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nearly missed...

Saturday, February 28, 2015
...my chance to celebrate Black History Month. But squeezed in a concert by a African American church choir after I got off work tonight, so I think I got it covered. Our senior pastor, sweet, funny, big-hearted Derrick, contacted a large AA church here in town, to ask about bringing his large choir to sing at CCC. Apparently the only open night on the calendar was Feb. 28, which is pretty close to  not  celebrating  in BHM.

They were supposed to start at six, and I debated with myself about going, as I had to work till 7:00. But I got cleaned up, and out the door on time, and decided to give it a try. I am glad I went, as they were in full voice when I crept in at 7:15, and continued for nearly an hour.

It was just exactly what you would have expected from a large black choir full of large black men and women.  I'm glad I went, and thankful there was no preaching involved: just joyful voices.

fallin' off...

..the wagon. With family visiting last weekend, and inducing  various and sundry splurging with things and quantities of which I would not normally partake, I have begun to backslide. Plus the auntie who was here for several meals this week, along with bad weather that is my best excuse for not walking every day. Not so much the weather, as time devoted to travel that prevented the exercise.

I knew I needed to get to WW this week, as today is the end of the month, and I have avoided the reality of the bathroom scale too long, letting undesirables creep up. So I was thinking I should just bite the bullet and go this morning before work. It's cold, and I have on lots of layers to peel off. In public - I told them they should set up bleachers on the sidewalk and charge admission for the 'strip show'. That pedestrians would get some cheap thrills, before the passers-by realize they would not actually see anything since we don't 'dare to bare' it all with the weigh in. Though some do strip down to the most basic of essentials. 

But upon realizing I would have to pay - regardless of whether I am going in with too many #'s or getting there after the month ran out - I decided: keep your clothes on. Also thinking that if I wait and can be more conscientious about what I do and don't put in my mouth, it's likely that I can get it under control. So I will have to pay the penalty for not getting there in a timely manner, but have convinced  myself that is preferable to paying by the pound.  Not actually 'by the pound' - just have to pay the weigh-in/meeting fee because I can't keep my mouth shut when I should not be eating desserts -tasty things that are milli-seconds on my taste buds while creating a lasting effect elsewhere.

gone fishin'...

Friday, February 27, 2015
for cash. He left this morning, headed to Biloxi. I think he is so flattered when they 'invite' him to come and participate in a tournament he cannot refuse. Well, maybe if he was flat broke, and could not pay for the gas to get there.

But his social security check came today, therefore he hit the road to The Palace. I'm sure they are all greeting him by name, and offering to get him drinks . Those cute young waitresses in short skirts are probably not aware what alcoholic beverages can do to a diabetic gambler. I'd like to think he's asking for massively overpriced $5 tumblers of diet coke to be put on his bar tab.

I told him I thought it would be a good idea to let me hold that tax refund for him before he left town. He's always the picture of optimism when he loads up to leave, so I will let you know if he has on a smiley face when he returns... if so, I will have one too: expectantly thinking he will share some of the winnings with those amongst us who are less fortunate, had to work while he is off playing cards.

never before ....

... have I been called a 'witch'. But someone suggested I might be one today. I am pretty sure there have been occasions in my life when other people have referred to me as one spelled with a 'b', but I cannot recall ever hearing me referred to as a witch.

I'd written a friend a post card recently, just a sort of 'thinking of you' thing. Someone I knew from many many years ago, and have seen maybe three or four times in the past thirty-odd years since leaving south GA. But I think of her and her family often, and -you know me- sending out little notes and cards to encourage, stay in touch, let them know they have been on my mind and heart.

So I sent the card, and she called today. To say she had gotten the note telling her that she had really been on my mind a lot recently, and I was just wanted to be in touch to let het know, hoping everyone in her family was doing well?  She reported having a 'heart episode' about two weeks ago, which would have been when she started popping up in my consciousness.

So her husband asked if the two of us were witches? I'd have to say: 'to the best of my knowledge, No.' But do know of a personal experience where I spent so much time with someone I could supply the end of a sentence. Which would, I guess, signify that our brains were so closely in tune, and possibly wired the same as to make us think on the same wavelength? Kinda creepy, huh?

she doesn't mind...

..telling it on herself, so I think/hope it will be acceptable for me to tell it as well, publishing for all the world to know. I'm thinking that if I just do not identify the 'alleged', perhaps I will not be in too much trouble when she reads this. The guilty party will certainly know to whom I refer, but hopefully after some time has passed, my retelling will not cause permanent damage to the relationship?

She told me the story some months ago, shortly after it happened. And recently reminded me of her experience, so I would like to believe enough time has passed that she can see the humor of the event and has already forgiven herself for a little absent-mindedness. I am thankful that she was willing to share about the incident, because it is a comfort to someone who is getting to the age of being seriously concerned about forgetting. Especially with a family history of memory problems.

She was away from home, working in a location that required her to sleep in a space not her own for the night. Went out to eat, enjoyed something really good, and could not eat it all. So had the extra food put in a take out box. Which she deposited in the little mini-fridge in her rented space. And put her car keys in the fridge with the box, so she would not forget to take it when she checked out the following morning. She searched and searched and searched for her keys the following day. Not even remotely thinking about the left-overs she had put in the fridge. Getting desperate, she called someone close to home, to ask if they would travel, drive the distance to bring spare key to her car.

Fortunately, before that occurred, she remembered. But I can readily identify with the feeling of total panic, desperation she must have felt, as I have on occasion been in that same predicament. You can too, I am sure, think of a time when you were pushing the clock, hurrying, bustling about to step out the door, and having to search and re-search. Patting your pockets over and over. For keys, or glasses, or phone, or whatever. Desperation and  mounting panic grabbing at your ankles. Urgently needing to get going, but unable to do so without the needed items.

She has a wonderful, delightful, endearing, hilarious sense of humor. So was more than willing to share her experience and tell other people about the incident. It would take a really long time for me to be admitting to something so .... what? Silly? Foolish? Absentminded?

She learned the Now Risky/debatable trick of putting your car keys in the fridge from a family friend years ago. Who would put  leftover casserole/potluck container in the fridge at church so he would be certain to take his dish home when he left. And it is a sensible idea, handy tip, smart move - unless you forget about opening the door of the refrigerator to get both your leftovers and car keys.

and another auntie story...

