Friday, July 31, 2009

A Driving Adventure?

My folks' lives (during the 6 months they park their RV at my brother's house in Washington) revolve around appointments, trips to see family and watching grandchildren participate in sports. So it takes planning for them to schedule a visit to drive down to see us. It occurred to me about 8 days ago to suggest they come down on a weekday. Since our house has become more crowded, it probably doesn't feel like the welcoming, relaxed environment it used to be on the weekends.

Their car needed to be checked out by the repair shop at the dealer. (I'm glad they purchased their car in Salem.) A perfect opportunity/excuse for a visit! I drove to Capitol Subaru to pick them up and that's when Dad suggested a trip out to Harbor Freight so he could buy another one or two of their wee solar panels (perfect for connecting to a piece of equipment to keep it's battery charged). I can usually depend on Mom or Dad to come up with something to do. :>)

Harbor Freight is one of those places that I know is north of downtown on a principal arterial, but I never pay attention on exactly how to get there. As we tried out one route after another, I have to admit, I was enjoying myself and really wasn't in a hurry. The climate in the car was so much better than what awaited us in the house. But the lunch hour was getting close, so I decided it was time to ask for help. I called N, "Portland Rd", he informed me, "where are you now?"
"Um, Roth's parking lot on River Rd. N. What's the easiest way to get there from here?"
He began to give me directions, but suggested it would be better to pull out the GPS. (That's not an adventure! ;>)) But we pulled out Reggie, punched in an address guess along with Portland Rd. I couldn't tell you exactly how Reggie got us there, but it was pretty quick.
Mom and Dad made their purchase. I punched in another address guess--this time we were headed to Word of Mouth for lunch. Since we were busy chatting, the 25 minute wait for a table went by like 10. Mom proclaimed the clam chowder the best she's ever had-"no kidding!", she added. High praise from someone who's been eating soup that many years!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Still a puppy

Right before the dinner hour in our household last night, lil Izzy began to pant and whine pitifully and constantly. What was she trying to tell us?? Maybe she was too hot (I know we were!). Lise tried wetting her down. Fran and I tried to get her to lick ice cubes. Then N and Lise made the decision to head to Love Love and take her with them in the air conditioned car. When they returned with dinner she was whining even more, plus she was acting a little drunk or reluctantly sedated.
It was about that time that Fran made a discovery on the bathroom floor. A half chewed up prescription patch. When she had removed her patches that morning, the used up ones didn't make it into the trash and somehow (with a cat's help perhaps?) one of them ended up on the floor and that's where Izzy found it.
We all panicked and thought we were about to lose this sweet puppy to our carelessness. Fran looked up the addresses of the after hours vet hospitals in town. Then N and I grabbed Izzy and motored down Commercial. How can someplace so close take so long to get to?
Such good people at that clinic! They reacted quickly and by the time Izzy had chomped down some of their wet dog food laced with activated charcoal, her symptoms were nearly gone. Such a relief! They sent us home with more activated charcoal and more wet dog food. Plus they typed up a list of things to look for and after letting us know they would be open until 9 PM, they gave us a print-out and directions to the after hours vet hospital on Market.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When a Fox is a lemon

Not long before we met, N had purchased a new Audi Fox. He loved the way it looked and especially the way it handled. I remember those "me and my first new car" photos, someone had taken of him--N happy, N proud. It was a short love affair that soon turned sour. If there had been a lemon law in the 70's, this car would've been it's poster child. But the *best* part of all? When the owner of the dealership told us there was nothing he could do to help us out. But he understood our situation because (after all) he put his pants on the same way N did . . . one leg at a time. (Eh?)

