Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The Flu


J.P. McEvoy
When your back is broke and your eyes are blurred.
And your shin-bones knock and your tongue is furred,
And your tonsils squeak and your hair gets dry,
And you are doggone sure that you are going to die,
But you're scared you won't and afraid you will,
Just drag to bed and have your chill;
And pray the Lord to see you through
For you've got the Flu, boy,

You've got the Flu.

What is it about the flu? One minute you are fine, scurrying around the house, making dinner, enjoying an evening of cards, laughing. The very next morning you don't feel so good. You awake, and this is highly unusual, with absolutely no appetite. Hmm, you reflect, maybe I ate too much last night or I didn't get enough sleep? Soon after you are visiting the bathroom.....frequently. An hour later you find yourself pushing the dog out of the way as you run full speed down the hall to reach the bathroom in time. What is this digestive upset you wonder? Gee, you had better lay down you advise yourself, just until this nausea passes. Suddenly, despite all efforts to stay flat in bed, praying the misery enveloping your body will vanish, you find yourself once again in the bathroom only this time you are letting loose with the entire contents of your stomach. Your body aches. Your hair hurts. The smell of the dog laying by your side sickens you. You have....the flu. Lovely little winter bug.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Euchre, Bowers, and Trumps

Ok, I love my card-playing friends. We eat delicious food, laugh a lot, drink a lot, (pink champagne is the women's favorite drink right now), laugh some more and then we sit down to play poker and Euchre on most Friday nights. I have played maybe 10 rounds of cards in my life. My friends used to play every Friday night for years and my husband is from Michigan (one of the Euchre capitals of the US). Euchre is big in the midwest. Also called Ecarte or knock euchre, supposedly derived from a game called juckerspeil, this game is popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Who knew?

Poke is a group of games with similar rules. You have Texan Holdem, Seven Card Stud, Five Card Draw, Follow the Bitch, and on and on. Although I need my cheat sheet (because I have played poker 2 times in my life) I seem to get poker. I think I understand the gambling part, raising when you think you have a good hand until everybody starts to argue about how to do it and then I am, of course, lost. But, I get poker and even left last night with a tidy pile of change. I must admit, however, that I seem to hate to lose. Not a good quality in a game like poker. With a hand you have little control over you bid and play the game. It's a lot of luck and some strategizing and you are definitely going to lose about half the time. Experience with card-playing, I see, is immensely helpful. I generally think of poker as fun, mostly when I'm winning,of course, but even when not, I enjoy the strategizing, the betting, the socializing, and how you have to do the best you can with the hand you are dealt, kind of like in life.

Euchre, on the other hand, is a trick-taking card game and very different from poker. OK, already we have some unfamiliar buzz words I get completely focused on while I'm trying to play the game (and that's a problem because people want to play that game QUICKLY)...trick-taking I think on. What does that mean? A round of play is a trick and you want to take all the cards in each round. Why they don't just say that I will never know. One thing I learned last night as I fumbled around trying to learn Euchre is that there is a whole lingo everybody else who plays cards knows. I felt like a French woman sitting in a German cafe, eager to order a bratwurst, yet all that came out of my mouth was, "Je parle francais regrette seulement." I just wasn't speaking the language. Once, when I looked at my husband quizically after just having been "ordered" by him to pick up the card, he tried to give me helpful advice, "Just short-suit yourself." I think, shorten my suit? If I shorten, whatever that means, can I also lengthen my suit? What would that look like? And why is my husband "ordering" me? The words capture me as I try to figure out what they mean. When I finally ask, "Whatever do you mean?" My husband patiently tells me, talking as slowly as you would to a very challenged 5 year old, that I want to discard in such a way that I have as few suits in my hand as possible. I am sure my friends are rolling their eyes and thinking, "THIS woman has a Ph.D?" Ah, yes but in psychology, trick-taking card games weren't part of the curriculum, especially not Eucher. My husband goes on, "Shorten your suit so you can use a trump card to overide an ace and take the trick." What's a trump card, I wonder? And, why do I want to override an ace? I get so focused on the lingo (tricks, trumps, left and right bowers, and the ins and outs of ordering), listening to EVERYBODY who had advice for me (you fumble or don't move at lightening speed and everybody gives you loud, sometimes biting advice within the millisecond) that I forget, oh yah, right, I am playing with a partner. To make the game all the more challenging for my novice-playing self, my generally sweet and kind partner who is my husband (in Friday night competitive mode) started honking at me about "trumping his ace" after I lay down a well-thought out but clearly wrong card. "Sorry," I tell him. In another play, when I lay down the left bower which is trump suit (see, I'm getting it), accidentally, there's no going back, my friends happily take the round although I plead with them to let me take up the card, "I'm just learning." "To bad," I'm told as they scoop up the trick and earn a point. My husband is an excellent Euchre player so we won the game by 1 point, with no help, I am sure from me!

