Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Social Butterflies

Happy Wednesday!

This is just a quick note to tell you guys that I probably won't be blogging for a couple of day. My hubby has been promoted and the ceremony and party are tomorrow. I just recovered from the last party, and here we go again! Any excuse for a party. I've got cookies to bake, appetizers to make, and a huge pot of chili to cook. I know, I know, it isn't really cold enough for chili, but I'm feeding a lot of people, most of them retired military guys who can eat like you wouldn't believe. At the last party we went through 4 pounds of meatballs and 3 jars of sauce for meatball subs, and not a crumb left.

Didn't I say something once about being done entertaining?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In the News Today . . .

My day always starts off with reading the newspaper. I read our local paper, then I get on the computer and get the headlines from the NY Times and the Scotsman through email. There are days that all I do is scan headlines and head straight to the comics and crossword puzzle, but it's been an interesting day today.

Charges have been dropped against John Karr. You all probably know this by now because it was on the news last night, too. In the immortal words of Monty Python, "He's a looney!" His lawyers say they are all "deeply distressed" about how poor Johnny was dragged out of Thailand. I'm sorry, didn't he want to be dragged out so he wouldn't have to be in a Thailand jail? Didn't he have a nice, comfy flight back to the US? Didn't he confess? And can't they do DNA testing a little closer to Thailand so that they would have known this before they cost the Colorado taxpayers a small fortune?

There are lots of pictures of Bush at the gulf coast with his sleeves rolled up. Guess he means business! Brown (former FEMA scapegoat) was on the Today show this morning making his case and plugging his book. Side note here, does anyone else think that Matt Lauer gets a nasty, high-pitch whine to his voice when he's asking the "hard questions"? Anyway, so Bush the Re-builder is touring on the anniversary and trying to play down what a fiasco it all was. And I'm still amazed at the people I know who still say we should just abandon New Orleans because "it was a cess pool anyway."

Seems that three years ago, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage confessed to the FBI that he was the guy that started it all by dropping Valerie Plame's name in a "chit-chat" with Robert Novak. Oh, but he wasn't trying to underuct Plame because her husband was criticizing Bush; he didn't even know Plame was covert. Uh-huh. Isn't it amazing how the people in this administration just don't know anything?

Not finding what you want at the job center? Well, go to JobCentrePlus in Scotland! They're advertising for lap dancers, pole dancers, and other "entertainers." Surprisingly, women's groups don't like this, saying it is sending out a message that objectifying women is OK. In 2003, a woman who owns a chain of sex toy stores won a case to advertise for help at job centers because it was discrimination not to let her. This left an opening for clubs who need entertainers to advertise there, too. The women's groups say, "pole dancing is far removed from working behind a counter in a high-street shop." Would a sex toys shop be a high-street shop? We've come a long way, baby!

And one more thing. Here's an article about the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Attending this is on my list of things I want to do before I die. It's a short article, but there are links to more informaiton.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Off the Top of My Head

We watched a BBQ competition on the Outdoor Network Sunday evening, and now I’m craving BBQ. The funniest moment on the show was when they unveiled the meat the contestants would have to cook and it was a whole hog! Yes, the whole, skinned and gutted hog--as the emcee said, “From rooter to tooter.”

We used to go to a pig roast every year at our friend the Judy’s place. Jim would bury the hog in a pit with special seasonings. And it was sooooo good. But it was good because I saw it as food on a platter. As opposed to a pig roast we went to in Florida that was the whole hog on the grill and we just walked up and they cut meat and put it on the plate. Ew. I just can’t eat things that look like what they were. They can’t be looking at me.

Also in Florida, I ordered a soft-shell crab sandwich. I don’t know why, I knew soft-shelled crab was cooked whole, but I had a brain fart and ordered it any way. My sandwich came out with legs sticking out from under the bun. I took a couple of big bites because Al was laughing at me and daring me, but that was all I could do.


After a long discussion with Al about how we need to curb our spending and put more in savings in case he decides to retire in 4 years, I went out and bought a sewing machine. Yeah, it was a great price; yeah, it’s a great machine; yeah, I’ve been saying all year that I want a better machine than my 18-year-old Kenmore with a whopping 4 stitches; yeah, I called Al from the store and asked what he thought and he said get it and Merry Christmas. But I still felt and still do feel guilty about buying it. So guilty, I was crying when I got home, carrying my new machine. Al thought there was something awful wrong, and when I finally told him in between sobs, he just hugged me and told me it was alright. I was almost inconsolable. Then, he started laughing. I could feel his shoulders jumping up and down, and he said, “You crack me up.” So, my sobs turned into laughter. Only I could cry uncontrollably and feel guilty about buying something I’ve been wanting for a long time. But, I don’t buy big stuff like that for myself. The most expensive indulgence for me is to get my hair colored every 8 to 10 weeks. And that’s really more of a necessity, don't ya think? It’s budgeted!

