Category Archives: food

Palm Fronds, The Poodle Tree and Banana Bread

We survived Irma. And did pretty well, thank you.

Aside from landscape damage and some fence sections down, the house is fine. The cats were listless and annoyed, likely due to temperatures inside the housimagese getting close to 90° during the 72 hours we were without power. All they wanted to do was eat and sleep, which is pretty much all they do during any normal day.

I made a bazillion trips from backyard to the driveway, dragging tree branches from the one shade-providing tree we had. Let’s just say that in canine terms, it was a big, shaggy dog before the storm. Now it looks like a poodle with a very bad haircut. About half the tree is gone (The Husband did the best surgery he could) and instead of throwing shade, it’s just throwing crumpled leaves.

One palm tree out front snapped in half, and about 10 palm fronds bent, pointy end towards the earth. The Husband expertly removed those, too.  It looks better out there, but my  Sunday afternoon shady car washing spot is history.

When the power returned, I used the bananas I bought pre-storm to make a good banana bread, and shared it with the ladies at my salon. I figured everyone could use a little sweetness at this point. And frankly, there’s nothing like turning the oven up to 350° and baking a loaf of comfort to remind you how nice it is that you can shut off the oven in an hour and the house will still be nice and cool.

Hurricane Irma was ugly in a different way than Hurricane Harvey. It’s made places ugly, unstable and downright unlivable by force of wind and some flooding, rather than wind plus the sheer magnitude of  rain. In both cases, people lost homes, cars, businesses, pets, power and boats. But most have yet to lose their sense of humor and determination to fix up, clean up, restore and revitalize what’s theirs and what belongs to their neighbors and community. Our own house is still a very, very, very fine house, to quote the Crosby, Stills and Nash song.  Keep donating to the hurricane relief efforts of your choice, and help make everyone’s house a very, very, very fine house once more.

 

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Filed under charity, Current news, donation, Hurricane Irma

College is funny and confuses me

Two of my nieces are now in college, one as a fcollege booksreshman and one a sophomore. And I am confused.

College campuses today are nothing like my college campus forty-something years ago.

Case in point: my brother texts me that he bought his daughter a block of 50 meals to get her started this year. I had no clue what he meant. I assumed he either:

  1. Went to the grocery store, spent a lot of money and borrowed a semi to haul the food to her new apartment,

or

2.  Ordered from an online meal delivery service, and six FedEx trucks would show up with a forest’s worth of boxes containing artfully packaged ingredients and instruction cards with pretty pictures showing what the final dish is supposed to look like.

Turned out to be neither of these options. He ordered meals on the university’s dining program and put them on her account, so she could grab quick and healthy food between classes without going to her off-campus apartment.

I never had that choice. You lived on campus, you ate on campus (and the food was pretty good). You lived off campus, you were on your own. There were no food courts, coffee shops or pick-and-choose meal plans. The closest we came to choice was the line of vending machines in the Student Union. A walk downtown meant fast food, diner fare and the bars, but the legal drinking age was 21 and you’d gain that “Freshman 15” in a month if you frequented the local restaurants (I do still have a soft spot for sticky buns and Wuv’s onion rings, however).

College kids have ID cards now. The cards are a form of campus credit, used to pay for books, meals, laundry, printing and the like, which is a fine idea. Sadly, the cards identify students, as opposed to angry and violent strangers lurking on campus. I never had that worry back in the day.

Political correctness is a bigger issue today than it used to be. I like the idea of fairness, equality and the need for every voice to be heard. But forty years ago, when a controversial speaker was coming to campus, you did not go to listen if their message was not your message. Or you protested peacefully. There were no threats, violence, beatings or people killed for their personal conduct.

I hope the girls have a great year. I hope they learn a lot and advance in their chosen professions (pre-law and actuarial science). But even more, I hope they enjoy meeting new people, value commitment to a kind and generous world, and never become complacent.

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Filed under Children, Current news, family

Day One of a Next Life

enjoylifeIt rained all day, courtesy of Tropical Storm Emily. A surprise storm that the TV weather wonks did not see coming, despite their constant bragging about using the latest in advanced radar technology.

But a surprise like this is fine. It’s been a good first day of a different kind of life. I ran, had breakfast and got down to the business of working on what I love – writing. I took a break to clean the bathrooms, went out on some errands, had lunch, worked some more and rode my bike on the indoor trainer before dinner.  My life is still as disciplined as it was when I punched a time clock, but now it is ruled by lists on a legal pad and a pair of white boards in my home office.

I have two interviews for part-time work scheduled this week, along with a volunteer gig that I have looked forward to and missed for a long time. I have given up contact with the standard nine-to-five world, but I’ve already gained a measure of calm and purpose. It’s not the same when you don’t leave the house and go to the same job every day. There is some sense of imbalance, a lack of the sure and steady grip on life. But this is part of the process of scaring myself into doing something bigger, different and more challenging. I was very good AT my last job, and I think I left the office in a better place than it was when I started. But I was not very good FOR that job. I was not forced to think or amaze anyone or use any of the skills I’ve learned in life. I thought about taking a holiday, a kind of “gap week,” to regroup first before moving on. But my energy is good and my mind is ready to head out and get to whatever is next.

 

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Filed under blogging, Careers, charity, employment, freelancing, unemployment

She Called Her Daddy…

dadd

How bad is it when an “adult” coworker decides not to face the reality of their adverse job situation and reverts to calling their parental unit to get involved in the issue?

I witnessed this happen at my place of employment. Aside from the words on this digital page, I am at a loss for most others.

When your folks foist you on the working world, it is hoped/assumed/prayed that even if you are not completely ready for all that can happen, you have  the basics mastered. You can write business letters, speak clearly into a phone, understand elementary etiquette rules, address your superiors properly and most important, you can tell the truth whether you are right or wrong, give credit where it is due and display sufficient spine to stand up and sort it out for yourself when things get tough.

I have a coworker who is not even remotely ready for work in the realm of reality. Pouting, cursing, ignoring ringing phones, insisting on time off when none is earned or available, long lunches, leaving early and forgetting to get work done are some of the notable characteristics displayed on a daily basis.

And the shake-your-head-in-wonder moment of the week: when her demand for time off was refused, she called her father to ask him to call the boss on her behalf.

No, just plain oh-no-it-did-not-happen.

Yes, it did.

How does a person lack the common sense in a case like this? Which part of the adult brain just shuts off, and which part moves backwards into childhood, thinking, “I’m telling on you! I’m getting my daddy to fix this right now if you don’t give me what I want!”

I’d love to phone a friend, a parent or someone when life takes a hard left. Mom and Dad are gone, and I think my friends would have me committed if I did to them what this coworker did. I can commiserate with my brothers, of course.  But asking them to step up to the plate because someone picked on their sister?

Note to coworker: grow a set (and a spare set) soon. It is a mean world out there. And your daddy won’t be around forever.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Careers, employment, family, Relationships, unemployment

A bread and butter kind of day

You’ve had them, I know.

bread

Calling Dr. Bread and Nurse Butter!

The kind of day where only carbs with a liberal slathering of fats will do.

I’ve had my share of them in the past ten weeks. Some good days and some good job interviews. And some that were not merely forgettable, they were worth walking out on. I mean both the days and the interviews.

But plugging along, working out and planning for what’s next, even if I don’t know exactly what it is, is keeping the brain sane and steady. I’m volunteering this weekend, at the triathlon that started it all for me. It’s a local super sprint, and it’s the one I did last year. The one that scared me the most because it was my first, and lured me into thinking I could keep doing them, because I finished that one. In less than two weeks, triathlon number five takes place, at a venue I know well but never used for competition.

I let myself have some sourdough bread and butter today (OK, “some” is a four-letter word for overdoing it) because I now have to cut back and behave until my own event. I forced myself away from the computer to go outside and kill weeds. I’ve stayed far, far away from the TV pundits and political websites and the outshout-the-other candidate soundbites, though I did go and vote in the state primary.

No TV or newspaper tomorrow. Lots of job searching, prepping for a career fair later this week, freelance work and chores around the house. Oh, and no more bread and butter, at

I let myself have some sourdough bread and butter today (OK, “some” is a four-letter word for overdoing it) because I now have to cut back and behave until my own event. I forced myself away from the computer to go outside and kill weeds. I’ve stayed far, far away from the TV pundits and political websites and the outshout-the-other candidate soundbites, though I did go and vote in the state primary.

No TV or newspaper tomorrow. Lots of job searching, prepping for a career fair later this week, freelance work and chores around the house. Oh, and no more bread and butter, at least for now.

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Filed under athletic competition, employment, Exercise, food, freelancing, mental health, Triathlons, unemployment

Note To The Blondes: I Heard You

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I ran a 5K Sunday, part of my continuing tuneup/workout/preparation for my upcoming triathlon. Nothing out of the ordinary; it was a nice day and a decent run. And I ran into trash talk, which is pretty much par for the (running) course for me.

The two women thought I could not hear them. They assumed I was far enough away. I may be old(er), but my hearing is still testing as perfect. They seemed to think my presence at the event was unwarranted, unnecessary and downright silly. On the contrary, I did belong there, as did everyone else who chose to show up and run or walk. Partly, it was to pay the money towards a good cause (a children’s charity) and partly because it was a good excuse to get up, get out and move.

What is the deal with women coming out to a running event, a place where we should be delighted in each others’ strengths and abilities and be willing to push each other when the need arises, and instead knock each other down with words employed by the schoolyard bullies many of us have known, our children have known and whose tactics we claim to deplore?

I felt like walking up to both of them and pointing out that since they were both clearly over the age of thirty, their matching running outfits was more the kind of thing that looks cute on eight-year-old girls, but not so much on grown women. Then again, maybe that’s their bond. Maybe that’s what they use as a way to get through the tough workouts. That and knocking their fellow runners. I didn’t say anything to them; at this point, I’ve heard the insults often enough that I’m almost immune.

But I’m not invisible. I’m the everyday runner, not the elite athlete. I’m the mid-to-back-of-the-pack finisher, not the one whose getting the award. The phrase “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt” applies to me, because  after I’ve been there, done (run) that, the T-shirt is about all I get to take home. And that’s fine. It’s what I come for, along with making some new friends and learning some new things about my running that may help me at the next race.

So don’t insult me (unless you want to do it directly to my face and in full range of my ability to at least verbally strike back) or assume I’m less of a runner than you because I’m older, slower or not as pretty. It makes me mad, but I’ll warn you, it also makes me better.

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Filed under charity, Exercise, Running

Thanksgiving…because mom did it that way!

The holiday is more than just a full plate. It’s also full of memories. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

Thanksgiving is two days away, give or take a few frantic hours. I’ve got a schedule, lists, food piled on a prep table and packed so tight in the fridge that the bottom shelf is actually in the dark when you open the door.

Some things I fix for the big day I do because I like them, and/or the family likes them. Some things are just part of tradition dating from an unknown time, place or reason and continued because, well, mom did it that way.

Dad passed away many Thanksgivings ago, so his influence on the day is minimal. Though we figure he had something to do with the baked ziti. We’re not Italian, but many of his friends were, and someone must have served it at a party. Mom made it for years, using a black enamel baking pan. I have that pan, one of the few things I took from her kitchen when she passed away, and I still use it. Most of Thanksgiving winds up in disposable aluminum pans, but not the ziti.

One change I did make is the sweet potato casserole. Grandma mashed and whipped and served it with the toasty little marshmallows on top. Of course we all ate some to be polite. Hated it, but we ate it. I bake my sweet potatoes, scoop them, break them up in a baking pan and top with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and nutmeg. No mashing and no marshmallow puddles.

The appetizers are things mom liked and have not changed in forever. Spiced steamed shrimp, fresh veggies and onion dip, chopped liver and crackers. Totally unsophisticated in a world of amuse bouche, but it’s family food.

And there will be latkes, the Jewish potato pancakes. I do this because the Chanukah holiday is usually fairly close to Thanksgiving. It isn’t this year, but Mom always made them: a platter of gently crispy outside, soft and oniony inside latkes. She had to work fast; latkes are the last thing you make before dinner is served, and you have to hide them as you make them, or people come into the kitchen, drawn by the aroma of fried potato perfection, and eat them right out of the pan. Served with applesauce (an American affectation; purists insist on sour cream), they are never, ever a leftover.

This Thanksgiving, there will be several sets of dishes mixed together: mine, mom’s and grandma’s. We will all fit at the table this year, with only the need for one extra chair. But everyone we love will be there in food and memory.

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Filed under cooking, family, food, Holiday