Monday, January 30, 2012

Quiet Sunday

With my taxes done, I can sit back now, secure in knowing I don't have that hanging over my head. It's funny how sitting at my chair typing in all the numbers which allow me to see that things haven't improved over last year could be so satisfying and bring such a sense of accomplishment.

I was going to order  pizza. I haven't had a delivery pizza in several months. I felt that was a good reward for getting my taxes done. But, there was a nagging feeling that the $15-25 spent on delivery pizza could be better applied elsewhere, regardless of how good delivery pizza tastes. Enter the co-worker with the "oops".

He accidentally locked himself out of the building on Sunday. He worked Saturday and was dropping things off on Sunday and doing his time sheet. He forgot to unlock the back door to the office so, when he went to get something out of his car, the door closed behind him and, yep, that will lock you out. I live closest to the office so I got the call. I got dressed and decided, while I was letting him into the building, I would get a few things from the grocery. It's right there.

Pizza money went to buy cat food. That's way more important than pizza. I put everything away, started a load of dishes and looked around. Peace. It was peaceful. I have a million things clamoring for my attention but I felt peace. I collected the materials for the next project, sat down in the recliner and proceeded, in between batches of dishes and the need for ear scratching, to stitch as much as you see here. It doesn't look like much at the present time, but it will in the next few stitching days, take form. This is a Christmas present.

It was so nice yesterday to get lost in stitching with the occasional getting up to wash another load of dishes and the scratching of ears. As I work on practicing gratitude in daily life, I am grateful for a day when I could easily shove aside all those "I need tos" and just be. It tells me I can be grateful for things and not concentrate on the laundry needing to be done, the windows needing to be washed, the stack of stuff in the office needing to be sorted. All those voices can drown out the one biggest need, to be grateful that I have what I have. That's what I got out of yesterday. Peace, quiet and the realization that I am happy doing the things I like to do.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Saturday, January 28, 2012


Found it.

After a long search, which did involve sweeping the floor because I was moving things about, I found this piece I stitched several years ago but never finished. This is to be a Christmas present for a friend. It's a wall or door hanging.

In order to finish it, I need to wash it, then iron it. I need to get backing material; I'm thinking a green fabric. I had thought about green felt, but felt isn't the sturdiest of fabrics. This piece isn't very big so a quarter of a yard of something is going to give me a chunk of fabric left over. Oh well. That fabric can go into the "some day I'll make a quilt" box.

I need to purchase a dowel on which to hang this and some yarn or heavy thread to make a hanger and it's done.

While searching for this, I came across a piece I stitched a very long time ago. I think this might have been the first piece I ever did, come to think of it. It was stamped cross-stitch on linen and I think I did this when I was in 8th grade.

I have decided to wash and iron this and, when I take the geese sampler just finished to be framed, this goes too. I think the gap in the bottom middle was where you were supposed to stitch your name. I never did. I don't remember that I had any plans for this other than doing it. I think it will look marvelous on my wall and it really is a memory of the past. 

I found the chart for my next project. I completed my taxes today, too. Once I get my refund, these pieces will be finished. It's a gorgeously sunny day. I feel quite productive. 

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Finding What You Forgot

Now that one project is finished, it's time to look for the materials for the next project. I have decided to finish something I started several years ago. but I couldn't quite lay my hands on the item to be finished.

As you know, every project is a multi-step adventure. It's not just, "I'm going to sweep the floor." Sweeping the floor means moving a few things to get the dust from behind them. It means picking things up off the floor. Then you need to put those things away not leave them in a pile "to be dealt with later", as I can so very easily do.

So, finding the next project involved a search. It wasn't in this box or that box. It wasn't tucked in this drawer or set on this shelf. Maybe it was in this box in the closet. No, it wasn't but I found something I can give away. That was stuffed into a garbage bag for the next veterans group that calls soliciting donations. I also found my wedding veil.

This item is nearly 34 years old. Other than being crinkled, it still looks like it did the day I wore it. What do I do with it? It was handmade by the owner of the shop where I got my dress. She matched the lace on the veil to the lace on my dress. I still have my dress, too. It's in a storage bin in the basement.

I don't have a clue what to do with these things. Do I donate them to Goodwill? Do I try to eBay them? There is a growing market for vintage items and these fall into the vintage category. I'll never wear them again. If ever I would walk down the aisle again, it will be in something else. My tastes have changed.

I folded it up and stuck it back in the closet. While I am feeling the desire to purge my house of items I no longer use, I'm on the fence about this. Any suggestions?

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Friday, January 27, 2012

Another Literary Birthday Observed

Today would be Lewis Carroll's 179th birthday. My friend Patt, pointed this out to me earlier in the week. She doesn't care for "Alice in Wonderland", while I did my senior thesis on nonsense language in "Alice Through the Lookingglass and What She Found There", which is the full title of Carroll's 2nd work, "Through the Lookingglass".

It is in "Through the Lookingglass" that one of my favorite poems is found. It is in Chapter 6. Alice is talking to Humpty Dumpty and she asks about the meaning of the poem.
You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir,' said Alice. 'Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the poem called "Jabberwocky"?'
'Let's hear it,' said Humpty Dumpty. 'I can explain all the poems that were ever invented--and a good many that haven't been invented just yet.'
This sounded very hopeful, so Alice repeated the first verse:
            'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
              Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
            All mimsy were the borogoves,
              And the mome raths outgrabe.
'That's enough to begin with,' Humpty Dumpty interrupted: 'there are plenty of hard words there. "BRILLIG" means four o'clock in the afternoon--the time when you begin BROILING things for dinner.'
'That'll do very well,' said Alice: 'and "SLITHY"?'
'Well, "SLITHY" means "lithe and slimy." "Lithe" is the same as "active." You see it's like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed up into one word.'
'I see it now,' Alice remarked thoughtfully: 'and what are "TOVES"?'
'Well, "TOVES" are something like badgers--they're something like lizards--and they're something like corkscrews.'
'They must be very curious looking creatures.'
'They are that,' said Humpty Dumpty: 'also they make their nests under sun-dials--also they live on cheese.'
'And what's the "GYRE" and to "GIMBLE"?'
'To "GYRE" is to go round and round like a gyroscope. To "GIMBLE" is to make holes like a gimlet.'
'And "THE WABE" is the grass-plot round a sun-dial, I suppose?' said Alice, surprised at her own ingenuity.
'Of course it is. It's called "WABE," you know, because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it--'
'And a long way beyond it on each side,' Alice added.
'Exactly so. Well, then, "MIMSY" is "flimsy and miserable" (there's another portmanteau for you). And a "BOROGOVE" is a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round-- something like a live mop.'
'And then "MOME RATHS"?' said Alice. 'I'm afraid I'm giving you a great deal of trouble.'
'Well, a "RATH" is a sort of green pig: but "MOME" I'm not certain about. I think it's short for "from home"--meaning that they'd lost their way, you know.'
'And what does "OUTGRABE" mean?'
'Well, "OUTGRABING" is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle: however, you'll hear it done, maybe--down in the wood yonder--and when you've once heard it you'll be QUITE content. Who's been repeating all that hard stuff to you?'
I was quite taken by the poem and committed it to memory. In college, one of my English professors declared that memorizing poetry increased your word power as well as brain power. Part of the final in her class was to memorize 12 lines of anything by one of the authors we read in class. I shall never forget it. 12 lines from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
All in a hot and copper sky 
The bloody sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand
No bigger than the moon.