So, I have a new sewing machine that has already made my quilt block sewing much more enjoyable. It’s a Pfaff ClassicStyle Home 2029. And the best part? They’re going to teach me how to use it! So, I don’t have to rely on my ability to follow a user manual, which is always a good thing.


There’s an interesting article in the NY Times today wondering if stars are really worth that huge salary—A Big Star May Not a Profitable Movie Make (you may have to register to read it). It says there really isn’t a correlation between the star and the profits, so why do they pay them so much? Yeah, some stars do bring in huge profits, but some stars also choose movies they know people want to see them in. And some stars are in really good movies—the movie makes the star. It was a pretty cool article. I’m one of those who believes acting is a difficult thing and I don’t fault them for wanting a good salary, but c’mon. Tom Cruise makes $75 million a picture! But then, unlike many women, I am not a Tom Cruise fan. I liked Risky Business, but that was pretty much it. $75 million? Hmmmph.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Little Background Information

This week's list of 25 aren't really about me personally. Or about me as a person. I mean, they're about me, but they aren't personal. Does that make sense? Oh well, here it goes!

151. I’m not much of a housekeeper. I wish I was good enough that Al wouldn’t notice when I’ve actually cleaned.
152. He’s always sounds so surprised. “You’ve cleaned!”
153. Al’s better at cleaning than I, and he almost always cleans up after dinner. He says that since I cook, he’ll clean up.
154. When people come over for dinner for the first time, they are always a little surprised at Al collecting the dishes and cleaning. The women ask how I trained him to do that, and the guys look at him like a traitor. Yeah, like I could “train” him to do something he didn’t want to do.
155. So, I the rest of the house may not be in great shape, but that kitchen is clean!
156. The house we’re in now is only the second house we’ve ever bought. The first house was over 10 years ago.
157. We usually rent since we move pretty much every 3 years.
158. At each new town Al says we should buy then rent it out because that’s how somebody he knows makes money. Um Hmm. And just who would have take care of all of that while he’s deployed or TDY(temporary duty)? Me!
159. I can counter each positive story with a horror story when it comes to renting out a house, especially if you don’t live in that town.
160. Therefore, we are wonderful tenants. We take care of the homes we’re living in.
161. I would rather live off-base. Yes, in essence, if we lived on base we wouldn’t pay rent or utilities (electricity, gas, and water), but actually we do pay because if you live on base, you don’t get a housing allowance. But the housing allowance isn’t enough to cover mortgage/rent or utilities any way, but then again, it’s not meant to.
162. When you live on base, you also pay by adhering to the strict housing rules. The two biggies being keeping the lawn mowed, edged and weeded and shoveling all snow from driveways and sidewalks (pain in the butt in upstate New York) immediately after snowfall, then shoveling snow again off the driveway and sidewalks after the trucks come by and clear the roads by putting all of it in front of your driveway and on your sidewalk.
163. Now you might say, “We all have to mow our lawns and shovel our driveway.” Yes, but do you get a nasty ticket on your house if your lawn is considered too long or you haven’t shoveled your driveway? Then do you have to take that ticket into your boss so that he can sign off on it, confirming that you have taken care of said offense?
164. We called the people who drove around for inspections (once a week) the “Yard Nazis.”
165. At our first assignment, we got a ticket for not turning our porch light off in the morning. Al took it in to his commanding officer, who said, “Did you turn it off?” Nod yes. “OK then.” And he threw it in a basket on his desk.
166. But this is serious! If you get 3 tickets, you’re kicked off base. And the military will only move you once, so the moving expenses will be your own. And it just doesn’t look good to your commanding officer to get kicked off base.
167. We ran into Yard Nazis again in the San Antonio neighborhood we lived in. They had the Homeowners’ Association from hell.
168. One man on the board would stand outside in his yard and threaten people who had dogs, yelling at them to not let their dogs “crap all over the place.” He said this to Al once, and Al said, “She just marked. I picked up the other part, do you want it for proof?” then held the bag up in the old fart’s face.
169. This is also the neighborhood where the guy across the street shot at a dog that had chased his wife and their little dog. Problem is, he didn’t pay attention where he aimed and a bullet hit our circuit breaker box. The door was strong enough to stop it, thank Goodness, but there was a dent.
170. He shot through our neighbor’s garage door, then it went through the door into the house, and then into the laundry room, where their daughter was leaned over getting clothes out of the dryer. If she had been standing, it would have hit her in the head.
171. The cops came and I think he got a ticket for discharging a weapon. But he paid dearly emotionally because he felt horrible. Not that he’s excused for his behaviour, though.
172. I’ll never forget that sound, and Al telling me to stay in the house. Those movies where people are shooting guns and bullets are flying every where? No where near as terrifying as it really sounds.
173. Besides the bullet in the house, San Antonio was a nice assignment. Great food. And we made some great friends.
174. It was San Antonio where Al learned to brew beer. It’s much easier than you’d think. We joined a brewing club called the Bexar Brewers (Bexar being the county SA is in).
175. We had “meetings” where we tasted each others’ beer. And if you didn’t have a beer that month, there was a style for the month and you could bring commercial beer. I was usually the designated driver. Well, someone has to do it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I told myself many times that I would not wait until the last minute to do these quilt blocks for the next block-of-the-month meeting. But I never listen to myself. Plus, I screwed up several times and even had to go back for more material. Triangles! Nothing but triangles! Do you know how hard triangles are to do? Well let me tell you. They're friggin' impossible!

