Saturday, February 28, 2009

An afghan, Some Recipes, and allergies to boot.

So first off, here are those pictures of the "baby" afghan. It's really more lap-ghan sized.

That is, it's nearly as tall as I am (5 feet) and approximately twice as wide as I am. *grin* (No, I'm not giving inches as to how "wide" I am.)

This first pic, the blanket is actually folded in quarters.

A close up, for color-detail purposes, though unfortunately it looks rather washed out.

And pardon the sideways-ness of this picture. Goodness knows why it flipped back sideways when I transfered it from my photo albums. I had flipped it around right-side up and cropped some of the mess out from the sides. Anyway, this gives SOME idea of how big the afghan is, spread over the top (most of the top) of my kitchen table and the bench along the outter edge of my table.

The colorways in the yarn really came through beautifully, when viewed like this. Kinda an unintentional color-pattern. (I did alternating rows of this pink, brown, tan and cream ombre yarn, and a simple solid cream colored yarn. In a ripple pattern.) Anyway, it seems that the pink and brown really kinda stacked nicely, though inadvertently, when crocheted up.

Ok, enough with the baby afghan. On to other things to mention.


I saw a clip yesterday that was apparently on Good Morning America or some similar show. It was about this 93 year old Grandma who's great grandson talked her into recording some of her depression (or, pre-depression) frugal recipes & meals on YouTube. I checked it out, you should too! If for no other reason than that "Grandma Clara" talks about life during the Great Depression of the 30's, and we've got precious few elders who are even still alive from those days. HERE is the website!

I remember being about 13 or 14 and asking my Dad's mom (my "Mom-mom") some vague, not-very-well-thought-out questions about her teenage years in the Great Depression and her early 20's during World War 2. Mom-mom was rather insistent that she didn't remember much. And by the time I was old enough (a few years ago) to really have COHERANT questions to ask, Mom-mom was too far gone, mentally, to be able to answer anyway. She died a few years ago now. And it's now that I'm most wishing I'd really had the wherewithall to ask her some real questions about her life and how they made it through those years. As it is, I only have one recipe (that I know of) from Mom-mom. That is my recipe for belgian waffles. VERY yummy. I'll share it in a minute.

So, seeing and hearing this Grandma, who's approximately the same age as Mom-mom would be if she were alive today, talk about her teen years during the Great Depression, and make some of the meals she learned to cook from her own Mom during those years, makes me happy that SOMEBODY's grandma is still lucid enough to pass down some of this lost wisdom to us. And I'm grateful to "Grandma Clara" for sharing with us some of what she recalls of those days. And I thought maybe y'all would appreciate seeing it the videos, too.


I've been attempting to cook more frugally, around here. I'm trying to incorporate more meals that are light on meat, or without meat at all. Scott's made it clear he's got NO interest in "becoming a vegetarian". That's fine with me. I like a bit of meat well enough. BUT, it's also rather unhealthy to eat meat every meal, and in the quantities that Scott (and now Tay) seem to prefer it. AND, it's NOT frugal at all. Considering we've been unlucky in getting a Moose or Caribou for several years now, it's not frugal in the least to have steak several times a week. Even when that steak has been bought out of the clearance bin at the grocery store (usually marked down 30 to 50 percent before it absolutely must be tossed by the store for safety purposes). (I have yet to get any "bad" meat out of the clearance "bin". We haven't had any problem with any of the steaks or roasts or stewmeat being rotten.)

And Tay's rather aggrivating me, these days, with her insistance that meat is a requisite for a proper meal. And not just a small bit, but large amounts. And not just at "proper" meals, but at ANY time she wants it. I came home from work the other day and found that she'd decided to open a can of spam for snack, and had almost HALF the piece of spam from the can! For SNACK! *shaking head* Then she gets all pissy when this upsets her Dad and I, as if she's done nothing wrong and why are WE yelling at HER when she was "just hungry" and "there wasn't anything else in the house to have for snack!" *rolling eyes* If it wasn't for the fact that dinner is so frequently a very late meal around here, I'd do away with her having an afternoon snack at all. As it is, my idea of snack is half a bag of popcorn, or a bit of peanut butter on a graham cracker or celery stick. Not HALF a tin of spam! *shaking head* She's become even more adamant about her "need" for meat than her Dad is. And it's really starting to tick me off.

So, this past week, here are some of the things I made for supper:

Fake Steak (mind you, origional recipe makes 24 servings, I cut it down by about a factor of 5)

1/3 c milk (would use an egg instead, next time, the milk didn't "bind" very well)
1/3 c dry bread crumbs
1 small onion (or half a large onion) chopped fine
3/4 tsp salt (give or take, as this is cut down from a recipe 5 times what I'm dictating here)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pound ground beef
2 cans (yeah, so I STILL use 2 cans) cream of Mushroom soup, undiluted
1/4 c milk (this is for diluting the soup)

In a bowl, combine the milk (egg instead!), bread crumbs, onions (sauteed them up a bit first), salt and pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into small oval patties. (I think I got nine small-ish patties, or about 5 larger patties.) Place in greased 13x9 (or, smaller?) baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (This is where I diverge from the recipe. I just pan-fry them as soon as I've made them.)

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes; drain. Combine soup and 1/4 cup milk; pour over patties. Cover and bake 20 to 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F (the patties will remain pink inside).

(As I said, I diverge from the origional recipe once we get to the cooking stage. I don't let the patties "sit" more than a couple of minutes. I pan fry them right away. I also use BOTH cans of cream of mushroom soup called for in the origional recipe, and about twice as much milk as is called for, and pour it over the patties once they've browned a bit and I've drained off some of the grease.)

This is great served over egg noodles, with green beans or a green salad on the side.