By the time I entered his life, most mornings N was having to call the dealer to have them tow the Audi into their shop. The mechanics would look at it again and again and say they couldn't find anything, "started fine for me!". One morning a mechanic suggested (instead of sending out the tow truck again) that N pour gas directly into the fuel injection system while someone turned the key. He only had to do that once to realize what a crazy idea it was and to be glad he had a fire extinguisher in the house. (Eyebrows? Who needs eyebrows!)
Finally the head mechanic asked N to bring the car to the dealership the night before to see if they could replicate the car not starting. And they did. That's when they replaced the battery and handed him this short piece of wire with a u-connector on each end. They dubbed it "a relay". I can't remember if we ever pulled that piece of wire out of the glovebox. Not to say there weren't anymore problems. There were plenty, but they were varied. (I never said she was a dull car!)
That Fox went through batteries at least twice as often as a typical automobile. We learned much later from a seasoned Audi mechanic that the engine needed more cranking power to turn over than the specified battery provided. Thanks to the car breaking down 3-4 times between Tillamook and Kalama we encountered some great tow truck drivers Especially the one who towed us to a mechanic who specialized in Audis and knew exactly what was wrong. Never underestimate a tow truck driver's ability to dispense advice.
After Fran was born, the backseat began to get more crowded. Shiloh, our Golden Retriever was squished in between the girls. Nanny-Shiloh probably didn't mind being in close proximately to those sticky little hands and faces, but it was time to buy a new to us station wagon. After signing the papers and driving out of the car lot Liseanne was thrilled sitting in the station wagon's backseat and leaving that Audi behind (she still remembers being broke down in Portland during rush hour). Fran (3 yrs old) sobbed all the way home. N and I? We were like Lise, not understanding why anyone would cry over THAT car.

Monday, July 27, 2009


While listening to an NPR science story about crows this morning, I remembered a crow moment I witnessed several years ago. One summer a friend and I would meet at Willamette U. a few times a week to walk the campus. I arrived early one morning and parked where I could watch a young soccer team practice on the field next to the main parking lot.
A couple of crows were hopping around the bleachers and I assumed they were looking for treasures dropped from past spectators. Then one of the crows began to focus on a duffel bag belonging to a soccer player. It hopped all around the bag, thoroughly checking it out from every angle. Finally the crow hopped on top of the bag, carefully pulled open the zipper, removed a foil wrapped package, found a loose edge, unwrapped the package, pulled out a sandwich half and flew away. Minutes later one of the soccer players walked over to the bag with an incredulous look on his face.
I bet he didn't suspect the thief had been a crow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

One Idea

I heard about this on NPR awhile back, but forgot to seek it out on youtube. I happened across it while watching the wedding video again. Where did Matt get his inspiration?

Signed Sealed Delivered

My favorite part of going to weddings is the people watching. Not to ridicule, but to capture those snapshot moments between other humans. My favorite moments yesterday:
One child running to a group of other children to share some news, looks of disbelief on little faces and then the wee stampede to the chocolate fountain. The just informed stood in anticipation and watched while the discoverer demonstrates his technique. As the rest step forward to take their turns, a great auntie steps in to show proper technique and then watches to make sure her lesson was absorbed. The mother in charge of all the youngsters enters the scene to admonish them all about eating chocolate before finishing dinner.
The ringbearer (nephew of the groom) patiently following and waiting to be noticed by the bride as she joined the groom in greeting guests table by table and once he caught her attention, said his piece and gave her a high five.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's a chore

Chore Pronunciation: \ˈchr\
1plural : the regular or daily light work of a household or farm2: a routine task or job3: a difficult or disagreeable task chore>
synonyms see task

When we were first married and the girls were still young, we spent most holidays sleeping (no, NOT all day!) in my brother Chuck and his wife Lynn's basement guestroom in Washington. I don't remember thinking about it much, but chipping in with the labor was important to me. I'm not royalty after all!

One of my favorite ways to lend a hand, was rising early and heading upstairs to empty the dishwasher. One less thing my hosts had to tend to. Did it make our visit any easier? I doubt it. They did have a set of twins, after all.

And I guess this is why I don't understand when people don't do chores or try their best to help out. I believe it's one of those things we do automatically--part of our humanity. That basic understanding that you too know what it takes to run a home--there's no magic, it's not easier for some than others, but it is easier when you pitch in together and oft times a slap in the face when you don't.
So here I am, having nearly completed my 51st year on this planet, still learning and still amazed when I see the ease with which my sisters, sister-in-law and mother, walk into a kitchen and with seeming intuition begin to blend into the process of the task at hand without needing to ask what needs to be done. And I think it's usually during those moments that I yearn to share a back fence with all of them. To always be hip to hip helping out in the kitchen.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Day in the Kitchen :>)

Actually, I hardly used the kitchen at all for the cooking--just for prep. It's amazing what you can do with a barbecue grill (with a side burner) and a crock pot. I started the baked beans (below) for dinner and then set to work on two salads for friend Shirley. They're hosting a rehearsal dinner at their house this evening and I wanted to help out. I knew she'd have a houseful of helping hands and so I figured this was the best way to give. I made an Herbed Orzo and Summer Squash Salad and a Tomato Herb Salad, two of our favorites.