OK, I'm better now. But that "Flying Geese" pattern is a pain in the butt. I lost count how many times I ripped the seams out and resewed, and still my points don't point very well or line up. But, I'm as done as I'm going to get. So, without further ado, the latest 2 blocks. ( first 2 blocks can be seen here--July 19, Energy Abound.)

Old Fasioned Star

This one was fairly simple. Big triangles aren't so bad, so this one turned out pretty good, I think.


Not so happy with this one, but it turned out better than I thought it would. I wouldn't have picked out these colors and patterns, but that's what came in the kit. And considering it only cost me $4.50 to make this block, I'm not complaining. But it took me hours! Hours I tell you! BTW, the center blocks along the edge of the larger block, the ones with two triangles in the center, that's "Flying Geese." I don't know why, but I guess if you have a quilt full of those (heaven forbid) it looks like the pattern geese make when flying.


On the cooking front, I think it's time I made some pesto. Look at the way my basil has grown! And I have a ton of mint, too. So, mojitos for everyone! Come to think of it, the rosemary and the sage are doing well, too. Hmmmmm. Gotta think on that one.

Friday, August 18, 2006


It’s already August and I still haven’t finished some of the Christmas projects I’m working on. I haven’t even started some of the other projects I wanted to give away as gifts. It may be a knit-less Christmas for some this year. Was that a big sigh of relief I heard out there? I know who you are!


This has been one of those weeks I just couldn’t get motivated to do anything. Oh, I did the things that had to be done—bought groceries, took a friend to the airport, cooked dinner, got squished by a mammogram machine—but other than that, I just kind of stared at the walls, waiting for inspiration. Damn no-help walls.


Hubby had a major exercise in his section this week. It was a little stressful, to say the least. Generals had to be briefed, standards had to be met and preferably exceeded, and it all had to go off without a hitch. It should be over by this afternoon, so I sent cookies in with Al for the guys. Gotta keep them liking him! BTW the cookies were the ones I call Road Trip Cookies. You can find the recipe here under "Craving" March 8, 2006.


I have wonderful, wonderful news! I’m going to Scotland next March! Our favorite bar here, the Dundee Dell, has a group that goes every 3 years. The Dell has the largest selection of scotch outside of Scotland. I’m not the connoisseur Al is, but I like a wee dram every now and then. Anyhoo, we’re off with the other boozers to tour distilleries on a whirlwind trip. I’ll post more about it later and let ya in on the itinerary. One of the best things about this trip? I don’t have to plan a blessed thing. All I have to do is get on the bus. We’re going to places I would have planned to go to, but now I don’t have to!


We’re also planning a trip to Italy in May next year. Yeah, I know, we suck. But we’ve been careful (and lucky in some instances) and it looks like we can swing both trips. The Italy one is a little scarier. I have to do some planning for this one. Everyone tells me not to worry and just have fun, but I’m way too controlling for that. I won’t feel OK until I at least have our hotel reservations and know we have places to stay. The rest we can work out any time. If it was just me, I might wait until I got there and just find a place, but there will be 6 of us. It was going to be 4, now it’s going to be 6. That’s a lot of different personalities to please, and I always seem to think it’s my job to make sure everyone is pleased.


Al’s going out of town for a couple of days next week. I want to go see a movie but can’t decide. Should it be some funny escape, like Talladaga Nights or Accepted, or maybe something scary, like The Descent or The Night Listener, or eye candy, like Scoop (Hugh Jackman), Pirates (Johnny Depp), Miami Vice (Colin Farrell, Jamie Fox), or maybe animation, like Cars or Monster House. Hmmmmm. No art houses here, so it’ll have to be something mainstream. What do you think?


