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over that same weekend...part 3

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
... before we could even get finished, those crazy people were talking about hiking up to the top of Mt. Le Conte again in August. Been there, done that - not my idea of fun: a continuous uphill trek of mile after mile on rough, uneven, rocky terrain.  I hope I was courteous and polite when I said' No Thanks' (without including any four letter words).

I think it took us about three hours to do the five miles up and down, over and around, through the woods, and the stands of rhodedendron and mountain laurel, over several streams and fording a few creeks to finally get to the place we could take off our packs. The Hike Inn has real beds, a friendly staff, a very good cook and crew. We were four of about three dozen hikers.

I am very glad I stopped over to spend the previous night in Decatur, because the weather changed dramatically between the time I packed up to leave home and the time I arrived in north GA. I requested more layers to insure warmness while I was at F.'s, and was provided enough clothes to cover everything except my nose. I expect it would have not been much fun at all, if I had not had enough to wear, most of which I wore to bed when up on the mountain top. We somehow accidently had a very cold night, with the temp. dropping below freezing, as I saw icy patches as we descended on Saturday morning. Thankful for the layering effect. And thankful that the sun was out, wind backed off, and it was a beautiful weekend.

With only one night to stay over, it was a hard trip back. We left right after eating breakfast to try to get back to our vehicles by noon. I don't think we quite did that. But safely, uneventfully arrived in the parking lot to find no busted windows or missing personal items. I was a bit anxious about leaving my car unattended, having experienced a break-in. Plus the Decatur people recently had things stolen from a vehicle parked inches from the house, so there is constant awareness/knowledge that this sort of thing happens all the time. The world is full of crazy people, as well as those who are larcenously hopeful..

Drove into Dahlonega for lunch and parted ways.  I was headed for South Carolina and they were returning to TN, with at least two people asleep in the back seat on the way home. I had planned  a visit with my pen pal in Greenville, when it occurred to me:' I'm over half way there by the time I get to Gainesville'. So went on to SC, with plans to see the cousin and spend the night.

Crazie me. Had to get up at 5 a.m. on Sunday to drive home from SC, about four hours, and be at work at 10:00. I might be still dragging my tail from all that... wondering when I will admit how difficult it is to burn your candle at both ends and the middle.

over the weekend...part 2

... even though we are nearly in the middle of another week. I have been so consistently working for the past three days, there has been no time to type and fill you in on all the activities that occurred before being employed on Sunday. So you have been sitting there, anxiously awaiting the report, gnawing on your nails, picking at your cuticles, right?

We were supposed to meet at the lodge at Amicalola State Park, which is directly north of Atlanta, though there is no easy way to get there.  As in: you cannot go directly from point A to point B. I probably made it even more convoluted than necessary, as I was desperate to get out of town and away from the early morning commuter traffic in the metro. Never one to take the easy way out, I literally drove away from the meeting point to get there. Headed east instead of north, to go to Gainesville, then turn back west, so anxious was I to avoid the thousands of people who were heading into town. And leaving much earlier than necessary to meet at the appointed time, just to get out of the congestion and off the main-est arteries that lead into the city.

So I had plenty of time to make lots of U-turns, while I was navigating with: can you believe it? A Paper Map. Trying to look for directional/road signs, checking my map to ascertain highway numbers, watching for crazies, while working my way through traffic. Wishing I had a co-pilot. But other than five times of turning around, uncertain I was on the right path, it was mostly uneventful. Honestly: two of the looping turns were extras, I just didn't see the signs and wanted to be sure I was headed down the right highway. So we can either say three or five, and three does give the appearance of me being more capable of getting myself where I want to go.

They did not meet me at the lodge, though I was thankful for a warm, un-windy place to wait for them to drive down from TN. They called and said: Where are you? And I reported that I was right where I was supposed to be. We got connected, meeting in the parking lot to start the five mile walk up to the Len Foote Hike Inn.

My Christmas gift. I'd been pestering them for months, no - maybe years - to 'let's plan to go to the Hike Inn'. So I finally just gave up on waiting till they could get organized, make plans to be off from work, and get their ducks in a row. Told them back in the fall: 'I give up. I'm just going to pick a time, make reservations to stay overnight and you can go or not'. Then they surprised me, totally surprised, completely unexpected: a gift at Christmas. So I had three months to think, plan, get excited as well as prepare myself to walk a great distance.

I've been practicing. Had several days when I actually walked five miles, just to prove I could do it. Even though the places I have been walking around here are much easier on the feets, legs, body, brain than the trek up into the mountains. After the first mile or so (thankfully there were mile markers to let one know of progress made - or maybe not thankfully - as it would at times seem like I'd just seen that same marker and 'was I walking in circles?')  as my feets began to get weary I needed some encouragement. So I started telling myself: 'all you have to do is walk to the end of the street'. Meaning the street I live on, where the end is .7 miles from my mailbox. I have a route that is two miles, to the end of the street, down a cul de sac in a neighborhood, and back home again.

So I just kept saying, my little mantra: All you have to do is walk to the end of the street. It apparently worked. I got there and back again.

over the weekend... part 1

Monday, March 30, 2015
...after my day at Callaway Gardens plant sale, I was fully prepared to drive to Decatur to spend the night. I'd set my alarm to be up at 5 a.m., and get organized, which required quite a bit of effort, due to planning to be away from home for several days. Made some snacks to take along and share with fellow travelers, and left home packed up, ready for Adventure.

It was a pleasant sunny day at Callaway, and I found myself helping a woman who has a growing business of growing things who lives nearby, someplace close into Pine Mountain village. I'd met her before, probably at a plant show/sale. It is not likely she can support herself on plant sales, but I don't know much about her and what she does with her time, other than Blue Meadows Farm. She had a friend there helping her haul plants, who had also been drafted to go to a plant sale in Perry (about 90 miles away in central GA) on Saturday. Somehow got overcommitted and needed to have some assistance. I stayed and talked plants with customers, sharing info. till about 5:30, when the crowd thinned. I said I was going to depart, and hoped they had a successful sale, good weekend.

My best intentions about NOT buying anything came to total failure. I bought three plants from her, and asked a friend if she would take them to her house when she went back to Columbus. I will have to get them in the next couple of days, and hope to get them planted this week, while it seems we will have spring showers. I wanted more, much more, but was able to resist other purchases, with great effort. I am still wishing for another blueberry bush, and will poke around at garden shops in the next couple of days to see what I might see...

Headed to Decatur where a comfortable bed awaited on Thursday night.  After standing there in the re-purposed circus tent, on the concrete floor all day, it was something to look forward to. Happy to be sitting down, when I made the two hour drive into the city.

 We went out to dinner, and I crashed pretty early, due to having gotten up so early, along with plans to arise and be on the road early on Friday morning. I did see the newest crop of chickens, and a deluxe, luxury chicken coop in the backyard, comfortably at home in the city.  Chickens are so goofy, and amusing to observe. Pondering their odd behavior, whilst remembering: they are birdbrains of the first degree.

cookin' at work... (seafood-y)

... which is, of course, something I would not eat, so I don't know what it actually tasted like, but all the fish eaters who stopped by to sample the meal reported it was really good.  Likely the quickest to put together of all the things I have prepared since I have been doing the food demo. You make a salad, that I would call 'slaw', with prepped, RTU angle hair cabbage, already sliced in the area where the bagged salads are found in produce department. Then cook fish in about six minutes: ready to eat!

