the RATS of moose

The Random Access ThoughtS of a mid-west, approaching-middle-age, nurse starting the next phase of life.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fun with Food

Week 2 of Weight Watchers.

I remember why I quit going.

It's the rah-rah meetings.

I ...


I... (what the heck is the right word? I don't' HATE them. I don't really dislike them. I'm just not that INTO them.) I find them distasteful. Although, tonight's meeting wasn't too bad. Discussed ways to cut calories in foods. I thought up low cal tomato sauce... dump can of diced tomatoes in food processor, add spices to taste, frappe. Ta-da! Tomato sauce. Or drain the tomatoes and discard the juice for a thicker sauce. Add a touch of Splenda... Spaghetti sauce. Not bad.. leader said she would try it ... asked me if I had, I said no, I just thought it up here. Hmmm... maybe I should be a foodie??!! HAHAHAHAHA Just joking.

I didn't care for the leader at my last venue. Maybe that was it. But, after lunch at KFC, key lime cheesecake, Portillos and birthday cake 2 days in a row, I am down 4.8 pounds. Whooppee!!! Jayne, maybe I will fit into that dress by the time the wedding comes!! I have until May. (p.s. - I have a fitting on Saturday.)

Actually cooked dinner for me and the man last night. Chicken and leeks with raisin studded couscous. Not bad. Needed a little less cooking time for chicken and a little more spice. Will add other things next time. Garlic, maybe. hee hee hee

Am reading the most fascinating book by Alton Brown. "I'm Just Here For the Food v2.0". I love it!! He does the science of cooking in the most amazing and readable way!! i plan to collect all his books. I may even try a recipe or two! I have caught him on the Food Network (Good Eats) a few times and loved every show. Alton keeps me company on the weekends when Chuck has the kids. (hee hee) At least he's not fattening! And he had the instructions to make microwave popcorn in a bag using my popcorn and my lunch bags. Staples really don't catch fire in the microwave!! YIPPEE!!

Lator, Gators!

Monday, January 22, 2007

What price, convenience?

Have ya had those days when something pops into your head and you say to self, gee... I should get that taken care of... and just as soon as it's in your head, the thought is gone. Long before you ever think of getting a pen and making note to self (which is is okay cuz I'd just lose the note), long before the thought imprints on short-term memory (which is iffy on a GOOD day)... poof! it's gone.

Hmmm... I should do a better job of writing things down... maybe get a little spiral bound notebook.. you know the ones.. pocket sized with the holes on one side, like a mini notebook... anyway, get a little notepad and put a string thru the holes and hang it around my neck. And hang a pen on another string. And look like more of a dork than I do now.

Or maybe one of those little mini voice recorders. I think I had one once...

Or I could just write notes on my arms... they are always handy, although I don't always have a pen... sometimes just a pencil. That would hurt!

And sometimes I have those little lightning-fast thoughts more than once. Sometimes even three times.

That would commonly be referred to as a sign. Or maybe a SIGN! Or "HEY STUPID.... HOW ABOUT A LITTLE ACTION ON THAT THOUGHT THERE??"

Alas... no such action occurred. What else is new?

Last Sunday I arrived home from Fla-la-land and spent the afternoon unpacking. I toyed briefly with the thought of going grocery shopping, but figured I would do that after "60 Minutes" was on. (Silly me, no "60 Min"... just football games) I did laundry instead. Lotsa laundry.

Chuck arrived around 6 or so for his ride to the airport. He was scheduled to speak at a gathering of people who use the product he invented (wireless internet - Canopy) in Salt Lake City (Hi, Dooce!). I was a tad concerned that he wouldn't make it out... Kay and I were delayed for an hour on the tarmak waiting for a gait to open after we landed at O'Hare... it was snowing and all the planes were being de-iced. She missed her connecting flight, but was lucky and got a seat on the next plane (which was delayed leaving... big surprise). It was snowing pretty good when she got home and she was not able to drive out to the country and see Lily-dog.. :-( But Lily was doing well and got picked up on Monday. (BTW, Lily is eating well and staples are out and she is playing! YIPPEE!!) But, I digress...

