Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Relaxed Celebration

It was a near perfect holiday, this Thanksgiving 2011.

The turkey dinner on Thursday has been eaten at every meal since, except for breakfast. Hubby has feasted on his dressing and my gravy (which came out so wonderfully that it didn't even require straining), along with two slices of sweet potatoes and a sliver of cranberries. Not a great fan of turkey meat, he even managed to eat a turkey sandwich on Saturday night. I, on the other hand, have dined elegantly on turkey sandwiches at every turn -- a simple concoction of buttered bread, turkey breast salted and peppered, and sweet pickles. Nothing better in the world! The dogs have their own quart ziplock bag of wings and leg meat -- and they can tell from any room in the house when it has been ripped open for a tasty treat.

The movie Hugo was viewed in all its 3-D splendor and was thoroughly enjoyed by one family member. The other was placated with a double dip of mint chocolate chip ice cream during the film.

On Friday we headed out around 9:30 for the nearest Dollar Tree store to find gifts for the kids' Christmas party. Hubby loaded his shopping cart with various interesting teen items while I loaded mine with funny sock gifts for the Houston crowd. Since the Dollar store was not having any sales (everything is always a dollar regardless) the store was nearly empty and we shopped in peace. By 11:30 we were back home in our PJ's.

All the rest of our shopping was done on-line and sent on to Houston for wrapping when we arrive at Christmas.

Multiple TV football games were watched by Hubby while I downloaded new literature to the Kindle.

We caught up on most of the laundry.

The PC went strange and we were unable to access the internet after Hubby spend Friday night web-surfing and game playing. But 20 minutes with Earthlink on Saturday solved the problem easily. These kind of things, especially on a holiday weekend, remind me why I pay Earthlink's bill each month.

An evening ride took us around town to see Christmas lights, which in Kansas City must include both the Plaza lights (on the right) and the mayor's Christmas tree (on the left). The new Power and Light district downtown also included some artistic window displays, which we enjoyed.

Sunday a sheering of my head is planned (and way overdue) which will keep me sane for the trudge through the weeks before Christmas.

We took a gander at the December calendar and planned out our attack on Christmas -- when to party, when to rent the car for Houston, etc.

We went to bed early and we slept late, husbanding our strength for the march up to Christmas. I think we are ready.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The local grocery (HyVee) has offered a free turkey if one purchases a whole Hormel Ham. Hubby came home with the ham and I studded it with cloves and baked it in brown sugar and sweet pickle brine. The ham was delicious -- but two people, one who should NOT eat ham because of the salt content, cannot eat a whole ham. For a week now I've make ham and Swiss cheese sandwiches every day for lunch but I'm done with it. I'm "hammed" out.

So last night Hubby made a Sam's run and came home with two loaves of Wonder white bread, a huge package of sliced cheeses and one of Sam's gi-normous pumpkin pies. He sliced up the ham, made containers of mustard and mayo, and then thinly sliced the pumpkin pie. This morning he loaded me up and off I went with a feast for the kids.

By 8:00 a.m. my room was packed with kids stuffing ham sandwiches into their mouths. And smiling. Second block my community teachers, on break, all filed in and made themselves plates of food.

Third block the ham was nearly depleted. I had thought we'd never eat all that much ham, but by third block we were adding in applesauce and mandarin oranges to supplement the sandwich supply.

Smiles all around. Everyone was delighted. And the ham was completely gone by 1 p.m.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turkey Trot

Wednesday I went shopping at the local Trader Joe's. We are lucky to have one just over the state line after waiting years for one to come even near the area. Last year the closest Trader Joe's was four hours away.

Hubby isn't crazy about the food there but he does appreciate the healthy dog treats and their cookies. I love the frozen dinners, the soups, the crackers and chips, the dips, and the nice array of rices available. Every three months or so I stock my freezer with their single dish meals -- all just for me.

I walked into the store on this early Wednesday afternoon (yes, I had cut a district meeting because, frankly, I was meeting-ed out and a trip to Joe's seemed much more fun) with Hubby and the boys waiting in the car for me. I was only going to pick up some frozen dinners, some lovely soup (the lobster bisque is to die for) and some interesting cracker assortments.

The store always plays very peppy, upbeat music -- not stuff you recognize or could sing to -- but light and dance-appropriate. At the entrance stood a small person, I assumed a young woman, wearing a turkey costume. She was completely ensconced in turkey gear. In her left hand she held a small box emitting, what I assumed was supposed to be, turkey sounds -- not gobbles but a kind of low pitched and drawn-out turkey moan. The turkey was doing a happy little jig at the doorway and I assumed was actually there for the children in the store.

I wandered past the bird into the fresh food and soup aisle and got stopped by a huge display of canned corn and cornbread mix. The cornbread mix looked wonderful and I was reading ingredients when I felt a presence. I turned sideways and there stood the turkey.

