Sunday, December 31, 2006

Today's task

I know it's not the new year yet, but I might as well get off to a good start, right?

Today I tackled the bathroom closet. It's been bugging me for a while - can you see why?

Here's the "before" shot of the bottom half...

And the top half...

And, an hour later, the top half...

And the bottom half.

Ok, the bottom half could use a little more work. I'll restack the towels when I put the next load of them away. And, well, the very bottom could be better stacked, but at least the toilet paper is back in its place and stuff isn't flying out all over the place, right?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The two-week wait

For those of you wanting to keep up with my adventures in infertility...

I'm at the latter end of my first round on clomid. Clomid is this wonder drug that helps women who don't ovulate to do just that. It's been an interesting cycle. I was warned, told horror stories about hormonal torture, emotional outbursts, and general unhappiness while taking the drugs. But, I was also told that after lupron, clomid would be like a walk in the part. That pretty much was the way it happened for me. One day of extreme irritability (to that cashier at Joanne's, wherever you are, I'M SORRY). one day of extreme munchies. And one day of a face full of zits. Other than that, I was pretty much myself, and for that, I am grateful.

Until I got to day 18 or so. That was the day I called Kaiser to say I hadn't ovulated, and shouldn't I wait for my progesterone check until after I did? That's a blood test to confirm whether or not a woman ovulated.

Kaiser should really give their OB/GYN nurses special training in dealing with the infertile people. I think we're a special breed. We tend to get extremely annoyed when dealing with stupid people about items pertaining to our infertility.

I left a message on the advice nurse line, since it wasn't urgent. Many hours later (within two hours my butt!), a nurse called me back. "I got your message but I'm not sure I understand the question..."

So I patiently explained again that I hadn't ovulated yet and wanted to know if I should wait for the blood test till after I do. She said there was no way I could know that without a blood test. I told her about all the ways I knew - my temperature was down (goes up after ovulation), my saliva tests were negative, and I've never seen a whiter white than my ovulation predictor strips. Apparently to Kaiser, those all mean crap. She said they ALWAYS do it on day 21, and if it was negative, I'm either pregnant or I didn't ovulate.

Um, ok, how could I be pregnant if I didn't ovulate???

Try as I might, I absolutely couldn't get the nurse to acknowledge that not all women ovulate on a perfect cycle when on clomid. Apparently it's Kaiser's policy that if you're on clomid, you ovulate on day 14.

Too bad my body didn't read the Kaiser policies. I ovulated on day 23, the day AFTER my blood test (since day 21 was Christmas). How do I know? My temp was up, my saliva test was positive, and lo and behold, there was a second line on my ovulation predictor strips. I called yesterday to get my test results. They left a message when they called back, and the woman said emphatically, about six times, YOU DID NOT OVULATE. Duh, I could have told you that.

Oh, wait, I did tell you that!

Freaking morons.

So now I'm officially in the proverbial two-week weight. The time when women wanting to be pregnant cut back on caffeine, eliminate alcohol, and start eating more fruits and veggies in anticipation of the time when they can start peeing on sticks.

Wish me luck, because I really, really, really want to have the opportunity to see the look on the nurses' faces when I come in for a positive pregnancy test after officially not ovulating!

Well, I've done it!

I just switched over to the new blogger. Hopefully there won't be too many hiccups...let me know if you see anything too weird!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Resolutions, anyone?

Merry Christmas, everybody! Hope you all had a wonderful, blessed holiday, and I hope Santa was as good to you as he was to me.

Now my thoughts are turning to the new year, and yet another fresh start on the journey of life. 2006 was interesting - it was the year I was going to get my finances under control, my weight under control, and my house under control. Oh, and get pregnant.

Well, one out of four isn't TOO bad, I suppose...we did pretty well with our finances. I lost 14 pounds and managed to only gain two of them back, but I still have a long way to go. My house, well, is a disaster area. And, drugged as I may be, I'm still not pregnant, unless some miracle has occurred in the last few days and my body just isn't telling me.

I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

I think 2007 will be the year of the house. My resolution is to stop being such a tremendous slob. Can I do it? It's not in my nature - I've been a slob my entire life. It honestly doesn't bother me that the dogs track mud all over the floor, that there are dirty dishes all over the counters, and that I've actually talked to a pile of dog hair, thinking it was one of my dogs. I can block out messes with ease - I have decades of practice.

But, it does bother my husband. And, at some point, I just might actually succeed in getting pregnant, and I suppose I should develop some good habits before there is a wee one crawling around on my floors.

So, in the interest of being a better wife and future mother, I hereby declare 2007 to be the year of the clean house. I will take 20 minutes in the morning, at least three days a week, and clean something. Don't worry, I have two hours every morning between the time hubby leaves for work and the time I do. Usually I'm just on the internet. I might as well do something productive!

I will file, not just pile.

I will break out our old room assignment sheet, which worked for all of about two weeks, where we each take a room of the house each week and clean it. We have it broken into eight areas, so the whole house gets cleaned once a month. It's a reasonable schedule, we're just lazy people.

This will, in turn, help me keep my finances in order (because I cook more in a clean kitchen, and I'll actually know what we have so I won't buy multiples of stuff), and heck, it just might help me get my weight in order (because I cook more in a clean kitchen).

Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A little trip down memory lane...

Thank you, Boston Globe, for reminding me that YouTube is a great place to watch all the videos for sappy 80s ballads that I love so much!

At least they're entertaining...

I'm home sick today, and Hershey is amusing me. She lays out in the middle of the living room floor and randomly moans. She doesn't want anything, really - she doesn't need to go out (she just did), it's not meal time, and she's been getting love all morning. I think she just wants me to know she's still alive. Silly puppy!

Ringo, on the other hand, made me laugh so hard I cried on Saturday. We have these stupid yappy dogs in the yard behind us, who think that they could actually take my dogs in a fight. In reality, either of my dogs could step on one of them and that would be the end of it, and the other one would just require a good shake. But whatever. Anyway, I let the dogs out, and stupid yappy dog #1 ran up to the fence and started instigating something. Ringo, of course, took off to the fence, but he knows he's not supposed to bark (and lately he's been good about it). So what did he do? He calmly lifted his leg and peed through the fence onto stupid yappy dog! I laughed SO HARD! And yet stupid yappy dog just kept barking...

No one can ever say that pets aren't entertaining!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Listen to that little voice...

No, this isn't a story about some tragic circumstance brought about because someone didn't listen to their conscience.

This is a story about a Christmas ornament.

Yesterday, I was putting ornaments on the tree. We have a fake tree, and it's smaller than the real trees we've had in years past, so this year I decided I was only going to put ornaments on that really mean something to me (I have A LOT of ornaments - probably enough for two or three trees of the size we have). So I was going through the boxes, pulling them out one by one, and thinking about where I got them, and what the story was behind them. There was the little girl swinging in the wreath, given to me by a very dear family friend. The WWU teddy bear, purchased at a bazaar shortly before I graduated. "Our First Christmas Together", given to us as a Christmas gift the year we got married. And then I came to the one I bought when I got my first apartment.

It was one of those delicate ball ornaments, covered in glitter, with the year (1996) on one side, and a Santa Claus on the other side. After graduating in December 2005, I finally moved out of my parents house in November 2006 and I wanted an ornament to commemorate my finally being a grownup. So I went out and shopped around and picked this one. It's been on my tree every year since.

Then I went back to the box and pulled out two from my former place of employment. We had pewter ornaments made for our donors each year, and the staff always got to take one too. I hung the first one up. Then I held the second one in my hand, thinking "do I really need two? This place isn't THAT important to me, and besides, I don't really like the design of this one." But, I was standing in front of the tree already so I decided to put it up. While trying to separate the loop so I could put it over a branch, I dropped it. Right onto the "my first apartment" ornament.

It knocked a big hole in the top of the ornament, and sent tiny shards of glass flying. I swore, threw away the rest of the ornament, got out the vacuum, and cleaned it up. DH came out to see what the fuss was about. I went to the garbage and picked it up by the hanger, which promptly broke off, and what was left of the globe went crashing to the floor, spraying shards of glass all over the kitchen. Guess if you're going to break it, break it right. Swearing wasn't enough by that point, I had to cry.

The moral of the story? I should have listened to my little voice. That glass ball had much more meaning to me than the second pewter ornament. Every year when I took it out of the box, I remembered how excited I was to be out on my own, finally an adult. And now every year when I take the other ornament out, I will remember that little lesson in listening, and doing what you say you're going to do.

It's a small, seemingly insignificant story. But an important reminder, nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Do dogs remember?

The last two mornings we've had some snow. This morning there's some ice mixed in there just for fun, too. Which makes me dogs remember? I've always heard that dogs just live in the moment, but I'm not so sure...

Last winter we had one really snowy day. We let the dogs out to play, and when they came back in Hershey was bleeding all over the place. She had somehow managed to rip a big hole in one of her pads. It took about two months to heal, which was a pretty traumatic experience for her because not only did she have to get it cleaned out all the time, she had to wear one of those collars, but it was too short and she could still rip her bandages off, so Larry extended it with cardboard. Which meant that she couldn't really see where she was going and she kept running (literally) into door frames. It was as if she thought if she went at the doorway fast enough, she'd just sail through it... Anyway, she was a pretty miserable dog for a couple of months!

