Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snow vs. Snow

It's snowing in St. Louis. Well, sort of. I grew up in Omaha where snow is serious business. Snow there is big. Big flakes. Big drifts. Big mounds of the white stuff to play in. Snow in St. Louis is wet. Flakes come down, but by the time most of them touch the ground it's just wet like rain.

So it's "snowing" here and the grocery store is packed with weirdos buying eggs, bread and milk to hold them over until they're able to dig their way out of nothing other than wet pavement. Seriously. Another non-event St. Louisans work themselves up over needlessly.

St. Louis Snow:












Omaha Snow:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Say cheese-cake.

I just made the most beautiful cheesecake. From scratch. I have to wait until Monday to put the topping on it, then I'll show you a picture. It's for my Southern Living party. The girls (and Joey) are going to love it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

OPA RIP

The world's oldest person died yesterday. The newspaper said she was 115 years and 220 days old. Edna Parker lived (and died) in Shelbyville, Indiana. The title of oldest person alive now goes to Maria de Jesus of Portugal, who is currently 115 years and 78 days old.

I don't know. "Oldest person alive" doesn't seem to be a title I want to strive for. I wonder how long Edna Parker was the OPA. I wonder how long Maria de Jesus will hold the OPA title. Doesn't seem to be a big future in it. There's always someone in the wings gunning for you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Abundantly good time


Hope you all had a wonderful Thankgiving.

We had our own set of highlights:

* Four generations represented--oldest 98, youngest 5 (conspicuous lack of babies this year. Jessica?).
* Four dogs of various breeds and sizes attended.
* My son scored gas for $1.39 on his way to the festivities.
* Backup ovens at the church made dinner possible.
* Walmart open and accommodated two emergency runs: butter (before dinner), plastic containers for leftovers (after dinner).
* Uncle Michael won this year's post dinner card game by a single point over my mom. Recount not demanded.
* No political, religious, or otherwise uncomfortable discussions all day.
* Cowboys crushed the Seahawks.
* Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.

We missed some of our regular attendees (Jennifer and Aaron and family; Jeremy and Jennifer and family, and Jonathan), but other than that can't think of how this year's Thanksgiving could have been improved on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Keira vs. Natalie

Do you get these two confused?

Keira Knightley


Natalie Portman



Related Posts:
Gary Busey vs. Mickey Rourke
John Podesta vs. Rahm Emanuel

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remember not to act afraid. Animals can smell fear. And they don't like it.*

{* Homer Simpson}


I've been known to harbor some irrational fears. My dentist, Dr. Obi-wan-ken-obe has to give me nitrous oxide to clean my teeth.

I take Xanax before every flight. Lots of Xanax.

I looked up the possibility of Mt. Etna blowing its lid while we were visiting Italy.

For awhile I even worried about being tossed overboard on our cruise ship.

So...imagine my terror when I read this on the FOX News website:

Brazilian Bee Rampage Kills One, Hospitalizes Nine

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Authorities say bees have attacked a group of roadside workers in Brazil, killing one and sending nine others to the hospital.Authorities say the workers were cleaning a road in the interior city of Andradina in Sao Paulo state when the bees attacked.

Firefighter Davis Henrique says most of the workers escaped by running from the bees, but 65-year-old Antonio Pereira da Silva fell and was stung nearly 500 times.

The other workers were later released from the hospital without serious injuries.

Henrique said Tuesday that the noise from the workers' lawnmowers likely caused Monday's attack.

Public Service Announcement: How much it costs to fly your luggage

For your travel planning purposes, this from the Wall Street Journal:



Remember when bags, food, pillows, blankets and drinks were free?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Missing my mojo


Just for the record.

Here's what I should be doing: Cooking, cleaning, getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Here's what I am doing: Procrastinating.

Here's what I want to be doing: Eating snacks, sleeping, reading, watching television, knitting, playing scrabble, drinking hot chocolate with real whipped cream.

Good thing I work better under a tight deadline. We leave Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family at my grandmother's house. We're taking the turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and dressing.

I think I better get busy. I'll just start with something small and move on from there. See where it takes me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Random

I put on a winter coat I haven't worn for months. Here's a list I found in the pocket:

Wine
Foam letters
Fruit salad
Ziplocs
EE toys
Dinner?
Baby bed

I don't know how these things fit in my life even six months ago. We don't drink wine. I don't know any EE. And, I don't have a baby. Where was I going that would have foam letters and fruit salad? The one thing on the list that makes sense is "dinner" and that has a ? behind it.

Worrisome. Very worrisome.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Edward vs. Jacob...no competition

Last weekend I read the book, and this weekend we saw the movie Twilight. Apparently there's a huge rumbling over who's hotter, Edward or Jacob. Fans are proclaiming themselves either Team Edward or Team Jacob members. For me, there's no competition. I'm going to Team Jasper.

Jasper is Edward's younger "brother."

Edward


Jacob



Jasper


No competition, right?

Did I like the movie? Well, it's very true to the book. So, if you liked the book, you'll love the movie. To give you a preview of what you're in for, here are some lines from the movie:


"Do I dazzle you?"

"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb."

"You're exactly my brand of heroin."

"If I could dream, I would dream about you and not be ashamed."


All these lines are delivered with straight faces. It's not Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, but it's a nice love story. If you're a teenage girl--which I'm not--you'll love it.

Twilight is #1 at the box office this weekend ($35.7 million on Friday alone), blowing away competition like the new James Bond movie and Disney's newest animated movie, "Bolt."
Related Post: Twilight

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inheritance


One of the things I've inherited from my dad, besides his love of books, his wide-set blue eyes, and his love of all things related to English history, is the ability to go from 0 to 10 on the righteous indignation scale with customer service types.

I used to beg to go with him anytime he was returning something to a department store or going to pick a car up from a service center. Those were situations I knew would be completely entertaining as I watched him let loose in a tirade when he felt backed into a bureaucratic corner.

************************


"No sir, we can't give you cash back for that item. Store credit only."

"I don't want store credit. I'm returning the ONLY thing I wanted in this store to begin with. I paid cash!!! This is an outrage!!! I run a company. I know this is totally arbitrary. Who's your supervisor? Is he here? I want to speak to him!"

***************

"I'm sorry sir, your car won't be finished until tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?? I called today at 3 and I was specifically told I could pick my car up today at 6. I don't intend to leave without my car. Who's your supervisor? Is he here? I want to speak to him!"



So. My mother's eye doctor's office left a message to call them. This was especially timely because the whites of one of her eyes has turned bright red. The same thing happened a month ago and we took her in for an office visit. The doctor told us it was a broken blood vessel and not to worry. So, now it's happened to the other eye and guess what, I am worried. Long story short, I called the office this morning.

Me: This is KC, returning a call for my mother, AB.
Office lady: Is she a patient?
Me: Yes.
Office lady: Her name?
Me: AB
Office lady: Can you spell that?
Me: xxxx xxxxxxx
Office lady: And, who's her Doctor?
Me: Dr. G.
Office lady: And why are you calling?
Me: I'm returning a call.
Office lady: Umm...and what was it in regards to?
Me: No idea. You called us.
Office lady: And who called you?
Me: I don't know. There was no name. Just a message to call your office.
Office lady: Well, I really can't help you unless you tell me why you're calling.
Me: I'm calling because your office left my mother a message to call your office.
Office lady: Well without knowing what it's in regards to I can't help you.
Me: Okay, then. Maybe someone will call us back when they realize I haven't called them back.
Office lady: Excuse me?
Me: Never mind. I also need an appointment for my mother.
Office lady: Her name?
Me: Still AB
Office lady: Can you spell that?
Me: Still xxxx xxxxxx
Office lady: Which doctor would she like to see?
Me: Still Dr. G.
Office lady: Morning or afternoon?
Me: Any morning except Tuesdays.
Office lady: We have an opening with Dr. G, Tuesday December 2nd at 10am.
Me: Won't work.
Office lady: I thought you said any morning.
Me: Any morning except Tuesday morning.
Office lady: Ohhhhhh. Dr. G is only in this office on Tuesday mornings.
Me: Then I guess she won't be seeing Dr. G.
Office lady: I thought you said she wanted to see Dr. G.
Me: I did. I also said I wanted to talk to whomever left a message at our house.
Office lady: Ma'am. I have no idea who left a message at your house.
Me: So I gather. She'll see anyone who's available. Any morning except Tuesday.
Office lady: I have an opening 3:00 Wednesday, December 3rd, with Dr. X.
Me: 3 in the morning?
Office lady: 3 o'clock pm.
Me: Of course.
Office lady: Will that work?
Me: Sure. Maybe you guys can figure out why you called us between now and then.
Office lady: Excuse me?
Me: Or maybe you'll just call us back if it's something urgent.
Office lady: Excuse me?
Me: December 3rd, Dr. X, 3pm.

Personally, I think I showed great restraint.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Report--A Map of the World

Finished #51...A Map of the World, by Jane Hamilton. Actually, I read this book before, but didn't realize it. By the time I figured out I'd already read it I was hooked again. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember how it ended (or even much about the middle for that matter), so I had to read the whole thing. Again.

The story revolves around the accidental death of a child, and how the tragedy comes between two friends and a husband and wife.

I never warmed up too much to the main character. To tell the truth, I didn't like her at all.

2 1/2 stars...probably 3 stars the first time I read it.

Today's Weight Watcher Recipe--3 point mashed potatoes


Just in time for Thanksgiving! Save all your points for dessert.

