Monday, November 26, 2012


It's not a word we usually associate with Thanksgiving but it applies this weekend.

For instance, I transformed this bowl of chopped citron, glaceed cherries, dried cranberries, cherries and raisins and  chopped walnuts (all soaked in spiced rum) into these

Six beautiful, spicy fruitcakes.  They're just a bit of batter holding all that fruit and nut mixture together.  It takes two of us to do this because it's a dozen eggs and 7 cups of flour plus all the spices and sugar and molasses.  I hold the bowl and Pk stirs everything together.  They bake for 2 hours and then get wrapped in rum soaked cheesecloth and aluminum foil and put into the freezer for consumption during the holidays.  The flavor is dark and intense and not terribly sweet.  The recipe made 6 loaves so I can give one to Em and one to Kate and they'll have some for their own holiday cookie plates and we'll still have four loaves here (Pk doesn't like to share.....)
 I also transformed this turkey stuffed with cornbread and sausage and sitting on a bed of carrots and celery into this lovely succulent bird.  It was juicy and tender and only took 6 hours in the oven! 
I apologize for the odd appearance of the photos and text here.  As I was trying to put up this post last night at home, blogger informed me that I had filled up my allotted allowance of photo storage space (which I didn't even know I had) and had to either purchase some space or not post photos. 
I will admit to a certain level of ignorance as to how this whole thing works.  All I know is that I type words and add photos and hit Publish and Voila!  There are my words and photos available on the web.  "Hosting" is something you do when you invite folks to your home and give them food.

I consulted my resident IT expert and he explained to me that "storage is not free" and that blogger has been storing my stuff all this time and I have outgrown my storage container and it's time to buy a new one.  I did and now I'll pay each month so my photos and words can continue to grace the interwebs.  It's odd to me how much I take for granted. 

But anyway, I am having a terrible time fitting everything onto the page in a coherent, pleasing manner.  Maybe because they are all photos from my phone and not my camera. 

We had a "do as little as humanly possible" weekend.  Thursday we drove to Em's house for dinner with her and Jim and his family.  We are so lucky that our two families get along.  I genuinely like his mom and dad and his sister (who is now crocheting like a fiend and made a very strange "brain with hanging eyeball" hat for a friend that is genius.).  Dinner was delicious, football was observed and much conversation ensued. 

Friday, we had a lazy day.  Pk and I baked the fruitcake and I wrapped it all up and put it away before we had a chance to eat it.  He spent the day literally in his pajamas.  I actually showered and got dressed into sweat clothes.  He played video games and I did some spinning and picked up a knit I had put away in a snit about a month ago.  It's moving right along now and I can't remember why it was causing me so much trouble in the first place.

Saturday was laundry day and Pk actually got dressed and did some odds and ends outside before coming in admitting it was a bit chilly to spend the day putzing in the garage.  Sunday was Second Thanksgiving.  It's funny how two people can use the same basic recipe and yet the results are subtly different. Em and I both use the same basic recipes but the meals taste different.  Neither is better or worse, just different.  The leftovers are packaged for consumption during the upcoming holiday shopping/roof replacing month so we'll be able to eat some home cooked food and not depend on take out.

If we hear back from the borough hall that our roof plans are acceptable, we will be ripping off the old roof and replacing it this coming weekend.  I need to get out and get some boxes and containers to empty things out of our pantry closet in the kitchen and to pack up the living/dining room for the next 2 weeks.  I'm going to use this as an opportunity to clean out drawers and get rid of clutter (yes, I am optimistic, why do you ask?)

It's nice and quiet here at work for the time being.  No urgent emails were waiting and hopefully, the message light on my phone does not indicate anything dire (I haven't checked yet).  I'd like to ease back into my week but that's not always the way it goes.  Hopefully, you're all having a good week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Here I am sitting at my desk on my last day of work before the long holiday weekend.  I am struggling to stay awake.  Pk fell asleep without his cpap mask last night and I didn't have the heart to wake him up to put it on.  After all, he was asleep, right?

Well, half an hour later, he woke up in a panic because he felt like he couldn't breathe and had to get out of bed for a bit until he calmed back down.  We finally got him settled and put the mask on and he slept (which means I slept).  I won't make that mistake again.