The cabbage dish has radishes, a bit of garlic and onions: both of which I generally avoid, as I do not eat those things raw. And calls for a half of a jalapeno pepper, which I deliberately did not put in, as it would make it completely inedible in my opinion. We are permitted to make slight alterations to the recipes as printed on the cards, as long as we let customers know what we have changed. That way, if they like what they taste enough to want to try it at home, they will know what has been omitted or increased to adjust to the taste buds of for their preference.

The fish was remarkably easy. Seafood people gave me tilapia, though the recipe calls for cod, or any mild white fish. It has garlic, onions, tomatoes cilantro simmered in the skillet with fish, cooked about three minutes on each side. The people who tasted said it was good, and I reminded them of how quickly a fillet will cook, and how easy it would be to put the meal on the table in a short time. If I was to make it at home, I would leave out the cilantro  - sort of overpowering flavor to add to mild-mannered fish.  But it is quick and easy. Most of the recipes are designed to be ready to serve in about thirty minutes, to help busy rushed families get dinner squared away when everyone's been on the run all day.

I'm a little paranoid about constantly reproducing, sharing recipes that would obviously be trademarked, though they are designed to share/give away with copies ready for the taking. Actually laminated, with binders for sale for you to collect the weekly offerings. But if you want to see/try to one I'll be making again today - you can look on line at 'Aprons', or stop by the store between 11 and 8 for a taste.

volunteering today...

Thursday, March 26, 2015
...at Callaway Gardens as a helper with the annual spring plant sale. There will be plants available from vendors throughout the southeast, as well as some grown in the Callaway greenhouses. I did this one time before, and was in attendance several days. Which of curse means I brought some sort of green living thing home every day as I roamed around and discovered things in pots that were calling my name.

I hope to keep my plant lust under control today. It remains to be seen whether that ambition will meet with success. Following a quick trip through the garden center at Wally world yesterday. When  my credit card literally jumped out of my pocket and into the little swipey thing that takes your money quicker than you can say 'how much?'

As  much as I love to dig holes and plant things, watch them grow and bloom, I would like think I can resist for one day.  And since today is the only day I could give them, with stuff on my calendar for the remainder of the week, I am mostly certain that I will be resisting temptation... which makes me the eternal optimist, I guess?  Also hoping it will rain at my house, but no where near that leaky circus tent the plant sale is in.

in spite of...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

various health-related issues like struggling with chronic lower back pain and trick knee (which I always associated with things with rabbits out of black silk top hats and pulling a hundred feet of brightly colored scarves out of your ear) I have been stricken with Spring Fever.  I spent a couple of hours out in the sunshine today, puttering around in the yard. Not particularly productive, as I have discovered how tedious and convoluted the process is for me to get from a sitting on the ground to a standing position. But enjoying warm weather, greening everything (especially the undesirables) and compulsively stirring up the dirt.

I went to Sam's to do the weekly shopping, and found myself detouring through the garden shop at Wally-world next door, feeding a compulsion:  buying over forty dollars worth of perennials. Several of which I got planted in pots today to hopefully bloom by my front door. And the rest to be given away to someone who said she would love to have bloomers growing along the bank, edge of the creek that periodically sluices through her yard.

Then I got the wheelbarrow and picked up tree limbs, sticks, stuff that continually, incessantly falls out of trees into the leaf mulch in the yard. An endless task: by the time you think you have gotten to the end, it's time to go back to the beginning and start over. Sort of like playing Candyland with a kid, or possibly just living in a house with small children and expecting to get all the laundry done.

Dug up dozens of wee little daisy plants that have migrated, or reseeded, or volunteered everywhere. To put in pots and tend, water, nurture until I can deliver to Decatur, where they will find a good home. The ones in the bed between the house and driveway are desperate to bloom. If they could get a good rain overnight, I expect they would pop open at first light.

The only thing blooming right now, though the daisies look ready to put on a show momentarily, is this nifty little ground cover I discovered several years ago. When I was volunteering at the local botanical gardens fund-raiser/plant sale and fell in lust with Mazus. An early bloomer with tiny white or lavender flowers, and wee small leaves that spreads like crazy. It's not to the point of getting out of hand, though I can see how it could eventually have the term 'invasive' attached to it. Right now: it's just pretty, happily blooming by my front step, showing off the colors of spring. Oh, my goodness... Spring.

un-crisis here...(alternately titled: a happy ending)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
...which makes me sorry I do not have the tech. skills to post the photo of the Happy Dance. Because I was certainly doing it when my keys came back. After fuming and fretting for days over the loss, and already becoming resigned to the fact that I would have to spend hundreds for a replacement to the clicker for unlocking the Toyo.

My friend with the metal detector loaned it, I bought batteries and made a half-hearted out in the  back yard under the forsythia shrubs. I was anxious and a bit fearful of burying the keys even deeper in the leaf mulch or dirt if I started stomping around, or raking or digging. So I was not enthused about the search out there in the woods. I wasn't sure I knew how to use it, and did not know if it was working properly, or maybe it was just me, not knowing how to properly work it. So I told P. I would like for her to come out and supervise/assist to help with the ongoing quandary.

Then there is the 'tick factor' with stomping around in the underbrush. Which is not only anxiety inducing, but actually intimidating though I am generally not so much afraid as annoyed by bugs. And feeling sort of foolish when I consider how fearful I am of something the size of pin head.

My friend agreed to come out after I got off work this aft., and go out with me to help in the search. She is such a smart, capable person, I was sure she would go about it in a methodical, careful organized manner: marking off a grid or some such to be thoroughly thorough. So she came with a gigantic doughnut shaped magnet on a string, that she was sure would attract the keys if they were there, hidden in the leaves and pine straw.

I went back in the house to get the metal detector, after she got started, and lo-and-behold: walking around the corner of the house found the missing aggravating keys lying there on the ground. Yay.
Yay. And yay again, while doing the Happy Dance, to everyone's great amusement.

ThenI had her look at my tick bite, and she said it looked harmless. Her son had Lyme disease years ago, so I was confident she would recognize trouble, and she said it appeared to be ok. So yay again.

a little crisis here.... part 2

Monday, March 23, 2015
... and to top it all off, when I looked at myself on Saturday night, I found a tick. That I immediately pulled off, went to find antibiotic cream and applied. I am now regretting that I flushed the tick. As there might be a problem.

I have been putting ointment on the general location of the bite, almost in  my arm pit. But it is really itchy, swollen and could be a problem. I am still trying to decide: who the best person for advice would be? A cousin has had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other assorted chronic, life-affecting health issue and a variety of things that affect the immune system, all scarey.  Which means I am quite conscious, probably nearly to the edge of paranoia, about tick bites. I still have one little dessicated insect I  pulled off my person years ago, and put in a little medicine vial, to keep in case I started feeling odd or acting funny...

