Sunday, August 31, 2008
It was a busy day at the ranch. We went for a long bike ride this morning and since I was the commander on this jaunt, I chose to go down Front Street to 99 and try the path under the bridge. Turns out it isn't really a bike path at all, at least not one that goes anywhere. It makes a big loop on the south side of the road and you come right back out by the frisbee golf course. It's like a maintenance road or something. I felt like I'd been ripped off.
Tiffany came down from the metro about 12 so we had two kids here for lunch. Regis cooked burgers and ribs on the new grill and we had some sweet corn from Anderson's truck farm. Tiff went home about 3, Peter went to work, and I took a twenty minute nap on the porch.
I made a delicious vegetable gratin recipe that I found in Cook's Illustrated. It was really putzy and I thought I'd never make it again, but it was so good that I might. The extra steps help release the moisture from the vegetables so you don't end up with a dish full of liquid. It had layers of tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and carmelized onions, topped with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and thyme oil.
Tom showed up on his bike at some point this afternoon for a beer and a rib. He said he was making the rounds dropping things off. He took some vegetable gratin home in the basket of his bike.
Joanne came for a glass of wine and dinner. Her baby went off to college today and she was at risk of being sad. We sat outside for a while and got a little loopy from one glass of wine. The picnic bugs must have liked the wine, too, because we almost had to take drastic measures to keep them out of it.
Regis made shrimp and salmon on the grill for dinner so it was a big grill day here. The salmon was delicious. Nothing fancy, just cooked on a maple plank. No marinade, no rub, that's it. Just salmon.
I love the sounds of late summer....cicadeas, crickets, and tree frogs. Well, I don't know about the tree frogs. The cicadas have been really loud lately but not like Iowa where they sound like mallards in the trees. Ha! I've used that line a hundred times and it still makes me laugh. I crack myself up.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Regis and I bought a new grill. We have loved our Weber kettle and have used it faithfully for three years but it's gotten too small as we've learned to cooked vegetables and other things. We bought another charcoal grill but it's rectangular and has about three times the cook space. It's called a Super Pro Charcoal Grill/Smoker. We spent most of the day assembling it and seasoning it so we could try it out tonight. It's a little different technique than the other grill but the pork chops were great.
I think there is a design flaw in this grill. See where the wheels are? In order to make the wheels function, you have to grab it by the shelf on the other end. I would have put the wheels on the end with the shelf and put another handle on the end where the wheels are now. Ta da!
Regis took Kramer to the vet this morning. I was really worried about him because he was acting so weird, like he had a brain tumor or something. He wouldn't open his eyes much, especially the right one, and they looked red and irritated. Since he has terrible cataracts, I thought this could be the end of our dog. Not that cataracts are usually fatal but when he was young and they were talking us into doggy eye surgery, they told us about the terrible things that could happen and that's why we should do it. We had a talk before they left this morning about extraordinary measures, opthalmology, and MRIs for dogs and such. Turns out it's just allergies and only cost forty bucks. Allergy drops for his little doggy eyes and he feels much better.
We've hardly seen our friends Tom and Betty all summer. Seems like they were gone or we were gone or something like surgery came up. Tom retired from the PO last fall but is currently re-employed by Patrick's as the one-man morning cleaning crew. He has to work on Labor Day which is a pitiful irony after all his years of work for the government. I told him to quit today and see if he could get rehired Tuesday. They gave him a pitcher of Schells as a bonus last week, though, and I said a job that pays bonuses in pitchers of beer is not all bad. We're getting together tomorrow for a cook-out and a game of croquet so there will be stories the next day.
It was a no lawn mower day in our neighborhood! This is not something we enacted into law but that's not a bad idea come to think of it. We were outside all afternoon and only heard one short spurt of mower noise pollution. One neighbor had a carpet cleaning service roaring in the driveway for about an hour but we tried to be patient with that. Our grass is quite long and shaggy but it really doesn't matter. We might be able to squeak by with only a couple more mowings before winter. Or we'll get a flock of goats. They don't make much noise.
I had a glass of white wine tonight. I like it chilled in the summer but I'm thinking it's time to start the shift toward cabernet which is my winter favorite. Maybe a pinot noir for the fall months. I'm not really a connoisseur...I drink my wine from a box usually and when I do buy a bottle, I tend to pick one because I like either the label or the name. Fat Bastard always catches my eye.
If you know where we live, the houses are quite close and we have quite a few trees. This makes it easy for squirrels to leap from tree to house to garage like trapeze artists. I think they must be building a winter nest in the tree outside our porch. The most incredible wrestling sounds come from the trees, like apes are swinging in the branches, then thud, one lands on the roof of our house, runs across to the garage, and disappears into the trees on the other side. It's like living in the jungle. Callum would love it, Amanda!
I can't believe it's Labor Day already. July and August have such beautiful months. Let's hope for the same kind of fall.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We cooked turkey legs (brined...the key) on the grill tonight. We had to sit in the garage because the rain was threatening again. The damn flies are an abomination this time of year. I waved the swatter through the air every few minutes but they were not deterred. It was a delicious meal...turkey legs and stuffed mushrooms and pino grigio.
