Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nutwood 911

When I got up this morning, I was sitting here in the dining room at the computer. I kept hearing little sounds coming from the sounded like something was rooting around in the recycling bins, but I wasn't exactly sure. When I opened the door to look out, the noises stopped. I sat back down, and a little later they started up again. I crept over to the door, being as quiet as a little mousie, and snatched open the door--a-HA! Nothing. I got dressed for a workout and when I opened the garage door to step out into the workout area, I saw a tail disappear under the stuff in the recycling bin. A little mousie tail. I could hear little rustles and chirpy sounds coming from the bin, so I got my coat and gloves on and took the bin outside.

I dumped out most of the cans, but still no sign of Mousie. I heard another little sound from the can and dumped out the rest, along with Mousie! He ran over by the garage door, and dived under a rock leaning against the siding. He wasn't one of those little grey mousies that Sheeba likes to find in the basement, he was a good-sized brown field mouse. I was feeling pretty good about rescuing the little fella, but then I got to thinking...

It's fairly cold here today, and it's snowed a little bit. There's a little bit of wind, sometimes gusting. Mousie somehow found his way into the recycling bin, where he had access to the small amounts of beer left in a few cans, and we have heaters out there, so it's about 55 degrees in the garage.

I bet Mousie was cursing that buzz-killing brunette lady who dumped him out of his nice, warm, beery bin and into the cold, snowy outdoors.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

As The Hazies say....

...I want a trip free life.

You've probably all heard by now that Bristol Palin had her baby. They were reporting it on CNN last night, and I couldn't catch what they named the kid. I was like, "Trick? Track? Trig? What are they saying?!" Ken said, "I think Trig is the one baby's name," but he couldn't catch the new baby's name, either. I heard the story twice and still couldn't figure out what the name was. I finally saw it online today, and in the fine tradition of weird names that her mothah apparently decided to follow, Bristol has named her baby boy...


You heard me.


They gave him the father's last name, even though he and Bristol haven't yet entered into wedded bliss, so he's Tripp Johnston.


I'm sorry, I just can't help it. That's just a dorky name. And I'm sure there will be some teasing eventually. "Hey, have a nice Tripp, see ya next fall!" "Stop Trippin' me out!" Or maybe he'll follow in the footsteps of his paternal grandmother and "take a trip," if you get my drift (better living through pharmaceuticals, doncha know). The poor kid is innocent in this whole thing and ends up with the name TRIPP. He's probably going to end up as the answer to a trivia question one day, so at least they could have given him a cool, macho name like Clint or Rock or Steele.

If you're so inclined, visit the Hazies and give 'em a listen. "Trip Free Life" is a cool song, as is "Skin and Bones." Bristol Palin sure doesn't have a Tripp free life for a few years to come, does she? Neither does Levi. Have either of them finished high school yet? [shaking my head] Oh, and...

Author's Note: Just to clarify, in yesterday's entry about To Fight or Not to Fight I wasn't implying that if couples DO argue, they have a bad relationship. The thing is, it's different for everyone, and what works for us may not work for others. However, I don't appreciate being accused of lying when I say that Ken and I don't fight, or being told that we are dysfunctional (nobody here did that--just someone with a bone to pick and a battle-axe to grind) or that we have a bad marriage. To imply such a thing speaks more of their own dysfunction, rather than whatever dysfunction that they think they see in us. I believe the proper psychological term there might be "projection."

Monday, December 29, 2008

No drama allowed

Both Ken and I have written at various times about how we don't fight. I suppose there are some that think that's abnormal, but as I've said before, thinking we're abnormal for not bickering with each other probably says more about your psyche than about ours! I've been trying to wade through a large stack (some might say abnormally large) of magazines that have been accumulating for a few months, and I read an interview in Good Housekeeping that made me think, "That's it exactly! " It was an interview with an actor named James Denton. I'm not familiar with the guy, but apparently he plays the sexy plumber on "Desperate Housewives," a show we don't watch. Check this out:

Q: What's the secret of a good marriage?

Denton: This might sound a little strange, but my wife is from midwestern stock, and she's not big on sitting and talking about her feelings. It's great when you can find that, because most guys--myself included--aren't really into over-analyzing things. Sharing my emotions doesn't come naturally to me, and she had that same keep-your-feelings-to-yourself upbringing. Don't get me wrong: We talk about things that are important, but we're not having those "here's how I feel about everything" conversations at 1 AM that I've had to endure in other relationships. I sound like a total caveman.

Q: Not quite. So, when you do let it all out, is it a huge explosion?

Denton: Actually, no! We don't fight, ever--and it's not because we refuse to. We're just on the same wavelength, so we say what's on our minds and move on. I do have a horrible temper, but it's usually in the garage, when I've done something stupid when I'm trying to build something.

That sums up exactly how Ken and I feel about things, and about fighting. Yes, we discuss things, but we do so civilly, logically, and calmly. Histrionics don't come into play at all, because neither of us operates that way. When Denton mentioned that 1 AM conversation, it took me back to a past relationship, when I'd want nothing more than to go to sleep and stop talking about it. He'd follow me around like an evil puppy, talking and talking and talking, if I tried to go to bed, he'd follow me there and talk some more, until I just wanted to scream, "For the love of God, will you PLEASE SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE?!" That sort of behavior is so alien to me, and it's really pleasant to be able to have a rational discussion, come to an agreement, and be done with it. No need for endless discussions, or for drama.

What's kind of funny is that both Ken and I have bad tempers, but it takes a lot to get us to the point where we lose it, and if we do lose it, we don't direct that flamethrower in each other's direction. I remember kicking a closet door in my dorm room and breaking it; punching the hell out of a couple of pillows as a young adult; and getting into screaming matches with the aforementioned ex. [shudder] My temper has definitely mellowed as I've gotten older, and I've found that you can accomplish a lot more if you ditch the drama and just discuss. It has to be a lot better for your health, too.

As far as not fighting with Ken, it's amazing what two people can accomplish when they're on the same page. We are simpatico.

Hey, I found out from our neighbor across the road that the people to the right of him will be moving out soon. Apparently they had an adjustable rate mortgage, and their payment went from $900 a month to $2000. YIKES! I don't wish ill will on anyone, but I can't say that I'm upset that they're moving. They've made the place look so trashy, and their cats wander the area and come over here to eat our birds and they agitate Sheeba! Dave said that he thought they are just going to leave all their cats and if they do, he'll kill them (the cats, not the people). I asked him to let me know if they do that, because I think there are some animal shelters that will take in cats like that. He said he'd let me know. Jamie, if it comes to that, I could use some advice! Who do I need to call to give these cats a new lease on life? And talking about my temper...I'd love to tell those people just what I think of them letting their cats wander all over the place, and Dave said that he thinks most of them aren't fixed. Grrrrr!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A girl walks into a wall...

...and says, "Hey, where's my flashlight?"

Yeah, pretty lame as far as jokes go, isn't it? I got a second wind last night and stayed up late. After the rain yesterday, the winds kicked up and were really howling. The power stuttered and came back on...and then it went out. We've lived here for 6 years, and I'm pretty familiar with the terrain, so I felt my way back to the bedroom to get the flashlight I keep by my side of the bed. I had no problem getting to the bedroom, but I miscalculated when it came to the jog in the wall where the closet is, and WHAM! Face first into the wall. I broke the impact with my forehead, though. Ha! It's a good thing I'm hard-headed. It's sore when I touch it, but I didn't get a knot or anything.

I got my flashlight and used the land line phone to call the power company. Other people had already reported the outage, and it turns out that there were only about a thousand of us due to some downed power lines in the area. I sat out in the dining room while I finished my beverage and in the faint glow coming from the direction of the town, I watched the tree branches sway and listened to the winds blow. It was actually kind of neat and only a tiny bit spooky (and spooky in a good way). Sometimes when Mother Nature wallops me up side the head with a fierce thunderstorm, or intense lightning, or high winds like last night--or sometimes something as pleasant as a perfect summer day--I am in awe and so grateful for what we have here. It really is our little slice of heaven on earth, and I'm very happy that we have the privilege of taking care of it for a while.

