Sunday, February 28, 2010

st. patty's day and you can decorate with whiskey

#1 sign of spring. Here's a pile of my winter clothes ready to go into storage. Regis says he loves this about Minnesota that we don't wait for warm days and the official start of spring, we just get out the stuff and act as if it's here. Velour and faux now leopard are just not done after March 1st with that as your philosophy. I hung the down coat in the closet and had Peter carry all the winter sweaters to the basement. The long underwear are gone for the year.

#2 sign of spring. Regis went out to pick up dog poop in the back yard. He always takes a box and I thought there was some great irony in his choosing of this box. Read the label at the top.

Even Kramer has been seeking the sun. He sits by the back patio door all afternoon and waits to go outside. He gets cold when he's out very long but as soon as he comes in, he wants to go out again.

#3 sign of spring. Anyone who has a dog knows what this mess is all about. I swear, it doesn't matter how diligent you are about cleaning up after your dog, there is always an ugly mess in the end.

#4 sign of spring. I like to have Guinness in March. I cook with it and Regis likes it in a black and tan once in a while. Today, it went into stew and brownies.

#5 sign of spring. St. Patrick's Day is the only holiday when you can use whiskey as a home accent. I love holidays.
#6 sign of spring. Guinness lights on the tree. I think there might be something wrong with my's making the close-ups kind of fuzzy. It ain't your eyes, pal.

#7 sign of spring. The first black and tan of the season. We have a special spoon to pour the Guinness over to make the layers of beer. I'm not good enough to make the shamrock on the top. I'll have to practice that part.

 #8 sign of spring. Guinness stew with beef, parsnips, turnips, and carrots. I made dumplings as a concession to my sweet husband who hates those vegetables.

#9 sign of spring. Guinness black and tan brownies. I thought the texture was a little weird but Regis says they are great. There's a layer of light brownie with pecans on the bottom and a layer of dark brownie with Guinness on the top.

What a lovely weekend.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

oh what a saturday



I shipped out to Mankato early this morning for shopping. I intended to check out the clearance sales at Kohl's and TJ Maxx. I shopped Kohl's pretty well...found a skirt for nine bucks with a 20% discount. Great deals on some Vera Wang stuff that I love. Got a great Jones New York leopard t-shirt at TJ Maxx for $3.00. Good grief it was a hoot.

After shopping, I headed to Eagle Lake to celebrate Elliot's first birthday with his mama and his other grandma and grandpa. He seemed to be unphased by the continued hoopla but we had a nice time.

Elliot's getting the idea of unwrapping packages but he still likes the paper almost as much as what's inside.
 Elliot for bath toys and books. He's examining the Elmo bath toy here. He loves Elmo. And his mama.

 He can't believe we kept cupcakes from him for the first year of his life. He certainly knows how to get every crumb of pleasure out of a cupcake!


This is Elliot with his blow-up clown. He loved toting it around the house...and it's almost as big as he is! Happy birthday, baby boy!

Signs of spring: a kid riding a bicycle in Eagle Lake, streets were dry and water was running, neighbors were outside and NOT shoveling snow, ice houses were going down the road to their summer homes, icicles were melting. The sun felt so good today even though it was cold. I poured a glass of wine and basked in the sun coming through the front window when we got home. We can't wait for patio days.

Regis and I had a mid-afternoon dinner at Mazatlan in Mankato. It's absolutely the best food ever and so reasonably priced. You feel like you should give them more money than they ask's that good. I had a seafood plate with scallops, shrimp, and tilapia on caramelized onions and peppers. It was delicious...made me want to lick the plate.

I might go to yoga tomorrow and then I want to take a nap in the sun. I can't get enough sun lately. We're going to watch the hockey game and relax in the afternoon. Weekends are just not long enough.

I'm making Guinness stew tomorrow and black and tan out of a current magazine but I can't remember which one. Probably Cooking Light.

I bought some socks today that go up to my knees and have shamrocks up the sides. I love holidays. Tomorrow, I'm going to put away the Christmas tree and the Valentine lights. Can I hang Guinness bottle lights on a Christmas tree? I think this year I'll celebrate the rites of spring...