Day after day. Day after day. 
We stuck, nor breath nor motion.
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water everywhere
And all the boards did shrink
Water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot, oh Christ
That ever this should be.
And slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon a slimy sea. 
Yes, that is from memory. I can recite Jabberwocky, too, but I won't. I do agree with that English teacher even if I find myself standing more often in the center of a room wondering why I came in here. Memorization is good for you. I don't think kids are challenged enough in school to do that. Oh yes, we have to memorize facts and dates and formulas and all sorts of things, but memorizing poetry expands your mind.

This is a great book, if you are looking to challenge yourself to memorizing poetry. It's in my "to be read" pile. I bought it when it came out. I've memorized a lot of things since then, some might be in this book. I admit to not opening it in years, but the collected poems were, from what I remember, great examples of poetry.

You also couldn't go wrong with memorizing lines from some of Shakespeare's soliloquies. I memorized Antony's oratory over Caesar's body. "Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil men do oft lives after them while the good lies interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar." That's all I remember from that. And I did know most of Hamlet's "To be or not to be. That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of trouble and, by opposing, end them.", but I've forgotten parts of that, too. These soliloquies are probably still with me. I'd just need prompting to remember them in totality.

Lewis Carroll wanted to be a mathematician but there was no money to be made in that profession. So, he became a minister. In his poetry, you can see the results of mathematical study. It is, once you get past the odd words, easy to memorize "Jabberwocky", just as it's easy to memorize the rhyming couplets of Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner". (You should read the whole poem if you haven't. It's quite the tale of redemption.)

I leave you with one of the funniest versions of "Jabberwocky" I've ever seen.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why That Memory?

Memory is such a fickle thing. I can't remember where I put my car keys, but I had a memory spring into mind, totally unbidden, and fresh as if I'd had it happen yesterday.

There is an anniversary approaching. One year ago, my friend, April, was involved in a car accident. She hit black ice on her way to work and then hit a retaining wall. Had it not been for the airbags in her car, she would have been seriously injured. Her husband, Perry, took to Facebook to announce her accident. There was silence for hours for those of us too far away to be contacted quickly. It was evening before we learned she was shaken and bruised and very sore, but okay.

Why remember that? It came, like a flash, through my mind over the weekend; totally unbidden and quite unexpected. I wasn't really thinking about them. I think about my friends daily, offering a silent, "Hope you have a good day" to the ether in desire to send them good wishes. But actually thinking about them? No, I wasn't consciously. Suddenly, the event was just there, in the forefront of my memory and I could see, in my mind's eye, the photos Perry posted of the car.

Other memories came sweeping back last weekend. We got 6 inches of snow from Friday mid-morning to Saturday early morning. We were sent home around 2:45 so that those with longer drives would make it home in decent time. There is a school bus stop just north of the house. I heard the bus come by and stop.

I took the bus to school all my years from kindergarten to senior year. I did get a car in my senior year but sometimes it was needed by a parent so I would wind up taking the bus. We had a garage out by the road. It was strategically placed, I realized in later years, so that if you had to shovel to get out, you didn't have to shovel the long, long drive from the house to the road. We never used the garage as anything but storage so we still wound up shoveling.

You would stand in the garage, which faced north, to watch for the school bus as it headed up the road to the house. In the spring and fall, you'd stand out by the road unless it was raining. In the winter, the garage was a very necessary shelter from the cold.

As I watched the few kids who do ride the bus (This bus is for middle school kids.) get off, I remembered the cold. I remembered getting off as a storm was bearing down on us and I could feel the sting of wind-driven snow. I went to school during the last vestiges of my public school requiring female students to wear skirts or dresses. In the winter, we could wear pants under our skirts but those had to be removed when you got to school. I can remember times where we'd just grab our pants and go to the bus, either putting them on after we took our seats or carrying them home. It was such a hassle. If you chose not to put your pants on, your bare legs would be ice cold from the walk to the house after getting off the bus.

I haven't thought of my elementary school winters in decades. I don't know what the trigger was for April's memory. The trigger for my grade school past was hearing and seeing the bus stop in the storm. I don't know that the memories mean anything overarching, like dreams do. They were just called up from the great filing cabinet that is my brain.

As I get older and I have days where I can't remember anything, I worry, as perhaps most of us my age do, that the demon of dementia is creeping up on me. I can't find my car keys. I leave my carefully prepared lunch on the stove. I do a load of wash and forget it's in the machine. I don't know where I put my slippers. I take a message because someone is on another call and forget to give it to them until 2 hours later. My doctor said several years ago when I voiced my concerns to him about memory loss, that I have reached the age where there is a lot to remember in my life. If I really stopped to think about the things I do and all the years I have of things I've done, I have much more to remember than a college student. Therefore, it stands to reason that in all the processing my brain does, some things are going to get lost.

