Monday, November 30, 2009

Birthday Gift

When I walked into the classroom today, the Kindergarten teacher, who is absolutely lovely, was acknowledging a little red-head's birthday. She directed all the students to take a small card and go to their assigned seats. On one side of the card they were told to draw a picture "for the birthday boy." On the back students were to write the words, "David is 6." After all the cards were drawn and written on she collected them and put them into a special blue, birthday bag. I wish you could have seen the delight in this little 6-year old's face when he grabbed the bag full of birthday cards and walked over to his backpack to carefully stow them away. He was beside himself with pride and delight. I so love my job some days.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Father and Son

This windy and chilly November weekend, my step-son spent a number of hours in our heated garage with his dad. They were working on this old truck. They are attempting to fix the gas tank. They have thought about it, pounded on it, fiddled with it. I guess in a moment of, "I'm going to pull my hair out, let's do something else!" they pulled out the hack saw and whacked off the sides of the bed! Alas, they will return to the project next weekend to get the old truck running. And, not to sound too much like a sappy Hallmark card, but I really love seeing how genuinely happy the two of them are working together on this old truck. I know how much they love spending time together and I am so happy they make the time to do that :)

Alice in Wonderland Revisited

Today my husband and I bought this painting. My friend who died of alcoholism this past summer, painted this portrait of a flower. The bottom is not as light as it appears - flash issues - but beyond that you can see that this is a beautiful, abstract painting. My husband commented that it was pretty "dark." "Yah, that would be Alice," I thought. She will be missed by many.

New Glass

You never know what fused glass will look like once fired. It's the part of this process I love and the part I hate. I had designed these 37 pieces and when unfired, they were all angular. I picked them up yesterday and none of them had a corner anywhere near a 90 degree angle! "Why are all the edges so rounded?" I wondered. "Hey, these are kind of cool." I thought. I label it my "Round Period" :P The minute my husband saw this batch he said that the heat had been on for too long which is why they all looked like colorful little puddles of glass. My step-son told me the heat was too high. For whatever reason, these little beauties look like shiny lozenges :) When I look at the set in all, I think are some are beautiful, some too round, some too top heavy. I see what I will avoid next time. I imagine embellishing some with wire and beads. And, I always love the pieces with some sparkle. I also see how it's hard to capture the beauty and feel of glass in a photograph.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rockin Kitchen Tool

From Goodwill, apple peeler/corer/slicer circa 1890

This is one clever kitchen tool. It's an apple peeler, slicer and corer all in one. Jacki, my sister-in-law borrowed this from her daughter so we could quickly make apple crisp today for the big post-Thanksgiving party. What a hoot. First, you turn a crank to suction the corer/slicer/peeler onto the counter. Then you pierce the apple on the stem end and start cranking the big handle on the other end. One little mechanism peels, one cores and one cuts! Fabulous! It'll make short time of our apple prepping for the crisp this morning. Who knew such a gadget had been around for 100 years!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tale of the Deep Fried Turkey

The tale of this turkey goes something like this...take a giant turkey bought by father-in-law, inject it with Italian seasoning, pierce it with an cave-man style hook, let it hum for a day in a big vat of salty and delicious brine, fill up the outdoor cooker with gallons of oil (father of the chef and owner of the house insisted this was an outdoor project :), hook up the gas and heat up that huge pot of oil, slowly maneuver the turkey into the pot of boiling oil (stand way back), watch as the oil boils over onto the driveway and causes colorful flames to shoot up and around the pot, shoo away the Mastif (named Tinkerbell) who has taken to licking up that delicious spilled oil, let said bird cook away for about an hour (check time frequently on your fancy new iPhone), get a big pot holder and lift crispy turkey out of hot-ass oil, have chef's father carve giant bird with an electric knife (which he has never used before), and then enjoy! This was one tasty bird! Kudos to the chef Gabriel and his sous chef, Dad :) :)

