Wednesday, December 31, 2008

good-bye 2008

So far today, no emergencies, no falls, no incidents. Regis had an ultrasound of his heart but there was no reaction from the technician which is a good sign. We hope. We're going to Tom and Betty's tonight to ring in the New Year. Not in St. Peter because we never stay awake until midnight, but maybe Yakutsk. I checked the google earth clock and I think it will be midnight there about 8 p.m. here. That's more like it. The picture shows Larry, Moe, and Curly getting the ball ready to drop. I don't know who the 4th guy is.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

it just keeps getting better

I should have noted in the post below that the picture is an actual image of the cranium of Regis. That's no google image, folks.

Later this afternoon, I went to the drug store to pick up our prescriptions. When I came home, I pulled our garbage can up to the house and then went to get Bill's. As Bill was leaving for Dubai the other day, I offered to make sure their garbage was at the curb today so they didn't have Christmas garbage sitting there until June. This next part falls into the category of no good deed goes unpunished.

Remember I fell down once already today. So as I'm approaching Bill's garbage can from the north, all of a sudden I am on my ass on the sidewalk again. I just lay there and cried because I couldn't believe I had fallen down again for god's sake. Regis came storming out of the house yelling at me to get in the house what the hell was I thinking being out on the ice again he only had TIA his balance is fine and he'll take care of Bill's garbage can. Whoop. He's on his ass on the ice. Bob came out of the house (not storming or swearing) and told me very nicely to get in the house, then helped his dad to his feet. He said we should stay indoors until it warms up which might be spring.

There doesn't seem to be any lingering effects from the falling down except for sore muscles and some residual stiffness. I got a haircut tonight and I had to keep shifting from side to side. We stopped at the farm supply store and bought a stock of grit for the walks and driveway.

Here's hoping for better luck tomorrow.

maybe i'm bad luck

I head out to the car to go and meet Jill for lunch. I fall on the ice. I lay there for several minutes, stunned and amazed. My butt and my right wrist hurt. I limp back into the house to get my wrist brace, leaving my purse and Jill's present lying on the driveway. I get back to the VW and it won't start. Things could always be worse.

On a more positive note, Regis asked if any of these tests could be run before the new year starts. That's tomorrow. People went out of their way to get him into the clinic for tests this afternoon and tomorrow. That's wonderful.

an ambulance ride to the ER in horizontal stripes

Regis had a scary spell last night that resulted in a trip to the ER by ambulance. After lots of tests and such, they sent us home with a disk full of CT scans of his head and stern instructions to see the doctor this morning. It appears to have been a transient ischemic attack which is frightening but certainly not the worst result we could have had.

After about an hour and the urgency had faded somewhat, he started making bad jokes so I knew things were looking up. He gave me a hard time about my outfit: a gray hooded sweatshirt, hot pink pajama pants with horizontal stripes, and tennis shoes with no socks. It was hideous. Remember the old rule about not wearing holey underwear in case you have to go the hospital? The new rule is: Be careful when and where you wear pajama pants. You may end up in public.


He's at the office of his PCP now so I'll post some news later. We're sure, since it's almost the start of a new year, this will mean many very expensive tests so we can start all over with our deductible and co-insurance.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

more holiday stuff and a couple good sightings

There's a slide show at the bottom with a few more pictures of our trip to Canby and another holiday gathering at Steve and Brenda's house this afternoon. We've had such a nice Christmas this year.

We went to one of the grocery stores in Mankato later this afternoon to buy groceries. I spotted the worst mullet haircut in the world. Not only a mullet but a godawful ugly, long and greasy one. Regis didn't see it and we agreed that from now on when I want him to look at something in a subtle way, I'll say, "When was the last time we watched MTV?" I did a google search for mullet, intending to post a picture of one, but honestly, it hurts your eyes. Try it.

So, we're getting in the car in the parking lot of the unnamed grocery store which I loathe but which has German roasted coffee that Regis loves when this goober in the next car is loading his truck with his groceries, he slams the lid, and we see that he has a RAW WEINER hanging out of his mouth. My God. How hungry does a guy have to be to shove a raw weiner in his mouth in the parking lot? Reggie, where were you when we needed you? Two classic moments you would have enjoyed.

When we were in Canby, we took Mom around town to see the Christmas lights. We laughed about how when we were kids, we did that and while we were gone, Santa came and left presents for us. How did he know? I was a believer in Santa long past the time when most kids my age had given it up and I still love the idea of Santa. The Polar Express, you know. The bell still rings for those who believe.

Tiffany has about two months until Elliot is due. She wasn't able to come home for Christmas but we hope she'll be here one of the next weekends. I know she missed being here and she missed the good food. She's a good eater, my baby girl.

