Friday, October 30, 2009

Stuff like this is in really fine print in the "What to Expect When You Get Married" manual

Sam had an endoscopy yesterday afternoon. If anyone has ever had one, there are a couple side effects. He was really sleepy and didn't remember much of the day.

Which is a good thing.
Because the other side effect is copious amounts of gas.

He came out farting. A lot. I mean even for a man who can hold his own farting with the best of them. This was world class flatulence.

He cut the cheese in the waiting room, tooted down the hallway, ripped one at the drinking fountain and whiffied through the parking garage.

I maintained a safe following distance--an interval sufficient to let him know I was still there, but far enough away that you'd have to know us to put us together as a couple.

Here we are today:

Working on sudoku--No memory of yesterday's fart-fest

Me blogging about it

Let's just keep this between us, OK?

Because if he finds out, he'll make me tell you about my driving on the way home.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waiting game

The good news is Sam can get his lung test done at 9 instead of making another trip next week. The down side is, he can't eat or drink before his endoscopy at 11:30. We were up at 5:15 so he could have a little snack to hold him over. So here we sit on the  18th floor--a panoramic view of the still dark Rochester skyline. Sam's found something to pass the time.

I'm going to work on Womeninc editing and an article I'm writing for the new Caregiving in America magazine.

I just need to position myself away from distractions--and in close proximity to a power source.

Yippee! They just called Sam. It's 7:25 and his appt was 9.

Time to get busy!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snoozes and surgeries

There is no better place for people-watching or eavesdropping than the Mayo clinic. For some the excitement is just too much:

 As I was watching this sweet couple catch a quick nap, I was treated to a graphic description of a guy's brain surgery, that began (and I'm not kidding) with,  "They had to go up through my nose with a hammer and break my sinus bone."

Is there such a thing as a sinus bone?

Could he have been exaggerating?

I just don't know.

Here's the deal

CBS has brought back that wretched game show Let's Make a Deal. No more Guiding Light, although I think often of Josh and Reva. These days I spend the 2 o'clock hour with Dr. Oz. Anyway, I have a choice of three topics today so will let you pick which one you want to read. I was going to do this last night but I could not find my stupid Alltel connection thingy.

Behind door # 1--This was in the mail last night. Our appointment is today (as I'm writing we're waiting to be called back

It is a bill from the Mayo Clinic--even though was hadn't even been there yet we owe them $859.71

Behind Door # 2

Behind this door is what I made for dinner last night. I sauteed chicken breasts, then took them out and deglazed the pan with white wine, added some garlic, onions and carrots. Then laid the chicken back on top and remembered there was a bit of kale in the frig so added that along with a couple of tomatoes that needed to be used up. Simmered and served over Trader Joe's brown rice., it was delicious and healthy. We have eaten well from the garden this year.

Behind Door # 3
My version of the facebook updates of the now ex-Delta/Northwest pilots who were on their laptops when they should have been flying the plane:

What's on your mind?

OMG, totally missed MSP while chatting with my BFF. ROCPFLMAO.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Lately my life has been really messy. I just can't seem to get a handle on it. Especially my office. Last weekend we had a garage sale. The sale was out in the hallway and entryway on tables but if my office door was open, people kept going thinking that all the stuff piled up in there must have been for sale.

It's been messy outside too:

I would have rather stayed home today, but I had too much to do. The message light was blinking on the phone. I couldn't find my phone message book. Anywhere.

I even looked in the bathroom. It's messy too.

I decided to work on cleaning my desk off. The easiest way for me to accomplish this is to pile everything up in my basket and take it one piece of paper at a time.

As I started to gather everything up, I noticed this:

My stomach lurched as I realized the envelope contained an unmailed bank deposit.

Uh to the double Oh.

In the past 10 days, we have received several large payments--which I have used to pay bills. This deposit was dated October 14.

Uh to the triple Oh

My messiness just got really messy.

I called our bank and inquired as to our current balance. Still OK
Plan of action:

  1. Cancel emergency road trip to bank

  2. Seriously consider not telling Sam what happened

  3. Wish that someone would fire me please

  4. Spend the next hour (or so) catching up on my blog reading (OMG Pioneer Woman is going to be on Bonnie Hunt)

  5. Spend the rest of the day reclaiming my desk.

I finally left the office at 6:45 PM. And am proud to announce that my inbox is officially under control. The newspapers are sorted and in the recycling.

