Category Archives: Whining

Soup Days

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By Golly, it’s been a long time since I posted anything here.  To be honest, I was plumb tuckered after all of the many wedding festivities!  Hubby and I hunkered down for a good two weeks, only making last-minute plans with friends.  What wonderful memories we have with friends and family from the wedding weekend!!!  Thanks again to everyone for their well wishes for the young couple.  Pat &  Sam’s wedding will go down in the books as one helluva party!

But now we are back to our usual busy pace, very happy and productive. I’ve planned a Spring Break trip for Hubby and I to San Diego, and both of us have spent approximately a bazillion hours looking for cheap flights to London for a summer vacation to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  If you fly to JFK first, the flights are reasonable, but then you risk missing connections which adds stress.  I’m sure we’ll figure it all out.  I heart London so much, and we will spend a few days there before renting a car to tour (drum roll, please!) . . . WALES!  Wales has amazingly beautiful countryside and a rich history; you can’t swing a cat without hitting a castle.  Right now I’m revisiting a novel I read in my youth about Welsh history called Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman.  At 704 pages, I’ve assigned myself 50 pages a day so Hubby can also read it before our trip in late June!  It’s so good that it’s hard to put down.

I’ve spent way too much time googling stuff the past few days and giggled while viewing my browsing history.  Here’s a brief list:

  • Dulse Seaweed butter–a chefs secret weapon (can’t wait to try it)
  • Black Panther movie trailer (looks good)
  • Cheddar Broccoli Soup recipe (YUM!!!)
  • How tall is Charlie Barnes? (never did find that–he tours with Bastille)
  • List of the busiest US airports (Atlanta, LAX, then Chicago)
  • Phoebe Buffay’s fake names (just couldn’t remember Regina Phalange)
  • What is motor boating?  (er, umm, that’s what I thought it was–too much time reading weird stuff on FB lately!)
  • Henry Plantagenet family tree (to assist while reading a historical fiction novel)
  • 24 Things Not to Miss in Wales
  • SOOOOOOO much flight pricing!!!!!!!!

I’m just INTERESTED in stuff, you know?  Now I’ll give you the soup recipe.  I changed it by adding two potatoes and decreasing the amount of cheese and butter and flour.  My family thought it was delicious!  I love to make soup.  I find it homey to have a large pot bubbling on the stove, filling the house with yummy aromas.  My daughter bakes to relax.  She must’ve had a really stressful week since she made three different types of macaroons on three separate days this week!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 cup butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
5 cups broccoli, chopped small
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)
4 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and white pepper to taste
one teaspoon chopped garlic

Get out a big-ass pot.  Melt the butter, adding onions and sauteing until soft. Stir in one cup flour to give the soup some legs to stand on.  Add in chicken broth and milk, then the carrots, potatoes, and the star of our show–BROCCOLI!  Reduce the heat or else the milk will foam up into a huge cloud, which will spill all over your stove top and be a nasty mess.  (This happened to a friend—not me, of course.)   I simmered everything for maybe 45 minutes, testing the carrots with a fork for softness.  When all veg are tender:  add salt, pepper, and garlic, then stir in the cheese.  I used an immersion blender because the potatoes were still in chunks, and also because it’s a fun toy that I rarely get to use. Plus it scares the bejeezus out of the cats, which makes me laugh.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peace and Quiet

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As a teacher, I look forward to the long holiday break as a time to see friends and family, and even more so as a time to get loads of peace and quiet.  Hubby also has off a week at Christmas, and besides organizing the garage and fixing stuff about the house, he also anticipates our quiet week with time to sleep late and and time for reading on the back patio.

Imagine our distress on our very first day of holiday break.  At 6am we were awakened to the sound of a bobcat in reverse. “Beep! Beep! Beep!”  We put our pillows over our ears, but this continued for hours. What kind of madman would schedule home renovations on the 23rd of December?  Turns out it was our neighbors two doors to the west of us.  Seriously?  Whatever happened to the etiquette of not having work done on the weekends?  And two days before Christmas?? The beeping and other construction noises continued until yesterday.

Christmas Day was quiet in the hood.

