Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring is Coming!

We've had warm, thawing weather, and then we had snow again and "cold". It DOES seem that spring is finally on it's way, though. Today it got up to 38 deg. F out of direct sunlight. Unfortunately it's getting cool enough at night to make the roads slick in the mornings till enough cars have passed to start the snow melting again.

So, let's see.... What's happened in the last week?

Tay met with the child psycologist and took the "Weschler Individual Scale for Children" test. It was apparently some sort of IQ assessement geared to judge how well a child follows orders; organizes thoughts and/or items; solves problems; comprehends ideas; etc. I go back in on Thursday of THIS week to find out how she comes out in that test. L. seems to think that the test should pretty well show that Tay has some learning disabilities, and should point in a specific direction as to the type of disabilities that Tay may be facing.

With Tay's therapy, we met Stephanie finally on Friday. She came over for a bit of "get to know you" time, Friday morning before Tay and I headed in for Tay's bi-weekly meeting with L. Then Stephanie is going to start coming out here to meet with Tay 4 to 5 days a week, in the mornings. Tomorrow morning she'll come out and hopefully we can get into working on school work with Tay. Stephanie said she'd be very willing to sit down and try to help us go through Tay's school work, and to help Tay with the learning process. *sigh* I hope _I_ can hold my temper when Tay starts getting nasty about doing the school work. I'd say that I hope Tay can hold hers, but at the same time Stephanie needs to get some idea of what kind of help Tay needs, and the only way that's going to happen is when Tay initially blows up in front of Stephanie. At the same time, of course, I'm hoping that simply having Stephanie here helps Tay calm the impulses to be mean when she's faced with something she doesn't want to do. And Stephanie DID say that she'll be taking Tay out and doing stuff as well, not just schoolwork here at the house. Which is FINE BY ME. *grin*

**********

Kinda ironic/funny (and yet, very very NOT funny at all), Thursday night, Scott and I were talking about the Recession/Depression we're in. He had noted how yet another TV commercial was promising some sort of aid plan for buying the cars they're all so desperate to sell, or the home improvement merchandise, or the vacation, or anything else you see on TV or hear on the radio. Seems like everybody's out to tell you how they can help you save money or get ahead with this recession. Anyway, I commented on the fact that just 5 short months ago, the government was still trying to tell us that there WASN'T a recession, that it was all a bunch of hooey, and that things would be all peachy keen. And now EVERYBODY sees that not only IS there a recession, but a lot of folks are expecting it to become worse and last longer than is being admitted to as yet by the government.

(There was a clip in a Time Mag. or maybe it was NewsWeek, not to long ago about Suze Ormond's predictions and advice for weathering the recession, and she claimed that she feels this could go on till 2015. That sounds LONG, but honestly more believeable than the other financial "experts" who are "expecting" a turn around by Dec. '09.)

Well anyway, Scott commented on how things around here still seem pretty good and his company (his INDIVIDUAL company, not the international group of companies as a whole, JUST the one here in town that Scott works for) actually made a 70+ million dollar profit last quarter. I reminded him that those profits will continue ONLY as long as the rest of the country and the rest of the world can afford to buy the goods that Scott's company makes. Admittedly, Scott's co. sells chemical blends to oil producers, and as long as the oil producers need these chemicals, Scott's company will continue to sell them. So it's NOT like it's based on the individual purchasing power of your every-day working stiff in Kentucky. BUT, when it gets to the point that the guy in Kentucky and 50 million countrymen just like him cannot afford to buy fuel for the house, then the oil companies will stop being able to buy the chemicals that Scott's company produces. THEN Scott's company will see some slack in their income. Scott was predicting that this would take a while.

Friday, they had a meeting that Scott said was almost funny, in that I'd "called it" accurately again. Turns out that the international group of companies has been directed that EVERY employee in their employ must take 2 weeks of leave-without-pay this year. The difference for Scott's company is that he and his coworkers are being given the choice as to HOW they want to take that leave. Thus far, the boss told Scott that he can take it all at once, or portion out one day at a time throughout the year, so long as it totals up to 10 days without pay in the course of the next year. Now mind you, that's gonna hurt, but not so bad as somebody else in a different branch of the company who is being forced to take 2 weeks without pay all at once. If Scott takes a day here, a day there, he can manage to keep his paychecks from getting so low that it hurts us. And for that matter, if he tries to take them this summer, we can have those slim paychecks during the time we'll hopefully need less electric and heat, resulting in smaller electric & fuel bills during the time when we've got less money. And that time can be used to do work around the house here, or gardening over at the inlaws, or even hunting and fishing. So, ultimately it's not a GREAT thing, but at least they've given Scott and coworkers the option to portion it out slowly. And Scott admits that as hard as that could his US, it's going to be a hell of a lot harder for some of his coworkers who're already having a hard time keeping their heads above water. (Thinking of Mike and Tasha who've got 4 kids and live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment because they cannot afford bigger. Tasha doesn't work, so that means 2 weeks of decreased pay for Mike will hit them harder than 2 weeks for Scott will hit us. Admittedly, that financial crush is a small part of the reason we stopped at 1 child, instead of having 4 of them. So part of it for us is luck, part of it is just good common sense in the use of birth control. *wry smile*)

**********

Here are a couple of recipes I tried this past week. DANG they were good!

