Friday, February 24, 2012

Feeling Friday

I have no idea what my title "Feeling Friday" actually means -- I was at a loss for a post and since I really had nothing cogent to say, I sat looking at the Title Box that Blogger puts up there for writers to fill in first and found my fingers typing the alliteration. I think maybe "Feeling Friday" means I'm finally feeling pretty darned good, I won't have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning making me feel deliciously lazy, and the sky is cloudless blue with the weather "coatless" warm.

What a non-winter we have had! Currently we are leading the historical accumulation of a no-snow winter -- and that convoluted sentence means, we have had less than two inches of snow all winter, the least snowfall ever recorded in our history. Last year was a feast of snow -- this year famine. Being the mid-west, we are now all direly predicting an unbelievable summer of way too much heat, snow in June, or debilitating drought. And being the mid-west we might get all three.

I inch toward retirement -- terribly fearful and totally exalted all at the same time. Every time I sit down to figure out how much money we're going to have to live on, the sum shrinks. That's the terror part. Then I think about October and being able to get up at 9 a.m. and throw away the towering mass of furniture in my dining area -- and move the library table over there where it really belongs and heft up the gaming table from the basement so Hubby and I can actually use it -- and I feel deliciously confident that this is the next step in my life -- and that if I don't take it, I'll be missing out on an incredible adventure -- and time with Hubby.

Maybe this post should have been Ambivalence!

We are still happy with our Omaha Steaks -- we each ate a hot dog from this yesterday for dinner. I just assumed that the hype Omaha put out about their gourmet hot dogs was a ruse to throw in some cheap meat in our beef / pork bundle. Honestly (I almost typed "frankly" -- but that was just too punny, even for me), these are just pork hot dogs -- but big, fat juicy ones that taste -- well, the way hot dogs should. And with the left over chili that Hubby made last weekend, we had a couple of fantastic sandwiches.

Hubby still loves his pool exercises. I'm so jealous I'm working up a spiel for my doctor so I can get a membership to Research's exercise gym, too -- another exciting adventure awaiting me in retirement. Just imagine if I actually got fit and trimmer?

School life is strange. The kids have improved but I keep running into odd problems with co-workers. One of the math teachers got so angry at my resistance to her re-scheduling one of my kids, that she verbally assaulted the kid. That was a pretty awful event and done in full view of a public audience -- and it led to meetings in the principal's office where I was not very cooperative. In fact, it led to me telling my principal that I was actually going to retire at the end of the school year, and she happily "congratulating" me (with the sub-text of, "Thank God!). Then I attended a professional meeting that was so far from professional, that I decided to walk out rather than sit and steam and fume and get all angry over it -- and boy! did that cause repercussions that I'm still dealing with. And I thought my leaving the meeting was the best way to handle the situation quietly! I think the universe is re-enforcing my decision to retire this year in not so subtle ways.

Valentine's Day was quiet. Hubby got a silly card from me and he brought me Andres chocolates and a whip-cream chocolate cake. He also made me a big pot of chili that I had requested. The chili was the best part of the deal!

We attended two concerts over the past weekend: Bach's fugues on Sunday and Carmina Burana on Monday. The Bach was very technically wonderful -- as Bach fugues should be, but after the first 10 I was ready for a Strauss waltz. The Carmina Burana performance at our new symphony hall was "out of this world" - with ballet and chorus and symphony. Even though I didn't get to bed until 11:30 Monday night -- with Tuesday being a school day, it was worth it.

Today at school most of our health students are on a full day field trip to a local college; I'm helping my kids and the ones failing English to pass a lit test over point-of-view, tone, mood, flashback, and foreshadowing -- as well as some figurative language bits and bobs; and the 8th graders are roaming the halls of a half day visit, wondering how they will survive the terrors of high school life. I have a spat of forms that need completing for my mentee -- she and I did a couple and then we let the whole process lapse (it's so boring filling out forms in educational jargonese when what she really wants to know is: will the principal's observation include whether Luis is sleeping during class or how do I fill out the PWN on the IEP).

The weekend is ahead of us, though. The freezer is still full of yummy meat. We may need food stamps to survive, but retirement is only five months away. In 11 days we have spring break. The last day of school is May 25th. The weather is incredible at right this very moment. The suspension has been fixed on the 16 year old Lincoln and it's running in top-notch condition (for a 16 year old car). Luie and Gus have been groomed, look hale and healthy, and are enjoying 36 cans of Merrick dog food (a little splurge for dogs as sweet as they are).

I'm certainly "feeling Friday!" And spring is most certainly on the WAY!!!!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In Praise of Meat -- Omaha Steaks to be Precise!

For several years now we have used Omaha Steaks to send food packages to family members out of state. At one time we used Harry and David, then we switched to Honey Baked Ham, but both these have gotten pretty darned expensive over the years. Two years ago I sent ham and turkey precooked roasts to Mother for Thanksgiving / Christmas and this past Christmas we sent a complete ham dinner to Will's brother-in-law in Washington, D.C.

Which meant, of course, that we continuously got food offers from Omaha Steaks for free shipping or sales deals or coupons for 30% off, all of which we ignored. Hubby has gone off beef, except for hamburgers. His new love is pork chops. We could serve that for dinner seven times a week and he wouldn't be tired of it.

I have always thought how nice it would be to have food just delivered to my door and one day when I won the lottery, I thought I might make my dream come true. But a couple of weeks ago, Omaha Steaks sent me an offer I found irresistible. The offer was for a pile of meat under $100. Of course, I had to add in 12 more pork chops, so I could be eating my steak dinners with a clear conscious while Hubby dined on his beloved chops, which did run the total up to over $100 -- but then I thought, free shipping! That will make it okay. Except when I went to check out the shipping was added.

I had spent enough time on-line deciding the menu, so I bit the bullet and placed the order. But I did drop a note to Omaha Steaks that I was disappointed that I hadn't received free shipping -- and in the next e-mail back, they refunded my shipping costs! Now that's service. We just hoped that the meat would be good.

Within the week a huge (but manageable) case of frozen meat arrived at our door - packed neatly in dry ice. We got two different sets of four steaks each (everything is packed separately in their own boxes). We got 16 boneless pork chops. We got four boneless chicken breasts, eight hot dogs, four huge hamburger steaks, two fillet of sole stuffed with shrimp and crab, and eight strange potato au gratin balls. We also got a cookbook explaining the best procedures for cooking (most meat should be thawed, then broiled or baked for around seven minutes per side).

The meat is delicious, the perfect size, and so easy to cook. It stores easily in the freezer and takes up little room because it's so nicely boxed. We are very pleased. This is a buy we will continue to make: good service, good product, good price. And my dream of having food just delivered to my door has been met. Now if they would only pack it away in the freezer -- oh! and come do the dishes after we've eaten.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Love is in the air -- hope you hear its tune all throughout your day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Music brings more emotion to my life than anything else -- more than reading or art. It is music that touches my soul, brings forth my joy and expresses my pain.

With classical music it is the male singer that can touch me. Sopranos so often seem to "screech." The mezzo voice seems too heavy, too serious. Like most people, it is the tenor that brings the tears to my eyes and that ache in my loins.

I've never much liked rap or R&B or soul or even rock and roll. The groups today scream instead of sing. A little modern music goes a long way and as I age, I actually have no idea who any of the artists are on the topic 100 hits of the day. Adele? Madonna at the Super Bowl? Pink? Those voices are sound puny to me, just raucous noise.

Whitney Houston, though. Hers was a voice that soared through me, left me breathless, sent me flying into the stars. During the '80's it was her voice in the morning that I'd holler with as I drove down the boulevard to Paseo High School. If I turned up the radio, Whitney could fill my car and I was sure she was loud enough to drown out my yowls and caterwauling -- while I released all the passion inside me. It was her voice that would get me through the long, last two years as I watched Paseo disintegrate under me, and my twenty-two year career careen into a sixteen year hiatus.

I bought Whitney's CDs and played them endlessly, singing along as I did the housework or cooked the meals or folded the wash or looked for work. Hubby and I went to her movies and especially liked Body Guard and The Preacher's Wife.

It was Streisand's voice I yearned for until I heard Houston. Then I gave myself over body and soul to her sound.

I know that her life was ground into dust, a misery of bad men and worse drugs. They said her voice had become raspy from drug and alcohol use. Her beauty was being ravaged. But when she opened up those vocal chords -- and used her emotion and talent to tell me that "I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way," it was then that I knew I had chosen well in being a teacher, that it truly was the "Greatest Love of All."

Thank you for the music, Whitney. I wish you could have understood just how deeply you touched us.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Hubby and I are on the road to better health and happier days, though we still sleep a lot and he's going to the doctor's more frequently. The evil virus took a toll on his meds, requiring a lot of blood draws and initial concern but now things are looking much better. Last week we seemed to have turned a corner.

I finally made it back into the classroom, though I must admit that every day I'm struggling to raise my head from the pillow and unwrap my body from the fluffy quilt. Still the cough is much better, the lungs are decongesting, and one day my tongue may decide to heal (it feels like the virus burned all my taste buds off).

During the December / January viral fight, trees fell on the phone land lines into the house. The DSL line remained intact, so we didn't worry over much about it. AT&T came out Thursday, traced the problem to the lines they claimed were not theirs to fix -- and then Friday called out somebody else -- who traced the broken line back to the central station. So clearly other folks than us were experiencing problems. By noon today everything should be back in working order. Then the promise has come that these lines will be buried. "We thought we had them all," was the explanation, "but clearly we've missed a couple."

Doggies are doing well. We have purchased massive amounts of food from on-line suppliers for them. Gus and Loie are highly pleased with Grandma's Pot Pie and the Mediterranean casseroles rolling out of the huge boxes that have been delivered.

We have taken in several movies that I wanted to see over Christmas but was too sick to attend. The Descendants was interesting, though I had to nudge Hubby several times to keep him from snoring (and it was his choice to see the movie). TinTin was my choice -- and neither of us thought it was very good. I had been excited about the processes used in making it, but I honestly didn't think that the 3-D effects were as good as the effects in Hugo or in Disney's Christmas Carol from last year. At TinTin we locked the keys in the car and it was a chilly, rainy afternoon, not designed for standing outside waiting for help to arrive. We elected to "dine" at the theater -- hot dogs and fries -- while waiting for the locksmith to come and get us back into the car. It was a fast turn-around, though, and we were driving home within 20 minutes of calling for help.

Hubby has been going to the rehab pool to exercise. The "man-who-hates-water-because- he- thinks-he'll-melt-in-the-pool" has been given a prescription to the snazziest pool in the city. He came home from his first session grinning from ear-t0-ear. "The pool is just beautiful and I can move in it!" he exulted. He's now going every other day to work out. I hear the water is bath-tub warm and they make sure he is comfortable and dry before letting him leave the facility.

We still take a lot of naps and go to bed very early. We watch a ton of bad TV and read magazines that have been piling up by the bed throughout the year. Novels just seem too dense at the moment. Hubby's exercising ("Every muscle in my body is sore!") and I'm going to work every day ("I can't wait to retire!"). The pups like all this laying around (Gussie has re-gained a pound! -- on a 20 pound dog that's a lot!). The weather continues to be unseasonably warm with no snow. The car is running and the house still standing. Spring is coming -- though the groundhog says six more weeks of winter. Slowly we are in recovery mode and returning to a normal life.