Tamale Pie

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c onion, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 Tbsp (or two small-ish cloves) minced/pressed garlic
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp (I used 1/4 tsp) chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin (not in origional recipe, but I use it)
1 (8-1/2 oz) box corn-muffin mix (Jiffy mix)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Colby-Jack also works well in this recipe)

Brown meat and onions and drain. Stir in remaining ingredients EXCEPT cornbread mix and cheese. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare cornbread mix as directed on box. Pour meat mixture into 2 qt casserole dish. Top meat mix with cornbread batter. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or till center of cornbread is firm. Top with shredded cheese and bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

(I forgot the beans this last week, while making this, so it was "chili" without the beans, topped with cornbread, basically. THEN Scott decides to tell me -and Tay piped up, agreeing with him- that he "hates" kidney beans and wishes I would never use them. *rolling eyes* I prefer kidney beans over pintos, and beans are a rather cheap way to stretch some of that meat, to make it go further. NOW he's telling me -after 11+ years of me making chili and Tamale pie and such!- that he "hates" kidney beans?!?! WTF! And he wonders how I'm going to spend less at the grocery store, when he's getting pickier and pickier about healthier/cheaper eating by the minute?!?!?!)


Pork with Sauerkraut

1 lb lean pork (boneless pork loin "steaks"), cut into 1 inch "cubes"
4 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted "lard" (olive oil!)
1/2 tsp paprika
14 oz shredded sauerkraut, drained of juices and well rinsed (important to rinse! Otherwise this dish is TOO sour!)
2 fresh red chilies (sweet-spicy, I used some of the ground chili peppers from the pepper plant I grew this past year.)
6 Tbsp pork stock (a chicken bouillion cube and some water!)
salt and ground black pepper
1/4 c sour cream
coarse grain mustard, paprika and sage leaves, to garnish
crusty bread, to serve.

In a heavy based frying pan, cook the pork in the oil until browned on all sides. Add the paprika and shredded sauerkraut. Stir well and transfer to flameproof casserole. (I simply used my cast-iron skillet, as it has a heavy glass lid and was plenty big enough. Also used less dishes this way.) Halve the chilies (or, in my case, I used the ground powder from the chilies that I'd dried) and remove the seeds before buring the chilies in the middle of the casserole. Add the stock to the casserole. Cover tightly and cook over a gentle heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking to bottom of pan. Remove the chilies (or, don't) and season to taste before serving. Spoon on the sour cream and spoonfuls of mustard, sprinkle with paprika and garnish with sage leaves. Serve with crusty bread. (I served with some microwave-steamed, halved baby-potatoes tossed with a bit of butter and dill.)


Grandfather's Soup (so called because it is easily digested by the elderly)

1 large onion, finely sliced
2 Tbsp butter (or, 1 Tbsp each olive oil and butter)
12 oz potatoes, peeled and diced (I don't peel them, simply scrub them up)
3-3/4 c beef stock (I used pre-made chicken stock instead)
1 bay leaf
sald and fresh ground black pepper

For Drop noodles (dumplings)

2/3 c self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (1 tsp dried parsley), plush a bit extra for garnish
1 egg, beaten
chunks of bread to serve

In a wide, heavy-based pan, cook the onion in the butter gently for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add the diced potatoes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then pour in the stock. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the noodles (dumplings). Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the parsley, then add the egg to the flour mixture and mix to a soft dough. Drop half-teaspoonfuls of the dough into the simmering soup. Cover and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes. Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls, scatter over a little parsley, and serve immediately with chunks of bread.

(I used some coarsely crushed dried lambsquarters instead of MOST of the parsley. Scott and Tay can't tell the difference and I believe the lambsquarters to be a bit healthier. Then I sprinkled it with parsley at the very end, for appearance sake mostly. Also, I decided to use some of the leftover egg noodles I had from when I made Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup a few weeks back. THAT was a mistake!! They were so dry, that they never DID cook through entirely, and I let them simmer LONG past the 10 minutes the dumplings were supposed to simmer for in the origional recipe. Next time, I'm doing the dumplings! Tay was peevish about this because there wasn't any meat. Scott was peevish as well, but quietly so when I reminded him that it's NOT a vegetarian meal because it DOES use meat-stock/broth. *grin* But, admittedly, he would have prefered to see even just a bit of diced up chicken breast in the bowl.)


Pork Bitki (I've done this before with ground turkey, and it was ok. The original recipe calls for ground -or very finely chopped- chicken, which I can't find around here.)

1 Tbsp butter, melted (used a bit of butter and a bit of olive oil, as usual)
4 oz mushrooms, finely chopped (used button mushrooms, also used about 1/4 c diced onion, in addition to the mushrooms, even though they're not called for)
1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs (to heck with this! Use dried!! It's much easier!!!)
12 oz pork sausage (ok, it was actually a 1 pound log, like Jimmy Dean or some-such)
2 eggs, seperated (you're supposed to reserve the eggwhites for later in the recipe, next time I'll reserve them for an egg-white omelete or something, and NOT put them back into this recipe)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp plain flour
3 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
green salad and grated pickled beetroot, to serve.

Melt the butter in a pan and fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes until soft and all the juices have evaporated. (Throw the onions in after the mushrooms have had a couple of minutes to cook on their own. The onions add too much more moisture right at the start, otherwise.) Allow to cool. Mix the crumbs, pork, egg yolks, nutmeg, salt, pepper and mushrooms together well. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Stir half into the pork mixture, then fold in the remainder. (THIS step resulted in my meat mixture being far too wet! As I said, I'd just reserve the egg whites for something else next time.) Shape the mixture into 12 even meatballs (actually, fat little finger-sausage shapes). Roll in the plain flour to coat. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the bitki for 10 minutes, turning until evenly golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot with the green salad and pickled beetroot.

