Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Christmas

I need to start shipping things out.

There's no room on the table to wrap the few I have left to wrap.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


And It's Frozen

I may never eat Dominos again.

Doesn't look like much. It's a frozen pizza. It was on sale at Target for $7.99. It's usually $10.99 owing to the amount of meat on it.

I like Home Run Inn pizzas. I like wafer crusts and the kind I usually bought, sausage that comes in a green box, is really good. Recently, I tried their uncured pepperoni and sausage pizza, which comes in a purple box. Pepperoni usually gives me rampant heartburn. I've quit eating it, it gets so bad. So why try a pizza with pepperoni on it? The "uncured" part was attractive. Would having the pepperoni "uncured" make a difference? Monumentally, it seems. I had no heartburn after eating that pizza. Now, I don't eat it all in one sitting. I have 3 pieces and put the rest away for another meal. (Cold pizza on a weekend morning with a glass of orange juice is very good.)

I feel like a good way to satisfy my pizza craving and watch my budget is to buy these. The sausage ones can be on sale 2 for $10.00. When I saw this at Target, I knew I had to try it. Home Run Inn claims their pizzas are all "natural" and I believe I can find them at my Whole Foods. I don't know what "all natural" means in terms of pizza. Is it all organic, including free range pigs? However that's termed, this is really good pizza. They have a bunch of varieties, including vegetable flavors. I'm not fond of veggies on my pizza and absolutely no fungus, so finding a meat lover's with sausage, bacon and pepperoni was wonderful.

So, I give this frozen pizza two enthusiastic thumbs up. It's inexpensive, which makes it good for those on a budget. You kind of have to like the wafer crust although I think some of their pizzas with more ingredients on them have thicker crusts. I love the taste and with an ice cold Dr Pepper, this is a great supper.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Birthday

Today, I'm trying not to feel ridiculously old. My daughter has reached the age of 30. It really does not seem possible that 30 years ago, on a Sunday, she arrived. Thirty years is a long time, but, in a way, not long enough.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I have been sending, since the end of October, one birthday card a day. She should have received 30 of them; some silly, some dumb, some sentimental, but all sent with lots of love. That was the nefarious thing I was up to when I posted, earlier, the photo of the cards with stickers attached. I've done this to several other people. It can get expensive when they get up around my age, but I guarantee, years later, the recipient is still talking about it and probably still has all the cards.

She gives me a list every year and I buy things off the list but I also am always on the lookout for things I think she might like. Sometimes, I'm way off, but other times it turns out to be something she didn't know was out there. One of the items I sent this year falls into that category.

We both love Fred and Ginger movies. When I think of movie musicals, their movies always pop up first. They were always upbeat. In spite of contrived reasons why they couldn't be together or why they break up, they always got back together at the end, usually also in a very unrealistic fashion. I always wanted a replica of one of Ginger's dresses; total froth and I'd have no place to wear it, but look! Feathers! Tulle! Organza!

And the dancing. Oh the dancing. This book, which I wound up reading after I got it, talks about the dancing and the movies that made up their partnership in the 1930's. The author took each movie they made, pulled them apart, put them in categories by story line and then discusses how the dancing was used to further the plot or, in some cases, to distract you from a really silly plot. As an example, she discusses their early movie, Roberta, which was supposed to be a showcase for Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne. But those performers parts pale in comparison with what Fred and Ginger do.

If you like their movies, this book is an excellent companion to them. It's not very big and is well organized so if your night includes Swing Time or Follow the Fleet, you can flip easily to the section about those movies and watch how the dancing enhances the movie.

The other thing I did was burned all of the photos and folders we got from our Civil War Battlefield trip back in 2001 onto a DvD.
She's always been a student of history and this trip was kind of a culmination of that. I have the originals, but she now has everything to review and remember.

Here's to my marvelous daughter. Happy birthday.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola



One of the purchases at Target last week was drain opener. I've had all the drains cleaned but a quarter cup of drain opener every other month keeps them clear. Usually, I buy my drain opener at Dominicks when I get other groceries. But, as I had the Target gift certificate and it was time to do preventative maintenance on the drains, I figured I'd pick it up at Target.

Imagine my surprise when the clerk asked to see my driver's license. I did a quick scan of my purchases. No alcohol. No decongestants. I'm used to being carded for those purchases. Was it the Coke AND the Dr Pepper purchase? He apologized and said he's required to type in license numbers whenever someone buys drain opener. I have never had this happen at Dominicks. I looked at the bottle and looked quizzically at him. He dropped the volume of his voice and said, "We were told that people can use this to make pipe bombs." Ah. Of course. That does make sense.

Has anyone else been carded when you've bought drain opener or don't you buy it? I'm just curious as this practice doesn't seem to be wide spread. Is it just at Target? Was this just instituted recently? I don't have answers to those questions. I'm not annoyed to show my license. When I was told why, it makes perfect sense and I'm using this for its intended purpose so I have nothing to hide. I do wonder if the information goes to a national database or if this is just for Target's protection. I should have asked.


Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Indoor Warmth

I went precisely one place over the entire Thanksgiving holiday. That was to Target on Sunday to see if they had a small string of Christmas lights for my tree. The weekend was given over to cleaning and preparing the house for what I feel is going to be a harsher winter than the one just passed. I really don't think it's going to be 80 in March, where I throw open the windows and air out the house. It was time to put up the window insulators.

I bought this last year and never used it. A couple of times I thought, dang, I need to get a window covered and that was as far as it got. I didn't have the range of motion last year that I do this year so contemplating actually covering windows wore me out. With my feeling that winter will be harsher came the need to get the windows covered in anticipation of the snow and cold or just cold because I'm not convinced we'll have much in the way of snow. The salesman at Ace Hardware actually tried to dissuade me from purchasing this package. He said it won't cover 6 "modern" windows. Here's the thing. I don't have "modern" windows. If I had "modern" windows, I, very likely, wouldn't need anything like this.

I'm not sure why the Ace Hardware guy tried to dissuade me, either. The box says 6 window coverage. I have done 5 and I have one left to do. 5+1=6, at least, I think it does. The shrinking plastic is probably a bit lighter weight than the 3M version but it shrinks just as nicely. Plus, this is usually $3-4 cheaper for a 6 window kit than the 3M version. 

In theory, I could just slap these up and not shrink them or wash the windows prior to putting them up. But the windows should be cleaned anyway. Some of them were obviously dirty. As long as I'm taking the time to put these up, I might as well do it over clean interior side windows. I have to take down curtains or move furniture to have a good spot to maneuver the hair dryer or to get the full window covered. I had to laugh when I moved my record player in the living room to get to the north window. Holy catnip, Batman! So THAT'S where all the toys were.

I clean my house thoroughly but I admit that moving this is problematic so I haven't moved it in a few years. There was not much dust under it but mice and catnip balls, yes. For the girls, it was like Christmas. I just tossed everything into the middle of the living room floor and have gradually removed toys to the toy box. They chase them around the living room for a bit but these two aren't much for public playing. If I'm watching, they don't play. I usually hear the scrabble of feet after I've gone to bed. The butterfly in the photo has been dragged around the house a couple of times. I found it next to the water dish in the bathroom last night.

The house is warmer now. I don't notice the light breeze blowing through that was evident on Friday after the cold front moved through. The heat isn't coming on as much, which we all know is a definite plus. And the girls got 50% more toys. Makes me wonder what else I should consider moving to see what could be behind it.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


My Mini Christmas

My tree is up.

One long string of light wrapped about the tree and the base. One antique garland I got from mom that we used to put on our tree when I was growing up. One Herky the Hawk ornament, 6 Pfaltzgraff china ornaments chosen because they are small and the rest are cat ornaments. It's the perfect festive for me this year. I dug out the start that I usually put on the top and it dwarfed the whole tree. It doesn't look that big when the whole tree is up but in just using the top, yeah. I'd like something small. I have to go to the Dollar Store this weekend where I'll look for an actual small string of lights and a small tree topper. If I don't find anything, oh well. I'm happy.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Birthday Goodness

I turned 39...again, yesterday. My birthdays have, for some time now, been solitary affairs; me and the cats, maybe the office, a few cards, but rather quiet and almost just another day. Yes, I'll admit there was some resentment, over the years, that people didn't seem to acknowledge my birthday, but I have grown out of that. How egotistical can you be to demand that people recognize this date? It's like the price of your friendship is how much stuff they bestow on you for an arbitrary date on the calendar. I'm rather embarrassed, when I think back to some of those kinds of comments that passed my lips.

This being my 'year of gratitude', all I really wanted from anyone was the acknowledgement that we are still friends and will continue to be friends for the next year. It's kind of like a contract, renewable once a year. It's time for review. Has it been a good year? Yes? Well, then, let's renew it for another year.

I have made some friends via this game that I play who believe I deserve more than just a virtual handshake and an agreement that we'll be friends for another year. "I need a birthday/Christmas list from you," was the cry. My protestations that I didn't need anything from them fell on, essentially, deaf ears. Then, after a conversation with one of them, I realized that they want to send stuff because we're friends, not out of any duty or an attempt to buy friendship. Friends buy things for each other because they are, well, friends. They see something and think, "Deb would love this!" As much as I say, "You don't have to get me anything. You friendship is more than 'enough'", for them, and for me, too because I think the same thing, a token or tokens of that friendship is the natural expression.

The big box came on Friday along with a box from Carole. When Charly said he'd picked up "a few" things, I had visions of, at most, a handful of items. I could put both cats in this box. That design on the box is colored duct tape and Charly said he used three (!) rolls to cover it. I couldn't get into it with a pair of scissors so I resorted to a steak knife. Inside were packages wrapped in green bubble wrap and red tissue paper. Packages and packages and packages.

My first reaction was the old chestnut, "I don't deserve all of this." I think it's wise to have that feeling. If you felt that you did deserve 'all' of this, it's not a far jump to thinking you deserve 'all' of something else and then what reigns in your ego? "Oh lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way," goes the silly song. But, perhaps, on this day, I can allow myself to step into the "I am deserving" area just once.