... about someone who has been saying for many years how much she likes to look at, read/study paper maps. Has always been able to spend hours pondering road maps, looking at towns, plotting a path, reading about places of interest. That seems to be history now. I gave her my most recent state  map, as she said she wanted a new one. Mine was the 'official' state map, published by the Department of Transportation, and acquired at the local welcome center up on the interstate highway.

We talked about her leaving, and I drew a picture/map to show how to get from my house down to Ft. Benning, for heading home today. She seemed so confused by the information on the paper, I told her I would drive, and she could follow. Thinking that if she stayed behind me until we got on the south side of town, I could pull off and she could be on her merry way. We did really well until we got down to exit 1. Where I veered on to the access ramp. Got onto the road that goes through government property and on towards , with no auntie in the caravan. For some unknown reason, she changed lanes and drove on post. I assume there is a turn-around before you get to the gate, where uniformed, armed personnel would ask you to 'state your business'.

I pulled off to wait, and be sure she found the right highway and would proceed on towards south GA. Standing along the edge of the asphalt, waiting to see her - she never even saw me. Was looking in the rearview mirror when she passed by, would not have seen me wave. But hopefully will eventually make it back to Valdosta. I've called and left a message on her home phone, asking her to call when she gets in...

up at 6:00 am...

Thursday, February 26, 2015
.. to be at Sam's Club when they unlocked the door at 7:00. There is this leadership conference going on at our church today and tomorrow. The attendees were to get a continental breakfast (sweet rolls and coffee, right?) and lunch at the church. And I accidently volunteered to do the shopping for groceries this morning, to try to lift some of the load for the young,busy mother who runs the kitchen/café.  She has three kids and home-schools, trying to get them squared away so she could devote her day to working in the kitchen.

I started off by offering to keep the kids, saying she could just bring them to my house, thinking: that will give her one, no 3! less things to worry about while trying to put a meal together for 200 people. She just laughed, and asked if I could meet her at Sam's at the crack of dawn to do the shopping. But my counteroffer: 'just send me the list, and I will go to Sam's while you get your family organized.'

So she sent me an email late last night (with some stuff that she later denied and declared totally random, with no memory of having requested on her list) of items to purchase and deliver this morning. I have not set an alarm clock to be anywhere since I started the cooking job. Allowing me to be at the work place at 11:00 some days and 3:00 on others, with an occasional 10:00 thrown in to keep me on my toes. But I knew I needed to get in and out, so the prep team (including me) could get started on lunch.

As it turned out, she meant to  have two bags of clementines, to add to a bowl of fresh fruit for attendees to pick up, but what she put on her list was two boxes. So we had a truck load of clementines... and the discussion about what to do with them had surprise ending. After discovering that any fresh items returned to the store will be thrown away, (due to possibility of contamination - not resalable) we decided to take the extras to give to the shelter, where lots of people who would enjoy fresh fruit, and could use a big dose of vitamin C. I hope all those folk who live down by the river, and under the bridges will enjoy the tasty, juicy fruit.

more about that auntie...

...after I made the second trip to Marietta to pick her up this afternoon. I was concerned about weather conditions, and thinking I might not be driving north, when the weather forecasting was for icy roads. Fearing that my little car would slide off the road, I had proposed that the man with the big SUV would be the one driving. He seems to get so much satisfaction from fretting about any type  weather crisis, I knew he would be delighted to have that opportunity. The man who has not driven in snowy/icy conditions since he graduated from high school thoroughly enjoys talking about how 'people down here don't know how to drive in bad weather'.

As it turned out - the problem never became problematic. Apparently the forecasters over estimated the possibility for disaster - it was the crisis that never happened. I am assuming the temperature did not drop low enough for the rain and snow that fell yesterday to freeze on the streets, so icy pavement never occurred - at least not in the area I needed to be. I expect that in more northerly climes there have been lots of closings of businesses and schools, people with plans changed for travel due to crazy weather.

But the plans we laid on Tuesday for me to return to get her on Thursday went as smoothly as possible. Got started a bit later than intended, but uneventful. I'd meant to leave here for there by about 1:00, thinking that she might want to head on back to south GA today. But life got a bit complicated. So I was nearly 2:30 getting away, which caused me to be in the worst of the leaving town traffic when I started back south. So she'll be here overnight, and leave for Valdosta in the morning.

about that auntie...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
... who went to Marietta yesterday. She wants to  move from south GA up to north Atlanta. I told her if she would come to my house, I would drive her up there, where she has a friend she could stay with and meet realtor to look at housing. I have suggested she might be better accommodated with her limitations by moving into some sort of communal situation, that would provide more care if/when she finds she cannot live independently as she does now. She has assorted physical issues, and will, I believe find that she needs some degree of assistance with mobility.

Then there is the family concern about mental problems. With my granddad (her dad) and two of his children being diagnosed with memory issues, I know she is concerned about the future.  But do not know if she has been fully transparent with doctors she deals with as far as being completely truthful and revealing about family history. So the future is uncertain.

 We got up yesterday morning and loaded up for a run to north Atlanta. No one told me to expect snow and icy driving conditions. The temp. was above freezing, so the roads were not actually slick, plus there is a tremendous amount of traffic on the interstate to keep it fairly clear.  It was interesting to discover as we drove north, the white stuff on the ground. I began to see snow just about the time we hit the I285 perimeter. And then noticed the roads had been salted. When we got to the friends' house, the walkway and steps were icy, with melting snow. But we made it safely inside. Had a bit of lunch, and I was back on the road, headed to work by 12:30.

Fortunately, an uneventful trip. I got to work on time, and spent the next five hours feeding strangers. I had not thought of my work quite like that: but now that I do, I have lots of skills that would be applicable if I were to need to search for employment working in a shelter or soup kitchen.  Not sure that would look so desirable on a job application, but there it is...

and then I fell....

into bed as soon as I could get home and get  my teeth brushed. After getting my auntie to north Atlanta in the morning, and driving back in time to get to work at 3:00. Then standing on my feets for five hours, cooking the parmesan chicken and pasta dish and serving/giving it away three times. It was pretty good, according to all the people who came by for a taste. Since it all went into the mouths of customers, I never did taste it myself. But they pretty much all recommended it - though there were a couple of folks who asked if I had any salt. I was so busy, dishing up pasta and slicing chicken cutlets, I could not stop long enough to reach for the salt.

