Sunday, December 26, 2010

...and a Happy new Year

We had a beautiful Christmas.  First, there was time with family.  My son and I took the ride to my daughter's to deliver presents and hug the grand children--three months worth.  The ride home was like the perfect white Christmas with the sparkling snow and the houses all lit up along the way.  Mike and I had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner.  My son stopped in on Christmas Day and then we went for dessert at my nephew's house.  I went to bed with a feeling of well-being and contentment.

Now, it's packing up and getting ready for the trip south.  Looks like we will have to work around a pretty big storm!  Be back in a week or so.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grandma! It's Christmas Time!

That was the extent of my phone conversation with grandson, Dane, today.  The excitement was electric, popping off the wires.  My Christmas is amazing and it is not even here yet.
And in contrast, I have just returned from a funeral.  There was heart wrenching grieving, but, at the same time, there was the awareness of the fullness my Uncle Bill's life.  The service was a beautiful tribute to a life well lived.
When my mother died five years ago my grand daughter--four years old at the time--asked why people were smiling and laughing when someone had died.  It was my Aunt Jule (Uncle Bill's wife of 63 years) who explained to her that it was the good memories that prompted the smiles and laughter.  My Aunt Jule passed out Hungarian kolache (sweet nut bread) at the dinner after the services.  "Have this for your Christmas breakfast."
And in contrast, I am deeply worried for my son and my son-in-law, who are both experiencing periods of angst and depression--so, so painful.
This is life.  Yes, bittersweet.  And those of us who can just keep on trucking--hoping this will be the season of peace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Off and Running

My computer time for the rest of the day will be for arranging travel plans and flower delivery.  My sister and I will rent a car and head to Rochester, NY, for our Uncle Bill's funeral.  When I get back, it will be another trip to my daughter's (Thursday or Friday??)  Then a day of R&R on Christmas.  Pack up for target heading south day of next Tuesday.  Oh, and some where in there we'll need to put the house back together after the painting is completed.  I think I should head out right now and get a case of Red Bull or one of those other energy concoctions because this all sounds like an energy taxing plan to me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Well, my family gathered yesterday and, while everyone noticed that the house was a bit more bare than usual, it did not have much of an impact on the festivities.  The adults were focused on food and conversation and the children were busy with drawing,  decorating gingerbread boys (which was a fun activity that came in ever so handy to settle them down a bit when things got really rambunctious), and then opening some presents.  By then, it was pretty impossible to notice anything but sheer excitement and wrapping paper swirling through the air.

Kristen and Dane made this tree for me.
 One nephew had just returned from Afghanistan, but he did not attend last night because he was on his way to a Giants football game.  My two nieces and another nephew have moved out of state.  It just doesn't seem that long ago that they all were the source of frenzied anticipation for the pile under the tree.  The older of my two brothers now is in North Carolina, so the group is smaller.  My sister, her husband, her youngest son, his wife and two kids were there.  The younger of my two brothers and his oldest son came.  And, of course, my son and my daughter with the two grand kids were there, too. I love the fact that we can get together and there is joking and laughter and memories shared.  It was a good time.
 The evening did end on a sad note, though.  We got a call from my cousin.  Our Uncle Bill passed away quietly yesterday.  He was my father's younger brother--87 years old.  He was a teacher, a school principal, a devoted husband and father of four children, a friend to more than one can count, and a man of deep faith. A good enough life so that even at the age of 87, one can say it was too short a time on the earth.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lemon Pie for Christmas

My mother--using my paternal grandmother's recipe, I must note-- made a killer lemon pie.   I do not consider lemon pie a traditional Christmas dessert.  We always had an English Christmas pudding--made with suet and raisins and a fair amount of whiskey in the sauce--also courtesy of my paternal grandmother--as a Christmas Day dessert served late in the evening.  However, the family lemon pie making seems to have fallen in my lap and last Christmas a nephew was visibly crushed when I failed to serve a lemon pie at the family Christmas gathering.  Needless to say, I will be getting up with the sun (which lets me sleep quite late this time of year) to make a lemon pie for the dinner tomorrow.  We don't get together the way we did when my parents were still alive.
I'm hoping the family will also appreciate my effort to make the pierogis this year.  I am not making my mother's kolache or the nut bread, though.  It's funny how holiday dinners did not vary when I was growing up.  We always had traditional Ukrainian foods for Christmas Eve and a traditional English Christmas Day and my mother cooked and baked for weeks.  And, really, Christmas, with all that,  did not come close to the pile of traditional foods that went with Easter. 
Now Mike and I have seafood for Christmas Eve in the (sort of) Italian tradition.  I make a Christmas brunch and then we usually have leftovers for supper.  However, I think that I feel myself pulled by the old ways lately--how else to explain the pierogis?
I never thought I was very much of a traditionalist.  I kind of pooh-poohed that for years and years.  Now I find myself being nostalgic.  At the same time, I am appreciating new traditions--like lemon pie at Christmas time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Orange Gingerbread Muffins

Ingredients
2 cups  biscuit and baking mix (such as Bisquick)
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
Butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray

1.   Combine baking mix, 3 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, and ginger in a bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 3 ingredients, stirring well. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
2.   Spoon batter into muffin pans coated with cooking spray, filling one-half full; sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar over batter. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes. Remove from pans immediately.

From:  Cooking Light, JANUARY 1997

Gingerbread just says Christmas to me.  I made gingerbread people for the kids to decorate at the family gathering.  That reminded me of this recipe for gingerbread muffins.  I love a breakfast muffin with my coffee.  This is a good one for Christmas morning brunch.