Regis and I are about done with Christmas food. If I don't see green bean casserole for another year, it will be fine. No almond bark pretzels or chex mix. Even chex mix. Ack.

My wake-up call tomorrow is 5 a.m. The pool opens for lap swim at 5:45 and I plan to be in it.

yeah, well

Good intentions don't count for too much. I did about half the things on that list I wrote Friday. Where does the time go?

We decided to go to Canby Friday morning when the roads were clear, there was no bad weather predicted, and Mom wasn't busy. We had a good time going out for pizza, visiting Betty and Gary on their 50th wedding anniversary, and staying up late to visit. Regis got mom's computer put together and set up in the bedroom. We'll post the pictures of George later, Mom.

I put my menu and grocery list together for the coming week. We're going to the HyVee later this morning, before another Christmas gathering.

I have several Christmas injuries: grease burns on the backs of both hands, a knotty muscle injury on the palm of my right hand, and a muscle spasm in my back. What the hell. Is this from getting old or just from being weak? Weak minded, probably.

Friday, December 26, 2008

back to normal

I took a day off yesterday and now I'm ready to go. Here's the plan:
  1. We're going to Canby today when Regis is done with work at 1:00 to see Mom. We'll head back tomorrow so we can be back in SP before dark.
  2. Tiffany is coming on Sunday if they can get their car started.
  3. Steve invited us to a Christmas party on Sunday afternoon. I'm making the Mocha Cream Torte that everyone likes so much.
  4. Monday, Ella and I are spending the day together while her mama works.
  5. I bought two swim suits online last night and I'm going to start swimming before school as soon as they come. My joints are killing me in the cold weather and swimming should be better for them than walking. This will no doubt be its own post sometime. Buying a swim suit is a strange domain for me and donning one for public wear is going to be traumatic.
  6. My back is better this morning but I'm going to get a massage this weekend.
  7. I took care of the medical record requests for MC.
  8. I'm going to fill my prescription for prilosec.
  9. I have a couple more shopping and delivering type things to do.
  10. I'll either clean the living room myself or I'll hire someone to do it. That dust isn't going anywhere soon.
  11. I'm back on my healthy eating plan. The holidays were fun but it's back to work.
  12. I'm going to make an appointment with my weight loss coach. Falling gently off the wagon over the holidays wasn't all bad...I got a good case of humility and feel re-charged and ready to go.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

no gumption

Poor Santa. He's tired, too. I woke up late (7:00) and did the dishes. I made a rudimentary attempt at cleaning up the Christmas litter but didn't get too far. I made a Christmas breakfast of fried klub, ham, and eggs. Peter said I should have chopped the ham up in the klub instead of serving it on the side. Hmmm. Wonder where he learned about klub cooking.

I decided that cleaning up from the fire would have to wait until tomorrow as I have a pulled muscle in my back and a nap was more important. Regis and I were mostly comatose for two hours and now we're up staring out the window.


Regis bought me four place settings of Fiestaware for Christmas in these four gorgeous colors: scarlet, tangerine, peacock, and evergreen. The little round cup in the front of the picture is peacock. The tall vase is tangerine and the big round one with the handle is scarlet. The cup on the far right is evergreen. They're really pretty together. I washed them this morning and can't wait to use them with my new wine glasses. You can see I'm not too interested in matching.

Yesterday a flock of starlings came to our feeder. There must have been 50 of them on the roof because they came in bunches and covered the flat feeder. Even when it was full of birds, more would fly over and just drop down onto the mass of birds. Very rude bird behavior. The finches wait in the tree or on the wires and take turns nicely. It's the only time we've seen them so they have gone on to terrorize someone else's bird feeder.

I hope nobody here is looking for another meal today because I'm done. We can have ham on nice homemade buns for dinner and maybe some leftover green bean casserole. If it sounds good; stop over.

merry christmas and thank god for the fire extinguisher


We had a delicious dinner, plenty of sweets, and a lot of laughs. Holidays at our house are not quiet and usually not uneventful as you will read later. Ella thought I should be Santa and pass out gifts so I'm wearing the Grinch hat that decorates the top of our tree.



Ella learned how to take pictures on her mom's digital camera. She wanted her Popop to take a picture of her taking a picture. It must be a family trait...my brothers like to do that at family gatherings, although they like it to be spontaneous. Still fun. This could be a commercial for a digital camera...so easy a three-year-old can do it! She takes pretty good pictures!

Here are all the kids who were here: Reg and Amber, Emily and Bob and Ella, and Peter. Tiffany and Eric were in Pine Island with his parents and Evelyn. We missed them.

