Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'll Take It!

Since Son Brian is getting married this May, I get to be a MOG (Mother of the Groom). Of course I need a dress for the occasion. As per wedding etiquette, the bride's mom got to decide on her dress style and color first; it's my job to find something fabulous that will coordinate with her.

The whole dress process is pretty intimidating. I'm not a formal wear type of person, and I don't want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a dress I'll only wear once. Last week I was discussing the topic with a friend. She mentioned a bridal store not far from my house that was closing and selling off all their inventory. I decided to go check it out.

The front door of the store opened into a main reception area, with several rooms branching off it. The salesclerk directed me to the correct room, told me everything in there was 50 percent off, and let me look around. The selection was pretty picked over, but I found two that were my size and an appropriate color. The clerk put both dresses in a room for me and told me to let her know if I needed help.

When she closed the dressing room door, I took a closer look at the two dresses. Neither of them were what I was looking for. They were strapless, with enough boning to be able to stand up on their own, and loaded with sparkles. Not exactly appropriate for an outdoor semi-casual wedding. Even at half price, they were substantially more than I wanted to spend. The original price for one of them was as much as our house payment used to be!

I hung the dresses back up, and started to say goodbye to the salesclerk. However, I noticed a selection of dresses in one of the other rooms that looked interesting. They were much less formal, appropriate for a prom, a bridesmaid, or an outdoor semi-casual wedding. I was excited when I found nice tea-length one in an appropriate color and size, and thrilled when it I tried it on. Except for a few minor changes (raising the too-low-for-my-taste front, taking in the sides a bit, and adding a shawl or stole for warmth) it was exactly what I was looking for.

The dresses in the second room were one of two price points, anywhere between 50% and 90% off the original price. I was expecting to pay the higher of the two prices, but was ecstatic when it ended up being the lower. I've bought lunches that were more expensive than the dress!

The dress was being sold "as is" with no returns allowed. That caused me to stop and think, but only for a minute. I got a wonderful dress for a great price. The money I saved can go towards all the other extras...undergarments, shoes, jewelry, purse...that I'll need to complete the outfit.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Give Me Liberty

Yesterday when I was driving to work I saw a strange sight along Manchester Road. There was a man dressed as a Statue of Liberty dancing on the sidewalk by a strip mall. The man wore a light green "robe" and a Liberty headdress, and looked like he was having a great time dancing and waving to the cars as they went by. I gave him a friendly honk and he waved at me and danced even harder. I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw him giving the pickup behind me a trucker "honk-the-horn gesture".

There was someone dancing there again this morning, and on the way home there were two dancing Liberties! I had to know why they were there, so I pulled into the parking lot. At the end of the strip mall was a sign that said Liberty Tax Service. Turns out that Liberty Tax Service is a nationwide franchise of tax preparers. One of their marketing strategies is to have people dressed as Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty dance on a sidewalk or street corner to attract customers. I guess that means I'll continue to see Lad Liberty till Tax Day in April.

If you haven't seen the Liberty dancers, here's a video of some from Atlanta:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


One of the things I love about working with preschool children is that there's always a chance to be silly. Today was one of them; it was pajama day in our classroom. The teacher has been promoting this to the students for almost a week so they'd get pumped up about it. Everyone showed up today in their pajamas, carrying a pillow and their favorite stuffed animal.

All the adults working in the classroom were taking part in the day as well. I had to find something to wear; my comfortable, knee-length nightgown would leave my legs exposed, and the temperature's too cold for that. On a trip to Goodwill last week I found a silky polyester pajama set. It had a vaguely Oriental style print of electric blue. black, and gold on a midnight blue background. Quite comfortable and elegant!

When I rolled out of bed this morning I put ON my pajamas and a pair of tennis shoes,because my slippers aren't made for wearing outside. When I went out to get the newspaper I realized that the polyester material was not made for cold weather; the cold wind whipped right through it. BRRRR!

On Tuesdays I go to work early for a classroom team meeting, leave and go to the gym, then come back to start my scheduled work day just before lunch. We're not the first class to wear their sleepwear to school, so all of the other staff knew why we were dressed differently today. However, when I got to the gym a couple of women in the locker room gave me funny looks. The first few times I explained, but then I decided it would be more fun just to keep people guessing. After my workout I showered, dressed, and walked out to my car proudly showing my silky outfit. I stopped by the library to check my e-mail before work, where I noticed that the man at the next computer kept sneaking glances at my outfit. I didn't say anything.

Many of the activities today took the day's theme into account. The students squeezed orange juice and made cinnamon rolls for a snack, and took their stuffed animals with them when they laid down for quiet time after lunch. In the afternoon I got to supervise pillow fights between small groups of children. All too soon the day was over.

On the way home from work I stopped at a restaurant for a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. It was great to have breakfast food in the middle of the afternoon. Why not? I still had my pajamas on!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Send A Message

When I stretched out on the couch in the family room and fired up my laptop after work, I was going to quickly check my e-mail and log off. I wasn't planning on spending a lot of time on the computer. Pepper the cat had other plans, though. He jumped up on the couch, looked disdainfully at the computer taking up the prime lap real estate on my lap, and curled up on the bottom part of my legs. I interpreted that as a sign he was giving me permission to do some serious computer time wasting!

Monk-e-mail (sponsored by is a great Website that allows you to do just that. It allows you to send people funny e-mails from one of three primates--The Boss, The Coworker, or The Receptionist. You can personalize the monkey's headgear, clothes, and accessories, and choose a location backdrop.

After the primate is styled to your satisfaction, there are four different ways to add audio: using one of several pre-recorded messages, typing text (200 characters or less) which is translated to speech in one of the four available voice options, recording your voice by phone, or using the computer microphone to do the recording. The monkey's lips move as your message is "spoken"

When you're done, you can send it, or post it on Twitter but (strangely enough) none of the other social media sites.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Right Note

The weather this week...
  • Cloudy
  • Foggy
  • Foggy
  • Foggy and light rain
  • Rain
Even though it was dry today, it was yet another in a string of gloomy days. I needed something to perk me up, so this afternoon I was browsing in a "natural" body products store. On an end cap I saw a selection of interesting-looking fragrances that were new to me-the Demeter Fragrance Library.

I'm not a big user of scents or perfumes; they usually give me a headache. The names of these intrigued me, though. They were all based on "everyday" scents. I saw things like Fuzzy Naval, Laundromat, Pink Lemonade, Snow, Dirt, and Wet Garden.

All the scents sounded fascinating, but today the spring-like ones were especially appealing, so I used the tester to spritz a small amount of Wet Garden on my wrist. It was wonderful. There were notes of flowers, wet soil, and wood mulch; all the smells when you walk outside in the garden after a rainfall. I left the store in a much better mood than I went in. The scent didn't last on my skin very long, but made me happy every time I got a whiff of it.

The Demeter Website indicated that the store I saw just a small selection of the available fragrances. Some of them commonplace (Apple Blossom and Patchouli), some were bizarre (Funeral Home and Cannabis Flower), and others would be interesting to smell (Crayon or Bonfire).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Make A Change

I got a awesome notebook computer at Christmas. It's thin and lightweight, with a battery that lasts a long time. It's been great fun writing, surfing the Web, and playing games while sitting on the couch in the family room.

The computer came with a Windows Vista operating system, but a few weeks ago I upgraded to Windows 7. After I did the upgrade, my CD drive wasn't working anymore. I've been exchanging e-mails with the company's Technical Support office. They give me a suggestion. I try it, get excited when it looks like it might work, frustrated when it doesn't, then I e-mail them back and the dance continues. Last night their advice (complete with step-by-step instructions) was to make some changes to the computer registry.

That scared me. Now because I didn't think they knew what they were doing, but because I wasn't sure if I knew what I was doing. I know that if you mess up the registry, Windows won't work, and I didn't want that to happen to my new toy. I kept procrastinating on the job until there wasn't enough time to do it before bed. When I got home from work today, I decided to put on my big girl pants and tackle the project.

The first step was to back up the registry before I modified it, so I could go back to the original if I made a mistake. The Microsoft website told me how to do it; soon it was saved and I was ready to move on to the main project. I printed out the directions and set them on the kitchen table next to the computer. Carefully, triple-checking each step, I did what they told me to do, ending with shutting down and restarting the computer.

It restarted fine, and doesn't seem to have any big problems. Well, there is one...the CD drive STILL doesn't work! I updated Technical Support, and I'll wait to see what the next step is. The dance continues.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Beautiful Color Of Love

I heard this lovely poem at church today:
The Beautiful Color of Love

What color is God,
Asked the child with skin so fair
Is he white like me,
Does he have light hair

Is God dark like me,
Asked the child with skin of golden hue
Has he hair that's dark and curly,
Are his eyes black or blue

I think God is red like me,
The Indian boy is heard to say
He wears a crown of feathers,
And turns our nights to day

Each one of us knows that God is there,
In all the colors above
But be sure of this, the one color he is,
Is the beautiful color of love

So when your soul goes to Heaven,
When your life comes to its end
He will be waiting, and his hand to you
Will he extend.

There will be no colors in Heaven,
Everyone will be the same.
You will only be judged by your earthly deeds,
Not your color or your name

So when your time comes,
And you see God in his Heaven above,
Then you will see the only color that counts,
The beautiful color of love

Alana Simpkins (from

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What A Difference A Day Makes

This is what out kitchen looked like last night when we went to bed:

And this is what it looks like now:

We have new countertops!

Last month we signed a contract to have the work done, and I went to the warehouse to pick out the slabs. Someone came to the house last week to make a detailed drawing for the fabricator, who would cut the stone. He left before I remembered to ask him how long the fabrication process took, so I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call about installation on Thursday.

The installation job is a multi-step process. Last night after dinner we had the old countertops taken out, along with the sink and its plumbing. That left us with no water in the kitchen. (Fortunately we have a wet bar in the family room that proved handy for making coffee at breakfast.) This morning a crew of three young men came to install the new counter, which only took them a couple of hours. Tomorrow morning the water lines will get reinstalled, along with a new faucet, and the job will be completely done.

I absolutely love the Cafe Amazonia granite we chose. It wasn't my first pick, but the salesperson told me it would look great, and she was right. You know how one home improvement project usually leads to another? I'm starting to compile a list of things that need to be redone now...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Figuring It Out

It turns out my voice was no better when I woke up today than when I went to bed last night. I still felt ok, but when I opened my mouth not much came out.

If I had a desk job with no need to talk to anyone, I could have gone to work today with no problem. However, according to the day's lesson plan my activities included playing games with small groups, singing songs, and supervising a Play-Doh table at quiet time-all things that required talking. I left a very scratchy voice mail for the preschool office manager and an email for my classroom teacher and the school director saying I wouldn't be there.

Now what? I've never taken a sick day when I wasn't completely under the weather. When the boys were young, the house rule was if you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to leave the house. If I followed that edict, any type of errands were out. By 9:30 I had caught up on all my e-mails, straightened the kitchen and family room, watered the plants, and completely read the newspaper. I opened the refrigerator later in the morning and noticed it was right-before-payday empty, so I took out all the shelves and gave it a good cleaning.

In an effort to make myself better, I kept gargling with vinegar, doing comparison taste tests of the five different types in the house. (In my opinion, balsamic is the best, but the rice wine was a close second). I occasionally tried speaking a sentence on the cats to see how I was doing; the results weren't pretty.

After lunch there was an e-mail in my Inbox that told me I had a comment on a blog post from some time back. However, I couldn't read the comment because it was in a foreign language that looked like Chinese! The comment needed moderation before it could be posted. Was it a real comment or spam? The comment was connected to a Blogger user profile that looked normal; the profile was connected to a blog that was written in the same unfamiliar language. Before I just deleted the comment, I wanted to know what it said. I turned to the all-encompassing Google to help me.

I used the translator function of iGoogle. Under the more drop-down list is a handy Translator gadget. You add text or a URL, click the Translate button, and if it's written in one of the 34 supported languages you get an answer back! My comment was interpreted as:

To continuously update go you!! I wish you a happy mood

I doubt the translation was perfect, but at least I had a general idea of the message, and let the posting go through. So, Sister, if you get back to my blog, thanks for making my day a little more interesting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vim And Vinegar

Yesterday I started getting a cold. Last night my throat was a little scratchy, and it was a lot scratchy when I woke up this morning. A hot steamy shower only helped a little, and I left for work armed with decongestant pills and a bag of cough drops. Over the course of the day the scratchiness got worse, and by the time I left work I sounded more like a frog croaking than a human talking.

Other than the scratchiness, there weren't many other symptoms. I had no fever. My sinuses weren't stopped up, nor was my nose. Except for an intermittent dry cough (and of course the croaking) I felt fine. The things I usually do for a sore or scratchy throat...cough drops, salt water gargling, and hot tea with honey and lemon...weren't really helping much.

I didn't want the problem to linger on, so after dinner I did what any Internet savvy sicko would do--I researched my problem with Google. The second result for my search turned out to be a very informative article from HowStuffWorks called 22 Home Remedies for Laryngitis.

They suggested speaking softly and limiting my conversation (not a problem; I don't think anyone would voluntarily want to listen to me tonight). I was surprised to learn that clearing my throat actually increases the irritation, so I shouldn't do it. Until I'm better, I should avoid smokers and dusty environments (easy) and caffeine (NOT easy).

At the end of the article, they listed natural home remedies. I'd already tried many of them, but some intrigued me:
  • Ginger-Sucking on candied ginger, or brewing tea with ginger root can help soothe the inflammation.
  • Garlic-Amish and Seventh Day Adventists suggest sucking on a slice of garlic. It has antimicrobial properties that can kill bacteria and some viruses.
  • Vinegar-Gargling with vinegar, which is a weak acid, can help wipe out many organisms.
I didn't have any ginger root in the house, and I didn't want Tony kicking me out of bed tonight, so garlic was out. That left vinegar. I went to the pantry and discovered we had FIVE kinds...white, balsamic, red wine, rice wine, and apple cider. I chose the red wine, poured some in a cup, and mixed it with an equal amount of water. I stood at the kitchen sink, took a swig, and started gargling. It made my lips sting, and tasted like a way too strong vinaigrette, but a couple of minutes after I finished my throat felt less scratchy.

A half-hour later my throat still felt better, and my cough seemed less hacking. However, when I talked it was still awful-sounding. I hope that my homemade treatment and a lot of rest tonight will allow me to function at work tomorrow.

Would I look funny if I brought a vinegar cruet to work with me, just in case?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

Today I'm another year older. It's also my blogging anniversary. Two years ago I started a project to do something new every day for a whole year. Before that I had never read a blog, and barely knew what one was. How things have changed!

Unlike last year when I had a blowout birthday party, then followed it up with a mystery trip to Epcot Center, this year I'm celebrating my day quietly. I already had a shindig with the family last weekend, so Tony and I will go out for dinner tonight. I'm planning of treating myself to the most decadent entree and dessert on the menu. I decided several years ago that MY holiday season doesn't end until after my birthday!

Some January 11 births, deaths, and events I thought were interesting, compliments of Brainy History:
  • 2003 Maurice Gibb, singer/songwriter, the Bee Gees, dies at 53
  • 1995 5th TV network (WB) Warner Brothers begins
  • 1993 Independent President candidate Ross Perot publicly returns to politics
  • 1982 Atlanta Georgia's temperature goes below zero degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1980 Debut of Pretenders
  • 1973 American League adopts designated hitter rule
  • 1973 Trial of Watergate burglars begins in Washington D.C.
  • 1970 Superbowl IV: Kansas City Chiefs beat Minnesota Vikings, 23-7 in New Orleans
  • 1971 Mary J. Blige, R&B and hip-hop singer/ songwriter born
  • 1964 1st government report warning smoking may be hazardous to one's health
  • 1962 Kim Coles, American actress (Living Single) born
  • 1952 Ben Crenshaw, PGA golfer, born
  • 1949 Snowfall 1st recorded in Los Angeles
  • 1946 Naomi Judd, country singer (and mother of Wynonna and Ashley) born
  • 1942 Clarence Clemons, saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E St. Band born
  • 1935 Amelia Earhart flies non-stop from Honolulu to Oakland California
  • 1922 Insulin 1st used to treat diabetes
  • 1843 Francis Scott Key, composer of "The Star Spangled Banner", dies at 63
  • 1775 Francis Salvador becomes 1st Jewish person elected to office in America
  • 1755 Alexander Hamilton, 1st U.S. Secretary of Treasury (whose face is on the $10 bill) born

Published 01/11/10 at 10:01 AM

Today's date is special. It's a palindrome. A palindrome is something which reads the same both forward AND backward. There are palindromic words (civic, radar, level), phrases (Live Evil), quotations (“Madam, I'm Adam”), names (Lon Nol, a Prime Minister of Cambodia), and numbers (48284), and dates.

Historians have found Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and Sanskrit palindromes. Archeological excavations of Herculaneum, Italy, which was destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., discovered a palindrome that is also a word square that can be read in four different ways--horizontally or vertically from either top left to bottom right or bottom right to top left.

You can even find palindromes in music. Symphony No. 47 in G by Joseph Haydn is nicknamed the Palindrome. The piece goes forward twice and backwards twice and arrives at the same place in the end. Igor Stravinsky's composition The Owl and the Pussy Cat is also a palindrome, as is "Bob", a song by Weird Al done completely in palindromes:

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

This area isn't supposed to be so frigid. The average high for this time of year is 37 and the average low is 21, but recently it's been much colder than that. The high today is supposed to be 13 degrees and the low will be below zero. Tomorrow won't be much better. Our outdoor Christmas lights won't be coming down anytime soon! Yesterday we got several inches of fluffy snow, and most of the schools were closed (including mine). Between the snow and the cold, I've been going outside as little as possible. Pepper the cat is lap sitting whenever he can find an empty one.

Even the birds are responding to the abnormal weather. The other day there was one at the feeder perched on the tray that I had never seen before. At first glance it looked like a huge mourning dove, but it had dark spots all over its body, a red spot on the back of its head, and a long pointed beak. I went to the computer, did a search, and found out I was looking at a Northern Flicker:

The picture, taken by Sally Sharamitaro, is from the Website of Bob Corbett, who documents all the birds he's seen in his St. Louis yard since 2006.

Northern Flickers are members of the woodpecker family. It's the only woodpecker that commonly feeds on the ground. Their primary food is insects, but they also eat berries, seeds and nuts; they're particularly fond of sunflower seeds, but I suspect in this cold weather they'd eat just about anything.

After the bird ate for a few minutes it flew away. I keep looking for the bird to reappear on my deck, but so far it hasn't returned. I wonder where its home is?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Today is the last day of Christmas. My, how time flies! However, now that the Christmas season is ended, Mardi Gras starts. The party can continue until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season.

Here are some drums from the 2007 Carnival in Rio de Janeiro:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

If today's phrase was part of a Wheel of Fortune "Before & After" puzzle, it would look like this


because tonight for dinner I made a Shepherd's Pie with leftover turkey, a bag of mixed vegetables, some onion and celery and the requisite mashed potato topping. I brought out my piping bags and tips to make the top look fancy:

Years ago I took a Wilton cake decorating class and used the skills to produce birthday cakes for the family, along with a few baptism and baby shower cakes. However, somewhere along the line I stopped making elaborate cakes, so it's been a while since I got out my supplies.

I retrieved the box from the top shelf of the pantry, opened it, and took a trip down memory lane. There were plastic clown heads to stick on top of cupcakes, clusters of plastic balloons, and sleeping angels. I found the baby in a cradle ceramic figurine (with a yellow blanket, so I could use it for babies of either sex). The decorating tips were sorted carefully by categories and stored in baby food jars. A tub held a collection of paste food colors, and a dozen Wilton yearbooks, with ideas and directions for making that year's hottest cakes, were leaning against the side of the box. Some of the books were two decades old; I suspect most of the trendy cakes and cultural icons in them are obsolete.

When I was finished reminiscing, I put the largest star tip in a piping bag to pipe out the potatoes onto the top of the pie. When I had the top halfway done, the seam on the bag burst. I guess they don't last forever! I used a disposable bag to finish up, then put the whole thing in the oven to brown.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

According to, one of the definitions of leap is "to spring or bound upward from or as if from the ground; jump". I'm not sure what kind of leaping the ten lords were doing, or why people jumping all around could be thought of as a nice present!


I went back to work today after an almost two-week break. Even though it was hard to get up in the dark when the alarm went off, I was ready for a change of pace. It's too cold to be outside, and I'm tired of being housebound. On Mondays I arrive at work mid-morning. I found the class in the Motor Room doing exercises. The forecast today called for a high of 18 degrees, so they couldn't go outside and play.

Several rooms in the preschool where I work have multiple uses. One of them is the Motor Room. The large room is used for gross motor activities when the weather is too bad to go outside, by the physical therapists, and the Extended Day program after the regular classes let out. There's a wide variety of toys and equipment in there, and anyone can use it (although some of it I have no clue what it's used for).

Along one of the room's walls there are several mini trampolines. They're mostly used by the physical therapists, because jumping on a trampoline improves motor skills and balance, but occasionally someone else will take a turn on them.

At the end of the preschool day I moved over to Extended Day. The autistic student I work with there was tired and a bit crabby today. None of the usual activities held his interest for more than a few minutes, so I was scrambling trying to come up with something to keep him occupied; his behavior tends to deteriorate if he's not busy.

After each "academic" activity he did a gross motor one. He climbed in a small ball pit, slid down a Little Tikes slide, and crawled through a tunnel. I was running out of ideas when I looked over and saw the mini-trampolines. They don't always interest him, but I thought it was worth a try.

I guided him over to the bank of trampolines and helped him decide which one he wanted to use. I wish I could say that my suggestion made him completely happy and he spent a long time leaping, but after a couple of minutes he was finished with this activity too. However, it helped me fill the time until his mom came to pick him up.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Ninth Day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

This verse of the song can be a little confusing because there are two different versions of the lyrics; you can either have nine ladies dancing or nine drummers drumming. My drummers will come later. Today is all about dancing ladies.

Even though Epiphany isn't technically till Tuesday (January 6) the liturgical celebration of Epiphany was today. At Mass we sang the last carols till next year, and the lector announced that the poinsettias decorating the altar were available to be taken home. By next Sunday there won't be any signs of the holiday left in the church.

I decided to start undecorating the house today by taking down the tree. It's always a family event to put the tree up, but I take it down by myself. Years ago, when I couldn't get the boys to help me I turned it into my own event. I crank up my own music and dance around as I'm putting things away. Tonight after dinner I loaded the CD changer with Broadway tunes and started in.

First up, in honor of my feline friends sleeping on the couch in the family room, was Cats. This CD isn't a soundtrack, just selections from the show, but it has all the big songs. I did a little stepping with "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer" as I took the garland off the tree, but the pace of "Old Deuteronomy" wasn't fast enough for me, so I moved on to the next disc, which was the West Side Story soundtrack. I normally enjoy it, but today it wasn't doing anything for me; I moved on right after the Jets sang about being together "To your last dyin' day".

The third disc ended up being just right. Right from the "Overture", 42nd Street was perfect for my job. "Young and Healthy" and "We're In the Money" had me bopping around the tree as I unwrapped the lights, and "Lullaby of Broadway" was the perfect tune as I stuffed the tree parts into the box. The song "42nd Street" helped me drag the box down the stairs to the basement.

Ironically, the last disc was selections from Phantom of the Opera. As I was tidying up the living room, Christine was warbling..."Think of me, think of me fondly, when we've said goodbye." Was she talking about the Phantom or my tree?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four calling birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Mmmm....milk. I love it and all the things that come from it-butter, cheese, yogurt, and every variety of frozen creamy products. Today I atet a lot of them--some diet friendly and some not!

Since the holidays are almost over, it will soon be back to diet reality; less rich food and more health-friendly options. This morning I made a smoothie with non-fat yogurt and frozen fruit, using the immersion blender that I got for a Christmas present.

Although I already have a standard blender in my kitchen, I've seen chefs on the Food Network pureeing soups and sauces with an immersion blender and I decided I wanted one. In just a few days I've used my new toy to puree pinto beans for dip, crush cooked cranberries for sauce, and blend gravy. I really like it-it's lightweight, easy to use, and easy to clean; you just remove the blending part and put it in the dishwasher.

For my smoothie, I poured frozen mixed fruit into a measuring cup, thawed it a bit in the microwave, and added several spoonfuls of yogurt and a splash of milk. I planted the blender in the center of the cup, set the speed control to a medium setting, and held the power button down. A few seconds later the cup was full of smoothie goodness.

This afternoon I enjoyed a lunch full of full-fat dairy products. Tony organized an early birthday celebration for me before Son Tony left to go back home. We had lunch at Dave and Busters, then moved into the arcade section for some games. I ordered a tasty mac and cheese with chicken and bacon pieces, and Tony brought in a chocolate cake with decadent chocolate buttercream icing.

My diet can start tomorrow!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Seventh Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Seven plus six plus five plus four plus three plus two plus one equals 28 birds. That's quite a flock! In my mind they're all starting to run together.

Wikipedia says:
The word goose (plural: geese) is the English name for a considerable number of birds, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller.
Even though we don't have many swans in our area, we do have geese and ducks. When I was out running errands this morning I stopped by the lake at a nearby city park; I thought I'd see something swimming around, but there wasn't a bird in sight.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. The temperature was only 19 degrees, with a wind chill that made it feel half that. I saw these "duck prints" on the hardened surface of the lake.

Even though I couldn't see any real swans today, when I started thinking about them it was amazing how many times I found examples as I went through the day:
  • Now that Christmas is over, it's amazing how quickly decorations have come out for Valentine's Day. I think these two swans are quite romantic.

  • Remember Bjork and the infamous swan dress that she wore to the 2001 Oscars?

  • Finally, here's an origami swan I made from a gold and white piece of junk mail following these directions. It's "swimming" on the blue window seat in the kitchen.