What we suddenly remember, what suddenly springs to mind totally unbidden, is quite interesting. I can remember, with vivid detail, something I'd truly like to forget and the surprise birthday party my parents threw me on my 18th birthday is nowhere to be found other than, yeah, it happened. Today is my sister's birthday. I can remember a rather loud argument we had during preparations for her wedding. I'm trying to remember times when we had fun together in spite of the 6 year age difference. Those memories, rather than the yelling at each other, are what I long to remember. I've had my brother ask me, "Remember when x happened?" and I haven't a clue. How can he remember something like that when I can't remember, some days, what I had for breakfast?

So, I'm back to why remember that April's car accident anniversary is close? April is well, hale and hearty and has spent the past year in physical transformation. She's an incredible inspiration, "brave", for those who get the inside joke. Maybe this memory popping in the conscious is a mini reminder to tell her how much she means to those of us who know her, how what she's done this past year is nothing short of remarkable.

Now that I've done that, do you know what I did with that list of things I needed to get done today?

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea


Winter Wildlife

Aside from the cardinals and chickadees who make their home in the trees surrounding my house, I am sometimes reminded that there are other animals who reside in suburbia with me.

Raccoons, for instance.

I found these on the deck about 10 days ago, after a light dusting. He or she wanted what he or she knows is usually liquid water in the makeshift birdbath on the deck. In a way, I feel sorry for them. I would need to buy a whole birdbath with heater system, something the budget does not allow, to provide liquid water. At times I wish I could because I know how important it is for animals as well as people to have liquid sources of water. It was very interesting to see all the tracks so I wonder if it was more than one.

With the cats not going outside, rabbits have settled back into the yard. I went a few years with rabbits only passing through, not building a nest and staying. There is at least one, maybe two, who have made under the deck a place to live. I would flush them when leaving the house in the morning for work or coming home after work.

We got 6 inches of snow last Friday. On Saturday, when I went out to shovel, I saw these tracks in the virgin snow off the deck. As the snow was deeper than most rabbits are tall, it was interesting to see how the rabbit moved through the snow.

Some people talk of "getting back to nature" by driving somewhere. I see these examples of nature in my backyard and think "I don't have to go anywhere. Nature is right here."

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea


Time for Another Project

The weekend's stitching was productive. Saturday, I got this much done after wearing out my muscles shoveling.

Sunday, I finished the project.

Now, I need to trim the excess fabric, wash this and take it to be framed. It came out very nice, I think. I hope the recipient appreciates it.

One of this weekend's tasks is to look for the next project. I'm leaning toward finishing a Christmas gift I've had for a couple of years. WHAT? Actually finish something from the pile? I know. I know. That's so unlike the Sagittarius that is me. We are well known for having dozens of things started and not very many things finished. It leads to huge disorganization and I can get down on myself for all this stuff in various stages of completion. So, I've decided to do one task a weekend, even a small something, like sweep the floors. Finishing something gives me impetus to tackle something else. Instead of "I need to clean the house", it becomes, "I'm going to sweep the floors". Much easier to process. Much easier to handle with my arthritis and I have a sense of accomplishing something.

So, the weekend is "I'm going to trim the excess fabric, hand wash this, iron it and stick it with the framing coupon to get it done next week, after I get paid. Then, I will pick my next project." Maybe February is a book reading month. Hmmmmm......

Beverage:  Darjeeling Tea


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Robert Burns

I realize I haven't posted in awhile. I've been really busy and my brain has felt like mush. That's not conducive to coherent thought to say nothing of trying to wrangle the individual words to form a line where I can start with a capital letter and end with a period.

I do want to make note that today is the anniversary of the birth of Scotland's poet Robert Burns. One of the Scottish retailers I follow on Facebook posted this YouTube link last week. The words are Burns' anthem for the common man. The singer is Ian Benzie, co-founder and former lead singer for my favorite Scottish group, Old Blind Dogs.


Beverage: Edinburgh's Finest Tea


Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Birthday

Today is Edgar Allen Poe's birthday. This is the best recitation of his classic poem "The Raven".

It's a stationary photo. Just close your eyes and listen.

Beverage:  Water


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr attitude

Today did not start out positive. I was on time until I got to the car. The doors were frozen shut.

This is an annoyance but it's more so when opening the doors if they aren't frozen shut causes pain in my wrists and thumbs. Trying to get them open this morning nearly left me in tears.

Gratitude. Gratitude. Remember to practice gratitude. Shut up brain. I can't get into my car and I'm late for work. I poured the contents of my travel mug of tea around the driver's side door and it opened. The passenger side would not budge.

The windows were covered with frost which came off rather easily. Scraping is mildly painful but I can do it. I hefted everything over the center console and drove into the office with the defroster going full blast. I don't have that far of a drive so the passenger side door was still frozen when I got to the office. I did make myself another mug of tea. I'll be darned if I'm going to not have tea with me because the doors are frozen.

January is the coldest month, right? We are over half-way through January, right? So, in theory, this could be the only time I have to worry about frozen doors, right? Ice storms will be problematic. Opening doors has always been a problem if they get iced over. Scraping the windows will be painful when it's ice I'll have to remove.

Gratitude. The problem I thought I was going to face when I finally got in is not as bad as it looked last night. There is bright sunshine this morning so, by noon, the passenger door will be unfrozen naturally. It's okay. Breathe.

March 20th can't come soon enough.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maybe a Flame Thrower Would Help

A week ago, we were basking in some of the warmest January weather I can ever remember. It was in the upper 30's in the morning and near 60 by 2 p.m. I didn't wear a coat home last week. I carried it. Look at that sky. Some day I'd like a dress that color. While my favorite color is royal blue, this comes close.

Then, the weathermen started raising their voices to announce, in dire tones, the arrival of winter. Snow was a'comin', ma, and you'd better git your collective selves to the groceteria and buy you some bread, milk and eggs, even if you didn't need them. You just don't know.

The night before the storm was gorgeous. I sat outside on the deck, savoring the smells and sights and sounds of a, well, what would one call this, pseudo-spring? It's certainly way beyond what we term 'Indian summer'. There was no breeze, which might have made it cooler than it was. Mija came out and sat next to me sniffing the air as much as I.

There is a wonderful pre-spring smell that the earth gives off in those rare 60 degree days in late March and early April. This wasn't it, but the air smelled clear and fresh and I wished it could be bottled to be let out inside my house when I've been shut inside for several days. It would say, "It's coming. Just be patient." For the record, Pilchard came out but she didn't linger. She sniffed and went back inside.

