Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last one

Words. I like words. I have my favorites, like sepia and abyss and serendipity. But really, I've never met a word I did not like.

Since I like words, I like to read and write and solve crossword puzzles, and I hate Sudoku. I would like to earn my living reading and writing and solving crossword puzzles, but it hasn't come to pass. Yet.

In a previous life, I spent a short time as a freelance writer. I wrote people pieces for a small town paper, which sometimes led to articles in national magazines like Soybean Digest. My specialty was organic gardening and farming, and the epitome of my career was an article I wrote for Rodale's Organic Gardening. My plan was to grow my writing career bit by bit while the kids were little, then expand it once they reached school age. Other forces intervened, though, and I fretted about earning enough to support myself. I bailed on the writing and became a software developer instead.

Blogging has been a lifeline of sorts, allowing me to get back into the habit of writing. I am still searching for my voice. Maybe someday I will find it and get back in the game. (How's that for mixing metaphors?)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We can do it!

Only two more days of NaBloPoMo left, thank god. Maybe they (whoever "they" are) should move it to a month without a holiday. And even though I have a theme (things I like), today I am drawing a blank. Not because I can't think of things I like, but because I can't think of anything intelligent to say about any of the things I like.

Nothing. I got nothing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I cooked and cooked then cooked some more

I like a challenge, but I almost overdid it with Thanksgiving dinner this year. When perusing magazines, do you ever see complete menus for holiday meals laid out in photographic splendor? The magazine was AARP (shut up) and the article was from a year ago, but I found the recipes online and decided, if I was going to cook, I was going to COOK. I tried to be organized about the whole endeavor, but there were still a few surprises along the way.

Surprise number 1 was how much money I spent at the grocery store on the ingredients for a dinner for eight. It could have been more, because usually I buy the organic, free range turkey. I was not organized enough for that this year, but I also did not buy the cheap bird, either. Then there were many ingredients I did not have on hand, like the fresh herbs, some of which at least came from my garden. And, in case things did not go well foodwise, I bought plenty of beer. Still, I could have taken everyone out to a very nice restaurant for that kind of money. And not had to clean the kitchen six times in the course of two days. (Surprise 1.5 was how difficult it was to find dried apples.)

Surprise number 2 was my ineptitude in the kitchen. I live alone and don't cook much anymore. Still, you'd think I would remember things like to put the lid on the blender before pressing the puree button. I don't think it was my fault when I did get the lid on, only to have it fly off when I tried the puree button again. Surprise number 2.5 was that the mess wasn't as bad as I expected.

The recipes had been touted as being healthier than the normal Thanksgiving day fare. By that, I guess AARP means no pie. Surprise number 3 was the amount of butter and oil used throughout the recipes. But I think holidays are exempt from the low-fat rule.

Surprise number 4 were all the little details in the recipes: cooking the turkey broth until it was reduced by three-quarters, adding egg yolks one at a time, beating this, then folding in that, fresh herbs here, dried ones there, etc. There are probably logical reasons for all these instructions, but I sometimes think chefs make recipes difficult to execute just because they can.

Surprise number 5 was the amount of stuffing that the authors think can go into a 12-pound turkey. There was easily twice as much, so I threw the extra into a pan and baked it while we ate. Can anyone say "leftovers"?

Surprise number 6 were absences from the table: my son came down with the flu and could not muster the energy to drive seven hours just to watch us eat while he sipped Sprite and nibbled on Saltines. I wish he could have been there, but I'm glad he chose to keep his germs to himself. Because of a scheduling lapse, dinner was late, and my son-in-law was expected at a family poker game. At least he got to sample the soup before he left, and I sent plenty of leftovers home with my daughter.

But the best surprise of all was how delicious everything tasted, especially the Roasted Butternut Squash with Honey-Pecan Butter and the Dried Apples and Corn Bread Stuffing.

Despite all the work, I enjoyed the cooking. It made me wish for a bigger kitchen, with a bigger oven and more counter space and more cupboards for used-once-a-year kitchen appliances. Maybe I should have remodeled the kitchen instead of adding on the new room. Maybe next year. *sigh*

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Like Thanksgiving

Just a quick note to wish you all a feastful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Not a Rut, It's a Routine

I am a creature of habit. When it comes to everyday things, I favor sticking with a routine because it helps me get out the door in a reasonably timely manner. One downside, however, is when the routine becomes so automatic that I can't remember if I did something. Did I feed the cat? Is the garage door closed? If I really doubt myself and I haven't gotten too far from the house yet, I have been known to circle back to check. But not compulsively. Really.