I backed in the garage and unloaded the Trailblazer in preparation for tomorrow's trip to the craft sales in Algona. Fresh mud from the sloppy gravel road dripped on the garage floor. As I reached in the back to retrieve the last item, I manage to completely soak the front of my jeans with the slimy, gritty substance that covered the rear bumper.

A messy end to a messy week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The. Best. Diet. Tip. Ever.

I watch a considerable amount of daytime tv--or at least I have the tv on at my desk. Many of the shows feature a "Eat This, Not That" segment. For example, for the same calories as a Pumpkin Spice Blizzard, you can have:
153 rice cakes,spread with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, a 128 oz. green bean/ beet smoothie, an eggwhite and tofu omelet  and 2 bushels of air-popped popcorn with 1/8 teaspoon of Oh I Wish It Was Butter topping.

I flipped open the new AARP magazine this morning--the one with Natalie Cole on the cover-- and was immediately drawn to an article about incorporating exercise into your holiday preparation. One of the suggestions involves working out using items from your pantry: Arms raises  with canned pie filling or gravy moving on to squats with pork and beans (ok, that one I made up). Here's a thought, could the pie filling and gravy be contributing to the problem?

But the best tip of all was at the bottom of the page:

So if I mix cookie dough by hand for 14 hours, I can eat the whole batch.

And have Michelle Obama's arms.

Or I can stand quietly and eat half the batch.

While bulking up my biceps with a can of garbanzo beans.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

August in October

Addie and August have been here for a visit. They came Thursday and left about 11 this morning.

We went to Walmart

He is a busy little 19-month-old who loves anything with wheels and calls them “Beep Beeps.”

He has long, curly honey colored hair and a husky little chuckle. He doesn’t like my bathtub. He only eats if he’s hungry.

Obviously, that genetic tendency is not from me.

He likes to rearrange Gus' kibble and Gus is cool with that

He spends most of his time moving stuff around—tucking things here and there---dropping things through the railing around the staircase.

On Friday, I was working at the office. Addie had put August down for a nap and sent me a text message:

Where’s the remote?

I responded that I’d last seen it on the counter. About an hour later she sent this message:

Found it!

Only a mother would know to look in the pantry

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


One of my favorite bloggers,
Mrs G, inspired me to post this picture. She has committed to taking one risk each month. As info, Mrs. G says it like it is and some of the web content is, ummm, edgy. So if you are easily offended, tread carefully, but please watch the video of her burning her diet books.

But let's get back to the important subject here, ME!!

I'm really tired of blow-drying and ironing my hair so lately I've been washing and conditioning it and letting it air dry "au natural." Then the next day, I use the curling iron, and ok. I know. You're ready to throw something at your computer right now.


I honestly left the house feeling good about myself.

That was pretty much the end of it.
It was a crazy morning and I was not a happy camper. Life is hard sometimes. Especially lately. Enough said.

To give you the Reader's Digest Condensed version of the morning, I had Olivia (who in spite of missing her daddy and mommy was making the best of things with me), a desk overflowing with paperwork, three food shelf orders to fill, no checks in the mail and apparently the worst hair day EVER.

I had to meet my other volunteer at the food shelf at 12:30--and Olivia and I were hurrying to get out of the office. As I was putting her coat on she looked at me and said,

"Omee, did you brush you's hair?"

I guess I should have paid closer attention, but I just replied, "No honey, Omee is just having one of her crazy hair days and we don't have time right now to worry about hair."

We first did the grocery shopping for the orders and as we were loading the numerous bags in the car, I noticed my reflection in the window and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of pity for anyone with whom I'd made physical contact. It looked like I was walking around with a tumbleweed on my head--no even worse--but I really can't describe it.

Maybe if I'd only thought to put on some lipstick.

But I was doing the Lord's work--so it really shouldn't matter.

Until the person who showed up to pick up the food shelf order was the same person I saw at the other register in the grocery store buying lottery tickets and cigarettes.

Yes God, you certainly do know how to put me to the test...

Judgmental opportunity AND horrible hair.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Did you ever

call your cell phone to find it?

And have it ring in your pocket.

Here is the soup recipe

If anyone is wondering the fate of Potatozilla, this soup was his destiny...

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana Recipe #38298

This is a clone of the Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana. Tried and true.

1½ hours | 20 min prep


  1. Cook sausage in a 300°F oven for approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Drain sausages on paper towels and cut into slices.
  3. Place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water, garlic in pot, and cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
  4. Add sausage and bacon.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  7. Turn to low heat.
  8. Add kale and cream.
  9. Heat through and serve.