It started slowly snowing on Thursday mid-morning. With all the hype about how bad it was going to be, I was allowed to go home an hour early with the express admonition that I get into the office as soon as I could on Friday morning. "We're so busy, someone has to be here and you live the closest." Yeah, well, if we get a foot of snow, forget it. I have to shovel and I won't make it in.

Friday morning, I awoke to this. It was 4 and a half inches. I brushed off the car and drove in, not bothering with shoveling. Four and a half inches has to be shoveled at some point, but not immediately. I'd get to it when I got to it and I heard we were to get rain on Monday so most of this would melt anyway.

I didn't get to any shoveling until Sunday. It was a glorious winter's day on Sunday, with a bright sun melting a lot of the snow. I almost didn't shovel but it's not a good idea to leave all that snow on to melt on the deck. I need to scrub the desk top anyway and repaint it this coming summer.

It took me 2 hours to shovel off the deck, a path to the Jeep so I don't have to wear boots until March, the area around the mailbox, the front walk in front of the front steps and the step themselves. The sunshine of Sunday and Monday's light rain and sleet melted most of the snow, but that's all I could do before my hands hurt too badly to continue.

Of course, this bothers me. The snow was heavy to lift. I didn't have a good grasp of the shovel because it hurt. Several times, I had to talk myself out of just quitting. I'm not that much for prayer, for various reasons, but my simple entreaties are for lots of small dumpings, less than 4 inches each time. I will probably be reduced to tears if I have to maneuver anything more off decks and porches and steps and sidewalks.

This was a good time to practice gratitude. My hand hurt. My shoulders hurt. My hips hurt. Surprisingly, my knees did not. I sat on the edge of the tub after divesting myself of shoveling clothes and taking a shower. I am out of Ben Gay which has been a comfort, particularly to my shoulders. How would I face the winter? How would I get through this? How could I shovel more when what little I did caused so much pain?

In the medicine cabinet I have a tube of this. I started massaging small dollops into aching body parts all the while telling myself that I got outside, out where the air smelled of snow and the sunshine was warm on my face. It wasn't bad to have been outside. Having to go out and shovel got me out of the house. I need to stay as active as I can be or I will atrophy. I am grateful for having a house. I am grateful for being able to shovel. I am grateful for analgesic creme that helped ease the pain of arthritis.

It goes on my shoulders, hip, knees and wrists. I don't think I want it on my hands when I will be stitching. It says 'greaseless' but let's not even tempt fate on that. Come the end of the month, I'll get a large tube of Ben Gay but this has helped me feel less helpless and more that I can do things. I won't be mountain climbing any time soon, but I can shovel a few inches of frozen water.

But a flame thrower would be best. Yes, yes. A flame thrower.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


It's Not Anal, It's Organized

After finishing the colors on the sampler (See post below.), I decided I could put away all the other colors as the only thing left to do is outline everything and that's done in black. Because I had to buy 8 skeins as I didn't have those colors, I needed to integrate those new colors into my DMC floss boxes. That proved to be an hour's job.

Years and years ago, when there was more of an income to dispose of, I decided one of the things I wanted to do was get every color DMC made. That way, when I did another project, there wasn't a mad dash to the store for 632 because it was the one color I didn't have. I dutifully watched sales and when floss was 20 cents or 4/$1.00, I would buy $5.00 worth. I carried a list of color numbers and crossed off the ones I bought.

Somewhere along the line, that notion, to have all colors, faded. I quit doing cross-stich. Things languished. It was too much work to assemble the fabric and colors and find the time to sit down and stitch. Dust gathered on the boxes of books and supplies.

But now I've come back to cross-stitch because I enjoy doing it. I enjoy creating. I've been looking for this sampler for over 3 months to make for Daniel but it seems it's been discontinued. That means I am going to have to make this up on my own. I carry a mental list of people who have received some cross-stitched item from me and it's not a very long list. I found something perfect for April and Perry and this item should be made for my daughter. Plus, there's the almost finished project for Lisa that has languished in all it's incomplete glory for a few years. The problem, once the sampler is done, is what to pick up next, something new or finish something started.

In either case, I need to be organized. I wound up moving thread from container to container so it all stayed in numerical order. That also meant the number on the tag on top of the box was wrong and had to be changed so, when I'm looking for 809, I'll know which box it's in.

No, DMC's color flow doesn't always make a lot of sense. I think it's because, over the years, they have added to the number of colors they have. In the old cross-stitch magazines there is an add that reads, "We make 32 colors of blue because mother nature does, too." When I was buying every color, there were distinct gaps in numbers and you knew they were giving themselves a cushion to make more shades in that color. Some just seem to be orphan colors that were made once and forgotten.

I also discovered that my numerical skills leave a bit to be desired. I found two of the colors I thought I didn't have. They were out of sequence. That was 80 cents I could have saved. Oh well.

I am now fully floss organized and ready for the next cross-stitch project whatever that turns out to be.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


The Leisure of Sunday

I completed a project on Saturday. It had consumed my attention all week. Once it was done, I could look at doing something else. I finished all the colors on the sampler.

What is left now is the outlining and it's done. Yes, I am contemplating my next project already.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Friday, January 13, 2012

13 13 13 13

It's Friday the thirteenth, the first of three such days this year. The next one is in April.

I don't associate the number 13 with bad luck. I'd happily stay on the 13th floor in the 13th room in a hotel. It doesn't bother me.

The day started out with me finding a seam undone in the Iowa Hawkeyes winter coat. I'll simply need to stitch it closed before wearing the coat. Considering the coat is something like 10+ years old, an undone seam is nothing.

Next, I had to walk through 5 inches of snow to get to the car. It's light and powdery so it's not a big deal. I'm not even going to shovel until tomorrow but I will bring the garbage can back from the street. I left it there yesterday as it was snowing heavily when I got home.

I made a typo in a proposal and didn't catch it. Mike caught it and was very upset. I understand it's not good, to have a typo in a proposal. I didn't mean for it to be there. I have repeatedly said that we need a master copy of the proposal for me to work off of and he resists. We have one now whether he wanted it or not. I read and read and read these things before sending them out and I missed this because it was buried in a sentence that was newly added. Change it, send it out again and attach a humourous "oops" to the new proposal. Maybe they didn't even notice it because we're way early before the deadline.