Charly insisted I open something; he wanted me to open everything but I refused as it wasn't my birthday. So I opened two packages and then, after the tree was up, removed everything from the box. The contents were many and the girls even got a couple of things. I...I really don't deserve all of this. It must have cost a small fortune. I can't reciprocate for this kindness. All these things, and more, ran through my head.

Hold the phone here and let's take a few steps back. For once, this is about me, in a very legitimate way. Charly wanted to do this. He had enormous fun going out and finding all these things, wrapping them and then trying to find a box of the proper size. I think he also took perverse pleasure in wrapping that box with duct tape.

One of my best friends, Patt, also sent a few things. She got to go to Paris in the summer. She brought back a bookmark, magnets, a small note pad and real Swiss chocolate. I don't know what the words are on the box. I think they are German. Carole sent Ghirardelli instant hot cocoa and the best socks. As I have had to get rid of several pair as not being fixable anymore, socks without holes were extremely welcome. Plus, they are loud.

Those are bears, but it doesn't take much to look at them and think they are Pilchards.

And there is still a box coming from Meredith. AAAAHHHH! I don't.....

It is a measure of one's life that people do things for you. In my year of gratitude, I have come to see that the grousing and complaining I did, mainly to myself, was affecting how I looked at life. It's easy to get down. Cripes, I find myself struggling with it now as my knees really, really hurt and getting around is an exercise in pain endurance. Dang, this rheumatoid arthritis sucks. Oh woe is me.

In looking at things from the point of view of gratitude, warm socks are a godsend. Oh look! More stickers, just in time for the Christmas cards. I have wonderful scented bath gels and lotion. The Sensual Amber fragrance is something I have smelled before, somewhere, a long time ago. I know that scent. It's a scent of warmth and comfort but I cannot remember where I would know it. I do know it's something from childhood. I've got a book to read and a bookmark to keep my place while I sip luxury hot cocoa. Any one of these things would have been enough. The fact that I received all of them fills my heart with joy. I realized last night, that it's been awhile since I had joy, the giggly kind.

So, to quote Joanne Woodward in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Really good indie movie.), "My heart is full." It was a very good birthday.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Am Part of the Decorations

I decided I would put up a tree this year. There will be a good amount of time to enjoy it this year, unlike the years when Thanksgiving comes late.

In order to put up the tree, I had to decide how to get it upstairs. That was a huge roadblock. It's in a large Rubbermaid container and, realistically, it's too heavy for me to haul upstairs. I could drag it over to the bottom of the stairs and then bring it up in pieces, but going up and down stairs is so painful right now. Then it hit me.

I could use just the top of the tree as my tree this year. I don't have to have the whole thing; just enough to be festive. Plus, it will be much, much easier to set up and take down. My grandmother never had a tree. She had this small ceramic tree decoration that she set up on the mantel of the fireplace. Presents were piled on the hearth as she didn't use the fireplace. This will work perfectly for me.

The room was thoroughly cleaned and the top was fetched. It took some finagling with the stand to get it to stay upright because the stand is meant for the bottom which is bigger. Then, I got out lights and tried to string them around the tree. I have 6 strands of lights. Four of them would go around this tree 3 to 4 times. The two that would be just right, don't work. Of course. It's probably one or two burnt out bulbs, but, you know what, I have no patience to sit in the recliner and check each bulb to see which ones are burnt out. It's time to add them to the give away bag and let someone else deal with it. I have recycled them for the very. last. time.

There's still some money on that Target gift card I received last week. I'll just go to Target on the morrow and get a small string of lights. If this works out as I hope, I'll probably be doing it again next year. Problem solved. I can finish decorating tomorrow.

In the meantime, I spread out the tree skirt and placed a birthday present received from my friend, Charly, under the tree. (See right what it looks like in better lighting.) Instantly, the spot "under" the tree was claimed. I remember when I set up the full tree two years ago. She loved lying under it. I didn't decorate last year. I just piled anything I got on the table in the living room.

Yes, the tree skirt will become festooned with black fur. But, I think that's great. It certainly adds charm to the decorations.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


Officially Christmas

It is now officially the Christmas season. I spent today cleaning the living room. It took a whole day because I do live in my living room. It's not a parlor you pass through or a front room, but a living room. If I want the girls, chances are very good Mija's in the recliner and Pilchard's in one of her boxes.

The floor was swept and stuff was dusted. I washed the north window and it's now covered for the winter. Man it was dirty. Items on the table in the living room have been put away. Funny how I just pile things thinking I'll get around to dealing with them and then I don't. I went through all the magazines left to read on the ottoman and I successfully reduced last year's pile by 2/3rds this year. I think that's what I will do between now and January 1st, read more magazines and see how far I can pare down this stack. I went from two stacks to one. It feels like a huge accomplishment.

Then, I gave myself permission to sit and watch the kick-off to Christmas.

I don't know when it started but it's sort of been a tradition to watch The Grinch right after Thanksgiving. It used to be on TV on the day after but I don't even know if you can watch it on free TV anymore. It's the antithesis of Christmas, too, and I've felt it's reminded me of what the Grinch learns at the end. "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store." What a good way to remind oneself as you are braving the sales, the weather and the other shoppers, that it should be the thought that counts.

