Monday, April 26, 2010

random moments

Regis went shopping for groceries this morning as he does most Monday mornings. When he got home, he sent this message:

The Secretary General of the United Nations just called. They did a quick webcam survey of our refrigerated food stocks and has concluded that:
  1. We have enough food to feed an entire Vietnamese village for 3 weeks.
  2.  In the event of Nuclear war and we were cut off we would have enough stuff to live comfortable for 16 weeks; 4 if Peter is here.
  3.  The Saint Peter food shelf could supply the needy for 90 days.
All-in-all somewhat disturbing in a family where the kid is only around sporadically, the wife doesn't eat, and the old man is trying to lose weight.  

We had pizza from the Cheese Shoppe in LeSueur last night. Tiffany, Elliot, and I drove over there yesterday afternoon. Elliot had his first experience with an automatic door and he was fascinated. He must have gone in and out a hundred times while we waited for the pizza to be constructed.

Here he is making his funny squinty-eyed face. I laugh when he does it so consequently, every time I point the camera at him, he does it. Babies are so predictable. And so cute.

Am I the only one on the planet who is frequently overwhelmed with things I have left undone? Birthdays I have missed? Sympathy cards I should have sent? Friends I should have called?

I felt great all day because for the first time in weeks, my shoulders don't hurt. I worked out with Rachel this morning and she took it easy on my upper body but showed me some stretching exercises. Oh man. Right away they felt better. When I ran, I heard a click click click like someone finally pushed them into the right spots. What a relief.

Hey, that Cheese Shoppe has a wide array of great cheese but also lots of interesting snack things like chipotle sweet potato crackers. It's worth a trip over there especially if you have out-of-town company. Schmidt's Meat Market in one direction and the Cheese Shoppe in the other.

I've been on the hunt for the perfect chicken nugget since Patrick's had what they called boneless wings last fall. I loved them because they were nice chunks of white meat with a very light breading. Then they stopped carrying them. I've tried and tried to make something like it and finally stumbled onto a recipe that works...parmesan chicken nuggets. The chunks of breast meat are rolled in egg, dipped in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, and drizzled with butter. They're roasted at 450 for 15 minutes. Delicious.

I'm ready to go to bed and it's only 7:15. I hate going to bed when it's light out although I do it frequently in the summer. Last night I went to bed at 7 but I did make it through the Creative Nonfiction journal before I conked out and went to sleep.

Mom's friend Ione had surgery a week ago, then developed a very scary pulmonary embolism. She was helicoptered to Sioux Falls on Sunday. I called mom today and Ione is out of ICU and doing much better. So glad to hear it.

Bad week on Minnesota roads for teenagers, too. I don't watch the news and this is why. You always hear stuff you wish you hadn't heard. Tell your kids not to drink and drive, not to text and drive, not to fool around and drive. Sad and scary and tragic for their families.

Well, there you go. My thoughts for the day. On to another week...the last one of April.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ode to spring

Regis took these beautiful pictures of our apple tree yesterday. It seems early for them to be blooming, and the lilacs are not far behind, but we love it. We sat on the patio the other night and soaked in the view. The redbud tree is read to burst into bloom, too.

We looked back at pictures we took of these trees when they were first planted, right after the tornado. They were only six feet tall and very spindly. Now they give good shade and gorgeous flowers.

The piece I posted the other day about exercise and the marathon will be published as the guest column in our local paper next week. The editor was very complimentary of my writing and said not to change a word. My husband, on the other hand, had some suggestions. Ha! Now I have to submit a mug shot.

We have a quiet weekend planned. It's raining hard here right now so that will preclude any outdoor work. I'm glad for that. I don't understand why the minute the weather gets nice, people rush outside and grab their rakes and hoes. Can't we just enjoy a few days before we go to work? I should move to a warmer climate where the pace is slower.

We're probably in the minority but we haven't mowed our grass yet, we haven't raked the grass, and we haven't planted anything. We have done these things: sat and watched the trees bloom, meandered around the yard to see what's growing, watched the chickadees and finches at the feeders.