We don't have television (we're devolving) so we haven't watched any of the convention. I listened to a little bit tonight on msnbc and my mom taped the DFL women last night for me. She called tonight to say she'd tape Bill, too. Nice to have a good-hearted and liberal mother who will do that for you. It's an historic moment...a black man and a woman. I think I'll get cable again just for the election coverage.
I see the other guy might pick the dude from Utah for his running mate. I'm booking a flight to New Zealand in case that happens. Well, I wouldn't leave just because he picked him but if they would get elected, I'm out of here. I'm not sure if the nitwit from MN would be better or worse. You can tell I'm avoiding election google searches. DISCLAIMER: If you are in middle school, do not use this information in a research paper.
Our garage is about two feet from the neighbors. He is very conservative. Very conservative. We like to sit in the garage and talk about our liberal political views and I bet it about sends him around the bend. Or maybe he just goes in the back yard to trap some more moles. Not like we're the pulse of the nation.
The robot guy on the weather alert radio is going on about large hail and damaging winds. Oh great. He just went off the air which reminds me of the day of the tornado. Bruce Davis, the voice of the valley, had been broadcasting all day and suddenly he was gone. He wasn't gone, literally, but the radio was off the air. Scary.
I didn't mean to publish that yet. My damn finger hovered over the damn keyboard for too long and suddenly there is activity. I hate that. Maybe it's a sign.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Speaking of miracles, Charlie does a good review of some of the fair foods, and some of the folks who go there to eat it. My favorite is the chocolate covered pig lickers. That's chocolate bacon, in case you haven't heard.
Regis and I are looking forward to a weekend doing nothing. We have no plans, no lists, and will probably have no gumption by then. Our lawn needs cutting, but as you know our standards are quite far below those of the community when it comes to that so we may let it produce a little more oxygen before we take any drastic measures. My compulsive neighbor is on an alternating day schedule: water one day, cut the next. Does that make any sense?
Hey, it's only Tuesday. How can that be?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
We're worried about our dog, Kramer. He has bad eyes which he has had since birth; he has cataracts in both eyes now and sees very little. He had surgery to remove one cataract when he was two but we haven't invested in any more expensive eye surgery for him. His left eye we noticed last night, is weepy and kind of sunken. He seems not quite himself. We lost Bert a year ago, Paul and Julie's dog Molly died a few weeks ago, and now Kramer isn't well. Bad year for neighborhood dogs.
Regis and I went for a bike ride this morning. I have an old Schwinn (almost 25 years old) and Regis has a recumbent bike. He lets me ride his bike because mine is modified and the bar is too high for me to swing my leg over. I've looked at new bikes and this is the one I'd like:
Here's what the description says: Giant's Women's Simple Seven takes you to relaxed-riding heaven with an easy-pedaling 7-speed drivetrain so you can cruise further and with less effort. The linear-pull brakes give you plenty of braking power. And, you'll also love the cushy balloon tires, wide saddle and spacious handlebars. Yes, I bet I would.
Friday, August 22, 2008
- I’m not fond of the fabrics in those outfits. It seems like they all end in –ex: goretex and spandex, for example. Sportswear in general is not high on my fashion list. I have an aversion to stripes, even the ones that go down the leg. Ugly. Zippers. Especially big plastic ones. Ugly. Little embroidered emblems on the pocket. Advertising sports teams on the front of your chest. No thanks.
- I’m not good at math as my friends and my mother have pointed out in this venue. I think those tiny decimals would be meaningless to me. Who cares about the .735? Hey, I think I won!
- I’m easily distracted. In the 400 m freestyle I would be apt to roll over and admire the sun coming in an upper window and forget that I should be swimming to the end of the lane. Race? Oh yeah. I forgot.
- I don’t like crowds or noise and there seems to be an over-abundance of both at the Olympics. I only like to attend big events nobody else is interested in attending. The only thing I’ve ever found like that was the National AKC Dog Agility Trials we went to in Mankato several years ago. There was a crowd of about ten. Besides being very entertaining, you could move about freely, there were no lines at the concession stands or in the bathrooms, and it was easy to have a conversation.
- I’m not competitive. I can remember two times in my life where I cared about the outcome of a game or race. Once was during Risk and the other was during Scrabble. Well, there might have been a couple times during Scrabble games. Years ago, I had a special ed student (those sociopaths can be pretty clever) who could beat me at Scrabble. I told him it didn’t qualify as an educational activity anymore so we couldn’t play. Everybody’s got limits.
- If my legs were forced into a perpendicular position, as the legs of women who do high hurdles seem to be, I predict mine would pop out of their joints and flop around like the legs of a string puppet. It would be painful and unattractive. No thanks.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
- A music teacher who came into class every day and pulled down the map, pointed at the Soviet Union and said they were going to blow us off the map. Then he would release the map and it would make that noise as it went up. You know the one I mean.
- I saw my dad putting plastic on the windows. It was an old house and he probably did it for insulation but I never asked. I was sure it was to keep fall-out out of our house.
- I saw my dad carry a box of canned vegetables to the basement one time. I knew that this was because of an impending nuclear attack at which time, we would go to the basement as if it were a bomb shelter.
- Duck and cover. I don't remember practicing this at school but I knew about it. Did we talk about this in the 60s? Was it on television? In case you don't know, this is something some kids practiced at school like fire drills and spelling bees. They would blow an alarm of some kind and children would get under their desks. IN CASE OF NUCLEAR ATTACK. Really. Who thought this was a reasonable idea?