Pork & Pinto Beans

1 pound dried pinto beans
1 boneless pork loin roast, 3 to 4 pounds (I think I used a shoulder instead.)
1 (14-1/2 oz) can stewed tomatoes (I used diced.)
5 medium carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1-1/2 c water
2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chilies
2 tsp chili powder (original recipe called for 2 TBSP, but I KNEW that'd be too hot for us, 2 teaspoons was perfect!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano (just used italian seasoning instead)
dash pepper
2 pkg corn tortilla chips or 30 (9-inch) flour tortillas (I used lime-flavored tortilla chips. YUM!)
Toppings: chopped green onions, sliced ripe olives, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and/or shredded cheddar cheese.

Place beans in a saucepan; add water tocover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or, you could just soak them overnight without heating them first.)

Drain & rinse beans; discard liquid. Place roast in a 5 quart slow-cooker. In a bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, water, chilies, and all the seasonings. Pour over roast. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, reduce heat to low; cook 5 hours longer or until beans are tender.

Remove meat, remove as much fat as possible from meat and discard fat. Shred meat with two forks and return to slow cooker. Stir into bean & veggie mixture well and allow to heat through for about a half-hour again. With a slotted spoon, serve meat mixture over tortilla chips or rolled up in tortillas. Serve with toppings as desired. Makes 10 servings.

(This was delicious with the lime chips the first day, then reheated and served in tortilla shells for days afterwards. DO be careful of how much chili powder you add. As I said, the original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons, but knowing our limits I only used 2 teaspoons instead. That was deliciously spicy without being overbearingly so. I cannot imagine what the original 2 Tbsp would have been like, I only know that I would not have been able to eat it. *wry smile*)

*****

Baked Rigatoni with Ham and Mushrooms

1/3 oz dried porcini or 6 oz fresh button mushrooms
2 Tbsp unlated butter, if using fresh mushrooms, plus 6 Tbsp
12 oz dry rigatoni
1/4 c all-purpose flour
2-1/2 c milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 oz Fontina or Swiss cheese, cut into julienne strips (I actually used over 8 oz!)
6 oz ham, roughly chopped (I used a full pound.)

If using porcini mushrooms, place in a bowl with lukewarm water and soak until softened. Drain, squeeze out excess water and chop finely; set aside. If using fresh mushrooms, cut off and discard the stems, wipe clean with towel and thinly slice. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large pot bring 5 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook for about 6 minutes; they should be very al dente. (I would cook actually about 2 minutes longer as we found them a little TOO al dente, even after baking with the cheese and the sauce and everything.) Drain the pasta and transfer it to a bowl (or right back into the cooking pot, off the heat). Add 2-1/2 Tbsp of the butter and toss well.

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. (180 deg. C). In a large saucepan, melt 2-1/2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir till smooth, about 2 minutes. (Again, I'd double this part as we would have liked the pasta a good bit more saucy.) Stirring constantly, gradually add the milk. Continue to stir until it thickens and is smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with nutmeg and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grease a 8x12 inch baking dish with the remaining butter. (I used my 13x9x2 inch dish.) Arrange half of the rigatoni in the dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese and the ham over the top, and spoon on 1/2 of the sauce. Repeat the layers in the same order, ending with sauce. Place in oven and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 20 minutes. (I covered with foil to retain some of the moisture while baking. So, I popped it back in for another 2 or 3 minutes under the broiler to brown up the cheese a bit, after removing the foil at the very end.) Serve at once! Serves 6.

(As I said, I used considerably more ham and cheese than was called for, simply to seemingly have a bit sprinkled over. I cannot imagine how 4 oz of cheese could be divided over all this pasta and actually seem to provide much cheesy-ness. Next time I make this, I will also double the sauce portion, as we could have used considerably more sauce to moisten the pasta more. And the pasta would have been better either with more sauce to moisten the noodles better in baking, or to boil them more in the first place, so they weren't quite so Al dente. Scott and I liked this recipe pretty well. Tay didn't care for it overly much, though she admitted that it may just have been because the noodles were still a little too firm for her taste.)

