Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Decorations

I love Christmas and have accumulated a lot of decorations over the years.  I've made a lot of them, but not all.  We lived in a small space for the first ten years that we were in Tennessee.  Then we built and moved into our house two years ago.  The first year, I didn't decorate much because we moved Dec. 18, the first day of our Christmas holidays.  Last year I didn't decorate much because I was just too tired.  This year I am planning to decorate all I want to because I've retired and if I get tired, I can just rest for a while.  I've made two trips in the gator to the basement, one trip walking and carrying from the shed, and there's still stuff out there.  This much stuff necessitates a major cleaning spree.  I don't hate cleaning when I am decorating.  Ho Ho Ho

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big Maggie, Little Maggie

At Thanksgiving I always make dressing.  When I do, I always think of Little Maggie.  My memory is somewhat like the white trash woman in The Help.  "White trash" is how the "society" women in the book think of her.  But her maid teaches her to cook, somewhat more successfully in the movie than in the book.  But this memory of mine predates the book or the movie, but it is set in about the same time, however.
I was going to have company for Thanksgiving and I didn't know much about cooking.  My husband introduced the idea of opening a can, warming the contents, and eating it.  So I had Little Maggie at the house cleaning and helping me watch the kids while I tried to read a recipe from my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.  She watched that for about two minutes and said, "I'll show you how to make a good dressing!" And she did.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

iPod story

I downloaded Janet Evanovitch's Explosive Eighteen to listen to as I removed meat from chicken bones (for tomorrow's dressing and gravy) and peeled baked sweet potatoes.  I really like the Stephanie Plum series.  Stephanie is like a slutty Lucy in I Love Lucy with a black Ethel (named Lulu).

Keep Doing What You're Doing

I had my 6 month lab work conference.  The doctor said to keep on doing what I'm doing.  That was good to hear.  However I was not able to tell that eating Fiber 1 for breakfast brought about a significant change in my cholesterol.  My blood sugar was better, my cholesterol was still a little high, but not awful.  My "good cholesterol" was 71 which is really good.
I asked what a "normal" pulse rate is and she said mine is normal.  That was a relief because I thought mine was high because it is higher than Larry's.

11-22-63 update

I'm 80% finished with Stephen King's 11-22-63.  I'm not able to put any spoilers in because I don't know how it is going to turn out.  That's a good thing because if I know, it isn't interesting, gripping, enthralling.  I am curious to know if he makes it back to modern times, does he go alone, is the world better if he accomplishes his goal, or is it awful and he has to go back and undo it all.
I'm baking sweet potatoes for the candied sweet potatoes for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Feast:).  The cornbread dressing is almost ready to put together.  The turkey is thawing so we can put it in our deep fryer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Waffles for Dinner-Low Carb:)

Maple Grove Farms of Vermont, all Natural Sugar Free Pancake &Waffle Mix (8 carbs minus 3 fiber) with sugar free Log Cabin I have a meal back I thought was gone forever.  Even my husband said it was good.
Yesterday I went to the doctor for my lab work (I go twice a year).  Tomorrow I have my follow-up conference with the doctor so we evaluate how my plans are working.  This will be my second visit since the doctor said my cholesterol is high.  Last time I had brought down the ldl 20 points.  I'm anxious to see what the numbers show this time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Big Shrimping

There is a reality show on television, Big Shrimping.  The first year we taught, it was in Bayou La Batre.  Larry has been watching the show, absolutely loving listening to them talk, and loving it that they have put captions on so the audience can tell what they are saying.  Tonight Dominic Ficarino was on.  He was in the class that Larry taught his first year.


