There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blood Donation

Last week I received a call from a local politiian's office asking me to donate blood. Today I took a ride to our municipal offices and gave that blood. It's rather easy, but the procedure certainly has changed over the years.

When I was working, all we had to do was show ID and answer a few questions. Today I had to read about four pages of information, restrictions and the importance of diversity in blood donations. After I finished reading, I was sent to another station.

There I had to show my ID, repeat my name and address and read more information sheets. Then came the hardest part - the finger test. On the first try my count was only 11.something. The minimum count accepted was 12.something. I was given the option of trying again in another finger and miraculously my count became 13.something. After taking my pulse and blood pressure, which was very good considering my age and weight I was left alone at the computer to answer several questions. I gave all the right answers, signed my test and went to the next station to give my blood.

Here I again had to verify my name, first and last. Usually the technician has a very hard time finding my vein, but this woman was good. She found it right away. I don't think I'll have a bruise.

Then, of course, it was time for the best part - the cookies. While I was eating cookies and drinking water I overheard some potential donors.

It seems that the township employees could give blood only if they did it on their lunch hour. That is terrible. Since the need for blood is so great, employers should make it easier for their employees to donate. When I was working, we gave during working hours with no restrictions on the time we were away from the office.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Single Travler Problem

I had signed up for a trip to Italy and a Mediterranean cruise to some Greek Islands. The trip was scheduled to start April 30 and I planned to make it a birthday gift to me. I was so looking forward to it. I must add that I prefer to room by myself on a trip.

Last week I received a call from the tour company that this particular tour was being cancelled due to lack of interest, but there was another trip planned for May 7. I said, I would be interested in this trip. Today I got another call from the tour company. It seems that the company is not interested in booking a single cabin. So I cancelled my reservation and will receive a full refund. I consoled myself with the thought that I'm taking another cruise in October. This will be a river cruise on the Rhine from Strasbourg to Amsterdam. Initially, I had the same problem with this cruise, the company did not want to book a single cabin. But they relented.

As a single traveler, I am willing to, and do, pay a lot more money than a couple would on a per person basis. I accept that and it is the price I pay for my privacy.

I thought we were in a recession and the travel industry has been hit hard by this reession. What I can't understand is why a company, any company, is reluctant to book a single cabin for about 75% of the fee they might get if two people, each paying the person rate, stayed in that same cabin. For example, if the rate is $1000 per person based on two people in the room (total cost $2000), I would pay $1750.00 for my single room. In these tough times, I would think that a company would take the definite booking and not wait and take a chance on booking two people who might not take the trip.

I just don't understand it. I must be missing something.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good News

Was anyone watching the TV last Friday afternoon? That was the day of the dog rescue. I was glued to the TV. I cringed with every slip the dog made. I was afraid he wouldn't make it and we would see him swept away in the water.

Congratulations to the men of the rescue squad. The man who actually saved the dog was amazing. He also showed a lot of understanding with the dog. He realized the dog would be terrified, after all he was wet, cold and then this huge noisy thing was kicking up the water and then this strange man swooped down and picked him up and he was flying through the air and into that noisy bird. No wonder he bit his rescuer.

I was glad to hear the next day that everyone was fine and that there have been over 1000 requests to adopt the little critter. Wouldn't it be great if anyone who did not adopt this dog would go ahead and adopt another dog from a shelter.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

THE OFFICE, PART II

Today has been spent in the office again. First, I had to check on my stock. That was a BIG mistake. It's been a very bad week on Wall Street. Then I checked my TO BE DONE list for the past week and plan the next week. Not surprisingly, I didn't accomplish all I wanted last week. Maybe this week will be better.

Then it was back to organizing/cleaning the office. Unfortunately, this room doesn't get cleaned that often. It's not dirty, just cluttered and FULL OF CAT HAIR. I swear I could make three other cats from all the fur flying around here. Everything I touch is full of hair.