Busy month of March: safe driving for old people on the 6th, party at Michelle's on the 6th, Italian party on the 13th, St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, Tiffany's birthday on the 18th, Rites of Spring on the 20th, New Primitives at Patrick's on the 20th. I don't have time to work, you know.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

this week

It was a rough week, sports fans. I had a bad case of the winter blues yesterday that required a glass of wine to subdue. Thank God for the grape. I think I said that earlier in the week, too.

We've been watching the Olympics. I love the human interest stories but I'm tired of the medal race. Isn't it enough competition that they race to the bottom of the hill? There was a funny column in the paper last Sunday about what (in the opinion of the writer) is or isn't a sport. I have some opinions about that myself.

I went on a rant one day at lunch (did I write about this before?) about the player for the Twins who is thinking about whether or not to accept a contract for, I think it was, twenty million dollars. That is obscene. Of course, the sports fans think I'm a lunatic and that might have something to do with my rants about the sports section of the newspaper. Never mind about that right now. But really, whatever his name is....twenty million dollars and you have to think about it?

I think I have been ranting a lot lately. My theory is that with the weight loss, my ornery molecules have been concentrated in my head and only find release in episodes of loud blathering. Yeah, that works.

Someone at school told me yesterday that they heard I was retiring. I said that would mean I had an anonymous benefactor who was providing for health insurance for Regis and me. I don't think it's gonna happen, Tim. So, anybody who is awaiting my drop from the perch is going to have to wait a little longer.

Speaking of health insurance, Keith Olberman has a powerful rant about that on the MSNBC website. I won't link to it here but it's worth a listen if you feel strongly about health care reform. Death panels, my ass.

I can't find my Crazy Heart CD and it's driving me insane. I have it on my computer and on my iPod but it's irritating when you lose things like that.

I just heard one of the announcers on the Olympics say this and I'm not making it up: If ifs and buts were candy and nuts. What the hell. She didn't finish it. What if they were? If wishes were horses...has an ending. Beggars would ride, of course. Good grief.

Tomorrow's Friday. Happy weekend! Take a nap in the sun if you can.

Monday, February 22, 2010

paragraphing errors are not the fault of the author

I've tried to fix the stupid paragraphing errors in the post below. They will not fix. Regis is learning about html but he doesn't get my questions.

cross posting

Sometimes I write a brief version of what appears on Facebook here later and in a fuller form. This is one of those times. I'm in transition to the hyper-fast electronic media. Thinking I won't make it all the way being the slow processor that I am.

I was going to exercise yesterday afternoon but when I went in the bedroom, there was this big patch of sunshine on the bed so I took a nap in it instead. I opened the drapes wide and moved my pillow so I was right in the sun.  
Last week, I ran three miles one day. I have piddled around with running a few minutes here and there and I decided I was going to do it, run three miles. On Tuesday, I went in, got on the treadmill and away I went. It nearly killed me but I made it to three miles. I guess that's what people mean when they say they sweat. I have spent most of my life avoiding that particular body function, preferring more sedentary activities like reading, so this was a new thing for me. 
I can't say I enjoyed doing it. I had to cover the console on the treadmill so I couldn't see the numbers. Before this, every one hundredths of a mile ticked by in slow motion. I thought at every tick, "I have to quit now". So if I couldn't see it, it helped a little.

I did feel a sense of accomplishment when it was over. I bragged to lots of people, sent an email to Rachel, and wrote about it on Facebook. Friday night at the bar, I talked about my sports injury for which I was soundly ridiculed by my friends. Oh well, I say.
I made manicotti tonight for dinner. I found a recipe somewhere (whoever remembers where that stuff appears) that called for rolled up no-boil lasagna noodles to avoid having to stuff (people really do this?) manicotti noodles. We think it's fine Italian fare and enjoyed it very much.
I see I didn't write much about the weekend but it was grand. It was the right amount of busy and lazy, social and anti-social, and had all the parts I love: a party, beer Friday, a nap, some cooking, some radio, some live music, and a lot of laughs. You would think it would make a guy ready to go back to work but not so much.
One of the teachers at school has a hamster in her classroom. She is out for a few days for a family emergency and we are left to deal with the rodent. Apparently he was circling the drain today. Not wanting to bother her, I asked another teacher if she was willing to "make the decisions". We (the royal we) moved the hamster to an office and called the vet. They euthanize hamsters for 20 bucks. I didn't ask about the cremation package, assuming he could be, uh, disposed of, in a less expensive fashion. I'm not sure how this all panned out as I had to go to a budget reduction meeting at the end of the day. I think there are some moral parallels here but I'm not clear on what they are.
So, that's all the news that's fit to print today. Sandy, if you are reading this....I have a message for you about subs. Don't let me forget to tell you tomorrow! 
And thank you God, for wine at the end of the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

