Monday, October 31, 2011

Five for Ten Dollars

The plumber comes tomorrow morning to fix the sink. To say I'm looking forward to that is a bit of an understatement. No more dishes in the bathroom sink and I can go back to cooking and baking and making all kinds of wonderful smelling messes in my kitchen.

But, in the interim, I have to consider what I fix for lunches and suppers so the resulting dishes fit in the bathroom sink. The best course of action, I decided, was to stock up on frozen dinners. Thankfully, they were on sale. Yesterday's breakfast was one of the items I purchased.

This is a Smart Ones French Toast and Turkey Sausage meal. The sausage was good. The french toast was very hard to cut. They give you a syrup packet but it says "One use only" and advises you to toss it away if you don't use it. That can't be "real" syrup in the packet then, if it's not something that can be stored if you don't use it. I have my own syrup which I used.

Lunch today is Lean Cuisine's Orange Sesame Chicken and the last container of yogurt. I can recycle all the package parts and all I have left to wash is the cutlery. If I use the plastic utensils we have in the office, I don't have anything to wash when I get home.

These dinners were 5 for $10.00. At $2.00 a piece, that's probably less than what I can make them for at home. Are they a good value? I'm on the fence about that. Easy and convenient yes, but the ingredient list has things I can't pronounce which makes them less than ideal for watching what one consumes. I just have to get through today and the first thing I want to make tomorrow when I get home from work is this corn, potato and bacon chowder recipe I found. I can almost smell it cooking right now.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Make It Go Away

To say I am not looking forward to this evening would be something of an understatement. Under normal conditions, tonight would just be a mild annoyance. But knowing I don't move fast and will have to get up and sit back down weighs heavily on my mind already. I will be in the living room right when I get home as I want to get working on the next project, now that the material is washed and ironed. I can get those treaters who come to the door. But once I go into the office for the evening, I will not have the front light on, nor will I have any lights, save the one in the office. I'm hoping that sends a clear message that I am not handing things out this year.

It feels very weird, not planning to participate in this holiday. I'm not taking a stand against the wild distribution of junk food, although I have friends who don't participate for that reason. It a simple decision based on mechanics. It hurts to stand up and get going. I'm slow. Hence, it's just better for me not to be getting up and down at erratic times.

That does not mean I didn't get a bag of something to hand out. Until it's obvious I don't have my front porch light on, I'll still get the wee kids and I might as well have something for them. I figured this was good. I can take the rest to the office to share. Yes, I do call it sharing even if the candy dish is on my desk.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Official Ending

I have a horrible case of "I'llgetothatlater" syndrome. There is no known cure for it and it is responsible for my losing things, delaying decisions on things and the general "piling", as opposed to "filing" system that I maintain.

If you told me, earnestly, two years ago, that I would be paying 90% of my bills online, I would have laughed at you, really, really laughed at you. But such is the case now. It is very rare anymore, that I write a check for a bill.

I had to, however, today as there are a couple of companies whose online time to credit my account is longer than if I write a check and mail it. Plus, I wanted to order the 2011 Campbell Soup collector's ornament and that required a check. There was only one in the checkbook when meant a trip to the drawer to get a new stack. That's where the syndrome comes in.

On the left side of the drawer were checks from the old bank, the one that screwed me, that caused my financial problems. I know I held onto them until all accounts were closed, but that's now been 16 months. I can safely get rid of all the blank checks.

It was a great feeling to rip all these in half and drop them in the recycling bin. My involvement with this company will be for years to come as I continue to pay off what I owe. They have, in the past two months, tried to change the terms of the agreements hashed out in the summer. I just get a bill with a new amount on it. I call and tell them, "No, that amount is not the amount I agreed to." They make some comment about "re-examining all accounts" and I tell them I have a letter and they better not change anything. Then I write all this down and send a letter to my congressman and the Illinois Attorney General.

And I get a rather perverse pleasure out of talking to some person who has been handed my file and calls to say, "I need to talk to you about your credit card." "I don't have a credit card with you." "Well, I see an overdue balance here." "On an active credit card?" "Um..." "You people closed my cards years ago without letting me know which is, as you should know, against the law. I have never received a reason why nor have I received an apology. I don't have a credit card with you and I pay my bill on time so calling me is wasting both your time and my time. Have a good day." Click.

I know. I know. The person on the other end of the line is just doing what they were told and is trying to make a living. Probably, they were just hired 9 months ago. They have no idea this mess is 2 years old now. I should be more courteous.

As I ripped up these checks, I thought about the last 2 years. They haven't apologized. They have never explained what happened. I won't yell or swear, but I certainly won't listen to anything they have to say when it doesn't seem that they honor it. Ripping up these checks symbolically ends our relationship. I have to hold canceled checks for 10 years but you can be certain, when I rip up the final check, 10 years from now, I will toast that with a hearty glass of ale.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


A Simple Act

Today was the day I sat down to go from rich to poor in 20 minutes. I hate doing it because it emphasizes the "I don't have" over the "I do have". But the good news is that I paid all the bills and there is money left over to pay for the plumber coming on Tuesday morning, as long as said plumber doesn't exceed $700. Beyond that and I'm sunk. I've also been able to order my daughter's birthday and Christmas presents (David is done.), which made me feel good too.

It's a day for accomplishing things. Nothing is ever a simple 2 step process. Take sweeping the floors. I sweep but it's maybe once every other month that I "sweep". Take the rugs outside and shake them. Pile everything on the floor on top of the recliner. Remove the dust from Pilchard's tail because she chose to sit next to the pile you've swept up. Move the recliner and lamps. Find the cat toys in the corners and pull the dust off them. Sweep the dust through the kitchen to the back door where it can be scooped up and dumped in the garbage. Oh and repeatedly bang the dust mop on the deck to knock off the strings of dust bunnies and bits of dried leaves that stick to the mop. Once this is done, put everything back.

