Friday, February 29, 2008

Great music coming up at the Bothy

There is some dynamite music coming up at the Bothy Folk Club in the next few weeks. If you've never been there, it's a great venue for live music:
  1. You can get a front row seat if you get there early.
  2. You can buy a beer and a box of popcorn in the Eagle's Club bar and carry it back to your seat.
  3. You can go early and buy a burger basket and carry it back to your seat.
  4. Tickets are about 15 bucks each. When was the last time you went to a concert for that kind of money?
  5. You can buy a raffle ticket and win a free ticket to the next concert.
  6. You can win a box of chocolates. The tradition is that you open it and pass it around.
  7. You don't have to drive to Minneapolis or park in a ramp.
  8. The concerts start at 7:30 and you're always home before 11:00.
We've seen some great music here over the last few years. The Carrie Hassler concert is sponsored by the Minnesota Blue Grass and Old Time Association. They co-sponsor a concert every year and we've always been thrilled with it. We've never see Robin and Linda Williams but they're on Prairie Home Companion all the time. Becky Thompson is one of our favorites. They're one of the most requested bands at the Bothy. I'm not kidding...when they do a Patsy Cline song, it almost makes you cry.

Friday, March 28th Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain
Carrie Hassler has serious game as a bluegrass/country vocalist. Hard Rain has serious chops - joining the Infamous Stringdusters as a band with so many instrumental options that you just can't WAIT to hear the next hot break from the next hot player. Check out the instrumental "Sensabaugh Tunnel", opening like a wonderful cross between an Irish Fiddle tune and a syncopated Jazz riff, then evolving into a full speed bluegrass breakdown.

Wednesday, April 2nd Robin & Linda Williams
Their chops don't stop at singing. They are first-class instrumentalists and superb songwriters, able to, as The Washington Post put it, "sum up a life in a few details with moving completeness." It's why their compositions have been recorded by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tom T. Hall, Kathy Mattea, Tim and Mollie O'Brien, George Hamilton IV and The Seldom Scene. Irish singer Mary Black included their haunting "Don't Let Me Come Home a Stranger" on her CD Full Tide.

Saturday, April 12th Becky Thompson & Old School
Becky Thompson and Dan Lund deserve a Lifetime Achievement Award for pleasing Twin Cities crowds for nearly 30 years, dating back to when they were in the Sky Blue Water Boys. And Joe Savage deserves a fire extinguisher for the way he burns up his steel guitar. This is a 6 piece group of veteran musicians playing classic country, swing, and rockabilly so good it will make you weep. (I added the last part.)

Regis and I went to Whiskey River tonight for dinner which is where we like to go when we need to relax. There were a thousand cars there but not many people in the bar. We had a few Manhattans and a big plate of beef commercial. Just what the doctor ordered. Larry came over and visited for a while and we saw a few other people we knew. The stimulation is less than other places we might go on a Friday night so we really had a relaxing time. You can get a beef commercial there for $7.95. The pot roast dinner is pretty much the same thing but costs twice as much. I'm not saying we're being cheap about it, but we're being cheap about it. We used to pay 50 bucks for a cheese burger, a cup of soup, and a couple beers. This is a much better deal and we're happier when we leave.

Have a nice end-of-February weekend.



Thursday, February 28, 2008

Doctor's help with sleep


I went to see Dr. Ruth today about my sleeping problems. I drove past the LeSueur exit and had to go up to the Henderson turn-off to get going the right way. Not a good sign. Ruth started talking about changes in sleeping habits as we get older and I almost started to cry. I was afraid she was going to start talking about not watching television in bed and shit like that. But Ruth is a realist and said it's not good to miss exits on highways because you're tired so we talked about Ambien. I don't care if it's the stuff that makes you get in your car in the middle of the night in your pajamas and drive around town drinking wine from a bottle. I am desperate to sleep. I asked about trazodone and she said she loves it...a lot of her nursing home patients use it. Hey, have I been insulted? So, I came home with a RX for trazodone and the caution to stay away from wine while I'm taking it. Good advice. Tomorrow I will be rested and happy and able to walk and talk at the same time.

Sleepless in St. Peter

Regis and I have taken turns waking up at 1:30 this week. Last night was his turn. I woke up at 3 and that isn't good but it's better than 1:30. I'm going to see Dr. Ruth this morning. Bob says she'll just mix me up a movie star cocktail but I don't think so. She's conservative about pills and has a way of getting to the bottom of the issue. I've tried all the home remedies: warm milk, melatonin, no wine, wine, and so on. I don't watch tv in bed and only read for a half hour or so. Sleep should not be this hard to come by and I can see why people start taking pills to sleep. You get desperate.

