Saturday, October 31, 2009

Okay, so I lied . . .

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

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009


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

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Hour idea

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

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waiting for my shot

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

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paying for the shade

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Conversations with myself

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fun at the pumpkin patch

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Joel Kotkin 
October 09 2009
Appearing in: 

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

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

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

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

Tripping South

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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My 4th birthday--Flashback

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

I found the above photos on Salem Library photo archive.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Joggity joggity jog

Our jog-a-thon is over!  I don't know what I enjoy more--the actual event or marking it off the calendar.  We didn't get to practice as often as we have in the past, but at least this year when we did practice we jogged 2-3 laps, instead of just one.  Last year the short people thought they were finished with the jog-a-thon after finishing one lap.  It was pretty funny and tough to get them going again once they had stopped.

Even though the weather turned out muggy, we were all thrilled not to have the forecasted downpour.  Something about getting children soaked and then feeding them popsicles outside during flu season just didn't seem right.  Yay for a switch in the jet stream or whatever caused the unexpected change.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Elementary Men

Teacher L and I have been fortunate enough to have a man in the wee folk's classroom on Thursdays and Fridays.  He's from Willamette's MAT program (Master of Arts in Teaching) and is doing his practicum with  the 5-6 year olds.  His student teaching will be in 4th grade at another SalemKeizer school. 

L and I have both noticed a change in behavior from a few of our wee boys (who can be a handful) when he's in the room.  He has a gentle presence and is such a natural with this age group, I imagine he'll be great wherever he lands.  But I hope it's with elementary (K-2) children instead of intermediate (3-5).  It's so rare to have men teaching in elementary schools, especially those who have the gift of being able to relate so well to this age group.

I asked him where he was doing his student teaching and then mentioned that perhaps he could find a chance to observe one of our 2 male teachers.  I think it would be good to see how a man navigates the elementary situations that women often take for granted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tough Questions or Tales from a Pleaser

Today was N's and my 7th counseling appointment.  We've told our "stories", given her some family background and talked a lot about our recent stress and it's causes.  Today N asked an important question.  He wanted to know what our goal might be and how we're going to achieve it. 

 An open ended Tuesday (usually Tuesday) appointment schedule has been (ironically) adding to his work stress.  Somehow (which is how I would describe everything that happens in that room) the subject turned to communication and how we both could improve. Seems innocent enough, but we all have our quirky little ways that may not be the most direct or the most productive.

Will progress be made?  Some kind, I'm sure.  I know I've grown (no, I'm not talking about that kind of growth!) over the past 30+ years, but I also know there's always room for more improvement. 
The introspection begins . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just tell me why

Finally (!) the supplements (that I failed to notice needed reordering) arrived via UPS today.  Two fairly small bottles were tucked inside an 8x10x12" box, which was stuffed to bulging with ghost poopies.  As if these two plastic bottles were rare, delicate eggs.  Oh bother!

My other little (in the grand scheme of life) frustration today is not being able to figure out how to transfer the ringtones I made on the PC to my new phone. I thought the USB cord would be the answer, but no. Syncing the phone to the PC to share music is explained (in both the manual and the web), but it's obvious they're not interested in telling the world how to add your own ringtones. Oh well, either it works or it doesn't. I guess the website that taught me how to make my own tones was good entertainment.
A simple brain adjustment and I feel a teensy bit less irritated.

A warm fuzzy Sunday

I was so happy that my folks were able to drive down from Washington for a visit yesterday.  We just don't have enough opportunities to spend time with them. One of those items N and I should put more effort into.

Instead of sharing any boring little details, I'll share the recipe I made for dinner instead. I was happy to find a version of this old family favorite that doesn't require a can of cream of chicken soup. :>)  I served this dish with baby red potatoes (instead of the usual rice) and baby carrots braised with thyme, garlic and lemon.

Tarragon Chicken Fricassée
3 1/2 to 4 pounds chicken pieces with skin and bone
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chicken in 2 batches, skin side down first, turning over once, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, then cook shallots, garlic, and bay leaf over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Stir in cream, broth, and 1 tablespoon tarragon, then add chicken, skin side up, and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered. If necessary, boil sauce until thickened slightly.

Stir in lemon juice, remaining 1/2 tablespoon tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf; pour sauce over chicken.