A TIP TO PASS ALONG:  Martha says to spray the measuring cup before measuring the molasses.  I have not tried this yet, but Martha wouldn't lead us astray.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Days Ahead

The painter/ceiling repairer will be here bright and early tomorrow.  I have taken things off the walls and stowed away knickknacks.  Interesting how much bigger the house looks with the drapes and decor gone.  I shall have to think carefully about what I'll choose to put back up.  I'm sure that I will enjoy the clean new surface and then put it all back.
Amidst that we will be preparing for my family get together here on Saturday.  I thought that the painting would be done a bit earlier than this, but what can one do but role with it.  The house will not be in perfect shape and the menu will be quite simple.  At first I thought that might be reason to cancel.  Then I realized--it's my family coming--they may just already suspect I am not perfect. 
Also, it has been snowing pretty much continuously over Jericho, so a certain amount of getting out with the shovel is required each day.  The accumulation has not been that great and it does provide an opportunity to get out of the house for some fresh air and exercise.  Mike was out with the snow blower yesterday, even with his head wound (a suspicious lump take off his scalp by the dermatologist).  He jokes about the snow blower being so easy even a wife could do it, but he would have to be bed ridden--and chained there to boot--before he would actually trust me with it.  Okay be me.
Then it will be time to start getting organized for the trip south.  Such a frantic time of year.  Talk about making lists and checking them twice.  It's hard to believe I once had a full time job on top of everything else.  How did I manage?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When the lights go out

A recent power outage in the area made me realize just how much my life style depends on the availability of electricity.  Sure, it is an annoyance to not have the TV or computer, but it is possible to go on living without.
Other things are more concerning.  I'd just filled the fridge and freezer with holiday supplies.  Will I have to move all that stuff out into the garage or even outdoors to keep it cold or frozen?  Or will it get that cold inside?
There will be no vacuuming, but there is always dusting to do.  Why has no one yet invented the indispensable electric furniture duster with electrostatic feathers? 
I won't be able to do the laundry that I have ignored for days and days because I have been distracted by blogs and computer searches.  Here's the time opened up, but no electricity to run the machines.  No hot water after a bit and then no water at all since the pump is electric.  Now the toilet cannot even be flushed.  How concerning is that?
The furnace goes off.  Is it so cold that the pipes will freeze?  Thank goodness that we have a wood stove and plenty of wood.  I complain about its messiness sometimes, but not when the den is snug and cozy while the temperature in the rest of the house is dropping.
Thank goodness, also, that I have a husband who, without benefit of ever having been a boy scout, is always prepared and is a well equipped camper.  Coleman lantern, a full container of fuel, matches, flashlights, charged batteries, a camp coffee pot--check, check, check check, check, and check--better yet, all right where always live so you can put your hands right on them when needed.
Reading is an option, for a while anyway.  But it gets dark really early and it is too much strain on my weak eyeballs to read by flickering lantern light.  Really, the thing to do, I think, is sit by that warm and cozy fire with a glass of wine, a sliced pear, a bit of cheese,  and that wonderful man who has it all under control.  After that, well, there are flannel sheets and warm woolen blankets on the bed.  It doesn't really matter how cold the rest of the house gets.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Morning Moping

The week is starting out with wind and rain again.  So I was wrong, we have lost almost all the snow.  At some point it will get colder and this rain will turn to snow again (like as I write this rain has turned to sleet), but at least the roof is getting a fresh start.  Shovelling the driveway is bad enough, but having to shovel off the roof is the absolute pits--or so I am told because I have never done that myself. 
Oops, Mike just came in with the latest weather report--winter weather advisory--sleet turning to snow, temperature dropping fast and turning conditions icy.  I find winter so dreary.  At least I have no where I need to go right away and I have plenty of things to do around the house that will keep me busy.
Instead of my whining and complaining, I recommend moving on over to Marcia's post for some inspiration and then on to Patti's post for a good giggle.  If you haven't read these already, you'll thank me--two delicious treats.

Saturday, December 11, 2010




The icicles are dripping slowly outside the window as I sit here.  My cat would have been riveted.  He could sit at the window and watch the drip...drip...drip all afternoon.  He loved Christmas, too.  The tree went up and he was ensconced under it for the duration of the season.  We still miss that cat.
We do not plan on putting up a tree this year, or on doing anything else in the way of decorating, for that matter.  The ceiling and wall painting will not be completed until a couple of days before Christmas Day so it would not be worth the work involved to decorate and then take things down three or four days later.  Usually, I like decorating so I am not giving it up forever, but things are definitely scaled back this year.  I will have our family get together, but other than the pierogis already in the freezer and two pies, everything else will be store bought.  The kids will be kind of disappointed not to see a tree at Grandma's house, but I will make a point of going to see theirs.
I made a mistake today.  I had to pick up a prescription so I decided I would do a couple of other errands.  I needed to pick up the prescription, but everything else really could have waited until next week.  I have time to go out during the week.  It seems that everyone else in the entire world has only Saturdays to be out and about.  The traffic was congested and the stores were all packed, lines everywhere.  I didn't mind that so much as the slush all over the roads and parking lots.  Everything I did involved openning and closing car doors and so I was pretty well covered with slush and road salt myself.  I should have worn my working in the yard clothes, not my going shopping clothes.
Snow is so pretty until you have the up close and personal encounters with it.  The romance dies pretty quickly.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Cold

I woke up at some very early point this morning and actually had to pull a blanket over me.  I am rarely cold while I'm sleeping--probably because I fortify myself with piles of pillows.  The thermometer reading was below zero this morning so I guess the need for a blanket wasn't too crazy.  It's managed to roar all the way up into the mid-teens this afternoon.  Looks like all that snow is not going to melt any time soon--and another storm is predicted for the weekend.  I may have to join the other seniors at the mall for my exercise walks--when my exercise is not shovelling.

We got the package to California off today, along with a stack of Christmas cards.  Mike took care of the standing in line at the post office hassle.

We had a card with letter from friends in New Zealand.  Shuts me up about complaining about the weather.
After years of buying-restoring-reselling (aka flipping) houses, the bought a grogeous historic property--then got hit hard by the earthquakes this past September.  They still experience enough aftershocks that they cannot begin any kind of restoration.

I wonder if there is anywhere that is free from the worry of extreme weather?  Maybe in another galaxy?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Crafts

A felted sweater pinecone in a bowl of real pinecones.

This will be our Christmas tree for this year.

Angels for my angels.

Poinsettia--a package topper, instead of a bow.
These are some of the crafts I learned as part of the Betz White workshop.  I would make these things again, but not right now.  I'm taking a crafty things vacation.
It's only 4 p.m. but already dark.  I'm putting on my pajamas, making a cup of peppermint tea, and sitting down by my reading lamp with a book (The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver).  I'm taking a cooking things vacation, too--sandwiches for supper tonight only because I wouldn't get away with serving only toast.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snow Day

The weather predictors admitted that they were taken by surprise by the snow storm.  Travel four miles down the hills to the south or the west of us and there is only an inch or two covering the ground.  Travel north or east and you'd be gaining elevation, so I would guess it is more.  We have 16 to 24 inches.  During the cleaning up of the walkways and driveway, I honestly had to ask myself just how much longer we will be able--and willing--to keep up with the maintenance required by home ownership, especially a home in this kind of winter climate.  My brother now lives six months in North Carolina and six months in Vermont.  The wisdom of that is dawning on me!  Well, no, we can't afford two homes and I'm here complaining about the upkeep on one home, so I guess I'll just have to keep  looking for other options.