I have to sit down now. I must remember, when I go see the doctor this month for a follow up, to mention my gait. My right hip hurts from doing the above. It was a 30 minute job but I feel as I did in my 9th month of pregnancy when I developed sciatica. I'm sure it's because, unconsciously, I have altered my standing, my moving and my walking to reflect the problems with my knees. A 15 minute rest and I'll be able to work on dishes and another project.

This simple act, though hardly simple in execution, has made my house feel cleaner. I walk into the living room and it looks nice. Pilchard's sitting on and sitting in boxes are still there as is the box of toys. A few are scattered across the floor. The rugs are stretched out until later when they will be attacked. There's dusting I could do, but the simple act of sweeping the floor has lifted my spirits. All of the dust and dirt I saw when I would sit in the recliner and read is gone. It's a good way to end October.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Did He Do That?

Saturday afternoon, as I sat at the computer after the football game, there was a scratching at the office windows to my left. I turned to see what was making the noise and here was a squirrel, with a rather large walnut in its mouth, stretched against the window. The camera was right here but I couldn't get it turned on fast enough to get the photo of him looking in the window. Instead, I got the photo of him running away.

Sunday, I was cleaning and went to put a stack of recyclables in the can. I tried to shut the lid but it wouldn't shut properly. One end was clearly out of skew. I opened the top to look at the hinge and saw this. 

How the heck did he get it in this spot when I always keep the lid closed? I removed the nut and put it on the deck railing. It was there all through Monday but was gone today when I came home. Sneaky bugger.

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


The End of Another Fall

I had to drive to Mishawaka, Indiana today to pick up equipment. The reds and dark oranges are predominate now. It hasn't been this colorful in several years.

I'm sad that I could not enjoy it more, even just sitting on the deck. Winter's approach scares me, for the first time in my life. I want these 70 degree days to linger until, say, December 15th. Then we can get 6 inches of snow which hangs around through early March, just enough to remind us of winter but not so much that I'm terrified to shovel it.

It was nice to be out and about. My right knee started hurting after 2 hours in the car. I am going to Iowa in November. I will need to plan to get out at 2 hours and walk around a bit. I think that will help.

It was very windy today too and the zipper broke on the driver's side window. I'm going to stitch the window shut for winter. I can't afford to replace the top now. If I stitch it shut and cover the area with Gorilla tape, which I'm told is stronger than duct tape. I should be okay through the winter. It's always something.

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Iowa beat Indiana today and I finished sewing all the ornaments.

Isn't that an awesome pile? There are 80 different ornaments in that pile, 80. 

I have two lists. One list was absolutely must get an ornament. The second list was would like to send an ornament if I have extra just because I consider them a friend. I have more than enough to fill out list number two. I'm thrilled. In a month, I'll be sitting at my living room table wrapping these, stuffing them into an envelope with a card and preparing to mail them. I'm very happy with the result. I maybe should keep one for myself, but we'll see. Friends and family come first. 

Now to wash the material for the next project. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


This is Easier

My hands are improving. I still wake up in the morning with stiffness and pain in the wrists, but the pain in the fingers is, for the most part gone. I also have pain in my right hand and wrist when I have used my computer mouse for too long. I don't exhibit evidence of carpal tunnel. The orthopedist said it's all related to the trauma my joints felt with the fall.

My knees are a small step better. Having the cane helps tremendously in getting up and down. But, I think, just like the doctor said, it's taken time to improve. Some days will be worse than others. 

I know I have improved with my hands because this morning, I wanted juice with my peanut butter toast. A couple months ago, I burst into tears trying to open a bottle of Fusion. My hands hurt so much and I could not grip, hold or turn the cap to break the seal. I wound up taking a knife and scoring around the plastic ring so I didn't have to break off the ring to get the bottle open. 

I realized this morning, I just picked up the bottle with one hand and put it on the counter. Two months ago, I didn't trust my hand strength to keep hold of the bottle and was using two hands on everything I had to lift. Maybe that's not a bad idea but some stuff I can carry one-handed. 

Then, I opened the bottle without pain and without having to score the plastic ring off the cap. This is a victory. It's taken 6 months to get here. 

I find going down stairs is very painful while going up them not so much. I still try to avoid stairs if at all possible, but it doesn't hurt as much to go downstairs to do laundry. This is good. I'm a bit behind. 

And this weekend is kind of an unintentional experiment. I forgot to call in my prescription until last night. It has to be submitted to my doctor for approval so it's going to be Tuesday before it can be renewed. I did not take any Meloxicam last night so I have meds for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. My knees don't feel much different than if I had taken the drug. Based on how I feel tonight at bed time, I may chance one more day without just to see. I can always take it if it seems like I'm going downhill. 

It's been baby steps, frustratingly small improvements and large set backs, but I am encouraged. I seem to be mending, albeit slowly. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


This Vexes Me #13

My company went to a new logo and tag line a little over 18 months ago. We got a note from corporate that they had a bunch of shirts with the old logo on them and they were free to whomever got a request in first. So we all filled out the sheet and sent it back. I couldn't get my first choice, a tan long sleeved shirt but I did get my second choice, a white long sleeved shirt. I put it on and here's the length of the sleeves.

I don't get this. Granted, this is a men's XL size but look at the length of these sleeves. Are guys arms that much longer? It's a good 3 inches from where I want it to be, at my wrist. 

So, yesterday, I hauled out my XL Iowa Hawkeyes tee shirt to wear to work since they are playing Indiana today. Look at this length.

This is a guy's shirt, too. It's just the right length. I'm not sure I quite understand the 3 inch difference between the two shirts. It's frustrating because the white shirt fits everywhere else but the sleeves make me feel like I should hunch over and walk on my knuckles. 