You could not see human eyes or expression on the turkey face - it was deadpan. The turkey was no longer dancing. The little box machine was still emitting the creepy long, low moan. The turkey just stood, patiently in front of me, obviously waiting for . . . something. And I had no idea what.

My mind froze. What do you say to a Thanksgiving turkey? Sorry? Your goose is cooked? Can I pull your wishbone? All I could think of was, "Happy Thanksgiving."

The turkey gave no response. Just stood, planted in front of me, with no reaction what-s0-ever while the turkey moans continued uninterrupted.

I was getting more uncomfortable by the moment. I loaded the cornbread I'd selected into my cart but that turkey never moved. We had now been staring each other down for over a minute.

I shuffled my feet, indicating my need to move on. After all, Hubby and the boys were waiting and I'd promised them only a quick stop at Joe's.

Feeling more and more ridiculous, and actually a bit frightened, I wondered what I was supposed to do to get this turkey out of my shopping path. Offer a can of corn? Do turkeys like corn? Can they open a can and get the corn out?

"Um, hope you have a wonderful holiday?" I offered up hopefully. Still the turkey stood in place.

Finally, I just grabbed the cart and pushed it around the turkey, who make a full circle turn with me, while that unblinking turkey face followed me the whole way. Thankfully, the turkey did not move. But that face watched me all the way down the aisle until I finally turned the corner.

I quickly selected the rest of my purchases but I had completely lost my nerve for going back for fresh soup -- one of the main purposes of my visit. All the while, I kept watch for the strange turkey but I never saw it again, even on exiting the store.

I'm sure most children would find the turkey entertaining, especially if it were dancing around. But a strange, unsmiling turkey just standing and staring at you can be a traumatic experience to a 65 year old woman just trying to get some soup. Especially at Thanksgiving time when a frozen turkey is sitting in her frig at home thawing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Twelve More Things

or Count Your Blessings (instead of sheep)

We have much to be grateful for this November. I gripe a lot about my current life situation (see my previous post) and I' not full of bubbly good cheer right now. But this does not mean that I'm not unaware of the things in my life that I need to be truly thankful for.

1. Hubby is chugging along. Last January we weren't sure that he would continue to be putting one foot in front of the other but his last big health reveal showed him doing pretty darned well, all things considered.

2. It's costing us a fortune to keep Hubby "pretty darned well" but so far we've been able to afford it and the new meds have brought his blood pressure down to near normal range. That's a real victory. So the meds are worth it and we hope to continue to be able to pay the bills.

3. Luie is thriving after his excursion into the wilds of Prairie Village, Kansas. I keep grabbing him and scolding him for sending his family into spasms of terror, but he just licks my nose and hangs his head further out the car window.

4. Gus has teeth. Every one of those teeth is now worth a pound of gold but he can chew with his back molars just find, even if he can no longer gnaw anything. And again, like Hubby's meds, we have been able to afford to pull his teeth when he needs them extracted.

5. Luie still has his eyes. They may produce even more limited eyesight than we initially suspected (he now stays close to walls and he's having trouble figuring out how to enter the house through the front door) but the hugely expensive eye meds keep him from suffering any pain (according to the ophthalmologist he visits every six months) and (once again) we have been able to afford his meds and doctors.

6. Our house is still standing and keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It may not be the house of our dreams but it certainly is the house we can afford and it serves the purpose of keeping us protected from the world.

7. We have phones -- both land-line and cell. We have DSL computer service with a company we like. We have a huge TV with DVR connectivity and 287 channels for TV watching. This really is a big deal -- considering many of my students are living without electricity because they can't pay their bills this holiday.

8. We have two running jalopies. When one doesn't operate, the other one does. The newer Lincoln (and I use the term tongue-in-cheek) has been towed twice this week but the old gray Lincoln has stood the drive across the state line and down the 18th Street Expressway both times the Lincoln wouldn't go (something about fuel lines and sensors). However, we've been able to afford the repairs on the pink Lincoln and right now it's running once again. Who knows for how long? But we don't have a car payment to make and our insurance premiums are low.

9. We own a lot of household conveniences. We have a fairly new stove which both bakes and broils. We have great little microwave and a lovely new slow cooker. The frig in the kitchen is small and old but it is subsidized by an even older frig in the garage. Still both chill and freeze and work just fine. We have a dishwasher we run every day and it cleans even pots and pans miraculously. Though I might gripe big time about having to up and downstairs, we have a washer and dryer in the basement and never have to schlep clothes to the laundromat.

10. We have family who loves us and shows us her caring in both big and small ways. We know she has our back even though we live 800 miles apart. It may not be a huge family -- but it is a strong tie.

11. I've had a job for the last six years that has allowed us to make substantial savings toward a retirement that I had done little to plan for. Now I have a tidy little nest egg (which may not last all that long in today's economy) put away so I can actually retire before I die. Moreover, this job has been mostly satisfying in a more emotional way. I'm glad I'm ending my career the way I started out -- as a teacher.