Fast forward to yesterday. Woke up to about half an inch of snow on the ground. Ringo went bounding out into it, but Hershey, well, Hershey barely made it out the door. She was NOT happy about having to go outside! She stepped very tentatively through the snow, slowly, taking her own sweet time. she did the same thing again this morning. And she won't play with Ringo out there no matter what he does.

It really makes me wonder - does snow equal pain for her? Does she remember? Is she afraid it will happen again? Hmm...things to ponder...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out in blogger land. I hope that you have a lovely day with friends and/or family filled with lots of good food. We're heading to my parents' house in a few hours.

I have lots of things to be thankful for this year. We're both employed at the moment, we have lots of fabulous friends and family tensions are calm at the moment. We're not pregnant yet but we're well on our way, and we have lots of new nieces and nephews to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Enough already!

Ok people, listen up. This is THANKSGIVING WEEK. It is NOT the start of the Christmas season. That happens on FRIDAY. FIVE MORE DAYS. You can't handle FIVE MEASLY MORE DAYS???

I am at peace with the fact that the stores put their Christmas stuff out in August, but...

The Christmas decorations are already up (and lit up at night) on the streetlights in town. My neighbors have their Christmas tree up and decorated (as a caveat, I will forgive them for this if I happen to notice that their soldier son is home for Thanksgiving, because that will signify to me that they are doing Christmas and Thanksgiving at the same time this year). The radio station I listen to at work has been playing Christmas music for over a week. Home Depot is playing nonstop Christmas music.

ONE FREAKING HOLIDAY AT A TIME, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm all for shopping early, in fact I've already got half of mine done, but this whole "let's celebrate the season already" thing is getting out of control...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Now this is a Saturday night!

Just have to say, there is nothing more exciting in life than sitting at work on a Saturday night, printing envelopes and cutting inserts.


You should try it sometime!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey OJ!

People who are truly innocent don't write books making up ways that they would commit the crime. People who are truly innocent mourn the ones they loved. And they certainly don't go on Fox news giving lengthy interviews about how they would have done it, had they had the chance.

Just a tip.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This week's menu

I'm on vacation this week, so I'm taking some time to get my kitchen in order and do some serious menu planning. I'm going to pull out my cookbooks and all my internet printouts and come up with a list of all the food I used to make that I never make anymore, mainly because I can never remember what I used to make! There are also a ton of new recipes that I've been wanting to try. The biggest challenge is figuring out what to make first! Larry's still not over the Great Creamed Salmon Disaster of 2002, so I have to be careful to spread out the new stuff.

Here's this week's menu (you'll notice it looks an awful lot like last week's menu. Let's just say we were less than diligent about eating at home last week).

Sunday: Taco salad

Monday: Kielbasa and Cabbage (and I'm eating the leftovers for breakfast - yum,yum!)

Today: "More" casserole - a family recipe of Larry's. I guess they call it that because everyone always wants more. It is very good!

Wednesday: Mom and I are going to the beach for the day, so I'll probably pick up a pizza on the way home

Thursday: Roasted sticky chicken (this is a new recipe I keep hearing about)

Friday: Stuffed peppers (this is great because the filling is already made and in my freezer, so I just have to thaw the filling, parboil the peppers, throw some cheese on top and bake. Easy peasy!)

Saturday: I have Spanish Rice casserole on my list (recipe from, but now that I think about it, Larry won't be home for dinner that night so I can make something he doesn't like. Hmm...the may be time to break out the Manwich can!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I've been listening to the Dave Ramsey show ( KEX when I'm out and about after 7 p.m. Which isn't very often, so sometimes I listen to the podcasts on the computer. Anyway, every Friday people who are debt free (sometimes including their house, sometimes not) call up and scream "I'M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!" And then he plays the clip from Braveheart where Mel Gibson is screaming FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!! as the torturers disembowel him...

Anyway, we paid off the car this week, so now it's our turn: WE'RE DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! except the house. Woo hoo! This has been my ultimate goal of late; if we don't have any debt payments then we can easily live off my salary for a while if we have to (barring any major unforeseen snafus, of course). And now we get to build up our savings to make that even easier. WOO HOO!

We don't totally follow Dave's plan, but I certainly respect it. It makes sense. We aren't ready to give up our credit card because we love the perks (Home Depot gift cards - you can never have too many of those!). And we certainly aren't ready to put 15% of our salaries in our retirement accounts. But I'm all for the debt snowball, and getting an emergency fund in place. And I get the concept of not buying stuff till you can afford it, but boy that's hard to put into practice! :-)

So we sat down this morning, armed with our revised budget and a giant list of projects we want to save up for. Now, if I can just give up my Starbucks habit and stop spending so darn much on groceries, we'll probably be ok!

A new cookbook!

Anyone who has ever spent any time at all talking food with me probably knows that I am a HUGE fan of the vegan lunchbox blog ( Well...the author has written her very own Vegan Lunchbox Cookbook! I just ordered it. I'm SO EXCITED. I'm not vegan, and I don't have kids, but this is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. So many fabulous ideas! Lots of stuff I'm planning to experiment with. Yay! Another cookbook for my collection!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

They tore down my grandparents' house

Mom emailed last night and told us. She also asked us not to say anything to Grandpa about it - she doesn't want him to know.

I knew it would happen. They lived in the middle of Microsoft land and all around them rich people were buying up nice, normal houses and tearing them down and building huge monstrocities that totally filled up the lots. My grandparents' house stuck out like a sore thumb, and not just because the trim (and there was a lot of it) was painted Pepto pink.

I'm really bummed about it, and I wish I could have driven past it one last time.

But, I guess I can still visit it on Google Earth, until, of course, they update their photos.

Time marches on...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This week's menu

Perhaps making a menu will return me to some kind of "I want to cook at home" state? Here's what's on tap for this week.

Menu – 10/22 – 10/28

Sunday: Salisbury Steak
Buttered Noodles
Steamed Broccoli

Monday: Baked Chicken Indonesian Style
Rice Pilaf
Green Beans

Tuesday: More Casserole

Wednesday: Kielbasa and Cabbage

Thursday: Hot Pepper Garlic Chicken
Baked Potatoes

Friday: Taco Salad

Saturday: Tuna Casserole
Veggie of choice

For Tom

Dear Tom,

I went to your funeral yesterday. It was a very nice service, and lots of people from all parts of your life were there. Steve did a good job - you chose well. I didn't know you well, but from the first note of Taps I was in tears. You did so much good for so many people. And my opinion of you was shared by all - you were a gruff guy with a heart of gold.

You will be missed. I will miss seeing you in the halls, laughing under my breath when you don't say hi, just say my name in that short, clipped style you had in return to my cheerful hello. I will miss seeing that bright yellow car in the parking lot, at work and at Home Depot - it seems like you spent as much time in that store as we do, because I saw you there A LOT. We will miss your instant willingness to volunteer for any event we happen to be having - whether it was working with kids at a craft table or getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to stand on a street corner during a race. And yes, we'll even miss your continual pleas for a golf tournament.

Rest in peace, Tom, and know that your work here will continue. You trained up a lot of good people.

We'll see you when we get there.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dinner Friday

I went home sick on Friday, so dinner was whatever I could grab easily. Turned out to be a giant carb-fest. And it was good.

Leftover ham and hash brown casserole
roasted garlic bread

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adventures in infertility, part II...

This has been the most up and down week emotionally that I've had in the longest time. The arrival of Tess, the newest addition to my side of the family, left me reeling on Tuesday. It takes an awfully selfish person to cry because her brother has a child. Awfully selfish. I am a little ashamed of myself, I'll admit it.

Of course those emotions may have played a role in getting me my clomid, if, in fact, my doctor took pity on me, which I suspect. Which was exactly what I was hoping for, to skirt around the fact that my husband is being a bit of an ass about the whole thing. Here's hoping it works in three cycles or less and we don't have to worry about it any more. I'm secretly hoping for twins just so that I don't have to do this again. Not that I want the work of twins, I just don't know if I can handle more of this heartbreak in the future. TTC is like being on a roller coaster when the ride attendant is taking a lunch break. Up and down, up and down, faster, slower, you hope to get off soon because it's making you a little sick but you don't have any way of knowing how long it will be.

Then there's the part of me that isn't exactly sure I WANT to get pregnant. Of all the people I've known in the last six years or so that have gotten pregnant, I can only think of a small handful that haven't had miscarriages at some point along the way. I don't know how I would handle that, if I could handle that. To go through so much emotional turmoil, so much effort, to try to get pregnant in the first place, and then to have those hopes and dreams come crashing to the ground, that just might be more than I could take. I'm not a very strong person. I'm pretty darn weak, as a matter of fact. It would be so much easier to just say never mind, I don't want kids after all. We'll just have dogs. They act like two-year-olds anyway.

But that wouldn't close this gaping hole in my heart that is already there. That wouldn't make my stomach not drop when I see a pregnant woman, wouldn't dry the tears when I see or hold a baby. I suppose the pain is part of the experience, and it just makes you value and appreciate the end result that much more when it finally happens.

