Love and Kisses Post

I can barely breathe...

...once again, she came out of nowhere and leapt upon me 
and my soul, just as she did two years ago, almost seconds of when she was actually passing. The thought hit me in just the same way...like she'd jumped upon my chest...all 70+ pounds of her...bam! I remember laying by her side that night, on the patio; she in her bed, I on the concrete. Who cared? She'd already pretty much left this world, but said "hi" on the way up. I'll never forget that experience, that gift of grace...to be there with her on her journey's beginning.

She is here tonight in my very being. Hard to describe. But I know the feeling so well. It was one I'd never had with my other five Siberians. She was and is my angel and guardian. I'm so amazed at this stunning "happening"...really don't know what else to call it! She came to remind me she loved me as much as I loved and missed her. 
Alpine in her sled harness, Big Bear and Snow Squinties 
My beloved Alpine...rest in peace. I love you. See you on the "other" side my love. 
Love and kisses, your mommy,

Note:  For the record, because of such a horrid divorce and threats to the three Siberians by my now ex husband, I'd changed all their names on this blog. 
Frost is really Alpine, love of my life and guardian of my soul.

Literally...I am still so amazed, I can barely breathe! What a gift! Thank you Alpine!

Odd......tonight, once again, an ill wind blows......
....a really nasty and unusual wind, as in 2009......very strange........

There's so much energy in this world that we have yet to understand.

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Laugh or Cry Post

Following my last post, I've been a bit embarrassed to write. I really try not to be a whiner. So I just hovered out there in blogland, trying to decide what to do or think or say. That's when I was reminded of Allie's blog, Hyperbole and a Half. She finally had a new entry...of course it was hysterical...

Disclaimer:  this is the part where I warn you to remember that I have a slightly warped and off-kilter sense of humor. Okay, you've been advised.

...I LOVE her blog. Her cartoon stories literally have me rolling on the ground! I've written about her blog in some previous entry that I can't find amongst my 400+ previous posts. Her most recent entry hit so close to home, that I just about choked as I laughed. Told you I've got an oddball sense of humor. But I could SO identify with this post. She's gotten over 4,000 comments on it!

It's amazing how many depressed people are out there! In a weird way, I felt better and was actually able to laugh at myself! Over time, I've learned that laughter is the greatest drug! I think I wrote of this before...there was a time in the late '70's when gold necklaces, bracelets and charms were the fashion craze. My friends and I "bought in".
Source:  Unknown/ Though kind of a nasty looking example.
One charm I remember was the theatre/drama masks of smiling/sad faces. I found it at a time when I could either laugh or cry and I chose to laugh. I'll never forget it. Unfortunately, I had to sell it with all my other gold (not much) last spring to pay part of my rent. But the thought always remained...laugh or cry. I chose to laugh (though not always the easy choice).

Hope you enjoy the link. Thank you to everyone who visits and reads my little blog, you are a gift.

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The "Gift" Post

As I said in many previous entries, I try very hard to be positive, not to whine and moan on this blog. Everyone has their own problems and don't need to be dragged down by someone's blog. Most people frequent blogs to forget their own difficulties and trials.

But sometimes one just can't don that suit of armor. Moments when we're weak and fall. So, I'll ask for your forgiveness now and advise you to just skip the rest of today's post. You'll be better off. It's just something I have to do for me. Kind of like sending a little white dove with a ribbon-tied note on its leg, up into flight and to the heavens, hoping someone "up there" is listening and will send peace to my soul.

It appears I'm still rattled from the blood draw. I'd call myself a "big old baby" in disgust, but then I recall that I need to give myself grace in dealing with whatever it is that's bothering me. This holiday the loneliness is magnified for some reason. Previous holidays brought tears, but so far nothing, just deep  sadness.

I've spent the holidays alone for five years and made it through more or less fine. This is number six. So why is this different? I tried to muscle through it, just for me, but I'm faltering. Maybe, because the divorce settlement, such as it was, closed the final doors on our marriage and the life I knew for so long. There's nothing left to do, to "work" at. This year there's an extra sense of aloneness, of emptiness.

If you've read and endured my post thus far, may I suggest you call or email "friends" and family you haven't contacted in ages, especially if you know they'll be alone. Just say "hi", no promises or commitments. It may be the only thing that holds their sanity together during the holidays...knowing that someone thought of them and cared enough to tell them. In this busy world, so much flies right by, our lives simply become a bunch of sound-bites...there's overwhelming isolation...be the one to make a difference.

The gift of grace and with it, magic...so easy to give. It requires so little effort and the payoff is immense even if you'll never know it. Thank you to anyone who's read down to this point, your time and the gift it bestows on me is priceless. May this holiday season bring you joys untold, give you fond memories you won't forget and a deep peace in your heart.

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Gobble, Gobble 2011 Part Three

You must be wondering, "will she ever finish this?". The answer is yes. That nasty blood draw took way more out of me than I realized. It also brought still unresolved "issues" to the surface. I know, because I'm still reeling. So my turkey day will be pushed ahead to tomorrow.

This year I'm thankful for the gift of grace that I extend to myself. Normally I would push through all the mental stuff that's come up and just make the lousy turkey. But see what a foul mood I'd be in? So I've given myself the grace to put it off and not feel guilty or obligated to any imagined time frame. It feels good and I'm thankful for that.

