Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Bear-shaped Eileen tells about a phenom I haven't encountered yet as I do not read much in Spanish. I can pick out useful nouns but am not a speaker or a reader. She observes that in online communication (texting, etc) @ can be used as an inclusive ending to indicate both the masculine 'o' and the feminine 'a' endings. Cool!

I have used up all the butter in the house. This seems like an excellent indicator that the holidays are about over. It's on the grocery list but I hope we won't be consuming it at the same rate. The penultimate 6T of butter went into some Indian Pudding Muffins that were delicious despite my scorching them on the bottom. A link to the library book I found the recipe in is to come. So far Bun has made apple oatmeal muffins in her tiny muffin pan. She likes the itty muffin pan and the pig whisk just as well as I had hoped.

MIL's visit is done. It was good to have her with us for Christmas. The last few days were harder, I felt like we should have had some more structured activities. Much of Nod's anger over childhood experiences has abated. Selfishly, that is a relief to me. We talked about his emo-rating of this visit and he agreed with my observation that he seemed less angry, more irritated. He helped her call the airlines to straighten out the tickets to Crete that had to be deferred because of health crises last year. He hated doing that but seriously, one has to help one's almost-deaf mother wrangle with corporations. Despite his grouchiness he made progress and there is a possibility that we will be able to leave the day after the girls get out of school in May. I am a leetle bit excited. 

The car had a pronounced shimmy after the tires got patched. We took it in to have that and the expected rear axle repair done. I like Jake the repair guy. We need to buy four more tires which I also expected. Nod says that can wait until we've paid some Christmas bills. I am going to put it on the calendar to get the tires ordered by Jan. 10. I want to be free to hit the highway when the spirit takes me.

Explore is my one word new year's resolution. I can hardly lose with that. Many good wishes for peace and discovery to all.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Puny or

The best explanation I could find of why we say someone is looking peak|ed when they are unwell. You can skim past the 'humorous' intro paragraphs or just read the important bit here:
The full definition in the OED, to which I alluded earlier, gives a clue to the logic of this “peaked”: “Sharp-featured, thin, pinched, as from illness or undernourishment; sickly looking.” And there’s your answer. We refer to a sickly-looking person as “peaked” because illness frequently causes weight loss and a haggard, wasted appearance resulting in “sharp” (i.e., bony) facial features, making the nose, chin, etc., appear to end in sharp points (“It seemed as if my aunt might have gone on for ever, getting a little dryer and her face more peakit, as the years went by,” 1914). ...In general use, in fact, a person exhibiting nothing more than a sickly demeanor or a bilious aura is also often described as “peaked” (“Bill looked a bit peaked after his third helping of clams”).
... Incidentally, this “peaked” is, in the US, frequently pronounced in two distinct syllables (“peek-ed”)...
I had been wondering why that word was used. Now I will just have to wonder why we pronounced it in two syllables. Another obsolete word encased in idiomatic amber. All this was started when my co worker went home sick today. Knocking my desk and hoping to skip that for now.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cat's mother

Best comment read today:
This reminds me of an old Kentucky expression: “I wouldn’t know him from Adam’s housecat.” 
From a discussion on Language Hat about the politeness of referring to people present in the room by their names and/or titles and not by a 3rd person pronoun. In correction a parent might say, "Who's 'she'? The cat's mother?" This seems very old and creaky to me but the comments indicate that it lives on in some corners of the globe. I wasn't raised with this specific injunction. "Adam's off-ox" is also referenced in the comments. What a nice menagerie.

I haven't any pictures to post showing our Christmas pajamas and rumpled hair. Despite the lack of photographic evidence, we were a happy crew and well fed of course. I have a headache today as though I'd been tippling all Christmas day. This is very unfair as I drank exactly one glass of wine with my lunch (that I cooked). I'm left with the feeling that my husband needs a toy, he received the gifts he asked for which were all very manly and practical and mostly job related. Luckily he gave wonderful toys to the rest of us. And he likes to play with the ones Kat and Bun got (remote controlled helicopter and build-yr-own marble maze).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dark and Light

Solstice was observed and candles were lit. The ice storm that night was pretty definitive in its own way. I like the thought of the year swiveling on its hinge on that long night.

My Friday night scurrying was rewarded by being able to stay in most of the weekend. Sunday's pageant dress rehearsal was cancelled. I was sorry because a) Lexi's donkey ears and tail have been improved and I am vain about my craftiness, b) I haven't yet picked up my plum pudding from the church ladies. The pageant is tomorrow, Christmas Eve. We'll pick up my MIL at the airport in the afternoon and get back in time. Katy is not singing with the children's choir and so is not in the pageant for the first year in a long time. It's interesting to experience it with one kid being lead donkey and one being the cool middle school observer.

Lightly working today and finishing up. I would like to get to the part where I can put my feet up and have a glass of wine and enjoy the glowing Christmas tree. Seems like there are hoops to jump before that.

Our dog is not enjoying doing her business in the snow. The morning after we got three inches on top of ice she stood on the porch staring for a bit before venturing out. Here's to melting soon for the comfort of dogs.