Having done this, I can now contemplate finishing off that list of names. I do shop or craft all year with people in mind but now it's officially Christmas and I give myself permission to celebrate the holiday. Tomorrow will be a quick trip to Target. I don't have working lights for the tree.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


Friday, November 23, 2012


There is a tradition to thoroughly clean one's domicile twice a year; spring and fall. This spring, I cleaned thoroughly because Carole and David were coming for Memorial Day and Niles' wedding. I had not done the fall cleaning, however.

It's been a rough fall for joint pain. My knees have been giving me a great deal of problems and pain. I don't have the pain in my hands, shoulders or feet and ankles, but the hips hurt getting out of bed in the morning and the knees hurt period. Cleaning, the thorough kind I really wanted to do, just wore me out because I can't stand for long periods of time. I have to break the cleaning sessions into smaller chunks and it sometimes doesn't feel like I'm getting anything accomplished.

I also have to be careful about the amount of cleaning products I'm exposed to. My allergies seem to be in high gear this fall. I've been waiting for the hard freeze to kill the pollens outside, but interior allergens can be as bad or worse than anything you find outside. I have to watch how much stuff I use and how long I'm exposed to it.

In Target, on Wednesday, I was thrilled to see that J.R. Watkins had put their cleaning products for sale in the store. Watkins is a Minnesota brand and Target is headquartered in Minneapolis. It was probably a perfect fit for growing the Watkins brand. It's usually sold via door-to-door salesmen. We had a "little old man", I don't remember his name, who handled our Watkins products. He was stooped with what we now know is osteoporosis, and drove this battered gray station wagon in which most of his products were stored. I have raved about their vanilla and spices before. I have their degreaser for heavy jobs. It's wonderful. I've used some of their other cleaning products and they are mild but very effective and without the chemicals I seem to have problems with.

But, as good as they are, they still have to resort to chemicals in some ways to clean some things. Many natural cleaning aids, vinegar comes to mind, do work but aren't as effective in some situations. My goal this weekend is to thoroughly clean AND get the window insulator plastic up on the windows. I'm going to be washing windows and trim around the windows. I have Windex, but I just don't want to breathe that stuff in for an afternoon.

Almost as if it knows, the Internet coughed up an article about using this as a cleaning aid.

Plain old Coca-Cola. The mystic formula of real Coke has a grease cutting ability that is supposed to be exceptional. I've known of stories that say you can use a can of Coke to clean your toilet bowl. (It looks really gross and no, I didn't photograph it.) I decided this was as good of a time as any to conduct experiments.

A case at Target was $5.99. That's kind of pricey. If you watch sales, I know you can get it for less. That's still 50¢ a can for a cleaning agent. The last bottle of toilet bowl cleaner I purchased was on sale for $2.49 for 24 ounces or 10¢ an ounce. A can of Coke is 4¢ an ounce.

I'm not completely sold on Coke as a toilet bowl cleaner. Unless you shake the can, you'll not get it under the rim, which should be cleaned every time you clean the bowl. I felt I had to use twice as much water because of rinsing out the toilet brush. My bowl looks clean, but is that a product of the Coke or would I get the same result if I just scrubbed the bowl with the toilet brush. I clean the bowl once a week. In terms of value, a case of coke is good for 12 weeks of cleaning as you're supposed to use a full can. I buy a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner about once every 4 months because I'm not using 12 ounces of the product. The chemical stuff is, by far, the better value for this cleaning.

Where Coke has really impressed me is in washing windows. Part of sealing the windows for the winter is washing them and the trim. I'm just using plain water to wash off the trim. I take a couple of paper towels, tip the can of Coke and pour a "handful" onto the towels. That's used to wash the window.

"But the sugar in the soda will leave a residue, won't it?" Well, if I just leave the Coke on the window, yes. There is a wind today and the outside air temperature is 32 degrees colder than yesterday. I started in the bedroom and washed the top half of the window first. I followed the Coke windows with a sponge immersed in water and then dried off each pane. I didn't notice a difference between the Coke washed and the just regular washed with water window.

Then I went to the cats' room. This used to be Carole's bedroom. We repainted the walls and windows, leaving paint residue on the windows. We always meant to scrape that off, but it never happened. She also had stickers on the windows as kids will do. Over the years, those have dried and fallen off, but the imprint has remained. Windex hasn't been able to get that off the glass.

Since I'm not in this room much, except to change litter, I haven't spent time cleaning the windows. They were quite dirty. Imagine my surprise and delight when the Coke infused paper towels removed over half of the dried paint; dissolved it right before my eyes; the sticker residue, insect parts and all the dirt and grime. For a control, I washed one pane in just plain water. It did get most of the grime but not all of it, some of the insect parts and none of the paint. I followed up with Coke. Each pane is rinsed with plain water and then dried with a paper towel. I wound up spending some time on this window simply because the Coke was dissolving the old paint every time I wiped across the panes. Technically, I don't really "care" about these back windows, but, wow. They sure sparkle now.