Mike dragging the snow blower.  When he gets done, the street plow will roar by and push the road snow back into the driveway...just to make him mad.
The house smells good at any rate.  I made a beef stew in a red wine sauce that simmered all day.  I even got out for a walk to the little store in the village.  I bought a bottle of red wine when I bought the beef ribs the other day, but hmm...it disappeared.

Just in case you are planning to do a little cooking, I will share these tips from Martha Stewart and the card character, Maxine.   Now I just love Martha Stewart, bless her heart, but this is kind of funny.  (It has pictures of Martha and Maxine having this little debate, but copying and posting the pictures--readers here know my computer skills--or lack thereof.)




Martha says:  To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes

Maxine says: Buy Hungry Jack mashed potato mix. Keeps in the pantry for up to a year.
***
Martha says: When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and
there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.

Maxine says: Go to the bakery!  Hell, they'll even decorate it for you!
***

Martha says: Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting it in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

Maxine says:  Celery?  Never heard of it!


Martha says:  Cure for headaches: take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Maxine says: Take a lime, mix it with tequila.  Chill and drink!  All your pains go away!
***

Martha says:  Don't throw out all that leftover wine.   Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

Maxine says: Leftover wine???????  HELLO!!!!!!


*******************************

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter is Here.

The calendar hasn't said so, but winter has arrived in our corner of the world.  The "some snow flurries" predicted have turned out to be a day of snow falling and accumulations of about ten inches now.  Traffic is just inching by on the road in front of the house.  I cleared off the deck and Mike took shovel to the driveway (twice) but that was as much going out as we did today. 
The painter will not be coming until next week.  We have pretty much decided that means that we will not put up a Christmas tree this year, or do much else in the way of decorating.  I did put out wreaths on both front doors on Saturday. 

I made this wreath to hang indoors.  It may end up being the only decoration I put out this year!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Roof is Fixed

My son-in-law arrived today--along with my grandson.  Our roof is now fixed and that is a major relief.  It was bitter cold and snowy, so we were kind of sorry that we had him drive 70 miles to climb onto our roof and replace three shingles.  However, a guy  going around with his card offered to do the job for $200 and that seemed a bit excessive.  We already had extra shingles.  So...We are really, REALLY appreciative of our son-in-law"s efforts.  Plus, I got to spend some time with my grandson...sweet, sweet, sweet.

According to the local paper, there are still people without power in the county.  I can't imagine.  The weather has taken a decided turn towards winter.

I went to my doctor's appointment to have my blood pressure checked late Friday.  I have to go back in two weeks because it was still somewhat on the high side--although lower than a month ago for sure.  My home checks are mostly within normal range--eating out and not having total control of the salt level is not good for me--so the next time I will take my home monitor for calibration.  If that checks out, my doctor said she will stop worrying about it; if not, we will look at changing medication.  That is problematic only because we will be leaving for Florida and my insurance seems to think there are no qualified doctors in the entire state of Florida--so who would monitor a change?  I can't imagine that my blood pressure would be high while I'm spending three months at the beach, though.  Meanwhile...pesky family history, but I feel great.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cooking

Before the power went out the other day, I had undertaken a blast-from-the past culinary experiment.  My mother used to make pierogis--alot, but it was not something I had ever attempted.  I happened to see an old Martha Stewart Show that featured her mother and her mother's recipe for pierogi dough so I decided I'd give it a go.  (I just can't seem to allow Martha to get the better of me!!  I should give this competition up as I am quite sure Martha does not consider me a threat.)  I started this project at 10:30 on Wednesday morning and finished it just as the electricity cut out at 3:30 in the afternoon.  That's five hours of working in the kitchen.  Now I know why homemade pierogis are not on my "what's for dinner" rotation.


The pierogi dough.  King Arthur four flying everywhere.


My mother made triangles.


I found it much easier to make round pierogis and actually keep the potato filling inside.
  We tested some out and then I put a fairly large supply in the freezer.  I'll serve them with toppings when my family comes for a pre-Christmas gathering.  They were fun to make, once in a life time.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Classic Downslope Wind Event

Yep, that's what they call it.  The wind started blowing late night on Tuesday.  The rattling windows woke us up I don't know how many times.  One might have thought we lived next to the  tracks with endless freight trains roaring past.  It wasn't a hurricane and it wasn't a tornado, but it was an impressive display of wind power from a warm front colliding with a cold front that sent 60+ MPH gusts down the mountains. A torrential downpour followed the ending of the wind Wednesday night.
We lost power on Wednesday afternoon around 3:30 and we were without for 26 hours.  At least we have a wood stove and a gas stove that we could light for cooking.  Mike dug out the Coleman lantern that belonged to his father.  It's at least seventy years old, but still dependable.  Still, we were reminded just how much nearly everything we do on a daily basis requires electricity.

Our yard used to be an open field where corn was grown so we have few trees on our property.  I managed to load up the wagon with twigs and sticks, but others were clearing large trees out of driveways and the town highway crew was out straight dragging tree trunks off the roads.  We lost a few shingles off our roof, but there were some who lost entire roofs.  Lucky for us, my son-in-law has a roofing business.
So, that's quite enough weather-related excitement for me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tis the season...take two

I went shopping yesterday--on line and in the stores.  Since I also make handmade gifts throughout the year, I am in good shape for the holidays.  I have to admit that I absolutely and completely love gift giving--except for people who are really, really hard (Mike).  I love thinking of an appropriate and kind of novel gift.  I love the hunt to find it or the effort to make it.  I love the wrapping and the presentation.  If I had unlimited funds and less of an aversion to crowds, I would go out shopping for random gifts every day.

Tomorrow, Kristen and Dane will open the first of their Advent gifts.  My son delivered them for me, for which i was most grateful.  These are really quite small things that I put together, but I so enjoy doing it and I think they look forward to each day's surprise.  Today I got a  thank-you card in the mail:  "Giving is just your style...and you do it so well!  Thanks for everything."  Kristen added: "thank you for the Daily December Presents (Advent baskets)"  It brought tears to my eyes..it does again just thinking about it.