I'm grateful for enjoying cooking. I'm grateful that I've learned that I need very little. I'm grateful that I'm learning to live in peace with myself and the concept that I don't "need" someone to complete me. I'm grateful for a rich and vivid imagination and the ability to create things. I'm grateful that I can draw almost anything. I'm grateful for sunny days, seeing the seasons and refreshing rain to wash everything off. I'm grateful for surviving a terrible illness years ago and two very serious accidents with semi trailer trucks. I'm grateful that neither were my fault. I'm grateful that my dad taught me to be a good, relaxed driver. I'm grateful for my decades long friendship with my pen pal who lives in The Netherlands and that time stands still between our visits. That's a rare gift. I'm grateful that I've been able to travel and visit so many countries and meet wonderful people. I'm grateful that I enjoy languages and though not fluent, even remotely, in any, try to practice them for the country I visit. I don't presume that they will speak English and don't expect them to. "Charades" have served me well over the years and provided some good laughs. I'm grateful though, when people do know English. I'm grateful for so very many, many things we all take for granted.

I hope you have something you can be grateful for and that you find happiness and peace as we approach another new year. We have so little time on this earth and I'm grateful to realize that. Thank you for reading and bearing patiently with me as I finish my Thanksgiving post(s). Now go hug someone, even if it's yourself! You, of all people, deserve it.

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Gobble, Gobble 2011 Part Two

So I'm awake again, finally. Dinner consisted of a Trader Joe's salad and their Charles Shaw "Two Buck Chuck" Cabernet. I "treated" myself to the Thanksgiving episode of Blue Bloods which I'd saved for today. It made for a very enjoyable and peaceful evening. Mr. B. received extra treats and got to surprise and chase (he is really amazingly fast!) a trespassing opossum across the yard and up the palm tree. Sheriff Blue was very happy :)

This holiday I'm thankful for my little red companion, a roof over my head and food. I'm also grateful for a 12 year old car that still keeps running (knock on wood). I'm happy to have a computer that can also double as a TV using Hulu. So grateful for free flu shots courtesy of L.A. County Health Department and for the low cost clinic I found via them.

I'm thankful that I can walk, talk, think, see, listen and so many other physical abilities that are so delicate and precious. My gratitude extends to...

Sorry, falling asleep, I'll continue this tomorrow. May you all feel at peace and sleep well tonight.

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Gobble, Gobble 2011 Part One

Happy Thanksgiving! I know the U.S. is one of the few countries to celebrate this holiday but I think it's a good one. This year, I'm listing just a few things that I'm thankful for, but first the day's news.

Apparently yesterday's experience took more out of me than I realized because I slept and slept. When I tried to get up, I felt like I'd been drugged and just dropped back into bed. Actually, it's one of the things I'm grateful for. I finally respect what my body is telling me and don't push past it. I honor and obey it's message. It took a long time to get here and lots of heartbreak, but the gift is peace and learning to release the strangling reins of "control".

Last year, when I decided to make my turkey on Friday, not Thursday, I was glad for my decision. It became my own little holiday, there was no rush, so I could spend Thanksgiving on myself. At about 3 p.m., I woke slowly from my mental haze laying there thinking that I was very fortunate. There is a roof over my head and it's not the one in my car. That was a big and very real fear all of last Spring. There is food in my fridge and I have a wonderful little companion.

When I finally got up, I looked out my window, the streets in this rental neighborhood, normally lined with cars, were bare and all rentals sat dark. Meaning everyone is off visiting family. But I have my little blog "family" around the world and for that I'm most grateful.

So, this afternoon, I'll be printing out the recipes I plan to use including the post about how I made last year's turkey. Plus, I found a delicious, super quick and easy recipe for Chocolate Sables at The Soup Addict which I plan to make. Have all the ingredients on hand! Perfect for giftie plates for neighbors.

Foodiewife, Debby over at A Feast for the Eyes had an excellent post for "make ahead" turkey gravy as well as how to make a smooth gravy to begin with. Even if you've already made your gravy, I suggest you check it out and bookmark it for the next turkey you cook. She's also been posting other holiday recipes and tips well worth reading!

Joanne, at Eats Well with Others has an incredible desert recipe that you must see! I'm not that ambitious at the moment and have no one to share it with but if you're looking for a treat to wow guests and family, this is it. Holy smokes, heaven in one dish. Won't tell you the recipe's name because you really have to visit her blog. Great photos too! As do all the other blogs I've mentioned.

This activity will be short-lived since I can barely keep my eyes open. Thus back to bed. I'll continue this post in a bit.

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Vampire and Baby Post

Almost forgot...midst all these errands, I was scheduled to go in for a blood test. Something I've been putting off. Hate needles! In my thirties, I set down some rules for the phlebotomist when drawing my blood.
     1.) You get one try. No exceptions or second attempts.
     2.) I tell you where the only "good" vein is.
     3.) Do NOT, under any circumstances let me see the needle. You will regret it. Trust me on this.
     3.) Don't tell me that I'll be fine in the special chair. Again, trust me, you want me to lay down.
     4.) Odds are I may faint.
     5.) I will probably hum a non-existent tune out loud, through the process. Just ignore it.
     6.) I then tell the person that I trust their professionalism, appreciate their kindness and know they will be successful.

I've had pretty good luck over the years if my "rules" are followed and not dismissed. My parents grew up in a era where no one ever questioned medical authorities. They did as they were told. I do not subscribe to that belief.

As I said, I usually fair pretty well. Not today. This was a fasting blood draw, late in the day. I wound up passing out. It took an hour for my body to stop feeling like a limp, wet noodle. I felt badly since the phlebotomist isn't allowed to leave your side till you're completely back to normal and can walk without passing out.

When she finally was able to be sure I was stable, she walked with me to a bench in the hall. She still wouldn't let me leave. She insisted that I sit a while longer. She took a little nine month old girl and her mom into the room right by me. Poor little squirming soul...the phlebotomist tried but the baby became hysterical, crying at the top of her lungs. I felt so sorry for both of them.

