Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know wut yer gonna get

Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know wut yer gonna get

Sunday, January 31, 2010

another old story

in 1969 i was in the 8th grade. we lived in los angeles county. we'd moved there from the san fransisco bay area and l.a. was a whole different world to all of us. junior high is traumatic anyway, but my shyness combined with hormones, puberty, my grandmother's death and a new life meaning for myself led to a combination of horrors in my still young life.

i had (have) a vivid imagination. i love to create stories in my mind, i love to speculate - see the best and the worst possible scenarios in all that i see. it is a habit and it can be annoying and misleading and confusing. but it is entertaining and i get bored easily.

so many new people in junior high school. so many angry people in the neighborhood we moved to. it was the first time we ever lived in a culturally diverse arena. i was used to living in a little white neighborhood with little white friends. we all spoke the same language and had pretty much the same lives as each other. not in l.a. i was scared almost all the time in l.a. i was "sick" alot at school. momma would come and get me and let me stay hhome. i think she was scared for me too...she couldn't possibly believe i was sick as much as i pretended to be. but, then, i am a good actor...and a good liar it turned out. or so i thought.

lies, acting, imagination and truth all get mixed together and then you dont know what the truth really was anymore. especially when you add 40 years on top of it all. but i think i saw a man murdered in the stairwell at school. i think i remember 2 black kids and a knife that was red and fear in eyes and running and swearing and a lump of person lying on the stairwell. i think i remember screaming and hiding. it is a psuedo memory that barks at me when i'm alone and ...well, feeling kinda right now.

vegetable beef soup

my brother in law has diverticulitis. he suffers terribly from it and i wanted to help him however i could. he normally eats a terrible diet consisiting of mostly take out....Jack in the Box is his favorite.

Anyway - I know he likes vegetable soup. His mom used to make the best and everyone loved it. I decided to make him some soup. It's for Boyd and I too, but I know Richard would benefit greatly from that nutrtrient filled broth.

I was bargain shopping with coupons, the whole nice yards ( i wish there was just one store with the best prices and no games, but i can't find one that works for me...but that's another story) I found a beautiful sirloin steak for 2.99 per pound. In a large pack with two steaks for about $5. I took one steak out and froze it. I trimmed the other of most the fat and then sliced it thinly , threw it into a hot frying pan that had been sprayed with Pam. Then I quickly diced a large brown onion (those suckers burn my eyes the worst) and put about 1/4 of the onion in the fry pan with the meat and the balance went into the soup pot with about 2 tablespoons of butter. Carmelize those onions, yum. I microwaved 2 cups of water with 4 small beef bouillion cubes (nuked for 3 minutes), crushed the cubes and added the hot brown liquid to the soup pot with the onions. Then I added 18 shakes of garlic salt and 12 shakes of coarse ground pepper to the meat in the fry pan. Oh! and I added some (about a teaspoon) dried sliced garlic I found at Big Lots. (They have spices for cheap, but be careful, sometimes you get really duddy stuff) The meat is almost browned. Stir everything. Next I diced up 5 stalks of celery. Be sure to wash all the dirt out and trim the uglies off first. Add to soup pot, stir. Beef was brown, so I poured the meat into the soup pot next. Be sure to get all the yummy brown herby grease into your pot. Stir and simmer. Peel and chop one parsnip, 6 medium carrots, 2 large russet potatoes; add to soup pot and simmer. I wanted to add tomatoes, but Richard told me he was afraid the seeds in the tomato would hurt his stomach, so instead I added 3 small cans of condensed tomato soup, becasue that is what i had. you might want to use a tomato paste if you don't like the sweetness of the canned soup. you might want to taste and be sure you have a flavor you like still. Then - Chop a large head of cabbage. Add about 1/4 of the cabbage to the soup pot and put the balance into a stock pot with about 6 cups of water. Boil the stock pot cabbage about 5 minutes. Now - pour all your soup pot into your stock pot and stir well. Simmer another 15 minutes, stir so it does not burn. Turn heat off and let sit another 15 minutes.

This was the best vegetable beef soup I've ever made. Both Boyd and Richard loved it - and Richard felt better the next day.

strawberry orange pie

it began with wanting some strawberry flavored no cal jello. i had a small box and boiled 1 1/2 c water, added that to the dry powder and stirred for about 2 minutes, till disolved. I love the flavor of strawberry and orange together, so I added 1/2 cup cold orange juice, stirred well and put my little jello bowl in the fridge. Then I went outside to play in the dirt and weeds and grass with the llama. In about an hour I checked on my little jello bowl and it was about 1/4 set. I started thinking if it would be better with actual berries in it. i had some frozen strawberries in the freezer that were pretty old. they had sugar added and the container was about 2 1/2 cups worth of pinkish gooey yummy strawberry mash. i mixed the two items and it was a beautiful flavor. i remembered that if you add tapioca to fruit it will congeal and i could make a pie. ooh! i like pie. boyd likes pie, let's make a pie. pour in 1/4 cup dry tapioca and let set 15 minutes. okay. how about adding an orange to this concoction. i cut up and peeled (all skins) off one large beautiful orange and added the diced fruit to the mix. Then I made a pie dough. I poured the luscious red goo into the bottom pie pan, covered with a top crust and put it into the 400 degree oven for one hour. Smelled heavenly. Pulled it out just as it was beginning to overflow onto the stove bottom. oops. had to try it hot - don't do it. It is hard, but worth the wait. It is best if you let it cool a bit and then stick it in the refrigerator till the next day. It is the best pie i ever made.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

making bread

I've been trying to perfect my bread making abilities. using the word abilities is being kind to myself. i try to follow recipes but there seems to be an automatic built in accessory i have - to improvise. and thus, the resulting "experiments" have various "interesting" results.

i've made both white and wheat breads. yes, i am still just in the beginning stages. i had one try that birthed 2 beautiful and tasty loaves. I actually followed a recipe to the tee. It was on the back of the flour sack for honey wheat bread. it was gorgeous! it rose nicely, the inside was done, the outside was a beautiful toasty brown color and it tasted good. i was proud of it. that was the first loaf of bread i'd made in , oh - maybe twenty years. beginners luck i think. because everything after that has been either disastrous or just not quite right yet.

my husband, by the way, makes magnificant bread in the machine. beautiful and tasty and reliable. but he follows directions. and he has a machine to do the work for him. he's so practical.

since i have so much time on my hands lately i wanted to make bread the real way - the old fashioned know with a big floury mess in the kitchen, goopy dough stuck to your fingers and the kneading and the rising and the whole nine yards. i am really good at the mess making part. i am getting better at kneading. i'm getting stronger. i have done some research and discovered some basic info about bread and how it works...and why it is important to be exact in your measures and temperature and times. yeast is amazing... it is alive! and it reacts with the flour and sugar and water or milk. but don't let it touch the salt! salt will kill it. it loves the hot water - but not too hot or the yeast will die. and the kneading is soooo important. you have to trap all those air bubbles into the massive ball of dough so the bread will rise. if you don't knead it enough the gas that the yeast produces will escape and you will have flat bread with popped bubbles on the top of the loaf.

so, last night i thought i had it. i have been trying out buttermilk instead of regular milk (because my hubby is lactose intolerant). i didn't have quite enough buttermilk, so i put in more butter to make up for it. and i added more sugar, so it might be more like my mother-in-laws bread. (best homemade bread ever). i was kneading with lots of new strength - it was progressing beautifully - and then when i checked it after an hour of rising i realized i'd put in only three teaspoons of yeast instead of three tablespoons of yeast. yeah. it hardly rose at all. so - i flattened the dough out - added two more tablespoons of yeast and some water and kneaded again. that was a difficult knead. initially the yeast did not cooperate. silly me - i poured dried yeast onto the dough and tried to knead it in. it did not stick and i had yeast all over the counter. Oh yeah - it needs to be softened in water. so i put some water in a bowl, added dry yeast and stirred, then made a well in the dough ball and kneaded from there. i got it done and set it to raise for another hour...and it did. i set the loaves on the middle rack in a 400 degree oven for twenty five minutes and it looked beautiful. it is raw in the middle. just a little. it is really tasty though. i think if i turn the oven down a bit and cook for a longer amount of time it will be good...but i am still experimenting.


i will get this right.


another dentist visit

this is the year of dental work for me. i neglected myself all last year and now i am paying for it big time. i thought that work was more important than my regular cleanings - and we know were that loyalty got me. SO - take care of yourself, because there are some things that nobody else can do - but you! The stress of the job caused alot of these problems I am having now. I thought about stress and cancer, stress and heart disease - but it did not occur to me that stress could cause infection in my mouth - but it has. i'm so glad i do not work there anymore. now i can heal in many ways.

i had to take a bunch of meds before i went in to the doc- plus he gave me the gas, a bunch of novacaine and topicals gels....and it still hurt! so he hit me again with the novacaine. I am still very numb. I talk funny and bite myself alot and I am hungry. Hmmm... I just gnawed a piece of bread on the "other" side of my mouth and i am drinking some hot tea now. i think i might have bit myself when sucking on my piece of bread. geez...

ironic thing - my daughter, 1300 miles away, had a dental visit today also.

so another trip to doc next thursday, then another for yet another surgery on the other side of the mouth, etc., etc., etc.

oh geez! ha ha ha...

Did you know that if you try to swallow when you are this numb that the numb side of your mouth does not close? Funniest thing - I swallowed a little bit on my left sie, but about the right side of the swallow went down my front. For Pete's Sake! Okay - trick is to keep your mouth against the cup when you swallow...then you'll be okay.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

swine flu

i've got it.
the flu.
the bug.
i know when i caught it too. i was at the grocery store a few days ago and the shopping cart handle was wet - and there were no bleach wipes available and later in that trip i forgot about my dirty hands and wiped my eye because it itched.
wash your hands!
i think it's the swine flu. i hurt everywhere! and pain reliever is not helping. and now i can't sleep. the flu, plus i'm sleeping in the office with the cat so i don't get my husband sick...and the cat keeps making noises all night. she is a very loud groomer...and purrer.
so i'm up in the middle of the night wondering what to do. i'm almost cold; my bathrobe isn't quite enough to keep the chill away and I forgot to put on my slippers. but now i'm busy writing and the stubborn child will not go get what she needs to be comfortable. No, no...that would be too logical, too practical. instead i am thinking about food. yeah, even with the flu momma loves to eat. i feel like i need some chocolate. argh... my husband ate all the chocolate chip stash. he ate all the coconut stash too! what's with him? well it's probably better this way.
my stomach is louder than the cat's grooming - or boyd's snoring tonight. from the stomach down, every piece of intestine is moving and each inch is making its own special noise. it's an intestinal symphony. at least that does not hurt. Hurray for that anyway. Oh! But the gas will peel paint. Smells like I've got a tire fire goin' on inside.
Oh! - and asparagus. i smell like asparagus.
not nice asparagus either.
old asparagus.
um hmm.
my head hurts the worst. my eyes and temples are like big bruises, except they are not black and blue. they are swollen and feel like i was hit with a couple of bricks up side my head. - and one across my face for good measure.
call the waaambulance!
i should be okay in about a week.
oh goody. a whole week of this. i hope i can think of better things to write about in the interim.
stay healthy.
wash your hands!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Digging Deeper

So I just got back from seeing my counselor. Fifty five minutes of guts spewing around the room was actually not so bad today. Patty has a way of listening and then asking a seemingly insignificant question at a seemingly insignificant time and BAM! - you've figured out yet another little cog in your web of being; your existance. Things that make life so interesting.

Since I have been out of work I have been thinking much more. Remembering my history, looking up old friends and trying to bring my old life back into focus. Mostly for story fodder. I am trying to write stories - or a story, however it works out. I have alot of experiences that I have buried under oodles of years worth of other experiences. I try to keep the easy light hearted fun ones on the top layer, where I can find them easily when I want a good laugh or a gentle smile. The ones that are buried farther down are a bit more on the dramatic side - and usually not very pleasant. My psyche looks kinda like the walls of an archeological dig - the cute veggie eating herd animals with the bugs and bunnies on the top layer and the carnivorous and parasitical loners down in the dangerous deeper layers.

So this whole writing thing I am trying to do - and the therapy thing I do are a really good combination because they feed off of each other. Synergy I think you call it. It feels like a win/win combo. I hope I can make all the effort prove fruitful by producing good stories on paper.

I don't know that I understand the people who want to read all the dramatic crap that I keep down in the dungeon with the ghosts, but... well... even I like to watch Ghosthunters on television sometimes.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I read a couple of books I really liked

They were written by a man named Christopher Morley. "Parnasus on Wheels" was written in 1917 and "The Haunted Bookshop" was written in 1918. Both books contain the same main character. Some of the wording and generational references were unknown to me, so I had to look them up, but most of the language is easy for me to read. The stories are not literary by any means; this simple style makes me feel good.

The main character, Roger Mifflin, is wonderful! I would love to have him as a friend. Small in stature, but large in heart; Roger is a creative, brave, reasonable man. He loves books and many of his friends are found within them. He has built a sort of gypsy cart - like a recreational vehicle that is pulled by Peg, an old mare. He fixed this wagon to sell books from... with flaps on the outside that fold up to expose his library. He buys and sells books in the New England countryside. He calls this van a Parnassus on wheels; a sort of travelling container for the literary muses. He has a terrier dog that travels with him named Boc - and he meets many people and adventure along the way. I wont give away the stories to you, but if you want some feel good reading - these two fill the bill.

Thank you Laura, for giving me "The Haunted Bookshop" for my birthday.

i'm sad about my old pets

abbey got a bath yesterday and we dried her with the blow dryer. she looks like a yellow dandelion. emma did not get a bath. emma will smell bad regardless of how many baths she takes. she is mostly hound - and hounds stink in a special sort of way. abbey is a golden retreiver.

abbey ran away when we were gone over Christmas vacation. She was found about seven miles from home. when we returned from vacation - she did it again. both times a passerby picked her up and brought her home. our phone number is on her collar. i'm very happy they did that, because it can be expensive to get a run away dog out of the pound.

so, why does abbey run away? she will be twelve years old in october. emma will be twelve in february. abbey looks and acts younger than emma. emma is the alpha dog; has bossed abbey around for nearly twelve years. emma owns the world. abbey owns nothing...unless emma says she can own it. i think i might run away too if that were my situation.

so - we decided to see if boyd can live with abbey in the house. boyd's allergies have been getting worse with time, and mine seem not so bad anymore. so far, he does not seem very bothered by her. she is very clean now and she is not panting her breath into the room. she feels quite special being in the house. emma is sad though. when we call abbey into the house, we call them both in through the side door... they march through the living room and emma leaves out the front door. abbey stays inside.

boyd has been taking abbey for walks for about a month. she enjoys them. emma cannot walk very far anymore. emma's dachshund and corgi parts are disabling her more and more as time passes. emma also has tumors on her chest and belly. they dont seem to bother her, but eventually they will. today emma has seemed so tired...i wonder if it is just sadness.

i spent more time outside with emma today while abbey was on her walk. she seemed happy with me, but she did not want to play much...she just laid in the shade. (it was a warm day).

my sixteen year old cat smokey is quite perturbed by the dog being in her domain. she is deaf and slow, but she still bats at abbey if she gets near her food; and yells at her in her annoying old lady voice.

the last gold retriever i had before abbey passed away at 10 years old. when i was younger my family had german shepherds and they lived to about 13 years...but i think that may be because they had to be put down due to their hips failing. german shepherds have weak hips in general.

i dont know why i am posting this. i guess i am just sad about my animal situation. they are all old and will probably die within the next couple of years.

my llama, magnet, is old also. i think he is eighteen years old...but i should check his records; he might be older. llamas can live to thirty, but his stall mate died at twenty years.