But the day AFTER Christmas, we were greeted by the sound of a wood chipper in front of our house.  WTF???  Whose idea was it to have all the neighborhood trees trimmed while so many of us were home for the holiday break??  The sound of chainsaws, Mexican music, and wood chippers are still being heard today, two weeks post-Christmas.  We have many common areas in our neighborhood with many trees. Since I am on the HOA board now, I’m definitely going to do my best to get the schedule changed for December 2018.  As I often say, if I were in charge, things would be a LOT different!!!

On the bright side, I got enough peace and quiet that I was eager to get back to school Monday.  I simply feel better when I’m on a schedule.  I truly missed my wee preschool friends–they’re just so stinkin’ cute (three years old)!  Today a boy arrived a bit late, and one girl was so happy to see him that she ran up and planted a big smooch right on his kisser!  The boy’s reaction was one of being completely stunned . . . and then the girl looked right at me, knowing she’d been naughty.  We talk a lot about germs, and they all know kissing is a no-no at school.  I totally let it go because it was such a heartfelt greeting that warmed my heart.  It was an adorable, unexpected moment . . . just one of many I see at my school each day.

The wood chippers are finally gone, and one of the sounds in my home is William playing computer upstairs on Skype with friends.  He leaves for college in two days, and I will cry.  We miss him so much when he is away, but are proud of the good grades he got last semester while pursuing his Chemistry degree.  Another sound is my persistent hacking.  It’s been two weeks now, and I’m tired of this cough!  And lastly, there is the sound of our daughter’s voice.  Eve decided to return to our nest for financial reasons.  We are proud of her grades, too, and (crossed fingers) she will be graduating from ASU with her Bachelors of Science in Biology in December.  Here’s hoping all of you found peaceful moments over the holidays.  Here’s wishing you all the best in 2018!

Cheers,

Mary

 

Hungry!

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I started a diet today.

It started out great.

I am never hungry in the morning, so I met a friend for coffee at 10 without eating first. It was an interesting exercise. The smells at The Hillside Spot were tantalizing: Waffles, eggs with a side of fried potatoes, and lush buttery pastries. My mouth was watering, and my sense of smell was keen. I caught myself turning my head to get a better whiff as the full platters went by.  I most likely resembled my Springer Spaniel following her nose about while I’m cooking dinner. My hands shook a bit from the lack of food combined with the jolt of caffeine, but I was doing well.

I felt strong.

Mind over matter.

This time I was going to stick with it and lose at least five pounds before our son’s wedding in three weeks. I was going to feel so much healthier, and wouldn’t it be nice to NOT have to unbutton my jeans every time I sat down?

But then I got home.

I sat down to my computer to do some research for a summer vacation, and that’s when it started. My mind began cataloguing the food in the fridge. First the top shelf:  Half a leftover steak. A raspberry yogurt.  A bowl of pudding. Second shelf: The bag of expensive cheeses leftover from our holiday entertaining.  Deli sausage slices!  Chicken tortilla soup!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I ate a banana and drank a big glass of water and got back to work. My stomach growled madly but I ignored it and started to answer email.  My mind wandered uncontrollably back to the contents of the fridge. Black beans with tomatoes and onion. Sour cream! The last slice of coconut cake.

I slowly peeled an orange and savored every juicy segment. I heated up another cup of coffee and settled back in at my laptop.

That was an hour ago. My work is constantly being interrupted. Did you hear that? I swear I just heard the pepperoni pizza calling to me from the freezer. “Just one slice. I’m so tasty. I’ll fill you up so you won’t be hungry anymore. I’m greasy and delicious. EAT ME!”

I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. The coconut cake is competing with the apple pie, and the half and half is mad I didn’t put it in my coffee. All dozen of the eggs insist I fry them up in just a little bit of bacon grease.

I think I’d better peel another orange–I am not feeling strong. I am feeling . . . HUNGRY!!!

