger (which wasn’t close to enough). I began pulling clothes off their existing hangers and throwing them every which way so I could hang up all the clothes we were selling.

Abe had me make the signs and because we didn’t have any poster board, I wrapped extra cardboard boxes with brown paper; and because we didn’t have any sharpies I used acrylic paints to paint our signs by hand. Abe gave me specific directions to make all the arrows on the boxes going the same way. In my brain that didn’t seem to make much sense so I sought clarification as to which direction he wanted the arrows. “Doesn’t matter which way,” he said. Still confused but ever-trusting, I figured Abe knew what he was doing when it came to directions and decided to make all the arrows point left.

Sadly, this was not what Abe had meant. He did not mean that all the arrows should be drawn in all the same direction, but that each arrow on either side of the box should be facing the same direction so that the box could be turned whichever way to point garage sale goers to the proper house. Abe didn’t realize my mistake until the morning of our grand garage sale, so I quickly had change the direction of some of the arrows leading to slightly confusing looking signs. Abe learned that he needs to be more specific with one as directionally-challenged as yours truly.

We spent our Saturday camped out in our garage watching Netflix from the old TV we were wanting to sell and stealthily attempting to “outsell” one another. In the end we really did not make much money, but thankfully enough to help us in our pinch. Once the sale was over, I wanted to box everything we did not sell (quite a lot) and ship it off to Goodwill so that it could be out of our lives forever. Abe, however, believed the garage sale was great fun and that we should keep the garage in its garage sale state and keep having garage sales until we could garage sale no more. I simply want to get rid of stuff, but Abe sees it all as a giant pile of cash to be made if we can only lure in the right buyers.

I am afraid this sorting thing just isn’t sorting out.

Much love,

Millie

How to Anniversary

Dear Grace,

Yesterday was our first anniversary of being married, and I cannot believe Abe and I have only been together for one year; certainly it has been 13 at least. Upon reflection of our anniversary, I cannot decide if there is something wrong with Abe and me as a couple or if we’re just so comfortable together that we don’t have to try to do fancy things. Or maybe it’s just laziness? I’ll let you decide.

Anniversary Timeline:

  • 9:00 A.M.: Millie wakes up and reads for about an hour.
  • 10:00 A.M.: Abe is still asleep.
  • 11:00 A.M.: Abe wakes up and Millie makes French toast for breakfast.
  • 12:00 A.M.: Millie begins wrapping Abe’s anniversary gifts and Abe goes to town in search of gifts for Millie.
  • 1:00 P.M.: Millie decides to get out of pajamas in order to look nice for her husband when he returns.
  • 2:00 P.M.: Millie and Abe open their presents from each other, and despite the fact that Millie was better prepared, Abe’s presents for her are much better.
  • 3:00 P.M.: Abe decides he needs a nap.
  • 4:00 P.M.: Abe is still napping and Millie is taking advantage of his absence to watch chick flicks.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Abe is still napping and Millie has started her second chick flick.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Abe finally wakes up and the couple decides maybe they should go get some dinner or something to celebrate.
  • 7:00 P.M.: Quiet dinner at their favorite local Italian restaurant.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Shopping for Millie’s Christmas stocking at 5 different stores because she is picky.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Back home to fall asleep while watching The Santa Claus. 

It was perhaps the most uneventful anniversary ever celebrated by a human couple. Maybe a trip to Hawaii would do us some good even if Mumsie and Pops won’t come.

Love Always,

Millie

Baby Hungry

Dear Grace,

I am jealous that Mumsie and Pops got to see the boys’ piano recital; I never get tired of “Myrtle the Turtle”!

Abe’s knee is still taking its sweet time to mend, but his doctor thinks the end of the tunnel will be in January so at least there is a tentative end in sight. In the meantime, Abe is single-handedly making sure our monthly Netflix bill isn’t paid in vain. Everyone else though assumes we should be putting all Abe’s downtime to good use and hop on the baby-making bandwagon. Within the past week alone, I have had at least a dozen conversations where someone either implied or told me directly I should move it along and have a baby as soon as possible.

At School:

  • I am fairly certain the teachers at my school are beginning to take bets as to who the next pregnant teacher will be, and I am sure I am the main contender.
  • I am asked by my students at least weekly if Abe and I want to have children and when we will make that happen.
  • A solid 10 minutes of my dance team practice this past Thursday was dedicated to my team wanting to discuss what they have imagined for how I would announce to them my pregnancy (whenever that may be). They have decided upon an interpretive dance as the proper choice.