So, living with a black cat is not bad luck. About the only bad luck involved is tripping over her in the dark.

Beverage:  Water


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quick Stitch

I did just a little stitching last night. I have another project to complete by week's end so this has been set aside. However, I must sit down and have the 30-45 minute ear scratching lap time so I might as well work on something while she sits there.

Dark blue was completed last night. It shows up very well in the photo, not as distinct in the actual stitching. There is a light blue to be added and some pink and red and yellow. Then I can outline everything.

It's turned out very nice.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom

I received a gift card from Subway from my daughter and son-in-law for my birthday. I used it up yesterday for lunch, which got me out of the office on a glorious January day.

One foot long sub, a Dr Pepper, chips and cookies. I'm happy.

Thanks sweetie.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


"I don't want people to think I'm a lush."

My mother and sister are giggling now. They should recognize that sentence.

If you are any kind of experimental cook, you've no doubt tried a recipe or two or three where 2 tablespoons of some alcohol was needed. Drive to the liquor store and find out said liquor comes in a 2 quart bottle. That's it. There is nothing smaller. Personally, I think there would be a decent market in making things like amaretto, hazelnut, cherry and other assorted spirits in 8 ounce bottles. I have a recipe for mahi-mahi that uses hazelnut liqueur. Fortunately, I like hazelnut liqueur, but what if you try the recipe and you wouldn't feed it to the neighborhood raccoons? You're stuck with a bottle of something you don't like.

I've mentioned my grandmother's cooking abilities in this blog before. She could whip up the most memorable dishes that took 2 hours and had 45 steps. She couldn't make chocolate chip cookies to save her soul. She was forever trying new recipes and many of them involved alcohol. Plus, she had certain drinks she preferred, although, unlike my grandfather and his rum and cokes, I can't tell you what she liked other than something that was yellow, came in a bottle with a tall neck; Galliano, or something like that.

She kept her alcohol under the kitchen sink, although a few bottles would go to the cabinet in the basement under the stairs. This way, the alcohol was at the ready if she needed it. Alcohol was on the left and cleaning supplies were on the right. Heaven help you if you put the dish detergent on the left.

In the last 5 years of her life, she began to think about her mortality and what her home said about her. Invariably, her thoughts turned to the bottles under the kitchen sink. I cannot count the number of times she would say to either my mother, my sister or me, "When I die, make sure the first thing you do is get rid of those bottles under the sink. I don't want people to think I'm a lush." We would always assure her the bottles would be removed quickly. Honestly, people might have had some negative thoughts about her for other things, but being a lush was not one of them.

I like to try new recipes and sometimes those involve alcohol. In the basement, on the top shelf of shelf unit along the west wall, are bottles of liquor. They sit, like the one in the photo, collecting dust. I've used, maybe, a half cup out of some of them and then not touched them again in years. Last winter, during the blizzard, I dug out a bottle of cinnamon schnapps and started adding a shot or two to my hot cocoa. When the schnapps was gone, long about August, and yes, I drink hot cocoa all year 'round, I brought up a bottle of white cream de cacao. There was a bottle of banana liqueur. A shot of both of those added to hot cocoa was really good.

The photo above is dark cream de cacao. You can tell how long I've had it by the layer of dust on the bottle. I had to run the top under hot water to break the crusty seal to get it open. It's still good. There's a bottle of cherry brandy down there, a couple of empty bottles and a couple bottles of wine. I really don't drink that much so it will be awhile before all of this is gone. Then, I'll be down to buying just what I'll drink.

As I savored my hot cocoa laced with chocolate liqueur, I thought about that mahi-mahi recipe. I haven't made that in years. Add a salad and fruited rice and that would be an excellent dinner. I think the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur to go into the sauce which is poured over the fish. I'll have to buy a big bottle. Just don't think of me as a lush if you find that bottle in the basement. Add a shot to your hot cocoa. It makes the cocoa taste like a peanut butter cup.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


This Vexes Me #15

I'm worried that my juice drinking days, particularly juice that comes in a bottle, are over. I have been struggling, for a week, to get the bottle of juice to the left open. I don't know if it's hand or arm strength, but I could not open it. I tried a wet washcloth. I tried heat. I tried cold. I tried a dish towel. I finally brought it into the office and Doug opened it for me. Easily.

This frustrates and vexes me. How do other people do this? I will have to quit drinking bottled juice if I can't get tops open. I seem to be able to get some bottles open, but this one just refused to open.

I'm on the fence now about juice. Do I continue to purchase the bottles or should I start looking at the frozen juice concentrate simply because I'll be able to get the container open? What do others do who have a problem with arthritis in their hands and gripping is difficult? Maybe it was just this bottle?

In any case, Doug got it open for me so I'll be able to have juice tonight. I always mix my juice with seltzer or tonic water. It cuts the calories in half and gives me a fizzy drink. I think I like soda as much for the fizz as for the taste. Orange juice and seltzer water is a poor man's mimosa.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Resistance is Futile

It was a sunny morning and early afternoon on Sunday. While I stitched and did dishes, the girls found ways to occupy themselves. That's what I love about cats. Yes, we play and yes, there are times they demand my attention. But, by and large, they are self-sufficient. Now that we have learned each other's routine, they are used to my life and I to theirs.

Sunday, I caught Mija on my bed. She was in the middle of a big pool of sunlight, rolling around as if it were catnip. 

Tell me you could resist rubbing that belly if you walked into the bedroom and saw her. I certainly couldn't.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Another Color Finished

While a load of pants (and socks, see the post below) washed, I worked on another color. In between the obligatory ear scratchings, I got the green done.

It's coming along nicely. This inspired me to haul the contents of one vegetable drawer to the compost pile. It also helps that it's been in the upper 40's lately. I can leave the back door open to make multiple trips to garbage, recycling and compost. I am energized by this little craft. Now to build on this feeling.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


But it IS Healthy

The first baking event of 2012 was cake. I thought about muffins but that was pushed from my mind when, in cleaning, I stumbled across an apple banana cake. I had apples and bananas. In fact, I had everything on the ingredient list and it made a 9 x 13 pan so I can cut the cake into individual pieces to take for lunch.

