I received a call yesterday. My youngest niece was on the line, and she wanted me to guess her good news. I guessed badly, and she finally had to tell me that she had won a GOLD at solo contest! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
January 2005 Archives
Some of you have asked me about my mother's trip. She left last Wednesday. I had to be away from the house when the limo came, so we said our goodbyes earlier.
My stepson was in Bangkok at the time of the tsunami, and didn't leave an itinerary. We didn't know if he and his wife were safe. There was a great deal of discussion on the subject of leaving an itinerary with a family member when you travel. Despite that, Elegant Mother blithely went off without leaving an itinerary. Since she was traveling with my brother and his wife, I assume that I could track them through his company. It wasn't until she was gone, that it occurred to me it would have been nice if they'd left the information.
She is having such a great time that she has not called. I'm sure we will hear all about the trip when she returns Tuesday night. I'd say she lucked out. Their plane left just ahead of a small snow storm, and they will be coming back to relatively nice weather for February in Chicago. While it won't be as warm as Key West, it should be warm enough to melt off more snow.
I guess I'll just have to pass on the stories later in the week.
Oh...she's already announced that she WILL NOT be going to exercise on Wednesday morning. Anyone want to take any bets about Friday??
I want to thank my personal IT support (read: stepsons) for getting our network up and running! It is so nice to have access to printers from both computers. Sharing files will make it so much easier to do back ups and keep track of my herb information.
I'm really excited that everything is good to go. The next time I'm at the computer, no matter which room I'm in, all our data will be at my fingertips.
Well, if you count today, two. Mother has been away, in Key West, since last Wednesday. It took me several days to adjust to the quiet, and to the idea that I could keep to my own schedule.. Friends have asked what Dear Husband and I did while Mother was away, expecting great things. Actually, other than eating out, life continued along the same basic lines.
We ate out one night with one of my stepsons and his girlfriend. The kids went on to a movie, but we headed home. Dear Husband had to work the next day, and he gets up at 4:30 in the morning on work days.
We also had lunch out one day, and brunch on Sunday morning. I enjoyed not having to shop, to prepare food, or to have to clean up in the kitchen. I used my extra time to cut pieces for a new quilt and to listen to a book on tape.
Tonight will be a bit disrupted. My stepdaughter has just purchased a used dryer for a condo that she and her husband are selling. DH has a truck big enough to carry it, so they've asked him for some help. I'm going to prepare a pot of chili early today so that he can eat, and then go out. I plan to do a little more work on the quilt pieces.
So, tomorrow will be my last day of sorta-solitude ("sorta" because the cat and my stepson have been here, quiet though they be). I have office work to do, and Christmas stuff to reorganize in the basement. My niece and her boys are coming to dinner. It's all pretty normal activity for us. No, Diane, DH and I have NOT run naked through out the house. Even if there was a fire I'd stop to put on clothes! *G*
I have to go....the office calls. If you were looking for excitement, this wasn't the right stop.
Mother has been off in balmy Key West for three days now. I can't believe how much sound EM contributes to this house when she is here!
I was out running errands today, and stopped at one of my favorite stores, Trader Joe's. I usually limit my shopping there to special occasions because the temptation is to purchase things that don't fit into a diet.
I was trying to come up with something for a simple but classy meal for DH and myself. I picked up the roasted red pepper tomato soup, a wedge of Gouda, a small package of spinach hors de oeuvres, a chicken and veggie stir fry, a package of cashews, and two bottles of Two Buck Chuck.
Dear Husband expected to be late this evening, so I held off starting dinner. Thirty minutes before I expected him, I heated the appetizers, put the soup on low, tossed a salad, and opened the wine to let it breathe.
Of course, he called, and said he was going to be about 45 minutes later than he had expected. I had my soup while I waited for him, and then reheated everything when he was ready for dinner. We ended up skipping the stir fry, and just had soup and salad.
We're getting easy in our old age....
Last March we bought a new computer. It sits in the living room, and there's no printer connected to it. My office is across the house, and we wanted to network the computers so that I would have access to the printers. My stepsons are very computer literate, and they offered to help set up the network. Things move very slowly in this household, so the wire to connect the two computers was not strung until right after Christmas. Dear Husband made the connections, and nothing happened.
