Thursday, November 12, 2009

'Tis the Season

X-Chromo came home a week ago and announced she felt like "crap." Friday morning, I heard a hoarse little voice: "Maaaa-meee. I don't feel goooooood." I felt her forehead. Hot. Burning. By Tuesday she was fever-free, but complained that her chest felt heavy and burning. "Make it go awaaaaay!" So I took her to the doctor. Bronchitis. But at least bronchitis can be effectively medicated. I didn't even bother to call the doctor when she had the flu. I knew the office would tell me: drink plenty of liquids, bed rest, and Tylenol for the fever. It's just that my children rarely contract these sorts of things. I don't think X has ever even had a chest cold.

TV had a flu shot. Y-Chromo seems to be okay at college. I am blessed with my 'immunity' to influenza and offer my shot to someone else who needs it more.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Food, Glorious Food!

I started a new eating plan last week, one I've been planning for several months. Julia Cameron, of THE ARTIST'S WAY fame, also wrote a book about weight loss, called THE WRITING DIET. The book uses a combination of devices from several sources (THE ARTIST'S WAY, Alcoholics Anonymous, Clean Eating) to make participants understand why they overeat and/or make poor food choices. THE WRITING DIET can be used in conjunction with any of the popular weight loss programs, like Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins or whatever. There are seven 'tools', 4 questions, and a lot of introspection and time invested. One is supposed to write Morning Pages (from THE ARTIST'S WAY) every morning. Three pages. Long hand. One is supposed to walk for 20 minutes every day. One is supposed to go on a 'Culinary Artist Date' once a week (another TAW concept). I've been writing down a list of possible desintaitons for the dates.

One of the most important 'tools' is keeping a food journal: writing down every thing you eat and drink, all day, every day. This is very similar to the Weight Watchers program I used with great success several years ago.  But not only are you supposed to write down what you eat, but also what triggers your need to eat. Why do you want to eat that, now?

So far, my answers have been pretty much, "Because I really want a cigarette, but I've quit smoking."

A month or so ago, someone in my local RWA chapter brought in leftover promotional samples  to give away (her husband sells promotional items). Among the pens, chip bag clips, etc. was a lone notebook. Chipboard covers. Information about how the notebook can be personalized for your business is printed on the cover. There's an elastic loop and a very nice pen attached. I grabbed it, thinking I could find some cool stickers to cover the promotional spiel. But yesterday, during another meeting of my local RWA chapter, I was given a sheet of way cool stickers as my BIAW prize. The first thing I did when I got home from the meeting was fix up my notebook. Isn't it pretty? All the stickers are positive reinforcement: WOW! GREAT! YOU DID IT! They couldn't be more perfect.

My initial complaint about the eating plan, which has become secondary, but only to the time-involved element, is the author's constant and continual suggestion to use Splenda. "Slice some strawberries and sprinkle them with Splenda," or  "Diet Jell-O with Splenda," or "whipped riccotta and Splenda". My first reaction was, she must be getting product placement money. I guess Splenda doesn't 'disagree' with everyone, but it's absolute poison to my system. Nasty, nasty stuff. And one of the keys to this eating plan is "Clean eating": lots of water; fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains. Then you add an artificial sweetner? Isn't that an oxymoron?

Besides, why would you ruin perfectly perfect strawberries with anything?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Summer's End

This year was the "longest summer possible" in the USA. Memorial Day was as early as it can be, and Labor Day was the latest it could be. So summer is "over", even though the calendar and the heavens may indicate otherwise.

Y-Chromo went back to college last weekend. X-Chromo goes back to high school tomorrow. TV & I went to the local AAA baseball team's final home game of the season today.

Overall, it was a glorious weekend. The weather was wonderful. TV grilled burgers on Saturday, and I made a new dish that I'd had on my August writing retreat: butternut squash, red pepper, and sweet onion drizzled with olive oil and grilled in foil. I didn't grill it quite long enough on Saturday, so I took the leftovers to my family's picnic on Sunday.

What a feast we had! Everyone brought their own meat and a dish to pass, except most of us brought two dishes to pass (I made a fruit salad in addition to the grilled veggies). I usually hate picnics because everything is loaded up with hard-boiled eggs and slathered in mayo. Sunday was different. My sister made her macaroni salad -- the only eggy, slimy dish on the table. She also made her broccoli salad (pictured above, in the front, next to my grilled veggies). My sister-in-law did something sinful with shrimp and fruit (pears, peaches, pineapple). My mom provided sweet corn-on-the-cob and salt potatoes; Jell-O with raspberries; and two kinds of fruit-based desserts.