I had not used chicken 'cutlets' before, but was interested to see how they are done in about ten minutes, as opposed to how long it takes a whole chicken breast to get cooked to safe/proper serving temp. 165 degrees. I have gotten remarkably reliable about testing with the thermometer to be sure they are completely done. Don't want anyone to become ill from food borne illness on my watch.

It's pretty easy, and fairly quick. Once you get the thin sliced chicken coated with seasoning, flour,egg and bread crumbs, they are nearly ready to eat in about six minutes. Saute in the skillet, add the mozzarella to melt, and pour on the sauce. The pasta in this recipe was angel hair, so it only takes a few minutes to cook, once you get your water boiling. I was telling people you could probably have it on the table and be ready to sit down to eat in about twenty minutes, if you had the family help out with getting a salad and bread while you are prepping the chicken and pasta. I think I would like something a little more substantial than the angel hair, like thin spaghetti or vermicelli, but ....


Thursday, February 19, 2015
...degrees, at nearly noon today. I have on several layers, and will put on several more before going out the door.  Though I am cheerfully unemployed today, I have agreed to make a trip to Sam's Club to buy some necessities for church maintenance. I'm not sure how I got myself into this position, other than by default.

At least for a couple of years now, I've been bringing home kitchen towels and washing, applying an occasional major dose of bleach, to let them 'mull' in the washer overnight. Drying, folding returning, often as many as five dozen. After they have been used to do some really nasty, un-named stuff. Possibly mopping the floor, cleaning out seriously stained coffee makers, burned on food items in the oven. Whatever emergency pops up and needs a nice clean, white, neatly folded towel to remedy.

Then I got asked if, since I seem to have such an agreeable nature combined with so much free time, if I would be the person to purchase supplies that are accessories to Sunday morning coffee consumption. Cups, plastic stirrers, creamers, sugar, cocktail sized napkins. Well, okay, why not?

And then my friend the 'official' Sam's Club shopper got annoyed by ongoing necessity for extra trips as urgent needs would arise. And quit her volunteer job. So they said: since you are going anyway, to get coffee amendments, would you mind picking up.... whatever?  I was going.  Nearly every week for some coffee-drinking accessory. But I did that on Tuesday. And now I am going on a 28 degree day to get cleaning supplies for the guy who did not realize he needed them earlier in the week. The same guy who does all the cleaning, and is the only one who uses this stuff, so would have known a week ago when he last cleaned, what he was running low on.

.. hmmm. I think I am beginning to understand how my friend finally decided she was being taken advantage of...The only bright spot here is that I have learned to keep up with my mileage for all this volunteerism, to take it off on our tax return. That and all the medical/office visit mileage and expenses have really begun to add up, here in our dotage with lots of reasons to visit doctors.

distracted while reading... abt. American pie...

... sounds much better than a distracted driver who is texting, talking, dining out and smoking while driving. I tend to get started on several different things at the same time when I am reading.  Usually a book and a magazine, and some random stuff around the house. Confession: half my bed is covered with stuff I am reading, want to read, waiting for me to finish what I am currently reading, saving to share, forgotten why it is there.

Remember me, the person who does not watch tv?  Even though my computer usually sits on the dining table, in the same room as the tv, I try my best not to look. It is so compellingly addictive. You can sit and watch junk for hours, turn your brain into mush. While being convinced it is something really worthwhile, like a mystery/crime show (with much too much of the 'show' and gruesome stuff). Where you -are completely convinced you can out-think the script writers and figure who-done-it before the lead characters uncover all the evidence leading to the alleged suspect.

I think the thing that inspired me to start the book I am working on now was hearing a song on the radio. Which is pretty odd, as I am usually listening to a book on CD or public radio. I must have been without a book, and nothing interesting on my public radio station, ie: classical music.  As luck would have it, I found an oldies station, and heard 'American Pie', the fifth most popular song of All Time. Those who know me well, can safely assume I had a little sing-a-long.

I was so interested in knowing more about Don McLean, or just deciphering the meaning of the song: you guessed it - googled him up. And discovered there is a biography. Which I requested from the ILL program, and eventually received on loan from Cal. Poly. Tech. I've been reading intermittently for a couple of weeks. You'll want me on your team for the Trivia game.

In case you are curious beyond words: from "The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Songs" by Alan Howard:  "In 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts complied a list of the 365 'Songs of the Century'.
'Over the Rainbow' by Judy Garland
'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby
'This Land is Your Land' by Woody Guthrie
'Respect' by Aretha Franklin
'American Pie' by Don McLean."

I read about the free concert Garth Brooks did in Central Park, inviting McLean to come and sing. I googled, wanted to see it on Youtube.  Got distracted and watched an hour long video of people talking about 'Mr. Guitar', Chet Atkins. Atkins loved, loved, loved McLean's 'Vincent'. I saw a clip of them playing together. That one is worth watching, for the amazing sounds coming from Atkins guitar.

"American Pie" is circling, circling, circling around  and around in my brain, will not leave me alone....

cookin' dessert at wurk...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
... though I gave all this away, and never actually put any in my mouth, I suspect it should be classified as a controlled substance, and kept under lock and key. Especially the part where you spread the honey butter on...so good, you will want to go in the closet with the tub and a spoon and deny everything later.

Cinnamon peach crescents

1 large, firm ripe peach
1 8 ct. honey butter crescent dinner rolls (I did not know about this!)
6 Tbs. cinnamon sugar butter, divided (I did not know about this either: it is dangerous/deadly)
1 Tbs. pine nuts finely crushed

Preheat oven to 375. Peel peach and cut into 8 wedges. Separate crescent rolls and place triangles on work surface (waxed paper). Spread 2 teaspoons of butter on each triangle, place peach wedge on wide end, and roll up. Place seam side/point-y end down on baking sheet (spray with non-stick first), then bake. About 15 minutes, until golden brown. Crush pine nuts. Spread remaining butter over rolls, and sprinkle with nuts. Let stand five min. to cool, tell waiting admirers the thing is Really Hot on the inside so do not burn yourself like you would eating cheese pizza. Serve. Makes 8 servings.

