Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Letter Hit Parade


2005
We’re dreaming of a White House Christmas!


Don’t get the wrong idea. This year we decided to take a break from our warm and homey Garrison Keillor quotes of the last few years and get our quotes from the Bush White House. More cynicism, more sarcasm, more obfuscation; just what you’d expect.

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.” Don Rumsfeld

This seems like a good place to talk about our offspring. There are some known knowns:
  • Bob works at Ameripride and Emily works at Aveda.
  • Young Regis works at Ameripride. Amber (significant other) graduated from MSU in May and works at Target.
  • Tiffany works at Burch Pharmacy in Minneapolis. Connor (significant other) works at Burch in the contract mail station. They’re known as “The Burch Couple” in their neighborhood.
  • Peter broke his wrist skateboarding in November. Right before he started (or was supposed to start) a job at Mount Kato. Actually, this bit of news could be in the unknown knowns column.
“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” And at another date: “They misunderestimated me.” George Bush

I finished the classes for my principal licensure in July but I’m still teaching at the Hoffmann Learning Center. I really did want a chance at one of those jobs…you know, the ones that pay more money but require a penis. Can they transplant those? Meanwhile, I teach writing, make schedules, shuffle papers, and try to prove to the federal government that I’m highly qualified to do my job. No child left untested, you know.

“Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country.” George Bush

Bob and Emily are expecting a baby on January 6th. The baby’s room is ready and we think it’s a girl. Look at the leg photos on our website! [http://homepage.mac.com/tsaum] We’re excited to be grandma and grandpa because we don’t believe that crap about it taking a village…we’re going to leave the serious raising business to Bob and Em and we’re going to have fun with this little one!

“Actually, I—this may sound a little West Texan to you, but I like it. When I'm talking about—when I'm talking about myself, and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking about me.” George Bush

Let’s talk about me some more. I mean us. Me and Regis. (This is very confusing.) All our chicks are out of the nest. Well, almost. There’s one left in the basement but he’s 18 and perched on the limb…did I mix metaphors? It’s the Bush influence. We’re only raising dogs now but some days they’re more trouble than our kids ever were. Ask us about Bert’s thyroid dysfunction that requires regular blood panels or Kramer’s hazy spleen.

“I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racial profiling, which is illiterate children.” George Bush

Try to figure out what THAT means. We like to read books in our free time: I just finished Wicked and the last book Regis read was Shadow Divers. We like to mess around with our computers…email, websites, blogs, podcasts…we’re pretty hip for old dudes. Regis is a computer tutor at the library and helps with the obituary database for genealogy research. We both volunteer at the DFL office in Mankato and like to think of ourselves as Josh Lyman and Donna Moss, two hip dudes on West Wing.

“There's an old...saying in Tennessee...I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says Fool me once...(3 second pause)... Shame on...(4 second pause)...Shame on you....(6 second pause)...Fool me...Can't get fooled again.” (I really don’t have to tell you, do I? You couldn’t make up stuff this good!)

Regis got so wrapped up in production of our Christmas PowerPoint that he won’t finish his part of the letter. The retail business has not been good, at least not to the guys who sell the stuff, so some days he feels lucky to peddle a lamp. There are benefits: We sleep on the best bed around. Of course, that’s spoiled us for motels and weekend visits to people with cheap beds in their guest rooms. If we haven’t been to visit you, that may be the reason. (Regis says to hold up the joke sign here.)

“The thing that’s most important for me is to remember what’s the most important thing.” George “You’re Doin’ a Heck of a Job, Brownie” Bush

The most important thing for you to remember is that we wish you a happy holiday and lots of humor and grace for the New Year. We really would like it if you came to visit us in St. Peter. We’ll make a pot of coffee or chill a couple beers, tell some stories, and laugh a lot. What more can we ask of the New Year?

Teresa & Regis

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Weather Update for Miles

A light dusting of snow between 5 o'clock and 9 o'clock. Enough to make the sidewalks white...not enough for a snowman. Seems to have stopped for now. We'll keep you posted over the weekend. A baby needs to know.

Christmas letter dilemma

We decided to do a Christmas letter again this year after the PowerPoint debacle of last year. If you didn't get one, it's probably lost in the mail or caught in one of the power sorters of the PO. They were not hardy discs and few of them survived the trip.