The mom finally couldn't take it and said she'd come back when little Isabella calmed down. Both tried to soothe the little thing the whole time, but the baby was just beside herself, clueless and in pain. I felt like such a big baby but then forgave myself because I know why I have the fear I do. As I said, I left an hour later, went through a fast food drive through, parked and ate my sandwich and inhaled the whole soda. I felt much better.

Lesson learned:  Don't schedule a fasting blood test so late in the day, especially when it involves four whole vials of blood! Good grief!

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Holiday Crazies Post

Well, I'm off for the second and last day of errands. The little heater that I just purchased at Rite Aid doesn't work, so have to go there to return it. Next over to Home Depot to get a new one. I called ahead to make sure they had exactly what I wanted and voila! There are 62 of them in stock and theirs are $6 less expensive.

Next, Ralph's grocery for a few things that Stater's surprisingly didn't have when I was there Monday. This will be followed by Trader Joe's, Pavilion's (again, just a couple of things) and somewhere in there, also the cleaners and bank.

On Monday at Stater Brothers, there was a major traffic jam in the store, between the meat counter and the frozen turkeys across the aisle. Literally. And no one was going to give an inch or back up so anyone could get through! It was hysterical!

At this time of year, a crazed fever comes over people, like the stores are going to run out of food or something. It was clear there were plenty of birds, both frozen and fresh but it didn't matter. I had the perfect mindset for dealing with the insanity. I just chuckled to myself and couldn't help but smile at all the serious scowling faces, so fearful of not getting a turkey or ham. There was muttering here and there about how someone heard of a friend who didn't get one last year. All I could do was roll my eyes, such sillies.

That's one thing I've noticed about myself since the divorce, I'm calmer, I smile more, laugh more easily and don't sweat the little things...well, at least not most of the time. As I drove home last night, I noticed I felt no need to zip in and out of traffic like I used to. If someone wanted to cut in front of me, fine, be my guest. It's just funny.

This feeling of peace and humor is something I've been slowly noticing of late. It hasn't been around for a long time and I'm so grateful for it. I'm not perfect at it and I may not have a lot, but it's okay. Somehow, it's better. I think writing for this blog helps. As I said in an earlier post, I think about what I'm saying and how it's negative or positive.

Grey House Journal is a wonderful little outlet for my soul and the fact that people all over the world stop by to take a look still blows me away. Today there were 24 visitors from Slovenia...Hi Slovenia! I hope you have a happy day. It's the comments too that warm the cockles of my heart. To think that people would pause from their day to read what I wrote...truly amazes me.

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J.F.K. Post

Yesterday, I suddenly stopped what I was doing and thought J.F.K.!  As always I'm either early or late...today is the 49th anniversary of John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination. I looked up J.F.K. online and found the following at Wikipedia (which by the way, is having a fund-raising drive):
"The assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 was the Baby Boomer generation’s 9/11, as author Stephen King has cogently put it. The shock of seeing the charismatic president murdered in a Dallas motorcade was an unimaginable event, one that continues to have resonance...."
I thought this was a perfect way to describe this event for those around the world who never lived through that time. If you ask anyone who was alive back then, they can remember exactly where they were when it happened, or just after, when they first heard about it.

My mom was in the Post Office.

I was in grade school. Sister Marie Bernard had taken us down to the "media" room (forgot what it was called back then). We were watching some educational TV show when another nun came running in and said "turn on channel such and such".

There we all sat in stunned horror watching the playback of the shooting. Jackie in her pink Chanel suit and classic, matching pillbox hat with the president waving, as it all played out.

Utter horror, shock and disbelief.
Source:  Wikipedia
The pall of silence that fell over the room was suffocating. On November 22, 1963 the world was changed and marred forever in a few seconds. A void was created that will never be filled. Nothing would ever be the same again. I'll never, ever forget that day as long as I live.

Please go in peace and safety. Sleep well and feel loved.



Early Morning Magic Post

Was up earlier than normal today. Glancing out the East facing kitchen window and saw something I'd never seen. Ever. Since it rained yesterday, everything is soaking wet. Out in the parkway, I saw what looked like smoke coming out of an empty, parked car. As I looked harder, I realized it wasn't smoke, it was steam coming off the trunk of a tree as the rising sun warmed it. An amazing sight! There's so much grace and magic in this world if we just take the time to really look!

I'll write more a bit later, need to crawl back under the covers right now, I'm freezing! Would kill for an espresso right now!

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Grocery Tales Post

Last Thursday I stopped at Albertson's to get food but found mostly disappointment. In the last 6-8 months, I've stopped going there since nothing is really ever on sale. Most of the time they don't have what I want. They used to be my grocery of choice but haven't been for some time. Now I only stop in for advertised sales which inevitably are out of stock.

Limped out the door with less than half my list filled. This was after walking the store three times! It's a huge store with grumpy associates that make spending my money there a tough choice; that is, it I can find what I want.

As a result, my knee was in a great deal of pain. Limited my excursion to picking up prescriptions at CVS. Thus, here I sit, no salads, no Celeste pizzas for one and so on. Dinner will be a mish-mash of this and that. Tomorrow will be errand day. I'll be off to Pavilion's and Trader Joe's. Two stores that rarely disappoint. Associates are friendly and super helpful.

I also have to decide on where to get my turkey, probably Pavilion's since it'll only be $7 (5.15 euros) with my purchase of $25 (18.41 euros) in other items. As I'm sure you know, sadly that's not hard to do these days. The Trader Joe turkeys sound wonderful, but I really can't afford to blow $20+ (14.73+  euros) on ten pounds of turkey, one third of which is bones.