I'm wondering if I can just pin up the cuff to the length I like, sew it there and then cut off the excess. I've got a couple of other company shirts that also have sleeves too long for my taste. I have to shove them up to the elbow because they won't stay at the wrist and then they flop down and cover my hand at the exact wrong time. 

Maybe it's me. Maybe my arms are too short, proportionally. Maybe I need a couple hours on the rack. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Cold Feet

I've discovered, in this drive to sleep better, that the temperature of my feet makes a big difference in the quality and quantity of sleep. If my feet are cold, then I struggle to fall and stay asleep. The rest of me can be toasty, but I'm out of luck if the feet aren't warm. And it's only the top half, too, which I find kind of unusual. If the tops of my toes are cold, I'm miserable. Get them warm and I sleep fairly well.

I'm still having problems with the inevitable rolling over one does during the night. My left knee is the problem. It gives me pain regardless of the side I'm sleeping on. The orthopedist recommended a pillow between my knees. My friend Patt, said there is a pillow you can get at drug stores that's designed to be between knees. I haven't been able to find it.

So, what I've been doing is turning on a heating pad about an hour before bed. I have it on top of the covers to warm the area where my feet go. Mija likes to lie on the heating pad so that makes sure the heat is in the blankets and sheet and mattress.

And now that the temperatures are dropping into the 30's at night, it's time for socks. I don't wear just any socks to bed. I wear the fuzzy ones. Combined with the heating pad, my feet get warm quickly and stay warm all night. I know a number of friends are "Ewww. How can you wear socks to bed?" It's like anything else. You get used to it and I'd rather have socks and warm feet than no socks and no sleep because my feet are cold.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survey Says

It can now be revealed; the name of the toothpaste for which I did a survey.

I like this. My biggest complaint was that it is so thick that it's hard to get out of the tube. If I'm having problems, someone with genuine arthritis in their hands would never be able to get the paste out. I get to keep the unused portion so this is my toothpaste of choice right now.

Would I buy this in the store? The suggested retail price is comparable to any of Crest's current offerings. I don't buy it unless I have a coupon or it's on sale, and, even then, what's the sale price? If the difference between a tube of this and a tube of, say, Aim, is $2.50, that $2.50 is a loaf of bread or a box of cereal. It's about maximizing what I can get out of my limited resources. Still, I will keep this brand in mind. It will be interesting to see when or if this product is released and what the ultimate price will be set at.

So, doing this survey netted me $8.00 in fake money. I decided I should "spend" some of this accumulated cash. The survey company used to have more items available. I did not want Omaha Steaks because there was nothing I could get free. I had to make a purchase. I do not want free magazine subscriptions. I have too many to read as it is. That left me with adding frequent flier miles or point on hotel stays. I do belong to Holiday Inn's Priority Club. I decided to convert this cash to points. It netted me 12,000 points. I don't know if that total, combined with what I've already earned will be enough for a free night. I will have to wait until the points get applied to my club to see.

But that could be very good. I don't travel all that much but the chance to go some place and stay for free could be a good excuse to get out of the house or to go visit someone I haven't seen in ages. Now back to earning 50 cents, 10 cents, $1.00 on surveys.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making Do

I often feel as if the physical world is against me. I try to wander through life but every time I think I can get ahead, the proverbial "other shoe" drops. I'm feeling that right now.
The kitchen sink is draining at a drip. It was kind of slow all summer, but application of Liquid Plummer kept it open. There's been a leak under the sink where pipes meet and I felt that just needed a judicious application of caulk to stop it. I have problems squeezing a caulking gun right now so I haven't been able to do that.

Well, last week, the sink slowed to what I can only think is a drip drain. It's impossible, under those conditions, to get dishes done. So, I've resorted to washing them in the bathroom sink. For the most part, it's okay. I have to plan what I want to eat so that the items needed to cook supper can fit in the sink. I have scrubbed some pans in the tub but it's hard on my knees to be kneeling over the tub to wash the dishes.

At the end of the month, I need to call a plumber. I have this feeling that this isn't a simple rod out the line. And, in order to do that, the pipes under the sink have to be disassembled because you can't get a snake down the mouth of the drain. I have a bonus coming at the end of the month. We got no raises this year, period, but that's a rant for another post. I will use some of that to hire a plumber to fix this.

In the meantime, I keep on keeping on. Some times I get so tired of that, just existing and making do.

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


A Box

A box came yesterday. It's a tall box, about 3 feet in length. It was on the front stoop when I got home. The top was wet because it had starting drizzling about 2:30 and had continued off and on the rest of the afternoon.

I couldn't remember ordering anything tall and thin. The only thing I have ordered is flat and rectangular. In looking at the return address, I see this is from my daughter. Huzzah! I know what's in it, but is it really that big?

Opening up the box, I find a whole bunch of goodies.
Yes, that's Jell-o. There was also a box of pudding and Jell-o's cheesecake in the bottom. There's Aida cloth, floss and threads, counted cross-stitch projects and ribbon embroidery kits. Carole's mother-in-law had the crafting supplies. She said her eyesight isn't as good as it was and this kind of thing is difficult for her now. She gave it all to me. I am so grateful. I've never done ribbon embroidery so I'm anxious to try this. I had a blast looking through everything, all the patterns and kits Kitty sent. And the floss is in gorgeous colors that just make me want to pick out a pattern and get started. I have to get my next project done first.

In the very bottom was the object I knew was coming, a cane. This is a very nice cane with an adjustable length and what's called a 'shock absorber' at the base. I used it this morning and it will make standing up and sitting down so much easier. It doesn't remove the pain in my knees, but having something to lean on means I don't struggle to get up.

