Saturday, December 26, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Okay, after my family Christmas gathering a few years ago, I was loading up the dish washer. It was quite late. I was quite tired. I had been planning, and shopping, and cooking for a few days. The party was pleasant. I enjoyed a glass of wine (or two, or maybe even three) throughout the evening. Mike was going to bed, but I wanted to get the dish washer started. He watched me squirt the Dawn dish washing liquid into the dish washing machine and apparently had the thought that something was not right but only managed to say, "see you in the morning."
I went downstairs (we live in a raised range style house) to sit by the dwindling fire in our den, sip that last glass of wine, and reflect on the satisfaction of a family that can get together, share a meal , and have a nice time enjoying each others' company. I remember that the 11 o'clock news was coming on when I started to hear "drip, drip, drip." I went to investigate and saw water dripping from the ceiling just behind the television.
"Well this is strange," I thought, and I went upstairs to see if the toilet was overflowing. Of course that was not the problem. The kitchen was filling up with soap suds and water covered the floor. I turned off the dish washer and ran down to the garage to get the wet vac, which took up residence in the kitchen for the next three days while I would run the empty dishwasher and suck up suds as they oozed out.
It's just when you think you have life under control that you really have to watch out. Oh, and here's a household tip from a Martha wannabe: Don't put liquid dish detergent meant for the dish pan into the dish washer...unless you want a really, really clean kitchen floor.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Last night we had cornmeal mush (let's call it polenta) with a scampi made from the remains of a bag of frozen shrimp, a bit of garlic, the last couple of splashes of juice from a week old lemon, and the last of a jar of capers. Hey, it was pretty good. We're sure to have much stranger meals before we leave.
I have a dread fear of leaving flours and grains in the cupboards even though I transfer everything into airtight containers. (Pantry moths)*. And anyone who has ever worked where there is a communal fridge for employees knows what happens to items left too long--never by anyone who actually works there, or so they all claim--enough fuzz to knit a sweater and a matching scarf. Double yuk. Don't even get my started about the spills in the break room microwave.
On time when I got to work early, I went to put my lunch bag in the mini fridge on our office counter. There was a pink substance--could have been yogurt, could have been Pepto Bismal--oozing from the door down onto the counter and thence onto the floor. Now, here's the killer part...someone else had already seen this disaster because there was a self-righteously scrawled note taped on the door: "Is this YOUR mess????" Yeah, I'm sure that was going to get the culprit to mend his/her ways.
*Some people have told me they couldn't bear to spend time in Florida because of all the bugs, but let me tell ya Vermont has no shortage of buggy things!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November11, 2009
RE: Gala Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks!We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to singalong. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for every one's pockets.This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Patty ________________________________ ________________________________ Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November 12, 2009
RE: Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year.However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment. Happy now? Happy Holidays to you and your family, Patty ________________________________
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November 13, 2009
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name.I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy. REMEMBER: NO GIFTS EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED. ________________________________
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: November 14, 2009
RE: Generic Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work? Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table. To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry. We will have booster seats for short people. Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first. There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics,but the restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!? Patty ________________________________
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F*%^ing Employees
DATE: November 15, 2009
RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I've had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW! The rest of you f*%^ing weirdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday! Drive drunk and die,
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: November 16, 2009
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay. Happy Holidays! Joan
**Just not worth it. It's a rare bunch who work together that also like to play together, I guess. On the other hand, you can't go wrong with time off with pay.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Just like with Mike's family Thanksgiving get-together, there is reason for a certain amount of sadness this season. My sister's husband will be starting chemo for the return of his cancer. Nieces and nephews have scattered across the country and one brother is is North Carolina from November through May now, so we won't be seeing him and his wife for the holidays. One nephew has just left for Indiana with the Vermont National Guard, possibly on the way to Afghanistan. I don't think I am the kind of person who resists any kind of change, but not all changes are easy to accept. My own grandmother used to say, quite forcefully, "Don't get old!"