Okay, just decided on Stater Brother's (another fav) for a turkey. They have the same things that Albertson's had on sale and more! So spending $25 will be ridiculously easy. Plus, I know they'll have everything, the associates are nice, helpful and after my knee was drained, one dear even ran around the store with my list for me so I wouldn't have to walk! How amazing is that?! I thanked her profusely.

You may have noticed that I never mentioned Ralph's. Quite simply, because things are overpriced, associates grumpy and "run" when approached. Checkout on the other hand is a lengthy nightmare. The clerks know quite a number of the customers and chat them up endlessly.

I've actually been the third person in line and timed this...ten minutes! Oh, and it's not like the people checking out have more than twenty items. Makes me just want to crawl up on the conveyor belt and go for the check out person's, oops, never mind the walls. Okay, that was today's rant, lol! :P  I've been in R's all over this area and this checkout ordeal doesn't vary.

Today was supposed to bring thunderstorms, lightening and rain. It brought rain and very cold weather. Other than that, same ole', same ole' as they say (whoever "they" are). It's a damp cold that cuts through to the bone to the point I'm swathed with pashminas to keep warm. It may even be a four blanket/quilt night! Brrrr.... Stay warm and well.

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Persimmons and Possums Post

Let's see...what happened today? Well, it was another sunny day. T-shirt weather for the kids across the street. I really should go out to the "garden of death", remove the deceased, dried up plants from their pots and change the dirt in most. The same soil's been in them for about 10 years. But I'm just not in the mood anymore than I am to tackle the sink full of dishes that's sat there for a week now. Sigh.

The dishwasher beckons. I use it to store my mixing bowls. It was new when I moved in and has never been used so I'm kind of fearful of running it. Who knows what hoses have dried up and cracked in the last five years? But it's probably about all that'll get the dishes done. Again, sigh....

Last night's dinner was another salad. Trader Joe's Chicken with Golden/Red Beets, Balsamic Vinaigrette and a lump of what was supposed to be feta cheese. I've had almost every one of their pre-packaged salads by now but never this. Holy smokes, the dressing reeked of anchovies! While I don't mind anchovies, this just totally masked any taste of the salad ingredients and was unexpected. It was ghastly to the point that I tossed 3/4 of it down the drain.

I've shopped at TJ's since the mid-1980's and there's been only three things that I returned. The rest of my dinner was Havarti on crackers. So consider yourselves warned. It's still re-visiting me. As a result, I emailed them with my experience.

On a happier note, it's persimmon season! Delightful! TJ's has them for sale at just $0.59 each vs. $1.29 each at Albertson's. Since the season's only about 6-8 weeks long, I purchased 6. The fuyu type was what was available...my favorite. You can eat them just like an apple. The flavor is so pleasant, not overly sweet or tart. I feel like I have a gold mine in my fridge!
Pure Gold (photo source unknown)
Last night, I went out to the garage for something and Blue went out into the yard. Suddenly he went nuts. He'd found the opossum in the yard. Yelling "come" had no effect nor did "leave the possum alone" or "cookies/treats". Silly me...he was chasing a four-legged moving"toy" with (unbeknownst to him) a lot of really big teeth!
Suddenly I looked to my left and there it was just 3 or 4 feet away and closing in on my bare feet (was wearing sandals, but still, bare tootsies). EEEK! I grabbed a saucer from a clay flower pot and flung it at the nasty looking rodent, knowing full well that I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if I tried. Just wanted him to run away.
Source:  Gary Randall
So today I called the police dept. since the city I live in has it's own animal control service. Two solutions, should you need them are:  Critter Ridder which comes in spray and and granular form. The officer said to spray the perimeter of the porch and yard. One drawback..."your dog might not want to go out". So much for that idea.

The other solution is pie tins containing some ammonia. Apparently, they don't like the smell. So I'll be hunting this down in my cupboard. Can't recall if I have any.

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Blogging Benefits Post

It's amazing all the things that get buried in assorted files, CDs, etc.! This is from '04!
Blogging has a number of benefits other than just being able to rattle on about the mundane in one's life and meet wonderful people you might never have met. Remember when my Macbook croaked back in July? Well, all the recipes I'd collected and perfected (IMHO) were lost. All my favorite recipe links, gone in a flash.

So today I was planning meals for the week, which is something I really need to do as I've mentioned before (see more on this below). I realized that I'd lost the final versions of both my Chicken Pot Pie and Smoked Ham Shanks. Then I remembered that I'd posted them to my blog. Hallelujah! Saved :) So from now on, I'm going to share more recipes on the blog.

Luckily, I'd collected all my other recipes from the last 30+ years into a cook book that I made for holiday gifting back in 1992. Over the years, I added recipes to the computer version which is now gone. Of course I do have the printed one but it's missing those extra recipes. Sigh.

In 2004 we (doltoid and I) were going to reissue it with the added recipes. He typed them all up and I then put them on the computer to design the book.

Then divorce interrupted and it never got published. By the way, a really nice, attractive, readable font is Informal Roman. I used it as the font for the cook book, really liked the way it looked. It came with my last PC but it's not on my new Mac. It's available here as a free download. Anyhow, as I think I might have mentioned in an earlier post, I contacted the person I was formerly married to for one of the recipes and he sent the whole book.

The only problem was the toll it took on me. The following is what I wrote after he emailed the book. Even though it's only by email, any contact with him has one drawback. It disturbs something deep within me. Maybe it's the pain, the wound re-opening, the depth of my loss...the fragile peace I've created being shredded so easily. I don't know. But here's what I felt:

"Couldn't understand why on Sunday I was having irrational fits of anger at everything (I kept assuring Blue he was "Okay") and on Monday, it dawned on me that it was all related to emailing dirtbag for the recipe and his earlier email on Social Security. It's amazing how poisonous he still is!! Jeesh, just writing this paragraph has me all tense and wound up suddenly. My breathing is all erratic, as in "holding my breath" without realizing it. I think I need a knitting or crochet project ASAP."