Of course, since this is a box, it had to be examined. I never saw Mija in the box, although she might have checked it out while I was out of the room. She sniffed it when I brought it in and sniffed it when I emptied it. Now that it's been checked out, it's been ignored so I'll be able to recycle the box.

Thank you, sweetie. We all got something out of that.

Beverage: Earl Gray tea


Next Project

After work, I went to JoAnn Fabrics. In my mind, I knew exactly what I wanted to get for the next sewing project which is also Christmas presents. I found the floral material right away. The 'watermarked' solid below it is for contrast in the project. I really like the design.

But I couldn't find exactly what I wanted for the other project. I know it exists but it was not at this JoAnn. So then it become a case of do I drive over to Hobby Lobby which sells similar kinds of fabric and see if they have what I, ideally, want or do I pick something else? What if I drive all...the...way over to Hobby Lobby and they don't have it? Do I come back to JoAnn or just get something there? It seemed like any cost savings I might have would be eaten up by driving. I decided to get the flame patterned material at the top. It will turn out well and will be an attention grabber, which I know the recipient won't mind at all.

The fabric was on sale 50% off, which was nice. It wasn't as inexpensive as I had hoped. In conversation with a lady who was also looking in the same area as me, she remarked that fabric stores have realized they can tag what we would have called 'plain old cotton prints' as quilting fabrics, up the price and make more profit. She said she hasn't seen any of the $1.99 per yard fabrics in ages unless it's kids stuff in the bargain bin. Since I don't frequent fabric stores as I used to, I can't vouch for her sentiment. Still, even a bit more for the fabric was a bargain compared to regular price and I'm very happy with what I got. Pilchard liked the fabric, too.
Now to finish the last of the ornaments, wash each piece and I can cut out the next projects.

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


Sunday, October 16, 2011

So Many Patterns

Today, I will work on the last bunch of ornaments to be turned, stuffed and sewn. Then it's time to look ahead to the next project. I know exactly what I want to do. It involves a trip to the fabric store, which sent me wonderful coupons in the mail last week (almost as if they knew. Where did I put my tin foil hat?)

I went to the basement to do wash and to rummage around for the pattern I know I have. I used to sew a lot more than I do now. When Carole was in grade school, I made quite a few of her clothes. I sewed stuff for myself.

This is an old metal pattern storage unit. I got it some 25 years ago. A fabric store where a friend of a friend worked part-time was going out of business. Everything was for sale including fixtures. At the time, I had my patterns stuffed in boxes. It got to the end of the going out of business sale and the store owner started giving stuff away. As long as I could haul it away, I could have this. The friend and her husband had a van so they got it and brought it to my house.

I spray painted the body silver and the drawer fronts blue and red. It sits in the basement and holds, not just a drawer full of patterns, but also a lot of my crafting items. If I am pretty sure I have it but I can't find it upstairs, then chances are good it's in one of the drawers in this unit.

I spent some time leafing through what's in this drawer. So many memories. I was going to make that or this and Carole had that in blue. Oh, there's her Christmas dress from 7th grade. That one was beautiful. I have some I bought with the intention of making and never got done. I look at these and realize I'll probably never make them. I know there's a huge market for vintage, but are patterns from the late 1980's and early 1990's considered 'vintage'? Is there a market for these? Should I try to sell the ones I never made?

I found the pattern for the next project. Now, I just need to find the specific material, and yes, I'm looking for very specific material which I have seen, in order to make it. I get an expense check this week. After taking care of essentials, a trip to the fabric store is in order.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Cookie Fail

It occurred to me that I don't talk much or show, my failures. Failures are as much a part of cooking as successes.

Don't those look good? They are nice and golden and have a lovely glossy glow to them. These were "Orange Drops". The batter whipped up very quickly and tasted pretty good. I was making them to send to David to fulfill the food bet on the Iowa loss to Penn State. I have one batch of tried and true cookies made so I thought something new and different might be nice. 

How are these an abject failure? They never "set". You could not pick up a whole cookie. It was impossible. They never hardened. I like soft cookies but there is usually a crust that keeps the cookie intact. When you tried to pick one of these up, it would crumble. 

I have no idea what I did wrong. I followed the recipe exactly. It reminded me of my grandmother. She could bake these fantastic cakes and bars and desserts, but she could not, to save her soul, make chocolate chip cookies. I decided this wasn't a recipe worth saving, that I have so many that I want to try, I tossed it and will bake something else. 

So, there you have it, a fail. It happens. I felt a twinge in tossing these as I'm tossing the money for the ingredients, but you can't have every recipe you try be a winner. Let's see what other things I have in the pile.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


My First Hockey Game

My boss retires at the end of the month. He's not quite got the tally down to hours and minutes, but he certainly has it down to days. We wanted to do something as an office but we were way too busy during the summer to consider a baseball game. So, Mike suggested we go to opening night of the minor league hockey team, Chicago Wolves. "I know you don't like hockey, Deb." I'm 'meh' on it. The company was picking up the bill so I've got nothing to lose.

Iowa was playing Northwestern in the evening and, of course, it was on TV. At the restaurant, people joked that I could stay at the restaurant and they'd come get me after the hockey game. In actuality, the two ran about the same amount of time with the football game starting before and ending after the hockey game. I gave the pseudo offer a thought but decided no. I won't pay my own money to see a hockey game so this was my chance.

The Wolves play their games at the Allstate Arena, what some of us used to know as the Rosemont Horizon Center. The game was at 7. We got there at 6:45. At 7, they hauled out these pieces and put them on the ice. You can't see real well. It was hard to take good clear photos because flash didn't work real well and although there's decent lighting, it's not the brightest. These are 2 "paws" and a "mouth". The team skates through this onto the ice. The opponent, the Milwaukee Admirals, skated around this after the Wolves were introduced.

