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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Baking

Years ago when my son was small, he would help me bake my Christmas cookies. He would stand on a chair by the counter and hand me the ingredients and sometimes he would add them. He was better than I at using the cookie cutter, while I was better with the cookie press.
This year when I was baking for our annual Christmas Tree lighting, I had a different kind of help. Burnie decided to add his two cents.
Do you have everything that you need?

This recipe looks good. Is that enough flour?

Is that real butter?

The baking went smoothly in spite of Burnie's help and there were no leftovers to tempt me. Of course, I could make more of those Pecan Pie Bars. Yum, yum.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wolves

For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated by wolves. I just love wolves (the four legged kind). The biggest disappointment of my trips to Yellowstone and Alaska was that I never saw a wolf. I've seen them in zoos, but never in the wild.

I guess that's why I tore an article out of one of my magazines. It describes a program in Ely, Minnesota where you can learn to howl with the wolves. I checked out the website of the International Wolf Center (www.wolf.org) for more information.

I think I've found my vacation in 2010. I can join a program in Ely. This program is called, "Mush with the dogs, howl with the wolves". It sounds great. You learn to work with a dogsled team and also how to howl like a wolf.

I have to wait until 2010, even though they have room in a program in January 2009 because, quite frankly, I'm not in shape. I haven't gone to the gym in ages. I'll have to start training, particularly with weights, then I'll have to walk more and of course, lose weight. I don't want anyone doubting my ability to complete the program. I think I can do it. It sounds like a great program.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

A couple of weeks ago while I was food shopping I saw a Cornish hen for sale. I then realized that I hadn't had that in such a long time. I filed it into my memory and then last week when I saw that I had no plans for Thanksgiving, I bought one. It's the perfect size, enough for leftovers for only one day (thank goodness).


Of course, my organization and planning leave much to be desired. I had no idea how I would cook this hen. I went to my cookbook library, I have over 100 in my collection and checked out Jacques Pepin, but I couldn't find anything there. My next stop was Pam Anderson. She has several books covering the perfect recipe for.... I chose "The Perfect Recipe for Having People Over" and found Butterflied Cornish Hens with Apricot Pistachio Dressing.


The next step was to find the ingredients. I try to keep an assortment of foods on hand. I found the pistachios and I knew I had dried apricots. The big problem was apricot jam. I found a very small jar but it wasn't enough for the recipe. I knew I could substitute a different jam, but I didn't know which one to use. Then I had a bright idea. When I was in France last summer I bought a jar of mirabelle preserves. Mirabelles are a small, yellow or orange plum and they're very tasty. Since it's the same color I decided to use this substitute.


It turned out pretty well in spite of the fact that the smoke detector went off when I opened the 450 degree oven. I guess it's time to clean the oven.

I placed it on my plate with mashed potatoes and green beans, and of course a glass of Fume Blanc from Washington State.


I decided to give Crash and Burn a treat and opened a can of turkey cat food. I thought about having their food on the table, but decided against it. They ate in their usual spot and enjoyed it very much.



For dessert, I'm having a small apple pie which claims to serve four, but I'll only get two servings out of it. I had wanted to buy a pumpkin pie, but the store doesn't carry small ones, and I don't trust myself with a large pie.

It would have been great to have a houseful of company, but I have other blessings so I can't feel sorry for myself. Thanksgiving is just a day, I can be thankful for my life every day and share those days with family and friends.

Hope you had a good one.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE



FROM CRASH



FROM BURN



FROM CRASH & BURN. THIS IS HOW WE LOOK AFTER ALL THAT TURKEY
AND FROM MOM. HAVE A GOOD DAY EVERYONE.




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Medications

We have a celebrity in our community! He's a published author and a doctor. His first book, "Terminal Neglect" is a medical thriller. He came to speak at our Singles' Meeting tonight.

One of his main topics was the amount of new drugs on the market and the fact that doctors are accepting free samples from drug company sales reps and they are giving them to their patients without checking into possible side effects and interactions with other drugs. After his talk, he held a Q&A session and there were a number of good questions, but no one asked what I think is a very important one.