I've got a bunch more windows to wash and I will, for sure, use the Coke followed by water method. There are absolutely no fumes. Yes, it takes a bit more time to wash the window but not breathing in Windex fumes is, I think, worth it. I have no idea what Windex is selling for at this time. I bought some months ago when it was on sale, a big bottle so I have quite a bit to use up. I can't tell if this is a bargain but, after 2 windows, I've used about a third of a can. Perhaps I would use more if I was doing the outside of the windows. I am impressed, to say the least.

The last thing I'm going to try is defrosting the windshield with Coke. The article said pouring part of a can of Coke onto a frosted over window removes the frost. Follow with your washer fluid. I think there will be frozen Coke residue on your car that you probably will want to wash off but, for someone like me being able to easily make the windshield clear will be a godsend. I've had to scrape three times already and it does hurt the hands a bit in the morning. I'll let you know how that goes.

There is one thing I do wonder. Who decided to use Coke to clean their windows? Were they sitting around after pizza one night and someone looked at their can and said, "I wonder if we could use this to clean the windows?" And why Coke and not Pepsi or Dr Pepper? It's probably a good thing that I've not seen that you can use Dr Pepper to clean windows. I don't think I could use it for that.

Beverage:  Um...the rest of the can of Coke


Happy Holidays Indeed

The unknown sender struck again. I don't know how they know but they do. Life isn't the struggle it was a year ago or two years ago. The ends sort of meet and I'm able to save a bit, although the past couple of months found me with some unexpected expenses.

As I looked at the Thanksgiving holiday, there were a few things I wanted to get but funds wouldn't permit it. On Tuesday, I came home and here was another unremarkable letter in the mail. It had been mailed just the day before, from the south suburban area. That's a ruse, for sure, as I was in the south suburban area for business so it's easy to find a mailbox.

I really hadn't been thinking about the mysterious sender. It had been awhile since he or she had benefited me. Kind of "out of sight, out of mind". And it's not, anymore, like I am so desperate, I'm skipping meals or wondering from whom I can borrow $20 for gas until the next pay day. I've been there. Now, I cruise along sort of enjoying the scenery. I am convinced I will never be where I was before the bank idiocy but I have learned to live with it. There's a lot to be said for mac and cheese versus steak and bakers.

Life has other plans. Suddenly, viola. They are back and I have a smile from ear to ear and I realize that it's been awhile since I was joyful. This was joy.

So, Wednesday, after work, I headed over to Target and got a few things to make this holiday weekend a bit better. Whoever you are, thank you. Your kindness is phenomenal and it always seems to come when I can use a pick me up.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola



And the last cross-stitch present is completed.

This is not a kit. This phrase used to come in a kit, but by the time I get around to wanting to stitch it, no one has it. So, I bought the instructions for the bottle, grapes and glasses. The wording on this is about friendship and there are background details that I didn't use.

Once that was done, it was a matter of selecting the font and color for the sentences and deciding where the initial and date stamp goes. I pulled up the recliner, popped on the first football game of the holiday and stitched away. I'm quite pleased with the final result.

Now it just needs to be hand washed to remove cat hair, ironed and framed. I'm not sure what the next project will be. I should dig out a partially finished one and actually, gasp, finish it.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks for ALL Heros

It's almost noon on this 22nd day of November, Thanksgiving Day. It's a very far cry from last year. I was out on the deck in shirtsleeves and although there is a wind, it's rather mild.

One year ago, it was 15 degrees colder and the thermostat on my furnace had died. My daughter called to wish me happy Thanksgiving and wound up trying to troubleshoot my problem from 1500 miles away. I had very little money and the prospect of fixing what was wrong scared me to tears. Friends called and invited me to dinner, loaned me a portable heater and bestowed a small gift on me that I could at least get the thing looked at on the day after Thanksgiving.

Today, I am warm. The furnace works just fine. My finances are a bit better in that, if the thermostat quit working, I could fix it on my own. (Knocks quickly on wood.) So much has changed for the better in small ways.

I'm going to write a mini screed here, so this is your warning to get out now. Let me drag my soapbox over here and get up on it. Darned these painful knees.

Over the past week, I've received countless emails and Facebook posts decrying the decision by Target and other retailers to open at 8 p.m. tonight. "Sign the petition to let Wal*Mart workers stay home with their families on Thanksgiving Day!" These petitions or photo posts usually come with a photo of some troops in the Middle East.

I understand the feeling. It used to be, not so long ago, that Thanksgiving Day was partially sacrosanct. Retail establishments just didn't open on Thanksgiving Day. "People", that nebulous word that some take for "all of us", should be home with our "families", bowing our heads in prayer for the bounty before us. There is a very Norman Rockwellian attitude at work here.

I'm going to pop that insular bubble of Eisenhower-era perceptions. I'm not going to talk about how people of other races, creeds or genders celebrate or even DON'T celebrate this day. And what of those for whom a bag of Cheetos and a can of soda is a dinner? I won't go into that.