So, I'm a bit sleepy this morning.  I don't have a particularly busy day.  Group this morning and then several treatment plans to get done for the month of November.  I have to remember to change the message on my phone and with any luck, I'll leave here a bit early today.

For the first time in 30 years, I don't have to get up early and start cooking.  We always eat Thanksgiving dinner at our regular dinner time so I didn't have to get up at o' dark thirty to get it ready but I couldn't just putz around in the morning either.  After all these years, there's a Plan and a rhythmn to the holiday that will be disrupted tomorrow since I am not cooking.

Em is.  She has a Menu (although how she gets away with making possible changes to what has been an unchanging feast is beyond me.  I suggested one tiny change one year and you'd think I'd said Let's Cancel Thanksgiving!).  I am looking forward to going and sitting down and letting her take over.  I'm bringing appetizers.  We're making herbed cheese and stuffing it into vegetables and bringing some crackers to eat with it.  Next year, I'll cook the meal.  This year?  I'm enjoying the time off.

Pk, El and I will have Second Thanksgiving on Sunday so we can have our leftovers for the next month.  I bought a smaller turkey (only 17 pounds) and won't have to make so much food.  There will be pumpkin and mincemeat pies and our favorite stuffing.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

I have a solution to my sweater problem!  I contacted Joan of the Meat Sheep Fiber Co..  She also owns the Cupcake Fiber Co.  Joan makes the most wonderful and easy to spin batts imaginable.  Her colors are gorgeous and the preparation can't be beat.  I explained my problem and I am sending her my swatch today so she can see what material I am working with and what color.  I am not sure what kind of wool it is and the color is hard to describe or even photograph accurately.

She is going to dye some coordinating rovings for me and then I will use them for a simple design on the yoke of the sweater to stretch my main color so I can finish the collar and button bands.  It will make a slightly different sweater than the one I imagined but that's ok.  It'll still be warm and sturdy and beautiful. 

There are so many things I'm thankful for (and Joan and her talent are one of them!) this year.  We made it through another year with no major medical issues.  We are all healthy and together and that's enough for me.  We have jobs, a place to live and food to eat.  I have arms to hug me (and to give hugs when needed) and people who love me and whom I love. 

I am truly a blessed person.    If you're in the US, then  I wish you a  Happy Thanksgiving.  I wish you all blessings and joy.  If this is a "thursday as usual" for you then I wish you a speedy day so the weekend is upon you soon.

We will not be out shopping on Black Friday.  We will either be driving through the woods or sitting somewhere comfy with some tea and something to knit.  I hope your day is as peaceful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This is what the sky looked like on Thursday as Pk and I were leaving the house for work at 6:40.  The sun was just coming up and it was glorious.  We stood there on the front step just marveling at how beautiful it was.  I know that in a few short weeks it will be dark again in the morning (as it's dark right now at 5 pm) and we'll be feeling sunlight deprived but for the moment, we'll enjoy our sunrises.

We were afraid that when the hurricane came through that it would strip all the trees but we were lucky (in more ways than one). 

Some of the more sheltered spots in our area kept their leaves and they have been changing.  This is the courtyard in the back of my building.  The gold leaves have carpeted the ground and are all nice and crunchy.

On the craft front, I have had some success and some maybe-spectacular-failure.

In the success area, remember these?  I love these mittens and was very proud of them.  Only problem is that they were way too big for me.  My fingers didn't come close to the top.  I could have left off an entire pattern repeat and maybe they would have fit.  The pinkish yarn is superwash but the brown was a silk/merino blend and was not.

First thing I did was wash them by hand gently and put them in the dryer for a short time.  I had limited success.  (in full disclosure, I did offer them to my family but no one wanted pink and brown mittens).  I decided to throw caution to the winds and turn them inside out and throw them in with the laundry this week. 

It worked!  They shrunk and felted just enough to fit my admittedly small hands!  And felting helps make them even warmer.  I am thrilled with this.  It's getting cold enough in the mornings for mittens and I can't wait to wear them.