No....that's not right. I've never seen my mother run. Actually, yesterday, she was off to Key West for a week. Smart woman!
My brother, my mother's only male child, invited her to go with him and his wife on a week's trip to Key West. It will be a business trip for them, so they invited a granddaughter along to keep Mother company while they are in meetings.
Mother has been looking forward to this trip for months. I was relieved that they got out of the airport before a snow storm came in. It was a minuscule storm, but you never know what to expect in the Chicago area.
Friends have asked if DH and I would be running naked through the house (not likely!), and one of my sisters called to ask if we were enjoying the empty house (it's not empty....one of the kids lives with us and the cat is here).
We ARE looking forward to a more relaxed week. I hope to persuade Dear Husband to take me out to eat a couple of times, other than that, we don' t have any plans. The cat says I had to stay so someone could be at his beck and call. As an older cat, he's decided that staying in during the winter isn't such a bad thing, but he has to test that theory with brief jaunts outside a couple of times a day.
I want you all to send positive vibes to DH about a short trip to Florida to visit with his oldest son and grandson. All subliminal messages encouraging him to take a few days off for travel are welcome, with the exception of any that involve sailboats.
...is the cardinal. I can see why. I have at least two dozen of them at the feeder north of the house this evening. They flit around so much that it's difficult to get an accurate accounting, but I'm sure there are at least a dozen pairs stopping by for a snack before bedtime.
We have cardinals year round here. At one time we had even more than the 24 I saw tonight. There used to be a thicket around a couple of lakes to the east of us, but a developer razed most of that to put up houses, destroying their habitat. I'm not sure where they are nesting now, but I was glad to see that they stayed near us.
I had an e-mail from Amazon.com touting several "best" lists of books for 2004. I took a little time to browse through the Editor's top 50 for the year, and then I looked through the customer's top 50. Of course, there were books that appeared on both lists. I was surprised to find that I had just two of the books from the lists.
I've culled a few of the books from both lists that interest me, to share with you.
This week I FINALLY finished the quilt I started last January! Correction....I finally finished the quilt TOP! I was sure that I would have the top done before garden season last year, and when I didn't, a number of things conspired to keep me from getting back to it.
Don't EVER go shopping on an empty stomach!
That's rule number one. Every woman knows better, and when we are conned into the impulse buys that the grocery store features on the end caps of the aisles, and at check out, we excuse it by saying....."I didn't have my breakfast, or I would have known better!"
Today is just glorious. The skies are clear, the snow on the ground is a clean, untouched white, and the sunlight glinting off that pristine snow is dazzling. With all that beauty around us, the weather forecasters are saying that we're in for quite a snowfall in the next two days. We are right on the dividing line between an area slated to get 6-12 inches, and one that they think will get 3-6 inches. Looks like we'll get six inches, don't you think??
So, we've gone to exercise, and we're in the car on the way home, thinking about what we might need "if we are snowed in." For gosh sakes.....it's just going to be six inches! What's with the "snowed in" thoughts??
We have plenty of meat, and cheese and eggs. I have bacon and lunch meat, and all the canned goods I could possibly want. There's both canned and dry soups for lunch. I have enough romaine for salads for about three days of hearty salads. There's coffee and soda pop and all kinds of tea, plus a half gallon of skim milk. Why in the world were we thinking about stocking up, just in case we were snowed in?
I bought a bag of California navel oranges, because they were running a "buy one, get one free" special. With three of us eating the oranges, they should last all week. I bought yeast and bread flour for the bread machine, as well as two loaves of bread. I found a 10 for $10 sale on pork chops, and I think we'll save those for Tuesday, when my niece and her boys come to dinner. Mother bought beef for Swiss Steak, and I got the canned tomatoes she'd need to make that meal. My real downfall was the jar of salsa and chips for my husband, and a bag of chips for me. I subscribe to the "Don't buy it, and you won't eat it" philosophy, and I really fell down here.
Do you suppose there is something genetic in us that makes us prepare for coming storms like this? Most of the excess purchases I can freeze and dole out over the next month, but it seemed really important that we "STOCK UP" to be prepared for this storm. Watch.....we'll get a inch of snow, and wonder why we had to be so prepared. Maybe we should blame it on the weather guys who insist on building mountains out of molehills.