We decided to take my truck as it had 4 wheel drive and the roads were messy. So, out we go into the snow. Drag the suitcase to the truck, open the door, put key in, no go. rur, rur, ruuuuuuuur. No turning over, no start, no go. Had lights and electric door locks, just no engine. Oops. Guess I should have listened to that thought all those months ago that said.... hmmm.... battery is 5 years old, maybe you should get another one before winter.

Trundle back thru the building, out the front door to Chucks car, go to airport. Borrow said car to drive self to work in morning (after a failed attempt at jumping my truck - turns out I didn't do it correctly.... oops). Called the local garage (Dakota K Auto Repair on Dundee!) and had them go fetch. $219 later my truck runs fine. $120 for battery and a bunch more for the tow and a little extra for some other stuff they looked at (hey, as long as it's at the garage, ya know?).

Could I have gotten a new battery on my own? Yup. Would have meant driving home to fetch dead battery (find gloves for yucky jobs, located somewhere in apt), put battery in Chucks trunk, drive to Sears 15 miles away (for a Diehard battery), drive back home (by now it's dark and cold outside), hook damn battery up (a process for which I have not the appropriate tools, and besides, the arcs and sparks from the battery wires makes me jumpy) and reprogram the damn radio.

Instead, I inturrepted dinner for the lovely Megan and Kate (co-workers who live near me), conned them into meeting me at the shop, we drove to my house, and they continued on to sewing class. I hopped in my truck and got groceries, bought a cookbook or 2 and joined Weight Watchers (down a pound and a half as of this morning!).

What price, convenience? $219 was cheap.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

McIntosh-a slice of Victoriana inbetween beaches

What she said!!!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Righteous Cocktails with Steena
An online friend of 12 or 13 years dropped by for a visit yesterday. It was our first meeting in person but we've been friends so long we just took right off chatting like she's here every day (poor Frank... yak yak yak from both sides, no-stop) and no one even thought to take a photo. Dang! (camera in car-oops) We inhaled assorted cocktails, (YUMMY!!!)scarfed up copious amounts of bruschetta and shrimp (MORE YUMMY!!!)and laughed and talked for hours. We didn't have any Jello Shooters (rats, had I know that was an option, I would still be recovering on her couch), but I managed to coerce our guest to drink a Green Apple Martini, a Sparkletini and a rum Mojito. Those Chicago Land gals can hold their liquor.(She's being gracious, I am the worlds lightest lightweight - had I supped one more of her delicious concoctions...see the couch bit)Here's how I made Steena's Sparkletini:Place 3 ounces of ice cold Raspberry Sparkletini in a large martini glass.Shake 1.5 oz. of Vanilla Vodka and 1.5 oz. of Raspberry juice over ice.Strain into tooni glass with SparkletiniGarnish with a red ripe, locally grown winter Strawberry. )(Oh my gawd... they were so TOTALLY sweet and just the perfect softness/firmness and goooooooood...)
Thinking it would make us seem more pious, we walked her around our house and showed her how she could see 4 churches from our yard.(was this the part where I choked on the water???) I don't think it worked but it was a righteous visit. Drop by again soon, Steena!

McIntosh is lovely... oops, Frank says I'm not supposed to tell. It's not what pops into your head when you think of Florida. It really is the middle of horse country... fences, trucks and trailers and all. Huge oak trees obscure the sky, gray Spanish moss hangs from everything-even the Christmas lights. It's been a mild winter so everything is still green green green and blooming while Chicago sits in 20 degrees and icy snow. I hope I remember to get my winter coat off the top of the bookcase before we head for the airport on Sunday...

I know I keep swearing that I won't move to Florida, but after 3 days here, I'm ready to pack again. (Quite a statement considering I just moved and am sick of it for the moment).