I am sure I will learn how to play Eucher in time. I am nothing if I am not persistent. It's not a game I consider much fun at this point, but it is a challenge,and I love playing with my friends. I think I just need to move at my own pace, think carefully about bowers, trumps, aces and remember I have a partner. Play the suit or try to trump the trick and take losing with a grain of salt! I feel like an off suit nine longing to be a right bower (see, I do know what I'm talking about).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Martini au Chocolate!

Have ya ever had a chocolate martini? I've had one in my life and I forgot how delicious they were. We went to the children's museum, yah that was fun. We had a great salad, yah that was good. We enjoyed movies and ice cream, yah that was fun. But, a chocolate martini..now we're talking about celebrating! Thanks again to Gabe and Bethany and Dan!

Valentine's Day Continues

Valentine's Day happily continued on the 14th of February! Saturdays are the day we spend with grandkids, my step-son and daughter-in-law. As I have written before, I love Saturday mornings (which sometimes turn into longer days). This Saturday, since my husband was gone, my step-son, my daughter-in-law, the grandgirls and one of my grandgirls' father were very thoughtful and invited me to go with them to the Children's Museum (hence my masked face, above and Dan's, below) and then spend the day together. We had a really wonderful time. The science museum was full of happy adults and kids. This is my kind of place. There were art activities, science activities and just a lot of fun. Grandpa would have loved it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day - Brazo!

My sweet husband gave me red roses and Lindt chocolates and a wonderful Latin American, Spanish, Cuban, South American dinner for Valentine's Day. We went to Brazo a local restaurant for dinner and had a wonderful, tasty time. We started with a tapas which included warm olives, cold and delicious seviche on a homemade tortilla chip, calamari coated in some sort of nut and then fried, and fried potatoes (about 5 cubes) sitting in a paprika sauce. We also started with two different empanadas. One was delectable, filled with mushrooms and manchego, a marvelous Spanish cheese. The other empanada was forgettable (chorizo and potato). We stuffed ourselves on these starters while sipping glasses of a wonderful red wine. Can't recall the names right now but mine was some sort of Syrah and really good. After appetizers we shared an entree of beef tenderloin with a mushroom glace, creamed spinach (it was very rich and yummy) and a sweet potato gratin. It was a really excellent meal :) Well, there was some strange spice on the sweet potato gratin (actually I thought, is this sweet potato mold?) but I think it's some spice I have never liked. Other than that it was a really wonderful meal.

My husband will be away in Michigan this Saturday so we celebrated Valentine's tonight. His idea. We laugh because if you were to visit some restaurants on Valentine's Day you pay 1/2 again as much for the same meal. We have done that in the past and decided that our Valentine's Day from now on is always before or after the date. That way we avoid feeling ripped off and we avoid the crowds.

Valentine's Day, even though we all dislike how commercial and superficial it can be, helps me remember how much I love my husband. We met 14 years ago on Valentine's Day. Hard to believe! I was in graduate school and he was just so recently separated from his first wife. Ah...life, moves at a clip, doesn't it? Enjoy the moments I keep reminding myself!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Check that Couldn't be Cashed

OMG. This story is like a comedy of errors. My husband gives me a check each month for our monthly bank account. I have to bug him several times to get that check to me. It's not that he's withholding money, it's just he's very busy and preoccupied with work and life things (he's the guy on the CPM machine, as noted below in 120 Degrees blog). So, he gives me the February check early this month and I am thrilled. I cannot pay our condo mortgage until he gives me that check so I am eager to get it cashed, pay the mortgage and be done with the monthly money duties.