You know what a peach is going to taste like in mid-winter, right? The same flavor as the carton it was shipped in. So I am going to try it with sliced apples instead.  Wouldn't this be wonderful with a scoop of vanilla icecream on top? I'm also leaving of the bland pine nuts at my house. Might sprinkle on pecans instead, but the pine nuts did not add anything ....

cookin' at wurk....

today... which is  my last day to work at the different store, as well as my last day of work for this week. I am so happy I could just fall right into bed.... and not necessarily just from the happy part.

A new recipe started today. If you live in a state adjoining GA, you got the recipe in your newspaper today in the grocery advertisements. It is for a soup, and a dessert. The soup was sort of odd, to my way of thinking: when you serve it, you are instructed to put a helping of green salad on top, as well as a scoop of ricotta cheese. So, needless to say, I got some pretty strange looks when I was serving this dish to customers. But also got a lot of compliments, (who's gonna say: 'this is awful!' when they are eating free food???) so I guess it was pretty good. I literally gave every drop of it away, so never had the chance to taste it myself. But it had something in it (meat-y) I would not have cared to put in my mouth, so I'm not distressed about never getting to give it a try.

Got lots of good feedback from the Lasagna soup recipe - cold and damp and windy weather is a good day for a warming friendly pot of soup. The strange part is what I had to put on top. Some asked to leave it off, some asked to have it on the side, some just ate around it...but I think most are like the guy here, who will eat almost anything you put in front of him.

Lasagna soup insalata

(I was making 1/2 of the recipe each time, so  my measuring was less than precise)
1 pound mild Italian sausage, bulk (or casing removed)
1/2 cup baby carrots, sliced
8 oz. trinity mix (diced onions, bell pepper, celery, abut 1/4 cup each if doing it yourself)
1 24 oz. jar tomato based pasta sauce
1 32 oz. carton unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto
1 9 oz. pkg. mini cheese ravioli
1 8 oz. pkg. baby kale salad kit with toppings and dressing
6 Tbs. part skim ricotta cheese

Preheat stockpot, brown sausage (I tried to get most of the grease off before adding other ingred.) Chop carrots. Stir in vegetables: trinity mix and sliced carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally till mostly done. Stir in broth, pasta sauce, pesto. Turn down heat, let simmer for about 10 min, stirring. Stir in pasta, cook 4-5 min.. Chop salad greens. I( put in a bowl and used the kitchen scissors, then added toppings, tossed). Serve the soup with greens and a tablespoon of ricotta on top. Makes six servings.

I'm thinking: anything with sundried tomatoes and cheez ravioli is good, so I would make it with chicken or turkey, and not tell the other person who is eating it., who would probably not notice and never know the difference.

Stay tuned for the dessert that should only be available with a prescription.

cookin' at wurk...

...two days this week at another store here in town. Doing the same thing I normally would, just in a different location, with a weird oven, but everything else is pretty much the same. Only a few familiar faces: some on customers - who look at me and say: 'what are you doing here?', thinking they normally see me in a different place. And a few more familiar faces on fellow employees, who pretty much say the same thing, only thinking I must have requested a transfer, and will be doing the cooking demo. in that location. I was there on Monday, and will go back today, for another eight hours.

The recipe that ended last night was for shepherds' pie. I don't remember eating it as a child, so do not think my mom ever cooked it. It just was not in her repetitore (sp?) and probably not 'southern' enough.  A customer yesterday said it is very common in Barbados? I thought it sounded more Scottish or vaguely European. We need to do some research/googling on that to get info. about origins, right?

It was really good, but not my definition of shepherd's pie. I thought it was supposed to have left-over potatoes on the top. In fact, I lied through my teeth a dozen times or more, telling people that when I had it growing up, it always started with my mom having made too many mashed potatoes she needed to use/repurpose. My mom never made it - so that was a total fabrication. This one, the one 'perfected' in the test kitchen in Lakeland, had tater-tots on the bottom (put them in casserole dish and brown in oven, before pouring the rest of the stuff over), and a pie crust  on top. Causing lots of commentary from passers-by that the dish we were serving was what they thought of as 'pot pie'. Me too.

I told several folks about this wonderfully easy recipe I have for chicken pot pie that has a Bisquick crust. Not sure about the proportions, but I think equal parts: mayo., milk and baking mix. Just pour it over and let it bake. With what ever you want to combine under it: left over chicken, or roast, or any thing that needs to go, leftover assortment in the fridge along with a can of Veg-all, and some mushroom soup.

"The Big Tiny..."

... with a subtitle of 'A Built-it-myself Memoir' by Dee Williams. Really interesting and amusing. I don't remember where I found the reference that made me want to read it. I requested from the local library and found it was available, picked it up, and immediately started reading.

Williams was having a health crisis, which brought about a life-style crisis. Which caused her to completely change her life. After getting a defib. device implanted in her chest, she decided to build a wee little house on a trailer frame. Obviously someone with some basic construction/handyman type skills, but more than willing to ask friends and complete strangers for volumes of advice. She went visit someone who had built a similar 'escape pod' to live in, pare down lifestyle, and used his basic plans/schematics, then designed her own. Building on weekends, when she had spare time from a full time job, with occasional lifting help from friends bribed with beer and pizza.

Eventually being able to change from working fulltime to support a house, and the endless, perpetual constant upkeep/maintenance and financial drain homeownership requires to living in the back yard of friends. Nearly off the grid in her little house the size of a public parking space. Powered with a solar panel. She could not figure out how to put a bathroom in the smallest space she would grant, so decided to just buy a gym membership for a place to shower. Then moved to the back corner of friends' lot, and 'borrowed' theirs as needed.

A woman with a great sense of the absurd, a very intriguing book. She lives in the Pacific northwest, having moved there as an adult from the Midwest.  I've read articles about tiny, highly portable houses, as well as some that are permanently in place - making the idea of living simply without lots of belongings, flotsam and jetsam cluttering up your life seem to be a delight. Paring down to the barest of necessities sounds wonderful -and scary, thoroughly intimidating. There is a lot to be said for turtles - carrying the basic necessities with you everywhere you travel (unless you really are a turtle and attempting to cross a busy street.)

She supports herself by giving seminars on alternative dwellings. Since this is all about Dee Williams and her big tiny, I might as well give you the website: www.padtinyhouses.com. According to the blurb in the back of the book, she leads workshops on green building and community design.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015
...obviously did not provide instant resolution, or even what might be considered timely satisfaction. So not really sure why I am still going. And today, after she put needles in the top of my head, along my hairline on my face, around my brows, on both sides of  my nose, in the skin web between fingers and thumb, on my shins, below the knee, and upper foot: I nearly said 'that's all the fun I can stand for today'.

