Friday, November 30, 2007

"Oh no, you didn't!"

"Yes, I did."

All eyes at my end of the table were on me. I was enjoying this rare time in the spotlight. My I-type personality doesn't afford me many times like these, I'm usually being a bumbling klutzy blond. My dining companions were roaring with laughter.

Let me back up a bit. We were talking about pets and I was asked if I had any.

"Not any with legs." Laughter. "I have two tanks of fish now; we had birds and hamsters, but they are all dead now."

Maybe I should back up a little bit more.

I was in the middle of a 15-year reunion luncheon, and we were swapping stories of what we'd been doing for the past decade and a half.

It was the reunion of the class of PSDP-32. PSDP was the Professional Skills Development Program, affectionately pronounced as "pzdip" for new professional hires at my agency (as opposed to clerical hires). The program lasted six weeks, four in a classroom setting at HQ and two weeks out in the field putting our new-found knowledge into practice. The course was designed to learn about and demonstrate all aspects of the agency's missions.

Even though I'm an introvert, I like some attention. When Kevin turned 15 last month I remembered being pregnant with him while I was this class, so why not have a 15-year reunion? I'll plan it, everyone will love it.

What was the world like 15 years ago? I got a class listing from the only instructor remaining here at the agency. It was a xerox of a early word processing machine-printed list with hand written corrections. Email hadn't been invented yet. We've since moved into a new building so none of the office addresses were correct, nor were the phone numbers, we got a new phone system and new numbers about 5 years ago. Thanks to our intranet, I found most of the class of 25 and sent out invitations. Thank goodness we have email now.

Since I only spent six weeks with these people, this reunion was unlike a high school reunion where you might have spent up to thirteen years with your classmates and can remember a whole range of things about those people, like the hideous outfit she wore on picture day, this reunion was like remembering a sidestep in your life.

Ten members of our class showed up at the restaurant, I had a hard time recognizing a lot of my classmates but my memory was jogged sufficiently. The then-young, new hires are now older, softer and grayer. A glitch in the system left out the converted interns so I'd been at the job for 8 years, which was unusual in the class demographic. As the lunch moved along, stories went from remembering our field experience: driving around on the narrow mountain roads near Charlottesville and having the designated driver making three trips bring people back from the bar one night because the rest of revelers were too drunk to get back on their own and how some almost got kicked out of the hotel because of something to do with swimming and a closed pool, (being older and pregnant "saved" me from a lot of these antics) to our current jobs, lives, kids. And pets.

"Do you have any pets?"

"Not any with legs. I have two tanks of fish now; we had birds and hamsters, but they are all dead now."


"Our first hamster, Charlie, was Fern's dwarf Siberian hamster. Kevin, at that time, well he still doesn't, ask questions to know or want things, like 'What's for dinner?' or 'Can I have a Wii for Christmas?' but to state what he's just done. One day he came in and asked us 'Why did you put Charlie in the plane in the pool?' I bee-lined it out to the wading pool and pulled out the plane and the wet limp hamster, dried him off and cuddled him up in a towel, and gave him mouth-to-mouth."

"You did mouth-to-mouth to a hamster?!"

"Yes, and he lived for about another week after that."

"Oh no, you didn't!"

"Yes, I did."

"I'm going to remind you of that in another 15 years."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still running low on ideas

Tuesday night I finished pair #9 of the flurry of socks I've been knitting over the past two months. And now I'm taking a break from socks and I've picked back up on the green sweater I'd started in early September. All the socks are pinned up over the fireplace for display, but I'm just going to leave them there for a while. I'll know where they are and they won't get messed up or dirty there.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What's for Dinner?

I'm running low on blog topics and I don't want to disappoint my vast readers so I'm posting my dinner menu.

No, I didn't mean to imply you are vast, sorry for the misunderstanding.

Inside-out peppers served with Asparagus

I call this inside-out peppers because it's a traditional stuffed pepper recipe but the peppers are on the inside of the mix instead of the out

If you're not on a low-carb diet you can add cooked rice to the mixture halfway through the simmer

Preheat oven to 425, I've set mine to convection roast.
prepare asparagus stalks (I just snap the bottoms off, but you can peel the lower half if you want to take up the time)
Put the asparagus stalks in a shallow pan and drizzle with olive oil, set aside until the oven is hot. Roast for 12 to 20 minutes depending on how thick the stalks are. Optional: toss in slivered garlic cloves halfway through, I forgot to slice some up tonight

Brown a pound or two of ground beef (depending on your family size, of course)
While that's cooking, chop one or two green, red, or yellow bell peppers

drain off the fat if you need to
add the chopped pepper
pour in a half jar or so of spaghetti sauce (flavor of your choice)
and a cup of water
crumble in a palm-full each of oregano, basil and marjoram
add in a healthy slug of worcestershire sauce (aka: "what's this here?" sauce)

simmer with the lid off until it's nice and thick about 10-20 minutes
salt and pepper to taste


Friday, November 23, 2007

It's the day after Thanksgiving, I did nothing, I got nothing, so I'm trying to push the envelope on iphone by doing an entire post with it including inserting a photo.
No luck uploading a photo. Dernit.