It seems, nowadays, that there is a certain amount of flash and boom that is needed in introducing a professional sports team. The Wolves, while being minor league, have adopted the desire for explosions and loud noises. Hence, the need for the scoreboard to explode.

And the paws to emit jets of flame.

We could feel the heat from where we sat. We also noticed the underside of the arena roof is wood. Is that such a good thing to have columns of fire shooting up toward a wooden roof?

In between periods, the zamboni came out; they have 2 actually; and they flew this blimp over the audience. It dropped coupons for a free bag of cookies at the concession stands. They threw t-shirts and numbered balls from the Illinois lottery into the stands. Little kids from a Barrington, Illinois youth hockey club played each other between periods and fans cheered each goal. The kids had trouble standing upright in their ice skates so any goal had to feel really special.

I enjoyed myself. It was kind of quiet, for a sporting event. I expected more noise. Mike said an NHL game is really loud, that you should bring earplugs for one of those. It wasn't a complete sell-out. We noticed a number of seats, some pretty good ones, too, were empty.

This is early in the game and you can still see the haze left over from the fireworks and flames.

We got to see a lot of hockey. The game was tied, 2-2, at the end of regulation. There were only 2 fights,  for those who follow hockey and ask about those things. There was a "sudden death" overtime where no one scored, followed by a shoot-out, one player versus the goalie. Milwaukee won that 3-1.

It was a fun time. My knees weren't too bad during the game. There was plenty of room to sit and be comfortable.  Mike was gracious to, occasionally, check the Iowa score on his iPhone. I thought, for sure, they'd post scores of other sporting events but perhaps there are far too many to put up on the scoreboard. Although the Wolves lost, Iowa won.

Do I know more about hockey now than I did before? Kind of. I still wouldn't spend my money on tickets but if someone gave me tickets, I'd go. I did enter the drawing to win suite box seats. That would be cool to win and everyone go again.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Clue on the Age

I finished pinning all the ornaments last night. I just have to sew back to front, turn and stuff and sew up the opening and I'm done. It's been a great fun project. I can elevate my feet and knees while doing it, or multi-task or watch TV or a movie. I ran out of the braid I was using to make the hangers so I rummaged in the box (the contents of which are mostly on the table in the office since Pilchard sleeps in the box) for something else. I found this rickrack.

This is old. This was from Great Aunt Adele's collection. I looked on the back of the wrapper for a copyright date and there isn't one. It's the right color so I used it to finish up the hangers for the ornaments left.

A brief internet search didn't turn up any comparable labels to get an idea of how long this rickrack has been around. I'm guessing at least the 1960's. It is in exceptionally good  condition, too.

Now that this project is done, I can negotiate with the cat for the use of the box. I got her a new box but she wants to be near me when I'm in the office so I may have to look for another box for the office. The things we do for the comfort of the cats.

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Autumn Is...


Excessive Halloween decorations.

Sunbathing on the deck on balmy Sundays.

Golden canopies.

Pilchard returning to my lap.

I love fall. 

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm Sorry, eh, Perhaps Not

I don't move fast by any stretch of the imagination right now. Oh I can 'outrun' a turtle or a snail, but that's about it. My hands seems to be much improved, in the month since seeing the orthopedist. My knees, not so much. It's the getting up and sitting down that is still incredibly painful. Once I'm up, I can move, just not very fast.

This comes into play when the phone rings. If I am not right by it, the chances go from 100% to 0%, depending upon distance from the phone, that I'm going to get it before it goes to voice mail. If I'm in the basement, I don't even bother considering whether I'll get it. If I'm in the other room, I might start that direction in an attempt to get there. If I'm in the same room, I've got a good shot at picking up the receiver. I pay for voice mail and, after having the program changed from good and reliable to new and improved, I finally got my voice message back. If you leave a message, I'll return your call. I have to apologize to Charly again for not checking my message until about 6 hours after he left it. I got involved in the day's activities which included yelling at the TV as Iowa lost because we all know they can hear you if you yell loud enough.

So yesterday, I was in the bedroom putting away clean clothes when the phone rang. I thought about trying to get it, but I was at the edge of where I can. "They'll leave a message," I told myself. Well, she did and it wasn't exactly what I expected.

A little background. I've known this woman, I'll call her Nora, for about 8 years. I can't remember actually meeting her but I think we met on a job. She was an administrative assistant. I usually have to check in with them and I'm sure we got to talking. I have vague recollections of having lunch together while on this project.

In the intervening 8 years, she's gotten married, divorced, changed jobs 3 times, moved out of her condo into an apartment that's on the 4th floor of a building without an elevator so I couldn't come visit at the moment if I wanted to, gotten a dog, gotten rid of the dog, bought a car and had it repossessed. The phone calls used to be exchanged every other week. Then, as life got more hectic, we'd go months without talking. Such is the case right now. It's been since the end of June that I actually talked to her.

I've wondered, as her life changed in drama-ridden acts, why I kept her as a friend. I think that doubt is why I haven't called her since early March. Maybe she had the same feelings and that's why she didn't call me. After yesterday, I doubt I'll hear from her again.

She almost never leaves a voice mail. She told me as much 8 years ago. She just has no use for voice mail. She did leave a two sentence voice mail yesterday. "It's Nora. Call me." Dutifully, I did, about 2 hours after the call. When she answered, I got a 45 minute discussion of what she was going through, the latest trials and tribulations, who stood her up, who insulated her (She has quite the memory.), how her current employers are the scum of the earth. My job, during that portion of the call, is to say, "Uh huh. Oh. Mmmhumm." I pay less attention to her actual words and more attention to the pauses in the voice stream where a sound is required.