Mashed Potatoes

3 1/2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup non-fat sour cream
1 cup skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in water until tender. Drain.

Put potatoes in a mixing bowl and add sour cream, milk, salt and pepper. Beat to desired consistency. Add more sour cream and milk as needed.

6-8 Servings, 3 points/serving

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vocabulary lesson


Schadenfreude: "taking pleasure in the misfortune of others." Have you ever said, "It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy" about someone you didn't care for very much?

Me too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2 more people I always get confused

Gary Busey

Mickey Rourke

Related post: John Podesta vs. Rahm Emanuel

{yawn} My insomnia is back {yawn}

I'm losing sleep over my insomnia again. Yep. After a couple of months of sleeping soundly through the night, I'm back to tossing and turning, waiting for the land of Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod to welcome me home.

Good things about insomnia:
I get to use the Itty Bitty Book Light I got for Christmas two years ago.
My ideas all sound brilliant at 3am.
Watching an episode of The Shield twice makes the plot clearer.
When I finally do fall asleep, my dreams are always more interesting and more vivid.
I plan out my next day over and over and over.
If I get hungry there's a grocery store that's open 24 hours nearby.
I come up with my best party ideas when I'm trying to fall asleep.
It's very quiet.

Bad things about insomnia:
I wake up looking like a panda bear.
My eyes feel like sandpaper in the morning.
I'm always a little dreamy/foggy the day after a sleepless night.
Feeling overwhelmed leads to insomnia which leads to feeling overwhelmed which leads to insomnia.
The work week feels really, really long.

"The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Twilight

Woo-hoo!!! I did it! Finished book #50 for the year...the blockbuster hit Twilight. The movie comes out this week. Have you read it? Here's the movie trailer

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looking forward to the new week


It's Sunday night. Here's what I'm looking forward to this week:

* Finishing my 50th book of the year, Twilight
* Buying a turkey for our big Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house
* Having lunch with my friend Maureen
* John's brother coming in town for a hockey game
* Watching the second to last episode of The Shield
* Taking Mom to the movies (Twilight, of course!)
* The stock market making a huge rebound

How 'bout you? What's on tap?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Confession (just among us friends)

Okay, so this is really hard to do, but I have a confession to make. In most every area of my life I am very (very) organized.

Not in my basement.

Our basement is used strictly for storage, the freezer, a second refrigerator, the washer and dryer.

It was a disaster. We finally cleaned it.

I think we deserve major props for working so hard. Of course, maybe we also deserve a couple of swift kicks in the rear for letting it get to this state in the first place.






Friday, November 14, 2008

Spamalot--no way!

I read the demand for Spam is skyrocketing now that the economy is in the tank. Sorry, no matter how bad it gets I'm not eating fried Spam sandwiches.

Here are three tips to help you save money on groceries.

#1 tip Go meatless one night a week
Meat is usually the most expensive thing in your grocery cart, and you're probably eating too much of it anyway.

Try this Basic Bean Soup recipe:

1 lb soaked and drained beans (soak overnight in a couple of inches of water, drain the next morning)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon Olive Oil or other vegetable oil
(Want to add a little frill? Instead of Onion powder -Mince one onion, sauté’ in the 1 tablespoon olive oil)
3 beef or chicken bouillon cubes (or substitute beef or chicken stock as part of water cover)
Water to cover beans 1 inch above top
1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer several hours checking water level occasionally.

#2 Tip Make your own takeout


Rachael Ray has a ton of easy `takeout' recipes you can do at home. Here's a recipe for your own fish and chips...it has a lighter batter and roasted potatoes rather than fried, so you'll save calories as well as your precious dollars.

Fish and Chips 
4 servings


Ingredients:
4 potatoes (about 2 lb/1 kg)
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil (approx)
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) paprika
4 tilapia or catfish fillets
4 cups (1 L) packed baby spinach
lemon wedges

Scrub potatoes; prick in several places. Microwave on high for 4 minutes or until tender-firm. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut lengthwise into wedges.

In large bowl, toss together potato wedges, half each of the oil, cumin, salt and pepper, the turmeric and garlic. Arrange on greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake in 450°F (230°C) oven, turning once, until crispy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in shallow dish, whisk together flour, paprika and remaining cumin, salt and pepper. Press fish into flour mixture, turning to coat; shake off excess.

In large skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; fry fish in batches, turning once and adding more oil if necessary, until golden and fish flakes easily when tested, about
7 minutes.

Add spinach; cover and steam until wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over top.

#3 Tip Eat breakfast for dinner.

Breakfast is always cheaper to make than dinner. Unless you're dining on eggs benedict or something. Personally, I love me some french toast at night.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Try `the closest book' meme

Grab the nearest book.

Open it to page 56.

Find the fifth sentence.

Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the closest.