Don't know if this makes any sense to you. I do know that just recounting how I felt has left me feeling drained and needing to crawl into bed for a bit.

So, back to recipes...don't know if I'll have pictures to go with all the recipes I'm planning to post, since some of them make a great deal of food. In lieu of a photo from my own camera, I'll try to find a copyright-free pic of the dish to include. As always, my simple ideas always seem to become quite involved. I just get carried away...like now, deciding to recreate the book on a CD as I post recipes to my blog!

I really do love my little blog. The balance it provides by forcing me not to go off into an entirely negative realm is priceless. Yes, I admit, I do slip up, but try to limit those lapses and at least create a balance with the positive I find each day.

It gives me a great deal of joy to share my thoughts and feelings with the world (literally!). I think if we all knew a little bit about each other, the world would be a happier and more peaceful place for all of us.



It's Really Autumn Post

This morning was wonderfully overcast which equals great weather for sleeping a little later than usual. But as the haze burnt off, it turned into a beautiful sunny day. Can't ask for much more than that. I walked out into the back yard with the intention of sitting and soaking up some rays but was really put off by the sad dismal state of my potted garden. So I settled for walking around the yard and looking up at the avocado tree.
Just the beginning....
It's only mid-November and there don't seem to be many fruits. Then I reminded myself that I think the same thing each year at this time and that by Dec., Jan. and Feb. it will be loaded. The property manager is chomping at the bit to pick some. Two weeks ago she called and said that the people behind me had said she could pick theirs.

Not to be negative or selfish, but after my nasty rent increase, my generosity of previous years has definitely waned. I told her clearly that in order to save money, I'd made arrangements with people to trade my produce for garden goodies they had and so, my side of the tree was off limits. I did say it nicer than that, so hopefully she got the point. I figure that for the extra $205/month, she can "afford" to buy her own avocados. Yeah, I do get like that. What can I say?

While outside, looked at my crazy, determined tomato plant(s) (sprawled over the happy gardenias) that are still producing tomatoes! There's probably at least a dozen green tomatoes! Since it normally gets all sunshiny here in December, these and probably even more will actually continue to grow and ripen, so I won't rip the plant(s) up quite yet.
The gardenias are still enjoying the company of the tomatoes too! They've been blooming for the last few months without stop. Incredible scent!
After a few grey days over the weekend, I'm re-thinking Portland. I mean, nine months of gloomy skies? Don't know if I could take that. As I get older, I notice that I really need sunlight to avoid feeling blue and out of sorts.

Having grown up in the Midwest (as I've mentioned before ad infinitum) the weather was "real weather", not just gray days or drizzle. When it rained it meant incredible cloud formations, thunder and lightning. Drama! But then I remind myself there's also lots of snow and humidity, so the search is still on.

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Recipe Land Post

If it hasn't become crystal clear to everyone who stops by my little blog, I love food and food blogs. But I'm also picky about which ones I frequent. Having searched the internet to find such sites as the 100 best food blogs which is put out once a year (by Time I think...?) I've found that a number of the sites mentioned are either the same old "popular" ones that I'm already aware of, or ones that have died off.

So when I came upon a button on "Frieda Loves Bread" (which is a very good recipe blog BTW) stating she was listed on the site "Very Good Recipes" I had to check it out. The author, Stephane did an incredible job with his site! One of the headings is "BIG list of food blogs". Holy cow! Jackpot! Not just a measly 100 sites, but over 100 pages of lists of blogs. My mind began singing a little ditty of "a-hunting we will go..." and I was off and running. As a challenge, I started with the last page, #113. 

Are you ready? Sitting down? I'm serious...there are 100 per page. This equals 11,300 sites!! Can you believe that? And I found it totally by accident! Such a happy accident. Not only that but he posts newly added blogs in the right column of his main page.

You can submit your food blog to be listed on the site. Here's how. You can also receive a crown depending on how many recipes you post per "kingdom". There are kingdoms for "each ingredient, dish, region or country". More how-to here

There's also a tab "World map of food blogs". Right now, 162 are listed on the world map which is updated every 20 minutes. He's also been working on a list of food blogs in French. The main page has recipes and links to that blog with a pic of the dish. These are not just itsy little fingernail size, but large postage stamp shapes. This is a very dedicated person.

So this winter, when you're snowbound or have cabin-fever, do yourself a favor and "get out of the house" via Very Good Recipes. You'll be happy you did!

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Wonderment Post

I finally fell asleep somewhere around 3 this morning. Not a satisfying sleep and I woke up with painful joints. Not a usual occurrence, must be the weather. Since sleep left me at about 7 a.m., I decided to get up. Looked through recipes to find something to make for dinner.

Started feeling kind of sickish after a bit, so I decided to lay down. Big mistake. Remember when I wrote about how I get very nasty dreams if I fall asleep before four or five in the afternoon? It was 12:30. I fell into a deep R.E.M. sleep. In retrospect, really big mistake.

I'm still "controlled" by doltoid in my nightmares. I'm actually still trapped going places with him, where he then abandons me while he goes off with either friends or other women. I'm left on my own with no money, usually with no transportation either.

In this one...well, I was going to recount it, but thought better of it, since it would just re-hash the negativity. Instead I'll tell you about what happened just after I forced myself awake. A moment of grace visited to soothe my wounded soul.