I'm on my to a Wizards game, I'll try to post a photo during halftime.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

House and Home

I've lamented the difficulty in buying pants for my ever-growing son in the past. And it's still true. I had to buy him two new pairs of pants with adjustable waists Sunday night. Men's small jackets are the right length in the sleeves but he isn't close to "filling it out" and boys' large or x-large fit better but are too short around the wrists.

I measured him again on Sunday morning and he's 68.75" tall and still only about 100 lbs. He's nearly as tall as his father now having grown another inch in the past month. The dear boy went to school today in "floods" because he didn't want to change into the new pants or zip off the legs into shorts.

Sunday, I took him to Five Guys for lunch after church. (Is that 4 or 5 Sundays in a row, I've lost track.) He ate his burger and the rest of mine and all his fries. Last night his after school program had Thanksgiving dinner which he ate, then had salmon, broccoli and couscous when he got home. I figure any mom with an autistic son with food issues should just wait until they are a teenager and they'll eat anything. This teenager is going to eat me out of house and home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ta Daaah

notice the pattern is reversed on the other foot.

Friday, November 16, 2007

On This Day...

Today is my birthday. I used to hate my birthday when I was young and single and alone. I'd be very anxious about it, would anybody remember? Would anybody care?

Now, I'm not anxious about them at all, I kinda even would forget about it until the week before. I think having a husband and family and friends makes all the difference.

I'm typing this from my new iPhone. My husband surprised me with it this morning when I got back from my walk with AM, who is doing fantastically, by the way. I walk most of the route by myself then pick her up for the last bit. Her pace and stamina are increasing. But I digress. My husband gives the greatest gifts. A couple years ago, sit down for this Lorraine, he flew me and my mom to New York and my friend B came too. He booked an appointment for me to have my hair cut and colored by Nick from "What Not to Wear" at his studio in SoHo.

Today I get this shiny new iPhone. OK, I quit typing on it and I'm back on the laptop, it's much too hard for a lot of typing and the keypad is small, but it's cool. It picks up the WiFi network in the house so I can surf the 'net when the other computers in the house are occupied. I've had Nokia phones for years so I am facing a new learning curve with all this new technology in my palm.

Thanks Honey! But I'm not looking forward to moving over all my phone numbers, I'll do a few at a time. Anyone want their number in my new phone?

PS, check out my husbands blog for my song of the day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vocabulary Test

Lorraine refers to our blogging world as "Blogopia." I and think she's just plain wrong.

Let's examine the words myopia, hyperopia, and presbyopia . These words with the 'opia' suffix relate to how we see, nearsighted, farsighted, and needs reading glasses. (Do all Presbyterians need reading glasses or is that just me?) Blogopia therefore would mean how we see our blogging world.

Let's examine the words utopia and dystopia. These two words with the 'topia' suffix describe the places where we live: well, Utopia, obviously, and its evil twin, the land of doom (characterized by an oppressive social control).

Therefore, our little blog world should be Blogtopia. Right?

I'm sure Lorraine will disagree, anyone else?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The smallest possible bribe

I have to bribe Kevin a lot to get him to do things he wouldn't prefer to do. Brush your teeth if you want to go to Great Wolf Lodge; or go to bed so you can go to Swim-n-gym tomorrow, etc.

I select my bribes carefully, I don't want my offer to be too big, I'd never be able to back it up or offer it again; or too small, he'd never go for it. The promise of going to Great Wolf Lodge can work for about six months, and it works great when there is a specific date attached, this time January fifth. I often need a bribe that has immediate payoff like first we'll go shopping at Target then you can have fries from Chick-fil-A. The past several weeks I bribed Kevin with mini golf and Five Guys Burgers so he'd go to church. This week my husband is out of town and I wanted to go to church so I'd been racking my brain thinking of something I could use as a bribe that didn't involve a lot of calories (more fries), or spending time out in the cold (more mini golf). The bribes are a sacrifice on my part, what I'm willing to do or give up to get the desired behavior out of my son.

This morning was no different. I wanted to go to church and take him with me. I wanted a quiet compliant child, but what did I have to offer? Then it struck me.

"Kevin, will you go to church with me?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I can see clearly now...

...the algae is gone. My 55 gallon fish tank in my bed room with South American fish had gotten so scummy, the algae was so thick, I couldn't see anything. I finally cleaned it out a couple weeks ago, again. It took me more than a week this time. I used lots of bleach to kill the algae and let the tank come back up to speed before I put the fish back in. I even had the garden hose up the side of the house into the bedroom so I didn't have to haul buckets of water back and forth from the bathroom. I swear that stretches my arm 2 inches. Probably explains tendinitis, too. And I just hate hefting the buckets up on my shoulder so I can not pour the water on the carpet, but into the tank. The hose makes it so much easier, but it takes a while for the temperature to stabilize.