Although I on sabbatical, I am also very busy. So, I grabbed the check on Friday, made a special trip to the grocery store to get food and to cash his check. I handed it over to the bank teller and she TELLS me she cannot cash it! It isn't dated. So, I asked to talk to the manager who knows me well. I tell him I am a long-time customer. I remind him that we have 5 accounts with the bank and that this would really help me out. "Bank policy. We cannot cash it because you and your husband could be in a divorce and we would get it trouble if you were cashing a check you shouldn't be cashing." "Aww, come on. Just this once. I am a long-time customer in good standing." That got me no where so I gave up. Annoyed, however, I told the teller that I just remembered that my husband was sitting in the car so I'd be right back. She didn't think that was funny. Well, she might of but she didn't say a word or crack a smile. I left with uncashed check in hand. Once in the car I wrote the date on the "date" line of that irritating bugger of a check but it didn't look like my husband's writing, it was in blue not black ink and I thought the bank police might nab me if I tried to go back in right away and cash it.

That evening I asked my husband to cross out the date I had written in blue and to write the correct date in blank ink with all the necessary initials to signify he'd actually made the date change. He asked if I wanted a new check but I told him if he just corrected this one we'd be fine. We laughed and he fixed the check, or so we thought.

The next time I got to the bank was yesterday afternoon, after a school meeting and on my way to another school. It's now Tuesday. Before I pull into the drive-through, I park the car in a parking spot and make sure my new deposit slip is made out correctly. I check to make sure I have endorsed the check properly and I double checked to see if the date was correct. I happily pulled up to the bank window. I slipped the check and the deposit slip under the little doohickey that holds your bank paperwork, shut the drawer and waited for my deposit slip.

I don't usually examine my deposit slips carefully. A trusting, busy soul, I take it and drive away. But for some reason, I took a close look at the deposited amount. It read $220 not $2200. I told the clerk she had made a mistake. She quickly told me, "Oh, they would have caught it in the back." Yah, right. That's reassuring, I thought. Anyway, I sent the deposit slip back through the little drawer. As the teller redid the paperwork she announced, "This check is not dated properly. The black ink is for 3/6/09 which is March so that is for next month. Although, the blue ink clearly says 2/6/09." I paused, and this is where I am so glad I'm a more outspoken 54 year-old than I was when I was, say, 23, "Can you call my husband at work?" I asked, thinking, OMG this can't be! I assume knowing she could get herself in trouble by making such a big error, particularly if I made a big stink, she complied happily. "No answer when I called," she returned to the window to tell me. I persisted, "Can you call him on his cell phone?" Sure, she happily complied once again. I was waiting for the New England impatience to kick in and for her to tell me to buzz off, tough for you, try again another day. But, she returned once again, "Sorry, no answer there either." Annoyed once again, I paused for a moment and then proceeded to tell her the story of the check that couldn't be cashed. We both had a little laugh and then she said, "You know, I know your husband. He did a survey for me." My husband is a land surveyor well-known in the surrounding towns. "Really?" I smiled a big happy smile. "So can we just let this go? I promise, I won't mention this to anybody." I could see the wheels cranking. She finally and to my relief let the check be cashed. I felt like I was on Saturday Night Live but happy to have the check cashed so I could now pay the mortgage.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Working Up a Sweat

My husband told me last night that while he watches me labour on the elliptical machine I barely move. That was not a little frustrating as I have worked hard to get to level 16. He told me this at the gym right after I had told him I had ridden the stationary bicycle like mad but at a low speed and my heart rate was way up. When I thought about my heart rate while riding my elliptical machine at home, it was true, my heart rate was low even though I was straining with each and every push on the pedal. Why is it that we think we have to be at the highest level, always, to get the most benefit? Sometimes staying at a medium level and pushing it as hard as you can works up the most sweat....leads to the biggest benefit. Good principle for life :)

Ice Slabs

Yesrerday afternoon as I looked out the window I saw these slabs of ice that had floated down the river and settled on the beach. One thing I love about living on the water is how often I am reminded to enjoy the moment. This morning as I look out on the river, the ice slabs are gone. Melted, down river, out in the bay....just gone.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Puppies and Babies

Isn't this the cutest picture ever? It's number 1,087 out of the 10,564 I have taken of my granddaughter :) Why do puppies and babies make us all smile?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Some tortures are physical
And some are mental,
But the one that is both
Is dental.
~Ogden Nash