So, a week ago, I write my first draft. I knew it didn't have the edge. It came too slow and was too sappy and predictable. There was no punch. It was like a Christmas letter from Plaid Pants Village. Hope for the best. Regis said we can't send out a Christmas letter like the kind we make fun of. You know those braggy and pretentious letters about the wonderful year and all the smart kids and well-mannered dogs.

My Aunt Chris wrote the best Christmas letters. They were Erma-Bombeckesque (hey, good word) and kind of stream-of-consciousness if your consciousness had a little brandy floating through it. She would write things like this: I'm making six dozen peanut blossoms tonight...oh hear comes the the damn dog thru the kitchen...Bud, turn on the porch light..somebody better get those cookies out of the damn oven. (Hey, this could be the branch of the family tree where I get my trashy language.) They were a grand read and funnier than hell in a time when Christmas letters were mostly stupid.

Regis is anxiously awaiting the predicted snow storm. The big stumbling block is that the basement child has her belongings in the garage and the snow blower is behind all that crap. It could be a problem but I don't think it will prevent him from being excited about the possibility of a blizzard. We need one like we had in the 60's...or even like we had in the mid-90's. Those were blizzards.

Well, back to the Christmas letter. Maybe I'll publish some our old triumphs here. We had a few good ones.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wind makes me insane

The wind has been blowing full force for two days. It didn't keep me up last night but it has made things miserable today. I was at a meeting a local coffee shop today and it was so damn cold in there that I finally asked them to turn the heat up. The dude behind the counter said, "It's broken." I said, "The thermostat or the furnace?" By the time I left, I think my legs were frozen below the knee which doesn't do much for a guy's disposition. I can only imagine living on the prairie on those cabins with the wind and snow blowing in through every crack. No wonder those women took an axe to someone's head eventually. That's a joke so don't call the authorities.

Windy Evening
by Charles Simic

This old world needs propping up
When it gets this cold and windy.
The cleverly painted sets,
Oh, they're shaking badly!
They're about to come down.
There'll be nothing but infinite space then.
The silence supreme. Almighty silence.
Egyptian sky. Stars like torches
Of grave robbers entering the crypts of the kings.
Even the wind pausing, waiting to see.
Better grab hold of that tree, Lucille.
Its shape crazed, terror-stricken.
I'll hold the barn.
The chickens in it uneasy.
Smart chickens, rickety world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Middle of the night

It's 4:02 a.m. I've been awake since 2:30 and I just read yesterday's post and noticed the apostrophe in its. I had to sign on and delete it because that kind of things bothers me at this hour. I don't know what woke me up...could have been the wind which is howling. Could have been the banging door of the closet of anxieties. Why does all that crap wander into your mind in the middle of the night? Soon it won't be worth trying to go back to sleep which means by about 10, I'll need a nap. They frown on that when you're at work.

I don't know why sleep gets so unpredictable when you get older. I remember sleeping for 12 hours when I was younger and barely moving all night. Now, the slightest thing wakes me up and no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at 5. Or 2:30. This would be easier if I didn't have to work, you realize.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday night after four days off

Uff da. That's all I can say. We've had such a nice long weekend and gotten so much done and been so relaxed. We've both slept all night without waking up to prowl the house at 3 a.m. I can only give credit to not working. Now to figure out a way to fund that lifestyle.

This morning I woke up with a yen to go to the new Lowe's store in Mankato. Don't ask me why. We bought a Christmas tree that's seven feet tall but narrow. I tried to find a picture of it to post but being a low-end and not pre-lit tree, it didn't qualify for the website. It seems pre-lit trees are all the rage, but I have bad history with strings of lights and I could see myself trying to untangle the lights from the branches next year.

If you've seen our previous Christmas trees, this is an improvement. I don't think we've ever had one taller than four feet. The one we had the longest was a Charlie Brown tree. I think it's official name was "Alpine tree" but you get the picture. I won't put the tree up or decorate it until November is over so next weekend I'll post of photo of it in all its skinny little glory.

The last few years I got rid of lots of stuff but this year I feel the need for gaudy and extravagant. I was attracted to the singing ornaments and the big lawn decorations today. Stop me before I make a fool of myself!

The turkey leftovers are almost gone. I have a big pot of carcass and vegetables on the stove to make broth and Regis is going to bag up and freeze whatever is left in the refrigerator. I've had my fill of lefse for a while which should not come as a surprise since I had it for two meals today.