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved.

I used half and half and omitted bacon because I didn't have any.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oops, I lied

The Hulksters contract rider called for a mandatory close-up

I really mean it this time.

I promise...

Last one, no more mutant vegetable pictures

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hey Grandpa, What's for Supper?

I'm wondering what to blog about tonight--here are my options

  • The fact Mom and I have attended funerals for the last two Saturdays and just found out Mom's neighbor Bruce Hartman passed away yesterday

  • Our turn to host Monday night supper-Sam decided to start a fire in the wood stove and due to a malfunction, wet wood or bad karma completely filled the garage (and house) with smoke.

  • Tuesday night--epsiode 2 of Man vs Stove--Sam fought the stove and the stove won (again)

  • Sam's doctor appointment

  • Kraut-making (that is coming, I have pictures)

  • Today Sam painted part of the garage floor and filled the house with noxious, nauseating, hazardous fumes.

  • My car doesn't smell like smoke anymore--more like a toxic waste site

I think I'll just tell you what I made for dinner--a copycat recipe of Olive Garden's Zuppa Tuscana soup. I picked the kale from the garden last night and the soup is delicious. Made a pan of homemade cornbread.

Let's just talk about food. Recipes, anyone?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All in a Day's Work

I was hurrying to finish up payroll and get some things in the mail when I received the following phone call:

"This is ________ from __________ Could I please have your fax number?"

I knew who it was from caller ID so I gave her our fax number.

"Is this address correct from Okoboji, Iowa? I'm looking at the check that a gentleman from your company just left when he picked up a set of blueprints and it doesn't match the address I have on file for you."

I gave her our Minnesota address.

"And what is your phone number?"

Umm, I'm guessing you must already have it if we are having this conversation. My momentary hesitation allowed her enough time to realize what she had just asked. We had a good laugh--and she said it had been a looonngg afternoon.

It made me feel a little bit better about the 20 minutes I had just spent looking for the outgoing mail I had left in the bathroom.

Love and the Lost Art of Letter Writing

This article appeared in the June issue of Womeninc Magazine have written it in two parts and the second part will appear in the October issue. From time to time I plan to publish some of my past articles.

Letter writing is rapidly becoming a lost art. We email, text, Twitter and blog. Many of us rely on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites to keep in touch with our family and friends. I grew up anticipating the arrival of the mail and eagerly looking for the familiar handwriting of a grandma, aunt, cousin, penpal or friend. Phone calls were reserved for emergencies and special occasions.

No one loves receiving a letter more than my mom, though she doesn’t receive as many as she used to. The exception to the letter scarcity occurs during our February Florida vacation, thanks to my brother Kent, who has taken it as his personal mission to provide Mom with a hearty helping of hand-written, home-grown communication. This is achieved by cleverly supplying potential correspondents with stamped envelopes addressed to our Florida location. Subtle: No. Effective: Yes.

Kent also sends a letter to Mom every day Sometimes it’s an interesting story from the newspaper, a cartoon or (my personal favorite) a wacky obituary.

Mom sits down at the table and waits patiently for me to scrounge around for the letter opener. I slide the sharp blade through the envelope and a reverent hush falls over the room as I unfold the first letter and begin reading. Even though she knows what’s coming, she eagerly anticipates the opening paragraph. Here, I’ll even give you a sampling of a few:

Dear Wilma,
Now, you don’t have to go to the tanning booth to get that tan-looking skin (ha ha). It’s nice weather here 25 degrees above zero!!!

Dear Floridians,
Guess you are down there in warm country—I bet it feels good after all of your cold weather. We had a storm go through this morning with strong wind and rain but the sun is shining now.

Dear Wilma and family
We had a shower of rain Mon and strong winds. Warm Tues and rain Tue night. Wed cloudy and it just started snowing

Dear Sam, Nina, Wilma, Sam’s Mom, and whoever else is vacationing,
Hello from Minnesota, land of 10,000 pools of water due to the rain and snow melt of the last 2 days.

Are you seeing a pattern here? After the weather reports, we move on to family news:

Health Updates

Gall bladder surgery, cysts, blood transfusions, back surgery, infections, organ transplants, gout, pregnancy, cataracts and joint replacements


(We attended) one of the largest horse-drawn parades in the nation. The horses are all beautifully groomed and the dress of the rider is spectacular. My Dad loved horses and so I think of him as I watch the parade. Do you remember our pony Silver? We gave him a good workout pulling the cart and sled in the winter.

