Saturday, May 23, 2009

For your viewing pleasure.....

This is where my mind is. This is NOT where my body is. Sigh.

Gotta love the lazy days!

RockStar got up early and went golfing this morning. Since then, me and the boys have been hanging out. I've been trying to get a lot of stuff done (laundry, freezing leftovers, cleaning up, etc...) and the boys have been playing. Finally, I shooed them outside to enjoy the great weather!

Later today, we're going to our friends' cabin. We've never been there before, so we're all very excited. It should be fun!

Until then, I'm just lazing around, going about my chores in a very unrushed manner. Even the cats are all quiet right now. If we weren't leaving this afternoon, I'd seriously be looking at a nap pretty soon! Maybe RockStar will drive and I can nap in the car? Possibly. I won't count on it.

Oh, and word to the wise --- if you have kids and you also have On Demand movies, figure out how to block them from buying movies without your permission. Yeah. Learn from my example. At least HandsomeBoy really enjoyed Bolt. He honestly didn't realize he was BUYING it. He thought he'd just stumbled on the movie. Silly me for not knowing that was going to happen. I chalked it up as a stupid tax for me and not a strike against HandsomeBoy. Live and learn.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just say no!

I was on the phone with my local phone/cable/internet bundler yesterday. I won't name names, but here's a hint: it starts with V and ends in erizon.

The woman helping me was very friendly and thorough and cleared up my billing question for me in about 90 seconds. Great! I was very happy at that point. At which moment she says, "And since we value you so much as a customer, I'm happy to tell you about some freebies we have for you."

Anyone who knows me know how perky I get at the sound of the word "freebie", so I was eagerly anticipating the benefits they were about to offer me. Silly Perky! As she started to tell me about the "freebies", it became very clear very quickly that these were definitely NOT free. What they were offering was an opportunity to add on features to my account that I don't need and they would graciously wait two weeks before starting to bill me for them.

Now, I understand that they're in business to make money, so that part didn't bother me so much. It's called suggestive selling and anyone in retail whose worth anything will always do it at any opportunity.

Here's what made me mad -- after I politely turned down the first two "freebies", she then said to me, "Okay, well here's an offer I KNOW that you can't POSSIBLY refuse," and then proceeded to offer me something else that we don't need.

Excuse me, but DO NOT tell me that I can't refuse! That's just guaranteeing that I will! I understand that she was just doing her job as it was set forth to her by her managers, but I was doing my job as an educated consumer who is totally committed to improving my family's financial condition, both in the short-term and the long-term!

If not for RockStar's adamant refusal to even consider it, I would have cancelled the cable altogether when we recently bundled our services. As it is, we're paying less than we were before and getting more; however, I don't know how much of the "more" we really need!

The moral of today's story? Don't be afraid to say no. Just because someone is offering, doesn't convey on you an obligation to accept. Be an educated, conscious consumer and only buy what you need and no more!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CSA - Community Supported Agriculture or Creates a Serious Appetite????

This is my second year as a site host for a local CSA and I'm LOVING it again!

We're on the third delivery week now and my fridge has been full of beautiful produce such as radishes, strawberries, rhubarb, scallions, mizuna, romaine, baby lettuces, collards, and asparagus. I've searched through my own recipe books and Googled and AllReciped in order to transform these into delicious salads, tangy radish-top soup, Asparagus and Scallop Risotto, Southern Braised Collards, Rhubarb Pie, Rhubarb Crisp, Rhubarb Sauce (served over ice cream, of course!) and Spring Vegetable & Turkey fried rice.

Can you tell I'm in love?

We eat pretty well during the winter, but I can already see a massive change in our diets now that spring and the CSA is here! I look forward to each Monday's delivery like it's my birthday! Each week, we receive the most amazing gifts of fresh food and we enjoy it all week long!

Next week, I'll have to wait until Wednesday to get our delivery since Monday is Memorial Day. I'm really going to miss it on Monday and Tuesday!!!!

If you've joined a CSA, great! If you haven't, please visit your local farmers market as soon as you can. Even if you only buy one thing, the visit should inspire you to try new foods and/or new recipes and incorporate more fresh produce into your diet.

The ABCs of me

I picked this up off Rancid Raves quite awhile back and never got around to posting it. Was it worth the wait? Doubtful, but here goes.........