Thursday's Dinner

I am weak. And apparently a frugal failure! Last night was declared movie night. We rented "Click" with our blockbuster free movie coupon, and picked up subs on the way home.

Click was very good, by the way. Funny, but with a good message about figuring out what's important in life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday's dinner

Fish sticks and frozen steak fries. Oh, and green beans. Instant pudding for dessert.

I'm failing miserably at this endeavor, I can tell. But, in all fairness, today was a highly emotional good news/bad news/really good news/REALLY bad news kind of day. I'm just ready for it to be over.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The dinner update

For some bizarre reason I was barely on the computer last night, so I didn't post our dinner. But it was good. We had...

baked chicken tenderloins smothered in barbecue sauce
stuffing (Haggen's version of Stove Top)
peas (the last of the garden peas, *sniff*)

Tonight we broke the rules a bit...I was having dinner with a friend to talk about her upcoming wedding, and so I picked up a burger for Larry on the way home.

But tomorrow...back on the wagon we go!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Watch this space... see what we're eating for dinner this week! I HAVE to get our eating out under control. So, my goal is to eat at home every night this week. I figure if I say I'm going to write about it, then by golly I'd better write about it!


Sunday dinner

The rain arrived today and sudddenly I'm in the mood to cook again. It's been a while. I'm also craving potatoes - wonder what the heck that means? I had potatoes for breakfast yesterday, again for breakfast this morning, and tonight we're having Ham and Hash Brown Casserole. Apparently some variation of this is known in the Mormon community as Funeral Potatoes, because someone always brings it to the funeral potlucks. That seems a little depressing to me, so I renamed it and put my own spin on it! It's the ultimate in plastic convenience food comfort casseroles!

Ham and Hash Brown Casserole

1 bag (2 pounds) frozen hash browns (the chunks, not the shreds), thawed
3 cups diced ham
2 cans cream of something soup (I used cream of chicken and cream of mushroom)
1 can sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno, finely chopped, as much of the seeds and veins removed as you like
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces velveeta, diced

1/4 cup butter
bread crumbs
onion salt
garlic powder

In a large bowl, mix hash browns, ham, soup, sour cream, mushrooms, jalapeno, onion, and velveeta till well blended. Pour into 9x13 baking dish. In a frying pan, melt butter, and mix in breadcrumbs seasoned to taste with onion salt and garlic powder. Cook over medium heat until brown.

Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

We're having that with a side baked winter squash with butter and brown sugar. Can't wait till the timer goes off!

A new recipe

Invented this for breakfast this morning - YUM, YUM!

Potato Sausage Skillet (serves 2)

2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1/2-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and each cut into three chunks
1 cup cooked sausage (the loose kind, not the links)
2 T. melted butter
2 T. olive oil
1/2 jar (the little bitty jars) diced pimento
onion salt
smoked paprika* (available at
fox point seasoning* (available at
black pepper

In a medium saucepan, boil the potatoes and garlic just until tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the butter, olive oil, and sausage (if you use a nonstick skillet you won't need nearly so much oil and butter). When the potatoes are soft, add them to the skillet, along with the pimento. Sprinkle seasonings to taste on top. Fry until golden brown.

* Smoked paprika and Fox Point Seasoning are my two new favorite seasonings. I've only ever seen them at Penzey's. I'm sure regular paprika would work fine. Fox Point is a mixture of salt, shallots, chives, and I can't remember what else, so you could add some dried chives (or fresh, for that matter) and some extra salt to the mix instead.

It was a fabulous breakfast - I served it with cinnamon-sugar foccacia bread and a fresh fruit salad of Asian pear, honey crisp apple, banana, and pomegranate seeds.

Yum, yum!

Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm glad I'm a girl

It just hit me this morning how glad I am to be a girl. Yeah, I know, I know, girls get periods, cramps, horribly uncomfortable exams on an annual basis, pressure to be skinny and beautiful, etc., etc., etc.,...

But they also get to have girlfriends. And I have some of the best girlfriends in the entire history of the world.

I think I can safely say that 2006 has pretty much been the year from hell for me (I know, it's only October, let's hope we're done with bad stuff for the year!). Death, hormones, pain, infertility, Larry's continued unemployment/underemployment, it's all been pretty overwhelming. And yet you ladies have stuck with me through thick and thin. Whether you're in the office, across town, across state lines, or somewhere out in the mysterious world of the internet, you've been there for me, helping me laugh, letting me cry.

I don't know how I managed to find all you wonderful people. But I'm sure glad I did. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I just hope that I can be as good a friend to each and every one of you as you are to me.

I love you all.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What a weekend!

This was a wonderful weekend. I'm finally feeling mostly like myself again. Still crampy, still having hot flashes, still having the occasional emotional outburst, but I can laugh without feeling like I'm faking it.

Friday night I met a dear friend for dinner. I finally made it to the Cheesecake Factory! Yay! And it was everything everyone said it would be. SO GOOD! We ate way too much. We talked, and laughed, and had a wonderful time. It was good for my soul. Then we wandered the mall for a bit because we were both so stuffed the last thing we wanted to do was sit in a car to drive home!

Saturday Larry and I went with his family (minus dad and stepmom) to the pumpkin patch. That was hard as we were there because the club his sister is in for parents of multiples was having a party there. Babies and adorable little kids EVERYWHERE! I had a few moments of jealous sadness but I got some quality snuggling time in with the twins. Once again we joked about my taking one off their hands - my SIL sounded like she was almost willing!

Yesterday was cleaning day. The kitchen, dining room and living room are now almost totally clean (still need to dust, mop, etc.). The dog crate is in the attic (Ringo's a big boy now!), so there's more open space in the dining room (until we get our woodstove, of course). I even did some filing. SHOCKING! :-)

Busy, busy weekend. And now it's Monday, back to the grind. I dreamt of grantwriting on Saturday night, so obviously I'm feeling a little pressure...and it's self-evaluation day. Oh, how I hate this time of year. I'm always afraid I'll get a crappy evaluation and I won't know how to respond. I'm my own worst critic, I think, and this year, late summer/early fall have been worse than most because of my horrible hormonal attitude. But, we'll see how it goes...

Oh, and today is my SIL's due date - I'll be an aunt again any time!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My blog is on hiatus...

I'm putting blogging on hiatus till I have something fun to post about. See y'all later!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I should delete those posts...

...but I'm not going to. Someday, I may want to look back on them and be able to say that no matter how I'm feeling, I'm not feeling as bad as I did this week. What a hormonal nightmare.

Today is shaping up to be a good day. I slept unassisted last night. Not a lot, and I'm back to having the wackiest dreams in the universe, but without drugs. That was good.

I was afraid to switch to Kaiser last January. I did it for financial reasons, not because I trusted the medical care I would get. Turns out I got the two best doctors I've ever had.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

God bless my doctor

My doctor just called me. God bless her, she is wonderful. Apparently this is common, and yep, it's all about the stupid Lupron shots. And the fact that my surgery was apparently pretty major (never mind that it didn't FEEL major to me). And anesthesia, well, that can mess with a person too. Triple whammy. Thank God I took the whole week off.

And it's OK to take the percoset to help me sleep. She was going to prescribe something else but she said since I have that already, just use it. Just a couple more weeks, and I should be back to my usual sunny self. My usual self *is* sunny, right? I'm not just imagining things???

I am holding on to my appointment with her next week, just in case I need it. But just being reassured that it's normal, well, that's helping for now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

And now I know how they feel...

It's 11 p.m. I should be asleep. Another night of racing, wild thoughts, keeping me from the sleep that I desperately hope will help my emotional state.

I am currently experiencing what I believe to be Lupron-induced depression. Powerful stuff, that Lupron. So good at what it's supposed to do, but with such nasty side effects. I've only been on it for a month and a half. I don't think I've been the same person on it that I was before. In addition to being a walking hot flash, I'm snarky, bitter, and emotional. Far more antisocial than normal. And now I'm depressed - not just sad, I think I'm actually clinically depressed. There's a crushing weight settling on my shoulders. My jaw hurts from trying not to cry.

And now I'm self-medicating. Taking percoset to help me sleep, two nights in a row. Note to self - toss the narcotics. You're not in pain. Cramps don't count. Don't make this a habit - it just spells disaster down the road.

It's not like I don't have stuff to be depressed about. Work is way more stressful than it used to be, and I haven't felt like I could take time away because of all the deadlines. I just had surgery. I can't get pregnant. My husband is about to watch yet another job end. He hasn't had a permanent job in almost five years.

No, I have stuff I can be depressed about, I'm just losing sight of all the good stuff lately. My balance is out of whack. I spent some quality time with a one-year-old today. That was amazing. I don't get to see him much, so it's good to see how he changes, though it just makes my heart ache that much more for the kids I haven't had yet.

I called the advice nurse today. She said yes, it could very well be caused by the Lupron, but that I needed to see my primary doctor about it. So I called my doctor's office. She can see Wednesday. A whole week away. Tonight, that feels like forever.