Ooooh. Here is the after-math. I had too many candles on the table, Emily was stuffing tissue back into a bag, and suddenly we had a problem, Houston. We were thankful we had a fire extinguisher and even more thankful that we knew where it was. It took care of things right quick but did make an awful mess. The stuff went right through the table cloth and covered every surface in the house. It's sodium bicarbonate so not toxic and should be easy to clean up. We did a quick job last night and the rest will get done today. Nothing was damaged, nobody was hurt, and I learned a lesson: Go easy on the candles when you have a houseful of people and flammable stuff.

Regis was good in the crisis as his first thought was to get Ella out of the house. My first reaction was to run around flapping my arms. In fact, I think I ran over by the Christmas tree which was not the best place to go. I did eventually tell someone to get the fire extinguisher, Regis got it open and took care of the flames, and we sprang into action to clear the room of smoke and clean up what we could. Regis said he would like to thank the person who gave us the fire extinguisher, so if it was you, consider yourself thanked. If you don't have one at your house, use your Christmas money and go buy yourself one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

here it is

Uh boy. We were gone all day yesterday and I'm kind of out of gas today. I did a few things this morning...can't even remember what they were...then went to do some errands. I took coffee and a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream (or some knock-off) up to Kathy's house and visited for a while. Betty showed up. We gabbed and laughed and gabbed some more. Regis called and asked if I didn't have things to get done. Yup, but not doing them. Ella came for a couple hours. We played with tea cups and beans, read a book, played the piano, and visited. I asked if she was going to help when her brother comes. Hmmm, she said thoughtfully. Maybe not. The biggest present under the tree is for her and she can hardly stand it and can barely wait. We took a bell off the Christmas tree and read The Polar Express. We went to Patrick's for dinner, dropped a present off at Tom and Betty's, and now we're home. My hope is that if I have two hours to clean and cook tomorrow, I will be able to pull it off. Santa's coming, you know.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

ice lights


It's hard to keep it lit in the wind, but it's beautiful as you can see.

ice candle success

The ice candle is going to be gorgeous! We're making the second one now. After dark, we'll light it up and I'll have Regis take a picture.

Great weekend. I watched the 1930 something version of A Christmas Carol yesterday then we watched Jim Carrey's How the Grinch Stole Christmas and had a Manhattan. That makes a perfect day right there.

Peter's trying to give me gray hair. He went Christmas shopping yesterday late afternoon and today he drove up to a Vikings game. I told him not to call me if he goes in the ditch. Call 911.

I was going to make meatloaf today but Jane called and mentioned chili so we have a big pot of that burbling on the stove.

We're going to the Mayo Clinic tomorrow and of course, I'm preparing like I'm going to Siberia: extra boots, blankets, mittens, hats, scarves, and buttered lefse. I have a feeling if a guy was going to spend an hour in a cold car, buttered lefse would be a great comfort.

The bird feeder is crowded today. It holds 8 birds tail-to-beak and it's always full with a few birds waiting in the tree. I think the word has gotten around that we serve good seed.

I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It was a wonderful book until the last chapter, then if it hadn't been so damn heavy I would have flung it against the wall. What a disappointment. So many plot lines not resolved and the world's bleakest and ugliest ending. I checked the reviews at Amazon and a lot of people agreed with me that the ending almost ruined the book. Ugh.

Yesterday before it got so bitterly cold, I forgot the dog outside for longer than he is usually out there. His coat and face were covered with snow. He looked like a yak in winter. We had to laugh at him before we let him back in...and then we thought about setting the timer when we let him out. How bad is that? He shook all the snow off in the living room and then ran around like a puppy...probably glad he hadn't frozen out there.

We're going to watch It's a Wonderful Life this afternoon.

Christmas Eve Menu


I've been working on the Christmas Eve menu for a while, deciding to go with the old standards this year. One year I made roasted winter vegetables instead of mashed potatoes and it was not a big hit, let me tell you. I wish I had a picture of the faces at the table as they gazed on rutabagas and turnips roasted with herbs in olive oil. Mine is not a family that appreciates new cuisine in their holiday meals.

We're trying to make an ice candle that looks like this. I've tried it before but it's easier when water freezes in about five minutes outside as it is doing this year. No need for the freezer. We used a bucket which may or may not work because of the sloped sides. Our next try is a five-gallon pail. I hear one of my neighbors down the street makes them and delivers them to people on the sly. It might be easier to just drive around town and borrow a couple.

Regis is expressing interest in pancakes. It's the cold weather...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

blizzard conditions






From the Tribune:

A storm that moved into Minnesota this morning is bringing lots of snow and lots of wind -- a recipe for blizzard conditions that will make it dangerous to drive in the central part of the state.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation in Willmar is now asking residents in the southwestern part of the state to stay off the roads.