I also bought myself a Christmas present--jeans that actually fit.  Since I have lost some weight without going shopping, my pants, especially, have a tendency to fall off.  Let's just say my body has not settled into an hourglass shape--more like a board with boobs.  I told Mike he could wrap them up and hand them to me on Christmas morning.  I have yet to see whether or not he will take me up on that offer, but he does complain that I am as hard to shop for I complain about him.  I guess that is the price of a good and satisfied life.  And there is a gift for which I am certainly grateful each day.
Hello?? Is this working at all??  I wrote a whole piece and it disappeared,  Testing...testing...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back on Track

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I went to the Cabot Factory sock sale, then out to lunch, with my sister.  On Sunday, I took the grand kids out to lunch.  Wednesday was an unexpected lunch because of trapping ourselves in the basement.  Thursday, of course, was a full day of feasting and nibbling.  On Friday, we made our annual pilgrimage to Giant Grinder and Modern Bakery on Franklin Street in downtown Hartford.  Then we went out for a soup and sandwich supper on Friday night.  In between all this eating was either work on sanding/finishing stair treads or driving.  Healthy food choices?  Exercise schedule?  This is how I can gain five pounds over the holiday season, and I just decided not to do that.
So yesterday and today, it's out for brisk walks and pull out the vegetarian recipes and the exercise bands.  This morning, I made a big pot of oatmeal.  I used to eat a lot of oatmeal breakfasts but then I got out of the habit when I stopped using milk.  I used to have much lower cholesterol levels, too.  I have to go for a blood pressure check at the end of the week so I need to whip myself into shape here.

The printer was unplugged from the computer.  Why?  But at least it was an easy enough fix.  The big computer seems to be back in business.  I guess it was just taking a Sunday rest.  The car "low tire pressure" light is still on, even though Mike has put air in the tires.  Maybe something is wrong with the sensor.  I really came to detest those warning lights when I had my Saab.  That car had a regular light show going most of the time and I was tempted to drive it over a cliff--well, push it over a cliff, anyway. 
Anyway, with a little fresh air I am not so cranky and out of sorts today.  I am thinking I will go out and do a little shopping even.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Frustration

I am being totally frustrated with computers today.  It seems that everything I have tried to do has not worked out.  I tried to copy some files from our home computer to transfer to the laptop that we use in Florida.  No luck with that.  I tried to print from the laptop--that didn't work.  I wanted to download some music, but the sound is turned off again.  All these things can be fixed with a little fiddling and changing of settings, but I have to bother Mike to do that because I always forget how--and that's the most frustrating thing of all. I just want to sit down and do what ever it is I have planned to do. 
I have no patience for the quirky needs of machines.  For instance, we keep getting a message on the laptop that new Apple software is available for download.  We don't have an Apple computer.  Why do we get that message?   Also, if I  download music on the laptop, it tells me it is being saved in i-something, which we don't have on our computer.  Then it shows up somewhere else.  Do we need lying computers?  Isn't that what politicians are for?
And the car...the "low tire pressure" warning light keeps coming on and two tires will be down in pressure (at least the light comes on before the tires are flat), but I have taken the car to the dealership twice this month and they cannot find anything wrong with the tires.  Mike says I have to tell them to over inflate the tires and then test them.  I say, you deal with it, Mike.
I would go watch some television, but for some unknown reason we no longer have any of the on-demand channels.  I am quite sure that I will click through stations until the batteries in the remote give out and then I will turn off the TV.  That is my usual Sunday night routine.
I could read, but I need new glasses and that just makes me grumpy.  And there is no sense in trying to knit when I am in a mood.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Painted Into a Corner

Talk about painting yourself into a corner...I was working on laundry this morning in the basement of our raised ranch house while Mike was putting on the final coat of floor polyurethane.  When he finished he went out to the garage to clean up and I went up the deck to go upstairs through the back door...only to discover that we had not unlocked the back door before starting our chores.  Ha!  We could sit in the basement den waiting for the stairs to dry in five to eight hours and watch TV.  We decided to go out.  Mike's wallet and license were upstairs and so were my glasses.  Fortunately my purse was downstairs and I had a pair of glasses in the car so we went out for a nice long lunch, made a trip to Costco (coffee, wine and craisins) and then to a shopping center where I bought two new tee-shirts that I badly needed.  By the time we got home, the stairs were dry. 

So tomorrow morning we will head for Connecticut to spend the weekend with Mike's family.  We enjoy Thanksgiving for the time with family and, of course, the food.  It's such a non-demanding holiday for us since we just have to show up with a couple bottles of wine and a cheese platter (as long as the weather is not too hairy for the drive).

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Busy Days

We have ripped out carpet, sanded, stained, sealed, and are now putting a floor finish on the stairs.  They are looking pretty good.  In the meantime, I have been taking down pictures and putting away knickknacks in preparation for the painter and trying to keep after the sanding dust.  I am going through a whole lotta vacuum bags and tacky cloths.  Can't wait for this project to be done--just in time for a MAJOR cleanup for the holidays.

Saturday night and Sunday, I spent with my grand children--a welcome break.  I am almost finished with putting together the Advent calendars I make for them.  I collect stickers, trinkets, coins, activity books, treats, ornaments and such so they have 24 little surprises while counting down the days til Christmas. My kids had the kind of Advent calendar that showed a picture for each day, but I started this little gift tradition and now it IS a tradition.  It is fun to be a grandma!

I have to deliver my pumpkin pie and a cake for the Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by a Bulrington, VT restaurant.  This cake is eggless, dairyless (if you don't plop whipped cream on top), and quite low in fat.  It is also incredibly easy to put together.  The recipe was given to me by a friend about seven or eight years ago and I have made it often since then.

Chocolate Ginger Cake

Sift into a large bowl:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk in a small bowl:
1 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon apple cider
3 Tablespoons of canola oil
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir til all is moistened.  Spoon batter into 8" pan and smooth top with a knife.  (Batter is thick, but pourable.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Let me rant a little...