my new fur vest and I can hear you laughing already deb

I bought this cool faux snow leopard vest at the HyVee gift shop today. It had been 60 bucks and was on sale for 16. What a deal. When I walked into the house wearing it, the men couldn't quit laughing. Regis had to hunt up this picture of Sonny and Cher right away. I get no respect.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

valentine's day


This is our Valentine tree. It has red chili peppers and paper hearts on it. I love it.

It's been a very nice weekend. Tiffany and Elliot came over yesterday and spent the day. Elliot toddles all over the house, laughs at his mama's antics, and likes to play with his toys. We had dinner at Whiskey River before they left. Good day for laughing.

I had taken two naps during the day so Regis and I could attend the New Primitives show at Patrick's last night. It was great fun but we got jostled around quite a bit by the youthful crowd. I think in all the years we've been married, we've been out past midnight twice. Last night was one of the nights so today we're dragging a little. Good day for music.

We went over to see Alex and Ella today. Ella told us she was very sorry but Valentine's Day was over last week. She's such a hoot. We played a couple games of Hungry Hungry Hippo and saw the new room they're putting in the attic. Good day for little kids.

Regis made a gorgeous prime rib roast for dinner. We had a shrimp cocktail appetizer and sauteed sweet potato with it. I made a mocha cake with berries for dessert. Good cooking day.

It was snowing earlier. I haven't bothered to look outside since it got dark. I bet Mom is irritated...she's tired of winter like everyone. I saw somewhere (I don't watch the tv did this come as a news flash from space?) that travel in that neck of the woods is not recommended again. They've been house-bound all winter out there.
We watched short track speed skating at the bar last night before the band cranked up and tonight we're watching pairs figure skating. They make that stuff look so easy. I have probably written before about my idea that I should be skating alongside Apollo Ohno to demonstrate just how difficult it is to stay vertical on speed skates. That would give the viewers the clear idea, let me tell you.

Regis is busy working on a web development project and I'm heading to bed to read.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Restoring your body and soul with exercise

I was reading a Runner’s World magazine this morning on the treadmill. My knee pained me yesterday so I took a couple days off from running and was doing a nice, slow paced walk so I could read. The article is by John Bingham and is called Rust Buster. I couldn’t find it online to provide a link but I’m going to copy a couple paragraphs here. I think this could apply to any kind of exercise that we embrace. (The whole essay is on page 50 in the Best of Running December 2009 issue.)

In a column a few years back, I wrote that I had come to think of my running shoes as erasers. Each footstrike rubbed away damage from earlier years, when I had smoked, drunk, and eaten too much. Little by little, I was wiping the slate clean. Now I realize my running shoes are more powerful than erasers. They are the steel wool that scraped away years of rust that had accumulated on my body and my spirit- and kept it from coming back.

George Sheehan, one of our sport’s great philosophers, wrote that running, especially running hard, galvanized his soul. He believed putting all your strength into the final moments of a wholly exhausting run or race was powerful enough to transform you into a new and better person. I wouldn’t argue with that.

I would argue, though, that for someone like me, who let his body go to waste for the first half of his life, the experience is slightly different. Before running can galvanize you, it must first restore you. When you can move your body for only eight seconds before gasping for air, it’s hard to imagine running long or hard enough to reach a running high. Like that tractor, my body has lost its ability to do what it was designed to do. As much as I wanted to experience the joy that comes from hard effort, I had years of work to do before getting close to that point.

