Thursday, January 28, 2010
Fifteen years ago people had cell phones, but not everyone. I only had one because my company paid for it and I didn't use it unless I had to do something for work. I don't remember that I knew anyone with a cell phone such that I had to call them on it. Sure, I knew people with cell phones, but I'm just saying it wasn't a thing...an expectation.
Back then all the phones had these little messages. You would call your friend thus:
*ring * ring*
It would go to voicemail because it was 1995 and your friend's phone wasn't glued to your friend's body. Voicemail lady would come on the line and explain to you, at a slowish sort of pace, how to leave a message: After the tone, begin speaking. When you're done speaking, press one to review the message, press two to re-record your message, blah, blah, blah.
More people got cell phones and if we fast forward a few years, the message changed to say this: After the tone, begin speaking. When you're done speaking, you can hang up or press one to review the message, press two to re-record your message, blah, blah, blah.
Folks, it's now the 21st century and everyone on the planet knows how to leave a message on a cell phone. Yet many, many cell phones make callers listen to that annoying message when they land in your voicemail. I have a girlfriend who's OFFICE phone actually still has an outgoing message that explains to me, rather slowly as if I were as stupid as a small rock, how to leave a message.
I call a lot of phones all day. It's sort of a huge part of my job. I'm calling people I have never met and I call a lot of them and I'm pronouncing myself an authority on this topic. You stand a pretty good chance that you are driving.them.nuts.
I got my umpteenth cell phone back after Christmas and I was delighted to discover that I can turn that message OFF. I'm wondering (strongly suggesting) if you check with your manual, your cell phone help, put it in the Google machine, call your provider (ok, that's probably an annoying circus, but they can be helpful), you may just find out that you can also turn that stupid message off.
And then imagine how liberating it will be for everyone who leaves a message for you to actually be able to leave a message when they get sent to voicemail! Everyone will gain approximately what, 15 or 30 seconds back to their lives (PER VOICEMAIL, PEOPLE) that was hitherto irretrievable. Gone forever.
I'm just asking that you call your cell phone and let it go to voicemail. If you can stand to listen to someone tell you, slowly like you're really, really dumb, how to leave a voicemail (which you've been doing for many years now), then more power to you.
I'm just saying it drives.me.nuts.
What drives you nuts? It's only fair to share.
Visit Michelle at the refreshing Nature Notes Thursday for a new look at the world.
Winter Morning Poem
by Ogden Nash
Winter is the king of showmen
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes
Smooth and clean and frosty white
The world looks good enough to bite
That's the season to be young
Catching snowflakes on your tongue
Snow is snowy when it's snowing
I'm sorry it's slushy when it's going
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
1 cup Guinness
1 stick, plus 1 tb, unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tb vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350; butter a muffin tin.
Combine the Guinness and the butter, chopped into 1-inch chunks, in a large sauce pan, and heat to melt the butter. Remove from heat, and whisk in the cocoa and sugar. In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then add to the beer mixture. Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter. Pour into muffin molds and bake for 25 minutes, or until inserted cake tester comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, remove from muffin tin, and cool completely on a rack.
Using a mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth, sift in sugar, and beat. Add milk, and beat until smooth. Spread glaze over cooled cupcakes.
*To create a thinner glaze, use a tablespoon or two more milk; for a topping more akin to icing, use less milk, and perhaps more sugar. In either case, add a little sugar or milk at a time, mix, and check for desired consistency.
Do yourself a favor and follow the directions. Not that I've ever accidentally screwed up this frosting every.single.time. I've made this recipe.
Monday, January 25, 2010
My favorite blizzard, the only one I ever eat and then only every other year or two, is the pumpkin pie blizzard. Because it's PUMPKIN!! I love all things pumpkin. Has anyone else gotten heartburn from pumpkin pie? That makes me feel old. I used to be able to eat it just fine, but I digress.
A blizzard is also a storm with widespread snowfall accompanied by strong winds.
Would anyone care to guess which blizzard I am "enjoying" this evening?