I've started reading Stephen King's 11-22-63.  I'm not very far into it yet, but the protagonist goes from 2011 back to 1958.  I was 11 years old then.  He finds that things taste better.  This is one of the things I keep griping about.  Food doesn't taste as good as it used to.  He found gas selling for 19 cents a gallon.  I can remember in the 60's gas selling for 17 cents a gallon during a gas war.  I could fill up my car for a dollar.  And still my daddy would say that when he was little a nickel looked like a wagon wheel. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011


If playing games is supposed to keep my brain from deteriorating as I age, I have to say Mahjong is making me feel as if my brain has already gone to slush.  Playing a game I lose constantly is very depressing.  Playing one I'm good at may not be challenging enough.  Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tower Heist

I liked this movie, too.  Alan Alda made a good villain of the investment banker sort.  Eddie Murphy was also entertaining in his role on the side of the angels, sort of.  I usually don't like the movie where the good guys are doing something illegal, but in this case, I was rooting for the idiot Robin Hood gang made up of more than three stooges trying to right a wrong. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Old Ways/New Ways/GFI

I had stuff that wouldn't work for several months...lights on one porch, outlets on both porches.
At one point in my life we had fuses.  In the house where we lived on Richard Wagner Str., we had one fuse for the whole house.  So we couldn't use the toaster and hair dryer at the same time, or the dishwasher and the get the idea.  After fuses, we had breaker boxes.  Now keep in mind that if something quit working, somebody else figured out what was wrong and did something about it.
Now we have gfi and breakers.  So if something quits working and it isn't a breaker, it may not just be that whatever appliance I'm trying to operate is broken. 
We lost everything in our freezer after an electrical storm several years ago because I didn't know to push the button on the outlet.  Our insurance covered stupidity, which is a good thing for me.
This time it took two different electricians and both of us to find the gfi that needed to be pushed.  I am not sure, but I think I like a nice central location for things that screw up electrically. Maybe there is some point other than aggravation to a gfi, but I don't know what it is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Advent Calendar

Finished! Santa doesn't look jolly, but I don't know how to get a smile to show up through all that facial hair.
I also finished my first gourd.  I have a couple more in progress.  No picture yet because the one I finished looks pretty bad although Larry said it looks good to him.


Is everybody paranoid or is it just me?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Retirement Sunday

One of the things I've enjoyed so far about retirement is the weather.  When I only had a limited time off, the time I did have off was frequently rushed...filled with errands and chores.  I had more time off in the summer, but I don't like hot dry weather.  Many times Spring Break wasn't nice, either.  Or Christmas Break.  Whatever the weather is now, I can choose to stay out of it or enjoy it.
Today is gray and wind.  It's a lazy day, and I didn't have to go to work.  I can sit on the porch with coffee, a blanket, and a book.  So I can enjoy the day even though it isn't really Sunday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Excellent Day

Today I planted the rest of the tulip and daffodil bulbs, upsucked six bags of leaves with the leaf vac, and worked on a green gourd.  It was important to not mess with the Advent Calendar while it dried.  It needs to dry for a couple of days and then I can start varnishing it.  So I had to be busy on other things.
We rode around in the gator and gathered three different kinds of acorns and a couple of other seed types.
It is annoying to do something that doesn't show up at all.  Leaves that are gone, bulbs in the ground...not spectacular.  But at least I'm finished with bulbs for a while.  I'm not out of leaves, so I'm just through for today.  I also found a book on composting that I'd been looking for.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Real Steel

I liked this movie.  It had the triumph of a bummed kid like Karate Kid did.  It had the underdog loser winning like Rocky did.  It had a whisper of Isaac Asimov's robot:)  Yeah, feel-good movie.
We ate at Cheddar's and I liked that, too.  It was my first time to eat there, but it won't be the last.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Cheese Spread

Holiday season is coming up and sometimes there are "make and take" events or snacking is there to provide a nice contrast to the sweets that greet us at every turn.  This is great.  It is good for the Atkins Diet if I eat it off of a spoon.  Since I like crackers with it, I try not to eat many.
Ida's Cheese Spread (or ball)

Two 8 oz. Packages of cream cheese softened
2 packages of corned beef or two pkg. of sliced beef, diced (the person I got the recipe from...while scarfing down the spread she'd brought...said Bruddig brand at WalMart is as good as any and cheaper than any others. So I tried expensive sliced deli beef and Bruddig and found they were both really good in this recipe.)
6 green onions, chopped, including the tops
½ t of accent
1 T of worcestershire sauce
mix well.

