Monday, July 30, 2012

Countdown to MCC!

I have my ticket! In twenty-four hours I will be in the same room as Mary Chapin Carpenter. I may become all verklempt. But I adore her, so I hope she'll understand. What do you suppose is the likelihood that James Taylor, who duets with MCC on Soul Companion, might show up? That would be amazing. And what about Shawn Colvin, friend and frequent collaborator? Might she show up? That would also be amazing. But MCC herself shall more than suffice. I promise not to stalk. See you there!

Flip Flop!

Normally, at least in the realms of politics and public policy, the term flip flop seriously irritates me. It's one thing to spout a different opinion on a particular issue every other day or depending on who happens to be asking. This is idiotic. It is quite another to express a difference in opinion over a longer period of time. Say, months, or even years. This makes sense to me. How else are we to grow, to evolve, to learn? I think it's perfectly reasonable to change your view as new information presents itself. It's not a flip flop, it's smart! Just today I became aware of two people who changed their views. Neither of them is a flip flop, at least I don't think so, although I have seen both proclaimed as such. The first is a change in opinion based on having learned new information. The other is more of a forced outing. If you ask me, we need to be more accepting of the fluid nature of ideas and those we choose to espouse. More tolerant of those who seem to deal with their own self-loathing by condemning the behavior of others. No one enjoys being in a closet, even if it's one of your own making.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day of Rest. Not!

Typing is too hard, squeal my cranky hands. I resorted to attaching the skirt pieces to the couch with itty bitty nails cuz my hands were to pooped to use the heavy duty stapler. Pitiful, I know. Drives me to drink and Advil and a strategically placed heat pack. In other news, it rained last night! I had to get out of bed and scurry about closing windows and wiping up puddles. The lawn is almost green again! It hasn't been mowed in over a month and I must say Reid is not complaining about it. I had a dream last night about building a cat scratching post. Turns out I have all the necessary parts right here in the garage and basement. I just may tackle that tomorrow. I love Newton and Einstein. But they do not get to claw the new upholstery! Between the spray bottle, cat nip and a new scratching spot just for them I think we may find a way to make it work. And now, my cranky hands bid you goodnight.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Slippery Slipcover Slope

Sometimes rearranging the furniture turns into recovering the loveseat. Which means my hands hurt. Which means I'm now drinking a well deserved Landshark lager. And there's a thin crust homemade pizza in the oven. Mushroom and pepperoni, if you must know. Soon I'll retire to the half reconstructed couch with the beer and the pizza to watch a movie. I may even put my feet up on the coffee table. If there's room among the tools and fabric scraps. Wear shoes in the living room, please, I'm being awfully careful but a few stray bent staples might be lingering in the carpet. This project is going to keep me out of trouble for a long, long time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beets Me

It would seem that at some point in my childhood that I had a close encounter of the veggie kind that put me off beets forever. Until tonight. Let's not bother with the actual calculation of the duration of forever. This evening I was treated to the most delectable salad I have ever eaten. And it was rife with beets! Really! Spinach and other greens and two varieties of beets and goat cheese. I chose the rather unorthodox creamy gorgonzola dressing, this salad is normally paired with a basic vinaigrette. It was delish. And particularly so because of the tangy sweet addition of beets! I am officially reformed. Beets are wonderful. Don't even begin to think you can slip some okra past me. Though slippery it is. Go ahead and help yourself to all the okra in the world. While you're busy chomping on it, pass the beets to me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still My MIL Revisited

I'm angry. And sad. And ultimately there isn't much of anything I can do about it. My former husband's mother, whom I will likely always think of as my mother-in-law, is not long for this world. She has been in a steady decline since last fall when she was hospitalized with pneumonia. Until that point, she had been living independently and doing alright for an 84 year old woman. She was still sharp at card games and was a ruthless Scrabble player. After the pneumonia she was home briefly before returning to the hospital via ambulance with complications and has been in a nursing home since then. Now, after a doctor visit where much testing was done, she has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cervical cancer. My anger kicked in because cervical cancer is among the most treatable of cancers when caught at an early stage, usually through routine pap tests. But at this advanced stage of the disease and considering her other health issues anything but palliative care has been ruled out. So I'm sad. I suppose it's partly just this stage of my own life, parents and others of their generation are passing at nearly regular intervals. There almost isn't enough time in between to gather yourself for the next wave. Audrey and I were never close, we had something of a strained relationship. I regret this even though my ex stands as a witness to the fact that I made an effort, often went above and beyond to try to keep things pleasant. But I failed just as often as I was successful. And sometimes I was just tired of all the drama and immersed myself in being a mom to my sons and keeping my own faltering marriage together. My ex backed me up throughout these difficulties. He surmised that I was a particular brand of weird and his mother was another and we failed to mesh. And that was that. Still, I am saddened by knowing that she has but a few months left among us. I hope her passing is gentle and that she is surrounded by her children and grandchildren until that time comes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Not really a happy one, but a milestone nonetheless. One year ago today I was dismissed from my job of nearly seven years. After one year of ongoing medical leave that included surgery, many doctor visits, and months of physical therapy. Due to nerve and soft tissue damage and tendinitis in my hands and wrists caused by my job. Progress toward resolving this issue is slow but ongoing. During this last year I was approved for disability which means I have a small, but much needed and appreciated income. Which means, with a little bit of luck, I can hold out for the duration without losing my home. In the meantime, I'm taking the sage advice of Mary Chapin Carpenter by living each day to fullest. I don't want to be late for my life! This includes seeing MCC live next week. I needed to wind up my birthday celebration of two months with something fabulous. And if you ask me, there is little in life as fab as MCC.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Matchy, Matchy

I can't resist yet another shade of pink nail polish. From Blush to Bashful and beyond, I possess a rather enviable range of pinks with which to decorate my nails. It seems my newest pink, Revlon Extravagant #271, is pretty much the same color as my cell phone. I feel so coordinated. This isn't the first time my toes have matched another object. Armed with my trusty pink Panasonic Lumix camera, I feel compelled to record the evidence.

Take My Couch. Please

Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, you should never think you will love a couch based on its upholstery. Upholstery is important. It should be durable, comfortable against your skin, attractive to look upon. But when you finally figure out that the upholstery is the only redeeming quality, it's time to show it the door. I don't have a doghouse, not that there would be room for a sofa in there even if I did have one, but it seems an appropriate place to show it the door to based on how irritated I am with it. Next best place? The garage! The hundred degree plus garage! Also the closest. I bought this couch because I loved the upholstery. In the last four years of living with it, I've discovered that it is not comfortable for sitting or napping, the pillows don't stay put in the corners, and eventually I didn't care in the least when the cats began to claw at the corners. I may steal some fabric from it to repair its companion matching chair, which I'm keeping, but when the college students begin to arrive in town in less than a month, this baby is going out to the curb. Take my couch. Please. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


While gazing through the Sunday paper ads I learned some wonderful news. Fiesta is now producing their signature dinnerware in pink! They're calling it Flamingo. I'm delighted. Or perhaps more appropriately, tickled pink. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beamish Boys

I do love being a mom. Just after Michael and Liz got married, the brothers were goofing off and I snapped this series of photos. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PreNup PS

Once again, the threes have it! The three men I have had the longest relationships with both time-wise and seriousness-wise all seem to have moved on. After 20+ years, three years and three years of being with me, they are married, married with two babies and engaged! And relatively soon after their involvement with me. Just minutes ago I received news of the engagement of bachelor number three and was quite surprised given the brief time they have been together. Out of a sincere sense of impending doom I recommend these three things for the bride-to-be. Join Al-Anon to learn the coping skills you will need to spend your life with a man who drinks to excess, pretty much on a daily basis. If he won't consent to engaging in anger management therapy, go on your own to learn how to deal with a deeply angry man who has little control over his temper. In case you hadn't noticed, he suffers from erectile dysfunction. And he is in a state of complete and utter denial about it. It would not surprise me in the least if last two issues were directly tied to the first. All I know is, his resistance to addressing these three problems is why I broke off our relationship. He's an interesting, intelligent, complex fellow. But not a healthy relationship choice. And there is good reason to be wary of a man who at forty plus years has never been responsible for anyone but himself, not even a pet or a plant, and has never had a relationship with a woman that lasted five years. I wish you well. Marriage isn't easy, and with any luck he has dealt with these difficult issues already. Otherwise you're starting off on a steep uphill climb with the summit still out of sight.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mmmmmango Rummmmmmm!

It's official. I have become a mojithoe. You can be one, too. Drink one of these and I promise you'll be in love! First, you will need a big glass. Fill it to an inch from the top with (not the rum!) ice. Crush a couple of fresh mint leaves between your fingers. (bonus: your fingers will smell very fresh!) Drop crushed mint into the glass. Add two oz of mango rum followed by just a splash of simple syrup. Fill to the top with club soda. Garnish with a lime slice. Enjoy. When you request another with a wild gleam in your eye, you'll know you have entered the realm of the mojithoe. As my sis Martine quipped, mojitmoe! Yum. Sadly, no, the Cruzan people are not compensating me for singing the praises of their rum which should be enjoyed in moderation. Though if they offered compensation in the form of a complimentary bottle or two, I would be powerless to say no. I am, after all, a mojithoe. 

Good News!

Is anyone aware that if your gas cap is loose it makes the check engine light come on? The main computer interprets this out of normal parameters pressure reading as a leak. Therefore a problem and perhaps a hazard! Check engine please!! With the nerve damage and weakness in my hands the gas cap, removal as well as replacement, during the fueling process is problematic. Amazing this hasn't happened before. Note to self: Those leather work gloves that you keep in the car? Wear them! Not only will it make gassing up easier on your hands, you'll be able to replace the gas cap properly. Doh.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Double Nickels

I like themes. For parties, for home decor, for FYC*. Last year was my full deck plus jokers year. A self fulfilling prophecy of sorts, as I got involved with a couple of jokers despite the fact that I otherwise was playing with a full deck. Hmmm. The year before that I was prime. I do enjoy good prime year. The year before that, I was at last playing with a full deck. Must have been quite a relief for anyone who regularly hangs around with me. This year I shall endeavor to obey the posted speed limit, which is a good idea. For more reasons than this. Aside from the ground speed it looks like the sky is the limit. Sammy Hagar is perseverating in my head. This is going to be good.

*Fiscal Year Carla

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Vibes

For the last five years, I have experienced the best of relationships with a personal appliance. I am speaking, naturally, of my SoniCare toothbrush. It seems I have been lax about replacing the brush of late. When I first bought it, I diligently replaced a new brush head for the old twice a year just as the manufacturer recommends. I usually did this on or around Christmas and my birthday, an easy to remember association. At nearly a week past my birthday, today I replaced the old worn brush and couldn't really remember when I had last done this. One thing's for sure, it was due time. My teeth and gums are so sparkly and happy today! Meaning that the mid-winter changing of the brush time likely passed by without being properly observed. One other thing I noticed, on the packaging of the new brush heads I saw that they now recommend a new one every three months! I think twice a year is adequate. As long as I remember to do it. Maybe if I think I'm on a quarterly schedule I'll remember to do it twice. And shame on you for what you were thinking while reading the first sentence.

Mechanical Malfunctions

Sometimes at three AM when you can't sleep it seems perfectly reasonable to eat a bowl of frosted mini wheats and blog. It all started out with Friday the Thirteenth and the check engine light leaping to glaring life on the Outback's dashboard display. It's probably neither here nor there that this event occurred on F13, but you can never be too sure. The most annoying thing is that the cruise control won't work during the check engine phenomenon! Which is some clever aggravation developed by a coven of Japanese automobile engineers that passive aggressively compels you to get your car checked out. Which I shall do on Monday. But that got me thinking about how historically I have experienced major appliance/car breakdown problems in threes. Which started just over a week ago with water all over the floor in the laundry room. Not quite a flood but enough water that some cleanup efforts are required. This happened once earlier in the spring so I knew what it was. My water softener is ancient, so ancient that replacement parts are no longer available. There is a float thingamajig that no longer functions reliably so water ends up dumping out of an overflow valve when it cycles. Like I said, not a great deal of water, but enough that ran into the nearby sump hole, triggering the sump pump to, well, pump. And pump it did. And did. And did. Until it sounded like it was attempting to pump out the gravel in the bottom of the sump hole. This was not a good sounding noise. So I unplugged it. Fortunately its services are not immediately required. It has been a dry spring and summer so until the water softener overflowed it hadn't run for nearly a year. The sump pump is new, though, freshly installed just over a year ago. So I'm hoping it came equipped with more than a one year warranty. Between the car, the water softener and the sump pump, we are at three and I hope that concludes this trifecta of malfunction maladies. The softener is still trickling toward the floor drain through a chunk of hose that I attached to the overflow valve. I expect I'll be giving my favorite plumber a call on Monday. Right after I call a mechanic. He's not my favorite. But I don't want to wait for the next broadcast of Car Talk. Hosted by my favorite mechanics, Tom and Ray Magliozzi. But people seem to wait at least six months to call and inquire about a check engine light, if not a year, and they will have retired by then. Monday is shaping up to be a busy one. Good thing there's a day of rest in between.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When Life Gives You...