We met some friends down at Patricks tonight for a beer and a burger. Kelly resigned after almost ten years so we had to lift a glass. We had a great time with lots of stories and laughs. I walked down which is only about 7 blocks. It makes me wonder why we usually drive the car.
We were sitting around the table, a group of friends the youngest of whom is maybe 45 (sorry Kelly if you're younger...) and we're trying to think of the name of the social networking sites the kids all use. It was hilarious. We're hollering out things like iSpace, Mybook, Myface...until someone finally got it right. My Space and Face Book. It was funny...or maybe you had to be there.
I passed the ginko tree on Third Street. It was planted after the tornado so it's very small yet but it looks healthy. The ginko is my favorite tree and I'd plant one, but in urban (unfavorable conditions) they will get to be 80 feet tall and 60 feet wide. In better conditions they can get much bigger. That would dwarf our little house. I only know of two in town, both in close proximity to our house so I cruise by, check out their growth, and enjoy them that way.
Summer is officially over. Heigh ho heigh ho it's back to work I go. Actually I have extended time so I work quite a few hours over the summer but it never feels like the real school year has started until I put together a string of uninterrupted full days at work and have a list of things to do about eight pages long. I've been lifting my bag in and out of the car so much that my shoulder pains me.
I finished David Sedaris' book last night. I really loved it. I started Plaintiff Blues which is a very good book but very sad and depressing. I'm not sure I can do that right now. I need a book by Bill Bryson or Garrison Keillor.
My car started making some god-awful noise on my way home today. It started right as I pulled away from the curb at work. Whenever I pulled up to a stop sign or went over bumps, I would hear this soft grinding noise. I thought it was the shocks or struts even though I have no idea what those are. Or maybe a branch caught beneath the car even though I haven't been in any dense woods or road ditches lately. I left it home this afternoon and Regis bless his heart, checked it out and said someone had apparently gotten to close to a curb and pulled the bumper and oil pan cover out which is what was making the noise. Dodged another bullet with that car.
There are either crickets or cicadas chirping tonight. Usually you can't hear them over the lawn mowers but there must be a LOUD OBNOXIOUS NOISE ban today. When we were in Iowa last, the cicadas sounded like mallards in the trees. Ours are a softer, gentler version.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The stuffed mushrooms were delicious and so were the brats. We ordered Cooks Illustrated magazine and Regis found a recipe in the last one for brats cooked over caramelized onions. We used turkey brats instead and they were delicious. The onions were brown and tender and sweet and the brats were moist rather than dried out as usual. Here's the recipe:
Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Since the garlic isn't really cooked, the mushrooms have a strong garlic flavor. Grill the mushrooms stem sides down first, so that when they're turned they'll be in the right position to be filled.
2/3 cup chopped plum tomato (I used a tomato from Tom's garden...squeeze some of the juice out.)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 (5-inch) portobello mushroom caps
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
Combine the tomato, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon oil, rosemary, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.
Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushroom caps using a spoon, and discard gills. Remove stems; discard. Combine 1/2 teaspoon oil, juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl; brush over both sides of mushroom caps. Place the mushroom caps, stem sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 5 minutes on each side or until soft.
Spoon half the tomato mixture into each mushroom cap. Cover and grill 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley.Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 1 mushroom)
I used green onion in the tomato mixture and thyme instead of rosemary and I added a chopped yellow pepper. I think you could be creative with the vegetables and herbs as long as you don't get too much. The mushrooms don't stay in their little cup shapes on the grill...they kind of flatten out so don't put too much on them or it falls off.
Contrary to being dead, Regis is feeling much better since his surgery and looking very healthy. He still has some lingering fluid but the doctor says not to worry...that will disappear with time and exercise. He's able to eat fruit for the first time in years. The first bite of a plum was heaven, he said.
It's very warm and sticky here but we're going to make turkey brats on the grill. I also found a recipe for those giant portobello mushrooms that are stuffed with peppers, onions, cheese, and herbs from the garden.
It looks like it might rain here but there are no clouds on the radar. I hate that. It's like they sneak up on you sometimes. Nothing I hate worse than violent storms in the night.
I'd like to have a glass of wine right now while I'm cooking but I want to go for a bike ride later and I don't think it would be safe. Better wait and do it after the bike ride. Drunken biking...not a good idea.
My friend Kathy who lives in Eden Prairie was so kind and complimentary about my writing when I saw her this weekend. She suggested I retire from teaching and make my living writing. Maybe if anybody (better make that everybody) reading here would like to send a monthly donation of say, five hundred dollars, I might be able to make that work. Just think how entertaining I could be if I had eight extra hours a day. I could arrange for PayPal payments.
I'm reading the last chapter (I think) of the Sedaris book. All in all, I enjoyed it very much, but the chapter called Smoking Section made me laugh out loud several times last night. He is living in Tokyo when he decides to quit smoking. His observations on life in Japan and trying to learn the Japanese language are hilarious.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I'm back on track now so I'll be droning on about my mundane activities. Actually it's easier to write about the boring stuff of life than it is to describe something big.
Regis bought a couple sweatshirts at some discount company online. He says it's going to be a cold winter and what he means is the thermostat will be set low with heating fuel being so expensive. I don't mind that so much. It's easier to warm up than is to stay cool. We're in the market for a king size electric blanket.
I'm stumped. I don't have anything else to tell tonight.
Friday, August 15, 2008
And that nurse anesthetist I talked to the other day? He did take the day off...and he did not, as I asked, make note: NERVOUS PATIENT. Harrumph.
I was making careful observations all along, thinking of my blog. Shortly after I got back to my stall, I heard some poor soul (Don't read this, Mom!) emitting the most melodious and protracted flatulence I have ever heard. I must have been a little dopey yet because I took a little note card out of purse and wrote down: melodious and protracted fart. I must have thought I was quite clever. What a turn of phrase! I have to write this down!
I missed my allergy pill today, not wanting to turn into a vegetable by mixing drugs, so I've been sneezing like mad.
We're watching Field of Dreams tonight. It's one of our favorite movies, especially this time of year. Regis and I have both visited the Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa and it's a very mystical experience. I have pictures of my kids coming out of the corn when Peter was still in diapers. It looks just like it did in the movie except for a little souvenir stand. The movie gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
We had a day off together today. I think it was the second one all summer that didn't involve a doctor or a hospital. We went to Drummers in Mankato and bought some herbs that we'll try to maintain over the winter. I'm not too hopeful with our pitiful supply of sunshine from November to April but we'll give it a shot. Maybe we should find someone who has indoor crops and grow lights to help us out. Yeah, and spend the next ten years in the pen.
We sat in the yard for a while this afternoon and it felt like fall. Young Regis came over and enjoyed the Cabella's lawn chair and a beer while I puttered with the herbs and Regis made jokes.
I have an EGD tomorrow. I told my mom it was a GED but she didn't think that was right. It's the endoscope thing. She also wanted to know how old my neice is and I said not only did I not know, I had to ask someone today to figure out how old I am. I know when I was born but I can never remember if I'm one age or the one I'm turning. I have other things on my mind.
One son is taking me to the hospital for my EGD and the other will pick me up when I call. Regis will be working as he has used up all available sick time with his own hospitalization this summer. He feels like he's leaving me at the curb or something but it isn't a big deal. I might cry but what the hell; I cry a lot. I cried the last time I had one of these, several times in fact and I've found, in general, medical people are not patient with crying in adult women. They shouldn't take it so personally: I cry at American Express commercials when the people on their honeymoon lose their traveler's checks; I cry when Santa comes out at the end of the Macy's parade; I cry when the flags go by on the 4th of July. It's bad crying genes.
We watched The Graduate last night. It was not as entertaining as we remember it being in 1968. Roger Ebert's review of the 30th anniversary revival is quite a hoot. He remembers it being more entertaining, too, and wonders now, why they cheered at the end when Benjamin grabs Elaine out of the church. I wonder why Elaine thought she had such a great deal: she dumps a guy who is going to be a doctor for an unemployed dude who can only leave the church on a yellow city bus. I think she was a little perverted, too.
I have a big weekend. Joanne's son is getting married on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 in LeSueur, the reception is in Chaska, and then I'm going to a reunion of my old high school friends in Eden Prairie. I'll stay over night and come home Sunday morning. It's a lot of traveling and socializing for me. I doubt there will be photos of the events, at least none that I take. I'll have enough trouble without worrying about a camera.
I started the Sedaris book last night. Some of the essays are hilarious and others are not so funny and I skip to the end. I understand though; a guy can't be funny all the time. It's interesting to think about how much of his essays are truth and which parts are just exaggeration for effect or humor. I loved the one about the babysitters they had when their parents went on vacations. That can't all be true!
Enough for today. See ya.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I got the new David Sedaris book from the library today. It's just what I'm in the mood to read after that dark memoir.
Just checked the weather and it looks all the rain is going east and west of us. We just get the gray skies and oppressive humidity.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We have this tiny battery operated lawn mower. It has a deck about 12 inches wide (I might be exaggerating) and you can easily carry on a conversation while it runs. I love it because it starts with the push of a button. Of course, your lawn looks like crap because you can't have all this and get a nice sharp cut, too. Turns out, we don't care. We don't edge, we don't fertilize, we don't kill weeds, and we don't dig dandelions. We sort of have a Darwin lawn. If it survives, good. Right now it's a fierce competition between the grass and the creeping charlie. And it's creeping charlie by a head...
There were some storms that moved through, or past, about an hour ago. Apparently they went south so be on the alert, Miles.
My neighbor has started the annual leaf chase. Any leaves that fall off trees from now until the dead of winter get chased into the street with his gas-powered BARRRRRUUUMMMM blower. There are so few now that you could pick them up and put them in a damn sandwich bag. If you cared, that is.
The RS article about Downey was interesting. That's all I have to say about that, I guess. I like to read the Top 10 lists, too. I always know all the songs from 1968 but rarely any from 1988 or 2008. Does that mean I've turned into an old dufus?
I made meatless three-bean chili for dinner. Peter said he had to go to work at 7 until he looked in the pot and saw the chili. Then he had to go to work at 6. Can't say that I blame him. I made cornbread, too, and something in the oven smoked like crazy and smelled like hell. We had to open all the windows and Regis said he could smell it on the boulevard. Nasty. Somebody must have been cooking possum in my oven.
It occurred to me today that one advantage thin people have over fat people is their lingerie doesn't look like the sling from a catapult. I'll spare you any more detail such as how this happened to cross my mind. Lots of weird things cross my mind and it's a good thing that most of the time I keep them to myself.
I'm having an endoscope on Friday. I hate those more than anything. The anesthetist called me tonight and I was glad to talk to him. I spoke with a nurse the other day and she made the mistake of thinking I was having a colonoscopy. Well, let's make sure you get the right end I said. I reminded this guy, too. The first time I had one, the doctor convinced me I could do it without anesthesia so they had me go in the bathroom and gargle with this stuff that made me feel like I was going to choke to death on their shiny tile floor. I knew right away this was a mistake but by then they were huffy and tired of me and just wanted to get it over with. I remember the tube as about the size of a garden hose and wrapped with electrician's tape and I gagged mightily through the whole procedure. So I told Rick tonight to write on my card that I'm a nervous patient, whatever they have to relax me would be a very good idea, and in exchange I'll try not to cry and carry on. I bet he's going to try and change shifts with someone.
I'm tired and my right heel hurts like hell. If I had any gumption I would go to bed.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Tomorrow was supposed to be my yard work day but it looks like rain, Miles. There is a big line of storms right across the border in the Dakotas. Dang if I have to put the lawn mowing off one more day.
We picked one red tomato and a handful of yellow pear (heritage) tomatoes off our giant vines today. I'm too irresponsible a gardener to grow vegetables so we're lucky these are hardy and self-maintaining. I swear the plants are five feet tall. They probably would bear more fruit if I trimmed the foliage like I should but I don't think the pioneers did that in their gardens so why should I. They are delicious.
Pear tomatoes are small like cherry tomatoes. One year I grew two cherry tomato plants and I had so many they should have been used as ammunition in a war instead of something to put in a salad. There was no way to keep up with that harvest!
Tom brought me some of the spoils of his garden: a big bag of basil (I see a basil gimlet in my future), four tomatoes, and a cucumber. About the time he was leaving, Paul came over with a pound of beef brisket. I don't have to go to the grocery store anymore...I'll just stand in the front yard and food appears. The beef brisket is really just to die for...smoky and tender and like southern barbecue. At least the way southern barbecue looks on food tv.
None of my herbs did very well this year. It could be that the soil I planted them in was poor or it could be the Round-Up I used to kill the weeds.
I think I wrote about the chairs we bought from the well-known outdoor supply store that ended up in such a fiasco. If I didn't, somebody let me know and I'll relate it. It was quite a story. With the proceeds of the chair deal, Regis bought himself a pair of boots that he got an amazingly good deal on. When the boots arrived, he decided they were too heavy so he sold them on eBay for a 50% profit and bought himself another pair of boots. No end to the deals that guy can make.
I'm starting to feel like there is a big piece of culture we're missing out on by not having television and it's not the programs it's the ads. Our kids were around this past weekend and I think three or four times they talked about things from ads about which I had no clue. I'm not trying to sound hoity toity, but sometimes I like to rewrite a sentence so it doesn't end with a preposition. Just a little brain exercise...some people do crossword puzzles, I avoid prepositions.
When I was a student in high school and college, I loved to diagram sentences. I know it's a lost art and I don't believe it helps anyone write better (no threatening comments, please!) but I thought it was fun. I found a website http://www.geocities.com/gene_moutoux/diagramnews.htm where you can click on the sentence and see the diagram. Cool! Jill, you'll love it. Here, believe it or not, is a sentence diagram for the Pledge of Allegiance:
And that's where I will end for today.
I came home between meetings and to give Kramer a ride home from his haircut appointment. I don't think he'd find the way on his own. I asked if he behaved and they said there were no notes, so apparently he did. He's been known to not behave. One time he grabbed some little white fluffy thing by the cheek and would not let go. It was mortifying.
The new Rolling Stone came today. There's an article about Robert Downey, Jr. that I'm anxious to read but I'll wait until tonight. I hope it isn't one of those drug riddled exposes that he initiated. I read an article in the Trib yesterday about some guy who apparently was drug addled (drug addled and drug riddled) for decades and now he's come out with a book to finance the college education of his daughters. There are questions of course, about what's fact and what's fiction. Sounds like another Forty Million Pieces to me.
For my taste, there's a fine line in a memoir. A little revelation is good, too much is too much. I started reading The Glass Castle. Too early to tell whether I will finish it or flip pages. It's kind of the same thing page after page: dad throws pet cat out car window, kid falls out car door, kid sets self on fire, family moves in the middle of the night. And then and then and then.
The county fair is over and there's a taste of fall in the air. The sunlight is different and not so harsh as earlier in August. It feels like the dog days have passed.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
There was quite a gaggle of us: Bob and Emily and Ella, Regis and Amber, Regis and Teresa, and Rich. We ran into someone who recognized us from my blog. What a hoot, Sandy!
We always travel the same route. Everyone parks at our house, we wander down and stop at the Jaycees beer tent, walk through the one building where they have everything from Mary Kay to the Jesus Church to Democrats, then to food row. Last night most of us ate at Doc E's BBQ. After that we go to the animal barns. I was very disappointed that they didn't have the petting zoo this year. Ella still liked the roosters, the goats, and the sheep.
