Monday, November 30, 2009

Made it to the finish line


Last post of the month. Made it through NaBloPoMo two years running.

It was a little harder this year than last. I felt like last year I had more to say. This year it was all, "Thanksgiving! People! In my house! Gaaaah!"

But hey, the challenge was about posting daily, not about being interesting daily. That? Yeah, I don't think I could do that.

Now I'm gonna go knit.

Wait! Kitty wellness update. I'm pretty sure it's not just wishful thinking that the lump on the cat's face is getting smaller with the repeated application of antibiotics. Pleaseopleaseoplease, it's an infection and can be easily taken care of and not something-something oma. Please?

She hasn't been eating much this week, but tonight she showed an interest in my dinner so I did something I have never done. I fed her from my plate. I took some turkey, ripped it into little bits and fed her by hand. Then when it looked like she wanted more I went and got some from the fridge. I'd say she put away about 2 ounces of turkey, which is pretty good for a very small cat who generally just nibbles on something and then walks away.

I know. Bad habit to start, feeding her people food. But you know what? At this point I'm just happy she ate something. She was really getting me worried with the whole not eating thing.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snapshot Sunday -- Thanksgiving edition

Thursday's bird, just after basting:

Seasoned with poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stuffed with monk's bread (made by Trappist monks. Mom really likes it), celery, apples, sage, and onion. Basted in apple cider and its own juices.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Is it December yet?

I'm looking forward to not writing everyday come December. I'm beginning to be sick of the sound of my own voice. Let's listen to someone else today, shall we?

This first is from group called Oysterband. The second is from Imogen Heap. Never heard of either of them before they showed up in the playlists of DJs I listen to on Blip. Liked the Oysterband track so much that I tracked down a copy of the CD it belongs to (through Amazon) and bought it.

Oysterband - Here Comes The Flood

Imogen Heap - Aha!

Friday, November 27, 2009

...and I'm spent

Everyone just pulled outta here about 20 minutes ago. In the original plan, my parents were going to stay another day, but I guess when Mom said that she forgot to run it by Dad. He has stuff at home he wants to do tomorrow.

It went well. Very well. The turkey was yummy, all the side dishes were eaten and liked; that would be: stuffing (made with apples and monk's bread), corn pudding, glazed carrots (with apple cider in the glaze), sweet potato casserole, mashed turnips (rutabagas, according to the sign in the produce section), Brussels sprouts in mustard butter, broccoli and cauliflower, rolls, gravy made from the drippings from the turkey, and homemade cranberry sauce using Average Jane's recipe. The turkey was basted with apple cider partway through cooking. Apple seems to have been a running theme--it was in the cranberry sauce, the stuffing, the turkey, and the carrots. "Gas" was another theme--the sprouts, the turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, bacon in the carrots--all guaranteed to contribute to the mushroom-shaped cloud over my house.

My sister brought wine (whee!) and pumpkin cheesecake. Half of it is still in my fridge. I feel like Mom did most of the work, but when I said that, she disagreed most vehemently. Okay. I'll take some credit.

I have a fridge full of food, a turkey carcass in the freezer waiting to be made into stock, 12 bottles of beer (no one wanted any. I was surprised) and a sink full of dishes waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher. I already did 2 loads yesterday. Well, 2 1/2. The garbage disposal choked on something and the dishwasher had to be stopped partway through because the water was backing up into the sink. One trip to Wal-mart for purchase of a plunger and drain cleaner, and the sink was clear. I already have one plunger, but I really didn't want to use it in the kitchen sink since it's usually So now I have one for Kitchen Use Only.

Everyone says they enjoyed themselves, and apparently my sister has been sharing my stressed-out emails with her in-laws. Mr. S kept apologizing for putting me in a tizzy, to which I responded, "Freaking out is what I do best. Remember Ditter's bridal shower?"

A little incident from her shower came back to me this morning. We were staying with Stretch's parents 'cause the shower was supposed to be a surprise. The morning of the shower I sat bolt upright in bed and said,

"I need balloons."

"Right now?" This from my Mom, groggily. She'd been asleep right next to me.

"No, we can have breakfast first. But I need balloons." I wanted them to decorate the chair Ditter would be sitting in while she opened gifts.

And then I sat there in the semi-dark, thumbing through my "Everything Bridal Shower" book, checking to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything (else). It wasn't even 6 a.m. yet.

So anyway. I've survived my first large dinner party. Hurray!

In cat news, I took Delilah to the vet this morning to have them look at that lump. She has a rotten infected tooth, as well. The vet said it could be one of two things: tooth decay that's gotten infected, or something something-oma (cancer) that also attacks the teeth. That lump I'm feeling? That's her lymph.

