Monday, March 30, 2009

When I Grow Up

Pipsqueak asked me this morning, "When I know what I want to be when I grow up, who do I tell?" I managed not to laugh, and I explained how she would study in college to be what she wanted, and once she had her degree, she would look for a job. If only it was that simple. It got me reflecting on my own history of choices in profession and how it all worked out.

When I was six (her age). I wanted to be a dental assistant because I had a crush on a boy who said he wanted to be a dentist. I thought that would be cozy, the two of us working side by side. That lasted a few years until I started noticing other boys and mined my own interests. Then I decided I wanted to be an actress, and I had a plan. I was going to buy a van and drive to California. Once there I would attend Pepperdine University because "Battle of the Network Stars" was filmed there. (OK, stop laughing; I was young, delusional and highly influence by television.) In high school, I realized acting was a cutthroat competitive business, and I got bitten by the writing bug, so journalism became my choice. Here's where it gets complicated.

I was a good student, in the top ten percent of the class. I was accepted at every college to which I applied, but due to confusion in my personal life, self-doubt and financial fears, I didn't go. Where was my guidance counselor?! I don't remember who it was or even talking to one. My mom didn't finish high school, so she had no expectations, and didn't question my decision... or should I call it indecision.

After graduation, I got a job as a bank teller and later advanced to customer service, but it wasn't particularly challenging or creative work. After six years, I'd had enough, and got a job at a road construction company counting rocks. Well, that's the simple explanation of what I did... briefly, until I was laid off. One of the officers there told me about an attorney he knew that was looking for a secretary. Long story short, I was hired, loved the work, and took online courses to get an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies. I worked there for eleven years, until I had Pipsqueak. Being a paralegal allowed me to exercise my writing muscle (even though it was filled with "therefores" and "wheretos").

What a windy road to get where I am with so many intersections along the way that could have taken me in many different directions. Do I have regrets? No, because a different road would have taken me away from where I am now, I wouldn't have met Sweetie (who I met at that law office when he came to work on our computers) and I wouldn't have Pipsqueak. I still feel like I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do. For me, it's a never ending journey. I sometimes envy those that knew early on what they wanted to do and found out it was a perfect fit. A friend of mine told me in seventh grade that he wanted to be a doctor, and he's an OB/GYN.

I hope Pipsqueak's road will be more clear and less bumpy than mine. We'll make sure she has all the encouragement and guidance that she needs.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Leg Bone's Connected to the Hip Bone...

Yesterday, I had a physical therapy appointment to try to deal with the tennis elbow that's been dogging me since before Christmas. It turns out my elbow is related to a problem with my shoulder, which is related to a problem with my back, which is related to a problem with my hip. I have tightness and constriction through my whole right side.

He started with few tests, like laying on my back and tilting my toes toward each other. My right foot only went half the distance of my left. He showed me that my right leg is about a half inch shorter than my left due to the constriction of muscles. It has also effected my posture, and he thinks I'm carrying myself an inch an a half shorter than I should. That explains why the doctor's office has measured me at 5'8" instead of 5'10" for the past couple of years. This also explains the wrist pain I had a while back, and all those little pains in my hips, back, shoulders and neck that I thought was just part of being over 40.

He asked if I skied. I hardly call my efforts to get from of the top of the mountain to the bottom skiing, but I said I did a little. He told me that if I was a serious skier, I would probably notice turning more difficult in one direction than the other because I wouldn't be able to get an edge. I didn't ski at all last year. I went once this year, and the third trip down, I did have trouble turning one way without feeling like I was going to fall. I thought I was just out of shape. When I was out snowshoeing this year, my hips would ache after a few minutes. I blamed it again on being out of shape, but it was probably more due to my "unbalanced load".