If you recall reading about this same thing back last year, I was hoping to clear up chronic sinus drainage. It still drips. And in the past two weeks, since I was last there getting poked, I think I have had a self-diagnosed sinus infection. I won't tell the symptoms. But I am pretty sure I had that, and just decided to muddle on through, feeling healthy enough otherwise that I could win the battle in time.

I honestly, truthfully did not have the time to devote to going to get a medical diagnosis, which is the  only way I could have gotten a script for antibiotics. Working too much over the holiday, and too dang tired to devote my non-working hours to sitting in a waiting room. Plus the obvious risk involved of being surrounded by people who were coughing and hacking, and snot-running kids, hoping to be cured at the doc-in-a-box. So I am back to normal (ha!), even though I continue to question the financial investment (not covered by my insurance) and efficacy (it still drips excessively) of my choice for a cure.

I mentioned those 'plugs' I had installed in my tear ducts, and we agreed that all those things inside one's face are connected. So now I am wondering if the lack of tears, causing the chronic dry-eye problem is appearing in my sinus, so geographically close to eyeballs, being diverted from my eye sockets into nose? I don't know much about the plumbing of that area, other than a occasional glance at a somewhat gruesome chart on the doctors' office walls, printed by pharmaceutical company. I recently read or heard someplace that as we 'age', and things dry up, eyes will/can become a problem. So...can they be related?

about that 'romantic' love...

Sunday, February 15, 2015
... from which I am so far removed I don't remember anything at all about it. But every time I walk past the magazines at the checkout lines, and see Tom Selleck on the cover of some magazine, where he has reinvented himself as the tv-land NYC police commissioner, I wish he was at my house. I am not even sure after all this time, I would know what to do with him. Plus I know he is perfectly happy with his little avocado farm in California. I guess I am just remembering how attractive he was when he was wearing those short shorts and doing the goofy PI role, filming 'Magnum' in Hawaii.

I was listening to a talk show, possibly 'Fresh Air', when I was on the way to work this morning. I don't know who was being interviewed, or what the title of the book was, but something made me pay attention, so thought-y I had to write it down, scratching on a piece of paper while driving. The author of the un-known book was talking about men and women and their different perspectives on love. To my way of thinking, and limited experience, the genders still polar opposites as the 'men are from mars, women are from venus' tome from years ago, by John Gray. This individual on the radio this morning was paraphrasing a line from a song/poem and said we are lied to by our love songs.

It has been interesting to ponder that all day, and consider how females never seem to get over this idealized mental picture of what their lives should be. Sort of 'princess-like', never being able to 100% admit that we are  not wanting to be put up on a pedestal and adored. And men, once the conquest is fait accompli, are ready to go back to sitting around in their underwear with remote in hand, like they did before they had to clean up their act when courting. Am I wrong? Do I have a completely unrealistic picture of this?  I am sure there are men out there somewhere who willingly do even more than half the domestic chores, and women who happily go out into the marketplace every day, leaving spouse and children at home, while they bring home the paycheck.

But I do believe there is this accepted notion, maybe something we need to reconsider, where we have these ideas about what men will do, want to do, and also what we cannot expect them to do. As well as things that are historically attributed to females, things that women will/won't be and traditional roles. I know we all have pre-conceived ideas, and will invariably attribute those mother-ly, nurturing characteristics to women who have historically done the cooking, laundry, child birthing-feeding-cleaning-raising.

Here's the thing I wrote down while driving to work in the dark: "we are lied to by our love songs". When we hear the sweet embellished, flowery poetry of romance, we continually, repeatedly fall into: believing what we are hearing. We are so hopelessly romantic, we want to believe there is one out there for me, who will not be sitting there in the recliner with remote in hand, waiting to be called to the table for a meal. And sadly, wonder why it doesn't turn out that there is a man who will be waiting for us, with an apron on, spatula in hand, ready to put the meal on the table and light the candles, pour the wine.

The discussion on the radio was about the difference between 'attachment' and 'romantic love'. And if I remember right, the conversation brought out that the romance is what starts the relationship, the spark and tinder that kindle the fire. And then there is attachment, what happens (not always, not guaranteed, or a certainty after the storms blow in) when there is such long-standing familiarity that no one makes the effort to see that the fire continues to be nurtured, fed, there is always a sufficient supply of well-seasoned wood to keep the blaze going for the long haul.

I wrote something here in recent months along these same lines... pondering this as a question of 'love' versus 'commitment'. After hearing only part of the conversation on the radio, I am pretty sure they were somewhere near what I have figured out. The guest author admitted to being a failure at marriage, but a success with long term relationships. Felt that her research and understanding of these issues can help us all to tough it out when we get to those places where we are not sure it is worth the effort to maintain. Even though the love is no longer a roaring fire, you can put forth the effort to nurture the spark, and keep that tiny little ember alive with a desire to keep that attachment intact, and continue to honor the relationship and commitment.

happy vd...

Saturday, February 14, 2015
...and smiling me, when I walk around and see things blooming in my yard. I've noticed the daffodils starting to open up: how can you look at those happy little yellow blooms and not smile? And lots of other bulb plants that have been mostly acquired from my employer over the years. When the pots of 'forced' bulbs bloom out, start to fade, are no longer fresh enough to be sale-able, they usually go in the commercial dumpster behind the store. But it pains me to throw the bulb plants away, so I divert as many as I feel like I can without being questioned or fired.

So I have brought hundreds home over the years, either planting out under the trees, or hauling away to points north (Decatur or TN) to share. The ones that made it no farther than Midland are starting to show some color. I'm not sure if it their genetics are operating on light or warmth or both, but they are really starting to come up. Some narcissus/paper whites, a few of the Chinese tallow lilies that look very similar to narcissus in their growth pattern with lots of little blooms on one stalk, but each individual bloom looks more like a tiny version of daffodil. Lots and lots of hyacinths, popping up north of the house, in a bed just outside the big window where I sit to eat and type: glorious! Pinks and white and lavender. Today is Feb. 14, the birthday of my grandmother Rosa. Seeing hyacinths blooming always makes me think of her.