OMG. I just returned from a 2 and 1/2 hour dental appointment. I hate the dentist. He's actually a really nice guy who reminds me of my mild-mannered husband but he is my dentist so I hate him. To ease the tension and probably to break the boredom (how many crowns can one drill and construct over and over and over and still find interesting?) he and his dental assistant were cracking jokes nearly the entire time. They were funny, and I was laughing (well depending on what strange foamy stuff was sticking out of my mouth I was either grunting or voicing a real laugh). At one point the dentist became a little frantic, actually throwing a terrorizing looking tool onto the counter, muttering, "This stuff dries quickly," but other than that minor crisis he was pretty funny and very attentive to my dental angst. No matter, and although I do sincerely appreciate the humor, I really, really do not like going to the dentist and doubt I ever will. My friend, when I told her I was going to the dentist for two crowns said, "Oh, not a problem. Once I had a root canal and they went right through the front of my tooth and I didn't feel a thing." Lordy.

Driving all the way to the dentist (he's a 1/2 hour away but I have gone to him for years), I was thinking....so why am I sweating? Why am I breathing in short little gasps? Am I fearful? Of what? Losing control? Being in pain? Having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the 2 and 1/2 hour procedure? It was really hard to nail the exact cause of my dread. I started thinking about my husband who recently had that lovely knee manipulation procedure (see 120 degrees below). In the pre-op room during our 3 hour wait, he passed the time by... sleeping. I, on the other hand, and remember I was not the one having the procedure, sat straight up in a chair the entire time, wide-eyed and alert (on 4 hours sleep) reading a book and watching him sleep (in amazement). Why does this intensity spring forth from my being? I wish I could just go with whatever comes up and sleep while waiting to have my teeth drilled to little nubs, but that is just not me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tale of a Turkey

Ok, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing like homemade turkey broth! I am not much of a cook but the soup I made this evening with left over turkey and defatted turkey broth was fabulous! I think what made it so good was the way we cooked the turkey in the first place. For our wedding, we received a very large roaster. It's a funny looking thing with a little rack in the bottom and nubbies on the inside of the lid. But, this roaster rocks! It cooks and browns a turkey in 1/2 the time. You put the turkey on the rack and add an inch or so of water. This amazing pan cooks the most tender, moist turkey while browning at the same time (it's the nubbies in the lid that do this). And, the broth you get when you pull the turkey out is really, really tasty.

To make the soup, I just put the broth in the frig and scraped the fat off when it was cold. Then I put it in a pan with just a little water. Next I added onion and carrots for about 5 minutes. Sweet potatoes went in next for about 5 minutes and finally the turkey and green pepper for the last 5 minutes. Add just a little poultry seasoning (thanks to my brother!), salt and pepper and voila!

Why don't we cook turkey more often? Because it takes too long! With this roaster (I know I am sounding like a TV commercial!) the turkey cooks perfectly and quickly. My husband bought this bird for $.39 a pound right after Christmas and put it in the freezer. I cooked it on a Friday while I was working around the house. The first night we had moist, tender turkey for dinner. The second day we all had turkey sandwiches. The third night, while the Super Bowl was on, we had turkey quesadillas with carmalized onions and two kinds of cheese! Then tonight we had amazing turkey soup. Yah, I know, time to put the leftovers in the freezer. But I'm going to slice it up and put it in cute little packages just like when you buy it for $5.99 a pound in the deli!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sister Love

Saturday mornings, as I have written, have turned into great family times. My step-son comes over with the girls, mom is busy working. They are adorable,don't you think? Miss B is a blonde bubble of energy. She's creative and loving. She's well-behaved and comes out with the funniest little remarks. Yesterday she told me, as we sat playing paper dolls, "I have an idea!" "No kidding," I told her. "What is it?" She really had nothing more to say. And my step-son tells me that sometimes when you ask her to do something, she will tell you she can't because she has a back ache.

Miss A, as far as we can tell, is very into her environment, very attuned to anything visual or auditory or tactile. I even scared her once at the bowling alley when I was holding her and laughed out loud. She burst into tears. She loves our dog, Olivia. She loves watching Olivia, she loves hearing Olivia's tags tinkle as she walks (and will twist her body out of my arms to follow that sound), and she LOVES feeling Olivia's soft fur. She will stare you down, just stop in the middle of eating and stare at you or stare out the window. Just taking a little break and checking out a noise or a movement that has captured her attention.

The girls' parents have been very aware and worked hard to promote sister love. Looks like they have done a good job....

Well, they feel the love most of the time :) "Hey, that's my hair you are grabbing!"