It even looks festive.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leaf Mold

Leaf mold doesn't sound great, but I've been looking forward to fall for the leaves that cover the ground.  I've read different reports that range from 50% to 300% moisture retention improvement when leaf mold is added to the soil. 
To pile the leaves and let them decompose, it takes 6 to 12 months to turn into leaf mold.  I used a leaf vac so the leaves are somewhat broken down.  I put them into a tall plastic garbage can, watering each bag as I emptied the leaf vac.  I don't know if I will get good air flow in that large garbage can.  I've tried it with plastic garbage bags, but they shredded.  Maybe leaf bags would have worked better.  Anyway, the garbage can I'm using is about the size that the garbage people use, wheels and all.
The next batch of leaves will go into the compost bin.  Lots of leaves, lots of places to amend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Steve Jobs-Annoying Genius

I am aware that arguing with dead people is fruitless.  But electronic stuff is dearer to some than others.  The first computer I came in contact with was in 1983 when my school received two and they were sitting in their boxes in the office.
I asked the principal what he was going to do with them.  He said he didn't know...nobody knew anything about them.  So I went to the PX and bought one just like it and signed up for a computer class.  The librarian agreed to take the class with me.  So I told the principal that the sixth grade (my class) should get one and the library should get the other since we were interested to the point of buying one just like the ones the school had, and we would take a computer class.  He agreed.
I worked with the PTA to get computers in each classroom and printers.  Our little school had more computers than any other.  Those were Atari 500s.  The computer class used TRS 80s and had a couple in their "lab."  We had to look up everything to translate how to do something on the Atari that was presented to us on the TRS 80.  There wasn't a computer in the classroom.  All of the instruction was with the textbook and chalkboard.
So the school started with Atari 500s.  The next thing the system did was buy Apples to run software.  So if we were teaching writing, the students would work on one computer, if they were doing educational software, they would use another.  The same computers wouldn't do the same thing. 
I wanted the same computer at home as we had at school because it would be easier to make a file and move it.
The school eventually went to IBM clones and threw the Apples away...some still in the original packages.  So I bought an IBM clone so I could work at home and move files.
So Steve Jobs made wonderful products, but not products the school system supported even though individuals at school who were wonderful with computers had Apple computers, or Macs, for themselves.
The whole closed product from beginning to end was his concept, but it was a pain at school. 
At the end of the book (and his life) he was discussing education with Pres. Obama and decried the state of the educational system and said computers and technology wasn't being used optimally (as well as not stressing teaching electronics).  I wonder if he would have worked on that next.  There are some good programs for education, but they still haven't integrated it as I hope they will one day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pulse Rate

I am trying to remember to exercise because my resting heart rate is high.  I'm not good at remembering to do it because I tend to think that if I'm standing up, that counts as exercise.  I explained that to the last health coach who had the temerity to suggest exercise.  She said that for it to count for heart health, cardio-vascular improvement, I needed to exercise to the point where my heart beat faster while I was doing it.  I pointed out that I avoid that intentionally.   So my goal is to bring my resting heart rate down into the normal range on the blood pressure cuff I use.  My doctors and health coaches always point out that exercise is good and I keep thinking it is like going to the doctor and saying you hurt and they say, "Well, at your age..."
So I decided at med school they teach them to say that along with various versions of "you're fat."  Diet can take care of the fat thing, and I've been working on it.
But it makes sense to me that if my heart is working twice as hard as it needs to, it may mean that it won't continue to operate as long.  Or maybe that counts as exercise for the heart muscle as it is really busy all the time.  Probably the former.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Celtic and Heritage Festival