Cheers,

Mary

Thanksgiving 2017

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Well I did it:  served another Thanksgiving dinner to my family.  I’m not sure what happened.  I did everything I usually do, yet the green beans in the cheesy bacon casserole were too crunchy, the mashed potatoes were too soupy, the dressing not bready enough, and by the time Hubby carved the turkey, it arrived at the table cold.  Our daughter asked, “Is there any WARM turkey??”  In the middle of dinner, I had to transfer the turkey out of the fancy china dish with the golden trim into a casserole dish and microwave it so it would edible!  I forgot the rolls were rising in the oven and preheated the oven with them inside, causing them to seize rising and not cook thoroughly.  Thank goodness for my “almost daughter-in-law” who brought a delicious pumpkin pie and apple tarts!  Thanks, Samantha!  I guess after cooking this same meal for so many years, I just phoned it in this time.  I love the cooking marathon, but next year will find the recipes in the cupboard and double check my work.

Of course it was great to have our whole family together, but lately the kids want to play games I’m not interested in such as Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne and then when they got to Scrabble, there wasn’t really room for me at the table.  So I sat on the couch nearby playing Words with Friends enjoying the music of their voices and soaking up the nearness of my children.  But lately I feel like when they are all together (and now they are four, instead of three, because of Patrick’s fiance) there is a bit more teasing (not always kindly) and treating me like “Mom,” as opposed to when I see them one-on-one and they mostly treat me like “Mary.”  My kids are all in their twenties now, and I like that we can have a relationship as adults together, without me being in charge of their lives.  I like that we all ENJOY being together (most of the time, haha).  We giggled together over the movie, Seems Like Old Times, which was certainly a highlight of the day for me.  Overall it was very nice, and Christmas time will be here before you know it and we will all be together again.

So the day after Thanksgiving, I was feeling a little blue because Thanksgiving had not gone exactly as I had planned, but I shook the feeling off because it was A GOOD DAY.  I asked myself, why should I get to plan the games and the movie just because I am the host?  I’m so happy to host, so the lesson for me is “let it go” and “be flexible” and  remember to be so incredibly grateful that we live close to each other and can be together often.

I distracted myself from over-thinking the situation by watching several new episodes of Chef and the Farmer on the PBS website.  Vivian exhausts me!  I want to say to her, slow down, Girlfriend . . . and I want to give her a hug.  After watching Vivian cook persimmon pudding, I went into the living room and there I spied it:  The dreaded Book Group novel.  It sat on my coffee table, taunting me with its thick spine which encased all tedious 462 pages.  The title sounded so appealing:  A Gentleman in Moscow.  Doesn’t it sound so romantic, like one of those books you finish and sigh sadly because you’re so sad it’s over?  Well folks, let me tell you, it is NOT that kind of book, and I decided to not let it mock me anymore and placed it firmly in the library pile where it will be donated,and I will never have to look at it again.

Then I picked up Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, a book my friend Hanna loaned me . . . and it was just what I needed! I don’t know much about this author, but I would summarize this book by saying it’s about her struggle to be the best person she can be and to be a good person in the World.  She has so many great quotes, but this one is what I needed to read this week:  “We sometimes choose the most locked-up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of  ways to tell the same story.”  I hope my kids tell the story of this year’s Thanksgiving that we had a great day together (and not that mom seemed grumpy).

Cheers,

Mary

When I’m Old

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Do any of you play Words with Friends?  I am absolutely addicted to this word game, which I play on my phone.  Each morning after my shower, I sit on the couch and play the 10-15 games I have going. I sip my coffee and pet my animals and truly, it’s a lovely way to greet the day.  During my school day, I can’t wait for a free minute to play a word or two, and lately, at night, I’ve been dreaming I’m playing.  Last night I dreamed I played the word “sofa” for 120 points!  This game is supposed to be good for maintaining healthy brain function and increasing memory skills.  A good player will be able to quickly find words in a jumble of letters, which is called anagramming.  Scientists have studied expert Scrabble players by examining MRI images while they are playing, and studies show that the expert Scrabble players are using different parts of their brains than non-expert Scrabble players and are strengthening areas of the brain associated with working memory.  I’m so happy to be addicted to a game that is actually good for my old noggin!  (Read more about it here.)