Start by grating 4 large apples. I had problems. Peeling the apples made my hand hurt, quite a bit. I went through 3 knives before finding one that allowed me to peel without too much pain. It was discouraging and I almost gave up. But what would I do with 1 peeled and grated apple? Grating wasn't the problem. Holding the apple and manipulating it to peel it was. 

Once that was done, I mixed everything and baked it for an hour. I love eating the peels when I have to peel and core an apple. All afternoon, as I did other things, I would wander back into the kitchen, break off another slice of peel and munch on it. My house smelled heavenly. In fact, heaven better smell like this or I'm not going. The mix of apple, banana and cinnamon was delightful. 

Viola! Finished cake. Oh yeah, there are walnuts in it too because I like nuts. It is really tasty when warm and adding whipped cream, it's so good. 
I was cutting it into pieces to freeze and realized, I forgot to add the 2 eggs the recipe called for. There are 4 cups of grated apples, 2 smashed bananas, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, 2 cups each of flour and sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. That's it. I remember reading that I needed eggs, but I didn't pull them out of the fridge when I went to get the bananas sitting on top of the fridge. Poof. Completely forgotten. The cake is so good without the eggs, but now I have an excuse to make it again and add the eggs. 

I think I've made a cake like this where there aren't eggs. They have to be eaten fast; like that's a problem; or frozen because they are so moist they will mold if left out at room temperature for a few days. I tossed 12 packages of cake into the freezer Sunday night, saving 2 packages to take to work. One piece was eaten for lunch and the second was eaten at 3, when you get those mid-afternoon doldrums. I had a piece last night for a late night snack. 45 seconds in the microwave and I had cake!

I also wonder, if I vary the kind of apple, how the flavor will change. I made this with honeycrisp apples. They were on sale and have a sweet taste already. I wondered if I could have cut down on the amount of sugar in the cake because the apples were sweet. 2 cups is an awful lot. Maybe if this was made with Granny Smith apples which are naturally tart, 2 cups would make sense. The recipe just says "apples". So there is one more reason to make it more often. Taste tests! I'm betting I could find volunteers for this "science". 

Now to clean up the kitchen tonight as I had to wash pants for work last night. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Monday, January 9, 2012

Weekend Stitching

I didn't do a whole lot on Saturday. I felt so tired for some reason. When Pilchard joined me in the recliner, we both nodded off for over 90 minutes. So, Saturday's stitching was to simply add the verse citation.

On Sunday, however, I spent a good 2 hours stitching. I finished using the dark gray for shadow and the medium dark blue on the stylized flowers. It felt like quite an accomplishment when I finished off the blue.

Beverage:  Earl Grey tea



The Side Effect of Laundry

I'm still not caught up with the wash. The implied prohibition on going up and down the basement stairs means I'm behind. I just did a load of bedding because I had to change the sheets on the bed and had one set of clean sheets left. (Side note: does anyone know where to get one flannel sheet? I have two top sheets but the fitted bottoms have gone into the rag box. I don't want to give these top sheets away as they are still in excellent condition. Maybe I should use them to make a shirt or a jumper. Hmmmmmm.) Other clothing has taken precedence because, well, I need clean pants and underwear and socks on a daily basis; not so clean sheets.

I also want to do full loads of clothing. Back in March, when I had the sewer line rodded out, the plumber said one of the way to keep the line clear was to do at least one full load a week. When it's just you and you're all caught up with the wash, that can be a daunting prospect. Now that I've been told to cut down the number of times a week that I go up and down those stairs, getting a full load is much easier. I've taken to sorting stuff by item. Here's the pants pile, the tee-shirt pile, the underwear pile, the sock pile. When I do a load of pants, if there's room, I add something else to fill up the machine.

The side effect of doing a mass amount of one type of clothing is that, suddenly, the drawer goes from empty to overfull. The sock drawer is a case in point. I have so many socks. I love socks. I love their variety. I love how you can wear striped socks and no one blinks twice. Wear those same stripes in a shirt and you're used as landing lights at O'Hare. If it's a gray day outside, wearing those bright green socks at the upper left in the photo adds much needed sunshine. I may have to be conservative in twill pants and a polo shirt, but I can wear Halloween socks in May and express myself.

But, the drawer only holds so many socks. Lately, I've been washing socks faster than I've been wearing them. The drawer is overstuffed. I always reach down to the bottom and take a pair down there. If I only took off the top, the same pairs of socks would be worn all the time and I've got great ones down at the bottom. Today's choice was the pair of red socks with green Christmas trees on them you see in the left middle. They had been buried to the bottom. I reached in, grabbed something and that's what's on my feet.

I probably need a bigger drawer, but I'm not sure where I'd put the socks. Frankly, it's kind of fun to pull open the drawer and have socks spring up and fall out thanks to being compressed. It's like they are saying, "Wear me! Wear me!" I need to do another load of dark pants tonight. Time to root through the wash in the laundry chute and add socks to make a full load.

Beverage:  Earl Grey tea


You Can't Say it Without Smiling

At the end of December, I was out driving around playing delivery person. Clients needed materials and the best way to get those materials to them was to drive it to the office and hand it over. I got lunch in the bargain so I stopped at KFC.

I've mentioned before how I love the containers their sides come in. I have one that contains my straight pins for sewing and another that holds just enough salad dressing to use for dipping. I couldn't find the top to another this morning so I could bring grated parmesian to the office to go on top of my spaghetti so I had to use a plastic bag. They are so versatile for small things.

The other thing KFC has that I don't see anywhere else, and I think it's because they have side dishes, sporks.

Seriously, I can't think of any other fast food restaurant that has sporks available. They usually have knives and spoons and forks but the spork combo is nowhere to be seen. We make fun of them, but they are quite versatile. I can eat yogurt and jello and a salad and bring only one utensil with me. KFC gave me 3 sporks in my meal so these two are in the drawer just waiting to be used.

Spork spork spork. What a great word. You can't say that and not giggle, just a little.

Beverage: Earl Grey tea


Old Fogey Alert!

I received a written thank you over the weekend. I must have read it four or five times, even though it was "Dear Deb, Thanks for x," a paragraph of friendship and "Love, x".

I believe the hand written thank you speaks volumes about who you are. This is the only one I've received this Christmas and that makes me sad.