I had wanted to ask it, but I thought it would sound too argumentative. Later on, I asked him face to face if he thought that one of the reasons drugs are pushed through the FDA was our insistance on a "quick fix". He agreed that is one of the problems. He mentioned that on average, the people in Britain take one pill for three taken by Americans. They even have an expression, "In America, there's a pill for every ill".

It was a very interesting and informative evening. Of course, I bought the book and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Penmanship

The other day when I was signing a credit card slip the sales person commented on my neat handwriting. This is not the first time someone has made a comment like that. Way back when I was working, as I was writing a message, one of the officers said that I must have gone to Catholic school because my writing was so neat and precise.

It wasn't always like that. Back in 4A, Sister Bernadette told my parents that I had to work on my penmanship. She compared my writing with my friend Joan's so we could see how neat Joan was. I protested that while my writing wasn't that good, that was because I was lefthanded. I've seen some samples from then and it isn't that bad, but it's definitely not according to "The Palmer Method". I remember all those exercises, and sometimes I find myself doodling them.

My writing isn't always neat and precise, only when it's for public viewing. Sometimes, I find myself reverting to shorthand. That's always fun. Start writing something in script, then if someone is reading over your shoulder, start using shorthand. Confuses them every time.

Of course, now I never have to write. I type everything

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Conquering Fear

About a month ago I saw this tunnel in a pet supply store. I thought I'd give the cats a treat. It made a crinkly noise when I opened it. This scared Crash and she wanted no part of it.


She was afraid of it. Since I couldn't take it back, I had to do something to make it attractive to her. I just left it on the floor thinking she'd eventually investigate. She stayed as far away as possible. I then decided that since she likes her treats so much, I'd put them in the tunnel. She still ignored it. Then I decided to put some treats on the floor in front of the tunnel and then put the rest inside. This picqued her interest.

She actually put her head inside to eat. I kept putting more inside every day.

She finally went into the tunnel.
I don't think she really likes it, but she'll do anything for her treats.







Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shopping

Yesterday I decided it was time for my annual knife sharpening. I gathered two of them, a 10" chef's knife and a 2" paring knife.


I went to one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table, in the mall. I just love, love, love that store, but I really wish they would pick up and deliver. I always feel strange going into a mall with a 10" knife in my pocketbook. I mentioned this to the woman in the store and she said that everyone feels that way and it's the ones who don't feel strange that we have to worry about. I was prepared to leave them and come back today, but business was slow so I could wait.


I decided to wander around the store (big mistake). While wandering, I remembered that my potholders were showing signs of age. No wonder, I don't remember when I bought them. I bought two oven mitts and one two handed mitt. Then I remembered that it's cookie baking time. The cookie press I'm now using is the one my mother used, so you can imagine how old it is. I picked one up. Then the baking pans started looking good so I decided I had waited long enough and picked up my knives and paid for everything.

Then I saw that Easy Spirit was having a sale. I find it very difficult to buy shoes, so when I find a sale I jump to it. They had several pairs in my size, but I only bought two pair, at a great price.

I picked up a few cosmetics and decided that I had better go home as I had spent enough money. I would have loved to spend more time there, the stores were all having sales and they are starting to decorate for Christmas but I really don't need any more stuff.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter and Christmas

The cooler weather is finally here, and it's wonderful. Tonight, the temperature is 32 degrees so I decided to walk to my meeting at the clubhouse. It's not really far, but I've gotten into the bad habit of driving lately.

It's a beautiful night, I could almost see some stars. That's one of the things I miss most about my house upstate NY. The area was so dark that you could see so many stars, one night I even saw one of the dippers. It was wonderful. But I digress.

On my way home I passed two women coming from the parking lot. They were complaining about the cold, so I answered them the way my father always answered my complaints about the cold. "What are you going to do in the winter?" He would say that, even if it was winter.

Now that it has gotten colder, I'm looking forward to Christmas. I can hardly wait to start decorating. It's my favorite holiday. Next week we're having a tree lighting in our Clubhouse, so I have to bake some cookies for the occasion. Of course, I'll also have to sample some, just to make sure they're good. I make the most delicious butter cookies.