And here's a link to videos about the movie 300. I don't know much about it because I've never seen the graphic novel it's based on. But I do know that there are a lot of well toned, muscular men running around in loin cloth kinds of things. This is really more for Newt. And damn you for reminding me about Gerard Butler!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Flattened Like A Pancake

Warning: Men, and some squeamish women, this post will be about the dreaded mammogram. I had my first one, and if I can’t talk about it here, then where can I? So, if ya don’t like the personal stuff, you have been forewarned!

So, I get this call at 10 ‘til 8 in the morning last week. “This is (whoever) from the base hospital. We’ve been reviewing your records and see that it’s time for a mammogram. Please call radiology and set up your appointment.” Well, good friggin’ morning to you, too, sunshine. Could you be a little less chipper when you call a newly 40-year-old woman to remind her that she’s turned 40?

I wasn’t nervous because really, I didn’t expect them to find anything. I do breast exams (not as often as I should, but I do do them), and I’ve always teased Al that it’s just as much his responsibility as mine to know if something isn’t right. Besides, he knows them better than I do, anyway.

So, let me tell you how this happens. The nice tech (female, thank God) tells you everything off from the waist up, gown opens in the front, and there are wipes to clean off any deodorant or perfumes or anything. I don’t know why, either, I just did what I was told.

The machine is smaller than I thought it would be. I guess I was expecting giant metal plates like a big shop tool, like a drill press or one of those things that crush cars. But it’s small and not so scary looking. But then, the tech tells you she has to put the nipple guards on and you realize that any modesty you have has just flown out the window.

So, then it begins. Step up to the machine, one half of the gown off, the tech moving you where you need to be then unceremoniously slapping your breast up on the table that has these little lines as a guide for the tech. Now, she wasn’t being insensitive, she had to get it all up there. And I’m, well, I’m a healthy girl. No need for a Wonder Bra here; they are a wonder all their own. After the bottom part was in place, she smoothed out as much of the tissue as possible, meaning that she pre-flattens before the acrylic paddle comes down to finish the job. One hand was on my waist, pulling my shoulder back out of the way and the other hand was holding back the opposite breast. My chin was resting on the machine, the tech was behind a protective clear screen, telling me not to breathe. Not a problem, actually. Luckily, it only lasted a few seconds, then onto the next pose.

I had to ask the tech what they do if someone has implants. She said it was more painful and harder because at one point, she has to push the implants back and pull the tissue forward. Ew. So, maybe carting these boulders around wasn’t so bad after all. But I’d still consider a breast reduction. I told Al that if they fall enough that I have to move them to fasten my pants, they’re out of here!

Four pictures, two each breast, so I figured I would be out of there soon. Oh, how wrong I was. Luckily, I brought a book, just in case. I had to wait for the developing, to make sure the pictures were clear. Then wait for the radiologist to look at it, which was good because that meant I would know before I left that everything was OK. I was pretty relaxed, just reading my book.

Then the tech came back and said the radiologist wanted a couple of more pictures of my right breast. Guess I had the deer-in-headlights look because the tech quickly followed that with “This is common with first mammograms. There’s nothing to compare to, so sometimes they want to see other views.”

So, we started over again. Different poses this time, including a happy little number where she twisted the tissue (they say tissue but it’s pretty much twisting the whole thing). And more waiting.

Then the radiologist came in. Oh, this day just gets better and better! He didn’t see a tumor or anything that worried him that it could be cancer, but there was an a-symmetrical spot on the right side of the breast that he just couldn’t get a good look at, so he wanted to do an ultrasound. He said they were going to try to do it today but if they couldn’t it was ok to wait. Worse case, they might want to do a biopsy, but he would expect it to be benign. But he’ll still want me to come back in 6 months for another mammogram on that breast so he could compare and make sure there was no change. He didn’t want me to worry. He kept repeating that, but really, I wasn’t worried. I told him I wasn’t going to worry until someone told me it was time to worry. I was more upset that I hadn’t brought my knitting because even though my book is good (Booked to Death by John Dunning), I wanted something to do with my hands, not my brain.

So, more waiting, sitting in the hallway, in a gown that could wrap around me a few times, trying to keep my head down, reading my book. If I don’t see them, I could be invisible, right? Quite a while later, “You ready, ma’am?” Well crap. Tell me, why do ultrasound techs have to be good looking young men who just stepped out of their fraternity house?

Lots of small talk, while I lie with my right arm above my head and the gown covering the left half of the body. Luckily, the gel had been warmed, but it’s still just weird. I studied the poster on the wall beside me, trying not to chuckle at the idea that under other circumstances this might actually be enjoyable. Pretty soon, he draped a towel over me, and he and the chaperone took the results to the radiologist, who by the way is also a good looking young guy who just walked out of the fraternity house. And of course, he wanted another scan. But he wanted it to do it himself this time.

