Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nature Notes and Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the refreshing Nature Notes Thursday for a new look at the world.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, this warm, orange light was flooding the living room. In this photo it doesn't look quite like a flood, but I liked this photo best. The winter sunrise seemed so cold and yet so inviting. It made me smile.


I was so excited on Christmas morning to open a package and find a cat grass Chia Pet. Only it isn't a pet, or a head, but it is for my pets, so I keep calling it a Chia Pet. I wanted you all to see how it goes. Here's step one: putting it together. Step two comes in a couple days, apparently. The grass is supposed to grow quickly. Anyway, back to the entertainment:

The complete package above.

Take out two tablespoons of the magical growing material and pour the rest in the pot.

Sprinkle the seeds on the magical growing material.

Add the extra magical growing material and then water the seeds.

Throw it into an open bag (note to self: buy ClingWrap) and then wait three days.

That's it. It was exciting. I can't wait for it to grow. It needs at least one hour of sunshine a day. And then I give the cats some grass.

Which totally doesn't sound right. While I'm at work, are you saying they might throw it into the oven, dry it out, crumble it up and roll tiny little joints?

Back home

I have always wanted to get a photo of this, but in 44 years, this is the first time I got the camera in time. I love these arches and I think it is interesting that Des Moines put up blue arches as you enter the city. Coincidence? Probably not. It's because of me. I'm sure of it.

Christmas was very nice and it was 40 degrees in Ohio, which was like a fabulous surprise. I got all sorts of fabulous presents and had a great time with family.

I have a surprise post coming up. I'm sure you will all want to come back to see something my mom got me for Christmas. I am going to share it with everyone.

But for now I have got to get off this computer, which I have been on for three hours catching up and doing what I do when I get sucked into the internet. But first, let me whine about my 5k run this Friday at 11:00. [whines] The high temperature on Friday is forecast to be 10 degrees. Plus? More snow tomorrow. The snow here in Iowa is really insane.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How glad the many millions of Annabelles and Lillians

Oh, happy rapture! How I greet the day with a blissful sigh before leaping from my slumber to give the morning sun the glad and adoring eye!

Right. This is Lily. Doesn't she look friendly and cute?

To be honest, I think she's in a bit of a drunken stupor from the combination of my attention (I flatter myself), catnip, wrapping paper, crinkly plastic bags and ribbons to slobber on.


What do you imagine she of the lion's mane below might be saying? "I'm two seconds away from ripping you to shreds?" or possibly, "This activity is seriously infringing on my sleeping time. Why are you even home right now?"

At any rate, this is Annabelle. Who puts up with me. Obviously.
That's my ration of holiday disdain to share with everyone. If you need to be put in your place, they hire out. Call 888-my-scorn and they will glare at you over the phone.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Wrapping

I enjoy the song Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses. But that's just a little factoid here, not the real reason you're here. You're here to find out what I've taken ALL DAY to accomplish. I got up, ate breakfast and then trucked myself over yonder to Target to get a few things I needed. I made a list and I made it quick. Then I came home and prepared to wrap gifts.

It started with a plan. I made a fire in the fireplace. Later on I went out to the backyard to fetch some more firewood because this project took far longer than I anticipated. I wanted to listen to a radio program from 1937 called The Cinnamon Bear. Here's what Wikipedia says: The story focused on Judy and Jimmy Barton who go to the enchanted world of Maybeland to recover their missing Silver Star that belongs on their Christmas tree. Helping on the search is the Cinnamon Bear, a stuffed bear with shoe-button eyes and a green scarf. They meet other memorable characters during their quest, including the Crazy Quilt Dragon (who repeatedly tries to take the star for himself) , the Wintergreen Witch, Fe Fo the Giant and Santa Claus.
Paddy is a bear with an Irish accent and way of speaking. He says "Bless my stuffings" a lot and he takes the kids to find the lost silver star that should go on the top of their Christmas tree. They meet pirates who feed them candy, including superior fudge. The meet cowboys with a dry cleaning machine and are almost executed by the Inkaboos, which are blotting papers who are angry with the trio for standing on a boundary line in their shoes.

I was surrounded by assistants the entire day. If you look carefully at the inch of ribbon above my thumb, you will see the cat spit. Oh yes, the fine feline festivities. Everyone was enraptured with the ribbons.

It's a gift for a friend. Look and see the tooth marks in the ribbon. Yes, you know you've gotten a gift from the kitties! I took this photo right away. It has been molested even more and looks it. But it won the battle.

All the gifts will win the battle because now that they're wrapped, they're locked in the guest bedroom. And of course now that I have them wrapped, I know what I'm missing. I don't have any time left to shop, Amazon is not whipping three gifts to me with any sort of speed and I have two gifts not only not bought, but they are both for teenagers. I haven't the slightest idea what to get. But that's it. I'm done for today and I can't believe it took all day long to wrap so few presents, but I took my time and ran to Walgreens for more paper. I sat by the fire and listened to an old radio show that used to be a habit of mine for years when I lived in Chicago and a radio station played the show in installments for the Saturdays before Christmas. It was a nice day.
I hope you had a good Saturday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nature Notes and Signs of the Season

Visit Michelle at the refreshing Nature Notes Thursday for a new look at the world.

Rachel Field
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, -- "Snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, -- "Frost."
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly, --
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fa la la la la, la la la la

I decorated the house tonight (sort of) despite this:
All the Christmas decorations? They're in that jumble in the back. I have not really been in the mood to take everything out of the closet and put some of it back. I have this beautiful, big tree that takes forever a little while to put up. The reason things are in a jumble in the back of the closet, which is under the stairs, is because some outdoor lights and a big snowman are now living outdoors for the season.
This happy fellow came out easily enough and sits in the living room.

Here's Frosty the Snowman. You know he dies, right? I mean he melts. So that's the same, isn't it? Those Christmas stories are sort of sad. But that's another post for another day. I probably won't post it, though. How depressing. No one needs that at any time of the year. So what to do about a tree? I went to Goodwill after work! And for $16, I got a tree with a really heavy base so the terrorists livestock felines maybe won't knock it over. I threw on a few glass balls, so please do not knock it over!

The house is decorated! Happy, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Walking in a winter wonderland

Not everyone clears the walking trails behind the houses here in our development. This neighborhood began in the 70s and every house has to have access to the trail system. The city expects your sidewalks to be clear, but many of the houses only have a sidewalk (trail) in the back. Most folks skip clearing it, which on one hand is a bummer. But I did get to push through snow over my ankles, which is good exercise. I also got to see a lot of deer tracks and what looked like bunny tracks.

I went to Walgreens and saw the cat grass Chia thing with all the Chia pets. The cat grass Chia was $16!! I didn't buy it. I'm too wise (cheap) to spend $16 for (green cat barf) grass. I did manage to spend $17 on other assorted crap there because I subscribed to the Sunday paper for the first time in many years and they have -are you ready for this? - advertisements!

I got cans of cream of whatever, paper plates and tomato sauce and candy bars and my favorite gum. Ah, coupons!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Great Santa Run

At 0900 this morning, when it was 17 degrees, I stepped off the starting line at The Great Santa Run. Apparently a whole lot of people didn't show up, which is a shame. As much as I might fret or whine, so far I think I would have to be pretty ill to not show up. It was fun and I did my normal 5k time, which is really great considering the route was 3.21 miles instead of 3.1 and there was snow and slush and a wee bit of ice on the ground. It was 17 degrees, but the wind wasn't a factor, the sun was trying its best (it is almost 40 degrees now!) and instead of having us on the trails, they plowed and salted an out and back route on a walking path. I was very happy to be a little more sure-footed on something that had at least had most of the snow removed.

My friend Cindy is incredible. She came to the house, picked me up, had my warm clothes ready, took photos, cheered me on along the route. It makes such a difference to have people cheering you on, even if they can't be right there with you. But having her there makes me feel a bit like a rock star, to tell you the truth. I love it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My office is snowbound?

This is a photo of my office looking out the window at the trees. I have posted my normal view just recently. All the windows facing east are like this! Mind you, we're on the second floor.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nature Notes and Signs of the Seasons

Visit Michelle at the refreshing Nature Notes Thursday for a new look at the world.

Here in the Midwest, we had a storm this week. We had a lot of snow and cold weather. The weather today is colder today. It is -3 according to the guys on the radio and -6 according to the weather application on my mobile phone. Here are some photos of the snow.

I thought I would leave by the back door, but I had to push snow out of the way and I thought it might make a mess. I let Roscoe inspect things. He was pretty interested and acted like he wanted out, which isn't really a big deal as he won't leave us. But I didn't want to have to step into the huge drift only inches away from the door.

Here is the line of evergreens that line the back of the backyard. In the foreground are the freeze-dried peony bushes. The trees are laden with snow and there are drifts into the bottom of each tree. I hope it is snug within, down there close to the ground.

Here is the ginormous tree on the south side of the property. Without reference, you can't really tell that the bottom branches are almost buried in snow. A lot of critter babies are born under this tree. The road and curb are in this photo.

I caught this angle to show you the way the snow has filled in under the tree. What are the birds doing today? I don't hear a thing. Don't they need a lot of calories every day? What's the scoop? I know someone in our Nature Notes audience knows the answer to this question.

Grace in small things/waging a war against bitterness

1. Evergreen trees covered in snow

2. Friendly neighbors clearing driveways

3. Snow blowers

4. Bird feeders

5. Weak winter sunshine, so pleasant in the afternoon

The storm of the century?

So there was this wee storm yesterday. Here in Iowa, the land of Canada, we got around 16 inches. I don't know if the wind was as bad as they expected because I worked from home and didn't have to deal with open interstate surrounded by farmland and shopping centers. The cities weren't plowing residential streets at first, but clearly we have been plowed. I went out and took some photos for Nature Notes tomorrow. Here you can see that the mailboxes are covered up front and back, not from the snow plow. It was 11 degrees when I went out to take the photos and I was bundled up. I felt great except for my fingertips. They were like ice. I had two sets of gloves on, too. When I took the gloves off, my fingertips were hard. I had never felt that before.

I've been working from home today, which is a great option, but I am sort of over it after having worked from home for three years once upon a time. We didn't get mail or garbage pick up today. I've been home all day with not much going on except for cat drama, which goes from barfing in the early morning, which I apparently slept through, to thumping each other on the head unprovoked to sleeping through lunch to smacking ice cubes out of the water dish and chasing that around the kitchen until it becomes lodged behind the leg of a large kitchen thingy so another cat can lick it. I would like to say I had no idea this sort of thing goes on, but I do. I've been privy to it in the past. It has been a slow day in the cat world, though. I feel for them and so when I saw an ad today for a Chia pet that grows cat grass, I exclaimed, "I love it! I want it! I'm a consumer!"

Do you know that my cats love to eat grass followed by vomiting grass? See? I'm torn. They vomit anyway, they love grass, it's Christmas. I'm all beside myself, but I think I will go to Walgreens at some point and buy me some Chia pet. I've never had one before, can you believe that? (If anyone reading this who has me on a gift list and can't figure out what to get...)

And one last thing because I need to shore myself up for this Saturday. I am running a 5k this Saturday morning. Early in the morning. In the snow because 16" of snow isn't going to melt any time soon. The high on Saturday? 24 degrees.

I bought a mask. I feel like a criminal in it and the Velcro closure gets caught in my hair and I have a sort of small head, so even the small feels a little like it is going to fall off of me. I just reread that and I am amused at myself. I do not feel like a criminal. I feel like I look like a criminal. The mask does not have magical powers that turn me into a petty thief. Not that I know of, anyway. I will let you know.
I have a photo. Let's see if blogger will cooperate. Hold, please.

I think it worked. So do I look like a criminal? Like a certain cannibal criminal even? Do let me know how ridiculous I look so I can be prepared for Saturday.

Oh one more thing. On February 28, I will be doing the American Lung Association Climb for Air up the tallest building in Iowa, which is 41 stories, 85 flights of stairs, 1,100 steps. I can't wait! I'm excited about it as it is something I've never done before and it will keep me sufficiently freaked out all winter about getting into shape for it. (I've had two delicious homemade peppermint cookies so far today...) Feel free to cheer me on beginning NOW and at random.

Or harass me about the cookies.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hey, it's snowing!

I took this photo right after work. We already had snow on the ground and it snowed last night. It has been snowing all day and the weather-head on television said it could snow for another 12 hours. We easily have 9 inches in Des Moines. This storm may give us a total of 14, which means we would have close to 20. Last time this happened, we got rotten grass. I can't remember what that's called. It happened in 2003. We got snow after snow after snow with no times in between to melt and your lawn comes up in unattractive clumps. Consider yourself warned!!

I will let you know how the storm ends up tomorrow. I don't think I will be going into the office tomorrow: Not during a blizzard warning.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Another fine example of what not to include on your resume (random capitalization and creative grammar included):


Being a Scorpio for 33 years ( my age ) very good at judging people and understand if a resource can be productive the way the Project want or not.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ladies' Christmas tea

Today at church, there was a tea celebrating Christmas. I have not always enjoyed these in recent years as they are in early December and quickly followed my father's death one year and my sister-in-law's death the next year. But today's tea was really enjoyable. Every table is decorated by someone from church. I used to decorate a table, but I didn't get the super-d├ęcor gene, so I let others do it now. I do have beautiful dishes, though.

After the tea, I shopped at a consignment store. Well, three of them. I am looking for black jeans, but I don't really like jeans. Or slacks. I like skirts. So at one store, all the skirts were $2! I tried some on, but even at two bucks, I didn't feel it. I did pick up a really good quality cashmere sweater for $12. And speaking of skirts in the winter, why are tights so flippin' expensive? Walmart has flannel-lined jeans in their men's department and I considered driving down to try them one, but traffic was crazy stupid.

Everyone was out today shopping because it was sunny and (relatively) warm. I did wonder if the retailers were having a great day. I assume so because every parking lot was overflowing. I went home and took a walk. It was 5.5 miles long and toward the end it got reeeaaaallllllyyyy cold.

I should have worn that cashmere sweater on my walk.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A change in the day

Every year it takes me by surprise. The days get shorter and my schedule dries up. I marvel at how busy I am for most of the year, but for a few short months of short days, I can't find anything to do besides cook dinner and clean the house. It's so boring. I have running now, which I haven't had in years past and that's a good thing. I have the swimming pool and that's an excellent thing.

I ran again today, but I did it during my lunch break. It was the warmest part of the day at 29 degrees and spitting snow. It feels like I need to get used to running regularly and so in order to keep from trying to master the universe, which I always feel compelled to do, I decided that running and swimming in the same day, while enjoyable, is not actually necessary.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nature Notes Thursday

Visit Michelle at the peaceful Nature Notes Thursday for the best education you will get for free.

Here is the tree outside my window. This is the tree the moon has been rising behind.
Keep in mind my little point and shoot is way out of its ken with a close up like this. I was sitting at my desk working and I noticed movement as a blue jay landed on the tree. He was followed immediately by a woodpecker. I took quite a few photos, all of them hampered by my camera's limitations, but I am very glad I had the camera with me. I should keep it at work with me all winter as I get vultures and hawks and deer visiting me all winter long.

The woodpecker moved around a lot and that made it difficult to get a shot at all. This was the best of the bunch. He moved up and down and around and around the entire time.

This fat, jolly fellow sat quietly as I got my camera and got a couple decent shots. I'm much obliged.

I was especially pleased with the pose here. I slipped him 50 cents for his work on this shot.
Grace in small things
1. Twilight: I ran tonight in the twilight. It was lovely and very unusual for me. I had never run in that much darkness before, but I found it very peaceful.
2. full moons
3. brown trees against blue skies
4. warm cats
5. fluffy birds

Full Moon Rising

Monday and Tuesday this week I had the most amazing view of our moon rising in the east in a pale blue sky through the bare brown limbs of a rounded, tall tree. I took photo after photo on my cell phone as I watched it slowly rise. It was poetic beauty; I promise you that.

I decided to take my camera to work this morning so I could get better shots. But as so often happens, the weather turned and the sky was thick with clouds all day.
Last week I made a decision about my holiday charitable giving. I do several things including something for jailed kids and Toys for Tots. This year the bulk of my spending is for senior citizens. I took five ornaments off the tree at the grocery store. They wanted things like soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, a scrapbook and lotion. One woman wanted ingredients for baking. I feel sure I wasn't generous enough now that the gifts are returned to the bin! I know money is tight, but even a $3 lip gloss for Toys for Tots will help that hard-to-fill teen gift category. You'll be glad you did it!
I like making you guys smile talking about what I talk about. I wish I had all sorts of funny anecdotes to write about, but my life isn't really full of the funny. I won't lie to you: there's no sitcom here. It's frustrating and rewarding. It's full of tears and victories. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude most days, but even on those days there is regret and disappointment, joy and friendship. I eat too many cookies and don't run far enough. I listen but I don't reach out enough. I cuddle cats and find reasons to watch more reruns than new shows. Yet it is the funny I wish I could share every day. I like being funny and I can crack up certain people effortlessly. Needless to say, I adore the people who laugh at my attempts at humor!

So that's my thing about this blog. I hope I make you smile and I know I don't always have to be funny to do that. But if I do make you laugh, feel free to mention it! I will adore all of you. I promise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I feel better finally, but that won't make this a decent post

I have not been feeling quite myself lately and to top it all off, today was an unpleasant day at work. I came home to a bag of Trader Joe's pizza dough that really needed to be used by tomorrow, so I pushed that into a shape resembling a rectangle and threw it on a cookie sheet. Then I put Penzey's pasta sprinkle on it. I had some tomato basil cheese I had bought but wasn't loving, so I grated that and threw it on.

It looked a little dry, so I looked in the fridge and saw some Harry & David's pepper relish. I dripped some of that over the cheese in a here-and-there sort of fashion and put it in the oven.

Believe it or not, it tastes really good. Very good, even.

Now has anyone noticed the full moon? It is coming up while I am still in the office, so I get to see it from my desk as it rises behind a bare tree that stands in the faintly lit sky. It's so pretty. I mean to take my camera to work tomorrow to capture it on film and use it for Thursday's Nature Notes post.

We were in Milwaukee over the weekend and had a fabulous time with Sofia and her family. She kept everyone fed and entertained and I just don't know how she does it.

I had made a list of things I wanted to do this holiday season, but since I slept through Thanksgiving and wasn't allowed to run, jog or swim, I don't know if I am brave enough to go back and look at the list.