Dad drove me. I managed to get out of the vet's office without bursting into tears, but then I lost it after telling Dad what was said. Sorry, Dad. He's very uncomfortable around tears. Got myself under control a couple of blocks later, and am now trying very hard not to think past the dose of antibiotics she's to get every 12 hours. We go back next week, when they might have to biopsy/X-ray if there's no change, and they'll probably have to take the tooth.

All this time I thought it would be her kidneys that would kill her, and now it might be her mouth.

Well, enough of that. I'm going to go get one of those beers no one wanted, curl up on the couch, and watch Pieces of April. I ordered it from Netflix especially for when I had my place to myself again.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Done! *Pant, pant, collapse on sofa*

I took pictures of the bird and the table, but in my cleaning frenzy I accidentally hid my card-reading USB drive thingie from myself. Soon as I find it I'll post them.

I'm beat. I'll post more tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who celebrates it!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Silver lining, grey cloud

It looks like I may survive this after all. Things were still messy last night when my parents got here, but Mom said I'd done most of the "heavy lifting" myself, and between the two of us it was maybe a 2-hour job to get things finished. Of course, this was right after my Dad made some sort of snotty comment and then went back outside for something. Which is when I said to Mom,

"And that's why I didn't want to do this. It's not like it's a surprise that I'm an indifferent housekeeper. This is going to be an exercise in humiliation."

After they went to bed, I cleaned the kitchen some more, did some laundry, got a crock pot breakfast started, set up the coffe pot, put it on the timer, loaded and started the dishwasher (after the washing machine was done) and then watched most of Conan O'Brian before finally feeling relaxed enough to go to sleep.

Dad made another comment this morning, and I bit my tongue (though in my head I said, "When's the last time you so much as lifted a broom or a washrag?"). However, Mom reproved him with,

"That is not helping. At all."

and he's stopped. He's been playing around on my laptop, looking at his e-trade data, reading my aunt's family tree thing she sent out to everyone (they have dial-up still, and can't get the file to load. I need to remember to burn him a copy of the file before they leave on Friday), watching movies, enjoying himself (I hope).

Today we finished up. Mom caught some things that I missed and cleaned them, I did the kitchen floor. We went shopping for the stuff I needed to get fresh--vegetables, mainly--and to get beer and soda. Came back, had lunch, I worked on the living room while Mom made corn pudding and stuffing. We went out to dinner at Red Lobster (without Dad, who was still full from the sub we got him for lunch), and came back fully intending to do more Thanksgiving prep, but got hit by a waved of tired, tired, tired. We've decided to get up tomorrow at six and pick up from there. Dad was already in bed when we got home. Mom's in bed now. I'm on the couch with the cat, listening to the dishwasher run.

Which brings me to the "grey cloud" part of my post. While petting Delilah earlier today, I noticed a lump on the left side of her jawline that surely wasn't there yesterday. It's a hard lump. My immediate thought was "cancer," and I hope I'm not going all Cleopatra-Queen-of-Denial here by thinking that maybe it's an abscessed tooth. My reasons:

  • I swear it wasn't there yesterday.
  • She doesn't look or act like she's sick: eyes are bright, she's not hiding, is all lovey-dovey with me*, and was giving the dog attitude earlier today.
  • She's been a little off her food, but hasn't been refusing it. Has been paying a little more attention to the soft wet stuff than to the dry crunchies today.
  • It's a hard lump, not fleshy. Sam's and Oreo's tumors were fleshy and slow-growing The one under Oreo's tongue Mom said she never felt at all when she petted him.
  • Her kidney problem makes her more susceptible to infections. Weakens her immune system. I think.
There are no vet's hours tomorrow, but I'm calling first thing Friday morning to see if someone will see us ASAP. I'm trying not to dwell on it, as there's nothing I can do about it until Friday. But I'm watching all the same, trying to make sure it doesn't get any bigger.

Ditter, Stretch, and the Esses are coming tomorrow. I've been told to expect them around 11 AM.

And now I'm going to crash on the couch. I don't think I'm gonna be awake for Conan tonight.

*As a matter of fact, right now she's in my lap, trying to block my view of what I'm writing. With her back end, of course.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking a small breather...

...literally. I just ran the vacuum on the stairs, kicked up so much dust that I'm starting to wheeze. Also? Almost brained myself (twice) while trying to use the crevice tool. The vacuum is wider than the stair, and its center of gravity is kind high up on the machine. Apparently. 'Cause it kept tipping over while I was the next step or two down from it, trying to get at all the cat hair in the corners.

So why didn't I start from the bottom and work my way up? Because the vacuum was upstairs, I was upstairs, and I didn't get that idea until I was done. Next time, though, I'll chase the vacuum down the stairs and swear at it instead of protecting my head and swearing at it.