I spent the day peeking at it, applying antibiotic ointment periodically, fretting, wondering if I feel any different. Generally checking on myself. Anxiously wondering how'm I doin'?

a little crisis here...

... which does not affect anyone but me. But I am affected in a hugely annoying way, and it gets more complicated as it goes along. And could easily turn from a small crisis to a health emergency.

It all started with someone replying to my craig's list offering for selling forsythia plants. Which I have been doing off and on for years. With generally poor results. But this person wanted fifteen plants, and at two bucks each, that would be a nice sum. So I went out to dig on Friday night after I got home from work, when it was very close to being too dark to see. I put my camping headlight on, got the shovel and went to root around to get up the plants, plus a couple of spares in the event one or two did not survive transplanting. With spring rains, and the fact that the forsythia is very resilient/tolerant/hardy, I think it will do well.

So I left the plants in a bucket by the front door, for the buyer to pick up on Saturday.

But when I got in my car, ready to go to work with not a minute to spare on Saturday morning at 5:50 a.m., I did not have my keys. I don't actually insert a key anywhere, but the fob has to be on  my person, or close to the car. And it was not. I dashed back in the house, with the key I keep in my car (no keys means no house key either!), and grabbed the  back up fob. And went tearing off to work. To get there at precisely 6:00, heart pounding.

I went out in the underbrush on Saturday afternoon to try to find the missing keys. No luck, though I have not given up entirely. I am sooooo irritated. There is lots of pine straw, leaf mulch, tree trash out there under the huge forsythia bushes where I was digging. Plus I was digging.  So the keys could be underground. Reminding me of the time years ago, my dad buried his eye-glasses in the back yard. Accidently, of course. Never to be found.

I have a very resourceful friend, who has a metal detector, that needs batteries to work. So I will try again, as soon as it gets light enough to see. I am soooo irritated. Annoyed, aggravated, frustrated.

cookin'at work... (shrimp-y things)

...was certainly not something I would be interested in consuming, but if someone who really loves shrimps would come to visit, I would happily proceed to make my house smell like the store when they are steaming seafood customers. The recipe was really easy, quick to prepare and have on the table for a hungry family. And also very smelly to someone who does not consume seafood.

I did not bring a copy home, so I will just tell you what is involved, what to do. For the specifics and particulars (like how much of what) you can either stop in for taste-test today and Tuesday, or you can go to the website, look it up to see what I might have left out. But basically it was just shrimps and pasta. Like you would get someplace fancy, but when you make it yourself, you can eat in your pjs.

It starts with a bag of frozen shrimps. Really convenient. They are ready to drop in the skillet. The tails have been removed. As well as the other parts you don't want to deal with: shells and de-veining.
So after you dice up several garlic cloves, and pour some olive oil in your pre-heated skillet, you drop in the shrimps. Cook about one minute, then start adding other stuff: diced roasted red peppers (from a jar), chicken stock, butter, a bit of fresh parmesan, seasonings to taste (I'd leave out the red pepper flakes at my house), then stir in a bag of fresh clean spinach to wilt. It will be ready in about the same amount of time it takes to cook the linguini.  Put the linguini on plates, top with shrimp mixture. Serve with a green salad. I didn't add as much seasoning as the recipe wanted, and still got lots of comments about how good it was. Some people passed due to not eating shrimp, and I said: 'me neither'.

I'm going back to do it again today.

not sure if it is...

Saturday, March 21, 2015
a good or  not so good thing. I went to work at 6 this morning, and left there a bit after 4, so it was a long stinkin' day. But if there is anything good about the long stinkin' day, it is that the job was in the produce department. And had a pretty good day, chatting with Alice and yakking with friend Martin.

Making salads, cutting fresh fruit to put in bowls and out on the fresh fruit bar. And yogurt parfaits, where I was before thinking it was a good idea to start the cooking demo. job. Which is also where I was before I feel like I shot myself in the foot, figuratively speaking. Due to being forced to take pay cut when my job class changed on the corporate level.

I'm still so annoyed (and that is probably the kindest, most printable word I can apply to how I really feel about this untenable situation) over finding there is no possibility of a pay raise for diligence, or reliability, or conscientious work, or dependability, or cheerfulness, or any of the traits I feel I demonstrate at work. It might be fine and dandy for people at a corporate level to make decisions about how much my time over these many years is worth. But when I think of how much money they get paid to sit in the rolling chair all day, and make those decisions that impact all the people out here on the front lines of providing goods and superior customer service it is so irritating. Makes me want to use those words I am trying to keep closely guarded in my mouth instead of letting them  loose to turn the atmosphere blue.

cookin' at work... (yummy roasted potatoes)

Friday, March 20, 2015
...today, produced a really good potato recipe. The instructions for the thousand people who were cooking it all the hundreds of stores across five states had us cooking the potatoes in a skillet instead of baking in the oven like the version that was provided for customers. Quicker, I guess. I think I would have liked it even better roasted, with the edges of the cut up red potatoes browned from baking in the oven.

This was actually a side dish. The main, featured item was chicken, that I would not personally recommend, as it is so spicy hot you would want a fire extinguisher handy before you begin to eat.
The version I was serving today did not have the first drop of hot sauce in it, even though it calls for two tablespoons. Just didn't put it in, and told customers who were willing to taste it that they were welcome to apply the Tabasco sauce according to their preference, whatever their taste buds would tolerate.

I will just share the recipe for the potatoes, as I did not even put any of the chicken in my mouth. If you are daresome enough to want to attempt the chicken, you can look it up at Aprons. Forewarned:  you are on your own for the part where it is so hot it burns both ends when you eat it.

Roasted Dijon potatoes
1 bag baby red skinned potatoes, 24-28 oz, washed, halved
2 T. canola oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pkg fresh watercress (4-5 oz.)
1/3 cup honey mustard yogurt dressing
2 Tbs capers, drained

Preheat oven to 400. Cut potatoes. Combine in large bowl: oil, potatoes, salt and pepper. Stir. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet in a single layer, bake 18-20 min. until tender when pierced with a fork.
Let potatoes stand five minutes. Remove large stems from watercress. Toss potatoes with dressing, capers and watercress. Serve.
The instructions for the Aprons cooks: simmer in a skillet till fork tender, drain, sprinkle on salt and pepper, toss, add salad dressing and watercress. I know I'd like it better roasted in the oven, but that's where the chicken was cooking for 15- 20 min, so we were cooking on stove top/burner.Who'd have ever thought to put honey-mustard on potatoes? Not me, but it's good on everything else, so why not?

back to GA...

... discovering you can feel 'jet-lagged' without even getting off  the ground. I was so worn out, I went to just lay down and 'rest my eyes' for a few minutes, which of course, caused me to be up much too late, unable to feel even the remotest bit sleepy.  We had a good trip. I am glad we had the time to go and be tourists, but as we all know, the bestest part of any excursion is getting back home to creature comforts: returning to your own little nest, bed, familiar surroundings of home.

After flopping into bed, exhausted from using our eyes more than any other body part, we got up on Thursday morning and went for a walk. Observing lots of spring flowers blooming and things greening up everywhere.  I packed up some kitchen furnishings in a couple of boxes I had taken for that purpose, but naturally, did not have nearly enough containers for the amount of stuff I wanted to load up in the car. Seems like there will always need to be another trip made. And corollary to Murphy's Law about always having more stuff than you have space to put it in?