After I swept the floor, again, it was time to tackle the bookcases. I have three - two with five shelves and one with only three shelves. That certainly seems like enough. Not for me though. I have books behind books, most of which I have read and could be given away, but the others are "keepers". It's time to purge these books. Right now I have put about seven aside for our library, I also found one that I've had for ages, but have not read. That had to go to a bookcase in my bedroom. See, I'm really trying to get organized. "To Be Read" goes in my bedroom, "Read" go in the office or a bookcase shared with my cookbooks. Honestly, sometimes I think my collecting books is a sickness. I'm addicted to books.

The only thing that makes this job relatively pleasant is music. Yes, I'm listening to my i-tunes, again a LARGE and eclectic collection from classical to rock. There I was blissfully listening to my music when the peace was shattered by Burnie's knocking one of my African violets to the floor, and the resulting sickness after he eats the plant.

When will this cat ever learn. It's a vicious cycle - he eats the plant, he gets in trouble, he regurgitates the plant. Even rats learn not to eat something after it makes them sick.

After I finished cleaning the floor, I realized that at 2:30 PM, I had forgotten to eat lunch and I wasn't even hungry. That hasn't happened in a very, very long time. So much for work. The mood has been broken.




Friday, January 22, 2010

THE OFFICE

This morning I got up very early and went to check my e-mail and read the blogs. Then I realized that I was tired. Not sleepy tired, tired of the way my office looked. I've reached the point with this office that I close the door whenever people are expected. I'm embarrassed to have anyone see it.

Right after breakfast I decided to devote an hour to cleaning and filing. But, before that I had to check my mail again, then see what's new on Facebook and add some comments. Then, of course, I had to see what was going on in Woodhaven (my old home) and send a comment on that. Well, that took 45 minutes. I didn't have much time to clean.

I decided to forget any other plans I may have had for today. I tackled my desk first, filed some papers, put newspapers on the recycling pile. Then I saw the folder of assorted cards. They were going into a drawer (properly labeled of course). If the cards were loose in the drawer, they might get separated from their envelopes. Off to the kitchen to get my freezer bags. I labeled each bag for the type of card, separated the cards and put them away.

On another note, I just love my labelmaker. My son gave it to me several years ago and I use it constantly. It's great, I just type whatever I want and print it out. I never use the labels that come with file folders, they're too much trouble. I hope they never stop making the size of tape that Iuse.

My desk is now relatively clear. Now I'll be able to scan more pictures. I keep finding more pictures that need to be scanned.

I'm not anywhere near having a clean office, but it is better. Once I get the floor cleared off, I can start working on the closet where I have great plans. I want to put shelves in there and store my supplies, games, etc.

This is an ongoing project. But, I do believe I put a big dent in it. All I need is a few more days like today and it will definitely be "company ready".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baking and Self Control

It all started at Christmas with the three batches of cookies that I baked. What's unusual about that is, I usually bake six batches and only three would make it to Christmas. I was so proud of myself for not taking two or three each time I passed the box of cookies.

Then there was the cake I made for our Christmas dinner. Again, I rationed myself and only ate a small amount.


It was the same with the brownies. They even got a little stale before I finished them.

Armed with my new found self-control, Sunday I baked a Country Apple Cake from a cookbook by Linda Collister, Muffins and Other Morning Bakes . It was delicious and it took me three days to finish it. That's only because, the recipe said it would keep for three days and I couldn't let it get stale.

Today, I'm still in my baking mood. I had some bananas that were looking very unappetizing so I found a recipe for Banana Pecan Bread. It is delicious.

This baking I'm doing can't be all bad. After all, I'm using fruit. Which reminds me of a woman I knew when I went to Weight Watchers many, many years ago. She came to a meeting and proudly told us she had had blueberries several times that week. After we congratulated her, she admitted that they were attached to muffins.