When the kids were little, routine kept me sane. When I went back to work, routine kept us in groceries and clean underwear. I could be too inflexible at times, which may explain my lack of spontaneity, but I'm still sane. Really.

Lately, my routines have been in a bit of a jumble, and I blame DST. At night, my body says it is time for bed, but the clock says no, so I stay up too late. My body gets its revenge in the morning when it wakes up before the alarm. Then, with extra time on my hands, do I shower first or laze about with my coffee? Maybe knit a bit or read the paper? Then suddenly, it's rush, rush, rush.

Did I close the garage door?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Games People Play

I like card games more than board games, but I am usually willing to play either, up to a point. The kids and I used to play gin rummy, but once they got good enough to beat me regularly, I lost interest. How mature is that?

At WW we used to play Trivial Pursuit but it seemed to generate some sore feelings about who was on the "smart team" and who was not. We played Therapy once - more bad feelings. Honesty is not always the best policy. Last time we did not play any double deck Euchre, opting for solving NY Times crossword puzzles as a group instead. Next time we are going to try to combine the two. Yeah, wild times.

You Are Chess

You are brilliant and shrewd. You can often predict what people will do in the future.

You thrive in complex situations. You deal with contradictions well.

You can have many streams of thought going on at your mind at once. You keep track of things well.

You are very patient. You have lots of endurance, even when your energy dwindles

Monday, November 24, 2008


There are a few things I like about growing older. The disappearance of menses is a real plus, although the journey to its end is not without its detours and trip wires. Also, I find myself less and less concerned with what people might think. Even forgetfulness can be a plus: others don't take offense when you can't remember names, faces, birthdays because they just assume you are growing senile.

I find myself drawn to reading memoirs, some of which provide vivid detail of the author's childhood. For a while, I wondered how they could recall so much, but now I know. While my short term memory is becoming a sieve, my distant past is marching to the forefront of my consciousness.

The recent election raised two such memories. The first occurred the summer between high school and college. The fellow I was dating aspired to become the first Jewish President of the United States. (He abandoned that plan about a year later.) We used to joke about how I would be the First Lady and give tours of the White House in blue jeans. This was back when only dirty hippies wore blue jeans. I was no dirty hippie; I was just so ahead of my time.

The other memory involved a fellow college student. I was in G's dorm room. G had a framed picture of Jesus on the wall above his bed (G was destined to become a minister) and a framed photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. (G was - and still is, to my knowledge - black). There was also an empty frame. I asked him about it, and G said it was for the one who was to come next, implying that he might be that person. Now I am wondering if he has filled that frame with Obama.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

But It's Tradition!

I like to try new things, but I'm a little nervous about my plans to tweak tradition this Thanksgiving. Yes, there will be turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberries, but not in their usual form. Instead, I am recreating the menu from last year's AARP Magazine "Luscious" Thanksgiving article. If you hear an ear splitting whine emanating from the Midwest, you will know someone is protesting the lack of sweet and sour green beans and crescent rolls. And no pie! To sooth the savage breast, I will be providing plenty of beer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cleanliness Is Whatever

I don't like housework, but I like anything that truly makes cleaning easier. Enter my Animal Dyson.

Before vacuuming...

... and after.

Presumably, most of that stuff is pet hair and dirt, not my carpet. I'm happy to be done with bags, though.

I also like my electric broom.

I never liked sweeping with a regular broom, because I felt I was just pushing the dirt around and I could never get it all swept into the dust pan. I guess I'd rather suck than sweep.

Any recommendations for dusting?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Isn't It Ironic?

Once upon a time, one of my co-workers served a stint working for D. D is not a bad person, but he is a horrible manager. The idea of positive feedback never occurs to him because in his eyes, no one is as competent as he is, which apparently is the gold standard.

The year that my co-worker was under D's command, he scheduled her time 200%, assigned her tasks for which she was not trained, and generally made her working life hell. Needless to say, that year she did not get a favorable review from D. She has refused to work for him since.

