Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Breakfast

Going out to breakfast this morning sounded appealing until I began to tally the number of times we've eaten out this week.  Besides, breakfast has to be one of the easiest meals to make.  Since we only make a special breakfast (oatmeal for the other days) once a week, variety really isn't an issue even if we only have two favorite dishes.

N's favorite to make is dutch baby.  It's easy to jazz up with chopped ham, or bacon and/or cheese.  I like to make hash with eggs and hashbrowns, utilizing whatever I find in the fridge or scrambled eggs and hashbrowns served separately. 

After reading an article about making breakfast potatoes in the oven in one of Fran's cooking magazines a month ago, I've been experimenting with that process.  Slicing the potatoes into "coins" works the best.  Tossing them in a ziplock storage bag with olive oil and seasoning works great, too.  My biggest challenge is not expecting a zillion coins to brown/crisp up nicely in the oven.  Quantity is what I need to work on.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random thoughts

Maybe restaurants should have a reader board out front that states wait time for a table or if any are available to better serve impatient diners.  Not sure if I'm kidding about that or not.  Well heck, someday maybe there will be an app for that! Or an app for tap lists!!

We have flashlights and headlamps, why not ankle or knee lamps to light our way for night time walks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reading Rainbow

I've probably raved about Reading Rainbow in past posts and here I go again.

I was sad the show was canceled this past year, but glad all those videos that were made will continue to live on.  All those children who won't have the opportunity to see glimpses of the world through Levar's eyes.  His enthusiasm for learning and reading is contagious.  I have many favorites, but since I'm limited in opportunities to share them with the short people I limit the videos I show:

Germs Make Me Sick!
Bored Nothing To Do
My Shadow (love Sonny, the shadow artist from Venezuela)

They supplement perfectly what Kim and I teach in science.

Yesterday, while wheeling the tv/vcr cart our of our science area, I began to wonder how the changes in technology will affect my being able to show these enriching nuggets to the short folk.  I know the schools won't be making any immediate technological leaps, but I do believe the speculation that we'll eventually move away from CDs & DVDs.  Everything will be streamed via the internet or kept on a digital storage device.
I just wish I could get my favorites professionally recorded onto one DVD.  That ought to take me all the way up to retirement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stone Soup?

I heard a story about a restaurant owner in Port au Prince on NPR early this morning as I traveled to nowhere on the treadmill.
He was worried about all of his food going bad without any customers, so he's serving free food to about a thousand people a day instead.   When he began to run out of cooking gas and food other area business owners chipped in to help.  I flashed on the children's story, "Stone Soup".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The art of listening

"When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. You know how if a person laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier, and if he does not, every tiny little joke in you weakens up and dies. Well, that is the principle of it. It makes people happy and free when they are listened to. And if you are a listener, it is the secret of having a good time in society (because everybody around you becomes lively and interesting), of comforting people, of doing them good." ~Brenda Ueland

Today during our therapy session, I began to wonder if I'm a better listener to friends and co-workers than I am with NI've been missing important cues/clues that would've given me better understanding of the words I was hearing. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Giddy for the bed

N and I have made the decision to go with a memory foam bed.  :>)

I'm excited for the change, but there's quite a bit of preparation to take care of before we make the switch.  Our hard side waterbed needs to be converted into a platform bed--screwed down onto the top of our base of 12 drawers (6 on each side).  N will make a new wider, free standing, headboard to go with the width of the bed.  Then, finally, we'll purchase the sheets and possibly a heated mattress pad.  One of the things we love about the waterbed is how it's never (unless a cat unplugs the heater) cold to climb into. 

We're not sure how we'll solve the sleeping arrangements during the days without a mattress (it's our understanding memory foam is supposed to be left to expand and gas out for 72 hours).  I assume we'll be sleeping in the guest room with the treadmill.  Guess I can do without my early morning exercise for a day or 4.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunny Saturday at the Keizer Dog Park

Seems to be a good gathering place for people as well as dogs.  :>)
There weren't as many young, romping, small dogs this Saturday, but Isabel and Hope still had a good time.  One of Hope's favorite things is to bark at the big dogs behind the safety of the chain link fence.  Not that proximity ever stopped a terrier!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Give and Take