I work for a mental health agency. I hear lots of stuff about access, about getting people in to see someone as quickly as possible. And now I know what they mean, and how the clients feel. Nobody who feels like this should have to wait a week to talk to someone. Someone should just be available. Maybe this experience will help me do my job better. Who knows.

My plan is to call the advice nurse again tomorrow. Ask if there's something that will counteract the Lupron, now that I don't need it anymore. Maybe some estrogen cream or something? I have at least two more weeks till the last shot wears off, maybe longer. Probably longer, who am I kidding?

My biggest fear is that they'll want to put me on more medication. Crap, I'm already taking five pills a day plus my vitamins. And soon hopefully I'll be taking clomid, even more pills. Then again, if I'm going to feel like this, maybe I shouldn't be trying to have kids. Who knows what kind of edge that might push me over. Maybe I should just be crawling in a hole until that tomorrow when the sun finally comes out, just like in the song.

Ugh. I hate feeling like this. I joked to a friend that my sunny disposition was contained in that stupid polyp that they just took out. Except now I'm wondering if that really was the case...

Ah, well, enough whining for one night. Bed calls, hopefully I'll get some sleep. On a happy note, at least I don't have to get up and go to work tomorrow!

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Monday!

First official day of my "vacation"! Woo hoo! Of course I have to sit around and wait for the DSL installer to come...we're getting upgraded fiber-optic DSL. Why, you may ask? That's a very good question. Hmm. Could it have something to do with the fact that I have a very spoiled husband? COULD BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's ok. He tells me I'll like it better too. We'll see. Maybe we won't get booted off our online game anymore...

Anyway, the installation is supposed to take something like six hours once the guy gets here. That's ok, I have no plans. Just recuperating, resting up, healing my body after surgery and getting my brain back after far too long without a break from work.

I have piles and piles of papers to sort through. The theme of the week appears to be "let's straighten up!" Sorting, filing, plowing through back issues of magazines to keep what should be kept and toss the's an ancient vacation ritual, for the perpetually disorganized who never go anywhere!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Feeling blah...

I feel blah today. My head hurts. I'm having hot flashes on top of hot flashes. I'm tired. Damn hormones! Can I crawl in a hole for a month or so?

But seriously. I just have to make it 11 more days, and then I get my week off. Of course I have to have surgery to get it, but I'll take it any way I can at this point. I just wish I didn't have two events to get through before then - what happened to the nice slow summer?

And how DID my boss manage to take nearly three weeks off over the course of the summer while I was juggling multiple deadlines that all hit at once? What happened to my nice slow summer, when I was supposed to catch up on everything? Fall has all but arrived, and me without my down time.

*sigh*... I think I'll have to go get a bit of a Johnny Depp fix to take my mind off things. Finding I come!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Housewife for a day

In spite of the fact that it's almost 90 degrees in the house today (when will this crazy weather end???), I decided to play housewife for the day. This, for me, means a little cleaning and a whole lot of cooking.

It started out simple. I did the dishes, and DH wanted cookies. He loves this one particular recipe that has salted peanuts and chocolate chips in them. And since I've finally found trans-fat-free shortening, I feel better about making them (I'm leaning toward cutting out trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, but I'm fighting an uphill battle). Then I realized I was out of muffins, which I take for breakfast on the mornings I walk with my friends. So, I figured, while the oven was on...

So I tried a new recipe, off the back of a box of currants. Apple, currant, oat muffins. They're good, but there is very little batter for the amount of "stuff" in it, so they LOOK like hockey pucks, but they're really very tender and yummy. I was running out of all purpose flour so I substituted cake flour. Worked like a charm. And I tried using my ice cream scoop as a muffin scoop, which also worked perfectly.

Then I realized that I had six bananas going to waste, so I whipped up two loaves of lowfat banana bread (got the recipe years ago from - it's fabulous). I was running out of eggs and I needed to keep some for dinner, so I opened one of the emergency cans (you know, for when bird flu hits), and tried it out. They worked perfectly too. I'm learning so much in the kitchen today!

Enough baking for one day!

Then I made pasta salad to take for lunch tomorrow. Trying something new and totally simple - orzo pasta, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced olives, and some dried onion, mixed with italian salad dressing. We'll see how it goes - it certainly SOUNDED good! I bet it would be even better if I threw in some fresh mozzarella when I take it tomorrow.

Then I whipped up some manicotti for dinner. It's DH's favorite, and I've been supposed to make it for his birthday dinner (which was the 10th), as soon as it cools down on a weekend. He's tired of waiting, so manicotti it is. And I cut some broccoli out of our garden to steam, to go with it. No aphids this year. YAY! I bought some spray that is mostly organic. It works really, really well...

And now I need to clean the kitchen all over again...but at least I don't have to bake anything for a while!

Does anybody know if there's such a thing as unbleached cake flour???

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dreaming of a family farm

I bought a turnip at the farmer's market on Saturday. I've always been a big fan of turnips, but this was by far the best turnip I've ever eaten. It was actually JUICY, something you don't see in your grocery store turnips. And it had a really good dose of that authentic turnip taste, which I won't even begin to try to describe.

I bought basil, too. And cilantro. And rainbow baby potatoes (a mix of red, white and purple). And I paid way too much for all of it (except maybe the cilantro). But it is all so GOOD!

I have a garden in my backyard. Maybe 8 feet wide by 20 feet long, I don't really remember. And I plant quite a bit each year (some of my plants would say I plant too much - they don't have room to really spread their wings the way they want too!). But I wish I had more.

I have fantasies of living on a family farm. I did live on my father-in-law's farm for a couple of years, but it wasn't the same - no crops and no animals. Just farmland. Beautiful, but not what I'm thinking of.

I've been reading a bit of John Jeavons book, How to Grow More Vegetables... (, and I like what he has to say.

I'd love to live somewhere where I can grow my whole family's produce each year. Eating what's in season while it's in season; canning, drying and freezing the rest to eat throughout the year. Right now, our garden produces enough that we can eat what we've grown for a few months, but not all year. I want to walk out my back door and pick a peach off a tree and eat it, sweetness exploding in my mouth, juice running down my arms and chin, while I stand in my yard in my bare feet. Home canned cherries in sweet syrup over vanilla ice cream.
Carrots, crisp and sweet. I didn't have to buy carrots for a whole month this year, thanks to our garden. I'm hoping I can get another month out of my second harvest, in about six weeks or so.

I could do it on an acre. It wouldn't be difficult. Two quarter acres of garden plot (one to use and one to lay fallow each year), a quarter acre of fruit trees, two by two. Not so much it's overwhelming, but enough to get a good harvest out of it. Room to plant asparagus, artichokes, and other perennials. Room for berries galore, those little antioxidant wonders. Teach my kids to play in the dirt, let them run free and learn where food comes from.

And maybe a few animals? Well, I'd need more than an acre for that. Maybe some chickens, for fresh eggs, a cow for milking and a few for meat... A big house, with a huge pantry and a couple of freezers.

There. That's my dream.

Monday, August 21, 2006

When smart people do stupid things

I guess the question is why? Why do smart people do stupid things? And what do you do when they do so many stupid things that you have trouble feeling sorry for them any more?

I'm not talking about the choices we make when we fall on hard times. I'm not talking about the things we do when we're blinded by infatuation. I'm talking about the things we do when life is running along smoothly, full steam ahead, and then it comes crashing down around us because we've done something incredibly dumb. Something that never would have happened had we thought about our decisions for five minutes. Why do people do that???

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect. Who is? I didn't really "grow up" until I was about 25. Before that, my parents bailed me out more times than I'd like to admit. But I'm a grownup now, and it's my responsibility to act like one (though yes, my parents still do bail me out from time to time. Like letting us borrow their extra car for three months). And, I've been pretty darn lucky that some of my dumb decisions didn't have worse consequences than they did.

Anyway, I've had several friends over the years who, though they are quite smart, make dumb decisions over and over again. Maybe I'm too judgemental. I'm sure it's a whole lot easier to be an outsider looking in than to actually be in their shoes. But it sure is hard to stay friends with people like that. People who do those things, then continually run back to you saying "oh, poor me, pity me, the whole world is against me". And when you try to suggest ways that they could do things differently, they just don't want to listen.

It's like they refuse to believe that they're adults, and that they have to grow up and make the adult decisions. Like they are just playing a game and someone will come along and bail them out.

Up until now, I've usually just let these friendships cool until they go away all together, feeling like it's too much work and too exasperating. But maybe this is the wrong tactic.

Do you have friends like that? What do you do?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Had to delete the cooking links

Well, I had to delete that really WIDE posting I had about the cooking links, because it was messing with my sidebar. Just know that I have a million and two cooking links, so if anyone ever wants a random sample of odd links (or that totally hilarious LILEKS gallery of regrettable food!), just let me know !

Monday, August 14, 2006

Adventures in infertility...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. Oh well, guess it's been a busy summer!

So Larry and I are trying to get pregnant. It's been since October, so I guess that's, what, 10 months now? Not too long in the overall scheme of things, but way too long when you're 32, you've wanted kids your whole life, you've been waiting FOREVER for the opportunity to arise, and it seems like everyone around you is pregnant (disclaimer - I'm completely thrilled for everyone I know who is pregnant, because everyone I know who is pregnant really wanted to be pregnant, and will be a fabulous parent. I'm just jealous as hell. It's perfectly normal!).