We loaded up the boxes, and our belongings, and headed out. Arriving in Columbus soon after noon.
I was mostly worthless the rest of the day, though I seem to always have things that need to be planted. Holes to dig, or if there is nothing in a pot that needs to go in the ground, I can always re-arrange stuff, and dig it up from here, to replant it over there.

I found a request for some forsythia plants when I checked email after being incommunicado for three days. An adv. I had posted on craigs list. So I need to go dig some before I go to work at 11.

bein' in FL....

...was great. It was a beautiful, sunny, clear, warm, pleasant day. The goal of the trip was to go to Weeki Wachee to see the mermaids. I recently discovered it is no longer a private enterprise, but now a State Park. I think FL bought it from owners in 2008, and it is run by park rangers. I was surprised to discover there is one ticket purchase that covers practically everything there is to do in the park. So we did all we could squeeze in. Two underwater shows, plus a little voyage. A boat trip down the remarkably clear river for about thirty minutes. With narration, talk about the history of the spring and natural flora/fauna, that, as you would expect, includes snakes and a sighting of a small alligator.

There is a flock (not sure what the right word for a crowd of peacocks?) of peacocks and hens, that we were told were there when the state took ownership, so I guess you could say the fowl were all
grandfathered in. We could hear their call/cries through the wooded areas of pines, oaks and cypress. A very unusual, unique vocalization. Once you hear that, and identify the source, you never forget.
We saw several of the hens and one of the males, taking a dust bath out in a sunny area of lawn. Really amusing.

The mermaids were great. If you want details, or to sign up to be one, look for more info at Florida State Park website. They did two shows, possibly more in the summer months, with longer daylight hours. We saw one show that was more history of the attraction, about thirty minutes of mermaids swimming around in crystal clear 72 degree water (with constant chill bumps), and several scene-stealing water turtles paddling about. And the other show was an  interpretation of the Little Mermaid story, that was repeatedly attributed to Hans Christian Anderson, rather than the Disney enterprises. Including one merman, who was playing the part of the love interest/sailor.

The boat tour down the Weeki Wachee River was interesting and scenic. A glass bottomed-boat would have been really neat to see the bottom and fish, turtles, etc. But with narration by a parks employee, to tell us about the river, spring history and environment it was quite educational.

Leaving there mid-afternoon, we took a left turn, headed west towards the Gulf, and accidently found it. Unable to pass up the opportunity to stick our toes in the sand, we walked a bit along a beach, crowded with families and sight-seeing seniors. Took several detours just to see where the road would take us: into parks, picnic areas, boat-launching facilities, before heading north to get back to GA well after dark.

A beauty-full, pleasant day with one of my favorite people.

goin' to Florida...

... got up on Tuesday morning, ready to go to warm, sunny FL. Thinking about people in the mid-west and northeast, still digging snow, and wearing everything they can layer on. Hoping it will be pleasant enough down there to be wearing short-sleeved shirts. Debating as I packed my bag, wondering/wishing I could put on short pants. But not willing to force the brilliant whiteness of my legs on the unsuspecting, unprepared residents and tourists who would be blinded by the sight of pale, albino-appearing unexposed skin.

F. arrived about 9:30 and we were on the road by 10, headed for sunny climes. We stopped in Valdosta for a short visit with her sister, who was at work, and could only spare a few  minutes. Went to purchase deli. sandwiches for lunch, and then on to visit with the auntie. She was expecting me, but not F., so she was surprised and delighted to open the door on a seldom seen niece. We ate our lunch, and headed south.

Arriving in Ocala mid-afternoon, ready for a positional change, after days and weeks riding in the car. Had a nice pleasant time with friends there in central FL, a delicious home-cooked meal, and good sleep. I'm crazy about those people, and sadly, missed a chance to see them when they were visiting in south GA last week, so I am glad I was permitted to invited myself to stop at their house overnight.

Had to get up on Wednesday and on the road, planning to be tourists all day, and leave lots of cash to support the economy. So we ate a bowl of cereal, and got on our way.

cookin' at work...(ruben: St. Pat's day special)

Monday, March 16, 2015
... with a recipe one would assume was designed to be prepared on March 17, though according to the info. I received there is no history of the Irish nation being devoted to beef brisket. They do, as you know, have a long relationship with potatoes. Which resulted in the recipe for this week including mashed potatoes in the Reuben sandwich. Odd? Yes.

This particular recipe was for 'open faced' sandwich, with the layers stacked up on toasted rye bread. You put some really sharp (and pretty expensive) cheddar slices on the toast, then a layer of mashed potatoes (RTU from the meat dept.), slices of corned beef, and the cabbage and sauce that cooked in the oven with the meat. I could not make myself eat the meat, so don't know how it tasted.

It's not a very tender cut of meat. I remember my mom asking some Jewish friends how to cook it when I was young, and seeing her put it in the pressure cooker with some generic pickling spices. I recall it being so tender it would fall apart when you tried to slice it, and expect it cooked in fifteen minutes or so under pressure. It was really good on sandwiches, along with Swiss and 'kraut. Can't remember if we used the classic thousand island dressing or not, maybe just mustard. So seeing it with a different kind of cheese, plus the cabbage instead of 'kraut is not my definition of 'Rueben'.

For several years, I've gotten tickets to purchase corned beef sandwiches from a local group doing a fundraiser for their temple. I know they must make hundreds and hundreds of sandwiches, as it has been going on for decades. With the congregation making sandwiches by the dozens, plus all the church ladies  making an assortment of desserts to sell by the slice. A huge undertaking, that always happens in the spring. But when I went last year, and bought two of their famous sandwiches, I could not eat mine. I realized I eat so little meat, that I could not make myself enjoy my sack lunch. It was probably really good, piled high with slices of tender well-flavored beef, but just too meat-y for me to consume. No more of that for me. :-(

Rumor has it, from a very reliable source, the Rueben from the deli at Publix is really good so that is probably what I will have for lunch tomorrow. I think they make it with turkey or beef, so perhaps I will be able to consume my purchase? Otherwise, without the meat, it's really not a Rueben, right?

church has left the building...

Sunday, March 15, 2015
..for the second time. Our congregation did this in the spring of last year, and decided it was such a great experience for both the members and recipients we are celebrating spring and no church again today. I way lying in bed this  morning thinking of hundreds and hundreds of people getting up to go out and do good all over the place. It's a really neat idea. Just going out and providing cleaning services,  painting, bushwhacking, office help, whatever the need is, and saying: Jesus sent me. (Not literally, but just by doing the things we do to help people who are in need.)

The group I would be associated with went last year to the food bank and packed boxes of staple items that are delivered once a month to surrounding counties to low income families who need the assistance to make ends meet. Canned goods, pasta, rice, other shelf-stable items, plus some dairy and a bit of fresh meat. Other groups went to non-profit offices and helped out: paperwork, cleaning, painting, landscaping. One group decided to go to a trailer park and clean up, then invite the residents for a picnic, play games with the resident's children. I know some are going to a church in a low income area with a lot of homeless people, to prepare breakfast, participate in their morning service, and then serve lunch to the neighborhood. Some went out on the bike trail to pass out bottles of water and energy bars. My friend PC is going to give the man who stands on the corner trying to sell Sunday papers some snacks and a drink.