No problem. We did our shopping for groceries early this morning. Regis woke me up as soon as it started to snow about 6 and we hit the road. I'd been up late reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (highly recommend) so I was cranky.


Here I am explaining to Ella why her mama got a birthday present yesterday and she has to wait a week. Sad girl. Ella will be 3 on January 1st.

We read some books, though, and that made up for the lack of presents. Her favorite thing at our house is to take a pile of books into the bedroom and snuggle on the bed while we read. Her current favorite book is Knick Knack Paddywhack....a great pop-up book, in fact, a New York Times Best Illustrated Books Award winner.

I've stumbled onto another great book that I won't write about now because one of my blog readers might be receiving it for a Christmas present. But I will write about it later. Remind me.

I've been thinking about this. Sweet Emily asked me last night if Christmas was overwhelming me. She's been reading my blog, where you know if you are a regular reader, I've been grousing and complaining. Are they the same thing? Here's my disclaimer: Sometimes my mind works on a thing and when it comes to writing about it, I exaggerate for effect. Most of what I write is true, but a bigger version of the truth. My subtitle at the top says spellbound by our own imperfect lives but in truth, our imperfect lives are not all that interesting. So I embroider and magnify.

This is our Christmas tree. We love it and have it on from morning until we go to bed. I wrapped some presents today and it looks a little more festive underneath. The dog likes to snoop in the tissue so you have to be careful not to put edibles under the tree.

Regis watched a Clint Eastwood movie today. Honestly, I don't think there are movies I like less than his. Maybe John Wayne's movies. You could put all their movies in a rocket ship and send them to the moon and I would be very happy. All the gun fights and hangings are not my idea of entertainment.

Regis will be traveling with me to the Mayo Clinic on Monday. My first appointment is at 8:45 so we'll be leaving in the dark. I hate to drive (or ride) in the dark. The wind chill is supposed to be horrendous so we'll pack the back seat with warm clothes and blankets.

I don't think we're leaving the house again today. I see maybe a Manhattan and a homemade pizza in my future. Maybe another viewing of Scrooge...

Friday, December 19, 2008

In anticipation of the weather


We were at a party of school folks last night and Regis said the collective consciousness there anticipating snow worthy of a late start or cancellation, was like a vortex. I peeked out the window this morning and didn't see much snow yet and the radar looks like it might be moving on. He thinks we're being lazy when we wish for snow days; I say it's just one of the things we at work for fun. Everyone in education has been doing this since they were five years old: wishing for a snow day. You don't give that up when you become an adult just because you've grown a work ethic.

In a conversation at the party, I was visiting with a couple friends who, I realized, have well-developed BS detectors. See the geiger counter at the top of the page. In the presence of someone who, let's say, blows smoke, both of their needles go boing boing boing. It's good to see that in your colleagues. Sometimes I'm afraid we're in danger of being smothered by intellectual flatulance.

At my school, we are in danger of the real thing. I was gone the other afternoon and Joanne took a complaint of the odiferous kind from the bus driver, who was the only one who smelled it. She did a thorough investigation and interrogated multiple suspects to no avail, then decided enough time had been spent on the errant fart and closed the case.

Sometimes these are worthy investigations. We have students who decide that dropping the mother of all farts in a closed environment is a way to be obnoxious. Those are usually cleared up pretty fast; someone in the vicinity of the perpetrator will squawk. The subtle ones are more difficult. And sometimes accidental, I suppose.

Regis borrowed a gps unit from #1 Son in case we go anywhere this weekend. We planned to go to Canby but the weather looks forbidding. In any case, I've been driving between here and there since 1970 so I don't need a gps to get there. We're going to Rochester on Monday and we pretty much know that path, too. I guess the gps is just a toy.

Here's the weather report for the weekend:

Last update: Friday, December 19, 2008 3:53 am

Latest (NAM) model: .10" of liquid precipitation Friday AM storm: translates into 1-3" of new snow for metro area

Winter Weather Advisory: metro area. Winter Storm Watch posted for far southern MN late Thursday into Friday morning, includes Rochester and Mankato. 5-8" new snow possible far south, lesser amounts for MSP metro, but still enough to shovel/plow, probably

NAM computer model: plowable, 6"+ snowfall potential for MSP and much of southern MN Saturday PM into Sunday. Turning bitterly cold again Sunday through Christmas Day

Friday: Weather Advisory. Periods of light snow, slippery roads. 1-2" expected, more south. Winds: NE 5-15. High: 20 Saturday: Storm Watch Heavier snow likely, 3-6" by Saturday night. High: 21 Sunday: Much colder with snow tapering to flurries.

Keep your mittens on today, Miles!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

cold, snow, cold, and more snow


Regis and I have been watching different adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Sunday afternoon, we watched the Albert Finney version and tonight, the 1951 version with Alastair Sim. It's a little bleak for my taste but it's very dramatic and Regis says that just makes the redemption at the end better. I bet I'll cry.

We went downtown tonight so Regis could get slicked up at Nate's Barbershop. I went into a few of the stores that were still open, then waited and watched cars go through red lights on Minnesota Avenue. Scary. These were not folks who realized the light was changing as they were half-way through the intersection; these were folks who charged right on through when the light was very red. Pity the pedestrians.

We had about five inches of fluffy snow today. It's beautiful but messy, inconvenient, and quite cold. The damn car I drive is all messed up: the check engine light is on, the oil light blinks like crazy, and the back hatch won't close unless the burglar alarm is blaring. We know there isn't anything wrong with any of those things, unlike the time I thought my oil light was broken and the old guy in Iowa gave me hell, but all the lights are irritating.

Dressing like a Tibetan yak herder is getting old. Yesterday I wore long underwear and it was hard to keep straight which pants were where. I almost walked out of the bathroom stall at GAC with one pair around my knees. That would have traumatized the college kids.

Not too many years ago, I delivered Christmas cookies to the neighbors in sandals. This week, I've needed several pairs of socks and boots.

There's something about the cold and dark that makes a guy tired.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the weather outside is frightful



This is a picture of some poor soul in some snowy town in Minnesota. It's wicked cold and windy and not fit to be outside. I woke up at 4 o'clock and obsessively watched the websites for school closings, not so much to see mine, but to discover a pattern and to read the names of the towns and try to guess where they were.

We have a new system in our district so I found the delay announcement online, I got a recorded call from a service, and I got a call from a real human. The calls came kind of late so I was up and dressed and ready to go but it's nice to sit in the living room and watch the lights with another cup of coffee.

The plows are going by so I suppose the streets in town are open. Hard to tell what it's like in the country.

Stay warm...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

disgusting product

Regis and I were at the grocery store this morning and we saw a new product in the dairy department. Squirt pancake mix. It's batter in a pressurized can. This seems to be one step down on the evolutionary ladder from frozen pancakes and almost as disgusting as squirt cheese. Really people, are we so lazy that we have to shoot pancakes from a can onto a griddle, are we? Do we think this is "making pancakes"? I'd like to meet the marketing team on this one.

wicked cold

The temperature was 38 degrees this morning when we were coming home from the grocery store. By noon it was ten degrees and now the wind has picked up so the snow is coming sideways. The poor little birds can hardly hang onto the feeder.

I tried to write a Christmas letter today but I just can't find it in me. How much do people want to know in a Christmas letter anyway? We don't travel, surgical details are not welcome in a holiday greeting, our kids haven't won any awards, and we haven't bought anything interesting (exotic pets or fancy cars, for example). People don't want to read two pages of smart ass stuff, which, if you are a reader here, you know is my inclination, so maybe I'll let it go this year.

I made two pots of soup today; a big pot of chili and Portuguese stone soup, named for the private parts of a bull that the Portuguese used to put into it. I just use kidney beans. If I were baking this year, it would have been a good day to do that. But I'm not so it wasn't.

Although I'm not baking, I told Regis I would make those peanut butter cookies with Reese's peanut butter cups in them. I'll make them on the 24th and they better be gone by the time the company goes home. I might have to portion them out because they're such a hit I'm afraid a fight will break out.

I really hate the wind. It's howling today and the dog barks constantly because he thinks someone's here. I have to go to a meeting tomorrow on the Gustavus campus. It's at the top of the hill where the wind comes from Utah. I'm debating if I should wear a hat that will keep my ears from freezing and falling off or go bare-headed so my hair looks respectable. You can't have both.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

oh what a day

I woke up early today and started cleaning and sorting and getting rid of junk. I have a huge pile of boxes by the door for the thrift store, a bag of clothes to take to a friend, and the house, all four rooms, are clean.

I even took down the wall of dubious achievements in the bathroom: the diploma from Sleep University, the twenty-five year plaque from the district, and the volunteer award for typing, and cleaned behind it. Not usually one to notice cleaning details, cobwebs for instance, I did a pretty good job today.

I was done by 2, I took a shower, and sat down to watch the 1973 version of Scrooge with Albert Finney. I took a nap in the middle but I loved it. It's a musical and some of the lines are a damn hoot. At the end, Alec Guiness who plays Jacob Marley, says that they had to put on more devils to make the chain for Ebenezer. I loved it and cried at the end.

The other day when I pulled the shower curtain aside to get in, a big daddy-long-legs was in the tub. I scooped him out gently with a towel and set him under the bench by the furnace vent. I hope he found another place to go. Spiders are fragile and you have to be careful with their legs when you rescue them.