Anyhoo, the power was off and on a couple of times last night, and came on for good around 10:30, in plenty of time for football! My Colts won in a meaningless game (sorry, Joyce!) and Ken's Bears lost in a game that could have gotten them into the playoffs.

One of the things we discovered in the room cleanup last night was a DVD of "The Village," a sort of spooky movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan. We thought we'd watched it some time ago, but neither of us remembered it at all.

Warning: Here there be spoilers!

Even though we hadn't seen it, it was obvious to both of us pretty quickly that this wasn't set in the past, and that the village in question was actually an enclave protected and removed from modern society. I suppose the big "wow" moment was supposed to be when the blind girl finds her way to civilization, but since we'd already figured it out early on, it was more like an "oh, big surprise" moment.

End of spoilers

I didn't hate this movie, and William Hurt and Joaquin Phoenix are always great, but I found it sort of blah. I guess I'm just jaded when it comes to scary movies, because I didn't find this one all that scary, or even especially suspenseful. It started verrrrry sloooooow, but picked up a little ways in, enough so that we were intrigued. But all in all, nothing overly exciting. When it comes to spooky villages, I'll take "Village of the Damned" any ol' day!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A room reclaimed

I mentioned in my last post that Ken and I started converting one of the upstairs rooms into an office. The cleaning-out part is done, and there are a few things that will go into storage, a few that will go to Goodwill, and a few that we'll put in a garage sale this spring.

I know this looks like a boring old empty room, but it's amazing how liberating it is to clear out the unused, old junk and replace it with new, improved junk! Ha! I'm really did feel good to reclaim this room and know that we can put it to good use. (The reason it wasn't being used is a story for another day.) It was dismaying to see the disarray (also a story for another day), but it really didn't take that long to weed through and clean it out. We look forward to getting the desk moved upstairs and making the room a part of our living space rather than a closed-off room that is never used.

As the end of the year approaches, cleaning out this room made me think of how akin it is to cleaning out our mind's clutter. Do you have a room in your mind that you have closed off, rarely venturing in to explore what is there, leaving the contents to grow dusty and the corners to grow cobwebs? It can't be healthy...who knows what might be growing and lurking in there? Just as cleaning this room resulted in some startling finds (some pleasant, some not-so-pleasant, some that made us shake our heads in dismay), cleaning that room in our minds can also have startling results, some pleasant, some not-so-pleasant.

But it's something that really has to be done, otherwise we're left with a head filled with unpleasant memories and moldering detritus. It serves no purpose other than to drag us down and rob us of our current happiness. I hope everyone can face whatever nastiness is in that closed-off room and clean it out for the new year. It might seem to be a daunting task, with way too many things running around in there, but it really does feel good to get it done.

With our empty room, we now have a clean slate, a room we can make our own. It really is liberating, and I think you'll have the same feeling when you reclaim your room.

Nutwood Critter Day

We're approaching 60 degrees here at Nutwood, and it's been raining off and on all day. Much of the snow has melted, leaving the driveway and roads a slushy mess. If it freezes up again tonight, the roads will be terrible tomorrow. I'm glad we don't need to go anywhere!

I put a roast in the crock pot earlier. I've had this recipe for a while, and decided to finally try it: Coffee-Sauced Rump Roast. It sure smells good, but I'll let you know how it tastes. I got my workout in today (after being a slacker for the past couple of days) and we've been working on changing over one of the upstairs rooms into an office. Ken did most of the work, but I helped carry stuff. He's looking forward to having his desk upstairs, and I think we'll have room for the rocking chair my Mom gave me. It's a great chair for reading. It felt kind of good to start tackling that project, and I have another bookcase to hold the book overflow! Maybe we should just convert all the walls into built-in bookcases and be done with it.

This morning I saw a band of 20 or so wild turkeys crossing the back yard. It was great to see them, because they've been pretty scarce lately. We saw one lone turkey the other day, and I hope he found his turkey brethren.

The squirrels have been enjoying the seed I'm putting out. My intention is to feed the ground-feeding birds, but I can't keep the squirrels away. I can't help it, they're really cute--I love their little ears!--and I'd rather have them eating the cheaper seed I throw out on the ground than get into the suet and sunflower seed feeders!

The Tufted Titmouse is one of my favorite birds. They're cute little guys, and they always seem very cheery to me. I suppose it's because of their's almost as if they're wearing a jaunty chapeau. "Oui oui, Madame, I like zees seed vairrrry much. Eet has a certain...I don't know now to describe ne sais quoi."

A couple of days ago, I glanced out the kitchen window and one of our hawks was sitting on the deck railing! I've seen a little sharp-shinned hawk come up here, but I've never seen one of the bigger hawks get that close to the house. When I tried to take a picture of him, he flew up into a tree and sat there for a solid hour. Another one (his/her mate?) was in another tree, so it was cool to see a pair of them. I'm not 100% certain, but I believe this is a red-shouldered hawk. None of the other hawks really fit his coloring and size (about 18-20 inches, so he's fairly imposing) or the time frame of the time of year that they would be here. Sorry it's not a real sharp picture, but I had to use the max zoom to get a close enough shot. He's a handsome fellow, isn't he?

In the fine tradition of my coming up with fanciful, creative, and imaginative names for our critters (Groundy the groundhog, Batty the bat, etc.), I named him Hawky. Ken said, "Hey, you're a hawky mom!"

Hahaha! Get it?


It really IS Critter Day, and the critters are cooperating! Right after I posted this entry, four deer showed up in the back yard.

Birthday wishes

It's the birthday of the incomparable Jamie! She totally cracks me up, and she's also got a soft spot when it comes to animals. It also turns out we're practically neighbors, and I look forward to meeting her one of these days. Stop on by Jamie's site and give her some birthday hugs. Don't squeeze too tight, though, because she's about ready to pop! Love ya, Jamie!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Henry Fondue

We actually ventured out today and did a little shopping. I was hoping it wouldn't be too crazy, and it was tolerable. One of our stops was Kohl's (I wanted to get some clip-on earrings, because I have some kind of allergic reaction to post earrings now, and I really miss wearing earrings!), and that was probably the busiest place. We didn't linger, and I found a couple of pairs that I liked, so I was happy.

We don't go out on New Year's Eve anymore--I've pretty much had my fill of that--and decided we'd do fondue this year. I can't remember if we did fondue on NYE last year, or if it was some other time, but it was really tasty and we've both got a hankering for it. However, we've got only two fondue pots, one for melting chocolate and one for keeping cheese fondue warm. Neither are designed for cooking in oil, and we both wanted to do some beef cubes. So today at Target, we found a Rival electric fondue pot (that's a picture of our model up above), and I can hardly wait to use it! (Man, do I ever love kitchen gadgets!) I found a recipe for cheese fondue using Havarti cheese (yummm), but I might stick with the usual Swiss. I do love Havarti cheese, though. Might as well try something new! I'll get all the "fixins" next week for our fabulous fondue party for two. It'll be a kicky blast. Hard to go wrong with melted cheese!

So far I'm planning on getting broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and bread (I already have beef in the freezer) for the cheese fondue, and strawberries, pineapple, bananas, and pears for the chocolate. Does anyone have any other favorites? One of these days, maybe we'll do a seafood fondue with shrimp, etc., but not this time. Jeez, I'm making myself hungry.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's no spork, but I'll take it!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day! We've got a little time here between opening our gifts and when we need to leave for my folks' house, so I thought I'd pop on for a moment.

Was everyone happy with their presents? I know I was. We decided not to do anything big for each other, and just got things that we can both enjoy through the year--DVD's (I got the complete set of "From Dusk Till Dawn"!), books, etc. I got a rockin' cool black "Saw" (the movie) tank top in my stocking, and a new bird book (National Geographic) that will be a fine supplement to those I already have. I love my new mini-blender, too, and it will be great for making smoothies. (Yes, I love getting kitchen appliances.) Oh, and we did Christmas ornaments last night: I got a Lucy ornament, a Colts one, and a Studebaker one. Sweet! And I got a golfer S'mores one for Ken, and guess who is now accompanying Mr. Spock on his journey on our tree? That's right, James Tiberius Kirk. They're facing each other. "Christmas...the final frontier."