Here's the Amber Ale Baked Beans recipe from Cooking Light:

Amber Ale Baked Beans

Just a little bacon gives a lot of flavor to this classic barbecue side, especially when you add it to sweet caramelized onions and a bottle of slightly fruity and malty ale.

2 cups water
4 (16-ounce) cans low-sodium pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 bacon slices (uncooked), chopped
2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 cup no salt-added ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (12-ounce) bottle amber ale (such as Redhook)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain over a large bowl; reserve cooking liquid. Discard onion and bay leaves.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add chopped onion to drippings in pan; cook 10 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently. Add garlic and chili powder to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add ketchup and next 5 ingredients (through ale) and 1/2 cup reserved bean liquid to pan; bring to a boil. Add beans and bacon. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Transfer to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 45 minutes or until thick.

Yield: 9 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

Yup, had to do it!

I'll blame it on Melina Tomson, but I just had to share this video. :>)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blood Date

I was at a total loss as to where to go for our blood date last night. Well, not total, I did suggest India Palace, but N said that the last time he went he was disappointed and wasn't ready to go back just yet. I get that (I've been there), but along with discovering we had showed up on the wrong day at the Red Cross (where they took it in stride and had us in and out in record time) and having my plan nixed, I was having a tough time coming up with another idea.

As we sat in the car and chatted, hoping an idea would surface, I decided I should take N to La Margarita Express. To find out if indeed they do have a second menu for their Salvadoran fare AND to introduce N to his first pupusa.
After parking, we walked by Willamette Noodle Co.. Boy was that place hopping! I was so close to changing my mind! I would have, if I had remembered they were featuring live music in their outdoor dining area.
We walked in the door, where they greeted and sat us at a booth. After checking out the menu and discovering they had an entire page devoted to Salvadoran fare we both ordered one of the dishes.
While my dinner was good, I'm not sure if I'd choose it again. Which might just be me missing a dish with more seasoning. Plus the mood I'm in can be a big part of how my meal goes over.
And I have to admit, I'm still trying to figure out how I entered the wrong day for our blood date . . .

From LME

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Invasion of the spiders

I don't know about your backyard, but ours seems to have twice or even 3 times the number of spiders this summer--all sizes, but mainly the small variety.
Every morning, as I travel from pot to pot watering plants, I destroy one web after another or come face to face with a spider daring me to take down his web again. When N and I return from our daily dog walk in the evening, we take turns blazing the trail through the new webs strung across the walkway alongside the house.
And so I've had my share of spider bites. The bites are usually on the calves of my legs or my forearms. I'm thinking it's happening while I sit in the chairs on the deck.
The first of the bites made me look like I had a dreaded pox. I used my usual remedies to stop the inflammation and itching and they help to a certain extent. Or until the sheets rub against the bites and I begin to itch in my sleep.
Then I began to wonder about Tea Tree oil. We have a small bottle left over from when Fran was told to use it on an upper ear piercing giving her problems. Once we could get past the smell, we had to admit it did an efficient job of making her excess scar tissue disappear. (I still can't believe it and wonder just what this stuff does to skin.) I decided to give the oil a try on my latest spider bite. And guess what? It worked! It kept the inflammation to a minimum, stopped the itching and the bite is nearly healed after just 4-5 days.
Plus it's easy for everyone in the house to keep track of me--even in the dark. ;>)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We've got camping on our mind

N is caught between needing to use some vacation time (or lose it) and worrying about being gone--knowing how much work will stack up in his absence. Not much of a vacation if you spend half your time dreading the aftermath. Now that he's begun the process of telling himself he really does need a break, we need to decide where to go.
We have plenty of options as well as requests. Lise yearns for the family camping trip and so wants us to head somewhere she can join us on the weekend. Also, we have others--family and almost family who would like to spend time in the woods with us. How to balance all that AND consider our own desires? Almost more stress than staying home! Yes, you're right, I need a different state of mind, a new point of view, an attitude adjustment . . .