OK, now, I’m annoyed and ready to go home. Enough is enough! He decided that it was just breast tissue and benign. I suspected he was starting to us me as a teaching tool for the tech as he described this ridge and where it was, pointing it out on my breast. Well, at least I know where it is now.

Another clean towel draped over me, and I’m done. Everyone leaves, and I’m left to get all this goo off. I still have to come back in 6 months, but no one’s expecting it to be anything, so I shouldn’t worry. I'm not worried! Really, I've been through worse tests, and honestly, I have other health issues keeping me preoccupied. But it is nice to have this little experience over.

My breasts had been handled more in the last 2 hours than they had all week. And more than they will be for a couple of days because now I’m sore. But, everything is OK, so that’s good. I’m taking care of myself, and that’s good. It’s all good.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Snakes. Why does it have to be snakes?

I like to go to Apple site and check out the new movie trailers. It opens my mind to some movies that are coming out that I might not normally go to. But when I saw the movie Snakes on a Plane listed, I thought that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. No one would go see that.

Apparently, I don’t have a clue about the viewing public.

According to my local paper, there’s a cult following for this movie, and people can’t wait to see it. They reference the campy title and the star Samuel L. Jackson as part of the reason. Yeah, I like Jackson, too, and I would go see most things he’s in. But campy title? I think it’s terrifying! I can’t even watch the trailer, and I like scary movies. It’s definitely a heeby-jeeby movie. The article said, “Fans have designed their own T-shirts and created entire Web sites dedicated to the movie. One of the most notorious is the”

Also, now “snakes on a plane” has become lingo for “whatever” or “stuff happens.” Huh?

The article went on and on about how funny everyone thinks it is. When did I stop having a sense of humor? The trailer looks pretty serious to me. I thought I knew campy. Batman TV series = campy. John Waters films = campy. Venomous snakes loose on a plane, that just doesn’t seem campy.

So, someone go see it and tell me what it’s like. I would, but the seats in the theater don’t sit high enough, considering that I would be completely crouched in them. There’s no way I’d put my feet down on the floor during that movie.

Monday, August 14, 2006

On a Roll

I eeked out another 25. Will this ever end?!?

126. I consider myself a Christian, but I have a lot of questions.
127. I completely understand questioning a book written by a group of men who were trying to reflect their world view. But still, I’ve grown up with faith so it seems to come pretty easy.
128. Maybe I’m taking faith for granted?
127. We have found a wonderful church here that welcomes all questions. You know the Methodist Church’s slogan, “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.”? Well, our church believes that and puts it into practice.
128. This church considers itself “theologically progressive” which concerned me at first because I thought Al’s conservative side might not agree. But that man is just full of surprises. Makes being married fun and interesting.
129. It’s not so much a liberal or conservative theology, just a little more open-minded than some.
130. I usually avoid the discussion of religion because: a) there always seems to be someone who can quote something from the Bible to prove his or her point and I never have a good response, b) It pisses me off when people throw quotes at me because they don’t pay attention where the quote comes from or what the lesson/story is, and c) I have my doubts and questions that I’m working through, thank you, and I don’t want to be preached to and told what I’m supposed to think or believe.
131. I love Southern gospel music. The twangier the better. There’s nothing better than a country quartette singing “I’ll Fly Away.”
132. When my Dad died, my stepmother asked if I wanted any song in particular at the service. I told her I always thought of Dad when I heard “I’ll Fly Away” because I knew he like it. She said she didn’t remember that, but if I wanted it, they’d try to do it.
133. I felt terrible because I thought maybe I was projecting because I love that song. I told my grandmother (his mother) the song I had requested, and she said, “Oh he loved that song! He used to just siiiinnngg.” I felt very relieved.
134. My uncle sings bass in a gospel group. They sang it at the funeral and it was perfect. There’s not doubt in my mind that Dad like that.
135. Dad grew up in a tiny town in Arkansas called Yellville. Most of his family are still there.
136. Yellville is famous for Turkey Trot, a fall festival where they just happen to toss live wild turkeys out of a small plane. Wild turkeys fly, or at least they glide for long distances. You can have the turkey if you catch it, but that’s not gonna happen.
137. PETA shows up every year.
138. Does that remind you of WKRP in Cincinnati? It’s probably not a coincidence that the guy who played Herb Tarlek was from Arkansas.
139. When I was 18, I met Bill Clinton at a Democrat rally while he was running for governor of Arkansas. He has the ability to make you feel like you are the only person he wants to talk to. He didn’t look over my shoulder or to the side to see if there was someone else he should be talking to.
140. There was a scene in a movie years and years ago that always sticks in my mind. Kids were at a school dance (the all-boy’s school came to the all-girl’s school), and the guy didn’t want to be dancing with the girl he was dancing with, so behind her back, he was offering cash to his buddy to come cut in. She knew what was happening, of course. I thought that was the saddest scene and hoped I would never be that girl. But late at night when the demons come out, I suspect I am.
141. Wellbutrin has helped silence some of those demons. I’m not recommending everyone to get on a happy pill, but I would recommend that if your emotions feel a little out of control and you have trouble functioning, go see a doctor and get help.
142. I was on Lexapro for a year, but it made me numb. I didn’t cry the whole year I was on it. With the Wellbutrin I still have my emotions but they don’t overwhelm me and don’t get out of control. I had no idea how bad off I was. Before, I would just lay on the couch and stare at the tv, get up and take a shower and get cleaned up right before Al got home so that he wouldn’t know I had laid around all day, then try to find a way to get out of making dinner.
143. Now if I have a day that I’m just exhausted and want to go back to bed and take a nap, I know it’s the fatigue with the MS.
144. I’ve spent a lot of my life daydreaming. I’m more steeped in reality now, or maybe I just hide my daydreaming better.
145. We had a party in our new basement pub and everyone who works with Al came, plus our friends that he doesn’t work with. I stopped counting at 35 people. I quickly lost control of this evening.
146. Up until this point, I prided myself on my entertaining abilities. We’ve had bigger parties and I’ve cooked for more, but there were people every where! I couldn’t flit around fast enough to make sure everyone was feeling welcome, and I constantly worried about running out of food.
147. We did run out of soda. Who knew so many people would drink soda?
148. Everything was pretty much gone by the end of the evening. The pony keg of Fat Tire was dry and the meatball subs (4 lbs of meatballs and 3 bottles of pasta sauce) were devoured. All in all, I’d say it was a success.
149. A couple of years ago, we entertained a lot. I was always hosting wives’ socials, showers, and various parties. I’m done with entertaining. Come over for dinner, but it’s going to be reeeaaaallll casual.
150. I told Al that if he really wanted to be a squadron commander, I’d support him and do my best in my role as “squadron commander’s wife.” But if he doesn’t want to do that, all the better. I'm ready to downsize and get rid of all that stuff I use for "entertaining."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Cornbread Story