And now that my inhaler's starting to work, I must dash. In the words of Willy Wonka:

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I am sure Delilah does this when I'm not looking.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The nicest things anyone ever said to me

A year ago June, Antonia of Whoopee posted a list of the nicest things anyone had ever said to her. She invited her readers to do the same. I meant to, then forgot. A week ago Friday, Mighty Girl mentioned the post and it reminded me that I never wrote mine.

"You're fun to get lost with." This from Ryan, best man/brother of the groom/my ride to the bride's parents' house in Pittston, PA, where we were both staying until the wedding. The bride was a friend of mine from college, sister of another friend of mine from college, and I'd been to their place a few times before but I'd always gone by bus. When the bride arranged the ride for me, she neglected to tell me that Ryan was going to need help getting to Pittston. I found this out as we passed the exit for Wilkes-Barre and he told me to take over navigating from there. I had no idea how to get there. Since I don't drive, I don't pay attention to roadsigns when I go places. I couldn't give him real directions like, "Go north on US 81." I'd say things like "I have a feeling we should turn left up here."

What I didn't do was panic or get angry. I have a dad who used to pack us all into the car on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and drive forever to go...nowhere. Just to turn around and come back. As self-defense, I've developed an enjoy-the-ride-make-your-own-fun attitude towards travelling by car. I employed this. I'd say things like, "This is starting to look really familiar. Yes, I remember that shop with the vines in the window." and then point out a funeral home, "Why do they always turn the prettiest houses in town into mortuaries?"

Eventually, we gave up, stopped at an A+ Minimart and asked to be pointed towards Pittston. Turns out I got us on the right road, but we were headed away from town instead of towards it. When we finally pulled into the bride's parents' driveway, we took a deep breath, looked at each other, and burst out laughing.

"If I didn't know you were here, I wouldn't know you were here. You can come stay any time." This from Mr. B, the father of those same two college friends. This was from an earlier visit. We were all still in college, and I'd been brought home with The Girls for a long weekend in the summer. Fourth of July, I think. The house was full of people, mainly Mrs. B's relatives, mainly Italian, mainly noisy. Honestly, it felt I'd just been dropped into the Castorini's house in Moonstruck. I came in off the porch to get a glass of water, saw something that needed doing, and decided to do it: the dishwasher was done running and ready to be emptied. I'd helped set the table a couple times so I knew where things went. Mr. B. walked into the kitchen when I was halfway through, which is when he said that.

"You should do stand up." From Deena, my just-recently retired ex-teammate. She's said this a bunch of times, usually after I tell her some silly story about my family (remind me someday to tell you about the time Needles (the cat) went sledding). I can't do stand-up. I prefer a smaller audience than that.

"Every time I talk to you, I gain IQ points." From my friend Stacy. I have no idea what we were talking about, but that remark has echoed in my head for years. Makes me blush a little every time I think about it.

How about you? What are the nicest things anyone's ever said to you?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An extra post

This is for JustMe, of Peanut-butter-and-Bacon Sandwiches. She asked about Blip in the comments box a few days back. It's a neat site.

Basically you become a DJ. You build your own playlist of songs, based on what they have in their library--which is extensive. You can just listen to you own playlist, or listen to the main feed, which is a mix of what everyone is playing. If you hear something you like in the main feed, you can add it to your list. If you want to, you can explore what other DJs are playing. If you decide you like what you hear from them, you can make them a "favorite," which adds their playlist to yours. I have 11 favorite DJs so far, so when I hit play I get the past few days' worth of what everyone has been playing. There's always the option just to listen to your own list as well.

It's fun. One Sunday this fall my sister and I had a musical conversation using Blip. She'd play something, I'd respond with something it reminded me of. Or something by the same artist. Or something that had nothing to do with anything. Then she'd respond to that, and so on. It was a fun way to while away a Sunday afternoon.

Done painting (finally)

Since about a week after I moved in, there's been a section of my living room wall that has needed a second coat of paint. I've been putting it off, mainly because getting to that wall meant unhooking the cable box and dragging the entertainment center out of the way.

Why did I set the entertainment center in place before the space was ready, you ask? Because my father was here the last time I painted, and he really, really, really wanted to watch TV. So he hooked it up, put everything into place, and put the unit in the middle of the wall before I knew he'd done it. And I've been telling myself ever since that I need to paint, I need to just move that stuff out of the way and paint. And then I put it off, pretending I can't see the blue painter's tape that has been marking off all the edges for a year and a half.