Unofficially, I was given the opportunity to work for D. After my co-worker's experience, I said I would be glad to work on D's projects, but I did not want to report to him. Apparently, those two things were mutually exclusive, which was fine with me.

Eventually, two others were assigned to D's team. These two people appeared to get along with D, and seemed busy and productive. Therefore, it was somewhat of a shock when they were recently "job eliminated". It was a surprise even to D. Now no one reports to him.

I was puzzling over this state of affairs the other day when it occurred to me that maybe D repeatedly gave them unfavorable annual reviews.

I like irony.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What To Do, What To Do

I like lists. Even better, I like checking items off my lists. I like checking items off my lists so much that sometimes that is all the motivation I need to tackle an onerous task.

Samples of my lists:
    Things to do
  • laundry
  • vacuum
  • pay bills
  • watch movie (sadly, I have to remind myself to do this)
  • scoop litter box
  • pick up dog poop
  • clean rabbit cage (do we detect a theme here?)

    Places to go
  • Target
  • Goodwill (things I buy at Target frequently eventually end up here)
  • ATM
  • local yarn store (ATM first, then LYS - this is very important)
  • yoga
  • grocery (because I am really hungry after yoga)

    People to see
  • financial planner
  • vet
  • insurance agent
  • vet
  • hair dresser
  • vet (hmmm, another theme)

What's on your list?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Is Hard

Unfortunately for me, the Blogger blocker at work was not lifted for the month of November like it was last year, so I come home after a day on the computer to get on the computer to blog. Sometimes I email myself a possible blog post from work, but these are usually pretty lame (see yesterday's post) and feel stale when I reread them in the evening. But NaBloPoMo is more than half over. I can do this. Next year, however, maybe I will write a novel instead. At this point, it sounds easier.

My theme this month has been things I like, so I will pick an easy topic today and say this: I like my kids.

Yeah, you are thinking, what a no brainer. But really, while most parents love their kids, some of them don't like their kids all that well, especially when the kids are teens.

I am the first to admit the teen years were rough. There were a few painful moments when I regretted having children at all. But once those years were past, things got better. And better. And better. Not just because the kids grew up, but because I learned to relax a little and let go of my expectations of how I thought they should be and be living their lives.

One thing that helped me get through the teen years was to remind myself (over and over and over again) that this was their story, not mine; my job was to serve in a supporting role. I wish I had figured this out earlier, but I must have been a good enough parent because they are both doing fine, in their own ways, on their own schedule, by their own terms.

Losing my mother when I was 20 greatly influenced me, and it became important to me that my kids be independent. I still worry about them, but less so because they are capable of functioning without me. What is great about this is I can stop being a parent and just be Mom.

My daughter did not intend to wind up back here after college. While I would have supported her no matter where she wanted to live, I am glad she is close by. My son has made noises about moving back to the area, too, once he is done with school. I want him to do what is best for him, but I will not squawk if he too is near at hand.

My parenting work is done.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Am I What I Eat?

This is going to be a lame post about foods I like.

    Favorite food:
  • Popcorn, preferably with Parmesan cheese and lots of salt, but not butter
  • Rhubarb pie (or if I'm sharing with tart wimps, rhubarb strawberry pie), crust by Pillsbury
  • Vegetarian sushi (includes wasabi, pickled ginger, and a little tamari)
  • Corn on the cob (swimming in real butter and salt)
  • Maple syrup (out of a tree, not a corn field)
  • Potato chips (reduced fat but NOT baked)
  • Dill pickles and dill pickle relish
  • Cafeteria chili with crushed Nacho Doritos (without the latter, the former is inedible)

    When I eat in "slow food" restaurants, I usually order something different each time; not so with fast food:
  • Penn Station: grilled artichoke with mushrooms
  • BK: cheeseburger, fries, Diet Coke off the "value menu"
  • McDonalds: Big Mac
  • Taco Bell: taco salad (it's the bowl)

  • If I'm in the mood for ribs, we go to O'Charley's.
  • For steak, it's Applebee's (good for the price)
  • The best local Mexican is Cebolla's.
  • The best Italian is Biaggi's but the local Casa's is closer and cheaper
  • Chinese from the local Mandarin but if P.F. Chang's comes to town, they will be better but also more expensive