Yesterday was Al’s birthday, so I made him one of his favorite dinners—red beans and rice. That’s a good Friday meal, just in case there are any side effects from the beans. I’m the one who likes to go out for my birthday and be sung to so I can be the center of attention. Al prefers a dinner at home with no one forcing him into the spotlight.

It had been a while since I had made red beans and rice, so I was looking forward to the meal almost as much as Al. Especially, the cornbread I make to go with it. I love cornbread. And it reminds me of one of my favorite story to tell on Al.

When we were “seriously” dating and had moved in together, I would make cornbread from a packet of buttermilk cornbread mix in a square baking pan. Al said it was OK, but it wasn’t as good as his Granny’s. His Granny made the best cornbread ever. Oh, his Granny’s cornbread was so much better. So, when it was time to meet Granny, I knew what I was going to ask her first.

Let me pause here to tell you about Granny. In her 70s, when I met her, she was about 5’ 4” and a little hunched over. Her hair was snow white and her skin had the dark, leathery look that came with her American Indian heritage. She dipped Dental Snuff (don’t ask—it’s just nasty) and never put her teeth in, but could still eat just about anything. Actually, she did put her teeth in once, at our wedding, and she scared the grandkids because they had never seen her with teeth before. As far as I know, she never put them in again. She always had an amazing garden and the best part of eating at her place was the way she’d keep bringing out fresh veggies from the refrigerator, “You want some tomatoes? How about onions, pepper, cucumbers . . .” She made gorgeous quilts out of whatever material she had. She cussed like a sailor. And she intimidated the hell out of me.

So, we’re visiting his family, and I say, “Granny, Al says you make the best cornbread. You’ll have to show me how you make it.”

“It’s real easy,” she said, opening the refrigerator and bringing out a packet, “I just use this buttermilk cornbread mix.” It was the exact thing I was using! Al had the common sense not to reply.

However, she did make it differently because she made hers in an iron skilled. THE iron skillet, the one used only for cornbread. She heated up the skillet with some fat in it, usually bacon fat kept in a tin on the stove top. Once it was hot, she sprinkled some cornmeal on the bottom, then poured in the cornbread mixture, and baked it. It did taste better. It was the best cornbread I had ever had. And that’s the way I make cornbread today. Oh, I don’t use bacon fat, but I do put a chunk of unsalted butter in there while the pan is heating up. And I sprinkle some of the mix in the bottom of the skillet because it gives a nice crust to the bread and helps it to come out easier. I can’t find that particular mix anymore, so I use Martha White’s self-rising cornbread mix, but the key is that iron skillet.