Now, if you've sent electronic thanks or called me and said thanks, I don't want you feeling awkward or uncomfortable or angry that I'm denigrating your thanks. You are grateful, I can tell, for the little gift bestowed upon you. In this era, electronic thanks are acceptable. Miss Manners even said so. But, it still makes me sad.

I come from an era where written thank yous were required when you received something. I've mentioned being forced to sit down at the kitchen table and write out thank you notes on the day after Christmas. I was a bit more lenient with Carole but the thank yous had to be out the door by New Year's Day. Birthday thank yous had to be out by December 1st. It takes so little time to write, "Dear Grandma, Thank you for the sweater. It will keep me nice and warm this winter. Love Debbie". This kind of thing is a lost art.

I admit to not being really good about writing thank you. You get busy and forget, particularly if the gift giving was at some place other than your home. Tags get lost. Life intervenes and, a week or two later, you can't remember if you thanked someone for the pomegranate and grapeseed facial scrub and did that come from that friend or that other friend. I try, but sometimes, I fail.

Hence, the receipt of this small card with thanks written on the inside was very welcome. I'd like to see more of these but I understand that some people never learned to do it and some people  just don't make the time. If you want to make me really happy, write me a thank you.

Thanks, in advance.

Beverage:  Earl Grey tea


Friday, January 6, 2012

Two Days of Stitching

Two days of stitching. I'm finding that I've been so tired that I nod off while stitching. Hence, the time I allow during the evening for stitching is cut in half because I nap.

Day 3.

Day 4. I moved the hoop down last night. This might be as far as it goes. I have to see how the design below the swans comes out.

It's supposed to be a gorgeous weekend this weekend. I should be out in it. At best, I should go sit on the back steps and let the girls come out into the spring-like weather. If I'm out there, they will come out and fresh air and sunshine does all of us a world of good. I can bring my stitching out and get more done in the unseasonable warmth of January in Chicagoland.

Beverage:  Water


It's Way Too Nice

We are so busy at the office that I did get to head west in the morning to do an inspection. I'd been told it was a duplex near Freeport, 5 years old, so it would not take me long. HA! One half of the duplex was bigger than my house. Three stories and defects everywhere. We have to document the defects we see and it wound up being an hour and a half event. But I didn't care. It was a glorious day and I got to be out in it.

Here are some shots I took coming home.

Highway 64 heading east. In the distance, you can see the water vapor from the Byron nuclear power plant. Would that my daughter and son-in-law had moved there. I could see swinging by as I passed through and leaving my business card with "I love you" scribbled on the back stuck in their door. Byron is far enough away that I can't just up and drop by without warning but close enough that, "Want to get together for lunch?" asked at 10 a.m. is a distinct reality.

This is blurry. I was coming through Mt. Morris. I had to stop for a light and noticed these tractors. Now that's red. "Candy apple"? "Cherry"? I whipped out the camera because, well, I'm stopped at a light. As soon as I got the camera out, the light changed. There wasn't anyone behind me so I thought I had time to take a focused shot but then I saw the semi in my rearview mirror so I snapped this quickly and moved. I should have just driven around the block but I am on the clock for work. 

Lastly, I came over a small rise and saw the sunlight reflected off these corn storage bins. There are no hills in mid-north-central Illinois. It's flat. I believe the usual metaphor is "pancake" flat. There are undulating rises and they can reveal some lovely scenery or unexpected views. The sky was, as you can see above, clear and impossibly blue. It was about 11:30 at this time so we're at the height of the sunshine for the day. You could not miss the sparkle and shine of these storage bins. These are new, at least within the last year or two. There are older ones farther east than this. They don't sparkle. 

It was a wonderful day to have to drive 2 hours for 90 minutes of work and to drive 2 hours back. I took the Interstate to the location but took 2 lane highways home. I saw so much that I considered stopping to photograph but, again, I'm on the timer and I need to get back to the office. I tell myself that I should just grab the camera some Saturday morning and go but I won't do it, not alone. This was serendipitous and I certainly enjoyed myself. 

Beverage:  Water



If you've been a long-time reader, you know I run a guild; an organization of people; in World of Warcraft. The humor in this group of 80+ people can be quite off the wall. Case in point.

During the Christmas season, a few of us older guild members started "singing" the hippopotamus song. If you're a certain age, you remember it quite clearly. "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do." It became something of an anthem for our Christmas season. If it got too quiet in guild chat, all someone had to do was type, "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII want a hippopotamus for Christmas", and chat would burst out in laughter and comic derision.

One of my guild members posted to Facebook a small video of a stuffed hippo that sang the song and danced while singing. You could pick this up at Wal*Mart. I don't need stuffed animals. I really don't, but, dang it is cute. I made a mental note to, maybe, wander over to a local Wal*Mart after Christmas and see if they had them.

Prinny one-upped me. Last night, when I got home from work, there was a box on my front step. She had been teasing me for the last 2 weeks that she had the hippo and she was sending it. In fact, on Tuesday, I got the message, "The hippo has left the building". It was supposed to arrive at my house on Thursday. Ta da. It's here.

She did a good job packaging it so it would stay warm and dry. Open up the wrappings and here is a hippo.

Yes, this is totally silly, but it's the best kind of silly to be. Does it sing? Here.

It makes you roll your eyes, but I love these kinds of things. Life is too short not to be enthralled by singing and dancing stuffed animals. Pilchard gave it a cat scan and then promptly ignored it. I would say, it's been accepted into the household.

Thank you, Prinny, for making my day sparkle.

Beverage:  Water


Soooo Tempting

I got this card in the mail yesterday. Look, an offer to get a year of Cross Stitch & Needlework for $20. I currently have $20.

I'd get 6 issues in the coming year plus 3 free charts. I happen to be familiar with this magazine and they have some very nice projects every issue.


I have a box full of craft magazines and a box full of kits and half-finished projects. Honestly, I need this magazine like I need bubonic plague. Still, $20 for more cross-stitch projects?

Time to hit myself with the reality cloth and go pay my gas bill.

Beverage:  Water


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Resolution

I come from a different time. When I was growing up, the day after Christmas was spent around the kitchen table, thank you cards spread out amongst us, pen and pencils at the ready, mom and her address book and a sheet of paper with what everyone got and who gave it to them. By December 28th, everyone had been thanked, in writing, and that thank you was in the mail, heading to the gifter. I learned how to be thankful for socks and shirts as well as for toys. Someone chose to select something for you and you needed to express your gratitude for their time and effort, even if you hated the socks Aunt Irene sent you.

This post is not about the decline in saying "thank you". I could go off, happily, down that road, but the end result would be to make people feel either guilty, resentful, annoyed or vindicated. This post is about gratitude and looking toward a new year.

As my marriage crumbled, I took a job in a bookstore. It was 2 days a week, sometimes on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The owner was someone I'd known for several years prior to her buying the place. I hated retail and it's still not my favorite profession, but I needed a job, she knew it, and I grew into the position. One thing I took from those years of working there was how Jane always thanked us for anything we did, anything. It was just natural for her to say, "Thank you" when you did something, even if she didn't know it needed to be done. I learned from that and I try to incorporate "thank you" into my every day life.

We don't say it enough to the people around us. A simple "thank you" can make someone's day. Judging by the look on someone's face when I say it, people don't hear it enough. I'm not sure it's a phrase that can be overused. This got me to thinking about my life and the ways I express thanks.

You've been with me this long so you know the story of the past 2 years. It's been tough. It's always a balancing act when I would like to just get off the balance beam for a change. I'd just like a month where nothing breaks or needs money thrown at it. I'd just like a month where, "Gee, I'd like to go see the Muppet Movie" becomes a hop in the car and head over there instead of a "Can I afford it?" or "What do I give up so I can do x?"

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that perhaps my perception is wrong. My focus shouldn't be on what I don't have, but on what I do have. Interesting concept, no?

I'm sure you've seen the stories in some media where someone has just lost something precious. My thoughts reference the homes lost to tornadoes last year. Invariably, someone is interviewed who says, "God is good." I've met people, low income people, living in what I wouldn't come near, without a job and a sick husband and a pregnant daughter who already has 3 kids, all stuffed into this house next to a noisy road under construction and they say, "God is good." I have wondered, "How can God be good when all around you is pain?"

It's gratitude. It's because of their perspective. From where they stand, they have something to be grateful for, be it their lives or being surrounded by people they love or whatever. This isn't about the proverbial glass being half-full or half-empty. This is about something deeper. This is about being grateful there is even a glass. ...grateful there is even a glass...

This concept dawned on me right before Christmas and I've been stewing about it since. What if I changed my whole perception? What if, instead of ruing what I don't have, I'm grateful for what I do have? What if I'm grateful there is even a glass?

I live with depression. It's a constant companion. Sometimes I can see her reflected in the bathroom mirror. She might leave for a bit but she comes back. She insists I haul her around. She makes me tired. She makes me weary. She makes me long for things to "be better". She reminds me that I fail. She makes me not get the things done that I want to get done. She's always there. But, she's not around when, in those few fleeting moments I'm clear headed, I am grateful for something, something simple. She doesn't know how to behave when I'm grateful, when I feel gratitude for life and what I have. She has to leave and think about a different way to keep me in check.

So, all this leads to my New Year's Resolution for 2012. I'm not going to read half the stack of magazines on the ottoman. I'm not going to read 6 books this year, lose 50 pounds, exercise more, eat vegetables or take up daily walks. I might do those just because they are there. I'm going to practice gratitude. I'm going to, every day, when the negative thoughts close in around me, consciously be grateful that I have clothes to wear, a house to sleep in, cats to love me, food on my table, a sunny day, a break in traffic to make a left turn, 2 hours without the phone ringing so I could blog instead. I'm going to, consciously, seek out things for which I am grateful.

This is complete attitude adjustment. I have no illusions that this will be easy. I am my own worse critic and it is very, very, very, easy; did I mention how easy it is; to get down on myself for anything. I will fall and, right now, I'm dealing with the pain in my hands and how it slows and prohibits what I can do. I must find things to be grateful for even as my hands hurt.

I feel, deep down inside me, that changing my outlook to reflect being grateful is the best gift I can give myself in 2012.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Monday, January 2, 2012

Bowl Game Stitching

There was only one bowl game on free TV, so I sat in the recliner and filled in the swan heads today in between doing some dishes. Several times during the course of the afternoon, the stitching had to give way to ear scratching. Hence, some of the white of the swans has black fur stitched in with it. This will come out once the piece is done and I wash it.

I'm not having a problem with my thumbs when I stitch. My right knee is achy now, kind of in the same spot the left knee had the fluid. It's hard to get up out of the recliner.

It's too bad I couldn't watch any other bowl game while stitching. I probably would have finished the right swan. I used up the strand of floss in the needle and then set the piece aside to finish dishes and set things out for work tomorrow. I am not interested in the evening television offerings. There's just nothing appealing on TV, at least not to me.

So, I will work on this for an hour or so when I get home from work, in between doing other things. As fast as it's going, I could have it done by the end of January.

Beverage:  Water


Worst Use of Packaging

I ordered some calendars for the house and they arrived on Saturday. This is the box they came in.

Looking at this box, you would think I ordered a couple hundred. Seriously. Guess how many I ordered? Go ahead. I'll wait. 

Can you count? There are 4 in there. FOUR! There is a Chicago calendar for the kitchen, an Iowa calendar for the bedroom, a Maxine calendar for my home office and a World of Warcraft calendar for my work office. Four freakin' calendars. They were 50% off so I got them for a song, but that's all that came in the box. I did order the 365 word a day calendar but it has to come under a different package so it's not here yet. 

When I opened the box, I saw this. 

I must be missing something. Why do four calendars need this much packaging and this large of a box? They could have shoved them into a padded mailer and shipped them. There are mailers of the right size at office supply stores. I don't get this. When I pulled all the packing out and set it on the recliner, I had a pile this big. 

It took me 15 minutes to poke holes in all these little pillows so I could wad up the plastic and stick it in the plastic bags that go to the grocery. I think my mom can use the box to store records so I'll be shipping that to her. The packaging will get recycled. But this is so wasteful. I need to let Barnes and Noble know that less is truly more. I expect this kind of packaging if I am buying a Nook, but calendars? Pshaw. I wonder how the small word a day calendar will be packed. Let's hope it doesn't take a semi truck to deliver.

Beverage:  Orange Juice