Friday, December 31, 2010

Countdown to Midnight

This is a strange night. Today is my mother's birthday. And the first where I can't call her with birthday wishes. It was always so easy to buy her a present, even though we're just a week past Christmas. A new jigsaw puzzle or a calendar, most likely with a Maxine theme. It's also my friend Deanna's birthday. I hope she is up to all kinds of fun tonight. It's cold here, and snowy. I've already been out to eat with my favorite dinner date, my 18yo son. I can't believe I'm contemplating going out again to have a New Year toast with friends. Michael and Liz have already rung in 2011 in Belgium. So has Lloyd, Australia is probably first with celebrating, Sydney harbor was all lit up with fireworks hours ago. And what about me, you ask? I'm just happy to be here. Welcome, 2011. Let's make this a most remarkable year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mixing My Conifors


In honor of the local current outdoor conditions, I prepared a lunch of mostly white food. Milk, 1%. Roasted chicken on white buns, with Swiss cheese and just a schmere of mayo. I do admit that the potato chips are more yellow than white, but I read on the package that they are made from russet potatoes. And as we all know, once that pesky, russety peel is removed, the inner flesh of the potato is essentially white. Unless you leave it sitting exposed to the air too long, it then becomes a very unappetizing grayish brown. And while the snow on the prop tree is fake, a much, much larger live version of the tree just outside my patio door is indeed laden with the real stuff. Ah, winter.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year, Anyone?

When I think about it, I don't believe I've ever actually had a date for New Years Eve. Okay, I was married for twenty years and fell asleep on the couch with my husband on numerous December thirtyones only to wake up to the new year. This is not a date, merely another night. We did attend a few parties on this night in question given by friends, and I remember going out to a lovely dinner a time or two, so maybe those count as dates. For me personally, to qualify as a date, there must be a phone call at least a day ahead, where plans are made involving various forms of entertainment, clothing choices are agonized over, and iffy hair choices are destined to be memorialized in photographs. In my dating years prior to marriage, I recall having a steady beau on perhaps two of the ringing in the year eves. One of those perhaps qualifies as a date even though details escape my memory, but the other consisted of attending a party where he overindulged. We were in the midst of a long drawn out breakup process, and I ended up holding the bucket that he was heaving the contents of his entire, I mean entire digestive system into, as the new year arrived. My fondness for him was fading at this time anyway, and I suppose I could have left him passed out in his running vehicle in the sub zero winter night, but I'm just not that kind of girl. Leaving a number of New Years Eve pasts open for possibilities that never materialized. As for the one four days from now, I'll most likely end up taking the younger son out for dinner. Or getting him a pizza and going out alone. It would be fun if I were contemplating the whole package...Plan A would involve a date, a dress, and a dinner destination. Dare I add dancing? But somehow, warm fuzzy jammies, a movie or two, and my own personal bottle of bubbly sound like a good Plan B should Plan A fail to come calling. One thing is certain, 2011 will show up whether I celebrate or not. And this girl is looking forward to a year worth celebrating.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Past


Feeling thoughtful. And a little sad. It's been years since I celebrated Christmas under the same roof as my mother, but this is the first Christmas without her among the living. She loved Christmas. I mean loved Christmas. She agonized over the gifts, the food, the decorating. And loved every minute of it. It was as though a perfect and happy holiday could and should make up for any and every shortcoming and disappointment of the previous year. She believed in the magic. In the days of broadcast television when there was just one opportunity, complete with commercial interruption, to catch Charlie Brown and the Grinch, she sat down and relished every moment of those cartoons along with us kids. She made fudge and caramels and delectible tiny butter spritz cookies. She baked yulekakke, a Norwegian sweet bread with raisins that was heavenly when toasted and spread with butter. When we decorated the tree, the four of us kids took turns placing the ornaments on the branches, saving a tiny plastic Santa for last. After that, only she had the patience to drape each individual strand of tinsel in its own special spot. Tomorrow night I'll attempt to make sweet and sour spareribs just like Mom did for Christmas Eve dinner. It will be just me and my younger son at the table, but the spirit of Christmases past will be there, too. Thanks, Mom, for passing your love of this holiday on to me. For the magic. And the memories.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Box of Chocolates


Physical therapy is working! In only six sessions my flexibility and range of motion have improved and the hypersensitivity around the incision is much better. My physical therapist is located in a clinic where a number of doctors practice. On my way back to the PT dept I walk through a couple of other waiting rooms where patients are, well, waiting. How patiently I'm not sure. I also see other patients in the main hallway and waiting to check in or to make future appointments. And it strikes me as somewhat odd when I pass or meet these people who are variously wearing masks, in wheelchairs, or tending to sad or crying tots, that I actually feel pretty darn good! What am I doing here, with a spring in my step and smiling, when all these others are miserable? With the exception of the tedinitis in my hands and wrists that is currently being treated, I am in excellent health. For which I am grateful, particularly when I encounter those who are obviously suffering. My affliction is annoying and limits what I can do, but it isn't life threatening. And with time and effort, I expect to recover completely. I feel a bit like Forrest Gump, who got out of his tour of duty in Viet Nam with a wound to his butt. Certainly not pleasant, but as a ticket out, much less costly than, say, the loss of a limb or an eye. A million dollar wound, I think they called it. It still seems weird to me that I've been off work since the middle of August. Perhaps in the Work Comp world, where I currently reside, tendinitis is the combat equivalent of a bullet wound in the buttocks. Which leaves me to wonder what is in store inside that next chocolate I bite into.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Trifle of a Flop

Parties are like cakes. Most of the time they are a grand success, but once in a while you have a flop. When a cake is a flop, you make a trifle. When a party is a flop, it really isn't, at least not for the people who show up. And this time of year when most of us are overscheduled on events and underfunded on hours, a low guest turnout is a predictable factor. So. Thanks to the neighbors who trudged over from next door with adorable daughters and still-warm-from-the-oven banana bread in tow. And to Emma who was so enticed by my party food menu on facebook that she dropped by on her dinner break from work. If I'd had door prizes, though, the biggest and best would go to Dan, who showed up with chocolate vodka, enthusiam, and a hearty appetite. For any of you who might be interested, the spinach dip and olive spread are still reasonably fresh, the tiny cupcakes are tasty while they last, and the Christmas colored nachos are festive and tasty as ever. Now, if only the clouds would clear so tonight's lunar eclipse will be visible! I'll be waiting up. And maybe if you come over, you just might catch me licking the bottom of the spinach dip bowl.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Paper Paper

