Friday, October 30, 2009

A tradition like no other! Happy Beggars' Night!

Des Moines has a tradition that researchers say no other town in the United States does. It started in the 1930s when the city listed the names of vandals every November 1 and the list kept getting longer and longer. This was disturbing to everyone - what to do?

In order to stem the trouble being caused on Halloween, the city’s parks and recreation director, a woman, said that homes should turn on lights and do the things we all know about on Beggars' Night/Halloween, but she also said adults shouldn’t give out treats to children unless the children either told a joke or did a trick like a cartwheel or sang a simple song.

It began to work and within a few years, the vandalism problems were significantly reduced.

This is still a tradition around Des Moines. Some other towns in Iowa have apparently gotten in on it, but typically you'll hear people from other towns say they'd never heard of it before.

I think it is genius. This is the reason I turn on my porch light.

I give less candy to any children who won't participate. I first offer a simple joke they can repeat. Then I suggest something like can they cross their last two fingers instead of the first two. If they won't do it...well, the trick's on you. I know, I sound like an evil person, don't I?

Well I am not. I do not torture little children with this. It's the older kids I pick on. Hey, if they can't join in, they shouldn't be out trick or treating!

This year is different for me, though. I get to take my niece out trick or treating. If we get back to my MIL's house in time, I get to hand out candy. Then I can put my evil plan to work. [rubs hands expectantly]

Last Wednesday night on the way to church, I asked the kids if they had their jokes ready. They did. Poor Ernest, though. He got the interrupting cow joke wrong and said:

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Cow who?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What I had for lunch, uh huh.

I like reading what other people are up to in their lives. I read running blogs and eating blogs as well as running/eating blogs, but I don’t really care for diet blogs. It just isn’t that easy for me to fit myself into a category as a blogger and then gently insert myself into their established relationships with one another. I run. I walk. I eat. What’s the problem?

Some people photograph everything they eat all day and post it on their blogs, like GreenDogWine. If you want to be introduced to oatmeal in a brand new way, give her a try. She’s very nice and very healthy.

And oatmeal: yum.

If I photographed my food today, you would see a photo of Rotella’s Pane di Casa no-fat added bread as toast with butter. I wasn’t prepared, so you’re missing out.

The bread is good, but it gets sticky fast.

Yes, I said sticky. It gets sticky. That’s how I know the loaf is beyond its best days. It's just regular old bread from the grocery store and as such, it has to be really old before mold grows. Isn’t that gross? Fresh bread (real bread) really should be moldy pretty fast. On to lunch:

That is an Italian Night Club sandwich from Jimmy Johns with added hot peppers and a huge …well it was once huge… whole pickle as a side dish. I didn’t say “no dressing,” which I always have before. Alas, I paid the price and the bread got soaking wet in parts. I hate that. Also unusual, I didn’t say “easy on the mayo” and will I ever run, swim, walk or whine those calories off of my fabulous selfness?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nature Notes Thursday and Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the eye-catching Nature Notes Thursday Meme for incredible photos of the season. Check out this week's milkweed pod photo. You'll be glad you did. It looks so soft, you may try to touch it with your fingertip.

Here in the Midwest, it has gotten cold. Don't these photos look cold? I think they do, but I was there. I can attest to it being cold. Brrrrrrrrr
Don't let the green grass fool you!

I like this log and I hope it is home to many creatures.

Lastly, here is a photo of the fireworks tree. The homeowner was in the yard gathering leaves and like a professional stalker, I took a third photo of his house. My photo/description may be down at the local cop shop by now.
For the last two weeks, I have had a goldfinch visit the windowsill of my office many, many times a day. This week, so far, he hasn’t made an appearance. The new thing this week is that it is windy (when does that stop?) and the leaves are not falling to the ground, they are being blown into and against my window with enough flittering speed that when I am not actually looking straight out my window, my brain thinks I have incoming birds.
I have jumped more than once. Maybe this constant threat is why my neck is a little stiff. In five years, I have had two birds fly right into my window and scare the stuffing out of me, so this isn’t that far-fetched.
Grace in small things
1. Soaking rain
2. The smell of warm dirt
3. Gentle breezes (b/c right now it's all Canadian blast)
4. Sitting on the porch swing
5. Fluffy white clouds

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Irish class

My first Irish study group met last night. I was so relieved to move ahead after working toward it. There are a few hitches, like the publicized location and the actual location have changed. That could be confusing for newcomers. But we had seven people show up besides myself and they learned how to say:


How are you?-Conas ta tu?

I'm fine-Ta me go maith


I had a lot of fun. I hope they did, too.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Holiday to-do list

Juice over at All Things Juice put up a holiday to-do list and I liked the idea. I want a list of my own! Christmas is different every other year because one year we stay in Iowa and the next we drive to Ohio. So here goes.

Feel free to play along.

1. Make my own Christmas cards. I already did this two weeks ago. I just need to begin collecting addresses now so I can get them written out and then in the mail the weekend of Thanksgiving.

2. Have the kids over to put up the Christmas tree if they want to again this year. Let's face it, Aaron wanted to, but the others watched Elf and laughed themselves silly. Note: have better snacks. They're so polite and last year I wasn't prepared and I gave them fruit and carrots. This year I will junk it up a bit.

3. Find out if Perry Como made a Christmas album and buy it on Amazon.

4. I'm stealing this idea, but I love it: Take a walk on Christmas Day.

5. Go to church or mass. What with Christmas not on a Sunday this year, I'm not sure what the one church in Dayton will offer, but mass is always nice. When we are in Iowa, we always have church on Christmas Eve and that's always very nice.

6. Play a Wii tournament with my mom and my niece and my brother and anyone else who comes along.

7. Visit the cemetary to see my grandparents and my father on Christmas Day.

8. Spend as much time with my niece as possible on Thanksgiving morning without thinking about how tired I might be or the fact that after dinner we are driving to Milwaukee. I just want to focus on her and play with her or go for a walk with her.

Going to work tomorrow

I have to go back to work tomorrow and then tomorrow night I am leading my first study group for my Irish learners. I must be crazy! I feel like I should be studying and cramming for it, but then again, I only know what I know and maybe someone else will know more. That's OK. I will report back after the class and we'll see how it goes. Well, I am sure it will go well. I go pretty easy on myself for stuff like this. I was hard on myself for too many years in my life and I'm learning to let it go. Slan!

Sunday's bike ride

To prove that I can balance on a bike without killing myself, I took this photograph. It's very useful to show you that I was, indeed, biking. As if you doubted me.

I surely could have doctored this picture, but I wanted you to get the picture. Literally. This is what it looked like - grey and dull and cold and cold and cold...

I stayed back to take this picture and then raced ahead so I could stop sometimes. I did see and hear a big flock of wild turkeys.
There was work going on and the road was completely ravaged by these machines. We went across the beach in the sand and brush and picked up burrs.

I know many people don't like snakes, so ... sorry. I don't necessarily like snakes, but I do like living things. Look at those eyes!

He wasn't happy to see us. I just regret that I didn't get that tongue in the photo. It was incredibly and surprisingly bright red.

Weekend Camping

After a little family medical drama, we went camping this weekend over near Council Bluffs, Iowa. I am really tired of the ice cold weather and the rain. I took photos, but the light is so bad even I know it makes my camera take pictures worse than usual. But I tried and will put photos up a little later.

Went for a bike ride yesterday and got lost.

I have started running a program called Couch to 5K. Have I already told you about that? It is a program for getting off the couch to run a 5K and you run three times a week. But since I am where I am and I am who I am, I am doing it every day. It's fun and it's only 20 minutes. Today is my first day to run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds and then run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Then you lather, rinse, repeat. It all starts with a brisk 5 minute walk.

I forgot to register for the Fairgrounds 5K that is next weekend, so I'm off to do that. Super sorry for the boring post. Thanks for stopping by.

Oh, I could blog about blogging or food. But since I don't feel entertaining, I think it would all be boring anyway. Oh and cats, have I got cat stories.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My new favorite food

I saw some yogurt called Chobani in a tiny little grocery store in rural Iowa awhile back and I grabbed it only because I read a blog that goes over the blogger's food every day.

Seriously, I need to read about what other people eat, isn't that weird?

Anyway, I don't review things, I don't get free samples to write about, I didn't even know that sort of thing existed in the blogosphere until recently. But this girl gets free stuff all the time. I think there is some sort of network she belongs to, but I'm not positive because, really? She's up front about it being free and about it being a review and all that.

So anyway, I don't think I've ever had Greek Style yogurt before. This stuff is neat-o. I like that it doesn't have HFCS in it and what I bought was low-fat but didn't have crappy fake sweeteners in it. I can't eat anything with fake sweeteners without getting an upset stomach.

I'm sure some of you think that's bogus, but whatever. I can tell it's in something in as little as 3 bites. And I take dainty bites, ya'll.

This Chobani stuff is super thick and it took a couple seconds to get used to that. There were blueberries in the bottom - holla.

I liked it. So anyway, I thought I would tell you all the things I really love. OK, not all the things because 1. we're talking about food, not everything in life and 2. I am bound to forget a lot of things.

I like Stacy's pita chips. Holy cow, if you haven't tried those, you should.

I like Turbo Scratchers for cats. Roger: not food. I get that. Sorry.

Altoids peppermint and cinnamon chewing gums. Note peppermint/cinnamon in the same taste explosion. That would be gross. I can only find this gum now when I make a trek to a Trader Joe's.

Can I complain here that Trader Joe's is not in Des Moines. I hate them. Well, no I love them. I hate that they aren't here.

I guess for right now that's it. Chobani and pita chips.

How lame is that? Is there some sort of food I should buy at the store that you just love so much everyone should try it? If so, I would love to know all about it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nature Notes and Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the eye-catching Nature Notes Thursday Meme for incredible photos of the season. You just won't believe the pictures she takes of insects and leaves and birds!

This is the fireworks tree from a couple weeks ago. I passed it in the misty/rainy afternoon yesterday and I saw that it has dropped a lot of leaves, far more than you see in this photo. It's been raining and windy, which helps the trees lose their leaves. I missed taking this photo on the only sunny day we had this week, so you can sort of imagine that the day was misty with a glaring overcast sky. Just knowing that makes me squint when I look at it and want my sunglasses.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Skills on your resume

Once in awhile, one of us here at work will come across a resume that makes us smile, chuckle or just laugh insanely. It all depends on what the resume says. Some of them leave us with our jaw sitting on our desk. Here is something one of my co-workers found today:

Technological skills are just a part of a varied skill set. I can also:

Proficiently write formal proofs in both Mathematics and Computer Science
Play a wicked drum solo
Supervise a prairie burn
Tell a joke with proper timing
Consistently win all sorts of games
Stand on my head
Learn just about anything much faster than you expect
Adapt to all manner of unexpected situations
Compose electronic music
Play a Tuba

I think this person may have gotten their resume and their eHarmony profile mixed up, but I'm all for anyone who can tell a joke with proper timing. If you need a date for a prairie burn, let me know and I'll see if I can find this person's contact information for you.

That's a skill I don't have.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This is full of the stoopid

Just between you and me, I got a parking ticket today. Don't tell anyone. (hangs head in shame)

I went to lunch with a friend I haven't seen in a very long time and I parallel parked, so of course I did that because I was on a city street. Being on a city street in the daytime on a Tuesday means parking meeting.

My brain knows this.

I leapt from my car with a glad cry and ran over to her side of the car to be sure she didn't trip on the curb as I park like a PROFESSIONAL and I was only inches from the curb. I had pulled up next to an opening in the curb, which was perfect for her feet to safely maneuver. I acted as if I had planned this and yes, I took full credit, but secretly she knew better.

We were so pleased with her safety and pleased at my parking we exclaimed in happy joy and trotted down the sidewalk to a trendy piano bar in the East Village. Lovely.

About 30 or so minutes into the Event, after we hard scarfed down fabulous BLTs, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I threw up my hands and gasped.

Seriously. I really did throw up my hands and gasp. I'm quite the drama queen.

I decided not to sweat it. If the city was up to par today, I already had a ticket. So we chatted and enjoyed yourselves. When we walked out the door, I saw it right away. My very own ticket glinting in the sunless glare of the overcast sky, peeking just above the hood of my bright blue car.


Last time I got one, it was only $5. Today's ticket is worth $15 and if I wait just one month, I get to pay them an extra fiver. I joked about shoving it in my glovebox so that one day when my car gets impounded, they will discover that I am a miscreant with an unpaid ticket.

She was super sweet about it and she gave me $7 to pay for half of it. I love going to lunch with her even when she doesn't cover my stupidity. I never even put money in the meter and I had four pounds of American currency silver-colored coins in my purse.

Did I mention that the ticket says Violation: Overtime Parking (Expired)? I wonder if I take it to court and fight it based on the fact that it was not, in point of fact, an expired meter would I win the case?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The baby weighs 8 pounds now!

Hey, thanks for all the encouragement on the half marathon! It really helps.

I had today's post all worked out, so it might sound like I'm full of energy, but I'm not. I slept for hours yesterday before getting up, brushing my teeth and sleeping all night. Today I feel good, but I'm still really very tired and I have no appetite. Tonight I went straight from work to see the baby who was born at the end of August so I could get photos. My little 4-pound man has doubled his weight!

Flea Market Find!

I like to go to flea markets and antique shops, but I have spent the last ten years getting rid of stuff that has to be dusted and my home has more of a bare bones minimalist look. I like minimalist because it sounds like I have a plan.

Which I don't.

All my important knick-knacky stuff is in an antique lawyer's bookshelf with the glass fronts so I don't have to dust any of it. OK, so anyway. Over at Flea Market Style, there is a party going on today and you get to look at all the flea market stuff that people have found - either recent things or favorite things. I enjoy looking at this stuff and feeling envious about the fact that I don't really see this style in my house the way it fits so well in others' homes.

If you would like to look at what everyone got, visit the party here.

I have had my lovely dining room table for ten years and when both the leaves are in, it is huge. It is all I have in my dining room and I do keep both leaves in it. I have, over the years, tried to find things to put in the middle of the table, but anything I have tried is dwarfed by the size of the table and the room. This isn't a big and dramatic addition, but it is big enough and I really like it.

There is a little store here in West Des Moines called The Eclectic Gourd and I LOVE this store. I went in for the first time about three weeks ago as I was walking through Valley Junction, an artsy little area of town. The store is full of things from the late sixties and the seventies, so rather than being an antique store, it is more like a vintage store. Or better yet, how about it's a Caron's childhood store. I should go back and see if he'll let me put photos up.

While I was there I saw this lazy susan and I really thought it was eye-catching, but I wondered if it was ugly. I stood and stared at it, waiting for it to tell me what to do, but it was sullen and silent. I left. I went back a week later and bought it for $22. I brought it home, cleaned it up and put it on the table and guess what?

I can't wait to use it. Who wants to visit first? What should go inside? Homemade soup? Spaghetti? Stew?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Did it!

We did it around three hours and Julie RAN across the finish line! The whole way in, with everyone cheering, we ran. I'm so proud of her.

UPDATED: I never did shed any clothes. I kept everything, including the gloves. It was chilly!

Getting ready for the day

So I have this icky feeling that since I'm not running, today is no big deal. I managed to get 8.5 hours of sleep, which is very good and I feel great. But I had four dreams about not being able to get downtown in time and people who decided at the last minute that they wanted to walk the marathon as well. I have eaten steel cut oatmeal (yum.meeee) and a cup of coffee and taken two Aleve.

Speaking of pain relief, I woke up a couple times to stabbing pain (think steak knife) in my right foot. Stupid thing. I don't know if it flairs up just because it knows what I'm about to do or if it flairs up because I take time off from walking/running.

Anyway, most of you will guess that I really get online this morning to whine about how cold it is. Yes, folks, it's 32 degrees outside and I'm an idiot. I need to go put on layers - layers - of clothes and go for a wee stroll.

Back later with photos.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog hop belly buttons

I am hopping around on a blog hop but not officially since I can't figure out how to load all the images and stuff that everyone else has. I landed on a site where this women listed 10 honest things about herself and she listed that she can't stand to touch her belly button. She wrote, "Feels funny. Creeps me out."

I was astounded! It creeps me out, too. This is one of those things that makes you think you are the only person in the world who has this problem, so I wanted to leave a comment saying, "I feel ya sista" Me, too!

Four other commenters said they also get creeped out when they touch their belly button. I don't even like the words "belly button." I never knew other people had this issue. I feel like I'm in a club now.

Marathon motto time

I said in a post just last month that my mottos are usually given to me and I have yet to dream one up on my own. It happened this afternoon for the Des Moines marathon this weekend:

Every step is a victory.

Someone simply says something to me and it hits me! This could be a motto for many people, so feel free to incorporate it for yourself if it hits you in the heart. I hope it hits you in the heart if it's what your heart needs.

The countdown has begun!

Last night marked the first night I need a good night's sleep for sure and I got it. Now I need a good night's sleep tonight. I suspect that I will sleep just fine on Saturday night as this Sunday's Des Moines (half) marathon is not my first rodeo, so to speak. I do get nervous, but I don't think I'll be so nervous that it will keep me awake. Then again, this Sunday is a first for me with new goals and so I could be up staring out the window at two o'clock in the morning praying for a heat wave and no cold, arctic blast roaring out of Canada.

No offense to the Canadian readers, but seriously? Could you keep that to yourself this year? At least this weekend? Stop being so generous, eh?

My goals for this marathon include one thing brand new to me. I am not going to run at all. This is big for me as I have never done an event without running. I walk in training and hardly run, so I will be fine. Right? No obsessive competitive problems here. No, sir.

Another new thing is that I am, for the very first time ever, participating with someone. Like a partner, like someone who will be in an event for the first time EVER. How exciting and cool is that? I love stuff like that! I love being around when people do something they've never done before. Looking forward to this part of it. We've walked together plenty and we're good friends, so we'll talk (or not) and we'll keep stride (or not) and we'll bicker (or not) and be supportive (always). It will be fun. New, but fun.

So my goals are as follows: do not run no matter how insane I feel, no matter how irritated I get (the major cause of my running in all earlier events) or how cold I am. Get Julie across the finish line, which frankly, she could totally do without me. Finish and have fun.

On being irritated, I don't want you to think that I am a snarky, mean person although at times I excel in these areas. I get "irritated" by people ahead of me who dawdle, talk excessively, walk more than two abreast, have a funny gallop to their stride, have a crooked bra strap, a flappy ponytail or they stomp their feet when they run. In other words, I use it as motivation to get ahead of them. It isn't personal. Don't be sensitive!

I'm not going to run past you and say, "Get a haircut!" or anything like that. That would be rude.

Onto the part where I mention being cold. This Sunday will be a learning experience for me as I have never walked in an event in the cold before. I ran last Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day - both cold, both bundled up, but you can get warm running. I do have a sheddable layer that I can throw to the ground, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that I will not shed much, if any of that layer. I will be in a hot pink shirt and a hot pink hat in case you're there looking for me.

Come to think of it, the Fourth of July run was pretty cold and I ran in pants and a jacket and a hat.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What autumn smell are you?

You Are Warm Apple Cider

You love to feel warm and full. You love all the small comforts that come with fall.Unlike most people, you are as active in fall as you are in the summer. You just make sure and keep warm.

For you, fall is the perfect time of year to visit cafes or go for long walks. The season makes you feel energized.

You love the bustle of everyone being back from the summer vacation and back to work.

What autumn smell are you?

Nature Notes and Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the eye-catching Nature Notes Thursday Meme for incredible photos of the season. You'll learn something, too. Michelle is fabulous!

It's the time of year when pumpkins make me feel warm and happy inside. They are, to me, the emblem of fall and Halloween and Thanksgiving. That's a lot of work for a pumpkin, but they do the job so well. In this photo, I like the bright orange against the bright green along with the orange and green leaf. I hope you enjoy!

Grace in small things
Small things I'm grateful for today:
1. pumpkins
2. dried leaves
3. mist
4. sunny days
5. woolly caterpillars

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Have I gone absolutely crackers?

First things first: the first person to guess where the words "absolutely crackers" have been stolen from gets a prize. It may just be credit in another post, but it's something.

Your! name! in! print!

On to the serious business. I may have lost my mind. Back in May I went to Minneapolis for a one-day workshop for people who are learning Irish Gaelic. Yep. I did and they put in a level two class. I was very happy, as my Facebook posts indicated, to discover that I was in the right level with people who spoke about as much as I do. The topic was lenition and eclipsis, which is something I really needed to learn and still do and will until the day I die. If I get put into the Irish section of heaven, I feel certain this skill will haunt me for eternity.

Side note: If you put "lenition in irish" into the Google machine, you will be fascinated for hours.

Maybe that's just me. Sorry.

So back in May, I introduced myself to the guy in charge of the very large organization up there and he suggested I begin a group in Des Moines. uh huh.

I went to the Iowa Irish Fest back in August as some of my regular readers may remember. I went to a mini-workshop for the language there and foolishly introduced myself to the guy in charge, who had been told by the Minneapolis guy that he would hear from me. He also suggested I start a group in Des Moines. I guess there was a group, once upon a time. It died.

I pondered and pondered. Did I really want to get involved, nay, actually start a new group in Des Moines? Do I need to be responsible for one more thing in my life? Can I see it through? Do I have time to read and listen to lessons and practice my skills?

I finally decided to give it a shot. I made up posters, I pestered web masters all over town, I got into a newsletter, I talked to a church secretary and some shop owners. I got the word out. Just a smidge, but it got out. I have four people who say they will either be there or will try to be there.

This could be fun.

I made up a blog to use as a web site. There isn't much on it right now. Check it out. If you care to be encouraging, please begin.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Slow down already

Ever feel like you just have to get off the merry-go-round even if it is only just long enough to barf before getting back on? That's how I feel lately with everything that's going on. I am easily overwhelmed when I think I have too much to do. I can sit down and make a list and see how manageable my list is and then I can start scratching things off the list. So honestly, I just came here this evening to whine about mention how I feel.

Has anyone else noticed that Alton Brown has lost a lot of weight?
Does anyone else get annoyed on real estate shows when everyone has to have granite in the kitchen, even in the cheapest level of the local market?
Does anyone else desperately need a haircut?
Am I the only person who wants a maid?
Is anyone else freaking out about getting sick the week of a marathon?

Oh, I know the answer to the last one. The answer is yes. Out of the 5500+ people registered in the Des Moines marathon this weekend, I bet about 80% of them are concerned. My co-worker in crime John is sick and went to the doctor today. So I know I'm not alone. He says he can't breathe well enough to run. That's gonna suck come Sunday morning. No pun intended.

Got an email (a viral email?) today that said you could stay healthy during the flu season by swabbing your nostrils with salt water and blowing your nose a lot. Also, gargle with salt water.

Even in the grip of adult-onset strep throat last February, in which I thought for sure I was going to die and be happy about it, I wouldn't gargle with salt water. I would rather gargle with a cat in my throat.

But the salt water up the nose? I'm totally into that. I do it every time I swim. Oh wait, that's not salt water. Well, sure and chlorine water just has to be good for you, right?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Let it snow makes it sound like I'm happy about it

It snowed this morning and although the predicted high of 39 turned into 44, the low tonight is for 22 degrees.

Yesterday after work I dug out all the rest of my leeks so they wouldn't be wasted. After all the worry over that batch of vegetables, I would hate to see them freeze. I love leeks and will make another batch of mushroom leek soup. I will also make potato leek soup and leek bread pudding.
I made a happy discovery while I was digging them up. I had planted some cilantro that mysteriously turned into parsley, so I pulled the plant. I was told cilantro will take over the way catnip does (I still have a great supply of dried catnip three years later) and lo and behold! Cilantro grew in five places. I snipped all of it and then covered the ends with extra dirt in preparation for tonight's arctic blast slight chill.

Camping this weekend in the snow, we took the grandson along. His sister came for a visit and she told me out of nowhere, "I don't like being silly and naughty." I got a chuckle out of that, and I do wonder where it came from.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nature Notes Thursday/Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the eye-catching Nature Notes Thursday Meme for incredible photos of the seasons.

I harvested some leeks, some chives and the last of the rhubarb. Tomorrow night is supposed to be our first frost.

Grace in small things
1. Freezers
2. Warm dirt
3. Dew
4. Tiny snakes with tiny tongues
5. Red leaves

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cheese recipe from tonight's dinner

I made dinner for the grandchildren tonight and created something I think is pretty yummy, plus the recipe enters me in a contest for cheese at Biggest Diabetic Loser.

1 frozen hamburger patty
2 baked potatoes
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Barbeque sauce
salt & pepper

Slice the baked potatoes in half longwise and with a spoon, scoop out the insides and set both the insides and the skins aside. Fry the hamburger in a skillet and when it is done, remove them from the skillet and use the spatula to cut it into chunks. Into the hot skillet with the grease from the burger, add the potato insides and let them fry until they are brown. Place the skins in skillet as well, cut side down and let them get warm. Take out the skins and fill them with the scooped out, fried potatoes. Add some of the hamburger chunks and top with mozzarella cheese and barbeque sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. You could place them under the broiler for about 2 minutes, if you'd like.

They were yummy. The kids loved the "hamburger nuggets" I made from taking frozen hamburger patties and cutting them into six big nugget-sized pieces. The nuggets were dipped in bbq sauce and ketchup. Big hit!

We're babysitting my stepdaughter's children each weeknight this week. It's tiring, but fun.

I took the afternoon off today and walked 10 miles in preparation for the half marathon coming up, so I am really pretty tired. Having a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old in the house is exhausting!

Is it bedtime yet?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Babysitting takes a toll

We had four children in the house last night. Tonight, two. Tonight was easier than last night!

Last night, there was a pile of little cars on the living room floor. I said to boy, "Why don't you pick up your cars and put them away so will know where they are when you get here tomorrow?"
He gathered them up into his arms and then moved them approximately 6 inches - to the top of the coffee table.
Ask a stupid question, let a child's logic figure it out.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh what fun it is to ride through downtown Des Moines

Here is a dog peeing on a fire hydrant! This is outside a popular lunchtime restaurant in the East Village.
Festive fall decor:
Outside a big insurance company. We have many, many of those in this town.
This park with the water running through is west of the public library and east of Meredith Publishing. Chances are very good you know Meredith: magazines and local television stations all over the country start here. Most notably: Better Homes and Gardens. I purposely put my coffee cup in the photo. Just across the street from here, I got an 8 ounce cup (not full) of hot, black coffee for $1.33. Note to self: bring your own coffee. That's expensive in this town.
I noticed the plantings at the library when I ran past the library in the Capital Pursuit. I was really taken with the way they use rhubarb in the plantings. Doesn't it look great against the yellow flowers?
These three-planting stands line the two main streets through downtown. These are right outside...wait for it...a really large insurance company.
The plantings vary and in the winter, they are lovely with evergreens. I'll get some later in the year.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Downtown Des Moines

Scenes from Saturday morning around 1130-noon in downtown Des Moines. I had been to the Farmer's Market, but didn't remember my camera and didn't want to go back to the car.
I like this guy with all his letters. He is very close to the public library, but not on their grounds.
The kids seemed most drawn to this one. Not sure what it is and I didn't make a note of any of the names of any of the sculptures.

This is the view looking to the east. The biggest building, for your reference, is about 42 stories on the inside. It has wonderful views of the city from every direction.
Looking west again, we have a creepy spider! The remind me of the Tim Burton movie "Nightmare Before Christmas."

My weekend word(s)

I got out yet another dictionary this weekend: QPB Dictionary of Difficult Words. I flipped several times and here's what I came up with.

Folks, I know this is very exciting. Please stay seated and hold your applause until the end. Otherwise some words will think you like them more than other words.

bogie: wheeled undercarriage of a rail vehicle; railway coach; truck for coal, etc.

imago: adult form of insect.

pathodontia: study of dental diseases.

triplopia: triple vision.

This dictionary also clears up some issues in pronunciation: all of them riveting. I can't make pronunciation letters, so use your imagination as I help you with your next trip to the coffee shop for breakfast:

Scone: Neither [****] nor [****] has any indisputable claim to be the 'correct' form, and the choice is largely a matter of personal preference. In Britain, [****] is probably commoner, in America [****]. The word should not be confused with Scone, the name of a Scottish village, pronounced [***].

So if you mess this up and accidentally order a [***], you may be buying a Scottish village the way Kim Basinger bought a town in Georgia. Be careful out there.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Get your dictionary on and miggle with me!

"It was early morning, just about the time dawn is too sleepy to get out of bed." ~Pat Novak

Early this morning, I was on Facebook playing Scrabble. I do that every morning. I have a routine while I feed the cats, I make coffee and turn on the computer. By the time I get back to the computer, it is awake, so I open two web browsers. Oh, wait. I can’t tell you my Scrabble secrets.

I log in to Facebook and I play with a friend. We have four games going most of the time. Today I was kicking butt – I’ve been doing better lately. For awhile I was just sort of showing up, you know? I kept having such bad luck, bad draws, bad placement choices: I just threw down little two and three letter words.

I lost a lot of games.

These days, I am back to my sassy self and playing to annihilate win.

This morning, I got a word I hadn’t seen before, but caught my eye right away: miggle. Some of you may recall that I wrote a post about my favorite words and wiggle and giggle are the top two. Naturally, I needed to know what miggle meant so I could use it properly!

I put “miggle” into the Google machine and got approximately nothing. I did get two hints: a game of marbles and a West Indian tea cake or something. I went to Merriam-Webster and they said I would need to subscribe to their unabridged version.

They weren’t giving up miggle for free, folks.

So I went downstairs to the family room bookcase and pulled out my biggest dictionary. I struck out. No miggle.

I hit up Funk & Wagnalls Student Desk Dictionary (the dictionary for Children of the Cold War like myself) and it said a MIG or MiG is a Russian fighter jet. Right…born in the 60s…I knew that already. Thanks.

I opened my last dictionary, which did tell me that a mig is a marble. I wanted more information and as I stood there, I realized I was experiencing a tickle of quiet pleasure, a thrill, a wee buzz. I realized I hadn’t rifled my tips over the pages of a dictionary in a long time. I use the Google machine too much.

I love dictionaries and am the sort of person who would flip through them reading random entries to amuse myself. I play along with the word definition pages in Reader’s Digest. I have dictionaries for difficult words and dictionaries for obscure words. I do crossword puzzles now and then. I play Scrabble at 0-dark-thirty.

This weekend, I vow to do myself a favor and take some time to hold a dictionary in my hand and learn a new word. I can’t promise I will use it, because that’s just a lot of effort in a busy weekend.

I really meant all of that writing about the pleasures of a proper dictionary to transport my readers to another dimension, a time in their lives when we were all at the mercy of the school library, the dictionary and a set of encyclopedias on the shelf.

I don’t think I managed that and it’s a shame. I should try harder. I should have written about how the pages, long-closed and neglected, tickled my nose. I could have waxed poetic about the heft of the book in my hand or running my fingertip down the scallops of letters until I found the M; the flipflipflip of the pages while I tried to find the right combination of letters as the alphabetical programming in my head kicked in and I fondly remembered how much I enjoyed learning how to alphabetize in school.

Sorry about leaving that out. Now to the business at hand: miggle.

I called my local library (LOVE.YOUR.LIBRARY), which is currently running a theme called Geek Your Library and I think I should get a poster or a billboard of my own for how excited I was when she found it for me.

I called the reference desk and she looked up miggle in their unabridged dictionary. I suspect this was an online reference, because she did it in a flash without putting me on hold. She sort of found it, but the entry didn’t make sense to either of us: “dial constr.” So she offered to look in the OED…in the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary.

Right on! That’s firepower!

It wasn’t in there, but she did find it in the Random House/Webster’s unabridged dictionary, 2nd ed. 2001 (I need to give them props for having the word!). She called me back and I was smiling and giddy. We were both so surprised it wasn’t in the OED.
Miggle: a playing marble, especially one not used as a shooter. Miggles: the game of marbles. Common usage: 1890-1895.

C’mon everybody, grab a dictionary and find a word!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nature Notes Thursday

Visit Michelle at the eye-catching Nature Notes Thursday Meme for thoughtful insight on our National Parks today.
This is my favorite neighborhood tree because in the fall it turns lovely colors and even puts on a show. Two years ago, I stopped and gazed at it because the leaves on the right side were turning, but the leaves on the left side were still green.

It was very much as if someone had drawn a line like the Brady Bunch boys once did in their room. The announcement was made: You leaves on this side: turn. You leaves on that side: don’t turn.

I hadn’t seen anything like it.

This year, the tree looks to be exploding like fireworks. I’ve included two photos so you can see better what I mean. In the first photo, it has such wonderful color and you can see how the color is more vivid at the top.

In the second photo, it looks as though it has exploded like fireworks bursting from the initial green light in the middle to the final color coming out on the ends. I hope you enjoy it.

Grace in small things
Waging a battle against embitterment since 2008
1. crunchy leaves
2. cool mornings
3. sunrise
4. warm swimming pools
5. trees that turn red