Monday, July 20, 2009

Keeping N Busy

It wasn't my intention. It just seemed to happen. Yeah, I'm totally innocent. :>)

N's original intent was to give Fran a change of scenery via a night in the tent trailer. So what if it was sitting in the driveway?! She said no--probably to the effort more than the experience. So he asked if I was game. Oh why not! Probably cooler with all that ventilation, compared to our bedroom. It was cooler, but we both woke up at 2 AM, and then lay awake wondering what had stirred our slumber. As a result, we slept in way past our normal time. In the morning, Jonathon was worried what had happened to us. ("did they go out to breakfast without me?") He'd been asleep when we made our decision. He and Izzy were relieved when the mystery was solved.

After stashing the trailer back into it's shell, I reminded N about the issues with the toilet in our half bath. It was time to change the guts of the tank. Since we have a standing cupboard that lives over and behind the toilet, it becomes a bit tougher--lifting the tippy shelf up to the ceiling and keeping it balanced as he moves it out of the way. Plus there's the problem of the cupboard's little support that has to be coaxed from behind the tank, too. When all was complete he had only had to make one trip to Ace. Yay, for that!
I had ordered a new bath chair (with back support) for Fran, but hadn't been able to put it together on my own. The right wrist still doesn't have the strength it used to, although I am working on it. We worked together as a team, trying to get the metal tubing, that was the legs and back support, to line up with the holes in the plastic seat and back. An hour later, we try it out in the tub only to find out it's too wide--3 inches wider than what's stated in the description. So this is why we save boxes!
And now I'm thinking, what can I do for N today . . .
PS. AND how could I forget? We groomed Izzy, too. Well, as usual I use the "royal we". I hold her still and N applies the trimming tools and styling. :>)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

License Up!

Poor, poor N!
He's sitting and waiting for his number to come up in the DMV office as I type. Last weekend, after reading the list of needed ID, we turned every file upside down in search of his birth certificate. Good grief! It was only 2 years ago when we gathered our ID for our trip to Canada! Where could it have disappeared to? Now I'm wondering if we just thought we had his in the envelope with mine--maybe it was Fran's. I've been known to visually scan forms and have my brain jump to the wrong conclusion.
Plus, N has an added hurdle most of us don't have. When his mother remarried, he was 5 years old. When he reached legal age, he decided to take his step-father's surname--which means he had to come up with an extra piece of ID.
Ordering his birth certificate was a little ordeal all by itself. You begin to feel like they want you to show your birth certificate in order to get your birth certificate. Faxing from home, we're never sure if it was successful or not. So the following day, I checked their site to see if there was a way to be sure the fax was received. Lo and behold, on the same page you make your query, they provide a way to send a JPG of your ID!
A word of warning; to order a new birth certificate the shipping cost is $20 and you're required to be at home to sign for it. Otherwise, it's returned to

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sister time

My two sisters met in Vancouver and drove down to spend the day with me yesterday. What a sweet gift! I would've been content just to be in their company without saying a word--listening to their easy, teasing, loving banter.
I feel close to both of them, but they're only a year and a half apart. Whereas I'm 13 years younger than S and 11 1/2 years younger than K. No getting around it, that's quite a span.
My favorite childhood memories are of being pampered and carted around by both S & K and their friends. I felt pretty special. They allowed me to be a tag-a-long in the backseat of a boyfriend's convertible amongst other special treats. I still have a vague memory of someone lifting me up onto a counter in the girls' bathroom in the high school (where Twilight was filmed). As a kindergartner I was witness to mascara and lipstick application, girls rolling up skirt waistbands and performing various other forbidden behavior.
I remember nightmares that terrified me and crawling between the two of them in the big bed they shared. Such fresh wonderful feelings of comfort and safety!
I also remember the heartbreaking moments when they left home--S to get married and K to go to college--howling and crying my eyes out in my bedroom. How could they abandon me?! And wouldn't you know it, my face is wet from tears just thinking back to that time.
It's good to have them in my life. Now if I could just shorten the distance between us.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cougar Dreams