A is for age: 40

B is for burger of choice: Either mushroom swiss or blue cheese blast, but it MUST be cooked medium rare. I know, I know..... I'm bound to contract some horrible food-borne pathogen like e. coli, but what's the point in eating it if you don't enjoy it? I prefer my meat to moo softly when I cut into it!

C is for the car I drive: Minivan. But, unlike a lot of other people, I LOVE my minivan! I love sitting up a little higher than a sedan (although still lower than some SUVs) and I love the flexible seating/storage space!

D is for your dog’s name: < sob > Since we lost Big Red last fall, I guess I don't have an answer for this. But, I've decided that it's time to submit our application for our next dog, so maybe my answer should be "to be determined"?

E is for essential item you use every day: Blackberry Storm. I've become totally spoiled and need to access my email and Facebook from every red light!

F is for favorite TV show at the moment: Uh...... I have no idea. I really don't watch much (okay, ANY) TV these days. Although I do occasionally catch The Daily Show on Hulu. Luv me some Jon Stewart!!!! As my Bubbe would have said...."Such a sheyner Yiddisher boychik und klug, too!!!!!"

G is for favorite game:
Scramble, I guess.

H is for home state:
Born in Virginia, raised in Pennsylvania.

I is for instruments you play: None, really. Although I am learning Cello with HandsomeBoy as he goes through the Suzuki program.

J is for favorite juice: Tomato Juice (but only after I've added vodka, horseradish, pepper and hot sauce and garnished with a stalk of celery and a small paper umbrella!)

K is for whose bum you’d like to kick: Wow -- that's a pretty long list! I'm not sure where to start!

L is for last restaurant at which you ate: The Great Machipongo Clam Shack

M is for your favorite Muppet: Kermit

N is for number of piercings: At one time, I had five ear piercings. Now I'm down to two.

O is for overnight hospital stays: None since being born.

P is for people you were with today: RockStar, HandsomeBoy, CutiePie, the three cats and now I'm at work.

Q is for what you do with your quiet time: Hike, walk, surf the net, bike, read, housework, take photos

R is for biggest regret: Rushing back from Israel in '93 to get back for my next semester of law school -- I should have stayed and spent time on the kibbutz I'd fallen in love with.

S is for status: Married, awake, upright, employed, Independent.... what else are you looking for?????

T is for time you woke up today: 7am -- about 30 minutes behind schedule, but it all worked out okay.

U is for what you consider unique about yourself: Hmmmmmmm...... no idea what to say for this one.

V is for vegetable you love: Most of them!!! Especially grilled or roasted!

W is for worst habit: Chewing on pens (doing it right now) and procrastination (doing it right now),

X is for x-rays you’ve had: Dental, legs (born with bad legs that got worse in adolesence) and chest (walking pneumonia last year)

Y is for yummy food you ate today: homemade turkey fried rice

Z is for zodiac: Cancer --- yes, Perky is a crab!!!

Guess who said it?

* A woman should be home with the children, building that home and making sure there's a secure family atmosphere.

* I’ve been married a long time...and I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what women really want. I don’t know, but the answer probably lies somewhere between chocolate and conversation.

* My family means more to me than the artificial trappings of my career. If ever I had to choose between my career and my family, the wife and kids would definitely come out on top.

Any guesses????

None other than Mr. Morality, Mel "Holier than thou" Gibson, who recently announced that he had left his wife and 7 kids and now it comes to light that his mistress is pregnant with his child.

Love-ly. Just love-ly.

I'll leave you with two other quotes from this paragon of virtue:

* Fucking Jews... Jews are responsible for all wars in the world.

* What are you looking at sugartits?

Those last two statements were, of course, made to police officers when he was pulled over for speeding and drunk driving in July, 2006.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Travel Bug is biting........ hard!

I had the rare pleasure of travelling by myself this weekend. I love a good, long car trip with only my book on tape and the radio for company! When Big Red was alive, I enjoyed his quiet company, too.

On Friday, I indulged the pleasure by stopping at few stores that looked interesting and I made a couple of side trips. One to a picturesque bay-side town with a pretty beach and another to a bird refuge with a great visitors center and hiking trails.

The weather yesterday did not cooperate, so I didn't do much else other than drive, but even that was pleasant.