In general, I feel like my brain is keeping up with me quite well, but every once in awhile I can’t recall the name of an actor, even though I can see his face quite clearly in my head.  Or the name of a movie or book escapes me.  It usually comes to me later in the day, but it’s a frustrating feeling.  More embarrassing is telling the same stories twice to the same person. I’m especially guilty of this with Hubby, but in my defense, I talk to SO MANY PEOPLE during the day that I can’t remember whom I’ve told what!  I try to be entertaining and interesting and am always happy when someone cuts me off and says, “You already told me.” I also have incredibly vivid dreams, so it works the other way sometimes, in that I’ve dreamed that I told Hubby something and in waking life, I’ve never told him.  You know, just little things like we have company coming for dinner Friday, or my sister will be staying the night next Tuesday.  Lucky for me, after all these years, Hubby is used to my crazy ways!

The little lapses in memory do worry me, and lately I’ve been wondering what kind of old person I will be.  I want to be the nurturing, wise old grandma that always has banana bread baking in the oven and potato soup bubbling on the stove and time to listen to every story (like my Grandma Summers).  I’m so worried that I’ll be the embarrassing grandma with Turret’s Syndrome that shouts out things like, “PENIS!” at family dinners, or picks her nose or farts in public.  I’ve heard of elderly people who take their clothes off at the grocery store, or insist on watching the same tv series over and over again (and for me will it be Gilmore Girls, New Girl, or How I Met Your Mother?).  Will I stop bathing and get that old-person moldy smell?  Will I shuffle around the neighborhood wearing my bedroom slippers and bathrobe leading a chihuahua named Honey?

Well!  I’ve gotten myself quite worked up thinking about my future, so I’d better stop here and take a deep breath . . . and I’m pretty sure there’s a new word to be played.  If anyone wants to play WWF with me, message me, and I will send you my Zynga code name!

Cheers,

Mary

 

Kitchen Dancing

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It occurred to me tonight as I sat down to my computer to write this that I felt much like a pianist approaching a piano, situating myself just right in my seat and getting my mind in the correct place. I spent many years as a musician.  Did I ever tell you I was once a flute player?  All those hours in a practice room and again at home, trying to get every single note just right.  And I played piccolo, and ukulele.  I used to think I had a nice singing voice, but my allergies make me sound like a sick toad. (I miss my old voice so much that I have an appointment with the allergist next week.)

Moving on:  I told you last week that our refrigerator died, and we had to buy a new one. This week, our washing machine decided to spew all of its water onto the laundry room floor!  I put a load of wash in, went on a short errand, and came back to an inch of water on the floor. Hubby spent an hour fixing it on Saturday (Me:  “My Hero!  Thank you so much!”), but the next load proved the barrel was not spinning properly.  It’s ten years old and honestly, I’m glad to be done with this front loader with its stinky rubber seal! The next day, William’s car battery died, I found two termite trails, and the coffee pot gave up the ghost.   Also I need the carpets cleaned due to, well, doo.  Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is not waiting for me to get home and keeps “going” in Patrick’s old room. I hate to spend money on boring stuff like appliances and home upkeep, don’t you?

In other news:  I’ve just pushed through four weeks of personal growth.  (Cry, whine, scream, shiver, moan, sigh.)  Since William went back to college, I’ve been lonely.  I am NOT good at being alone.  Hubby works hellacious hours so for the first time in my life, I am alone in my house for many hours each day.  All that time alone was making me mad and sad and a bit grumpy.

Yet . . . I’m actually starting to enjoy it!  I’ve been meeting friends for coffee (or a pint of beer) many evenings after work, and it’s nice to not have to worry about being home at a certain time.  And when I’m alone at home, I can do WHATEVER I WANT!  For example, tonight I got home from work at 5:30 and began baking muffins.  All alone, I could choose the music with nobody complaining. It was really hot in our house, so I took off my pants. I danced in the kitchen knowing nobody would judge my poor dance moves. Then I danced with one of our cats, with nobody around to think that’s weird.  I talked to myself, with nobody around to think that’s weird.  Nobody was there to chide me for eating the ice cream straight from the container (and I smoothed it over so Hubby won’t notice–the freezer kills germs, right?).