Our Girl Scout cookies were delivered yesterday. You see what you pay for those babies (a lot)and estimate the time it takes to eat a whole box (not much) and it doesn't seem right. It's a good thing they aren't for sale all year because we'd catch on and stop eating them. When the Wizard of Oz was on once a year, everybody watched it that night. Now that you can own the DVD and watch it whenever you want to, who cares? Same thing.

I have been checking out Youtube and looking at clips of old cartoons and movies. Here's the clip of Ma and Pa Kettle doing math. It's a hoot. 25 divided by 5 is 14 and they can prove it. And one of my personal favorites: Gomer Pyle doing a citizen's arrest when Barney makes an illegal U-turn.

On to the rest of the day. Looks like we might get some snow. I'll keep you posted, Miles! It's 16 frosty degrees right now.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Weird brain thing


I've had too much in my head lately. So much in my head that stuff comes in faster than I can sort and file it and stuff goes out faster than I can monitor it. I looked at a co-worker the other day and said, "I got an email from you today. I didn't read it. Wait a minute. I did. We're meeting for lunch on Friday." What the hell. It's like there's a lag in my processing center. Or I find myself talking about something I am putting together in my head as I speak. Or something will blast through my mind at some point in the day and I recall an email, a memo, a something related to it...and then I have to go on a hunt to find whatever that is. Usually I am successful which I guess is a tribute to the brain in general, not mine in particular. Scary.

Regis and I both had bad days at work (must be going around) so we went down to the bar, watched some Mexican tv with Tom and Jim Davis, and had a bite to eat. All in all, a satisfying evening. Mexican tv has something like the old Candid Camera only more over the top. The women dress provocatively, there's some slapping and kicking, and there's no resolution. It's even stranger when you can't understand a word they're saying. It's perfect for the end of a bad day.


And since we were both awake at 4, we're tired and would like to go to bed. It's cold and snowy and dark again. What happened to spring? I had to come home at noon and get my mittens.


Regis is planning a trip back to Pennsylvania in April. I'm already nervous because I know how he drives here among the slow and slower moving vehicles. Imagine him there where everybody drives like the back end of the car is on fire. They don't make eye contact, they don't stay under the sign that says the name of the road they're on, and they don't merge when the directions say to merge. It's uncivilized.


Sometimes I crack myself up as in this post from November. Things that annoy me in no particular order.


Doldrums of winter

It's a balmy 16 degrees this morning, it's almost March, and we're in the doldrums of winter. It's ugly outside: the snow is dirty, the sidewalks are icy, and the back yard looks like a dog poop bomb went off. You can't pick that stuff up in weather like this.

I hear the Pope warned against celebrating St. Patrick's Day on the 17th because it's during Holy Week. Regis read the real rules of the Catholic Church and they say it should be moved to the closest Saturday after Lent but that would be April 1st and who wants to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in April? So I guess they got a dispensation to have it on the 15th. It isn't the beer they object to but the corned beef. Couldn't the Pope just declare that corned beef is a fish for that day?

This is a capybara. The capybara is a is a semi-aquatic rodent of South America. It weighs about a hundred pounds and is about 2 feet tall at the shoulder. Capybaras are gentle and will usually allow humans to pet and hand-feed them, like a giant guinea pig. During Lent capybara meat is especially popular as the Catholic Church, in a special dispensation, classified the animal as a fish in the 16th century. Give a yell for those Catholics and their winks and then go down to the river and try to net one of these babies. .

I read on Charlie's blog this morning about a Can of Whoop Ass. I laughed out loud...then had to do some research. Thank God for Google is all I have to say.

And, in case you aren't familiar with whoop ass yourself, you can find the directions for how to open one here, on e-how, in the section on resolving conflict in your relationships. You never know when this will come in handy. Hey, does that look like Condi Rice just below the can of whoop ass?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday night

It was such a nice weekend, I hate to see it end. We took Ella with us to Menards this morning. I had forgotten how hard it is to shop with a two-year old. She was good but she is no longer happy to sit passively in the cart. She wants to get down and walk...and pick up everything she passes. She never fussed when we put things back but we had quite a collection of stuff we didn't want...a watering can, a kneeling pad, a screw driver, a roll of duct tape. Regis said she is a retailer's nightmare. Or maybe not if we had bought any of that stuff.

We tried to watch the Oscars tonight but we don't have tv. We assumed, in the age of the internet, that someone would have it streamed. Regis figured out how to hook the computer to the tv but that was as much luck as we had. There were a few sites that said they had it but it was coming from China or something. Probably some guy in China with his movie camera aimed at the tv. I guess I'll read about it in the paper like I usually do.

Other fun things we did today: made Cuban bread (a bread so easy it almost makes itself), made fettucini noodles and Alfredo sauce, put a smoke detector in the office (well, ok, that wasn't so much fun), read the paper and took a nap in the sun. All in all, a good day.

Pizza

Isn't this pretty? I used round cake pans instead of the rectangular pan and I think it was the right choice. Half of food is the look. We used Italian sausage, sweet peppers, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. And of course mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. There isn't a lot of cheese on the top...just the parmesan and some olive oil drizzled over it...and I think it's so you can see the filling. If you read the recipe, you might have noticed that there was 1/2 cup of corn meal in the dough. I thought that was interesting but I think it's what made the dough light and crisp. Even in the center with all those vegetables, it didn't get soggy.

We watched the movie Ed Wood after dinner. I ordered it because Johnny Depp is in it and Tim Burton directed it...and I wanted to give them a chance to redeem themselves after Sweeney Todd. I'm sure that's important to them. Ed Wood, Jr. was a movie director, acclaimed to be the worst director of all time. He did a lot of B horror flicks in the 40s. The movie is in black and white and there are lots of recognizable actors. We really liked it and I'd give it a 4/5. Siskel and Ebert loved it and had it on their list of best movies of the year. Here's their review.

Happy Sunday and last week of February!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

At the movies again

We made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner last night...thick slabs of bread with white cheddar, provolone, and sharp cheddar. Then we watched Gosford Park. I liked it and gave it a 4/5 but Regis wanted to drive right down to the mailbox to get it out of the house.

It's about a murder at a British hunting estate so people wander around dark hallways wearing dreadful furs with the feet attached, kind of muttering under their breath in thick British accents. They light each other's cigarettes and have breakfast brought to them in bed by a valet or a lady's maid. The murder was very refined (just a little knife stuck in when you weren't looking...no blood) and there were no chase scenes.

I love British movies which seem to be often like this unless it's a British movie about transvestites like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in which case there is more flamboyance and more action. Regis likes movies like The Bourne Identity. That's too stimulating for me with all the chasing and shooting and killing. I thought Gosford Park was very funny in places and I chuckled. Those Brits can be quite wry.

We slept until past 7:00 this morning and I'm not rushing into anything today. We're making Chicago-style pizza tonight either in the rectangular pans or in the round cake pans that might work but might be too small. I found the right pan online and Nordicware makes it right here in Minnesota. I should have known. Here's the recipe:

A Chicago Legend

In Chicago...eating pizza is a dining experience, not just a snack as in most places. But it wasn't always that way. Ike Seawell changed things back in 1943 when he created deep dish pizza. (Some folks call it Chicago Pizza.)
This recipe was adapted from the book The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American by Jeff Smith. Jeff wrote that "I have tried to figure out how it's done at Pizzeria Uno and I think that I'm very close. I ran my recipe by Mama, a gorgeous black woman who has been cooking pizzas there for thirty years, and she smiled and nodded. You can't get much better than that!"

Dough Recipe

* 2 packages rapid rise dry yeast

* 2 cups warm water

* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

* 4 tablespoons olive oil

* 1/2 cup cornmeal

* 5 1/2 cups flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer (e.g. KitchenAid), dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the vegetable oil, olive oil, cornmeal, and half of the flour. Beat for 10 minutes. Attach the dough hook and mix in the remaining flour. Knead for several minutes with the mixer. (Note: because the dough is very rich and moist, it would be difficult to do this by hand.)

Remove dough and place on a clean countertop. Cover with a very large metal bowl and allow to rise until double in bulk. Punch down and allow to rise again.

Punch down a second time and you are ready to make pizza!

Oil your deep-dish pizza pan. Depending on the size of your pan, place some dough in the pan and push it out to the edges using your fingers. Put in enough dough so that you can run the crust right up the side of the pan. Make it about 1/8-inch thick throughout the pan.

Filling for a 9- or 10-inch Pan

* 1/3 pound sliced mozzarella cheese

* 2 cups Italian-style whole peeled tomatoes, drained and squished

* 1 teaspoon basil

* 1 teaspoon oregano

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* Salt to taste

* 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

* 3 tablespoons olive oil

Place the cheese in tile-like layers on the bottom of the pie. Next put in the tomatoes and the basil, oregano, garlic, and salt, reserving the Parmesan cheese for the top. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the pie and you are ready to bake.

Variations: Before you put on the Parmesan cheese and olive oil drizzle, you might like to add any or all of the following:

* Italian sausage, hot or mild

* Yellow onions, peeled and diced

* Pepperoni, sliced thin

* Mushrooms, sliced

* Green sweet bell peppers, cored and sliced thin

Bake the pie in a 475°F oven until the top is golden and gooey and the crust a light golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

I'll take a picture!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Out of the cone of silence

I feel like I was so cranky from the cold and wind the first part of the week, that I left out some details of our exciting lives...

Regis is coming home to work on March 3rd although he says he will believe it when he sees it. The phone is hooked up, the office is cleaned up, and the desk is ready. Out of the cone of silence.

I decided tonight that I had to have a Chicago-style pizza pan. Of course, Target didn't have what I had in my head so I had to settle for a rectangular unit which doesn't seem right. Rectangular pizza? Shades of Jeno's and little wiener slices.


We went to Dino's in North Mankato for dinner. If you're local and haven't done that yet, you should. The food is delicious and the ambience is very nice. They serve New York style pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and some different appetizers. We had bruschetta tonight that wasn't like it's usually served. We've had blue cheese kettle chips there before that were so good you wanted to lick the plate.

Regis was in an east coast driving mood tonight. Honest to God, he is the only person I have ever know who has made a U-turn on both Minnesota Avenue and on Belgrade Avenue. He doesn't believe me when I say it just isn't done. He must have switched lanes a hundred times on the way over and back. If I had been driving, I would have picked a lane and stayed in it. It's just my way.

My right wrist is killing me. I don't know if I've been kneading too much bread or lifting too many bales. I bought a brace for it at Target tonight.

We saw Bill tonight when he was home for an hour to meet his kids for dinner. He came home Tuesday night to find the motor on his furnace had burned out and the temp in the house was 35 degrees. I'd say that was fortuitous. Tomorrow he flies to Cincinnati, then Singapore and then somewhere else equally exotic. It sounds exciting but tiresome....you know how I like to travel. We didn't give him any crap about the guy cleaning off his driveway at midnight.

I helped Peter with an essay today and complimented him on his writing. He thanked me but said it was kind of like your mom telling you you're handsome. Not much credibility when you're the mom, I guess.

Amazing how much better we felt with the temperature in the 20s and the sun shining today. A guy almost feels like he might survive the winter. Paul Douglas says the worst is behind us. Pretty soon folks will be out with their ice chippers, putting a can of beer in the snow bank until they're done cleaning the driveway.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Middle of the night snow removal

I woke up at 2 a.m. to the sound of a jet plane with all engines ready for take-off on the front yard. When I sat up and pulled the curtain aside to peer outside, it wasn't a jet after all, but one of these snow machines brushing snow off my neighbor's driveway that happens to be about 8 inches from my bedroom window. This is not my real neighbor doing this: Bill and Jean are gone for the winter so they contract with someone to remove their snow and cut their grass. Is this guy crazy? IS THIS GUY CRAZY??? There wasn't enough snow to brush yesterday much less in the middle of the night. A person who is not getting regular sleep does not need this kind of experience...the loud noise, the snow being blown against the siding of the house, the bright lights because you know this thing has headlights like the Gulag.

Sleeping has been like this lately...this is a great old Donald Duck cartoon and only takes about five minutes so get a cup of coffee and relax for a minute.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New PTO policy

That stands for paid time off. Regis works for the rich guy in Mankato who owns the basketball team. The one who has more money than God but gives employees a ten dollar check for Christmas WITH TAXES TAKEN OUT. Buy yourself a nice Big Mac meal. Anyway, the new policy is that you can call in the morning of the day you decide you want to, say, play golf, and just say, "Take it out of my sick time." So I think that's what Regis will do tomorrow. It's going to be 40 below with the wind chill. Good morning for golf.

I managed to get the baby gift over to Katherine Nova Callahan before she went off to school. I wanted to take a loaf of bread and do you know how hard it is to coordinate those three things? Baby gift, card, loaf of bread. I almost didn't wrap the books because it was too much. But I did and she's cuter than a bug and she got the books before she could read them herself. (Nova is a Hopi word that means chaser of butterflies. Erin said if Mike got to give her the last name, she got to give her a hippie middle name.)

We went to Harvey and Kathy's for tacos. They were good, and even better with the pinot noir that I brought. It was very relaxing to sit in front of their fireplace with a glass of wine and listen to the wind howl. Holy crap it should not be this cold at the end of February. The sky looked like the middle of December when we came home: stark, dark, cold, forlorn.

I hope I can sleep tonight. I was awake at 1 last night, looking at houses on the internet. I found a nice one on 9th Street but it has a pool and I'm not interested in that as a project. I didn't sleep much until I got up at 5. Not much the night before either which made it a bad day for brain function.

I finished Pretty Birds. I liked it but the person I thought was an enemy turned out to be a good guy in the end and I missed how that happened. It happens to me a lot that I miss a detail. It's what makes me avoid book clubs and quizzes.

Off to bed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

At the movies


I have a reputation for being one of the worst movie selectors of all time. Regis said he was going to get me a button that said, "Do not rent movies to this woman!" I think it's due to my trusting nature. If it gets rave reviews on the box, I think, hey, it must be pretty good. Thus we have suffered through some awful trash.

Tonight while working on our Netflix queue, I decided to search for a list of the worst movies. I found Roger Ebert's most hated movies list which is a hoot. He's really funny when it comes to blasting bad movies. About one he said it should be cut up and made into ukulele picks for the poor. He listed my favorite bad movie The Village and his review is so funny it's way more entertaining than the movie. I love his last paragraphs:

It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets.

That, my friends, was the most productive thing I did today outside of lunch with Peter and Kathy. I spent all afternoon trying to take a nap because I couldn't stand the sound of the wind anymore. I was interrupted by the wind, dog barking at the moaning screen door, the wind, the UPS guy, the wind...and by that time I was so crabby and tired I really did need a nap.

I see the little weather bug on my computer says the temperature is 0. Tomorrow the temperature will be -. What does that mean? I know this just gets worse when you perseverate on it but I can't help it.

On a more positive note, there's a story in the Trib about critter cams and a little video to go along with it that's really amazing. A video taken by a camera on the back of a seal that I can look at in my own house and then email to my friends. Wow.

No school today!

There's no school today as we celebrate President's Day with sales at Kohls and Herbergers. What that has to do with presidents is a mystery but it's a good day to stay home...it's 2 below and the wind gusted to 40 mph during the night. Amanda wrote on her blog about surviving February and that's exactly what it feels like. We've gotten spoiled with these wimpy winters the last few years and this is hard on us. I think we've lost the right to brag about our hardiness because there sure has been a lot of whining going on about the weather this year.

The worst part of the weather change is that Saturday and Sunday morning, it felt like that damp spring weather. The weather forecast on the Trib homepage showed high 20s all week and then all of a sudden the wind comes up and it's 2 degrees again. All those little sunny faces and double digit temps and now the thermometer with ice hanging from the end of it. Brutal visuals.

My feet are so tired of wool socks and shoes. I think I'll get a pedicure this week in preparation for sandals.

Regis started another blog but I hesitate to recommend it because he has a content warning. He does cuss some but so do I and I didn't realize a warning was necessary. Maybe it's a sign he intends to get worse so take your chances. Today his post is about his frustration with deli food here in the Midwest. He should start a deli university of meat cutting, cheese selection, and roll baking. He thinks our rolls (as he calls them...we call them buns) are loathsome.


I have a poolish on the stove this morning waiting to be made into bread. Regis got me two new bread cookbooks for Valentine's Day. This one: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread is just a gorgeous book. I made a poolish baguette yesterday but I had to rush the rising and I don't think it turned out just right. I can't bake bread when I'm trying to make a meal because it's too many things happening and I have a short attention span. Regis wants me to read about all the chemical stuff related to bread baking but I really don't care about that. I have enjoyed reading about bread bakeries in Paris and the Summer Loaf Festival in Portland. Here's a cool website about bread, too, called The Fresh Loaf. It's addictive, so be careful.

I gave myself until 8 to sit here and futz around. I see it's about that time so I'm getting up and moving on with the day. Stay warm, Miles and Callum!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bologna

Yesterday I felt like I was getting a cold or the flu or something all day. I took two naps in the afternoon and didn't do a thing until dinner time. We ordered sandwiches delivered so even that wasn't much.

This morning we got up early and made our weekly trip to HyVee for groceries. I think we're on the seventh week of menus and organized lists so it's working out well. Some nights I don't feel like making what I had planned but it's still better than not having a clue what to cook. Regis has been helpful with all parts of it...shopping, cooking, and cleaning up.

We were home by 8 and started with our daily kitchen work. We wanted to try bagels so we got started with that, then baked potatoes for twice-baked potatoes, got the ribs ready for the roaster, and made whole wheat baguettes. Tiffany and Peter were here for dinner and we had a nice meal together. I sent Tiffany home with lots of left-overs, a computer monitor, cookies, and two jugs of St. Peter water. Peter took ribs and potatoes to his buddy's house in Mankato but wouldn't take any Valentine cookies because that would be weird.

I almost forgot the bologna story. Regis has had weird food cravings lately and today it was bologna. Not Oscar Meyer, but deli bologna. I didn't even know they had bologna in the deli. We ordered it then he shuffled off to the bathroom. The guy asked me how thick. I said I didn't care so he made it about 1/4 inch. Like the packaged bologna. Regis almost died. Apparently, in a deli, bologna is sliced paper thin. Who knew. He should stick around when there are important decisions to be made.

Now that everyone has gone home, we're ready for bed but it's only 6:40. The wind is howling and makes the screen door moan. The dog growls and barks everytime he hears that noise.

That's it. I don't care what time it is...I'm going to bed to read.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday

Peter came home this morning for a long weekend. He was driving his own car and was very proud to squire us around to a few errands and then out to eat for breakfast. Funny when kids come home, one of the things they want to do is eat at a favorite place. His is Massad's in Mankato. Tiffany likes to hit all the fast food joints. Tiffany is coming home tomorrow for the day so I'll have both kids under my roof again. We're having ribs and twice baked potatoes. There was a lot of discussion about the menu!



Kramer had a bath this morning. Well, actually a shower. Regis bought a contraption that screws onto the shower head so it's easier to bathe him. We bought some of the perfumed shampoo from the groomer so he smells nice, too. He sure was happy to see Peter. He went right to his toy basket and got the ball Peter always throws for him.

I have a three-day weekend and I don't know why, but one extra day makes it seem like a real vacation. I feel like I don't have to do a thing today.

Baby goats are here!

Check out pictures of the baby goats!
http://goatcentral.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dysfunction Junction: Where's my gumption?


I think I'll blame my lack of gumption at home on being busy at work. I get a lot done there but come home and fold up like a card table. I shouldn't admit this but I've let the cleaning go lately. Those of you who know me, know I am capable. Of letting it go, that is. Like I used to tell my kids: You can write your name in the dust, just don't write the year.

Valentine's Day today so I put on every piece of shiny, sparkly, red bling that I own. It was more of a fashion statement than it was real fashion. It's too cold to care about fashion anyway. See the post on the fur-lined Elmer Fudd hat.

I made mushroom and scallop risotto for dinner last night. For a one-pot meal, it was complicated. I had to get everything ready because there is no sitting down to sip wine between acts and it took 90 minutes. It was very good but labor-intensive.

The cookies in the picture are not the cookies I made this year. They are the cookies I made last year but if you don't read carefully and just look at the pictures, you will think, "Oh, Teresa is at it again with the cookies". I did make some but haven't frosted them yet so it's not a complete fabrication. If I don't get to it soon, I'll just put shamrocks on them. You gotta roll with it, folks.


The temperature is supposed to be very cold again tomorrow as you can see. It's mid-February and we're having this weather fit for polar bears. What the (you know the expletive). This is what it should lbe like here tomorrow....bright blue sky and cold as hell.

I'm going to a meeting at 6:30 then we're going out for a Valentine's Day bite to eat. Most places will be busy so maybe we'll go to some unromantic place like Hermie's Bait & Grill. Nothing like Reuben Balls on Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My brain hurts

I spent the last two days at a retreat with special ed folks from southern Minnesota, learning about the new state regulations about special education. Some if has changed since we met in August...new laws, new interpretations by lawyers, new something or other. You wonder why anybody would make a career of this. It was fun because we had a glass of wine and laughed when the business was done and then went out for a nice dinner. But my brain hurts tonight.

Today on my way home, I noticed that the snow is melting on the fields. It was only 15 degrees today but the sun was high enough in the sky (I guess) to start melting snow. There's a sign of spring! Paul Douglas said Sunday was the most dangerous weather day we've had in twenty years with wind chills in the negative forty range. We deserve a sign of spring after that.

Another sign of spring...the baby goats are starting to be born in Washington. Check out T Minus Nothing at Goat Central.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Despair

Our weather station says the wind chill is 40 below this morning and we're starting to feel despair. I heard GK on the radio yesterday say that some Minnesotans go to warm climates during the winter but he thinks its better to suffer despair quietly in your own home than to go somewhere and hope things will be better when you come back. Something like that. I liked the part about despair. Below zero wind chills are what make us appreciate spring and summer so much.

We're carb loading again today with pancakes for breakfast and pasta for dinner because a guy can't survive in weather like this on salads. You could take the trash can down to the curb, slip on the ice, and that would be it. At least with pancakes in your belly you might survive long enough for the next car to come down the street and see you there like a popsicle in the snow bank.

Tom's making pasta sauce and meatballs. After I announced that I hate those little frozen meatballs, he said he had planned to try and fool me. Ha! I had those meatballs once in a nice restaurant to which I will never return. The same place that served me a French dip on a (you know the expletive) wiener bun. This restaurant has had several inexplicable fires over the years so I'd say they are getting their just desserts for trying to slip fake meatballs past discerning customers like me. And the wiener bun, well, there is no punishment evil enough for that sin.

We're spending another day hunkered down. I haven't had sandals on since October and my feet are crying out to be liberated. In the last few winters, we've had a few warm stretches where you could actually get by with sandals on a sunny afternoon without looking like a complete nut. One of the good things about global warming, sorry Al. Not this year. I've been in wool socks and boots for weeks and it doesn't look like a break any time soon. If you haven't looked at the prediction for next Friday night, the wind chill might reach 55 (you know the expletive) degrees below zero.

A very good book to recommend: Pretty Birds by Scott Simon. Here's a snip from a review:

Young women served as snipers for both Bosnian and Serbian forces during the siege of Sarajevo; Simon, a prize-winning correspondent and NPR Weekend Edition host, interviewed one of them and has masterfully imagined her life.

The book begins with half-Muslim Irena, 17, perched on a rooftop, wearing a black ski mask, sighting down a rifle and listening to a sneering Serbian propagandist on the radio ("The Yanks send you food Americans wouldn't give to their dogs") before she pulls the trigger. Simon then flashes back to the spring of 1992, when Irena, her parents and her parrot, Pretty Bird, must flee their home on the mostly Serb side of the city. When they make it (barely) to her grandmother's apartment, they find her slain on the staircase.

Simon's account of the family's refugee life—sans water, electricity and supplies, they eat snail-and-grass soup—is full of brilliant details ranging from the comic to the heartbreaking. When a former assistant principal spots Irena, once a high school basketball star, he offers her a job that quickly has her recruited, indoctrinated and trained in deception and weaponry. That's when the action really begins to move along.

Pretty Bird is released for mercy's sake, flies to his old home and is caught by Amela—a Christian and Irena's former classmate and teammate—who concocts a devious and difficult plan to return him to her friend. A deeply felt, boldly told story and clean, forceful prose distinguish this striking first novel.

Stay warm today, friends. Babies especially, Miles!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hubris

I think the Greeks called it hubris, the fatal flaw of pride. I complained about the temperature yesterday and it promptly plummeted to 3 degrees today with a wind chill of 21 below. Well, maybe it's not a classic case of hubris but it's close. No, the more I think about it, it isn't hubris at all. Maybe irony. If I change it, I have to think of a new title for the post and I don't want to do that.

Weekends are just not long enough. We had friends over for Reuben sandwiches and beer last night. We aren't much for late nights so they were gone by 8:30 and we were in bed by 9:30. We went to the HyVee this morning with the intention of going before the snow and wind started. We would have gone to the Coop instead but I wanted scallops and they don't always have them. We got in the door and I was putting away the canned things when the wind started. I was glad to be home.

We fiddled away the afternoon...Regis shopping for a Valentine's Day flat-screen monitor and me looking at recipes. I told my friend Joanne I would put together a menu for her son's graduation party in June. There are lots of things to consider...room in the refrigerator, cooking time, out-of-town relatives, teen-agers, etc. We're avoiding ham sandwiches, taco bars, and pasta salad as passe.

For dinner, we're making Alton Brown's Who Loves Ya Baby-Back Ribs and Emerill's Twice Baked Potato Casserole. Don't even read the recipe for the potatoes if you have any heart disease. We're waiting for the casserole to finish so we can brown the ribs under the broiler. It smells delicious.

Regis has the movie Blade Runner and I said I'd sit in the living room for the showing but it doesn't sound like my kind of movie. Replicants? What the.... I checked it in Google and here's the deal:
A replicant is a genetically engineered creature composed entirely of organic substance. Animal replicants (animoids) were developed first for use as pets and beasts of burden after most real animals became extinct. Later, humanoid replicants were created for military purposes and for the exploration and colonization of space.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Things

Things
by Fleur Adcock, from Selected Poems. © Oxford University Press, 1986.

There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
and worse.


What a great poem if you wake up at 5 surrounded by the worse things.

Regis and I made a bracelet last night and it's really pretty. I tried to get him to take a picture of it but he was engrossed in something else by that time so it will have to wait. It's a Valentine's Day bracelet with lots of red and pink buttons, some of my Grandma's buttons, and silver hearts. I made the button trinkets and he attached them to the bracelet with tiny pliers.

Peter bought a car. At least he did if the insurance isn't too painful. His Grandma took him to the local car dealership in Canby, helped him get a loan at the credit union, and helped him with the insurance. Bless her heart. Now he can come home when he wants and even if he doesn't go anywhere, he knows he can. It's a 2001 Chevy Impala with 65,000 miles on it...probably not the kind of cool car a kid would like but a reliable car that will get him through the next few years.

When I gave Regis the car report, I said it had 65 hundred miles on it and he was amazed. So amazed that my brain said something was wrong...mental calculator...6-5-comma-0-0-0...oh that's 65 THOUSAND miles not 65 hundred. It's my math thing.

We made marinaded tofu last night. As much as I like the flavor of the marinade, tofu just doesn't seem like food to me. It seems like faux food. Even with the lo mein, it wasn't a satisfying meal. Next time, I'll let Regis eat the tofu and I'll drink the marinade.

It's 10 degrees here this morning. 10 degrees. It's almost the middle of February so can't we catch a break? I should be glad we didn't get the 20 inches of snow and whiteout conditions they had in Wisconsin. This has been a long winter already, hasn't it?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Teresa's horrible no-good very bad day

Yesterday started out badly. I spilled soup in my school bag, all over my calendar, papers from the Department of Education, papers from a meeting Monday afternoon, and my to-do notebook. Then I rubbed my itchy eye so hard that I must have broken a blood vessel because now it's all red and runny like some grotesque eye infection. My hair looked awful...it's too long and I don't think I dried it long enough so it hung in gray strands like old sea-hag hair.

(I am on the road to recovery. I have an appointment with an eye doctor at 10:30 and an appointment with Patrick for a haircut at 4:00.)

I watched most of One Punk Under God last night. It's a story about Jim and Tammy Faye Baker's only son Jay. He's a pierced and tattooed punk minister of a church called Revolution and a very thoughtful, intelligent man. He believes that religion should have an open door to all people and preaches sermons with titles such as “Nobody Likes a Selfish Bastard,” “Jesus: A Friend to Porn Stars,” and “Galatians Baby!” Definitely worth watching.

Peter has that obsession young men get with cars. He's been without one for a couple years and he's intent on getting one...yesterday. He's being rational and thoughtful about it but my eyes glaze over when people talk about cars. All they are for me is four wheels to get me where I'm going. I bought a car once over the phone...no, wait...I had a friend buy a car for me over the phone. The people at work shrieked and wanted to know why I wouldn't drive it first. What would that tell me?

It was after the tornado which smashed my little gray Camry flat. I was without a car for a couple weeks, then decided I had had enough of that. I had Joanne call the Toyota dealer in Mankato to ask what they had in a certain price range and then tell them I'd take the green one. That was about all the psychic energy I had for that process at the time so it worked out fine. I wish I still had that car.

I like my Beetle for going to work but it's a car for short trips and nobody in the back seat. When we take Ella, getting her in and out of the car seat takes a contortionist. We don't like to take it to the grocery store because you almost have to pack stuff in the glove box to get it all in the car. If you have bad knees you absolutely do not want to try and ride in the back seat. It would take a crane and the jaws of life to get you out. And that's enough about cars.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ella's balloon animals


Bob has a new hobby and Ella has a supply of balloon animals. I told him I think we can get him a gig at the elementary school. Little kids love balloon animals. His website had a picture of the bags of balloons. I bet we'll be seeing these for a long time.

We had about two inches of snow followed by an hour or so of sleet. Unpleasant. The snow was sort of like late March snow...heavy and wet.

More later...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday in the kitchen

I found a lot of projects in the kitchen today. I'm going to start with the last one first because the blogger is being uncooperative. These are candied orange peels. I decided to take the rest of the Christmas oranges up to Tom's for fresh screw drivers and didn't want to waste those nice peels. They have to be boiled twice to get rid of the bitterness, then boiled again in a simple sugar solution for 45 minutes.

After they've cooled and dried a little, you drag them through melted chocolate. It's messy and you have to lick your fingers a lot. I also got rid of a few orange peels because I got tired of the whole mess. They're delicious if you like the combined taste of orange and dark chocolate.

I made stromboli for dinner today. It's an Italian sandwich with pepperoni, hard salami, ham, and cheese. I used a calzone recipe for the dough.

Here it is assembled with the onion, green pepper, and garlic. I used provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan. Regis said the real Italians would put the gravy on the side. That means the red sauce.

Here's the finished product with the Mylanta that you usually need when you're done.

This is Scotch broth made with beef bones and onions. It simmered all afternoon and will be made into soup tomorrow with barley, mushrooms, and carrots.


These are croutons I made with a loaf of bread that was sort of a mistake yesterday. I meant to make the dough only but set the machine wrong and baked the bread in the machine. It made not so good bread but very good croutons.

So, that's it from the kitchen for today.