*****

It's funny, for dinner tonight we're having grilled steak, baked potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. I think I've finally come to the point where I officially kinda like mushrooms. This will be the third time this week that we've had mushrooms. If I'm not careful, Scott and Tay may get burnt out. *wry smile* Growing up, my sisters and I all hated mushrooms with a passion. I started, little over a year ago, trying them now and again, trying to learn to like them. I've succeeded for the most part. (Prefer them either raw, or really nicely browned up with some onion. Lightly sauteed like in the Rigatoni thing above isn't QUITE my favorite way to eat them.) My sister Shelli is starting on the same attempt, but has only just begun making mushrooms for herself in the effort to learn to like them. I DO think it's quite true that it takes about 15 tries before you really learn to like something. (And I'm sure there are some things that some people may never learn to like. I'm pretty well off on the idea of trying insect anything, myself.) And Kori, to the best of my knowledge, is still very very opposed to the thought of actually consuming anything that contains mushrooms of any sort. So, yet again...... I'm least picky! *grin*

(This was always something of a gloating point for me, growing up. That of the 3 of us I was the most willing to try something new and eat my veggies. Brussels-sprouts, spinach, zucchini, onions, raw tomato, asparagus, broccoli WITHOUT cheese sauce, now mushrooms...... I think Shelli likes all of the above except the mushrooms now, but it took her well into college before she'd eat them. Kori still won't eat them at all, as far as I know. But me..... I love them all! Ok, LIKE them all at least. *wink & grin*)

Those are the only 2 new recipes I tried this week. I actually don't have any new recipes lined up for this coming week. So y'all will have to wait a bit before I post something new. *wry smile*

**********

We got new name-tags at work. Apparently nametags boost a feeling of community in customer service jobs. Our library director (great guy! really!!) read a study that showed this and decided that it was time we all wore name-tags. In the past, we pages have been instructed to wear tags that simply indicated we were library staff. Ironic how few patrons actually paid attention to them. *wry smile* (I cannot tell you how many times somebody would ask "do you work here?" even though I had the staff-badge hanging around my neck.) The old staff-badges were ugly as well. (Simply our library card with "Staff" written in the section where a patron would sign their name.) And we all had to wear them on these horrible elastic-necklace things. UGH! For me, the card kept getting cracked as I'd lean against it while checking out materials to patrons out at the desk. It hung at just the right level across my chest that the card would crack over the course of a couple of weeks. By the time I broke 3 of them, I just stopped wearing them at all. I actually bought some t-shirts with our library emblem just so that I could cry off from wearing the staff-badge all the time. (Hell, if I'm wearing a library shirt, that should be indicator enough that I AM a library employee. Especially if I'm found out in the stacks putting books away. *smile*)

Anyway, the new name-tags are non-negotiable. However we were given the option of lanyard, magnetic pin-backing, or pincher clip. I opted for the magnetic pin back. And we were given the option of one of 6 different pictures alongside our name and rank. I picked a brightly colored stack of books. (Ahhhh, clip-art!) Then I brought it home and "prettied it up" a bit more with a couple of stickers of dragonflies and flowers. *grin* Hope the boss doesn't have any problem with that! And now, all the folks who come through my line can know my name. *sigh*

*****

In that same line, there's a guy who comes in regularly who used to work with my dad. This guy started hanging around Dad about the same time I had Tay. At one point he came over to the house very shortly after Tay was born (and I was still living at home) and caught me in my night-clothes and was rather creepy in how he looked at me and how he looked at Tay. Since then, he's said and done other things that just gave me the creeps. (Not the least of which was last Spring when he and Dad were at the Farmer's market, and as Tay and I gave my dad a hug, this guy asked if HE could have a hug too.)

Anyway, so a couple of weeks ago he came in while I was at the desk and started getting on my case as to Dad's where-abouts. I told him that Dad was still in Spokane and advised him to get ahold of my dad himself, as he has Dad's email. He commented that my dad never returned his emails, and started to get nasty with ME while asking why that was, if he (this guy) had done something to tick off my Dad. Quite honestly, I've NEVER liked this guy. He's creepy and rude. And I only tolerated him for my dad's sake. Now that Dad's left state, I'd be just as well never seeing this guy again. But he won't leave me along, continually trying to strike up conversations that frequently result in him quizzing me as to my dad's every move. (As if I'm my dad's keeper?!?! I love my dad, but I'm NOT responsible for his whereabouts.)