Tomorrow night my Irish class has a guest teacher - like a real teacher, not just me. That means I'm going to learn something, which is very exciting to me. I'm really looking forward to it. So help me if this endless winter affects our class tomorrow!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Edwin Thomas Meredith founded the company in 1902 when he began publishing Successful Farming magazine. In 1922, Meredith began publishing Fruit, Garden and Home magazine, a home and family service publication. Two years later, this magazine was retitled Better Homes and Gardens, and the first issue cost a dime on the newsstand. In 1930, they published the first edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
Now? Here I sit, ready to blog, and all I can think about is that the Walgreens ad has been disappointing for weeks. Weeks.
Being sick is a bit of a downer. Being sick in winter seems right, but at the same time it hardly seems fair. Here I am with nowhere to go and no one to do anything with, so it hardly seems like much of a loss. Even with the ice and some days hovering around 40 degrees, we still have a solid pack of snow on the ground. I am sensible of the fact that it isn't as bad as being healthy and stuck in the office on a beautiful sunny day with puffy white clouds straight from childhood, a slight breeze, fresh green grass and a steady 75 degrees. Now that is really hard to accept.
Here's my theory: I got very sick this time last year, so maybe it's my body's annual Tune Out to Tune Up. A mandatory rest, if you see what I mean.
I didn't go to Wednesday's swim class, I haven't done anything resembling a workout beyond getting up and down out of bed and bending my elbow to take a slug of NyQuil. One thing I did accomplish this week: I've read two books. I may have mentioned in my March Improvement Plan a reading program this month at the local library. I will pop into the car and run to the library to hand in my completed slips. Then I will go to the store because I'm out of oatmeal and all of a sudden that has become very important. Oh and laundry detergent. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I want a housewife.
I have caught up on all the blogs I read. It is good to see that some of them have been blogging right along, but it is also nice to see that many bloggers seem to be having the same problem I am having: not posting or when they do post it is about how they don't have anything to say!
It does seem difficult to believe that January is almost over, but it's good news to me. Oh except for the snow in the forecast. Yep, more snow. Delightful, isn't it? It is supposed to begin this evening and continue into the morning. I hope they're wrong. I almost always hope they're wrong! But you do get to a point at which you think, why not have more snow? How about some more ice? A little sleet? Heck, it's winter. We might feel cheated if we don't get storm after storm after storm. I'm sure the City of Des Moines can scrounge up another $3 million for the rest of the season. Everyone can take their change buckets down to city hall.
It's an idea.
I would hate to feel cheated out of a good Midwestern winter we can all complain about for months to come! So go ahead and snow, see if I care. Remember in The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder how Pa stood up and raised his fist and yelled at the storm? Yea, that's almost where I'm at.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Visit Michelle at the refreshing Nature Notes Thursday for a new look at the world.
I guess I don't need to explain how an ice storm forms! It came out of the four corners region and rained even though the temperature was below 32 degrees.
We have had a great deal of freezing fog this week due to the warm weather melting so much snow. That created fog, which is basically a cloud close to the groun and then the temperatures dropped the fog froze on everything. Water vapor in the fog turns into ice crystals that form on the surface of things inside the cloud. This occurs when the air near the surface has dew points below zero.
The result is hoar frost and it is beautiful. It happened on Monday and Tuesday this week. On Tuesday, it lasted into the afternoon and outside my office window I watched as trees lost the hoar frost all at once and in a 'poof' the frost fell off and then rose briefly in the air before sliding off as a
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I've done remarkably little whining about it even in real life, because who would listen? I haven't been reading blogs other than In Purple I'm Stunning 2.o and even then, I'm reading that when I am in the ladies' room and it is on my phone, so commenting is
I haven't even been to my favorite funny web sites all month.
By the time I get home, I am exhausted. There's my swim class, which has been fun. But I haven't done much of anything else. Anyway I don't feel good tonight. I have a sore throat, swollen tonsils and a headache. No fever and I hope I don't get one. I am not in the mood for strep throat again this year. So far, the fever is the only thing I'm lacking.
Did I mention that I went to the Art Center on Sunday to see the Alfred Hitchcock movie? Well I did and if you can watch Shadow of a Doubt, I suggest you do so.
Here's hoping the fever holds off and my throat feels normal in the morning. Well, you might be hoping for finer things like a raise, a good meal or world peace, but I'm just aiming for no fever and a less swollen throat. For now.
I'll get back to world peace, I promise.