You see, in the last month or so, I've heard the loveliest soft chirping outside my bedroom window every few days. It sounds so close, almost like a little bird was perched on the window air conditioner. I heard it again and lifted a slat on the mini blinds to find the sweetest little bird.

It was a beautiful, tiny thing, clothed in charcoal grey feathers with a yellow patch on it's throat. So precious, it graced me by spending a few seconds. Would have liked to grab my camera to capture the moment, but knew this wasn't going to last. I stayed in the moment. We looked eye to eye and it made all the difference. A gift of grace was given to me and I stayed there frozen in wonderment.

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Late Post

Yes, another night of insomnia...it's 2:15 a.m. I've never had this problem before the last few months, ever!

I let Blue out...however...it's raining, as predicted, so Mr. B was all "I'll hold it however long I have to, I'll burst first!"! Silly boy.

I'm going to try to go to sleep now. Wish me luck!  :)

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Sunny Rain Post

Gotta love California. Insane state that it is. The rain we were supposed to get, was cancelled in lieu of a cloudy day in the mid-60's, but then that actually become this:
I don't know how we'll survive the downpour :)
Avocado tree looking for rain
Blue enjoying the "rain"
Lazing on the Patio in need of a mani/pedi
A blurry "I'm outta here, enough with the photos"
While out picking up after Blue for the gardeners (who didn't show by the way) I discovered an assortment of fungal growths in the yard. Did I mention I told the property manager that she didn't need to have the sprinklers on the front, back and side yards for over half an hour three days a week? We had a mild summer this year, so that amount of watering is overkill.
Tiny mushroom with concave top
So this is the result...fungus among'us. Lol! I couldn't resist, I remember that phrase from somewhere in childhood.
No, it's not pooh, I KNOW the difference...lol!
Weird little cup shaped things
This began as one bulbous thing and has multiplied into two...hmmm....
I've been trying to find a bed for Mr. B but with no luck. L.L. Bean was the brand the my Siberian Huskies enjoyed. They're really super durable. Only two problems, the size for Blue is $59 (~43 Euros) and the company had changed the cover on the pillow of stuffing so it is no longer a fairly waterproof fabric. Sure the cover washes great but I want to be able to hang the insert over the fence and hose it down in case an "accident" leaks through. The old insert fabric seemed like a ripcord type of fabric. Thus my reluctance to pay $59 buckeroos.

Blue is hard to fit since he's so long. He's not like one of those miniature poof-ball dogs which are adorable and I think the "model" that manufacturers of dog beds use as a guide.

While I was out the other day, I found (finally) a bed for the Mr. and it was only $14.99 (10.9 Euros)! Sadly, it's too small. Purchased it at CVS drug store, so it's not like I can bring him in to test out the sizes the way you can at Petco. So tomorrow or Sunday, I'll bring it back and hope the other one I saw is still there.

Note: when I was out taking photos I noticed that it's colder in my house than it is outside! Crazy California weather and building codes.
What a difference 4 hours can make!

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Kitchen Contemplation Post

I started this post on 11/8/11 and then promptly forgot about it. The reason? I wanted to take photos of the galley kitchen. Since I didn't get around to that, the post just sat there, abandoned. Now that today is cloudy, I really did enjoy two days of sparkling fall sunshine! So here's what I wrote then and the rest of today will continue below:

It's a gloriously sunny fall day today (11/8/11). Kind of hard to get in the mood for a weekend of rain (supposedly) and cooking. That's my plan at least. I've spent the last couple of days rearranging the pantry, kichen cupboards and clearing the counters so I have room to work.

In a narrow galley type kitchen, there's not a lot of counter space. So every appliance left out for convenience cuts into that square footage. Problem is, the cabinetry they selected for the remodel after the last destructive tenants moved out doesn't accommodate appliances like food processor or Kitchen Aid mixer.

Add to that the microwave, toaster, jar of spaghetti (too tall for any cabinet) and crock of wooden spoons, tongs and whisk, the space becomes even more limited. This is compounded by the lowness of the upper cabinets which makes working on the counter below them quite difficult.

I'm going to Costco and Staters today. Costco so that I don't have to set foot in there around the holidays...pure torture. Staters had some excellent sale prices as well as ham shanks (only $1.99/pound). I'm also picking up one or two rotisserie chickens while at Costco. They only cost $4.99 and are quite good-sized birds, three pounds. The same birds are less than two pounds at regular grocery stores for $1-3 more.
While there I was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious marinara sauce; one of the samples they were handing out. It wasn't nearly as sweet as Prego so even if it was a rather large jar, I figure I'll divide it among a few containers and freeze it! Really tasted homemade!
Is this for me?
I'll just get a "little" closer to keep an eye on it. Marinara thieves  and all.
So here I am, about to run out and grab a few last things before the alleged rain arrives.

Tick, tick, tick...that's time passing while I was out, just in case you're wondering.

Oh sure, just got home, put groceries away and checked my email (was expecting a reply on something)  only to discover that our "storm" had been downgraded from 60% chance of rain tomorrow to 40% at night and Saturday down to 20%. I knew this would happen. Darn!

Oh well, it's still going to be cloudy with temperatures in the mid-60's F (18C) so I'll just pretend it's raining and go on with what I planned. Stews and baking loom large in my near future :)  Have some fresh Granny Smith apples to make a tart from plus chicken and smoked ham shank in the wings. I picked the yarn I want to use for my new pair of fingerless gloves so now I can finalize my design. More later, but for now, it's all good!

