Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deck Cleaning

It's that time. Well, it's really past that time, but we forgot last year due to the roof redo.
In the past we've always mixed up our own concoction of deck cleaner (part bleach, part Tide w/bleach and water), but after reading the negatives about the use of chlorine bleach and already knowing the negatives about phosphates we bought a ready made formula instead. The concentrated powder uses oxygenated bleach instead of chlorine. They say it's better for the deck and the environment. I was sold.
Now to see the results. Soon we'll discover whether enough of the old stain comes off to use a transparent stain this year.
I keep saying "we", when it's really 99% N.
Guess I'll go back out and watch . . .
Update: the powder worked better than our homemade recipe and the deck looks awesome!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Invent this, please

Oh how I wish I could enter all of Fran's many appointments once on one calendar (Google?) and have them appear on my cell phone calendar (without one of those spendy data accounts) and a digital wall calendar with a touch screen along with a slideshow of our digital photos on a top panel.

I actually wrote to Google and made the request several months ago, but I suppose they have other more important things to work on. {sigh}

Over 21 (count em) appointments in a two month period - holy moley!

Okay, back to beginning the process of entering them on the cell phone! {sigh}

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A camera in the purse - not always enough

I had good intentions yesterday evening. Does that count?
I thought it would be fun to take a few photos during our blood donation process (probably should check with the Red Cross about that, eh?) and create a slide show to add to the blog. Once we both were finished (which is a much shorter period of time now that they've made so many improvements) and on our way back to the cars, my memory lapse hit me. Dang! Now I have to wait until July 22 for my next chance!

Those moments used to happen with unfortunate regularity when we'd dine out. Now it's a strange habit to photo our food before digging in. Hopefully, this won't carry over to other parts of my life. ;>)

My kind of story

Spotted this in the SJ this morning and had to share. Not the kind of situation you want to have in your neighborhood, but inspiring (particularly if you're a small dog) just the same.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Musing over blood date and dog walks

Note to self: remember to tuck extra batteries into purse for camera. (Must be prepared to photograph food!)
This well used brain of mine likes to browse the day's schedule in advance. It does not enjoy those change-in-the-schedule-adrenaline-rushes that come with the realization that I'm supposed to be somewhere 15 minutes ago. Our blood dates can do that to me. I sit down at the computer to engage in my daily routine of winding down after work, enjoying yet another cup of coffee and reading email, blogs and news - when it hits me that I'm supposed to be meeting N in a few minutes. Right now I'm fairly sure it's filed in the mental daily schedule.

During our dog walk last night (felt like a lovely summer evening out there!), Izzy began to growl as we passed by a secluded, shadowed area. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand at alert. N tried to convince me that she's not always growling at the unknown, but I'm tough to convince in the dark. I was halfway hoping it was one of the dogs we've spotted at the park on their own.

Onward to Wednesday and cheers to being mindful of what's ahead.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Relaxed, relaxed, relaxed and then panicked

It's been awhile since I've been broadsided by the kind of panic that hits after a 3 day weekend, when you realize that - "yes, it really is Tuesday and are you prepared?".
When I take my shower in the morning, I generally use that time to go over my schedule for the day. That's when it hit me -
"oh shoot! THIS is the day I take Fran to her morning appointment and THIS is science day, too!" My brain shifted into overdrive, working out how to best smooth this bump in the road.
I remembered our amazing Tuesday parent volunteer did the handwashing lesson with us at the beginning of the school year. And so it would make more sense for her to take my science groups than my sub. Once out of the shower, I typed up a summary for the lesson and emailed it to more people than are necessary to make sure L receives it in time.
Now as long as our volunteer is able to make it today and the sub I requested is available - all should be good for short people and L.
Onward to another nice day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunny Sunday

N, Fran, Izzy and I spent Sunday in Roseburg. N helping with re-doing a pool area - getting ready for a replacement of slightly different dimensions - at Fran's J's family's home. (Is that as clear as a recently stirred up mud puddle? ;>) )

J's family are superb hosts. They know how to lay a spread, as well as the snacks and drinks. It was so relaxing to sit and enjoy the company of their friends and family who came to help and support. And it's always enjoyable to watch Izzy and Emma (mini doxie) wrestle and chase. They do take the occasional nap, but never tire of one another's company.