After her verbal tsunami, she asked what I'd been doing that morning and when I mentioned I was working on laundry when she called, launched into a "Well why couldn't you answer the phone?" She's never been to my house. Driving into the suburbs is beneath her. I started to explain that my knees don't allow fast movement and she said, "What a lame excuse. If you don't want to talk to someone, just tell them."

I paused. The situation was ripe. The proverbial door, as it were, had been left wide open. Do I take it? I loathe confrontation and the words forming in my head were possibly going to lead to confrontation. I exhaled and said, slowly, "My knees are not good. I do not move fast anymore. I may be like this the rest of my life and I'm struggling with that thought. All my other friends understand this, know that this causes me pain and depresses me."

She interjects, "Oh for the love of all. I was just kidding. You simply cannot take a joke."

Again I paused. The voice inside my head, the sane one, the one that can see through all the smoke and mirrors, said, "Now. Just do it."

I took a deep breath and I said, "I don't know why someone would find this funny. A fall has lead to an extreme change in my life, a change that has impacted me greatly both physically and emotionally. Anyone who would think to make a joke of this is not a friend of mine." And, believe it or not, I hung up the phone. Me. I hung up on someone who was not trying to sell me windows or trying to get me to give them $800 a month to pay off a debt or telling me why their candidacy would be better for America than the other guy's. I hung up on someone who seemed to be making light of the misery I find myself in (my perceived misery, you realize).

I have not heard from her since. After hanging up the phone, I started making cookies. I was shaking. The whole conversation played like a broken record, over and over in my head. I turned the TV to a football game just to drown out the voices. I remember everything clearly, even today, but what I remember, is the tone in her voice, the clear dismissal of my problem, the clear 'I don't believe you' undercurrent in what she said.

I was talking with my friend, Matt, in the evening. "Sometimes, you have to cut some people loose," he said. I agreed with him. It's kind of funny in this case. I've had to do this before, let someone go, and I've always wondered how I could have made the friendship better. In this case, I wonder why I let it continue for so long. Honestly, I didn't think much about her other than when I'd page through the address book and see her name. This won't change my life appreciably. I should have done it sooner.

So, please be understanding when the phone goes to voice mail. I am probably home, but if I'm not right there, there is no way I'm getting to it. For those who have my cell phone number, the same thing applies. I don't wish any ill will on Nora. She needs friends. I just don't happen to be one of them.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Where Am I Supposed to Sit?

Iowa played Penn State on TV today. It's the perfect set up for me to work on the rest of the ornaments., except...

I got up to wash a load of dishes and Mija took my space. They actually let me sit there between them so long as I gave equal ear scratches. Eventually, Mija jumped down and went to find some sunshine to lie in. Iowa lost and I got the trims all sewn on the ornaments. Tomorrow, I can pin the fronts to the backs. They might let me sit in the middle again. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Have You Ever Considered...?

Tuesday, I drove into fog.

It was heavy and thick and clung to the landscape like it had been glued there. I love to drive in fog. I love the atmosphere it gives to the world. I love to breathe it in, feeling the water droplets in my lungs. I love to feel it on my face. 

When I went to college in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, fall and spring had intriguingly foggy days. It would roll in off the Mississippi River and, although Viterbo was a small college with a condensed footprint, it could envelope the whole campus and make buildings resemble charcoal drawings. If I could get up earlier in the morning, I might see more fog. As it is, it's usually gone by the time I get up. 

On Friday, the same area was devoid of fog but filled with color. 

Fall is in full bloom. We seem to have received just the right amount of rain to allow color to grow under the green. There is an explosion of bright yellows, oranges and reds this year. I don't remember it being so colorful. It also could be because we've had deliciously warm weather this past week and it's conducive to being outside where you can notice the color. 

I get to the on ramp to Interstate 80 outside of Mishawaka and I have the option of going to Ohio or to Chicago. I actually hesitated. I get to the junction of I-355 and I-80 and I have this option.

I'm in the right lane to go north and home, but I looked longingly at the west bound traffic, at the sign that pointed to Iowa. 

I can't remember a time when I didn't want to have the kind of disposable income and freedom to say, "I want to go that way" and just decide that's the way I'm going. I've always wanted to be able to just hop in the car and follow a road wherever that road may go. It was Friday. I could have just continued the 5 hours on to my mother's. She wasn't expecting me but I tell myself she would have been happy to see me. But I have cats that need tending and a life that can't quite just be chucked to follow Interstate 80 to the next big thing. 

Still, I dream about being able to just drive, to have the money that I could fill out those ends of I-80 that I've never driven or to follow I-55 from its start by Lake Michigan in Chicago to wherever it ends. Maybe some day I can do that. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Maybe It's Me?

As mentioned previously, I was on the road this week. It was a 2.5 hour drive to Mishawaka, Indiana on Tuesday for a meeting, a very productive meeting, to review the client's needs and what we could do for them. I like these kinds of meetings where they lay out the problem and I say, "Well, we can do this or this or you maybe could consider this." Plus, the weather has been gorgeous all week and I get to have lunch on the company since it's folded in with the fee we charge for a meeting.

Tuesday, I had lunch at Steak 'n Shake. I could see it from the Interstate but it took me a bit to find it as it's not close to the exit ramp. I walked in a little after lunch and the place was kind of empty. I was seated promptly but that's the only thing that was prompt. I had to flag down a waitress to be served. Where I was seated, I couldn't be seen over the drink dispenser. If they are going to seat someone there, they need to be more prompt about service.

Plus, the staff congregated there with one of the waitresses doing nothing but complaining about the restaurant manager. From what I could gather, she needed to be at her mother's that night but she was scheduled to work until 6. It also seems that she did not tell him until she was leaving Monday night. I don't blame the manager for being hesitant to let her go when he's got less than 24 hour notice.