Here's mine:


She turned, in the dim lamplight, and I perceived that she was untying the lacings of her skirt.

Ooh la la. Very steamy. Can't wait to start March, by Geraldine Brooks.

Oh my.

My husband sent me a link to this and said it needs a blog post:




I'm speechless.

P.S. [It's $199.88 at Sam's Club]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review--Mrs. Kimble

#49 for the year is Mrs. Kimble, by Jennifer Haigh. This is a story about three women who were at one time married to the same man. Ken Kimble, the "chosen" man for all three women never seems to be exactly who he appears on the surface to any of his wives.

The three Mrs. Kimbles, are very different--different ages, different expectations, different goals. And yet, they're all attracted to Ken who frankly doesn't seem like such a great catch to me. Birdie, the first wife, married Ken when she was just 19 and a student at an all-girl Southern Bible college. Joan, the second wife, is Jewish and a writer for Newsweek. Third is Dinah, who babysat for Birdie and Ken's children when she was a teenager.

Ken (somewhat arguably) ends up better off after each of his marriages. His wives fare less well.

Mrs. Kimble had me questioning how often women see men through a lens that colors reality. Sometimes for better...sometimes for worse. Is it possible that women feel such pressure to be in a relationship--even marry--that they choose the `wrong' man knowing it's a wrong choice, but thinking that maybe it's better than no man at all? How sad is that?

Read the book. I give it 3 1/2 stars.

So many years...so many hairstyles

Happy Birthday to me!

I love, love, love birthdays. I may not be too wise, but through the years I've discovered there are fewer and fewer things that are black and white. Life can be as difficult or as easy as you choose to make it. There are a million trillion zillion things I still want to do. And love really is all it's cracked up to be.

My mom told me this would be my best decade yet. She was right, although sometimes I still worry about becoming the cranky old lady living in the house on the corner.

Hope everyone has a great day. I will.

Now, get off my yard.

[Enjoy the photos...]








Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2nd Tuesday of the month


Can it already be? Why, yes it is. Book Club night!!!
This month's selection is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one of those books that sneaks up on you as you're reading it--slowly, slowly--then wham (!), just like that, you're in love.

The book is set in 19th century China in a remote province. Snow Flower and Lily are "laotongs", intimate friends bound together for life by a matchmaker. When the book opens, 80-year-old Lily is remembering her life, beginning in her small village home. The traveling matchmaker visits the village and deems that young Lily is special because she has perfect feet that when properly bound will form the most sought after shape--that of golden lilies. "Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace."

Although the women are inferior to men and only seen as a commodity to their fathers and subsequently their husbands, they eke out a special world of friendship wherein they share their innermost dreams, fears, and hopes. The provincial Chinese women communicate through `nu shu', a secret written code on the folds of their fans (thus, the title). This secret language connects the women on a level that transcends their daily trials.

Lily and Snow Flower are both born under the sign of the horse, but their lives are very different. Lily, the more practical, has a humble beginning as the daughter of a poor, but respected farmer. Eventually, however, her beautiful feet allow her to marry into a prosperous and powerful family. Snow Flower, the dreamer, marries a butcher and suffers through a life of pain, sorrow, and disappointment.

Even though they're laotongs, the women's relationship changes until Lily eventually breaks the bond between them.

The story of Snow Flower and Lily is a convincing portrayal of the universality of the push/pull between love and hate, betrayal and forgiveness, the changing nature of friendships, and the constraints society puts on individuals and their dreams.

5 stars.

Mysterium tremendum


"It is the nature of God to reside in mystery--ineluctable, inexhaustible mystery. And we do not need to understand the cabala of mathematical physics to apprehend the mysterium tremendum. We need only look out the window.

Let your soul go free for a moment into that scene outside your window...and there encounter gape-jawed and silent, the God of birds and birth defects, trees and cancer, quarks and galaxies, earthquakes and supernovas--awesome, edifying, dreadful and good, more beautiful and more terrible than is strictly necessary. Let it strike you dumb with worship and fear, beyond words, beyond logic. What is it? It is everything that is."


Chet Raymo, Professor of physics and astronomy

Monday, November 10, 2008

Come and knock on my door

More houses with yellow doors. Do you think it's a cult?




Related post:
Mellow Yellow

Three places I've always wanted to work...


A library.

A hospital. But not where the sick people are. I only want to work in a hospital office like maybe `intake' or `records' or `billing'.





















The Post Office. I want to have a walking route.

















Sunday, November 9, 2008

Going green, gone bad

I'm all for recycling (theoretically, anyway). But this is a craft project that's taken the notion too far:

If you feel a need to make something like this, stop yourself. BTW, I have the pattern, but in the interest of keeping the world a more beautiful place, I'm destroying it.

P.S. If you're related to me, DO NOT show this to my grandmother. Not unless you want a Capri Sun tote bag for Christmas.