There's a nature trail in our neighborhood I've mentioned in a previous post or two. Such a little treasure to have so close by! Recently though there's been evidence there may be a cougar prowling in that area. I don't like it, but I don't blame him. What a perfect situation--a nice wooded area with access to backyards that are homes to pets and the critters people's homes attract. It's definitely given N and I a reason to choose the park (without cougar warning signs) for our dog walks.
We did give in after not hearing more in the news and gave it a go last weekend. I mean, cougars sleep during the day, right? No worries! So fearless N and I leashed up Izzy and set off to enjoy our morning hike. About halfway into the trail, N stops and listens. This is the man who is always reassuring me when I'm panicked about whatever has my heart racing. Patiently he'll explain how that noise was the gate hitting the side of the house or the neighbors taking out their garbage. And so, when he stopped to listen, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. After listening for a minute, he began to move forward--on tiptoe. I scurried along close behind (like the wuss I am) and when I noticed his steps had returned to normal I tugged on his shirt and whispered, "what was that all about?".
"I thought I heard a low growl and then some twigs snapped." he replied.
Oh great! Here we are out in the middle of this trail and he thinks the big cat may be stalking us!
We continued until we reached the south end and then hiked home. We survived without a scratch, but we haven't been back since.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comfort level warning, yet important for everyone

"Have you Kegeled today?" It's not, but it should be right up there in our daily thoughts with "have you flossed today?"
Yes, for both women AND men.

I remember my first introduction to Kegel exercises. It was during a childbirth class we attended in the 80's, when I was pregnant with Lise. I was a little horrified as N and I sat on the floor listening along with a room full of men and pregnant women and yet curious as the instructors did their demonstration with a cut balloon pulled and secured over the end of a coffee can (like a drum). They had fastened a string around the balloon's semi-tightened center, allowing the demonstrator to pull and lift the center of the balloon to different levels. It was a good demonstration with a thorough verbal instruction, but even though I was pregnant I was still young. I thought, "why would I need to bother with that exercise past my pregnancy?".

Since then I remember hearing a mention of Kegel exercises once or twice on local morning shows--the invited health professional trying to instruct while the talking heads joked uncomfortably. (Well, except for my all time favorite, Margie Boule.) And my mother, taking advantage of those opportunities to second their advice.

But it wasn't until I heard speaker, Dr. Christiane Northrup, on PBS during pledge week and a friend who shared about her mother's late in life situation that I really began to understand the importance of Kegel exercises--AND the proper way to do them.
The doctor suggested, in the talk I heard, that it's the length of time you work up to (holding the muscles tight) that can make the biggest difference.
And two years later . . . I can tell you she's right.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Second Tuesday of July

I feel like I accomplished something today--delivery of rental app, groceries, jam and the usual. Oh and I wrestled the duvet back into it's cover after a quick wash. I thought I'd found the duvet secret, but no. Just another method before the grabbing of each side and shaking it out fiercely to get the insides evenly distributed. I decided it was just one more session of at home wrist/hand therapy.
While the short ribs marinated and I tried to decide what to do with the yams, Lise came home from work and asked if I'd accompany her to the vintage clothing store. She's still looking for a skirt to wear to an upcoming wedding. She did buy two nice skirts, but she's yet to decide if she'll wear either one that day.
Jonathon was walking up the driveway at exactly the same time we pulled up the street. Nice to have him back. He helped me decide what to do with those yams (oven fries) AND made a chipolte mayo to dip them in.

How did we all miss that place?