There are a lot of things I don't do: laundry (Regis does it), car maintenance (Regis does it), buy groceries (Regis does it), clean my house (Jan does it), paint (Don Foster does it). I have parties, I cook, I plan meals, I keep us organized. There you go. I'm lucky to have the husband I have.

I'm taking care of Betty's cat, Bonita, today. She is not a friendly cat, at least to me, so I'll just go up and leave some food for her. She may not even come out while I'm there. I used to like cats, and I like Marie's cat Nick when I go to get my taxes done, but other cats I know are kind of creepy. They always look like they're up to something.

My cousin Deb recently visited our friend Maura in Florida. This is a picture she took of Maura's house, called Dragonfly Cottage. Isn't is the cutest thing you've ever seen? I love the pink picket fence. I wish people here were more imaginative about their colors. Sometimes you'll see a house with bright colors but it's sort of frowned upon. We tend more toward the taupe end of the color spectrum. Ella would love a house like this so Bob and Emily, I think you should consider some new siding.

I got an early Mother's Day present, an iPod nano. It's the red one. Regis ordered it from Apple and it was delivered from China in less than 30 hours. Amazing. It's a teensy little thing but has 16 gigs of memory, a video camera, and a pedometer. Also amazing. I copied my entire iTunes library (including a hundred podcasts) into it and have lots of room left. How many words in this paragraph were not even in the language ten years ago?

I hear thunder...and birds singing.

I told Regis I would take him out for dinner tonight to celebrate the almost end of his semester. He's been chained to his desk for a week as he finishes his big projects. I'll have him write a guest post when he's done, describing what he did, because I don't know. Something about networks and firewalls and pings. I think. Not sure where we'll go. I think Mazatlan won in the straw poll we did last night which means we have to go reasonably early or it will be crazy busy. Mexican favorite.

I won't go into too many medical details here but I went to see my doctor yesterday. I've had sore joints and muscles since I had strep throat and yesterday a friend of mine suggested I might have reactive arthritis. That is the danger of the internet. Someone suggests a disease that only 30 out of 10,000 people get, you read the symptoms, and you are convinced you have it. I've had the same doctor for ten years so when I ask if she wants to hear my diagnosis, she laughs and says, "Of course." She doesn't think I do have it and she thinks my symptoms will eventually go away. A conservative course of treatment. I like that.

I'm going to exercise this morning, then pick up the house a bit, take out recycling, go through the week's mail, do the dishes, sort through my clothes, and take a nap. There you go. Happy Saturday and happy spring!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

thoughts about exercise and the Boston Marathon

I was at work on Monday, the day of the Boston Marathon, but I was distracted, for the first time in my life, by an athletic event.

Rachel More, my trainer, and Kristie Boyer, a fellow teacher, were running in the marathon. I knew this was going to mean something to me because I admire them both, and the group they run with, so much. When I come in the door of the Pulse on frosty January mornings, they are often going out the door to run outside. They return an hour later, frost covered, to drink water, stretch, and share stories.

I don’t know what the stories are about as I have always felt outside the circle of athletes. I grew up in the 50s and 60s when the chances for women to be active were few. I belonged to the Girl’s Athletic Association that met once a month and played games like deck tennis and ping pong. There were no girl’s sports in my schools. I played outside with my brothers but I never felt like real athletic pursuits were for me.

I have exercised for very brief periods of time in my life but never long and never very strenuously. It was something I did in an attempt to lose weight. Exercise never had any value on its own.

In the past two years, starting when I was 57 years old, I started to exercise. I began with swimming every morning at 5 a.m. in a local hotel’s pool where it was dark, quiet, and warm. I didn’t do any extreme swimming but paddled back and forth across the pool for an hour. It almost killed me when I started but I kept at it until April when I started to feel like I needed something else. Something harder and faster.

I signed up for a year’s membership at the Pulse and for weekly personal training sessions with Rachel. At first my goals were things like trying to walk on the treadmill without having a death grip on the side rails. I was uncoordinated and very slow. Walking on the treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour for ten minutes was difficult. I was lifting three and five pound weights.

Gradually, I got better at things. I could walk for 30 then 45 minutes, no hands! I walked in the 5K Halloween Fun Run and even ran a little. I walked in the Jingle Bell Jam in December and felt that surge of competition; I didn’t want people passing me so I would run until I got ahead enough that they couldn’t.

