February 27, 2015

  • Feeling Foggy

    I am in the early stages of a cold. I think I've been fighting it off for the past week, but last night my final defenses fell and the virus defeated me. It's amazing how quickly that happens; one second you're feeling as normal as someone like me ever feels (which is to say, what the heck is normal, anyway?), and the next second you start sneezing and your nose is running like a faucet and suddenly your throat is hurting and it takes a few minutes to convince yourself that this is not just a really, REALLY bad allergy attack, but your stupid body waving the white flag and surrendering to the enemy hordes. So you go digging through the basket of miscellaneous leftover blister packs of over the counter drugs and miraculously find four doses of Tylenol Cold medicine - enough to get you through the night and into the next afternoon, but the next afternoon you feel all foggy, like you're locked in the bathroom after a hot shower and there's so much steam in the room you can't see anything clearly and it's getting so uncomfortably hot you can't think clearly and you just smeared lotion all over your body and you can't turn the damn doorknob to get out.

    So here I sit, aimlessly poking around on the internet when I need to go out and buy more cold medicine... and maybe some applesauce... and a banana. Here is what I have learned in my foggy aimlessness:

    • The dress is blue with black lace, but it's also available in ivory, pink and red - all with black lace.  No white and gold, no blue and brown, just a lot of people screwing around with the color saturation in the photo.
    • Ostriches are strange beasts. Very not normal (whatever normal is). I like that.
    • Interstates should be shut down when they become snowy and icy, no matter what part of the country.
    • While the world mourns Leonard Nimoy, my heart is with the friends and family of an old farmer in Pennsylvania whom I never met except through photos and stories.
    • My aunt has rallied from her deathbed once again. I hope someday I'm as tough as those Daniel sisters.

    That's enough learning for one day. I'm going to eat the last of the corn and hominy chowder my friend dropped off the other night, and maybe one of the butter cookies with raspberry jam I baked yesterday, and curl up on the couch with J.R.R. Tolkien. The fellowship is broken and evil is afoot in Middle Earth. I'm trying to take my time and read the books slowly this time; a foggy brain actually makes that easier, so I've got that going for me, which is nice. I should probably make a quick trip to Walgreen's for more cold medicine at some point, which is not nice, but necessary. Bleh.

February 24, 2015

  • Arctic Amusements

    How does one amuse oneself when one lives in an arctic wasteland? Okay, maybe not a wasteland, but sometimes the snow is so thick in the air it's hard to tell the difference between frozen cornfields and wasteland.

    It's really cold. I know this because when I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I noticed that the wind wasn't blowing hard enough to cause the whiteout conditions that were in the forecast, so I threw on some clothes, shoved snow off the van and drove to The 'Ville to pay an insurance bill. Yep... maybe not quite as windy as expected, but ridiculously cold anyway. I was wearing my super insulated parka that only comes out when it's super cold, and I didn't start feeling overheated until I was nearly home.

    I was about to go straight to the insurance agency when I thought to myself, "Self, you are already out, the roads are relatively clear and visibility is good; you should go pick up that prescription your doctor has waiting for you at the clinic." So I turned right instead of going straight and headed toward the clinic.

    Before I got there, I saw the grocery store and thought to myself, "Self, you forgot to look for cinnamon chips for those muffins you keep thinking about making. There's the grocery store, right on the way to the clinic; you should stop and look for cinnamon chips." So I stopped and sure enough, they didn't have cinnamon chips, either (I'd looked for them at Meijer when I did my major grocery shopping). By then, the idea of muffins had taken hold, which may have had something to do with me rushing off without breakfast, so I grabbed some chocolate chips and some butterscotch chips and some brown sugar and headed to the checkout. One register was open and there was a line of people with full shopping carts waiting, so I went to the customer service counter. The person at the counter was doing something Very Important and didn't even acknowledge that I was there. If she'd said, "I'll be with you in a moment," I would have waited, but being ignored completely pissed me off and I went back to the baking aisle and put everything back and left the store. The customer service person tried to say something to me as I went past on my way out the door, but I didn't pause to listen.