March 2007
2007-02-14 16:29:39.0

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Decrapification feels so good

What an opportunity!  Empty the living areas of 95% of the contents and suddenly it's so much easier to toss clutter, dust previously unexposed walls & crannies, and wash windows & curtains.  All things I usually tend to in the summer months.  I was sad to have missed that opportunity, but the timing wasn't right then.  Now?  Now I'm thrilled to have it done.

The young man who came to clean our carpet asked if I wanted the pet treatment.  I made the $100 leap.  It wasn't cheap, but it's good to remove any residual odor (that we no longer notice) and the temptation it gives to any visiting dogs.  He warned me that the spots would remain wet for 24 hours and the smell would increase during that time.

Can I say yet again how happy I am to have clean carpet??  I've been embarrassed over all the dog spots whenever we have company.  I'm a big fan of spot treatment, but not every resident of the house knew it's necessary to remove as much urine as possible and then treat with product.  As a result, we ended up with a carpet (mainly in the hallway) that hung onto dirt in every untreated area.  If I'd known 9 years ago, I would've installed polka dot carpet!  :>.

Next goal?  Recarpet the cat castle.  Ready N??

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Small World of Vacuums

Before our wedding, family friends went to my mother for gift ideas. Since N had been previously married, he had most of the equipment necessary to run a household. Except for a vacuum cleaner. And so the suggestion was made to let those folks who would like the convenience of gifting cash know we had a goal of buying a vacuum cleaner in mind. We ended up with enough cash to buy a nice economy model of an upright Royal from Stark.

The Stark lasted for about the first 9 years of our married life. I can't remember exactly what caused it's demise, but it may have had something to do with the extra wear and tear we put it through when we bought our house in Roseburg. Our next two vacuums were inexpensive Wal Mart machines, which lasted about as long as you'd expect. Maybe that's why we decided to do a little research before buying the next one. We settled on a Panasonic. It was supposed to be the best deal for our budget. It was a great vacuum and we probably kept it as long or longer than the Stark.

Instead of researching for our replacement, we bought a Shark at Costco--the one they carried in our price range. It, too, did a great job of keeping the carpet clean, but it's plastic parts were prone to breakage. The Shark slowly fell apart over the following 2+ years. Our latest purchase is a Bissell (also from Costco). My second bagless vacuum (I love bagless!). I never liked to waste bags and would wait and wait before changing them. Plus, now that I can empty a container whenever I want, I notice the vacuum cleans more efficiently.

I'm glad other appliances don't need to be replaced as often as a vacuum cleaner, but then again, we do put them through a lot in the time we own them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One person prep

This evening, as I was getting some of the light, one person prep done for tomorrow's carpet cleaning, I remembered (I'm pretty sure that memory is correct) that Jonathon was here to help out with the heavy lifting the last time.  Wimpy me? Not much of a substitute, but I'll do my best not to hurt N.

I'm so very happy the carpet is going to be cleaned.  (Yahoo!!) It's been through quite a bit since the last time.  It took about 6 months total, but Izzy learned bladder control.  Nixon proved his age and that he gets pretty danged excited whenever the word "walk" is uttered.  And of course, there are the unavoidable spills and tracked in dirt from normal day to day living. 

I know, there won't be any miracles--not everything is going to come out of the carpet fibers tomorrow morning, but it's going to be a big improvement.  Until next time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nancy? Is that you?

I was tickled to have the nurse who shared the hilarious stories about her parrots do my history at the Red Cross today.  I wasn't surprised to learn that she does stand-up comedy.  She's going to have gastric bypass surgery soon and she's worried about losing all her fat jokes.  I have a feeling she'll find new material on her journey.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Random notes from my Monday

Pretty amazing for the two of us, plus it happened on a Monday with all of it's built-in excuses. 

We were driving home from a Verizon store visit and it was only 8:30 PM.  All by itself, it doesn't sound like much, but prior to that trip home we had eaten a home cooked meal and shopped at Costco.  We're usually sitting down to dinner between 7 and 7:30 in the evening. 