    When it comes to alcohol, I try to stay in context:
  • Dos Equis with Mexican
  • Tsing Tao with Chinese
  • Peroni with Italian
  • Martinis at Club Soda

    Favorite easy things to cook:
  • Chili
  • Spaghetti (I never eat spaghetti in restaurants because I like my sauce much better)
  • Pot roast
  • Meatloaf
  • Soups

    Favorite not-so-easy things to cook:
  • Bread
  • Winter squash (cutting into and/or peeling the damn things is what's difficult)

An aside: I just realized I did not get enough zucchini this summer. I usually grow my own and am sick of it by August, but due to the room addition, I did not have much of a garden this year. Store bought zucchini is not the same. Note to self: Must plant zucchini next year. And tomatoes. And green beans. Successively.

Are there any foods I do not like? I've never developed a taste for organ meats, don't care for coconut meat but I like the milk, can't eat shellfish, not too fond of fish in general but I'll eat it on occasion.

What might I refuse to eat based solely on the taste? I can't think of anything offhand. What about you?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mini Movie Reviews

I like my friends, but we have divergent tastes in movies. I like the quirky and/or foreign and/or oddball films; most of my friends favor lightweight movies, particularly romantic comedies.

At WW, we usually watch several movies. This past weekend was no exception. I brought "27 Dresses" because I thought it would go over relatively well, unlike "Something's Gotta Give" and "The Station Agent". Here are some mini reviews:

"Broken English" - reminded me of "Pieces of April" - painful to watch but a sweet ending. Directed by Zoe Cassavetes - the camera style reflects her dad's influence and of course her mom is in the movie as well.

"No Reservations" - somebody please explain to me why Hollywood takes an award-winning movie ("Mostly Martha") and remakes it into garbage. Skip this one and watch the original instead.

"27 Dresses" - if you like formulaic romantic comedies that are mindless but still kind of fun to watch, this is the movie for you. Reminds me of "In Her Shoes." Warning: the Elton John song "Benny and the Jets" will get stuck in your head.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New York, New York

I like visiting NYC. I think I would even like to live there for a while, except I can't afford it.

The people in NYC have a reputation for being rude and unfriendly, but I have never experienced that. In fact, my SO and I, while standing on NY street with map in hand and confused expression on face, have been spontaneously helped by strangers. Subway workers have exuberantly explained the intricacies of the turnstiles to us. Even more amazing, locals have asked us for help.

NYC also has a reputation for being unsafe. We see our share of crazies and we avoid the sketchy parts of town, but I never feel unsafe. Not in Little Italy or Chinatown or Central Park or the subways or Greenwich Village or Union Square. But then, I can be oblivious.

On our last visit, I stuffed my pockets with $1 bills and handed them out to beggars. One cadaverous fellow who lay crumpled on the sidewalk, propped up by a wall, apparently near death but for the few coins in his Styrofoam cup, was later spotted up and about and hale and hearty. When my SO pointed him out to me, I said I was paying for the performance, like one would throw money into a street musician's instrument case.

Warning: controversial statement coming up. Our visits to NYC have occurred post 9/11. A little part of my brain wonders if that tragic event has not inadvertently produced a kinder, gentler NYC.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

But I Can Explain!

I like memes, which I pronounce ME-ME because they are all about ME!

I found this on Knitty Otter's blog.


You can answer only yes or no. You are not allowed to explain anything unless someone comments and asks (and even then I might not!)

Over 18? Yes
Danced in front of your mirror naked? No
Ever told a lie? Yes
Been arrested? No
Kissed a picture? Yes
Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes
Held an actual snake? Yes
Ever run a red light? Yes
Ever drink and drive? Yes
Been suspended from school? No
Ever been fired from a job? Yes
Totaled a car/motorbike in an accident? No
Sang karaoke? No
Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t? Yes
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes
Ever laughed until you wet yourself? Yes
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes
Kissed in the rain? Yes
Sang in the shower? Yes
Sat on a rooftop? Yes
Thought about your past with regret? Yes
Been pushed in the pool with your clothes on? No
Shaved your head? No
Blacked out from drinking? No
Had a gym membership? Yes
Been in a band? Yes
Shot a gun? No
Liked someone with nobody else knowing about it? Yes
Played strip poker? No
Been to a strip joint? No
Donated Blood? Yes
Liked someone you shouldn’t? Yes
Have a tattoo? No
Have or had any piercings besides ears? No
Made out with a complete stranger? Yes
Caught someone cheating on you? No
Skinny dipped? No
Regret any of your ex’s? No
Been to a rodeo? Yes
Been to a NASCAR race? No
Been in Love? Yes