I am going to work.  : (

I don't know if this idea was original with the church staff, or they adapted/borrowed it from some other group -but I love the idea of being the 'feet and hands'  The Free Methodists are very mission oriented, both locally and globally. I'm not itching to go and tell the world, but I think the practice of sharing the gospel without saying a word is a remarkable way to let people see what we believe.

mystery ingredient/cookin' at work...

Friday, March 13, 2015
... will be a big surprise when you study the recipe. I thought it might be a typo. when I first read it. Could not imagine who came up with that strange combination of foods, and had some serious doubts about the tastiness of the end product.  And was surprised when I gave it a try... not bad. Not great, but interesting and edible.

The protein in the meal was salmon, which I knew I would not want to eat. I am not a seafood person. It just all tastes too 'fishy'. But tried to make it according to the recipe and got lots of positive feedback. Truthfully, by the time the recipe gets to the print shop I am convinced it  has been tried, improved upon, tested and perfected to the point that it is practically fool-proof. Almost. I am sure someone with no cooking knowledge whatsoever could some how manage, even with all the right ingredients, manage to make it inedible, but it would be difficult.

The side dish to go along with the salmon was potato cakes, with some really good, sharp cheese grated in. Surprising that both the dishes on this card were to be cooked in the skillet. I don't think I have ever seen a recipe card that required every thing we prepared to be fried. It's just unusual for these R and D people who are usually aiming towards tasty and nutritious (certainly not focused on the thrifty end of the scale) to have the entire meal soaked in oil, rather than being a bit more conservative in the prep. arena. But pan fried salmon, covered in herbed butter, with potato cakes is the menu for this week.

Irish Cheese Potato Cakes

2 oz. deli aged white cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbs. fresh chives, finely chopped
1 cup sauerkraut, drained and finely chopped
1 cup panko bread crumbs.
2 cups refrigerated sour cream/chives mashed potatoes, drained
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. canola oil, divided
1/4 cup sour cream

Place bread crumbs on sheet of waxed paper on work surface. Combine potatoes, cheese, chives, sauerkraut, salt and pepper. Shape mixture into eight 1/2 inch thick patties. Coat both sides of patties lightly with panko crumbs, press with fingertips to evenly coat.
Preheat large nonstick saute pan on medium high. Place 1 1/2 Tbs. oil in pan, let heat, then add four potato cakes. Cook  3 - 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and hot. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining oil and cakes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Well... can you believe it calls for sauerkraut? I did not want to tell people that, or they would not even be willing to give it a try... so I usually just said: potato cakes with cheese to lure them in, then would tell the rest of the story after they had taken the sample and had the fork in hand. I think they pretty much all were willing at they point to give it a try and mostly said: Hmmm.....

If you do it at home - be sure you drain the kraut, so your mixture is not too soupy. And don't be in a hurry to turn them over too soon - they will definitely fall apart and turn into potato soup. Patience. And more patience - and set the timer to make yourself wait. 

After doing it several times on Wednesday, and going back to make more on Thursday, I finally made some I was pleased with. They were tasty and pretty. Admitting I threw some in the trash on Wednesday when I was just starting out - they looked so sad, I would not serve them. But so pleased with some on Thursday, I took a photo. Sorry, I don't know how to put it in the blog, or you could see the pretty potato cakes.

that's over for me...

Thursday, March 12, 2015
... I am glad to end the responsibility of being the driver for the cancer treatment patient. I don't know precisely why it was so stressful, but it was. I was really uneasy and anxious about doing it the second time. Partially, I suppose, due to the fright we both had when she fell out the door and into the flower bed on Tuesday. Still ambivalent about reporting that, worried about repercussions if I do or don't tell the ride-arrangers about the mishap.

But somehow today was so anxiety inducing, I had a headache by the time I returned her to her house and got back home. Not sure why it was such a nerve-wracking experience - Tuesday should have been the day for coming undone. But I guess just knowing what could have happened, how it could have been a true tragedy, with frightening results from the fall, I was especially worried about how the scenario would play out today.

It was pretty much a non-event. Though I am thinking she sat in the waiting area a lot longer than on the earlier visit, to the point that I went to speak to the receptionist, it was a smooth process. I left her at the medical center to visit her daughter on Tuesday. Today she returned home, when she could not contact anyone at the hospital. And got safely back in the house. Now that I know how easily she is unbalanced, you can be assured I kept a firm grip on her until she was safely in and sitting down.

There have been a couple of emails requesting transportation from the ACS but nothing that fits into my limited schedule, so I have not agreed to do any more patient driving. Feeling like I will probably continue to do this, but not right away. My work schedule is random, and thoroughly unpredictable. Plus I have some days off coming up, with interesting and fun stuff to do that will take me out of town. So I am sure I will get over the nerves that generated head pain, and thankful I completed my first 'mission' with out self-destructing.

a small strawberry fest...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
...right here in the privacy of my own home. They have been on sale at the store where I have been cooking all week: three quart boxes for $5. Which is probably the best price you will see there all season. I thought 2 boxes for $4 was a good deal, then this super price showed up last week. I bought three on Sunday, and we have just finished all three.

So I bought three more before I left work today. Even though I asked the produce guy before I departed for the day, and he said they will still be that price for another week. So we will keep eating them every day while they are fresh, and cheap. Really good with the fatfree vanilla yogurt plopped on top. Or on my bowl of cheerios, or just straight out of the box.

Obama on the move...

... though I cannot imagine why he feels the need to drum up votes, as he is not allowed to run again.

He was in Selma on Sunday, giving a speech as we marked the 50th Anniversary of the march across the Pettis bridge, as the protesting Black citizens started their march towards Montgomery. I have not seen the movie: 'Selma', and not sure I want to, as I expect that it is fairly accurate in the portrayal of the event. When the police used dogs and nightsticks to stop the march. That's a bit too realistic for me to want to see, voluntarily watch people being mistreated.

And today, I understand he is giving a speech on the campus of GA. Tech. in Atlanta. The daughter who works on campus reported that all her kitchen helpers were expected to be MIA, but not really AWOL. She said she told them hearing the president talk was likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So if they did not show up to do their jobs in the kitchen today, she would not be surprised at the lack of workers.

So I was wondering: what Mr. Obama would have done between Sunday and Tuesday morning?  If that had been me in Alabama, knowing I planned to be in Atlanta, just a state away from west LA (lower Alabama), and providing my own transportation and living expenses? What would I have done for more-than-24-but-less-than-48 hours? I guess he could do anything he pleased... while I am thinking that after days and days of cold, overcast, gloomy, icy weather, a round of golf in the sunny south would be nice, for a man with all the taxpayers resources at his beck and call.