I've even started Christmas shopping. Let's hope I don't forget about any hidden presents this year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Smaller Cars

We've all heard how much help GM, Ford and Chrysler are asking from the government (us).
We've also heard from some members of congress of their requirements from the auto makers.

There is one stipulation that I heard today that makes no sense. It has been suggested that we need smaller, more efficient cars. The idea being that, "If you build it they will come". I don't see how that will happen.

Back in 1981 we bought a Datsun to cope with the gas crisis and cost of fuel. It was a good car. Now, with all the new safety regulations in effect, I don't see how a family could use one. As it stands now in some states, if not all, you need a well padded car seat for children up to two years of age. After two that child graduates to another car seat and then there is a booster seat for smaller children five years and up.

A two parent family with two children under five would not be able to travel together, thereby necessitating two cars and twice as much fuel consumption. Unless the small cars are larger than our Datsun was, there wouldn't be enough room for two car seats in the back, along with the other gear needed for travel with children, i.e., toys, snacks, blankets, etc.

There was a time when I felt that a large car such as an SUV was unnecessary until I saw my niece and nephew travel about 30 miles with their two children. You need that room in the back, if for no other reason than to give the children a little elbow room in their car seats.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in all the safety measures for children, but you can't squeeze them into a subcompact car. Families won't buy sub or compact cars, there simply isn't enough room for a family with small children. It won't work with older children either, have you ever tried to fit two teenagers or one teenager and one adult into the back seat of a subcompact or compact car? It's not a pretty sight.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Million Dollar Challenge

Today was the start of CNBC's Million Dollar Portfolio contest. I registered early and as a result received an addition al $5,000.00. I have five portfolios, each worth $1,005,000.00. Now all I have to do is pick some winning stocks. I'm very disappointed because, for some reason, they won't accept my favorite stock - Brown Forman.

Trading started today, but I forgot to make any purchases until late in the day, and they won't be added to my portfolio until tonight. Oh well, maybe I'll get them at a cheaper price. Last year, I sort of lost interest as the weeks went on and my stocks lost value. Hope I can stay with it this year.

It's very exciting and the best part of all is it's all pretend. I get to use my imagination and whims to pick stocks. I can't lose. It's all play money, although it would be nice to have that much real money to play with.

I can dream, can't I.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home Improvement

Today I was watching one of those home improvement shows (always a danger for me) and I saw a bathroom with a doube sink. There was nothing on the counter except a plant, an orchid I believe, between the two sinks. It looked very nice.

Then I went into my bathroom and looked at my sink. I have all the necessities of life right out there on the counter. My make-up, creams, moisturizers, comb, brushes, etc. It looked so cluttered.

I decided to do something about it and put everything away. I've always left everything out as a convenience, after all, it's so much work to open a drawer and take out a brush or comb. The creams and moisturizer are left out to remind me to use them. I guess though if I forgot, my tight face and hands would remind me. When it was cleared off, it looked like this.



Then I decided to try putting a plant there. I tried several.


I can't decide which would look better. Any plant would thrive in the bathroom since I get a lot of light and the dampness and steam from my shower would keep it moist.
On the other hand, maybe a simple candle would look good there.
Or, I could just keep it empty and enjoy the novelty of it.










Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rubber Ducks as Science?

Yesterday I saw another article in my favorite newspaper, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. This was an article on science and its use of the yellow rubber duck.

When scientists wanted to probe under Greenland's glaciers they wondered what might endure subzero cold, the pressure of mile thick ice and currents that sometimes exceed the flow rate of Niagara Falls. The purpose of this project was to learn how rising temperatures may be undermining Greenland's ice cap where according to satellite measurements, glaciers are melting much faster than expected. Dr. Behar of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory had a tight budget and discovered one thing that might survive such conditions - a two dollar rubber duck. As a result, he and his colleagues at the University of Colorado released 90 yellow rubber ducks in the melt water that was flowing down a chasm in the largest of Greenland's glaciers which has been thinning rapidly since 1997. Each duck is imprinted with an email address and, in three languages, the offer of a reward. If all goes well, Dr. Behar hopes that one day they will emerge 30 miles or so away at the glacier's edge in the open water of Disko Bay.