There. That wasn't so bad.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Like WW

About thirty-plus years ago, when my friends and I were married and starting families, our husbands started an annual tradition: the Memorial Day Weekend canoe trip. The first trip was a simple overnight excursion down a local river, but it did not take long for the trips to get longer, the rivers wilder, and the weekends expanded.

It also did not take long for the wives to demand something equitable. Since many of us had nursing babies, our options were somewhat limited, but we started with what could be called Women's Afternoon Off. Eventually, we added an overnight (nursing babies were allowed, but no other children), and finally we settled into a semi-annual Friday-night-to-Sunday-afternoon arrangement that included staying at a cabin where there was no telephone (this was pre-cell phone days).

The membership of this group has fluctuated a bit over the years, and not everyone can make it everytime, but we have stuck with it, even when the price paid by absenting ourselves from our families sometimes was not balanced by the rewards.

Although the men believe otherwise, we rarely discuss them. Most conversation revolves around our children (and now grandchildren and aging parents). We used to drink a lot (wine and coffee) smoke a lot (cigarettes!) and eat a lot and chocolate a lot and watch R-rated movies and play cards and Trivial Pursuit. Now we eat less, drink less, smoke less (some of us have quit). We still play cards, but less ferociously, still watch movies, but fewer each time. Last spring we spent an inordinate amount of time solving New York Times crossword puzzles as a group. I know - sounds like a wild time!

I thought it would be easier to schedule our getaways once the kids were grown, but now we have to work around graduations, weddings, births of grandchildren, volunteer commitments, surgery, and even a kidney donation. So far, with only one exception I can think of, we have pulled it off, twice a year, for thirty (30!) years.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mr. Right

I like my SO. Not only is he good looking and well read and articulate (and he likes me!), he occasionally offers me an insight into my own life.

Recent pet problems have led me to declare repeatedly that Betsy is my last dog, that I want to live dog-free, that any time I am tempted to get another pet he is to whisper "ACL" in my ear. But the other day I found myself trolling pet adoption sites.

"What is wrong with me?!?" I wailed to SO that night.

"You just want a grandchild," he answered.

And you know what? He's right.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cooking with Gas

In spite of all the family meals I prepared and served over the years, I like to cook. In spite of the four-loaves-of-bread-a-week batch I baked when I was a full-time mom, I like to bake. And yet, finding the time to do either has become more difficult. I am so tired of restaurant food that I'm willing to try to fix at least one major meal a week, for my SO and me.

The weekend before last, it was ham loaf. At the meat market (I knew they would have ground ham), I could not remember if I needed 1.5 or 2 pounds of ham, so I bought the larger amount. Not only did I have leftover ham loaf, I had ham salad as well, which is really good on Triscuits. But man, too much salt for one week.

Last weekend it was beef stew, my own sorta made-up recipe (based on Betty Crocker's):

Dredge 1.5 pounds of stew beef in flour, then brown it in oil in a Dutch oven.

Add 1 c. water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours.

Add two pounds of Russian banana potatoes (scrubbed and unpeeled), a couple of carrots (peeled and sliced), coarsely chopped peppers (green, yellow, red, orange), coarsely chopped onion, coarsely chopped celery (with leaves), a bay leaf, and one can of condensed tomato soup. (Other vegetables may be added, at your discretion. Mushrooms, garlic, peas, or green beans come to mind.) Cover and cook for another hour.

Adjust seasoning and serve with toast or biscuits to mop up the soup.

Needless to say, this meal was a success.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Can't Keep Up!

Is anyone else having a hard time sticking with NaBloPoMo? It seems like everyone, even those who are not officially participating, is posting more often. So it's not just the posting, but the reading that is eating up my days and nights.