I just hope I can keep this self-control. I'd hate to find the five pounds that I lost before Christmas. Now, I wonder what I can do with the oranges and tangerines in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Heat

I've mentioned before that I've been having a problem with my heat. Sometimes it just shuts off and I have to keep shutting it off and turning it on to restart it. I've had it checked out and they can't find anything wrong with it.

Last Saturday I again woke up without heat. I should have known there was no heat before I got up because I had had a wonderful night's sleep. I sleep much better when it's cold. Before my recent problem with heat I lowered the temperature to 64 degrees. Now I don't dare touch the thermostat. But I digress.

My point here is this. The plumber was here for about an hour trying to find the problem. He would off the heat, then turn it on several times. Sometimes it would restart, sometimes it doesn't. The plumber finally got it to stay on and left. You can imagine my surprise when I answered the phone the next day. It was the plumber asking if everything was OK and if I still had heat.

Such good service!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Applause

Tonight I'm watching the Golden Globe Awards show. I don't know why since I hardly recognize some of the presenters or winners.

There is one thing I've noticed at this show and other awards shows that really irks me. When the nominees are being announced and the camera pans to that person, I get very annoyed when I see them applauding themselves. Yes, they should applaud the competition, but not themselves. That's saying, "I'm so good".

I know you have to have a bit of an ego in show business, but you should be a little discreet about showing it.

So much for my soapbox tonight.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Words

Recently Lake Superior State University in Michigan published its list of words that should be banished from the language for mis-use, over-use and general uselessness. Some of these words or phrases are

Shovel-Ready

Transparent/Transparency

Czar

Sexting

Friend as a verb

I would like to add my own word to this list - government, when it has to do with spending money. Too many people believe that "government money" just appears. They don't stop to think or wonder where the money comes from. Don't they realize that it comes from us? All the money that the government spends comes from us, the taxpayers and our children and grandchildren and probably even our great-grandchildren.

Therefore I propose that when speaking of government spending, it should be rephrased as taxpayer spending. Maybe when we taxpayers realize that government spending is truly taxpayer spending, we will be able to remove from office all the government spenders.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dreams

Today I watched one of my favorite movies, The Unfinished Dance, starring Margaret O'Brien. She was one of my favorites when I was a little girl. I believe this movie also introduced me to classical music. I still remember the summer night (a big treat) I saw the movie at the Embassy Theater in Brooklyn. It was always a treat to go to the Embassy, which was a step up from the other theater, the Gem, where we usually saw our movies. But I digress.

I remember walking ahead of my family and trying all the pirouettes and other steps I had seen Margaret doing. It didn't matter that she caused a dancer to be injured so that her favorite would take over the lead. I wanted to take ballet lessons and be a ballerina just like her and wear a tutu and toe shoes. For years I tried standing on my toes in regular shoes, not at all easy. I even tried to see how high I could lift my leg as if on a barre. In my 50's I even tried a ballet exercise tape. Boy was I sore just from trying the basic positions.

When I learned that Joanne Woodward took up ballet at middle age, I thought maybe I should do it too. But then reality struck and I decided against it for many reasons, one of which is the fact that I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, a big drawback for a dancer.

Now I must content myself to watching the ballet and dreaming.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Money-Making Scheme

The president has come up with a money-making scheme that even the brightest Mafia loansharks never conceived.

Late last year and early this year, the government (taxpayers) loaned money to banks under TARP. Many of those banks have repaid the money with interest and before it was due. The government (taxpayers) also loaned money to and bailed out the auto companies.

The president today took time away from the armtwisting for votes for healthcare to come up with this latest scheme. ALL of the largest banks, whether or not they took TARP money, are going to receive a special tax, even if the recipients of the TARP money repaid the loan. However, the auto companies who were bailed out and received loans will not be taxed. Could that be because the unions of those companies gave the president their full support for his election?

Even though the loans were repaid with interest and this tax will go to the government, I doubt if the taxpayers will ever see any of this money again. The president will probably give it to some of his other supporters.