Ginormous Stuffed Mushrooms

I found these huge mushrooms at the local grocery store. My husband soaked them in sherry and olive oil, filled them with sweet Italian sausage, seasoned bread crumbs, green onion and left-over mushroom and then cooked them in the oven for 1 hour. They were seriously delicious with a glass of Spanish wine for an appetizer. They went so fast I didn't get a chance to take a photo of them once they were cooked and yummy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Be Thankful :)

Gobble, Gobble....May you spend the day around those you love!
This was a paper turkey I made last Thanksgiving....lots to be thankful for :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Curried Split Pea Soup

Wow...delicious soup tonight. We were going to go out but given that we're going to stuff ourselves like pigs tomorrow, I decided to make a healthy soup. I cooked onion and garlic in olive oil. I added tons of hot curry powder and cooked for a few more minutes...what a smell! I then added chicken stock, carrots and chunks of sweet potato along with a bag of split peas. But THE ingredient was a left over BBQ rib that my husband suggested we plop right in the center. hour later what an intensely flavored split pea soup! A dollop of sour cream and we were done :)

Do You Know it All?

Have you ever met a person who acts like they know everything? Such people interest me. And, I appreciate their self-esteem issues if it's at a distance. But, having to be in close proximity with such people is...difficult. First, they are defensive and with good reason; who could know everything? Second, they are quick to find fault in everybody else because, of course, it's always easier to find fault in others vs oneself. It is fundamentally such a sad situation because who really can be his or herself around people like this? Being friends is hard. Being colleagues is hard. Being family is hard. You have a couple of choices. You react and tell the person either verbally or in an obvious nonverbal way that she or he is an idiot. You get defensive yourself which only makes it seem like you are engaging in some silly pre-school game. You find fault in everything this person does just because this person is so annoying and always finding fault with you. I like to think I can find that yoga side of myself in such situations and see that this person is in my life for a reason and blah, blah, blah. I like to think I can be that self-reflective soul who is peaceful and understanding as I relate to such a person. But, honestly, sometimes I just wish this Know-It-All would find a good therapist or simply leave the room.

I am Thankful for....

I was out sick from work for a full week. The first morning I returned, the students in my accelerated math group literally sat on top of me as we organized ourselves around the giant tables in the cafeteria and started to work. Guess they were glad I was back. Later that day, two of my most challenging reading students put extraordinary effort into tasks that are so fundamentally difficult for them. There was no resistance; only hard work. Towards the end of the day, one of my behaviorally challenged students was absolutely delightful and cooperative. I think in all the meetings and rush, rush of my job, the paperwork, the recess duties, the testing, I forget how much my work with kids means to them. I am grateful and feel fortunate and thankful that I not only enjoy my work (most of the time!) but I seem to impact the lives of many of the kids I work with in a positive way. Now, that's the way life should be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Painted Shoe Artist

Custom sneaker designer, Van Monroe, painted this shoe and became famous. This very shoe is soon to be placed in the Smithsonian's Museum of African American History and Culture. A 26 year old from Long Beach (via Cleveland), he is now in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox. He started painting shoes for friends at the University of Miami. This Obama shoe idea came to him in a dream right before he thought he was going to be evicted from his apartment. He hasn't looked back :)

Painted Shoes!

How cute are these? Just a couple of hours ago I took 37 fused glass pendants into the studio to be fired and am looking for a new project. I'm thinking about painting shoes. I was actually thinking about doing this last summer so I bought 2 pairs of Dr. Scholl's sandals. They are still sitting in the closet, but look what they might turn into :)

Little chilly for them right I'm thinking of painting tennis shoes. I have to give credit to my daughter-in-law who came over the other day in the cutest pair of sparkly cheetah high tops from zappos. And, it got me about painting tennis shoes!
And look what I found....
the Lorax hanging out on these high tops. Painting children's characters on tennis shoes...this could be a great winter project!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Dad

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. The older I get, the more I seem to reminisce around birthdays and other holidays. My mother is no longer living. Most of my blood relatives live in Idaho, my brother resides in NYC, I have a cousin in Seattle, and more family in Montana and Alabama. I miss them all a lot and rarely see any of them on a holiday anymore, but such is life. I do have a big family now in Maine (and Michigan, Florida, New Hampshire)... my husband's side of the family. I love and enjoy spending time with all of them, but, and maybe this is a strange comment, but none of them look like me.