Oddly enough, one of my favorite gifts came in my stocking. It's a grapefruit knife and two grapefruit spoons. I've been on a grapefruit kick lately, and I can't tell you how often I've wished for a grapefruit spoon--usually while I was cleaning my glasses off after the grapefruit fought back. It may seem like a simple thing, but I think it shows great thoughtfulness on Ken's part.
Am I easy to please, or what? No bling for me...give me cutlery.

I made these Cheesecake Bars yesterday. Tasty! I'll give my modifications afterwards.

Cheesecake Bars

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make pastry: Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the flour and nuts and stir until mixture becomes crumbly. Set aside 1/4 cup to use as a topping.

Press pastry mixture into 8-inch square, lightly greased pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool on rack.

To make filling: Beat together the white sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the egg, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix well. Spread filling mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle reserved pastry mixture on as a topping.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and refrigerate.

What I did different: I used pecans instead of walnuts, and in a stroke of genius, I added a couple of tablespoons of Amaretto to the filling mix. It gave it a great almond flavor. Hard to go wrong with Amaretto!

Off to my folks in a bit. Have a great night!

Can't Wrap This

Sheria sent me and Ken an e-card. Actually, she sent us two, one very sweet, and the other one...well, here it is. I totally cracked up. (And guilty pleasure admission...I still really like the original song.)

Cookie Time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It gets me every time

I haven't been listening to Christmas music this year. I'm not sure why...maybe it's because things snuck up on me this year, or I've been a little too caught up in politics. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but I think it might be true! But I found my favorite modern Christmas song on YouTube, and I'll put it up here. I kind of have to laugh at myself when it comes to this song, because I'm like Pavlov's dogs, except I cry instead of drool. As soon as the first strains start, I'm welling up, and by the end of the song, I've got a sodden Kleenex clutched in my hand. I honestly don't know what it is about this song, but it really does get me every time. Take it away, Harry.

When My Heart Finds Christmas

In my eyes are valentines
And Easter eggs and New Year's wine
But when my heart finds Christmas
My eyes will shine like new

All the days are kind to me
But fall too far behind to see
But when my heart finds Christmas
I hope it finds you, too

Let the angels sing around us
Christmas time is here
Let our children's love surround us
Laughing and filled with cheer

My heart told me once before
To find my dream and search no more
And when my heart finds Christmas
I hope it finds you, too

I wish you all a great Christmas, and nothing but good things in the coming year. You all bring a lot of joy into my little corner of the world, and I thank you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I thought I'd burned my bottoms!

I made the coffee cookies tonight and they're pretty good! Nothing unusual about them, just a basic cookie that has a subtle hint of coffee flavor. (I almost wish it had more. You could probably adjust a little, but you wouldn't want them to get too runny.) It has a little crispness to the outside, but is soft and cake-like inside. A time wasn't given in my Amish cookbook (Thank you, Alaina, for the sundial suggestion--ha ha! But I made them at night, so I would have been screwed!), so I started with 10 minutes. The bottoms were almost looking too brown, but the tops still looked a little moist, so I gave them a couple more minutes, and that seemed to be just right.

This is not a sweet cookie, so if you like things sweeter, don't bother with these. I'm going to give the recipe as I found it in my Amish cookbook, then I'll tell you my modifications. Oh, and I didn't take a picture of the cookies, because they're just plain brown ones (like a plain brown wrapper!). But I know I looked just like this picture when I was baking! Sweet bonnet, eh?

Coffee Cookies

3 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups lard
1 1/2 cups coffee, a little strong
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
vanilla and lemon
4 eggs
6 cups flour

Mix coffee and flour alternately. Bake at 350 degrees.

Okay, first off, I halved this recipe right off the bat. I ended up with 4 dozen cookies, so use your math skillz and cut everything in half unless you want coffee cookies out the wazoo!

It says "lard." Not too many people still use lard for cooking (although it makes a dandy pie crust...but even my Mom doesn't use it anymore), so I used the butter Crisco stuff.

The coffee I used was more than "a little strong." Ken likes very strong coffee...his Mom and stepdad call it...what is it? Jet fuel? Something like that. But as I mentioned, I would kind of like an even stronger coffee flavor in these. I wonder if you could throw some instant coffee granules in there, a tablespoon or so?

I used a teaspoon of vanilla, and a tablespoon of lemon juice. I bet a teaspoon or so of lemon zest would work even better--a little more intense than juice.

Do the usual, cream the sugar and wet ingredients (except for the coffee) then add the dry, alternating with the coffee. Oh, and I also added about a cup of chopped pecans. I think Linda suggested that, and it was a good addition. Drop by teaspoons onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
I baked 'em for 12 minutes, and removed them to a wire rack to cool.

There was another coffee cookie recipe besides this one--basically the same recipe--that called for a light frosting made with powdered sugar. If you like things sweeter, do the frosting, but I like just the plain cookies.

"Stand By Me"

Our friend RaQuel sent me this. I thought it was so cool, and wanted to share it with you all. Indy, it's musicians from around the world singing and playing the classic "Stand By Me." It made me cry! (But in a good way.)

Seeing double

I stuck with my no motivation mood, and after a big bowl of soup, settled down on the couch with Sheeba to watch Monday Night Football. Well, I watched, Sheeba slept. It finally struck me that Sheeba had the right idea, so I slept, too. Next thing I knew, the game was over (da Bears won--that was for you, Honey!), and the remote was clutched in my hand. It's going on 5 AM, and I am WIDE AWAKE! I chatted with Shane on Facebook for a while, and that was fun. I didn't know Facebook had chat! Ha ha!

While watching CNN (after Letterman and Ferguson were over), I saw a commercial that pissed me right the hell off. Have you seen the Diddy commercials for Ciroc vodka? It looks like there's a new one, new enough that it's not on YouTube yet. A couple of things first:

Beth<--not a big Diddy fan. Puff Daddy? P Diddy? Whatever.

Beth<--likes vodka, especially in Bloody Marys, or with a splash of orange juice. I don't drink it often, but when I drink hard liquor, vodka is my first choice. Tequila is pretty tasty, too! And a lot more dangerous. But that's a story for another day.

Anyhoo, apparently Ciroc is being marketed as a high end vodka. I have no idea how much it costs, but one of the commercials channels the Rat Pack, so I'd guess they're going after the young, hip Vegas crowd. (I love the Rat Pack, and're no Rat Pack.) This new commercial is interesting, though, in a creepy kind of way. It takes place in the daytime, and two lovely young women are in a really nice house or apartment, calling for a cab. Diddy comes out in his tux from the night before, his tie untied, and says no no no, sends them on their way with a kiss, and sends them home in his car (not sure if it was a Rolls or not).

The implication here is that after a fun night at the clubs, Diddy took these two women home. While there is a large gap there from taking them home to shoving them into his car the following morning, I think we can all get the gist of the whole thing. I'm sure there will be plenty who see that commercial and say oh yeah, THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! Diddy rocks! If that's what happens when I drink Ciroc, I'm gettin' me a bottle o' that!

I have to wonder what the reaction would be if it were a woman sending two men home the next morning? I suspect it would be something like...oh, I don't know..."WHORE."

This sort of double standard has always pissed me off, and it always will. The very same behavior that is lauded and applauded when perpetrated by men is seen as nothing less than whorish and slutty when it comes to women. It's time to hold men to the same standards as they hold us to, ladies. You don't want a player, trust me. If you're hearing through the grapevine that the guy is a whoredog, run the other way. When I lived in Indy, I was warned about this guy I dated for a while, and I didn't listen to those warnings...I eventually found out what a slut he was and how much he lied to me, and I'm telling you, the thought of him now absolutely makes my skin crawl . Since when is it attractive to date a guy who screws any female that is somewhere between legal age and using a walker? Yuck.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Utterly DEmotivated

I have almost no gumption for anything whatsoever today. I'm not sick, I'm not in a bad mood, I'm not sleepy...I just don't feel like doing much of anything! I'm not feeling fired up about anything either, so I guess you all can breathe a sigh of relief today. [wink] This is mellow Beth. Very mellow Beth.

Ken and I stayed up late and slept late today, since he's working nights, and it's a drag not to have him around in the evening. We both got our workouts in today, so I guess I'm not completely demotivated, only partially. I'm doing a load of laundry, too, so wow, I'm on fire!

I had a vague urge to bake, but it wasn't strong enough to spur me into action. I might still make something tonight, though. I found a recipe for coffee cookies. I don't drink hot coffee, but I love iced coffee and mocha flavors, so how good do coffee cookies sound? I wish I had some already made, then maybe I'd be all hopped up on caffeine and feel more motivated! Ha!

I was looking online for interesting cookie recipes this afternoon. I was surprised at how many I saw that use cake mix as a base, rather than starting from scratch. I can't remember the last time I bought a box of cake mix, but I have flour, sugar, and all that stuff. I can always count on one of my Amish cookbooks to have plenty of from-scratch recipes, and that's where I found the coffee cookie recipe. In fact, sometimes they are so from-scratch that a novice in the kitchen would have a hard time. In the coffee cookie recipe, it lists all the ingredients and their amounts, except it just says "vanilla and lemon" with no amounts, and the instructions are nothing more than this: "Mix coffee and flour alternately. Bake 350 degrees." I guess I'll have to guess as to how long to leave them in the oven! (Why am I having a sudden vision of billowing black smoke?)

I think I'll read some more and go from there. I hope everyone is staying warm!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

I just mentioned this story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in my previous entry, and had to find it and read it again.

If you've never read the story, try to find it in a collection, because it is one of the freakiest and creepiest stories you'll ever read. And I do mean creepy (if you read or have read the story, you'll know what I'm talking about). I first read it when I was in high school, in an anthology of short stories...if I recall, it was an old book, and I wish I still had it. The pages were rather yellow, which was fitting.

The woman in the story is suffering from a "nervous condition," and she and her physician husband lease a country estate for a period of time, in an effort to give her a little rest and ease her stress. She and her husband stay in the large upstairs bedroom:

It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that looks all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls...

I never saw a worse paper in my life...

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.

The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others.

No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long...

There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.

WOW, I'd forgotten how awesome this story is, and how much I loved it. Who knew that a writer could make wallpaper so freakin' creepy?!

Quiet, cold, and blustery

It's been a quiet day at Nutwood, as well as in Spottersville. All the little elves are busy with their little elfin duties!

No elves here--we're just hunkering down trying to keep our asses from freezing off! Criminy, it's cold out there! I was happy to stay inside all day, but Ken braved the frigid temperatures to go get a haircut, and he was nice enough to stop at the store and pick up a few things. The tuna steaks are marinating (I'm doing blackened tuna again--we both liked it quite a bit), and I'll be roasting some asparagus, too. Mmmm!

Our friend Kimberley called and we discussed Vegas plans. They are happy about the Boneyard tour (where Vegas signs retire), cool with the Brazilian steakhouse (I think Kim said they've actually eaten there before, unless she was talking about Brazilian steakhouses in general), and they're really looking forward to a fun break after much craziness with their teaching duties. There is also much craziness in Vegas, but it's a fun kind of crazy, and I think we're all looking forward to some of that!

I'm in a quiet, reading kind of mood, and I finally finished the latest Stephen King collection of short stories, Just After Sunset. I had put it aside to read a couple of other things, and since it was a collection of stories, it was easy to go back to it. My favorite in the collection was "The Things They Left Behind," about those who perished in the Twin Towers...and those who survived. I thought it was a very poignant piece, and it is obvious that 9/11 had a profound effect on King, as it did the rest of us. If you like King, these are fun and sometimes thought-provoking stories. Nothing that really spooked me, but I'm kind of hard to spook anymore, especially through a story or a book. Probably the spookiest story in this collection was "N.," which was my second favorite. It had a definite Lovecraft feel to it, exploring how thin the veil between different worlds can be. It also used the letter as its base, i.e., letters written, notes taken in a psychiatrist's office, newspaper stories--I've always loved that form for a story or novel. It seems that it's a little more mysterious, letting the reader in bit by bit on the story, as well as an intimate glimpse of the writer's (the writer in the story, that is) state of mind.

King also included an afterword in which he talks about the stories and his thoughts, and I always enjoy that. He mentioned OCD several times, and while I forget which story included this reference, he also mentioned the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I was thrilled to see that, because it remains one of my favorites stories of all time. Is anyone else familiar with it? Lori? I have a copy of it downstairs, and I might have to read that again.

My next book is one from our book club, Loving by the English novelist Henry Green. I'm very behind--this was October's book! (I've already read November's, though.) I also have December's book, but I think that's going to be more of a January book for me! I keep thinking I'll get caught up at some point, but it hasn't happened yet!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inclusion: Not always a good thing

Earlier in the week, when I heard of the brouhaha over President-Elect Obama's choice of pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, I thought, "What's all the hubbub, bub?"

My initial reaction was that while the choice of Warren (who is against gay marriage but has been active in the call to end the world AIDS problem--I applaud his efforts in the latter) might anger some activists, it was indicative of Obama's pledge to be inclusive, to discuss issues with his detractors as well as his supporters, and to begin the Great American Dialogue. The GAD is something I made up, but I think it's about time we started realizing that there are all kinds of different people with all kinds of different views, and you can't begin to achieve that sort of understanding without discussion, thus the GAD. Hey, since I'm writing about this, and you're reading about it, on the Interwebs, does that mean it's the eGAD? I like that! Of course, in the interest of inclusion, it really needs to be the Great International Discussion, or the eGID.

But I digress.

So at first I thought that while I don't agree with some of Warren's convictions about homosexuality, he has the right to feel that way, and I can sort of see why Obama picked him (the trying to be inclusive part). I know of other people who agree with him about homosexuality, and I don't hate them. I don't agree with them at all, but I'm not going to hate them because of their erroneous ideas, ha ha. I do realize that not everyone shares my views about various things, and I'm all for tolerance; however, I also have the choice as to whether or not I listen to or read hate-filled and bigoted rhetoric, and I choose not to. If you hate Obama because he's black, or hate gays because of who they love, that goes deep and nothing I can say is going to convince you otherwise--that kind of understanding can only come from life experience, and hopefully life will provide a big ol' sledgehammer to knock you on the head about it so you can get yourself right.

I believe I digressed again.

I was okay with Obama's choice of Warren at first. Then I saw this interview with Anne Curry and Warren. (Indy, I discuss what was said afterwards, so you'll get the idea of his comments.)

I do believe I've changed my mind. I was appalled to hear Warren say that even if it's proven that homosexuality is a genetic trait (and that is exactly what I believe, and I believe it will eventually be proven), he would still think it is wrong and believe it is a choice that can be overcome.

Are you f***ing kidding me?!

DUDE. You are talking about a genetic trait, like hair and eye color, or a myriad of genetic diseases. Are you telling me that if I'm unhappy about my green eyes, I can simply make a choice and hey presto! I've got blue eyes? Or that someone with Sickle Cell disease can make their red blood cells magically whole merely by strength of will? Or perhaps those men with male pattern baldness--a trait passed down through females--can grow a thick, luscious head of hair because they have made the choice to go against their genetic code and not be bald? By the way, you seem to be getting a little thin on top, Rick. I hope you'll get to brainin' on that.

Oh, for Pete's sake. His remarks in that interview were pretty much the stupidest, most vile sort of lame excuse for hatred and exclusion that I've heard recently. To equate overcoming natural and environmental tendencies towards fear, anger or shyness with homosexuality is ridiculous, and comparing the choice of being promiscuous with the genetic coding of homosexuality is just as bad. And I really didn't need to hear that you want to screw every beautiful woman you meet. And hey, if we're really talking about anthropological tendencies, the true impulse would be to screw pretty much every woman you meet, as long as they are capable of bearing children so that you can produce as many offspring as possible. Whatever concept of "beauty" you have is a product of current standards and secondary to your primordial urges to find women who can be breeders.

I'll be watching the inauguration, but I think I might have to miss Warren's invocation.

By the way, Warren, I happen to like my green eyes. If at some point you decide that you don't like green eyes, and that green eyes are wrong, I won't be flexing my braaaaaain powers in order to change them to whatever color you think is "right."

Friday, December 19, 2008


HOLY CRAP! I'm on The Godfathers Yahoo group and just got the notice that they're bringing their reunion tour to the states.

YESSSSSS! [fist pump]

And as the lead singer promised me, they're coming to Chicago, and not just on any day...on Valentine's Day. It's a St. Valentine's Day Massacre show! And I get to go! I get to go! I'm not working, it's Valentine's Day, and oh yeah...I GET TO GO!!!

They're coming to your town, too, Dan. If you get a chance, I highly recommend them!

The American Return of The Godfathers

First US tour for nearly 20 years……

First ever Saint Valentine's Day Massacre show in the US!


Wednesday 11 Boston, MA-The Middle East

Thursday 12 Washington DC-9.30 Club

Friday 13 Cleveland, OH-The Grog Shop

Saturday 14 Chicago, IL-The Metro

Sunday 15 Minneapolis, MN-Seventh Street Entry

Monday 16 Milwaukee, WI-The Shank House

Wednesday 18 Hoboken, NJ-Maxwells

Thursday 19 Brooklyn, NY-The Bell House

Legendary English rock and roll band THE GODFATHERS explode back into the USA in 2009 with their first American tour in nearly 20 years. The tour includes a landmark Saint Valentine's Day Massacre show on Saturday 14th February at The Metro, appropriately in Chicago. This will be first ever Godfathers' Saint Valentine's Massacre show outside London since its inception in the notorious London Dungeon in the late eighties. The London Saint Valentine's Day Massacre shows have become legendary events in English rock'n'roll folklore and The Godfathers are delighted to stage the first American Massacre at The Metro. The tour kicks off on February 11th in Boston and then takes in Washington DC, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Hoboken before crash landing into the Bellhouse in Brookyln on Thursday 19th February.

I'm so excited, I'm shaking. I've been hoping they'd come to the states since they reunited last year, and I've been hearing rumors. I suppose I should back up a bit and say that The Godfathers are one of my favorite bands from the 80's, and although I've never had the privilege of seeing them live, I hear they're one of the best live bands you'd ever want to see. Here's the link to their biggest U.S. hit, "Birth School Work Death."

I went ahead and ordered 4 tickets--I'm hoping that Shane and a friend will be able to go, too. I'm as happy as a little girl! As Mark would say, Love and Rockets, man, Love and Rockets!


I sent an email to Peter, the lead singer, saying that I was thrilled to hear about the show, and asking if I brought a CD, would there be a chance that he'd sign it? He wrote back:

Of course I'll sign your CD!!

Looking forward to meeting up and pressing the flesh in person!!!

Saint Valentine's Day at The Metro is going to be a blast!!!!

AWESOME! He went on to wish me and my family a merry Christmas and happy new year. How cool is that?! Isn't it neat when people really appreciate their fans?

The return of my Secret Admirer

Well, my clever plan backfired. Early next week, Ken has to work a couple of night shifts, so I thought I'd try to transition into staying up late and sleeping late, so that we're a little closer in our schedules. The staying up late part was no problem for this night owl gal (I think I was up until 4:30 or so), but the sleeping late part was. I've been getting up earlier anyway, and this morning I was startled awake by thunder and lightning. Yes, in December, in Indiana. It looks like in the Nutwood area we got freezing rain rather than snow. It doesn't look too bad, though, with just a light coating on the trees and on the deck, and it seems to be changing over to just rain. I'm not sure what tonight will bring, but I hope it doesn't make it bad for Ken getting home. In the meantime, Sheeba and I are snugs as bugs!

Hey everybody, looky-look-look-look who's back!

Anonymous said...

hehe...funny you should mention that. you know, there are some seemingly "normal" bloggers out there and then there are those 'bat-shit crazy' (whateverthehellthatis)ones. so sweet and nice on the surface, but look out! it's so sticky sweet it's sick! oh, sorry, sounds like some nuttywood jun....oh nevermind.

O Anon, Anon...I've missed you so. Your wit ("Nuttywood"--that's a play on Nutwood, right? Very clever!), your way with words, the charming way you start to say something, then like a shy flower, you hold your words, teasing me with the promise of thoughts unspoken.

I've missed you the way the parched ground misses the replenishing rains; I've missed you the way the still and silent forest misses the call of the whippoorwill; I've missed you as if I were a Shasta daisy on a dark and dreary day, craving the kiss of the summer sun.

A day without you is as painful as having a massive cold sore on the day you're getting your driver's license renewed, knowing that you'll see that cold sore for the next four freakin' years. Your absence is as hurtful as being told that Michael Bolton and Celine Dion are giving a Christmas concert together and your attendance is mandatory. Not having you around has been heart-wrenching, the way watching a 24-hour marathon of "Diff'rent Strokes" would tear at my heart...Nay! My very soul. You want to leave me? Watchoo talkin' 'bout, Anon?!

Although as Mark wrote, it is flattering to know that you care about me so much. He sees your affection for me. It's been a while, but you couldn't stay away. It gives me great hope to know that there is something about me that draws you...that even if you're gone for a while, you'll be back. If I didn't believe that, I...I...I'm not sure I could go on.

Okay, I'm done. I hope you all don't mind that I addressed my dear Anon in this public forum, but since they remain a very secretive Secret Admirer, it's the only way I can tell them of my feelings. Hey, did you see that they think I'm sticky sweet? Is that sticky sweet like in the Def Leppard song? "I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head down to my feet." Anon, you make me blush! Or is it stick sweet in a goody-two-shoes, Pollyanna kind of way? Hahaha! I can honestly say I don't think anyone has ever called me a goody-two-shoes! You all know how shy and retiring I am, never wanting to speak my mind or do anything that would rock the boat. [wink]

How about a poll? Tell me what you guys think!

So nice I had to do it twice

I see that there are some web awards out there, and you can see all the winners here. Check out who is right up there at the top! That's right...none other than....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What lies beneath

Sheeba and I had a lovely little nap on the couch last night waiting for Ken to call. He had some major delays, but got there safely. I suspect there may be more delays when he flies home on Friday.

Today was a very nice day, even if fairly nippy. I had no problem getting out of the driveway, and before I left, I sprinkled some salt on the spot where I drive up into the garage, so I had no problem getting back in! Yay! Tomorrow will probably be another story, as we're supposed to get quite a bit of snow and ice tonight. I was happy to get my errands run today, so I can just hunker down at home tomorrow and not worry about getting out in the nastiness. Even though Ken is flying through Cincinnati rather than O'Hare, I'm afraid that there will be some delays all across the country due to Chicago getting hit pretty hard. I'll hope for the best, though!

After a quick trip to the Post Office this morning (I waited in line for ten seconds, tops--awesome!), I stopped by WalMart to pick up a couple of things. While I was there, I walked around a little bit and browsed. I had that weird feeling of wanting to be out and about, because I knew that I'd be stuck here tomorrow. It's not like I don't go for a few days at a time during nice weather without going anywhere, but just knowing that I won't be able to tomorrow made me want to be out today. Isn't it strange how that works? At least I didn't go into storm mentality and load my cart with bread, milk, toilet paper, etc...ha ha!

Oh, and my wrapping is finito! I did everything yesterday except Ken's stocking gifts, and I got that done tonight. What a relief!

I was looking at some old stuff yesterday and it got me thinking. This has nothing to do with any of you all, this is about people I've known in the past. Have you ever encountered one of those people who, on the surface, seems to be reasonable, nice, pleasant to talk to, okay to be around...only to find out later that they're more than a little loony? In fact, they might be downright batshit crazy. It really amazes me that there are people out there that can function at a fairly normal level, all the while harboring some truly twisted ideas and delusions. There have been some that I've even come to believe are seriously mentally ill, but are together just enough that they can function in normal society and relationships...for a while, anyway.

There have been times when people have warned me about a person, but I took the plunge anyway, much to my eventual dismay. There have been other times when I was warned and I remained on guard...good thing, because yep...batshit crazy. It's kind of scary to think that there are people out there who can hide their nuttiness so skillfully, but it does seem that it will eventually out. I always saw clues, but ignored them until it became so obvious that I could no longer do so. I learned my lesson, and if someone I trust knows the person and tells me to be careful, I take their advice and remain wary.

You never know what lies beneath.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Desert Intrigue!

While I was putting together my Eggplant Parm, and while it's in the oven, I've been watching "Valley of the Kings" from 1954 on TCM. It's in exotic color, you know! Ken and I share a love for all kinds of movies (Star Trek, Bond, Mob, etc., etc.), but he's not all that much into older movies, and that's cool. It's not like I don't have plenty of opportunities to watch them during the day! When I saw this one in the TV guide, I had to watch it. Archaeology! Egyptian tombs! Belly dancers! The pyramids, and the pharaohs! Ra-Hotep! (Although it sounded more like Rahm-Hotep to me. Hahaha!)

I wasn't disappointed. When I was a little girl, I read about Howard Carter and his discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up. When I went to college, I took an Archaeology course. I enjoyed it, but found out that it wasn't quite as glamorous as I'd thought as a youngster! But I've maintained a fascination with the subject, and it was a dream come true to see the Tutankhamun exhibit in Philadelphia back in 2005. And yes, it made me actually see some of the things that came out of his tomb, things I'd seen in pictures. Ohhhh, it was incredible.

TCM said that "Valley of the Kings" was the first Hollywood movie to actually film on location in Egypt. Breathtaking shots of the desert and the Pyramids...of all the places I'd love to go in the world, Egypt tops the list. Sadly, it's not a very safe place to travel these days, but I still have hope that one day I will see the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the museum in Cairo. [sigh]

While I'm eating, I think I'll watch "The Mummy." (Not the original one with Boris Karloff, although I have that one, too.) I'm in a Egyptian kind of mood tonight!

Let's see how long I can drag my feet

Before I forget, the "vulgar term" alluded to, the one that Blagojevich called Obama? Mother****er. Blago, you ol' charmer, you!

Well, Ken should be in the air soon, on his way to Kansas City (and several of you got the song reference--most excellent job!). I'm hearing that the Chicago area is likely to get a nasty storm on Friday, when he comes back, but luckily he's flying through Cincinnati this time. I wouldn't be surprised if there are delays, but at least he won't be stuck at O'Hare. Not fun, believe me! With Ken on a business trip, you know what that means....

It's Eggplant Time! (can't touch this)

I was originally planning on a new recipe I got recently for Midweek Moussaka (As opposed to Weekend Moussaka? Holiday Moussaka?). It uses ground beef instead of lamb (I'm not a fan of lamb), and it sounds pretty tasty. However, last week I got some fresh mozzarella on sale, so I've got a nice snowball-sized hunk o' goodness sitting in the fridge, so I'll use that in my faithful standby, Eggplant Parmigiana. I'll manage to choke it down somehow. The Moussaka calls for 4 ounces of cream cheese, and I got that the other day, but I was sort of getting in the baking mood and might use my cream cheese for a sweet treat (to be determined). Anyone have any good ideas? I'm thinking cookies or bars, something like that. Ooo, maybe some kind of lemon bars that use cream cheese. I LOVE lemon bars. I'll have to do some looking online and in my cookbooks!

So guess what I'm doing? Yep, I'm procrastinating. The tree is up, the bins of wrapping paper are out of the basement closet, and it's time to wrap.


Really not my favorite thing to do, and it's not Ken's, either. I remember a couple of years ago...I was working the weekend, and Ken was planning on wrapping while I was at work. He heard me drive up, and when I walked in the door, he'd stuck the scissors into the neck of his sweatshirt (so it looked like they were in his neck) and was slumped over the table. I totally cracked up! That pretty much sums up how we feel about wrapping. Once I get going on it, it's never as bad as I think it will be, but MAN, it's hard getting started!

Considering my surliness about wrapping, here's a song for you. (Indy, it's a ramped up--a very ramped up--version of "Jingle Bell Rock.") My favorite Christmas CD is "Christmas with the Rat Pack," but this song fits my current mood a little better. I'm not in a bad one, it's know, the whole wrapping thing.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vegas plans, and the danger of assumptions

I saw five bluebirds at our heated bird bath today! They and the other birds seem to love it in the wintertime, and I see the bluebirds more in the winter than I do in the summer. They're so pretty.

I got something done today that I really needed to get done. Now that we got the tree up and the bins of wrapping paper out, I got the presents wrapped and packaged to send to our friends Kimberley and Steve (we're meeting up with them in Vegas). The question is, will I be able to get out to the Post Office tomorrow? It's snowing fairly heavily at the moment, and Ken leaves for Kansas City (They got some crazy little women there, you know...anyone who gets that reference gets the gold star for today!) tomorrow afternoon. So if I get stuck in the driveway, I'm stuck until Ken gets back, or until I'm melted out, whichever comes first!

I also had fun today researching our Vegas trip. I'm not trying to be our group travel agent, and I'm very flexible about where we go, but I always like having a few ideas in mind before we go, and I've got the time to do the research. We love going to downtown Vegas, and I read that the seafood buffet at the Fremont got excellent reviews from travelers, and is half the price of places on the Strip. So that's a definite possibility. Ken and I loved the Golden Gate (also downtown, and the first hotel in Vegas!) and plan on playing some blackjack there, as well as picking up one (or three) of their shrimp cocktails--they're the ones who originated the cheap Vegas shrimp cocktail. They have a neat little restaurant there called the Bay City Diner, so that's another possibility. Our Cirque show is at the Mirage, and it turns out they have a Brazilian barbecue restaurant there, a carnivore's delight! So that's a maybe before the show. There's a place called the Peppermill Inn, a lounge across from where the Stardust used to be (RIP Stardust). The review said that the ambiance was 70's era Dean Martin...! I wanna go there!

But the best bit of news came late this afternoon, when I got an email from my contact at the Neon Museum. They have restored a handful of classic Vegas signs (including the original Aladdin's Lamp at the Aladdin) and those can be seen downtown. However, they also have what is called the Boneyard, a few acres outside where they keep all the signs that haven't been restored yet. They are open for tours by appointment only, and they were unsure of their hours after Christmas. Erin emailed me that they had a couple of tours both Tuesday and Wednesday, and which tour would I like? Happy happy joy joy! I'd resigned myself to not getting to see it this time, but I was pleasantly surprised! I've written about my love of signage...this place has some of the Vegas icons, like the light-bulbed slipper from the Silver Slipper. I'm as happy as a little girl!

Another topic. I've mentioned before that if someone tells me that I have to do something, I'm more than likely to not do it...just because I'm ornery that way. Mark says he's kind of the same way, and calls himself a "contrarian." I like that. I think I'm a contrarian, too. But if there's anything I like less than being told what to do, it's being told that I would feel or think a certain way in certain circumstances.

Fair warning: don't make assumptions about me. I have many different opinions and many different viewpoints, and some might surprise you. If, after reading my blog for a short time, or even at length, you think you know everything about feelings, my thoughts, my opinions, and my are mistaken. If we read each other for a while, I believe we get a pretty good idea of how we feel about certain things, but to assume that I think a certain way about a particular topic is not only presumptuous, it is patronizing.

A person's thought processes and psyche cannot be summed up by a blog. There is always more than meets the eye. If you really want to hear my opinion on something, email me at No promises that I'll share my opinion, although I have plenty, but that would be the place to start. Assuming that you know what I would feel or how I would react is foolish, and telling me, not asking me, what my thoughts would be is condescending. I may be as happy as a little girl, but I'm not one, and don't need to be told that I would or should behave or think in a particular way.

Life is much more complex than that, as are people.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time to make this story sleep with the fishes

Obviously, the dominant story at the moment is the corruption case against Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. (One thing I've learned from this story is both how to spell and pronounce Blagojevich.) I've been reading about how some people think that President-Elect Obama is lying about any contact with the governor; that Team Obama is dragging their feet after the P-E promised a thorough study of who talked to whom, and not releasing the report; and even a call for Rahm Emanuel's resignation as Chief of Staff...although he's not yet the official Chief of Staff, since Obama hasn't even been inaugurated.

Stop picking on Rahm, you big meanies!

In all seriousness, this is just getting stupid. This is a non-story. Let's review, shall we?

Blagojevich was taped by the Feds wanting money and/or lucrative jobs for both himself and his wife in return for the appointment to Obama's vacant Senate seat. No doubt about it, the guy is a slimeball and a crook.

In his press conference last week, P-E Obama stated that he had no direct contact with the governor concerning the Senate seat, and that his aides had "no inappropriate discussions" with the governor about it.

Emanuel spoke with the governor about a short list of people that Team Obama would like to see in the Senate seat. There is nothing untoward or inappropriate in such discussions, and it seems obvious to me that Obama--he's a Democrat, remember?--would want a Democrat in the seat, and preferably someone who he has worked with in the past and knows would be supportive of his policies. Illinois does not have a special election for vacant Senate seats: they are appointed by the governor.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has said that prosecutors are making no allegations that Obama was aware of any nefarious plots, and Emanuel has been told that he is not a target of the investigation.

The governor himself--on tape--said that Obama wouldn't help him and called him a vulgar term (I'll let you know if I find out what it is). The governor went on to say that even if he did appoint someone on Team Obama's list, "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation." There is a vast difference between speaking about who you'd like to see in the Senate seat and providing funds or appointments in return.

The report issued by Obama's team was ready today, but federal prosecutors asked them not to release it until at least the week of December 22, due to the ongoing investigation, and possible further interviews that they need to conduct.

There is nothing here that smacks of any wrongdoing by P-E Obama, Rahm Emanuel, or Obama's transition team. The attempt of the media to make a mountain out of this particular molehill is perplexing at best, and inflammatory at worst. I remember getting so frustrated at work, because the focus often ended up on some trivial issue, like where to put a new centrifuge, and I wanted to say, "There are bigger issues here--like how we don't have enough people to do the work!" The same concept applies here, and I'd like to see everyone focus on the dire economic straits our world is in rather than trying to make some nonexistent and nebulous connection between Obama and a corrupt governor.

I don't generally read comments on political blogs (But I cherish each and every one of yours, never fear! Well, except maybe for the lovely and charming Anonymous Troll.), but in reading some lately, it seems that there are quite a few people that will never accept Obama as their President. Hey, time to face reality, folks. He IS your President-to-be, like it or not. When I talked to my Mom last week, she told me that even my Dad is coming around. He's not happy about it, and like I've said, we had a couple of heated discussions about it, but Mom said he told her that Obama is going to be his Commander-in-Chief, he knows that's the way it is, and he will support him. When it comes right down to where the rubber meets the road, don't we all want our country (and our world) to see better days? Why on earth would you want someone to fail if it also means the failure and collapse of your country? That's insanity.

Okay, on to other things, and unless there's something really juicy that pops up, I won't write much more about The Little Story That Wasn't.

I hope you're all staying warm. It is freakin' freezin' out there! The winds were really strong today, and I had to wear my parka out and about. It gets too hot in the store, but it works for me when walking from the store to my car! I think I have everything taken care of for Christmas, and finished up with Ken's stocking stuffers. I got myself a couple of 10-pound hand weights because I'm ready to move on up from my wimpy little 5-pounders. Woohoo!

I've also started looking into which buffet to go to when we're in Vegas. Hard to believe that's coming up in just about 3 weeks! I'm reading that pretty much the best buffet on the Strip is at the Mirage, which is where we'll be going for the Cirque du Soleil "Love" show. However, it would be great to find a buffet that offers plenty of seafood, because we loves us our oysters on the half shell! Any ideas from you all? Miss Ginger? Katie? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

When we were there last, we went to the Sunday Champagne brunch at the Golden Nugget. We won't be getting into Vegas until Sunday night, so we'll miss the champagne brunches. Drat! I'm sure we'll muddle through somehow, though. I'm not usually a buffet kind of gal, because I feel like I can't really eat enough to pay for it. But high-end stuff like oysters and crab legs and lobster? Just stand back and watch me work. I'll get my money's worth, believe me!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In space, no one can hear you caroling

Our breakfast for dinner last night was yummy! Ken was in charge of the eggs, because we like them over easy and I always manage to make them over hard. Ha ha! Bacon, hash browns cooked in bacon grease (as were the eggs), and 8 slices of buttered toast made for a low fat and heart healthy meal...NOT! We don't do that very often, so might as well really enjoy it. Oh, and we had champagne with it. Not mimosas...Ken said, "Why dilute perfectly good champagne with orange juice?" Good point, although on the rare occasion we go out for breakfast (usually when we're on vacation), it is fun to have mimosas! Tonight will be beef vegetable soup.

We got the tree up and decorated. It's good to have that done, because this week I can wrap Ken's presents and get them under the tree. It's always fun to put the ornaments on, because we've gotten each other some fun ones over the years. I'm heavy on the penguins and I Love Lucy ornaments, and Ken has a lot of golf ones. Other fun ones, too, like this one I got for Ken last year.

It's only logical that you should have a happy holiday, Captain. Ken hung this one low on the tree, and he said it looks like Spock is floating in space! Ha! Can anyone else say that they have a Mr. Spock ornament? Yeah, we're cool that way. That's just the way we roll. (That one was for you, Jamie!)

Here's one of my Lucy ones.

When you press a button, it plays a conversation between Lucy and Ricky, in which she tells him that she told her ladies' group that he'd put on a show for their upcoming benefit. You can hear Ricky on the phone, yelling in Spanish, and Lucy says quickly, "Well okay goodbye dear!" Makes me laugh every year!

Last night, we started watching "The Dark Knight," but Ken started snoozing, so we'll watch the rest later. (Give the guy a break--he got up early for a meeting!) I think Christian Bale is an excellent Bruce Wayne/Batman, and "Batman Begins" is my favorite Batman movie. I was very impressed with Heath Ledger's Joker, and I'd say that the posthumous Oscar buzz is warranted. Jack Nicholson played the Joker role mostly for laughs, but Ledger's take on it is much darker and creepier. I liked the darker tone of "Batman Begins," and they continue that in this movie (although we haven't seen the whole thing yet). Batman is one of our most tortured heroes, after all. And my personal favorite, by the way.

I didn't mention that Friday night we watched the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes." Oddly enough, that's a 70's horror movie that I've never seen, so I can't say if the remake compares to the original, but seeing the remake made me want to get it. I suspect that the original was much more shocking at the time (and it was directed by Wes Craven), much like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and the remake struck me as a fairly typical and pedestrian desert mutant movie. (There are so many, you know!) Nothing really unusual about the movie, although the mutants were fairly gross. They became mutants due to nuclear bomb testing in the desert, and I found the test homes and mannequins set up by the government fairly eerie and creepy. Don't worry about seeing it if you aren't a horror movie fan. If you are, it's nothing extraordinary. Watch it with the lights off to optimize what little scare factor there is.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Whatever you do, don't kick his seat!

It's a quiet morning here at Nutwood. Ken is out at a business meeting, and Sheeba is curled up on my lap. He must be very comfortable there, because we're watching lots of birds and a couple of squirrels out on the bird feeders. Well, the squirrels are trying to get to the bird feeders...whoever invented squirrel baffles deserves the Nobel prize! Anyhoo, the squirrels are coming right up to the door and looking in, and Sheeba is just staring at them. Apparently I have a very powerful lap!

I'll get up in a moment and get in my workout, but of course I had to check Facebook! Maybe it should be called Facecrack or Methbook instead. I think I'm doing pretty well with it, though, and not spending too much time there. (Famous last words, I know....) And guess what? Rahm Emanuel confirmed me as a friend! Get know how at the top, you type in what you're doing at the moment? This morning, I wrote that I was typing around the purring cat on my lap. Rahm wrote that he is reading the AD 70 Aramaic Bible found near the Golan Heights.

Well, aren't WE Mister Smarty Pants?! Jeez, I'm three months behind on my book club, and still working on the latest Stephen King book! As Detroit Mark would say, I keed, I keed. That's pretty impressive. It seems he's got a wicked sense of humor, too, because he put up an I Can Has Cheezburger picture in his gallery, with himself as the subject. (Warning: it contains the F-word, so if you think that seeing it will sear the eyeballs out of your head, don't look at it!) It made me laugh.

(And by the way, I'd be very surprised if the Facebook page is really Rahm Emanuel's. I doubt that he spends a lot of time on Facebook! Just so you all don't think I'm completely gullible!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting carded

All I have left to do on the Christmas cards is put the stamps on, and that's going to have to wait till tomorrow. I need a break.

Since I haven't put the stamps on yet, I don't know the final count...but I think I'm going to have to do a little culling for next year. I've never kept track of who we get cards from, and that has never been an issue for me...but when you're doing 100+ cards, it becomes an issue pretty effin' quick! Printing labels has helped, but that's just a lot of cards to mess with. I think there may be some cousins culled next year. (Watch...I won't be able to do it, and I'll send out even more next year!)

One thing I didn't mention is what I do with the cards we receive. I cut them into small gift tags. Find the parts that don't have writing on them (usually the top part), cut them into rectangles and fold. I can't remember the last time I bought gift tags. However, I'd be willing to bet that most cards just end up in the landfill, so that's another reason to reconsider cards. I don't mean to sound like a Scrooge, I'm just experiencing card fatigue!

I reluctantly admit that I'm kind of digging Facebook. It's short and sweet, and I don't think it will take up as much time as blogs. Earlier today, I figured out how to import my blog entries (I'm interested to see if this one shows up there with no problem), I've received some plants and sent one, I got hit by a snowball, I've gotten two Christmas presents under my tree (I haven't opened them yet), I got a kitten, and let's see...oh yeah, an In-N-Out burger! (Yum!) I also signed up as a supporter of Rahm Emanuel, and sent him a friend request. He hasn't accepted yet. [sniff] LOL Rahm Emanuel on Facebook? Who knew?! I will probably give up Myspace because I rarely go there, but I want to make sure I can still get into my pal Jimi's music site.

Speaking of Rahm Emanuel, Sheria wrote to me that she'd heard that he may have been the one who got the Feds to move on Blagojevich (who was, of course, already under investigation). I did a little looking, and I couldn't find any confirmation of that. In fact, that rumor was denied (but not emphatically) by Team Obama. Darn, how cool would that have been? A chance for a tough (some might even say ruthless) Chicago pol to stop the corruption, and prove that Chicago politics is NOT synonymous with dirty politics. For the record, I don't believe for a moment that Team Obama was trying to make some kind of a deal with the governor. Even the wiretaps had Blagojevich saying that he wasn't getting anything from them. And frankly, I think they're too smart to make such a bonehead mistake. Did they talk to him? Sure, and that is to be expected. The guy was going to be replacing Obama's Senate seat, so they'd want someone in there amenable to the party. (If I recall, Emanuel's seat in Congress will be filled via a special election.)

In the meantime, the Illinois Attorney General has asked the state legislature to remove the governor from office. I hope they are able to do so, but there are questions there about innocent until proven guilty. I would guess that they'd try to say that he is mentally unfit to serve and remove him that way. Anyone who knows they're under federal investigation and continues to have such conversations has got to have a screw loose!

There was no comment from the governor's hair.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

May God have mercy upon my soul....

I've joined Facebook.

I have mixed feelings about it, because I really don't want to occupy my time with more computer crap, but Cousin Shane has been saying that I probably should, and he's found some people from his past through Facebook, so I took the plunge. Most of the people from my past that I wanted to find I've already found, so I hope I'm not opening up the floodgates.

I feel so ashamed. [sob] I tried to resist, I really did, but I just couldn't any longer. If only someone had told me, "You have to join Facebook!" I'm contrary enough that I probably would have said, "Oh no I don't!" (I have yet to see "Titanic" or read a single one of the Harry Potter books, because I had so many people tell me I "had" to.) But no...Shane just said I'd probably like it, and I read other bloggers saying that they'd joined...and before I knew it, I was wondering what I was missing out on.

I feel dirty. Like a used Kleenex or love glove.

I'm already liking it better than Myspace, though. It's much less cluttered and busy. I'm thinking that my Myspace account might be toast, French or otherwise.

In the name of all that is holy, what have I done?

What have I done?!

Self diagnosis

It's been Christmas card time this afternoon. I'm spent...and I'm not even done yet! I put a good dent in them, though. I'll be sending out about 100 of them, and I've got 75 or so ready for return labels and stamps (the easy part). I needed a break, so I'll finish them tomorrow. Besides, I think I was starting to get a little buzz from ingesting all that envelope glue. If you get a card from me, you will have a sample of my DNA. Don't say I never sent you anything!

Cousin Shane and I exchanged some emails last week about how we felt weird. Not exactly weird--we're always that--not really depressed, but...out of sorts? That's the best way I can think of to describe it. We wondered if part of it is winter setting in, and I figured part of mine was being out of town for a few days, sleeping in a different bed, etc. I don't know if Shane has thought about his doldrums further, but I was pondering mine, and I think I've finally diagnosed myself.

I believe I'm suffering from Post-Election Withdrawal Syndrome (PEWS). For a solid two months, I was consumed by all things political; during that heady time, I felt fully engaged with the process in our country. I read everything I could online, from local news stories to blogs. I had CNN on as soon as I got up and I watched it after Ken went to bed. I read the articles in Time thoroughly, checked the polls online daily, and exchanged emails, fast and furious, with friends concerning the election. I debated with my Dad, and like many other families in the country, we were divided on issues. Every untrue rumor about President-Elect Obama fueled my fire and raised my ire, and factchecking became a verb for me.

Now it's over. My guy won, and I'm happy about that, but I'm feeling a little bereft and adrift. Instead of spending time learning more about the issues, I have to resort to stories about Palin pardoning turkeys and then being interviewed while one is slaughtered behind her; an evil, manipulative, money-grubbing governor and his equally money-grubbing wife; and today, Joe the Plumber saying that he was appalled and angry at John McCain and almost jumped off the bus before it went over the cliff. Et tu, Joe? And just how schizo IS this guy? Get some therapy, dude. I think you might have dissociative disorder. Are you Sam or are you Joe? (Sing it to the tune of the Clash song!)

[sigh] Oh sure, there are bright spots like debating the bailouts, and of course, Rahm Emanuel. But I have to ask...why do the birds go on singing? Why do the stars glow above? And what IS it all about, Alfie?

Well, now that I know what is happening, I can forge ahead and go on with my life. PEWS is not life-threatening, but it can be temporarily debilitating. I'll be okay, I'll overcome it, and I can turn my energy into finding a place here for my in-laws to live, preparing for a kickass garden this summer, and tackling a project or two around here. I just need to make sure that in the next month and a half, my PEWS doesn't morph into Pre-Inaugural Stress Syndrome (PISS). That would be really bad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It IS a Better World!

I don't know if you all noticed this comment on my previous entry, but check it out:

Thanks for mentioning Better World Books! As a token of our appreciation, please enjoy the coupon code JHAL08 for a 10% discount. (Coupon good for a one-time use on or before December 31, 2008)

Jozi from Better World Books

How cool is that? Well, I wrote back to Jozi just to clarify the situation--was this just for me, or for my readers as well?

She wrote back:

So nice to hear from you! Thanks again for your rave review and for helping us drum up business! Please feel free to use this coupon code and share it with your readers (and your friends and family and their friends and family and… : )

I'm tellin' ya...this company is the greatest thing since sliced bread (and no, I don't work for them!).

So there you go: visit Better World Books and order before Dec. 31, 2008, and get a 10% discount by using coupon code JHAL08 or AKIN08. Share it with your friends and family and turn them on to Better World.

Happy reading!