With all due respect, though, I guess it is better than the alternative.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I have not pulled out all the Christmas decorations and have decided that some are just not making the cut this year. Simple is my theme--a basket on the table,
some touches of green and red,
my Santa collection and lights at the window.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Today, I dragged out some Christmas decorations. I have cut way back--no longer decking out every room in the house--but it is nice to have the candle lights in the front windows and some wreaths hanging at the door. Since we head out for Florida right after Christmas, I now thing about the "putting away"as much as the preparations. In fact, I would be happy with just a table top tree, one that I could plant in the back, but Mike still likes the big tree in the living room. We live near a huge tree farm (or two), so it is kind of an easy purchase. We'll probably go cut a fresh tree some time late next week.
Also today I baked the Scottish shortbread...and put it all in the freezer as soon as it was cool so as not to be tempted to gobble it up for dessert after tonight's supper. Tomorrow, I'll take a trip to Costco and get supplies for the Ukrainian nut bread, English toffee, and Rugelach cookies. I used up all my butter today. The one thing from my childhood Christmas table that I do not do is my grandmother's suet pudding. It was really good with raisins and a brandy sauce, but one has to draw the line somewhere!
Oh, and temperatures in the 50's here in Vermont means people are out and about in shorts and tee shirts. Typically, we would have had a major snow storm by now. When we are in Florida (Venice, a subtropical climate), temperatures in the 50's mean coats, hats, and mittens and news bulletins warning you to keep your pets inside. It's all relative.
Monday, November 30, 2009
There was one Sunday dinner I remember that was somewhat unusual. We were joined by my paternal grandparents. We ate at the dining room table, but it was set up in the living room. A set up in the living room dates this memory to 1955 or 1956. My grandfather and father were building a master bedroom and bath onto our small two-bedroom house and would have been using the dining room as a work space and entry way to the addition. At this meal, I'm sure there was a roast, and potatoes and gravy, rutabaga (my grandmother always made rutabaga for big meals) and other vegetables, and I'm sure there was a pie or cake for dessert. Exact recall of these dishes has long ago left me, BUT I do have vivid recall of the fact that a bowl of sauteed mushrooms was placed on that table by my mother just as she came in from the kitchen and took her seat. I can recall my father's delight. "Ooh, mushrooms. Yum. I love mushrooms. Here, try some...you'll love 'em," he practically gushed as he scooped a spoonful of mushrooms onto my plate.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Mike and I will travel to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. We'll go to his brother Bill's for the turkey dinner and , since it is his brother Tom's birthday, we will probably have birthday cake. Sadly, for me, the Heberts are not pumpkin pie people. We'll stay with his sister Jeannie afterwards. On Friday the family will get together at a nice Italian restaurant. We will be celebrating Bill's upcoming 65th birthday and his official retirement. It'll be busy and fun, but with the sad note of Harvey's passing six months ago. Bill and Harvey had the same birthday, five years apart. (Just what every five year old boy wants for his birthday, a baby brother, I'm sure!)
Mike has had his shopping list ready since last December--an Italian grinder at Giant Grinder in Hartford, a pound of Italian cookies from Modern Bakery, and a ball of provologne cheese from the Italian market. That's the real Thanksgiving traditional feast for him.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Arkansas Patti, on her blog (http://thenewsixty.blogspot.com/2009/11/kindle.html) recently wrote about Kindle, the electronic book. I was surprised but pleased to learn that its reading surface does not have the computer screen glare that I had assumed would be the problem.
I am a regular at our small town library, shown here. The library, a mile and a half from my house, is a good destination for a walk. The librarian is always interested in acquisition requests and is great about using the State inter library loan system. It even has downloadable books for borrowing, which I have never tried. I don’t think my eyes would tolerate reading an entire book off a computer screen. That’s why I was glad to learn about the non-glare feature of a Kindle even though I am not about to run out and purchase one. I still like the feeling of a book, but I get the appeal of a digital reader.
