Sunday, December 31, 2017

Yesterday I collected Lisa and Logan from Scotsdale, and we spent the day here.  Once Alex appeared we opened presents.  I got a wonderful day-by-day calendar, and will certainly enjoy a new cartoon each day.  Logan had the largest pile of gifts, and I think the highlight of his haul was the Rockstar skateboard from Alex.

Since the weather was warmer than when they were here last month, Pokey was out for most of the afternoon and Logan got to feed her strawberries; it's not clear who enjoyed that more!  Latina's presence was also requested, so Marcie brought her up for a visit.  But no chickens here this time.

Lisa and I made a run to the post office, took care of deposits at the bank, and picked up my Rx (and colored pencils for Logan) at Walmart.  Our errands together gave Lisa time to fill me in some on of the latest with Logan.  Like other foster kids he sure got dealt a crappy hand, and has a lot of baggage to overcome.  Lisa, grateful for her year of training, has a lot of work ahead of her - but is quite patient with him. 

We played a favorite game of his, Boss Monster, which Tom and I found quite confusing (proving how clueless the older generation is?) and later Zonk (much more our speed!)  Around 5:00 they headed back to Scottsdale (I loaned her my car) for a dinner with friends.  The three of us were invited, but declined, and ended up going out for Pho. Tom is still getting over his cold - but now I seem to be getting more stuffed up.

They should be back here around 10:00, and the plan is to head off to the Wildlife World Zoo for the day.  Of course we all will definitely think of Bana when we feed the giraffes.  Alex says he'll join us if he's up in time; some friends are in town, and partying together last night was a definitely possibility!

Tonight Lisa and Logan will celebrate New Year's Eve with us and spend the night here.  Tomorrow we may go trampolining, or see a movie, before taking them to the airport for their trip home.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Quite the upper-body workout at the gym this morning.  It's been a while (before I left for California) and I'm pretty sure I'll be feeling the after-effects over the next few days.  Luckily my legs haven't been too unhappy after Tuesday's workout.  
Afterward I made a trip to Winco for a 'few things' to have on hand during Lisa & Logan's visit.  The store was quite crowded and it took a while, and when I came out to the parking lot I had a lot of trouble finding my car.  I was beginning to worry that it had been stolen, but turned out just to be several aisles away from where I thought I had parked.

Jeannie was out and about walking her dogs and stopped in to say hi and see the new kitchen.  She really, really likes everything we did in there.  While we were chatting the doorbell rang, and it was Cheri.  She was delivering a copy of The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, by Melanie Benjamin, our February book club selection.   

She couldn't stay to visit (Bob was waiting out in the car) but she did need to take a quick peek at the new kitchen, and also approved of the upgrade.    

I did have to make a quick trip to the library this afternoon to pick up the traditional DVD for New Year's Eve that arrived today.  No idea if Logan's ever seen it, but we sure have.... every year! 

While driving on my way to the libary I got a call from Irene that my quilt is on the frame.  It's not clear if she'll finish and get it back to me before Lisa leaves on Monday, but that would be nice.  I do need it soon so I can snap a pic and get my entry to the AQG office before the January 19 deadline.  It's always fun to have something in the show (last year it was the dachshund quilt that elicited smiles from everyone) though I am under NO illusions that I am "the best"!  Just think it's a fun quilt, and people will enjoy seeing it.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

This morning I had a good check-up at the dentist, always good news. 

Today Alex and I did ear candling.  It was my first time, and even though he had "warned" me about the amount of wax it would pull out, I was quite surprised at how effective it was.  Afterward my ears felt great - and with all that wax gone maybe my hearing will be improved!

Tom is still feeling crappy, and spent much of the day sleeping on the couch while I finished ironing stabilizer onto t-shirts for Elinor & Richard's quilt.  Surprised myself when I used virtually the entire bolt, all 16 yards!

Not a whole lot of oomph the rest of the afternoon; being up since before 4:00 will do that.  So I ended up watching Henry Fonda movies on TV.  Got to see one of my favorites,  A Big Hand for The Little Lady, and a "new" one, Firecreek.

I've been trying to get the house organized, and now that the kitchen and pantry are (more or less) under control I have started in on Alex's room.  I did make substantial inroads in there, but naturally there's still plenty more to be done.  Yesterday afternoon I found out that Lisa and Logan will be spending Saturday and Sunday nights here, so before then I will need to address her old room as well.  We're likely not the only empty-nesters that have used the kids' old rooms as catch-alls, but I thought I had another 6 weeks (before Mom's arrival in mid-February) to get going in there.

Marcie helped me rehome most of the penguins yesterday, while Latina 'supervised'.  Poor little pooch was recovering from Tuesday's surgery.  She turned 6 months old on Christmas, and has  finally reached the 3# minimum weight - so now she's chipped and spayed.

Tom seemed somewhat on the mend yesterday, though mostly he rattled around the house instead of actually doing much.  I'm dealing with minor cold symptoms, and hoping not to get truly sick.  To that end I have been drinking the OJ that I 'squoze' from our oranges, and drinking EmergenC.  So far, so good!

And speaking of cold - hard to imagine living in places like Erie (which got outrageous amounts of snow dumped on it the past few days, basically hitting their total annual average snow amount just this month!) or any of the many places around the country experiencing absurd low temps and wind chills these days.  SO GLAD that I no longer live in Chicago!!!

The weather prediction for Times Square at midnight Sunday is 11 degrees.  I doubt it will scare off too many revelers... but (of course!) does not sound the least bit appealing to me!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Yesterday the new kitchen got a full workout. It was a tight squeeze on the new stove (even with a couple more burners than the old one) but in the end we did manage to make room for everything.  

After I prepped the turkey (the smallest one I'd been able to find was almost 16#, so there will be lots of leftovers) and popped it in the oven, I spent the remainder of the morning readying everything else.  Peeled and diced a lot of spuds to fill our largest cooking pot, with thoughts of copious masher leftovers; mashers always seem to get polished off on the first leftover night.  But somehow I think we'll manage to keep up with that tradition. 

And speaking of tradition, yesterday we did have to 'retire' the shaker Tom uses for the flour mix he adds to the turkey drippings when making gravy; the plastic lid broke during shaking. (But what's a holiday meal without at least one mess in the kitchen?)  We also had to toss another oldie, his favorite ceramic mixing bowl, after that cracked down the side and across the bottom.

Forget Martha Stewart... I don't think Mrs. Patmore would have approved of the crescent rolls I baked and served with dinner.  When I popped open the canister "somehow" they didn't unroll as standard-sized triangles, so the resulting crescents ended up in varying sizes.  And Mr. Carson also would have been appalled since I certainly wasn't using a ruler to make sure the plates, silverware, and chairs were all in their "correct" places.

Alex had put some of the old family videos, starting circa 1996, on the TV while a lot of the prep was going on, and for the rest of the day we all cracked up over the antics of two of the most adorable kids ever!

Since Alex and I had been MIA during Chanukah we opened all those gifts yesterday, along with the ones Santa brought. 

Not surprisingly, there were a number of kitchen related items that had been on my wish list, like the small "blender" to make my workout smoothies, and a wonderful toaster oven.  I got a couple of books (always welcome!) and a beautiful bird calendar with stunning photos - one for each day! - so now (maybe) I can get my 2018 life organized. 

I unwrapped a wonderful cardigan sweater which I wore for the remainder of the day - and which may just become my new favorite.  (When I was young I didn't like cardigans - they seemed like something old people wore - but now that I'm old I find them very convenient!)  There were also pretty socks, a nice stainless spoonrest to coordinate with the kitchen, and of course let's not forget all the usual miscellaneous chocolate goodies that were stuffed inside my stocking!

Today <sigh> I'm back at the gym. Since I haven't been since before I left for California I'm expecting a few difficulties... and "possibly" some soreness over the next few days.  No doubt I will also be ruing all the good eating I've been doing this month...

Dessert last night did turn out better than I expected. I sent Alex home with the leftover angel food slices, strawberry topping, and Cool Whip since Stephanie was coming over.  Not sure if there will be any leftovers coming back this way... but it's not like I really need any more sugar, right?

Lisa called yesterday to wish us a Merry Christmas.  It sounds like things have been a tad chaotic at her end recently, capped off by a near-crisis yesterday:

Well the good news is that kiddo likes crab! The bad news is that his immune system does not.  He is fine; Rob and his whole family are heroic sweethearts; we avoided an urgent care visit; the 24/7 nurse line that our program provides is amazing. Merry Christmas!

Haven't seen Tom yet this morning.  He was definitely under the weather yesterday so unfortunately he couldn't enjoy the festivities as much as usual (or feast as much as he would have liked!)  Hope to find he's feeling better today. 


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Didn't get as much done today as I would have liked -
though no doubt a lot of people are in that same boat today! 

The grocery store was a happening place, so I was glad to get that over with.  A little later I had just peeled and halved the hard boiled eggs when Alex came over with DJ, hoping I could give them a ride to the stadium for the Cardinals' game.  Of course!  They planned to Uber back (I'm very happy they're being responsible and not driving after drinking) but ended up sitting with and getting a ride back with Taylor and Tyler.  She's pregnant, so by default is the DD these days.  It was a zoo at the stadium, and took me considerable time to get out and back to the highway, so I was surprised that Tom was surprised that I was back "so quick".

I was almost home when Marcie called to see if it was a good time for her and Latina to come over (of course!)  We visited for a while Latina raced around the yard and explored.  She's still not sure about Pokey, who was out and about this afternoon, but otherwise loves our yard.

Did eventually get the eggs deviled, and was so worn out <g> I had to go rest (and watch another episode of Downton Abbey.)  Hope I'm not trying to get really sick!

  Alex came by after the game, when we had some soup and muffins together. Then he went back to wrap gifts (yes, Alex, we do have scotch tape, and scissors, and wrapping paper <g>) while I baked angel food cake for the strawberry 'shortcake' dessert that he requested for tomorrow.

Yesterday I decided to locate the juicer (still learning where everything's new home is in the kitchen) and make some OJ after picking up the crop of downed oranges.  But I was concerned when ALL of the ones on the ground turned out to have been hollowed out by something.  It definitely was not the work of bugs, but no idea what critter(s) did it.  Sure hope we haven't had the dreaded roof rats move in!  After pluck oranges off the tree, filling a large bag, I got to work, though only ended up with a quart to show for all my efforts. 

Still, it was a nice way to start off the morning today, and I hope the mega-doses of vitamin C help ward off illness since no doubt we were exposed to a fair number of germs at school on Friday.  Yesterday my nose alternated between sneezing and a slow drip, and I hope to keep anything more serious at bay!  

Yesterday I hard boiled the eggs, and today need to devil them.  I'm glad Alex reminded me about them when reeled off my menu for tomorrow's meal and had inadvertently forgotten all about them!  Also need do a quick last minute shop - guess we also ought to have something available for dessert?  Otherwise I think I'm in pretty good shape for our small gathering.  

There was a scoring "discussion" last night during one cribbage hand.  Not only did Tom and I disagree on how many points his hand held (we went round and round with our reasonings), but eventually, when I checked an impartial scoring site on the internet, it came up with a third number!  I counted 16 (which is what he ended up pegging), the site proclaimed it was worth 18, and he counted 24.  I was willing to let him take the additional 2 pegs from the 'net, though he declined - and then lost the game by two pegs. 

For those of you who play and wish to make your own guess: 
his hand held a 5, 6, 7, 7 - and the turned up card revealed another 7.

 Guess it's time to get some other things done around the house...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

'Some people' sleep later than I do in the morning, so instead of addressing the penguin cabinet I got started in the pantry.  Between the dust that had accumulated, and the fact that everything seemed to get stuffed in there during the kitchen remodel, it took all morning to organize.  But now it looks a whole lot better, and not only should we now be able to find what we need more easily, but also can take stock of what's needed.  When I came across a bag of lentils I decided to make some soup for dinner.  It turned out yummy, and I also got to use the oven for the first time, when I made cornbread muffins to go with it.

During a pantry-mucking break I finished reading Heroes For My Daughter, another book I picked up on a whim during my last visit to the library.   Not surprisingly I was familiar with most of the people Brad Meltzer chose to include, though despite the brevity of each entry I learned a little something extra about many of them.  One of the biggest surprises was his entry about The Three Stooges.  I never liked their slapstick comedy, finding it stupid instead of funny, and remember as a teen thinking that their children (if they had any) must have been terribly embarrassed by them. But in reality, fools they weren't.

Back during World War II, at a time when Hollywood - and the rest of the country - were still hesitant about confronting Nazi Germany, it was these three who were the brave ones.  On January 19, 1940 - nearly two years before Pearl Harbor - it was the Three Stooges who took on Adolph Hitler.  Charlie Chaplin got the credit for ridiculing Hitler in The Great Dictator - but it was actually Moe Howard who was the first film actor to make fun of Hitler onscreen.  The Three Stooges film You Nazty Spy! beat Chaplin by a full nine months, ripping the German dictator for book burnings, the infamous appeasement at Munich, and even for a "concentrated camp". At the time, America's official position was neutrality.  Hollywood was under great pressure to remain isolationist and avoid propaganda.  Despite that, the Stooges - all of them Jewish - took their shot.  By doing so, they inspired and emboldened others to do exactly the same.

I'm happy to report that it finally warmed up enough for me to coax Pokey out this afternoon, using the pear and carrots that Marcie had dropped off for her.  I know Pokey had to be hungry after 'hibernating' in her crate for the past several days, and after polishing off her hors d'oeuvres she made her way over to grass to graze for a couple of hours.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tom's presentation, with all the hands-on goodies he brought to pass around, was a success today.  And the fact that 3 lucky kids, one from each class, went home with an arrowhead Tom had knapped generated quite a lot of excitement.

We weren't home very long when Patti called and asked if Tom lent someone a gas can.  Seemed like an off-the-wall question, but I said I'd ask him.  After further inquiry it turned out that some guy in the school parking lot had borrowed one "from someone named Tom" and she guessed it was us.  It wasn't.

A few minutes later Wanda texted asking if we "are accepting a guest with goodies" - silly question!  She arrived with four different types of desserts she had baked - and (naturally) I had to sample several.  No complaints here, even though some would be labeled "used" by her SIL, meaning they were leftovers from some other event.  Wanda knows I don't care about that!

She and I were just heading out the door when Alex appeared.  He had gotten in around 1:00 this morning, and was locked out of the back house.  He used the hidden key to get in here, and grabbed what he thought were his keys, but turned out to be Tom's set to my car.  Which explains why those keys were MIA (when we were getting ready to head over to school this morning) instead of where I KNEW I had put them last night - on the dryer with all the other keys (because the key rack came down for painting.)  I had even moved the dryer, and searched in dark crannies with a flashlight.  It would be an expensive key to replace, so I'm very glad it isn't really lost!

Alex had a great time in Colorado, though there wasn't much new snow.  He did get to be in a video one of the professional photographers had made; Alex's shredding is the finale!  

It reminds me of that time at Sea World when 5-year-old Lisa decided we should sit in the splash zone... but neither she nor 3-year-old Alex were happy campers after Shamu swam by and did his thing!

Wanda and I did eventually make it up to Marcie's, where she was awed by the house in general, and the sewing room in particular.  

Either windex goes bad from non-use (one reason to clean more often?) or else my small bottle was refilled with a bargain brand.  So much for "non" streaking!

In any event, after wasting an hour this morning trying to put the final touches on the back mirror and glass shelves, it is quite evident that I am going to need to try something different. 

At least I noticed that one of the lights under the 'ceiling' cover is out, and will need to get specialty bulbs so I can replace both of them before the penguins are permitted to return.

Soon off to Park Meadows, where Tom will no doubt enthrall the 5th grade with his archeology and knapping talk.  After the students read part of Island of the Blue Dolphins in their reading book they were beyond curious as to how Karana made tools and survived by herself.  Tom should be able to answer a lot of their questions.

 Island of the Blue Dolphins is a 1960 children's novel written by Scott O'Dell and tells the story of a young girl stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast. It is based on the true story of a Nicoleño Native American left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century.

Last night (while catching up on Jeopardy) I got started blind-stitching a binding for Wanda.  Guess her ears must have been burning. because she called to chat for a bit.  Didn't expect to see her before Christmas, except 'rumor' is that she has baked some chocolate goodies that might be delivered this afternoon!  I managed to get about 3/4 of the way around the quilt before I ran out of black hand-quilting thread (have been looking for more for quite a while) but by then it was almost 11:00.

Up (too) early this morning, I finished reading Kipling's 1897 novel Captains Courageous, which I had picked up randomly at the library the other day.  While I've seen the 1937 movie (with its stellar cast) countless times, I'd never read the book. Turns out that this is one of those unique situations where I prefer the movie to the book!