He did some trigger point therapy and craniosacral therapy on me, went over proper posture for sitting and standing , and gave me some home exercises. I'm also supposed to check and adjust my posture a couple of times an hour. He thinks I'll be fixed in four to five more weekly visits. It's probably just the placebo effect, but I think I feel a little better already.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Remember When-sday - Telephones

Do you remember:
  • glass-enclosed phone booths with folding doors
  • one phone company
  • party lines
  • before answering machines
  • only having to dial 5 numbers for local calls
  • switchboards
  • phone books on chains at pay phones
  • before 911
  • before caller ID
  • busy signals
  • dialing long distance through an operator
  • rings that actually sounded like bells
  • princess trimline phones

  • having to redial because you caught your finger in the dial
  • dialing your own number and hanging up quickly and your phone would ring
  • calling the operator for the correct time
  • being able to move only as far as the cord would reach?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Today, my sister in law had a double mastectomy. My fingers kind of froze after typing that. The words aren't coming easy to express all that I'm feeling: worry, anger, sadness.

I remember the morning, she called and told me about her diagnosis. I wanted to cry because I knew there were unpleasant things coming in her future... things you can't avoid or run from... not if you want to live. She had a great attitude through the chemo, and managed to stay upbeat as much as anyone can that has no energy and feels like throwing up. When her hair started to fall out, she cut it short and dyed it orange. When it got too thin, she shaved it off and bought a bunch of wigs. I joked with her at Thanksgiving as all the kids ran around the house wearing her wigs, that she was making cancer look like too much fun.

In reality, I knew it wasn't any fun. The diagnosis alone would make me want to curl up in a corner and pull dirty laundry over my head hoping no one would ever find me, but the treatment is no walk in the park. First there are all the tests and opinions, the chemo with all its side effects and the surgery. How do you prepare yourself to get that which makes us feel feminine removed? I know, they're just breasts, but I'm rather attached to mine. They make my clothes hang nicely and my husband's eyes twinkle; they alone nourished my child for her first four months. It would be hard to say good bye. My sister-in-law is going to have reconstruction, but I wonder if they will ever really feel like hers, or will it be like when you get a tooth crowned... It works the same, but you can tell it's not original equipment.

Mostly, I'm glad she's alive and the prognosis is good. But I wish she hadn't had to experience this. I wish no one did.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake.

Sunday was Sweetie's birthday. I asked him what sort of cake he wanted, because around here, you get what you want... once a year. He asked for vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and he wanted it from scratch. Alrighty then... Betty and Duncan (Crocker and Hines, that is) were getting the day off, but I wasn't. I found exactly what I was looking for here at Fine Cooking with the added bonus of being 4 layers and having a raspberry jam/Grand Marnier filling.

He couldn't wait to dig in, although security tried to hold him back.
My evaluation... Making the cake was easy. The frosting had quite a few steps and nearly every measuring cup and spoon in the house had been dirtied. The cake could have been a little more moist, and the frosting seemed at bit too buttery, but the birthday boy was happy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Am I Too Old for Pop? Me and Katy Perry.

Thanks to all the computer equipment Sweetie has to buy for his business, we had a $10 rewards certificate for Best Buy that was about to expire. I went in today and browsed the movies. I didn't find anything that I cared about owning, so I thought I'd check out music. I haven't bought any music in at least five years. I mostly listen to 80s rock and I could count on my fingers the new artists that I like, but I do like Katy Perry. She writes her own songs, which are similar to the tortured twenties poetry I used to write. She's quirky and crazy without being controversial, she's popular yet private, and breaks fashion barriers to call attention to herself. She reminds me of me at her age... minus the fame, talent and recording contract.

I picked up the Katy Perry CD and headed to check-out. I was looking forward to popping it in the CD player and rocking out to "I Kissed a Girl." The cashier, a friendly 20-something, told me what a good album it is. "Is it for your daughter?" "No." I grinned sheepishly. "Oh," unsuccessfully concealing her surprise, "it's for you!" Apparently, I don't meet the Katy Perry demographic. As a forty-something, did she expect I'd be picking up some easy-listening?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson Dead After Tragic Accident

Most have you have probably heard that Natasha Richardson, 45, died on Wednesday. She fell while taking a ski lesson at Mont Tremblant, on a beginner trail. She got up laughing seemingly unhurt and refused medical treatment. An hour or so later, she developed a blinding headache. In less than 24 hours, she was declared brain dead, transported to New York so her family could say goodbye, and was removed from life support. This makes me feel sad... almost sick inside.

She got up Tuesday morning, just like we all did, thinking it would be an ordinary day. She had plans... probably had plans well into the future. She didn't think about her own mortality. She didn't expect that she would never again get out of bed to greet another morning. We don't go through our lives thinking about the accidents that might happen; we take our lives for granted unless we're diagnosed with some serious illness. It's sad when someone dies of an illness, but there is time... time to prepare, to say goodbyes and I-love-yous. A serious accident doesn't provide that opportunity. One minute, you're living life, and then life is gone, and the loved ones left behind are shocked and devastated.

She had two sons, ages 13 and 12. There's no good time to lose a parent, but they're too young to have it happen to them. There are so many events and rights of passage in their lives when they will miss her: first dates, prom nights, graduations, weddings and more. And there will be ordinary days when they'll feel the hole she's left behind, when they just need their mother's arms around them. Even big boys need hugs from time to time.
Natasha was a classy lady. She and Liam Neeson had been married for 14 years. She led a quiet life, that kept her name out of the tabloids. Her boys were unrecognizable to the public, which probably allowed them to lead fairly normal lives. She was a talented actress who chose meaty roles in Hollywood and Broadway. She leaves an excellent example for celebrities to follow.

Perhaps she leaves an example for us as well. Maybe we'll appreciate life and those we love a little bit more... even for a few minutes.

Remember When-sday - Cars

It's been a couple of weeks since I did a look back. This week it's cars. Do you remember:
  • The Edsel, the Rambler, the Studebaker, the Thing
  • Push button transmissions
  • Bench seats
  • Shift levers on the steering column
  • Low riders
  • Kit cars
  • Dune buggy kits
  • Baby on board signs on suction cups
  • Styrofoam Balls on top of the antenna
  • Before radios and when there was only radios
  • Before seat belts
  • Chrome details
  • White wall tires
  • The VW bus
  • Before fuel injection?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Signs of Spring

The snow is dwindling and there are definite signs of spring outside.
Towns put up signs like this near dirt roads. Why, you may ask? To prevent things like this from getting worse.
How come when I'm out looking for them, I can't find a decent mud rut to photograph. When I'm not looking, they're lurking around corners, ready to swallow my car whole and spit it back out again if I'm lucky. Seriously, they can get pretty deep... I've seen them over a foot deep. There are over 73 miles of dirt road in our town, so we take mud season pretty seriously. The worst of it is usually over in two or three weeks. Then the town moves through with some big equipment and grades it smooth.
There are lots of buckets hanging from sugar maple trees and miles of tubing running through the woods. With the few warm days we've had, the sap is running like a water fountain.
There are huge maple sugaring operations, but there are lots of "backyard" sugars that only make a few gallons. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. That's a lot of water being boiled off.

Even the small operators have a sugar house. No one will boil in their house because it will steam the wallpapers off the walls.

The sheep venture out of the barn hoping to find a few fresh shoots growing up from the bare spots.

The donkey, their companion and protector, gently accepted an offering of Pipsqeak's apple core. Donkeys are often kept with sheep to protect them from coyotes.Many people can't understand why we would want to live here and put up with long, cold, snowy, icy winters. Winter has it's fun and challenges, but if we didn't have it, I wouldn't get to enjoy the overwhelming sense of well being I've had the past few days when I feel the warm sun and get to roll the car windows down a bit.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cabinet Revelations

My blogging friends were a prolific bunch this weekend. I had a lot of reading to do today to catch up since I've been busy working. As I expected, it took nearly three days to clean and organize my cabinets. They look soooo much better and everything feels more convenient even though I made very few changes.
I got rid of a lot of stuff. It's hard to part with things... everything has a story and memories, but I have to remember that just because the THING is gone, doesn't mean the story is gone too. We had two drip coffee makers, we haven't been drinking drip coffee at home in almost seven years... GONE. There were a couple of vases that I received as gifts that I didn't like... GONE. I have a big pile of stuff to sort; what will go to goodwill and what should just be thrown out.

I used to be a Pampered Chef junkie. I think I went to something like 20 parties in a year. I practically owned the entire product line. I had a couple of things that were brand new and unused in ten years. I'll try to resell those. I'm glad I've overcome my PC addiction.

There were a few things I couldn't bear to toss. One was an oyster knife even though we've never eaten oysters at home. Maybe we will; it's probably much cheaper to eat them at home. I made rediscoveries... things I haven't used in a long time because I forgot I had them. They'll get a stay of execution until the next clean out to see if a more convenient location will bring them into use.

Going through my pantry cabinet, I realized that I shouldn't have to grocery shop for about a month. There is way too much stuff in there, and I need to start planning meals around it. There's a surfeit of egg noodles, so we'll have some beef stroganoff soon. I've got to figure out what to do with two cans of coconut milk. I think I have an Asian recipe that uses it.

I'm taking a day to tidy the rest of the house because the clutter monster took over while I wasn't looking. Then it's back to the master list and more deep cleaning.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Progress and a Knitting Update

I feel much better hearing that so many of my internet friends feel like I do. Misery really does love company. I made my list, and managed to stick to one project all day... kitchen cabinets. I've almost finished tidying and cleaning the bottom ones.

Our kitchen is huge. We have 16 cabinets, 14 drawers and 2 floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinets. I have at least 2 more full days of cleaning before they're all done. I'm taking everything out, cleaning the inside, re-organizing and cleaning the outside. I'm getting rid of a lot... bye-bye sippy cups, plastic bowls, storage containers without lids, lids without storage containers, broken things and things that haven't been used in say five or ten years. It feels good.

To show that I'm still a little scattered and can't stick with one thing...
It occurred to me the other day that I haven't done a post about knitting in... well... forever. I do love knitting, and I'm working on something almost every night. I knit in scattered fashion, too, so I have four or five ongoing projects. I do have to have a portable project that doesn't require a lot of concentration for car trips and long wait, and I leave more complicated, pattern following projects for home. I have finished a few things recently.

A pair of socks for me,
A pair for Pipsqueak
A shawl in angora and mohair (I wish it was a little longer, but I ran out of yarn),
And mittens.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


What is wrong with me?! I can't seem to stick with anything lately. I actually forget what I'm doing sometimes until I get back to that area and find the remains of whatever I was doing sitting there. I've started cleaning up my office, straightening and cleaning kitchen cabinets, recovering dining room chairs, making greeting cards, making jean bags, and who knows what else. This afternoon I started thinking about spring cleaning Pipsqueak's room, which would involve pulling everything out of there and doing a thorough cleaning. It was then I became aware of what I was doing and slammed on the brakes.

Maybe it's spring fever. There are so many things I want to do, but I've been busy with meetings and appointments the last couple of weeks, so I've had little time for big projects. Whatever, it is, it's got to stop because I'm getting a lot of things started and nothing done.

Tonight, I'm going to make a list. (I love lists!) I will write down all the projects I want to do for the next two or three months. I always get a feeling of accomplishment when I make a list and get to cross something off. My list will help me remember what I've been working on and give me choices so I can do something I really feel like doing. I'll make a rule that I can't have more than three projects in progress at one time.... okay, maybe four.

Monday, March 9, 2009

We Temporarily Interrupt This Blog Post

Today was going to be a post about the signs of spring. They are out there; I saw them this weekend. But then spring decided to pull a blanket over its head and going back to sleep... a blanket in the form of six inches of fresh snow. Mother Nature is a fickle woman.

Instead, I will send a little doggy cuteness your way. We were watching a show on PBS a few nights ago about Yellowstone Park, and specifically the wolves, coyotes and foxes that live there. Monty thought this was much better than the usual fair of reality shows and crime dramas, so he found a good place for viewing and gave it his rapt attention.
He tried to communicate with them through a series of woofs and low growls, but an adequate response was not forthcoming. I guess he will never find out how to score a mouthful of meat like this.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mmmm - Mashed Potato Pancakes

A few days ago Kittalog blogged about some Mashed Potato Pancakes. It just about killed me. I had to have some. So the other night I made way too many mashed potatoes accidentally on purpose, and in the morning I served these up with scrambled eggs and bacon.

They were sooooo good. I could feel the plaque collecting in my arteries and my system was in shock since I rarely eat fried foods, but I was in heaven. Here's the recipe:

Mashed Potato Pancakes

  • 2 cups mashed potato
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 6 T flour
  • 4 T thinly sliced green onions
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying

In bowl, combine potato and egg. Add flour and onions and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/8" vegetable oil over moderately high heat until it is hot, but not smoking. Fry heaping tablespoons of the mixture, flattening them slightly with the back of a spoon, until they are golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towel covered plate. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Sweetie returned home last weekend from his ski trip in Austria. I'm so glad he's back, so I have someone to laugh at my lame jokes and warm my cold feet at night.
I am certain that I wouldn't want to be a single mother. Pipsqueak is an easy, well-behaved girl, but it's tiring being on all the time. Every question, every need, every request, every demand relied on me. Sometimes we moms need to pass the ball, get out of the game and sit on the bench.

Pipsqueak received a beautiful loden cape from Austria, but Sweetie said he was stymied when looking for a gift for me, and he didn't want to get something for the sake of getting something. Good for him. He did think of me, however, while at his London connection on the way home.
Cadbury Dairy Milk is probably my favorite chocolate, but it has to be ones made in the UK, NOT the US. The US stuff is a totally different texture. The UK makes it smooth and creamy. I remember the first one I ever had at a tube stop in London. It was summer, so it was a little soft, and it was love at first taste. I'll be making these last... only a couple little squares a day, eaten slowly and allowed to melt in the mouth.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two Goals Accomplished

I feel like doing a happy dance right here in my kitchen. I got two major things done today... one I hated and one that excited me.

I did the worst part first, and finished putting all the tax stuff together to send to the accountant. I don't mind paperwork and paying bills... I even enjoy it a little bit, truth be told, but when it comes to taxes, I'm crippled. It's all fear and uncertainty for me. It's too complicated and I don't understand it, therefore I fear it. But it's done and in the envelope sealed. Now I'll just sit back and sweat until the accountant tells us if we owe are are owed.

Then on to the good stuff. I finally launched my Etsy shop. I'm starting with selling earrings, but will add some other things later. The organza bags I ordered to package the earrings in are still being held hostage in US Customs in China. They've been there since February 5th. I bought a few from a US vendor which cost more and aren't as big, but at least I could get started. If you want to have a peek, go to I put up about half my earring inventory today, and will put up more later in the week.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cheeky Squirrel

A few days ago, I noticed that one of our bird feeders became mired in the snow the fell of the roof. A little red squirrel thought it was easy pickings for him.
I'm a bit of a squirrel racist. Since he was red, which is pretty rare, I didn't chase him off. Gray squirrels are more plentiful and pesty, and wouldn't have gotten such a warm welcome, including a few peanuts in the shell that we've been tossing out. He's pretty smart too and made himself a tunnel for easy and safe access to his food supply. After three days of 40 degree temperatures, it wasn't quite so convenient, but he wasn't deterred. With more snow falling right now, he'll have several more days of enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet.

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