(These are good served with properly done potato latkes and sour cream. Or boiled potatoes, or mashed potatoes..... I also didn't serve them with the green salad -as we don't have any fresh greens right now- or the pickled beetroot per say. Though I DID make a fresh beet salad to accompany that I'll post next.)


Beetroot and Celery Salad

1 lb uncooked beetroot, peeled and grated (I chopped it into fine matchsticks, instead. I hate grating root vegetables as I invariably try to add some knuckle to the veggies.)
4 celery sticks, finely chopped (thinly sliced on the bias)
1/2 onion, sliced thinly into half-moons (ok, not original to the recipe, but good anyway!)
2 Tbsp apple juice (didn't have, so substituted apple cider vinegar)

For the dressing:
3 Tbsp sunflower oil (substituted walnut oil)
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
4 spring onions, finely chopped (substituted dried chives, would rehydrate next time before addition to the dressing)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (once again with the substituted dried)
sald and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the beetroot, celery, onion and apple juice together in a bowl to mix. Put all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together till will blended. Stir half into the beetroot mixture. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top. Allow the salad to marinate for at least 2 hours before serving, for the fullest flavour. Garnish with fresh herbs.

(Tay and I really liked this salad. Scott said it was actually pretty ok, esp. since the beets were raw! He can't stand cooked beets. Tay said this salad would be better without the celery, but I liked the celery just fine, and Tay certainly liked the salad even with the celery.)


Scotch Broth

1 lb ground beef, browned & drained (original recipe calls for soup bones to be simmered and meat seperated from the bone, and all that other stuff first, but I just use ground beef instead.)
2 quarts water
several cubes chicken or beef bouillion (not original to the recipe, but who cares)
6 whole peppercorns (never use this, use a bay leaf instead)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 c chopped carrots (never use this either, use frozen chopped spinach, or lambsquarters instead)
1 c chopped turnips (dehydrated from last year, not fresh)
1 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes (MY addition, not original to the recipe), juice included
1/4 c medium pearl barley (also added about 1/4 c quinoa, this time)

In a large soup kettle, sautee the onion and celery for about 5 minutes in about 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Then add remaining ingredients and cover and simmer about 1 hour or until vegetables and barley are tender. (Note, the quinoa really only needs 10 minutes to cook. So next time, if using, don't add it till that last 10 minutes. Otherwise it just melts away to nothing. This is one of Scott's favorite soups, and the only "brothy" soup Tay actually likes. I don't tell him that I use lambsquarters. As far as he knows, it's just spinach, always spinach.)


Mom-mom's Golden Waffles

2 cups flour
2 eggs, seperated
3 Tbsp baking powder
1-1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp sugar

Beat egg yolks and add milk. Add dry ingredients; beat till smooth. Add in oil. In a seperate bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peak stage. Gently fold egg whites into batter. Carefully ladle a spoonful onto your waffle-iron. Cook till iron indicates done. (Sorry, I don't know how long it takes really, I just use my electric waffle-maker.) This recipe makes INCREDIBLY light and fluffy waffles. YUMMY!!!


As you can see, I'm trying to introduce some "peasant" cooking into my recipe repetoire. Not hard, as my cooking is USUALLY home-style cooking anyway. I rarely do the "gourmet" cooking thing. The "Pork with Sauerkraut", "Pork Bitki", "Grandfather's Soup" and "Beetroot & Celery Salad" all come from this _Russian, Polish and German Cooking_ cookbook I've got. Bought it when I worked at Waldenbooks, a few years back. It's got a load of really yummy looking recipes in it, and thus far I've been pretty happy with them. (Though, obviously I make my own adaptations based on what I can get my hands on, and what I think we'll like as a family.)

Now, to get to work coming up with a menu for this coming week. *grin* I know it's going to include a cucumber salad and a lasagna. (Tay's been requesting both for a couple of weeks.) We'll have to see what else I decide on, and what I find at the grocery store.


The allergy bit mentioned above? Well, it seems my allergies (and Tay's as well, apparently) have decided to reassert themselves. Really, that's not unusual. They usually DO this time of year, and on into spring and early summer. Thing is, I can't tell if it's inside allergens that are simply getting to a really annoying level, or if there's actually something in the air outdoors this time of year. You'd think, seeing as we've still got thick snow cover, that the outdoors wouldn't provide any allergens to annoy us, but I wouldn't bet on it. (Even today, with it actually snowing outside!)

When I went in to order my contacts a few weeks back, the contact specialist on staff at the eye clinic questioned me as to my allergies. At that point, the ONLY indicator I had was how watery my eyes have been for the past couple of months. But, I usually tear up easily anyway, so it rarely bugs me too much. (It DOES keep me from wearing mascara much, though. Even the waterproof mascara tends to smudge, as often as I'm rubbing my eyes.) So, I told the lady at the eye clinic that my allergies may be "there" right now, but they're really not bothering me. Well, in the couple of weeks since, I've started feeling a ticklish throat, and some sniffles, but not the head-achey and stuffiness that indicates a cold. So, I know it's just allergies. (If my head feels clear, or even if the pain is focused in my sinuses, I can usually figure it's just allergies.)

Then I got up this morning. And my nose was stuffy, and my throat was ticklish, and my eyes are itchy!!!!! YUCK! I know Tay's been dealing with some allergies the last couple of weeks, but this is the first morning in a long while that I actually feel like I'm "dealing with allergies" myself. Usually it doesn't but me, but this itchy eye feeling, combined with the rest...... BLECH!!! And I can't really take anything for my allergies, because NOTHING I take works consistently, and ANYTHING I take has side-effects that I can't stand. So I don't take a darned thing to treat these allergies, I just deal with them. Thankfully, they're simply "annoying" and a bit "aggrivating" but never really beyond that. (Ok, ok, occasionally a sinus headache will hit that really knocks me for a loop, THEN I do take something like benadril or sudafed, but ONLY then. And EVEN then, it doesn't always help.)