Some of the daffodils out in the leaf mulch are blooming - so you can look down the hill in the back of the house, and see little bright yellow spots of color, dancing in the breeze. Plus a few of the ones I must have ordered from those little farm wives up in north GA years ago, that have unique growth habits: lots of petals around the 'saucer' part. I think these are called 'butter and eggs', as the center has so many petals there were the cup should be, it looks like scrambled eggs. Lots of jonquils, the tiny little mini-version of the daffodil that is about the size of your thumbnail. Coming up in clumps, where I dug in a handful of bulbs in one spot, blooming almost as soon as their heads get above ground level.

Yay, spring!

how do they expect...

Thursday, February 12, 2015
...us to remember what happened a year ago? I can't even remember what went on last week, much less what the weather was in mid-February of 2014. So for them to think I can recall what might have caused a major drop in sales of red roses twelve  months past, is bordering on the ridiculous. Isn't that what we have the experts for? Those guys who do the statistical analysis and plug the sales numbers into the computer to determine how or why things happen like they do for predicting future trends? Isn't that why those techno. guys make the big money? While I am muddling along trying to make ends meet?

According the numbers that the managers can print from the computer about the sales volume for any day this year, versus history, we sold twice as many 'somethings' (roses, plants, blooming things) as we did on the same day the previous year. Meaning Wednesday will be a tough act to follow - but hopefully all the advertising every retailer is doing promoting Heart Day will get people even more in the  mood to buy things to give friends, family, co-workers. I am often amazed, and constantly  confounded when seeing people  buy things to give to others they care about, while they will look at themselves and say: Unworthy. 'I don't deserve to have flowers, or chocolate, or a good relationship, or kindness, or good friends, or a happy life, or to be kind and generous and loving to myself, but I can purchase a gift for someone else who is more deserving than I'.

Really? Don't you think you are deserving? Get real! If you don't treat yourself well, who do you think is going to shower you with blessings?

duct tape and bailing wire....

... right? With maybe a wrench and Philips head screwdriver, there is nothing you can't apply these two items to for a quick fix?  I was not the one who received the mechanical, Mr. Fix-it skills from the family gene pool. But I do know about wire cutters and needle-nose pliers.  Handy little items, and other than band-aids and antibiotic salve, pretty much all that populates my tool box. If I can't fix it with that: it's well beyond my ability.

There was a problem with the plumbing here back in the fall. If you are interested (it is not gruesome or distasteful), read on. Amusingly, or not so much, because it was in the bathroom the man of the house very rarely occupies, he has been profoundly unconcerned about a satisfactory resolution to the small crisis. Small, meaning: easy to resolve the first time it occurred, as well as the second, third, and possibly fourth. But when it became chronic, there was conversation, with the hope that there would be an actual repair, providing a long term solution.

After reading a novel about some creepy medical stuff (organ harvesting) and learning the difference between 'acute' and 'chronic', I began to apply those terms to situations, events, people that have nothing to do with medical situations. So the plumbing issue here is occasionally acute as well as ongoing in the chronic sense. Due to the fact that no one has applied the proper repairs to resolve.

If my dad knew I had repaired with wire, not once but twice, he would have a cow. I'll not use the customary southern expression of  'rolling in his grave', but do believe he would be here and tinkering in the toilet tank if he were more available. When I opened the lid on the tank months ago, to watch the plumbing in action and discover the relatively insignificant cause of the dysfunction, I thought:' I can fix that with a piece of wire'. Using what was most handy, meaning a wire of too small a gauge to effect a long term solution.  And recently, just last week, replaced the corroded, broken wire with a much larger gauge, serious, hard working piece. When it wears through, from flushing and constant wet, I will use a piece of coat hanger wire!

I understand, after a bit of inquiry, that the actual part needed to resolve the problem permanently has been riding around in a vehicle for weeks. And will require some small effort to install: taking things apart and possibly making a wet mess (similar to a 'hot mess', but the opposite, as wet will put out a fire). But it might require more plumbing skills that I can muster, so I am reluctant to take the thing apart and make it un-usable. Creating a 2:00 a.m. crisis when my bladder thinks it is time to get up.

a quick trip......

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
...to Valdosta already this week. I drove down on Monday and came back on Tuesday. Even though I spent the night with my auntie, I was not in south GA twenty four hours. And sadly, discovering I don't bounce back as swiftly as my younger self would have, so even though I am up and dressed for work, I am kinda dragging. I will be working at least through next Wednesday, which makes for some pretty tiring prospects. But will also provide some nice padding to my banking situation.

My auntie had asked me to go along for a dr. appt. on Tuesday morning. I've been writing, talking, asking, suggesting for years about this. Trying to impress upon her the value of having another person along for  to support and be an advocate. She has let someone else go along on occasion in recent months, as events have precipitated a reason for her to need some assistance. I am a firm believer in the thought that an additional set of ears is essential for medical information. They are all trying to do a good job, but under the constant stress of knowing there are a dozen people waiting in line. So in the effort to herd the cattle through the slot, interaction and examinations can be cursory. A second person, somewhat disinterested party, can ask pertinent questions, get more specifics, request clarification.

So, even though I was surprised by her request, and not sure why she would want me to accompany her, I agreeably did. But that meant I had to be a work for nine hours (including lunch break), then drive to Valdosta after getting off work at 8 p.m. Not a particularly bright idea, but with an 8:45 appointment on Tues., it seemed like the thing to do. I was fine, perfectly alert, awake and all right for the drive. Until I got to Valdosta, and the last traffic light before the turn onto  her street. While waiting for the light to change from red to green, sitting there with my foot on the break, I am nearly certain I went to sleep. In about ten seconds. I made the left turn when the light changed, so the nap was only about fifteen seconds long.

The actual appointment was a non-event. The dr. she was seeing is an orthopedic surgeon. Who has done several surgeries on her person, so assumed she was there with shoulder problems. But she wanted to talk, so he listened. And sent us on our way.  I drove back home in the afternoon, and should have slept really well in my own bed... maybe it was the caffeine?