 I hadn't seen modern spinning wheels, only museum types.  These were beautiful.  My sweater was a big hit at that tent.
 I wish I had thought to ask what she was making. 
 This spinning wheel had loads of hooks which is why I took this picture.
This was one of my favorite displays.  The silk yarn, the baskets, the natural wood spinning wheel, all were very appealing.
Larry had an interesting time comparing vests at one display.  When we were on our way home, he said I shouldn't have volunteered that it was a concealed carry vest.  I said I thought they were good friends.  He said he just met the man, how could they be good friends.  I said, "You put your hand in his pocket."  He said he wanted to know if it was lined.  I said, "YOU PUT YOUR HAND IN HIS POCKET!"  He decided to let the topic drop.
The music was interesting and good.  A lot of people were wearing kilts.  Maybe I'll dig mine out, find a shirt to go with it, and wear it next time we go to one of those.  I shouldn't, because I didn't buy it because I'm Scottish.  I just really liked it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Celtic and Heritage Festival

The Celtic and Heritage Festival started today and will continue through tomorrow.  It starts at 10:00 A.M. and lasts until 5:00 P.M.  It also includes Native American participants.  We plan to go.
It is at Parkers Crossroads, TN.

2 Wasps, 11 Ladybugs

I like sucking up lady bugs better than wasps.  I think they must have come in with the pineapple we brought in to the sunroom. 
Today is the first Saturday of the month so I had my cleaning person come.  She did a lovely job.  The boys Larry had scheduled didn't come.  It rained last week so they lost a day on their construction job and needed to make it up.  He was only able to get one, the youngest.  So he didn't get as much done as he had hoped.  But Larry bought a bunch of bulbs.  Then we spent some time figuring out where to put them.  So the boy planted some of them.  I told him how deep, how far apart, and "pointy side up."  I didn't know I needed to say pointy side up until I saw him put the first one in upside down.  I explained that the growth end is phototrophic and the roots are geotrophic and the bulbs would come up even if he did it wrong, I just wanted pointy side up because it made sense to do it that way.  But I didn't stand there and watch him do every one of them.
When Larry took them home, he came back and said I don't supervise them adequately.  I don't pay somebody to work because I want to watch them work.  My standards might not be very high because if I don't have to do it, I'm happy.  If they don't get through in what I consider a reasonable time, next time I tell them.  If they don't do it like I want after I tell them what I want, I ask if they did it like I said.  If they did, I need to figure out what went wrong with my directions.  If they say they forgot, I remind them.
I have said things like, "If you talk to me, I'm not going to pay you."  "If you work as slowly as I do, I am going to pay you half as much as I've planned."  I'm really okay with adjusting to what I get when I don't supervise closely.  I had to supervise people closely when I was getting paid to supervise.  When I'm paying, I just look for somebody else if they don't do what I want.  It hardly ever gets to the point where I'd rather do it than pay somebody to do it.  This is a different mind set from a regular workplace. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

ADHD Hobbies

Today I painted a few more pieces of dollhouse furniture, unpacked my new paints for another project, tried grinding some on the inside of a gourd with a little tool, helped decide where the bulbs will be planted, and wrote the first sentence of the great American novel.
I have looked at the November writing project and just feel absolutely blank.  It seems to me it would be cheaper to entertain myself writing what I like to read than buying it.  It will certainly be inexpensive at the rate of one line every six decades.  I don't think it will be very entertaining to me, though.
Helping decide where the bulbs will go was fairly entertaining.  My husband said to show him where to till.  He said he knew we'd already talked about it, but he wants me to stand there so he can explain what is wrong with it.  I've already told him I didn't care where he put them as long as we can see them from the front porch.  It gets tricky because they need full sun and that means we need to plant them in the field or somewhere we can't see them.  Or we could take trees out.  The removal of a few trees is the plan.  He knows which trees, I don't.  When he points, I forget as soon as he drops his arm.  I think spray paint might work, but pointing is what is actually happening.  Anyway, that was more fun than grinding the inside of a gourd because when I put the grinder inside the gourd, my hand blocked my view of where it needed to be cleaned. 
So we went to the hardware store and looked at extenders, bought a couple of things to attach to his drill instead of my dremmel, and brought them home.  Maybe tomorrow I will actually get something done.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rainy Day