Monday, January 18, 2010
An Email from Jared Nikkel - our missionary friend at the Pignon Hospital and our library
I am writing with a heavy and anxious heart. I returned from Port au Prince last evening around 7 pm after spending a little over 24 hours there. I travelled with Pastor Caleb Lucien and Dr. Batsch to find the families of Dr. Batsch and several other doctors that work in Pignon but live in Port au Prince. We also planned to assess how we could help so that we could coordinate our assistance in Pignon. I must say that the leadership and compassion of Pastor Caleb and Dr. Batsch was a tremendous blessing to me and the people of Haiti. We carried some medical supplies, water, and tents and were able to help several neighborhoods with the few supplies we had. Thankfully and by the grace of God we found Dr. Batsch’s wife and seven year old son and the other doctors that we travelled with were able to find their families alive although some were injured.
I saw first hand the destruction and loss of life and it is incredible. I cannot fully describe the scene and I am still trying to process it all myself. I wept this morning as we continued our 40 days of prayer. It is simply very hard to experience. Imagine over 3 million people displaced, hundreds of thousands of dead bodies, no power, no water, no shelter, no fuel, no food All of this is unimaginable in a developed country let alone a country like Haiti. From what I saw the city is for all practical purposes destroyed. I was able to see all of the government buildings, finance, justice, health, mayors office, palace, all destroyed. Four large hospitals destroyed, and all hospitals damaged. Nearly all the major businesses were destroyed or severly damaged and commerce has stopped. I saw two working gas stations but each had run out of fuel by the time we left. I saw dead bodies everywhere, lining streets, lying in rubble, piled on street corners and being slowly carried away by men with carts. I saw people erupting in joy at the news their loved ones survived and I saw families erupting with grief as they learned of the loss of their family, the scene repeated itself thousands of times all over the city. I saw thousands upon thousands of people sitting and lying in the streets unable or too scared to enter the shelter of the buildings left standing. I slept outside with many people and listened to the sweet sound of relief planes arriving and carrying hope more than anything else. I listened as thousands of people cried out to God and even praised him. I felt ashamed at my lack of faith as they sang “tout bagay déjà byen” “all things are already good”. Unbelievable. I counted people as we stood and waited along the road out of Port au Prince. The average was 81 people per minute heading north, with that average over 14,000 people passed by me on there way out, many unsure where they will go. I’m sure you have all seen pictures and heard the news stories but the reality is astonishing and will worsen in these first days of this tragedy.
I returned to Pignon with Dr. Batsch and his family and 9 others whose homes were destroyed. We had the business of seeing the Fargo, North Dakota team off, graciously arranged by Pastor Caleb and we will be planning how we can provide for victims in the next few days. They announced on the radio today that patients can be taken to the our hospital here in Pignon so we will see what happens. The patient load here is heavier than normal and I suspect will continue to increase. We will begin planning how we can accommodate any refugees that come to Pignon. We have talked briefly about areas we can use to set up tents and will plan further as we know more.
The needs are enormous. I wondered this morning how you take nothing from nothing. Someone said yesterday “if Port au Prince is broken, Haiti is broken” and that is correct. This tragedy has deeply affected all of Haiti. The availability of all supplies here is decreasing or gone and the means to get supplies here is crippled. Diesel fuel is nearly gone and the price has nearly doubled. Diesel is $5 a gallon and a gallon of gasoline is now $12.50 in many places. I know the town of Hinche is out but this morning when I went to find fuel I was fortunate to get some of the last diesel in Pignon. Dr. Guy said that he had tried to buy as much diesel as possible in Cap Haitian, I don’t know at this time if we have found that fuel. Without diesel fuel we have no electricity, no transportation and no water at the hospital. Most of the rice, flour, sugar here in Pignon is gone or disappearing fast. Many vendors hoped they would have more tomorrow from Cap Haitian so we will see. We could find a little rice, and could only buy sugar in small quantities and could not find flour. We purchased enough supplies this morning to last about a month. Food, water, medical supplies and fuel will be the main concern all over Haiti. Dr. Batsch is preparing a list of medical supplies we will need here at the hospital and will email that soon to our supporters. If we have connections to money and supplies now is the time to use them.
We are working on improving our communication by getting some Voila phones. Digicel service isn’t working but Voila is intermittently so we hope to get some cell phones up and running. We are still trying to figure out how we will get Stacey's parents home next week.