My probably spectacular failure is my sweater.  I have been working my way up the body and had the sleeves attached to the yoke and finished the first round of decreases for the yoke. (The twisted stitch/cable pattern didn't show up well so I just did a garter stitch row pattern to give the yoke some definition-it looks good)

My problem is that I am going to run out of my handspun yarn.  I thought I had enough.  I had the right amount of roving, spun to the proper wpi and everything but it's not going to work out.  And the kicker is, I won't be short by that much.

I sent an email to the company that sold me the roving over 18 months ago in the hopes that they might be able to sell me some more.  It's not dyed but the color (which they call root beer) came from blending the wool from more than one color sheep.  I'm not even sure exactly what wool it is but it feels like Corriedale. 

I'd appreciate it if everyone could cross their fingers that I'll get a positive response.......If not, I have to come up with a solution.  I thought about putting a colorful design in the yoke area but it would have to be handspun so that the texture would be similar.  I like the texture of  my yarn and don't think a millspun yarn worked into the yoke would be pleasing.   I guess I could buy some rovings in coordinating colors and spin up the yarns and then come up with a design to put into the yoke but I'll wait until I get a response from the company. 

I thought I'd get it finished by Thanksgiving and wear it but I don't think that will happen.  I don't want to have to unravel the entire thing.  That would be heartbreaking.

I wish you could smell what I'm smelling right now.  I'm making potato/leek soup for dinner and the potatos and leeks are simmering on the stove.  It smells delicious.  I have done as little as I could get away with this weekend.  We went grocery shopping yesterday and I did laundry today but otherwise, I watched episodes of 30 Rock and painted my nails and worked on El's August socks.  Pk didn't do much more than I did.  We had one of THOSE weekends where we had no real focus and just needed to coast.  It felt gooooood. 

And now I'm hungry so I'm going to go turn the potatos into creamy soup, make some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and have some dinner.  Have a good night y'all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Of all the cartoons I enjoyed growing up, Charlie Brown (and his crew) endure as one of my favorites.  I love how he keeps trying and always thinks the best of people.  And they were honest and wholesome (it floored me when I heard Peppermint Patty say she would "give him a tumble" (referring to a foreign exchange student) in one of the later shows).  They didn't have violence or ugly language, just people being people and friends who came out to help each other in the end.

I'm not sure why I was thinking of Charlie Brown this morning.  I was actually thinking that I don't understand people very well.  You know that Pk and I ride a commuter train across the bridge into Philadelphia every morning.  It's reliable and fairly inexpensive compared to driving and parking. 

Today, like most days, we were watching the people around us as they get on the train and I realized there are things I just don't get.

I don't get why everyone looks so miserable so early in the morning. 
I don't get why people stand when there are seats available.
I don't get why people sit on the outside seat thus making it harder for other folks to sit down.
I really don't get why people who choose to stand STAND IN THE DOORWAYS!  so that no one can get on/off the train.
I don't get why train conductors wait until the last moment to put on the breaks so that we stop so abruptly that my head snaps back (every stop? is that necessary?)

That's what I'm wondering this morning.  Nothing deep and profound.  Just musings.  I also wonder why a young man would give himself a Reverse Mohawk so that he has a short patch of hair in the middle of his head and all this straggly stuff hanging down.  It's a strange look.

We are in the middle of pulling off a leaky old roof and replacing it with a new nonleaky one.  Pk has decided to hire our neighbor to do the contracting and we are providing some of the labor to offset the cost.  This weekend  we (I say WE but I will probably be relegated to picking up things and putting them into the dumpster.  Pk doesn't seem to like the idea of giving me a nail gun to use) will be trying out this relationship while tearing down the Florida room in the back of the house.  It's really a porch but the listing for the house called it a Florida room and we have always just called it that.  When Pk started to tear down some of the roof, he found that it was constructed in an odd, unsafe manner using pipes.  The whole thing is coming down and for the moment, a roof is going back up on posts.  We'll figure out what kind of walls/windows we want next spring. 

If Pk and the neighbor guy get along and work well together, they'll tear off the flat part of our roof and put a slightly peaked one on, thus hopefully, making it less likely to leak than a flat roof.  That could be important if we get lots of snow this winter. 