In any event, here is a drawing of my dad when he retired at age 55 from Boeing. I have wonderful memories of the two of us, hiking around Mount Rainier, fiddling with different lenses as we took pictures of wild flowers and wildlife. I am sure I get my love of the outdoors from him because my mom hated camping and hiking. She was much more comfortable sipping coffee at a street-side cafe or going to see the latest disaster movie...hey that sounds like my brother, Mr. NYCity. I find it hard to believe that I am 55 now and thinking about retirement. It's even harder to believe that my dad has been retired for 30 years and still enjoying life tho he's more likely to read in a comfy chair these days than slip into his hiking boots and head for the hills. When I look at this drawing, sketched by a Boeing graphic artist and presented to him on his last day of work, I miss those times with my dad so many years ago and I will miss him this Thanksgiving. A phone call, or maybe a SKYPE call will have to bridge the miles between us. But, it doesn't replace being able to give him a hug after Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Football Sunday

Here's how our football Sunday went.

Grandpa snoozed.
Family snuggled.

Addie took off her shoes, dropped her pants and ran around the condo.

Brisla tumbled on the foot stool...right in front of the TV
(maybe that was when Grandpa was taking a nap).

Dan ate too much :P

We all ate ice cream!
And then Grandma went to bed...still coughing!

Tasty Tempura

天麩羅 or, tempura, was introduced to Japan in the mid-sixteenth century by early Portuguese missionaries and traders. That's a little surprising, don't you think? Most people know it's lightly fried vegetables and fish. But did you know that the word tempura comes from the word "tempora," a Latin word meaning "time period" used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or holy days when Catholics avoid meat and instead eat fish or vegetables (Wikipedia). The Compact, Online Oxford English Dictionary (the OED is the authority on these things,right?) suggests that the word comes from the Portuguese tempêro ‘seasoning’. Whatever the origins of the word (and I do love etymology), we had delicious tempura last night thanks to my step-son. He stood over a pot of boiling oil for a good hour and a half, frying up onions, broccoli, green beans, sweet potato, and other veggies that we gobbled up as fast as he could crisp them in his wok! Dipped in wasabi mayonnaise or a soy-based Asian seasoning dip or a chipotle mustard sauce....delicious! Loved it and loved getting out of the house (finally!) and enjoying time with family :) Woke up with another stuffed head and nose, but it was worth getting out and enjoying life...being sick sucks.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday Cheer

The holidays can make you mental. So many expectations. This year I am just trying to stay focused on the spirit of it all....loving and being grateful for friends and family. I'm trying to accept where everybody is at and find perfection in that. Wish me luck! hahaha

Friday, November 20, 2009

Loving My Work

Judi Bomberger metal sculpture

Having been out of work for a week I was reminded again, today, how much I enjoy my work. There are many, many parts of my day that I would categorize as my job. But not the time I spend with children. The time I spend with children is my work. And that, despite all the useless paperwork, boring and/or tense meetings, bad attitudes and constant assessments, is why I work in a public school. I worked with a student today who has had a difficult time engaging in his work. Yes, he has a serious disability but he is even more disabled by his attitude. He could care less. Today, however, he was different, probably happy his routine was back to normal because I finally showed up, but after working with him for a short time I told him, "You have really stepped up." I thought for a moment and then asked him, "What does that mean?" "It means I care and I work hard now," he told me with a big smile. Indeed, I don't just enjoy my work, often, I love it.

Thinking 'Bout New Glass!

"What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?
Herein lies the key to what you should be doing in your worldly pursuits."
Carl Jung..