In this era of billion dollar space telescopes, gene machines and city size particle accelerators, some scientists have to make do with tub toys and beer bottles and wooden tops set adrift around the world to solve questions of oceanography, glaciology and global warming.

This science was accidentally launched in 1992 when a storm washed a shipment of plastic ducks, turtles and frogs from a cargo container. As they washed ashore, some thousands of miles from the original spillage, scientists realized they could trace the toys back to the launch point, documenting previously unsuspected ocean currents.

Another scientist Dr. Das reported that she had seen one large glcial lake drain in 90 minutes through a fracture that split the ice 90 meters down to bedrock. Scientists suspect that these sub-glacial floods lubricate the bedrock under the ice sheets of Greenland and Antartica like a water slide and accelerate the rate at which glaciers flow to the sea and break apart. She decided to pour a non-toxic red dye into the melt water and expected it to come out into the bay in a day, or possibly half a week later. For a week she and her students cruised back and forth across Disko Bay with a sensor able to detect microscopic traces of the chemical. They never found it.

As more research is done on the mechanics of Greenland's glaciers, it is becoming obvious that the sub-surface water slide created by so much melting ice may be a short-lived seasonal effect. The glaciers speed up in the summer, but slow down in the fall. If this is true, there may be little risk that the ice sheet will collapse, at least not for the forseeable future.

Meanwhile, Dr. Behar seeks his wayward flock, submerged in currents of climate change. He also tossed into the melt water a small metal tube stuffed with sensors, including a satellite modem. It too has yet to turn up. Right now all Dr. Behar sees is water going into a big hole. They have no idea what it's like down there.

Maybe, just maybe the Loch Ness Monster is having a grand old time with all those little rubber duckies.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making Do

I have a terrible habit of "making do" and it leads to much inconvenience.

About three weeks ago the lightbulbs in my garage both blew out. I bought one of those poles that attach to a light bulb to change them and changed one bulb. When I was working on the other, the whole fixture dropped from the ceiling. It was only about four inches from the ceiling and all the wires seemed to be attached, so I left it that way.

Unfortunately, I now had no light in the garage. For three weeks I either walked around in the dark or left the laundry room door open to give a little light, or I opened the garage door and used that light. Finally this week I decided to do something about it.

I called one electrician and left my number. I'm still waiting for his callback. The second electrician called back within two hours and came to the house three hours later. It took about five minutes to put the fixture back and tighten the other bulb. With a senior discount, the bill was $75.00. I then asked about the ground fault outlet for my refrigerator and he offered to give me a single outlet for the refrigerator. I was willing to wait a week or so for this to be done, but he offered to do it today for an additional $50.00. Of course I accepted.

Now I don't have to worry about losing any food if we have a power failure while I'm away and can't reset the switch.

All of this could have been cleared up if I didn't "make do". There is not always virtue in doing so. When will I ever learn.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Irish Show

Today a group of us from the community went to an Irish restaurant (Doolans) on the Shore for lunch and a show. We expected it to be a quick luncheon and short show. Boy, were we wrong.

The food was very good. We had soup, salad, an entree and dessert. Since this was an Irish place, I opted for the corned beef and cabbage which was very good except the slices were too thin for me. I like my corned beef sliced thick.

After lunch we had a sing-along led by Mike Byrne. There were a few Irish songs which I knew, but there were more that I didn't. Listening to "McNamara's Band" and "It's a Great Day for the Irish" brought me back to those days at St. Sylvester's when we would prepare for St. Patrick's Day by learning those songs. We were a little disappointed with the sing-along because we originally expected a little skit and thought it had been cancelled.