All I need now is a big glass of milk and some butter to spread on that heaping slice of hot cornbread.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Name By Any Other Name

Saz asked how Daily got her name, so I thought I’d tell you. It’s an unusual name, I know, but that’s what happens when you get a retired show dog.

Daily’s full name was Champion Menlo Cobblebrook Daily News, or Daily for short. I always said that she was perfectly named because every day we wondered why we waited so long to get a dog. Obviously, we were waiting for this dog.

I have this fear of responsibility. I’m serious, it’s a real problem. Al surprised me with a bassett hound puppy when we were first married, but it was just too hard being on the third floor apartment for the poor thing to go outside and do his business. So, we gave him to Al's parents, and I felt like a failure as a doggie mom. It was years before I felt like I was ready to try again.

We spent those years watching dog shows, reading about dogs, dreaming about dogs, and playing with other people’s dogs. Then everything just fell into place. We decided that a Petite Bassett Griffon Vendeen seemed like a great dog and started looking around for one. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a breeder just 20 minutes down the road from Al’s hometown. Fate! So, we called and asked if we could come by and see the dogs, since we had never seen one in person, or in dogness, or live, or whatever, we wanted to see a real PBGV.

Cynthia had several adults and no puppies, which was fine because we didn’t want a puppy. We stood in the backyard while the dogs ran up to greet us, happy to be out of the kennel. And the cutest one (Daily, of course) ran up to say hello, then sat near us while everyone else ran around like crazy. Then she crawled on her belly over to us and we pet her a little more, then she had had enough, so she went up and sat by her kennel, ready to go back in. So calm, so independent, and so darn cute.

Cynthia said that Daily was a retired champion and they were looking for a home where she could just be a pet. Her career was cut short because she got into a fight with her kennel mates and they chewed her ear up. The vet, for some reason, took off her entire ear flap. So, Daily’s right ear looked like a human ear lobe. But with all that hair on and around her face, you couldn’t tell. She had one litter of puppies, but there was a recessive gene and only one puppy survived. Cynthia said it was just too hard on Daily and her to try to have puppies again.

When we decided Daily was the one, we went through an interview with Cynthia. It was double sided, I wanted to know she was a responsible breeder and she wanted to know if I was going to be a responsible dog owner. I already knew she was a good breeder because she had repossessed a puppy (Daily’s puppy, actually) that she didn’t think was being treated right, plus we joked and laughed about how she spent more money on and building the kennel than her house. We paid to have Daily fixed and update her shots, and that’s it—she was ours.

We got all the doggie stuff together and went to pick her up. Daily was roaming around the house, and Cynthia was trying not to cry. She kept asking Daily, “Where’s your ear?” and we were taken aback. That seemed a little callous for this woman, but then we realized she meant pig’s ear. She had given Daily a pig’s ear. Al thought that was pretty funny, so he spent a lot of time after that asking Daily, “Where’s your ear?” She would just cock her head and look at him like he was an idiot.

We got home (a 10-hour drive), Daily walked around her new home, and huffed at her reflection in the sliding glass door. She quickly found her new bed and her food and water bowls. There was a lot of adjusting ahead, but that’s a story for another day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here We Go Again

And yet, another 25. I'm not sure how much longer this can go on! So, for now, here's another 25.