We took Peter to Patrick's for a patty melt tonight. The Goveniaires had been out caroling at the nursing homes and came back to play some music for the diners. It was wonderful; lots of horns, singing, and Tamara dressed like Santa. It was a tear-jerker, let me tell you.

The problem with cleaning at this point, is that I will be a baracuda for the next two weeks; not wanting anyone to mess anything up. I scrubbed the mildew off the bathroom ceiling today and that, my friends, is not a job that anybody wants to repeat very often.

My foot nerve problem seems to have been resolved, in case you're concerned. I think it was one of those things that the more attention I paid to it, the worse it seemed. A guy's head is not always helpful in situations like this.

Regis and Amber went to Grand Rapids for the weekend. The weather, as it is wont to do, turned ugly, so they're on their way home right now, at 9 o'clock. Better to get while the getting is good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

a fool for a patient

I went to the clinic today to have my internet diagnosis confirmed. My doctor thought I was right, but probably not about the Morton's neuroma. She thinks I have irritated nerves and with time, I will be fine. She also didn't recommend the 500 dollar orthotic devices which is a relief since I'm too cheap to buy those anyway. Of course, I've probably spent 50 dollars on different 5 dollar devices that don't work.

I'm not really much further with the Christmas preparations. I tried to give some of the stuff away to Young Regis and Amber last night and they did take a few things off my hands but not nearly enough. Funny that my idea of preparation consists of getting rid of my decorations. I've bought two presents, I'm not planning any baking, and I haven't thought about cards. Ho ho ho.

I've been pitching things in the recycler at work, too. A guy can get easily overwhelmed by stuff and paper. I realized that I had made binders for things and then never filed a thing in them. A person who takes the time to file every piece of paper that comes across the desk has a different level of...let's call it concern...than I do.

I was standing in front of my bookshelves at work today and found (interesting word choice) two books that had been lost to me: Fear and Stories of One-Room School Teachers. If I've offered you one of these books recently, now they are available. I know how they "disappeared". When I moved from the big office to the little office last year, I had a couple kids help me. I wanted them to keep the books in the same general area of the new shelves as they had been in on the old shelves but they organized them by size. All the tall books together. All the tiny books together. Look out Library of Congress. Good grief.

A very young person subbed at our school today. As we were eating lunch, I noticed that not only was he the only male but he was by far the youngest person at the table. He had a cell phone thing in front of him and when someone asked him a question, the answer to which was a date, he picked up his phone and accessed a calendar. As we talked, we learned that he has a huge big screen television, big woofers, and a collection of 400 dvds. This is clearly a generational thing and it could possibly be a gender thing. We told him to buy as much of that stuff as he has an appetite for while he's single because generally (and risking sexism) women are not fans of huge televisions and big woofers.

As I was driving home about 4:15 today, it was starting to get dark already. I really wonder how people survived the dark and cold in the pioneer days. They must have been of hardier stock than I am, as we have a heated mattress pad and don't think we could live without it. No covered wagons and log cabins for me, thanks very much.

A woman I've worked with for the last couple years moved up to Minnesota from New Orleans after the hurricane. She has loathed winter and finally decided to move home. Today was her last day, she's packing tonight, and leaving in the morning. I had to call her today when I read the headline about the rare snow blanketing Louisiana. Don't throw your parka and mittens away at the border, LaQuetta!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

witness the train wreck that is me

I've been crying about the Christmas ornaments and because Regis said "he's known people who took hours to decorate a tree" and then was surprised that I took offense. He's sort of ducking in the corner behind the chair now so I think I intimidated him sufficiently. I'm kidding about that last part.

My naked tree has been standing in the living room for three days. Finally, today, I put the lights and decorations on it. The weeping comes from: things my kids gave me when they were little and now they're grown up, an ornament from Edna who's been gone for years already, a silver skate from Jane with a note about the nights we ice skated together and we never did...it's just part of our lore, an ornament for Jesse that Pat and Helen made in 1993, a Kosta Boda goat from Deb that's beautiful with a light behind it and makes me think of the times we spent New Year's Eve together in our feather boas, things I got from friends as far back as 1978 which is thirty years ago and make me feel really, really old. I know it's not logical but it's all very poignant.

My bones ache and I've been reading a very sad book, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. The writing is lovely but the story, so far, is sad and I don't expect it to get better.

It looks like the damn tundra outside and it gets dark at 4:30. What the hell is up with that? I know it happens every year; the solstice and all of that. But it's brutal. No wonder ancient people drank home brew and made bonfires. I was at a conference today and during every break, people were huddled by the windows soaking up the sun. It was kind of pitiful. Like cats laying on the heat registers.