In the paper this morning there was an article about a Wisconsin man (Vermont, Wisconsin, oddly enough) who shot his televsion because Bristol Palin has not yet been eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars."  Oh, that struck me as incredibly sad...that someone would care enough abut that TV show to engage in violence against an innocent piece of electronics.
And I think it is kind of sad that, if the ads can be believed, that "Dancing with the Stars" is America's most watched program.  Surely, surely, this nation could do better than that.
Well, it is for certain that we can produce worse shows--much worse.  Anything that involves wife swapping, for instance.  Where is the moral outrage on that one?  Or anything involving "real" housewives.  Especially if those housewives are from New Jersey.  Come to think of it, it really seems like a bad idea to have any kind of program that features the denizens of New Jersey at all.  Those hair dressers?  Really?
Have to admire the creativity, though.  Dancing competitions are popular.  Losing weight competitions are popular.  Why not combine the two?  Why not?--because then you get "Dance Your Ass Off."
To be honest, I have to admit I haven't even seen some of these shows, and those I have seen did not get much of my time.  (The remote control clicker was kind of a great invention.)  I can form an opinion pretty quickly and I am not going to apologize for that.
I did not catch Sarah Palin and her homage to her home state.  Nor will I.  I have a V-chip activated on the Fox network.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost

A new household project has begun.  In preparation for the painting to be done after Thanksgiving, Mike and I decided to pull up the Berber carpet that covered the stairway.  Pulling up carpet is an icky job, but better to do it now rather than at some future point after the walls and woodwork are covered with fresh paint.
So, my story is that I was severely chastened as we picked up the task again today.  Mike had laid out the tools after we finished up half the job yesterday.  I was using some pliers, but when we started to get in each other's way as he was pulling carpet and I was pulling staples, I decided to go do the breakfast dishes.  Once Mike was finished with the carpet and padding, he went to get the pliers.  They were not in the neat array he had left.
"Where are the pliers?" I heard from the kitchen.
"Oh, I have them right here."  I took them to him.  He had that hard-eyed glint in his eye.
"They were not where I had put them," he said with a look that clearly told me that he would not in any way appreciate a comment about not being able to locate said item OR his genetic make-up.

So, okay, I am admitting for all the world.  I spend far more time looking for my car keys than he does.  (Key slut  is a term my daughter once employed.)  It's true...I can lose my scissors withinn the 2' by 3' confines of my sewing table without once leaving the chair in front of it.  I re-arrange drawers and cupboards as I clean the kitchen and then I wonder just where the citrus zester might be.

The difference of course is that I will move every single item in the entire house when looking for something that I have misplaced.  That is a different matter entirely than openning the medicine cabinet and being unable to move the vitamin container in order to see the aspirin container behind it.  Sorry.  I stand by my scientific theories.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recycled

I was doing an online craft workshop and needed to have some felted wool sweaters.  I found a nice supply of wool sweaters at a local thrift shop for very little money, but then I ended up feeling a bit guilty about shrinking down the sweaters and cutting them up for craft purposes.  Cold winter is coming and someone could have worn those sweaters.
This was a large men's sweater made of 100% Alpaca wool in Peru.  I felted it, but then I could not force myself to cut it into pieces.  So, instead, I redecorated it and turned it into a girl's jacket. 
A local restaurant serves a free Thanksgiving Day dinner and distributes coats and jackets at the same time.  I had planned on donating a pie, and now I will donate this jacket as well.   I hope someone will like it enough to wear.
I have a pile of hats ready to donate to the Salvation Army for their gift baskets, along with some toys I have picked up, baby booties and bibs.  The pleas for donations really ramp up this time of year.  It's hard to know sometimes what is legitimate and what is not.  My mother got more generous with donation in her old age, but I find myself getting more and more suspicious.  I am especially suspect of the packages of "free" gifts from organizations I've never heard of promising to do wonderful things for poor or handicapped children.  Where would that money end up?  So I keep my donations local and try to support amazing acts of generosity (like a free Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cards

Embossed trees

Stamped and sticker cards

Punch outs

Scraps used to make gift tags
I have been making Christmas cards bit by bit.  Since I am just learning how to do this, I have experimented with a lot of different designs and techniques.  I'm sure it would be more efficient to pick a design and make a whole bunch to send out, but I am not there yet.  So now some people will get nice handmade cards and some will get kind of crap cards.  In either case, everyone who gets a card from me will know it's handmade, for what that is worth.  It is a good thing I do not send out that many cards.  I like making the little gift tags and  using stamps and coloring them in, but I really like using chalk to blend a background.  The card with the ice skaters is my favorite.
My card making friend's mother, who is 92 years old, made 80 Christmas cards to send out.  She also has made all the birthday cards for friends and family that will need for 2011.  She has to get all that done during the summer so she can play golf in Florida all winter long and otherwise manage her social life.  I remember my grandmother being on top of card sending responsibilities like that.  She did not make her cards, but she went to the dime store the first of every month and bought the cards she would need, addressed and stamped them, and then sent them at the appropriate time.
I, on the other hand, am notoriously bad about sending out cards.  I manage with the Christmas cards (usually), but fail miserably with keeping on top of birthdays.  Even with FaceBook and my Google calendar reminding me, the birthdays slip by me more often than not.  It is some kind of mental block--almost like I resent the universe making me responsible for card sending duties.  Then I feel bad for being thoughtless.
How about you?  Are you a frequent flyer at the Hallmark store?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Art of Soup and Then, Dessert

Mike has left home--at least for the day.  It is the onion that are putting the tears in my eyes, though.
I started my morning by making a big pot of soup which in itself started with mincing and sauteing an onion, garlic, carrots and celery.  The onion smell did kind of take over the house there for a while, and Mike really hates onions.  I added chicken stock, potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and apple cider, blended it all together and finished it with thyme, sage and a little bit of half and half.  OMG, it is so, so delicious.  I feel better after the lackluster mole debacle.
We don't get to eat it though, so Mike will come back when he is done playing.  The soup is going to the Artisans' Market at the local high school.  Our town library sells soup as a fund raiser as part of this event each year.  I will go to buy a calendar for the benefit of the community center and have a soup and bread lunch for the benefit of the library.  They have beautiful art works and artisan quality crafts, but a bit out my price range.  Always fun to look, though.
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I returned from the market to find that Mike had gone out once again.  I had to light scented candles to get him back inside.  I redeemed myself, though, by making a mousse for dessert.  Dessert is for Saturday nights.  It was ricotta whipped up with confectioners' sugar and Kahlua served sprinkled with a dusting of cocoa.  (Marcia, I recommend this to you especially...sex on a spoon!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Scrap Heap Raft

A 77 year old Burlington, VT man known as Poppa Neutrino, set out on an around the world raft trip earlier this week.  Unfortunately, the trip was cut seriously short when the raft was smashed by high winds into a 30 foot cliff on Lake Champlain.  Around 50 rescue workers arrived at the scene to pull Neutrino, his two crew members, and three dogs to safety.  Neutrino apologized to the people of Vermont for the pollution to the lake (several containers of gasoline where dropped into the water) and for using the time and effort of the various rescue workers.
Apparently the raft took three months to build, but the entire project has been in the works far longer.  The intent was to advance economic, environmental, and joyful living beliefs.  If you have interest in your own floating, self-sustaining, off-grid life style, you can read more about Poppa and his pals on an essay entitled "Floating Neutrinos" here. It's the new wave of the future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Experimental Food