Having company coming for Thanksgiving lit a fire under my behind. Got up this morning at around 6, tossed some coffee down my throat, put on my painting clothes, got out the painting supplies. Then I fired up iTunes on the laptop, queued up my belly dance playlist, and finally moved everything away from the wall and started painting. I was done before noon, surprised that it took so little time. I should have done this months ago! Why do I let thing loom so large in my mind, so that I approach them with dread (cough Thanksgiving)?

No, I haven't relaxed about Thanksgiving. I'm still a little freaked out by the hosting of my first dinner party, and all the attendant hoopla involved. But I got the damn living room painted, and now I feel a little calmer. A little.

Now is not the time to rest on my laurels. I have sheets to wash, pictures to hang, toilets to clean, a tub to scrub, and plenty of stuff to put away yet.

I think tomorrow I'm going to start organizing the craft room, finally. If I have time.

Friday, November 20, 2009


An actual exchange between my teammate and me as she left work early for the weekend:

Bess: Well, I'm outta here. Have a good weekend. Oh, wait! You're off next week.
Me: Yup.
B: Well! I guess I won't see you 'til December first. I'm taking Thanksgiving Monday off.
M [singing]: See December... oh, no, wait. Wrong month.
B [laughing]: But it works. Well. Have a good Thanksgiving. Stop stressing and enjoy yourself.
M: I'll try not to make the news. For, you know, snapping and chasing people around with carving knives..."You don't like how I do my turkey? No? You sure?!?!?" or maybe bursting into flames out of sheer angst....
B: Yes. Please try to stay out of the papers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've had this in my head all week

A couple months back, someone I follow on Twitter mentioned a podcast called "Coverville." Interested, I looked it up.

It's a semiweekly show, roughly an hour long, hosted by Brian Ibbott. The podcast consists of bands doing covers of songs by other bands. Usually there's a theme. Recent themes have been Kiss, Johnny Mercer, Michael Jackson, Sesame Street, and David Bowie.

Every once in a while, though, he does a show that's all listener requests. A little over a week ago I listened to the podcast that played someone's requested cover of The Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" by Miles Fisher.

I liked it so much I downloaded it from Amie Street (it was free, but I had to register), and played it over and over and over -- to the point where it's been stuck in my head all week. And now, maybe, it'll be stuck in yours.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday checklist (continued)

  • Chairs bought/refurbished? Half-check. I've bought two folding chairs with padded seats and backs, and will buy one of those tie-back covers for the craft room chair that isn't as much in need of repair.
  • Chair pads bought for kitchen chairs? Check. Not on the original list until I realized the fold-up extra chairs were a little more friendly on the bum than my regular ones.
Reorganization continues. Painting is slated for Saturday. Fridge is getting cleaned out Sunday or Monday so that I have the room I need for Thursday.

Gotta go! I'm riding a wave of anxiety that makes me need to move stuff around.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Black and white

I started a post, and am having trouble finishing it. I'll post it tomorrow. For today, I give you a picture.

Took this shot sometime around Christmas '08, I think. Just recently found it on the laptop, printed it out, and framed it. Framed a bunch of pictures, actually. Part of the attempt I'm making to get this place looking lived-in by next Thursday.

Here's another one. It's a photoshopped version of a shot I took of the dinner bell on my parents' porch.

I also printed one of my sister goofing for the camera, one of the baby robin from spring '08, one of the zinnias, and one from years ago of a sunflower by the post office downtown.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I went to bed, drifted off to sleep, and woke with a start an hour later realizing I hadn't posted. Oh, no!

Luckily there's still time.

My aunt (one of the many on my father's side) sent out to anyone whose server wouldn't choke on the file a copy of the family tree traced back to 1783. It's a book originally put together by my Dad's uncle Wilbur. I saw his version of this back in the mid-1980s. My aunt has since caught the family historian bug and has been working to fill in gaps and take it back even farther. She turned her updated version into a PDF file. Some of us with slower connections are going to get sent a CD-ROM with the book on it.

Most interesting story so far: One of my forbears (first name Thomas, middle name Jefferson--called T.J. for short) was shot five times on a train, by the ex-husband of his current wife. This man (the killer) had a vile temper, in one of his fits of rage he destroyed the family piano. His wife divorced him on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. He agreed to the divorce but pestered her constantly to come back to him. When she married T.J., he sent them letters threatening T.J.'s life. I guess they didn't take them seriously. They should have.

I also have as ancestor a full-blooded Native American named Rachel Whitecloud. Not sure which tribe. I guess my aunt couldn't find that info. The transcriber's note at the bottom of the page said it's listed on some of the family histories that she was a native person, but I guess that far back they really didn't care which tribe you came from, so no one wrote that down. Shoot. I'd really like to know that.

Well, that's it for now. Wanna get this posted before it hits midnight.