When I opened my Argus Leader this morning, a holiday greeting card tumbled out. It was from my newspaper route carrier. Nice. But in the same manner in which I will sometimes forget an item I need with me when I leave the house, she left out the tab section. On Thursday the tab is called Link, and contains entertainment news in the area for the upcoming weekend. Not to mention the crossword! I hope she didn't think the card was an adequate stand-in for the missing section. I do appreciate the thought, but I'd rather have a complete paper. When I called the customer service number, the very courteous fellow on the other end sent me a link to the full on-line electronic version of today's edition. My account was also credited for one day's delivery. I did enjoy having the electronic substitute, but it paled in comparison to the actual, physical article. As something of a left-wing, liberal, eco-friendly, recycling fanatic tree hugger, wanting a paper paper delivered every day runs counter to my nature. Part of a tree will bite the dust anyway since I printed out the crossword as well as the Jumble puzzle. I reserve the right to cling to this particular indicator of my approaching old fogeyness. For me, it's right up there with holding up the line in a store by producing my coin purse and counting out the correct change. Some of this old(er) lady stuff is fun. And fun is good.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mary Jane Madness


Where do I begin. Last night I had the strangest dream! Let's approach this from a strictly linguistic angle. Since I'm a word fanatic this seems reasonable, if only for the moment. Mary Jane is a slang term for marijuana, it is also the name for a style of shoe. The shoe was originally designed as a flat with a rounded toe and a strap across the instep. Often fashioned in black patent leather, it was intended as a dress shoe for little girls. The Mary Jane shoe has grown into all sorts of stylistic variations for girls of all ages, sometimes retaining only the strap, or two or three, detail from the original. But this isn't about shoes, it's about my dream about shoes. Shoes and marijuana. In my dream I was trying on shoes in a department store. I was admiring a sparkly, crimson pair of high heel clogs that were on display and was waiting for the clerk to bring them out in a 7 1/2. When I put them on, I instantly experienced a sense of euphoria and happiness and was dancing about in front of a mirror. The clerk told me that the Mary Janes were $5000. I didn't quibble about the price, I did tell him that they were not Mary Janes, they were clogs. He grinned and showed me the box, that clearly showed the style as Mary Jane, clog, in the color scarlet. If you are at all familiar with women's shoes, then you know how styles are given names, often feminine. Case in point, the Mary Jane. I was confused. It seems they were a special type of orthopedic shoe, that could only be purchased with a prescription. The shoes were infused with medical marijuana! Shoes as a pharmaceutical delivery device! In retrospect, just over a week ago I was in the shoe department at Nordstrom. Where I was introduced not to Mary Jane, but to Paul Green. In the form of a gorgeous brown suede slouchy boot. In the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver. Colorado. Where medical marijuana is legal. Somehow, then, this information was deconstructed and reassembled in the twisted labyrinth of my synapses, resulting in last night's dream. I must admit to having felt a euphoric rush when trying on the boots, and retain a somewhat giddy feeling over the fact that I own them. They were, after all, one of only two pairs remaining on the clearance racks. When I wear them I do feel elated. If I'm not dancing on the outside, I'm most definitely dancing internally. Which probably translates to the release of pheromones and endorphins. Which are the body's own naturally occurring opiates. When you're this happy in your own shoes, that's got to be a good thing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Candoni!


Not only should a wine be delicious, I think it ought to have an entertaining as well as memorable label. Recently, I could not for the life of me recall the name Candoni. I could remember that the wine in question was an Italian pinot grigio with some dancing Roman looking guys on the label, but the brand name eluded me. Also that the label wasn't rectangular and glued onto the bottle, but that it was sort of plastic-y and melded with the bottle. Fortunately, I found this wine in my local beverage store just this afternoon. Meaning, at least when it comes to dancing ethnic fellows on wine bottles, I am most certainly not delusional.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday at Zaidy's


Zaidy's is a genuine Jewish deli, located in Denver, CO. They have an absolutely amazing full menu, but we were there for coffee and goodies. I was undecided about what to order until our waitress said there was something special...a cheesecake containing cranberries, walnuts and I don't know what else. What I do know is that the woman who creates these luscious baked goods dreamed about this cheesecake and then whipped it up the next day. Dreamed it! I had to have some!


Kristin and Deanna had goodies as well. Kristen opted for the chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. Deanna went for the classic cheesecake. Freshly brewed coffee arrived at the table. Gastronomic nirvana ensued.


Dreamy. Just dreamy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Twelve/Eleven/Ten


The blue and silver tree in the living room. With the big blue beacon snowflake in the background. Beyond the window is the wintry and frigid outdoors.


A tiny living room with a tiny tree and tiny fireplace. Expecting, I would expect, a tiny Santa Claus.


Cardinals are ceramic. The greenery and snow are fake. The mini pine cones amid the light-up pine cones are, however, genuine. Gathered by moi in the back yard some years ago. Festive!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This Just In...

Oh. Great. I have Mommy Thumb! I hate being trendy! Though I didn't have this problem when my boys were babies. Mommy Thumb arrived under my cabbage leaf after 4-5 years of repetitive motion lab work. I guess if it's in The Wall Street Journal, it must be so, Virginia.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

The car is unloaded as well as washed! I believe today was the very first time I have washed my car in December. All that road crud deposited on the Subaru by passing semis just had to go. Things from my mother are slowly but surely finding their way into where they ought to reside in my house. It feels a little like having her around. Gently and in the background. A comforting and pleasant feeling. I had my first physical therapy session today! Only a full month after my referral! I am convinced no other entity can piss away time quite like the Work Comp people I'm dealing with. I'll get one more session in before my follow-up visit with the orthopedic Doc on Thursday. My favorite PT, Chuck, thinks we may need twelve weeks to get my right wrist in better shape. I promise I shall faithfully do my range-of-motion exercises, desensitizing massage, and heat treatments. In between I'll be full bore into holiday decorating! I watched Star Trek (2009) again today, eight viewings thus far. Yesterday I watched it with director J.J. Abrams commentary. He alludes to deleted scenes that will be included in the dvd release, but there are no deleted scenes included! There is a gag reel, however, that is pretty darn funny. My favorite is Kirk and Spock doing their scene in the Vulcan ship from the future with questionable Scottish accents. I also find it interesting that actor Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, has a name that is just one letter away from Star Trek character Chris(topher) Pike. The actor who plays James T. Kirk's father, Captain George Kirk, is also named Chris! Another notable name coincidence is that Spock's mother is played by actress Winona Ryder, and Winona is also the name of JTK's mother! If there is a deeper meaning here, or some prophetic lesson to be learned, I have no idea what it could be. Live long and prosper, I'll be engaged in PT and holiday decorating.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

And on the 14th Day...