I mentioned that it's snowing again. It's been snowing for most of the last 4 days. But it's been warm, too! Today, it's up to almost 30 degrees. YEAH! I can handle the snow, as long as it's reasonably warm as well, and rather light skies, like it is. And on the clear days, you can tell that the sun's actually WARM, not just BRIGHT. Spring is on it's way! And there's the added benefit that the snow may well keep the fires down this summer. A good drenching that melts off reasonably slowly (giving the moisture a chance to soak into the ground) results in less fire hazards over the summer, and the fires that DO happen don't get so wildly out of control as is otherwise possible, because a lot of what would otherwise burn, is still reasonably wet from winter. So, I'm enjoying the snow this year. (Except for the occasion that I step in a hidden deep drift in nothing but my crocs. THEN I grumble a bit because my feet are cold!)

As I was starting to type this post, the little boy from next door (a roly-poly 5 year old) and his older cousin were out playing on this little snow-berm at the bottom corner between our yard and theirs. The cousin (who's about 13) was pulling the little boy up the hill in the sled, then tried to turn him around and let him slide the 4 feet back to the bottom. *grin* They got up the top of the little hill, and when they went to turn it around, the little boy was so heavy that the sled sunk in on the back edge, and the cousin had a heck of a time getting it uprighted and angled the CORRECT way down the little hill. It was freaking hilarious, and it was nice watching a couple of kids out there enjoying the snow and doing a little bit of "sledding" even if it only lasted about 10 minutes.

All the other kids around here, except little Robbie now, are "too old" and "too cool" to be caught dead sledding on such "baby hills" as these little snow berms we get from the snow plows. Even Tay, who used to be a die-hard snow fan, can hardly be persuaded to set foot outside to play in the snow, these days. Occasionally Tay will have a friend come over, and they'll take Jenny out for a bit of a romp, but it's usually short-lived and it never happens often enough for Jenny's pleasure. (And poor Puck, can't be trusted not to run off, so he NEVER gets to go outside and just romp, without his leash.)


Thanks again for the prayers and positive thoughts for Mom. According to her blog, she sounds like she's doing pretty well with the healing.

Have a Blessed Day!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sharing Simply.....

Robin shared this story over at her blog, and I felt the urge to post it here, as well. Awesome, and the sharing and giving to Donna Byrne the along the way is what struck me most.

Jobless Woman Headed For Texas On Horseback
by Brian Reed

On roads teeming with motorcycles, pickup trucks and 18-wheelers, it isn't too hard to spot a woman on horseback.
So Donna Byrne is attracting a lot of attention. After she lost her job as a ranch hand in Arcadia, Fla., the 44-year-old couldn't afford her rent, so she decided to ride her horses, Jay and Tonto, to Texas — maybe even Montana — in search of work as a cowgirl.
In the first few weeks of her journey, Byrne has already received a large showing of goodwill. She says every day people stop to ask about her journey and offer a hand.

"She loaded up her horses and all her worldly goods and hit the road," says Daniel Skidmore, who pulled over on U.S. Route 301 in Wildwood, Fla., after reading about Byrne in a local newspaper. "I don't know many women [who] would do that."

At a rest stop up ahead from where Skidmore found her, Byrne ties Jay and Tonto to a handicapped parking sign, and they gulp down five buckets of water. Byrne pats them on the neck, nuzzles them and scolds them when they start drinking too sloppily. She says Tonto has a nice demeanor — that is, until someone tries to ride him.

"Then he wants to buck," she says, which is why she's designated him as her packhorse.
And as for Jay, "She gets one of them temperaments," Byrne says. "She wants to go, go, go, go — you've got to hold her back."

The horse's personality is not unlike her rider's. Byrne was a truck driver for many years, and that road mentality has stuck. She has no family, so when work didn't pan out in Florida, Byrne says, heading west was the best solution she could think of.

"It's been a dream of mine to do this ride," she says. "Lost a house, lost a job. Had to do something quick. I figured right now'd be the best time to do it."

Byrne spent the first few nights of her journey sleeping outside, until two local newspapers picked up her story — The Tampa Tribune and the Bradenton Herald. And that's when people started looking for her. Drive-by benefactors pulled over and donated cash. Some people offered their homes and their stables. A vet gave the horses roadside shots. A farrier gave them a new set of shoes.

In these tough economic times, something about Byrne's old-fashioned earnestness seems to strike a chord with people. In some ways, it's almost as if she rode straight out of a John Steinbeck novel.

"Owning a log cabin house," she says, longingly describing her dream life in Montana. "Having my own piece of property. Doing my own ranching. Mountains all around it."

But of all the people who are helping Byrne, horse lovers seem to be especially galvanized.
"Horse people are kind of a stick-together bunch," says Lisa Pannell. "So you know you kind of help out somebody if you can."

Pannell was at the receiving end of an elaborate phone chain to find lodging for Byrne in Wildwood. She let Jay and Tonto stay in her paddock, while Byrne slept at Sandy LeNoir's house down the road.

"I just think she's trying to hang onto her horses, which is, for a lot of us, that's our sanity," LeNoir says. "And she's hanging onto them and going after her dream. She's got nothing to lose."
Members of a Florida chapter of Cowboys for Christ, a national organization, have started a Web site for Byrne, and they've been making calls on her behalf. They're trying to connect her with people through Florida and even on to Texas. Nobody's really thinking beyond that yet.

That is, nobody except for Byrne. She says the word is that there isn't much more work in Texas than Florida.