A few days ago I posted of my need for cordial glasses. The day we went on that mission, we went right by TJ Maxx but they weren't open and I ended up buying some at Gordman's that were not exactly what I wanted. Today at TJ Maxx, I found just what I wanted... a set of four tiny stemmed glasses with a gold rim. They're all different which makes them even cooler. I bought five sets of four, thinking I would give three sets for presents but I can already feel the need to keep them all. You never know when I could have twenty people here for after dinner drinks. I have an addiction to glassware. I admit it.

Congratulations to Annie and Tanner and all the grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles and cousins on the birth of Miles Jay on the 23rd! A good day to be born!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Technology

I learned how to add a slideshow from Picasa to my blog. I've decided to scrap my mac site and go to Picasa and Google so now I have to figure that out. Here's my first attempt at a Google page and a Picasa web album:
Thanksgiving 2007
Picasa Web Album
Same pictures everywhere...I just want to see how they all link up. Google seems slow but it could be because of my old mac. They have a downloader for mac but of course, my system is not compatible.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Pictures

Pajama Day


I've decided this is a pajama day. That means I don't get dressed until at least noon. Regis made tentative plans with young Regis to go to the new Lowe's in Mankato to buy flashlights at 5:00 this morning. He didn't set his alarm so I knew it was a weak desire but at 5:40, the phone rang. That was it for my sleeping. Of course, Mr. Flashlight is still in bed sawing logs.

Regis loves flashlights. Last night when we started talking about the flashlight caper, I did a quick scan of two rooms and found five flashlights:
  1. A waterproof flashlight
  2. A magnet-driven flashlight invented in 1890
  3. A blacklight flashlight
  4. An LED flashlight
  5. An 18-inch police flashlight
You get the picture.

Thanksgiving was a success and I'll post pictures later when I find the card reader. Reviews on the food were good except for the cream cheese appetizers which got 2 tablespoons of garlic salt by mistake. It's hard to pick that stuff out. The pumpkin truffles also did not fare well but they were competing with peanut butter pie. The gravy, made by Tiffany, was exceptionally good and therefore mostly gone.

We had a good time, too, aside from the food. The crowd: Bob and Emily, Ella, Tiffany, Reg and Amber. Kathy and Harvey, Teresa and Regis. Not enough room around the table but we all found places to eat and relax. After dinner we played a game of Apples to Apples which takes no concentration but makes you laugh. Harvey took a nap on the couch, Regis took a lot of pictures, Emily and Kathy did the dishes, Ella sang Clementine and blew kisses. We missed having Peter here but he had a nice day with Grandma in Canby.

A funny story about the lefse. I buy lefse at the coffee shop once in a while. This year, I ordered one package for 12 bucks. Then a friend of mine at work said her son was coming from Fargo and bringing lefse, did I want some. I ordered 2 packages for 6 bucks each. When I got my coffee shop lefse home, it was the same brand as the Fargo lefse: Freddy's. Apparently the mark-up is quite high once you leave Fargo. The mail order price is 3 packages for 38 bucks. Hey, we're eating gold!

There were stories in the paper today about people getting their friends and family together to make plans for shopping today. Apparently they drop off and pick up and have complex plans for who goes down which aisle to get what. Amber said last year she had to call Target security on an 80-year old lady who was whacking her with a purse because she'd just sold the last of something. Crowds of people line up outside the doors at 3:oo. In the morning. In the dark. When the doors open, they tear into the store with their children held over their heads so they don't get trampled. These people have different DNA than I do. I often wake up at 3 and putter around the house in my nightgown but the thought of going to Best Buy, a store I loathe on a good day, in the middle of the night to wait in a long line for a good deal on a CD player has never occurred to me. I'd rather have a root canal and a colonoscopy on the same day.

I don't know about the Best Buy in your town, but the one in Mankato is so loud you can hardly stand it. I avoid going there, but when I do and someone asks if they can help me, first I say, "What???" and then I say, "Yes, turn the music down." They always say they can't but I always ask because I think they can. What the hell. All that electronic stuff....they must have a volume knob somewhere. I suppose I am not their demographic so they don't care but they must be responsible for half the deafness in the county.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles

Here's the recipe:
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, melted
  • 1/2 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur
  1. COMBINE crushed cookies, ground almonds, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Blend in melted chocolate (Follow melting direction on NESTLE package,) pumpkin and coffee liqueur. Shape into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate. Dust with remaining powdered sugar just before serving.
It's two days before Thanksgiving and making truffles is the only thing I've gotten done. I'd like holidays more if they weren't so much work. A cleaning lady is what I need. I love the cooking part but cleaning up before and after is not my bag.