In February, I ran for three miles and decided that I wanted to train and register for a 5K every month of the summer starting in May. Now, I can lift eight and ten pounds weights easily. I can walk not only three, but four or five miles without being winded. I feel fit and strong and healthy. Today, I’m wearing a t-shirt I earned for jumping rope for seven minutes after I ran for thirty minutes. I’m still not all that interested in competition but I like knowing what my body can do.

I’ve wondered how this all adds up to my emotional fascination with the Boston Marathon. I almost cried when I said good-bye and wished Rachel and Kristie luck. All morning on Monday, I watched their progress and sent my husband emails where I pasted the results for each kilometer from the Boston Athletic Association’s website. Ask my friends, but believe me: I have talked about the Boston Marathon a lot in the last few weeks.

I wish I could think of a way to thank them; for being such wonderful role models to so many young women and a few old ones like me; for being such an inspiration by their commitment to running; for pointing out the possibilities to those of us who spent too many years not taking care of ourselves. What they’ve done is amazing and I want them to know that I think so.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

it should be saturday every day

It's been such a nice day. I got up early and went out to the garden to start cleaning up. Regis did a good job a year ago and I put a lot of mulch down last summer so it was easy today. I didn't rake out all the leaves, thinking they can compost and help the soil. I picked up three huge bags of sticks and dead stuff and pulled a few of the early weeds.

Regis took this picture of me working since I so seldom do. Haha. What a comedian.

There are a dozen tulip bulbs and one lone flower.

The bottom picture is a fern leaf peony that I've had for years. It came from Mom's garden. It didn't bloom for a long time and I've moved it three times trying to find a place it liked better. Three years ago, we had one flower, then last year we had three. This year there are six buds so if the rabbits don't get it, we'll have gorgeous peonies in a few weeks.

We picked Ella up and went to hear Lehto and Wright in Mankato. It was interesting (and ironic) hearing them sing Handsome Johnny in the Morson Ario with the big wall mural of the flag raising at Iwo Jima behind them. It's a powerful song and always gives me goosebumps.

We went to Papageorge for dinner. Regis had Greek shrimp and I had sea scallops. Like where else would they come from? The food there is delicious. Ella had chicken strips and signed her menu. She said it was her contract and she had to take it home.

I had to publish this post and close Firefox to discover why a commercial for Walmart sheets kept playing some very annoying music. It was a damn pop-up window from hell.

Regis showed me an iPod today that you can wear on your arm and if you have the right Nike shoes, they will transmit mileage information to your iPod. It also has a video camera, an FM radio, and a 16 GB hard drive that will hold 4,000 songs. If they could only figure out how to integrate my laptop, my kindle, my cell phone, and my iPod. That is a gadget I would buy.

We're watching To Catch a Thief, the Alfred Hitchcock movie with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. I know Cary Grant was considered hot in his day but he looks sort of long in the tooth for the young women with whom he is paired. He looks like an aging pervert. Hahahaaha. I don't really get it because I'm not paying attention. I don't multi-task very well when it comes to movies.

Here's another little weird piece of technology. Rachel, my trainer at the Pulse, is running in the Boston Marathon. I don't really know why, but it makes me emotional to talk about it with her. I got weepy when I said good-bye and wished her luck on Friday. I was able to send a text to someone (???) and was registered for updates on her progress to be sent to my cell phone.

The fastest woman in the Boston Marathon will finish in about 2 hours and 20 minutes. I cannot imagine it. It would take me three days and two motels. Seriously. Running 13 miles an hour? One time I ran three miles. Most days I can run 11 mph for a minute or two. It's beyond my comprehension. This year there will be 26,000 runners and a record 11,316 women runners!

Well, that's enough for today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

runnin' through jello

I didn't sleep well last night. Had a busy day at work with lots of things on the list of things to do. They were all running through my mind all night like little ants. I woke up a lot and tossed and turned when I wasn't awake. The alarm went off at 4 and I slammed it off and rolled over to go back to sleep. All day, I felt muddy and bleary eyed.