Monday, November 23, 2009
In September, my doctor told me to lose ten pounds. So far I have just bounced up and down one or two pounds either way and not made a real serious effort. The stretch of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's--not the most auspicious time for dieting, is it. But then, I still have ten months before I go back for another physical.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I love to bake pies and breads. There is something satisfying to my soul in the very process. Lovingly prepared foods were such a part of my family's holiday traditions. I look forward to the Christmas season just for the joy of baking and sharing.
Dear Mike (Dad),
Looking forward to your visit. So that we might bond more as a family, I'm thinking you could load up on cash before you come so you can take us all out to do fun things each night. Nothing fancy, just a lobster dinner or two.
And as always, please don't spend more than about $500 on a personal gift for me. After all, it is about the season, not the giving.
Your favorite son-in-law,
and the reply:
To my favorite Son-in-law, Charles,
I don't know where to begin to thank you for the opportunity of bonding with you and the family. Olga and I are experiencing some financial difficulties and may have to limit our Florida stay so we decided that a four to six week bonding period would be perfect ( It could be longer depending on the quality of the accommodations ). We will be spending the next few days putting together a list of the types of food, wine and liquor that we are accustomed to, nothing fancy just your standard normal fare ( NY Strip steaks, wines in the $12-18 range and Crown Royal, etc, etc ). By the way we like to sleep late and we think that the big bed room on the first floor would be a nice quiet room for us.
I think the $5.00 limit for a Christmas gift does not allow me to express my gratitude to you for opening you house, refrigerator, bed room and all other amenities that you might have to offer, so,
I plan on spending at least $10.00.
Your Favorite Father in Law,
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Ziggy was devoted to Amy, but he liked anybody and everybody. He wasn't a good watchdog because he would happily greet anyone who walked in the door. Usually, he only time he barked was when there was a dog on the television. He also howled, "AOOO-OOOOOW," precisely at noon when the town fire siren sounded on weekdays. I am quite certain that he would have been a very fierce protector if anyone had ever made a threatening move towards my daughter or, later, my granddaughter. On the other hand, if you wanted to walk out of the house with a television or a computer when no one was home, I doubt he would have stopped you as long as you patted him on the head on the way out.
Ziggy was not an athlete although he did like to chase a tennis ball. Once they took him for a mountain hike at White Rocks. He whined for half the trip up and all of the trip back down. I was not surprised. He definitely took after Mistress Amy who also probably whined for half the trip there and all the trip back again. At some point, Ziggy must have seen one of those Hollywood accessory dogs being carried around in some young starlets designer bag on the television. He sure thought that was the way to go for a walk--never mind that he was a solid hundred pounds.
When Ziggy was six years old, his world was seriously rocked by the arrival of Baby Kristen. I thought he might be a little jealous of the attention diverted to that new development in the household. Clearly, though, he understood right away that this was his job in life--to watch out for that baby. He would greet me at the door when I visited with a pleading look that begged, "Make a fuss over me for a little while first," but he stood by the cradle looking as proud as a new papa whenever anyone else came to visit.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Mike and I went this year. The ads all mentioned increased checkout clerks and credit card swipers, and, while the place was mobbed, it was really quick to get in and out. Mike replaced his entire sock collection. I bought a bunch for the kids and grand kids because they really are nice socks. I got cashmere blend socks and a pair of merino wool socks for myself. We bought a couple pair for Mike's brother as his 65th birthday/retirement party is coming up and we are giving him a "Made in Vermont" Basket.
So that's the big excitement here. If you don't hunt in Vermont, you go to the sock sale. There used to be all kinds of textile mills throughout New England, but no more. Cabot Sock Factory is the only sock factory left in New England and one of only three left in the United States.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
With the left over material, I made this simple top--the kind I've had about a hundred of over the years. It fits my body like a bag, but that's okay. I put some beading on it to give it just a little oomph.