This year we walked through the games of chance which seemed bigger and fancier back in the old days. Ella picked a duck (I love that game!) and won a plastic horn. Bob and Emily can hope it doesn't last too long. She wanted to go on a ride so Bob and Amber took her on the spinning bear. I had to walk away as I was afraid she would cry and it would break my heart. No tears, though.
We hung around for a while, talked to the neighbors, then limped home. A good time was had by all.
I've worked hard all weekend getting organized and doing some things after the past weeks of slothfulness and surgery. I swear they slipped me a sedative Regis had surgery. Nobody wants to hear what I did because it's the same stuff most people do everyone. The price for living in a civilized country...cleaning the bathroom.
Kramer gets a haircut tomorrow. What did dogs do before modern day vets and dog groomers? I swear when I was a kid we had a dog that lived outside. Now your neighbors would call the county and have you arrested for per neglect. I remind my dog about the past and how dogs lived in the past. Regis got a can of Mighty Dog at the grocery store today with a coupon so it was free. Kramer turned up his nose and left the room.
I can't remember if I've written about this before but our dogs (when Bert was still alive) were told they got one periodontal cleaning per lifetime. Bert reached his out of pocket maximum for medical care so he's lucky he expired when he did. If you haven't checked out the dog resort in Mankato, you should. They have a dog code of conduct. I bet I wrote about that before, too. It's this anesthesia hangover...I can't remember anything.
I made a pasta salad for dinner and as usually happens, now it isn't very appealing to me. I'm not so fond of large quantities of raw vegetables anymore. Not like I ever was...I always preferred bread and potatoes.
I've never been much for joining clubs but I did find this one that I thought Mrs. Potts and I would enjoy. As Bob says, these are some gnarly looking women and not in a good way. Now that's funny.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Anybody who knows me, knows that I've struggled with my weight all my life. Right there: I don't like to talk about it but realistically, it should not be a surprise to anyone. So there it is, in print. I've tried a billion diets and I'm pretty good at losing weight, I just can't maintain it for more than 24 hours.
When Regis started going to the Mayo Clinic in April, I saw lots of people, not much older than me, who were starting to break down and had to use walkers and scooters and I decided I didn't want that to happen to me. It was time to either find peace with being overweight or time to do something finally to resolve it. I made an appointment with Dr. Ruth (not the sex doctor) and talked to her about bariatric surgery, then called the Mayo Clinic and made an appointment for an evaluation.
I don't want my blog to turn into a weight-loss diary. Nobody wants to hear how many calories are in a chicken wing or how many times I walked around the block. There are other venues for that. But I don't want to feel like I'm writing around the elephant in the room either.
Yesterday I had my first appointment. I was nervous as hell, felt like I was going to a job interview, and prepared for it like I do for other things: a binder with all the information, a list of questions, my color-coded weight history with a list of strengths and weaknesses, maps, phone numbers, etc. Bless the internet because an ordinary person can find and read all kinds of medical research and I've done that. I've spent hours reading about the different kinds of surgery, the statistical success rates both for weight loss and for maintenance, and the kinds of complications that can occur. I don't mind talking about it now, so ask me if you want to know.
For all my nervous fantods, it was just fine. The doctor, a bone nutrition specialist, made me feel very comfortable as we talked about how weight has affected my life in terms of metabolism and mobility. He talked about the effectiveness research on medical means for losing weight (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.) and surgical means for losing weight. He talked about the risks (minimal) and the benefits (could be great), especially for me since I am basically a very healthy over-weight person. I have great cholesterol (thanks, Mom), no diabetes, no high blood pressure, and no previous surgery so my parts are all in the right places. It's not a quick evaluation process...they want to make sure this is right for me and that I understand the changes it will mean in my life.
I have an appointment with a psychologist on September 9th. She'll make sure I don't have underlying mental health issues that will make this unsafe or inadvisable. She'll likely recommend a 12-week behavior modification program and then will write a letter to the doctor. I'll see the dietitian again and then the doctor again. No shortage of people on the team.
I can't even predict at this point if I will pass their qualification process but I think I will. I can't predict any kind of timeline. I do know that I can call mid-October to set up a surgical consult if things are going fine to that point.
So, that's the story right now. I won't belabor it here as I don't want this to turn into a Jerry Springer story of my quest but it's hard to write and not mention it, too. It's just a part of my life.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Regis seems to be feeling a little better each day. He took the dog for a walk tonight and the dog loved it. Ha!
Another update this weekend. I have yard work to do uff da. The weeds have taken over the garden and the grass is almost knee-high. Well, not quite.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Bill the Cat is a large orange tabby. Originally introduced as a parody of the comic character Garfield, and saying little beyond his trademark responses, "Ack" and "Pbthhh", he has become something of a blank slate around which various plots have revolved. Numerous strips indicated that his persistent near-catatonic state was the result of drug use or brain damage resulting from once being legally dead and then revived after too long of a period. He's been a cult leader ("Bhagwan Bill"), televangelist ("Fundamentally Oral Bill"), perennial Presidential candidate (for the National Radical Meadow Party), heavy metal rock star ("Wild Bill Catt"), and, in the last months of the series, had his brain surgically replaced with Donald Trump's. He has been known to speak on occasion, most notably during the Communist witch-hunt trials he conducted, when he remarked, "Say, you don't suppose the "Jury Box" is anything like a litter box, do you?"
Paul, I bet you loved Bloom County. I might have to buy a couple of those old collections. Very timely political stuff.
Each of my neighbors has been out, one after the other, to mow or blow or whack something in their yards. It's gotten increasingly on my nerves since I got home. What the hell. There's some commotion at the county fair, too.
I think when Regis had surgery, they slipped me a mickey because I have been incapacitated for days. I have no energy and I could sleep all the time and I really don't care about getting anything done. I like to talk on the phone and I manage to get my dishes done. The rest of the time, I lay (lie?) on the couch and read. That's about it. I like to read blogs too, but a lot of my slacker friends don't update very often. Ha! Hey, I am living proof that a guy doesn't need an exciting life to fill a blog post almost daily.
I finished a book about a prostitute in the middle ages and her dwarf pimp. Honestly. It was a good book but I could never read very much at one time. I like books about the middle ages but those people are crude and violent and I don't think, all in all, a person would choose to live in that time period. I think there were too many plot lines in this book. I don't like books that don't follow a chronological time sequence (not that this one didn't...just a general observation) and I'm sure I've written about that here before. I have trouble with movies, too, that have flashbacks. I need someone to identify for me when the chronology changes. That probably makes me sound dim. As Howard says, so be it.
Regis hit a major milestone this afternoon...he was thirsty for a beer... so we went to Patrick's. We had one beer and that tasted good to him so he wanted another one. Be careful, I cautioned. Sure enough (told you so...) we had to abandon that beer in the middle. I told the bartender he won't see that behavior from us very often. One-and-a-half-beer-Regis, they'll call him. Young Regis says it's almost alcohol neglect.
Here's to lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers, harness racing, and tractor pulls. Middle America. Yes...
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Regis is still working in the home office and it's 5:15 so I poured myself a glass of wine and made a bowl of popcorn. It's like happy hour at my kitchen table.
I see at the top of the blog page, there is a planned outage at 4 o'clock PDT. This is a math problem so I'm going to pretend I didn't see it.
I signed out for a while and sat in the yard. It's beautiful outside but Regis started talking about mowing the lawn so I thought we should come in. I don't know why that bothers him today. We have weeds galore, sticks from the trees, and all kinds of other crap going on so why should long grass matter?
I had dreams this morning that I remembered. They were about someone making greeting cards out of air vents and when you opened them the pictures changed like the old Superman rings that came in Cracker Jack boxes. I don't usually remember dreams. This one seemed long and involved but was probably about ten seconds.
Boy, I'm cranky and weepy tonight. Probably the effects of my solitary happy hour. I can tell if I go on much longer, I'll get whiny.
Monday, August 04, 2008
The weather is not conducive to wakefulness either. It's hot and humid again today with tornado warnings periodically. I hate that. What happened to the breezes and the sunny skies?
The county fair is this weekend and we like to walk down for the fair fare (corn dogs and onion rings) and to see the animals. If it's this warm and humid, I'll pass on that. On a whim, I checked google and the Nicollet County Fair has a website! John Gorka's right: everybody's got a website. They have the standard county fair grandstand attractions: tractor pull, demo derby, harness racing but no music.
I have no other observations today. No movie or book reviews. No recipes. No clever repartee. It must be the dog days of summer because nobody is writing much and I sleep pretty much all the time. Wikipedia says dog days can define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress. That's it.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
The weather report for Miles:
Dew Point: 74° F
These numbers add up to yuck. It's the kind of weather that makes a person sweat like crazy even inside the house where the AC is on. Grossly unpleasant.
My new favorite wine is Casarsa Pinot Grigio. If you check out the link you can see that the 1999 vintage is sold out, whatever the hell that means. It comes in a cardboard box, for God's sake. I like it better than Black Box and it's five dollars cheaper.
I bought these stemless wineglasses at a local discount department store this summer and I love them. Actually, these are the red wine glasses and I bought the white wine glasses. I would never drink white wine out of a red wine glass, how gauche. I'm kidding, of course. I have a bazillion wine glasses. I've been thinking about having a wine party so I could use all my wine glasses and little appetizer plates. I would probably have to stay awake for more than four hours in a row to do that but I think I can manage.
I tried to watch the movie To Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar today. I like transvestite movies, don't ask me why, but this was too dumb even for me. I really don't know what the hell they show in movie theaters anymore but I can't find anything to watch. I think the three days of hanging around a Catholic hospital has put my cussing quotient way under par. I feel the need to cuss. Back to movies. Last summer I watched almost all of Johnny Depp's movies. I've noticed that on Netflix, it will say Average of 1,584,425 ratings: 2.1 stars. Average of raters like you: 4.9 stars. What does that mean? I have weird taste in movies?
Here's a weird problem. I hear my phone ringing when it isn't. Usually this only happens in the car. I hear it ring, I pick it up and look at it, it's not ringing. I would assume this was an auditory hallucination if it happened anywhere else but being that it only happens in the car, I think there might be another explanation. Maybe there's a force in my car that makes the phone ring but on a frequency that is inaudible to most people. Maybe I should change my ringtone.
After toting my junk around St. Mary's Hospital this week and killing my shoulders, I ordered this sweet little rolling totebag. Not in this color which is merlot, but in black. I thought merlot looked a little burgundyish. I am a bag freak and have many bags for many different purposes. I bought a cool Baggellini bag to take to Rochester but it turned out to be big enough to hold lots of stuff which made it too heavy to carry. This one has an extending handle and rollerblade wheels. So, if ever go anywhere that requires lots of hauling of stuff for miles and miles, I'll be prepared.
My dog assaulted his kidneys today by getting in my Baggellini bag and eating half a bar (about one ounce) of dark chocolate. All the websites said to go immediately to the ER for dogs, but this is a hound that ate a two-pound bag of chocolate chips a few years ago. He barfed in every room of the house and on nearly every piece of furniture we own. It was a hideous mess. I told Regis after this epsiode that we could induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. He said we could but we won't. Kramer doesn't appear any worse for wear so far.
Regis is feeling the pain today. We got a little cocky because the first two days were so easy. Yesterday wasn't good and today was worse. Maybe it will be uphill from here.
I've been doing the big sleep this weekend: going to bed early, sleeping late (6:00), taking naps, and being generally slothful the rest of the time. I spent a few hours cleaning and organizing yesterday morning and I was needful of a nap when that was over, let me tell you. I sleep more than Regis does.
He feels pretty good but not as good as the first couple days. He's been taking it easy but has some discomfort in the area where they did all the cutting. I guess that's to be expected.
My garden has seen a lot of bird activity this morning: orioles. cardinals, finches, chickadees, doves. I don't know if they know something we don't know, but they're all at the trough. They seem to like the seeds on flowers, or maybe it's bugs. I also suspect they like the ride they get when they land on one of the tall stems and it bends to the ground. It's like a bird carnival.
It's early so you may hear more from me later in the day.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Regis took a percocet after lunch and I went immediately to sleep. Is it supposed to work that way?
I made beef and barley soup for dinner but Bob and Emily offered to come over with Chinese. I'm not sure how much of that he can eat but it will be nice to have a visit.
It's Tiffany's homecoming day today...23 years ago she came from Korea. I remember it like it was yesterday. She arrived the afternoon of August 2 and was awake all night. This is her the next day, very sleepy. I couldn't take my eyes off her so I was awake all night, too. What a miracle she has been.
Back to my soup kitchen. Maybe more later.
Friday, August 01, 2008
We had a comfortable trip home. We stopped at Culver's in Owatonna...doctor's orders to take a walk halfway home. We stopped at Cabella's too, but we weren't in the mood to buy ammunition today so it was a short stop.
A line of bad storms moved through Minnesota yesterday morning and we saw the damage all the way home...lots of trees and branches down. We were in a room in the hospital and the nurse came in and closed the curtains. We laughed and asked her what good that would do in a bad storm. I remember glass and shingles embedded in the kitchen walls. A curtain won't stop that but it probably made me less nervous.
I stayed with my cousin Steve, his wife Sherry, and their daughter Katie for the last two nights. What great hospitality. They made me feel so welcome and took care of everything I needed...mostly wine! They have a little dog named Pepsi who they rescued from a road ditch and a convict. Long story. Pepsi is quite the Jack Russell and kind of a reincarnation of Bert, our old JR. He humps legs, chews your socks, runs around like a psycho, and sleeps in the beds.
I wish Regis would let me take a picture of his belly for my blog but I don't think he will so I won't ask. It was like Star Trek surgery. I know I'm probably repeating myself, I've talked to so many people in the last week I can't remember who I told what. You can hardly tell he had surgery and the nurse told us the laproscopic doc has to manipulate things like video game controls to do the cutting. It's like a miracle. I remember feeling like this after I had a baby. You put your life in this person's hands and then you just walk out the door. Amazing and so much to be grateful for you can hardly articulate it.
Regis was raised Catholic but he's not religious now. When we were sitting in his room today, waiting to be discharged, he found a Bible in the drawer. He took it out to check for the imprimatur (the official stamp of approval of the Catholic church) and then told me about how the Song of Solomen was not in Catholic Bibles for a long time because it's basically erotica. He opened the Bible and started reading a little in that chapter. Nothing like porn in the hospital. The surgeon's nurse came in at that moment, sees him reading the Bible, apologized and started to back out the door. I said, no, no, not what you think! Regis is the last person you would expect to find reading the Bible but we do appreciate the prayers of all the Lutheran ladies, Mom.
The other funny thing that happened is that I had to pick a t-shirt out of his bag for him to wear home today. I randomly picked this one...for him to wear in a Catholic hospital. Not a good choice. He wore his pajama shirt out to the parking lot and changed behind the car. He's a man with an irreverent sense of humor...what can I say?
The doctors and nurses were the nicest people and took such good care of both of us. I felt sad that we had to leave without saying good-bye but I suppose they have other business to tend to. If we had a lot of money they would get a big donation from us.
I spent a lot of time in the hospital watching the Mayo History Channel. Apparently they give a copy of the Mayo Brothers book to all the new employees but I didn't find anyone who was quite as enamoured of it as I was. I loved the videos of Will and Charlie.
I'm starting to ramble so I'll quit and go on a walk around the block with Regis and Kramer. I'll be back tomorrow!