My whole life I've been convinced that if I so much as looked cross-wise at a guy, I'd get pregnant. I can't begin to imagine how much trouble I've avoided simply because I believed in the hyper-fertility of all women. I once had a friend who got pregnant the first time she slept with a guy. Then she got pregnant twice more without really trying. That just reinforced my thinking, I'm sure!

Well, not me. I can't get pregnant. Which is annoying as hell. Not without medical intervention, anyway. They tell me I have PCOS. Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I don't ovulate. My cycles are whacky, whacky, whacky. I also have polyps in my uterus. This apparently explains why my periods run 14 – 18 days. Funny how I always thought that was normal. I wonder how long those have been in there? There are lots of things I thought were normal, that apparently aren't – pain, cramps, vicious wild mood swings, I'm a hormonal mess!

The polyps will be removed in September. I'm trying hard not to think about the fact that the doctor scared the holy hell out of me when he gave me the “warning” lecture. Let's not think about cerebral edema, pulmonary edema, punctured bladder, punctured uterus (oh, and the electrical burns I read about on the internet. Let's definitely not think about those). It's going to be a perfectly normal, routine surgery. And I'll be home in a few hours, resting comfortably and watching The Waltons on DVD. Yep, I think that would be good recuperation programming!

Anyway, after the polyps, I should be good to go. Just a few more drugs ought to cover it. I'm a walking pharmacy. Blood pressure medication, metformin for my PCOS, and probably some Clomid to boot because I'm still not ovulating, even with the metformin. Clomid means I could have twins. That would be fine by me...we're only planning to have two, so if it's this difficult with the first one we may as well save ourselves the trouble and get it done in one fell swoop, right?

In preparation for my surgery, I had to get a shot last week that put me into temporary menopause. I'll have to get one more before the surgery date arrives. I had my first hot flash this morning. Guess this is a sign of things to come. Man, that was uncomfortable! I thought it was 1,000 degrees in the kitchen when I got up this morning, though Larry assured me it was a comfortable temperature. Wow. I thought I was going to melt into the floor! Fortunately I only have to do two months of that right now. I should eat some soy...

All in all, it's been a heart-wrenching process so far. I really can't wait till it all becomes worth it and I hold that little bundle of joy in my arms...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I need some skunk repellant!

DH and I were watching tv in the bedroom last night, and we suddenly heard a "woof!" and a scuffle right outside the window. DH got up and said "sounds like the dogs are chasing the cat again!". So he got up to make them come in side. Just as he got to the back door, I smelled it. It's a tell-tale smell. Like highly acidic burning rubber. If you've never smelled it, count your blessings. SKUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ringo got it, once again. Stupid dog! DH was trying to get him to lay down in the dining room while he got the bathtub ready. I thought the tomato juice was in the garage, so I had to cross through the dining room to get to it. I don't think I've ever had the experience of my breath actually being taken away by a smell before. And I've smelled skunks. This was BAD. I made it to the pantry, only to discover that there wasn't any tomato juice there. UGH!!!!! Then I remembered it was in the bathroom. Phew!

DH got Ringo in the shower and gave him a bath. Meanwhile, I had to try to figure out where everything had been touched in the house, so I could wash it all down. Our house smells SO bad! The bedroom was suffocating since that was the edge of the house that had been hit. We hosed it down outside, but mere water has no effect against the power of skunk spray.

We opened all the doors and put the fans in them. Then I had to put my foot down. I don't care how bad it smells in my house, I'm NOT leaving my front door open all night (we have a screen door that locks, but really!). So we stayed up for a while longer to let some air pass through before we closed it up. It was hot, but we didn't want to turn on the bedroom AC because that's where the skunk spray was.

It was a very short night. Caffeine anyone???

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dear cat who peed in my bed (no, he hasn't done it again!)

Dear cat who peed in my bed,

I'm SORRY. I'm SO, SO SORRY. But really, how were we to know you were in pain and trying to get our attention? Next time, try meowing really really loud for hours on end. I guarantee it'll get better results.

Having a bladder full of crystals, that must be no fun at all. We'll buy you the special food. I'll shove the dropper full of antibiotics down your throat twice a day, even if you claw the heck out of my arm. And soon, you'll be feeling all better.

You really are a good cat. Best animal we have. But you still can't sleep on the bed till you get a clean bill of health from your doctor, ok?


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My home is not a haven...

I need a maid. That's about all there is to it. I don't think I will ever be a decent housekeeper! By the way, did you know it's not enough just to get Flylady's email? You have to actually *do* what the emails say to do. Huh. Who knew??? :-)

I did really well for the first couple of weeks. Twenty minutes every morning, dishes every night. I never did get caught up in the kitchen. DH cleaned his side of the computer room, and I started to file on my side, but Mount Paperwork won the battle. It's still really deep in here! Last week was lost, with everything going on with work.

So, I won't be enjoying the Bed and Breakfast atmosphere in my home while I have my time off. In fact, I'll probably be cleaning while I have my time off! But, at least I can relax a little in between tasks...

If I succeed in sending the rain down to Linda, I'll be able to get out of my house and sit under my trees with a cool drink and a good book. There's something to aspire to... Linda - the rain is heading your way!

Actually, there are two cleaning tasks I want to accomplish on my time off. I need to clean out and organize the bathroom closet, and I need to clean out and organize the freezers. Who knows what's in any of them - they're all full, but of what???

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thank Heavens for Nature's Miracle

Yep, that's right, Nature's Miracle. The wonder elixir that can single-handedly get all traces of cat pee smell out of a pillow-top mattress. Which leads me to today's open letter...

Dear cat who peed in my bed,

I don't know what you're all pissed off about this time, but I don't think you realize how dangerously close we are to becoming a cat-free household. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and take you to the vet, but DH doesn't think that twice in ten days (four times in three years) means you necessarily have a UTI. He thinks you're just pissed off. We just don't know why. Your litter box is clean. You have food. Yes, I flushed your shrew yesterday, but since when I almost stepped on it you were nowhere in sight, I ASSUMED you were finished with it...

Going UNDER the covers is especially snarky, don't you think? So I wouldn't notice it till I rolled over in it? Nice touch. Thank heavens I accidentally bought the "for cats only" version of Nature's Miracle last time - it does a much better job of neutralizing the odor.
We'll lock you out of the bedroom for a while and see how that goes. And, if it comes to it, I'll suck up my pride and ask if you can go back to live on the farm, rather than taking you to a shelter. You were really happy the two years you lived there with us. Of course you'd be a barn cat, living in the silo with all the other barn probably wouldn't like that too much!


The one who had to get up at 5 after rolling in cat pee and now has to do five loads of laundry on my day off.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Another event season over...

Event season ended today. Thank heavens! I'm tired. Event season is the dreaded time of year where we in my office attempt to cram two major events into the span of four to six weeks. Yep, we're crazy.

Of course, event season is ALWAYS accompanied by something in my personal life that makes things even more challenging. In 2003, it was wedding planning. In 2004, there was nothing, but we only did one event so it was a weird year all around (we did change the name of our agency during that time but I had little to do with that so it just wasn't the same). Last year, I was defending my Master's thesis. This year, it was the death of my grandmother. Makes me wonder what next year will hold? It had better involve babies, that's all I have to say!

But, the duathlon was this morning. It went ok. Attendance was down, but the weather cooperated! I think just about everyone had a good time (well, except those volunteers who stormed out for unknown reasons during setup yesterday, but they weren't very pleasant to deal with anyway so I'm not too bothered).

And now, I sleep. And get Larry to take me out to dinner tonight because I've seen my kitchen, and I don't have the energy to deal with that hole in the universe right now...

And tomorrow, I have the day off. Woo hoo!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Power of Place

I was thinking the other day about the importance of buildings, and how we put so much sentimental value into them. I don't remember where I was or what triggered my thinking, but I remembered two places - my Grandparents' house, and my trip to Charleston, SC, a few years ago.

When my Grandparents sold their house in November, I was extremely sad. Not just because I knew it was a sign that they were getting older and probably wouldn't be with us much longer, but because I knew that in their neighborhood, the old houses don't stay (except for the REALLY old houses, and their house wasn't one of those). I'm sure it will be torn down and something fresher, more modern, and lot-filling will spring up in its place.

It's hard to give up a building like that. Not because it's prime real estate, of that I am glad because it means that my Grandpa (and, therefore, my parents) never has to worry about money again. No, it's because of the buildings. Every room, every corner, every inch of flooring holds a memory for me. Rolling down what used to be the hill in the backyard when I was five, then swimming in the pool that later took the place of the hill. Santa Claus brushing my cheek as I slept next to the Christmas tree in the living room. Painting sweatshirts with Grandma at the kitchen table. Running, screaming from excitement and fear after seeing the statue in the closet under the stairs. So many memories.