One of the fry cooks was trying to 'put the make' on my waitress which further distracted her from serving me. Whatever he was whispering in her ear was making her giggle.

And the couple seated sort of across from me picked the restaurant to have a fight. "I'm tired of you treating me like dirt, Steve. I bend over backwards for you. I won't lie to your probation officer any more." Um...okay. I tried not to look at them, but they were in my line of sight, particularly her.

When Pam and I go out, we are very aware that our conversation can be heard by others in neighboring booths. You can't always keep your voice low, especially when you're emotional about what you're saying. But it just seems as if some things shouldn't be discussed at a restaurant, period.

Case in point. Yesterday, I went back to Mishawaka and installed equipment for the client. Gas had risen 20 cents in the intervening days but I think that's in anticipation of the Notre Dame-Air Force football game. It was still cheaper than around my house.

I decided to go to Bob Evans. There isn't one close to me and I could, if I so desired, get breakfast. I opted for a salad and a small serving of their chicken alfredo. I was seated across from a group of 4.

The only guy in the group was not eating. He spent the meal texting. The woman next to him spent the meal criticizing the younger woman sitting across from her. Everything about her, from her hair to her clothing to her job, was analyzed and determined to be inadequate. The guy would, periodically, chime in with how Robin or Renee or Rachel was better than this woman was. When she would defend herself, that just seemed to give them more ammunition for criticisms.

There was an older woman, "Grandma", with them who was, largely, ignored. She asked for water. I heard her. They didn't say anything to the waitress about bringing a glass of water for Grandma. She reached for an extra napkin and the guy moved them out of reach. Fortunately, a gal walking around refilling iced tea glasses saw that and promptly brought Grandma extra napkins and pointedly asked if she needed anything. They said, "No, she's fine," but I heard her ask for water which was brought right away.

The 'best' part was, as they were leaving, the older woman turned to the guy and said, "We could get some soup for you to take home."

He responded, "No. I can't stand this shit they serve here."

She stared at him. "Then why didn't you say something when we were picking where to go?"

"You know I don't care where we go," he shrugged.

"Well you could eat instead of being so rude," she shot back. They are standing right by my table at this point.

"You're the one who wanted to take your mother out to lunch. I'd have been happy staying home."

"And spending the afternoon in the garage drinking. That's what you're going to do anyway."

I just want to have a quiet lunch on the road. I'm thinking that although it's painful on my knees right now, maybe I should grab something at a fast food joint and not opt to sit. At least the company would be pleasant.

Beverage:  Cranberry pomegranate juice


Thursday, October 6, 2011


I have never owned any other computer but Apple. My ex's company bought a Lisa for him to do his work on. He would, on occasion, bring it home. This was an amazing machine. I remember wishing and hoping we could, one day, have something like this in our home. I still think a program called "LisaList" is the best sorting program I have ever used. I could sort a list of items every way I could think of and any links between cells were preserved.

Our first home computer was a Macintosh IIsi. It cost us $2,500 but I taught myself desktop publishing on it. Carole wrote boatloads of papers on it. The first computer I purchased for myself was iMac. I remember being so proud of myself for being able to set it up by myself. That was one thing Apple took great pride in. Three cords to set up your computer; a power cord, a mouse cord and a keyboard cord.

My current Mac is old by computer standards. I got it in January of 2007. It's been upgraded once and can't be upgraded anymore. I'd love more bells and whistles but I'm happy with what I have.

As we mourn the passing of Steve Jobs, a comment from one of Carole's friends sticks with me about Jobs' impact on life. This friend hated the things Jobs and Apple created, but, without him, computer-ing, as we know it, would not be what it is. Apple forced people to think differently, how they consume information and entertainment.

Carole has never known a world without a desktop computer. Maybe we didn't have one in the house, but some of her friends did. She's never known a world where the processing of information relied solely on TV, radio and newspapers. It could be argued that this change was inevitable, that it was not Jobs' doing. After all, room size mainframe computers had been in use since before Jobs was born. But I think, because of him, computing is a fact of life now. The iPod and the iPhone changed the way we look at music distribution and the way we communicate with others.

In recent years, Jobs' gaunt visage at Apple events caused me to wonder about Apple's direction after him. When he stepped down in August, my gut said he wasn't coming back. I didn't realize the end of the Jobs' era would come so soon.

My gut also tells me that there are lists and flow charts and ideas still bearing the Steve Jobs stamp in the works in Cupertino, California. I think Apple will stumble a bit in the next year as it finds its footing without the visage that everyone recognized. But, I think he planned for this and his legacy will be felt for years to come.

I think about replacing my computer with one designed primarily to play World of Warcraft. Guild mates tout the wonderfulness of what they play on, which are not Apples. I couldn't, can't picture myself walking into Best Buy and getting an Alienware computer. As long as Apple sells computers, that's what I will buy. I think Steve Jobs' legacy is bringing computing, music and communication to the masses.

May he rest in peace.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Say It Ain't So

This exciting tidbit came across my news feed this morning.

(Reuters) - Private forecaster said on Wednesday that heavy snow and extreme cold should be expected in the north central United States, especially in the Chicago area, in the coming winter..

Accuweather's forecast projects Chicago will again be hit by extreme cold weather and several blizzards, as it endured last winter when more than 50 inches fell on the city including a single storm that dropped 20 inches.

Severe cold and heavy snow should expected from the Great Lakes across the Midwest and northern plains states, according to Accuweather.

Oh good grief. One blizzard a winter I could handle. The prospect of more than one is depressing. I guess I should approach some neighbors now and offer to pay them for blowing out the sidewalk and the driveway apron. And, I should plan on using up vacation days to dig out. I do not mind extreme cold. I can deal with that. Heavy snow...