The stop at Verizon?  Oh . . . um . . . well . . . remember that phone envy? N's phone is now mine.  :>)  He decided he's too rough on phones to have a big exposed screen in his pocket.  That or he's way too sweet where I'm concerned.  The young woman, who used to work at Joe's, worked hard to switch our contacts and such for us.  Since I'd evidently set-up a back-up account sometime in the foggy past, the complimentary transfer only worked for one phone, but it helped.  I was sad to lose my ringtones.  Not sure if N will care to use them.  ;>

Thanks to our early accomplishments, we were able to finally sit down and enjoy our latest Netflix movie.  What a sweet, sweet little film!!  If you haven't watched "10 Items or Less" with Morgan Freeman and you like little, unshowy, independent type films, you'll love this little gem.  It takes place over a period of a few hours in the lives of two main characters who'll never meet again. 
Randomly yours.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Trees--a long term decision

Like many other NW residents, our front yard (Birch) tree suffered too much damage to survive as a result of the snow and ice last winter.  We still haven't made a decision what to replace it with.  So many things to consider: size (power lines), messiness, seasonal beauty, hardiness.  Another criteria occurred to me after I noticed some of the street trees planted on Kuebler near Kaiser Permanente--timing of the leaf drop .

Our huge backyard Maple tree begins to drop leaves near the end of September and doesn't quit until the first week of December.  Which is why I noticed that the Kuebler trees turn a beautiful color and then, "boom!", their leaves fall all at once around mid October.  I couldn't help but think about all the weekend hours that would save N.  Plus, the lack of exposure to the cold and rain.

And so we've been paying attention to street trees whenever we're out and about.  Trees we've considered: the Ginkgo Tree (until I read this article in the SJ this morning); ornamental flowering cherry trees; smaller varieties of acer/maple; dogwood; pin oak; sweetgum; and whatever those trees on Kuebler are (wish the city kept that info online). 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hope's New Coat

It's Lise's fault! But,yeah, pretty cute--both of them. :>)

If it's midnight, we must be in Ashland

Once again it's just Hope, Zuzu, N and I in the house for a spell.  Fran's Friday appointment with Dr. Nair was cancelled at the last minute and rescheduled for later in the month.  We had planned on postponing the trip to take her down to Jonathon's to next weekend, since a trip to the doctor (or anywhere for that matter) AND a drive to Ashland is too much exertion in one day.
I had nearly all of the packing completed by the time N made it home from working on Lise's car.  Thankfully, it was a nice night for a drive down I-5.  Although, there was one spot where we felt like the interstate was a semi parking lot.  Way more so than usual.  We must've hit a prime starting point (truck stop?) after dinners and naps were over.
When we pulled into the Ashland Econolodge (soon they'll greet us by name), we woke up the sweet couple who own it for our check-in.  "Not a problem!", he assured us.  We noticed (from the paper left on the counter) that we wouldn't be the last late reservation pulling in. 
Of course, Izzy became overly excited seeing her second house and Jonathon (they wouldn't be getting any sleep for awhile).  N and I unloaded the truck and made the short trek back to the motel.
Why is it that we're never able to collapse into bed at that point?  The TV gets turned on and we find a movie to watch, while Hope checks out every nook and cranny she and her nose can find.

The next morning we drove over to take Jonathon out for breakfast before the drive north.  We chose a favorite amongst locals, college students and tourists -- Morning Glory.  They offer a list of about 15 different omelets.  If the description happens to be close to a standard omelet, the ingredients they use are never the usual.  Between the enormous and satisfying cup of coffee and the delicious breakfasts, N and I weren't even tempted to make a  food stop all the way home. 

Friday, October 2, 2009

Duct tape? Really?

From Drop Box
Lise called me late this afternoon, sharing the news that she was enroute to Albany with her Dad.  What?  As I tried to wrap my mind around that information, she explained that her car had been acting up on her way home from work today.  She just happened to be driving near 12th, so she pulled into one of the available car repair places just as her car began to "steam like a tea kettle".  After they pulled it into a bay and checked it out, a mechanic told her that a broken valve had been "repaired" with duct tape.

And now it's a mystery--who did this temporary repair and why?

The last time the car had been worked on in a shop was sometime in the past couple of months in the Portland area.  James had been on his way to work when the car broke down on I-5.  Triple A towed him to a repair shop who replaced the worn part and sent him on his way.  Before that?  I'm not sure when it had last been in a shop.  Virginia maybe?