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.