"It's tough all the way around. It really is," she says.

And if she finds the Lone Star State lacking in job prospects?

"Just keep on riding," she says.

And that's exactly what she's doing — every day. After the horses slurp their last bit of water, Byrne ties the bucket to Tonto's pack and hoists herself onto Jay. She tips the floppy brim of her cowboy hat, and the three head on down the asphalt trail.


What stands out at me most in this story is the simple sharing that folks are doing. Giving her a bed to sleep in for the night, vaccinations for her horses, the free shoeing job from a farrier, food for the horses...... Folks are coming out of the woodwork, and they're not all sharing a LOT individually, as we're all in a tight position, but each person sharing a LITTLE bit is helping this woman in her journey.

I think that this needs to be a major factor in our lives again. In stories of the Great Depression (the 30's depression, as I don't think we'll be able to call it the "Great Depression" for much longer without getting confused), you hear about hobos riding the rails, and they'd jump off and trudge along looking for a mud-daubed symbol on a fence-post. They found that symbol, and knew they could stop in and ask the lady of the house for a bit to eat. If she had a spare job that needed doing in exchange for food or a night's rest. And they knew that the lady of the house would be the sharing simply type. Not much to go around, but enough for one more mouth, or room for one more head to rest.

Would that we all would be more like this. Yeah, invite the neighbour over for supper occasionally, but how about taking a cup-full of chowder down to the homeless guy sitting on the corner. Making an afghan for a friend's baby? Great. How about using the extra yarn toward a scarf or a hat for the homeless shelter, or even to donate to the local school for those cold winter days and the little boy who doesn't have a hat to wear at recess. Enough yarn, you can even get a scrappy afghan made (or enough fabric scraps, and you can put together a scrappy-quilt) to donate to the homeless shelter. It's not fancy, it's not much. It's sharing simply.

And, even among people you may not know well enough to be friends, and aren't needy enough to be homeless or hobos or beggars, simply sharing a favorite cd with somebody you see regularly, and have noticed they like similar music to yourself. A regular patron in at work the other day mentioned to me a favorite classical musician, and copied the front of his favorite CD by this musician (Debussy) and brought it to me. It's been added to my list of music to look for. It wasn't much, he photocopied the front and remembered to give me the picture. But, it's a simple joy he thought to share with somebody else. It's a simple joy that will probably add a little light to my day, should I ever get my hands on the actual CD. *grin*

I think I'm going to put a note up by my bed where I'll see it every day, just something brief to remind me to share simply throughout the day. Find a little SOMETHING that I can share with somebody else, and DO! If it's a bit of time to help somebody pick up something they've dropped, or a little time toward working on that hat or scarf for the shelter, or buying an extra danish or cup of soup for the homeless guy outside the grocery store, an extra can of chili or milk or some-such for the food-donation box at the grocery (or at the school, or at work), thinking to pass a book on to a friend/coworker/aquaintance whom might enjoy it, and having enough food in the house that I can offer a passing hobo a bite, if one were to stop in looking.

Just some thoughts I had, after experiencing this guy at the library sharing a tidbit on music with me, and especially after reading that news bit that Robin posted about this lady riding her horses cross-country in search of a job. Thanks, Robin, for sharing that with us. I appreciate it!


BTW, I have to get a couple of pics of the afghan I just finished a few days ago. It's for that little premie girl I was telling y'all about. Anyway, the baby-shower is this coming Sunday, so I won't have the afghan on hand much longer. Need to get a pic while I can. *grin*

Have a Blessed Day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thanks and Wristlet's

First off, talked to Mom last night. She said surgery was a little more rough than it was supposed to be. Apparently the tissue from her stomach that was going to be used to provide the sling for her bladder was too scarrified from her c-sections (both my younger sisters were c-sections) and from her other tummy tuck too, I would imagine. So they had to take some skin from further up her belly, which resulted also in the surgeon having to reposition her belly-button again (after it was re-constructed after her tummy-tuck. (This wasn't a tummy-tuck, but the external results are as if she were having one. The surgery was to provide support for a weak bladder. She has previously had a tummy-tuck for the purpose of getting rid of the excess skin from her weight loss, after her gastric-bypass was successful.)

Anyway, so the extra work took about an hour longer than was hoped, and will PROBABLY result in a longer recovery time as well. So, while she's mending, please pray that she mends quickly, as she doesn't have very much leave time accrued thanks to some job-changes that took place just prior to this surgery. It could mean that she's without leave-pay for a week or more.

Thanks for the prayers and positive thoughts that have been sent her way for a safe, successful surgery and healing. I know Mom appreciates the prayers she receives.


Tori, "wristlet's" at I meant them, are little knittled (or crocheted, I hope I can find a crochet pattern) fingerless gloves to cover the hand & up the fore-arms a bit. They would allow for using my hands much more comfortably with typing, and with crocheting and knitting on other things while wearing. I can't wear true gloves while crocheting or typing (or really, reading or any such thing that requires being able to feel the surface with your fingertips) because gloves dull my ability to feel the yarn or book pages or even the computer keys in order to type reasonably accurately.


Wound up staying home from work today. Within a half hour or so of waking up, I started getting a head-ache. Nasty bugger, too! I thought maybe it was dehydration, so I started drinking some water. That didn't help as it does when it's just a dehydration headache. I took some extra-strength tylenol. That didn't help at ALL (as it would if it was just a tension headache). In fact, after taking the tylenol, the headache quickly went full-blown migrain and became the worst migrain I've had in years. I had the whole nine yards: sensativity to light (rare for me), sensativity to sound (rare for me), sensativity to movement (the most common aspect), stabbing pain in one temple (migrains tend to be asymetrical where as tension headaches are more symetrical). Totally sucked.