I will be visiting the lovely Flaurella again the next time I come down.. a little earlier so as to see more of the marvelous McIntosh and chatter like a magpie again. (ps-thanks for the Silver Springs idea... we went today and got passes and wandered the grounds all afternoon!!! Mom and Dad say 'thanks' also!)

Tomorrow it's over to the coast to goof off... a nice reward for all our hard work!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Monday, January 15, 2007 Mileage 48754 at 8:45 am out of Warner-Robins.

Things that make you go hmmmm… a black guy speaking to a convention of rabbis at a resort in the Catskills in 1968. No, he wasn’t the opening act. He was the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., friend of one of the conventioneers, a rabbi who had marched with King from Selma to Montgomery. King was dead 10 days later. It was an interesting article in USA Today this morning. I wonder what would be different if John and Martin had lived?

Today’s theme is road construction. Lots and lots of road construction. And state patrol cars. Lots of people running radar. We have nothing to worry about.

Strange things along the road… the tallest interstate fence I have ever seen. Fence fence, not concrete and metal walls. Saw some guys erecting a portion, must be 10 feet tall. What in the world are they trying to keep out? Jumping alligators? Things that make you go hmmm.

Lily is still retching, but the vet seems comfortable with her recovery so will just wait some more. No signs of peritonitis.

Good billboards:
-Ladies and Gentlemen, start your blinkers – an ad for Starbucks 4 miles ahead. Kay’s driving. She says don’t even THINK about starting your blinker now.
-Chinese buffet with hot shower. That must be an interesting sight.

It is humid here. My head is really stuffy. But, we are in shorts. We seem to be just ahead of the weather. Tomorrow in Atlanta/Warner-Robins it’s supposed to be 50. Today’s high will be in the 70’s.

Just saw our first cotton… in the ‘Georgia Village Museum’. No, we didn’t stop. Saw it from the road. Saw the first Disney-related billboard just north of Warner-Robins last night. Have seen a bunch more this morning. Will be sick of them by the time we get to Ocala.

Did you know Porter Wagoner is still recording? And that some of his old stuff has been recorded by rock bands? Neither did I. Now I have a burning desire to look up who all has covered “The Rubber Room”. More info from USA Today. What can I say, the paper was free at the hotel. Kay grabbed one last night and the new one today. I love newspapers. I forgot to get a Sunday paper. I needed a newspaper fix.

I think when I get home I will have to go to the store and get a neck pillow like Kay’s. I’ll keep it in the truck for days when my sciatic nerve is bothering me.

Yee-ouch… when the sun comes out, it is BRIGHT and makes it devilishly hard to see the screen. Maybe I’ll go back to reading the paper.

There are all kinds of trees down around here. It looks like they have been pulled over to clear a field. Hmmmm…

Definitely time to quit writing… the road is very beriy bumpy now and can’t ytpe at all.

Well, we have reached the promised land. Or we did about 20 miles ago. The weigh station was closed and we failed to stop at the agricultural inspection station to declare our clementines. Oh, well. Come get us!! Hee hee hee
We are about 100 miles from Mom & Dad. It’s bright sunny and we have the air conditioner on. Quite a change from 20 and icy. I’ll take if for how ever long it lasts.

Ugh. We have over half the truck unloaded and we quit. We are all pooped and HUNGRY! and the pizza is here... Lator Gators!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hey, ya'll

Sunday, January 14, 2007 4:30pm eastern
What a butt-numbing experience yesterday was! Not only is the bench seat too short, it hosted a 500 pound driver at some point that totally broke the springs/flattened the foam in the seat. It was truly, the most uncomfortable ride of my life. We fixed the problem today by sitting on Kay's neck pillow. It works like a charm.

The mileage is now 48672 and we are less than an hour out of Atlanta. The weather has changed considerably. (Insert Executive rule number 2 – do not drive in the fog without headlights on.) Kay and I were asleep by 10 last night. She woke up early and exercised. I stayed in bed (slept thru her getting up) and woke up at 7:15 feeling refreshed. Think I only woke up once… my cold must be on the way out. Or maybe it was the overdose of Benadryl I took. Whatever. I slept. That’s the important part.