Edited to add: Something funky happened. It looked like it published, but it didn't. I'm hitting publish again on Tuesday morning and hoping that a) it still counts as Monday and b) blogger takes it this time

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Looking straight up

View from the bus stop downtown when I look straight up. The campus and town are chock full of old elm trees. These are branches from at least two of them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Every little bit helps

Opened some mail from the PHFA expecting it to be my next mortgage payment bill, and instead found a check for $64.27. They had to adjust my escrow balance and they found that much of a surplus in the account. I guess they're not allowed to keep it. Also, they adjusted my payments down $2 to make sure we don't have this problem again next year.

Since I generally add a few dollars to the payment, directed at paying a little extra on the principal, those two dollars don't mean anything to my budget. Instead of applying $27 to the principal I'll be paying $29. Still, if it helps get me to the magic 20% mark (after which time I don't need to pay private mortgage insurance any more) that much faster, twenty-four more dollars a year is great!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Her Morning Elegance

Wow, this is good. I can't even imagine how long this took to do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meet the feline

A while back I joined something called Plinky. It's a site that asks you questions daily as a sort of jumping-off point to writing something on your blog. I haven't used it much, 'cause most of the questions it asked weren't things I felt like writing about.

Today, however, I found one I have an answer for. Question was originally posted on Nov. 7:

"You just found a kitten--what do you name it?"

My answer: Minnie. 'Cause I wanna be able to grab her by the tail as she begs for food and belt out:

"This is the tail of Minnie the Moocher!"

It's sad, really, the lengths I'll go to for a good pun.

How about you? What name would you choose?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loose change

Also known as random thoughts.

Going to be a brief post 'cause I'm typing this one-handed. The cat's sleeping on my right arm, snuggled into the crook of it and snoring in my ear. I'm afraid that freeing up my right hand to type will disturb her. I am so cat-owned.

Went grocery shopping today. Wegman's has a special right now--turkeys for $0.29 per pound, provided you have a club card (I d0) and spend at least $25 on other stuff. Not a problem. I scored a 12 lb bird for about $3 and change. Dang, I'm good. Bird is in freezer, along with 2 bags of cranberries and the other smaller (but not exactly small) turkey breast I bought last summer.

I found a picture of the fennel/potato thing I wrote about a couple days ago. Forgot I took one. Sure was tasty. Also found a photo of the gnocchi stuff. And another from one of my attempts at the carrot soup. Anyone watching me this summer must've thought I was nuts, the way I would set out all my vegetables on the patio and photograph them, then cook 'em up, drag them back out to the patio and photograph 'em again. I can hear the conversation now:

"Abner*! That freak in 916-10 is taking pictures of her food again!"
"Come away from the window, Gladys*. She might see you and ask you to photograph her eating it."
"You know, she never does eat out there. I wonder why."
"Maybe she's worried about being watched by the neighbors."

I'm making even less sense than usual this evening. Time to call it a night. If I can get the cat off my arm, that is. Maybe I'm sleeping here tonight.

*Not their real names. At least I don't think so. I'm not acquainted with any of the neighbors who'd be able to see my patio from their windows. Anyone else a fan of "Bewitched?" I loved the Kravitzes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holiday checklist (subject to change and addenda)

Need to get this down somewhere more permanent than the white board on my fridge. Since I'm on this blog everyday this month, figured I might as well put it here.
  • Dinner menu planned, distributed, offers of help gratefully accepted from guests? Check!
  • Hotel reservation made for sister's in-laws? Check!
  • Turkey breast I bought this summer (to practice on but never did) examined and found to be too small to feed 7 people and probably 2 dogs? Sigh. Check.
  • Shopping lists created, divided into "stuff I can buy now" and "stuff to buy fresh?" Check!
  • Day picked to get "stuff I can buy now?" (including a bigger turkey, which I will freeze) Check! Tomorrow, as it happens.
  • Menus planned for additional meals? Parents are coming Wednesday, leaving Saturday. Chh-no. Sort of. Maybe. Wednesday dinner, not at all. Thursday breakfast I'm going to do a crockpot oatmeal recipe I found on the internet -- steel-cut oats, dried fruit, water, put on low for 8 hours. Ka-blam! Breakfast! Friday morning I think we're going out to breakfast (if I have my way) at the hotel where Stretch's parents are staying. Friday lunch? Maybe I can make that carrot soup I made a few times this summer. I could make it ahead, even, and freeze it. Set it out to thaw Saturday morning. I wonder if I can get my father to eat that. Friday dinner, probably leftovers from Thursday. Saturday morning? No idea. Saturday lunch? Don't know when my parents are leaving, lunch might not be necessary. Probably can drag out the turkey again. I will be sprouting feathers by the end of the month and answering the phone by gobbling like a turkey.
  • Bought and/or refinished extra chairs? Not yet. This weekend. Or maybe next weekend. Soon.
  • Straightened this place up? HAhahahahaha! Oh, that's funny.
  • Painted that section of the living room that desperately needs it? No, 'cause I have to straighten up first. Duh!
Okay, that's it for now. I have to go load the dishwasher. My, what a glamourous life I lead!