After about 1 1/2 hours the skit started. The premise is that a matchmaker, Mary Fitzpatrick, joins three couples after finding out about each of them. Each member has a little time to tell a story or two and sing a song - usually an Irish song. They were all pretty good, but one member of the group was exceptional. He did a rendition of "Danny Boy" that was equal to any I've heard on TV. All the members of the troupe were family, quite a talented family.

It was a fun afternoon - good food, good music, good comedy and good performances. A day well spent.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Memories

Today's WALL STREET JOURNAL had an interesting article on memory. In a nutshell, this article stated that it is good to forget some things.

Can you imagine how you would feel if you remembered every day of your life. We all remember highlights of our lives, some of us remember more than others. I've always taken pride in my memory. My head is full of all sorts of trivia, and also some important things.

My earliest memory is of being in our kitchen and sitting on the back of our dog, a black mutt called imaginatively Blackie. I must have been about 2 since we moved from that apartment when I was 4 and there was no sign of a dog and I don't think my mother wouldn't have let me sit on the dog if I was too big. There are so many other early memories, but I won't bore you with them, and some that are associated with milestones - first day of school, first Communion, apartment hunting, moving, etc.

While my memory is very good, there are some things I must have forgotten. I had a good childhood, there are few bad memories, I must have erased them from my brain. Some that have stayed are times I was sick, when I fell carrying a bottle of milk and scarred my knee.

If your memory isn't too good, there are ways to help you remember the small details of each day. You could keep a journal recording your activities, take photographs and label them instead of piling them in a box.

Just remember, you may be better off not remembering the little things. You're leaving room for the important things.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miscellaneous Thoughts

All day today I've had wonderful ideas for topics for tonight. Unfortunately, I've had several senior moments because I've forgotten all of them. I must write them down in the future.

I do have one follow-up on my adventures in driving. When I was playing around with the buttons for the radio, I managed to change the language for the navigation system. I can now be directed anywhere in French. Oh why didn't I keep up with my cd's and learn French before my last trip. The manual is not an interesting read. I'd much rather read James Patterson or Nelson deMille (who has a new book out), or Bill O'Reilly or Dick Morris or, well you get the point.

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a website devoted to East New York and City Line in Brooklyn. It's very interesting, I managed to spend about 2 hours checking out all the old pictures.

I've joined a creative writing group in the community. It won't start until January, but it should be fun.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sarah Palin

I'm very disappointed in John McCain.

Maybe I'm naive in the ways of politics, and maybe my memory is bad, but I don't remember there being so many "anonymous" comments blaming the vice presidential nominee for the loss of the presidential election. I don't know how correct these comments are, but only a sore loser would blame someone else for his loss.

This is where I find fault with John McCain. If these comments are wrong, he should insist that the anonymous source come forward and apologize to Sarah Palin. If these comments are correct, Sen. McCain should step up and admit that he made a mistake in his choice of a vice presidential nominee.

I know Sarah Palin does not need a defender, but someone should take responsibility for these comments.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Family

Today I went to a baby shower for my niece's son's wife. I guess that makes her my grandniece-in-law.

It was a fun day and it was great to see all my nieces and their grown daughters. It's so hard to realize that all those little girls I knew so long ago are now mothers with grown daughters. It looks like there will be many more such parties in the future.

Baby gifts have certainly changed. This new baby received many very nice gifts, among them Ralph Lauren outfits, Tommy Hilfiger shoes (whatever happened to Carter's) and something I had never seen before - a cloisonne egg for her first haircut. It was really very cute. Of course there were the usual dresses, blankets, bath sets, etc. I had fun last week shopping for a gift, I just kept putting things into my shopping cart - pajamas, blankets, books.

There were a few games, but one guessing game that I just realized they never told us the results. They passed around five jars of baby food and we were supposed to taste and identify the contents by smell. Some of us had a hard time identifying by smell, so we decided to taste. Even then we all couldn't agree on which was which. I think my one sister-in-law wanted to eat the whole jar. That one had to be fruit, the vegetables were never that good.

It was a fun day and it's always great when the family gets together. In spite of their idiosyncrasies, they are a great bunch of in-laws. We all agreed we should get together more, especially for happy times. The unspoken words were that we're all getting older.