This morning I jumped at the chance to join friend Shirley for a rejuvenating breakfast. It must be a good sign when a friend's company leaves you feeling refreshed. :>) I always hope the restaurant doesn't mind that we keep possession of a table for over 2 hours.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

No More Messing Around

This morning, N and I noticed that Izzy is getting serious about this squirrel business. Instead of barking her excitement and taking chase, she simply darted after them. Almost one year old and learning about the art of stealth?
Lately she's been asking (whining at the door) to come into our bedroom in the wee hours of the night. When there was enough sunlight in our room to see this morning, I had the chance to see both her and N sleeping on their backs and sharing his pillow. :>) Way too adorable!
We're getting some things done this morning along with preparing to spend the day with friends - helping out with setting up their replacement pool, which turned out to have slightly bigger dimensions than their old one.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Energy after work? What's wrong?

I can't believe that as well as messing around on the computer for an hour (we all need some down time), I've accomplished quite a few chores around the house since coming home from work.
Something MUST be wrong . . . Maybe it's the vitamin B Complex?
Ten chores done (yes, I make a list and count when I need an ego boost) and I'm ready to snort around and find some more.
I must want to use this weekend for as much fun and relaxation as possible. :>)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A visit to the new emergency room

I didn't go, but N and Lise did and I heard it's spacious, organized differently (once the bugs are worked out, it should be more efficient than the old system) and the big sliding doors reminded them both of Star Trek. (suddenly I can hear Captain Picard's smooth voice saying, "enter")
It wasn't a planned tour, unfortunately. My cell rang Wednesday night around 10:30 PM. When I saw Lise's face on my screen I was sure there must be a problem. And there was.
She's been battling a sinus infection for over a week and a half. Wednesday morning she went back to see her doctor and they gave her a different antibiotic. She's always been more sensitive to medication than the rest of us and by 10 PM she was a trembling mess at work and one of her legs felt numb. Husband J and N drove North to pick her up as well as the car, but on the way back home N decided she needed to go to the emergency room.
Husband J returned home, but Lise and N didn't make it back until 2 AM or so. Turns out that the antibiotic may have interacted with another medication she takes and she had a good-old-out -of-control panic attack due to a nervous system overload. The doctor told her that limbs can go numb when you hyperventilate. Learn something new everyday!
At home, Izzy began vomiting. Probably something she ate - she is a puppy after all. Way too much excitement for me!
I bet we all sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Doctor, it hurts when I do this

I thought I knew where I was going.
Maybe seven years ago, Fran had shoulder surgery at a place on State called "Willamette Something" and so when I was told that I had an appointment with a physician's assistant at a place formerly known as "Willamette Orthopedics", on State, I assumed it was the same place. Lord knows how the brain makes these unsupervised leaps, but there ya go.

When I looked over and saw the sign, "Willamette Surgery Center", my stomach sank.
Oh no! that's not it!
I'm going to be late!
Now I don't know where I'm supposed to go!
(panic city, if you hadn't figured it out already)
Then I turn my head and voila! There's a big complex (I've never really given much thought to) with a sign out front, "Oregon Orthopedics". I was so happy and yet still not sure if this was the right place, but how many orthopedic places could there be on State?
I parked and entered the building where one of the receptionists behind the counter confirms that I'm where I'm supposed to be. Once I've been called into an exam room, the physician's assistant looks over my x-rays and chart and asks a few questions. One of which was, "have you been experiencing any pain?"
"Well, some days my arm has this dull ache. I think it's after I've over done it."
"Bingo!", the PA shoots back, "thanks for saving me the trouble of telling you the same thing."
Uh, you're welcome?
I told him that I've been hearing that from the nags . . . I mean, people who care about me and that I'll try and do better. He asks if my present cast is working for me and I let him know it's cutting into my hand in several different places. So he sends me to the "cast shop" upstairs.
Misty (the cast master) and I had a good old time trading stories and laughing. In the end I walked out with a waaay better cast (she IS a master)- this time in maroon. Made me think of Bugs Bunny and it just seemed so dog gone appropriate.
The bad news? Eight long weeks . . . {sigh}