Monday, November 09, 2009

More on the garden

I started answering JustMe's comment in the comments box of the last post, and decided it was long enough for a post.

Her comment: "Lovely garden. I wish you weren't so far away; I'd mug you for your talents. I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening. I can barely keep house plants alive. "

Me too, house plant-wise. Of course it probably doesn't help that my cat's a grazer. Anything I bring into the house gets chewed down to a nub. Doesn't matter where I put it, she can get to it and eat it. Then after there's nothing left to eat she knocks the pot over to let me know I can get rid of it.

I'm amazed by how well things turned out in the flower beds. I only put a few perennials in this year in case they died on me. That way I could console myself with the fact that mostly everything was an annual and was going to die anyway. I think one of the perennials did die, and it may be that I put it in the wrong kind of soil. It's a sandwort. I guess I won't find out if it's really dead until it doesn't come back next year.

Two of my other perennials were bought out of pity. My sister and I were wandering around in Lowes' gardening section (when she was up for Arts Festival) and happened upon the cart I dubbed The Island of Misfit Plants. Poor things were sunburned and almost (but not quite) dead. The little card in the soil called them pincushion flowers, and the tag on the pot said they were $1 apiece. I couldn't decide which of the two orphans to leave behind (guiltguiltguilt) so even though I had no idea where I was going to put two sun-loving perennials in my little patch, I bought them both. One grew faster and larger than the other one did, but they're both healthy now. So I call that plant rescue a success.

Some of the seeds I planted never came up. I think they may have been eaten by birds. I planted dwarf sunflowers and never saw any hint of them. The snapdragon seeds never produced either--I bought some plants from the Ag Dept. on campus and put them where I'd planted the seeds.

I think maybe outdoor plants are harder to kill than houseplants. Either that, or the fact that I walked around the garden everyday on the look-out for changes (and photo-ops) made me more consistent about care & maintenance.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Gang aft a-gley

I was going to take a picture of my nearly-ready-for-winter flower bed, but it turns out my camera's battery is dead. By the time it finishes charging I will have lost the light. Ah well. Best-laid schemes and all that.

Today was very probably one of the last warm weekends we'll have until spring. I'd put off tending the garden a couple weekends in a row, but today? Today was my last best chance.

So I pulled out almost all the annuals--I left in the red verbena, a few of the pansies, and one of the gerbera daisies because they're all still producing blooms. I cut back the perennials, covered the roots of the rose bush with leaves I found on the edge of the property (why buy mulch when it's literally falling at your feet, eh?), and planted some bulbs for next year. Over the course of the summer I've noticed chipmunks in my garden, and there have been holes appearing in the flower bed where the crocuses came up this year. I've decided to plant a mix of daffodil varieties (including one called Avalon, which I've never seen before), since no critter seems to like the taste of them. Or so I've been told by a few more experienced gardeners. I also planted allium bulbs near the wall of the house in the sections that get more sun, and an oriental poppy in the rounded-off section at the end.

I'll post a picture of the garden tomorrow. Here's one of what it looked like in the height of summer:

Garden in bloom

And of the other half of the garden:

Flowers at the side of the house

Later on that summer, I crawled around on the ground to get some good shots of the zinnias:


I like this one. Shows them in all stages of bloom:


And I have to include my favorite shot of the sunflowers!


There. I wonder if I've choked Blogger with all these pictures. Time to hit "publish" and find out.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Short one today...

...'cause I'm feeling a little under the weather. I changed into nice warm flannel jammies sometime around 5 pm and have been dozing on the couch, under a quilts, a furry blanket, and a cat, half-watching the ID channel (true crime TV. Using 48 Hours as a bedtime story? Yeah, I'm a little weird). Woke up with a jolt 15 minutes ago realizing I hadn't posted anything yet today.

So here I am! [waves frantically]

And now I'm out. Tomorrow is the return of Snapshot Sunday. I think I called it Photo Sunday last year. I like the alliteration, so I'm changing the name. Anyway, Tomorrow I'll drag out my camera and try to find something picture-worthy.

Friday, November 06, 2009

How the CSA went

Got an email earlier this week saying that the CSA harvest is done for the year.