What irritates me is this "People should be with their families on Thanksgiving." As I took the recycling to the can, I heard sirens to the west of me. Oh dear. Someone needs assistance. I hope it's not a fire. I hope it's not a life-threatening medical emergency. But thank goodness police and firemen are working on Thanksgiving. If it's a medical emergency necessitating transport to the hospital, thank goodness EMT's work on Thanksgiving. Thank goodness there are doctors and nurses and technicians and hospital support staff working on Thanksgiving. If you're traveling to Aunt Marie's and Uncle Peter's, thank goodness there are a few gas stations open with people who are working on Thanksgiving. If I have a problem with my computer, thank goodness there are help desk people working on Thanksgiving. If grandma is in a nursing home, you probably haven't given one thought to the staff that's there today, people like my sister-in-law, who work on Thanksgiving.

Are you sufficiently cowed? So what if KMart decides to open at 8 p.m. You don't have to go there. My sister-in-law got up at 5 a.m. to be at her job at 7 a.m. because it's just another day and people depend upon her. Should we shut down our police and fire services because it's Thanksgiving and those men and women have just as much right to celebrate a holiday with their family as a retail clerk? And if you're watching the football game right now, look around the stadium. People are working on Thanksgiving so you can sit in your recliner and bemoan the fact that some stores deem it necessary to open in 6 hours. Do you think a football game just magically happens? There are people working the cameras; people frying the hot dogs; walking the stands to provide security; unstopping the toilets if necessary. People are working on Thanksgiving Day and they may, sincerely, wish they were home listening to cousin Rob's ridiculous hunting stories instead of armed with a pair of tongs for rotating bratwurst. They are there because it's their job.

So, I find this hew and cry about retailers opening on Thanksgiving to be more than a little stupid. Yes, stupid. There may be thousands of people who don't want to be the clerk in the check out line but, because it's their job, they have to be. We have forgotten all the other people who work on Thanksgiving because they have to or because they want to. It's just another day for them. Do we bother thanking them? Hardly. We "expect" them to be there.

Here is a heartfelt thank you to family members and friends of my readers who worked today. Thanks for monitoring the dials at the power plant. Thanks for being in the IDOT yellow help vehicles if I have a flat tire. Thanks for being at the convenience store which happens to be open because, crap, I don't have Cool Whip for my pumpkin pie. Thanks for being on call if my furnace should go out or my cat get violently ill.

Thank you for working Thanksgiving Day. 

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lost Time

I worked more on the cross-stitch last night.

There are probably a couple of days of work left.

I was sitting in the recliner with a cat in my lap stitching away and thinking, "Okay, so Thursday, I need to spend several hours stitching. Then, Friday, I can stitch later in the day after cleaning and it will be done. Then I can wash it and it will be dry overnight. It will be ready to be framed on Saturday and I can use the coupon. This will work."

Yes, this will work. That's good planning but there is one small detail. The coupon is good through December 1st. I get paid on November 30th. That's NOT this weekend. It was this morning when I realized I do not have to push myself to get this done other than wanting it done. I have another 9 days, really.

It's funny how time skews. Thanksgiving falls on the earliest possible day it can be this month. There is a full weekend after the holiday in order to finish things. This is good because I have an overseas package I need to prep for shipping next week, but it makes me think things are coming faster than they already are.

I have specific goals for this holiday weekend. Finishing this is one of those goals but I have the luxury of having 9 more days in which to finish the words. I'm actually planning on some small decorating this year, at least in my head, I think this will work. I can relax now and finish this without feeling like I'm under the gun.

Beverage:  Orange Pekoe tea


Breakfast Buddy

I usually have cold cereal for breakfast. It's easy to prepare and reasonably healthy. Plus, because I have to take pills every morning now, the milk in the bowl makes sure that I get that done. On those days when I have Dunkin', I have to grab the pills before I leave the house and then remember to take them once I get to the office. You probably would not be amazed at the number of zinc or calcium supplements that fall out of pants pockets when I  prepare them for the wash.

The girls aren't that much for human food. Mija is more than Pilchard. Right now, her list of "likes" is deli turkey and cooked turkey in small pieces, Cheetos, sharp cheddar cheese, and milk. She wants to sniff everything and, with the Cheetos, all she does is lick the cheese off the piece. She only eats a couple bites of cheese. They are hit or miss on tuna juice. I think they have to be in the mood for it.

The milk in my cereal is a Mija-magnet. I set my bowl down and sit to have my cereal and you see where she sits. I wish I had a way to tape record her motor. It is incredibly loud, especially when she's trying to worm her way into my heart for a treat.

That's a bowl of Chex. It was on sale when I needed cereal. She loves it when I have plain cereal, no chocolate, or sprinkles or flavoring. Then the milk isn't tainted. I don't give her milk in her dish. Technically, cats cannot digest cow's milk and it gives them the runs. Shakespeare was really bad for that in the waning years of his life. He loved milk but the resulting cat gas could clear a county. I leave about a tablespoon at the bottom of the bowl and she may, or may not, drink all of that. Pilchard isn't really that interested although once, in a blue moon, she will have a taste.

Even when I have Special K with chocolate pieces which I know she won't want the milk after I finish the cereal, I like having her sitting there with me in the morning. She's obviously happy and what a better way to start the day than with a purring cat. I just wish she wouldn't camp on top of the magazine I'm trying to read.

