Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Phone Envy


About 3 weeks ago I finally stopped at a kiosk and replaced my cell phone.  It had been 5 months since I was eligible.  Typical me to procrastinate, yet surprising since it is considered a tech item.

Plus, I didn't research like usual.  I guess I just wanted to check it off my to do list.  Not only was it not the most fun way to get my new phone, but not very nice of me, since Fran loves to do that end of the job.
When I was done, I told N it was his turn and he DID ask for Fran's help.  The result?  I want his phone.  I was very happy with mine, until I saw his.  Bad K!!  I checked the return policy and I should still be eligible for the 30 day window.

Now to see if I kept everything in that little box.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Washing my hands . . . again


It's begun.  We've officially been in school long enough for the young ones (and adults, too) to start staying home sick.  The wee folk have been at school for 5 fewer days than everyone else, but I'm sure in no time at all we'll make up for that lost time.  I noticed a few with red eyes today, too.  Over the years, I've had my share of conjunctivitis thanks to all the exposure.  I tell myself at the beginning of each day, "you will not touch your face until the wee folk are gone and your hands are scrubbed".  Doesn't always work--so many things we do without thinking. 

And now that I'm reminded, I really need to drive across town and get my flu shot.  I checked the clinic's site for information on shots, but didn't spot anything new.  Guess I better ring them up.  In the meantime, I should remember to cough and sneeze into my sleeve AND get myself some of these cool sleeves.  I wonder if they come in my size?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last weekend of September

What could be better than a weekend filled with friends and family? I even managed to fit a few chores in around the edges.
Friend Shirley treated me to a leisurely, conversation filled breakfast on Saturday morning. We took some time to browse the Saturday Market and enjoy the sunshine afterwards. On Sunday, my folks drove down from Washington to spend the day with all of us. Jonathon's been wanting to play golf with Dad for a long time and today was the day. Dad even managed to sink an impressive putt on one of the last holes.
I'm glad we enjoyed the outdoors as much as we did. I just checked the weather for the rest of the week.  Time to get out the raincoats . . . .

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crawlin

Wow! My clothes from last night don't smell like the bottom of a nasty ashtray!!

And now my sheets are calling my name!  G'night!

Computer, library, buddies, oh my!

Our teacher, L, likes to call this day of the week "Fun Friday".  It's a total change of schedule from the other 4 days;  no projects, rarely a recess and not much time in the classroom.  Also, it's her chance to have a wee bit of planning time--a sore point with her.  I believe teachers in first through fifth receive either a half hour or an hour of planning time everyday.  Kindergarten is a whole different world from the rest of the school, which is one of the reasons why we were chosen to be in the portable. 
The morning class did a super job of listening and following directions during the Kid Pix exploration I led them through.  I love the new set-up of Kim and I working with them together.  She leads her class while I help and then we switch places with my class.  Our new librarian has taken on the responsibility of reading and check-out with the wee folk, instead of Kim and I.  Partly it's a relief, but we are sad about not having the weekly reading time.  Between the two of us, we've collected around 75+ favorite books the past 6 years. 
Today was a busy day, but a nice way to end the week.  Of course, the sunshine doesn't hurt.  :>)

Looking forward to Friday

After being turned down at the Red Cross on "blood date night", we soothed our egos with food and red wine.  Seemed appropriate.  And now we're looking forward to the Pub & Wine Crawl in downtown Salem tonight.  I read on a local blog last night that Independence is starting their hops festival on Friday. 
Big weekend ahead!
Maybe I'll see you out there.  :>)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spider Bites

Tuesday morning, N pulled up a sleeve to show me his arm.  There was an angry looking bug bite in the crook of his elbow, the size of a nickel with a red streak headed towards his shoulder.  I strongly suggested he call the doctor and get in that day.  He didn't argue.  The red streak is a symptom we both remember hearing about in years past.

That afternoon, after his stop at the urgent care clinic, he told Fran and I that the doctor told him a red streak often comes later--after other more serious symptoms like shortness of breath and fever.  BUT to be safe she wrote him a prescription for an antibiotic and gave him some Zyrtec samples to help with the itching and swelling.  It looked much better by Tuesday evening, but now I want to head into the yard and spray those danged, dirty, spiders with even more determination.
Why are there so many this year?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Downtown Salem

When my sisters drove down from Washington to spend the day with me, I took them downtown to explore.  It was nearly time for them to leave when one of them remembered she needed to stop at a drugstore.  They asked if there was one close enough to walk to.  I paused for a couple beats and told them we could either walk (about) 3 blocks north or a block and a half south.  They picked the closer of the two, Quisenberries.  That's the moment when it dawned on me that after 17 years of avoiding downtown, I've begun the process of embracing and learning my way around those city blocks.  It's a good feeling.  What's funny is that one of the main reasons I had chosen to spend my time elsewhere was because I didn't know my way around.  Why in the world did I wait so long?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh Really?

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about one of my Salem pipe dreams (as in, I know it'll never happen, but it's cool to imagine it could).   I stated, "What if part of the Fairview property was turned into a fun place like the Troutdale McMenamin's--complete with lodgings, areas for concerts and weddings?"
My friend replied, "That would be cool, but it would never work in Salem."

I was surprised and disappointed to hear those words.
Why not in Salem?
I mean there's a successful destination McMenamin's in Forest Grove, why not here?
Would it create a nice boost that would carry over to other businesses in the Salem area or would it benefit only the one business?

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taking the back way home

After meeting my sis and crew in Vancouver and making a somewhat quick stop at Ikea, N and I decided to take a back way home.  We asked Reggie-the-GPS to pick an alternate route and began the trip.  Reggie picked Capitol Highway (which eventually turned into 99 W).  The following are some of the highlights we spotted along the way: 
Nacho Mama's (still making me chuckle),
Dr. Feel Good's Pub, which is right next to--
The Clutch Doctor,
Rose's Deli (I thought those were long gone),
statues of Jake and Elwood dancing,
and last of all a psychic with a "Grand Opening" banner strung up across the front of the business.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend thoughts

We've been enjoying our weekend and the thought keeps popping into my head that it's been so long since we've had the luxury of (a somewhat) lazy two days.  Probably not true, that thought is more of a testament to how we regard our weekends--selfishly. 

Lise was telling me how her stress level at work has been tiring her out and making her less productive at home lately.  My response was something like, "you need to do something fun and different on the weekend. THAT'S how you recharge your batteries.".  Do I practice what I preach?  To a certain degree.  I mean, how lazy do we let ourselves get during the week--unless you count the wind-down-before-bed-hours on the couch.  :>)

Although, today we are getting the last of our chores out of the way to meet sissy K and her crew up in Washington for a late lunch.  It'll be a chance to catch up with them since they began building their canal house and to see nephew Jared and his Genevieve. 

Which means I better hop up and put that last load of laundry in!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two dog house

It's been interesting to watch the changes around here between a one and a two dog household.  Izzy used to be totally tuned into her people, but now we're in second place after Hope.  This also is happening with Hope, but at a slower pace.  She's more reluctant to give up those special lap moments, in spite of Izzy trying to herd her away or entice her into play.

One of the major benefits is when it's time for the dogs to take a break outside. Izzy would refuse if it was even slightly damp, but it's not an issue now.  They both jostle one another in the excitement to get out the door.  And when it came to eating, Hope seemed shy about going into another room alone and would wait until we were with her, but now they eat together--sometimes out of the same bowl.

Fran liked Izzy to be with her during the night, but Izzy began to whine at our door as soon as Fran would go to sleep.  Now that Hope's here, we keep their dog beds on our bedroom floor and they're perfectly happy to sleep side by side all night.  Not only are we sleeping better, but Fran is less stressed over Izzy waking us up.

I can see how people end up with more than one dog.  Having a small dog pack in the house is pretty cool and feels comfortable, but in my book "small" is essential.

(Just dawned on me, that we did have 2 dogs in the house for a year when Lise and J lived with us, but the relationship between Nixon and Izzy was different.  While they did have fun playing together, that's where it ended.  Maybe it was the big difference in age.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

First week down

Usually at the end of the first week with the short folk I feel wrung out and exhausted.  Not so much this time around.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because we've all been thrown into this new building, in smaller rooms and needing to rethink how we do nearly every part of our day.  Or maybe it has to do with the new member of our team who is optimistic, into solving problems and generally fun to be around. 
Whatever the cause, I'm glad.  I hate starting my weekend by falling asleep on the couch before 8 PM.  Makes me feel old and decrepit.  Which immediately forces me to wonder how many years I can continue to keep up with 5 and 6 year olds, while still loving their company.  Probably another 20 years?  :>)  Okay, a slight exaggeration, but the short folk do keep me feeling young. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Long lasting decisions

Not only has kindergarten undergone some major, rising expectations since I was a child, but families have also changed greatly in the past 45 years.  I can remember (just barely) coloring, dancing, playing, napping and going home to a mom-made-lunch during my kindergarten school year.  Today the wee folk hit the ground running once they enter the classroom door.

Our Thursday schedule: coloring a small, 5 page, "A" book; writing "the end" on the last page; reading/tracking the book as a group; sitting on the floor for calendar/math and project demonstration; return to tables for project time; writing names the school way 3 times; doing an "A" page with both writing and cutting & pasting; choice time; clean-up; snack; recess; packing up & leaving.  Whew!  Even I'm surprised seeing it all in print.  Especially since I know exactly what each activity entails.

In addition, they're all bringing their prior experiences or lack of experiences.  We have a small group who know how to make, can identify and correctly write upper AND lower case letters.  At the other end of the spectrum we have a somewhat larger group who barely know how to hold a pencil. 

Then there are the situations that make it difficult for two income or single parent families:  half day of school; finding a daycare provider for half a day; wee folk getting sick more often after entering school; AND balancing it all with wondering if their child is ready for school.  Some families probably view that as a luxury and put their child into school as soon as they meet the age requirement.

Every June we see the hope in parents' eyes that all their struggling child needs is a workbook from Walmart to catch-up to their peers over the summer, when we know from experience that their child really needs another year.  Nothing can replace that gift of time.  Time can give a child confidence and confidence gives them the strength to try new things, take on challenges and push themselves out of their comfort zone.

But, of course, it's easy to feel like you have all the right answers while standing on the sidelines. Real life is much tougher.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Couplehood

One of the assignments N and I were given, is to seek more opportunities to invest in our "couplehood".  We've discovered over the years that living together side by side doesn't always offer the kind of moments necessary to nourish a relationship.  Just like raising children, you have to make a conscience effort to schedule times for quality one on one moments.

Over the past year, the two of us slacked way off of our Wednesday date night, but recently made a decision to stake claim to that evening again.  The other suggestion is to take opportunities to get away on weekends on a monthly basis.  It sounds easy, but there are so many ambivalent emotions for me to deal with (can't speak for N):  will Fran be okay on her own?; will Lise be disappointed if we exclude her from a camping trip?.

Do we ever stop being parents?  I don't think we do, but I do agree that we need to continue to change our mental model as the stages of our lives change. Even now, with our renewed date night determination, N is helping Lise craft an important letter.  Once they finish, it would be easy to say it's too late and wait until next week, but I'm determined not to let that happen.

No offense Fran and Lise, but your folks are going to start being more selfish.  We'll still be here for you, of course, but we're going to guard the times set aside for just "us"--doctor's orders.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not so bad, not so bad

Yes, we did forget a wee detail or two and yes we were late getting the wee folk out to the bus at the end of the AM session, but all in all it was a good first day.  I even have a fairly good grasp of the 50 names--no tests yet, please.
Every year the value of the cameras and lenses used by parents goes up greatly.  Holy smokes!  And I thought golf was an expensive hobby! I'm looking forward to the rest of the week and watching this crew transform into students.  Although, the majority do have preschool experience.
In addition, I'm so thankful for Kim.  Since N and I have a standing Tuesday appointment, I had to miss the last hour of school.  Kim loves the wee folk as much as I do, so she's made herself available to sub for me once again.  While N and I are working on reducing our stress, Kim is reducing mine a bit more and teacher L's, as well.
Yay for the new school year, teamwork and awesome coworkers!

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's almost time

We think we're ready,
we hope we're ready
and yet (deep down) we know we won't be totally ready.

We're always about 75% prepared for what hits us when the door opens.  So many things we can't control; entire families arriving complete with siblings, grandparents or aunts and uncles, tears--sometimes none, sometimes a lot, at least one child we weren't told where they go at the end of the session and our small room.
I'm not fond of first days (too much hub bub and stress for all involved), but I love getting to know all the new wee folk. 
This year we have a lot of details to iron out, as a result of now being separate from the rest of the school.  And on that note, I'm looking forward to the smoother, well ironed days ahead.

Fit to be tied

During our camping trip at Paulina Lake, I noticed that Jim and Joyce used a double lead when they took their 3 dogs out for exercise (Cody, the third dog, walks without a leash).  I was impressed.  It looked like an excellent alternative to holding our two big, handled, retractable leashes.  So N and I picked out a model for smaller dogs(not the smallest nor the biggest), while at the pet store buying new fish and such. 
I snipped it out of it's sturdy packaging and extended it to the longest length possible, before attaching it to Izzy and Hope for our evening walk.  We were barely out of the driveway before it was painfully clear (from Hope's point of view) this was not going to work.  There are about 5 pounds and 4 years difference between the dogs, which really isn't much, but Izzy has waay more physical enthusiasm for life than Hope. 
And so Hope began to be unwillingly tugged every way Izzy decided to go and I could barely catch my breath.  I was laughing so hard, tears rolled down my cheeks.  Sorry Hope!  There was something that tickled my funny bone about that picture and I can't resist a good laugh.  I need all the cardiovascular exercise I can get!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Old Scout

The Old Scout

Garrison Keillor's weekly newspaper column.

Vetting the Health Care Issue
September 1, 2009

I caught part of a radio call-in show the other day on which a vet was fielding questions about Addison's disease among basset hounds and a cocker spaniel's hypothyroid problem and what can be done about a bulldog who snores (he needs to lose weight), and it was interesting to discover the excellent medical care that dogs have come to expect these days. The vet was herself a dog parent, as she put it, and there was genuine feeling in her voice when she discussed the bassets' hormonal problems, something I haven't heard in the debate over health care for humans this summer.

I have not been a pet parent for 20 years so perhaps I'm not up to speed here, but back in the day, dogs slept in the garage or on the porch so they could defend the home against socialism, and if they snored, it definitely was their problem and not ours. Ditto hypothyroidism. And there was a death panel around whose name was . . . (click here for more)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dragonfly in Ashland

Jonathon knows N and I like to try new places, so he had a breakfast place in mind for our recent visit--Dragonfly .  He heard that they were the winners of the Oregon Iron Chef competition at The Bite in Portland.  It took a little walking to find their location, as it's not obvious until you're standing in front of the building (an old church shared with the Oregon Cabaret Theatre
Our meals were not the usual breakfast fare, and yet so delicious.  Loved our waitress--she was more like an old friend than wait staff.

Izzy and Hope are in the process of becoming pals.  :>)  I have a feeling this is going to be a good relationship.  Good news that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Loose Ends

First I received a text from James and then a little later a voice mail from Lise, while I was at work this afternoon.  They both wanted to let me know that there was a wire hanging from the power pole near the end of our driveway.  It's not the first time and it's not ours, but it was a concern when Lise had just driven up in her car and saw the school bus open it's doors to let a child out very close to the wire.  She quickly exited her car and stood between the child and the wire. 
Probably a good idea, since the vehicle that responded is from PGE.

Back in the saddle--well almost

Today is our second day of wee folk assessments.  It's fun listening to their enthusiasm (and sometimes seriousness) from across the room where I'm doing the prep.  The prep list is getting shorter.  Yay!  Once I get our Thursday folders laminated, trimmed & named, I'll really feel on top of my game.  :>)
For now, I'm going to go eat lunch and think of my next set of tasks.
Now where did I put that stapler??

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Are we a part of the group now?

Thanks to Fran and Jonathon's relationship, we spent our second Labor Day weekend amongst a great group of folk.  I'm not even sure how they all originally met, but it's quite a variety of people; 2 scientists, a nurse, a teacher, a social worker, an administrator, plus most of the offspring and assorted dogs.  This year, due to family and health reasons, a couple people were absent, but N and I ended up meeting a few more of their off spring. 
Our destination was Paulina Lake Campground.  The weather forecast was a little iffy, but we all hoped it would be better than what was forecast for the valley.  Can I just say I'm very glad we have a furnace in our tent trailer AND a double sleeping bag that has a heavy side and a light side??  It was cold every night, but the last made it all the way down to 30 degrees.  Thanks to the year before, most of us were more prepared than the last at Diamond Lake.  Cool weather on Labor Day weekend, isn't all that unusual, but it does reduce the number of available activities--not to mention the blue green algae health advisory.  However hiking and sightseeing (can you say, "lava flows"?) works in just about every temperature, thank goodness!

Since our addition was a bit last minute, we didn't cook for the group last summer, but this weekend N, Lise and I were assigned the first breakfast.  Jonathon has lovingly reminisced of the Mountain Man Breakfast, dutch oven recipe whenever dutch oven cooking comes up in conversation.  And so, that was what we chose to make.  We combined two recipes and made a second small meatless batch for the vegetarians in the group.  It took two hours to complete (that's the problem with inexperience), but it turned out delicious.  Maybe we were all starved by that time?  Possibly, but I'm pretty sure it was good stuff.
We doubled the following (except for the bacon) to make two batches:

Mountain Man Breakfast
{slightly modified from David L. Vaughan's, "Dutch Oven Cooking", an excellent resource.}

1/2 lb. bacon
1 medium chopped onion
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1- 32 oz. bag hash brown potatoes
12 eggs
1-1 1/2 lb shredded cheddar cheese
1 8 oz container hot, medium or mild salsa

12" Dutch oven, 14 briquettes top/10 bottom, 35-45 minutes cooking time.
Preheat Dutch oven over bottom briquettes, brown bacon, cut into small pieces.  Add and cook chopped onion until clear along with chopped green pepper.  Add mushrooms to bacon and other vegetables during last few minutes of cooking. Remove bacon, gr pepper, mushrooms and onion from Dutch oven and place them on paper towel to drain.  Place Dutch oven back over hot coals.  Stir in: hash brown potatoes.  Fry potatoes until golden brown, then mix bacon, gr peppers, mushrooms and onion back in.
Break eggs into medium bowl and beat thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.  Pour over potatoes, bacon, gr peppers, mushrooms and onion.  Cover with hot lid and cook until eggs are almost set (check every 5 minutes).  Evenly distribute grated cheese over top when eggs are nearly set.  Continue cooking until eggs set and cheese melts.  Serve with salsa available for individuals to add to taste.  Delicious with fruit and toasted (on griddle over flame or fire) English muffins.
One batch feeds approximately 10 people

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dutch Oven Cooking

We're doing one of our favorite activities--browsing dutch oven recipes.  :>)
Our favorite is a meatloaf recipe from Best Recipe, adapted to the dutch oven.
Second-is Chicken Cacciatore
And now we want to come up with a third soon to be favorite. 
And of course, it all sounds good. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Today? Salem's a friendly town!

Okay, so my roots are small town.  Kalama was (and may still be) right around 1500 in population when I lived there.  While walking or driving around town (even the backroads) most everyone greeted each other with a wave or a "hey there".  Even if you didn't have some kind of relationship with them, chances are you still knew who they were.  When N and I moved to Tillamook, it was pretty much the same.  Those index fingers seemed programmed to pop up in reaction to a passing vehicle.  Maybe they assumed if you were in Tillamook you were friend or family (unless it was a weekend).  Roseburg was a little less with the "steering wheel finger wave", but eye contact and smiles were always plentiful during our 6 years there.  Then we moved to Salem.

I think I cried on N's shoulder everyday for the first year.  "What's wrong with these people?  Why won't they lift their face to you in greeting or smile or say "hello"?"  Eventually, I'd repeat this on the phone to everyone in the family and want to discuss it with the local folk we began to get to know.  No one had an answer, but I did find a lot of sympathetic ears.

Then I began to discover that there would be certain days (not many, but who's counting) when everywhere you went people would look at you, share a smile or a greeting, strike up small talk while waiting in line.  At one point I was sure it had to do with a blue sky day after several dreary ones or maybe the phase of the moon.  I still don't know.  But today?  Everywhere in Salem I went people were smiling and talking.  I wallowed in it and savored it and when the sun goes down I'll stash it away until the next one comes along.  Kinda like getting my battery charged--guess I'm not such a hermit after all!

Tomato Herb Salad

I love this salad! It really didn't go with the turkey burger recipe I made (mango chutney was the main addition), but oh well. N's used to my strange combos. :-)

Caprial and John's KitchenClick for recipe site

Tomato Herb Salad

Serves 6

Parmesan Croutons
4 cups diced bread
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and cracked black pepper
Heaping 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

6 large ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1cup flat leaf parsley, leaves only
1 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees

Place the bread in a large bowl, add olive oil and garlic, toss well. Season with salt and black pepper. Place on sheet pan and cook just until golden brown about 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the croutons and bake just until melted about 3 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

To finish the salad, distribute the croutons onto six plates. Place the tomatoes and herbs in a bowl and drizzle with vinegar and oil and toss gently. Add sea salt and pepper and toss again. Place on top of the waiting croutons, serve.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You're all on the same team, right?

Update: Here are two links to pics and video of the bike thing.

Lise, Nixon, Hope and I were walking around the Capital Mall trying to see if we could spot the bikes meeting up, but instead we saw a huge group of young people in turquoise tees breaking up into smaller groups according to kerchief color.
As we began following a path, we could hear someone beckoning and running up behind us.  Both of us turned around to see one of the smaller turquoise shirted groups gaining on us with a piece of paper in one of their outstretched hands.
"we're on this scavenger hunt and well, we need someone who's walking a dog to initial our paper. thank you!"
Turns out they were from Corban College, but they were in too big of a hurry to tell us if it was (my guess) an entering freshman activity.
Lise and I lost count of how many other papers we initialed, but the best part was when we watched the students dance on the capitol steps.  Too bad I didn't get the video camera out in time!