Several years ago, I spent 10 days in Charleston to attend a software training class. During that time, I had the opportunity to do a lot of sightseeing. I went to a lot of old buildings, places where a lot of history happened. I don't remember the names of all the buildings now, but I remember a little about what happened there. These places represented great times in our history, and they represented tragic times. I stood where George Washington stood, and I stood where Civil War shots were fired. I stood in slave houses, single, small rooms with a dirt floor, barely the size of my bedroom, where whole families lived, and I stood in a basement that was once a prison, where people were chained to walls and sat on a dirt floor.

They're just buildings. Wood, stone, plaster. Inanimate, unfeeling. And yet, they have so much life in them. These are powerful places. You can read about them in books, see them on TV, and yet when you are actually there, when you stand in the place where you know things have happened, it's so alive, so, well, real.

There's power in places. There's magic in structures. History is real.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Creating a Haven

I'm taking a long weekend off of work over Memorial Day. It'll be a six-day weekend. DH will have to work, maybe all but Saturday and Sunday, so I'll have some time to myself. I've been vacationing at home ever since he was first laid off, over three years ago, except for our honeymoon, when we actually went away. I'd like to travel, but it's just not in the budget or the timeline right now.

So, it occurred to me, why not spend a little time BEFORE my long weekend getting my house spruced up, so my vacation at home can be more of a REAL vacation? I am the world's worst housekeeper. I hate cleaning, and I'm really not very good at it. But, if I put a little effort into it, maybe I can create my own little "resort haven" on my own turf. Then I can kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor while I'm off. Pretend I'm at a nice B&B. Relax in comfort and style. I'm going to go for it.

So, room by room, I've developed a list of everything that needs to be done between now and then. Ok, I may not get to it all. But I'm going to spend 20 minutes every morning and 20 minutes every evening working on it. That's my goal. Just on the weekdays, though - the weekends are kind of booked up at the moment. Maybe (perish the thought!) this will even become a habit and we can start living in a clean house!

So, in order to accomplish this goal, I've devised a new morning routine:

5:15: Get up, get dressed in workout clothes, turn on computer
5:20: NordicTrak, 20 minutes
5:40: Cool off/Computer time
5:50: Morning cleaning
6:10: Shower
6:30: Breakfast/Computer time
7:00: Make lunch, get dressed
7:30: Leave for work

I did it this morning and it worked pretty well, though I only had 15 minutes on the NordicTrak (that's a cross-country ski machine, for those who don't know) because I had to get it out and set it up - haven't used it in a while. I'll try this for a while. If I feel like I'm skimping on my computer time (that's when I peruse my many forums), I'll just start getting up at 5. We'll see how it goes, and I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Be Prepared, Part 2

I've been thinking about emergency preparedness again. Playing the "what if" game. What if I only had a few minutes to get out of my house because of an emergency (I don't mean an emergency like a fire, in which case I'd grab the animals if I could find them and run, I mean an evacuation-type emergency). What would I grab? Would I be organized, or would I just take the first things I could see? I know lots of preparedness-minded individuals have what they call "bug out kits" - everything packed in one convenient location, you just grab it and run. Instead of actually packing a kit, I've decided to make a "bug out list" - things I'd want to take with me if we need to leave in a hurry.

Which makes me think, I really need to make sure that 1. I know where all these things are (my list is grouped by location in the house), and 2. I stay well-stocked on all these things so I have them if I need them.

We are fortunate in that we are tent campers, so a lot of this stuff is already grouped together in what we like to call the "camping closet". That's where we keep all the camping equipment. On my list, you'll see the "camping box", which is like a kitchen in a crate. It's a big plastic box that has everything I need to set up my camp kitchen - dishes, pots, pans, towels, soap, knives, silverware, a can opener, and so much more.

Now I know that, depending on the emergency, we might not need all this. But wouldn't it be nice to have in case we do! Here's the list - have I forgotten anything? Making this list reminds me - I really need to buy a water filter and more water storage vessels...they'd be nice to have for camping even if we never have an emergency!

Camping box
Sleeping bags
Camping table
First aid kit
Dog kit
Fire starters
Toilet paper
Water jugs (full)
Dutch oven
Lighter fluid

Dog food
Cat food
Peanut butter
Canned eggs
Canned meat
Dried fruit/vegetables
Canned fruit
Canned veggies
Powdered milk

Chili powder
Baking powder
Dried onions

Flannel shirt

Choke chains
Cat Crate

BP medicine
Allergy medicine
Pepto caplets
Important papers – birth certificates, marriage license, car titles

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Day at Home

Ah, home for a day. When we went to bed last night, we had every intention of going to the mountains today with the dogs, for a little play time. And, in fact, it is the perfect day for it. Crystal clear, warm, beautiful.

But, when we got up this morning, we didn't feel like leaving the house. We spent the whole day yesterday running all over town getting building supplies for the shed DH is working on. So, we decided to have a day at home.

We finally got out of bed around 10:30 and made a HUGE breakfast - pancakes, sausage and hash browns, and fried eggs. Then we watched a movie I'd checked out from the library (I love that the library has movies!). After that, we took out the screen door for our front door that we'd purchased yesterday, just to make sure it didn't warp or break on the way home, and ended up installing it. The guy at Home Depot said it would take 3 - 5 hours. It's been 5 hours and DH is still working on it, though he did take a break for lunch!

I helped with the door for a while, then when he got to the point where he could do it on his own, I ventured into the kitchen. It smells REALLY good in there now. I made a batch of lentils and barley for lunches this week, and then I made some honey granola with pecans. Finally, I made some teriyaki sauce for grilled chicken for dinner tonight.

I also did some dishes. The top rack of our dishwasher broke yesterday, so I can't use it till the part arrives, so it's slow going on the dish front. But, I'll keep plugging away. I need to do some laundry, too - I should go put a load in before it gets much later - if I start now and stay on top of it I can get three loads done tonight.

Other than that, I've been puttering. Watched a little TV, cruised the forums for a bit. I opened all the windows to let some of this glorious spring air in. We're so glad that we'll have a screen door now - we can leave the front door open without fear of escaping dogs, and let a little breeze in.

The dogs are happy we're home, too - since DH started his job this past week, we had to lock them out all day for eight days in a row, since we were gone most of last weekend and all day yesterday, too! They'll be sad when we leave again tomorrow, but as long as the weather holds it won't be too bad for them. We should take them for a walk tonight, that's for sure.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Remembering Grandma

We lost my Grandma Claire on Thursday. It was time; she'd lived a long and wonderful life. She'd struggled with various health problems over the last several years, and she was ready. We'll miss her, but she's in a better place now, and we'll see her when we get there.

She was, I believe, 87 years old. I need to double-check that with Mom because I can't find my baby book that will tell me. She and Grandpa Art celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in November. November 11, Armistice Day. On their honeymoon, they stopped at a hotel in North Bend, Washington. I can't exactly remember what they ate there (I used to know) but I know they went back for an anniversary celebration many years later and whatever it was, it just wasn't the same. But it never is, is it?

Grandma was born and raised in Seattle. When she was young, she used to roller skate on the brick streets. When I was little and we were up visiting, I would go into the bedroom with Grandpa every morning to take Grandma her coffee and wake her up. To give each other quiet time, Grandpa would sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Grandma would sleep from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. So, every morning Grandpa would take her her coffee in bed. When I was there, we'd go in and sing (to the happy birthday tune) "Good morning to you, good morning to you, good morning dear Grandma, good morning to you!" Grandpa would kiss her good morning, and then he'd leave. I'd sit down on the floor by her bed and she would tell me stories about growing up in Seattle.

Grandma had two sisters, Viola and Marge. No brothers. Her dad always wanted a boy, and Grandma was a bit of a tomboy, so she was her father's "son". He called her Tuff. In later years, when Grandma took up oil painting, that was how she signed all her paintings. She wanted to be a veterinarian, but her father said that no daughter of his was going to go to college, so she gave up that dream. She worked at a department store, and I think she worked as a hair dresser for a while. But I don't ever remember her working. I just know that she got a pension from the department store, and that was her spending money.

When my mom was little, they bought some property and Grandpa built them a house. But, while the house was being built, they had to live in a tent. So, the city girl from Seattle moved to a tent in the woods. Good thing she was a tomboy!

Grandma and Grandpa were both great dancers. They went dancing every Saturday night when they were dating and in the early years of their marriage, and probably even later. I remember watching them dance at their 50th anniversary party; they were so light on their feet and in perfect unison. It was magical to watch them together.

Each summer growing up, Mom and Dad would send us each for a stay at Grandma and Grandpa's. Grandma wasn't the home cooking, cookie baking type of Grandma. She hated to cook (though she was good at it), but she did spoil us rotten. When we got there, we'd go to the store and pick out treats. I always went to day camp while I was there, and so she'd get Hostess Snowballs and pop to put in my lunches. And she'd buy me Cookie Crisp cereal for breakfast. I still love that junky pure sugar to this day. At night, when I was homesick and couldn't sleep, she'd give me warm milk with vanilla and sugar and let me sit up with her for a while. Then she'd give me one of her stuffed goats to snuggle with and send me off to bed.

Grandma collected goats. Everywhere we went, every knicknack and antique store we went in to, all of us were constantly on the lookout for new and unusual goats. I'm sure I'll catch myself looking in the future, and maybe I'll even buy one or two in her memory. That stuffed goat I always slept with now resides on my bedside table - I got him when Grandma and Grandpa moved out of their house last fall.

When I was there in the summers, we always went sightseeing in Seattle. Between my brothers and me, Grandma must have seen those sights at least 100 times. Grandma didn't drive (she could, but she hated it), so we took the bus and went to Seattle Center. Never up the Space Needle, but I do remember going in the Bubbleator, which was a GIANT elevator shaped like a big bubble. You could see all around in it. The summer after I turned 8 they took me on a tour to an Indian Village. It was a boat ride over, and when we got off the boat they gave us steamed clams, and then there was a salmon dinner with a dancing performance. It's 24 years later and I still remember it vividly. One summer we made a sweatshirt together. It was white, with Disney character faces all over it. One summer we painted matching teddy bear pictures. I still have mine up in the attic. Grandma was a great painter. Me, not so much. But she tried. One summer she taught me to knit. I made it to the potholder stage! One summer we painted sweatshirts. That was fun. I got to wear my art.

Grandma loved black licorice. On Sunday I kept thinking we should have had black jelly beans for Easter - there were always some in their house (can you still buy those bags of just black ones?). One year for her birthday I gave her some licorice from another country, I don't remember which one. Anyway, Grandma opened it up, popped one in her mouth, and got the weirdest look on her face. I asked what was wrong, and she looked at the label. Turned out the price sticker was covering the part where it said double-salted licorice! I tried a piece - it was the nastiest thing I've ever eaten (next to Dad's limburger cheese, but that's a story for another time). Like rock salt with licorice flavoring thrown in for good measure. Anyway, we got a big laugh out of that and I bought her GOOD licorice next time!

In spite of all her health problems and the fact that a lot of the time throughout her life she just didn't feel well, Grandma had the BEST sense of humor. She had a very quick wit, and could sling zingers with the best of them. She and my Dad could go at it for hours. She spilled down her front almost every time she ate, and one of her great lines was "I look good in anything I eat". She joked about having a "shelf" to keep her leftovers (we are a well-endowed family). When she and Grandpa moved, I got a couple of her cookbooks. Tucked inside one of them was a type-written recipe for turkey stuffing - the main ingredient was raw popcorn, and you knew the turkey was done when the turkey's ass blew off. THAT was the kind of sense of humor Grandma had.

One Christmas when we got to their house she called us all into the kitchen. Sitting on the table was a small, leafless branch in a pot with a shotgun shell hanging off of it. She asked if we knew what it was. None of us did. "It's a cartridge in a bare tree" was the reply. Then she pulled out a round stick, painted white, with colorful polka dots on it. She asked if we knew what THAT was. Again, none of us did. "It's a spotted dowel" (you might have to read it out loud to get the joke). We laughed so hard tears ran down our faces. THAT was the kind of sense of humor Grandma had.

Such is my little tribute to Grandma. I could write more, and I should. I've already forgotten so much. I don't want to forget any more. I may write more in this very blog, we'll see. Thank you for indulging me in my sentimentality.

Goodbye, Grandma. I love you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Just in the nick of time

Well, just when we were in the process of implementing our "slash and burn" budget, DH got a job offer yesterday! Woo hoo! It's only six months, but it'll do for now. He has another interview Friday for a permanent position - here's hoping he gets it. In the meantime, this uncertainty has been a really good thing for me.

I now know that, even though it wouldn't be fun, we could live on my nonprofit salary. We wouldn't have the extras that we've become accustomed to (we're really quite spoiled), but we'd have a roof over our head and we wouldn't starve. So the animals wouldn't be able to eat the high-end pet food for a while. Heck, Hershey the Picky Eater probably would like the cheap food better! And Ringo will eat anything he can put in his mouth, but that's a post for another time.

I also now know that we can find some creative ways to get cash if we need it. I was prepared to sell my CDs and some of the DVDs. I emptied the change jar to get enough money to pay for my cell phone (I was ready to get rid of it, but now that Grandma's not doing well I'm not comfortable with that if Mom needs to get a hold of me). I probably could have found 103 things to sell on Ebay if I'd thought about it for more than 2 seconds.

And, I know the value of a well-stocked pantry. I've always known it, really, but we could have lived for at least several weeks on the groceries I've compulsively stockpiled. Yes, we would have had some awfully creative meals, but they would have been balanced. I could even have drunk powdered milk if necessary, though I grew up on that and vowed never again.

This means that, when we re-expand our budget, we can re-evaluate where our money is going. We have been so wasteful! In the event that he doesn't get the permanent position, and even if he does, I would love to pay off my car in the next six months. We still owe a good chunk of change on it so that would take a serious commitment. But that would mean that if this happens again, there's $200 a month that we don't have to fund. I would have loved to have an extra $200 a month in my budget!

Anyway, just have to say phew! Just in the nick of time!

Friday, March 31, 2006

The new rules

So DH has been unemployed off and on for the last three years (wow, has it been three years already? Time does fly!). This go-round, the unemployment checks run out in just a couple of weeks. Until he finds a job, we've made the decision that we're going to try to make it on just my salary, without dipping into savings, unless there's an emergency (or the stupid car breaks down again). It'll be TIGHT, but we can do it!

I've been delving back into all my frugal living resources - a few forums, some books (specifically The Complete Tightwad Gazette, the "bible" of frugal living), a couple of new cookbooks, and the Hillbilly Housewife website. I'm getting all kinds of new and refreshed ideas!

Food is one place where we typically spend about three times what we need to. So, until DH gets a job, here are a few new rules for me to live by...

1. NO eating out. This means no Starbucks (*gasp*), no fast food when I don't feel like eating what I brought for lunch, and no dinners out when I'm lazy.

2. Grocery shopping once a week. From a list. Which I will stick to. No more "oh, that looks good", or "ooh - let's have THAT for dinner!". If it's not on the list, it doesn't go in the cart. Had some practice on saying that when I went shopping with my SIL last weekend - my three-year-old niece wanted EVERYTHING she saw and I just kept repeating "it's not on the list - we can't buy it!" It occurred to me that I need to say that very thing to myself more often!

3. $30-$50 a week limit on grocery shopping. It doesn't sound like much, but really, with a little creativity and open-mindedness we could probably eat for a month just on what's in our pantry and freezers, so it's not that big a stretch. I can restock later, when we're not so stretched. I should just be buying perishable staples - milk, eggs, bread, produce. Meat if I find an unbeatable sale (that doesn't happen too often around here).

4. Menu planning. EVERY week. Even if we don't eat everything every day it's on the calendar, at least we'll have a general guide so there won't be anymore "what should we have for dinner?" conversations at 6:00 in the evening. It's just much easier that way.

So those are the new rules. I don't know what this means for my weight loss efforts, but I haven't been buying too many specialty "diet" foods this go-round, instead trying to adapt "normal" food to my new plan. I've been buying frozen dinners to take for lunches sometimes, which will stop, but that just means I need to have leftovers or extra casseroles and such in the freezer, easy and quick. I can do that!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Food for Thought

Ran across this article the other day, about Whole Foods and buying organic:

It really made me stop and think. I shop at Whole Foods very rarely, usually only when I want to park in their parking garage and get validated for it. Their parking garage is centrally located to all the fun things in the Pearl District, where I like to meet people for happy hour. For the most part, I find Whole Foods to be overpriced, and I don't think they have a very good selection of "normal foods". I'd much rather be shopping at New Seasons or Trader Joe's, now that the Wild Oats in my area is closed (that was my favorite).

When I was young, my mom shopped at Honeybee Produce for natural foods. I don't think "organic" was on the horizon in those days (this was in the late 70s and early 80s), but natural foods were most definitely "in". I remember going with her and being amazed at all the different kinds of flour, grains, nut butters, and other similar things that she could get there.

When I was in college, I shopped occasionally at the local co-op. I wasn't a member, but their prices were great even for non-members. I've always loved to cook so I do buy a lot of "ingredients", and try to avoid processed and pre-packaged food, though I do use a lot more of those than I'd like since I work full-time and it's easy.

I haven't found a co-op in my area, but now I do some shopping at Trader Joe's, New Seasons, and the aforementioned Whole Foods. Mostly I shop at Winco, which is getting a better selection of natural foods, though not too many organics. I don't stress out about getting organic, mainly because we can't afford it. I find that organic vegetables are buggy and not too healthy looking, organic cereals taste about the same to me as the regular ones, and, well, I have no desire to pay $5 a pound for organic meat (we eat way too much of it) or $4 a gallon for milk. So I buy it when I can get it at a similar price to the other stuff, but I don't stress out about it.

Two points in the article intrigued me most: the fuel consumption argument (to bring organics from Chile vs. the other stuff from New Jersey), and the fact that most of the organic produce is grown on large corporate farms.

On fuel consumption: I keep reading that we should buy only seasonal, local produce. This means that I wouldn't see a fresh vegetable from November to March, so I don't really like this idea. And I'd never see citrus, and my husband would declare mutiny on me if I quit buying that (he's the one who eats two or three oranges every day - at least I know he's not going to get scurvy any time soon!). It's a good point I hadn't thought of that it takes a LOT of fuel to get some of that produce up here from South America. And with oil supplies in the world being what they are, maybe I should start looking for only "made in the USA" produce, or maybe that from our next door neighbor countries, too. I don't know. My puny little food purchases for my family of two don't amount to much, but maybe it's a start.

On organic farming: I get mail from an organic farming community somewhere in America's heartland. I really like their homey newsletter and they have good information. But I don't like the sudden realization that they could be one of these corporate conglomerate farming deals. I don't like corporate conglomerate farms. I would be willing to pay a little more to support small, local farms, because more and more of them (at least in my area) are being eaten up for subdivisions. Just in the two years I've lived in my little town, I've seen a lot of open land go, and big, overpriced houses take their place. I like farmers. I like the idea of farmers. Some of my great grandparents, and my great-great grandparents, were ranchers before the Great Depression when they lost it all. I want to support people like them. This means I have to get my rear in gear and find out when the farmer's market opens, and start supporting that. Even if it costs a little more. Which means I'll be buying seasonal, local produce. Which means Winco, New Seasons, and Trader Joe's (yes, and Whole Foods) will be getting a little less of my money.

But yes dear, I'll still buy your oranges. You know they're going to be out of season pretty soon, right?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wait, WHEN does life happen???

Dear 76 Gasoline Ad Executives,

I can't take it anymore. Your ad campaign is driving me crazy, causing me to yell at the radio/television and make others think I've gone off the deep end. Therefore, a correction:

Life, in fact, DOES NOT happen between empty and full. Well, I suppose a miniscule part of life happens between empty and full, but not all those big exciting life-changing moments you describe in your commercials.

The only thing that happens between empty and full is that we're sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the gas station attendants to stop picking their noses and horsing around and come over and top off our tanks. Yes, that's right, I live in Oregon, one of the two states in the Union where the voters still think they're incapable of pumping their own gas. But I digress.

Life, in fact, happens between FULL and EMPTY. *That's* when we're out driving around. That's when young boys are taking young girls to the prom. That's when expectant parents are rushing to the hospital for the joyous delivery of their precious little one. That's when we go to the beach, the mountains, the Grand Canyon. That's when life happens.

You might want to change your commercials.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Be Prepared

Last week, I ordered five pounds of powdered whole eggs. For the curious among you, that's the equivalent of 340 whole fresh eggs. That should last us a year or two.

Be Prepared. Growing up in a good Scouting family, I heard that a lot. But to my young mind, that meant things like taking an extra pair of socks on a hiking trip, and making sure the first aid kit always had bandaids in it.

Now I'm a grownup, and being prepared has taken on a whole new meaning. As an adult, I have to wonder about things like terrorist attacks. Earthquakes. Bird Flu. Not worry, because I can't worry about things I can't control or I'll drive myself batty, but wonder. Will it come? When? What will my world look like if it does?

I read a lot of forums. Some just for fun, some for tips, some for serious discussions about saving money and getting out of debt. A couple have whole sections about being prepared for emergencies. And these people are PREPARED. They have their stockpiles. They have food, water, cash (because in an emergency plastic will be hard to use), some have gasoline, they have car kits, backpack kits, stay-at-home-without-leaving-for-a-month kits, all kinds of kits. Me, I'll have my powdered eggs. And I'll bow to their level of preparedness, because I'm not sure I can do it.

I've read some articles about Bird Flu. Some say that the reports are overblown and there's nothing to worry about. Some say that every chicken in the world will need to be destroyed (this explains my five pounds of powdered eggs). Some say that when it hits, no one should leave their house for a while. But, it'll take two years for it to run its course. Our own goverment says that water, electricity, and other services could all be disrupted for an unknown period of time. So we all have to be prepared. Put together our 72 hour kits and then some.

But how much is enough? How much is too much? At what point have we slid down that slippery slope from rational precautions to end of the world, Chicken Little, mass hysteria?

Being a compulsive grocery shopper, and a sometimes bargain hunter, we always have about a month's worth of food on hand. We have no water saved up, however. Sometimes this bothers me and I wonder if I should start stocking up on 10 gallon bottles or something. But where would I put them? Space is already at a premium in our 1200 square foot house. It would take some creativity to figure out where to put 10 days worth of water for the two of us plus our three animals, which is the number I've read on some websites. If disaster happens and we can get to the inlaws', we can get water from their well, so maybe that's why I'm not overly concerned on this point. Of course, I should be thinking "what if we CAN'T get to the inlaws'???"

Another area I'm not ready is pet food. They eat it all, we buy more. Unless a disaster happens when I've just made a Petco run, Hershey and Ringo are going to have to send Puck out hunting for them.

So I guess I can say I'm halfway ready for a disaster. I still feel like a good Scout. I'm prepared. Maybe not completely, but at a level I'm comfortable with. I'm cautious, but not panicking.

How prepared are you?

Friday, March 10, 2006

13 pounds

13 pounds. That's how much I've lost since December 27. And, to steal a line from a certain fast food restaurant (how ironic is that?), I'm loving it! Granted, I still have a ways to go - I need to lose 70 total, but I'm taking every pound I can get!

I've done this before. In the late 1990s I lost 43 pounds with Weight Watchers, which is a fabulous program. This time, I'm doing it with the assistance of a wonderful free weight loss website, I also have wonderful support from a fabulous private weight loss forum I've joined. Awesome people, all walking the same path.

My clothes fit better. My jeans are looser. One of these days I'll drop a size. This is the first time I've incorporated regular exercise into my plan, and I feel great!

There's no magic pill. Just counting calories (which the website makes SOOOOO easy!), exercising, and holding myself accountable, with the help of a lot of people, including my forum buddy, Lynn, who I'm convinced will someday come through the computer and kick my ass for eating chocolate instead of hopping on my Nordictrak. :-)

I'm almost a quarter of the way there. It's a long road, but I know I'll get there! Unless, of course, I get pregnant first, which is what I'm really hoping for. Then I'll just start over when the time comes!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What am I, a grownup or something?

DH woke me up at 2:00 this morning with a kiss.

"Sweetie! It's snowing!"

Someone (I'm sure it couldn't have been me, lol) suddenly said with a wail "NO! NO SNOW!!!" Then I realized, it WAS me!

How did that happen? I love snow. Look forward to it all year. Get excited when it comes, and sad when it leaves. Because we simply don't get enough of it around here.

So where did it come from? Maybe it was the fact that it was 2 in the morning and I wasn't supposed to be awake yet. Maybe it was because I have to be downtown at 7 and that means I have to leave that much earlier. Because if there's snow in my town, you can bet there will be a back up on the freeway going over the Sylvan Hill (and looking at the news, you can't even see the road on the ODOT camera, because it's snowing that hard). And because something in the back of my head tells me that I'll get down there, and none of our breakfast guests will have shown up, because it's snowing. Maybe it's because our four-wheel drive vehicle has been down for the last month and I can't drive it, instead driving my regular car, a Saturn that can't accomodate chains.

Who is this adult? It certainly can't be me! But, upon further reflection now that it's 5 am and I have a cup of coffee, maybe it was surprise, not worry. At 2 am, anything's possible! It doesn't snow in Portland in March! Well, it does, because the first year I was at my job it snowed this very week. I was downtown early on a Sunday morning, handing out brochures at a race for an upcoming event. Something I'll be doing this coming Sunday. It snowed then, we'll see if it snows now.

I'd better get a move on. I normally have to give myself an hour to get downtown this time of the morning. It's snowing in the West Hills. I better give myself at least an hour and 20 minutes. And I'll bring my book, because with my luck I'll be there at 6:30!

Monday, March 06, 2006

A computer-free life?

I've long thought that I'm an internet addict. Forums, blogs, Google, email - I could read for days on end and not get bored. Well, now my eyes are a little messed up and I need glasses for computer work. So, while I wait for the glasses to come in, I decided to try a little experiment. Could I go a whole weekend without the computer?

Short answer...NO! Well, but I did significantly cut back. Probably spent only an hour or so actually ON the computer. And I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself the rest of the time. So I read a lot. And I watched a lot of movies. Yes, I could have cleaned the house. But hey, this is *me* we're talking about here... :-)

I've realized that the internet is my primary link to the outside world. Not just the web, but email too. It's how I keep in touch with friends and family (I don't even have a long distance plan), meet new people who share my interests, find support on various issues (like my weight loss journey), and keep tabs on what's happening in the world. At this point, I'm not ready for a computer free life. I

So glasses, please be ready soon, ok?

Friday, March 03, 2006

My poor neglected blog

Wow. Has it really been since October? Gosh, it doesn't seem like that long ago. Sorry Blog! I'll do better.

As you know, I was all fired up to write a novel in November. Well, four pages does not a novel make. But I'm dusting it off and getting it going again. My friend and I are meeting for a forced writing session tomorrow. DH wants me to hurry up and finish it, so I can make a million dollars and we can buy him a new truck. If only it was that easy!

I think what I need is a mind reader/text translator. The story's up there, in my head, it's just so much trouble to actually put it down on paper! But, if I'm going to share it with the world, it has to leave the confines of my skull, I suppose...

Wish me luck!