Hmm, think I'll plan a Christmas party.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

'Tis a Puzzlement

Since the election and hearing the breakdowns of how people voted, I have a question. Can anyone out there in bloggerland explain the following. When 95% of black people voted for Obama, that was a good thing. However, if 95% of white people didn't vote for Obama and had voted for McCaibn, that would be racist.

Maybe I'm not too bright, but I don't understand.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election

I was very disappointed with the election results. I had wanted John McCain to win, and towards the end I thought he really had a chance. There was one bright spot in this election though. I learned today that I live in a red community. Our community gave John McCain about 60 more votes than it gave Barack Obama.

Now, we can just sit back and see if any of the pre-election promises will become facts. I did hear on the TV today that there is one promise that will definitely be kept. It seems that Barack Obama promised his girls that if he won the election they would get a puppy. I'm sure he won't be able to disappoint his girls.

Now let's see what he does for the rest of us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NYC Marathon

About 25 or so years ago, I thought it might be fun to run a marathon. I kept that idea in the back of my head for many years, but as I got older and I realized how much training was involved, I woke up and decided that my dream of becoming a marathoner should stay just that - a dream.

On Friday I read an article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL about a woman who was competing in her 21st consecutive NYC marathon. She's my new hero. Her name is Joy Johnson.

She started running at age 58. She's a retired gym teacher and her goal this year was to run the race in less than six hours. Unfortunately, it took her six hours, five minutes and 58 seconds. Last year she finished in almost seven hours and decided that it was too long to be on the road, so she decided to train harder. During the summer, she ran 50 to 55 miles each week instead of 30 to 35. She rises at 4:00 AM in San Jose, CA, reads her Bible for an hour and then sets out on her pre-dawn run.

She has sturdy, pointed shoulders, smooth tan skin that resembles soft leather and a leggy, slim-waisted figure many younger women would kill for.

Did I mention that she's 81 years old?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Car Problems

You know those old expressions, "You can never find a taxi in the rain", and "You can never find a policeman when you need one"? Well, I have another, "You can never find a traffic jam or red light when you need it".



Yesterday, there was a delay on the bridge so I changed the station on the radio to get a traffic report. When I tried to go back to the original station, I couldn't find it, or worse find out how to get there. I hit all the buttons. I think I got some FM stations, some other band, and the CD I had in the player. I just couldn't find my original station, so I listened to my CD for the third time. Finally, when I got to my destinatiion I was able to find the manual and find out to go there.



Later that day, I noticed that my seat was getting hot. I have heated seats in this car. Last week I checked the manual and turned the heater on. Yesterday, I couldn't turn it off. Again, I had to wait until I got home to look at the controls and turn the heater off.



Maybe I wouldn't have so much trouble with this new car if I would just read the manual in the beginning.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Parade

Last night I went to a Halloween Party. This is becoming an annual event. The hostess, a friend of a friend of mine told me that it is a lifetime invitation. I can come any time.

The party celebrates the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. This friend has an apartment overlooking the route of the parade. There were fewer sponsors this year so the parade was shorter than usual. As usual, it starts with marchers carrying tall skeletons. There were several bands and marchers.

But the real show is the parade watchers. There we saw an assortment of butterflies, fairies and other winged characters. There was the usual Marilyn Monroe, along with many doctors and nurses.

The party was a success, not too many people, but very interesting people, even though we disagreed politically. Among the guests were an actress (not very well known), a lyricist who is trying to get a show produced. I tried to get some pictures, but it was too dark outside, everything was a blur.

Of course, we took the subway. The ride into the city was uneventful, but on the return trip, many streets were closed and we had to walk quite far. Then on the train, we saw many partygoers returning home. There was one man who was travelling along, and I thought it took guts to ride the subway dressed as a jester. Good for him.

I must add that the police did a wonderful job maintaining order during and after the parade and even though we had a long walk to the subway. Immediately after the last parader went buy, the sanitation department was out in full force cleaning the street. When they were through you would never have known there was a parade.