The topic of the week in N's and my last counseling session was centered around the patterns couples fall into when it comes to communication and decision making.  Gawd, sometimes I hate looking in that proverbial mirror at myself!
So what happens when two people marry who both avoid conflict?  Oft times . . . not much.  And so our assignment is to carve out some time this weekend with just the two of us (no distractions, no interruptions) and ask each other, "what do you need from me?". 
Now to see if the pattern will shift--ever so slightly.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This week's science--Pop a Quarter

Pop a Quarter

Once again K2 and I did a science lesson on a  property of air. 
K2 took a clear, plastic shoe box, added about 3 inches of water and put it in the freezer the night before.  We used this icy container to keep our pop bottles and the air inside of them chilled.

We asked the children to choose a partner and gave each team a pop bottle (don't touch! we don't want to warm the air!), a quarter and a shared cup of water. 

  • First dip a finger in the cup of water and wet the top of the pop bottle.
  • Set the quarter on top to trap the air, being careful to keep it centered so no air can escape.
  • Now carefully, you and your partner wrap your hands around the pop bottle and use your eagle eyes and ears  to monitor what the quarter does.
Warm air takes up more space than dense cold air, so the quarter will "pop" ever so slightly as the warm air seeks escape.  One website I found described this as burping which I'm sure would get the giggles going.  Another suggested slowly lowering the pop bottle into warm water to watch more vigorous quarter action.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marietta Falls

One summer, when I was fresh out of high school, a small group of friends and I found what we considered to be our secret spot to hang out.  The special place was a ways up the Kalama River.  I don't have a clue how we stumbled upon it.  Probably thanks to one of the friends who lived up the river and had opportunities to investigate random trails.

I remember there was a turn-out or wide spot in the road (from area fishermen?) to park our cars at the head of the grassy trail.  It must have been a short hike.  I can't imagine we'd have ever wanted to carry a portable barbecue grill and cooler very far.

The trail ended in a small grassy area at the top of Marietta Falls.  We could sit and dangle our legs over the edge while enjoying each other's company and the view. 

When I first met N, it's one of the first places I took him.  I wonder if it was a test to see if he appreciated that special spot the same as me?  If it was, he passed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Favorite Teacher

His name-- Frank Zgonc (Za-gonce).  I wish I had more facts about his life and the length of time he taught at my small town high school, but I don't.  What I do know, is that he knew how to relate to this particular middle schooler.  I could have used more teachers like him.

I heard that his love was music and his intent was to be a music teacher, but he ended up teaching math instead.  I can still remember the silly little dittys he'd sing during class, his Rambler and fishing stories and his word for math facts (fundie-mentals).  Even though he was a math teacher, he had us keep a notebook to write his word and definition of the day in.  I learned a lot from Mr. Zgonc.

I reached a time when I began to appreciate all those who had contributed to my life and helped form my young psyche.  I searched the web and found a contact for Mr. Zgonc's son, Larry, a music teacher at a Portland college.  His secretary replied to my email and told me that just a few months earlier Mr. Zgonc had passed away.  I was sad that I'd missed that opportunity to tell him how much he'd meant to me all those years ago.  I did the next best thing.  I sat down and wrote a note to his wife and made a mental note to myself not to wait to appreciate those around me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

MLK Jr. quotes

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.
Stride Toward Freedom : the Montgomery Story (1958)

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Ch. 4 : Love in action, Sct.3

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Morality cannot be legislated but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'll take what I can get

I was really-o truly-o going to get out of the house today.  Going downtown and taking photos of one of the new places in town sounded like fun, but it was one of those days where one activity/chore led to another.  Not a bad thing, but geez, K!

The high point?  Taking the two rowdy girl dogs for a walk to the park by myself.  Wow, N, how do you do it?  The park was fun (and empty), it's the getting there on the ped path.  Holy moly!  Why didn't we take Izzy to obedience training?

N went to Eugene this morning to give a presentation to a group of people who were hoping for news that would make their lives better.  But it was the opposite.  Probably why he's napping right now.  Nothing like getting up in front of a group of people and telling them what they don't want to hear.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday nights

I tried to make a change in our Friday night habits, but it just wouldn't stick.  There's no fooling this 51year old body--it knows what day of the week it is.  Guess I'll be happy with the occasional addition to our end of the week schedule. 
It was a great night to mix a couple of screw drivers, make a quesadilla for an appetizer and then heat up the leftovers from the great pasta Fran whipped together for us last night.  How does she do that??

