Rabu, 30 September 2009

Secret Life

Everyone who has cared for a deceased person knows that sometimes mail still is sent to that person.

If my dad were alive he would be celebrating his 99th birthday in a couple of weeks. He passed away almost 3 years ago, bless his heart. He really had planned to get to 100.

His secret life must have worn him down. I'm not talking about the poetry he wrote during WWII and tucked away for decades. This is not about the quiet good samaritan acts he performed. I can't write about how he helped the kids at his school; he didn't talk much about it.

No, this is about what came in the mail for him this week. It's addressed to him but at our address as once he was in the nursing home that was just easier for us - handling insurance, Social Security, retirement stuff. But this - THIS is a birthday card/wish, with a gift card worth $10 and hopes that he'll be making a purchase soon.

It's from Victoria's Secret! Wouldn't the executive who purchased that mass marketing mailer list be thrilled to learn the value of the names on it?

Or, and this is just to make you smile, maybe my dad took this secret to the grave with him.

Selasa, 22 September 2009

Holy Moly - How Time Flies

All right I've been remiss in posting ANYTHING. Keeping up with email has been a challenge - all Animal Protective League related. Geez and Wow. Go figure!

But the amazing story is how time has flown since the Vietnam War. As it turns out, Ed's brother spent 43 years there. Well, that's what our government thinks. See, he's had to contact the administration - a division long in existence - and has been informed that there is no proof he ever returned from Vietnam 42 years ago, having put in his one year of duty there.

Of course we were all surprised, the least of all not him and his wife. Think of the problems that arise. First, the whole marriage and home ownership thing - who's been doing that in his name? But there's more to consider - What if he voted for someone while reportedly not here and it changed the outcome of the election? And then, what if that someone proposed and got passage on a law, just a local one, that, oh, made a $1,000,000 difference in the town's income or expense in the last 4 some decades? Personally, who have we been buying Christmas presents for? Why didn't the government contact his family (us) to find out if we'd heard from him or tell us where they thought he was or that he wasn't back? Do we ask for a DNA test?

Turns out my husband has to write a letter vouching for him, saying how it is he knows that his brother has been back all this time. Lucky for the younger one that his older brother also came back and is known to have come back so he can write the letter.

What do you do if/when this happens? Do you wonder if you're really alive - ask yourself if all that is in your memory bank really happened? Do you tell anyone you owe money to that you can't possibly be in debt to them since you're not here? Do you tell the government you'll be stopping by to collect the backpay for the past 42 years when you were in the jungle?

Sometimes the system works. Sometimes it swallows us up. Sometimes it just makes us laugh.

Welcome home, D. Let us know when the big parade is!

Kamis, 17 September 2009

Brew's Camping Trip Around the Olympic Peninsula

Last week, Kevin and Steve rode around the Olympic Peninsula. I was to follow in the Sienna van with all of their gear. At the last minute, I decided that Brew should come along so I switched vehicles and reloaded all the gear and Brew into the Get Away Van. Brew had a grand time - lots of new smells and things to see as well as bark at. Here are pixs of Brew on the trip

Sabtu, 05 September 2009

Taking To The Road

We were up and out of town like bandits this a.m. Stealing time for ourselves. The dogs were outside, inside, outside again and then dispersed to where each would luxuriate in comfort while we were gone.

Our drive was on the back roads (2 laners) to Nauvoo. Saw some nice rolling hill country in western IL - a treat to flatlanders such as we. Our destination was Nauvoo, over on the MISS-ISS-IPP-I. Luck would have it today was grape stomp festival day but we missed the 10k race. Darn that. And, no one appeared to be stomping grapes at all. Modern day festivals seem to hold on to titles even when they are no longer associated with old activities. There was a big flea market going on and from the road we could tell we could pass it up.

We went around the historic village. Nauvoo, for the uninitiated or unfamiliar, is where Joseph Smith dwelled and where his family remained after he was mobbed to death in nearby Carthage (while in prison there). Therefore, it remains a sacred place for LDS/Mormons and there's a huge temple (re-built in 2002). About every place had something to offer to help pave the way to knowing more about them. We took a tour of the bakery - heard more about the religion than the baking but got a mini-mini gingerbread cooky for our time.

Get thee to the winery...now we got confused because the LDS people refer to women as "Sisters" and we knew from people down here that Sisters run the winery. We thought it was Catholic Sisters. Now we don't know and there didn't seem to be a right time or right person to ask. Instead we shared a piece of yummy pie and then went to lunch, proving that life is short, eat dessert first is sage advice no matter what faith you are.

Kamis, 03 September 2009

Tried it. Didn't like it.

We are trying restaurants we haven't frequented before as part of this next year together. Frankly, we want them to be local establishments, not chains. It's not that we aren't happy with some, OK many, of the chains. Rather we want to explore and there appear to be more small, locally owned restaurants that are new to our area than there are chain-types.

Off we went on a short drive to an Italian restaurant in nearby Williamsville. We had peeked in the window once when it was full of patrons but we already were going to the place on the opposite corner - which we LOVED. Our hopes were high that this would hold up its end of the short boulevard.

Whoops. That didn't happen. Not by a long shot - and a long shot it was as the waiter/bartender/greeter was the former basketball (?) coach from somewhere, probably there. He was interested in his son calling, the sports news, passing his Cardinal baseball tickets to someone. Not that he wasn't attentive. But we were the only clientele for the first half hour. None of that really mattered; he was pleasant enough.

I spent time reading the touching story of the immigration from Italy to America and how the Italian bloodline held up and the recipes were passed down, time spent sharing family cooking secrets. Then I went on to the menu.

Sometimes when a menu is, well, short, it's a good sign. They know what they can do and they do it great. Sometimes.

Not in this case. I heard the undeniable ding of the microwave in the kitchen. Nothing against microwaves but the story did more than mention, it dwelled on long, slow cooking, careful simmering, flavors melding together. You know what I mean. Mama Mia in the kitchen with a big wooden spoon, tasting her sauce every so often, just to be sure it was perfect. I wanted wafting scents and steaming dishes.

I asked about the ravioli - meat: beef or pork? Beef was the response, quick as it was. I think scores were being reported on the big screen tv. Beef ravioli was my choice then and Ed got the fettucine, with chicken and broccoli - creamy fettucine being his current food fancy.

We were served promptly. I use that word cautiously as we really weren't ready for dinner, not yet having finished our salads. The food was hot. The cook had sprinkled dried, non-descript green stuff - maybe parsley - on my bowl of ravioli. No doubt we cleaned some of that out of my mother's kitchen a couple of years ago. It did add color but not attractively. And nothing could help the food.

The ravioli were too perfect to be handmade. It made me contemplate what the kitchen secrets exchanged long ago had lost in translation or in being handed on to the next generation. "Remove from frozen, commercial packaged box and place in boiling water." hardly seems like what Nonna really said. The meat was flavorless, making my question as to its origin not a matter of taste nor appearance nor difference. The sauce? Well, runny. Some jarred (as in glass jar, not disturbedly moved) mushrooms were put in, probably when the water was added to extend it.

Maybe it was just the ravioli, I pondered optimistically. Then I looked at Ed and he, who usually is a tidy public eater(and I am not), was wearing fettucine sauce next to his moustache. Removing that with his napkin he approached another bite and splash - the other cheek was adorned. At that point I asked if that sauce was runny also.

Indeed, it was. Far from creamy, it merely shared the bowl with the noodles, not clinging to them as it should. He actually ended up taking a piece of non-Italian bread and sopping the sauce up at the end of his meal. Then, because I had no interest in it, he finished mine.

You have just read my $40 restaurant review blog post. Don't go there. Go to the other end of the block, The Blu Cat Cafe.

Rabu, 02 September 2009

Anniversary Gifts

Quite often we go to the local tavern on Friday nights for fish.

And, so it was that I learned our favorite waitress is getting ready to celebrate 30 yrs. of wedded bliss and our second favorite waitress was celebrating her first year of marriage. Since ours fell inbetween their two dates I decided to ask these ladies what they wanted.

You will know why "L" is our favorite waitress when you learn what she was doing. She was making a list of 30 items she wanted! Ha! BRILLIANT!!!! We could each do that.

Thus, I set about talking it thru with my husband. We had 10 days until our anniversary - plenty of time to come up with a 30 point list, independently, respectful of what was possible.

The big day arrives. Let's keep in mind that it was marked by him deciding to go through the preparatory steps so that today (the day after) he could have me wake him up and drive him to the clinic for a test. He had to be there at 5:45 a.m. You probably know what kind of test takes a day of prep, fasting, and then is somewhat invasive. I digress but, hey, the world knows now!

All right, cards are exchanged. I had two for him: a regular one and a hilarious one about him having a cute butt. There's a long story about that but it also ties in with the test, if you haven't figured it out now you never will.

Next, the lists! Ah, the moment of excitement arrives! I had stayed up late the night before, numbering the items and hand printing mine neatly so it could be read clearly. I didn't want any mistakes which would lead to me getting my own blimp or something equally extraordinary.

Let's take a look at the first item on each list. You'll know whose list is which right away, no matter what your gender. At the top of one is "RV". At the top of the other is "I love you" "written in 30 languages".

Still with me? How about some random picks? "Rend Lake vinyard trip & art fair at the end of the month" AND/OR "compressor"; "GPS" AND/OR "$30 to WUIS our NPR station".

We did overlap a bit. We both want to travel. He wants to go to PEI and the Gulf Coast and Burnt Corn Valley (places we have been and love), plus something called "a NASCAR trip". I want to go to St. Louis, Nauvoo, 10 state parks we've never been to, and on a picnic somewhere. Neither of us mentioned the other going along. Was it an assumption?

Continuing on, I asked that he give $5 to 6 strangers in need, w/o them asking for help; that we take 3 +/- days and together clean out the garage; that we work on the medicine wheel garden together so it's done for spring; that he help me bake for the October APL fundraiser...lofty, generous, and yes, practical ideas.

He was practical too. Remember the RV - how could that not be practical? Surely by now you are not surprised by my pointing towards him as the owner of that #1 item. Farther down, what's this - a new car?! A shed? steel cabinets for the garage? (See my garage request involved removing and disposing of items not hiding them in steel cabinets.) To give credit where it is due, he included "weather stripping" - oh, my, I hope that's what I first thought it was and not something really kinky.

Selasa, 01 September 2009


Chiggers. They got me. What purpose do they serve in the bigger view of life - a bite out of my hide doesn't seem to matter much. I suppose they in turn are food for another insect which ends up being food for a snake and on up the food chain.

But I look as if I have the measles.

This week brings some celebrations! Our local library director is entering retirement today and so is her husband. Boy will they learn even more about each other. The house does get a bit smaller when both people are around more. We (happily) bump into each other. Still, there are times....

Speaking of times, today is our 30th wedding anniversary. Now that takes a lot to admit! I'm pleased to reach this point with Ed. The photos we have indicate we'd still be recognizable to people we haven't seen in 30 years - phew. On the other hand, how did this happen? Where to from here?

So, once again, it may be time for a makeover. Return to the days of hippiedom? Sharpen my poetry pencil? Get a job? Move? I'm thinking a kick in my butt to get me spirited and fiesty and adventurous is in order. I just don't know if I can kick that high anymore.

Oh, wait, my butt's not that high...