I'd not want to have to drive to the cold frozen city-state of the District of Columbia (under my own steam, using my own resources), then turn right around and head south again almost immediately to complete the 12-14 hour drive for the speech on Tuesday. Do you think the security team just found some safe house for him to R & R? Closed down a golf course on the gulf coast for him to get in a round or three?  Or parked him at a nearby military base for a couple of nights? I guess this is a WWYD question?

it was really scarey....

...when she fell out the door and into the flower bed.  Today was my first experience as a driver for someone who was going to get cancer treatment. Several months in the ordering/making, as I did the paperwork and sent it in weeks ago, probably back in early January. I took the training, spending an afternoon at the local ACS office downtown back in the fall. Then dragged my feet for some weeks before completing the paperwork to mail into the office in Atlanta.

As expected with most anything, there is a protocol even though they say they are desperate for volunteers, and constantly advertising, recruiting for more manpower/drivers. You have to be 'screened', they check your history for criminal activity (where they probably found my 'carry permit', but not much else of prurient interest.) Probably poke around in our trash, and ask the neighbors if I stay out late at night or talk in  my sleep.

I remember years ago when my dad had neighbors questioned about his personal habits when he was getting approved for top secret military clearance. Neighbors who lived such transparent lives, they immediately told him people in dark suits and shades had knocked on the front door.  He lead such a dull, clear-conscience, blameless life, there was literally nothing to tell. If there had been, in that small town, everyone would have known all his secrets (which obviously means: they would not have been 'secret', right?)

I had my first transport job today. Tried to call to confirm at 8:00 this morning, as she needed to be at the treatment center at 9:00, and her phone is not in service. (Later discovered she has a cell phone, like everyone in North America, who has had land line service discontinued.) So off I went, anxious about where to go, how to find her, getting there on time in traffic I don't usually encounter in my limited travels.

But I did get there, and knocked on her door, waiting on the stoop, when she came out, tottering on wobbly legs, with a walking stick, and wig slightly askew. She some how slipped, or mis-stepped, or got her feet tangled on door mat, and immediately fell into the flower bed. Me, with a painful lower back, could not possibly get her up. There she lay, thankfully in the flower bed instead of on the steps with a cracked cranium. No neighbors to speak of, though lots of houses close by.

I'm getting pretty frantic, as I am sure she is.  Desperate to get her up, on her feets, in the car, and to the appointment on time for her treatment, so I won't get fired from my volunteer work. I walked out in the street, planning to go ask neighbors for assistance. And waved down a man in a panel van/work truck. He pulled over, and helped Miss Hattie out of the flower bed, got her in my car. And we thankfully, uneventfully got to the treatment center at precisely 9:00.

She told me her daughter is in the hospital, so when she got done, I left her at the Medical Center, in the care of relatives. Pushing her in a wheelchair into the lobby of the building, where she could go and visit her daughter, and someone else would take her home. The whole experience left me severely stressed out.

And I have to do it again on Thursday morning. I will be much more aware, assistive, hands-on when I go back to get her in a couple of days, super cautious when she steps out the door. And hopefully get her to her appointment and home again without incident.

what time is it?

Monday, March 9, 2015
...really. No one changed any of the clocks in the house so you have to stop and ponder, try to figure out what time it really is. It is so annoying when the state legislates the time and we have to abide by the laws of suddenly readjusting our internal clocks to be in line with government requirements. Usually an agreeable, law-abiding citizen, this one seems so unnecessary: just a huge annoyance and a major nuisance.

Getting up out of a warm snug bed in the cold is difficult enough, without it seeming to be the middle of the night. When we get to midsummer and it is daylight until after 9, it will be a delight, but right now, sitting here in the darkness, it seems to be so pointless. I read in the paper there are two states that choose to not observe this nutty change: Arizona and something.

When I wake in the middle of the night, I have to look at the digital numbers, think and try to figure out what time it really is? Did we jump up an hour, or back an hour? What time is it and do I need to add or subtract to compensate? Another of the life-hazards of being math-impaired. Having to turn on  my brain in the wee hours when I awake and guess? Do I have time to pull the covers over my head and attempt to return to bliss, or should I go ahead and get started?

Even when I do go around from room to room and do all the resets, I'll still be looking at the numbers and trying to decide... what time is it, really? Making me think about trips to west FL on vacation with kids.  When their appetites are still on eastern time. And you need to put them to bed on eastern time, or they get so weary and cranky they aren't human. Remind me again why this hopping back and forth in time is really necessary?

the most fun...

Sunday, March 8, 2015
....I ever had would most definitely involve amusing myself with daughters. I've been thinking on that topic, trying to recall events that might qualify. And have come up with a couple of events that on the surface would appear to observers as not so entertaining, but I'm remembering quite a bit of hilarity.

Several years ago, I was offered the unlikely gift of a few days in a condo. in North Carolina. A distant cousin, someone I rarely see or have contact with, had a time share she could not enjoy, and asked if I wanted to go. As it turned out, a daughter and a friend were invited/able to go along, and we went to the mountains to enjoy a couple of days of fresh air, scenery, pokingaround in little tourist-y shops. I thought it would be great fun to rent golf carts and take in the view on the course. I still remember laughing uproariously as we 'sped' along the paths, likely irritating the golfers who were taking themselves entirely too seriously. Taking turns 'way too fast, flying over bumps in the path, whizzing along at maximum speed (probably 15 mph in a golf cart), careening around the curves and air-borne over hills, highly amused at ourselves.

Another thing that makes me smile: the time we went to Asheville for a weekend to see the tulips blooming at the Biltmore Estate. It was a pleasant trip, the gardens were beautiful, and the house sufficiently stately, and I think we all enjoyed ourselves, especially the part where we went to a wine and chocolate tasting. But the thing I remember being so entertaining was sitting around the table in the rented house where we were staying and playing spoons. With a deck of cards and half a dozen table spoons. Laughing out loud, good-natured complaints by the one who did not pay close enough attention, and got left without a spoon. Great fun, just being together and giggling.

And then there is not much more entertaining than sitting on the couch, laughing at funny pet videos.
As long  as 'there were no animals injured in the making of this film'.

that cake recipe...

Saturday, March 7, 2015
has probably been shared here before,  but for those who are more recent readers, I decided to type it again. It is the Official Family Birthday Cake: one I have been making for at least thirty years, though not as frequently as when there were little people around to celebrate milestone dates for/with. I will occasionally go to the effort to grate three cups of carrots and stir it up for someone here who is suddenly, overnight, becoming a year older. But generally only make it once a year, when the troops gather to eat, laugh, enjoy a beautiful afternoon in the sunshine on Easter.

I have learned to make it in two round eight-inch cake pans, and then slice the layers to make four, using toothpicks to mark the middle of the layer and carefully applying a serrated/bread knife with a long blade to separate each thick layer  into two thinner ones. You have to be sparing with the frosting to be certain you will have enough to cover the three layers, plus top and sides now that you have split the two and have twice as  much to spread the frosting on... but it usually works out.

Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing

2 cups sifted plain flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups cooking oil
3 cups grated carrots

Sift together dry ingredients. Mix oil and eggs. Add dry ingredients, mixture will be stiff. Stir in carrots by hand. Makes two large or three small layers. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes. Test with toothpick for doneness. (This is straight from the book... and here's what I do: mix the sugar and eggs, beat really well. Start drizzling in oil, alternately with dry ingredients, mixing well. Stir in carrots.)