And wouldn't you know it, for like the first half hour, the kiddo was sure as could be that I was doing it just to stay home and annoy her. *snort* Can we say "self-centered?!?!?!" As if I'd purposefully go through that kinda pain just to make sure she's not home alone for the day. *rolling eyes* The boss was ok about it, when I let her know I wouldn't be in, but what's she gonna say, ya know??? (Besides, I'm one of at least 3 in our department who gets knocked out with migrains on a semi-regular basis. And I don't get them nearly as often as the other two I know of. So, she can't single me out for nastiness over this. Not that I think she would anyway. If there's one thing I know the boss doesn't get pissy about, it's when people are honestly, truly sick or in pain. She's a decently nice boss, in that aspect.)

Anyway, set up the humidifier in my bedroom with some peppermint oil dribbled into the water; rubbed a mix of peppermint oil and sweet almond oil (several drops sweet almond, 1 drop peppermint) into my temples (both sides for good measure) and the back of my neck; took a vicodin for pain; darkened my bedroom and lay in bed quietly listening to some Enya on my Ipod and reading a novel. Jenny decided today would be a good day to stay close to her Mama (me), so she got up on the bed with me for what is probably the first time in her life. She's not a cuddler, but she was laying there keeping an eye on me and getting me to scratch her head now and again. Tay also finally cooled down, did her best to help make me comfortable, then finished up her schoolwork before playing on the computer till I got up at 3:30. (Oh, and I did wind up taking a nap, which certainly helped.)

So, I'm now up, feeling much better. Still not as really rested as I'd like. (Why is it I can never seem to catch up on sleep? Lately, I can't even sleep in because my bladder is rather insistent rather consistently right about 8:15 that it must have relief or there'll be trouble.) But, the migrain is gone.

So, that's my day so far. *chuckle* Whole lotta nothin'. Really didn't start this post to talk about my migrain, but to say thanks for the P&PT for my Mom and to tell Tori what wristlet's are (at least, in the way I mentioned them last post).

Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surgery, Cold, and Haircuts

First things first, please keep my mom in your prayers over the next couple of days. She went in this morning for surgery to "put her bladder in a sling". *chuckle* Should solve some incontinence issues she felt it was time to deal with. Anyway, she should be out of the hospital in a day or two, but the Dr was doing the more invasive procedure which is essentially giving her a second tummy tuck. (Mom, did he give you 6-pack-abs while you were in there? *wink & grin*)


Secondly, the damned furnace is flubbing up again. This past week, we have woken up to no heat in the house 3 times since Wednesday. (That was the first sign of it malfunctioning again, since we thought it got fixed back the week before Christmas.) Anyway, since that time, one of Scott's friends came over and put a fuel filter on the fuel lines, hoping that would solve the problem. It didn't. That "fix" lasted all of 2 days. Saturday night we went to bed knowing the furnace was out, but everybody (Tay had 2 friends spending the night) was bedded down with plenty of blankets and stayed reasonably warm till we all got up yesterday morning. Then, yesterday morning, we had a different furnace company (the fuel & furnace co. that Scott's Dad works for) come out and see if THEY could solve our problem. The guy got the furnace running again, replaced something-or-another, and left. Shortly after 9 pm, the furnace quit again. Altogether quit. *sigh* So, again we called the fuel & furnace co. and they sent somebody else out to look it over. 10:30 pm, the guy leaves and the furnace is running again. Scott woke up this morning to leave for work, and the furnace was out. Again.

It's 56 degrees in the house without the furnace going. We're just thankful it's not -50 outside. There's no way we'd be able to sit around the house if it was -50 outside. *chuckle* This MAY be what persuades Scott to look harder into a wood-stove. It's certainly persuaded me, but I don't ultimately get to make that choice. (I DO have a bunch of candles burning around the livingroom, kitchen and computer room throwing off a BIT of heat, and at least providing some hand-warming while writing school-work, reading the newspaper, or typing here on the computer.)

Anyway, now at 10:35, we haven't had heat yet this morning. Scott's got a call in the furnace & Fuel company to send somebody else out, and he's staying home from work till it looks like they've got it fixed (again?). Thus far, we haven't heard at what point the furnace-repair-guy is going to be here. I'm going to be SO glad to go to work today, if JUST for the fact that it'll at least be warm. (Really, though, I'm not TERRIBLY cold. I'm wearing my PJ shorts under a pair of sweat-pants, my night shirt under an over-sized men's thermal long-john shirt, and my "fluffy crocs" on my feet. Except for my fingers and my face, everything's pretty well covered. And I'm to the point where I think I'm going to go ahead this summer and make myself a pair of those "wristlet's" for next winter. Maybe a pair for the kiddo, too.)


Thanks for all the love regarding the hair-cut and glasses. After I wrote up that post, I had to chuckle the next morning because I realize that my hair is ultimately even shorter than it appears in the "after" pic. Once my hair is washed, if I don't blow it out and brush it down, it actually winds up rather wavy. And with LOTS of body. I don't EVER blow it out and brush it down, therefore it winds up "kinking up" a lot more than it was in that "after" pic, therefore it winds up just brushing the tops of my shoulders, instead of hanging just below my shoulders. That's ok though. I can't put my hair up in a bun anymore, but I CAN use one of my butterfly clips, or any of my barrettes to pin my hair back or up. And I can braid it much more easily now. AND it's got a lot more body and WAVES!! I LOVE my waves! And they're natural! *grin*

I got quite a chuckle yesterday when I went to work, and everybody kinda did this double take and said "OMG, Kati, you got a HAIRCUT?!?!" It was hilarious. One of my coworkers kept looking at me, but couldn't figure out what was different. She just hasn't realized yet what it is. It's funny as hell. And I'm not telling her. *wink* I love waiting to see how long it takes folks.