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today I did a short, simple chlorophyll demonstration in science with the short people. (I was sad I missed out on the paper flower lesson last week.)
They wrote their names on the back of paper plates before we went outside. I asked them to look towards the park and then asked what color they could see the most of.
Then I told them plants make chlorophyll using sunlight, water and soil, for their food and chlorophyll is what makes the plants green. I showed them how to take handfuls of clover and grass, heap them onto the paper plates, set the plates on the asphalt, step on top and do the twist - to grind the chlorophyll into the paper. I encouraged them to smell their green splotchy plates and describe what they thought it smelled like.
When we returned to the science area, we wrote"chlorophyll" in our journals and (when there was time) we played the pizza game (hangman) with the word chlorophyll. My goal was to use the word as many times as possible in 30 minutes.
I'm always surprised and pleased to hear them continue to talk about all of the chlorophyll they see the next couple of weeks.

From Longview, WA

The younger of my two big sisters sent me this for a morning chuckle.

Carolyn Hax Moment

I had to flash the big warning in the title line. Didn't want anyone to read this unawares and be irritated with me! I was always an Ann Lander's fan while growing up and I've found another dispenser of wisdom for this part of my life - Carolyn. Today's column was a continuation from yesterday, but all by itself it's so sweet I wanted to share. Skip if you need to, I'll understand.


By Carolyn Hax
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Here's what Jersey Guy from yesterday's column reported a week later:

Hello, Carolyn:

Many thanks for taking my question. After you did, I left work and next thing I know I'm in the town where the whole fling happened (deserted this time of year). I go into a bar and begin to drown my sorrows when my buddy calls and asks what I'm up to. I tell him. So he comes and over a bunch of beers I explain. We go through the whole, "She probably doesn't remember you," "She lied to you about something big (her age) already," yada, yada. But the thing that really stuck was, "So what's your best-case scenario? You two meet up again, fall in love, run off and get married? Dude, she's 19. She doesn't have a clue who she is yet." And he was right.

So I go home and then, for whatever reason, I just told my fiancee everything. And at first she laughed. (Definitely not the response I was expecting.) She was like, "Don't you think I have good memories of hot lifeguards?"

But then I guess she saw I was serious. Then she cried -- hard -- and if you've ever seen someone's heart break right in front of you, you know what I mean. After a bit she said, "There's still time," meaning that I could take time to sort stuff out. Then she got up to leave and said, "You're only human," and at that moment I felt anything but.

It was then that I realized I was seeing a side of her I never realized/appreciated/noticed before. She was showing me strength and grace and just unbelievable humanity, and I was just floored. I was like, this is exactly the kind of person I want to spend my life with -- someone who won't freak at any bump in the road, someone who's accepting of faults. I started bawling like a baby. Do you wanna know, she came back over and hugged me? I'd just stomped all over her heart and she's the one hugging me.

And so I'll tell you this: Next time someone asks me what my future wife is like, I wouldn't just say she's pretty and smart. I'd tell you about the time she hugged the filthiest homeless man I'd ever seen after listening to him tell his story for 10 minutes in February in New York, snow everywhere and not a cab to be found. Or I'd tell you about the way the faces of the kids in her class light up when she walks into the room, and how she spent her own money -- money she didn't have -- on school supplies. Or I'd tell you about how she throws her head back when she laughs, like it might be the last time she ever gets to do it, you know? Or I'd tell you about the time I was acting like the biggest jackass known to man, thinking of leaving her for some girl I don't even know, and she still had it in her to forgive me.

So I guess that's it Hax.

Jersey Guy

That is it indeed. Is it perfect, or too perfect? I guess it's for each of us to decide.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Leafy Lure of Corvallis

{I forgot to comment on my first photo in the slideshow - it was a tall ceramic type planter with pockets in the side where they had planted lettuces and the top was filled with herbs. I thought it was an awesome idea for someone's apartment deck or other small space.}
After N, Lise and I, walked the dogs, we hopped into the truck and drove southwest to Corvallis. Another lovely May drive! We took our time browsing Garland's Nursery - barely skimming the surface, but finding everything that was on our list. :>)
Afterwards, we snagged an outside table at McMenamin's and enjoyed an early dinner.
What a sweet weekend!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Sixteenth of May

N and I, decided to hit a few of our favorite nurseries this afternoon - Fessler's on Monitor McKee Road, and as long as we were in the same general vicinity - Bauman Farms. What a beautiful day for both a relaxing drive in agricultural country and shopping for plants!