Thanks to all of you who have sent or left supplies with us we will be able to use much of the clothes and medicine and other items that have been left with us. Thanks to everyone who has shown so much concern for us and the people of Haiti. I’m sure we have forgotten some things and we’ll try and keep updates coming. Please forward this on and we'll try to post it on the blog as well. Keep Praying and God Bless.
An Email from JeanJean & Kristie Mompremier of United Christians International, Pignon,Haiti
We feel so blessed right now. Our family has all made it up here to Bohoc (Pignon area)
JeanJean spent the whole day trying to get to Port-au-Prince so that he could evacuate his family. He was stopped in Hinche where he could not find even one gallon of gas. Our truck didn't have enough to go on to Port. JeanJean found 2 trucks that did have enough gas and sent the drivers with instructions on how to find family. Then JeanJean loaded up the Ford with refugees heading to our community and Pignon. There were so many people needing a ride that had no money at all, he paid for a large truck to transport another big bunch of people. Even though it was great to help those people, we were all disappointed that our family wasn't coming home. At 9:00, we received word that JeanJean's brother had found a truck and was transporting all of our family and many others from the area. They arrived at midnight. Praise the Lord!
We spent hours talking about their experiences. They are still in shock and they are sore. They haven't eaten, bathed or slept since the quake. My nephew that was buried under the rubble is experiencing respiratory problems and is so sad for many of his classmates. I was told by his dad that as soon as he left the building, he tried to go back in and help get more people out. Others had to force him to stop and rest.All of them talk about all the friends they have lost. They can't even describe what it was like to see and hear dying people and not be able to do anything about it. They also don't see how they can return to Port. There is no where to live; no where to build.
The thing that strikes me is that all of my family that was sitting in my house for New Years is back with us again--we didn't lose even one of JeanJean's immediate family. We feel so blessed but we also found out tonight that 3 of our cousins did perish. All 3 are from the same grandmother, JeanJean's aunt.
Thank you for your prayers--I can't say that enough.
Pray for JeanJean as he has 4 funerals to conduct today--probably the first of many. He wants to give a message of hope even now--especially now.
We love you all,
JeanJean and Kristie and Tana and Kerri Mompremier
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Anyway after that we went to the High Life Lounge where they don't serve beer produced after the 1970s. We had a cheeseburger with tator tots and I took a photo, but again...sitting in the theater.
The movie starts soon. Google the clothes and pop some popcorn.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Visit Michelle at the refreshing Nature Notes Thursday for a new look at the world.
On Saturday, Aaron and I went to the art center and when we were done, I told him I had read in the paper that the pond behind the museum was safe for skating. That was just intriguing enough to him that we drove down the lane and trekked over to the pond. It was as it has been - temperatures hovering around zero, frosty and snowy. In the photo below we are on the pond:
This is looking back toward the north. The art center is back there somewhere, but you can't see it from this view. I like the brown, bare trees against the pale blue sky.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
After work, I blasted home like a rocket down the interstate. I screamed into the driveway (Just kidding, kids. There's still ice everywhere), ran into the house, grabbed the new swimsuit, grabbed my gear and drove to the pool. Instead of just swimming, I signed up for a class using flotation belts and styrofoam dumbbells. And because I am the athletic pin-up girl of the remedial phys ed class, I have to be a doofus and use TWO belts. Yep, I have a concrete ... well, you get the picture.
So I'm in the water trying to do all these exercises and I can barely keep from drowning. Kick your foot, cross your knees, drink the pool...The teacher took off her belt and had me put it on over my other belt. Anyway, it's all just to get me in shape for the stairs.
March is right around the corner
I am getting excited already over this year's March Improvement Plan. First off, 2010 has come in like a lion, roaring and screaming at me while baring sharp, pointy teetch and spraying lion spit all over my face, which is as unpleasant as you may imagine.
I think that's why I am already looking forward to my MIP, which is funny since the point of the MIP is that I have disliked the month of March since I was in my early 20s. It's dismal, I'm tired of cold and snow and wind and rain and for decades I have pondered and planned imaginary trips to here and there and never taken one. By the end of March, I'm always sick of myself for not doing anything interesting in March.
Last year I put a March Improvement Plan into practice for the first time. I want to do that again. The only thing I have scheduled so far is a concert.