Speaking of haircuts, I had to chuckle yesterday when I was sitting out at the desk. This very clean-cut, dressed up family comes past the check-out desk with their load of books, and the two older boys have mohawk hair-cuts. I find it so ironic to see what is to all appearances a very clean-cut family just out of church, and 2 of their boys (4 kids total) sport a hair-cut that was once upon a time a symbol of disrespect for "the establishment". When I was little (in the 80's) NO self-respecting young christian family would ponder the thought that their kids might get their hair cut in such a disrespectful manner as a mohawk. Only "druggies" and "punks" and "losers" sported those punky sort of hair-cuts.

NOW, it's not only normal, it's FASHIONABLE enough that even clean-cut little "christian" boys will get a mohawk hair-cut and Mom and Dad don't grumble about it. And not just mohawk hair-cuts, but multiple piercings and tattoos. One of the women I work with who is (as she claims) old enough to be my mom (but she won't divulge her actual age) has two sets of piercings in her ears, and just got a cartilage piercing this past weekend. My own Mom has 3 tattoos. I have one tattoo and two sets of piercings. I just find it very ironic to think back on my own childhood (not 20 years ago) and the stigmas and steriotypes that went with these various aspects of appearance (Haircuts, body modifications) and how they were limited to the extreme fringe. Now the extreme fringe has lost these indicators of their self-imposed "outsider" status, and I wonder what the new indicators are.

Though, I guess there's still the fact of HOW many piercings or tattoos you have, and even the hair-cut extremes, among which the more extreme for women these days seems to be dreadlocks, no matter your ancestory. A face-full of metal still is deemed as more extreme than a simple, single nose-piercing or eye-brow piercing. Tattood or scarified facial markings are still an extreme. The bearers are just required to be even MORE extreme than used to be necessary, in order to be considered extreme at all. Anyway...... just some funny (to me) ponderings I was having yesterday.


Ok, I'd better finish this little post up and get back to schoolwork. We've got 2 more questions to answer in science, then I've got to head off to work without getting any more schoolwork done.

Have a Blessed Day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More of the Same, with Some Pictures to Share

Well, first things first, here are some of the personal physical changes made in the past couple of weeks. These first two pics took place today. I started this morning with hair that reached my butt.

I will end today with hair that barely reaches past my shoulders. I was hoping to keep it SLIGHTLY longer than this, but as it is, I was just able to donate the length to Locks of Love. (For those who don't know, Locks of Love is for folks who've got healthy long hair to donate at least 10 inches to the making of wigs for kids who've got chemo-induced baldness.) It's a great cause! And I hope they're able to do something with the hair I donated. Not a hair that is currently on my head has ever been dyed or permed or such. Plenty of split ends were gotten rid of today, though. *chuckle*

Now some pics of me with glasses. First, my OLD glasses. The ear pieces were starting to wear out, the "chocolate" color of the frames was getting worn out (literally, wearing off the frames). And the lenses were scratched beyond belief. (The eye Doc was rather astonished that I could still see out of them! Said he's never seen such a precise, incredible pattern of swirly scratches on the lenses. *grin* I reminded him that I've been wearing this pair for 4 years.)

This is me with my new pair of glasses. Please disregard the double chin visible in these pics. *wry smile*

My new glasses, and my old glasses. To give some idea of the difference in the shape of the lenses and frames. (Tori, the new ones are more rectangular, while the old lenses were more oval.)

And last but not least, with contacts instead of glasses. I went with clear contacts this time, instead of colored. Maybe someday I'll put in one of my pair of green contacts (from 4 years ago) and show what I look like with green eyes. *wink* For now, my usual "everyday" blue.

As for what's been going on around here, not a heck of a lot, really! The weather has been reasonably beautiful. We've had some clear, sunny, WARM February days. We've had some cloudy, gray, cool February days. Prefering the warm ones. Today we woke up to thick snow, but it's stopped by now. I doubt we got quite the 4 inches that were being predicted, though. Supposedly this was supposed to be the worst snow storm of the winter so far. Not nearly so. But the snow falling first thing this morning weren't your individual little snow flakes. We had whole danged cotton balls falling from the sky. And BOY is it warm! It's actually about 35 degrees out today, which means it's a GOOD thing the white stuff isn't still falling, else it would actually be sleet instead of snow. YUCKY!!!! The roads are crappy enough as it is. And I've gotta get the kiddo to hockey practice this evening at 5:30 on Ft. Weinwright. Not looking forward to making the drive, today. *sigh* (At least now I've got a temp pass to use the back gate for the duration of the hockey season so I don't have to go all the way around to the front gate.)

Hockey has tapered almost to nothing. We've got 2 more games and 5 practices (including tonight's) before the end of the season. The kiddo's rather peeved, all in all. Her coach really dropped the ball for the team this year, refusing to let the girls participate in tournaments and not schedualing more games because he's already tied up with his two other teams. (Yeah, the guy said he'd take on 3 teams this year, but he's not shown up for half of our team's activities, or has held off schedualing us more activities because he's tied up with his other two teams. Our girls are feeling rather jilted. Rightly so. (Scott, the two assistant coaches, AND the team manager have all 4 said that they'd have been willing to act as head coach for the team if the team had gotten to go to a tournament in Anchorage. The main coach didn't even give us the option, though. *sigh*) So, a practice tonight, a game Saturday. And only 3 more events in the next 3 weeks.

School is still..... going. I've got to call the homeschool program and set up an appointment to meet with the special ed teacher now that we've gotten Tays medical appointments all taken care of. Tay's not fighting so much lately, but she's still fighting somewhat. She seems to enjoy her therapist (L.) though, and is looking forward (for the moment) to her appointment tomorrow. We're just moving into the Westward expansion of the USA in History, and Tay's getting into the section on Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea. She's rather happy about that. (FWIW, my Dad's sis-in-law -Aunt Norma Sue- told Dad not too long ago that Clark's wife was the sister to one of our great grandfathers. Cool!)
I brought home 3 books on Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea and the Westward Expansion yesterday, and 2 of the three books include activities and crafts. I've told Tay that if she wants to pick one of the crafts, I'll buy her supplies to make that craft. (The exceptions being: making a full-sized Tipi, and making a brownie "soddy." That is, a sod house made of brownies to show the manner of stacking the sod "bricks" and the roofing of such. I don't think we need brownies in the house. *grin*)

Gardening wise.... Well, a whole lotta dreaming, but not much "doing" going on. The FIL FOUND my box of seeds! So I've been able to go through and figure out what I need to buy more of. Now I only need to actually BUY more. Basically, I need more spinach seed, more eggplant (if I want to bother with that again), more Black from Tula tomato seed (again, if I want to bother), more Anna Swartz hubbard squash, more radish, more beet, and more green beans. What I really need to do is decide which seed company I want to buy from (SSE like last year, or Territorial Seed Co.) and see if they've still got what I want, and how much it's going to be. I know it won't be as expensive as last year ($100, last year!). I may add another pack of Sunset Runner beans, since I've only got 1 pkg left from last year. (I ordered 2 and used 1 and didn't get any returns.) Still, it won't be a big order this year.
I also passed some of the pepper seed onto 2 of my coworkers who'd expressed an interest in trying to grow some peppers for themselves. The flavor of the peppers, when dried and ground, is NOT "just" like paprika. It's a bit different. Very pungent, very "spicy" but not hot at all. It's not a hot flavor, just a sweet, heavy, assertive flavor. Good, and I think a good alternative to paprika, but NOT paprika. I hope to get a good bit more this coming year. Enough to actually grind a jar-full next year, if not more.

Work has been rather quiet for a couple of weeks. Not a heck of a lot going on, thank goodness. And the "brown-noser" co-worker has been keeping her mouth to herself (at least where I'm concerned) lately. Which is good. However, a couple of other coworkers and I are about ready to take our concerns about the activities this woman engages in (on work time, or at work but not officially on-the-clock) and talk to the Union Rep. This other woman (the brown noser) does little to NO work based on our job description and almost all of the things she DOES do are "extracurricular" weeding and reorganizational activities that she's "given" by a couple of the reference librarians. These are jobs that the rest of us have been chewed out for daring to offer our time to (when you get sick of shelf-reading, you'll offer to do just about ANYTHING else), but the Brown-noser does these activities to the exclusion of all her "reguarly assigned" activities. And yet, those of us who DO engage in our "regularly assigned" duties, but don't follow directions to the very letter, get chewed out. (If we spend more than 45 minutes shelving a single cart of books, even Non-Fic, and we spend any of that time out there straightening, we're chewed out for taking too long. One coworker who shelves very quickly was chewed out for taking TOO many carts of books during the course of the day. We're supposed to spend time shelf-reading, but we're chewed out if we do because we weren't shelving instead. If we shelve books to the exclusion of shelf-reading we're chewed out because "our" shelf-reading sections look like crap. If we dare spend a little time checking in books instead of shelving (esp. when the shelves are bare of books TO be shelved, but the table is full of books yet to be checked in), we're chewed out for daring to think that maybe we should check-in for a while in order to have materials TO shelve. However, if the table gets full (which invariably happens at the same time as the media bin being an over-flowing mess) the person who IS supposed to be checking them in gets chewed out for NOT getting enough done.
(The person who's job it is to check in media AND keep an eye on the check-out desk in case of a rush of people is also the person who's supposed to be checking in whatever books are on the table waiting to be checked in as well. Unfortunately, the media bin is only ever overflowing with media -which takes priority to books- at the same time that the table is full. It's impossible to stay on top of BOTH, so occasionally after 5 pm (at which point none of us pages are assigned to be "back-up") one of us will sit at the check-in computer and attempt to just check in books. I've been chewed out for daring to do such, even though I didn't have any more pressing matters to take care of, the shelves were empty of books to be put away, I didn't have a cart-full of books to put away, I had already shelf-read during the day, AND I didn't have pick-up duties.) It just seems as if we just cannot win with our boss. And the worst part about it is that what the Boss does is rather bitchy, but I can't figure out if she really realizes how bitchy and micromanaging she is. Sometimes she seems completely oblivious to how overbearing she is, other times she seems to be purposefully ragging on us just because she can. Sometimes she'll even do something totally nice, and then within 5 minutes say something totally overbearing or contradictory. It's frustrating. And at least 3 of us agree that we'd love our jobs if we were simply allowed to DO our jobs without the micromanagement and bossiness of our Boss (and Brown-noser).

Oh, FWIW, the father of that little neighbourhood boy (I say little, M. is taller than I am!) died almost 2 weeks ago now. My understanding is that M's mom moved back in a while back and has reassumed her responsibilities for her children in the course of the illness and death of her ex-husband. (She has had some nasty drug issues that resulted in her being a very "flakey" mom, when she was around at all. Maybe the illness of her ex-hubby got through to her, I don't know. Anyway, the kids are still living in their home here in the neighbourhood.)
The premature baby seems to be doing well and I've completed an afghan for her. (What little we hear is that she's progressing reasonably well, that the hospital hopes to send her home about the end of March, which is just prior to the day she was actually due to be born.)
Anyway...... I've gotta get off the computer. We've gotta get a bit of school work done, and this post is definitely long enough.
Have a Blessed Day!