We went down to Patrick's for a glass of wine because Regis had to do a project for school that had something to do with a firewall and pings and some green chart of the router. I think that's how it went anyway. That didn't take long so we came home, ate some enchilada casserole out of the freezer and watched a Crosby Stills and Nash concert from Netflix. What a night.

I could hardly keep my eyes open but managed somehow. CSN looked a little rough by the 1990s...mullets and beer bellies and really bad fashion. It was the 90s but really.

I know this is whining but my back and shoulders have been very sore since I had strep throat. I've been going to the chiropractor for muscle stimulation, manipulation, and other mysterious things. I felt much better today but I'm nervous about going back to my workouts. Monday I could hardly lift my arms to get dressed. That's a bit of a handicap.

My garden is a mess. The compulsive neighbors have cleaned everything up in their yards and that only makes mine look worse. Holy crap. The city isn't even picking up yard waste until mid-May, what is the bloomin' rush?

I read in the paper that the St. Cloud superintendent resigned. He's 49 years old and must have had experience. I don't know if there is more to the story but the paper said he was worn down by the politics in education. Sad. Our governor wants to put unlicensed people in classrooms to teach when you can't cut hair or give a manicure without a license. I've been ranting about this for days and I'm tired. I can understand the guy getting worn down by this silly shit. Really.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Peter!

Happy 23rd Birthday to Peter!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

spring weekend

Yesterday we went down to Reg and Amber's house to help plant the tree we gave them for a housewarming gift. It's a Minnesota river birch like the one we have in our yard. It's a beautiful tree and should give them some shade in not too many years. It was Amber's birthday so they cooked some burgers on the grill once the tree was in the ground.

The sun felt great in the afternoon so I sat on the patio for a while. I almost slept but the mail carrier delivered the junk mail just as I closed my eyes. Yeah, it would hurt a lot to give up Saturday delivery.

We made a new recipe for chicken bites last night. They were kind of messy to make but tasty. I ate mine with Tabasco since I've had a hankering for wings. Patrick's doesn't have the boneless wings on the menu regularly although I'm thinking maybe I could convince them to keep a bag in the back of the freezer for me. They're lightly breaded and that's what I like...not all the dough. Regis made a nice balsamic vinaigrette for the salad we had with the chicken. Delicious.

I have cookbooks piled around me again today. We're making the transition from winter food to summer food so some meals require grilling. I bought a couple vegetable grilling cookbooks since we bought a share of the Living Land Farm. Tonight we're making scallops on the grill and a small steak.

Peter will be 23 on Tuesday so we're taking him out for dinner. He wanted to go to Red Lobster but yuck. Fast food fish. I might try to change his mind.

The birds are back to our feeder. Yesterday I saw gold finches all over the tube feeder. They're still sort of dirty yellow but it's nice to see them back. We have had a small flock of red-winged blackbirds in our yard the last few years. They must be on their way through to somewhere else because they don't stay long. They have a call that sounds like a cell phone ring. There are also lots of robins and mourning doves.

 Today, I'll put out the grape jelly hoping we can attract some orioles. Last year, they were fussy about jelly. Mom says her orioles will eat anything but maybe our neighbor uses a better quality jelly, giving our birds options. Why eat jelly from the dollar store when you can eat Welch's?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

hey look at this

These leaves popped out on our tree in the front yard on Monday. Regis was so kind to go out with the camera and document it for me and I was so lazy that it took me until today to post the photo. So nice to see green leaves after six months.

I went to yogalates this morning and my butt is dragging tonight. Yogalates is designed to strengthen both the mind and the body through the combination of poses and exercises. I liked it because it helped me work on flexibility, strength, and balance. The room was dark and the music wasn't tool loud...and no sudden movements. My legs and arms are stinkin' tired tonight, though.

Tomorrow, I go back to the chiropractor. She's a young woman and very stout and strong. She digs her fingers into my back muscles and it's heaven. Like a massage.

Having a little trouble with the thought train tonight. It's been a long week...well, two work.

Last night we watched the blue-ray version of Up on our big television. I am sure now that I could never watch a movie if Regis wasn't home. It took a minimum of three remote controls and more settings than I could count. When I was a kid we had to walk all the way to the tv to change the channel. Hahaahah. I didn't make that up but it's funny.