Lise was becoming more and more stressed with the decision between the two apartment complexes she and her husband had reduced their list to. Yesterday morning I sat down at the computer to browse the choices that another search on might produce. I was in need of a fresh recap.
She was faced with the choice between two places she was finding more and more fault with and I wanted to hear again the drawbacks of the discarded choices. I opened a new Firefox tab for each of the top eight, "tell me about this one.", I began. When we landed on the third tab, she didn't recognize the name or address. Off to google maps we went. We discovered it was an area that had 3 different complexes, but she had missed the third one during their search. The price was right, yes to pets--she picked up the phone. Someone answered the phone! (in a perfect world that would always happen) After hearing some positive information about upcoming availability, we hopped into the car to go take a look.
It's close to everything she has on her list, the upkeep appears outstanding both inside and outside--what is she waiting for? They both worked hard at filling all those detailed blanks out on the forms and I'll deliver it all today. {sigh}

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Salem Neighborhoods

As daughter Lise and her husband continue their search for an apartment that meets their price and also allows pets, I've noticed the prejudices I have about certain areas of town. For example, am I right in giving a motherly warning about living in the area around Lancaster Mall? It didn't help that the apartment sign had been tagged recently.
I want her to be safe--not having to worry whenever she gets home late at night. Karyn, who cuts my hair, often talks about how her policeman husband counsels her on which areas of town to avoid. But I'm torn, because I believe in order to make change we must not abandon a neighborhood and let crime take over. I just don't want to offer up my oldest as the method for improvement.

When checking out an area what should we look for? Is a car up on blocks in the front yard enough, or should we be looking for bigger things like tagging on houses and fences?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What I'm listening to this morning . . .

Okay, I'll admit it.
I'm a public radio addict.
I don't feel like I've had a weekend if I don't hear Scott Simon or Liane Hansen. This morning I enjoyed Scott's, "Simon Says", as usual. Could he read complete tripe and I'd still like it? Maybe it is just that voice. ">)

Friday, July 10, 2009


Izzy and I just returned from a walk at the park. It's so much easier to get a nice pace going with just her. Elderly Nixon tends to break up his walk to perform a exploration into the blades of grass and tree trunks as often as caninely possible. Izzy is happy to oblige, of course.
About halfway through our walk, she spotted a Golden Retriever, "are you Ally? are you Ally?", she barked. Then she proceeded to pull me for half a lap trying to catch up. I was hoping the owner would stop so we could do an introduction to ease the excitement, but no luck. She was probably trying to keep the pace up as well.
Okay, time to get ready to go in for my bone density test. I hear it's quick and painless (not that I expected it to be painful), but I didn't read whether I'd need to strip down. Most likely, eh? We wouldn't want to make it too easy! ;>)
Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What a good looking guy!

My Kelso sis, is in the process of sorting through her newly scanned slides. She sent a pic of N and I from our wedding. Thankfully, many of the fine details are gone, but N's face is the high point for me. :>)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Self Talk Begins

*In the next two days I WILL get my rear in gear and do some of the digging in and recycling I love to do in the summer.*

I began this post yesterday and have just begun to poke into closets and corners, tossing those items that seemed important when we stashed them on a shelf. (ack! eyes are itching!) N and I have this habit of saving the original box we buy things in--from the cell phones we bought 2 years ago, the used camera I bought on ebay, the router from when we went wireless. Maybe I should start marking our calendar 90 days in the future as a reminder to toss those boxes. That time period should suffice, right?
I was glad to see the packaging is creeping closer to 88% recyclable instead of 50 or 60%. Our "Big Blue" is filled nearly to the brim and I don't think this is the week D&O pick it up. Maybe I can talk Lise into jumping in and tromping it for me. :>)
Oh! And then there are the cords! Holy Moly! How many cords does a person need and what do you do with the ones you don't want?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What Fran made for her dad tonight

Happy Birthday, N!

Yield: Makes 1 cake
For crust
1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate wafers (about 26)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For filling
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
12 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted and cooled
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream, whipped into soft peaks

Garnish: bittersweet and milk chocolate curls
Make crust:

Preheat oven to 325°F. and butter a 9-inch springform pan.

In a bowl stir together wafer crumbs and butter. Press mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up side of pan. Bake crust in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool in pan on a rack.

When crust is cool, wrap pan in foil by putting in middle of am 18-inch square of heavy-duty foil and crimping foil around bottom and up side of pan to secure.

Make filling:

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs with sugar until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Sift cornstarch into mixture and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and sour cream. Beat filling until smooth and transfer 2 cups to a small bowl.

In a small cup stir together espresso powder and remaining tablespoon vanilla, stirring until espresso powder is dissolved. Stir espresso mixture into filling in small bowl.