Today I bought 12 new fish, six black neons, two cory cats, and four Columbian tetras. I already had a surviving black neon and a surviving Columbian tetra and these guys are monsters compared to the new tank mates. Ohmigoodness, I never realize how much the fish grow until I get new ones from the shop. I'm not sure what of this purchase is left, probably two of the cory cats and one of the neons.

I did a search for my previous post on the same topic and was surprised to find I did the same thing last December. Boy, does time fly. Maybe I'll be a better fish parent this year and not have the algae problem again. Either that, or find algae eater fish that live in the soft Amazon acidic water with a pH of 6.5.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fighting Self Doubt

In the last week, I've gotten four more Girl Scout vests to work on. I'm proud of my work, and I think it looks good, but I'm starting to think about (or maybe obsess about) quality and customer service, and what if the moms don't like what I've done to their daughter's vest. I tell myself if they could have done a better job, they would have done it themselves and not have hired me. But still, I set up this business without a reputation, I am just someone who could and would do the sewing. Anyway, only time will tell, I guess — will my clients come back for another year after this one? Will I be swamped beyond belief? or just be a sad memory of an old bat who tried?

Fighting Boredom

I finished the seventh pair of wool socks, AM's pair, wasn't available for the group photo, but here are the rest of the gift pairs. I still should make another pair but maybe I'll take a break for a while. I've picked back up the pair of corn fiber hibiscus-colored socks I've been making for myself. I have made real progress in the last week and only have the toe to work and I'll be done. Whoohoo!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The air is rapidly escaping from the sock balloon. I'm working on pair number 7 and I'm finding it hard to be excited about its progress. I'm halfway done with the foot on the second sock and I'm not really looking forward to starting another pair. I still should make at least one more pair. And Kevin will be skiing this winter so I should make him a pair of wool socks too.

There is a five-week skiing program for special needs teens (no parents!) this winter which we'll be signing Kevin up for. He's never done that, so I'm nervous and excited for him at the same time. I can't ski, I fall. Ice skating is more my speed as long as I have at least one foot on the ice at all times. (No jumps!)

Kevin learns by observation. He rode a two-wheeler two days after we took the training wheels off his sister's bike. Fern didn't like Kevin riding her bike, so we took the wheels off his bike. I'm sure he'll see the others skiing and go for it. It's kind of cool he doesn't take the whole fear thing into consideration, fear of failure, fear of falling, fear of falling in front of peers, the usual adult things.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Snapshots of a Weekend

I shot a 55 on the back nine at Glenndale. I had some good drives, almost had the green in 3 on several holes but hit the beach instead, and made par on 12, par 3 130 something yards, long putt for par.


I got an email from a neighbor who is traveling this week to Arizona to visit a retired colleague:
If for some reason I don't make it back my car will be in the long term parking at bwi- license is xxx xxx. 2006 honda accord black
Car keys are on the mirror in the hallway.

You can keep it. Needs an oil change.


My daughter is a funny bird. She was the liturgist again Sunday morning for the 8:30 service, having had fun when she did part of the Youth service in September. This time, she did the whole service, didn't share the duty with any one else. She did great, spoke clearly, didn't rush through the readings. Many people came up to me after the service to tell me how well my daughter had done. I'm sure a lot of people told her the same thing. I asked her if she'd like to do it again. "No." Her point of view is: it's over, don't dwell on the past, just move on. She's uncomfortable with the accolades and doesn't want to be subject to acclamations if she doesn't have to. I wish she could be more graceful in accepting praise. How do I help her with that?


My husband heard the click click click of the starter on the gas stove.
"What are you making?"
I peered around the corner to see a look on his face that was reminiscent of a child given a plate of brussels sprouts.
"I have a hankering for something and I don't know what it's for."
"It's not for spinach, ice cream or cheese cake maybe."
"No, it definitely not for ice cream or cheese cake."
I plop down in my chair in the sewing/computer room.
"Chips and dip?"
"I could have a hankering for chips and dip," I said, paused, then said, "you could pick some up when you go get the girls at 8:00."
"You beat me to the punch."
"Yes I did." He usually gets me to make trips like this.
"I'm already in sweats."
"I have slippers on."
"But you have pants on."
"Yeah, but I'm not wearing a bra."
"If I didn't notice, no one else will".

The chips hit the spot.
And I didn't have to leave the house.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Trick or Treat

We had about 20 beggars to the door last night dipping into the family stash. Fern and Hermione went out together around our neighborhood. Don't they look smashing!

Hermione is wearing a dress I made for Fern a couple years ago, by the way.


I'm so proud of myself: I've gotten up in the dark 3 mornings this week and walked by myself. Yay Me!

We had a fire drill here at work a couple weeks ago. I work on the fifth floor so I took the steps up after the all-clear. Oh my goodness, I got to Three just fine, was huffing and puffing by Four and blown down by Five. I tried again a couple days ago with the same results. Now I've vowed to take the steps once a day until it's no longer hard, then I may do twice a day. It's exactly 100 steps to the fifth floor from the lobby. I guess my 1.75 mile walks in the mornings haven't been hard enough for my heart.