I bought a bunch of new material today. I'm tired of making doll clothes. I'm ready to start making a few things for myself again. I bought material with patterns...really ready to step out of my comfort zone!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Seriously, the lights go on at 4:00 p.m. around here. You can't sit and read by a lamp or watch a little television without clueless cluster flies bombarding every light source. Try to imagine a fly dropping into your wine glass during the evening meal. Try to imagine putting your head on your pillow only to realize there's a fly on the ceiling, on very likely to just drop during the night and land in your open mouth. Yes, they're easy enough to swat, but reinforcements just soldier on. Pollenias rudis--very rude, indeed.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
2 quarts apple cider vinegar, handfuls of lavender, rosemary, sage, rue, and mint
Mix all in a large jar with a tight lid and let sit for four weeks or longer.
Strain herbs and pour liquid into spray bottle.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
So for not being so focused, picking up The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski was a curious choice. (The librarian's comment was, "You haven't read that yet?") I got through it, but I can't say I am better off for the experience. Vesna, a woman in the writers group at the library, often says my writing reveals my slavic heritage so maybe I should have liked it more. Or maybe I need to work on lightening up my writing style.
I also read Alison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, which I passed onto my husband. He understands that collecting, buying, selling world so he probably got more out of it than I did. It was interesting, based on real people, but I've run out of patience and sympathy for people who feel overly entitled.
I just finished Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. I thought it was well written--if a little scary and a little sad. Okay, a lot scary and a lot sad. Now I have both his A Voyage Long and Strange and Blue Latitudes on my reading pile. Mike's efforts to get me a little more literate about history seem to be paying off.
Finally, I read Traveling with Pomegranates, which was perspectives on a trip to Greece and a trip to France by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. It was fascinating to me on so many levels--the mother-daughter relationship, the travel, the historical aspects, the mythological/spiritual journey, the adjustments to changing life stages.
Maybe it's not just my eyes. I've been reading a lot of nonfiction. I haven't read the last Janet Evaonovich--maybe I'll go out and get that for my next read.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
There are several new highway signs put up in the past few days--"Yield to pedestrians in crosswalk" (seven cars drove by in rapid succession while I stood at the crosswalk) and yellow signs alerting drivers to side roads (most with fairly inventive spellings and/or questionable grammar). By the way, it really annoys me when people automatically add "Road" to my address on Brown's Trace. "Trace" is a synonym for "Road" so there is NO NEED for the redundancy!!!
I noticed along the way what looked like a wet wipe smeared with brown. I was hoping that some one had been feeding chocolate to a toddler and then littered with the clean up attempt, but, no--a bit further up the road, a diaper. ICK, ICK, ICK. The trash in general along the road is quite disturbing. So many people get out to clean up in the spring (Vermont Green Up Day), but then out lovely road is filled up with paper products, beer and liqueur containers, fast food wrappers. cigarette debris, water and soda bottles, and all manner of junk that really turns my stomach to see as I walk past. I don't just complain. I do put on rubber gloves and go out with trash bags, but it gets harder to do each year.
Why trash this?
BAAAd litterers. BAAAd!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This seems like a very good program. It is a lot of exercise, physical and mental. She had to complete the routine, write and an essay about what she has learned from Karate and how it applies to the rest of her life, and get a recommendation from her teacher attesting to her academic efforts and behavior in school. She takes it seriously but also is having great fun.
This is a look of self-esteem.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
It was a beautiful day for a walk. People in town recognize me as the woman who walks on Brown's Trace. Some compliment my dedication to fresh air and exercise; other warn about the dangers of walking on the busy road. Well, I do try to watch for vehicles and I seldom to never walk after dusk.
Mike and I rarely walk together. He wants to walk in the woods while I prefer neighborhoods. He likes to saunter while I like a brisk pace. I happen to enjoy a solitary walk--although I don't mind brisk walking company. It's a good time to think, even meditate