Add chocolate to filling in large bowl, stirring until combined well, and fold in whipped cream. Pour chocolate filling into crust. Spoon espresso filling evenly over chocolate filling and spread to form an even layer, being careful not to mix layers.

Put springform pan in a larger shallow baking pan and pour enough hot water to reach halfway up side of springform pan. Bake cheesecake in middle of oven 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and let cheesecake stand 15 minutes with oven door closed. Transfer cheesecake in pan to a rack and cool completely. Chill cheesecake, covered, at least 1 day and up to 2. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side.

Garnish cheesecake with chocolate curls. To serve, cut cheesecake with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.

Now I see you!

The past year has presented us with the challenge of finding the right time to do a cleaning of the aquarium. (Plain old forgetting plays a part as well.) It lives in the corner, right behind Fran's recliner. Yesterday I made a comment about needing to get to that job. She pointed out that perhaps I could've taken advantage of the morning when she's in bed. Doh!
So, today was the day! I pulled out the Python cleaning hose and attachments, then I set out to remember how to hook it up to the bathroom faucet.
"Oh please, Zuzu! Don't do your crazy loud meowing/howling at the water in the hose this morning!" I don't know what it is about that hose, but it drives her a little bonkers. I didn't take out all of the plant and rock features for the thorough cleaning, but I did attend to the dirtiest of the gravel. Plus, the fish now have half of their water and two filters replaced.
Most of them seem to have recovered from the stress and fright of it all. I just hope the Kuhli Loaches are okay. Not as easy to tell with those wee gravel dwellers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bucket thoughts

No, this isn't another post about a "bucket list", made popular by a (fairly) recent film. It's about the proverbial bucket we carry inside that holds our finest traits and values. I understand the idea came from an armchair psyche book (Dr. Donald O. Clifton & Merrill Lundgren) back in the 60's, but I learned about it from a 6th grade teacher at the Roseburg school where I worked.

Mr. Stratton was our resident character and disciplinarian. He had a gruff exterior that kept his good heart and artistic talents hidden from those who didn't know him well. We had many treasures at that little school and he was definitely one. He could be spotted giving his opinion and guidance in what we called, "his office"--the open doorway to the boiler room. Which seemed to be most often during the latter half of the school year, when most of the personality issues and conflicts would crop up amongst the 5th and 6th graders. Since there were more issues than our wonderful counselor and principal could handle alone, Mr. Stratton was usually the first step in the discipline process.
One day in the staff room he was talking about his philosophy and how it related to a recent student issue. It made so much sense and made a great visual when talking to my own children about being able to say good things about yourself or just making a point without tearing someone else down.
They still remind me today, "Mom, you don't have to rob their bucket to fill your own!", and it's still relevant all these years later.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What are the weight limits on that bridge?

Since the Union Street pedestrian bridge was originally built to carry a locomotive, I assume it's strong enough to be full of fireworks spectators. The only reason I ask ( after reading about what a great view is to be had from the span) is that I lived in the Longview/Kelso area during the time a pedestrian bridge full of 4th of July fireworks fans, collapsed into Lake Sagajawea in the dark. I can't find an accounting of the incident, but I do remember that several people drowned that night. I'm fairly sure it happened after N and were married, so it was either in the late 70's or early 80's. I do remember what a horrific moment it was for the entire area. No one had considered whether it would be safe to fill the new bridge with people or not. I hope someone in town knows about the Union Street bridge.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Crock pot on the deck?

I wanted to cook off some of the fat on our ribs today, but I didn't want to heat up the house. Aha! The crock pot! I set it up on the table out on the deck, plugged it in and with the rack in the bottom added the marinated ribs. Even though I should've started cooking them a few hours sooner, it worked well.
It's been so long since I've done baby back ribs in the summer, that it didn't occur to me N would have liked to grill them with a rub only and then add the sauce during the smoking portion. Doh! Guess I'll have to go buy more and try it again! :>D Or leave N in charge of all things rib-like.
Now, what else could I cook in a crock pot during hot weather? Maybe corn bread? Or a cobbler? The rack should work for baking, right? Or I could talk N into opening up the tent trailer and pulling out the dutch oven. Now where did I put that recipe for Raspberry Buttermilk Cake??