Something just doesn't seem right about that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Burnie here.
This has been quite a week. Mom has been busy taking away all our fun stuff. First she took all those nice hanging things from the tree. Then she even took away the tree. I really liked that tree, it was so nice laying under it and playing with all the hanging things. She put all those silver candles away, I had so much fun pushing them around and getting mom all nervous.

There were all those boxes around, I couldn't decide which one I liked best. I wanted to jump into one and go to sleep, but she kept putting stuff into them. Then she went back and forth to the very cold garage with the boxes.

Now that all the toys are away, I have nothing to play with. I just don't understand why I can't eat the plants, or even keep warm by sleeping on the TV tuner.

I tried telling her I was bored, but all she did was feed me. I guess she felt guilty. The food was OK, but I really wanted attention.

I kept meowing and she finally gave in and played flashlight with me. I chased the light around for a while then decided it was time for a nap.

When I woke up, all the toys were still gone. Guess I'll have to find more tomorrow. Now where did I put that mouse? Or the ball?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cooking

I've always thought that a good cook/chef was one who used a recipe as a guide or suggestion. A good cook is one who can take a piece of meat or special vegetable and build a meal around it without consulting a cookbook or any of its recipes.

Ever since I started cooking as a young teenager, I've always needed a recipe. I could never rely on my imagination. That's why, I believe, I'm a good baker. If you're baking, it is very important that you stick to the recipe.

Lately, I've tried experimenting and have had some success with my meals. Because of these small successes I tried something different today. I had a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix and a bottle of raspberry extract. Since chocolate and raspberries go well together, I decided to try adding the extract to the mix. Everything turned out well, but I think I could have used a little more than a teaspoon of extract. Next time I'll try orange extract.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Throw or not to Throw

Like many people of my generation I was raised to waste not, or maybe this is just an excuse for my not throwing anything away.

Today, I finally started dismantling the Christmas tree and all the decorations. At the start, I decided that I would throw out some of the old garlands and other decorations that I haven't used in years. When I started going through some of the boxes, I just couldn't. Maybe, just maybe, I'll find a use for them in future years, although I really doubt it.

For the time being, the garlands will stay. Maybe if I watch an episode or two of that show about hoarders I'll be inspired to get rid of those things I haven't used in about 10 years.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's a Miracle!

Lately I've been having trouble with my heat. The first time it went out I needed a part. Then it was good for a while. Last week it went out again. This time, the plumber couldn' t find anything wrong. He suggested that if it went out again, I should turn it off and on several times since that was what he did.

Late yesterday afternoon it went out again. I tried switching it off and on, but this time it didn't work. The plumber came last night and found a loose connection and fixed it. After a good nights sleep, I discovered the reason - the temperature inside the house was 57 degrees. No heat again. I tried turning it on and off, but nothing happened.

I hated calling the plumber because I had plans for today, but I called anyway. I put the fireplace on and started my morning chores. While I was waiting for the plumber I started getting warmer. I just assumed it was because I was running around doing dishes and getting ready to go out.

Then I decided to check the thermostat and found that it was up to 67 degrees. Suddenly, the heat came back on. I called the plumber and cancelled. I think he was relieved.

I was late for my writing group meeting, but I was able to make it to the brunch with my artist and writing friends and had a wonderful time.

So far tonight, I have heat, although at times I do feel a little chilled. I have plans for tomorrow, but none for Friday so I hope it stays OK until at least Friday. I just hate to cancel plans to wait for the plumber. On Friday, I have to stay home anyway to take all my Christmas decorations down and put them away until December.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Handy Andy?

About two months ago I went tankless. My old water heater was four years old and I worried that it might break and I would have 75 gallons of water all over the house. This new heater takes some getting used to, but so far it's working out well. It's a small box that sits on the wall and doesn't start to heat the water until I turn on the faucet. It's supposed to save energy and water.