    I drove on to the clinic and picked up my prescription, then headed toward the insurance agency, except I screwed up and turned right instead of left because after 23 years I still think the clinic is further south than it really is. No problem, I could just go up a few blocks, turn left and make my way to the insurance agency. This route took me right past Meijer, so I said to myself, "Self, you are still wanting to bake those muffins. You should stop and get some baking chips and brown sugar." So I did, and I was able to check myself out without waiting.

    I finally made it to the insurance agency and paid my bill. It only took a couple of minutes. I decided I was too cold and tired to stop at the gas station on my way home, but I managed a quick stop at the post office to pick up yesterday's mail. None of this, however much time it burns on an otherwise cold and boring day, is what I do to amuse myself. If you know me at all, you know what I do.

    2.24 muffins

    I bake! When I got home, I whipped up some butter rum muffins. They turned out pretty tasty. In the past few weeks, I have also made at least three types of bread and one batch of cookies. It's getting ridiculous. Yesterday I had two overripe bananas and, since there is already a loaf of banana bread in the freezer, I used them - along with some peanutbutter and oatmeal - to make dog treats.

    2.23 dog treats

    I've made two other types of dog treats in the past week or so. If I'm going to get as big as a house eating homemade bread, muffins and cookies, Boo is going down with me.

February 22, 2015

  • Slipping Standards

    Something is very, very wrong when you look at the weather forecast for the coming week and decide to go out and run several non-urgent errands now, before it gets cold and they become urgent, and it's 17 freaking degrees outside, but it feels so warm you aren't even wearing an extra layer between your clothes and your underwear. My standards of warm and cold are slip sliding away like my van did when I had to make a turn too quickly because of a giant, tailgating pickup truck that was about to drive through my back window. Boo still has his priorities straight, though; he's had enough of this nonsense.


    winter face

    Time to hibernate!

    1.13 Boo nap


February 20, 2015

  • Hibernating

    The weather here in my little corner of Michigan has been, to use the scientific term, sucky. The unrelenting snow is pretty typical for this miserable time of year. The cold is bitter even for February. My van has a mountain of snow covering it; I haven't left the house in three days, except to walk to the post office yesterday in sub-zero wind chill. I had a piece of junk mail and a reminder of a dentist appointment in my mailbox. Woot! It snowed again all night last night. This morning it looks like the sun might be shining, but it's too cold to open the drapes and blinds to check it out.

    I'm going to have to go out eventually to buy groceries... today... I don't wanna! I've spent a big chunk of my hibernation baking - Amish cinnamon friendship bread, white bread, Anadama bread, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, buttermilk biscuits, dog biscuits... I've done something I haven't done in many years; I ran out of flour. Just another reason I need to do the grocery shopping today. I have a new cookie recipe I want to try, and I want to experiment with the dog biscuit recipe. (I'm really tired of worrying about what is in Boo's store-bought dog treats. You can't even trust the ones that say Made In USA anymore.)

    I'm still in my pjs and robe, but I've created a 2-week menu, put together a shopping list and clipped virtual coupons. Now, if the bathroom is warm enough, I need to take a shower, pile on layers of clothing, shove the mountain of snow off my van, and slip and slide my way five miles to Meijer. I so, so, so don't want to, but the temperature has risen from -7 to +5 degrees and I should get it done while the sun is shining and it's above zero.


February 16, 2015

  • Apparently I'm in the minority...

    I did not like Miley Cyrus' performance on the SNL 40th Anniversary Special last night. To be honest, I didn't like that she and Kanye West were even included in the special. With 40 years of musical guests to choose from, you'd think they could have scared up a couple of better performers, but like I said in the title, I'm apparently in the minority.