I will be boxing up living/dining room things and moving them to other parts of the house to get them out of the way.  Some of the furniture has to be moved and some will just be pushed out of the way and put under tarps for the time being.  It's a project but the house will be snug and warm when it's done and that's worth a bit of work.  I'm hopeful the hard part will be done in time for the holidays.  Decorating can wait until the winter when we can't get outdoors anyway. 

Emily is hosting Thanksgiving this year.  All I have to do is make niblets.  I'm going to stuff some vegetables with savory cheese and put some of the cheese out for crackers with maybe some pepperoni.  I'll make a small turkey on Sunday so we have leftovers.  Gotta have leftovers.  What else will I make sandwiches out of for the next week?

Things at work are settling into the New Normal.  The people who were laid off are missed.  (at least by me)  The CEO of the health system sent a "belt tightening" memo around so no one feels really secure but I don't think we're facing more layoffs until maybe budget time next year.  We are moving onward since we really don't have a choice.  There are a lot of people who depend on us being here and being able to offer the services we have always offered. 

I have finished all of the doctor visits/tests for this year.  In the last three months I have seen the dentist, the gyn (and gotten the mammogram), the eye doctor, the kidney doctor and my pcp.  It seems the cholesterol meds are working and my numbers (and my bp) are good.  No more visits until February.  I am grateful for my insurance so we can get these appointments and keep up with our well-visits. 

Otherwise, things in my life are good.  I am making progress on my sweater.  I have 10 inches of the body done and have 4 more to do until I join the sleeves and then figure out what I'm doing with the yoke.  I worked on it for a good bit over the weekend but the sudden cold weather made it hard on my hands and I had to put it up for a few days.  I have tendonitis in my thumbs and arthritis in some finger joints so cold makes it difficult sometimes.  I think I want to invest in some of those craft gloves that are supposed to reflect back body heat and keep joints warm.  Anyone ever use them?

The pharmacy informs me my medications are ready to be picked up so I'm on my way over to the hospital to get them (my prescription plan insists I use the hospital pharmacy).  Have a wonderful Wednesday all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wanna feel  humble?  Watch this video.

It shows how truly small and helpless we are in the face of the power of Nature.  This is NASA's website for photos.  They put up a new one every day.  Sometimes the make me feel in awe of the beauty of the universe.  Sometimes, like today, they make me feel small. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's election day here in the US.  I have followed some of this election but I'll admit, I am not a big fan of politics.  We watched the first two debates and skipped the third.  I already knew who I was going to vote for and couldn't stand watching two grown men refuse to answer questions in a meaningful way.  They are tap dancers of the highest caliber.  We didnt leave the house early enough to vote this morning so we'll vote this afternoon after work.

This was the inspirational quote of the day:

"Many people think excitement is happiness.... But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace."
~Thich Nhat Hanh

This is one of those things that I think I knew instinctually but didn't know I knew.  Does that make sense?  Let me explain.

Sunday was my birthday and Pk took me to brunch at one of our favorite places.  The girls and their significant others came as well.  We were a party of 7 sitting around a table eating and talking and laughing.  It was about perfect. 

I looked around at the faces I love so dearly and realized that I was full of joy.  I felt happy and my heart was peaceful.  Not excited and jumping up and down in my seat but happy down to the bottom of my heart and soul.  To me, that is true happiness. I feel happy quite a bit of the time but it doesn't hurt to stop for a moment and appreciate the happiness in a moment. 

We walked around in the brief sunshine.  Since it was Hallowe'en season, they had a Zombie Walk and there were some folks dressed as zombies walking around.  There were vendors selling all kind of things.  I bought a tshirt with a Tardis on it and Pk got a shirt with a robot.  We bought some Cranberry Honey (my favorite) and a pin for Pk that said "I'm a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar" (from Serenity).  It was a lovely day.  We came home to dinner in the crockpot and an Orange Creamsicle cake.  Yummy.

Last night was our Hallowe'en celebration.  We went to my brother's house and had dinner and the Candy Swap.  Pk gets all into this and tries to make the most outrageous swaps.  (He tries to make sure the kids all come out on the winning end as he bargains for candy bars that I like).  We got home at 9:30 and just about passed out.  We were so tired.  Must be the change in time because we didn't do anything to be that tired.  And despite sleeping well last night, I'm sleepy this morning. 

