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Archive for December, 2010

In my continuing effort to read other’s blogs, rather than posting on my own,  I have discovered:  2010 – The Year In Jolie | Blurt via 2010 – The Year In Jolie | Blurt.    Check out her past blogs for a hysterical account of the time she was a contestant on “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me.”

I leave my studio radio on NPR and, I will have to be awfully ill to not work on Saturday when I can hear  ‘Wait! Wait,’  ‘Prairie Home Companion  and the whole lineup.  Alright, honesty here.  I have not been out to my studio in a couple of years, but this summer I will be out there again.  Feeling so much healthier and ready to go. and one thing that keeps me moving is NPR.  I particularly like late night jazz and Fusion.

So, what have I been doing, instead of working in my outdoor studio.  I have been writing. 

Husband says that I can get really crabby when I’m not working.  As I became more and  more weak, from undiagnosed heart problem, I got to the end of my rope and just had to work, so I wrote.  And, through surgery, recovery and weird news, I still wrote.  If they would have let me have paper and pen in ICU, I would have written there.

Now, I’m unwriting.  I just did a run through of the second half of my (either) Middle Grade or Young Adult fantasy novel.  I’m going with Advanced Middle Grade today.  I was able to get rid of 1,000 words and decided to go through the upper half.  It’s a matter of reading and saying, “I don’t need to say that.” “That is redundant.” and of showing instead of telling.

The big question:  Will I ever be done.  The fantasy is set in 2007, you’ll know if you know what the weather was like, in Indiana, in 2007.  My step-mother can probably read it and tell you what month is what.  The woman is a walking weather woman. 

So, what does 2011 hold for me.  Hopefully, I find an agent and then an editor and we work wonderfully together to make this book a success.  Because, I think it will be an important book for children to read.  But, even if it doesn’t, I am going to have to finish the series, because that is what I have to do.

I hope you all find what you have to do and do it, this coming year.  It’s the most satisfying thing in your life.

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I’ve been plant based,  no-oil, eating since November 14th.  The first two weeks were hell, but it gets easier.  One thing is to find things that are familiar to you, yet within the constraints of the diet.  Take potato chips.  But, do so carefully as I may bite your hand.

I have not added salt to food, minimally in cooking, for years now, yet I reached a point in this diet where I would have killed for a potato chip.  I would stick to plant based eating all day, then the lights would go down and I would eat two bowls of oatmeal, just to fill up.  We have a box of small bags of chips, for the boys.  They love taking some downstairs when they watch movies and destroy things on the computer.  But, those little bags of potato chips were like a siren song to me, as I lay down.  And, before I knew it, I was in rapturous joy over a 100 calorie bag of chips. 

I finally found out that I can minimize that craving by slicing potatoes very thin and frying them in a skillet.  I love pepper and I have done it since I started this diet, but when I added pepper, I was able to reject the chips.

Then there is the matter of pizza.  I now realize the men in this house eat pizza about 60% of their meals.  Do you have any idea how good melted cheese smells?  So, I got out my trusty cookbook and decided to make a plant based pizza.

Polenta Pizza

This  is Polenta pizza.  Looks good right?  How can anything look that good and taste that bad?  Now, to be fair, maybe I did it with the oregano I added to the tomato sauce.   I don’t always have the right ingrediants.  I would also like to mention that there must be some trick to making polenta firm up.  It did finally.  The crust wasn’t that bad but put it all together and blech!

breakfast

On the other hand, this was great.  I was tired of eating oatmeal for breakfast and just wanted something hot and delicious.  I have gotten in the habit of spraying pam in my cast iron skillet and then seeing what I have to throw in.  For breakfast, it was potatoes, a bit of no-meat sausage (yes, I read, it has oil.  You can’t trust husband to read labels.  The other day he mailed the electric bill without a stamp on it.  I had told him two days in a row that he had to buy stamps first, but—-), onions, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and my spicy hummus.  It was soooooo good! 

So, there are ups and downs.  I may have to buy a slicer to make my potatoes thinner, but this is working.  It is hard to measure the affect on my heart but I have lost seven pounds and I do feel better.  My body just seems to work better on plants.  Gee, bumper sticker anyone?

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  • Three year old JCountry eating the Christmas tree bulbs.  Not so funny at the time but we now laugh a lot about all the things he ate back then: 1/2 tray of brownies while sitting on top of the refrigerator; dog food out of the bin, at the store and the bag, at home; and, light  bulbs.  For a while, we followed him around with white bread (poison control said that was all we could do).
  • While we are on food, the joy of throwing up on Christmas even because  I ate the whole package of chocolate covered wafer cookies, while everyone else decorated the tree.  Hey, I was a kid and it beats me eating so much liver sausage at grandma’s house that I threw up in the car, on the way home.
  • Last year, at Teacher daughter’s, watching her new shelter dog lick everything in sight.  Mia especially liked the new grandchild, whose mother so patiently bit her tongue at dog spit on her child for days.  We love you Francis!!!  Okay, maybe that was last summer, but it was still fun.
  • Mia also entertained us with her immitation of a short range missle tracking a lazer point on the floor.  When said lazer pointer was turned off, Mia spent the next hour/s trying to find the missing red dot.  ‘Sniff, Sniff, Oh, it’s not between the chair and the cabinet, it must be under the rug.   Dig, dig, dig, nope, not there either.  Where’s the dot?  Where’s the dot?’
  •  There was the Christmas that we had to turn back from visiting my sister’s house as the snow was too bad so we joined my aunt at her house instead.  Her turkey ended up on the floor, but she had a great story about her husband’s temper.  Seems he got really mad about the floor not being clean and waxed , so on the way to work, he went to get his lunch out and yanked the refrigerator door really hard and pulled the whole thing over on himself.  (he wasn’t hurt and that’s not the funny part), he was late and only had time to change his pants and not his underwear.  When he got to work, and went to change into work clothes, he realized the beets had done quite a spill on his boxers and his fellow employees ribbed him for months about it.  But, the floor was clean enough we could eat the turkey.

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My latest project, because I was getting bored not finishing my twenty other projects,  is to scan in all my mother’s photo albums to digital and it sure brings back family memories.  She has purchased the greatest scanner, an Epson Perfection V330 photo scanner.  This was after trying a few of the cheaper models and being very unhappy.  Nothing like scanning in a 35mm slide and getting out an orange and green picture, or a pixeled photo.  This scanner is Perfection.  It is well named and no, I did not get it for free.  She paid every penny for it.  I am just the worker.

Since I have returned others, the first thing I did was scan a color photo, a color slide and a negative.  BAM!  They all worked perfect.  They have great color, no pixeling and it is quiet and easy to use.  There is a gadget you put four slides in and the machine scans each one and saves it individually.  No more cut and paste.  It does the same thing when you scan photos on it.  Lay out a row of four photos and you get four files. 

I am scanning a photo album with pages too big for the scanner, so you put it in, scan it, flip it around, scan it and then tell the computer software to stitch them together and voila!  You have a page.  It’s so cool. 

Here’s a sample of a stitched page.  I made it one-half size and it is not as clear as the actual large photo I now have on my computer.

These are not my memories here.  The top row is my grandfather, who died a year before I was born.  That’s him at 17 with his violin.  He used the violin to help support his family during the depression.  He played fiddle in bars and even on the radio.  I think it was a Hammond station and his show was Dad DeWitt and the Pumpkin Huskers.  Classy, right?  Hey, it supported the family and I hear he was very good.  The bottom right picture on the page is my grandmother, who died when I was one.  I just love this picture of her as a little girl, on a chair in the woods.

Who I do remember from this album is my Aunt Lula Lintz-DeWitt.  I think I have her maiden name correct but not sure.

This is Aunt Lula.  Doesn’t it look like a 1940s advertisement in Good Housekeeping?  I inherited that very bowl that she is stirring  in the photo.  When I get around to scanning my own photos, I have one of her by a skeleton.  She was a masuesse and graduated from college for this, thus the skeleton.  She was also very exotic to me.  She was a working widow, at a time when women were mostly employed as housewives and mothers. 

Enough for memory lane.  I am off now, to knit four more rows on my latest eternal project.

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I was doing my daily “let’s avoid accomplishing anything” by searching for new blogs to read.  This is purely in the name of research and to get me out of the rut of writing blogs and then deleting them, prior to publishing, as they are not funny.  I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.

Then, there is the Christmas stocking issue and the knitted Christmas gift that I could work on 24/7 from now till Christmas and probably still not have it done.    I am on my second yarn and my twentymillionth rip out on this thing.  So, my days go, dishes, feed animals, knit four rows, search the internet for Vegan no oil food and any other excuse I can use.

When I am searching blogs, I am mostly looking for ones that make me laugh and today, I was in stitches over a new blog I found.  Truckstop Oysters. How Bad Could They Be? | Blurt via Truckstop Oysters. How Bad Could They Be? | Blurt.

All I can tell you, is I think it’s a guy girl (she asserted her he just asserted his alpha female status over Angelina Jolie’s dolls, another funny post, and he lives in North Carolina and he is funny!   And, he can tell you just exactly how bad of an idea it is to have truckstops serve oysters. 

If you have ever traveled, then you probably have a state that is NOT your favorite.  My state is Missouri.  I have broken down every single time I cross Missouri, except the last time.  Perhaps I am making my peace with the state.  But, I am pretty sure it just felt like it owed me as one trip, I broke down three times.  Never buy a used motorhome. 

It isn’t just that though.  Missouri is the state that has nice restaurants who bring you a cup of hot water and a packet of cocoa when you order hot chocolate.   What is more upscale than bringing you hot water and packets of cocoa?  I now travel a long way out of my way to avoid Missouri.

Let me know if you hear where Truckstop Oysters is playing.  Sounds like a great band to me.

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Presenting Teachers in: BUTTS ON ICE « Braindebris\’s Weblog

via Presenting Teachers in: BUTTS ON ICE « Braindebris\’s Weblog

Today is the one year anniversary of the last post on the Braindebris Blog.  Now, I may be prejudice, since Braindebris is my brilliant daughter, but I think that her short blogging history is some of the funniest stuff you will ever read.

You just have to check out the holiday blog:  “Deer on, Deer off, the Clapper”  and  the  one about cleaning the rabbit’s cage.   They will make your day.

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After informing everyone on Facebook and Twitter that the Geminids meteor shower was at its peak yesterday, I went to bed and forgot all about it.  Senior moment or Alzheimer’s?  Of course we had not seen anything in the sky, but grey and snow for days, so I did not hold out a lot of hope to see them.

When we lived in Wyoming, we had seen everything in the sky.  I remember getting out of the car every night and watching Haley’s comet.  Every rainy season there were double and even triple rainbows in the sky.   Yes, I know, Wyoming does not have rainy seasons.  But, it does have triple rainbows.  One night, I sat curled in a blanket on the front porch, and watched a lunar eclipse.  Another night, all of us went in the back yard, with lawnchairs and sleeping bags, and watched a fantastic comet show.  They sky’s in Wyoming always seemed to have a show.  It was just when that show became fire and smoke that it was not fun.  Three years of having our area burn around us and it just seemed like we were playing Russian Roulette

Last night, at 2:30 am, the dog decided she had to go out.  I slipped on my boots and grabbed a sweater and stood waiting for her.  She has had a problem with her back leg recently and it seems to be cramped up and frozen when she comes in.  She is twelve years old this month and has had bone problems for years.  I keep an eye on her for that and the fact that we have had a coyote walk down our driveway and a fox den in our meadow.  She would make a tasty morsel for a coyote.  Then, I remembered the Geminid meteor showers.

I began looking for them and soon short streaks were random in the sky.  It was two hours after they were to be at their peak, darn!  I think I made it all of fifteen minutes outside and then came in and watched from the window.  I saw a streak every five minutes probably but it was enough to wake me up to all the things that we can still enjoy, sans money.

Sometimes, with all the neat technology upgrading almost daily, I can feel left behind.  We have very basic cell phones and a cheap computer, but the really important things in life are still here for all of us.  Where I live it includes seeing triplet fawns in our yard all summer, and coyotes and fox and blue herron in the pond.

And, to the readership of this blog, who has still checked in, even when I seemed to abandon you and even though I still do not use punctuation properly.  Thanks to all.

Check out the stars tonight and smile.

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We did not decorate much this year.  After grandson/son #2 (Army Guy) went off to the Army, the boys moved bedrooms and I am left with the extra bedroom on the main floor.  It will eventually be my workroom, but right now is just a mess.  The first thing I did though, was move grandson/sons #3 (JCountry) piano out to the dining room. 

We have an L shaped main floor, with 1/4 of that square (that’s not an L) being that bedroom, now workroom.  The other parts of the L are the kitchen, the dining area, a tv, a couch collection (my mother likes to replace her furniture and we have inherited quite a few extra pieces), and a computer area.  Trust me, this is NOT a big house.

Which I really realized when it was time to put up the tree.  There just isn’t anywhere to put a Christmas tree.  Heck, there’s a comfy rocking love seat in the middle of the floor.  I did consider hanging it (the tree, not the couch) but there was no room for that either. 

I took my trusty Menard’s rebate and got a 24″ tree and a can of spray snow (Any tree I have is having snow on it.) and I went to Hobby Lobby, and for 50% off, I bought a fake garland (which also now has snow on it) and a cloth runner to protect the ancient piano from the fake snow.

In our first house we had a fireplace and I did this every year on the mantle, only with real boughs and fake snow and shiny ornaments and (when we were in the room) lit candles.  Now, I have two plastic battery candles.

It’s in a pinch.  The guys are older now and not so excited about going into the attic for decorations.  I just wanted something up.   I used to decorate every square inch but this house put a stop to that.  I really need to declutter more; which I have been doing for the last seven years actually and still have more to go.

I have another reason for decorating.  On my facebook (http://SAVanVleck.Wordpress.com) a couple of people have mentioned not enjoying Christmas because they have lost a loved one. 

I know the feeling.  When my brother died, I just wasn’t sure I would ever enjoy the holidays again.  Then, Dad died and I was left with this horrible guilt because we thought we were doing him a favor by taking down the tree before we left their house after Christmas.  He got up and was not happy.  He wanted to look at it for more time.  That was his last Christmas.

So, what I tell people and firmly believe now, is do not deprive yourself because you feel lonely, or sad, or guilty or whatever.  My brother and father were both big on Christmas and, by decorating, it is more a reminder of that joy and a tribute to the ones you love who loved the holidays.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

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Since I have begun a healthy heart diet, I have become obsessed with food and am eating, fortunately small amounts, about eight times a day.  It was pointed out to me, by a snarky grandson/son, that animals who are herbivores, graze.  So, like a cow, I am grazing.  This was as we were sitting at Steak N Shake and they were eating juicy hamburgers as I ‘grazed’ a salad.

Literally, I have not cooked in years.  Disabled husband feels like it is his contribution to the household and has fried up a storm of meat for twenty years now.  This has paid its price on my hips and heart ; a price that I am actively working to reverse.  But, boy is it taking my time.

There are all kinds of new groceries that our refrigerator has never seen and I’m taking up a third of the room with my meals and small containers of stuff.  I have kept the five pounds off (even though THAT is NOT the point of this, just a nice added benefit).  And, that is also despite the fact that day before yesterday I ate: potato chips and pizza.  These are my two Waterloos.  Next time they cook pizza, I’m going to go in my room and shut my door.  Because, once you have smelled melted cheese, all hope is lost.

I swear that I am eating a meal and within twenty minutes of finishing it, I am getting my Reverse Heart Disease cookbook out and starting the next meal.  This usually wraps up by 2pm, when I find I have enough leftovers to finish the evening. 

My blog searches are also centered around food blogs.  I just found Everybody Likes Sandwiches, via salad on the go: chopped waldorf wraps | Everybody Likes Sandwiches.   This had a great idea for using the no-oil corn tortillas I can eat and wrap them around lettuce and apples, etc. 

Gotta run now and eat.

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Snow is here. I woke up to about an inch and a half which is now up to about three inches. Since no one had to go out today, it was a good day to read the paper.

We live in a small county with a weekly paper. It isn’t very large; two to three sections with maybe a total of seven pages.

As I learned today, our town has won $2,500 to do a survey of trees located in town right-of-way “last winter” and the survey is almost complete. Our town is three to five blocks long; depending on how you could classify the property that has a liquor store, pharmacy and Subway. Which may be the single most important section in town. You can have dinner, get drunk and get aspirin for your hangover in one stop shopping. So, when they told me that they were just now finishing up, I was a bit amused, to say the least.

Okay, they aren’t just counting them, they are noting locations, species, ages, conditions and other pertinent information; and all in an effort to prioritize aged and dying trees for removal. Since this is a tourist town, I suppose it is cheaper than a tree falling on a tourist. THAT is definitely not good for business. But, that’s only an aside (and perhaps the longest one on record).

The fun part of our paper is called THE FINE PRINT: It’s the Sheriff’s log.

When my grandson went in the Army, I tried to write him once a week and always included items from the Sheriff’s log. Now, grandson/son is in the Army, in Germany. When he was in basic, I sent him items from the Sheriff’s log too and he read them to his fellow soldiers. But, it seems that with the economy the way it is, the crazies have gone underground (looking for work?) and the crime rate has gone up. This is just not near as funny as it was, until today.

This one could have had serious consequences, so I don’t mean to laugh, BUT – What the **** was the woman thinking?

911 caller on * Road advises she fell down three flights of stairs under a refrigerator a few hours ago. Subject advises she did lose consciousness a couple of times then and has been throwing up since. She wants to know how long before ambulance arrives.

Why, in the world, would anyone, man or woman, try to move a refrigerator up three flights of stairs alone?

The other one that caught my eye was a 5 p.m call:

Caller advises a man is selling her son marijuana and he doesn’t need to do that.

You tell him, mama!

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