We left my folks' house late afternoon and stopped at a local orchard to buy early apples: macintosh and ginger golds (pictured above). Mmmmm.

(Also pictured are the blacked-eyed Zanas that X-Chromo picked for me, and a wilted cucumber salad)

Then TV went to a baseball game with a neighbor and I wrote.

Today, we went to the baseball game, then came home and transferred my exercise machine from the front porch to Y-Chromo's bedroom. What SARK calls a "micromovement".

Tomorrow, life resumes with it's hectic schedule, claims on our time, and obligations.

But there was this glorious weekend.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reclaiming a Bit of Myself

This week, I broke down and ordered used copies of three cookbooks that I loaned to someone and never got back. I love this trio by Mollie Katzen. Finding the versions I previously owned -- the originals, before the author 'lightened' the recipes -- was a bit of a challenge, but I managed.

For several years, I tried looking for tried-and-true favorite recipes on-line, but I suspect many aren't the same. People base their versions on the original, but the changes they make aren't necessarily something TV or I would like. Example: cucumber salad with red onion, red wine vinegar, and honey. I found something very close on-line, but it called for dill and radishes. The radishes never played into the recipe I used to make, and I can't imagine using dill, because TV is seriously not a fan of dill.

And there was a mashed potato pie crust I used for a spinach-ricotta pie . . . Tuscan bean soup . . . lime marinated roasted red peppers . . . zucchini & tomato sandwiches . . .

I'll be haunting my mailbox this week, that's for sure!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Oh, My Aching Feet

Never tell a Pisces that her aching feet are all in her head. Ever. Go ahead: Google Pisces and feet and see what comes up. If you stop to think about it, it's not so very odd that fish would have feet problems.
But I'm getting sidetracked. My feet hurt for a very specific reason. I've been standing in the kitchen in a pair of flipflops making an Opera/Anniversary picnic. Tomorrow is TV & my wedding anniversary, and we're going to Glimmerglass. I'm not an opera fan, but Glimmerglass is just as much about the experience as it is the opera. There is a picnic area across the road from the theater. Last year, I dreamed a picnic lunch and threw together an impromptu meal. It was lovely. This year, as I mentioned, our Glimmerglass tickets happen to be for our anniversary.
I spent the week surfing the net looking for picnic ideas. I found several that I adapted to our particular tastes. We're having two kinds of "Mediterrean Turkey Wraps"; a rice, asparagas, and cucumber salad, and a medley of fresh berries. There are a couple of 187ml bottles of spumante chilling along with everything else. I just need to pack the dishes and tablecloth in the picnic basket and find a cooler. It's going to be a nice afternoon.
After the opera, we plan to eat dinner in a restaurant, then hit a silent movie festival, where a live orchestra will accompany the flicks. This is more TV's thing than mine. It could be worse. He could want to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame . . . again.
So now the washer is going, the dryer is going, the dishwasher is going, there's a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in my refrigerator calling my name, and my feet hurt.
Planning a relaxing day is exhausting . . . and rough on the feet.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Exhibiting Secrets

A few weeks ago, X-Chromo asked me to take her to the local art museum to see the Post Secrets exhibit. X-Chromo has been a Post Secret fan for several years . . . owns at least two of the books, checks the website every Sunday for the update. It was in town for several months, but I finally managed to put on the Good Mommy Hat and take her and one of her friends on the last day of the exhibit.
Post Secrets is an on-going 'art project' where people create 'postcards' containing their deepest secrets and mail them anonymously to the creator (whose name escapes me at the moment).
I saw many people crying at the museum as they read some of the confessions. A couple of secrets stayed with me, but none made me cry. I did choke up at the ballet slippers bearing the truth about why the owner gave up dance: her teacher told her she was no good at it. And I was amused at one or two others, which makes me sound callous, but really? They were amusing.
X-Chromo told me about a secret from one of the books: "No one who knew me before 9/11 knows I'm alive." I wrote a book based on this premise many years ago. Another writer friend says she periodically goes to the website searching for 'secrets' to use as creative inspiration.
It's interesting to read what some folks consider their deepest, darkest secrets. The museum played a taped-interview with the project creator, who claimed the most common secret he receives is, "I pee in the shower."
What's really interesting is the perspective one gains about one's own life and 'secrets'. Things could be a lot worse.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

She's a Lady?

A couple of weeks ago, TV & I went to a nearby city to see TOM JONES in concert. TV thinks Jones is cool. I don't hate his music, but I remember watching him on television during his heyday and thinking he was a disgusting old man. I recently shared this sentiment with my PHriends. Braveheart Barbie said she used to think the same thing. Neither of us could understand why women reacted to him the way they did. I thought he was sleazy.

He looks good for a man of his age -- he's 68. And his voice is still there. He's a good singer. I just don't like him. And after hearing & seeing him in concert, I have to say he's still sleazy. Back then -- mid-to-late sixties -- women in the audience would throw hotel room keys and their underwear at him while he performed. When I mentioned that we were going to see him, people asked if I were going to toss my undies at him. Yeah. Right.

But times change.

As do underwear styles.

About three numbers into his performance, I saw a woman near the front of the theater twirling thong underwear over her head like a lasso. Other women gradually followed suit
. Until Tom started singing She's a Lady. Then thongs started flying. TV and I elbowed each other. Does anyone else see the irony of flying undies at that particular time?

After the song was over, Jones looked at the colorful scraps at his feet and said something lascivious about 'thongs' instead of bikinis. Women throughout the theater squealed. No irony there.

I enjoyed the show, although not as much as TV did. But now I can say I've seen Tom Jones live and in person.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Don't Call Me: Divine Telephone Etiquette

I hate telephones.
Sometimes they're good; sometimes they're useful. Emergencies are perfect for telephones.
And editors/agents are always welcome to call me, day or night.
Writing contest coordinators, too.
If you're X-Chromo, Y-Chromo (especially if you're at college), or TV Stevie, I'll talk. I may not want to, but I will. Mom, Dad, Sissie, Bro -- I'll talk to you too, but you all have my e-mail address.
I prefer e-mail to telephones because e-mail isn't intrusive. It doesn't interrupt naps, meals, movies, muses.

Here are my top 5 Phone Peeves.

1) If you're a telemarketer, don't bother. I will not buy from you simply on principle. I do not have a telephone so you can intrude on my life. Frankly, I don't understand why I have to pay for an instrument of torture.

2) Rudeness. When I worked at my last job, I had to deal with a lot of incoming customer complaints. People were just plain nasty. They wouldn't speak to their doctor or their lawyer or even their spouse they way they spoke to me. And it wasn't only younger people. People old enough to have been taught manners were disgustingly rude. Just because you can't see someone's face doesn't grant you a license to be mean. And remember: what goes around, comes around (or as Bea Arthur used to say as Maude, "God will get you for that.") Next time you want to call someone to complain, remember that the person logging your comments probably isn't responsible for the situation and probably can't do anything about it. TPTB rarely face the music directly. They can and do underpay some shlub to listen to you rant.

3) I'll just get settled on the sofa with my lap desk & my laptop computer . . . and the house phone and/or my cell phone will ring. This is my fault. I know this will happen. Without fail. And it's never only one call. Before I settle in to write, I should put the cordless and my cell phone next to me.

4) Receptionists/assistants who don't know how to answer a phone in a professional manner. There is training out there. Often the receptionist is a customer's first impression of a business. "Yeah," or "hang on," are not appropriate responses (there is no HANG button on a phone*). And what's with the thirty-somethings (and younger) not ennunciating? Everyone slurs. It sounds . . . ignorant. Words have consonants in them for a reason: so we can tell the words apart.

5) Voice mail messages. Now, I happen to be very fond of voice mail, but there are two things people do that drive me right straight up the wall. Again, this should be basic training for anyone in sales or who does a lot of phone work (except telemarketers, who should hang -- not hold -- their heads in shame and embarrassment). When you leave a voice mail message, state who you are, your company and your phone number right away. That's right. State your phone number up front, followed by your message. And when you leave your phone number, say the numbers slowly. I don't know why everyone thinks that as soon as they start to speak numbers, they need to race. SPEAK THE NUMBER S-L-O-W-L-Y so people can write it down. And if you give your number at the beginning of the message, someone won't have to listen to an entire two minute message repeatedly in order to check that the number is written down correctly.

*If there were to be a HANG button on a phone, it should be used for people in Peeve #2

So now you know how to get hold (not hang) of me. I'd love to hear from you.