101. I love mission style furniture but think it can be a little stark and uncomfortable. So, I pair it up with something comfy like a poofy chair.
102. I watch a lot of the decorating shows, but I’m not very good at that kind of thing.
103. It’s the same with picking out clothes. If it’s not already an outfit, I can’t put it together. I miss the ease of Garanimals.
104. In February 2006, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
105. I always do well on my neurological exams, and I have comparatively subtle symptoms, but the spinal tap came back positive on the 2 tests they run for MS, everything else they tested for was negative.
106. I’ve had many people compliment me on how “strong” I am, but that’s because that’s the face I put out there. Actually, I’m very tired of being strong. I’m not all that strong anyway, it’s just something I have to do.
107. I give myself a shot every week, and it’s never that easy. My husband offers to give me the shot but that scares me more! I need to be the one in control of this.
108. The learning curve of this disease is way too long. I’m constantly questioning any little pain I have, and I’m hoping that fear goes away pretty damn soon.
109. I hate having my blood drawn because I have these tiny veins that roll. I keep telling people—I’m delicate!
110. The scariest symptom I have is some cognitive problems. There are days I can’t type words correctly and I can’t remember a word I’m desperately searching for. I just lose words, and my thinking process slows down. Luckily, it’s not all that often. I usually just write it off as getting older.
111. Being diagnosed is another event that makes me relieved I didn’t have children.
112. I can count on one hand the number of times I thought I wanted children; I’ve never been that keen on it.
113. I like kids. I do OK with kids, but the idea of 24-hour responsibility for the rest of my life terrifies me.
114. You wouldn’t believe the things women with children will say to me: But you’d be such a great Mom; Aren’t you afraid of being alone in your old age; Is it a medical problem that you can’t have children; Well, you have all that free time because you don’t have kids; What do you do all day since you don’t have kids and don’t work; You’re right not have kids because you don’t have enough patience (this last one while her little darlin’ was screaming in the back seat and I was about to jump out of the car).
115. My parents split up when I was in 3rd grade, and I never felt close to my dad until I was adult, but not that close even then.
116. I told my husband before we got married that I wasn’t putting a child through what I went through with my dad, so unless he could promise me that he would be everything to our children, to the point that I was jealous of how close they were, I wasn’t having children with him.
117. In May 1997, my husband was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. It was a stage IIIB, which a is a pretty scary stage.
118. It was a rough 4 months of chemo and surgeries and recovery, but he’s healthy and we’re both stronger. Our relationship got even stronger during this time.
119. My husband says he has no privacy any more because I’ll talk about almost anything, even concerning him. But I think it’s encouraging to know someone survived cancer or lives happily with a chronic disease.
120. I have the coolest grandmother ever—Nana Creta. She’s in her late 80s and still drives herself to the beauty shop and lives on her own, comfortably. I really hope I inherited her genes.
121. For Christmas last year, my Nana gave me a scrapbook of family pictures, and she labeled them! So, I have pictures of my dad and the family when they were kids.
122. I tend to “mother” my mother. I was getting a little out of control, though, so I decided I should let her be and find a balance.
123. I love Thanksgiving because I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner as I watch the Macy’s parade.
124. I get very cranky around the end of July until well into September because I don’t like excessively hot summers. For the last 7 years, I’ve lived places that have over 100-degree summers.
125. October is my favorite month. It’s the beginning of the holidays for me since I like Halloween so much. We have a pumpkin-carving party at our house and put all the pumpkins out of the front porch to take pictures. What a blast!

Monday, August 07, 2006


I was tagged from Lisa this weekend, so without further delay . . .

Five items in my freezer
1. cranberries from last Christmas. I throw them in muffin batter.
2. puff Pastry
3. deer meat from our friend J’s last hunting trip
4. vanilla bean ice cream
5. frozen mixed veggies

Five Items in My Closet:
1. a sack of clothes I keep meaning to take to Good Will
2. more purses than one woman should have
3. my Victoria’s Secret robe that Al got me on, I think, our first anniversary, so it’s 17 years old
4. some beanie babies that my collector friend gave me years ago, worth practically nil now
5. one of those “couples only” games that I borrowed from a friend but never returned and never played. I really should do something about that.

Five items in the car
1. chargers for my iPod and my cell phone
2. the Mannheim Steamroller Halloween CD
3. several maps of the area and the state
4. the “Car Log” where we write down anything and everything we do to the car
5. sun block

Five items in my purse (I don't have a backpack anymore)

1. my notebook to write down what I’m supposed to remember but never do
2. my husband’s work phone number and my cell phone number because I never remember either of them
3. a checkbook with an index card stuck in the register because I’ve run out of lines in the register and haven’t bothered to get another one yet because they don’t have my bank anywhere in Nebraska
4. my Bodleian Library pen that I bought in Oxford 3 years ago—the longest I have ever held onto a pen without losing it
5. Burt’s Bees lib balm—can’t live without that stuff

I tag, well, I tag anyone who needs something to blog!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Pub

Hello again! I'm back, finally. It's been a very busy week because we are throwing a party tonight to christen our new pub in the basement. Al's been wanting to do this for a long time, so while we're in a house with a basement, we decided to go for it. It's not exactly a pub because we wanted it to be usable to whoever buys the house next, and we realize that not everyone would want a pub in their home. But I think we did a pretty good job. Or, actually, the guy who built it all for us did a good job. So, here are some pics!

The door on the left is my new storage closet!

Al had his own craft project. These are around the pub--they are the sides of beer 6-packs glued to some kind of wood. I have no idea what it was, but it turned out much nicer that I thought it would when he described his idea to me.

Our carpenter was so awesome. He decided that since he angled the closet, that the wall would just be wasted space, so he built this niche into it. It's the perfect place for all those boxes the scotch came in that Al doesn't want to get rid of.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Down, Down, Down

Our Internet is down for a couple of days. Don't really know why, but the cable dude can't come over until Friday (!) in the afternoon, so I won't be posting for a couple of days. Even though I don't mind the excuse to go to Panera or Starbucks or some place with wireless, I'm not sure when I'll make it (besides now of course because I'm at Panera).

Just wanted to let you know. I'm not falling of the face of the earth, just out of the Internet for a couple of days.

Talk to ya soon!