I was reading a magazine at the car dealership while having the oil changed and saw a recipe for Chicken Mole and I jotted it down.  I decided to experiment with supper last night and made something I'd always been curious about but had never tried.  Sometimes experiments work out fine...and sometimes, not so much. 
Chicken Mole has a combination of spices--garlic, cinnamon, cloves, red and black pepper, cocoa--and this recipe called for almond butter (which I have been wanting to use up).  For the variety of ingredients, I found the dish quite tasteless.  It was almost like one thing would cancel the other out.  Out of consideration for my dear husband, I left out the onions--maybe that is what was needed to tie everything together.
It's back to the tried and true for tonight--a hamburger for Mike and a walnut-lentil burger for me.  It is nice enough to fire up the grill.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Scientific Theory

You have noticed, I am sure, because everybody in the entire world has, that men just can not find stuff.

Male:    "What did you do with this, that or the other thing?"
Female: "It's under the sink (or in the medicine cabinet, on the floor next to the bed)"
Male:    "No, it's not.  I looked."

So when the female interrrupts what she is doing and goes to assist in the search where it this, that, or the other thing?  Under the sink (or in the medicine cabinet, or on the flooor next to the bed), of course.

Now let's admit, sometimes things get moved around.  Some times they get misplaced and it's aggravating.  But really--how lost can the A-1 sauce get  in the refrigerator door?  How many times does the toothpaste wander out of the bathroom?  If blue socks get piled over with green socks, does that mean the blue socks are gone forever?  Why is it that the male of the species seems genetically incapable of finding simple, everyday objects?

Well, my theory is that it is indeed a genetic failing.  Look at an X.  Then look at a Y?  Isn't a Y just an X with a missing leg?  So it makes perfect sense that the gene that allows the female to locate objects, usually by slightly moving another object that may be partially obscuring it, to be sure,  resides on that leg.

I know of no serious scientific studies that have been done to prove this.  It's just a matter of time.  Perhaps by the time that women earn a dollar for every dollar men make for the same job the balance of power will shift and the research funding will follow.  I wonder if I will be famous in my life time, or will I have to wait for the posthumous honor?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Peek at November

The neighbors' lovely woodland garden at rest for the winter.


This is what we call a sunny November day here in Vermont.


This is what remains of the gorgeous autumn color.
The mountain is both cloud and snow covered.
It's the time of year when we really notice the darkness.  The gardens are covered with their blankets of mulch, asleep for the winter.  The skies are mostly steely and grey.  There is a quietness all the more noticeable from the ruckus of the occasional flock of honking geese making their trip to their winter homes. 
Perhaps when ours was a more agrarian society, it was easier to sense the rhythms of Nature and embrace this time of year as the time of much needed rest for both body and soul.  That is the way of Nature, after all, that all living things need a period of rest and renewal.  So I am not going to curse the darkness.  I am going to light a small candle for my intentions. leaf through a spiritual seed catalog, and keep watch for the richness and meaning in this life.

Friday, November 5, 2010

November Day

I think a day could not BE more New England-November than today--dark, dreary, cold to the bone, and raining.  A cup of Constant Comment tea and few ginger cookies--that's all there was to be done on a day like this.


I did get the results of my blood work in the mail today.  Everything--most of which I haven't really a clue about (total alkaline phosphatase?  AST?  Albumin?)--was within normal limits.  My cholesterol has gone down a whopping 20 points over the past year.  The "vegetarian inclined" diet changes have paid off there for sure.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mad Hatter


One crotcheted hat,
Two Fleece hats, and
Three small knitted hats.

I have been on a hat making binge for a while.  I have a fleece jacket I made from the tan fleece on this hat and i lined another jacket with the flower print fleece, so I will keep this hat.







As I am sitting here at the computer I can watch two birds fluttering around under the eave outside the window.  I know Mike filled the feeder today, so they can't be begging for food.  Maybe they just want to come in and get warm and dry.  Maybe they just want to visit with the two glass cardinals that sit on the window sill.  Maybe they are just jealous of those two glass birds because they are inside.  Oh, now there's a mess of them and they are banging at the window...Alfred Hitchcock...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Changing of Season

The temperature was 19 degrees this morning and a heavy frost did not disappear until around 11 a.m.
With the hills to the east of us, we did not see the sun until 9:30 this morning and when I went for my walk at 1:00 this afternoon I was blinded by the sun shining into my eyes because it was barely above the horizon.    After the weekend, when clocks "fall back" we will be full into the dark time.  This is "Florida weather" for me--time to start planning for that trip.
I took a shift at our library this afternoon but it was not at all busy.  On the way home there was enough light to see the coppery tones of the oak trees but most of the other trees are bare and their frames looked black, like iron, against a pewter grey sky.  I had the thought that the mountains have turned metallic.  I was inspired to start working on a poem about it.
I'm thinking right now about putting on some comfy pajamas and brewing a cup of sleepy time tea.  Then I'll be too hot to go to sleep.  Mike was quite intrigued by the thought of fleece sheets mentioned a while ago by Linda at A Slower Pace.  He has the flannel sheets on our bed and two blankets now, but I am just not ready for that yet--even with the temperature dipping down into the teens. 
I have been absolutely forbidden to touch the thermostat downstairs.  I suspected that was coming when Mike set up a new thermometer.  I kept turning the heat down because the thermostat-thermometer was reading 80 and Mike was bound and determined to prove that it was just stuck there.
It's not hot flashes.  I'm long over that, but somehow my body temperature regulating system never quite went back to normal.  I'm comfortable when it is hot all the time or even if it is cool all the time, but when it I go from cold to hot, warm to cool, things just go kaflooey. (Oh, get over it, spell checker.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

It's all over but the shouting now.  We have but to await the results.  Mike and I went to our town elementary school to vote.  The governor's race is supposed to be very close--too close to predict.  I sincerely hope that it is not so close that the agony is prolonged.  How sad that that is how I think of this election season--agony.
I used to be more enthusiastic and involved.