...I'm back home! 3730.3 miles. Nine states. Minimal swearing at other drivers, even the annoying tailgater in the white Toyota Camry this afternoon. One enormous task accomplished. Six viewings of Star Trek (2009) enjoyed. Much delectable food consumed, let us offer thanks to whoever put the spandex in the jeans. New friends made! I love my Subaru. Many, many photos taken. I spent a sizeable chunk of my inheritance on a luscious pair of Paul Green chocolate brown suede boots. Thanks, Mom. And now, it is time to get reacquainted with my bed. Good night.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday Night Women

How is it possible that these three beautiful, smart, talented, strong women are single? In what universe is this acceptable? Where are the worthy men hiding? Deanna, Carla, and Linda discuss these ponderables whilst partaking of wine, smoked salmon, luscious cheeses, and delectable veggies on a Friday night. Yet we are happy, engaged with life, healthy, spiritual, and I daresay, lusty. So I ask you once more, where are the worthy men hiding?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Colorado

Ahhhh. I'm at Deanna's house in Colorado. I want to move here. Michael & Liz, what are the job possibilities here? Wish I could try Deanna's coffee side-by-side with Martine's! I love staying with people who brew kick-ass coffee! I have decided that beer is my favorite beverage after a long day in the car. Wine, then, would be my favorite evening beverage. My favorite beverage at Bravo's is the Patron margarita, shaken with violence and expertise by my favorite bartender, Jesse. Especially on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, when they are half price. I have slept well, had breakfast, and feel human once more after showering and washing my hair. And I'm wearing my new pink fuzzy robe from Target!!! Does life get much better than this? To top it all off, it's December 3rd and the predicted high temp here is near 70 degrees. This, I can live with.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

T or C, NM

I can't believe that Martine and Nick are watching Star Trek without me. I have just eaten breakfast for supper. My car is very full. Among other things, I have a birdcage, a lamp, a large mirror, and a pink foot locker in the car. I was so happy when the nice officer at the border checkpoint just north of Las Cruces waved me through after inquiring if I was an American citizen. I replied an emphatic yes. He either thought that I was a harmless white lady or that attempting to locate any alleged contraband in my ludicrously stuffed to the gills car just wouldn't be worth the effort. I am 600 or so miles from tomorrow's destination. I think I need to sleep. This will be my first night in bed well before midnight in about two weeks. I have a big TV, a comfy bed, and a lovely room. It doesn't seem complete without a cat to cuddle with. Guess I'll have to settle for my cushy hot pink robe. Though I've never seen a pink cat and my robe doesn't purr. I will now flip channels until Star Trek shows up or I fall asleep with the remote in my hand, whichever comes first.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas in the Desert


Lights. Camera. Cactus.


Cowboy tumbleweed snowmen. When there is no snow, you use the materials at hand.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks


Sisters. Pie. Turkey. Wine. Sunshine. Road trips. Netflix. Cats. Sleeping in. Eternal mysteries that confound as well as delight. Shoes. These things, among so many others, I am thankful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Van Horn, Texas


After approximately 27 hours in the car, I have stopped for the night in Van Horn, Texas. What is special about this little town, you might be asking. For one thing, the Hotel El Capitan. I enjoyed a most delicious as well as enormous shrimp cocktail at the bar and restaurant. And beer. And carrot cake. I'm going to do this more often. Have a great appetizer, then skip the meal, and proceed directly to dessert, and accompany it all with an appropriate beverage or two. I also enjoyed the company of fellow hotel guests Veronica and Jeff. They live in Tucson, which is where I will be tomorrow. I had to drive a little further to get here, but it's not a competition.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

She's a Natural!

What is it that is simply and absolutely disarming and attractive about a man who is comfortable holding a baby? Not his child, just a baby, a friend's baby, maybe a niece or nephew. If the the baby is sleeping it's that much more adorable. I remember being a newlywed, six months or so into married life, and visiting my husband's family two states away. There was a baby present, a nephew who was born just a month before we got married. Daniel was such a cute baby, beautiful olive toned skin, big dark eyes, round cheeks and blessed with a sweet disposition. He was being passed around and cooed over and didn't fuss a bit. He cooed back and babbled and smiled. At one point, he was handed to me. I was steered across the yard and posed before my husband with him in my arms. My sisters-in-law, including Daniel's mother, then exclaimed, doesn't this look natural! This happened several times over the course of the afternoon. I get it, I thought, we're expected to reproduce. I know, I thought, I feel my biological clock ticking more keenly than anyone here. And I wonder now, looking back on that day, why the baby wasn't placed in the potential father's arms at least one of those times. It would have been telling for me to observe him, his comfort level, his level of expertice with a little one. I had known for some time that I wanted very much to be a mother. I had practice with kids from years of babysitting and looking after my younger brother and sister's needs. Toting an infant about was already second nature to me. I'm at a loss as to why I didn't hand our nephew off to my husband. Maybe I wasn't ready to know if he'd take it in stride, if he seemed like a natural. It might have been disarming and attractive to see how he handled it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's About Time


That's my left hand. I wear three little silver bracelets on my left wrist, I rarely take them off. Partly because I'm lazy, partly because there's really no need to. And partly because they're a talisman of sorts, each one has come to represent an aspect of time to me. From the left they are past, present, and future. Past is in a chain style called Figaro. At the time that I purchased it, a little over five years ago, I was mired in the past, feeling unable to move forward. I hadn't named it then, I just liked it and wore it. Several months earlier, I had stopped wearing my wedding and anniversary bands, both of which were yellow gold. My ring finger felt naked and I started wearing my white gold class ring to fill the empty space. I liked how Figaro looked with it, and switching from yellow to white felt like making a statement about moving on. I started calling Figaro Past about a year ago, when I bought the bracelet in the center, and started considering the Present in my life. Sort of a taking stock of where I was and how I got there. The style of chain is called a beaded snake, which I quite like since the snake is a symbol of feminine power. I'd look at the two chains nestled together on my wrist and feel like something was missing. Obviously I needed a bracelet to represent the Future, and chose the twisted rope style to complete the set. It seemed appropriate, the twisted silver strands echoing how time spirals out in front of us, leading us to who knows where. I've been pondering questions and answers of late, as well as the passage of time. How they're related and tangled up together. How answers seem crystal clear in hindsight. Sometimes startlingly obvious in the present. And how they render the future less murky and easier to face. When I wear a watch, it is always on my left wrist, settling in among the Past, Present and Future. And it only now occurred to me why they make such comfortable and compatible companions.

Friday, November 19, 2010

TMI

You have been forewarned. I cannot be responsible for your reaction if you should continue to read. At some point in the future, you never can tell, too much information could possibly be useful to you. Or be a gross, yet mildly interesting, story to tell at a party. How actually entertaining it might be is dependent on a number of factors. Your storytelling ability, your audience, whether or not said audience is eating, maturity level regarding bodily functions, blood alcohol content of anyone present, including you. But I digress. Without further ado or distraction, let me get straight to the point. Be aware that the ingestion of Kraft Singles or Deli Deluxe cheese along with concord grape juice results in a verdant green coloring of one's fecal matter. There you have it. You now possess too much information. Use it wisely.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fresh Meat!


I know, I know, it's cruel and mean spirited and opportunistic for me to even begin to consider this idea...but what if this means there are more available men right at this moment, even as I type!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Answers


Several years ago, hand written on the inside of a Christmas card, was this sentence. There are years that ask questions and years that answer. I liked the thought, and have had that card hanging up on my bulletin board ever since. It occurred to me just now to google this pithy phrase to see who, if anyone, it might be attributed to. And her name is Zora Neale Hurston. She said many, many amazing things. Like this...Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. And this...Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. And this...Those that don't got it, can't show it. Those that got it, can't hide it. But for me, it is that first quote that speaks to me with such significance and relevance. This is a year of answers I am living. Not always answers that I want to hear, but often what I need to hear. Maybe I'm paying attention where I was earlier neglectful. Or maybe I'm just finally ready to know and internalize and embrace this information that's finding its way to me. I do know that I have been surprised by some answers, blindsided by others. Comforted. Relieved. Ready to move on. Discovering you, Zora Neale Hurston, has turned out to be an answer in itself.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adorable Tony

It's become a hobby of mine to get my picture taken with the cutest guy in the bar when I go out for the evening. Allow me to introduce adorable Tony, who was seated at the table next to Tammy's birthday party guests.


Adorable Tony seems to have mistaken me for the birthday girl. I went along with it so he wouldn't feel like he committed a social faux pas, I hate for anyone to feel uncomfortable at a party. And then there was the matter of Tony bordering on gorgeous. And since you asked, yes, Tony is a fabulous kisser. He told me that I'm so beautiful that he forgot he has a girlfriend. Sigh. I shall probably never see him again. But if I do, I expect I'll have to kiss him again, if only to remind him of how we met. An odd bit of trivia for those of you who aren't distracted by Tony, God knows I was...my former husband designed that scoreboard hanging on the wall. Cubby's is, after all, a sports bar. In any case, it seems that the clock has run down to zero and the score is 33 to 29. I love it when the home team wins.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bark for Me!


They're here! My most favorite seasonal treat is back in the candy aisle! Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares. They are delicious and heavenly and delectable. Buy some and enjoy. Just make sure you leave enough on the shelf for me. Thank you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spam Exam

1. Why do they think I would desire a bigger penis? Assuming I have one.

2. Since they've already assumed I have one, why would they assume it isn't functioning properly and would require volume discounts on genuine Viagra and Cialis?

3. Wouldn't finding an apartment and needing renter's insurance cancel out buying a forclosed-upon home, and then needing a VA loan? Assuming I'm a veteran.

4. I suppose if I qualify to buy a house, I might be in need of kitchen cabinets, driveway paving, quality roofing and rain gutters, and a beautiful, healthy lawn. I expect I'll be needing that pesky Credit Score as well.

5. Not only are there singles in my area wanting to meet me and/or chat with me, they also are available in the Naughty, Nice, Jewish, Over 50, and Lonely varieties.

6. If I should manage to hook up with one of these singles, I might just need a Beautiful Engagement Ring.

7. Before I make any meaningful decision about anything, I'm sure I ought to consult Bethea, my personal psychic. And buy amulets. And love potions. Perhaps lottery ticket numbers.

8. We certainly don't want to risk losing contact with Kim, MagicJack, and trisha184, who have all recently changed their email addresses.

9. If the Statewide Job Scam involves Ultrasound Technicians and Certified Nursing Assistants, maybe I should opt for qualifying for the Social Security Disability Claim.

10. If I should be so fortunate to latch onto one of those FREE Ipads or 4G cell phones, I expect I'll be needing to update my Wireless Internet, and get in on that Bargain Ink and Toner sale.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Morning After

I am pleased to report that I will be attending Tammy's birthday celebration tonight in beautiful downtown Brookings, SD. I shall enjoy immensely the recently enacted smoking ban in the bars. I may look like the above photo tomorrow morning, but by golly, I'll smell good.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank You


Dear Mr Cutie-Pie,

Thank you so much for your recent rude and cowardly behavior. This renders you ever so genuinely unattractive in my esteem. Meaning that I will no longer be bothering you with friendly emails and no longer participate in stimulating conversations on politics, music, and the state of the world in general. Should you be interested in contacting me in the future to explain, rationalize, or apologize for this lack of decorum, I shall do my best to listen with an open mind that is free of judgment. Again, I am grateful to you for inadvertently (or intentionally?) revealing your baser side to me.

Ever so truly yours,

The Recalcitrant Goddess

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Important Information! Please Read!

When I saw today's title in the subject line of the email, I knew what the alluded important information would be in reference to. And all I have to say is, at least this time, it was not due to the pottymouth behavior of yours truly. Really. The body of said email appears below. With any possible identifying references removed or altered to protect the innocent. Or guilty. Honestly, people, let's clean it up! Or keep your fucking pie hole shut! Then again, I thought it inappropriate last spring when a higher management person inquired as to whether or not I was wearing panties. Which, after all, was none of this person's goddamn business. I was informed that since the incident occurred off of company property and was a social occasion, said policy did not apply. Silly me! Naturally, the location of the incident rendered the remark perfectly respectful, professional, positive, and absolutely free of harassment and hostility. And all I have to say about that is, most emphatically, bullshit.


Inappropriate language, such as profanity, sexual comments/jokes, derogatory comments, etc., does not contribute to promoting a positive work environment at Our Company. This type of language is not professional and is not acceptable at Our Company. Employees are expected to display professional, appropriate conduct, which includes showing courtesy and respect towards coworkers. Behavior that is personally offensive, fails to respect the rights of others, lowers moral and interferes with our work effectiveness is not acceptable here in our workplace.

Be conscientious of your words and actions and be respectful to your coworkers.

Our Company makes every effort to provide a work environment free from all forms of harassment. The company Anti-Harassment Policy can be found on pages 14-15 of the Employee Handbook. Our Company has employee guidelines for appropriate conduct and those guidelines are listed on pages 48-49 of the Employee Handbook. Review this information in your handbook or see your supervisor or myself if you have questions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is There Anything More Pitiful...

...than a soaking wet cat? Newton doesn't want anyone to know, but he fell into my bathtub earlier. And it was approximately half full of water. I looked up from my newspaper and coffee when I heard a horrible noise, a combination of frantic scuffling and splashing coming from the general direction of my bathroom. Where I had run the tub half full of hot water about half an hour earlier. Because of my water heater/tub size disparity. Before I had quite figured out what was going on, a very freaked out and soaking wet Newton flew out of my bathroom, through my bedroom and the sunroom, moving a chair as he collided with it on the way, through the kitchen, making a hard left turn to go downstairs, and negotiated a couple more turns to end up under the video game controller littered coffee table in the family room. He hissed at me when I tried to pull him out, also hissed at his brother when Einstein approached him and sniffed him investigatively. I wiped up the puddles he left in his wake and coaxed him out from under the table with some tuna and toweled him off some so he wasn't dripping. He seems to be fine, uninjured by his tussle with the chair. Leaving me to conclude, at least for today, that curiosity only damages a cat's dignity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Love Susie!


Happy Birthday Susie! I adore you! You rock! You wear forty ever so well. It was a privilege to hear you play live in August, 2003, at the legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. I enjoyed the relaxed and intimate atmosphere at the Surf, we spent the second half of the show on the dance floor, often standing near the stage to listen, setting our beers on the edge of the stage while we danced. I particularly enjoyed you making up lyrics for Angel From Montgomery, singing that John Prine won't care, he'll never know 'bout you messin' up his song! Two girls managed to get past security and were up on the stage dancing. As they were being shown out of the building, you paused in the middle of the song and insisted they be allowed to stay. I also remember that tickets were only ten bucks! As we were entering, there was a young man on the sidewalk who was mulling as to whether he should part with the cash to see you, he wasn't familiar with your music. I turned to him and said even if it was fifty bucks, seeing you would be worth every penny! Later in the evening, he came up to me and thanked me. It's been too long since then, hope to see you soon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Anniversary

Six years ago today I walked through the doors of the seed lab for my first day on the job. Paperwork. Introductions. Learning things about seeds and the ag/industrial complex that I never imagined could be. So much was interesting. And dirty and dusty and requiring various levels of Personal Protective Equipment. I was good at what I did. I volunteered to organize a system for the storage of the seed samples in my department. In the four years I was responsible for as many as 100,000 corn and soybean customer samples at a time, not a single one was lost. A handful were misplaced and I found them anyway. I won Employee Performance of the Month honors for this achievement. An award that is nominated and voted on by fellow workers. Over time, I developed tendinitis in my wrists and hands, along with a sesitivity to latex gloves. Today I returned to the lab after an absence of twelve weeks. I didn't know the code for the security door, and a new face behind the reception desk buzzed me through. I barely lasted two hours. As I suspected, they were not able to accomodate my most recent work restrictions. The final humiliation was being unable to open the fire door into the research area. I want my hands to heal. I would rather be working. I miss so many people that I passed so many days with accomplishing as well as exceeding so many work goals. Happy anniversary to me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November?

Sunny Sunday! A high of 66 degrees. I wore capri pants and went barefoot outside. The windows were open wide and fresh air breezed through the house. It was lovely. These are all pretty standard components for a pleasant day. The remarkable thing is that we are a full week into November, so at least for me, it was appreciated all the more. Winter will show up with a vengeance all too soon. And hang around long past the point when the novelty of snow and cold has completely worn off. I happen to like winter. Maybe because I'm half Norwegian. Maybe because I figure if I'm in the deep freeze a few months out of the year I'll stay fresher, age a little more slowly...that and a slavish devotion to sunscreen might fool Mother Nature for a while. It would be difficult for me to live where the full change of the seasons isn't experienced. I enjoy the cycle of birth/death/rebirth in the trees and other vegetation, the signs of change with the migration of birds, the shortening then lengthening of daylight hours. I could do without shoveling snow and mosquitoes quite happily, as well as the sub-zero temperatures in the winter, the humidity in the summer. These pleasant late fall days are a gift. And I'll take as many as I can get.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Quandary