At Church:

  • As Abe and I are the nursery leaders, we often get parents winking at us asking when we plan to get started on our little brood. As if watching their snot-nosed darlings for an hour each Sunday makes us want to get started right away.
  • At Cub Scouts last Tuesday, I unwittingly got caught up in a conversation with a fellow leader who is only a month or two away from having a baby and a couple other ladies in the ward who had babies this year. They all got started into the woes and joys of labor and delivery. As if on cue, they all turned to me urging me to get started as soon as I could. They even threatened to call Abe and tell him to pull out the candles and rose petals. When I told Abe about this comment, he exclaimed, “Why in the world would I do that?! Don’t they know how much roses cost?!” Ever the romantic, my Abe.

Family & Complete Strangers:

This weekend, a cousin of Abe’s got married so we received plenty of comments from well-meaning family members and people we barely know.

  • Abe’s grandmother is now awaiting the arrival of her 39th great-grandchild, and she let Abe and I know in no uncertain terms that Abe and I are responsible for the 40th. I suggested that the newly married couple could just as easily give her a 40th great-grandchild, but Grannie was not satisfied at all with that reply.
  • Abe and I left the wedding reception a little earlier than most of the family due to Abe’s knee, and although our reason for leaving was quite obvious, we still got enough winks and catcalls to make one believe we were the bride and groom themselves sneaking off to the honeymoon suite. One cousin even patted his heavily pregnant wife’s stomach while their three other children scampered about their feet and yelled after Abe, “Go and make yourself useful!”
  • While still at the wedding, one lady I have briefly spoken with once sidled up to me excitedly and asked speaking directly to my stomach, “I just have to ask, are you pregnant, dear?” When I told her I was not, she replied, “Oh, I hope you’re not embarrassed!” Thanks for that.

Honestly. It seems there are more people anxious for the Adams Baby than the two who actually have a say in the matter. And now I feel as if I need to make it my mission to appear as non-pregnant as possible.

Love always,

Millie4ea8e3e30c4796b6a0deb32ad22a29ed

A Win for the Vegetables

Dear Grace,
Oh how we miss our sweet little Lucy! Abe tries not to have favorites, but I can tell he has a special place in his heart for Lucy. He gets a twinkle in his eye anytime she is mentioned. And thank you for your confidence in my future Shakespeare-quoting adams-babychildren. But taking into account that they will be at least partially like their father, it’s likely any child created between Abe and myself will be wielding a gun in one hand and a book in the other.

This week has been a busy one, and will become busier with the coming of the end of the semester. I have final exams to prepare a dance recital to put on and a host of other things to keep up with. But somehow it always works itself out, doesn’t it? Somehow I always survive even though I swear every year that “this time the stress is really going to kill me!”

With all the sitting around that comes with one’s spouse having knee surgery, it is no surprise that Abe and I have perhaps put on a few (more than a few) pounds. Abe has a good excuse to be sitting, and I sit merely for sympathy’s sake. So in an attempt to get even slightly healthier, I tricked Abe into eating some vegetables this week. Thank you for sharing both these recipes with me, because they were both a big hit with my anti-vegetable husband.

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (peeled and coarsely minced)
  • lemon juice from half a lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish (13×9 should do the trick). Toss in the garlic. Sprinkle lemon juice over cauliflower and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly brown. Test with a fork for desired tenderness. Remove from the oven and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. (Serves 4. Or just me.)

 

Man Salad

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 canola oil, just not all olive oil)
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Mix ingredients together and let sit in the fridge for an hour.

Salad:

  • 2 bags romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
  • 8 strips crumbled bacon
  • croutons to top off

Mix everything together right before serving. Make sure to get all of the dressing, especially the stuff that settles on the bottom. Serve immediately.

The cauliflower is my favorite, but Abe said and I quote “I could eat this salad everyday.” This coming from the man who refuses any food if it is green in color. Of course the salad was helped along by the cheese and bacon, and I also added some shredded chicken because we ate the salad as our dinner and Abe looked so forlorn when I told him I was making a salad for dinner.

We may have dressed up our vegetables with extra meat and cheese, but I am still counting this one as a victory in that regard.

Love Always,

Millie

P.S. You and Gordon absolutely have to watch The Crown on Netflix. Abe and I love it. Thank goodness my husband lets me indulge in my British obsessions.