So what should I do in March? I've begun thinking about options, but I haven't yet looked up anything because I'm so swamped at work that I don't leave for lunch and sometimes don't remember to eat, let alone plan an entire month of my own personal entertainment. Suggestions should be nice and decent and consider that I am 1. currently welded to my job and 2. living in the deep freeze of the century, so travel may not be advisable. Help~!
Friday, January 1, 2010
Your body temperature drops. At least mine does. I have this problem at the end of practically every event. Today was no exception. I ran the best afterward as I ran to get into the car. I had to run about 1/4 mile back to the parking lot and it didn't warm me up. But I'm glad I did today's run. I'm always glad. I didn't run the entire thing, I walked some. I couldn't believe what that sort of cold does to the body and the lungs. My hips and ankles felt like they were frozen.
I had plans to take the boys sledding this weekend, but it really is too cold to be safe with someone else's children. This snow isn't going anywhere any time soon, so we will go sledding on a warmer day. This weekend the temperatures are supposed to be even colder. Yes, even colder than today's high of 12. To add insult to injury, it snowed this morning.
I have been in bed since I got home. Surrounded by sleeping cats that can't figure out why we're home out of order...again...but grateful for the attention. I've been reading around the Interworld and here's what I have found as a common thread both on all the blogs I read and Facebook: 2009 sucked for most people. Even for the people who won't come right out and say it sucked sort of admit that it sucked. I learned this, I got that, there were such highs I should be grateful. Yep. We should be grateful, but 2009 sounds like it has been dismissed far and wide as being a bad excuse for a way to pass time.
I have the idea (I stole it from Badass Geek and I would link to him if I weren't so amazingly lazy) of making resolutions (I normally do not) that I forget about and only review in 364 days or so. I didn't get the idea that he forgot about the list on purpose. I think that is my idea. So here's 2010:
Oh wait. Can I just tell you that my little list of goals for the holidays fell by the wayside about 20 seconds after I posted it? OK, here we go:
1. I will keep up with the nail polish on my toes throughout the winter and not just in the summer.
2. I will train for a half marathon with the intention of running 95% of it without dying on the course.
3. I will continue to be patient and well-behaved about hair cuts until my hair is at least between my shoulder blades. I will begin to look like Valerie Bertinelli in 2010. I'm just sure of it. I have wanted to look like her since 1977.
4. I will complain about cat vomit 20% less than the current level of complaining.
5. I will visit my relatives more this year than last year (honestly, that shouldn't be difficult. I was wicked lazy about that in 2009.)
6. I am going to try to control my dreams more than I already do. I have dreams in which I am aware, but I haven't been able to completely control a dream. I want to do that.
7. I will watch more episodes of Doctor Who.
8. I will not use The Golden Girls as a reason to stay up past my bedtime.
Here's another idea I have gotten from Noodleroux, who is very amusing and you should read her if you don't. Oh, and here's a disclaimer. I don't go into politics or religion on the blog or on Facebook. It's a rule I have. Believe me, there were many, many, many things about 2009 I didn't like one flippin' bit.
Things that I didn't like about 2009:
Skinny jeans for women. Unless you are the skinniest person on the planet or under the age of 19, please do not wear these. Remember the rule that if you wore it the first time around, you probably shouldn't wear it the second time around.
Skinny jeans for men. I can't even speak.
The Bachelor(ette). Do people watch this? Do people actually appear on these shows while their parents (or heaven forbid their GRANDPARENTS) are still alive?
Commercials that make us listen to people eat. There are several. The yogurt commercial in which the blonde girl slurps down the yogurt. I don't like that commercial for several reasons. The recent Kit Kat commercial is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. There was a commercial earlier this year in which we had to listen to a guy chow into a hamburger. Currently the $2.99 value meal commercial has them slurping on their drinks. All of this makes me 1. mute the tv; 2. turn the volume all the way down; or 3. change the channel.
That's it for now, my head hurts. Maybe in 2010 I should keep a running list of things so I can be a little more 'year-in-review' and all that and maybe even I could choose a Person of the Year like Time Magazine, which continually chooses the wrong people.
I could make a list of things I liked about 2009, but some of you already know I have a thing for that Baskin Robbins commercial where the figures on the cakes bounce up and down and sing "Ice cream and cake, ice cream and cake." That commercial rocks. Another one that makes me laugh is the GEICO commercial with the Waltons saying good night.
Tell me about your commercials - what do you love? What makes you laugh? What do you hate?