We were on the road around 8:30 in total fog. I was not too enthused until Kay pointed out that it wasn’t ice. We spent the entire evening before watching the weather channel talk about the ice storms. Everyone we talked to back home said we were lucky to leave town when we did. Guess I am also glad we didn’t go last week and were trying to fly home today… think we would have been on the phone Friday trying to get out earlier. Wonder what it will be like next weekend?

About 2 miles down the road, Kay asked if I had my headlights on. Yes. And then I looked down at the dash buttons, flipped one on and said yes again. Oops. The semis have been giving us a fairly wide berth. I wonder why?

Today’s theme has been the ‘March of the Electric Company Trucks’. As we haven’t heard much for news today, we are wondering who got slammed. Kay called her girlfriend near St. Louis who said they lucked out this time. She lives on the IL side and had temps above freezing and just got rain. Guess MO wasn’t as lucky. Will try to remember to get a paper tonight and watch CNN. I miss my weekend overdose of news channels TV (interspersed with overdoses of Food Network programs. I love ‘Unwrapped’!) We have definitely seen over 200 trucks headed north in convoys. And one Disaster Relief bus.

(I think Mazda Miatas are soooo small they could fit under our truck and we would never notice. I hope the guy in front of us doesn’t slow down.)

And then there is the just plain weird… a converted school bus with 4 air conditioners on top towing a car carrier-with one car pulled all the way to the front and another car with the front wheels on the carrier and the back 2 on the ground. He was pulled over to the side so am not sure if the car fell off or what.

Motorcycles are out. Saw 2 today. The fog and half the clouds were gone by the time we got to Chattanooga and the sun was heating things up. We are definitely overdressed. I am in a light weight turtleneck with the sleeves rolled up and sweatpants. At least Kay has on a short sleeved shirt. We may be hitting a Wally World tonight for shorts as our big suitcases are buried somewhere in the middle of the truck. We will not be hunting for them tonight. If needed, I will cut the legs off my sweats.

We’ve been REALLY lucky with traffic so far. Only one accident and it was going in the opposite direction. Traffic was backed up a mile or so.

Welcome to Atlanta. Or at least Atlanta traffic. Am glad it’s Sunday night and not a weekday. We are going to blow thru downtown instead of taking the bypass. It’s the weekend. How bad can it be? And besides, I’ve done it before when I regularly made the IL-to-Miami run. Of course, that was 13 years ago and in a car.

(Gross-a semi just passed us on the right and he was picking his nose.) OOOOooooooo…. Up to 5 lanes of traffic.

Signs you are in the south:
-The only 2 types of radio stations are Jesus and country.
-The country stations cover the gamut… all bluegrass/all the time, classic, and modern.
-You see ads for boiled peanuts.
-Sweet tea.
-It’s warm down here!
(Up to 6 lanes of traffic)
-They talk funny.
-But they are really nice.
-The radio stations actually mention the Tennessee Titans by name. (Up to 7 lanes of traffic.)
-Coka-Cola-YUCKO! (up to 9 lanes of traffic!!!)

We mastered fueling up today. Figured out how the slave pumps work. Figured out how to fill a round tank up full when the fill hole is on the side. Figured out how pre-pay works on the ‘truck’ side. We were so proud of ourselves. Yesterday I was the cause of a gas nozzle disarticulation. Oops. And we totally horked up getting gas at our first slave pump. Fortunately I did the dumb blond thing and 3 truckers came to our rescue. Kay said she would have videoed the whole episode if she hadn’t been on the phone about Lily (who is doing so-so today-no fever, but lots of vomiting and diarrhea. The petsitter, Jenny (who is a GODSEND) is going to visit her tonight.).

I think we will shoot for Macon tonight. But now it’s time for more fuel!!!!

Home tonight is Warner-Robins, GA. Home of Robins Air Force Base. We ate at Steak n’ Shake, emphasis on Shake. Met a couple who had on sponsor shirts that I was curious about (fishing reels were prominent) so asked… they had just finished working at a fishing show in Atlanta. Kay mentioned that she thought they might be professional fishermen. They are professionals… they fish in a tournament next weekend. Too cool. Even better… the woman has relatives in Chisholm, MN. What a small world. We had a nice chat while waiting to pay at the restaurant.

Kay is off to the hot tub now. I am flaked out on the bed watching the weather channel (again). Last leg should be short and uneventful. Let's hope. Less than 300 miles to go. Hi Mom and Dad! Flaurel, I'll honk as we go past!!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

On the road again.... typos and all...

Well, this is quite the novel ex perience…. typing as my sister pilots a 26 foot bright yellow rental truck down the interstate.

The journey begins.

Mom and Dad finally decided to settle down. They have been ‘homeless’ for about 7 years now. Sold the house in the Quad Cities and became snowbirds. Summers in a little 400 sq. ft mini-moble home in northeast Illinois and winters in the motorhome going hither, thither and yon. But, times change and they are not so interested in driving all the time anymore.

For a while I thought they might settle in Arizona to be near Mom’s brother. But the dry air was more than they wanted to put up with. Something about their skin molting off like a snake every few days… and the nosebleeds. Can’t forget the nosebleeds.

(I remember when I was a kid and the family was on the Great Western Tour… we came over the mountains into the desert southwest and my nose started bleeding profusely. It was so bad that Mom asked if I wanted to pull into an Emergency Room to get looked at. We didn’t because it was just the air and I kknew it would be fine once we crossed the mountains again into California. But, I digress.

So this summer they packed all their worldly goods into a 10x20 ft storage unit (well, all their goods except for the ton of stuff at Kay’s house and the odd lamp or chair at my house), sold the mini-moble home, and took off for Florida.

The found their very own double-wide version of heaven on the outskirts of Ocala in December and closed the deal between Christmas and New Year’s. Which brings us to the big yellow truck. Kay rented a truck in Michigan, hired movers to load it, drove it to my house where we loaded more. Today we are driving to the storage unit where we will meet more movers and load all the rest of the stuff and then it’s off to Paducah!

Will sign off now as we are near our destination and the gas tank is on my sidel.

The Illinois State Police are out in force today. But, the weigh station was closed. YIPPEE!

On the down side, my sister’s dog is sick…. It appears Lily ate some yarn which is now trying to exit and it’s horking up the works. Kay is dealing with her petsitter and the vet over the phone…. L

The truck is loaded, the bellies are full and the bladders are not. We are on the road officially (sort-of) at 11:43 central time, milage 47870 and I have already made the first don’t-follow-the-map decision. Driving vaguely southwest to Bloomington and then back east to Shampoo-Banana to catch I-57 just didn’t fit with me. So we went east on I-80 to 57. 20 miles up here or 40 down there.. I liked the 20 better.

Lilly is at the emergency vet clinic. She is scheduled for surgery after 3pm today to remove the yarn. The good news – no fever and no rectal bleeding (no intestine necrosis) so we caught it early. The better news – the vet says she has only lost one dog to this problem (ingestion of long stringy things) and that dog had stuff in the gut for a month. The bad news…. Kay feels guilty for giving the dogs a ball of yarn to play with and Lily is over 9 years old. It’s going to be a long afternoon.

Another cop… unmarked red in the median. We are seeing cops everywhere and Chuck, who drives 80 miles an hour at all times never sees them and never gets pulled over. Sheesh. We should be so lucky.

This truck cab is much more cramped than the one Jayne and I had when I moved from California to Chicago. Bench seat (bleck!) that is 6 inches too short for our long legs. Not a lot of floor space for all the junk I carry around (and on which I am typing as we speak). But we will do fine… if we can survive today, we will be fine. This is absolutely the most boring part of the drive.. Chicago to Paducah. Flat, straight and BORING!! It’s gray, overcast and spitting rain or slush depending on the temp. I think Kay said its sitting right around 32 degrees now.