...a dessert disaster, just invent a new one! From the wreckage of a tart crust that broke into a billion pieces was born something I'm calling Upside Down Berry Cheesecake. The sugar cookie tart crust was still delicious, just incapable of containing fresh berries and glaze properly. I looked dejectedly at my shattered crust and nibbled on a shard or two. Hmmm. Then sprung into creative mode and pulled out several individual size containers. Then I stared at them for a while. Not entirely certain what the end product would be, I divided up the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries into the dishes. Then set about cooking up my standard glaze of water, cornstarch, sugar and raspberry jello and pouring it over the fruit. While these were cooling in the fridge, I whisked together equal parts cream cheese and whipping cream sweetened with just a little powdered sugar. The cream cheesy topping went into a pastry bag equipped with my largest star tip. When dessert time arrived, I assembled my genius concoction. On top of the fresh berries and glaze went the cookie shards, then piped on top of those was the cream cheesy topping. I was pretty sure it was going to be great, but for only the second time in my long dessert creating history did everyone around the table fall silent as they savored the luscious combination of sweet-tart berries, crispy light cookie bits and decadently rich topping. Once in a while, a bit fat flop works out.

Birthday Loot

So many fun and lovely gifts! I'm spoiled. No, I'm fortunate. That's better. The card that recreates the birthday song with fart noises makes me laugh until I, well, never mind.

No, this isn't mine, but Michael and Liz sent me one just like it. Mine was busy serving sangria at the time and wasn't able to be included in the first photo. Who thought serving sangria could be just as much fun as drinking it!


One particular department store credit card, which shall remain unnamed, has just emailed me a special coupon for $10 off a $25 purchase. Good today only. In-store only. Special because only those of us who are 55+ will receive it! For crying out louder than necessary! I've been 55 for less than 48 hours! And this store is 50 miles away. Meaning that I'd have to spend close to ten bucks on gas for the round trip to said store. What I'm wondering is, when will I suddenly become hungry for dinner at four?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Birthday Brekky

I like kicking off FYC* with a balanced breakfast. Excellent coffee, fresh strawberries and a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing. Stoked up with caffeine, fiber, sugar and sugar and fat and fat, I feel ready to embrace fifty-five with a vengeance. 

*Fiscal Year Carla

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tart Day

My friend Karen is exhibiting the symptoms of birthday denial. To celebrate her non-birthday, I threw together this lovely lemon tart. Made from lovely lemons. And lovely farm eggs. From Karen's chickens. Who are lovely as well.

Friday, July 6, 2012


It's funny how some people seem to have departed before they actually arrive. I'm not talking about oddball time zone conversions or relativity. I mean this in the most literal sense possible. People who are so careful to maintain their emotional distance. They stay disconnected in the most intimate of situations. His eyes are clear and bright but he's not there. Because it's safe to be this way. I came this close to getting to you and I'm most certain this is why you ran. Why you disappeared on me. So I'm sad tonight. Not for me but for you. Because the lost and lonely souls who plan an exit strategy before the opportunity for entry arises lose out on embracing the profound and joyous human experience that love is. And they are the ones who need it the most.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Happy birthday SPAM! Born in Austin, Minnesota in 1937, you are 75 years old! I have spelled you all in caps as Hormel Foods specifies this is the proper way to do things. I cannot remember the last time a can of SPAM graced the shelves of my pantry. Neither can I predict when this may possibly happen in the future. One thing's for sure, I really don't think it's necessary to shout. Please, SPAM, use your inside voice.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Double Entendre

While in KC with the sisters numerous gifts were exchanged. Miss Pamela brought us gifts from Hawaii and Texas. I adore this wonderfully fragrant soap. But its name has me just a tad confused. Is it to be used for the cleaning of filthy fairies? Or is it perhaps made from or by filthy fairies? I'll just pretend I'm a filthy fairy some time when I come in from a good filthy yard work session. Problem solved. I am similarly perplexed in the spice aisle of the grocery store when I see the shaker of All Purpose Greek Seasoning. What precisely do we season? The Greek food? Food of another ethnic persuasion so that it may seem Greekish? Perhaps could it be used for the seasoning of Greeks themselves if they seem lacking in flavor? Which then brings to mind that episode of The Twilight Zone. Featuring that instructional tome entitled To Serve Man. Talk about your soylent green is people moment. I really hate it when I come up with creepy stuff so close to bedtime. I'll just tuck that bar of Filthy Fairy Soap under my pillow. With any luck it will induce visions of dancing sugar plums. Which is infinitely more pleasant than my current mental picture of a whole new twist on a Greek hamburger. Problem solved.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guano be Gone!

Power washing the guano off the lawn furniture is so very satisfying. Stage one of cleaning up the yard and garage for next week's festivities is complete. I have potted the lovely new pink calladium and after a week of careful tending and watering there are tiny new blades of grass in the former perennial thicket! It turns out my gerbera daisy has survived me being gone. Reid, I apologize for my earlier outburst accusing you of killing it. It seems you merely neglected it. Upon my return from KC it resembled a large tossed salad left out in the sun to fend for itself. After removing all the dead leaves there is one blossom open and two more on the way! I also have replaced that pup tent shaped rusted out part in the grill with a shiny new one. I love a productive morning!

Monday, July 2, 2012


You would think that I single handedly support every retail outlet within the radius of a purse handle swing. Like I'm some legendary plastic flipping economy stimulating wonder woman. Via email as well as the snail variety I am receiving freebies right and left. Up and down. And around. Ten bucks here, fifteen bucks there, free shipping everywhere. Most of them are valid until the end of the month! How much fun is that, I ask you. And it's still a whole week away. My birthday, that is. 

KC, Day Three

How could this be? I have no photos of day three! And let's face it, we're almost two weeks out from the actual experience and if there aren't photos to prompt my memory, this could very well be an exceedingly dull post. I remember coffee showing up. And the lovely woman bearing the coffee deigned to set it on a clear spot on the bed as the lovely coffee-bearing woman had done the previous day. She said it was against the law. Maybe just hotel policy. I scrambled for the luggage rack. Then there was showering and dressing and girly-getting-ready stuff. Pam was also packing up for late in the afternoon she would be delivered to Terminal B at KCI in order to return home. Sigh. Some famous Kansas City barbecue was consumed at Gates BBQ for lunch. Spicy. Yummy. Yes. Then on to Crown Center for some shopping. There was fudge. And a new shawl for moi. And a cute purse that has turned into a story all on its own. Then much sadness and gnashing of teeth and wailing as we dropped Pam off for her flight to Atlanta. Back in KC proper, Martine and I found ourselves ready for an evening in. Beer and wine were procured on the way back to the hotel. We suited up for pool time with beverages. We thought we weren't hungry but found ourselves in the bar in our swimsuits splitting a most excellent burger. I love eating in the bar in my swimsuit. I feel like I'm getting away with something. I mustn't neglect to mention that this day was also Michael's birthday. After playing a couple rounds of call and text tag, I finally spoke with the elder son. He assured me that twenty-four was treating him well, as was Liz, who was providing him with a triple chocolate cake delicacy in honor of his natal anniversary. Then there was sleep. Then it was Thursday. I have pictures of Thursday!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Opening Up a Can

Of beans. That's what friend Becky did just a few minutes ago on Facebook. She invited a torrent of funny comments when she posted about opening a can of Bush's baked beans and how it reminded her of the VanCamp's pork and beans from childhood. Which made me think about cans in general. And the dinner table of my youth, and finally my mother's cooking. As a child of the 60's I was fed from cans. Mom's pantry was stocked with Campbell's soups, Chef Boyardee's pastas, the dreaded pork and beans, saurkraut, tiny mysterious cans of mushroom steak sauce, green beans and peas. Some were mere ingredients, some were stand alone dishes, some were magically both. What I remember about the pork and beans was that frightening little mass of of what I now refer to as the perfunctory pork. Mom said that if the word pork was on the label, VanCamp's et al was required to include some in every can. If I was the designated can opener for a meal, I fished the wretched thing out and deposited it in the trash, fearing that it might end up on my plate and I would inadvertently chomp into it. She made wondrous chili by combining a large can of these, a can of kidney beans, a can of stewed tomatoes and a pound of hamburger browned with an onion chopped up fine. There may have been the finest of sprinklings of chili powder, but this stuff wasn't the least bit spicy. It appealed to my ten year old palate, though, and the house was filled with warm, rich aromas when this melange was simmering on top of the stove on a North Dakota winter night. I didn't know until I was grown how much my mother disliked cooking. How relieved she was to no longer have the drudgery of planning, shopping for, and cooking meals. If it hadn't been for cans, I honestly don't know how she would have managed! I remember being astonished at Grandma Esther's when I witnessed her making soup from scratch! She was simmering a beef soup bone with onions and celery to start a broth for vegetable soup. Grandma could make soup without a can! It was a miracle. It seems the cooking bug skipped my mother's generation and bit me with voracity. I love to cook and will cook just for moi as well as for a crowd. I still make a version of my mom's opening up some cans chili. I use a greater variety of beans, often cooking them up from their dried state, but sometimes using the canned variety for convenience. I use lots of spices and garlic that are completely foreign to Mom's Norwegian upbringing. I do use canned tomatoes, and if I'm really lucky, sometimes they're the fruit from a friend's garden. Thanks, Becky, for opening up this can of memories.