My house looks like gnomes live in it. There are boxes everywhere and I'm afraid Martha Stweart's people will be here any minute for the photo shoot. I'm sure the dog won't wear his red bow and my pinafore won't fit. Our house doesn't look like a log cabin and we have no lights outside. I didn't make a goose for dinner; we had cold meatloaf sandwiches and a Moose Drool beer. The pressures of the holidays are too much.

The semicolon is my favorite puncutation mark lately. It used to be the ellipses. I'm not sure I use it correctly all the time but I don't think it really matters. Does it?

P.S. Make sure to read my mom's comment about The Other Boleyn Girl from 12/5.

Monday, December 08, 2008

internet diagnosis

This is my second post of the night. Scroll down. And you thought I was going to a once-a-week post, Tom.

I diagnosed a case of shingles on the internet once. Today I diagnosed my recent foot problem as Morton's neuroma. That's it. I thought my feet were cold all the time but it turns out, on closer inspection, that they burn and tingle because my metatarsals are squishing my nerve. I'll probably go to the doctor to have this confirmed, but I've made it easier for them and should probably get a discount. I even know which non-invasive treatments we should try first: ice, anti-inflammatories, and rest.

It also turns out that the things I've been doing, massage and toe-curling, are helpful.

The warning for this movie said it contained violence and scary images. I guess so. So far, there's been shooting, a nuclear blast, rodents, giant bugs, and a lot of mummified folks. I've had to shut my eyes.

out of my character

I came home from work today and found a package from my Cousin Deb. It contained a pair of exercise pants and two slinky little tops. She calls them camis but this is an article of clothing that is not in the closet or the vocabulary of a big person so they were new to me. To my amazement and astonishment, they fit. Not a fit that I would like to seen in public in, but a tight and sort of lumpy fit. I went right down to the treadmill and walked at a rapid pace for twenty minutes while listening to the Dropkick Murphys, a punk rock band from Boston. If you know me at all, you can pick out the out of character things with no trouble.

Miles, we're in the midst of inclement weather, the first of the season. It was the hot topic everywhere I went today: when the bad weather was coming, what it would consist of, how bad the roads would be, if school would be cancelled or late, and so on. Regis said he thinks people just like to go to bars during storms and that's why they anticipate them with such glee. I wonder where he got that idea since it's not something we've ever done.

I think I'm on a Christmas strike. I hauled all that crap out of the basement and now I don't feel like doing anything with it. Regis made a remark (don't you hate that?) about the bare tree but I just said harrumph. I could easily point him to the lights and ornaments. I don't believe there's a rule that women have to decorate the tree. Let me know if I'm wrong about that.

I heard the first snow machines of the season go past on the boulevard. We used to call them snow mobiles but we have been educated by the former VP candidate, you know the one I mean. Snow machines sounds so much more sophisticated.

I took my library books back to the library today so I'm sort of without a book to read. I have one I bought but it's a heavy hardcover and you know how I feel about those. I need to invent a small winch for over the bed so it's easier to read those heavy books. Honestly, I think I have carpal tunnel from the last one.

Regis likes to download books and put them on his iPod. He's listened to lots of books that way but I, on the contrary, have never listened to one book on my iPod. I can't do it. I get distracted, my mind wanders, and I stop paying attention. That's from the Department of Redundancy Department. Maybe I should pick something with some more steam rather than that non-fiction stuff.

We got the new Indiana Jones movie from Netflix but I'm not too interested in watching it. I have a low quotient for action. I don't like violence, bombs, murder, war, loud noises, bad guys, height, or speed. If there are special effects, that's it. I like movies where not much happens outwardly and people talk in low voices. Tender Mercies was one of my all-time favorite movies.

I read the Netflix review and it says Indiana Jones uses his bullwhip to save the world from imminent peril. Imminent peril. Uh oh.

Once I thought I was having a heart attack in the middle of the night. I got up and checked the internet for my symptoms which mostly consisted of pain between the shoulder blades. The site I read said that pain between the shoulder blades is one of the main symptoms of heart attack in women. Pain between the shoulder blades and AN IMPENDING SENSE OF DOOM. Well, I hadn't had a problem with an impending sense of doom until I read that. I made Regis get up and take me to the ER. It was only GERD, not a heart attack after all. I don't know why imminent peril made me think of that.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn't do so well on Netflix, only a 2.2. I love it when Netflix says most viewers rate something a horrible number, but viewers like me give it a 4.7. What? I have bad taste? I think this was true of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I rest my case.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

back away from the christmas sales

I dragged my Christmas boxes up the stairs from the basement this morning. I like to dig through them and look at stuff but I don't like to unpack it and deal with it so I didn't get too far. I did notice that I have a huge supply of some things, table cloths for example. I have seven Christmas table cloths which is more than a normal person needs. I didn't buy all of them; a few of them belonged to Edna, but it's still a lot. I have seven unopened packages of Christmas cocktail napkins. I have a tub full of gift bags and another tub full of Christmas ziploc bags and plastic wrap. What the hell. What was I thinking?