The only problem I have with my house is the lack of storage. Now that I don't have that 75 gallon water heater sitting in my laundry room, I have room for a cabinet. The other day I ordered a utility cabinet that had to be assembled. I decided that I could do that.

Tonight I decided to do the assembly work, since I want to play with my new toy. I opened the box, checked to see that I had the right number of sides, doors, shelves. I took each set out and kept the pieces together. Then I started looking for the directions and couldn't find any. I called the store and they said they would put a set aside for me for tomorrow. Of course, I'm very impulsive and couldn't wait. After all, what is a cabinet but a box with doors and shelves.

I started putting it together. It was so easy, I just snapped the sides into the bottom, snapped the doors onto the bottom, and slid the back into place. Then I put the top on the other sides and doors. Everything was going well until I tried to snap the top and sides onto the bottom and sides. It didn't fit. I realized that I should have put the sides and doors onto the bottom set and slid the back into place. The top should have gone on last.

Oh well! I struggled some more, took it apart wherever I could. Finally everything fell into place. While I was resting on my laurels I discovered that I had not slid the back into the top half. Since the cabinet will be in the laundry room and not seen by anyone but me I decided to let it be. After all, if it's against the wall, why does it need a back.

I took a break and then saw a sheet of blue paper on the floor. Surprise! Surprise! It was the directions. Evidently, it had been between the shelves and fell to the floor without my noticing. If I had only separated the pieces instead of just counting them, I would have saved myself a lot of time and aggravation. Oh, and I also have two small pieces left over.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha

Tonight I went to a demonstration of Laughter Therapy. I was "interesting". We did a series of exercises to loosen us up.

It started with rhythmic clapping while saying "ho, ho, ha, ha,ha" That wasn't too bad, at least until we had to clap in rhythm while walking. I can't walk and clap at the same time. I'm not very coordinated. Then we practiced breathing where we bent down, inhaled while getting up, raising our hands above our heads and exhaling. I'm pleased and proud to say that while bending, I was able to touch the floor with my fingertips. I still have some flexibility. Yay!

The next step was to laugh while greeting others in the group. This was followed by pretend scolding while laughing; then apology while laughing.

It was quite an adventure. Can you just picture about 80 women standing in a circle and laughing or clapping. I'd say it was a once in a lifetime adventure. Once is enough.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shopping

Today I was wandering around our local Target looking for Vaseline. Do you realize how hard it is to find such a simple beauty aid? I had read that it is good for dry nails and cuticles which is my currnt problem. I finally found it.

Then while I was looking for some emery boards I heard a mother and her little girl who was probably only 2 years old. The little one was checking out nail polishes and chattering with her mother. Suddenly she heard a baby crying. Of course, she had to tell her mother that the baby was crying and her mother agreed. Then this little child said, "How sad". It was so cute.

This little 2 year old was so well behaved and articulate. I haven't seen a 2 year old so articulate since my son was that age. I told the mother that she must spend a lot of time speaking with her child. A child that well behaved, aticulate and observant must be raised by stay at home mom.

It must be a sign of age, but I find myself talking more and more with fellow shoppers, giving hints about products, the futility of carefully selecting cat food and commenting on the good behavior of their children. When I was younger, I certainly would not have offered my opinion to a perfect stranger.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Desserts

I had this idea for a dessert for Christmas. I had seen it in a magazine, although I don't remember which one. I planned on making a square cake, frost it white and then cross it with red "ribbons" making it look just like a present. In my mind, it was spectacular.

Then reality hit. After all the preparations, I was tired. Too tired to stand there and flatten several Twizzler into ribbon shapes. Suddenly, that great idea seemed like too much trouble. I still wanted to do more than a simple white frosting on the cake. I then got the idea to use the green tree-shaped cookies. I put them on the cake back-to-back. I rummaged through my baking supplies' drawer and found a package of snowman topped toothpicks which I then put on the cake. I finished with a tree shaped cookie on each side of the cake.



If I must say so myself, it turned out quite well and it was delicious too.