I'd say my experiment with community supported agriculture was a limited success. I found myself a little flummoxed as to what to do with some of the things I got, but all in all I enjoyed it. Ate more vegetables this summer than I did last year, and did a whole lot more "from scratch" cooking. Two recipes I'm definitely adding to my permanent stash this year? Fennel and Potato Gratin and Baked Gnocchi with Chard and Ricotta. I never managed to get a picture of either dish, but they were both very tasty. Both recipes came in issues of the CSA's bulletin--they were always giving us ways to use some of what we're taking home.

Here's the recipe for the potato/fennel thing. I'll post the gnocchi recipe later on this month (don't want to use up all my ideas the first week, now do I?):

Fennel & Potato Gratin (Originally from Farmer John's Cookbook)
2 cups fennel bulb, cut crosswise into 1/8 inch slices
2 cups thinly sliced potatoes
2 cups half-and-half (or whole milk for less richness)
2 Tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a shallow 2-qt. baking dish with butter.
2. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of fennel slices. Cover with half the potato slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Repeat layers until you've used up all the slices.
3. Bring the half-and-half to a gentle boil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Pour it over the fennel and potato.
4. Using a large spatula, press down on the top layer to submerge it. Dot with butter. Bake until potatoes are tender and the top is golden, about 1 hour.

I had this with chicken sausage and some applesauce. Yum.

I already signed up for next year's crop, a half share. Because I signed early I get a discount.

Next major purchase (aside from a chair for the living room. Unless this is cheaper, in which case it might get bought first)? A small deep freezer. I'm gonna be a blanchin', freezin', puttin' things by kind of girl next summer. I was won over to the process late in the game, and could have kicked myself when I thought of all the stuff that went bad before I could use it. That won't happen next year, though. I will be ready. 'Cause now I have an idea what to expect.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Holiday plans continued

Thanksgiving plans are shaping up.

I sent out a tentative menu to my mom and sister, and they've offered to bring: sweet potato casserole & dessert (Ditter), stuffing, baked corn (also called corn pudding), olives, pickles, and rolls (Mom). This frees me up to do a little more here. Along with the turkey, I'm going to make Brussels sprouts with mustard butter (found the recipe here when I was looking for instructions on how to blanch them). And I'm going to do some sort of glazed carrots thing. And mashed turnips, which seems to be another family tradition. I've never seen them anywhere but my family's table. And someone at work gave me a recipe for stuffed acorn squash that I may or may not use.

My sister thinks the Lancaster contingent will only be here until Friday morning. I'm going to book a room at a hotel around the corner for her in-laws. Things are kind of tight here. I still have very little furniture, and Mrs. S. had trouble with stairs anyway -- the big bathroom is upstairs. The downstairs powder room is so small there isn't room to change your mind in it.

My parents are staying until Saturday, I think. I'm hoping Friday morning before 1/2 of my family heads off to Lancaster we can get together for breakfast at the restaurant attached to my sister's in-law's hotel.

I need to buy some folding chairs. And some sort of tie-on covers for the two chairs from the craft room so they look a little more festive. Or less shabby. Whichever.

I also want to buy some sort of armchair or recliner for the living room. I need more furniture than I have, but dang! Furniture's expensive. We have a couple second-hand shops around here, but most of them are actually antique shops masquerading as used furniture places. It's frustrating walking into a store and seeing a beat-up armchair for the cost of a new one. And not feeling able to afford either.

But hey! Back to holidays! Dinner for seven! Two dogs! Overnight guests! Three weeks (more or less) to prepare! Yeeeeee-haw!

I need to lie down now.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Well, the DVRing of Grey's Anatomy isn't working like I planned. I got home half an hour after the start of the 1st of three last night, went to the DVR menu and watched the start of it. Sped through the commercials, was only 15 minutes behind the 2nd one. By episode 3 I was watching it live.

Today? Yep. Watching it as I type.

Silver lining though: tomorrow the series starts over from the beginning. I can get those episodes from Netflix, so I don't need to watch 'em right now.


Yikes. What a way to end a season. Two main characters who might be dead?

Now maybe I can get some work done.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Holiday planning on election day

Today I made up a tentative Thanksgiving menu and emailed it off to my mom and sister to see what they thought of it. Nothing earth-shaking, though there are one or two things I've either never made and/or have never been part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

Sweet potato casserole, for example. Ditter's mother-in-law served that on the Thanksgiving immediately before Ditter and Stretch got married (and I do mean immediately. The wedding was two days later). I liked that a lot, and am heartily sick of candied yams every year, so I'm going to try this. It's not the yams I dislike, really, it's cleaning the electric frying pan Mom makes them in. It's full of this hardened caramel goo that practically takes dynamite to get rid of. Ugh. No thanks.

I'm also making baked corn from a Weight Watcher's recipe, and I'm gonna try making Average Jane's Cranberry Sauce instead of the canned stuff -- I may even do the spiced up version.