1 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened
1 box powdered/confection sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla,
1 cup chopped nuts
Cream butter and cream cheese together until fluffy, smooth, add sugar, gradually, mixing till smooth. Add vanilla. If you wish: stir in nuts. (I do not add nuts to icing, it's lumpy and hard to spread with nuts mixed in - wait till you are done, and sprinkle a few on top, pat on sides.)

the cousins...

Friday, March 6, 2015
...wanted to go to Q'town on Friday.  To look around, see what they could see. And found some things they thought they would enjoy having to clutter up their houses in distant places. Which was great. Even though the things they walked out the door with were relatively small, every little item that goes away makes a difference. Several pieces of framed art, a few knick-knacks, and couple of wall-mounted coat racks.

I am still struggling with a house full of furniture, don't want to donate, as in giving to a thrift store like Goodwill.  Or putting on Craig's list, which amounts to pretty much the same thing, virtually giving away, as the on-line buyers are generally wanting something for nothing.  I would rather donate and get the tax deduction, but know it is some nice ,as in good quality, well made, with no particle board involved,  though 'olde' stuff and hope to avoid putting it out on the street for passers-by to pick and choose.

So after I opened the doors to let in some fresh air, and they walked 'round and 'round, picked up a few odds and ends, we closed up and moved on. I'd talked of trying to find consignment shop in Thomasville, and having no luck. The consensus was to actually go to T'ville, have lunch and poke around. It's a pretty little town, has re-invented itself after the downtown went to pot in the era of mall developments.  The main street of downtown is only three or four blocks of commercial/retail businesses. Lots of little boutique type stores, eateries, gifts/clothing, mostly with hunting/birding themed apparel. And condo-living above many of the storefront/retail shops. Nice to see a historic, well-preserved downtown regenerating.

The cousins spread out, roaming the streets, looking into windows, peering into doors, checking out the options. Found three antique shoppes, some with very much high-end reproductions of the 'plantation furnishing' nature. But a couple I will contact next week and ask about the likelihood of some non-plantation items being offered for re-sale in their stores. One that sounded really promising, so hopefully I am making some progress. Two goals here: just to get the goods out of the house, and possibly find some buyers that would appreciate the value of the items.

I left south GA in the rain on Thursday afternoon to head home. A very dark cloud had followed us all the way from Thomasville to Valdosta, so I was not surprised that it started coming down really hard about the time I got on the road. The good news is, that once I got to Tifton, and turned west, the cloud did not notice  my absence, as I slipped off the interstate to head towards Albany.  The weather cleared: sunny and bright. Until it got dark. Uneventful drive home, and straight to bed.

a generational gathering...

... of sorts. When the James siblings met in Valdosta to toast the auntie's birthday. I wrote about the carrot cake, which has historically been The Birthday Cake here, and on an occasion or three, transported elsewhere for family events. I think I remember making/taking one to Perry GA many years ago, when our Grandmother was celebrated and family gathered for lunch and visit. As well as hauling to Decatur for Easter lunch: what else could the Easter Bunny possibly consume? Anything that is loaded with three cups of grated carrots would have to delight the Bunny, Tooth Fairy and probably Rudolph, but not so much Santa, who is accustomed to cookies and milk.

It was a delight to see those people. I often see the one who lives in Decatur (though not frequently enough - mostly due to busy-ness of daily lives). The brother who came for several days from the west was here back in the fall, visiting the auntie. It surprising to discover he would be coming again so soon. Truthfully, I suspected it was mostly due to good manners, which is a compliment and reflection on parents. His wife came along, who I had not seen in years. A pleasant, down-to-earth, plain-spoken person, and agreeable company. People who live at such a distance they are usually only seen at funerals.

So we all convened at the aunties' house, enjoyed time together and laughing. I am nearly certain that the auntie thinks she was the star attraction. But in truth: it was the third sibling. The one who married a Brit, and lives in the UK, planned a visit to the US hoping for sunshine. Apparently the weather in England is mostly grey this time of year, and she was looking forward to a change here in the States. We had that on Thursday afternoon: so warm in south GA, we were peeling off socks to walk bare-foot in the back yard. And strolling around in shirt-sleeves on Friday. Really pleasant, if a bit unseasonable. (While northern climes are still shoveling snow.)

an amusing additon...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
.. to the 'she doesn't mind...' story that I don't mind telling, since it is not me that did the thoughtless thing. I was checking with the admin. assistant at church early this  morning to be sure about an item on the Sam's Club list, having called last night and left a message for her. When she called me back, she was walking out the door of the house, and: naturally as soon as she shut/locked the door, she realized her house/car keys were on the wrong side. Murphy's Law and gravity, still in effect.

So I said: I am headed out the door of my house to go to get the shopping done, so I will come by and run you to work. I'll be there in under ten minutes. Which I did. And as we were going to the church, I told her the story about the daughter who outsmarted herself with putting the keys in the mini-fridge along with her left-overs.

The response from the friend in need of transportation was: they do have a spare key hidden in the yard. But it is in the back yard, where you cannot access. Due to husband deciding they need to keep the gate to the six foot tall wooden privacy fence locked from the inside. So... I asked 'what good is that hidden key?' She just laughed. And said 'fortunately, the keys I need for work I have learned to leave at work, so I won't leave them at home.' (Locked in the house, I might add!)


....I thought I was getting up this morning to drive to south GA. And got a call from doctor's office  yesterday about an appointment at 10:45 today  So rats. And best laid plans....I had it on my calendar, squished in with all the other obligations and events that occupy my time. It was simply overlooked, smooshed in between other things that are more interesting, attractive or necessary.

Plus the dr. appt. is in Alabama. I found a female dr. in Montgomery through info. from an acquaintance at church, so after getting established (meaning making the trip about once every three months for the first year), I now drive over once a year. To be poked at, questioned, make a blood donation to check for proper levels of chemicals, get a new Rx and go on my merry way.

I thought, vaguely considered the possibility of going from Montgomery to south GA. But quickly discarded that proposal as ridiculous. It looks to me like about five hours of driving, which my damaged back, bad kneed and normally pleasant disposition could not tolerate.

Plus I have yet to put the frosting on the carrot cake, due to the fact that I discovered: no confectioner's sugar when I took it out of the oven, placed on racks to cool. Decided that was not worth  making the drive to get a bag of sugar, so bought it when I went to work on Monday. And will get that done this  morning. As well as make a run to the north side of town with a small grocery order for the church. If I don't get there this morning, it would probably be Friday, and if I put it off too long, it will either get much longer, or might not get done at all, so best to get it over with today...

good news, bad news...

with the 'new' Toyota that I bought last fall. I had been using a semi-synthetic oil, and paying more for an oil change than with the previous vehicle, a sturdy little Saturn (back in the era of my being determined to only buy American made vehicles - which I have obviously recovered from.) Just doing what the manufacturer recommends without any truly expert knowledge. But if 'they said' I should be using a more expensive oil, that I what I must do.