Friday, February 6, 2015
...at work today: it was good and easy (for those amongst you who are shrimp eaters.) A salad, made with spring mix, the bagged stuff you buy RTU, and dump in the bowl, add toppings and consume. The yummy stuff on the one I was making today included some dried cranberries, cheese crumbles, and coarsely chopped cinnamon'd almonds. The shrimp was remarkably simple to make, just put them, shelled and de-veined, in a little bowl or zipper bag that has two Tbs. of 'shake and bake' barbeque flavored coating, along with 1 Tbs. of blackened fish seasoning. Put them in the hot oven (450) for about five or six min., and they are ready to serve. According to all the people who ate the shrimp, it is not too spicey. I would reduce the amount of the hot stuff by half if it were happening at my house - but your taste buds can probably tolerate more than mine...

Oh -  and to make the salad the best ever, you peel and cut up a navel orange, toss in a Tbs. of cinnamon sugar mix, and put that in the oven for four or five minutes, let cool, and add to salad. Then top it all with a drizzle a third of a cup of Vidalia Onion salad dressing.(Do not drink the salad dressing - even though it is good enough to pour over biscuits, you are not allowed to chug the whole bottle.)  I'm all for the salad without the shrimp - but that's not how the recipe goes. So if I was making it at my house, I would go right by the recipe, but use a cubed chicken breast to replace the shrimps I am not going to put in my mouth.

Good and Easy. A combo that is hard to beat. I think it is probably the easiest, quickest recipe I have put together since I started doing the demo. back in the fall. I was trying to save the zest from the oranges, for some as yet undetermined reason, but it goes together so fast when you are getting it ready to serve, I did not have time to shave the skin after the second time I made it. I don't know what I will do with dried orange zest, but it's got to be good for something? Any ideas?

today, probably...

...starts the beginning of the run-up to next Saturday. Which is Feb. 14, for those of you who do not look ahead on the calendar. I start thinking about it on Feb. 15, after I have had time to think about how thankful I am to have survived the previous Valentine's Day without loosing my marbles or hurting someone.

I've been doing non-floral work in recent months. And reminding the produce manager that Feb. 14 is looming. With the thought/hope he would take the time to put me on the work schedule for floral department instead of leaving me at the mercy of the Customer Service Manager. But I will be doing the cooking demo. for the next two days. And then start  with floral on Monday. Happy to get back on the other side of the store, and out of the cooking arena for a week.

Though it's been so long since I have done the floral freight, of which there will be much, I will likely struggle with that. I'm guessing pallets and pallets of shrink-wrapped cartons of plants and lots and lots of boxes filled with buckets of dozens of roses. Like an avalanche of cut flowers. You would normally think: 'oh, how pretty', but in the same way an accident on a snowy mountain can be overwhelming, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. By being swamped with cut flowers.

The first year I worked in a flower shop during a holiday, I was astounded by the event. The number of people who were willing to pay forty five or fifty dollars for a dozen roses. Back in the era when minimum wage was probably less than five dollars an hour, and I was thankful to have a job. I have the clearest memory of standing in one place, along one side of the table where several other people were working, putting cut flowers in vases. My assignment was to put dozens of red roses in white milk-glass containers. Then tuck in some fern and fluffy gypsophilia/white lacy babies breath. I am not kidding - I did that for twenty-four hours. Went home, and took a shower, went back to work.

That will not happen next week, as the company is fanatic about the idea of anyone getting to the point of receiving a penny in overtime pay. But I am pretty much assured of working very close to a full week. Which is a mixed blessing in a number of ways. Including reminding me of how convinced I am that my knees are older than the rest of my body.

not for the squeamish...

Thursday, February 5, 2015
... of which I am one. But due to the fact that I was the 'victim' today, I am more than willing to share about my experience. It sounds much worser than the actual event, not at all excruciating, which is what I had expected, and without drugs to medicate. I deliberately did not put too much thought into the appointment with at the vision clinic this morning, or I probably would have cancelled.

I've been having a problem for years with dry eyes. Not enough to be miserable, or even slightly painful, just more of a nuisance. As well as making me look like either: up all night studying for finals, or a serious hangover, with red eyes that looked dreadful. I'd been to the 'red-eye' specialist, who wrote a Rx for high priced drops, that did not seem to have any effect. So he said: 'if you did not have a mirror, would this be a problem?' I decided No. And would occasionally put some moisturizing drops in when I would look at me looking back, appearing to have been on a bender. But mostly just practicing living with something that was barely a 1, on the How Annoying Is It? scale.

Until I started going to this dr. at the optical shop. Who decided I should be concerned about beginning stages of cataracts and something my dad struggled with: macular degeneration. So he suggested 'we' (as in the Imperial WE, meaning I would be the victim, and he would be the one holding me down. Not really - I just sat there and let it happen.) should put some little wee bitty 'plugs' in my tear ducts. To keep more of the moisture there, to stay on my eyes each time I blink.

You probably did not know, or realize that you have two different types of duct work there. One is from the place/gland that makes the lubricating fluid, a sort of mini-irrigation or sprinkler system. And the other is more like gutters along the edge of the roof. Designed to drain off the wetness, so it does not run down your cheeks unless you produce an abundance, when going to see a really sappy movie, or reading a most distressing tale.

These wee 'plugs' were inserted with pointy tweezers. Try to not blink when someone is headed towards your eyeball with a sharp pointy object and says: keep your eye wide open. Ha! It was surprisingly painless. A good thing, as I was getting thoroughly anxious by the time he came in and they turned the lights down, having second thoughts, and gazing about for a nearby exit.

I have an appt. to go back in early May, to decide if doing different 'plugs' that are more permanent is a good idea. Instructed to continue to put drops in twice a day, and use the multivitamins that have added ingredients for good eye health. We'll see how this works out...

limited appeal....

... for this amusing remembrance. A story of some small incident(s) occurring twenty or so years ago, but not of any particular interest to the general public. My children, now grown, and gone, had a habit of persuading me to walk with them from their dad's office around the corner to a small strip mall. Where there was a drop off/pick up store front for a local laundry. The cleaners he used for his business suits and starched white shirts. (You did not think I was doing the starching and ironing, did you?)

There was an older, small, round black woman who worked there, along with an assortment of young people. The teens were likely after school help, just looking for part-time work to make a little income for funding various needs and desires. But we were regular enough as customers that the girls became acquainted with the black woman, who was the only full time employee. Her name was Mamie.

They would beg and plead and pester until I would agree to take five minutes to walk with them around the corner to see Mamie who always had a lollipop available for little people. We would walk, along the edge of the paved area, where there was a drive through window for people to pick up without leaving their vehicles. And the requisite black hose that would cause a bell to ding, ding for employees to know there were customers waiting to pick up. Kids could not resist jumping up and down. To ding, ding dingdingdingding the bell.  