I have been sick for a week. When I am sick I think..a lot. I think about my life and what I'm doing. What has occurred to me during my recent homeboundedness is that I need to find time for art. Art. My own, unique and original art, makes me happy. Color turns me on. Creating something from nothing is the deepest pleasure I feel...well, one of them, anyway :P. Being creative and working with color makes everything else fall into place for me. I have to find time for it. Make art, peace follows. It's like yoga and meditation. Carl Jung wrote that art is done for the sake of it not because you might sell it or have it judged. You create because it transforms you. You create because you need to.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Second Frost

So, I finally wandered outside today for more than 5 minutes. Although I am still coughing from whatever bronchial virus seems to have taken up house in my body, I felt the need to get some fresh air into my congested lungs. So when I let Olivia out to pee this morning, I bundled up in a winter coat and walked around our backyard for a bit. And here is what I saw. The second night of frost had laid down these silver sparkles on this deep green moss just outside my back door. What a wonder life is.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Notice of Change in Terms

Today I received a form letter from Citibank Visa. At the top, in bold, I read "Notice of Change in Terms". Hmmmm.... I was thinking. I don't owe much, I pay regularly and I have been a customer since 1985. They must be thanking me. Yep, that's what they were doing. Starting December 29, 2009 Citibank's holiday thank-you gift to me is to raise my interest rate to nearly 20% (up about 5 points). I call the company. Must be some wiggle room I think, I'm a long-time customer is excellent standing. The cheery woman on the other end of the phone tells me that, yes, indeedee there are options for me. Lucky me, I can have the interest rate slowly climb over a year vs. on the December effective date because I have been such a loyal customer for 24 years. After I tell the woman I don't know how she can work for such a company and how outraged I am and how I know that my rant means nothing I tell her that I will take the other option to freeze my current interest rate and close my account, effective the day my credit card expires, in 2013. Wow, you're luck, she tells me, you credit card expires in 4 years. Yah, I'm lucky. I also tell her that they are losing good customers, keeping the bad who have no choice. I know I'm not telling her anything she doesn't already know. And, I am actually outraged for the second time. I have already taken action with another Visa account, this one from Bank of America when they wanted to raise my rates from 8.9% to 18.9%. It's forever frozen at 8.9% and being payed it off as slowly as I can. But I'm done. I'm just not interested in funding those record Wall Street bonuses any more. And, I'm done feeling jerked around by credit card companies. My balances from now on will be paid in full or I won't buy. Better way to live, anyway.

Under Citi's proposed compensation plan, three of the company's top five executives would be paid a total of nearly $12.5 million in cash bonuses over the next five years. One of the executives, James Forese, is a co-head of Citi's Institutional Client Group, which lost $20 billion in 2008. Forese is rewarded $5 million under the plan. At least 15 other Citi executives are in line for multimillion-dollar payouts. Citi declined to say how much in total it has promised under the plan.
photo from same website

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nurse Mom

I have been sick for about 5 days...home sick. Just today I feel like I am returning from the dead and barely breathing. Still coughing from my toes, but I'm feeling better. This morning I am feeling blue and missing my mom. Say what you will about my imperfect mother, she was always there for me when I was sick. I could call her from 3,000 miles away and the caring, wonderful, kind nurse in her would step up and take care of me. Generally this was hard for her to do but not when I was sick. Here is a picture of my old room that my mom turned into her own room years after I left home. The gold, pull-out sofa belonged to my crazy grandmother and her beloved dolls and teddy bears are everywhere.

Here is the other side of my mom, in another room she made into her own. She loved the computer, watching old romantic or disaster movies and loved to sew. She did all that in this little side room. I miss our old home, which I hear has been completely remodeled and I miss my mom. Rest, drink fluids, and know I love you...that's what my mom would have told me this week were she still alive.