Running, more than just erasing, is an act of restoration for me. It has restored my muscles, heart, lungs, and joints. More important, it has restored my soul. It brought back hope to a hopeless spirit by showing me that if I made changes to my life, change would occur. As I ate less and moved more, I saw results. As I learned to set reasonable goals and achieve them, the sense of failure I had lived with started to fade. I was running further and faster. I was succeeding. Even if I would never be a great runner, I was becoming a better one- and a better person, too.

Now, I'm a beginner so I'm not making any great claims. But I have gotten up at least five times a week for more than a year. I guess that's something.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

new coffee maker

The other day our coffee maker took a turn for the worse. We debated about ordering a part that might fix it, sending the broken one to Iowa to exchange for a new one, ordering one from Amazon, or just going down to the local hardware store to buy a new one. Regis went the local route. Those people are so nice and so helpful and we like to support the local economy. Except when we buy from Amazon, which we do a lot. The new coffee maker arrived today (the hardware store had to order it...probably from Amazon) and we'll have coffee in an hour! Hurray!

I love Thursday night before a long weekend. The three days lay out there like the yellow brick road. We have no big plans which means we can decide from moment to moment what we want to do. Regis has to work through some puzzle about web development....html something or other....but not me. I can turn my brain off tomorrow at 3:00 and not turn it back on until Tuesday. Hurray!

There's an article in the new Rolling Stone about Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. I'm so anxious to see that movie. I ordered the CD about two weeks ago and I bet I've listened to it three times a day since then. I love it. I'll read the article later tonight. The cover....omg the cover...has some rap singer with his undies hanging out and he's covered with grotesque tattoos. Oh please. DECIDE WHAT YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC IS, PLEASE! Fans of the dude don't really don't want to see Lil Wayne on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

Well we are big rock singers, we've got golden fingers
And we're loved everywhere we go
We sing about beauty and we sing about truth
At ten thousand dollars a show
We take all kind of pills to give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we've never known
Is the thrill that'll get you when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

It was below zero again this morning and I tell you, it's demoralizing. I mean really. A person has no manual dexterity with two pairs of mittens on and it's hard to start the car with the remote when you have those tiny buttons. You get tired of wearing forty pounds of winter clothes. I think I might have complained about this before.

Going to watch Parks and Rec and drink my cup of coffee.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


The bunny ears are gone.
See picture below.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Here's the synchronized snow blower action going on in the neighborhood this afternoon. There were two more snowblowers down the street that I couldn't get in this shot...and several people across the street with shovels. You can see how high the snow banks are. We have a hard time backing out of the driveway because you can't see what's coming down the street.

This is the apple tree with the little shriveled up and snow-covered apples left from last summer. On warm days, the squirrels wake  up for a while and eat them. I suppose they taste good if you're that hungry. Aren't they pretty?

I have a concrete bunny in the garden and these are his little ears peaking out of the snow. He's about two feet tall so you know the snow is deep. I can't remember the last time that the garden was completely covered in snow all winter.

I'm grateful that football is finally over. Regis doesn't watch it much but it seems to completely invade the cultural space. Arrghghggh. Who cares really. I'd like us to devote this much attention to poetry or gardening. A whole section of the newspaper.  Ten channels on the television. The Eternal Poetry Network. No?

I moved the Christmas tree into the dining room and hung it with chili peppers and Valentines. It's just beautiful and really lights up the dark winter nights. I'll take a picture of it in time for Valentine's Day.

I love the book Checklist Manifesto. I talk about it all the time. Today I read a chapter about the role Walmart played in the aftermath of Katrina and how in the face of complex problems, power has to be pushed outward as much as possible. Another chapter was about skyscrapers and how teams of specialists work on them and none of them ever fall down. How do they keep all that stuff straight? Did you know there is software that makes virtual representations of the work that goes on and cross checks building codes with tasks as they are accomplished? Amazing.