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"Brace for Impact" Post

Photo from Wikipedia.
Yesterday, while checking my email, I came across a short (less than 5 minutes) video on "Ted Talks, Ideas Worth Spreading" at Hulu. Remember the disabled US Airways plane that was landed safely in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, captained by Chesley Sullenberger (Sully) saving everyone on board? Well, this video is from one of the passengers and I found it very moving. 

It's titled "3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed" by Ric Elias . It reiterates what really matters, what's really important in life. It's the stuff we've all heard and read about before but the urgency of his unique perspective is so eloquently spoken...so moving. I've bookmarked it and plan to view it every few days. Gives one pause from the constant frenzy we've come to know as life. I hope you'll enjoy it!

"It all changes in an instant. Don't postpone anything. Choose to be happy."

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Eerie Post

Look into my eyes, you're getting sleepy. Now go into the kitchen and get cookies.
When I bark, you'll wake up and not remember a thing...heh, heh, heh.
Here is a photo of a doglet in heaven, on mom's bed. How I forgot about it I'll never know since he left a snowfall of fur behind on the purple sheet. :0

Took this picture of Mr. B. a few weeks ago. I should have posted it for Halloween...Mr. Eerie Eyes!

Tried to "fix" the eyes but with no luck, so here he is in all his sartorial splendor! Every night and morning he still looks lovingly and longingly at the bed. I just may just have pay a visit to Ikea and pick up a cheap flat sheet to cover the quilts. I've seen some there for $4! Something light, easy to shake off and wash. Usually I have old sheets for this purpose but it seems my supply has all but vanished.

Till I can find my electric blanket, I wouldn't mind a little "toaster strudel" in bed with me. :)  And I am still in denial about the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST), just in case you wondered.... I like having kept my clocks an hour ahead so when bedtime rolls around, I actually have an extra hour in reality. Yeah, it's all about the fantasy.

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Late Silk and Sunday Post

As I posted earlier, we actually had weather on Friday! It rained, real rain vs. drizzle which masquerades as rain here. It was great, but the weather has been so heavenly prior to this that I was totally unprepared for the temperature dip that hit! Brrr! (Note:  this was written throughout the day so hopefully it makes sense.)

I'd been wearing t-shirts, shorts and sandals. At night, no more than a sheet was needed. Thus I totally forgot to call and have the pilot light lit on the tiny, ancient gravity furnace. Let me just say, that lighting a pilot is no big deal.

I've done it in other houses but I have a great respect for natural gas and I don't feel comfortable playing around with a 60+ year old furnace that is in a box below the floor. It also requires a long rod to reach in and actually turn the gas knob, so the idea of reaching down (past my elbow) into a gassy little pit with my bare hand holding a lit match is simply a "no-go".

So I sit here at my computer freezing. Still wearing sweat pants, sweatshirt with turtleneck, big socks, furry (fake) slippers, a shawl, fingerless gloves. My hair is down for added warmth, it's usually up, off my neck. Nothing I'm wearing matches. Of course I wouldn't go out in public looking like this, luckily, Mr. Blue isn't picky. Food, not looks, that's his priority.
Attractive, no?
This morning I looked for my electric blanket, but have yet to find it. I managed to get through the last two nights piling pashmina shawls and my robe on top of the sheet, but I also wore sweats with socks and fingerless gloves to bed.

The temperature reading in the house is 55F (12.7C) which is as cold as outside! I'll have to go out to the garage and find the tiny electric heater before it gets dark. The night time temps will be down in the 40-45F range for the next 6-7 days. Daytime will be in the 50-65 range. I repeat...brrrrrr! Supposed to rain again tonight.

When I called the gas company for an appointment, there was nothing available till next Friday. Seems I'm not the only one who forgot. For this service you have to be home from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. It's going to be a chilly week. I did put an old red blanket on the bed for tonight. Followed by an oversized cotton quilt which was rounded out with a handmade silk quilt. A friend of Valborg's made it for her.

When Valborg (our childhood, adopted grandmother) died, I inherited the quilt. Story goes that back in the 20's and 30's, she had a friend who worked in a silk tie factory in the Midwest. The seamstresses were allowed to take the scraps home for quilts, etc. With the Depression, everyone was focused on not wasting a thing.
This is the back!
It's an amazing piece of craftsmanship. Since it's all silk, and even though it has no batting, it's very warm and quite heavy. I crawled in and tested it...I'll sleep like a baby tonight, all snuggled under the covers. Still have no clue where the electric blanket is.
On the right is the top of the quilt, on far left is the back again. All silk tie scraps!
Just looked at the clock on the computer. It read 4:25 p.m. which is not the time indicated by the light. So I checked on when DST ends and it ended already, at 2 a.m. this morning! This just ticks me off for some reason, maybe it's because I thought it changed tonight. Anyhow, in protest, I turned my computer ahead by one hour and it feels much better. I know, I'm weird, what can I say?
Yes, it's sitting on my desk. If I could get any closer, I would!
Yay! Found my little heater in the garage when tossing the trash out. Oh warmth, here I come!

Blue just scared the heck out of me with an extremely loud, sharp bark. Holy cow! The rain is here with thunder! Real weather! Of course every time it bangs, he barks like a little crazy dog, running around the house to find the "culprit". He really gets disturbed by thunder, helicopters, loud motorcycles and skateboards whizzing by on the front sidewalk. This could be a long night.

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Forgotten on Friday Post

It's now November in California. For the natives and transplants (after 30 years, like me) this is VERY cold. It rained today and did not get above 50F (10C) during the day. Night temps...I didn't even want to check. I'm wearing a turtleneck sweatshirt from Express (circa 1990)...love it! As well as a shawl, sweat pants and cashmere socks, a major "on sale" extravagance about 9 years ago, but over time...SO worth it! Nothing penetrates these socks! Love them to death!!!!