It's been so wet and gloomy the last two days, I swear I would rather have snow. Yesterday looked like the moors out my window at school. It was ugly. It would have been a good day to stay home on the couch with a book.

We went over to see Ella last night. She has a book called Clementine that is the words and pictures illustrating the folk song which is a morbid topic for children's book, I suppose. She says, "I love Clementine!" and wants to sing it again and again. It's so funny to see such a little girl singing, "In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine..." Do they still teach kids these old folk songs in school?

Clementine

In a cavern, in a canyon,

Excavating for a mine,

Dwelt a miner, forty-niner

And his daughter Clementine.

Light she was and like a fairy,

And her shoes were number nine,

Herring boxes without topses

Sandals were for Clementine

Drove she ducklings to the water

Every morning just at nine,

Hit her foot against a splinter

Fell into the foaming brine.

Ruby lips above the water,

Blowing bubbles soft and fine,

But alas, I was no swimmer,

So I lost my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling

Oh my darling, Clementine

Thou art lost and gone forever,

Dreadful sorry, Clementine.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

Walnut Cranberry Whiskey Tart

This is one of my favorite holiday recipes. I think you could leave out the whiskey if you're a teetotaller and use apple or cranberry juice instead. I got the crust recipe from Deb who learned to make it in Paris. Look...no rolling!

French Tart Crust

4 Tbls water
1 tbls oil
3/4 butter
1 tbls sugar
Heat this in the microwave until boiling. Remove and quickly add flour (as much as needed) until the dough gathers in the middle away from the sides.
Pat into a tart pan, prick with a fork and use the fork tines to dent the sides of the crust then bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes.

Walnut Cranberry Whiskey Tart

3 eggs beaten slightly
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup whipping cream whipped

Heat oven to 350.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, corn syrup and whiskey; beat until well blended. Stir in walnuts and cranberries. Pour into crust.
Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes until edges are puffed and center is set. Lightly cover edges the last 10 minutes.
Cool 30 minutes ...serve warm or cold with whipped cream.

Here's our menu for Thanksgiving dinner. I toyed with the idea of buying a dinner from the deli but in the end, it didn't appeal. I love to cook but hate to clean. Regis said he would be in the kitchen helping from start to finish.

Roast Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Giblet Gravy
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
Bread Stuffing
Andouille Sausage Stuffing
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Dinner Rolls

Cranberry Tart
Emerill's Peanut Butter Pie
Pumpkin Truffles

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Party Puffs Redux

I realize now that I left four eggs out of the puff recipe. I should have used 8 and only used 4. No wonder mine didn't pouf up as much as we expected. Also goes to show that cooking is a lot more forgiving than most people realize. What the hell. The customer service agents of Navitor won't mind a bit and probably won't even notice. If you make them, count the damn eggs.

I toyed with the idea of ordering a turkey dinner from the local grocery store. A woman who works there told me the flavor was good and in my estimation, the price was certainly right. Regis made a kind of squinchy face when I mentioned it. Guess he thinks my green bean casserole is superior to theirs. I've planted the seed so I'll just wait a few years and then do it. Maybe next year I'll make a tofurkey with Andouille sausage stuffing and roasted winter vegetables...then they'll be happy and relieved to see the Econofoods turkey.

We've been watching the Sopranos on DVD. It's a good story and more about the characters than it is about the mob. It's awfully violent, though, and leads you to believe that there is a mobster with a gun at every table in every coffee shop. I'm not sure I'll get close to New Jersey again. And what is it with the waste management? That seems to be a theme. Hey...what about the garbage guy who lives across the street from me?

Rye Party Puffs

Regis has to bring a dish for a potluck tomorrow. It's a nightmare trying to find a place to plug a crock pot in so we searched for a cold appetizer recipe that was different. Here's the result: rye party puffs. See below the recipe for comments.

Rye Party Puffs

Dough- Double this...you'll have plenty of filling!
1 cup water X 2 = 2 cups
1/2 cup butter X 2 = 1 cup
1/2 cup all-purpose flour X 2 = 1 cup
1/2 cup rye flour X 2 = 1 cup
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes X 2 = 4 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder X 2 = 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon salt X 2 = 1/2 teaspoon
4 eggs X 2 = 8 eggs
Caraway seeds

Corned Beef Filling
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 (2 1/2 ounce) packages thinly sliced
cooked corned beef, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons diced onion
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
10 small stuffed olives, chopped

Make the filling first. Put it in the refrigerator but make sure to take it out maybe an hour before you fill the dough balls. It needs to soften to make it easier to squirt out of the bag.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flours, parsley, garlic powder and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes.

Beat in eggs, one at time. Beat until smooth.

Drop batter by rounded teaspoons 2-in. apart onto greased baking sheets.

Sprinkle with caraway. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until golden.

Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each puff to allow steam to escape; cool. In a mixing bowl, combine the first eight filling ingredients; mix well. Stir in olives. Split puffs; add filling. Refrigerate.

Yield: 4 1/2 dozen.

NOTE: Not as much work as they sound. We used a ziploc bag because we don't own a pastry bag. It worked fine. Refrigerate until serving. Tasty spread if you're too lazy to make the puffs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Things that annoy me- in no particular order.


1. People who stuff paper into bottles or cans. I think this goes back to my bar waitress days. At least I know I share this feeling with other women who have waited tables. I'm not even going to mention the gross habit of putting cigarettes out on plates. Someone did that at my house once and I had to throw the plate in the trash.

2. Corporations like Alltel who charge you 2.99 a month for Texas Hold 'Em on your cell phone when it isn't there and when you call customer service the woman with a very southern accent tells you the only way to get rid of it is to take the phone to the store so they can remove it. So you take it to the store and the customer service person says she can't do anything because Texas Hold 'Em isn't on your phone.

3. People who let their dogs crap on my flower beds. I don't mind when they crap on the grass. I like dogs and know they have to go somewhere but when there is a big wide grassy boulevard, why would you let your dog meander across the sidewalk and up the hill to crap on my flowers? Last spring some thoughtless moron let his dog crap on my flowers at least a dozen times. This was no accident. I picked it all up in those bright orange bags the shopper comes in and let it lay right there where Fido dropped it. It looked like my yard had been carpet bombed.

4. Long menus on the telephone. I get distracted and have to hang up and start over. Can there be just one or two choices? Five or six with submenus is too much.

5. People who turn the corners of library books over because they're too lazy and self-absorbed to get a damn bookmark.

6. Limp and pale french fries. What is the point?

7. Antibacterial dishwashing soap. Isn't the act of washing the dishes enough? I need to disinfect them? This is some OCD person's idea of a good idea.

8. Scented toilet paper and garbage bags. What is the point? I saw a dog water dish once that pumped a constant supply of fresh water for the the dog. Our dog drinks from the toilet if he gets a chance so we're going to spend 50 dollars for fresh water for him? I don't think so.

9. Frozen food. Some pizza is ok, but most frozen food is putrid and I think there should be a law that people can't eat it in your work cafeteria in front of you. I bought a South Beach chicken dinner once that was so awful I threw it in the trash and then threw out the other one in the freezer. I swear it was made from the chicken butts.

10. When I'm on hold for thirty minutes with Mediacom about my bill. Someone finally answers and they want my address, my phone number, and then....the last four digits of my husband's social security number. I come unglued. Why in the hell do you want the last four digits of my husband's social security number? The very calm customer service agent tells me it's so they can confirm my identity. So I ask him who else would spend 30 minutes on hold to pay my *%#@*^%% bill? Well? Who would?

Ms. Crabbypants is going to bed now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

White-washing the fence

Only if you've spoken to me today do you know the cryptic meaning of this blog entry title. This is probably another reason why I'm fortunate to be a lowly coordinator...or a person working in peonage or debt bondage otherwise known as indentured servitude. No resentment about my career lot in life. LOL.

Regis and I spent all day yesterday getting the home office ready for his new opportunity. He entered the Cone of Silence today so things are approaching a state of readiness. They made the other woman park in the back and enter through a different door which seems to be taking the whole idea a little far but what do I know.

I'm either too jaded or too tired to write anything worth reading tonight so I'll stop. Or maybe I'm worried about Larry's weapons of mass destruction otherwise known as the WMJ.

P.S. Check out This Goat's Life today. Belle's in Alcatraz.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday

Yesterday I took half a day off and drove Peter out to his new digs in Canby. He's living with his Grandma and studying wind technology starting in January. Until then, he's working at the hospital in the kitchen, delivering meals and washing dishes. It's all good changes for him so why was I so weepy on my way home? The Dwight Yoakum CD's? The gray November skies? The 5 am wake-up call? Missing my chicken already? He'll be fine, I know.

We're done with gluten-free. Regis bought some beer today so we'll see if it makes a difference in how he feels. Going beer free didn't make that much difference. Not enough to make it worth it anyway. That gluten-free beer is so nasty I think it could cause health problems by itself. We bought lottery tickets, too. Maybe it's our lucky day.

I started a new book called Turpentine. It's a hoot. The characters are great and the plot is compelling. Highly recommend. Here an excerpt from one review:

The year is 1871, and Edward Turrentine Bayard III, sick and restless, leaves his Connecticut home to recover out west. But when the private sanitarium in which he is to stay proves to be nothing more than a rickety outpost on the Nebraskan plains, he becomes a buffalo skinner. After returning to the East, Ned teams up with Phaegin, who earns her money rolling cigars, and Curly, a fourteen-year-old coal miner, but the newfound trio is wrongly accused of triggering a bomb at a labor rally, and they must flee. With a Pinkerton agent following their every move, the gang of winsome ne'er-do-wells engages in a circuitous escape that takes them through northern outposts into Indian country, past the slums of Chicago, and into the boundless Great Plains.

On my way back across the prairie, I stopped at Schmidt's in Nicollet. Customers were three-deep at the counter but I managed to buy steaks and German potato salad. Regis has turned into a master steak griller so it should be a great meal.

It was a nice drive across the prairie today. I love seeing the sky from horizon to horizon. If you haven't read Bill Holm's essay Horizontal Grandeur, you should. Here's an excerpt:

I have a prairie eye. Dense woods or mountain valleys make me nervous. After once visiting Burntside Lake north of Ely for a week, I felt a fierce longing to be out. Driving home in the middle of the night, I stopped the car south of Willmar, when woods finally fell away and plains opened up. It was a clear night, lit by a brilliant mood turning blowing grasses silver. I saw for miles – endless strings of yardlights, star fallen into the grovetops. Alone, I began singing at the top of my voice. I hope neither neighborhood cows, nor the Kandiyohi Country sheriff were disturbed by this unseemly behavior from a grown man. It was simply cataracts removed from the prairie eye with a joyful rush.

Time to go drink a Harvest Moon beer and eat a big steak. Happy Saturday.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Old dogs attend a rock concert

Regis and I went to the John Mellencamp concert last night in Mankato. What a hoot. We were getting a little cranky about 9:00 and were easily annoyed by the drunk people in our row going in and out for beer and bathroom breaks but when the music started, we were on our feet. We didn't dance on our chairs or do anything reckless like some of the younger concert-goers but we had a great time. It was an interesting mix of people...young and old...and a pretty much packed house. Rockin' in the USA.

People can't seem to sit still when they go to something like this. I went to a conference yesterday and I bet 35 people got up and left during the keynote speaker...then they came back. One at a time. Not too rude or distracting. Last night, there was not a moment when the aisles weren't full of people coming and going. These people pay 55 dollars to drink 5 dollar beers and travel back and forth to the bathroom?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gluten-free and BS shields

I've decided that for some things, gluten-free is inedible. It's like fat-free butter or sugar-free cookies. Any kind of dough, bread, or pasta product without gluten is just not worth eating. Here are the main ingredients for gluten-free pizza crust: tapioca flour, brown rice flour, bean flour, gluten-free dry yeast, xanthan gum, vinegar, unflavored gelatin powder. Ish is all I have to say about that. I made some bread for Regis a few weeks ago. The dough had the consistency of watered-down school paste. Somehow it managed to rise and even turned a little brown in the oven but I don't think you could describe it as bread. If I were him, I'd rather do without.

I spent the day at an education conference. Man, sometimes a guy should have a BS shield for those things. The acronyms and platitudes are just flying. (the nice part of the day was that I spent part of with Jan, my old special ed friend from the days when I was a grad assistant...31 years ago.) If I had my life to live over, I'd find a different career. One less prone to the vagaries of public opinion drift and one that pays more money. We're negotiating a new contract, negotiating being the operative word. More like, "Here's squat...take it or leave it." Hahahahaa.

Peter's adventure continues. Last night he registered for his classes that start in January. MNWest has a small student body and many online classes. (And somehow the boy managed to test into college level math and English classes. He must have been listening somewhere along the line!) I told him he just navigated the first test of college life. He's packed and ready to go to Grandma's Saturday. His job at the hospital starts next week.

No more news. Our nocturnal habits continue which makes it hard to get through the day. Regis was awake last night from 1:00 on...I slept until 4:00.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Regis enters the cone of silence

Tomorrow Regis enters the cone of silence. View the video if you don't remember what the cone of silence is. He was told at work Friday that he has been awarded the agent-at-home designation. This means he'll be working in our home office 9 days out of 10. In order to prepare, he'll be placed in isolation at the real office for the next month...or the cone of silence. No shoe phone though.

Mission accomplished

I woke up at 4:30 this morning so I've been up for 12 hours. I don't know what this has to do with daylight's saving time or the lack of it, but I feel like I've been pulled through a knot-hole butt first. My mission to be lazy has been accomplished. You can't say I don't have ambition. I didn't intend to do anything today and I have been very successful in that regard. Regis did coerce me into a trip to Menard's for a turkey roaster that was on sale but I wouldn't comb my hair or change my clothes. I got up off the couch to go and returned directly to the couch when I walked in the door. I expect to be back to normal tomorrow.

If anyone has experience with a turkey roaster, I'd appreciate some feedback. My problem with big meals is that I run out of oven space and I thought this could be a solution. Apparently, because of the condensation dripping from the lid, the roaster does not brown the turkey. That's not very appealing. I think I can cook a couple side dishes in the roaster, though, and free up the oven space for the bird.

I've been reading recipes on the foodtv website. I like to experiment but my family likes the old standards like green bean casserole. One year I made roasted winter vegetables on Christmas Eve: turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and russets. You should have seen the reaction. It would have made a good commercial. Would it kill anybody to eat a little arugula salad or spinach and feta cheese tartlets at a holiday meal? I have declared a cheesy potato moratorium for the coming year and plan to announce it before the holidays.

Our neighbor recently built himself a smoker. He fired it up today and smoked many racks of ribs and a variety of other items. He offered us three racks of ribs, a part of a beef brisket, some baked beans, and a bottle of homemade barbecue sauce for 30 bucks. It's a good thing...we would have been eating popcorn for dinner. I'm not sure if this is just a neighborhood venture of if people call in orders and drive up to the curb for their bags of BBQ.

Back to my horizontal position.

I'm on strike

I feel like it's been months since I've had a day of doing nothing. This one could be it. Regis must have sensed my lethargy because he got the papers and brought them to me in bed, then he made coffee and breakfast. I'm going to do my best to avoid any kind of productivity today. We have the first season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and I might just recline on the couch all afternoon and watch it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday

Here's a picture I didn't post last night because it was unseemly (not in keeping with accepted standards of what is right or proper in polite society) but tonight, after a glass of wine, it's funny. Harvey at the end of the evening, sans wig and make-up, scratching at his panty hose. What the hell.

I went for a walk with Ella after work while her mom and dad cleaned up from a water heater spill. We went to the River Rock for apple juice, to the vet clinic to see Wally and Hocus Pocus, the shelter cats, and to Swedish Kontur for a molasses cookie where she delighted the ladies by signing thank you. Ah, it was a nice way to end the week.

Brother Pat and Helen are coming to town tonight on their way to a cross country meet. We're going to meet them for a beer if we can stay awake that long. Regis got the "agent at home" job so we have something to celebrate. Peter comes back tomorrow and we have his bon voyage party tomorrow night. He's off to wind college next week, already employed once he arrives.

On to the weekend, pilgrims.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Pictures

Ella was dressed like Minnie Mouse but thought the other costumes were scary.

Here's the whole gang in our finery.

Ella has taken a real shine to Peter lately.

Tom "Rasta Man" Hynes

Harvina Queen of the Desert

Regis getting a kick out of the old people.

Kathy made a great clown.