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where were you when the lights went out?

I could be wrong, it wouldn't be the first time, but I'm fairly certain Wednesday was the first time since I first began working at school (nearly 18 years ago) that the power went out for more than a few minutes.  I had a group of 12 - 13 small folk in a small area off of a main hallway.  We had just finished our journals--the last step of our science lesson--when the lights went out. 

Our school has very few windows, especially when compared to the schools of my youth.  So it was dark.  Dark enough that I had a tough time being able to see everyone.  No screams, no panic and no tears, instead we began to have a casual chat about who thought the lights would probably come back on.  They did for a moment.  And then quickly went back out again.  I decided it was time to gather the group into a line and head back out to our building.  At least the annex has windows.

There's nothing like a schedule changing event to send both adults and children off kilter for the rest of the school day.  We always have plenty to do, but trying to corral and regain the attention of 25, 5-6 year olds after their day has completely gone off course is a big challenge.  Teacher L and I tried to be satisfied with the attention of 50% of our class.
What a relief it was to have a second chance at normal in the afternoon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Old Favorite: Green Chili Chicken

Years ago (eons?) I happened across this recipe on a Foster Farms whole chicken wrapper.  Before ripping open the plastic wrapper to cut up the chicken, I'd often give the printed recipe on each package a quick scan to see if it sounded good.  Not only did this one catch my eye, but it's stayed a family favorite all this time.  Now I make it with chicken thighs, instead of a whole chicken.
Times have changed!

Green Chili Chicken from Foster Farms

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs  (smallish)                        
2 tsp. chili powder                                                                
1/2-1/4 tsp. red pepper (according to taste)                         
1 tsp. ground cumin                                                              
1 tsp. salt                                                                             
1 Tbsp. oil                                                                          
2 garlic cloves pressed
1/2 C. finely diced onion
1 4oz. can green chilis
1 C. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 C. sour cream

Rub outside of chicken with first 4 ingredients--mixed.  Let sit for 20 minutes, if you wish.  Heat oil in dutch oven, brown chicken on both sides.  Add garlic, onion, chilies and broth.
Cover and simmer 35 - 45 minutes.
Remove chicken to platter, draining juices back into pan.  Skim fat from sauce in pan.  Blend together flour and water, stir into sauce.  Cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat.
Stir in sour cream.
Serve with rice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday meet-ups

The staff where I work has (what they call) "first Friday".  An email goes out once a month and asks who's available to meet for a drink after work at a local restaurant bar.  I participated for a year or so, but realized that the combination of an early drink and a Friday put me to sleep soon after I went home.  That's not my idea of a fun Friday!  (Although, I wish there was another way to catch up with all of them.  Especially now that L and I are more isolated in a separate building.)

Now I'm enjoying a group of Salemites for a (fairly) regular Monday meet-up for happy hour.  We found each other online--either through blogging or twitter.  I'm loving the company of this group.  It's energizing AND I don't fall asleep once I get home.

Five years ago who knew I'd be getting so much enjoyment out of something called "blogging"?  I thank Rebekah for giving me the opportunity to take a moment and think about that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Viceroy Kit House update

Here's the latest photo of my sister K and her husband's Viceroy kit house that they started here. They're still working on the inside--plumbing passed the water test this past week and the heat pump will be installed in a week or more. (click here for video of exterior)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another new local brewery :>)

After attending the Oregon Wine, Beer and Food Festival last night, I began to question whether I really do like wine and beer equally.  I was definitely excited  to taste the beers, but only one wine really sparked my taste buds--a tempranillo from Edenvale.
The beer on the other hand?  None were a disappointment.  I particularly loved the beer from Gilgamesh Brewing.  They're trying new (to me at least) things.  Can't wait to see them on tap around town!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Let's hear it for the eyes

N and I have gone to the independent optometrist at Costco for over a decade. It's hard to beat the cost of their glasses and lens options (especially since I like to get Progessive and Varilux lenses). Plus it's convenient to take care of everything in one place. We've always been pleased with our glasses and our exams.