On our way (kinda) to the Heirloom Rose Garden near St. Paul, we stopped in Canby for a Burgerville lunch. I was surprised to see a grilled asparagus, tomato, mozzarella, provolone sandwich tucked inside sourdough bread and then grilled on their menu. It was good, although not amazing and I found myself craving a hamburger when I was done. I took the high road for a change and decided to wallow awhile in my healthier choice.

While finishing up our BV lunch we were witness to a toddler on the loose, who made himself comfortable at a nearby table, grabbed the ketchsup squeeze bottle, inserted it into his mouth and proceeded to suck away on the tomato-ie goodness within the bottle. :>O As soon as the toddler had been retrieved by his older sis, N hopped up and grabbed the squeeze bottle. We figured it was our civic duty to prevent an unwitting diner from squeezing toddler spit onto their fries.

After lunch, we drove to the Heirloom Rose Gardens. Only a bloom or two could be seen amongst all of their bushes, but that didn't stop us from buying the 3 roses we came for - Kateryna, Orange Waves, and a small groundcover type Red Cascade.

We hope to hit another nursery tomorrow. Our list isn't complete. :>)

Friday, May 15, 2009


N and I were still newlyweds and living in my hometown, when my oldest brother, Chas and his wife Lynn moved up from southern California in the late 70s. Chas, with his electrical engineer degree in hand, had a plan (shared with his beloved) to buy a fixer upper and raise a family in the community where he grew up. The two of them found the project house of their dreams and settled temporarily into the family home - elbow to elbow with the folks.

The only recollections I have of those times are warm, fuzzy ones. Although, I did experience wee twinges of jealousy over how close the 4 of them seemed - cooking, shopping, cleaning and working on that fixer upper together (many of us chipped in, but proximity allows a more immediate ability to lend a hand). My new sister-in-law Lynn was (still is) the perfect fit with the entire family. There was never a moment when she didn't feel like a contributing member of the family - there to listen, to lend a hand, to share recipes and philosophies with. Like my brother, I too was head over heels with Lynn - another sister! What a gift!

Due to the changing economics of that time, N and I (and wee Lise, too) found ourselves pulling up roots in 1980 and moving for a job in Tillamook, Oregon. Both with and without N, little Lise and I traveled to spend as much time as possible with Lynn and the rest of the family. After 3 years, the family once again gathered to help us (4 of us now) move - this time to Roseburg.

Lise was getting older and providing more opportunities for me to make friends. Plus, Roseburg was the kind of friendly town that gladly welcomed us into it's population. The distance to family was greater and all of our schedules were getting busier. And so our time spent with family was reduced even more.

When Lise was entering 5th grade, N was transferred to Salem. It was the most traumatic move ever, for all of us. Fran's 2nd grade teacher would check-in with me weekly regarding how Fran was dealing with the grief of leaving a home, neighbors and the tight network of friends she had built over the past 7 years. It was heartbreaking to watch while going through my own feelings of loss - leaving dear friends behind (I was thrilled when our friends, Shirley and Dan, moved to Salem two years later!).

The positive part of our move was being closer to family, but after years of being away (as well as the changes in our lives) we never fell back into those patterns of spending time together. While we don't have that same connection to my hometown and my family, it feels good to remember those moments so clearly when we do spend time together.

Here I Go!

What a wuss I am! Okay, good to get that declaration/confession out of way. :>.

Yesterday afternoon was my first time behind the wheel of the car. Putting the pre-anxiety aside - not that bad, not that bad. No, it wasn't easy to turn the key with my left hand, but that was really the only tough part. Shifting from park to drive to reverse was pretty smooth.
I wasn't going to miss my hair appointment with Karyn, though. No way! She's an excellent hair stylist, friend and therapist all rolled into one. :>) I'd definitely sign-up for once a week if I could.

And so, now that I know I can drive, I'm going to work today. Friday seems like a good day to try it out.
I hope all the short people are gentle with this old wuss!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Striving for independence

There's nothing like a little dependence to make independence seem even more imperative.