Guess I will get used to watching the world go by as the cats do.

Beverage: Edinburgh's Finest tea


And I Get to Go Again

You're seeing that correctly if you live in a big metropolitan area. That's $3.19 for gas. Where? South Bend, Indiana and I'm willing to bet they think that's expensive.

I had to go to Mishawaka, Indiana for a meeting on a job. It was a gorgeous day and I enjoyed every mile of the drive. Yes, coming back, my right leg started hurting, but knowing I was close to home and could sit and elevate the leg made the last few miles bearable.

I needed lunch so I pulled off the Interstate to head to something I spied. That's when I saw this price advertised. Right now, the cheapest gas close to me is $3.57. I didn't need gas to get home, but you know I filled it at that price. I have to go back to Mishawaka on Friday and I believe I can make it to South Bend on my half tank. You can be sure I'm going to fill it when I get there. Even a jump in ten cents is less than I pay here.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Sewing and Football

Sunday, I finished the last 7 ornaments stuffed and waiting to be closed. Then, I counted what I'd done. You know, when you're three-fourths paying attention to counting and one-fourth paying attention to someone named Devon Hester run a punt back for a touchdown, your counting can get off. I had to mute the TV and do it twice more to be certain of the total.

That's 49 ornaments completed. I dug out the planner and looked over the list of friends and family. I'd love to send something to everyone in the book this year. My original count was 61. I was off by 14. Now, don't you cluck at me and, graciously, reply, "Oh you don't have to send me anything this year. Your friendship is gift enough." (My money is on Perry to parrot that back or Daniel if Perry doesn't. Patt might do it too, just because it will make me laugh.) Just you hush. I do this because I want to, because it's fun. Don't make me stamp my feet, mainly because it hurts my knees to do that.

I had more material left to cut out blocks so I did that later in the day on Sunday.

I honestly, don't know how many I have here. Some were on the salvage edge or where the material was cut from the bolt and will be a bit smaller than others. I will have one oddball because one of the black and white trim Santas and one of the red and white square Santas were missing mates. They are the same size so we'll stick those together.

There is football this weekend so tonight the task, in between dishes, is to pin on trims. Then I can stitch the trims tomorrow and they can be turned and stuffed during the football game on Saturday. I'm so hoping I have just enough trim to finish this without a trip to the store. Once these are done, I have another project in my head that I want to make as Christmas gifts.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


What Would I Do?

The microwave of a friend died a week ago. She was between paychecks so she was going to have to cook meals on the stove top for 5 days before a paycheck arrived and she could purchase a new microwave. I spent time commiserating with her over rotten luck.

We have become quite dependent upon these things. My family did not have one for the longest time and the one I currently use is a family Christmas gift from a friend. I didn't use it all that much at first but I wager I use it daily now.

I know how to cook on a stove and in an oven. Heck, I could even build a fire and cook over a fire if I had to. I remember when these first came out, how big and boxy they were. I remember the hew and cry over how people could get cancer from standing next to one. My mother got a microwave before I did and the first thing she had me cook when I came to visit after she got it was ice cream. "But won't it melt?" "It changes the consistency of it. Just try it." It did and that was very interesting.

I still do a lot of cooking on the stove or in the oven so some basic things would not change. But I heat water and melt butter and reheat leftovers in my microwave. My weekend oatmeal is made there. A room temperature mug of tea is reheated.

What would I do if my microwave died? This microwave is pushing 15 years old. I would have to get a new one, there is no doubt about that. I look at the frozen meals in my freezer. There isn't a good way to conventionally heat them. You used to heat in the oven with microwaving optional. It's the other way around now.

Now that my musings are done, it's time to nuke my lunch. Interesting, isn't it, that you instantly know what I'm doing. And it's doubly interesting that most of us use "nuke" for microwaving. If I was to say, "I'm going to microwave my lunch", you'd find me quaint.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Sunday, October 2, 2011

If My Head Wasn't Attached

I'm missing address labels. While you might not consider this a crisis, I'm slightly worried.

See, I thought, back in July, I had used up what I had. So, I bought more. Exact same kind because I like them. There is an image of a cat on the left side.

I got something like 250 and they come on these nice, roughly, 6 inch by 9 inch sheets of paper. I was preparing some things for mailing and used the last label on this sheet. I can't find any of the rest. Zero. I have no idea where they have gone.

They were on top of my printer, along with the stickers for envelopes and stamps. I have those still here. No labels. I looked through the small stash of cards I have. No labels. I've looked behind the printer and behind the desk. No labels. I looked through the pile to the right. No labels. It feels like someone stole my labels but who would break into my house and take just return address labels. To say I am frustrated is an understatement. What could I have done with them? I'm convinced I did the same thing to the other batch I thought I used up. They have gone some place where these are.

Of course, I start to think that maybe this is a symptom of something else, something sinister, creeping up on me. Hence, in addition to my frustration at not finding them, there is worry that this is but one step down that slippery slope.

I can't decide if I want to order more labels. I'm worried I'm just throwing money away.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea

And I Forgot...

the ketchup.

Seriously. I did.

Over one hundred dollars in groceries and I didn't get ketchup or catsup. I use it rarely. I don't know how long the bottle just finished was in the fridge for. While I had to wait for my hair cut, I dashed over to Dominicks to get ketchup. I usually buy what's on sale but this time, I looked at the ingredients. I'm sure I heard that high fructose corn syrup was in ketchup but it wasn't until I looked at the ingredient list that it was real to me. Why do I want Karo syrup (that's what it is, really) in my ketchup again?

So, I bought organic. Remember this is going to sit in my fridge for awhile. That makes organic ketchup as cost effective for me as any other.

Now to make bacon cheeseburgers.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea