Lost in the Woods

Just when you think you are out of the woods, bang! You're facing more problems. Such is my life at the moment. The divorce was finalized on June 10 and court orders were issued to award two accounts to me. As you know I have not found a job yet and am living on almost nothing.

The lawyers for my ex (which he fired) still hold the escrow trust account and are not releasing it. They don't return phone calls or emails. I checked with my lawyer and they agreed that this is unethical and illegal. However, since they aren't responding, I would have to file an ex parte with the court. Since having found out that the court system I'm in is the slowest in LA county, this will take 2-3 months! Can you believe this?

After spending 4 years and 11 months and a fortune to get a judgement I'm now supposed to go to court to have it upheld? This is obscene.

The other account is an IRA which my ex (against court orders) moved out of California to Nevada where he now lives. So my IRA custodian has her hands tied because the paperwork the Nevada company needs does not exist in California's system. Plus, the custodian in Nevada never answers her phone so she and my custodian are playing phone tag.

Meanwhile my landlord has started eviction proceedings which will involve more lawyers. Can you believe the idiocy of all this? It's enough to drive a person over the edge.

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To Gluten or Not Gluten Post

My friend Janice called a wee while ago to check up on me, which I really appreciate. As you know, I'm still hacking and coughing but keep telling myself I'm getting better...mind over matter and all that. We all know a large part of the body's immune system can be compromised by stress, especially chronic stress which I am experiencing in abundance and have been for over five years. But she suggested that possibly I'm allergic to gluten, such as pasta, bread and so on also. All of my favorite foods.
Tuna Salad again, though a bit "health-ified".

She suggested that I cut out all gluten foods and see if that wouldn't help since I really can't control the outside sources of stress. I've read a bit about gluten free diets and would dearly miss the items that it nixed, so I sort of ignored it, but I'm thinking I may have to give it a try. Since my diet for the last two weeks has consisted of tuna salad made with macaroni and not a lot of fruits (except the one time purchase of ready made fruit salad and a few bananas) and certainly no dark green or leafy vegetables, I may have to look into this again. My, that was a run-on sentence.

As I ponder this, you'll notice from the pic above that I'm trying to "health-ify" today's lunch. It's time to do a little reading in my camera guide book so I can turn the flash off and go to manual settings to get rid of the white glaring shine on the food in the pic, especially the tomatoes.

The arugula was a nice addition taste wise and nutrient wise. I know it doesn't look like there's much there other than decoration, but the bottom of the dish was packed with arugula. This was accompanied by water vs. an artificial drink and will be followed by half a banana. Yes, life is really exciting here at Chez Christine. ;)

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Heat Post

It was quite warm today, but not nearly as warm as it can get and the evening temperatures aren't dropping so that isn't helping. I finally gave in, cleaning and turning on the living room air conditioner at about 3 p.m. today and it's not even July. I have a feeling this is going to be an ugly summer. Thus the reason that I'm still up and posting this at 1:40 a.m.!

When it doesn't get below 60F at night outside, the house never really cools down. Plus there was absolutely no evening cooling breeze to take advantage of and so my window air conditioning unit is still on. I'd turned it off at about 11 p.m. but it became so hot, I had to turn it back on. I dread seeing my electric bill this month. To combat this, I walk around after dark using a flashlight, having turned all the lights in the house off. Hopefully this will counteract some of the electrical usage.

I really wish the idiot hadn't  cut all the shade off the tree, it made such a major difference in the house staying cool. What a short-sighted, inconsiderate fool. I may go out tomorrow morning and after picking up after Blue, hose the roof and house walls down. Maybe even do the same after 6 p.m. too.

Mr. Blue is "glued" to the living room where the A/C is and won't come into the bedroom or the office so he must really be hot. Maybe I need to buy him a little plastic "kiddy swimming pool" for the summer.  Well, good night and sleep tight.



A Little of This, A Little of That

I almost called my nephew on his birthday which was Friday. Of course, I couldn't since I don't have his phone number so it's a moot point. I tried calling him yesterday at my brother's house where I thought he'd be with the rest of the family, but no one was home. Finally reached him today and found out he had to work a 24 hour shift on his birthday. What a bummer, poor guy. But today he was at my bro's and  looking forward to his favorite dinner from his mom:  homemade spaghetti sauce, meatballs and pasta followed by a desert of angel food cake with butter cream frosting. Turns out he requests the same thing every year.

Since it's been so hot and I have no TV, I find myself turning to letter writing of all things! Hence the (not so great) photo of the stamps above on a letter to a friend of mine. She's going through a tough time in her marriage. Her husband says he loves her, but that he also is in love with a co-worker. What's wild, is that he doesn't understand why that can't all work out, the three of them! What is it with men? Doltoid actually said the same thing to me at one point! When he did, I just looked at him like he was insane.

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What Are They Building?

The worker next door has been sawing all day long, Frankly, I can't imagine what they're building, unless the new owners are trying to make the garage on the property into a rental unit. With the amount of wood that I've heard being cut, they could be building an ark since I can't see over the tall fence. They literally stopped about 5 minutes ago. What a long, loud day!



And the Winner Was...

Tuna Salad with Macaroni was the winner in last night's dinner quandary. Funny, I never tire of it, especially when the summer heat is oppressive and I'm sitting close to the front door with the fan blowing on me hoping to feel some of the cooler evening air. There's nothing as refreshing as a cold dish of tuna salad on a bed of arugula and other leafy lettuce. I even put the plate in the fridge for an hour just to up the cooling factor. Possibly a glass of homemade lemonade and a piece of chilled fruit to finish it off. Easy, simple and if you cook the noodles in the morning, they have time to chill before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients for dinner. 

When I ran errands the other day, I picked up a container of fresh cut up fruit and had just enough left over for breakfast this morning. The best part, other than the taste was that it was only $3.99 (.70 E) per pound (.5 kg). Usually fruit salads cost $5.99-6.99 (4.21-4.92 E) per pound.

This is such a good option for me, by the time I buy 3 kinds of mellon, strawberries, grapes, blueberries and pineapple I would have spent close to $15. Then I'd have to peel and cut it up. This would yield a huge bowl of fruit that would spoil before I could eat it all. It's taken me a long time to get used to the logistics of living alone especially in the area of food preparation.

Today was supposed to be cooler than yesterday, but it doesn't seem like it as I sit here dripping even earlier in the afternoon than the last two days of heat. 



What To Make For Dinner

That is the never-ending-question on this planet and visiting food blogs can be very frustrating when it's too hot to turn on the oven. Oh, I know there are those who'd be thrilled to have grilling season all year round. It can, however, get very boring and now that there is NO shade in the patio area, I have about as much desire to stand in front of a hot grill with the sun broiling me as I do to stand in front of a moving train. I believe it's time to break out the patio umbrellas. Luckily I bought a new one on sale at the end of the season last year.

Since the sad little window air conditioner in the bedroom is now exposed to sun all day long, it'll be far more inefficient than it used to be. (No, I'm not going to get over the new lack of shade any time soon.) So I'll probably put the old umbrella over by the unit to give it and that side of the patio some shade. The new one will go over by the back porch.

Funny, it seems like the workers have been pounding, jack-hammering and sawing on the place next door for at least four or five weeks now...I checked and it's only been an eternity of two and a half weeks. Amazing. At least they turned off the polka-like music they had on at 8 a.m.

Anyhow, back to cooking. Spent part of the afternoon visiting Ree Drummond's blog, Pioneer Woman. Lots of good recipes but many require using the oven. Ugh. I think I'm going to have to break out the little counter top oven I bought on sale last fall just in time not to use it because it was big oven time at that point. I'm actually toying with putting it on a table outside and plugging it into an outlet right by the garage side door in order to keep the heat out. Sounds kind of trashy, but I want to keep the house as cool as possible without turning on the air conditioning for as long as I can.

You'd think with the amount of food blog browsing I do and with the 58 plus recipes for salads and 108 plus for pasta dishes I've saved in my cookbook folder on the computer that I'd have plenty of ideas. Well, I bought a head of cabbage Sunday when I went errand running, so I do need to make coleslaw today and I cooked macaroni noodles at about 9 p.m. last night when it was cooler, so I just need to chop celery and onions to throw a tuna salad together. I found my favorite tuna in the large can, on sale at Pavilions at two for $5.00 which is a steal, saving me over $1.50 a can.

But I've already shared those recipes with you. Maybe salmon patties...just one burner needed with a salad on the side. Hmmm.... I've saved over 16 salmon patty recipes. Only one problem, I'd need dill for the cream sauce I like to have with them. Looks like I really need to break down and visit the Home Depot. For the last two years I've bought herbs at Trader Joe's because they were inexpensive. But within a few weeks they'd die, (even when repotted into a better pot and watered) so I won't buy herbs there. I've had better success with Home Depot's herbs as well as Target's. Well, it's pumpkin time, referring to the fairy tale where Cinderella's magic carriage turns back into a pumpkin and where my office turns into a little piece of hades that I must escape from.

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Sourdough and Heat

Between recovering from my pneumonia relapse of last week and trying to stay cool in this uninsulated and newly un-shaded house while temps climb into the upper 90's in this valley, I was avoiding all form of physical activity and surfing the web. Frankly, if the air-conditioning in my car worked, I'd go for a drive but after yesterday's sweat-filled errand run, I'm staying put.

Remember how I mentioned that a number of my favorite blogs had stopped posting anything due to burnout or boredom? Well, I went searching for new ones today and by way of An Oregon Cottage, found some great recipes and was sucked into the world of sourdough bread baking. Not that I'll be turning on the oven till at least November, but between the research into the no-knead-bread craze and the sourdough info, I should find a way to make some bread on the grill outside. Just need a cast iron dutch oven or a enameled dutch oven that I don't mind "sacrificing". Craigslist here I come.

I picked up a good deal of information on sourdough making from Jami's blog as well as some great links including Gnowfglins e courses (if you go here you'll see a video on starting a starter), Heavenly Homemakers blog, MnLakesCam site which has a downloadable three-part e book on sourdough making, and $5 Dinners blog (which while not a sourdough site, has some great recipes and ideas.

It all started at One Perfect Bites blog when I noticed she had a list of blogs from Oregon and Washington in her sidebar. Since I'm contemplating moving to Oregon, I thought it'd be good to check them out.

After Jami's blog, I went over to Fresh from Oregon's blog which has lots of yummy sounding recipes and unlike me, has lots of pics of food prep in progress. There's a particularly good looking salmon in pastry recipe there. I'm guessing that she's occupied with summer activities since she has no June posts. It's still nice to visit. Next I tried Wives with Knives blog which has gorgeous photos. There's a recipe for Smoked Salmon and Asparagas Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing that looks delicious.

From there I moved onto My Own Sweet Thyme blog which also has tons of recipes and photos (just note that it takes a while to load). Next I went to Banana Wonder  blog which has mostly vegetarian based recipes which actually look interesting. Usually I'm not that into all veggie meals. Here are two  more to check out:  For the Love of Cooking and Zupan's Markets.

Well, that was an afternoon in the heat well spent. Tomorrow I will be braving the heat (supposedly 95+F or 35+C) and running a few more errands, although I'm going to try and get out of the house before 10 a.m. since the car is sans air conditioning. Thank heavens LA doesn't have a lot of humidity or it'd be really, and I mean REALLY ugly! Seriously. Hope you enjoy the links and sorry for not so many photos...being house-bound kind of limits the variety of things to photograph.

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Television Withdrawal

Last night I decided to watch TV and veg out. So I turned on the TV. Great picture but no sound. I got up and wiggled the white and yellow input plugs which usually works, but nothing. So I checked all the connections, turned the TV off and on, checked the connections again...the works. I even tried a new set of audio/video cables and checked to see if the sound worked when I played a dvd (it didn't). My parents' 15 year old analog TV had finally croaked. This wouldn't be so bad if money weren't so tight right now. It also means I'll eventually have to buy a new beast and learn all about the assorted tech stuff since televisions today are unlike any sold 20 years ago.

Today I decided to go online for information about how to buy a new TV, what to look for and be aware of. While the internet is a wonderful thing, I'm amazed at the number of people post "how-to" info on sites like e-how.com, who can't spell, have no sense of grammar or have so little content that you wonder why they bothered posting the article in the first place. I had noticed this of late in a number of articles online but it really was visible in the realm of electronics. The people writing these articles know so little it's astonishing. Especially if I notice, since we know I'm no tech wiz.

Most of the info is basic common sense, such as measure the space for the TV. But then there are comments like "pick brands you're familiar with", which makes no sense if you haven't bought a set in 15 years. Also comments like "decide how much you can spend/know your budget" seems blindingly obvious. Am I just being overly critical? I don't think so. After spending 20 minutes, I don't learn anything that I didn't already know.

After much whining, grumbling and hunting, I am happy to say I found almost everything I needed to know at a PC World site. So if you find yourself in the market for a new television, be sure to check this and all the links associated with it. You'll find extremely clear, concise and balanced information. (I'm not associated with PC World, just think it's a great site.) Oh, and till I can afford to put my new knowledge to use and actually buy a TV, I'll be fending off TV withdrawal by watching Hulu on my computer. 

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Any Day Now

Okay, it's Friday. My divorce was finalized over two weeks ago. To date nothing has been done in the way of getting the funds transferred and so forth all because my lawyer's secretary (who handles clients whose names begin with "A thru L") has been sick. She's apparently back today but is working on a rush case.

I can't believe that everything comes to a complete halt because of one person being ill! I've started writing a booklet about what I discovered on the road to divorce. Speaking of ill, I can't seem to shake the cough or the trouble breathing that's left over from the pneumonia which is annoying. I'm so sick of coughing!

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The Tree Butcher Returns...

...or how not to prune an avocado tree as well as tick off the neighbor. As I said in a previous post, let a man get his hands on a chain saw and say goodbye to every tree and bush in sight. I don't understand this mindset at all. The tree butcher has returned and is hacking the living daylights out of an over hanging avocado tree on the other side of the property. Just amazing. All the lower branches have been removed so when the tree fruits next fall, no one will be able to pick any of it, even with an extendible fruit picker basket.

In the last few days, I found out that the property had fallen into foreclosure and was sold. Obviously the new owner must be completely anti-foliage. Reminds me of a period about 15-20 years ago when a number of cities in the area had to institute stricter rules about tree cutting because people moving into those neighborhoods were cutting down every tree in sight on their properties. Old, beautiful tree-covered blocks were suddenly total barren of any greenery other than grass.

It's not that I'm a tree-hugger, but I believe in using trees for shade and beauty. They need to be properly trimmed so they grow in a formation conducive to their on-going health. Since moving to LA ages ago,  I've noticed with few exceptions, that the men who are gardeners here have very little knowledge of how to properly trim trees. Often times you see trees devoid of leaves and limbs cut back to just a few feet in length but no real shaping...just brute hacking. Every now and then you find one who "gets" it but they're few and far between.

The problem with this kind of butchery is that the tree turns into a malformed bush on a trunk and eventually will be so ugly, it'll get cut down. I find this totally infuriating since it takes so little to understand how to prune the average tree and yet so long for them to grow into shade trees. Fruit trees are a different story and require more care and thought when being trimmed. I found this out when I planted two peach trees at my last house. They require a vase-like shape so the fruit will get sun evenly. That's why the apricot and other stone fruit trees in the yard behind this rental never bear any decent fruit. They're essentially a bush on a trunk, so all the fruit is hidden among the branches, leaves and cobwebs. So it just rots, never ripening, which is sad.
Untrimmed, unshaped apricot tree (center)
What's also odd about this unknown new tree hating owner is how much care was taken in the painting and color choices used on the two houses. The house in the front has an historical designation and is a craftsman style. It looks great in the colors that were chosen, but cutting down all the foliage just doesn't fit with the architectural style of the house. Well, after three hours of chain saw noise, they're done and now painting the newly installed front fence. They're also gracing the neighbors with Banda music blaring from their truck.

Well, that's my pontificating for the day. I'm just glad the avocado tree on this property isn't overhanging their yard!

P.S. It's about 4:45 p.m. and I just looked out the back door. Apparently the windmill palm in the corner of this yard had the audacity to extend two fronds peeking over their fence a few inches, because they've been hacked off and tossed into my yard. The guy is a real $&^#@ jerk.

Funny, I told my friend that I was going to put aluminum foil up on the west facing windows to help block some of the heat and she laughed saying, now they're really going to think you're a crazy old lady. Frankly, I don't care, maybe I am. Lol!



Tuna Notes Post.2

"Tuna Notes Post" addendum:  it seems that letting the tuna salad meld in the fridge makes a difference. It's still not identical, but it did improve a lot. Looks like I'll have to keep my eye open for sales on the key ingredients.



Moving Criteria Post

Still a bit disconcerted from "suddenly" being divorced and a bit lost but I must move forward.

Since my post about the tree butchers, I've started a wish list for where to move. What follows is a list of ideal qualities for my new abode.

Yes to:
low housing costs
low state and sales taxes
nearby quality medical facilities
a strong art and cultural community
restaurants that are not national chains
low crime rate
fenced yard for Blue and a small garden

No to:
winter temps below 0F (-17C)
long periods/months of gray overcast skies and/or rain
long summers with temps over 100F (37C)
humidity above 75%
land locked areas with no lakes
biting flies
heavy snowfall that lingers with long winters
mosquitos (put one of those little buggers in a room with me and 50 people, it will find and bite me)
long periods of heat and humidity

Hmmm, it would appear that I'm quite picky. Lol! It's funny but sometimes I want to live on an acre or three of land, have a large garden, chickens and maybe grow organic veggies to sell to restaurants. Other times I want to live in a lively "downtown" area within walking distance to everything. What I also have to take into consideration is my age. It's not like I'm in my 30's or even 40's and have a lot of time and money left to move again if I don't like where I choose. Not to mention the fact that my wish list rules out most of the U.S.! Lol!

The idea of living permanently outside the U.S. is not desirable to me. I can think of several places I'd love, but I know from all the traveling I've done over the years, that after being "abroad" for several weeks, I feel drawn (it's almost an ache) to return home to the U.S., maybe it's just habit. Who knows? I just know that after three weeks or so, I crave my own country. This is despite how much I've enjoyed the places I've visited. Places I'd return to again and again, just not permanently.

If anyone reading this has any thoughts on places to move, I'd love to hear them. Just leave them in the comments section. Thank you!

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Third Post

Tonight, despite the warm weather and big time shedding on his part, I picked Blue up and put him on my lap, just like I do in winter. I sooooooooo needed that. Just to feel a body close to mine, it was so therapeutic. He's such a dear little soul. He was so quiet and peaceful. It helped my heart so very much that I can't even explain it.

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Further thoughts

Still trying to figure out my feelings. Just now an image popped into my mind from the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun". It's when the main character moves into a furnished apartment where there are a lot of other divorced people. The landlord leaves her with the key, she closes the apartment door and collapses on the floor in exhaustion and disbelief. That is a perfect picture of what I feel like at this moment.

6:30 p.m.
Okay, about an hour has passed and I'm actually feeling kind of happy, sort of giddy suddenly. I suppose this is part of the emotional roller coaster of finally being done. So odd-feeling....


Finally Final Post

Just received a voicemail from my lawyer's secretary. After four years and eleven months of trying to get divorced, it has finally happened!!!!!!!! It's funny, I thought I'd be jumping up and down and doing cartwheels in the street. Instead, I don't feel a thing. It's very odd. Maybe it's because it's been going on for so unbelievably long?

I do have a bottle of champagne that I bought 3 years ago for the purpose of celebrating. I'll probably put it in the freezer and have a glass tonight, just on principle. Hope it's still good.

Funny, feels like just another day with average news. Not at all how I thought I'd feel. Maybe it's shock or post-traumatic-stress-syndrome. Just can't figure it out.

I know I'm relieved the giant money drain has come to an end. But I'm just kind of blank, for lack of a better word. Very, very odd. I almost feel kind of a let down. I've lived this kind of life for almost five years and now, poof, gone. Maybe that's it, what I feel...maybe it's just emptiness.

Later in the day:  Funny, as the day has gone on, I'm actually feeling quite depressed which is not what I expected and I find that annoying.



Tuna Notes Post

Didn't make Pot Pie or soup, wound up making Tuna Pasta Salad again. This time, I didn't have any Le Seuer Very Young Small Sweet Peas so I used Albertson's Small Sweet Peas. Also, I ran out of my favorite celery salt, so I used Spice Islands brand, which does not have as clear of a taste as McCormick's. Those two small changes made a major difference in the taste of the final product. This is my initial tasting opinion. I'm going to let the dish set for a few hours and see if it can't blend into the taste I normally expect. It reminds me of the time I made this, but only had Chicken of the Sea in water vs. oil. Changed the entire flavor of the dish.

This is not to say the variations were in any way inedible. It's just they weren't the flavor I was looking for. Amazing how changing brands can have such an effect on a dish. But I really shouldn't be surprised. I recall how changing from Trader Joe's frozen mixed vegetables to Albertson's improved the entire taste of Chicken Pot Pie. I think it would be fascinating to be a food scientist, able to understand the various reactions from food and combinations thereof.

On a completely different note, I really should be cleaning the house. Well, at least all the dusty surfaces, ceiling fans as well as ceilings and walls. Seems every spring and fall brings a small army of spiders looking for a good home and suddenly (when I put on my reading glasses) I'm shocked by a plethora of cobwebs! Also time to wash off the filters on the two air conditioning units as well as dust the units themselves. In addition to this, I have to clean the windows and blinds on the west side of the house, so I can cover the glass with aluminum foil since I no longer have a shade tree.

I have about as much desire to do this as the man in the moon. I wish I was one of those people who cleans when they get stressed out. My response is more along the lines of crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head. Problem is, very soon it's going to get quite warm and so I'll need all the foil and air conditioning I can get! I really need to move to a milder summer climate.

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Construction Post

Last Tuesday, I told you how the day laborer next door butchered the tree on this property and how all shade is gone, so the west side of this house is hotter than hades from noon till night. Well, the construction has continued on the houses and yard since then. This morning, a Saturday, I was awoken by pounding and drilling at 6:30 a.m. Since I still have the hacking cough, which gets worse at night, I didn't fall asleep till 2 a.m.! So to be awoken that early really annoyed me.

Luckily, most cities have rules about when construction can start, so I called the police. Turns out that on weekends, construction noise can't start till 9 a.m. on weekends, so the officers must have come by because shortly after my call, the noise stopped. Yay! I fell back to sleep till about 10:30 a.m. when the pounding began again. Thank goodness, I really needed that sleep.

The houses and yard next door should look nice once they're done, I just wish they weren't so brutish and so noisy. Having torn down, rebuilt or refurbished 6 houses* in LA since 1983, I realize construction noise is a necessary pain in the neck. However, on my projects the workers knew they had to plan on doing "quiet" work till 10 am. Then they could pound and saw all they wanted. Maybe that's why I'm sensitive to workers who show no regard for local ordinances or courtesy to neighbors.

It would seem that I'm in a rather negative space of late. People are ruder and pushier than they used to be. Personally I blame this on the current economy and depression. So much money was lost by men running major institutions, men with no ethics or conscience. What's amazing is that none of them ever paid for the cavalier destruction of the economy and many peoples lives. It's the average citizen who suffers because of their negligence. Oh dear, I'm going off on a soap box here aren't I?

I'm going to have to work on myself and get in a more positive frame of mind. After all, I can't change what's happened and would have little effect on the men running these companies who are now receiving massive salaries and bonuses, carte blanche! Obviously I'm having a little trouble getting off my soap box or turning my mood around. Sorry. I think I need to cook something. It'll probably be my Chicken Pot Pie or Danish/Caldo Verde.

*Note:  Any houses I tore down were of no architectural value or beauty. The beautiful Mediterranean style homes from the 1920's were all treated as treasures and only returned to their original beauty after having been bastardized by former owners. The tear-downs were rebuilt to be period pieces based on historical data and informed by other architecture in the neighborhoods.

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It's Always Something...Sigh

Another of my favorite sayings by the late Gilda Radner of SNL (Saturday Night Live) is "it's always something" which is so very true. I'd been noticing that even though it's not super hot yet, even with the air conditioning on, it seemed to be awfully hot inside my 12 year old car. Over the last week or so, it's gone from blowing wonderful cold air to just air. This means another repair bill. Just what I don't need. It's compounded by the fact that I can't just drive with the windows down because the two windows on the passenger side are broken...if you roll them down they fall off the track and stay down. Sigh.

Just when I got a little money from selling some gold jewelry that I never wear, bam! Big car repair bill on the horizon! I really, really wish the idiot commissioner would sign the settlement. It's going to take at least two to three weeks after that for things to get sorted out. Another sigh....

I know I'm very lucky to have a functioning car, but the thought of how much it'll cost to fix either the windows or the air conditioner or both just pushes me back into the "pit". I wonder what cosmic or astrological calamity is causing these negative events? I'm thinking specifically of the slow as molasses commissioner, the tree butcher the other day and now car problems. Someone said "mars is retrograde", could that be it? I'm not a huge astrology fan, but I refuse to think I can have such a continuing run of bad luck! I mean, I'm half Irish on my father's side (his grandfather was born in Ireland), that should count for some kind of good luck. Shouldn't it?



Blogdom Post

Of late, I've noticed that a number of blogs that I have followed daily for the last 5 years, appear to be fading. Entries are sparse, to the point that the blogger announces that they're done with the blog or burnt out. Then I discovered when I went through my list of favs (it's very long) that I check on every now and then, over half had been abandoned. It's such a shame, because I really enjoyed reading their posts and will miss them.

I'd list them, because they were favs, but it makes no sense because the links will be of no use to you. So it would appear that I need to purge my list. After making this discovery the other day, I began the process. It's going to take a while. Some haven't been touched for quite a while though I kept them in my list, hoping for the best. So I'm going to have to find some new blogs. Out of the dozen or so blogs that I click on almost every day, five have become inactive, so I'm not getting my daily "fix" of checking in on these individuals. This is a totally selfish point of view, since I should be glad for what they shared over the past years.

Makes me wonder if I'll burn out at some point. I didn't go public with my Grey House Journal for quite a while. I wrote for myself, in order to remember what I felt and saw as I journeyed into unknown waters. Blogging for me is a way of recording and also letting go of thoughts and feelings to make way for new ones. I've talked about this in the past and how I can see that I've grown since my early posts at the start of my divorce. It also makes me more aware of when I get into a negative mindset and helps knock me out of it.

Of late, I've been checking out food blogs. Boy, there's a lot of them! They run the gamut between homey and chatty to totally factual on topics such as nutrition or the politics of food including genetically modified/engineered foods. Since I do enjoy cooking, the idea of my food being engineered in a lab kind of freaks me out. Plus, when you read about how much of our food is already GM'd it's unnerving because no one advises you of this. For example, most corn and by-products in the grocery store are GM's apparently. I had no idea. It's funny how the governments of the world can have their nose in everyone's business and yet they don't do a thing about GM foods (note:  per several blogs, Europe is still very wary of GM products).

Okay, I'm going off on a little tangent here, sorry. As I was saying, I'm amazed at the number of food blogs. Another area of blogging I've come across is the interior design blog, where the owner collects photos from the internet and posts them as inspiration. On one hand, I enjoy seeing the pics because I don't have the time to hunt such images down on the web myself but on the other, it doesn't seem all that creative for the most part. Maybe the secret is to view them as archeological sites where one can see the progression of humanity in the area of design. But that's just getting too deep for me.

Regardless, I need to find some new daily blogs. If you have any you like, please leave links in the comments. For your enjoyment, I've posted some of my favorite blogs in my sidebar. They're at the very bottom of the sidebar and listed in order of the most recently posted to. Hope you enjoy them. Bye for now.

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Yummy Post

As promised, here's my Mom's Tuna Noodle Salad recipe. She made this for as long as I can remember so it's at least 50 years old. Whenever I make it, the taste and aroma take me back to my childhood. I made the non-macaroni version two weeks ago. It's what my mom used to make to put on sandwiches for lunch on Fridays when I went to Catholic grade school. It's also very good but doesn't stretch as far as the noodle version. There are two secrets to this recipe depending on what's available in your area.

When I lived in the Midwest, I used to add Henri's Tas-tee salad dressing to it and cut the mayo in half or sometimes eliminate it. This added a more complex taste than just straight mayo. The thing I liked about using Henri's is that it's made with celery seed and onions so if you're making this for someone who dislikes onions, this solved the problem...just enough onion taste so you could delete the diced onion.

Once I moved to the West coast however, I couldn't locate Henri's anywhere and so, I would take celery seed and grind it up with a mortar and pestle to add to the salad. Pretty good until, totally by accident, I stumbled upon celery salt. It's a perfect substitute for Henri's. I've been using this for about 15 years now. It's what I attribute the pot luck popularity of this dish to; ust the right amount of flavor without being overpowering. It rises above being just another mayonnaise based noodle salad.

These curved little babies hold a great deal of hidden water, so I've learned that after cooking, draining and rinsing in cold water, the best thing is to line a large container or bowl with two or three layers of paper towels, dump the drained noodles in and place in the fridge for a few hours. I never cover them (unless I'm leaving them for more than 3 hours) since I want the extra moisture to evaporate. If you don't do this, in a day or so, the salad is rather watered down, if that makes any sense. Then, I transfer them to another large bowl without paper towels and begin assembly. In the interim, while macaroni is draining, I dice the celery and onions, drain the peas and tuna. Time-wise it works just fine and all comes together quite conveniently. If you use the whole pound of macaroni, this serves 12 to 15 people depending on the level of gluttony. Lol!

1 lb. box of small elbow macaroni (you can use the whole box or just three quarters of it depending on how far you want to extend the quantity of salad)
1-12 oz. can drained and flaked Chicken of the Sea tuna in oil (I prefer the oil, despite the extra calories because it seems to blend in better than the tuna packed in water)
1/2 to 1 c. of Best Foods mayonnaise depending on quantity of noodles used and taste (on the Eastern half of the U.S. it's called Hellman's...who knows why?)

1-15 oz. can drained Le Seuer Very Young Small Early Peas
4 -6 stalks diced celery (depends on how your preferences, it's about 3/4 to 1 1/4 c. 
1 small or 1/2 large, diced red onion (again, depend on your taste-buds)
1/2 to 1 1/2 t. celery salt (my favorite is Lawry's which I can't find anymore...start small, mix in, let sit, mix again, taste and then adjust)
Directions:  Bring water to a boil in a 5-6 qt. pot (mine came with a colander that fits inside the pot which is perfect for this task). Add macaroni and bring to a boil again. I suggest stirring several times or you wind up with a large noodle patty. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer or light boil and set timer for 10 minutes. When time's up, fish a noodle out, cool and test for doneness. You want a firm not mushy noodle. Drain in colander and run under cold water or set colander into bowl of cold running water. Once cool enough to touch, let sit as noted in the third paragraph above.

Dice up the onion and celery. Drain the tuna and peas. When noodles are drained, put into large bowl, adding celery, onions, tuna, mayo and celery salt. Mix thoroughly. Gently fold in peas as the last ingredient. Taste. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours for flavors to blend and celery salt to bloom. Stir and adjust to taste. Enjoy!

P.S. I would have taken a photo of my finished product, but since I'm still pretty sick, I haven't been to the store and have no lettuce or tomatoes. Something this dish really needs if you want a decent pic of it. Maybe next time.

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Post #3

Update:  Still no news on the final divorce papers. What is the man (commissioner aka fake judge) so occupied with that he takes a month to read a few documents and sign them?

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Butcher Post

After I finally fell asleep at about 5: 30 a.m. I was awakened at 8:20 a.m. by day laborers from the rental house next door who had been unleashed with chain saws. Their job was to cut off all limbs of the pecan tree in this yard that encroached over the property line next door. They were over-enthusiastic to say the least.

Apparently the owner is either readying the two houses on the lot for sale or re-rental. When I moved in,  a nice couple were the tenants for one and a half years, (Note:  gossip starts here) they were kicked out at Christmas, so the landlady's daughter, a porn actress could move into the back house and rent rooms/beds out to girls in that industry.

The daughter installed two sets of bunk beds in each of the two bedrooms and we saw a string of young women staying there on a rotating basis. So there were at least 8 assorted women living there at one time. Men would come and go at all hours and the girls living there often got into screaming matches. That group lasted about ten months. In the last two years the property has had many more tenants, each new arrival comes with hardly any furniture, maybe just a few boxes but only stays a month or so. (End of gossip.) No one in the neighborhood could quite figure it out.

The first thing the workers did a week and a half ago, was to rip out the sweet little picket fence and any plants in the front yard. Next they power washed the whole house including the roof. That was another early a.m. wake up call. After that, a week of painting the interiors began. Since the houses were empty, all the lights in and out were left on 24/7, shining right into my bedroom.

Now they began painting the outside which is what prompted the tree butchering. Heaven help it if a branch or two get in the way of their painting. Below is a not so good photo from last year showing how much shade over the house the tree provided. Everything green is the pecan. The huge branch across the photo belongs to the Live Oak tree in another part of the yard.
What I find so utterly amazing is that in this day of conserving energy, when people are being advised to plant trees to shield their houses from heavy sun, these idiots are essentially stripping most of the shade that the tree affords this house from the West heat and their house from the East sun, although I'm sure the person owning the property could care less. I just went out and took pictures of the mayhem.
After butchering. Where you see blue sky, used to be all green leaves.
Over the years I have noticed when men get their hands on any power tool, they become crazed. It some how raises their testosterone levels and they become super macho brutes, hacking at everything. I have observed this with most of the men who do any kind of "mow and blow" on a daily basis. There is no arborist's art or understanding of plants to their madness, just ugly stumps and leafless shrubs left in their wake.
Tree butcher

During butchering
This has pretty much made up my mind about moving from here before the heavy summer heat arrives. You see, this side of the house faces West and that tree was truly a life saver in the summer since the office has no air conditioning and the unit in the bedroom is so small that it barely keeps the room livable, much less cool. They cut off over half of the foliage and limbs. It was enough to fill one and a half flatbed trucks with side panels. They even cranked up the volume so they could share their Spanish  talk show which blared from the truck parked at the curb with the whole neighborhood. What is it about talk radio? I don't care what language it's in, the announcer always speaks in an annoying monotone voice.
The person who owns this property is apparently anti-foliage. About 2 years after moving here, the tall lovely shade tree in their back yard was hacked down and now all the light from the back house shines in my bedroom. This may not seem like much, but the back porch has a huge light, which the tree blocked.

Yes, I think I have worn out my welcome in this house. Now, just where shall I move? Because if I'm going to move, it's going to be to a state that's less expensive than California. Any suggestions?

It's now 2:20 p.m. and one of the butchers is painting the trim on the house but the nozzle is too big so there's a great deal of overspray which is just what the environment needs. (Note:  sarcasm)

3:59 - the sun is dropping in the West so I'm getting a taste of how freakishly hot this room and my bedroom will be in the coming summer. Not a good thing. I may cover the two West windows with foil to reflect some of the heat although that won't help the now totally exposed West wall of the house stay cool.

5:52 - finally silence. Although, I noticed he didn't paint any trim on this side of the house this afternoon, so he's probably saving it for tomorrow a.m.  Oh joy. (Sorry, I know I'm being negative, but it was a very annoying day with these brutish men and chain saw noise.)


On Hold Post

It's been a while since I posted anything for one simple reason, I'm still sick and hacking my lungs up. Yes, as I've said before, it's an exciting life we lead here at Grey House Journal. Lol! Since I'm spending most of my time in bed, hoping to get better poor Blue is really feeling put out and you can see it in his little worried eyes and knit brow.

He's sticking to me like glue. If I get up, he's right there at my heels. Not sure if he thinks he's herding me or what. If I sit to watch some TV between rounds of coughing, he's plastered between my feet and the chair I'm sitting in.

I'd take a photo of his sad little face but it's not even dawn yet (couldn't sleep because of the coughing) as I write this so I'd probably blind the wee boy if I try it. Earlier in the day, I made an attempt but his ears went flat down, not a great look for Corgis. Plus, you'd see I haven't vacuumed in a bit and he's been shedding profusely! I may post my tuna and macaroni salad tomorrow. I just made it tonight since I was tired of opening the fridge and finding nothing that to eat. Really need to make a small grocery run. It's a great recipe that's my "go to recipe" for pot lucks. My mom used to make it, so it's comfort food and memories when I enjoy it.

Relatively inexpensive to make, I keep my eyes open for tuna, elbow macaroni, mayo, Le Seuer peas and celery salt sales. Every now and then I find tuna and the peas for over a dollar less than regular. Yay! Then buy several of each. This habit has been a life saver currently because there's no need to spend money, well except for the celery and onions which don't last as long as the canned things. Vons currently has a pound of dry macaroni for $0. 99. That makes a lot of noodles!

Well, I'm drifting off now, so it's time to hopefully fall asleep while the medicine has begun to work.
Bye for now, stay well.

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