To blog...or not to blog? That is the question. Even though I have nothing in particular to report. I did survive an afternoon of being chauffeured around by Reid. Both of us are suffering from relatively mild cases of PTSD after the garage incident last Monday. But we are pressing on! Get back on that horse that threw you! And in an hour or so it's my turn to chauffeur, I'm the DD for the evening with the elder son and assorted others. I believe we're mourning the outcome of the state and national elections last week. In other news, I'm returning to work on the upcoming Monday, and I'm very curious as to what I'll be doing when I get there. My updated work restrictions state that I am to not use my right hand at all. I happen to be right hand dominant. And limited use of my left hand. I wonder if it will be permissible for me to lift a coffee cup with my right hand, even though I need assistance from my left so I don't drop it in my lap. Hmmm. I hope I won't have to clock out to go to the bathroom or blow my nose. I don't think there's a survelliance camera in the bathroom, but you never can tell. Keep this in mind, just because you're paranoid that doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Men At Work


Facebook has just informed me that my account is under maintenance and is currently unavailable, check back in a few hours. This is pitiful. I feel cut off from the world! Now they'll probably make me pay to get access. Or be subjected to some sort of twisted and shameful initiation ceremony. I can't breathe! I'm having a panic attack! I'm going through withdrawal! Soylent Green is people! Wait, maybe this lightheaded feeling has more to do with the fact that it is over seven hours since I've eaten anything. Perhaps my blood sugar is tanking. Never mind.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cues & Ayes

Once again, I have reached the halfway point of cleaning and organizing my office. Will I continue and finish the job this time? That is most definitely the question. And the answer is...a resounding maybe. Oh, and I have evidence that I am normal. It came in the mail today. Okay, so it only says that very specific parts of me are normal, and this is very good news. The rest of me is open to interpretation as far as normalcy is concerned. And if normal is based upon what you're accustomed to, I seem just fine to me. With the exception of my cranky hands, which I am hauling to Sioux Falls tomorrow for a visit with the ortho doc. This has been a week of answers thus far, so I can hope that some decisions can be made about further treatment. The problem all along seems to have been that each and every treatment was successful for a while. So we progressed from the least invasive, involving heat, trans-dermal meds, and physical therapy, to the most recent and most invasive, surgical intervention. And I'm still not better! In fact, my right hand is now more compromised than it was before the surgery. I'm typing with five fingers most of the time. Three on my left hand and two on my right hand. I'm getting surprisingly fast but the typos are many. In the old days, I would have gone through an entire bottle of Liquid Paper in this post alone. I expect I should make a shopping list. As long as I'm in the big city to the south I ought make the most of it. At the very least, the French onion soup at Panera is almost worth the trip all on its own. I smell lunch.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Aftermath


I am officially in mourning. Not so much for the results of yesterday's election, but for the decline and death of idealism, accuracy, fair play, and reasonable solutions to the myriad problems in this country. I just may move to Minnesota so I can proudly proclaim that Al Franken is my senator! Just not to District 6, the stronghold of Michelle Bachmann. Too bad, I kind of like St. Cloud. I remain astonished that political upsTART Kristi Noem has unseated the intelligent, thoughtful, and estimable Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And the Winner Is...

I know that staying up late isn't going to change any of the election results. I'm a Democrat in a heavily Republican state. At this moment with 75% of precincts reporting, Republican idiot speeder Kristi Noem is narrowly leading incumbent Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. I haven't always agreed with Stephanie on the issues. But I have found her to be accessible, intelligent and interested in doing her best for the people of South Dakota. Ms. Noem, on the other hand, seems to have no grasp on the issues and not a clue about governmental process. Maybe that's why she didn't show up to pay those speeding tickets, she doesn't understand what a bench warrant is. It's been a negative and ugly campaign. Now that the GnOP has taken control of the US House of Representatives, let's hope they step up with some good ideas to solve our country's problems. Instead of just naysaying and gridlocking. Is it too much to ask that they be grown-ups and make productive use of time and resources? Rather than stay up and bite my nails, think I'll go to bed. Get up in the morning and read the results in the newspaper. With a big cup of coffee, thank you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NyQuil Hangover

The cold that has been lurking in and around me for three weeks has taken up residence in my sinuses. Damn opportunistic viruses anyway. They are so patient, so stealthy, just waiting for a little chink in the mortar of my immune system. It's Monday. My hands are cranky, still no word of an approved follow-up visit to the orthopedic doctor, and I'm expected back at work this Friday! Oh, and there's a hole in the back of my garage. Other than that, Reid is doing very well driving. Now, instead of having medical people not return my calls, I'll have contractors not returning my calls. Did I mention I have a cold? I wonder if they can deliver a truckload of Calgon, I have a feeling I'm going to need it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thirty-Two

Just in case it happened to slip by any of you, I did manage to post here every single day in October! Twice today! Halloween/Samhain magic! Actually, it's more of a matter of discipline. Scheduling. And possibly an attempt to rationalize time spent on the interwebs. After all, I am a writer, so this is an exercise to keep my language skills sharp! We'll see how November shapes up...

Downtown Saturday Night




The bars were packed full with costumed merry makers last night. Yes, I know that it was merely Halloween Eve, but we did stay out past midnight, so technically it was Halloween. Earlier on, when Reid and I stopped for burgers and sweet potato fries at Cubby's, there were already people out in costume. Most notably, a ten or so

foot tall fellow with lit up red eyes and horrifying electronically assisted vocalizations who appeared to be a ghoulish Bigfoot. I was relieved that he was too tall to follow us inside. Later on, there was the usual assortment of zombies, vampires, and slutty versions of French Maids, brides, gypsies, cheerleaders, and gun molls. We ended up sitting with one of my personal favorites of the evening, Georgiana and Chris dressed


quite adorably as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Other favorites were Gumby and Pokey, who had to remove their heads to drink. Probably the most remarkable costume of the evening was our robotic favorite from Futurama, Bender. Complete with cigar. Another favorite was this guy dressed up like Ace Ventura. He had it all going on, Hawaaian print shirt, goofy pompadour 'do, and a rubbery expressive face rivaling Jim Carrey's original. I was quite amused. Seeing a guy in a rather lame cow costume reminded me that I have a terrific bovine get-up. I'm feeling inspired to put the final touches on it for next year! I can see it now! MooBoo! I can hand out Milk Duds and Milky Way candy bars! I do love Halloween.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

IMHO...


I know, I know, politics are never this simple. But for me, particularly in light of the Tea Party's proliferating nonsense, the upcoming election, and today's Return to Sanity Rally, I am reminded of one simple thing. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Opinions are like, well, you know, and everybody has one. Facts are facts are facts, and you may not edit them to suit your purpose. Any questions?

Friday, October 29, 2010

White Knuckles

Honestly, would you get in the passenger seat with this guy behind the wheel? When you're a mother, there are some things you must do. One of these things is riding shotgun with your reluctant driver son who does not yet possess a full driver's license. He did just fine. The biggest problem was other impatient drivers. Drivers who insisted on speeding, pulling out into traffic illegally, and jumping through a 4-way stop before it was their turn. If you can't be courteous, at the very least follow the rules! Maybe I should get one of those student driver placards to slap on the side of the Forester. Then all those discourteous drivers might just keep their distance! Yes, and thank you for asking, I am just fine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ByeBye, Pasties!


For this girl, the worst part of the mammogram has always been removing those horrible, and horribly sticky, pasties. I never was of the opinion that I needed to exfoliate my nipples. And it seemed those nasty little pasties did just that. Their purpose was to clearly identify the nipple tissue, which is more dense than other breast tissue. More dense or thickening of breast tissue can be a sign of trouble in there, so the pasties with a little metal ball inside were used as an indicator of normal but dense tissue. Enter digital mammography! And those evil little sticky things are no longer necessary! Yesssssss! And October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so for once I'm taking care of this bit of feminine business during its designated month. Now that the dreaded pasties are a thing of the past, maybe I won't be so reluctant to do this annually. Although next October I'll probably be saying, what, already? Time flies when you procrastinate.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Maintenance, High and Low

I have been off work a number of weeks. This has left me acutely aware of projects around the house that require attention. These bits of household maintenance randomly scream at me. Fix me! Paint me! Winterize me! A few I've been able to tackle and finish, others are simply impossible to accomplish with my cranky, tendinitis-plagued hands. So I have focused my attention in another direction. Maintaining me! Last week I had a date with my dental hygenist. I left with my teeth all x-rayed, examined, glittery and clean. No cavities! Today I visited my gynecologist and experienced that most joyfully anticipated ritual, the quasi-annual PAP test! And all the assorted poking and prodding that accompanies it. I'm hoping for that short but sweet letter in the mail saying I'm just fine and dandy, see you in two years. Have I saved the best for last? You will have to be the judge of that. Tomorrow I return to the clinic for, yes, a mammogram! That most pleasant of diagnostic exams involving an evil machine designed to compress and torture human mammary tissue. I have never enjoyed a mammogram. I have never heard another woman admit that she does, either. For me, it's just a matter of standing still, holding my breath, and it's over with in pretty short order. And when you compare it with having your teeth cleaned, all I have to say is, I'm glad I don't have 28 boobs.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Fun With Tigh & Lloyd

I have been drinking Patron margaritas at Bravo's. With Tigh and Lloyd. Where it isn't just a happy hour, nonono! It's happy half the afternoon! BBQ chicken sliders. Fried green beans. Nachos. While I am sad that Lloyd is moving on for the next leg of his American travels, I think perhaps my liver needs a rest. It has been great fun! And I'm so happy to have acquired another son! And I need one of those Power Ball tickets to pay off so I can make a trip to Australia! And now, it's either too late for a nap or too early for bedtime, so I'll compromise by falling asleep while watching a movie. I love it when things work out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun With Tigh & Lloyd


When a friend flies in from Australia and has been awake for 36 hours, the obvious thing to do is take him to International Night at Jim's Tap. Then he snaps a photo of you leaning before you've had your first drink. Welcome to Brookings, Lloyd!


Later, we introduce Lloyd to midwestern American delicacies like mac & cheese, pheasant chislic and pumpkin pie!


Instead of making the "kids" sit in the kitchen, they all gravitated towards the table set up in the living room. That was fine with me, the grown-up table was closer to the wine.


A trip to east river South Dakota just isn't complete without an outing to Falls Park. Even if it's raining. Here in the requisite shot with the falls in the background are Tigh and Lloyd. Looking well hydrated, don't you think?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dinner for Twelve

It's United Nations Day! How appropriate that an Australian will be here for dinner! I don't have time for anything else here, there is a table cloth to iron and dusting and polishing to do. It's also time for the traditional shoving of whatever is sitting about and looking messy into the laundry room! And that last minute bathroom quickie spiffing-up with the Windex. I do love a dinner party.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting Patron-Ized



Patron is so beautifully packaged. Like lingerie from Macy's, it is carefully wrapped in tissue paper before being placed in its box.





Each bottle is identified with a hand written and initialed label to ensure the customer that it has been lovingly sealed in its bottle with professional expertise. Thank you, PSM. Bottle 1990155 shall be enjoyed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bunnies & Bums

Tomorrow is the biggest one day celebration here. South Dakota State University's homecoming, also known as Hobo Day. Hobos and Jackrabbits, I've never understood the connection. But people are converging from all over the place, whether they attended SDSU or not. There will be the standard parade and football game and a general state of celebretory inebriation. Something I like to call celebriation. I'm having a few people over on Sunday so I need to go pick up some beer and wine...I hope there's some left at our one and only liquor store. It's entirely possible that the town could be drunk dry. So, Go Jacks! and happy tailgating to you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wait...Did I Buy a Car Today?


Behold! My newly acquired 1998 Subaru Forester! The lengths that I go to in order to have something interesting to blog about.


The Forester shall become the younger son's ride. As soon as it's insured. And the 3% sales tax is paid. And licensed. And he's fully licensed. As a driver, that is. Reid, it's time you got a job!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Palindromic Day

I am a fan of numerical oddities. Of this we are all aware. I'm also a fan of wordy oddities such as palindromes. Today is 10-20-2010, not a true palindrome, but feels like one when said aloud. Go ahead. Say it out loud. You know you want to. Ten twenty twenty ten. So I considered living the day in a palindromic fashion. At the midpoint of the day I could do what I did in the first half of the day, only in reverse order. But then I thought that was much too complicated and required something of a plan. And even then, as a day often unfolds in a completely different fashion than you anticipate, it would be unlikely to work out anyway. At any rate, since my first waking thing most days is the brewing and drinking of coffee, maybe not such a great idea right at bedtime. Instead, I offer some of my favorite palindromes for your entertainment.


Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog.

Dammit, I'm mad!

Resume so pacific a pose, muser.

Noel sees Leon.

Enid and Edna dine.

Won't lovers revolt now?



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Medical Ping-Pong


I slept just plain crappy last night! I observed some increment of every single overnight hour by the time I saw light creeping across the sky. And I wondered if there might be some cause and effect from reading a fellow blogger's detailed account of a sleepless night. But he was not to blame. Some nights, regardless of how tired I am, my inability to shut down my thought process gets in the way of slumber. For a number of months, my sleep pattern was more likely to be interrupted by the constant dull ache of tendinitis in my hands. Or once in a while, just for a little variety, I'd experience personal thermostatic fluctuations brought on by one of my favorite near constant companions, menopause. But last night's struggle for snoozing was due to a psychological ping-pong match between the logical/rational thinking side of my brain and the emotional/visceral side. Concerning my current post/pre surgical medical situation that is bandied back and forth between Work Comp insurance representatives (I'm on my fourth case worker, and they all seem to be functionally incapable of answering their phone or returning calls in answer to voicemails), my medical caretakers (who are more than competent and very caring), the local HR Specialist (yes, that's her title, though I can't say it's fitting...), and a nurse case manager (assigned to me by my company to advise me through my recovery from a work-caused injury). The net is a tightly drawn dividing line between approved and not approved, valid and not valid, allowed and dis-allowed. The thing is, I wasn't handed a rule book at the beginning, I expected to be properly advised by HR and the medical professionals who are in charge of my treatment. All of these entities seem to have a problem with sharing information, and I have signed a number of forms allowing them to do just that. And nothing seems to move forward unless I'm flying the bitch flag and get on the phone. I'm tired, and not just because last night was nearly sleepless. I'm tired of fighting this neverending battle between the bureaucracies. I would like to focus my energy on healing, on becoming well enough to return to work and have some normalcy in my life. This is practically impossible when I'm wondering why my disability pay has disappeared when I have bills to pay. The stress over all of these issues is an enormous distraction as well as detrimental to my overall health. I'd just like to know who is in my corner besides me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sandwich Monday!

I don't know about you, but I find Monday a much more tolerable place to be when it contains a good, hearty laugh. A reliable source for such a laugh is this. Sandwich Monday, brought to you by those responsible for NPR's Wait, Wait..Don't Tell Me!. I count on them each and every Saturday afternoon for an irreverent and hilarious look at the news and not so newsworthy happenings of the week. I'm with Ian and Mike on this one, something you are about to eat should not contain references to horses or shoes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aiding and Abetting

Just on the other side of the wall to my left, is a server. A monster of a computer that has like a hundred bazillion megabyte memory. It belongs to my elder son. He has tv shows and other stealthy and possibly edible things stored on it. It hums. In kind of a friendly, minor key sort of way. This is not the first time a server has lived in this house. I remember when the elder son was in high school. There was this constant back and forth struggle between the semi-tech-savvy staff at the school and the extremely creativly scary-smart verrrry tech-savvy students. Said staff was always looking to head off at the microchip any computer related rules that the students might be trying to somehow circumvent. Like, gasp, playing games on the internet or accessing web sites the school felt were inappropriate. Or fun. No fun shall be had on this school's computers! So, many sites were blocked and, sadly, inaccessible from inside the school. Or so they thought. Dwelling in our basement was a server that my son had constructed and programmed. The web address for the server was quite accessible, thank you. And from there, the entire internet was his. I sighed and shook my head. I knew he wasn't accessing porn or exposing the school's computer network to viruses, he really just wanted to play web based games on his lunch break. So he found a creative way around a rule. He didn't get caught and no harm was done. Had his purposes been malevolent or destructive in nature, I certainly would have unplugged him. I was pretty sure that I wasn't contributing to a certain future of crime and degredation for my son. Now, five years later, the wackiest thing he's done is dye his hair green. Fluorescent pink. Or cobalt blue. And as far as I know, he has only used his geek skills for the greater good of mankind. Oh. And for fun.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Loves Halloween!


Beanie Halloweenie!


Flying witches! Gnarly trees!


Half a coven congregating on the table in the hall. The line for broom rides is forming just around the corner!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Philosophy 101


Finally! Nietzsche made simple! A Nietzsche I can understand! In honor of his birthday, I am spreading to the masses his message in a relatable form. Thanks to Liz for sharing this link. Like her, I am finding I must continue to hit refresh for a new cartoon. Hmmm. I wonder what old Friedrich might make of that!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Odometer Oddity Deaux

Remember back in July? Are you concerned that moi is paying much too much attention to the numerical nuances on the dashboard display while she is driving? Worry not. I noticed this impending convergence about ten miles before it occurred, and was sure to be in a reasonable spot to pull over when it did. In case you haven't deduced why on earth I bothered to snap a photo, note that both the odometer and trip odometer show the numeric sequence 3495. That is all. When you commit to posting a blog every day, sometimes it's just cat pictures and hairballs. But with any luck, never a picture of a hairball.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cupcakes!!

In honor of Trent's birthday, which was yesterday, I volunteered to bake birthday treats. Cupcakes are always a big hit, so I went with a seasonal recipe. Don't tell anyone I started with a cake mix! Not just any cake mix, mind you, I am loyal to Duncan Hines. For these I used a Duncan Hines Spice cake mix, followed the lower fat baking instructions, and instead of applesauce, I substituted pumpkin. Yum.

The frosting, however, was home made. I avoid the ready-made frosting in a tub. Too many chemical sounding ingredients. And what goes better on a pumpkin spice cupcake than cream cheese frosting! And although my tendinitis plagued hands were very tired after all that piping, squeezing a pastry bag full of frosting turned out to be excellent post-surgical therapy. Like squeezing a stress ball, only tastier.

And here we have the final product, festively decorated for the fall. If you ask me, the only thing better than a cupcake with cream cheese frosting is one with candy on top.