I know I frustrate N with my attempts to do everything myself, "just let me help you", he implores daily (hourly in the evening) I also know from experience he would be going through the same process, if he were in my place.
This morning I felt especially helpless. Yes, there are a lot of things I CAN do, but when it comes to the things I can't - I have a tough time sitting and directing; "it's garbage day", "can you put the lid on the cat food?", "can you finish putting your lunch together?".
You get the idea.
When Lise gets up and prepares for her swing shift, I have another list. Slicing tomatoes and cheese is definitely a two handed task.
I can make coffee. :>) And going by the extra carafes I'm brewing - I'm also capable of drinking it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh no! I Want This One, Too!

Especially, after reading the first comment. I think I'm ready to do my Christmas shopping - now where did I put that phone and charge card . . . .

Feeling a bit like Opus

Does anyone remember Opus, the penguin from Berkley Breathed's, "Bloom County" comic strip?
My clearest memory is when he would sit and watch late night TV's Ronco commercials with his charge card in one hand and cordless phone in the other. In sharing this gadget, I'm feeling a bit like Opus. Must be this convalescing at home with one arm thing . . . but I think I reallly NEED this!
(update- i feel i need to clarify/admit that chef'n makes my all time favorite silicone spatula. ronco they ain't.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Daily Dose

Laughter is indeed good medicine!

Trust issues with my left hand

Leftie doesn't think rightie is trying hard enough.
I hear him complain in my head (often),

"if it it were me, i'd be doing all i could to pull my weight around here. you can't even hit that huge, hard to miss, shift key when necessary! Aurrrgh!"

BUT poor out-of-commission rightie is having a tough time - unable to do the simplest things and hurting when he tries too hard. (why oh why are my limbs taking on a masculine identity??)

The toughest decision? When to go back to work? I'd like to wait until it doesn't hurt to use my right hand on a limited basis, but I'm feeling guilty leaving L with talkative, lively short people while needing to give my sub a lot of support. The alternative wouldn't be much of a favor to her either!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day = family day

N drove Lise and I up to Kelso WA, to spend the day with my folks, sissy K & husband and brother Chas and family. We arrived later than we had hoped after the trip to the urgent care clinic and the pharmacy, but we made it.
Sissy K made Simple Simon's delicious seafood au gratin recipe, a fruit salad and a crab salad. Her husband barbecued a 23 pound turkey.
Great food and warm company!

Hmmm, this short post thing is not as fun. Trying to be as thankful as I should be for left hand.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nice to have my own advocate

I still don't know what happened to Betty Roberts - if she ended up with my prescription or ?? After discovering I had been given her prescription, I began calling (salem clinic's various numbers) to find out how to solve their mistake. Riiight . . .
The Urgent Care Clinic was closed. The on-call doctor said there was nothing she could do - any prescription, but pain meds. And so N and I hustled to get to urgent care as soon as they opened this morning. The receptionist looked at the slip in disbelief and apologized. A nurse came out to talk to me to hear the details first hand and said she would take care of it as soon as she could talk to the doctor. In the mean time, the receptionist began to worry we had been forgotten about and took our matter to another assistant. The other assistant came out and told us - due to protocol, there was nothing they could do. So sorry.
That was it for N. He'd had enough. He knew I was hurting and he knew this was all due to yesterday's doctor's careless mistake. While he was explaining to the assistant why this was so wrong and how they needed to make it right, the original nurse came out and told the assistant she was taking care of it.
And she did.
Yes, today's doctor needed to look at my file and dictate a note about his action, but isn't that what they're supposed to do, take care of patients?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blame it on the hoe!

N made an early trip to Guenther's for mega loads of compost. I'd finished most of my chores, so I went out to help by spreading the compost with a hoe. Our backyard has two levels separated by a wall of railroad ties - 5 high at one end and 6 high at the other. Lise and I were being silly as we worked on the top level- as usual, and I miscalculated my step onto the railroad ties.
I took a tumble, landing in the lower flowerbed on my right wrist.
Several hours later Lise and I are finally home and my fractured wrist is in a cast. K angry, sad, hurting, grateful for Lise . . . but still in fairly good spirits, even after discovering the urgent care doctor wrote my pain prescription for Betty Roberts.
I wonder how Betty is doing?