Is it cheating to write a handful of posts, then either schedule them for the future or just hold onto them for those days when posting live feels impossible? Is anyone else cheating?

I like blogging, both writing and reading, but I either have to become a faster writer/reader or else find another diversion. Like housework. (HA!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bad Human! Bad, Bad, Bad!

I like animals, especially my animals. Even though I frequently declare that I am moving toward a petfree existence (usually after scooping dog poop, cleaning out the litter box, and picking up rabbit doodoos from the carpet before they become doggy treats), I know in my heart of hearts that my house would not be a home without at least one critter to pretend she cares about me for myself and not because I have opposable thumbs that can open pet food containers.

But I often feel like a less than stellar pet owner. I don't groom them as often as I should (much to Fern's disgust - she is the only one who actually likes to be brushed), I never clean their teeth (that's what vets and anesthesia are for), and they rarely get the exercise they need.

The Indiana House Rabbit Society says house rabbits should get 30-40 hours of cagefree time a week. I don't think I am home 40 hours a week (not counting sleep time). We have Bunny Hour almost every night, though, hence the doodoo duty mentioned above.

The cat is fat. No two ways about it. When Fern first joined our household, she was a bag of bones because she had an upper respiratory infection and nothing smelled like food to her. Once we cleared up the infection, though, she started eating and never stopped. Until recently. I had moved the "cat condo" (an old Sauder computer hutch) out to the new room but had not pushed it all the way up to the wall. Fern accidentally pushed her food dish off one too many times and now will not eat out there. I tried to outwait her - HA! - but broke down and started feeding her out of the dog's dish. During the waiting period, however, Fern actually lost a few pounds. I can tell because she can clean her own butt now. And she plays with her toys more; I found Fishy in my knitting bag one day, the victim of Toss and Pounce, or at least, Toss.

Betsy Beagle had ACL surgery about six weeks ago, so for a while I had an excuse for not exercising her. But she has lost a lot of muscle in her hindquarters, so now I try to get her up and about a couple of times a day. If the weather is crappy, I lure her into walking around the house by leaving a trail of kibble or Cheerios; ten laps around the fireplace takes ten minutes. Since the surgery, her life has gone to shit - just ask her and she will tell you all about it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Coffee and Cigarettes

I wish I could live on coffee and cigarettes. And dirty martinis. All that's left is coffee. I like mine strong flavored.

My favorite coffees come from a certain local roaster who shall remain nameless because some of their baristas are incredibly snotty. They have good decaf, though, so I stopped by there yesterday. The snarky barista did not wait on me, but she still gave me one of those infuriating smirks, a la GW. Grrr!

Anyway, the coffee I bought there was so aromatic that, when I got home, I had to put it in the refrigerator because the fumes were giving me a headache. Now, THAT'S coffee!

Reading Movies

I like foreign films. Sometimes I suspect that they are not as good as they seem - maybe the translations make the dialog sound smarter or the locales feel more exotic or the fresh faces are just, well, refreshing - or maybe the crummy foreign films are not released in the US. Anyway, not too often do I find one I don't like.

Last night I watched "Babette's Feast" which is based on a novel by Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen). The only name I recognized from the cast was Bibi Andersson as I have seen her in Bergman films, although Babbette (Stephane Audran) looked familiar. Twenty years old, the film felt older, like a Bergman film although it was directed by Gabriel Axel, who also wrote the screenplay.

Briefly, the movie is about two elderly sisters who have carried on their father's work, ministering to the needy and maintaining the church he founded. In their youth, each sister has a brush with romance but the suitors are turned away. Later, one ex-suitor sends the sisters Babette, a refugee from the French Revolution. She willingly serves the sisters in their desolate outpost on the sea in Jutland. Many years later, Babette wins the lottery. The sisters expect they will lose Babette. Babette offers to prepare a feast to celebrate what would have been the sisters' father's 100th birthday. The remaining church members are invited, a surprise visitor arrives, and the feast transforms them all.

This is a quiet film, with religious overtones and no big climax, but the themes are large. It doesn't follow any formula, but the ending is very satisfying.

A Little More to the Left

I bet you thought this post was going to be about the election. HA! No, it's about deep tissue massage.