Today is cold.  It was freezing (literally, it was 32 degrees F this morning) but it's not dark as we leave the house which makes it a bit easier to go to work.  I couldn't find my mittens and I think a new pair might be in order since the pink/brown ones I made are just too big.  I'm going to wash them and throw them in the dryer and see what happens. 

It's hard to believe that in 2 weeks, it will be Thanksgiving here.  We'll be heading off to Emily's house as she wants to host this year.  Once again, it crept up on me while I was off not paying attention. 

And tomorrow there is a storm brewing off the coast that could turn nasty as it moves northward.  A Nor'easter which traditionally brings wind and rain.  Hooray! Wind !  Rain!!  Again! 

and just when things were drying out.....

Friday, November 2, 2012

What a week this was.  I don't know when I've felt TGIF more forcefully.  Let's recap, shall we?

When last we visited, we were getting ready for Sandy (it isn't a coincidence that my sister-with whom I have no contact since she has never liked let alone loved me- is named Sandy) and had battened down all the hatches and things.  I'd like to say the storm swept through but it wasn't a fast moving storm and we got a really good soaking.  We anticipated taking on water and had the pump ready.  The wind did minor tree damage but nothing major on our street.  We didn't even lose power except for a few blips.  All in all, not so terrible.

Not even close to what the coast of NJ and NY got.  The damage there is extreme and the clean up will take months and even years.  There is talk of restricting the building of homes and businesses on the barrier islands since the existing structures (well, they WERE existing a week ago) are gone and we have a sort of clean slate.  I forsee lots of arguments over this.

The casinos actually closed down.  Only 4 times since 1976 have they done this.  A few are reopened today and more will follow once the power is restored.  Problem is, it's not easy to get into Atlantic City right now and they are restricting entrance onto the islands.

Hallowe'en came right on the tail end of Sandy.  There has been a lot of confusion as to when trick or treating would happen.  I figured we might just not have it this year.  No one will die if they don't get a bag full of candy.   Each town had set up its own day to have trick or treating and some kids would have travelled from town to town night after night.  It would have been nuts.  The Gov stepped in and officially declared that November 5 would be trick or treating day.  This is odd for lots of reasons but no one asked me what I thought.  So, we will be going to my brother's house on Monday night and have dinner and the annual Candy Swap after the kids go trick or treating. 

I had to use a vacation day and a personal day at work for Mon and Tuesday even though all the public transportation was closed down (they closed down the bridges across the Delaware River on Monday and the mayor said to stay out of the city, "we don't want to have to take care of you") and I had no way to get to work.  It's pointless to be irritated about it.  I went to the grievance committee and lodged a grievance but it won't change anything.  There were a few hardy (foolish) souls who made it into work but they sent them home at noon and paid them for a whole day.  I think I should only have lost half a day but that idea didn't fly either. 

Tues was the last day for the folks who were laid off and so I missed my chance to say goodbye.  I was bummed about this because a few of them were people I wanted to see.  The rest of the week went by in a flurry of phone calls and rescheduled appointments and paperwork.

Today, I came home to find a box with my name on it in the mailbox.  I belong to a Birthday Pass It On clubthingy.  The idea is that someone who had a birthday in October sends me a present and I send a present to the next person to have a birthday.  I got some lovely yarn and some mints.  Look how pretty this is.  And this lovely, squishy beauty was inside.  It was a wonderful way to end a stress filled week.

Pk and I went to the bookstore to read magazines and drink hot chocolate and then out to dinner to decompress.  He's been working long hours and sitting together, holding hands while we peruse our favorite magazines (to make sure they're worth bringing home) is peaceful and a good way to disconnect from the work.

Tomorrow we'll be shopping and doing laundry and Pk is meeting with a roofer to get an estimate.  Sunday he's taking me to Smithville for brunch for my birthday.  The girls are meeting us there so I anticipate a laughter filled meal.  Then we can stroll the shops and I can buy a bar of bay rum soap for him to shave with.  It's really a gift for me because I love the smell.

That's what we've been up to here in the drenched Northeast.  Last year when Irene hit, we had an earthquake in the same week.  As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, "It's always something".

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...