From Untitled Album

Chasing our tails

After work on Friday, I walked out to my car and called Fran to check in and see if there was anything I could do for her before I drove home. She reminded me that she had two prescriptions to pick-up at Costco and one written prescription ready to pick-up at Salem Clinic (pain meds have to be rewritten every month and physically retrieved. lord knows how families in worse situations than ours cope with this hassle.). Which helped me remember that I had an appointment to have my hearing aides checked - also at Costco.

I took the convenient 12th St. route across town to Salem Clinic. The employee at the counter couldn't find Fran's envelope in their expanding file and jogged into the back to talk to Dr. Week's medical assistant. After several minutes she returned and said that we had picked up this same prescription just 9 days ago. I know that Fran keeps better track of her pills and rarely makes a mistake, but without the bottle for proof there was nothing I could do. I went out to the car, called her and suggested she give them a call to sort it out. She immediately called back, said she had left a message and would keep me informed. So I called N at work to let him know he might need to retrieve this one as I was on my way to an appointment.

After my appointment (where I found out my right ear was slightly worse) I did my shopping and picked up the two prescriptions that were waiting. As I wheeled the cart out to the car, I ran into N with the prescription in hand. Yay! (but wait there's more) I took the groceries out to the car and joined him inside for the wait. Turned out (due to the efforts of the Feds to protect us all) Costco was out of oxy, but called Safeway on Center for us and found out they did have some.

We hopped into N's truck and motored over. N submitted the prescription and we left to sit in the truck and people watch for the wait. Fifteen minutes later, N's phone rang. It was Fran. Safeway had called to tell her the prescription needed to be signed. We looked at our watches and decided we could still make it to Salem Clinic before 7 and hoped they could help us. We retrieved the prescription and made it with 2 minutes to spare. I handed it over to the young woman behind the counter and told her (pitifully) that this had been such a hassle and boy I sure hoped they could help us out. She apologized and said it's something she tries to check (signatures) every time. She disappeared into the back and returned beaming, "Dr. Weeks was still in her office typing away!". Yay!

We returned to Safeway with the magic paper in our hands. The assistant handed it over to the pharmacist. He called us over and inquired (oh so careful not to suggest any wrong doing) how in the world we had gotten it signed so fast. We told him how fortunate we had been in arriving at Salem Clinic just in time and how Dr. Weeks was still in her office. (Who knew when something good finally happens, it could be bad.) He scanned our faces, asked a few more questions and probably wished he hadn't when I began to tear up.
Finally!! Mission accomplished! Nothing like an after work work-out, but I have to say - I'd rather be walking the dogs at the park under that beautiful moon. And after dinner, we did. :>)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Science: The Last Week of Flight

The styrofoam dino gliders I found on Ebay this year, worked well. Not great, but well. I warn the short people not to throw them into the ground or a wall and also reassure them that tape can repair most breaks. I'm not crazy about disposable toys, but I do like making the last week of flight fun. I used to wish I could find inexpensive (times 78) balsam gliders, until it occurred to me they probably come from rain forest wood.
Last week we watched a "Bill Nye, The Science Guy", episode about flight. This week, we read "How People Learned to Fly", a "Let's Read and Find Out Science Book", wrote the flight words in our journals we've been discussing (lift, thrust, engine, air) and then took our gift gliders outside to fly.
Next week? Plants.

Evening of the Arts - Elementary Style

The schedule of our "Evening of the Arts", continues to change with the years. What has remained the same is each student having two pieces of art on the wall - somewhere in the school. Parents and children roam the halls looking for their child's art and meeting neighbors, creating a community event.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No! I don't want it to end!

I'm reading my 5th Kate Atkinson book and while I loved "Behind the Scenes at the Museum", and enjoyed her characters (especially returning character Jackson Brody) and storytelling in "Case Histories" and "One Good Turn", this has to be the best book of them all. She's been on NPR, once and reviewed at least once (also on NPR).

No, it's not life changing or enlightening, but it's well written and great entertainment.