Okay, I’ll finish this up with a poem about personal growth (by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) that I had on the front of my fridge for many years.  I am not religious, so I take out the word “God” and replace it with “Universe”.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste. 
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
and circumstances
— acting on your own good will — 
will make you tomorrow.

Cheers,

Mary

The Good Place

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I have to tell you about the funniest show I watched last week called The Good Place, in which a “bad” woman ends up in Heaven by mistake.  Who doesn’t love Kristen Bell? Who doesn’t love Ted Danson?  Who doesn’t love a story about the afterlife? Find it on Netflix, and wait a few weeks for the second season to begin soon on NBC.  A witty bit in the show is when our main character tries to swear (which isn’t allowed in Heaven), so her curse words turn into “Fork!” and “Bullshirt!” and my very favorite, “Holy Motherforking Shirtballs!”

I’ve been trying to incorporate those “almost” curse words into my own lingo, which is especially helpful when I’m raging at the zillions of self-driving Waymo cars constantly cruising through our neighborhood.  When I first spotted these abominations in March, I found it interesting. By May, I was thoroughly irritated . . . and now I’m simply unnerved! Seeing that bulbous-roofed vehicle on every street on every day . . . even Sundays (!!!) is just wrong.  These cars have cameras on them, and how is that legal???  Every time I see one, I say, “Forking Waymos” and give them a special hand gesture.  I contacted a city council member to ask if the city is getting kickbacks and the answer was no.  I’m on the HOA for our ‘hood, so I know we were never asked permission, nor are we getting any money for the inconvenience to our neighborhood.  Last week, I contacted Waymo by email asking when they would be done here and requesting they move on to another neighborhood, citing the fact that our neighborhood was designed specifically to reduce traffic and that having eight Waymo cars constantly driving down our streets is not something any of us likes.  I’m waiting for a response (and am not holding my breath) and will continue to say a heartfelt, “Fork You” to each vehicle that slows me down on the way to the grocery store.

In other news, last week I was super crazy happy to be getting rid of SO MUCH STUFF from my house and donate it to be sold at our high school’s annual percussion garage sale.  You may recall my horror at entering our ASU rental home after I evicted our daughter and her roommates to find they had left so much stuff behind.  Hand on the Bible, it looked like they had merely stepped out for lunch.  The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, and silverware, the fridge and the pantry were full of food, and there was even a wet towel left in the shower. There were couches and dressers and desks. I was so happy to take all of that (in multiple trips in my small Prius) over to the school for sale.

I was also ecstatic to get rid an ugly antique velvet chair which we inherited from Hubby’s grandmother.  Hubby likes to hang onto stuff; he is not a hoarder, but is really sentimental.  The Grandmother Chair came with much history:  GG Mom always told us, “When I’m gone, you must take this chair that Ms. Hoff from across the street gave me. It’s one of a kind; it’s so special. Promise me you’ll take it!”  So of course, when she passed away, we had it shipped from Decatur, Alabama, and it’s sat collecting cat hair in the spare room for 12 years.  I was puzzled why the chair was so important.  Friends suggested there was cash hidden inside (no). I tried to sell it to an antique store, but no luck.  So on Friday, I snuck it over to the school garage sale, feeling so happy to un-clutter my house, and feeling pretty good about the fact that Hubby would never notice.

Well.  Saturday morning we woke up and were each looking at Facebook.  Hubby says, “It looks like the Percussion Garage Sale is today!”  I responded, “Hmmm, I bet everything is pretty much gone by now.”  A minute later, Hubby says, “HEY!  Is that my grandmother’s CHAIR!”  ACCKKK!  Somebody had taken a pic of the goods for sale and posted it!  I held my breath and I waited for World War III, but Hubby was actually very sweet about it, especially after I checked to make sure said chair had been sold to a happy buyer.  (We have toooooo much stuff, and it makes me crazy!)

I hope all is well with all of you during this crazy weather week. PLEASE, Mother Nature, help us out a bit.  Hurricanes?  Fires? Floods?  111 degrees when I get in my car to come home after school?  I’m sending SO MUCH positive energy into the Universe for all of those who are struggling in the hurricane and fire zones.  We have three empty bedrooms if anyone needs a place to wait out the disasters.

Cheers,

Mary