Regardless, I am re-thinking my "sleeping" gloves based on the "Fetching" pattern from Knitty.com.  I'd added a few extra cable rows to each end, but really, it wasn't enough. They're too short at the fingers!!!!! Add to that, my poor technique with the first thumb and voila...a hole that's growing bigger as I wear them to bed for the second year.
Really don't want to repair them...did I ever mention that I don't like "production or repetitive work"? I don't. Sure, I know I could just darn the hole, but I'm kind of a perfectionist at moments and feel obligated to pick up stitches and re-knit the area. 

Problem is, I know only too well that this would lead to frogging (ripping it out) all the way back to the bottom of the hole and literally re-knitting the balance of the glove. So, I'm trying to figure out or construct a pattern that will accommodate my hands as it stretches (and won't stretch outwards). This yarn, Sublime, seems to stretch across the hand rather than vertically like a cotton would.

Cashmere had been running through my thoughts as a "treat" to myself and my fingers. After contemplation, I'm now toying with using alpaca as opposed to cashmere. It's less expensive and I found a great chart comparing the two and the difference is remarkable! And I just so happen to have some alpaca though I can't recall from what company right now. More on this later.
As you can tell, this was written Friday, however, I forgot to post it so today, Saturday, gets two posts Woowhooo...oh the excitement...lol! Stay warm, or cool, depending on where you live!

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Ebb and Flow Post

It's funny how at different times of the year, the posts on various blogs, ebb and flow. One time of the year is the start of summer when everyone is getting organized for summer. Camp, vacations and so forth, no one has time to blog. As the winter holidays approach there's another ebb. Even though I'm not employed, have no children and don't get into full holiday celebration mode...it is just me for heaven sake, this trend is still noticeable.

Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. (We won't even broach the subject of Christmas.) Once again, despite the fact that it is just me, I'm tempted to make a small turkey for the holiday (10 pounds at the very most, smaller if I can find one). I was looking back over my blog and noticed that the first year I was separated, I made an 18 pound turkey. I hadn't gotten into the cooking for one mode yet, obviously.

There's something about Thanksgiving that just makes all the memories of smells and tastes come rushing back and I feel the need to reconnect in some way, even if I'm stuck with a ton of leftover turkey.

Remember the year of the gargantuan failure of the crock pot turkey breast meal? It was the first time I'd ever used a crock pot. If nothing else can be said for me, it's that I don't start small! I leap in with both feet and turkey breasts! It looked so good initially...
Crock pot failure. Thanksgiving 2009.
The following year I skipped cooking altogether. What a bummer, big mistake. There's something very heart-filling about the traditions of Thanksgiving, at least for me. I think it's my favorite holiday of the year! All warm and cuddly. Even more so than Christmas which is surprising!

The magical part of all this is that any and all bad memories vanish and all I remember is the closeness of being with family if only for a day. It's a time when I'm surrounded by visions of all that was wonderful in my childhood. As a kid, we always had Thanksgiving at my great grandma's house. She lived with my aunt and uncle in her old home/boarding house. We'd drive an hour to get there regardless of the weather. Remember, there were no seat-belts back then.  :)

Even after a huge feast where we stuffed ourselves, when the time neared for the trip home, we (my brother and I) insisted my aunt prepare sandwiches for the "journey" back home! I still marvel at how all the adults put up with this silliness. In truth, the "big draw" was that my aunt used Wonder Bread to make the sandwiches. My mom bought bakery bread that was totally different and no fun. WB's fluffy nothingness of doughy goodness could easily be shaped into dense, pretend pancakes, balls, tubes and so on. Ah, the stuff of childhood.... Amazingly, not a sandwich made it home. Lol! We were voracious little critters.

As the holiday approaches this year, I'm fortunate to have, a bag of Pepperidge Farms herb cubes left from last year. (This brand is sooo much better than Mrs. Cubbison's pathetic excuse for dressing.)
"Yech! I used this once about 9 years ago...never again!"
Frankly, I don't think that any loss of taste will be noticeable. Once you make the mixture with butter, stock, fresh diced celery and onions and stuff the turkey, it takes on a whole new delicious life. Mmmm! The funny thing is, I don't need all the other classic accompaniments. Sure they'd be nice, but just turkey and dressing make the day, always have and probably always will!

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Toussaint Post

Well, I lived through Halloween with no incident which makes me a happy camper. Actually, I didn't get myself out to the store to buy some candy till 3:15 p.m. yesterday. Then ran two more errands nearby,  getting back at about 5:45. I was actually tired so I lay down with ice on my knee for about an hour. No one rang the bell. By then, it was "safe" to turn on my Mac and watch some TV.

No one knocked on the door. At about 8 p.m. the "big" kids (teenagers) came out, a clear audio difference. High-pitched squeals of laughter and delight were replaced with louder, deeper voices teasing and taunting. Clearly the no porch light "rule" was understood by all.

So as I said, it was an evening without incident. Thank goodness. Must say though that you'd think I lived in a war zone the way I sound. I said a prayer last night for all the souls who really do live in fear for their lives even while they're in their own home as well as those who for whatever reason are without shelter. I can't even imagine....

Today is the Day of the Dead. A great holiday in my book. You can read my post about spending Nov. 1 in Italy in 2003, frankly the same feelings apply today, even thought it's years later.  I feel very fortunate to have been there and think I'll always remember that experience. This is also known as "All Saints Day"here and elsewhere. In France, it's name is "Toussaint". I found this out at Corey's blog, Tongue in Cheek, where she has some beautiful thoughts on the day.

May good memories bring you happiness today and the bad ones be forgiven and forgotten!

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