    I'll admit to being relieved when the lights came up and Miley was fully clothed in not too slutty attire. I was even willing at that point to reserve judgment and not preemptively mute the television until she went away, but when the opening bars of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover began playing, I started yelling, "No no no no no!!!" It was not right; she covered a Paul Simon classic WITH PAUL SIMON ON THE SHOW!!! The only reason I didn't hit the mute button at that point was because I kept expecting him to come out and school her on how to give a compelling performance without trying to be flashy, and how to sing without growling and mumbling. So yeah, I'm a little bit disappointed in Paul Simon today, too, for not putting a stop to it. Plus, how great would it have been for Paul Simon to pull a Kanye with Kanye on the show? (And how great would it have been if ANYONE had pulled a Kanye on Kanye while he was rolling around moaning on the stage?)

    Last night and this morning everyone is raving about Miley's "soulful tribute to Paul Simon." I call BS. Growling doesn't equal soulful and it's not cool to steal somebody's song and "make it your own" when that somebody is waiting backstage to come out and perform his own music. Would everyone be giving her kudos today if she'd tried to sing Hey Jude with Paul McCartney right there on set? I don't think so...

    ... but then, I'm in the minority.



February 14, 2015

  • This is a Picture Post!

    This is what I found when I went to Krysten's apartment to get her dog this week.

    Jack trash

    It took me an hour to clean up. Jack knocked over the gate to get into this mischief.

    This is what it looks like out my snow-speckled front door today.


    This is not a B&W picture.

    This is how Boo looked at me when I asked if he wanted to go outside.


    "Are you freaking insane?"

    This is the face I make when I try to fix something for 2 days, pulling a muscle in my back in the process, and Brett just gives it a manly look and it is instantly fixed.

    2.13 face

    It's just not right.

    This is Boo defending the house from a garbage can.



    This is the Valentine gift I got from Krysten.

    2.14 Elwes

    The story of a story of a story. I can't wait!

    This is this year's Valentine cake wreck.

    2.13 cake

    It tastes delicious.

    This is my Valentine gift from Brett.

    2.14 Tolkien

    Replacing my worn out copies with the exact same editions, because they are like old friends.

    These are Brett's Valentine gifts before he opened them.


    I got all fancy with the cheesecake this year.

    This is my Valentine card from Krysten.

    2.14 K card

    She hasn't made my face freeze like that... yet...

    This is my favorite Mother's Day card, also from Krysten.

    Mother's Day card

    She has a talent for finding the perfect card.

    This is how we roll in February in the north.

    2.13 cold

    Because February sucks.

    This is the end of this post.

February 10, 2015

  • Whine & Cheese & Crackers

    First the whine.

    I fell asleep last night with my left leg slightly bent. I woke up this morning unable to straighten my left leg. Once I finally forced it straight, it hurt to bend it. My left ankle also hurts, and I can barely use my left index finger. Today it's the left side of my body; tomorrow I may feel perfectly fine on the left and everything will hurt on the right. It's not cool to whine about my little arthritic aches and pains when others are going through real pain and heartache, but I'm only human and my pain pill wore off a couple of hours ago and it even hurts to push the computer keys. I also have a sore throat. Somebody call the WAH-mbulance.


    Next the cheese.

    • I love the TV show Agent Carter. I like it much better than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • I look forward to my Tuesday night TV shows all week: NCIS, Agent Carter, Person of Interest. Those shows and Bones and The Big Bang Theory are the only shows I try not to miss. I used to watch Grimm and Sleepy Hollow, but they both got too tangled with too many characters and too many plots.
    • My husband and I hide children's Valentines around the house for each other. Today I also found 2 Reese's hearts he hid for me.
    • I watched the last few minutes of the Grammys the other night. I did not like Beyonce's big Broadway production of a hymn. I'm probably in the minority. Related question: Does anyone actually care what Kanye West thinks?


    And finally, the crackers.

    Every year about this time, I start going nuts. I'm so tired of living in a monochrome world, white and gray and brown. Every year about this time, I start planning a quick trip to Arkansas to see my mom and get a healing dose of color. This year, I need four new tires. I was going to get them a couple of weeks ago, but then I needed to get some engine work done instead. And then Brett had to get some work done on his truck, and then there was bad news about more work that needs to be done on the truck. So I'll be going snow crackers a little while longer than planned. Boo.