One of my earliest memories is of being carried into the polling place in Olyphant, Pennsylvania in the arms of my maternal grandfather.  He died when I was three, so this is a really early memory.  I do believe I recall, though, that he let me pull on the lever of the voting machine.  Maybe that was the first time I actually cast a ballot.

I think that  our first television set came in time for my parents to watch the Eisenhower-Stevenson campaigns from the national Conventions right on through to the election--that must have been 1952ish. I mean, I think that is the major reason why my parents got a television in the first place.  I do remember that they watched the process again for the 1956 Presidential election.  My father had no use whatsoever for Eisenhower in a way that went beyond the fact that he was a staunch Democrat.  I remember this because I had the vague apprehension that my father would be in big trouble for not supporting the President--like government officials were going to knock on our door and take him away.  I'm sure the news and political discussions that I paid no real attention to were part of the background of my growing up.  Doesn't that childish fear kind of symbolize the paranoia of the time?

All politicians should have 3 hats - one to throw into the ring, one to talk through, and one to pull rabbits out of if elected.   Carl Sandburg

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Halloween Parade

The ghosties and ghoulies were out in force at the Rutland Halloween Parade.
And so were the angels.




I did not get good pictures, but there were some good floats.  We got into town 45 minutes before the parade started to stake out a spot by the curb.  It was cold, but we bundled up.  The atmosphere was festive--lots of costumes, music playing, excited kids. 

Once the parade started, this woman stepped out onto the street directly in front of Mike.  He was not thrilled with the view.
There were several kids, hoping for some candy, lined up in front of us.  They were cute.  Unfortunately, their parents (Not the behind seen here) would run out to coach the kids on the best begging techniques to maximize the likelihood of being noticed by the candy distributors.  Good grief.  One kid was terrified by a skeleton that passed by and his mother actually pushed him back out on the street with orders to "Get more candy!"  These were well-heeled, otherwise intelligent sounding people.  We just had to move because we really were getting disgusted.  The parade got a lot more enjoyable after that.  We were toward the back of the sidewalk but we could actually see the parade better because the crowd at the second corner actually seemed interested in watching the parade.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crafty

I signed up for an online craft workshop with Betz White.  Since the weather seems to have stuck on rain lately, I have not felt guilty about holing up in my craft area (a corner of the laundry room) to play.  So far, I have made pinecones and a Christmas tree out of felted sweaters, 2 package topper poinsettias, and 2 angel tree ornaments.  I need no ornaments, but I can always give them away and I have fun making things.
The crafts are all copy right protected so I cannot sell them.  That is a good thing.  Based on the time put into each item, I'd have to charge like $300 a piece.  They are cute, but not THAT cute, for sure.
My corner
Mike noted today that I was outgrowing my space here...taking over the house is how he put it, actually.  HA!  He of three rooms in the house he has entirely to himself.  I have converting the garage to a dedicated craft room on my secret list of home improvements.  I spring these on him slowly over time.
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I went to the library for a reading of "The Raven" and "The Tell Tale Heart."  We are planning a drive down to Rutland (about 60 miles south of here) to see the annual Halloween Parade.  It's always a great parade, but we have not been for quite a while.  Usually, the only Halloween thing I do is buy some candy bars to give to the trick-or-treaters who have never once come to the door here.  But one has to be prepared, right?
Then Mike and i eat the candy.

Happy Halloween

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Cake

Bobby at HOT COFFEE & COOL JAZZ shared this recipe for Apple Cake.  I tried it and it was really good--spoke to me of all things autumn.
Having a slight anti-authoritarian steak, I can never just follow a recipe exactly. When I made it, I substituted 1/4 cup of apple cider for 1/4 cup out of the 3/4 cup of oil and there were no problems with that.  I also used King Arthur white whole wheat flour.   Hey, this is Vermont.  There is no actual law that says one MUST use King Arthur flour, but is clearly the correct thing to do.

I had a fun day with friends making Christmas cards today.  Donna and her mother have a fabulous assortment of all the right tools and lots of experience so I feel like I learned a lot.

Incidentally, she served squash soup and the orange-cranberry scones that are currently featured on the K.A. site noted above.  Delicioso, as my 3 year-old (Dora the Explorer watching) grand son would say.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Icky things...

THE very worstest thing about a warm day in the fall when you live in the country is the g*#!d*#! flies.  I could spend the whole day vacuuming them out of the windows.  And, of course, last week I washed windows--just in time for the g*#!d*#! flies to spot all over them. Ick!

I went for my annual physical yesterday.  As usual, my blood pressure was high the first take in the doctor's office, but this time it didn't go down with subsequent readings--averaged out at about 160/90.  Yikes! Now I have to go back and have it monitored again.  I think it was because I was somewhat dehydrated.  It is my opinion--unsubstantiated by any science--that all the ailments known to women stem from dehydration.  I drank lots of water last night and this morning my BP was 118/56. 
On Thursday, I'll get my fasting blood work done.  Last year my cholesterol had gone up quite a bit.  With the increased fruit and veg intake, reduced meat and butter intake, and a small weight loss, I hope for much better this time around.  I hate having blood drawn.

I also had the flu shot--first time in ten years.  The last time I had the shot I also had the flu and that kind of put me off the whole idea.    We'll see how it goes this time.  I hate shots.

Today's lesson for me was about humility, I'm guessing.  I think I do a good job keeping the kitchen swept, mopped, and tidy, but once in a while I just have to get done on hands and knees with a scrub brush.  That's when I notice just how much tomato sauce can splatter around, how much gunk collects on the side of the stove, and just how massive the dust balls holding stray Cheerios can grow while lurking under the fridge.  So I am resolving to not be judgemental about those people who have to go on shows like "Clean House."

Pictures are from PhotoXpress.com.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dust Settles


Writing a thank-you.  So polite.
 I had a fun time with my grand children.  This morning I found a little post-it thank-you note on the bulletin board next to the kitchen telephone from Kristen.  I didn't realize that's what she was doing in the picture above.   What a sweetie.

Kristen showed me how to make this pumpkin.