My rosemary tree has tiny blue flowers on it which seems like a hopeful sign of spring.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I've always been a list maker and have passed that on to Tiffany. When she started school this semester, I gave her a small notebook which is what I use at home and at school. I keep a running list of things to do. Not big projects like "paint the bathroom" but things like call the dentist and those kinds of details that I tend to forget. And so, I was excited to hear this author on the Daily Show last week...

I started reading a book called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. He's a surgeon and he talks about an idea for using checklists in ICUs to decrease incidents of central line infection (he explains this very well and the results are dramatic) can be used in many other fields. It might sound like my past obsession with the book Oranges (John McPhee) but it's really very good. I like non-fiction a lot when it isn't about disasters and disease and zombies.

I copied the weather forecast from the National Weather Service at the bottom of this post. I couldn't get the test to revert back so I had to do it this way. It's been a long winter. Harder on some folks than others, I know. Regis talked to a friend of his from his old job. More lay-offs there and people are constantly looking over their shoulders for fear of being laid off. His friend and wife have worked there almost 30 years and are both suffering. I read in the paper yesterday that 100,000 people in Minnesota are uninsured now. That's pitiful.

So, read the weather forecast and weep.


Saturday, February 06, 2010

saturday: community college and crab cakes

Regis made the President's List at South Central for fall semester. Here he is contemplating one of the more difficult spreadsheet assignments. He worked very hard and he deserves the honor.

I've had a very nice Saturday. (I'm having a bear of a time typing this, though, because the dog has his head laying on my arm.) I got up at 7:00 which is like way over-sleeping for me. What happened to the 4:00 wake-up call?

I sat around and drank coffee for a while, thinking I would skip the workout this morning. But then I felt drawn to go, so I went. It was a satisfying session, which they all are not. Hard to say why.

I planned to pick Ella up and go to Target, but she wasn't feeling well so I went by myself. I poked around for a long time, looking at Valentines, St. Patrick's day t-shirts, baby pajamas, and kitchen stuff. I bought Ella a pair of Valentine's Day leggings and a t-shirt with sparkly hearts. I wanted to get something equally flashy for the little boys but holy crap. They must not expect people to clothes 12 month old boys. There was a dearth of 12 and 18 month old anything at Target.

I bought myself a pair of black leggings with silver peace signs on them. Regis rolled his eyes but I think they'll be good hippie clothes for the Superbowl party. I looked at some sparkly Converse shoes but the sizes were weird and they were still twenty bucks so I passed. I like sparkly stuff.

When I got home, I took a champion nap. I don't take naps very often but once in a while I do just because I can.

I made a steak for Regis on the George Foreman grill for dinner and some crab cakes for me. I bought them from a nice young man who comes around in a little truck full of frozen food. Not the big conglomerate frozen food guy in the yellow truck. These were a little disappointing as the first ingredient was imitation crab. Ugh. Not highly recommended. The shrimp look great.

I'm disappointed that there isn't a Winter Fest parade this year. I did make a lame attempt to organize a spontaneous parade, knowing that organizing a spontaneous parade is oxymoronic. Hey, that's pretty funny. Wasn't that an art form a couple years ago? People would text their friends and show up at some location at a certain time and that was the performance. I have to think about this some more.

Saturday the 13th, we're planning to be at Patrick's for the New Primitives. They're our new favorite Minnesota band. Here's what google says: New Primitives explores popular music through high-energy Rhythm & Blues, Ska, Reggae, Calypso, and World dance music. It's a happening and we'll be there. We have to plan well for a 9 p.m. performance meaning that a nap is essential as that is an hour past our usual bedtime.

I still have my Christmas tree up in the living room. I hung a pitiful string of Valentine lights on it to bring it into the season and I'm going to move it into the other room for the football game tomorrow. But...I like the lights so what the hell. Until the sun shines, it gets to stay upstairs. I found a couple strings of chili pepper lights that I'm going to add in the spirit of Valentine's Day. Hey, I think I have some Guinness beer bottle lights I could hang on it so it gets another month. I think by Easter, it's going to have to go.

Regis is predicting some measurable snowfall for the next few days. He gets his information from Paul Douglas. Check it out.

MGM was a busy place tonight. I went to pick up some beer for the football game. Regis requested Leinie's but I got nostalgic when I passed the Summit display so I bought some of that, too.


 So, there you go. Happy Saturday.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Regis looked at my blog stat counter the other morning and noticed that I’m closing in on 10,000 hits. Maybe because we watched Julie and Julia last night, he got interested in how many readers I have…and maybe he’s thinking I’ll get a big fat book contract and be rich and famous. Or maybe not.

He thought I should write a special commemorative piece for the big 10,000 roll-over like when you were a kid and your car’s speedometer rolled over to some big milestone.

We started this blog in October of 2006 as a way to document our efforts to walk 500 miles in a year. We amused ourselves along the way by thinking of witty and sarcastic things we could put in the blog. I would write, then Regis would retort. Pretty much like our real life. We didn’t make that goal because, as we quickly realized, the math was against us. If you’re going to walk 500 miles in a year, you can’t take a day off without racking up future miles. It started to look painful. So we quit the 500 mile walk but we did (or I did) continue with the blog.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I go through periods where I am not quite as entertaining as others. I can’t explain it. Many times during the day, I observe things from the point of view of the blog and then I compose passages in my head. If I have a memory lapse, those things disappear into the morass of spent electrons swirling about my head. Like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoon. Often they aren’t very good at coalescing on the page in the evening when I’m in the mood to write.

I also have a couple other creative outlets, Facebook for one. I know, I know. Social networking and a big fat waste of time. Did you hear that Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are going to merge into the biggest time waster of all-time called You Twit Face? I think that’s hilarious. I have enjoyed Facebook as a way to connect with family I don’t see very often, work friends I don’t see very often, and for general nosiness. I usually post something every day and it’s easier to come up with a one-liner that fits in a Facebook update space than a whole bunch of something to fill a blog page. Just the way it is.

I read an article in the paper yesterday that said younger people have forsaken blogs, like they have email and crank telephones, in favor of the more immediate and much briefer twitter and such. So maybe I’m just riding a trend here.

When we talked about it this morning, Regis said he thinks my focus has changed since my surgery. I asked what he meant and while I see it myself, I’m not sure I understand what he is seeing. I think he means that I spend my time differently for one thing. I get up at 4 most mornings and go to the Pulse to exercise. While that doesn’t take time out of the middle of the day, it’s a considerable energy expenditure. I’m often out of gumption by 8 and shut the computer down. That used to be prime time for piddling around and turning out those witty blog posts.

Other than that, I’m stumped.

The last almost 24 months have been a wild ride. Since the day in March of 2008 when I decided to make an appointment to go through the Mayo evaluation program for bariatric surgery, things have gone crazy. I eat differently, spend my time differently, I’ve learned to enjoy exercise, and I think I look at a lot of things differently. Tiffany said last weekend that I seem younger. I feel younger and not really in years but maybe in attitude. Beyond that, I’m the same middle-aged crank I have always been.

I bought myself a Kindle this week and so far, I enjoy it. I love the easy access it gives me to books. It’s amazing.

I have a yen to have a Blackberry like phone. If I wouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage to pay for the monthly data plan, I would do it.

So, there you go. I just checked the counter and see we slid right past the 10,000 mark. And I see I just past the 1,000 mark on number of posts.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Elliot and Tiffany came for a visit on Sunday. Elliot, as you can see in the picture, has learned a new funny face. He squints his eyes like Clint Eastwood and it's hilarious. He's quite the little toddler.

We all had a fine time making French bread and lasagna. I had chosen a Tyler Florence recipe for something he called ultimate lasagna but we opted for a different one. Tyler's recipe had a lot of wine thickened with flour that didn't sound appetizing. It also called for four pounds of meat and two quarts of ricotta cheese. I think that would have flowed over the sides of the pan.

Regis and I are watching Julie and Julia. What a hoot of a movie.

I ordered a Kindle and it came in the mail today. Amazing. When I opened it up and started it, it said Teresa's Kindle at the top. I can access the Amazon store and buy a book and minutes later it appears on the home screen. Kind of a dangerous concept. My first book is the sequel to Dalva by Jim Harrison.

I keep getting distracted by the movie. Have to go.