Thursday, December 31, 2009

Waiting . . .

bomb, botch, bungle, bust, defeat, deficiency, deficit, downfall, flop, frustration, mess, rupture, sinking ship, stalemate, total loss, turkey, washout, wreck
 

I don't do well with waiting.  How about you? 

I can be patient when I stand in line (and a thousand other situations).  Why is that?  Maybe in seeing the line I can see the progress and make a time estimate. 

Hmmm, hard to say.  I will say that I've been fairly productive during my wait today. 
Not amazingly productive.  More like a plodding from task to task. 

Ah!  Maybe that's the answer!  I'll look at it as a gift of time with a motive to improve my cluttered environment included.

Thank you!
 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Old Scout

A Christmas Angel From Nebraska

December 22, 2009

My little girl was born within a week of Christmas and, believe you me, conceiving one to hatch on target like that is no simple task. It takes planning and biotechnology, and the male is force-fed raw oysters, and the female must hang upside down in a dark room for hours.

I was 55 at the time and remember it well. This bonus baby was the last grandchild in my family, a last attempt to breed some frivolity and high-spiritedness into our somber Anglo line, and we seem to have succeeded. She is a socialite and comedian who (click to read the rest)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A snowy day around Salem

Sooo glad our trip to Portland was early. Here we were worried about being able to make Fran's early 8 AM appointment. We had no idea what would be in store for Jonathon and his family when they tried to drive to his sister's house late this afternoon. They're camped out at Bridgeport Village (aka Pleasantville) waiting to see what happens with the traffic.

Sounds like what you need is a . . .

Monday, December 28, 2009

Where to go, where to go?

This year, Lise's birthday (29?!) landed on a Sunday.  Saturday seemed like a better opportunity for dinner since her first choice, DaVinci's, is closed on Sunday, but she had other plans made for Saturday.  I told her, "no worries, something will work out". 

Yesterday she decided on Morton's as her second choice.  N checked their website.  Closed.  I explained that eating local requires an understanding that owners/managers must rest.  Yes, even on our birthday. 

I suggested Prime, but she wasn't buying it.  I guess we all harbor preconceived ideas of places.  My second suggestion, Raging River in Independence, was a winner.  So through the curves and over the bridge we drove.  When we arrived there were only 2 other tables of customers, but during our stay every booth along the brick wall eventually filled with diners.

Happy birthday, Lise!  I can't believe you're really 29.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Making ourselves scarce

Jonathon and Fran made plans online for a Saturday get together at our house with some college friends.  N and I decided to get out of their hair and let them enjoy each other's company for the afternoon and evening.  As much as I enjoy the company of young people, I didn't want to horn in on their time together.   And in our house either you're with people or you're in the bedroom.  We elected to vamoose. 
After enjoying dinner at one of our old favorites in Albany, driving the back way home and then looking at the twinkly lights in Keizer, we tried to sneak into the house, grab the laptop and watch Netflix movies in the bedroom.  We ended up watching "The Answer Man", with Jeff Daniels and another one I've already forgotten the name of.  Both of us enjoyed "The Answer Man", even the though the last half hour felt trite compared to the rest of the film.  Almost like the screenwriter lost their focus on how the characters would have played things out.  Still it was good movie and we enjoyed the story--complete with tears and laughter.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

N and I tried sleeping in as long as we could, but Izzy and Hope were too excited to get up and out.  What's up with that, you two silly dogs??  And now we're all waiting for Lise to wake up (swing shift schedule).  How long do we wait before we send Izzy in to wake her up?  (evil laughter)

I finally slid the strata into the oven.  Otherwise we wouldn't be hungry for turkey dinner and that would be sad indeed.  I think I'll have another cup of coffee. 
Happy Holiday!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve to all of you!

Aside from N's participation in Tuba Christmas, I think of Christmas Eve as a day of prep for Christmas. How do people find time to have yet another family dinner on this day? Way more organized and focused than I!

Right now N's getting ready to head to the fairgrounds for Tuba Christmas registration and rehearsal, while I sit here drinking my second cup of coffee and deciding what to do first. Probably head to Roth's to buy those 3 ingredients I forgot yesterday.

One of the items to prep on my list is making our Christmas strata (here's a good variety of recipes and here's a resource for creating your own). Until last year, my recipe never wavered from cheddar cheese and Jimmy Dean sausage, along with the eggs, milk and bread. Then Fran decided we needed to jazz it up with sauteed mushrooms, onions and peppers, different cheeses and chicken sausage. She has a knack for putting flavors together that I definitely don't.

I love getting up Christmas morning and moving the strata from the refrigerator to the oven to bake while we open gifts.  Plus it's great to have the leftovers the next morning--if there's any left.  So good!  On that note, I'm going to click "publish post" and get moving!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good Reads


I have a handful of authors I check on every 4-6 months to see if they have a new book out.  Tonight I browsed online and found out that Anne Tyler's newest book will be on sale in January.  Thanks to my sister, Karen, I've been enjoying Anne Tyler's books for many years. She never disappoints.

Kate Atkinson is another of my favorite authors.  She's a fairly recent find during a long, relaxing shelf browse at the old Reader's Guide location in West Salem.  That first book?  Behind the Scenes at the Museum.  I fell in love with her quirky creativity and use of the english language.  After being less than thrilled with her next couple of books, I nearly decided to quit her.  Fortunately, after hearing a review of her latest book, I decided to pick back up where I left off--Case Histories.  Three books later I hope she never stops writing mysteries centered around her character, Jackson Brodie. 


This month I'm enjoying a book by Luis Alberto Urrea, The Hummingbird's Daughter.  Will I pick up another of his novels when I'm finished with this one?  Yes.  He's pulled me into his story (about his great Aunt), Mexico and the lives of his characters.  I can't wait to turn the next page.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Off with your head!


Doesn't everyone bite the heads off the little people cookies first?  Seems more humane than starting on their limbs.

N and I never know what we'll wake to find in the kitchen.  Of course my favorite is an empty dishwasher, but usually it's evidence of some kind of cooking.  Fran's been in the holiday mood.  :>)  She made fudge last week and last night she made sugar cookies.  She began decorating before N and I went to bed, then finished up the fun with Lise (once she came home from work).  If it wasn't for the dishwasher I'd probably moan and grouse over the mess.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ch ch ch ch change

What we have here is a person who thought they were easy going, foot loose, fancy free, no worries, h-a-p-p-y.  Ha! 

And then someone comes along and hands you some change--change that affects you on more than one level.  Not just a routine changing change, but change that changes comfort and a relationship.  
So where's your Que Sera Sera now??  Huh?

I find it both fascinating and bothersome that you can live with yourself for decades and still be surprised when an event affects you deeper than you would ever guess.

Okay enough with the mourning!  Soldier up!  We need you out here!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some Saturday

Really?  N and I up at a decent hour AND out and about on a Saturday morning?  Did I finally find my mojo?  Maybe.
While N took his shower I made a list of the necessary highlights.  First stop?  Costco.  We were surprised at how busy they were at 10 on a Saturday, but it is that time of year. 
Next stop?  Breakfast.  N suggested Rockin Rogers.  We haven't been to RR for years--never to the Market location.  I decided I would take photos and write something for eatsalem.

We ordered and chatted and then I pulled out my list.  In all capital letters I had written a reminder to myself about my 11:30 appointment to get my two flu shots.  It was a few minutes after 11.  We can do this.  No problem.  Unfortunately our food didn't arrive until  15 minutes after 11.  I handed the waitress my debit card and N asked if we could have two to go containers.  She completed both running my card and returning with our containers in record time.  We made it to my appointment at 11:31.  Whew!

Next stop?  Bed Bath and Beyond.  We pulled out our breakfasts and realized we didn't have any forks.  So much for being prepared!  We made it work, but it's a good thing we had napkins.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Way back when or things I miss

One Christmas, when the girls were around 8 and 5, N and I were scratching our heads over how to wrap their last big gifts (matching child size sleeping bags).  I don't know who had the treasure hunt idea first, but we both agreed it was the perfect solution. 

The two of us began brainstorming and came up with 5-7 riddle type clues to hide around the house.  We put the first clue in an envelope addressed to both of them on the Christmas tree in plain sight.  Round about 6 AM (maybe earlier) two excited, pajama clad girls made waves when they plunked themselves on our waterbed and patiently waited for one of us to show signs of life. 

We feigned sleepy surprise while listening to what they'd found and what the note said.  Their eyes were big as they launched off the bed in search of the next clue and the whole scenario was repeated over and over until the treasure was found--in the dryer.

At the end of the search, we realized we hadn't bought ourselves any extra sleep, but we had injected a little more excitement into the day.  It became a yearly ritual until we forgot one year and never began again. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Things to look forward to

I'm so ready for the next 2 weeks (well, in terms of my mental state and wanting days off work).  Ready for the holiday season?  Not so much.  And yet days off from work are always edged with a guilty feeling for me.  I do love working with the short folk, but I do need time to recharge.  Who doesn't?

I'm looking forward to making to do lists and gleefully checking things off as I complete them, catching up on magazines, reading more than a few pages of my current novel each night.   Oh and thinking of creative wrapping ideas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When fire strikes

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article in the SJ about a recent fire that destroyed a local family's home.  Someone had added a comment saying how glad they were the family was okay and that they had insurance.  I can't imagine experiencing a loss of shelter and belongings without insurance, but after hearing a school family's story when their home burned down, I learned that insurance only goes so far.

  • Their house was a total loss.  (The Red Cross was an enormous help in the beginning.)  Does insurance take care of demolishing and carting off the debris left behind?  
  • The family lived in an apartment for a year while their house was rebuilt.  Did they have to continue making their mortgage payments while also paying rent? 
  • How many families choose not to rebuild, taking the insurance money and putting it towards the purchase of another house?

I hope we never have to experience a fire, but I think it would be good to learn what the choices are and how to navigate through it all.  What kind of resources are out there or do we just have to wait until it happens to find out what to do?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Old Scout

Truth of Christmas Being Put to the Test

December 15, 2009
In Phoenix, the bougainvillea is blooming red against a landscape of buttes and rocks outside my hotel window and interesting cacti that look like cell phone base stations or Modigliani sculptures. Midwesterners who came here long ago slapped grass down on the desert, hoping to make it more like Indianapolis, but Phoenicians have come to accept aridity. If you enjoy rocks, you will love Arizona. But for me, it's weird to walk outdoors and hear "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" from little speakers hidden among the cacti and "Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh."
The clerk at the front desk looked at my Minnesota driver's license and chuckled, (read the rest here)

Morning cartoon

Yes, yes we do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Balancing all the goodies

Yesterday a small assigned group of co-workers (me included) brought treats into work in celebration of our December birthdays.  So many tasty brownies, cookies, bread, chips and dips!  In the past I've brought some kind of soup in my crock pot, but this year I made broccoli slaw.

Two years ago I was introduced to the delicious broccoli salad at Break Point on the corner of south Commerical and Owens.  It wasn't long after that I began a search for a recipe as close to theirs as possible.  This is it.  Although, I do add bacon (or serve it on the side if there are vegetarians in the group) when I make it.

Broccoli Slaw (courtesy of Smittenkitchen.com)

Adapted a little bit from family, a little bit from Apartment Therapy
Makes about six cups of slaw

2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted (I subbed sunflower seeds)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Buttermilk Dressing (Adapted from this salad.)
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1/3 cup mayonnaise (this is more than is in the original, to thicken the dressing further)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon+ sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (or, you could just use a little extra red onion to simplify it)
Trim broccoli and cut it into large chunks. From here, you can either feed it through your food processor’s slicing blade, use a mandoline to cut it into thin slices, or simply had chop it into smaller pieces. I used the stem and the flowerets, but if you have a broccoli stem aversion you can just use the tops.
Toss the sliced broccoli with the almonds, cranberries and red onion in a large bowl. Meanwhile, whisk the dressing ingredients in a smaller one, with a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the broccoli (if you’ve skipped the stems, you might not want it all; I otherwise found this to be the perfect amount) and toss it well. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Using our muscles


Last winter our garage door opener began stuttering and stopping midway up or down during temps below freezing.  This December the danged opener didn't waste any time getting right back into that unpredictable groove.
I finally scrounged around in our "junk" drawer and found one of our small and long unused garage door openers to keep in my coat pocket.  That way, I could hop out of the car, get a good grip on the door while pushing the button at the same time.  I believe it's important to provide as much entertainment as possible for the neighbors.

Since N's Albany Christmas concert was canceled and we missed the email that would've prevented us from driving south, we decided to go garage door opener shopping.   We ended up in Sears' tool section and found a good deal.  Hopefully, this one will last as long as the first.  N's out in the garage installing.  I better go ask again if he needs a hand.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just call me W.W.

Weather wimp.
Yeah, that's me, I'll admit it.
It doesn't matter if there's only a 30% chance of freezing rain, I'm staying home, dang it. 
You can shower me with insults,
flood my email with a flurry of names, but truthfully? 
You don't want a weather wimp on the road.  
Trust me.
And now you'll have to excuse me. 
It's time to slip into my jammie pants and find a cozy spot on the couch.

A small Carolyn Hax moment


I read the following in Carolyn Hax's column last week and immediately wanted to share and just as immediately forgot.  :>.  It came from a longer column about a couple who had both lived alone for many years and finally made the decision to move in together.  The woman felt like all they were doing since sharing space was to argue over every small detail.  Carolyn's advice?

"One way to get out of the fighting loop is to drop your end of the fight. Not on everything -- we all have some non-negotiable terms -- but on just about everything except those core issues. You can figure out which those are by asking yourself, "Is this the hill I want to die on?" (I stole that line from my neighbor.) And whenever the answer is no, you just let go.
This isn't a permanent solution; eventually, you'll get sick of surrendering, even if it's only on the little things, and there's also the risk that you'll start caving on the big ones, too.
Right now, though, your immediate goal is to stop going 10 rounds over where you keep the butter. Once the bickering clears, then you can start figuring out ways to fold each other into your lives without wiping out anyone's sense of self"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Costco Love


Because of Fran's health issues N and I probably spend more time picking up prescriptions than the average family.  Which is why we've come to appreciate all of the employees at Salem's Costco pharmacy.

We've been to other pharmacies where a line of 8 people can mean a 30 minute wait.  Hard to say for sure, but it appears to have a lot to do with how a pharmacy is staffed and how experienced the techs are.

So many times we've run into different issues with Fran's prescriptions.  At the understaffed businesses shoulders are shrugged and we're told we should call the doctor the following day.  At Costco, they do their best to get to the bottom of the issue, help if they can and tell you how to fix it if they can't.

Of course, it helps that most of them know us by name and ask about Fran.  Reminds me of the small town pharmacy my mother frequented when I was a child.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brain jogging

Who knows the mysterious ways of the human brain!  Particularly when it comes to jogging a seemingly unrelated fragment during a conversation.  During N's and my therapist session today something reminded me of a enlightening and yet endearing moment when our girls were quite young.

I was in the habit of rising early and getting things done for myself without interruptions from anyone else.  I had never said out loud that I considered this "me" time, but even if I didn't know, someone else in the house did. 

One day out of the blue, the girls began getting out of bed minutes after me and I responded by snapping and growling and hurting little feelings.  I didn't know why I was being such a bear, but I did know mornings had become less enjoyable.  Plus, the grumpiness wasn't isolated to just the morning.  It tended to leak out all over the rest of the day.  N must have been silently observing and putting it all together.  I can still remember the morning that he quietly called them back into their shared bedroom and had a chat.  He told them that the early part of morning was mommy's time and asked them to stay in their room and play.

Thanks, N.  I hope I was there for you, too.

And now, after work, two appointments and two errands, I'm thinking leftovers are the solution for dinner.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Six week pleasures

When N and I moved here 17+ years ago, I had to once again do a search for someone to style my thick, wavy hair.  Just one of many details that need to be done within a month of unpacking, when you don't have access to the helpful word of mouth from people we learn we can trust. After about 3 less than satisfying experiences, I ended up at a close to home salon where I felt comfortable for over a decade.




Then after being "comfortable" all those years, I felt like it was time to move on.  No definite I-can-put-my- finger-on-it reason, but more of a yearning for something different.  I began to pay attention to the hair of people I worked with and ask questions.  I tried one guy for several months.  I was happy, but the good chair conversation was hit and miss.  I asked around again.  That's when I found true hair chair love.  :>)
She knows her stuff, she's an amazing listener, says what she thinks (tempered with love) and makes me feel like I've had some good friend therapy after spending time with her.  The co-worker who gave the recommendation has since retired, but whenever we'd bump into each other in the halls I'd try to remember to thank her yet again.
Not always, but definitely this time--change IS good! 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

So that's what normal feels like

I didn't feel all that thankful on Thanksgiving.  At that point, I was already tired of being tired and feeling crummy.  But since the tide of illness turned for me?  I've been thankful everyday.  Ridiculous things (not my opinion, but perhaps others) are filling me with warm fuzzy feelings and driving me to gush and proclaim how I'm feeling at the moment.

On Wednesday the short people listened to me say how thankful I was to K2 for having our science all set-up and how thankful I was to be with them DOING science and school again.  As a result, at recess, 2 of them noticed immediately when K2 brought her crew out and asked if they could go tell her thank you.  And my heart was warmed once again, "they listened and understood!"

 Last night, N and I pulled out the tickets I bought (early for once!) for The Trail Band's Christmas show.  This was our third time.  Does that qualify as a new tradition?  I remembered the tickets were good ones, but didn't realize we'd find ourselves in the second row, sandwiched between an older couple and another couple closer to our ages.  Like the other 2 times, we found ourselves visiting like we had gotten together with old friends to enjoy the entertainment.  More warm fuzzies!  :>)

As I sat by N, smack dab in the middle of B row, it felt like every note, every harmony was ringing out just for me.  Sound silly?  That's pretty much where I'm at these days.  Not full of myself, but holding all the good stuff close and savoring each moment.  I think the Trail Band had the desired result.  I'm definitely full hearted and into this warm holiday season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big surprise--looking forward to Friday


I'm so excited to go see The Trail Band at the Elsinore again! 

Not only do they put on a great show, but I've also found out that they're just the ticket to jump start me into the holiday mood. 

Double yay for Friday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Delicious Science


K2 and I do several science lessons demonstrating some properties of air throughout the school year.  Today we did our first with this year's crew.
We started off with Franklyn Branley's book,  "Air Is All Around You".
It's part of a series from Harper Collins, called Let's Read and Find Out Science books.  The "stage 1" level is perfect for 5-6 year olds and an invaluable part of my science book collection.  While reading, I stopped to point out that we'd be doing an activity similar to one of the two in the book.

When we were finished reading/listening, we stood around a large table set-up with plastic shoe boxes, filled 3/4 with water.  I set out a clear, plastic, disposable cup on the table.  I opened a container of frosting and with a craft stick I smeared a small dollop on the flat end of a marshmallow.  The frosting worked like glue to attach the marshmallow to the bottom of the cup's inside.  I held the cup up and told them, "there are 3 things inside this cup. Raise your hand if you can tell me one."  With no shortage of hands to choose from, I heard the answers: marshmallow, frosting, air.

Then I demonstrated how to hold the cup upside down and how to firmly and carefully push the air filled cup all the way down to the bottom of the container of water and then straight up and out.  "The air kept my marshmallow dry!", I exclaim and pop it into my mouth.  Of course they can't wait to take their turns.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is it for Izzy or for me?


I found this dog toy on one of my trips to the South Salem Pet Store.  It looked like a good way to entertain humans and Izzy with little effort.  (Oh, how horrible that looks in print!)
All we do is add a couple carrot chunks or smear the insides with peanut butter and watch the determined dog use all possible methods to get as much deliciousness out of the rubber mouth as possible. 
Sometimes puppies can seem truly focused.  Really.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Unnecessary freak-out


I was so worried about going to work today.  A combination of the length of time passed since I'd last been present and concern over whether I'd have the stamina to make it.  So worried, in fact, that I created more mental lists and possible worst case scenarios than slept. 

Did I worry for good reason?  Nope.  Turned out either my work isn't as strenuous as I had myself convinced or all that couch rest paid off.

And so, I find myself thankful for all the care and understanding I've received over this long recuperation.  I'm also thankful for antibiotics and x-rays, even if they come at a cost, they're worth it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remotely necessary


N, Jonathon, Fran and I were in the living room watching Gladiator last night, when I heard "the noise".  (Well, to be honest, Jonathon was catching some z's and watching the movie through his eyelids, but back to the noise.)  I was pretty sure it was a glass tipping over in Jonathon's vicinity.  My fear was what was in that glass.  When I looked down I was simultaneously relieved it was water and anxious that the spillage occurred right smack dab on top of the one and only remote control that works the comcast box.  
Fran and I immediately began electronic CBPR (circuit board).  We removed the batteries and swung it around in turns, to (hopefully) remove as much water as possible.  Then we left it upside down, checking it periodically to see if it was operative.  It would work and then do weird things on it's own.  So we'd have to turn it to the movie and then bury it under a pillow to keep it from going through random channels.  As the evening went on it's behavior became more erratic and then finally ceased altogether.
Before heading to bed, I put the remote in a baggie with a moisture reducing packet that came with my hearing aides.  By morning it was still exhibiting spotty and inappropriate behavior.  Jonathon and I had come to the same idea (with different ingredients) at the same time.  He was thinking we should bury it in a bag of rice and I wanted to put the remote in a bag of coarse salt.  He voiced concern over the salt getting into the electronics, "how about we put it in a sock??", I suggested.  He gave me a 'you're silly' smile and went back to Fran in the living room.
Several hours later I removed the remote from the salt and sock, replaced the batteries and gave it a test run.  Yahoo!  All is right with the world!  Once again we can use it and complain "all these channels and still nothing to watch!".  :>)

Saturday

Jonathon, N and Lise went shopping Saturday morning to see if they could find any deals too good to pass up.  I didn't hear too many details about their experience, except the crowds weren't bad.  The rest of the day we all vegged out in the living room watching assorted movies, food channel shows and ending with The Gladiator. 

But the high point had to be N and Jonathon's dinner collaboration--spaghetti with meat (spicy Italian sausage) sauce and amazing bread.  Mmmm!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Low Acid Diet for Bone Health


Thanks to the Google news aggregate, I happened across this article in The New York Times while moseying around the internet yesterday. 
It's the first bit of research that makes sense to me into why osteoporosis is relatively rare in Asian countries and prevalent in America.  Over the years scientists decided it had to do with the amount of rice or soy in Asian diets.  Now it looks like it has more to do with American's skewed beliefs about portions and which side of the food pyramid is the most important. 
Now I'd love to see restaurants respond--before anyone applies pressure.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A day on the couch


Okay, I didn't spend the entire day on the couch.  I did work (what I consider to be) an important chore into the morning--changing the sheets.  The house is deteriorating into a cluttered place that needs a good weekend's worth of attention.  But for now I feel like my first priority is to rest and get better.  I feel Monday creeping up on me and I'm hoping I can handle an entire day at work. 
At least I found things to do while resting;  edited video from Thanksgiving Day, listened to many misc. stories on NPR, slept off and on and watched movies with Fran.

Thanksgiving 09

Complete with the Miller family tradition of listening to Alice's Restaurant on the drive north.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Then reality hit

That's what I hit after I spent several hours out and about with Lise today.  Of course, I feel like a dummy.  I should know better.
Now .  .  . how to make the 2 dishes I've promised to bring?  Yup, it's you Norm.  I mess up and come crawling to you for help.   Sorry
UPDATE
Thanks to a second wind and Fran the dishes are well on their way.  :>)
#recoveringfrompneumonia

While visions of good plans danced in her head

I think I'll hit the grocery store first--while there's still a parking space left and then drive out to Eola Winery to buy several bottles of their Pacific Blanc.  Not only is it a great buy, but it appeals to the tastes of nearly all the wine drinkers in the family.  (I can handle sweet a few times a year)  Plus it goes well with turkey. 
When your family is as big as ours, deals are important.  :>)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Recipes


How many years has it been?  Seems like a very long time since I've relied on finding a recipe in a recipe book.  Hasn't stopped me from collecting or using them (when the mood strikes), however.

This morning, I looked through the pile of printed out (previously used) recipes, the 3 different files I might have saved the recipe to and then (doh!) it finally occurs to me to check in one of my "Best Recipe" books.  Yup!  There it was!  The master recipe for candied sweet potatoes.  Phew!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A new fashion statement for the future?

As the radiologist led me to the x-ray room in the urgent care clinic, he thanked me for wearing a face mask.
"You're welcome!  I didn't want to "gift" my germs to everyone.", I replied.
He turned and smiled, "Did you see that cartoon, too?  Isn't that cute??  And yet . . . yeah."

I don't know how many people have seen that public service message of the cartoon man whistling through his workplace (he's obviously sick) happily handing out presents (germs) to all of his co-workers (I tried googling it without success--hard to pick the right search terms.), but it made me start thinking about having my own reusable face mask to have on hand.  Seems like that would be a good way to model responsible behavior for the wee folk--have the sniffles? wear your face mask!
My first thought was to find a pattern and make my own.
I came across an online bulletin board where nurses were talking about the very same thing.  Someone commented on the board about all of the criteria a homemade mask would have to meet--fit, layers, type of material, etc.  And then they left a link to this face mask business.  Fourteen dollars seems a little high, but if you can use them repeatedly maybe it's worth it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Limbo-land or a day at the urgent care clinic


I had made a tentative-for-sure decision to go to the urgent care clinic the evening before, but after last night there was no doubt.  I don't lend much credence to dreams and their relation to real life.  Although, I do believe they are a way for the brain to chew on things while we sleep.  (ooo! scary mental image!) I had a few "fighting for my life" dreams in the wee hours this morning.  I had hold of the steering wheel and I navigated well, but it was definitely life threatening.  When I woke up, the bed was soaked.  I crawled into the guest bed and within a half hour IT was soaked, too.  I decided it was time to throw in the towel and take a shower.  I took my temp a few hours later and it was finally in the normal range!!  Yipee!
And so I messed around on the computer and listened to the radio until Norm crawled out of bed.  (Hopefully, he was able to grab a few quality hours after noisy me left.)  After breakfast, we headed north to take a spot in the queue at the clinic.  They let us do most of our waiting in the exam room where I could lay down with a pillow and Norm found a way to rest his head and close his eyes.  The doctor came, asked questions, listened with his stethoscope and ordered an x-ray.  The x-ray found "a significant spot of pneumonia".  Next they shot me in the hip with some antibiotic to give me a head start on healing.  Yay for healing!  Yay for getting better!
Not only had it changed from morning to afternoon by the time Norm and I were finished at the urgent care clinic, but the rain had become blue sky.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sleep, sweet sleep!


All through this nasty flu, I've been thankful for being able to sleep.  It's not perfect sleep, of course.  My nights include a fair number of coughing fits and fevered sweats (even a week later).

Near the beginning, I finally removed myself to the guest bedroom for 2 nights.  N wasn't happy.  He claims he can sleep through whatever I can dish out, but whenever I coughed, he stirred and with the major muscle pain I was dealing with--when the bed moved it was excruciating. 

It's certainly a mystery to me how he's able to sleep though coughing, tossing and turning.  Although, the noise from his sleep machine may block other noise out for him.  Me?  I wake up at the slightest sound in the house.  Which is why I began to wear earplugs a several years ago. 

It started out as an experiment.  At work, a group of us were talking about sleep and when I mentioned how often I had to get up during the night, someone suggested I may have a problem.  What?  Maybe a small bladder, but I was positive I didn't have sleep apnea.  I'm not sure if it was something I read or heard on the radio, but I decided to give earplugs a try.  For the first time in years I slept ALL the way through the night.  I was shocked.  I could still hear enough to know when things were going on around me, but all the little noises were muffled.   It took me awhile to find the earplugs I liked the best (Mack's Moldable Silicone Earplugs), but I've been wearing them ever since.

Sweet dreams to all of you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The last tantrum

{I want to take a morning nap, but I thought the blog would help take my mind off this sharp little pain under my right shoulder blade that's just developed.  My rational side says, "it's probably from holding your arm a little wonky.".  My hysterical side says, "it's your lungs, damn it!  Call the advice nurse!"  And so I changed position and picked up the laptop.}

I'll admit it.  I used to be a champion tantrum thrower when I was small.  And boy oh boy did I get results (or so I was told by the family witnesses)!  How else is the youngest  of 5 supposed to get help or attention?  All those busy people bustling around the house; calling friends, having friends over, sewing, cooking, listening to 45's, primping that big hair, going square dancing. It's a big list and I felt like I was way at the bottom.  Isn't that what children usually think?

When I couldn't take it any longer, when I'd had it up to all of my 42" (just a guess), I ran to the junction of where hallway, living room and dining room met and threw myself (in a dramatic fashion) onto the floor and began to kick and scream like I had a chance at an Oscar.  The occupants grew still, looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and sighed (also a guess).  Either sister Susie or Karen would pick me up and try to console me and then see if they could solve this (epic) issue.

Then . . . one horrible day  (that I DO remember) . . . before either sister could scoop me up,  I heard my mother in a quiet tone, "Don't touch her, don't talk to her, walk away and find something to do.".
"But she won't stop crying.  She'll make herself sick."
"No she won't."
Mother was right.  That was my last tantrum.

How about that!  My back feels better.  Guess I can postpone my I-hate-being-sick tantrum.
Oops!  There it is  bleh

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And now for a little sarcasm


Top Reasons Why It's Actually Good to Get Sick

1.  You'll have a smaller impact on the environment.  (I mean, think about it, you probably won't be driving much or running appliances, right?)
2.  You've always looked marvelous in your robe and isn't it wonderful to wear something so comfortable and forgiving?
3.  Getting sick is like an extra vacation.  You can catch-up on your reading and television shows.
4.  People at both work and home will soon discover how amazing you are with all that you do everyday.
5.  You'll save money on dining, gas and entertainment.  (No, this is not the time to think about the cost of your drugs. Besides, aren't they tax deductible?)
6.  You finally get to catch up on all that sleep you feel like you never get enough of.  Take those drugs, snuggle down under the covers and sleep like a bear.
7. Oh!  Don't forget about all those pounds you'll shed.  So what if it's something you wouldn't wish on even an enemy.  Weight off is a good thing!
8.  Enjoy those sleepless moments in the wee hours of the night (maybe you'll be testing your ribs by coughing.  One never knows with viruses.) by crafting your experiences into tales to tell co-workers, as well as family during the upcoming holidays.  It'll warm their hearts.

Okay, that's it!  Can't think of anymore--can you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Scarlet Flu mask?


Did I like being asked to wear a mask at the doctor's office today?  I didn't mind.  I want to keep this bug from spreading, too.  (Although, one could ask why I even went into work on Friday at all.)  Do I enjoy wearing a mask?  No, does anyone like their warm moist breathe being trapped on their face?
I can remember when Lise was a student at UO, remarking on the Asian students wearing masks when they were sick.  She wondered why they were so considerate.  Good question!  This is something we all need to start making a habit.
I was sure my bug started a ways back, but the doctor said I probably had more than one.  When I mentioned that it felt like I hit a wall on Friday, her eyes lit up, "that's exactly how h1n1 starts--hard and fast."  She asked a few more questions, swabbed my nose, "this may be uncomfortable.".  Yup, I think uncomfortable fits about right.  She told me I'd be hearing the results soon, but in the meantime she was going to start me on Tamiflu, "it cuts the duration in half and you've only just begun.".
Now I have this urge to curl up on the couch with a blanket, Hope and a bottle of Whiskey.  Isn't that a cure all??

Thursday, November 12, 2009

High School wipe out


During a conversation last Monday, someone mentioned how their insightful mother rescued them from a less than satisfying high school experience by keeping her home and schooling her--mother's a teacher.  Someone in the group piped up and asked her if she had felt like she was outside looking in.  When she said yes, that person exclaimed, "me too!"  I've never thought much about how I felt during those years, at least until that moment. 
I loved the academic/competitive side of school until I reached 6th or 7th grade.  Who knows what happened to change my attitude or experience, but looking back it seems like I hit a wall.  Maybe it had to do with my immaturity, as I was enrolled in kindergarten at the age of 4.  I understand the effects from starting school too early can have consequences later on due to the social part of middle and high school life.
Was it all bad?  I doubt it.  I must have had some good times, but that's not what I remember now.  Now I wonder how I managed to graduate and why people from those years are looking me up on Facebook.  Really?  Seriously?  Why?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I repeat--YES, I'm a cider drinker!


When N and I took a trip to Vancouver Island a few years back, we were fortunate enough to have stumbled upon Merridale Cidery.  We tasted 5 out of their 12 ciders and purchased bottles of our 3 favorites.  During our visit the two of us began talking to a local at their tasting bar and learned that there's a rich cider world in Canada. 
Later, my curiosity about why a young U.S. had nearly abandoned their European cider heritage, took me all over Google.  I read several theories, but no one I read is exactly sure about what happened.  Although, the theory about the fledgling beer industry successfully pushing for laws to make life tough for their cider competitors makes a lot of sense. 
It was during that same Google search I found Wandering Aengus' website.  N and I have been in love ever since.  :>)  I recently learned that the number of U.S. cideries is increasing by the year.  Good news that!  I'm looking forward to next year when I plan on heading north to one of the cider festivals.  Meanwhile, I'll try and keep up on what's new in the cider world at Old Time Cider.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

tis the season for wine tasting


Wine tasting seems like more of a summer or spring activity to me--probably because of how many wineries have views and decks and such.  But we're fast approaching one of the busiest winery visiting times of the year as the end of November slips closer. (here's a great link to help with planning your winery tastings.)
N and I usually stay clear of the crowds, but I see that Wandering Aengus will be open November 21 and 22 for tasting and (of course) purchasing.  We've noticed how it's getting tougher to find their ciders in the Salem area, so I'm sure we'll spring for a case that weekend.  Or maybe more, since it makes a good gift, too.

By the way . . . have you signed up for Friday's Wine Walk??

Monday, November 9, 2009

Saturday Night in Newport

“24 Hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not."–H.L. Mencken”


We chose to eat at Rogue's, Brewers On the Bay, Saturday after the Duck and Beaver games were over.  N and I have talked about eating here for a couple of years, but until Saturday had only made it to a pizza stop at their Bay Blvd. location.  Our trips to the beach are usually of the "there and back in a day" variety, making a relaxing visit to a public house out of the question for those of us who are prone to nap after a beer. 
We walked up the metal ramp, through a narrow silo, following the sign that beckoned us ahead.  We followed the wet, roped, cement path and heeded the caution signs near the ramps and puddles.  Soon we arrived in a rustic area stocked with bottles and bottles (big and regular) of their beer varieties, hats, shirts, etc.  We located the stairway that went to the dining and tasting rooms.
N said that I breezed by the sign directing us to bay view dining, as I lead him into the bar.  Didn't even notice!  Just as we considered backtracking, the bartender held out an on the house Mogul Madness sample.  Mmmmm!  He suggested we fill out the paper form for a sample tray--how to choose 4 from that list?!
I jotted down:  Juniper Pale Ale; Smoke Ale; Dry Hopped Red; Imperial Stout.  My favorites of the 4 were the Juniper Ale and the Dry Hopped Red.  The other 2 didn't even come close,and I should've known better than to try the smoke ale.
Both of us decided we had to try their "famous" fish and chips with Idaho fries.  The fish was delicious with the addition to dill to the beer batter, (but why not more cole slaw??) and the fries were crispy and hot.    After we finished eating, N ordered a pint of the Wet Hop Ale and I ordered a glass of Dry Hopped Red.  The bartender kept us entertained with banter and gave a wee suggestion that perhaps we'll see a pub house on the Independence hop farm on 3590 Wigrich Rd.some day.  I did notice they have tours at the farm--Mon. thru Fri., 7 AM-6PM.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just the 2 (3) of us



Photo by Jim Layman
I don't know who's enjoying this weekend more, N and I or Hope.  She's stretched out on the bed, next to both of us, watching the world outside our 3rd floor window while I play on the laptop and N watches the Duck game. 
We arrived in Newport around 6:30 last night.  The weather was relatively calm as we took Hope for her first walk and later when we went to Nana's Irish Pub in the Nye Beach area (which N and I both agreed is worth 4 out of 4 stars).


After breakfast, we went for a long drive and  stopped to enjoy some roadside views along the way.  The most impressive?  Boiler Bay!  Wow!  What a show!  We were soaked from both the spray from the breakers and the rain.  We drove around the bay and then along the Siletz River.  The weather raged almost the entire time--downpours, hail and thunder and lightning.
Once we returned to Newport, the weather was calm again.  NOAA says the calm is temporary, but, hey, we didn't come here for the weather.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Car music flashback

When Lise and Fran were small, we spent a fair number of hours in our car, driving to and fro to visit family from Tillamook, Roseburg, and then Salem.  Our constant companions on those car trips were our Raffi cassette tapes.
N and I could probably still predict, with at least 90% accuracy, what song follows another on his first 4 albums.   I'm not sure we would've given up adult music to any other artist.  Raffi has a gentle, soothing quality that can calm any age.
Once in awhile, while involved in an adult conversation about "what are you listening to", I would go on and on about how much I loved Raffi.  "Have you heard "The Gorilla Song"?", I'd gush to concerned friends.  I'm still sad we never made it to one of his concerts (sigh).
And today there are times when I'll burst into a Raffi song out on the playground or on the way to the bus and sometimes one of the small people will join me.  I guess he's still playing in cars today.  Good news!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

G K's -- The Old Scout

When the Tough Should Get Going

November 3, 2009
The former Marine officer Matthew Hoh, who resigned his Foreign Service post in Afghanistan because he feels the war is pointless and not worth dying for, deserves all the attention he's gotten and more. The Obama administration faces hard decisions there, and the man made a good case against deeper American involvement. He says that our presence among the Pashtun people, the rural, religious people, is only

I'd like you to meet my friends--the red wigglers


I love the excitement the short folk have for the worm box and the worms--reminds me yearly why I do science every week.   :>)
I read Wiggling Worms at Work by Wendy Pfeffer for the first time.  In the past, we've read Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser.  I love the illustrations in Wendy's book (by Steve Jenkins) and the detail about wormlets, what worms eat and how, but I may revisit Linda Glaser's book next year.  It's better geared to our age level and allows for more time to do our science journals.
After reading I opened up the worm box to "introduce my friends" to the students.  I showed the decaying apple, banana peels, garlic clove shell (worms ate the insides) and the leaves intermixed with the coir and worm castings.  Only a few yucks and "why do worms eat garbage?", most couldn't wait until they could hold one.  Some years only half will hold a red wiggler, but yesterday only 3 out of 40 said no.  
After holding the worms and talking about how they move, we washed our hands and returned for a gummy worm treat.  BUT first we stretched and relaxed the gummy worm to show how real worms travel.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Flag traditions from my youth

As I was leaving work yesterday, I noticed our afternoon custodian draping both the school's national and state flags around his neck as he finished adjusting the cable and pulley.  I flashed back to the daily flag ceremonies in my small town elementary school.  It's very possible I have the details wrong, but here's what I remember to the best of my knowledge: 


Each week a different classroom (grades 1-6) would have the responsibility of raising and lowering the flag.  It was a privilege to be one of the two students chosen to perform the unfolding, attaching and raising each morning--as well as the lowering and folding at the end of the school day.  I can remember being in classrooms where the entire class attended the ritual and others where only the chosen students were in attendance.
Today with all of the demands placed on a student's school day, taking that much time for a ceremony that teaches respect for a national symbol seems difficult to justify and yet worthwhile all the same. Maybe once a month?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The time it was a'changing

I just don't get it--even when we "gain" an hour in Autumn, our internal clock is knocked out of whack.  Years ago I read that there's an increase in automobile accidents and heart attacks when the clocks are changed.  It has to affect productivity as well (except for you Amy).
After a couple of minutes googling this morning I did find some articles on the Spring time change, but not Autumn (1, 2).
Part of me wishes we'd stop daylight savings time and part of me understands why we do it, but I would like to see a review about whether it's worth the slight increase in accidents to continue.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The art of holding our breath


N and I kicked off our weekend with the pub crawl and then woke up (no, not early!) Saturday ready to get to work. N drove to his office to try and catch up after a week of meetings and heading out of town. I did chores and then took Fran out to the last Saturday Market, Keizer dog park and then to Reader's Guide. Saturday Market was the easiest with the wheel chair and Reader's Guide entrance was the worst.
Oh how I miss their old location and book selection!!
On Sunday, Lise and I ran errands while N tackled the leaves and worked on his PVC green house. I can't wait to see how it works this winter. Oh and I (thankfully) was reminded about this week's worm science lesson.
I was sure I had stocked the worm box with enough food since I last tended them. BUT I'm pretty sure the lack of food is why they left. Very sad! After gleaning a handful of worms from our compost pile and compost container, I discovered they hadn't gone far. I moved the worm box to begin cleaning off the exterior and found leaf debris that was full of red wigglers! Yay!
Another week closer to Fran's surgery date. Yeah, we know. It may not be the answer.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Okay, so I lied . . .

I apologize in advance for these lousy cell phone pics, but I wanted to give you an idea of what was out there last night.  Silly me left my camera at home, although the video camera would've been just the ticket.

I told everyone who asked at work that I could check-off "pub crawl" on my list of things to do, because I was getting too old to do those kind of activities.  The closer the date for the October crawl creeped, the more I considered trying again.  This time with a better plan (eat at one stop, drink at the next) and thanks to Amy, we almost stuck to it.  A buck for a slice of pizza at Straight from New York??  Yup!  All we needed was that orange bracelet.  :>)
There were so many great costumes and people having fun.  Even though I felt exhausted after the work week, I had a fun time with lots of therapeutic laughter.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leaves!


K2 and I decided to do our leaf science lesson this week.  The gamble was whether Tuesday and Wednesday of this week would be drier (weather wise) than the next.  I'm glad we made the leap.  The weather turned out perfect both days.

I took each group out for a short leaf walk.  We compared the oak trees in front of our school (variety of colors, number of leaves left) and selected 2 leaves per person for a project, before heading inside to enjoy our two books.  I read "Leaf Man" by Lois Elhert and "Autumn Leaves" by Ken Robbins.  Afterwards I shared why I love Leaf Man: how the author strolled through her own woods during autumn, collecting and scanning what she considered to be the best leaves, then printing and cutting the scans out to create leaf pictures.  My goal is to create an awareness of the changes in the world around us and inspire them to make their own creations.  At the end I demonstrate how to do a leaf rubbing with paper, crayons and the leaves we selected.
Something L and I have tried for the past 3 years is to have the children listen to another book about making leaf pictures when they return to the classroom and then having a chance to make their own.  L then takes their leaf creations home to scan and make a classroom book.  The morning class did a nice job, but the afternoon crafted some amazing pictures.  Something about that creative part of our brains working better in the afternoon AND the instructors giving better explanations.
{Have to share one funny from the day:  During the first trip (of 4) out of our building to begin a leaf walk, I spotted a pile of dog poo in the middle or our path.  I alerted each group to watch their step and reminded them to clean-up after their own dogs.  One of the short people in the middle of day remarked, "Maybe dogs should learn to clean-up after themselves!".} 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Hour idea


I'm knocking around an idea for eatsalem.com. 
Hopefully, I'll spring into action soon and quit with this long rumination.

I thought it would be fun to gather a group together and do a weekly happy hour review--on an off day of the week.  Maybe come up with a simple score sheet of some kind.
Would 4 rating areas be enough?  Something like:  ambiance, available times, quality of food and drink deals.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waiting for my shot


Every autumn for the past . . . . hmmm . . . . probably 10 years I've gone to the doctor to get my flu shot.  They suggest you wait until late October to get inoculated to make it last throughout the flu season.  This year waiting may not have been the right strategy. The clinic I go to isn't sure when they'll receive more serum. 

Working with the wee folk exposes me to all kinds of bugs everyday.  L and I stress good hygiene and train them to sneeze and cough into their elbows, but when you're 5-6 that only goes so far.  On top of that I try and disinfect the room and pencils twice a day--which helps, but there's a lot of exposure happening in between.  

My main concern isn't a fear of getting sick, but not getting Fran sick.  She doesn't need that on top of everything else.

Monday, October 26, 2009

S t r e t c h i n g a pot of turkey chili


Over the past several years, Fran has melded about 3 chili recipes into one.  She's taken all of what she considers to be the best parts of each one to make her own.  Unfortunately, since I can't copy and paste what she holds in her brain cells, I can't share her recipe.  But I can say it includes two kinds of chili powder and a bottle of beer.

N and I were the lucky recipients of a dutch oven full of her chili last week.  We enjoyed the chili with roasted, red potatoes the first night, the second night she made us chili mac and cheese (which fed us an additional night as well).  And on Sunday night we used the last portion to make chili dogs.  Mmmm, chili dogs! 


I wouldn't mind having more meals stretch like that.
If you enjoy food videos, here are a few from Cook's Illustrated.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paying for the shade


As Sunday's rain holds off, N's out finishing the leaf job that he didn't have time to finish before yesterday's wedding.  The leaves wait for him (rain or shine) every weekend this time of year.  I'm always amazed at size of the pile each and every week--and that's not counting our neighbor's 3 Ash trees that hang over our driveway. Sure we grouse and complain (wait, do I even have the right?), but the trees are one of the main reasons we love it here on the side of the hill. 
When we first moved here, it was a family project.  The girls and I made numerous piles with our rakes, so N could shred them with the lawn mower.  Now he works solo with the blower and this cool leaf shredder he found on the internet.  After time, moisture, heat and the worms are finished, we end up with some fine compost.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Conversations with myself

I'm coming to the slow realization that sometimes the best action to take in a blog comment situation is no action at all.  The letting go is is an even slower process.


As I sat at the computer and stood in the shower thinking this over numerous times this week, it dawned on me that each interaction with this particular comment poster has brought zero enlightenment to most anyone involved.  Maybe I was the one who needed enlightening.  Why respond to someone who obviously gains nothing and I only gain more frustration?

I engaged in an exercise that helped me work it through.  I copied and pasted all of the comments into a document for review purposes and quickly crafted a response that touched on all the things that were bothering me.  Then I saved the document and walked away.

True letting go will be achieved when I hit the delete key and then make sure it's irretrievable.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fun at the pumpkin patch

Call us crazy or maybe even certifiable, but the KG team decided to take all 3 classes, cram the wee bodies (with an occasional adult) 3 to a seat on a school bus and drive out Highway 22, taking a left on Independence Highway and then a right on Popular, to Setnicker's Pumpkin Patch.

We were regulars at Setnicker's for 3 or 4 consecutive Octobers until they closed up shop for two years. We appreciated the activities they offered for our age group, their organization and price and how they didn't overbook. They've made some changes since we last visited--all good.


They have an awesome play area inside a barn that includes a big corn kernel filled spot, surrounded with hay bales and filled with lots of toys and shovels, 3 slides of varying sizes and a small pretend jail under the two bigger slides. Outside the barn is a hay pyramid perfect for the development of a 5-6 year old's core muscle group and a pint sized hay maze. Just east of the barn is a big field of pumpkins--giant varieties and tiny ones, too. The tractor pulled hayride took us around the perimeter of the pumpkin field to give us a good view of all the pumpkins.

We had a fun morning without rain and just a little mud. Now I'm craving apple cider and want to carve a giant pumpkin.  :>)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Done with the germ unit - now it's about birds

In the past, K2 and I have done a bird lesson with the wee folk where we each make a pine cone bird feeder.  This entailed one of us remembering to take a big box along whenever we traveled to Pine tree country.  I remember N and I driving home from Bend and then realizing (doh!) we were the designated "Pine cone" pickers.  Back to civilization we went, stopping at the first "Office Something" store we came to--buying a big cardboard box and some tape and heading back to that side road that reminded us. We felt lucky when we didn't end up with poked fingers or pitch on our hands after collecting 80+ cones.

Then we had a year when one of the students had a
peanut allergy.  We switched from peanut butter to soy butter.  And last year, I began to notice how many little hands were getting poked from the spiky cones.  The negatives (mainly access and injury) were piling up against our current method.

This past summer I spent some time surfing for alternatives on the web and found a better idea--bagel bird-feeders.  (We decided to substitute lard or shortening for peanut butter.)  I emailed K2 to get her opinion.  It was a go.  :>) 

Today was the day to try it out for the first time during our science lesson.  I read two of my favorite bird books (Wild Birds by Joanne Ryder & Have You Seen Birds by Joanne Oppenheim), and then we made our bagel bird-feeders for the first time.  It was a success.  Now I hope little seed covered bagels are being hung in all 50 of their backyards this evening.  I know the birds will appreciate it.

There’s No Place Like Home, Americans are Returning to Localism


By Joel Kotkin 
October 09 2009
Appearing in: 
Newsweek

On almost any night of the week, Churchill's Restaurant is hopping. The 10-year-old hot spot in Rockville Centre, Long Island, is packed with locals drinking beer and eating burgers, with some customers spilling over onto the street. "We have lots of regulars—people who are recognized when they come in," says co-owner Kevin Culhane. In fact, regulars make up more than 80

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

I used to make a delicious (thanks to the recipe, not me!) Chicken Cacciatore recipe from an old crock pot cookbook, but just recently Cook's Illustrated sent out an email with a CC (with portobellos and sage) recipe.  I'm ready for cool weather comfort food and open to new recipes, so I printed it out and cooked it up this past Friday.  It was good, but it wasn't even close to the old favorite recipe.

And so this evening, I felt a need to do a search to find a recipe closer to what I remember.  I thought it was even better than Friday's, but N remarked that it definitely wasn't the recipe he used to make for his housemates in college.  Back to the drawing board . . .

Would it be overkill to make a third version for Tuesday's dinner??

Tripping South

N and I decided to try mixing it up a bit with our trip to Ashland this time around.  We've been leaving after work on Friday when we take Fran down or bring her back, but the time before this last one found us making a much later start than usual.  Arriving at midnight is bad for a number of reasons:  drowsiness, late motel check-in, keeping Jon up and getting Izzy riled up when she should be settling down for the night.  So this time, N decided we should try a Saturday late afternoon departure. 
Part of his thinking?  He could get the backyard leaves tended to before hitting the road (which was postponed due to the downpour).  Other than that, the leisurely trip and the time to enjoy a couple of HBO movies in the motel before falling asleep were good things. 
Yesterday, we took the opportunity to take Jon out to Munchies for a late lunch.  Ashland was a hopping town this weekend, but since we ate at an off time (about 2-3) we didn't have to brave the hungry crowds.  AND I found a way to resist buying an entire Chocolate Peanut Butter pie--the 3 of us shared a piece after our lunch. 
Will my pie fix last? 
Or will I be tempted to ask Jon to bring me a pie the next time he drives up??

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Old Scout

Quality Health Care for All ... Even Republicans

October 6, 2009
OK, it was wrong of me to say last week that we should deny health care to Republicans except for aspirin and hand sanitizer, and thank you to the many readers who kindly took me to task. It was so wrong. And I withdraw the idea that death panels should circulate through red states searching for the obese and slow afoot, the wheezy and limpy, spray-painting orange stripes on their ankles, marking them for future harvest. That was very, very bad.
Republicans have the same right to quality health care as anyone else, and you can quote me on that. Even people who are crazed stark raving berserk by the thought of a president with three vowels in his last name deserve to be treated with kindness and dignity, and shot with tranquilizer darts by game wardens and wrapped in quilts and taken to refuge.
What has come along to change my mind?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My 4th birthday--Flashback

Maybe it was the downpour we experienced this morning, but my brain flashed back to some 40+ year old memories from my childhood--the Columbus Day storm
It wouldn't have been October (or my birthday) if my parents didn't go hunting with their group of friends.  I remember being told that my parents couldn't drive home on the day they had planned to and that our tall cedar tree had fallen on our house.  Luckily, the tree was about 10 feet away from the house.  There was damage, but nothing compared to what it would've been if the tree had been farther away. 
I have two clear memories of those days:  being taken to the house of friends of my parents, where I parked myself on a couch with a view of the road; my Aunt Martha making me a birthday pancake on a Coleman stove in our kitchen with the cedar tree leaning on the house.


I found the above photos on Salem Library photo archive.