After singing the praises of yoga, I have to admit that initially it did not do much for my shoulders. Neither did physical therapy. My range of motion was astonishingly poor, which not only impacted my yoga practice but also my ability to scratch my back without one of those $1 back scratchers from the old Pier 1 (to be differentiated from the current Pier 1 which has become incredibly expensive).

Enter deep tissue massage. Ooh, yeah, I like! After one treatment, my shoulders loosened up. But for a couple of weeks, they also felt like they were on fire. My theory is the massage relaxed all those little bundles of muscles and tendons around the rotator cuff, which then were stretched and worked by yoga (damn that downward dog!) Eventually, everything settled down and my shoulders continue to be much improved.

At my last appointment, I asked the therapist to work on my hands. Between the computer mouse/keyboard and my knitting and that downward dog thing, my hands and wrists needed some treatment. If I were a massage therapist, I would offer hand massages at local yarn stores - 5 minutes for $5. Oooh! Aaah!

Deep tissue massage has been particularly beneficial for my daughter and her scoliosis, offering her some painfree moments for the first time in years. She goes more regularly than I do; maybe my New Year's Resolution should include more massage?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Yoga Yogi

I have scoliosis and weak sacroiliac joints. (That's where the pelvic girdle and the spine come together, more or less). I also have a sedentary job and hobbies. Several years ago, my back got so bad that standing in front of the stove long enough to scramble an egg had become excruciating. I was on the verge of giving my my house and yard to move into a condo. But first, I talked my doctor into sending me to physical therapy. PT saved my lifestyle, if not my life.

But PT wasn't much help when it came to yard work. Following the mower around the lawn had become exhausting. Then my daughter picked me for her power walking partner and that area of my life improved as well.

Then the weather turned crappy. Daughter and I joined a yoga studio as a replacement to walking. That was the best thing I ever did for myself (and her! She has scoliosis, too, only worse.) It is a year later and we both still go, still enjoy, still like yoga.

It helps that most of the yoga classes at this studio are drop-in. With our membership, we can go to all the classes we want, and not just yoga. I have been to the Yoga Basics, Core Yoga, and Restorative Yoga classes. Last year I started out going two or three times a week, slacked off to once a week during the summer, and now am building back up to two or three.

Yoga has improved my overall strength and flexibility without (much) soreness; the deep breathing prevents the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. It's never boring or repetitious. And since it requires a certain amount of concentration, for that one hour, the rest of the world disappears from my consciousness.

I haven't lost any weight doing yoga (because of that eating thing), but I definitely feel better. Gardening and housework are easier (not that I do much of the latter) and I have more stamina.

There are forms of yoga that are aerobic, but I haven't tried them for fear of collapsing in a sobbing heap halfway through the class, so I still need to do something to tax my heart and respiratory system. I toy with this idea, but I'm not much of a runner.

Others have noticed my improved posture and energy and vibe. I even inspired a couple of my friends to take up yoga themselves. I hope their experience duplicates mine. I can't imagine not doing it. (Famous last words!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Black Wednesday

I like the company I work for. They are very generous with salaries, benefits, and bonuses. They also see the big picture and work to reduce their carbon footprint and promote climate control. My own job is a big snore, but I really can't complain (although I do).

Recently IT has been suffering through a long reorganization, starting from the top. It's a big company, so we peons had not been impacted by the decisions made thus far. That is, until today, when three co-workers in our office were ushered out the door, part of the 100+ being severed worldwide.

I think my job is safe, for now. My name is attached to several IT applications, plus my team is somewhat protected by a non-IT person of repute. But you just never know.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote Early and Vote Often

I started an entry for this blog earlier today, about how I like voting. I was fresh from the polls and a little cranked up. I'm not nationalistic, but exercising my right to vote gets me all tingly. Adding to my giddiness was the fact that, for once, I was not in-and-out in 5 minutes. I had to wait in line about 20 minutes because there were a lot of other people exercising their right to vote as well.

Later today, while running my dog from vet to vet, I drove past other polling places. The parking lots were overflowing! On my way home, I had to squeeze down a two-lane road where parked cars were barely off the pavement, almost double parked, so their drivers and passengers could vote. It was amazing! If only we could always be so excited about an election.