12. All three of the family members still have their "brains" in tact. We can think, laugh, joke, love, and remember most of the good times we shared. Two of us can write intelligent prose while the third one can figure out logic and spacial problems with ease. Together we make a pretty good little family unit.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Twelve Things

These days the current "touchy feely" trend to open meetings is to write one thing about yourself that no one knows and put it in a pile with the four to eight people you are grouped with and then people try to guess what your "one unknown thing" was.

Personally, I detest this particular opening gambit to what inevitably promises to be a boring meeting. But I hate all the "touchy-feely" openings for boring meetings. Mostly I hate meetings.

Then, why, you ask yourself, am I proceeding to list things about myself that no one knows?

My brain is fallow and boring and nothing really currently interests me. Hubby has control of the remote and is watching football and that's even more boring than listing the unknown qualities I possess (at least to me). Also, I HAVE to participate in this stupid meeting activity or look like a dork while you on the other hand, can quickly choose another, much more interesting blog to read and completely avoid knowing about the things listed below "that no one knows about me" -- except now you. Maybe I can use this as an excuse to opt out of this activity the next time it pops up? Anyway, read, if you choose. And if you want to tell me one thing about yourself that no one knows, I promise NOT to make fun of you for participating.

Things about me no one (or few people) know:

1. I am anti-social. I do not like most people and I really hate having to interact with them. The paradox is that I like "giving directions" to people which makes me a good teacher. I would NOT however be a good counselor. I mostly just don't give a hoot about your problems. I'll try to look interested but the real truth is, I'm usually thinking, "Oh just get over yourself and get on with your life." I'm not a private person -- I'm just not really fond of being in groups of people and sharing "me" with you.

2. I have almost no friends. My last "best" friend was in the 1980's. I loved her creativity and her drama and her talent. One day she got mad at me and we never intimately spoke again. I tried for a week to make it right -- and then I realized that all her friendships ended like this. I had just been too blind to see it. My "best" friend before that was one from college. We were inseparable. I loved her but I was never as smart or bright as she was. She left me when I met Hubby in 1973. We had been so close that I couldn't understand how she couldn't get over the fact that Hubby was of a different race. But she couldn't and she was honest about that. We have never spoken or met each other since that time. She would go visit my mother every summer though -- and Mother left her a goodly portion of her estate when she died. I miss having a best girl friend. But I honestly don't think I ever chose really good "best" friends so maybe it's just as well that I don't have one now.

3. I don't have any fingerprints. I had to be fingerprinted when I went back to teaching six years ago, and they couldn't get decent prints from any of my fingers. I'm old and I've spend 40 years typing frantically on a keyboard -- so I've worn off my fingerprints. (This actually ties into #1 -- I'd much rather write a response to something than have to talk with people about it).

4. I have long periods of time when I don't read anything but People, Time, and Newsweek magazine. I have lately added in the daily newspaper delivered on my Kindle and I read that about four times a week. I never have days where I don't watch TV.

5. I'm terrified of having to substitute teach. Subs have no control and children hate them and take advantage of them. I would rather walk on hot coals than sub. I will not sub in my building. After three years the principal's secretary won't call me to sub. This makes me very unpopular in the front office.

6. I truly believe that teachers who set up their classrooms in straight rows of desks are terrible teachers. They don't have a creative teaching juice in their soul.

7. I'd much rather eat snacks than eat a meal. Chips and dip make a fine dinner if they're topped off with brownies and ice cream.

8. I worry all the time about getting dementia. Both my mother and her father had it. Every time I can't call something to mind, I worry that I'm slipping into oblivion.

9. I've never been wild about driving. This may be partly because I get turned around directionally so easy -- and once I'm lost, I can't get found again, even when I find familiar landmarks.

10. I don't think other people believe it, but I think I cope with pain exceptionally well. I actually do hurt almost all the time. I have headaches every day. My back is in terrible shape from ruptured discs. My hips and knees are full of arthritis and sometimes I have to actually will my legs to move. My toes are very arthritic and I feel like they are frequently on fire. Standing for me is far worse than walking. Any stooping is nearly impossible. But except for the fact that I move slowly now-a-days, I don't think I complain about this much at all. Hubby probably hears the most. My kids at school know I don't go out on fire drills because the elevator shuts down and it's five flights of two levels of stairs to get to my room (that's 10 flights of stairs) -- but the kids protect me from having the administration learn I'm hiding away locked in my room.

11. I miss my mother much more than I thought I would.

12. I'm getting ready to retire at the end of this year. No one at school knows. I'm really sad about it but I hate this school year. Every morning I can barely force myself out of bed and into clothes and out the door. The entire situation is causing me a huge shift in my usually sunny outlook on life.