We went to the food coop this afternoon. They always have a lot of samples around and one of the sample tables contained little pieces of bread and pickled herring. Regis saw me eying it and scooted off in the other direction. He says he can't stand the smell. A few years ago, I was at the table sampling the herring with an old man who was hiding from his wife. He said she wouldn't t let him eat the stuff at home. All of a sudden his wife and my husband came around the corner and we both jumped back like we were guilty.

Regis and I have decided to make potato klub for Christmas Eve. Note the nutrition information. Anybody eating these things is not concerned about nutrition, believe me. Not unless you're spending the winter on the tundra with your reindeer herd. Then you might want to make sure you get enough fat and carbs to get you through the next blizzard.

When I was a kid, mom made these when dad was out of town. She put side pork in the middle and we drizzled bacon grease and butter over the top. They're great fried for breakfast the next morning.

I'm not going to use this recipe...I'm going to get one from Mom or Cousin Deb. The ones in the picture don't look quite right and not like what I remember. Baking powder?

Norwegian Potato Klub

INGREDIENTS (Nutrition)

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 2 teaspoons salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove bacon from the pan, and reserve the grease.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Stir in potatoes to make a sticky dough.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Squeeze the potato mixture into 6 or 7 dumplings, or your desired size. Drop carefully into the boiling water. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon.
  4. Serve with bacon grease brushed over the top, and crumbled bacon. These may also be sliced and fried the next day for another great meal.
I don't remember eating the bacon with them. I don't think that was done. Like putting sugar on lefse. They're a real mess to make because the water gets like wallpaper paste during the boiling. This is clearly not a meal for sissies.

I was debating about making Emeril's twice baked potato casserole for Christmas Eve but you can't have both of these dishes on the same night. There's a law.

Friday, December 05, 2008

avoiding the blog

I was avoiding the blog this week. It might be because I am wallowing in the doldrums of winter (can a guy wallow in the doldrums?) or because I didn't like that busy wallpaper thing I had going on before. I was also still pouty about my widgets. Ah well, time to move on.

We had a bad cell phone experience today. Regis bought a phone online from some person in Alaska, the same town of which spawned the former candidate for VP who was recently in a gauche turkey slaughtering video. You know the one I mean. I thought that didn't bode well for the phone, but we marched merrily off to the phone store after work to activate it. When the young sprite who was helping us (after a 50 minute way over-stimulating wait) said that we would have to change our plan because this was a smart phone and there would be a data charge, we both looked at her dumbly. Well, I was really dumb...Regis was just surprised. This would have been a major increase in cell phone dollars so it was serendipitous that the dang thing didn't work. It's on it's way back to AK if the guy is worth his feedback.

I really don't know how people use those tiny keyboards on phones anyway. There was one that had keys so small they were completely illegible. To me anyway. I send about five text messages a month and most of them are of the nature of "ok" so I probably don't need a keyboard. Technology is rapidly passing me by. She says, ending a sentence with a preposition.

We went for dinner to the place down the strip mall from the phone store that has the huge round grill and you get to pick your own vegetables. (Avoiding google searches....) The food is very good and I love watching the grilling process but the ambience is a little OCB for my taste. What a snot I am. They do sell light beer in cans now so that's a plus.

I finished the book The Other Boleyn Girl. I loved it and could hardly put it down most nights. Great drama and lots of steam if you get my drift. Highly recommended. Now I'm reading a non-fiction book about a pediatric heart surgeon. It's the other end of the book continuum and my penance for the other book. Somebody gave us the book written by Monica Lewinski (google search be damned) once and I had fits about Regis carrying it back and forth to work in the car. What if he had an accident and someone found that book in the wreckage? I would be mortified. We liberated it at Patricks one night and it disappeared a few days later. Maybe used for kindling in a bonfire.

I looked at the price of televisions online today. What happened to those little portable televisions that cost about fifty dollars? Do you know you can hardly buy a tv for less than 400 bucks now? I almost fell off my chair... and deeply regretted the one I put for free on the curb last fall. And what's with this HD thing? I don't think I need a thousand dollar HD tv to watch reruns of Scrubs.

We haven't bought a tv for 9 years which might explain my ignorance. We have one tv, it's in the living room, and it's so heavy it takes two men and a boy to lift it. It's probably an antique.

Now that I've made myself sound like a complete rube, I'll move on.