On the drive, I first finished reading Eclipse - the third book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Although I really don't like the series very much, the occasional descriptions of the Northwest Pacific forests entranced me. Next, I "read" a few discs of one of the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency books and enjoyed the descriptions of hot, dry Botswana -- as different from Forks, WA as you can get! After awhile, I needed a change from Precious Ramotswe because the reader was wonderful, but her gentle voice was not what I needed on the long drive. So, I put in Krakatoa, a non-fiction book about the violent volcanic eruption in 1873 that affected the entire world. The descriptions of life in the South Pacific islands and Southeast Asia totally captivated me.

While listening to each of these books, I found myself imagining travelling there. Just me and my camera. I could see myself wandering around, taking photos, soaking up the local flavor, eating native foods and drinking the local coffee or tea, all while watching people and getting in touch with the rhythm of life in that particular corner of the world.

As you can tell, I love to travel. It's not even that I find it merely enjoyable. It's that I feel actually ALIVE when I'm travelling, especially in a new place. I feel more like ME at those times than any others. Without all the trappings and anchors of the life I've built around me, I can be the person I really am. Like moss on a stone or barnacles on a pier, the inertia attempts to overtake me and I find that only by breaking out of my normal routine can I really appreciate the world around me.

Right now, we are studiously paying down our debt, so there is little chance that I'll be setting off for any very exotic ports of call in the near future. Maybe next year, when all we'll have is mortgage debt; maybe then I'll be able to slip away to somewhere foreign and exotic and new. Until then, I'm going to have to make the best of the small opportunities I have -- a new park, a few stolen hours in the city, my neighborhood in the early morning hours.

And....... I can read and dream and plan.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Half full? Half empty?

So, I'm sitting here trying to decide whether I'm a believer in the inherent goodness of people or whether I think we are, as a society, heading to hell in a handbasket. I just can't figure it out. Here's the evidence (in no particular order):

* A kid who tends to treat his family rather poorly gives a beautiful, meaningful, yet age-appropriate speech clearly in his own words in which he says heartwarming things about his mother and brings people to tears with words spoken about the importance of his step-father in their lives.

* A young kid of about 10 years old finishes his snack in a public park and casually tosses the plate over his shoulder into the bushes. No one in his family moves to pick it up or instructs him not to litter, despite the fact that they all saw it happen.

* Girls going to a morning religious service dressed as if they were heading to a nightclub.

* Motorists driving down crowded highways as if they were the only ones, careless of the danger they are putting other people in.

* Friendly volunteers at a nature center who actually ran around the facility to gather up visitors and guide them to the viewing window to show them first the beautiful and entertaining blue grosbeak and then, a few minutes later, the wild turkey.

* People who value things and fashion and appearances more than relationships, appropriate behavior and future financial security.

* People who are sour and depressing and negative despite multiple blessings in their lives.

* A sweet little baby is sleeping safe and sound in her new home right now while her new parents are overwhelmed with the joy of finally having a daughter to call their own. Against all odds and previous experiences, the baby's birthmother made the series of choices that created this family. Amazing.

* A recent conversation with a teen in which they were able to easily rattle off a list of drug dealers, drug users, child abusers and various other deadbeats in their community.

* People unable to partake in the joy of the life around them at a given moment.

* People in dire circumstances who make few attempts to improve their situation, preferring instead to perpetuate the excuses of why they "can't" change their lives. No one expects instant change, but continuing to dig your hole deeper should never be an option.

* There is no excuse for not looking for employment when you are young, single, childless and able-bodied.

* There are some people who, despite all reasons not to, continue to look at life as something precious and wonderful and full of potential. Part of me admires this line of thought. Part of me wants to shout, "Aren't you paying attention!!!!!".

* People who think that they get a vote on other people's decisions. What's up with that? I've heard at least three totally different stories in the past few days about people thinking that it was appropriate for them to tell someone else what they were doing wrong. Seriously, people -- live and let live! Get over yourselves!

I know none of this makes sense, but I've just been getting so frustrated lately. It seems like almost everyone has totally given up on trying to be good people, trying to make the world a better place, trying to get along with others and be responsible for themselves. Maybe I'm noticing all this because the end is nigh or maybe it's just because I've been trying so hard lately to live a good life and "do the right thing". Am I just overreacting and being unnecesarily hard on others? Even the mom yelling at her kid in public and saying very hurtful words in a sarcastic voice must also hug the child and whisper lovingly how proud she is of them. Right? Just because I see someone at their worst doesn't automatically mean that there isn't a better side?