The Mailbox Stalker

Dear Grace,

I am glad your Halloween was more eventful than ours. We had maybe five trick-or-treaters, and Abe basically had to pry the bowl of surplus candy out of my fingers because I bought all the best stuff. You know, for the trick-or-treaters . . .
About a week before Halloween though, things were getting creepy out here at the Dutchman House. And I am not talking about this terrifying clown Abe bought as a creepy-halloween-hanging-clown-skeleton-prop-new-with-_57decoration for our front door (maybe that’s why we didn’t get many trick-or-treaters).

I had volunteered to chaperone at the high school’s Homecoming dance. No, that’s not the scary part–although I did want to send most of the girls home to put on a dress over the lingerie they were wearing. No, the scary part happened before the dance. I was in the bathroom getting ready to go to the school and Abe had hobbled off to check the mail. When Abe returned home to Dutchman House, he yelled at me, “Babe, are you having an affair with the mailman???” Of course this baffled me for many reasons. Then Abe crutched his way into the bathroom holding a book. “This was in the mail,” he said, “without any postage marks at all.” The book was a picture book version of our beloved Willie Shakes’ The Tempest. Inside the book was a hastily written note on a scrap of paper, “I got this and thought maybe you would like it.” The note had no salutation nor signature.

img_1309Dutchman House is part of a hideous, Southwestern subdivision therefore our mailbox is part of a community of mailboxes. The only people who could put anything in our mailbox would be either Abe or myself or the mailman (hence Abe’s affair accusation). To this day, we have no idea who the book is from or how it got into our mailbox.

Sadly, the book isn’t worth reading. A picture book version of Shakespeare is no good if it doesn’t actually use Shakespeare’s words. I have high expectations for my stalkers.

Love Always,

Millie

 

Emergencies

Dear Grace,

My word, it has been an age. My only excuse is that work and cub scouts and Abe’s knee injury and dance team and cleaning the house and folding the laundry has just been too overwhelming lately. Especially the laundry. I need it to fold itself. Last week I rewashed a whole batch because I let it sit in the basket so long it was just a sad heap of wrinkles. Honestly, I am not sure if my life could possibly get any busier, but I thought that when I was in high school so apparently it can get busier.

Last night Abe and I had an impromptu date to the emergency room. After I finished our cub scout meeting where I spent an hour yelling at eight-year-olds to “put that burning piece of cardboard back on the fire!” and “get over here and practice your stupid skit!” and “for goodness sake, stop chasing the turkeys!”, Abe called me and asked if I would like to take him to the emergency room because why not? Although the surgery was nearly two months ago, he has still been in a lot of pain and his leg is still swollen. His cousin (who works as a nurse) pinpointed many signs of Abe possibly having a blood clot, so I was glad to take a trip to the emergency room. We were at the hospital for about three hours waiting for various nurses and doctors and tests and results. In the meantime, I caught the tail-end of the World Series and then fell asleep several times, but did my best to act like I wasn’t when anyone would burst through the “room’s” shower curtain. The good news is that Abe does not have a blood clot, and we were out of the hospital by midnight. The bad news is that we don’t know why Abe isn’t healing properly.

The other bad news is that I didn’t have any of my plans ready for school the next day, and it was going to be a big, important day at school. Some big head honchos for our school’s honors program were coming out to observe and interview teachers to make sure the program is running as it ought to. This is my first year as a teacher for that program, and I still don’t know what I am supposed to do. Some of my students the week before complained that my classroom was not decorated to their level of satisfaction (that is to say that it is not decorated at all), and spent almost an entire class period advising me about acceptable adjustments. I ought to have listened because these head honchos stopped by my classroom earlier this morning took a glance at my bare walls and didn’t even stick around for my inspiring speech about Macbeth. I hope none of their questions tomorrow go deeper than “What’s your name?” and “How are you?” or “Why didn’t you decorate your walls?”

So last night instead of going home and planning for my big, important day, we stopped at Jack-in-the-Box for some artery-clogging burgers and fries. Who needs to be prepared anyway?

Chat soon,

Millie

An Onslaught

Dear Grace,

If it makes you feel better at all, almost weekly I am asked by fellow teachers, administrative staff, or students when I am planning to have a baby. I can’t decide if they ask because I look pregnant and they’re waiting with baited breath for me to admit it (too many baked goods myself), or if it’s simply my turn. Since the Spring 2016 semester, there have been four new babies born amongst varying staff members and we’re waiting for a couple more to be born in the coming year. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that there was something in the water at our high school, but I am pretty sure the water fountains only contain the mono virus.

But while you’re off gallivanting around polishing acorns, collecting mushrooms, and tapping trees for maple syrup we are fending off an onslaught of snakes. Okay, not snakes plural, just one singular snake. A few days ago, I stepped outside into the brisk 65 degree morning to go for a run/waddle around our expansive subdivision and there was a snake just curled up on our shady sidewalk. I tossed a rock from our gravel yard at the fellow to see if he would just slither away, but he barely moved. I could tell he wasn’t a rattlesnake, so I wasn’t too worried and figured he would find his own way to his home once I got back from my run. But no, he was still there when I got back. And he was still there when Abe and I went out that afternoon. And then the next day. And the next. Turns out Stevie the Snake (we got so used to seeing him that he deserved a name) just needed a shady spot to “give up the ghost and join the choir invisible”. Yes, we had been living with a dead snake on our sidewalk for about four days. I am really good with petimg_1222s. Abe decided that the best (easiest) burial would be to just scoot him into the bushes that separate us from our neighbors. Abe gave Stevie a scoot with his crutch that was akin to Zeus hurling a thunderbolt, and Stevie went far beyond the bushes a few feet to our right but up tumbling through the air landing with a ceremonious plop on our neighbor’s front steps. We looked at each other in horror and then fled to our car (Abe is quite a quick limper as it turns out). I think we are going to win some sort of neighborly award fairly soon.

Now you know the proper procedure to deal with snakes:

  • Step One: Ignore the situation until no longer possible.
  • Step Two: Make your husband be the one to deal with it.
  • Step Three: Make it your neighbor’s problem.
  • Step Four: Secretly spy on your neighbors to see how long it will take for them to notice the dead snake on their front porch.

I am also certain that these steps can be applied to many an unpleasant situation.

Much love,

Millie

Cures & Consolation

Dear Grace,

Allow me to quote an entirely overused sentence from Anne of Green Gables: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Really, isn’t October the absolutely best? Over the course of one weekend, the temperatures in the Great Southwest have gone from the 100s to the 80s. How in the world can the 80s be so heavenly? Now I can no longer use the weather as an excuse to avoid exercise. But I can use the fact that the rest of the year is basically one long holiday of feasting to give up on all physical fitness goals until the New Year. Go me!

In other fall related news, I made Mumsie’s broccoli cheese soup last night as a clever ruse to get Abe to eat some vegetables. When we were at Costco the other day I asked if he would be interested in eating some spinach to which he quickly responded with an absolute “no” based purely on the fact that spinach is green and green foods are gross foods. So to get my husband to go near vegetables, I slathered broccoli with melted cheese and it was a major success (although Abe was doubtful a meal without any meat could be worthwhile). I will include the recipe below.

It has officially been two months and ten days since Abe’s knee injury. We had the surgery follow-up appointment today, and Abe’s ever-stoic doctor told us that Abe will not be able to return to work for three or four months at least. I calmly nodded but inwardly began hyperventilating. Three or four months??!?!?!?!??!

Curse words.

Sadly, I am not the world’s most patient nurse and Abe goes through apple juice (Mumsie’s cure-all) by the gallon. Now I am Googling “Things to do while you’re laid up from surgery” in an attempt to save Abe from cabin fever. Abe, however, has found his own consolation in online shopping. Our house is now significantly more technologically savvy since Abe invests in items such as the Neato BotVac which does the vacuuming for him. Christmas will now be a much smaller affair since Abe’s Knee Surgery Shopping Spree.

But now we know that the way to cure and console being laid up is apple juice, soup, and online shopping.

Love Always,

Millie

P.S. I am so happy we’re finally blogging together as we dreamed all those years ago.

 

BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 oz. small pasta shells
  • 1 head fresh broccoli (or 16 oz. frozen broccoli)
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheese

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add pasta, return to boil. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add vegetables and cook until pasta and veggies are tender, about 5 minutes more. Combine milk and flour in a separate container. Stir into soup, cooking and stirring until thickened and bubbly. Gradually add the cheese until cheese melts.

Notes from Millie:

  • Add the milk to the flour gradually. As experienced cooks will know, adding all the milk and the flour at the same time will make the flour clump up and then the soup won’t thicken. I found this out the hard way the first several times I made this recipe.
  • Add the cheese a bit at a time. Adding all the cheese all in one go will make the cheese clump into rubbery cheese globs rather than melting into the soup. This was also learned the hard way and it was disgusting.
  • If you have leftovers, just add a little milk to help the soup regain its lovely, original, non-cement-like consistency.