Friday, November 23, 2007

We’re Gathered Together...

Thanksgiving is a bit of a struggle for me because I do miss my extended family and it is not practical for us to try to plan a vacation at the end of November to go back to California. Unfortunately, somehow along the line, we failed to create our own “family tradition” for the holiday after we moved here. For many years we spent Thanksgiving with a lovely family we know, and their extended family, and that became the “tradition.” But then their situation changed, and they began to trade off having their family Thanksgiving amongst themselves, and that left us out. And there we were struggling to figure out what to do to make the day special for us, and we could never quite do it. At that point, the “pitch-in” Thanksgiving meal with our church family became more and more important. And also the source of much laughter between R and myself, and I admit sometimes a bit of irritation, because they won’t eat anything I make. Well, there have been a few exceptions: once I made a chocolate-pumpkin swirl cheesecake that looked so nasty I figured I’d be bringing most of it home, which wouldn’t have bothered me any because it tasted very good indeed. Much to my surprise, someone at the meal did actually take a slice and raved about it and then everybody had to try it there wasn’t a crumb left to bring home. Another time, and I have probably written about this already, we had a “ soups and stews” meal after Christmas caroling. I made Szchewan carrot soup, which someone mistook for nacho cheese sauce and poured it all over his tortilla chips. And they ate the lasagna I made several months ago. Cleaned the pan right down to the last drop of meat sauce. At the meal we had for Thanksgiving this year, there was nothing left of the spiral ham I brought, but they did not eat the lime gelatin tropical fruit salad with marshmallows, cream cheese, and non-dairy topping, or the baby carrots that I marinated in sweetened vinegar and ginger, or the unusual pasta dish (pecans, dried cranberries, onions, celery, and basil), or the cranberry dessert. R says I try too hard – they’re just “meat and potatoes” sort of people. Oh well, I just packed it all back up and brought it home and we enjoyed it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Unintended consequences...

One thing that is so upsetting about our son and his companion is their inability to evaluate the decisions they make in terms of consequences down the road. They have gotten themselves into a couple of financial messes by doing some really dumb things. Maybe we’re just offended that they don’t ask our advice first so we can point out the pitfalls that seem so obvious. Naturally, we are not prophets and can’t be expected to discern the future, but in many cases it isn’t too hard to figure out what is likely to happen. Which is why the mess I created for myself was all the more exasperating: I realized I had plowed ahead to do something without thinking it through. We eat a lot of flax seed because it has a lot of health benefits. Flax seed needs to be ground up, otherwise all the health benefits in those smooth, shiny brown seeds pass through without being used. It didn’t take us too long to find out that ground flax turns mucilaginous—a fancy word for “thick gluey slime”—when it is mixed with liquid. So, one needs to eat it really fast if it is stirred into something runny, otherwise the texture is just plain nasty. The last time I stirred flax into my oatmeal was the last time I will ever stir flax into my oatmeal. Because we eat a lot of flax seed, we buy it in bulk from the natural food store. I grind it myself in a coffee grinder and then put in the freezer. Most of the bulk food we buy eventually grows pantry moths or weevils, or both, if it isn’t kept frozen until we use it. I deal with these insects by washing them out of the grains (I keep flour frozen). Well, pantry moths began developing in the large glass container filled with about 2 pounds worth of seed, and I just charged ahead and dumped it all into a large bowl and began washing out the clumped flax seed and worms. I wasn’t thinking about the consequences of putting water to flax seed, but it didn’t take long for the consequences to become obvious. Almost instantly the flax seed became slimy. Seriously slimy. I immediately stopped and spread it out to dry on a cookie sheet, but the glue didn’t go away. It was just an awful mess. I tried to salvage it – I broke up the chunks of stuck-together seeds and froze them and then tried grinding them, but that didn’t work. It took me awhile to finally throw it all away. Ah well, another life lesson.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Here Today... Gone Tomorrow (aka Fall Happens)

The sugar maple outside R’s office window – and I can also see it from the kitchen window is gorgeous when it gets all dressed up for Fall. It seems to gleam in the bright sunshine. The kitchen and office are both at the equivalent height of the second story, so we get to look at the middle of tree. It was just.... well, beautiful, for several days and then.... and then... there was a hard freeze and a brisk wind, and overnight every leaf was on the ground. And now it is a bare naked. Oh well, we’ll enjoy it again when the cycle comes ‘round again in about a year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Would you work for

Because I work from home, I have not met any of the issue managers from publishers on the East Coast who send me manuscripts to work on. We exchange lively e-mails, but we never see each other face to face and we don't even talk on the phone. This is one of my “bosses,” and he is a lot of fun to work for. He and his wife dressed up to take their little girl out for trick-or-treating, and I think the fact that he sent this picture shows what a good sense of humor he has about himself and his capacity for fun. You go... guy... girl. Whatever, just don’t change your day job. I don’t think you’ll make it as a drag queen.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where’s Waldo?

I think my niece deserves a “first prize” for creativity for coming up with this idea for a costume for a “Halloween night” at Disneyland. Word has it that the people there who saw her loved it and had a great time screaming “I found Waldo!” when they saw her. Having spent literally hours msyelf looking for Waldo in the pages of The Great Waldo Search, which her mother gave me once upon a time, I think I probably would have been screaming right along with them.