True Crime Reports

…she noticed three men going into the liquor store next to her beauty shop. They were all wearing ski masks. She was very suspicious of this… she got under her desk-a few seconds later she heard gunshots. She called 911. No one hurt, the guys escaped but were caught later.

From the grandchildren:

Happy Valentines Day Grandma!
I hope you are having a delicious time at the beach working on your tan and swimming with the dolphins. OK, so maybe not the dolphin part

Happy Endings

G is so happy with his new life. (His new wife) K has a five-year-old son, and G is working hard at bonding with him.

After every letter, Mom gives each writer her ultimate compliment, “She writes such a good letter.”

For the most part now, Mom relies on phone calls to keep in touch with family and friends. She still writes occasionally but her limited vision makes the process difficult and often she is self-conscious about the resulting letter. Mom’s neat, rounded penmanship, taught with great importance in her small country school, is the same, but keeping the lines straight has become impossible. However, she still “writes such a good letter.”

The brown paper sack was musty smelling and parts of it crumbled as I pulled it out from the dark recesses of the closet. I opened it up, unsure of the contents. Inside were bundles of letters written between Sam and I when we were both in college. My letters to Sam were neatly tucked into a Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTart Box. I began reading them. I was shocked.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pears Part 2

Mom's vision may be limited due to macular degeneration but she can still do so many things. Sam was already seated at the island cutting up banana peppers so Mom sat down beside him.

“I can’t see a thing. I need more light,” she said immediately. Sam traded places with her to get her closer to the light fixture.

“I still can’t see.”

So I sent Sam to the basement to bring up the pole light.

“These pears are kind of stony,” she commented, “but won’t they taste good this winter? Where’s that other peeler I used last night for the potatoes?”

Good question, I thought as I rummaged through the drawer. How does a utensil used so recently find its way to the bottom of the pile?

“I’m not sure how I’m going to get the core out.”

Back to the utensil drawer to retrieve my melon baller—perfect for the task. I told her I’d take the cores out.

We chatted and laughed as she worked her way through the box of fruit. I retrieved some pint jars and washed them. In between, I cored the pears and teased her when I found one that still had peeling on it—which was actually every one—but I didn’t tell her that.

Mom cleaned the stray peelings from the counter and put them in the scrap bucket and then took her place in her chair in the living room. I worked on filling the jars, making the syrup and fixing us all something to eat.

Using some leftover pork roast, swiss cheese, pickles, salami and part of a loaf of French bread, I made us a Minnesota version of Cuban sandwich in the George Foreman grill. Mom and Sam both loved the sandwich with some of the soup Mom made earlier in the day.

The syrup came to a boil and I poured it over the jars and put the lids on. We decided that Mom would hot water bath them the next day so I put the 14 pints in a box.

I stood at the counter and ate my sandwich and surveyed the damages in the kitchen. A sink full of hot soapy water along with the dishwasher made the cleanup relatively quick.

Sitting on the couch, I picked up the new issue of Mother Earth News—the one with the “Cheap, Easy, Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse” on the cover. I read Mom the article about building your own hoop garden greenhouses so you can grow vegetables year round. We agreed it sounded like way more work than we wanted to do. We will enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor that have been canned and frozen.

I am continually amazed at Mom’s ability and, more importantly, her willingness to work and be productive.

As she walked to her room to get ready for bed, she reminded me, “Save the skins and cores, I can make a batch of pear honey from them tomorrow,” Mom said.

I’m learning more and more that I come from people for whom work is play and play is work.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pears--Part 1

Mom calls it reverse day care: I drop her off at her house in the morning on my way to work. When I’m done, any time between 5 and 6 pm, I pick her up, we have dinner, I read to her or we watch tv and she goes to bed in her new bedroom here at the “compound.”

I picked Mom up from her house tonight. She had canned 9 quarts of vegetable soup today. I had shuffled a bunch of papers around and been to the hairdresser.

Mom waited in the car while I picked up a few things from the grocery store. In the produce section, I spotted a box of canning pears marked down to only $7.99 and put them in my cart. Partway across the store I had second thoughts and turned my cart around them to put them back, did I really want to bother with canning pears right now?

But these pears were not about me. I knew that Mom would love to have some pears to go with the peaches we did earlier this summer. She enjoys a small serving of home-canned fruit for dessert.

I hauled everything into the house. The evening was dark and dreary with a cold rain falling. Nothing even resembling dinner was evident—the couch looked so inviting. It was already almost 6:30.

“Should I start peeling the pears now?” Mom asked.