A weekend with no plans coming up and can't wait. I'm going to sit on the patio, read my book, take a nap, and watch the garden. It's not doing much yet but every time I walk around and bend over real close, I see things poking up through the leaves. Ah, spring.

Monday, April 05, 2010


The ham was delicious.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

not much left

The bread is gone. There is a little bit of a ten pound ham left and some of the berry trifle dessert. The rest of the food has been parsed out in tiny bags to the guests who didn't leave until 7:30. Amazing party. We ate at 1:00, sat and gabbed and giggled, ate again, gabbed some more, ate some more, the kids took naps, and we made one final round-up on the food...and it was over. Wow.

another holiday

I got up early this morning to get my bread in the oven. It suffered a little from the cool temperature in the house overnight but it came back to life and it's just beautiful. I love making that bread. It's called Italian country bread and it takes a couple days to make it because you start with a sponge, then let it rise overnight. It makes a gorgeous loaf. I'll post a picture later.

I'm drinking coffee out of Aunt Vi's little tea cup this morning. It has lilies of the valley on it so I thought it was appropriate for Easter.

I made a trifle with four kinds of fresh berries. It's probably a little bit of a risk because I used a nice creamy yogurt instead of that chemical laden pudding which is always popular. It also isn't chocolate. We'll see how it goes over. I tried to whip some cream to put on top but the dang stuff just wouldn't stiffen up. Wonder what's up with that. It's really pretty, too.

More later...more pictures...more stories...more more more.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010

more spring

I went to the garden center today. Just as I drove down the street, a big ass wind came up and blew dirt all over the place and brought in a ton of hard rain. It wasn't a good day to shop the outside plants but I had a good time looking at the indoor plants...that will eventually go outside. I love that place and think, if it weren't for the mice, I could live there.

I woke up at 3:30 this morning so it's been a nice long day and I feel like I've gotten my money's worth out of a vacation day. I went to the Pulse early and did my fast 30 minute run/walk. I'm just getting back on the horse after suffering with strep for a week so that's all I did. Tomorrow I'll add weights and then I should be back to business as usual by Monday.
Regis and did our errands early. We were out of the HyVee before it was light this morning, then went to Perkins for a little breakfast. I remembered a few things I wanted at Target...a strainer since Ella used the old one I had as a hair brush last weekend. It was time to replace it anyway so it was no big loss. I bought some spring candles, a few pieces of summer clothing, and some pot holders. It's amazing what a guy needs when he sees it at Target.

That's a viola in the picture. It was my free seasonal gift for having a softball coupon. I wanted to buy pansies but with the rain and wind, I decided there were better days ahead for that.

I think the Howard Fritsch Memorial Rosemary tree can go outside soon. There are daffodils blooming in the garden today. I love spring.

I bought an Easter egg coloring kit. I tried to interest Regis, then Peter, in helping me color eggs to no avail. I like to color eggs but I'm a mixing colors. This is from years of coloring eggs with four brothers who dipped their eggs in one color after another until they were all brown. I looked up the directions for boiling eggs online (I know...) and the safety precautions almost turn you off to doing it. Holy crap. I think we left ours on the table for a week when I was a kid. Didn't we, Mom? Maybe Ella can come and decorate eggs with her Nana.

officially spring

It's officially spring when you have a glass of wine on the patio. I came home Thursday and Regis had set up the table and chairs and chilled a bottle of wine. Here I am...first sip of the season. It was a gorgeous day but not as warm as they (whoever they are) predicted. Yesterday was even better but we were out and about instead of sitting on the patio. They (again) say rain for today and the weekend will be cooler. The flowers will appreciate that.

I made some last minute changes to my Easter menu. No matter how many kids beg for it, I can't bring myself to make a salad that calls for Mountain Dew. Tiffany said it looks like phlegm which also didn't help my feelings for it. So, now we're making Paula Deen's cranberry and pineapple salad. Also subbed green beans with bacon for asparagus. I think that will go over better.

On my way to the Pulse to work out. Then to the grocery store and Target although I can't remember what I wanted to go to Target for anymore.

More later, no doubt.