I had completely forgotten about this regular visit we made to the laundry lady, until I walked by a MasterKleen store today. Saw the little black hose, lying looped out on the asphalt near the drive-through window, and thought of Mamie, with her little grey curled chin hairs. I am sure she is somewhere up above, sitting on a cloud, passing out lollipops to little people bouncing around, testing out their wings.

drivin' in the dark...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
occurred this morning, when I got on the road headed to south Georgia about 6:00 a.m. The temp, according to my car, was 28 degrees. I have on several layers, and once my heater got to work, it was not unpleasant.  Stopped after driving about halfway at a curb store, and saw a couple of people, dressed in insulated hunting garb getting off a motorcycle. Looking like the Michelin tire man, in many (maybe all they owned) layers of clothing. I thought: 'well, there's something to be thankful for - vehicles with four wheels and heaters!'

I was about halfway to Albany when the sky began to get light, sun coming up and glowing below the cloud cover. It was a beautiful sight, seeing the world changing from dark to light as the clouds began to glow. Out on the horizon, looking east across the fallow fields, the sky was nearly blood red, then gradually becoming a brilliant orange as the miles and minutes passed. The clouds overhead, once lit up, gave the appearance of liquid gold, the color you see in special effects in the movies: glowing, a brilliant shade of orange-yellow. Slowly becoming lighter, changing to pewter, then silver as the earth turned, and the sun began to have a greater effect.

Looking out over the landscape, seeing the bare trees along the fence rows. Giving the appearance of a fine-print etching as the sky became back-lit and the branches and twigs on each tree came into clear focus as the lighting changed. Many of the trees being deciduous, with evergreen cedars and pines mixed in, like carefully designed works of art against the slowly brightening sky. Each limb neatly and deliberately delineated as if painstakingly planned to become an integral part of the masterpiece.

Driving back north late this afternoon, I realized it was 6:30 and just beginning to get dark. So nighttime does not fall with a loud clunk, like it did by six o'clock just weeks ago. And the first day of spring is about six weeks away. Glad to be sleeping in my own bed. I don't like to make that trip down and back in one day. But I did, and sure I will sleep well in my own space.


Monday, February 2, 2015
...was pretty simple and easily done today. The recipe was for pannini. I have not ever before today. But if hundreds and hundreds of grilled cheese counts, I have, sort of. These were  not nearly as wonderfully greasy as a grilled cheese. And probably, except for the fact that you start with deep fried chicken strips, almost healthy.

You make up a (pseudo) chutney with sun-dried tomatoes and pineapple jelly, plus a spoonful of balsamic vinegar. Spread it over the slices of baguette, and top with deli chicken fingers. Add half a slice of cheese (I forgot what kind - so whatever you got in the fridge). Hmmm... I think I was using provolone, nice runny mozzarella would be good! Top with another slice of baguette, spray it with nonstick cooking spray and put in the pannini press for about five min. Everything that needs to cook is already done: the chicken came from the deli, so it only needs to heat up and melt the cheese.

If you don't have a pannini press, which I do not, and do not want any more appliances/stuff, thankyouverymuch. So I was telling people all day they should drag out the George Foreman grill and use that instead. Not nearly as messy as having to clean it up after cooking burgers.  Or just put it in the iron skillet with something weighty to flatten it out: like you do those wonderfully bad-for-you grilled cheese sandwiches. I got lots of compliments on my 'skills', and have begun to say to people who tell me 'this is really good': "tell my boss what a great job I am doing".

I gave all the pannini away, so I never got a chance to taste one. But I did eat some of the confetti salad. It was so yummy, I accidently brought some leftovers home. It's so easy and quick to put together, I was almost embarrassed to be handing out the recipe, so simple to make, you dont' even need to write it down. Five ingredients. Five minutes. On the table. What could be easier?

Two cups of rice. (We were using the RTU Uncle Bens, that you put in the micro for ninety seconds, but if I were to make it at home, I would be using brown instead of barely nutritious/white.
Can of red beans, rinsed well and drained
3/4 cup of trinity mix (diced tomatoes, bell pepper and onion) - or to taste, whatever you like (please leave the raw onions out of mine)
1 T. lime juice
1/3 cup lite Ceasar salad dressing.
Salt and pepper
Stir, take the bowl in the closet and close the door so no one sees you eating the whole thing.

gray day...

Sunday, February 1, 2015
...out there, when I was hoping for sunshine. I was going to do some trash pick up in the yard, but it's windy, overcast and not appealing at all. Making me think it looks much more like a day for a nap instead of filling the wheelbarrow with sticks and limbs to roll up to the street. The never-ending task that accompanies living in a house out in the woods, on a big lot, with lots of trees that constantly (like small children?) need picking up after.

Looking at those little happy hyacinths in the flower bed, and hope that some of those dozens of daffodils rescued from the dumpster will want to bloom this spring. Down the hill behind the house, and out front, towards the street on our wooded lot, maybe two hundred bulbs planted over the years. Most were 'bloomed out', started in a greenhouse someplace  (Canada?), to be shipped to retailers for gift-giving holiday: Valentines', Easter or Mother's Day. They are beautiful for several days, glorious when they are showing off, but quickly go down hill, and fade into, literally: nothing. 

The vast majority of weary plants get tossed in the trash, but I have brought pots home over the years, (mostly bulbs, spring bloomers and a few calla lilies) and installed into the leaf mulch around the house. Out in the yard under the trees, where they could grow roots in the rich soil, undisturbed. My dad was of the opinion that things that had been made to bloom 'un-naturally', out of season, would never perform satisfactorily when planted out in the world. They would never recover, to the point of rejuvenating the energy they had used in the greenhouse to revert and bloom at the proper time/season when growing in a natural environment. I won't disagree, as there are paper whites  from years ago, that though planted under the deciduous trees, have not done much blooming.

Several hours later, after puttering in the kitchen, putting on a pot of soup to simmer, folding dozens of towels from church, and returning here: end of debate about yard work vs nap, when I looked out the window and see it is beginning to drizzle.  I could get in the car and drive myself someplace to walk for an hour, but I could also just go lay down on the couch and see what happens after that....