So, finally I talked to Dad a couple of days back and told him that this guy had been getting rather disruptive at work and would Dad PLEASE email the guy and get him off MY case. Even if I happened to be friendly with this guy, for him to be taking up so much of my time at work, and causing a scene as well, is not something I need. Dad kinda grumbled about how he hasn't kept in touch with ANYBODY from here, except ONE other former coworker, and myself. Evidently Dad hates writing enough that he figures even emails to "friends" from "home" are too much. Anyway, I pressured Dad till he agreed that he'd get in touch with this one guy and hopefully get him to knock it off in harassing me. I also kinda let my dad know that this guy was NOT somebody I felt like keeping in touch with myself, so please either tell the guy to find other friends, or to keep in touch himself. Hopefully that will be the end of this creep getting in my face.

(Wow..... I cannot help looking at this from the point of somebody who doesn't know me in person and getting the impression that maybe I'm just being mean to this guy. But that really isn't it at all. There have been very occasional people throughout my life who've set off alarm-vibes in my gut. I don't mean to imply that they ARE predators of some sort, but that my gut tells me these are NOT people I want to be associating with. This guy is one of those few people. I try not to make rush judgements as to people based on their gender or color or religion, so please don't think that this is some snap-judgement based on his gender. But honestly, people have intuition for a reason, and I try to listen to mine when it tells me to avoid a person. As I said, this guy has set off all kinda intuitional alarms since I first met him. I've met other of my Dad's friends who are perfectly fine and whom I've got little problem with other than basic differences in opinion about political issues. So, it's not that at all either. I don't know..... I don't want to give anybody any impression that I'm a nasty judgemental type person. Just, this guy creeps me out in major ways. Anyway.....)

*****

Well, I'd better finish this up. Sounds like Scott just went out to start up the grill. Better go get my potatoes and mushrooms going.

Have a Blessed Day!

6 comments:

whimsical brainpan said...

I hope Tay's results are insightful. And Stephanie sounds like she'll be a big help.

Sorry to hear that Scott has to take a forced furlough. A lot of that going around.

LOL! I like that you tricked out your nametag. :-)

And I don't think you are being mean about that guy at all. He does sound creepy

Tori_z said...

Glad the weather's warming up for you a bit.

I hope that - when the test results come back for Tay - they find something serious enough to give her help, but not so serious that it could give her worse problems down the line.

I also hope things go well when Stephanie is there tomorrow (or, would it be today now? *Shrugs*)

This may surprise you, but I am - and always have been - a very picky eater. If something (even something I like) doesn't taste "right" to me then I wont eat it. I'm not nearly as bad as I was though... I'll actually eat more than a couple of mouthfuls before leaving my dinner now. ;)

As for trying new things... Getting me to try them isn't a problem. Getting me to try them enough times so I learn to like them is. Still, at least I don't automatically not like them just because someone else doesn't (which is what used to happen). If I don't know if I like it I'll take a tiny taste. But if I don't like it then I'm not trying it again.

Carl would never try new stuff, but now will try most things, and eat most things. Wayne has always been the one who'd eat anything you put in front of him. Though, he doesn't eat quite as large a portion now as he did even a few years back. That's a good thing... Trust me! (Wayne was one of those who would go back and forth from our house to our Grandma's house claiming not to have had a meal, only to find he'd eaten in both houses... A couple of times he did that so many times in a day he ended up eating about 8 meals in 12 hours. And yet the lucky buggar never puts on any weight).

I never gave any thought to you possibly being mean to that guy. I got the point you were making. And I hope he backs off and leaves you alone so you can get on with your work in peace.

LadyStyx said...

My hubby's company did the same. Made all their employees take 2 weeks vacation. Granted it was paid, but I hated the fact he was told when he HAD to take it. I can understand the why (long story involving the fact they work on the timebank system..*ugh*), but I didnt like the fact it had to be done NOW or that he wasnt allowed to break it up.

Name badges boosting a feeling of community? Oh puh-leeez. Patrons dont pay attention to the much unless they want to complain about you. As for the tee-shirts, it's a nice idea but sad when you're working in WalMart AND WEARING a shirt with the store name EMBLAZONED on your left boob and the customers STILL ASK if you work there.... yeah been there, done that.

No, I dont think you were being mean. You qualified yourself with the "gave me the creeps" statement. Instinct is there for a reason. I generally like most people but when I get that "I dont like this person" feeling, it's usually for a very good reason.

peppylady said...

Hang in there mom (((Hugs))) isn't this some spring if you call it that. Sunday we had two inches of snow.
Isn't this some economical strange time.

Coffee is on.

yvaine said...

Hi! Nice Recipes :) Thanks for sharing. Please keep it up.
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Fr. Peter Doodes said...

"Scott said was almost funny, in that I'd 'called it' accurately again".

Why is it that the so called experts are unable to see what is under their collectives noses?

We had the same in the UK when I was saying that the Icelandic Government could not possibly guarantee the money deposited with their banks as they have a country with a population of a small UK city and the GDP of the same.

Yup, they sniggered at me as well Kati, I mean heck... what do we know?