We made a jack-o'lantern costume for Dane.
We did craft projects, went shopping and rode the escalators (many times); visited a farm to see the animals--pigs, chickens and goats; drew pictures and read stories; ate lots of spaghetti, cookies, and pop corn; and spent time at the playground to burn up the energy.
Things are very quiet today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quick Hello

The grand children will be here for a few days so I don't imagine I will have too much computer time for a while.  I will be busy with other fun projects and getting my exercise trying to keep up.  Maybe we will be making Halloween costumes.
The guy who is going to do the inside painting stopped by today to scope out the job.  He seemed to think it was a doable project and he will get started after Thanksgiving.  At first, I thought that was a long time away, but, gee, it really isn't.  He left a pile of color samples and a promise to bring colored boards in the shades I pick so we can test them in the room.  I look forward to getting things spiffed up.  Mike says, "Who looks at the ceiling?" but he will like it once it is a done job.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Squash

I love squash so this is a great time of year for me to enjoy local produce in a satisfying meal.   This morning I had pumpkin bread made with cranberries and pumpkin seeds for breakfast.  My lunch was baked delecata squash with apple and walnuts, sprinkled with chia seeds.  Tonight, I have pumpkin pudding for dessert.  Last week I made a baked squash stuffed with vegetables and bulghar wheat and a creamy pumpkin polenta that I ate at every meal until it was gone--it was that delicious. I hope I don't turn yellow.
I went to the natural food store to get some fresh nutmeg and some fresh cardamom.  Both go well with winter squash.  I keep going to the spice drawer and sniffing it.  I like being able to buy spices from the bulk bins because I can get small quantities that I will use up while they stay fresh tasting and so fragrant.  I've had my share of those tin boxes of spices that stay in the cupboard for five years.  They really don't add much flavor after a while.  I've become more demanding of flavor in my old age.
In Florida, we get fresh strawberries at the beginning of February, but then we get fresh winter squashes and pumpkins in March, which for some reason surprised me a whole lot more than the strawberries at first.  We could buy corn on the cob the whole time we are in Florida, but it does not compare to what we get in Vermont in August so we just wait for that.  But I digress.
This makes a yummy dish (I have even know some squash haters to eat it and like it):
Dig the seeds out of a butternut squash (our backyard birds gobble them up) and peel the tough outer skin.  Slice the squash and arrange in a buttered baking pan along with two sliced apples.  Sprinkle on a bit of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, chopped nuts (if you like).  Give it a stir around, pop in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or so (til it is nicely soft).  Honestly, you could eat this for dessert.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Guinea Pigs

A local author and book illustrator, Tracey Cambell Pearson, did a children's program at our  local community center today.  She read a book she has recently illustrated (Guinea Pigs Add Up) and had several craft stations set up.  I had volunteered to bring some apple cider and help set up. It ended up that I stayed to help out at one of the craft tables, too. 
There was a spot for petting guinea pigs, guinea pig cookie decorating, guinea pig mask making, guinea pig crown making, pictures (of--you guessed it--guinea pigs) to color, face painting, and book signing, plus a raffle of books.
Good grief, who knew that guinea pigs were such popular pets?  The place was mobbed with pre-schoolers to early elementary students, parents and grandparents with lots of guinea pigs in tow.  I loved to watch the kids so seriously intent on making their crowns.  A few wanted help, but most were fiercely independent and knew exactly what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it.  My job mostly turned into dispenser of pieces of tape, but it was fun.

This was my second visit to the community center this week.  On Wednesday night I went for "Crackers, Cake and Candidates."  Most of the Democratic hopefuls for the State offices and our Representative to Congress attended  and there was a good crowd of townspeople as well.  That's always a good opportunity to hear what candidates have to say in a friendly format. 
I think maybe I should get a mail in ballot and vote already.  That way I can stop the callers urging me to support this one or that one by saying, "TOO late, already voted!"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Round One

I had my mammogram this week and got the all-clear report.  Mike went to the dermatologist and will have to return to have some squamous cells removed.  He likes to tell me these are not the concerning kind.  I like to tell him to wear sun screen. 
He also went to have some blood work down in preparation for his physical.  I hope fervently to avoid having blood work at my upcoming physical.  I had some drawn last year.  The phlebotomist (?) made vampire jokes, which I did not find at all funny.  I have zero sense of humor about needles being poked into my body.
He has his eye exam out of the way and I have mine coming up in November.  We both have dentist appointments.  When my parents were my age they had false teeth.  I'm hoping to avoid that until I no longer know or care if all my meals are whirled up in a blender.  Electric toothbrush, rubber gum stimulator, floss and fluoride rinse--every day.
Keeping up with these check-ups and tune-ups is practically a job this time of year.  It used to be I did all these routine things during summer vacation so it is actually nice to not have to waste a summer day sitting in a waiting room anymore.
Well, I am not complaining--or I better not be-- because, really, way too many people who are near and dear to us are actually spending full time undergoing medical treatments and procedures.  Gratitude is what is called for here.
****
Not related to anything medical, but somehow good for my mental health--I got my hair cut--really cut, not just trimmed off dry and split ends.  Not one word from my loving hubby, but I really like it.  And, seriously, So much more important for me to be happy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

View

Woohoo.  Some sparks flew on The View this morning and Whoopi and Joy both got up and walked out on guest Bill O'Reilly.  Barbara chastised them for doing so and for raising their voices.
Personally, I gave Whoopi and Joy two thumbs up and a big shout out.  You go, girls.
Bill O'Reilly doesn't know the meaning of the word "dialog."  His m.o. is more diatribe.  Maybe they should not have been goaded into raising their voices, but that is a natural tendency when  you have something to say are are going unheard.  It was pretty clear old Bill was not hearing with any kind of openness or understanding.  They had a right to leave and not condone his bigotry and his sarcasm.  I also left, turning off the tube before Barbara finished her statement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spectacular


Along a wooded path

The only sound in the woods today was the crackle of leaves beneath our feet as we hiked along.  Each step sent up the sun-baked, dry leaf aroma that mixed with the smell of wood smoke in the air.  We stopped in complete awe at the scenery before us a number of times along the way.  We stopped to chat with a neighbor and scratch his dog's head.  Mike stopped to steal a couple of apples from a tree that used to belong to other neighbors who have now moved away and then stopped to sit on a log and eat his apples at the top of a hill.  Mike stopped again to point out a snake sunning itself on the path.  That put renewed pep in my step--not a time to stop in my book.  It was a day that can be only be called spectacular, or, maybe, glorious.
Mike makes this walk nearly everyday.  I usually stick to the road, but I enjoy the woods once in the fall and once in the spring.  I tend to appreciate the stopping to contemplate the wonders of nature a whole lot less than Mike does.  Especially the stopping.  Have to  give credit, though.  Since Mike has lost weight he keeps a much better pace.  His stopping now really is to contemplate some marvel of the natural world rather than to catch his breath.

Looking at the back of my house from the woods.  Okay, now I'm just showing off.