There's something odd going on outside my windows. The area off our kitchen counters, extending all the way around two sides of a room where we eat most of our meals has ten large windows. Seven of those windows face North. In the winter, during the day, those windows tend to reflect the outdoors, and a lot of birds bang into the windows, thinking they are flying toward a grove of trees.
I've noticed that we have a lot of hawks visiting this year. We have Cooper's Hawks and Red-Tailed Hawks in this area, and most likely other varieties that I haven't identified. Over the past ten years, we've had one or two visits a year, but this year, the hawks are regularly chasing the birds at my feeders.
I'm trying to decide if the feeder birds are using the windows to aid in their escape, or whether the hawks are using the reflections to confuse the smaller birds and bring them down.
I haven't SEEN what's happening. I've just heard it. We'll hear a bird glance hard off the windows, with a sharp thunk. We'll look up in time to see the flash of the hawk's wings, but not in time to see if it was the hawk who hit, or the smaller bird. We haven't seen a hawk catch a smaller bird, so we can't decide if the hawks are being bamboozled by the little birds, or if the hawks are driving the little birds into the windows to stun them, to make it easier to catch them.
Has anybody had any experience with this phenomena?
We've been in a deep freeze for several days. I woke this morning to hear that it was -7 degrees F. That seemed more bearable when the town clerk from Embarrass, Minnesota confirmed that they had reached -54 degrees F. We're not talking about wind chill. These were the actual temperatures! Everyone but DH ran their errands and got in out of the weather. We let our vehicles warm up before we drove, and we didn't go out unless it was absolutely necessary.
That deep freeze may make the next few days seem warm in comparison. We're supposed to warm up enough to have 1 to 3 inches of snow tonight, again tomorrow night, and then again Friday or Saturday. We are severely behind on our precipitation for the winter, so I'll take what I can get, and be thankful it's not three feet of snow at one time!
I've started perusing the seed and plant catalogs. It's only two months to SPRING!!!
I shop at a local large chain store in the Chicago suburbs. The parking lot is immense, and it's frequently at least half filled, even at slow times. The store has employed a man to oversee the parking lot. He's somewhere between 40 and 60 in age. He's slim, and energetic. He dresses appropriately for his work, no matter what kind of weather he has to face. He is the most professional parking lot manager I've ever seen.
Think about that.....have you ever seen someone act professional in a job like that? He hustles to keep the lot tidy. He will collect your cart from you to take it in if things are slow. He always offers my mother assistance, and passes a pleasantry with her. If you are carrying in bags to recycle, he will meet you and collect the bags from you. He makes sure there are wipes to disinfect the handles of the carts, and he polices the checkout area for carts. The other day, I saw him sweeping down the entryway.
This is not a job the average person would look forward to doing. Usually it's palmed off on high school students, who do it half heartedly. But this adult has embraced his job and I've never seen anyone do it better. He has applied a degree of professionalism to a job that normally is given short shrift.
I've wondered about this man. Has he seen the heights and fallen, and is he on his way back up? What has made him so determined to hustle and do this job to the best of his ability? I was discussing the situation with Dear Husband, and he asked if the man was learning disabled. If he is, his disability has not shown itself in the two years I have watched him, and had occasional conversation with him. It's possible that he is overcoming personal problems as he works, but he is so professional about his job that we're likely never to know what those problems are.
He makes me think twice about complaining about trivial problems at work. My work is certainly easier than his. I don't have to deal with the vagaries of weather, and I don't have to dodge cars. I wonder if other people come away from shopping a bit more upbeat after having come in contact with this guy.
When it comes time to take children to visit places of work, this parking lot should be on their list. This guy could teach them some very important life lessons. No job is too lowly to be done well. It's not the job you do, but the satisfaction you derive from doing your job well that counts.
I sure wish I knew his story.
UPDATE: I saw the general manager of the store today, and made a point of telling him how much we appreciate this man's work. Apparently, he gets a lot of compliments for this employee, whose name is Jimmy. Unfortunately, our paths didn't cross today, Jimmy was busy at the other end of the lot, but the next time I can talk to him, I'll let him know we appreciate his hard work. And, I'll put those thoughts on paper, and send it to the company.
I was telling Dear Husband about my recent blog entries. I told him that on one I had said I wanted to be perfect, but since only God was perfect it didn't seem likely I'd make it.
He amended it to...."since only God and Barbie are perfect." He went on to describe her as a doll kept in a box behind cellophane, so you can see where he was going with the comment. Do they still use cellophane to wrap the box??
That was my giggle for the day.
I could have said a collage, or a collection, but those words imply some relationship. My thoughts tonight are related only by the fact that they have all crossed my mind today.
RedEagle has arranged for me to have Site Meter for this blog, but I almost never visit. In my blog reading tonight, I came across the word "referrals" and it occurred to me to see how many people have come to visit in the past year and a half. Once I discovered that almost fourteen thousand have been here, I checked to see how they had found me. Some surf in from the Globe of Blogs, and others link through blog friends. I had to laugh when I discovered that someone had surfed MSN and linked to me through the word "moose." See the entry called "Drat!" for an explanation. I laughed even harder when I discovered that I was the second listing for "making carmel topping," based on my entry about cleaning out the refrigerator and finding 1999 carmel topping for ice cream tucked way back in a corner. It's a small world. *S*
When I was a teen, the place in Florida where NASA sent up manned rockets was known as "Cape Kennedy." On November 28, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson renamed the NASA facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida, after President Kennedy, who had been assassinated six days earlier. Port Canaveral and the City of Cape Canaveral chose to keep their original names.
Sometime in the past decade or so, I realized that the media were once again referring to that piece of land as "Cape Canaveral." I wondered what had happened to cause the name to be changed.
I keep coming across the phrase "scoring points" in reference to relationships. The most recent of these was on an A0L page featuring John Gray, the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Apparently, part of his approach to improved relationships has to do with recognizing that women and men have different methods of assigning value to romantic overtures.
I have no problem with that. What I mind is the term "scoring points." That particular term has a very negative connotation to me. It makes me think of one upmanship, and competition, and that doesn't jive with my particular view of a loving relationship.
I realize that to score points, you have to have done something nice for your partner, and that's the only reassuring aspect of this philosophy. I worry about a relationship where a person is thinking "Have I scored enough points today?"
That seems calculating to me, and lacking in love.
In all fairness, I know that the author developed this approach for long term relationships which were in trouble, but it seems that young people may believe that this is how every relationship is managed. Will they come to believe that accounting is necessary for every action, or lack of action?
I can see it now. "I washed your clothes, paid the bills, made dinner AND washed the dishes. Now...by my accounting, that brings me to a total of 5,280 points. Twenty more points and I get the MINK!!!" Or conversely, "I got the oil changed in YOUR car, picked up the dry cleaning, took your mother to dinner, AND brought you flowers for no reason at all. I figure that entitles me to _____________(insert sex act of your choice). See what I mean?
It's just too calculating. We should do these things a) because they need to be done, and b) because we know that our significant others will be happy they've been accomplished, NOT because we will get something in return for doing them. Sex should be shared lovingly, and not meted out as a reward.
I think Mr. Gray needs to find another phrase to use
I broke my all time favorite mug today.
I set both the mug, and a laundry basket down on the counter, and when I picked up the basket a bit later, forgot the mug was there. It fell over and must have landed just right to break the handle into three pieces.
This mug came from Two Dogs Pottery, in Alaska. We visited the Saturday Market in Anchorage, and I saw the potter's work. I didn't buy much that day, but I came away with a deep blue mug that is perhaps six or seven inches tall. The handle curves from the top of the mug all the way to the base and you can see hints of a warm dark brown at the rim of the mug, and edges of the handle. On the center front of the mug is the shape of a moose, in the natural bisque color of the clay. The moose pattern is sealed, and has a matte look to it.
I liked these mugs so much that I ordered more to give as gifts at Christmas, and I ordered three other animal designs for myself. We have the wolf, the bear, and a caribou. They aren't quite the same as the mug I've damaged. The blue is paler, the clay is a bit heavier.
I've been toying with the idea of calling her and asking if she could duplicate the one with the broken handle. It won't be the souvenir I brought home with me, but it would be close. Would you go to that length to replace something that was a favorite, or would you adjust to the loss and find a new favorite?
I guess I forgot to mention that I hate change.....
I'd like to be perfect, but alas, I'm never going to make it. Only God is perfect, and he must laugh at me, trying to keep up with him!
Eleven days into 2005 the need to reform my life has hit me. When I got up this morning, I decided I would take one chore at a time and work my way through stuff that I hate to do.
I cleaned the kitchen, pulled together the ingredients for tonight's dinner salad, washed and chopped and diced and bagged it up, so that it would be crisp, and then did a gazillion loads of laundry. Usually the folding and putting away of laundry has to wait until the end of the day, but I got it done load by load. I tidied my room, made my bed, cleaned off the counter at the sink. I started beef vegetable soup in the Crockpot, and THEN.....I worked in the office for a while.
All of this came about because I was avoiding my time on the treadmill today. We returned to exercise yesterday, and I can feel EVERY muscle over my ribs, I swear! It was one of those....."Lord, please take me NOW" mornings. It won't keep me from going to exercise tomorrow, but I may wince a bit. Remind me not to take an entire month off next time.
I NEED to get my life organized. I find that I can't focus when there is a mess drawing my attention, so I'm trying to think of ways to eliminate clutter, organize media, and simplify my life. If you have something that works for you, let me know, won't you?
Yesterday at 2:30 in the afternoon, my mother called me from the office to look out the kitchen windows. There were four deer shank to shank, heads down, eating the black oil sunflower seed that had fallen to the ground from the bird feeder.
Earlier this week we had a snowfall of six or seven inches. The ground is pretty well covered, so the wildlife has less to draw on to sustain themselves. I cleared the sidewalk, and then shoveled a path to the bird feeders. I've been putting out ear corn and mixed birdseed with a high black oil sunflower seed content, and I fill a silo feeder with chipped sunflower hearts.
It's unusual for us to have the deer visit during the day. Normally they are nocturnal, and their daytime visit might be a sign of their hunger. They were cautious, and nervous. At least one kept watch all the time while the others "hoovered" the ground. The ear corn was the least requested item on our menu yesterday, but even that was totally gone by this morning.
It's supposed to warm up and rain this coming week, but we plan to keep up a heavy feeding schedule. If I get the chance to photograph the deer, I'll try to share the pictures with you.
Saturday night.....the deer are back. I went to drop something in the trash, and realized two of the deer were less than 10 feet from me, with just the kitchen window between us. I held still, and their need to eat was stronger than the need to run. I slipped away, and they stayed. Dear Husband said...."Where there are two of them, there's likely to be two more." I'll check again, later.
"For the most part, I can give up sweets, other than the occasional chocolate or a slice of carrot cake, or ...ummmm...HOME MADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. I used to be totally addicted to anything salty, but I think I've finally broken that habit. Now, it seems that comfort food, and things with a complex mix of ingredients draw me.
I have a plan.....maybe I'll just go to the blog for this...."
As I was saying to Adele in the comments of Just Desserts, I have a plan.
1. No snacking.
2. Eat at regular times.
3. Treadmill or exercise every day.
4. Follow a low carb diet.
5. Gradually cut back on serving sizes.
I plan to eat oatmeal for breakfast, about 7:00 in the morning. A piece of fruit, or fruit yogurt at mid morning. A light lunch, probably soup or salad around noon. A second piece of fruit at mid afternoon, and dinner with Dear Husband. I assume that I can follow his diabetic diet, and have healthy meals.
I'm thinking about adding #6 (which would mean I'd have less time for blogging): Be more active after dinner.
And, I like Cop Car's mantra of saying the weight I want to achieve over and over, when I'm tempted to cheat on my diet! *G*
Rather than trying to accomplish all that on one day, I'm going to add one aspect at a time until I can juggle it all. I know I'll slip now and then, but hopefully, I'll go right back at it.
What do you think??
Do you have a game plan when you go out to eat? Do you think about what you really want to have, and what you can reasonably eat, and then adjust your ordering accordingly? Or, do you order one of everything, knowing that you'll have to get a people bag, no matter what you order?
We have an absolutely all time favorite place to eat. It's part of a chain that serves Cajun food. I have eaten the exact same meal there every time I go, because it's so good I'm unwilling to try anything else. If the restaurant was a bit closer to home, I'd eat there once a week.
We always start the meal off with what amounts to a Cajun version of a fondue. Next, a cup of bisque or chowder. Then, a crisp, cold salad. Dear Husband used to order a different entrée every visit, until he tried the planked salmon. Now, he tends to be like me.....stuck in a rut. I order breaded crawfish and crawfish etouffee. Dessert for me is always creme brulee.
As much as I adore this restaurant, it brings out the glutton in me. We're all thinking about diets today, and improving our bad habits. I think I might have hit on the one incentive that might work to get me to stick to a diet. If I KNEW that I could go to this restaurant once a month if I stuck to my diet the other 30 days.....I think I could do it!
On the other hand, if you asked me, in the interest of staying on a diet, to cut back on what I want to taste there, there's not a chance I could do it. I went once with the best of intentions, and only managed to give up the salad! I usually bring most of my entrée home to eat for lunch the next day because there is simply too much food!
There may be a ray of hope though. We've discovered that there is an appetizer that is similar to the entrée I enjoy. Perhaps I could have a taste of the fondue, a salad, the appetizer and the dessert.
Or....this visit I could have the fondue and the creme brulee, and next time I could have the salad and the entrée. (I can sense my doctor shuddering as I write this.)
Maybe I'm lucky this place is too far away to visit frequently. I really envy those of you who have control over your taste buds. When you know how to be satisfied on 1500 calories a day, please let me know. I need help!
Just the door of my refrigerator....
Half and Half
Sparkling Grape Juice
Imitation butter spray
Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing
Green Goddess Dressing
Thousand Island Dressing
Red Wine Vinegar
White Wine Vinegar
White Balsamic Vinegar
Apricot preserves (2)
Red Raspberry Preserves
This is after I cleaned out the out of code food! I can actually see part of one of the shelves. Is your refrigerator any better?
My family would tell you that I am the QUEEN OF CONDIMENTS! Actually, that isn't so. I do happen to have a refrigerator overstuffed with bottles and jars of practically every condiment known to man, but it's not my fault.
I live in one of those very rare households which have three generations. Everyone who lives here is over 35, including the cat. Each of us have our own quirks when it comes to eating, but my mother and my stepson tie when it comes to who can buy the oddest condiment, take one taste of it, and leave it in the refrigerator for six years.
Last week, I had the pleasure of going to lunch with my youngest sister and one of my nieces. This niece has the most inquiring mind, and she mentioned that she had recently taken a class in kitchen sanitation. She works on the supply side of the food industry, so this is not such an odd class for her to be taking. She suggested that we needed to pitch 90% of the contents of my fridge, and I nodded.
She was supposed to visit today. My mother didn't raise any slow puppies, so I ran for the fridge and started reading the "sell by" dates on every bottle. I was truly horrified when I discovered the bottle of caramel topping for ice cream passed it's expiration date in 1999. There was something else with a 2002 date, but most of the rest had expired within the past few months. If it isn't growing something bleu-green it usually gets to stay for a while.
I found several bottles of salsa, six tubs of various brands of imitation, low fat butter, three boxes of real butter, three cans of black olives and two bottles of green olives that looked really nasty, assorted pickles and spreadable cream cheese. I am proud to say that only one bottle of salad dressing needed to be thrown out!
My stepson is the king of sauces. He will blend eight odd things together to make a sauce to pour over a perfectly good steak. I threw out his Teriyaki marinade. Next to go are Bead Molasses, Brown Gravy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Szechuan Sauce, Chinese Style Mustard, and Thai Chili Garlic Paste. I think we need to replace the sesame oil, too.
I cleaned out the veggie drawer, and the lunch meat drawer, but I might need to get tough with the drawer that has blocks of cheese. We have feta, Brie, Irish Gold, smoked Gouda, white cheddar, mozzarella, asiago, Parmesan and cheddar.
I threw out half a garbage bag of left overs. Of course, we've had a LOT of people here for the holidays, and as each wave came and went, we had more left overs. Then we came down with colds and nobody had a taste for anything, so all that food sat. Incredible waste. I feel as though we need to make a huge donation to disaster relief as penance for having wasted so much food.
The only ray of light here is that we have single handedly raised the number of people employed in the food industry, trying to keep us in condiments!