Who knows why, but I got a bee in my bonnet last month and decided to give another optometrist in town a try. The idea of having someone else do the insurance billing was appealing to me.

I remembered one of our school families mentioning a place they were pleased with in the south end of town.  So I made an appointment.  The experience was all good--everyone was friendly and helpful, but holy smokes!  The mark-up on the glasses is incredible!  It's going to be difficult to justify returning in 2 years. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Date Night Slide Show

Yay for showing up on the right day for our blood draw!
The empty seats in the photo weren't empty for long. It was one of the busier times I've seen at the Red Cross in awhile. :>) Total time spent? Thirty-eight minutes. Not bad!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Once upon a mattress

I turned 51, 2+ months ago and suddenly I want to replace our waterbed.  N and I have loved that bed (I think we're on our third bladder and second heater) since Liseanne was a baby.  So comfortable!  Plus we both love crawling into a warm bed on cool nights and a slightly cooler bed on warm nights.

But as I get older, making the bed (tucking sheets and lifting edges of bladder at the same time) has become more and more taxing on my back and wrists.  Lately I've found sleeping on the bed is beginning to bother my back.  It may have to do with sharing the bed with the dogs.  Who knows, but now how to decide what to replace it with?  I've been looking at memory foam mattresses on  So many good reviews, but still it's such a tough decision.

When Fran started her fourth year at OSU, she shared one side of a duplex with friends.  Which meant she needed a bed.  She and I began scanning the ads and ended up finding a cool, full size waterbed frame with a sideboard for $15.  We unloaded our find in our garage where Fran and N began the process of refinishing and adding slats to convert it for use with a futon mattress.  We had heard good things about "The Futon Man" on the north edge of Corvallis. His mattresses are a total contrast to the futons that are the butt of so many jokes.  And so we have another option to consider.

Both options allow us to continue to use our waterbed headboard and keep the 12 dresser drawers built into the platform.  All we have to do is make a decision.  Why is that so hard??

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

After the break anxiety

The short people in the AM class had a hard time sitting and listening to teacher L this morning.  I imagine they were happy to see each other and wondered why we couldn't just leave them be to have a nice long social hour.  Can't say that I blame them.  Catching up with each other is a good thing.

The PMers weren't quite as squirrely.  Maybe it's because they'd experienced part of the old routine for the first part of their day?  Hard to say.  I'm just glad I'd had plenty of coffee by the time I got to work.

One of the high points of my day was meeting Amber, another Salemite.  :>)  

And now?  Now I'm going to go rest up for day two of twentyten.  :>)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Carolyn Hax: People's tendency to look at the negative

I snipped this bit from Carolyn's Monday column in the Washington Post. The entire column is good reading IMO.

"Optimism also demands that you greet new people and situations with an open mind, instead of just lumping them into some lazy category of Things You Already Know. When we prejudge, we close doors, deny opportunities, marinate ourselves in the past.

To have an open mind, though, we have to assign ourselves to the role of students in life, and to not knowing the outcome in advance. It's trading the secure (if false) sensation of being wise to everyone and everything, for the possibility of surprise, be it pleasant or un-.

Choosing optimism is choosing vulnerability and humility on an ongoing basis, and that's often in conflict with our nature.
~Carolyn Hax

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Today's goal

I've been "mentally preparing" N for this moment for . . . wow! Has it really been a year since I brought it up??

I promise to be gentle, really. I find it interesting that something that gives me a wonderful feeling of relief and accomplishment can be a cause of anxiety for my spouse. The activity? Cleaning out the closet and drawers.

Living in a small house requires attention to the over accumulation of "stuff".
Besides, there are people out there that could put these things to use. They certainly aren't going up in value as they take up real estate in our bedroom!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Not all quickie meals are created equally

We haven't accomplished much today, but our decorations have been taken down, stowed back in their boxes and shoved back into the attic.

Jonathon said goodbye before aiming his car south on I-5. After that I had to get out of the house. N and I ran an errand, took a nice backroad drive through Mt. Angel and Silverton and then drove back home.

I remembered I had a package of asparagus risotto in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten (good to have easy meals on hand this time of year). It was way saltier than I like and not all that risottoie. Making mental note to avoid that choice at Costco next time.

And now it's movie time.