Indiana has voted for a Republican president for the past 40 years. This year it is a toss-up AND we are a swing state. More amazement!

The woman who cuts my hair has never voted. I think she is intimidated by the whole process. To her and those like her, I say, Man up! Her husband is not voting this year, presumably because he does not want to vote for a black or a woman. Well, welcome to the new millennium, buddy! It is not a white male world out there.

I was one of those kids who believed all the stuff they taught us, about equality and democracy and the Constitution. As an adult, I have frequently been disappointed when we don't live up to our ideals, either individually or as a country. But today I can be innocent again, at least for a little while, because I saw so many people voting.

(For an historical look at voting in America, read this from the New Yorker.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

What Goes Around Comes Around

I tried to find out who said "I don't know much about football, but I know a tight end when I see one." I think I read it in a "Sylvia" comic strip. I Googled the quote and "Sylvia" and ended up at a post on one of my own blogs.

And I don't really know a lot about football, but I do enjoy watching the NFL. Looking back, I remember attending games in high school, less so in college (my college's football team sucked), and then what? I think my son got me hooked. And football provided us at least one safe topic of conversation while navigating those perilous teen years. (His, not mine.)

What is it about football that draws me? Well, those hunky guys are not too hard to look at. Tennis players have great thighs, basketball players cut shoulders, baseball players ropey forearms. But the overall, top to bottom, best physiques belong to football players. At least the ones not suffering from Dunlap Disease (der bellies dun-lap over der belts).

And then there is the sheer athleticism. The players jump high, run fast, execute impossible moves. Just don't watch certain quarterbacks when they try to run. Our own Peyton Manning is one of them. It looks like his brain is so far from his feet the signal to move is delayed. Oh, but that arm!

Add in the testosterone-driven drama. The game faces. The friends. The feuds. The raw emotion. Sometimes big boys do cry.

Plus the poetry of some of the names. Houshmandzadeh. Plaxico Burress. Kiwanuka. Keiaho. Umenyiora. The law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Nearly spoiling all this are some of the announcers and their wacky statistics. John Madden is football, though. I saw him once, fresh off his bus (he's afraid to fly), plodding through the lobby of a downtown Indianapolis hotel, generating a storm of awed whispers. It's John Madden!

I follow the Colts because I live in Indiana. I'm interested in da Bears because I grew up near Chicago. I keep an eye on the Giants and Peyton's baby brother. A co-worker is a Bengals fan, so I give him a hard time. I'm curious to see how Green Bay does sans Favre, and how the Jets do avec Favre. Most of my immediate family lives in New England and supports the Patriots WHO LOST TO THE COLTS JUST YESTERDAY.

Being reasonably conversant in football also helped me when I worked in nearly all male environments, allowing me to be just one of the guys. I even won a football pool once.

(The only reason I keep going on and on about football is I can't figure out how to end this piece! This is what I get for trying to work on this at work. It's all disjointed. And I'm tired. So I'm just going to stop. Now.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

If I Could Turn Back Time

Curmudgeon that I am, I find it easier to think of things I do not like than things I like. One thing I totally abhor is Daylight Savings Time, so today I am happy, as we are back to "real" time.

For decades, Indiana was one of the few states that did not participate in DST, and I liked that. I liked being different and I liked not being inconvenienced. I did not realize how much my body liked not having to adjust.

I grew up in states that practiced DST and don't recall having any difficulty with it. Now it is a problem. My older brother, who likes DST because in the summer it stays light until 10PM, giving him more sailing time, says I am unevolved. My SO says I'm a highly sensitive person (in a good way). I try to tell myself to just get over it.

One of my co-workers lived in California for 13 months a while back. He remained on Indiana time the entire time he was there, which he thought was great. He had plenty of time to do things in the morning before work, like exercise. He is not a fan of DST, either.

The big question I have is, If DST is so great, why don't we stay on it year round?

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Last year when I participated in NaBloPoMo (on my other blog), I had a theme to help carry me through the entire month. This year's theme (on this blog) is going to be Things I Like.

Today's Thing I Like (adore, really) is Vlasic Dill Relish. If you are a serious dill pickle fan, you have got to try this. It's like Pizza King's ground pepperoni - more surface area means more flavor. It's incredible.

(How's that for a lame start?)