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Fran and then my rant

As we weather yet another disappointment in the medical profession, I noticed how often we say, "they have no idea what she's going through". Heck, they have no idea who our Fran is. I began to gather some memories that stand out as a summary of her 25 years on planet earth.

She was such a good, happy baby. I used to worry she'd stop breathing in her sleep, because how else to explain this angelic child--that we'll lose her unexpectedly? As she grew, it became clear that her strong willed sis was in for some competition. It was difficult to determine who was bossier--with Lise it was obvious, but Fran was quietly bossy and strong willed.
Steadfastly loyal, she made friends easily. She excelled at math and science, loved to play sports and her flute. She played softball for as long as Little League would have her and then did a short stint in ASA. After that, band became her main activity. Which took her straight to marching band--four years in high school and 4 more in college (just like her sis).
As a small child she loved the outdoors, bicycling, hiking and camping and still does. She goes through times of voracious reading, devouring several books in a week. If you're down, she's the person to spend time with. She lifts your spirits while commiserating with you, guiding you and finding the hilarious in most every situation. That's Fran in a nutshell.

Today I took her to the first of two appointments at 11 AM, where the doctor proceeded to tell her that she was being kicked out of their pain program due to lack of progress. "How do you feel about that?", he prodded. "How do you #$!#$ think I think about it?!", she blurted out in a teary response. He told her she was acting like a teenager. Then he began to ask her if she'd done either of the two things another program doctor asked her to do this last Monday. Number one-no I didn't run out and buy my bed ridden girl a pedometer and number two-she hasn't had another headache to map since Monday. {sigh}
I feel like if they want to kick someone out of their program, it should be me. I was the one who decided I needed to be at work for the last 2 weeks of school instead of taking her to pool therapy twice a week and I was the one who called to cancel appointments when she had her last cold and migraine. Oh and there was that day when she couldn't make it after a rigorous PT appointment. It took a little over 4 days for her to recuperate from that. So hand me the lousy failing report card, but please oh please find a doctor willing to dig in and work on a diagnosis.
And now I'll push myself out of this chair and go help the girl cook. She recovers faster than I.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Update for D from K

And here I am again, but this time with projects waiting.
My first trip out was a quickie--milk emergency. How does THAT happen? Must be the number of milk drinkers in the house.
{mmm, pausing to take bite of s'more that Fran just handed me--made with homemade marshmallow and fresh raspberries. I wonder when she starts making graham crackers??}

The second trip took me to the pet store {said pets are sticking their heads in the bag to see if there are any more toys, the greedy lil dogs!} for cat food and dog toys. Then clear across town to the doctor's office to see if Fran's prescription was ready to pick-up {nope}. Stopped off at Bi Mart to buy more Ball pectin before I drove out to Nanneman Farms to buy a flat of raspberries, and then bought a marionberry pie on impulse. At last I went to Costco to pick up my own prescription and proceeded to walk out with way too much of the store in my cart.

Now I have berries nagging me, along with dinner. Plus the dishwasher needs to run, but I don't want to heat up the house.
Sitting here is so much easier!

List made - lacking motivation

During the school year, my alarm is set for 5:30 AM. N says he's amazed that as soon as I hear it (even with ear plugs), I hop out of bed. I don't think about it. It just happens--during the school season. Over the years, I've discovered it doesn't work the same way in the summer.

I used to start my days off with the morning alarm, but realized I was just torturing N and lying to myself. Since I've found peace with myself over that issue, my goal is to find the secret to getting myself motivated everyday to get out and do something. {shaking magic 8 ball}

When Jonathon was here it was easier. He's good company and loves to go run errands. "What needs to be done today?", he'd say while pouring his second cup of coffee of the morning. This week I'm missing his company and trying to justify my lack of initiative as a by product of Fran's appointments peppered throughout the week. Sounds good in casual conversation, but in reality? Not so much.

And so in writing this I'm hoping to shame myself into grasping the arms of the computer chair, shoving myself up, out, put purse on shoulder, tucking list into pocket, hopping into the car and heading toward town.
Wish me luck!