I accepted another pet sitting task on behalf of the kids. They are watching two little dogs that are crated when no one is home. I am worried about us spending enough time over there. But whatever we manage, at least it's better than boarding them. Their people will be back Thursday night. I figure it'll make the kids *really* happy to be able to sleep in for the rest of their vacation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


My efforts at removing the accumulated items on our living room floor have been very successful. There is still a big box I'd like someone else to take down to the basement. We still need a place to put our afghans (besides the floor where the dog makes them into dog beds). Perhaps a large bag... I brought up a card table for the tree and another chair and we still have more floor space than before. I win. Got a 4' tree with some green dye and poky needles. But the smell is first rate and it cost less than $20. Nod and I tried to collaborate on getting it into the tree stand. We failed and he stamped off to take the dog to the off-leash park. Which is about the most constructive temper tantrum one could have. I had some food and drink and looked at the tree and fiddled with it. Found the problem was a low branch that was keeping it from seating all the way down into the holder. I got out the hacksaw and solved the problem. I was very proud of myself.

In November I hung up some autumn leaves by threads from the ceiling. This put the cat on alert, she stared at those things for hours. I enjoyed putting them up. And then I was tired of them. I'm ready for the next thing! So I have cut snowflakes and ironed them and strung them with some sequins and I am thrilled with the result. I only have two strings up so far. I'll try to get a photo after I finish them all. Crafty joy.

I stayed home sick Tuesday. I wrapped presents and received several package deliveries. It was hard to make myself rest. Finally at 2:30 I resolved to spend the next two hours in bed whether I slept or not. I had to write down my to do list in order to lie down. It was good I insisted. Got up feeling much better, had a shower, cooked broth and dumplings with kale (big win), and took the kids shopping. Back in business.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Displacement activity

Today's phrase is "painting doorknobs" from Julia's blog. Here's her post about preparing for a holiday party. That one and the follow up post have wonderful comments appended. It seems that lots of women have tales of their husband's odd party-prep behavior. Like raking leaves instead of making sure the house and the food are ready for guests. One of the commenters even admits to such behavior. I'm glad because it is my modus operandi. Under pressure, I would much rather color coordinate my sock drawer than make the living room presentable.

As a matter of fact we're not doing too well on the living room front at the moment. I think I will take drastic action and get out a tarp and put all the small movable objects on the living room floor into it and then bundle it into the basement. Cue maniacal laughter.

Assuming the tarp idea produces results, I want to obtain a tree this weekend. That plan also assumes that our cars are cooperating. The Dreadnought needs its front tires patched. The Maroonbaru could use an oil change and new wiper arms. I am doing a certain amount of denial about these tasks. I've abandoned Dreadnought when its tires got too low earlier this week and have been driving the Maroonbaru. I'm just bad at using a tire gauge. Am I not pressing firmly enough? Am I trying to measure when it's too low? I don't know what the source of my ineptitude is but I respect it. I wanted to buy two new tires for the front but I found out that 4-wheel drive means that you get 4 tires at a time, not 2. So I've come around to the idea we should patch if possible. The Maroonbaru is drivable but old and thrashed. The driver's seat is entirely compressed and getting in is a definite descent. The wiper blades are shot and at least one of the front wiper arms is rusted out and barely attached. The dome light doesn't come on when the front doors are opened. The headlights are pretty dim. But by damn it does fine for my 10 minute commute.

Here's the champagne punch recipe! Isn't that pretty? I remembered the cranberry and lime syrup but forgot the ginger beer. I'd still like to try...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Kymm Zuckert is now posting movie reviews at All Things Girl. I will have to poke about and see if there is anything else on that site I want to read. But even if not, big happy thumbs up to them, for giving Kymm an outlet for her very personal take on pop culture. She recaps the Oscars and the Emmys and the Tonys every year and is always sidesplitting. She has fervent enthusiasm for good acting and writing and entertainment of all stripes and brow heights. I used to read her blog and her livejournal and even her facebook page for the minutiae of her dog-walking gig, her Christmas rituals with her Mom and any off-off-Broadway productions she was performing in, teching for or producing. A world where I can read Kymm is a good world. Here's her take on watching this year's Tony Awards show. Happy sigh.

==recipe placeholder==
Easy Enchilada Casserole
9 corn tortillas
1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup sour cream
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can el pato tomato sauce
1/2 cup black beans
1 teaspoon cumin plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon chili powder plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
First, prepare your sauce. Just warm the tomatoes and the el pato sauce over low heat with 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, with a dash of salt and pepper.
Brown your ground beef with the onion, drain off the sauce, and add the spices. Add more if you like your taco meat zesty. I make mine fairly mild so the kiddo will eat it and ask people to add hot sauce if they desire a spicier version. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer the mixture down so that everything is well-coated but not runny.
Put a couple of tablespoons of it in the bottom of a 9 by 11 casserole dish. Then dip your tortillas in the sauce and make a layer of them on the bottom of the dish. I did two whole and then ripped one in half to fill in the gaps.
Layer on 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 the meat, 1/4 cup black beans, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Then add one more layer of tortillas, sour cream, sauce, and cheese to the top, and bake for 15 minutes. Cover the dish for 8 or so minutes to avoid burning the cheese on top.
Serve with chips and a simple side salad.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sing, Sang, Sung

We caroled and quaffed and it was good. I do feel more Christmas-y now. It is just about as much party as I am comfortable hosting:  cheese and crackers and something to drink. Nod did well getting xmas lights up in and outside and notifying people via FB and not freaking the eff out about What If Nobody Comes?! We had one guest who arrived and seemed put out that the singing did not start at 6:00pm sharp. But he was an outlier and everyone else was much more relaxed. I did not make champagne punch because a) I cannot find the recipe I copied out, b) it was less work to make spiced cider and buy a bottle of Sailor Jerry for spiking than to make an alcoholic punch and a non-alcoholic punch. The cider was good local apple cider plus lemon and orange juice a couple of cinnamon sticks and a few cloves in the crockpot. Easy as pie. Other folks brought bread pudding, cookies, Bailey's, beer and homemade slivovitz. I like the idea of slivovitz but I find the actual drink pretty medicinal.

Today at work I have hit a happy medium. I am warm enough at my desk, hallelujah. I found my nicer wool blend cardigan and am wearing it over a 3/4 sleeve knit shirt. It's a balancing act being warm enough without ending up sweaty. I've retired my old cardigan that was all pilly and slightly too small. It's in the trash without its sleeves which I have made into wrist warmers. I feel warm and triumphant!

Our dog is doing well in the wintery temps and snow. She has not demanded lots of walking although she's willing if we are. A subfreezing temperature makes picking up dog poop more bearable. She's also been busy shedding and I find that black dog hair that is visible on the carpeting is making us vacuum more often than the light colored cat hair that we can't see on the carpet.

Both girls are playing Silver Bells on the piano this year. We've heard it a few times in our house. (Every day for weeks.) I still like the song and am trying to learn the harmony. It comes from a Bob Hope movie called The Lemon Drop Kid. I am quite disappointed that our library doesn't have a copy. Isn't it the responsibility of the public library to own all obscure Bob Hope films?

Just heard a radio piece on the one year anniversary of the Newtown massacre. When a parent spoke about what they would do to mark the day I had to turn it off or I would just sit and cry.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cold, gifts, books

We made it to 20 degrees Fahrenheit today which is a degree or two more than what was forecast. It's actively unpleasant to be outside. If the wind stops it's better but still no picnic. Tomorrow is the horse-drawn wagon Christmas parade. I think we're going to miss it, for the first time since we've been in town. It's funny how sincerely I am wishing that the high would be in the 30s, that would be so much more bearable.

Kat's season of footwear has begun. The snowboots I ordered for her have arrived. She loves them and I think they will be very warm so that's good. They're big on her and that is a good thing for longevity but I hope the shoes and boots of Christmas do not all fall off her. Damned either way I guess, I have to buy big for kids.

Delivered gifts for two kids to church today. Waited until the last minute of course and finished the shopping last night. Now for the family who will need gifts. I had better make a list. This puzzle looks fun but it also looks like a big hunk of plastic.

I'm reading another Jeannette Walls book, Half Broke Horses. It's going down much easier than The Glass Castle did. I like her writing voice very much, it was my favorite thing about Glass Castle too. The Rook was good entertainment. Now the only trouble is that he's set up the sequel but it isn't published yet, not even a title is out.

Our caroling party is tomorrow night. I have to make my cranberry lime syrup tonight for the champagne punch!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Prime Roasting Age

I have hit my turkey roasting prime. I can cook one without stressing out and the results are delicious. I was right about the turkey wings, they *were* the best part. Salty from the dry brine, golden and crispy. Three of us eat turkey and have eaten a great deal of this 13 pounder. I have frozen the remainder and green chile stew is on the horizon. Only two of us will eat that because it will be too spicy for Bun.

The girls thought we should eat off china and silver and they were right. I'm so glad to have them around to get excited about those things. By table setting time I was ready to settle for the plain old plates. Good to have a push to get out the special stuff.

After our feast we trundled off to see a friend in the country who hosts a houseful every Thanksgiving. We don't know her family well so it's a little odd to rattle around with the multitudes and only interact with the one person. Still it was a good outing. Nod had been feeling sick earlier in the day so I was pleasantly surprised that he could manage some mild socializing. The girls found cookies and whipped cream and eventually Bun told me that even though she wanted another cookie she could not eat another bite. I drank coffee so Nod could try the home brew. I love coffee.

Kat's pet sitting gigs worked out well. She conscientiously checked off each feeding/walking on her list. And gloated a bit about her sudden income. I'll help her open a bank account with the dollars. She's got somebody re-upping for Christmas already. I told her this is a good job for her because it combines two of her favorite things, animals and making lists.

The girls are getting shoes for Christmas. Other things too. Between the grandmas and me, Kat's getting 3 pairs. And she will still need sneakers. Hm.

Pasting a link to the King Arthur Flour recipe for Lebkuchen recommended by Gingerbread Snowflakes. I love that they have a button on the page if you want to "CHAT WITH A BAKER"!