My mom, shortly before her death.
She had a great sense of humor.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mac-N-Cheese With Love

This weekend my wonderful husband made a huge pan of homemade, fattening mac-n-cheese...real comfort food for a sick wife's body. He asked me if I had ever heard of a mac-n-cheese recipe that included red wine and onions. Hmmm, I thought, will this be comfort food? But it was delicious! Ok, maybe it was because I couldn't taste anything with my stuffed head but, maybe not!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

For Rent

We own a couple of rentals. The income from these at some point will be our retirement. We have never had a problem filling our rentals, even in January. This year, re-renting these units has become a nightmare. Both the tenants in this duplex took advantage of Obama's $8000 incentive to become first-time home owners and vacated the building. We reduced the rent on one side by $150 and got a new tenant but the unit was vacant for a month. We reduced the rent by $100 on the other side and are........waiting. One prospective tenant e-mailed to cancel the viewing because she is allergic to cats. She drove by and saw this cute little kitty sitting on the stoop. A young couple came to look and loved it, but then offered us $200 less a month and said God would take care of them. One woman while sauntering around commented, "It's a renter's market, ya know?" She decided the place was too small. When tenants don't pay the rent/mortgage, we do and we have our own money woes at this point. We let the current tenants stay longer than their lease to be "nice". Our kindness gave them time to get into their new Obama-supported house. Probably a mistake for us. With these rentals we always need to keep in mind that they are a business. Being kind will cost us money; money that's hard to come by these days. But, maybe in the bigger scheme of things it was the right thing to do :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Flu Shot

My husband, who doesn't panic much, called me to tell me that maybe we should think about getting the flu shot. He had heard, just that day, that thousands not hundreds have died from the H1N1 virus, I called my doctor's office in a bit of a mild panic. I knew that you had to get the regular flu shot before the H1N1 vaccine. The medical receptionist promptly told me that they were no longer were giving the flu shot, they'd run out. They offered no help. They were out and too bad for me. When I asked, "So what am I supposed to do?" the woman put me on hold and returned to direct me to a couple of websites where I could enter my zip code and search for a clinic. Jesus. Then I remembered that our school nurse had sent out an e-mail a week ago, so I also knew there was a clinic of sorts in the mall. It was 5:00, the clinic closed at 7:00. I had heard somebody at work say that the wait for the flu shot was 2 hours the day before...ugh. I wondered if they would be out? I wondered if they would not give me the shot because I had a cough? When I arrived, the line was short but the scene was surreal. It seemed like something out of a syfy movie. The line wound back and forth. People waited quietly. We all filled out and signed long forms that detailed the potential side effects. The Merk employees took my insurance card. After a short time, I sat down and rolled up my sleeve. It all went easily and quickly but I was left with an uncomfortable feeling. Running to get the shot before they ran out? Thousands dying. My normally calm husband worried? The world we live in now frightens me. And, yes, the irony does not escape me....I got the flu shot on Thursday evening and was very sick Friday and today.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Wednesday I started to feel a scratchy throat. Thursday I started coughing and feeling like I was dragging a 100 pound weight around. Thursday night I felt chilled. With all the sickness going around I thought I'd better take my temperature. I didn't believe the digital display. I took my temperature 4 more times (did you know your temperature can vary 1 degree when you take it repeatedly?). Maybe the thermometer was broken I thought? I took my temperature with the old fashioned mercury thermometer I dug out of the bathroom drawer. I had, no matter how I measured it, a fever. "Fever?" I thought, "Piggy Flu!" But today I am not writhing in pain or throwing up or wishing I would die so I don't think it's H1N1. Last night I did a google search and found you can have a fever with a cold or a sinus infection. Who knew? Since I don't usually take my temperature when I'm sick I don't know if I usually get a fever when I have my yearly cold and sinus infection (which I have already had this year). In any event, given the scare these days and the directive from our school nurse to stay home if you have a I am....home, taking a fever reducer, swimming in water, coughing, and sniffling, feeling achy.....maybe I do have the flu but I'm counting on a bad cold.