I was going to make a carrot leek soup I've been playing with all summer, but I think I've talked myself out of that. I'll save fancy stuff for another year, after I have the basics down.

Oh, and I voted today. We had some judges to elect for the PA supreme court, some local judges, a planning commission, a district attorney, and a mayor to elect for the borough.

I'm interested to see whether Maine votes to allow same-sex marriage.

And now, even though it's only 9:30ish, I'm heading off to bed. I think I'm coming down with something.

Monday, November 02, 2009

In which it is revealed that I have run out of subject matter. Already.

Oh, for pity's sake! Last year I was all chatty the whole way through the month. This year I'm staring at a blank window, the little cursor taunting me with it's flash, flash, flash go on write something flash, flash, flash I dare ya. On Day 2. Day freaking Two.

Nothing has happened today. Not one blessed thing. You know how I spent my day? Futzing about with OpenOffice software, trying to create an electronic version of the flowchart the CQI Team I'm part of came up with to describe our current procedures. It's the most convoluted if/then chart I've ever seen, I'm on page 6, and I'm nowhere near done.

When I wasn't doing that, I was slapping barcodes on books as part of a national project my library's signed up to help with. Then I was entering said barcodes into the database.

Riveting stuff, absolutely riveting.

Oh, and then I came home and instead of doing the chores I'd planned to do (wrote 'em on the whiteboard and everything) I watched three hours of Grey's Anatomy on Lifetime. I managed to avoid the show for years when everyone around me was singing its praises only to get sucked into it now that it's in syndication. Two weeks ago (when I was on vacation) I bumped into an episode while I was flipping channels, got interested, and stayed. This episode was followed by a second. And then a third. And then it was nine o'clock at night! Where'd my evening go?

That's just evil, you guys. To run three hour-long episodes, in sequential order, back-to-back four days a week? How the heck am I supposed to get anything done? Don't these people know I have a list of stuff as long as my arm that I have to finish by Thanksgiving? That my messy house needs organizing, that my menu needs creating, that my garden needs tending? Those dishes aren't going to do themselves!

I've done a preemptive strike for tomorrow. I've set the DVR. I am not allowed to turn on the TV at all when I get home. I'll watch this stuff later. Never mind that Izzy's about to undergo brain surgery, Derek's coming back to operate after having a dark moment where he thought about quitting medicine altogether, or that I think this next episode is the one where he finally proposes to Meredith. Aaah! How can people who I didn't even know about four weeks ago (and who aren't even real) take up so much of my time now?

Lord help me.

So tell me, blogosphere, what's you're newest time suck?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

And away we go!

All righty, here we go. Day One of National Blog Posting Month (hereafter called NaBloPoMo or OhmyGodwhatdidIgetmyselfinto). There's a link to the left (just under the one for my poor neglected Flick'r photostream), if you'd like to go exploring and read other bloggers who are trying this as well.

Eden (the originatorof NaBloPoMo, and writer of Fussy) posted today about her likes and dislikes. That sounds like a good way to start, so I'ma do that.

  • The way the cat howls like a tortured soul every time she takes a drink from her water fountain. The thing has a charcoal filter, uses distilled water, and get thoroughly cleaned and replenished once a week. She's still rather drink out of the tub. Brat.
  • Opening my wallet to find the $60 I got at the ATM 6 hours before has been stolen. I've never been a victim of theft before last week. Someone wandered into my cubicle, emptied the cash out of my wallet, and strolled back out, unseen. The officer who filed my report the next day said there was a rash of thefts all over campus that day. All of 'em cash from wallets. Nothing else stolen, no IDs or credit cards or checks. My first thought was that the end of the month is approaching, and someone couldn't make rent.
  • Spending approximately two hours dismantling a set of vertical blinds and replacing them with curtains. As I tweeted earlier today: bring me the head of whoever installed these blinds. I was dripping with sweat and swearing like a sailor after trying to remove just one screw from the three brackets that held the blinds in place. And I was using power tools, too!
  • Packaging that's harder to break into than the average house. I needed sharp implements and a screwdriver to get the blasted curtain rods out of the box they came in.


  • Thermal, light-blocking drapes. Gonna be warmer in here this winter, I'm sure of it.
  • Making it through October for the 2nd year in a row without contracting asthmatic bronchitis! Yay team!
  • Related like: Autumn! Again! Finally!
  • The way a full moon looks when it rises behind a maple tree that's gone all orange. (And me without my camera. Next year for sure!)
  • Waking up to the cat purring around my head.
  • Bonne Maman's cherry preserves.
  • This:

And there's NaBloPoMo, Day One. See you tomorrow!