I try to keep my reading to 20 minutes or so each night before I turn the lights out, but it's been tough with this book. I only have 3-4 pages left, but had to draw it out one more night. Even if it's for only a few scant minutes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What to do when you're having a blah day

Or maybe it's more like a -
"my stress is finally catching up with me and I need to escape for a long walk on the beach" couple of days.
It's odd how stress can shade or color parts of your daily life - shade it with dark, grey tones, with little creatures lurking in the shadows and thumbing their nose at you.
And as a guarded person, I become even more guarded to everyone around me.

I heard that term described to me in detail recently and wondered, "who isn't guarded?". Thank goodness! What would the world be like if everyone you know told you all about their inner turmoil and daily stress level when you paused to greet them during your day?

So, I'll tell you instead of the simple ordinary things I'm doing to try and shove myself out of this gloom;
making plans for the weekend,
cooked a dutch oven full of white bean and chicken chili,
deciding I'll walk with the dogs and N after dinner
AND writing this for therapy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What I'm Reading

Sadly, this is Anna Quindlen's second to last regular "The Last Word" column

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dinner and a Movie

Fran's J drove up from his day at the State Solo Competition Saturday afternoon. I didn't have any good dinner ideas, so I was happy to discover that Lise did.
She stopped at the store at the end of her grand day out and bought the few ingredients we didn't have on hand to make a double batch of -

Vodka Sauce
{slightly modified from - Grace Parisi}
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 package of Aidell's Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Sausage, sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 C vodka
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 35 ounce can of Muir Glen whole fire roasted tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
Pinch of sugar
2 basil sprigs
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 heavy cream (I forgot to add at the end, but everyone agreed it was great without)

Heat oil in large saucepan. Saute the garlic and crushed red pepper over moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, add sliced sausage and saute another 2-3 minutes. Deglaze with vodka. Add tomato paste, stir for one minute. Add canned tomatoes with juice. Stir in the sugar, bay leaf and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Discard basil sprigs, bay leaf and garlic. Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
We served this over penne pasta (one lb.)

After dinner we watched this week's Netflix - The Cohen Brothers', "Burn After Reading". I believe I was the only one in the living room who found this movie hilarious. Lise thought there was too much senseless killing and Fran didn't see the point. No other opinions were voiced, but I only heard my own laughter.
I guess I'm becoming a little sick and twisted in my old age. ;>)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Which Physical Stores Will Stay and Which Will Evolve?

I heard a story about the closure of a once popular sheet music store in NY on NPR yesterday. The reporter and store owner said that most sheet music purchasers presently do most of their business on the internet.

I began to muse how many other types of specialty stores will follow and if there will be a niche market for internet shoppers?

A picture in my head began to develop;

  • a storefront in a busy part of town with round tables set-up for laptops next to rentable laptops,
  • a catalog browsing area,
  • a snack and coffee window
  • a dressing room to see if the clothes you bought fit,
  • and finally - a window to pick-up your packages to prevent city dwellers from worrying about packages left on doorsteps or having to make a stop at the local mail depot.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flu and WOU

Today a co-worker brought up WOU's closing down due to a possible case of Swine Flu. I replied that I had heard they were taking flack over their reaction. She strongly disagreed that they may have done the wrong thing and then changed the subject. Maybe it's because I spend my weekdays with short people who don't excel at personal hygiene, but I've been thinking about this a lot.

No way do I assume to be an authority on the subject, but it doesn't make sense to me to send people who might have been exposed to this flu into a whole new group of people. Wouldn't it be better to deal with each individual case as it comes up, rather than closing down institutions? I feel the beginnings of a flu hysteria bubbling in the background.

I do think it's important to wash your hands frequently, sneeze/cough into your sleeve, and to avoid touching your face or eating without first washing your hands. Due to my occupational "hazards", these are actions I try to stick to every day.

Weekend Weather

When I checked the seven day forecast on Monday, both Saturday and Sunday were looking pretty awesome. Not now . . . now they just look grey and wet.
Reminds me of a trip to Fessler Nursery last year at this time. It was a lovely day and then the sky opened up and it poured. N and I had taken Fran with us to give her a nice day out. She ended up mired in the deep, loose gravel in one of their greenhouses. Skinny wheelchair wheels only do well on hard surfaces. So much for a nice day out!
Keeping an umbrella in the car in Spring? Priceless!