Beverage:  Orange Pekoe tea


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Weekend stitching was so peaceful. It helps that the BBC really enjoys the lap when I sit in the recliner, put up the leg rest and recline, just a little. Occasionally, that furry black face looks up and she meows just a bit to get a head scratch and goes back to sleep. We stayed that way all Sunday afternoon. Little else was accomplished in the house, but I didn't care.

Glasses outlined and words started. JoAnn Fabrics has a great, great framing sale this coming weekend. That's my goal. I don't know if it will be ready to ship to arrive before Christmas but I'm going to give it a try. Stitching words can, sometimes, be more horrendous than a design. It's sameness and placement.

Beverage:  Raspberry Zinger tea


Simply Irresistable

I started wrapping packages for Carole this weekend. I dug out the curling ribbon and started to wrap. Immediately, I had a "helper". She hadn't been paying attention to me prior to my pulling out the ribbon but the second I started wrapping up the packages, she was there.

She's not that into string and I don't let her play with my embroidery floss. She doesn't really chase shoelaces either. I tried that. She gets bored with those quickly.

But that curling ribbon is like a magnet. And she chews on it. She chewed through one of the pieces which forced me to redo the bow and make sure she hadn't ingested any of it. This curling ribbon is like tinsel to cats. Irresistible but it should not be consumed. 

So, here we head into the season of joy. Forget new toys. Joy, to Mija, is when mom gets out the curling ribbon.

Beverage:  Raspberry Zinger tea


Haven't Packed the Bags Just Yet

It got really noisy on the deck on Saturday afternoon. There were cardinals and chickadees chirping at each other. I glanced outside and, well, the robins haven't left Chicagoland just yet.

They are quite fat. In spite of a drought, it does not appear they have been at a loss for food. This is probably a male and female. They eyed me warily but let me get off a couple snaps before leaving.

I need to wash the windows on the back door. I read where Coke poured onto a paper towel can be used to wash windows. It has a natural grease cutting property. I wonder if it would also help get the, um, debris off the deck from robins who use the birdbath. It's really messy right now.

Beverage:  Raspberry Zinger tea


Saturday, November 17, 2012

It Took 10 Minutes

Last Saturday provided me with the kind of amusement some might consider along the lines of watching paint dry. I spent the afternoon squirrel watching.

As you know, if you've read this space, I moved the Halloween pumpkins to the deck. This was to make the disposal in the compost pile not such a long walk. It took the squirrels 10 days to decide these pumpkins were ripe for eating.

On Friday, November 9th, they had eaten into one of the pumpkins.

I moved the other one, which is off the the left, over by this one, mainly so, when I sat at the computer watching the box score on the football game, I could see if any squirrel would go after it. Where it was previously, was under the deck chair and I couldn't see it.

I also tossed a few peanuts across the deck and onto the deck railings. It was a very nice day so the office window was open to let the warm wind blow through the house.

It didn't take long for a visitor to arrive.

After he and a couple of gray squirrels cleaned off the deck of peanuts, he decided to check out the pumpkin. By now, it had started to rain, a fairly heavy rain at that.

There was one gray squirrel I think I recognized. This guy had a notch at the end of his tail. I think I've seen him around here before. He would jump onto the deck, climb the railing, snatch a peanut and launch himself onto the air conditioner to the left. He nibbled just enough to crack the shell and then he'd leave to bury this.

Until I had to close the window due to the rain, we heard the sounds of squirrels "yelling" at each other and the scrabble of them chasing each other away from the clumps of peanuts. The girls took turns sitting in the window, watching.

Once the rain came in earnest, a red squirrel who didn't look like he'd missed a meal in his lifetime, decided to work on the other pumpkin.

I have to say that, love them or hate them, it was absolutely fascinating to watch this guy. Occasionally, he noticed I was watching, so he'd stop, crawl on top of the pumpkin and "yell" at me. You know that noise; a kind of high-pitched screech.

Eventually, he realized that, no matter where I was, in the office watching...

or at the back door ...

I wasn't going to come shoo him away from the prize. So, he stepped up his gnawing. In roughly 10 minutes, he was almost at the core.

In the time it took me to walk from the back door to the office, he was through the final millimeters and into the center where the seeds were.

It took him another couple of minutes to enlarge the hole just enough to get inside.

Another 15 minutes and the interior had been cleaned of all the seeds he wanted. He hasn't been back to see if there's anything he missed so this weekend, the shells and the debris go into the compost pile.

This was one of the most interesting things I've seen. The shells on these pumpkins, unlike the first ones I got, were rather substantial. I'm not sure why they don't eat all the seeds because, when I look inside the pumpkins, there are still a good number of seeds clinging to the interior walls. There must be something about those that are unattractive to eat.

Red squirrels are about a half size bigger than gray squirrels. Gray squirrels have larger ears. I've been told gray squirrels are more aggressive but it was the red ones who were running off the gray ones from the peanuts. It's been the red ones getting into the pumpkins. The gray ones gave the red ones a wide berth if they happened to be on the deck at the same time. The gray ones return to the birdbath for water. I've never seen a red squirrel drinking from the birdbath.