January 31, 2015

  • Earth-changing invention

    I know I said I would post the answer yesterday to the question in my last blog, but I was busy with life yesterday and didn't get around to it. I am busy with life today, too, so I'm going to cheat and do a copy/paste from an internet source instead of writing a blog in my own words. The invention that spurred the biggest changes in earth's history was...



    ... DRUMROLL



    ... THE PLOW!! (Or "plough" if you're British.)

    Here's a brief explanation courtesy of topdocumentaryfilms.com:

    "Start with the plow, you get craftsmen, civilization, irrigation, pottery and writing, mathematics, a calendar to predict floods, empires, and a modern world where change happens so rapidly you can't keep up."

    You really should watch at least the last episode of Season 1. I'm pretty sure you can find it online.


January 29, 2015

  • Connections

    I just finished watching the last episode of the first season of Connections. It originally aired in 1978 and examined the links that connect modern change to ancient innovations.


    James Burke is a modern day scientific prophet. I think there was only one thing in the entire first season that Brett and I looked at each other and said, "He missed that one." Everything else was amazingly accurate. A few things I came away with:

    1. Modern society's addiction to novelty will not end well.
    2. The space program needs to be funded for the welfare of future generations. Not for the sake of exploring space as much as for the benefits to humanity that come out of the problem solving involved in exploring space.
    3. The invention that caused the biggest change in the history of the world is probably not what you would expect.

    What do you think was the most life-changing invention of all time? I'll post the answer tomorrow.


January 21, 2015

  • Looking for Pen Pals

    I usually avoid making New Year’s resolutions and instead focus on a few achievable goals for the coming year. One of my goals for last year was to not eat any fast food hamburgers in 2014. I failed that one within about ten days. I then amended that goal to no more than one fast food hamburger per month. I’m not sure how long it took me to fail the amended goal, but I did become more aware of the amount of fast food I eat and when I eat it (usually when I’m in the middle of a busy day of appointments and errands and only have a short time to grab lunch).  If Culver’s would just go away and Arby’s would show up in our area, I know I’d do much better with the hamburger goal. I made other goals last year; some I achieved and some I failed, but I feel that I’m better for at least making an attempt at self-improvement.

    This year, I wasn’t going to make any goals or resolutions; I thought I’d just keep plugging away at last year’s goals and that would be enough to keep me busy. And then one day I was writing a letter to my uncle (well, technically I was typing the letter because these days when I write a letter by hand it must be followed by a pain pill) and it occurred to me that I don’t write letters to people very often anymore. I’ve fallen into the habit of keeping in touch with people through Facebook and email, even my uncle, whose email address I don’t know and who isn’t on Facebook. I was sending messages to my cousin on Facebook and asking him to pass them on to his father for me. How pathetically lazy is that? I know I could call, but I get anxiety attacks about calling people. I worry that I’m calling at an inconvenient time, or that the person I’m calling doesn’t like to talk on the phone (like me), or that I’ll get caught up in catching up and forget the reason for my call and have to call again right after hanging up. I know I’m neurotic, but feel free to point it out in the comments.

    So anyway, I was writing this letter to my uncle and the thought occurred to me that I used to write a lot of letters to family and friends and I almost never write real, physical letters anymore except my weekly missive to my mother. Maybe I should set a goal to write more letters to more people this year. No, it should be more than a goal, it should be a resolution! And so I made my first New Year’s resolution in many years. I will need some dedicated pen pals to help me keep my resolution; friends who will also resolve to write and mail physical letters to me. Imagine the fun of finding a letter from a friend in your mailbox instead of a 12-word text in your phone’s message box or a five-sentence email in your inbox; a real letter you have to unfold and hold in your hand, or a greeting card with a handwritten message inside, or a postcard from some cool or obscure or weird place. Wouldn’t that be fun to find tucked in among the bills and flyers and catalogs?

    I’m pretty sure I can count on a few of my Xanga and Facebook friends to step up to the plate and be my pen pals. It would be really fun if we had a sort of circle of pen pals with everyone writing to everyone else once a month. Is anyone interested in doing this with me? Will you be my pen pal?