I sometimes wonder how drastically the world would be improved if everyone decided to try just a bit harder to be a better citizen of the planet and member of our human society. What if, even just for a day, we all stopped littering, spoke gently to each other, smiled, gave others the right of way and benefit of the doubt. What if we paid our bills, worked to our best ability, treated people with respect, obeyed the laws of the road, and gave a dollar to a charity. Can you imagine? Such small steps - such big changes!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update of sorts

Yeah, I suck. Totally. I abandoned you completely while I went off and lived my little life. Took care of my business and all but forgot about you, my pretty little blog.

Get over it.

I've always said that this blog is mainly just a place for me to speak my mind and write things down that I don't want to forget. BUT, I'd like to see it become something better than that. What does that mean? I have no idea.

So, what's kept me away from here and what have I been doing and thinking and dreaming while I haven't been here? Fasten your seatbelts, this may be a fast ride......

* Working. Still can't get my hours up past 35 hours a week, but I'm going to try harder to do so. The money would be great.
* The money would be great because I've totally committed to getting us out of debt. We're not in danger of bankruptcy or losing our house, but we are definitely carrying too much debt in the form of credit cards. In the first third of this year, I've paid off 3 credit cards and a Home Depot loan. The plan for the rest of this year is to pay off another credit card, my student loan and the van. In 2010, the final credit card falls. Yay!
* Refinancing our mortgage -- yes, again with the money stuff. 15 years at 4.5% will save us a FORTUNE in the long run!
* The boys are doing great overall. Big progress in schoolwork for both of them this year. They are both in reading intervention and it seems to be working. I expect both of them will still go to summer school this summer, but at least they're improving all the time!
* Adderall -- CutiePie is soooooooooo much better now that he takes it. If you're not in favor of it, then don't give it to your kids, but I can see that it's helped him so much!
* Facial Tic -- a bit before Spring Break, we noticed that HandsomeBoy was showing signs of a facial tic. Specifically, he's squinting, rolling his eyes and looking to the side quickly. Then repeats it. And repeats it. We've seen the neurologist and it's not a big deal and will most likely go away. Still. This we needed?
* Of course, in light of what some of my other friends are going through, a little ADHD and facial tics really don't seem so bad right now.
* We are a site host for a local CSA and the deliveries started last week. I'm so happy to have a fridge full of delicious organic produce and I've already upped my cooking quotient considerably because of it!
* Loving the warm weather! Spring seemed like it would never arrive and then it was suddenly here! Although the 90 degree weather in April was a bit odd. I'll take it, but odd all the same!
* We lost BigRed (aka The Best Dog in the World) back in September to bladder cancer. I'm still heartbroken and occasionally burst into tears when looking at his photos, but I think I'm ready to contact the rescue and submit our application for our next Golden. No one can take his place, but I have enough room in my heart for another great dog, too!
* Since my last post, a few more of my friends have lost their parents. The deaths weren't sudden or unexpected, but it's still been very sad. I see my friends more often now at parent's funerals than at happy hours. Getting older sucks.
* We adopted a new kitten in November who turned out to be very sweet but also a "Dr. Destructo". In March, friends found a young stray cat that they couldn't keep and we (read: I) offered to keep it while we found its family. I honestly thought we'd find the family in a few days. No such luck. Then, on top of that, the new cat broke it's hip in early April so now we can't even GIVE it away! So, we're currently a 3-cat house looking to expand to a 3-cat and 1-dog house. Yes, I'm crazy, why do you ask?
* Summer plans? Virginia (beach and camping) and Niagara Falls are the planned trips. Lots of other fun little things also. Never a dull moment around here, y'know!

Okay, that's the really quick summary of my life. You'l notice I left out all the really boring stuff involving the constant chores of life (cleaning, cooking, organizing, etc.....) I figure you probably have enough of that in your own life and you really don't need to hear about that stuff in my life. Right? Right.

So, if there's anyone out there actually reading this, are you going to place bets on how long it'll be before I post again???? LOL!