Executive rule number one has been established… the driver is not allowed to do anything but drive. Kay was getting her sunglasses out and dropped them on the floor and couldn’t reach them. So I unbuckled (bad, I know) and went to look for them. I couldn’t find them either. So. Rule number one. Drivers drive. Passengers do everything else. If the driver has to do something the passenger can’t do… we pull over.

‘Diesel Fuel Only’ the customer will be sent a bill if they use gas’ says the sign. I don’t like diesel fuel. It’s slimy. And it doesn’t come off with soap and water. And the smell stays on your hand. Yuck.

I bought another inverter to use with the computer (120 v from the cigarette lighter). Am not sure what the issue is… am thinking the lighter hole may be a little loose as the power keeps switching between battery and AC. Oh, well. It’s a rental, what can I say?

Time to sign off and do some reading. Or not. It’s a little bumpy in here and reading may be a little difficult. Kinda like typing…. You should see the typos before spellchecker gets a hold of them or I backspace over them. ;-) It’s an experience. Later, Gators!

It’s later… we are in Paducah. I took over driving in Effingham and it started to rain and rain and rain. And then the sun went down. And it rained and rained and rained. I am not liking this very much. More rain is scheduled for tomorrow. But at least we are not in St. Louis. It’s covered with ice, as is Tulsa, according to the man on the Weather Channel.

At least it’s not ice. Chuck says it’s a good time NOT to be in Chicago. Ice on Monday and snow on Tuesday.

Lily came thru surgery okay. The next 48 hours will be watch and wait. There was lots of inflammation of the intestines, but no necrosis. The vet says the ‘best case scenario’ she could have hoped for was what she found. Multiple little cuts in the intestine to get the yarn out, big cut in the stomach to get the yarn ball out. Vet says was the largest amount of she’s ever seen inside a dog. But things are going okay.

We are pooped. It’s time for bed. More talk tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My contribution to the decline of the world

I contributed to global warming today. As I drove around town in my gas-guzzling SUV I felt ashamed. Sort of... well, not really. It's not my fault.. blame it on Wally World. Blame it on China.

There was an article in the Chicago Tribune on Dec 17 about how cashmere is ruining the world. How our insatiable desire for more and more cheaper stuph is ruining the world. How it is putting other people (even the Scottish) in perilous financial positions. How overproduction of cashmere is polluting the world. Interesting article. Makes you think of connections you wouldn't otherwise put together.

Some days I would like to be greener. A hybrid SUV. Solar panels on the roof of the home I no longer own. A tankless water heater. Less plastic garbage. (Good-bye to my 5,000 bag stockpile of Ziplock bags!) But, I am lazy. I go green if it's convenient. And, frankly, not much about it is convenient.

But the cashmere sweater I bought today was convenient. And on sale. At Wally World. For $15. How could I say no? I've never owned cashmere. I've wanted to try it for some time but was put off by the price. But $15? How could I resist? Even if I don't like it.... $15 is not a lot to pay for the experience of contributing to worldwide destruction.

What a bargain!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year?

Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year!

Time for a change. New things, new resolutions, new ideas. Start over. Improve. Resolve. Commit. Say to hell with the whole deal and stay in your rut. Gain one more pound. Cultivate one more wrinkle. Piss off one more person at work.

Happy New Year.

;-) It's not that bad. Really. The chocolate is getting put away tomorrow. Bestest Boyfriend and I are going back on the eating good (in other words, in, not out) and exercise wagon.

Work is great. My family is great. Mom and Dad found and bought a place in Florida... and the weather immediately turned cold. Flaurella said they couldn't stay if they brought that kind of cold. I'm pretty sure it will warm up. If nothing else, my hot flashes will warm things up when I get there in a couple weeks. I'm trying to spread my own private summer all over the place.

But now, the same-old same-old calls and work starts again tomorrow. Back to the rut.