I really like rainy days.  To put something up for a rainy day usually means to save money for when something bad happens.  It can also mean there are toys put away and only brought out for rainy days.
Reading is a good pasttime for rainy days, sunny days, snowy days.
But inclement days aren't just rainy ones.  These are days that call for projects.
 These are gourds I've cut and am in the process of cleaning.  The cuts are so awkward, my husband bought me a small hacksaw and some coping saw blades.  He also showed me how to change the blades and watched me try to use it.  He had many helpful things to say and managed to only sound like I am a total idiot once.

 Here are the gourds drying so I can do the next step which is sanding.
 I have an art room, but I usually actually work in the greenhouse part.  I have a lot of light and it feels like I'm outside without the wind, rain, and cold.
 This is a small patio table that I bought for the small balcony off the kitchen when we lived in Newhausen.  It had gotten stained over the years so I sponge painted it.  Now when I paint on it, if I get paint on it, it just adds to the "look."  The little pieces of doll furniture had to be put together like 3-d puzzles.  Now I'm painting them with birdhouse paint.
I love rainy days, pretty days, snowy days.  They are all great.

sleep phones

My sleep phones came yesterday.  I'd been curious about whether I could go to sleep better listening to a bedtime story or just not be annoyed while I lay there awake.
Well, I wasn't annoyed but I didn't go to sleep better, and every time I was aware of the voice, I was consequently aware that I was awake.
But I learned something.  When I turn over, I turn all the way over, not half over and half back.  So at some point I unwrapped the cord from around my neck.  This morning I searched out the pieces to find out why I wasn't hearing anything.  I'd already turned the headband this way and sound.  It was disconnected. 
I wonder if I can train myself to not turn over?  I wonder if I would like music better?  Or maybe sleep sounds from a relaxation tape?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shopping and Other Stuff

Yesterday was Senior Day so we went shopping.  I don't like shopping so we try to get it mostly done once a month.  We ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  I like to eat there because they have a low-carb menu.  There was a group of Japanese people eating there for their first time.  I think it must have been their first time because they all took pictures of the fireplace, mounted deer's head, and other quaint things Cracker Barrel decorates with.  A lot of the time we eat and actually go to two of the three stores we intend to go to.  I always want to go to Kroger's and WalMart (paper products, etc.).  Larry always wants to go to Lowe's and I sometimes want to.  But we rarely go to all three.  If we only go to two, WalMart is the place we don't hit.  I was really impressed that we ate and went to all three.
Then we got home, I packaged a gift, went to the post office, went back to WalMart (half and half!), got gas and went to the credit union. 
Then today we went to the Catfish Hotel in Shiloh.  I really like going there even though it is about an hour and a half, one way.  The fall colors were nice so it was a pleasant drive and good food.
When I got home I worked on my gourds.  I wore a respirator and was impressed with it.  I didn't inhale a lot of dust and it didn't fog up my glasses.  Maybe I won't have an allergy attack from the dust. My work on the gourds was very botched.  Larry looked at it and said he was intending to help me.  Too late.  It is possible sandpaper will fix some of the gouges.  Gourds are very hard.  My fine motor muscles may not be strong enough for a more controlled line.  Just because primitive cultures used gourds doesn't mean they were unskilled.  I'm trying to use a drimmel.  It isn't coming along very well, but I'm still in the cleaning and preparation time.  The drimmel is easier than a saw.