And now, with the newer model (2013) ''they say' I should be using a fully synthetic product. So I am/do. Which, as you can imagine, is even more expensive than the stuff that is half-synthetic and half-who-knows-what. But that's what I have.

After poking around on the internet, by googling 'synthetic oil changes' and finding what I thought to be the best price, I went down yesterday morning before work to get it done. And find that, lucky me, I have an unusual filter, that has to be 'special ordered' (which in this case apparently means the oil change guy has to walk across the parking lot to the Auto Zone store next door and buy the one that goes under the hood of the Toyo.) So they have to charge me extra for the full synthetic oil (whatever that means???) and extra for the oddly shaped oil filter. So much for bargain shopping.

Then to top all this aggravation off: I looked at the email this morning, and today, just now, I find a coupon  from Goodyear for $25 off any service over $50. That of course, expires long before I will need another oil change.

Oh  - and the good news part of this is: the first time I had this done, in the new'ish toyo, they told me I could go twice as long before I would need to have it done again. The usual definition of having oil drained and replaced and a new filter installed is 5000 miles, but according to the service rep. with the higher priced oil, it  can go twice the distance before you need the service again. So, if you take a big step back, tilt your head and squint, with one eye closed, I have saved, right?

the auntie...

Sunday, March 1, 2015
... is having a birthday on Wednesday. She has taken to telling people that she has the only birthday that is a 'command': March forth. This will be a birthday that ends in zero, which is a pretty big deal.

I stopped at MyPublix after church to get carrots and a block of cream cheese. I have already grated the carrots, and will get the cake mixed up and baked this afternoon. She is in for a big surprise. I doubt anyone has baked her a birthday cake since she was a teenager, before she left home to go away for an education.

Also taking the makings for a big salad that will be lunch on Wednesday. It is sort of amusing to me, and will be interesting to hear her response. She is not much fond of salads and has commented numerous times over the years that she does not care for beans, much rather have animal protein. There will be No Animals Harmed In The Making Of This Salad. So it will be really amusing to hear how she will react to meat-less... she could be very big-hearted and kind, act appropriately appreciative. Or wonder repeatedly "where's the beef?"


... though I don't want to take all the responsibility, and know it is not entirely my fault: it still hurts like the dickens. I want to think it's getting better, but have moments when I want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. Doubtful that would make it feel better, but it's sometimes nice just to retreat from the world, go hide in the closet.

I had a completely unnecessary accident one day last week. And fell on my bum. Landed on my tailbone, which did not need to be injured. I said a bad word, several times, but don't think it was very helpful. The worst part is that I had to go to work, so it got even more worser before I could get home and apply ice. I have been sleeping with a bag of ice every night since. Applied to my lower back, while I have a heating pad under my feet. If that won't confuse your personal thermostat, nothing will.

It is for times like this that we save old, outdated Rx. I have been taking a highest powered OTC pain killer during the day, but decided to scout around for something really strong to take at bedtime. And found a couple of long expired bottles of serious pain-killers that have been very helpful with getting a good night's sleep. Even if they should have been recycled several years ago, and have someone elses' name on the label. Thankful I kept them instead of turning in to be destroyed, when we had one of those 'Save the Chattahoochee River' recycling days.

There's nothing anyone could do: I could go to the Doc-in-a-Box and pay for x-rays and office visit, get a new Rx written with my name on it. And a likely diagnosis of fracture of the tailbone (I cannot spell that word that starts with c and ends with letters at the tail end of the alphabet, and spell check is broken). But that's about all I would get. Nothing to resolve the problem. I think/hope/want to believe it is getting better.

and today's sermon...

... was about God in the unseen. Who is always doing things in our best interest. Though it is generally on a timetable we cannot perceive. We've been working our way through the Old Testament book of Esther. An interesting story, but one I will not re-tell, so you have to read it for yourself.  It could easily be a script for a modern day Hollywood tale: the villain will eventually get his comeuppance, and we can all cheer when the white hats win out in the end.

Today was about how Romans 8:28 comes into our lives in ways we often do not have the vision to see. How God was working in the lives of the Hebrew people for many years behind the scenes, unseen and possibly unacknowledged. Moving the pieces into place for His will, according to His plan. Even though the people often thought themselves downtrodden, persecuted and looked at their circumstances as a great tragedy.

Hearing all this, in very simple terms, and being asked the question of how can you apply this to your life? Where does this show up for you? God working behind the scenes? With things appearing to go terribly awry at the time?  But ultimately finding that as you get distance from some heart-wrenching, watershed event, you see that there is goodness. And grace to be had from the experience of learning that lesson.

So basically: if you think things happen due to remarkable coincidence or have any reason to believe that you life is one of serendipity, you need to be looking in a different direction. And I am not talking about staring out to sea, or gazing across the prairie towards the mountains in the distance. Or suddenly thinking of someone you rarely see, and feeling an urgent need to be in touch: it's more  than 'a disturbance in the force'. Everything happens for a reason. If you need to be in touch - you know where I am....

in between...

...all the things I did yesterday: getting to work at 11 for a full day of cooking demo., and going to the gospel music concert last night, I also went to a funeral on Saturday. For a man who was kinda', sorta' a co-worker. He started working in the produce department at the store where I am employed several years ago. After apparently badgering the store manager for many months to hire him. Agreeing to start at the bottom, as a hourly-paid clerk.

I knew that everyone (including me) is hired as a part-time person to start, and could only hope to prove worthiness to be eventually invited to become a full time associate with assorted benefits after a 'trial period' of ninety days. I am not sure if this is still true, as I have seen several team members come and go and come around again. I think this guy may have been changed to full time sooner, due to his vast experience in the grocery business: at one time was an assistant director of a competing chain. He retired from that position, and did other things, but eventually relocated to be close to family, and settle in Columbus.

I heard about six months ago he had been diagnosed with cancer, of a variety that is not often survived. At the time he was the produce manager of a store on the north side of town. He fought it for as long as he could, but finally lost that battle. I'd been writing postcards, sending words of encouragement, and wanted to attend the Good-by Service. And found out a lot about him I did not know.

It is interesting to observe, that along with many church services, funerals have become more casual and much less formal. People will be invited to come and talk, tell remembrances of the deceased, share stories to comfort the bereaved. And family members get up to talk about that fondly remembered brother, father, sister or son.

 The thing I remember about D.W. is that he, as an 'older' employee could, and did work circles around the younger men. Could put a young adult male to shame with his diligence, desire to do well, interest in performing at the highest standards. I don't know if it is just being more mature, with world/life experience, that makes some people I see so willing work. But the people I observe in the workplace who are most diligent are generally older folks, of the age that they know they do not have to 'prove' anything to anyone. Yet they seem to be the ones with the strongest work ethic, and the ones most willing to give a dollar's labor for a dollar's pay.

And he was always smiling. Always cheerful. I did not see him after the diagnosis, and understand from hearsay he was a very private person, so know he would not have shared personal hardship info.  But the months I worked with him, he was always upbeat, always pleasant, every minute of every day. He left a legacy of a loving family, and I know he will be missed - and I think he had some traits they will always remember, and tell stories of their dad, husband and grandpa for years to come.