Considering Iowa lost in a thriller at the end of the game last week, I think this was the more fun to watch.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Has It Been THAT Long?

Thanks to an unexpected infusion of capital, I was able to get a new soft top for the Jeep. The stitching on the current one has snapped. The stitching holes are cracking so having the top restitched would only mean it would rip along the stitch line. The driver's side half door zipper broke and to just have the zipper fixed was $250. Since it doesn't close, I duct tape it shut. The top itself has ripped along fold lines. Driving down the road at 65 mph is an exercise in wind management. Essentially, wear a hat and, in this weather, ear muffs, because it gets windy. In short, it's falling apart.

So, I went to the web site of the company where I got the first top, The sheer number of Jeep tops was a bit overwhelming but they had a service whereby I could talk to a customer service rep while in the catalogue. I really like that opportunity. You have the catalogue up in front of you. You can look at the item, ask the questions and get immediate feedback.

"Artie" helped me find the soft tops for my vehicle. I mentioned that I was replacing a top I had purchased from them many years ago. He located my original order and said, "Here's the link to the same top and a good quality top at a cheaper price. You ordered your current top in 2005."

What? It's been over 7 years since I replaced the original white top that came with the Jeep when I bought it! I paid about $600 for the top I'm replacing. I would say I got my money's worth.

So, I bought the good quality but cheaper priced top. If it lasts half as long as the current one, it's a good value. The problem now is finding people to help me swap tops. My brother will do it but he's in Iowa and I don't think my knees will let me drive that far. It's an easy swap as everything is velcro, but I can't do it myself.

I'm excited. This is just in time for winter, just in time to make that wind in your hair a thing of the past.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Limited Eating

Sticking to the grocery list is important. We've all heard that. There are all sorts of tricks for not over spending at the grocery and the list is the biggest one. But items seem to fall into your cart anyway, in spite of the best planned list. My ONE, and I was very proud of it only being one, item not on the list are the Oreos to the right. 

It's rather easy to see why I would select them, isn't it? First of all, it's Oreos. Second of all, it's white fudge. It was $2.50 a box for what would be a third of the number of cookies you get in a regular size bag. Yeah, that's not really a deal, but this is a holiday item, I justified. 

I finally opened the container on Thursday. Wow are they white. They are difficult to eat, too. The coating gives easily but the cookie inside seems much harder than if I bought a regular bag. 

And these are incredibly sweet. I would be know for sitting down and eating half a bag of regular Oreos. I could only eat three of these. In fact, I've got half the box sitting on top of the fridge waiting for me. It's too much, even for a chocoholic like me to consume in one sitting. That's good, but I didn't realize how sweet these would be. 

I won't get them again. I'm glad I tried them. My curiosity is satiated. Having these on a platter along with other desserts at a Christmas buffet would be a nice touch. You can't really dunk them so they are best for the occasional nibble. Wonder if they will go stale? I guess we shall see. 

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea 


Friday, November 16, 2012

I Guess it Does Need Black

I'm in a groove here. I almost don't want to do anything else but finish this. And to think I didn't work on it for over a month and a half because I screwed up the original colors.

I like how the bottle turned out. The subtle blocks of color give the bottle an almost dimensional quality. It was difficult to keep the colors in the right places, but that highlighting trick I found has helped tremendously. I have cross-stitch Christmas stockings I've always wanted to try to make but the details have had me questioning my sanity for years. Maybe now is the time to attempt one.

I've always been kind of frugal with my floss too. If the next stitches to do were more than 3 squares away, I would tie off the floss and then tie it back on, instead of just intertwining the floss through already done stitches. This project has made me see that it's just floss. The bottle, in particular the white and gray which give the bottle some dimension, did not always have stitches next to one another. Having a whole bunch of little knots where the floss was tied off and then added again, gives the project a bumpy feeling. Plus, it occurred to me that I'm using as much floss in tying off and tying on as I would if I just wove it behind already stitched areas. I remember a friend who did counted cross-stitch Christmas stockings for all her grand kids said that she just left the colors dangle off the back. It was dumb to do one stitch because it was, say, an eye of a teddy bear, and tie it off, when, as she worked her way through the design, she'd need that color in about 10 stitches. (If you don't cross-stitch, none of this probably means anything to you, but bear with me.) This project, with the miscues and the one stitch here and then needing the same color over 8 blocks has given me tricks that other stitchers probably know, but I had to learn.

I finished the design on the bottle last night.

It looks very nice. I debated about the glasses. The design shows them outlined in black. I didn't read through the instructions very thoroughly. Black floss is only used in outlining and I don't have that in the package I keep next to the recliner. At first, I was just going to use the same color as the bottle label. But the more I looked at the original design, the more I decided that I should stick to the original colors. Tonight, I'll pull black from the floss caddies.

I'm itching to finish this. It will have to wait until payday to be framed but there is a possibility I can get it to the recipient by Christmas. I'm rather proud of myself for that.

And no. I haven't considered what I'll be doing after I finish this. One project at a ... Ooooh! Look at that!

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea