Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If I Were In Charge of the World......

* No one would be allowed to put food coloring in drugs intended for cats. Red food coloring can indeed stain walls and cats have a marvelous spit-up trajectory

* Liberal arts would be considered as important as math and science in schools

* One could opt out of all campaign mailings if one votes early via absentee ballot

* Dusting wouldn't be necessary

* No one would be allowed to buy things they couldn't afford

* Vets would have to follow their own advice one day every month. Let's see a vet keep a cat quiet and inactive without the use of drugs

* If you had 4 coffee makers fail in one week, you would get a free Starbucks giftcard for frustration

* Houseplants would make a bit more of an effort to stay alive

* If people didn't say "thank you" for gifts, the gifts would immediately be revoked and given to charity

* Thermostats would not be able to just reset themselves in the middle of the winter for no reason whatsoever

* People would spend as much time with friends as they do with their television sets

* I would be able to locate that darn in-progress pajama top

* It would be socially acceptable to still have one's Christmas decorations up in March

* Holiday calories could be chalked up to "festive spirit" and would stay off my thighs

* Mean people couldn't impact the lives of nice people

* Only one appliance could break in any 6-month period.

* Boise residents would remember from year to year how to drive in the snow

* Public libraries would get much more funding

* I'd be able to understand T. S. Eliot's poetry by now

* One could throw a New Year's Eve party without being obligated to stay up past midnight

* People who exercise and eat healthy would never have health problems

* The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle would still be on the air.

* Women's dress shoes would be comfortable, waterproof, and would have traction

* Someone could explain to me why Citizen Kane is supposed to be the greatest movie of all time

* Repairmen would actually have to repair something before they could charge anyone

* Children and pets would never know illness or injury.

* Everyone would know that the most important things in life aren't things at all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Little Holiday Recap

In no particular order.....

We heard from lots of friends & loved ones...
Learned new relaxation techniques....Hung our stocking by the chimney with care....Got a bit creative with breakfast in bed...Enjoyed a white Christmas...
Explored new fashions....Opened the first jar of homemade salsa...
Discovered the way to cope with a jealous catFinally found a way to stop Theo from removing casts....And received some very unusual Christmas gifts....Ho! Ho! Ho!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Coffee Maker Saga Continued.....

When we last left the sleepy Sutton-Goar household, Andy had just purchased a new coffee maker from Fred Meyer. Defying all odds, the new coffee maker didn't work either. Quite positive that it was impossible to have 4 coffee makers not work all in one week, Toni and Andy--in sheer caffeine-deprived desperation--READ THE MANUAL. Nothing.

Unfortunately, the receipt was nowhere to be found. Expecting the worst, Andy boxed the defective coffee maker up and returned it to Fred Meyer this morning. The cheerful sales associate looked up the transaction using Andy's credit card, found it, and issued a FULL refund. No in-store credit, no we'll-only-give-you-credit-for-the-lowest-price-it's-sold-for-in-the-last-three-years. Nope, full refund. Toni has always found Fred Meyer store personnel to be helpful and personable, and today was no exception. Kudos Fred Meyer!

Andy's next stop was Costco to see if the coffee urn--purchased more than a year ago but never opened--could be returned or exchanged, again without a receipt. The clerk at Costco looked up the purchase in their records, found it, and again issued a full refund. This is why Toni & Andy shop at Costco whenever possible--and the huge bags of pea pods...... Kudos Costco!!!!

And there is finally a working coffee maker at Chateau Sutton-Goar!!! This may not be huge excitement to others, but after 3 parties in 2 days, there are some serious caffeine needs in the chateau......

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008 - The Battle of the Coffee Makers

When one is hosting 3 parties in 2 days, it's advisable to have a ready supply of coffee on hand. On Monday, I picked up 15 bags of coffee beans--fifteen! We had 2 coffee makers and a large coffee urn we had never used that we were planning to dig out for Christmas Eve, so we honestly thought our caffeine needs were covered.

By Christmas Eve, coffee maker #1 had taken to superheating the water, burning the coffee, and creating large amounts of steam and one cup of mud. Coffee maker number two simply refused to give out any coffee, though it makes a nice humidifier. The coffee urn was taken out of the box for the very first time and found to have a broken piece (luckily it came from Costco, so is likely to be cheerfully exchanged but not on Christmas Eve). With this track record, we were a bit worried about digging the French press out of Andy's camping gear, but after careful examination and a discussion of what we could possibly break on it, it was attempted. Coffee was indeed produced, but at the rate of one cup every 15 minutes, so the project was abandoned for hot tea, spiced cider, and hot buttered rum. Liquored up guests are less likely to notice the lack of coffee.

We are not sure what we have done to anger the coffee gods, but will be burning a few sacrificial filters just-in-case......

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas Letter

Happy Holidays!!!

Once upon a time, in a far away place called Boise, there lived a husband and wife. They were very happy, but as we know happens in all stories, there were bad things as well called “plot twists.” One was called the “economy” which fell apart because too many people were greedy and wanted to own houses that they couldn’t afford. The “economy” cost many people their jobs, including both Andy and Toni. Luckily, Andy and Toni were careful with money and hadn’t bought a too-expensive home, and Andy was able to use a magic power called “telecommuting” to get a job in another state. To learn to be even more careful with money, Toni and Andy decided to go 90 days without buying anything except food and “gasoline,” which makes cars go. Unfortunately, “gasoline” and food became so expensive that it was all they could afford anyway. They had a large back “lawn,” which is also known as a “freaking waste of water in a desert climate,” so they converted much of the “lawn” into a garden so they could grow their own food and learn 37 different ways to cook pumpkin when Toni mixed up seed packets and planted two pumpkin plants by mistake.

Toni got a little over-excited about the garden this year, and canned lots and lots of tomatoes and salsa and sauces. Andy was very tolerant and supportive, but when she canned pickled pumpkin, he staged what is known as an “intervention.”

Also in Boise was a jealous and bitter woman known as the “ex-wife,” who introduced them to new terms such as “Parent Alienation Syndrome” and “Hostile Parenting.” They in turn introduced her to the term “Restraining Order,” and she is now suing them for sole custody.

Andy and Toni share their home with two cats, Callisto and Theo. Sometimes “plot twists” happen to kitties, and Theo is currently in a cast recovering from a dislocated joint & broken leg and Toni is carefully wrapping his cast in saran-wrap so his cast doesn’t get wet when he uses the litter box. Toni refers to this as “utterly and totally kissing her dignity good-bye.”

One of their close friends embarked on a 600-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail in March, so Toni & Andy learned how to dehydrate many foods—including beans, rice, and applesauce—so they could send her food packets along the trail. They learned many things: bacon does dehydrate but it makes an entire house smell like a cheap diner for at least a week; pudding doesn’t dehydrate very well; and dried curried garbanzo beans make a great snack if they don’t get hard enough to break teeth.

Boise is a very special place and Toni and Andy have many friends there, and in order to see these friends more often, they have brought back “Soup Night,” which now occurs on the second Monday of every month, and all friends who live in Boise and the surrounding area are invited. Everyone else is also invited of course, but that is a really long drive for soup.

Like in all good stories, the “plot twists” have added challenges and difficulties to Andy & Toni’s lives this year, but also like in all good stories, they continue to live happily ever after and hope this finds everyone also living happily ever after and having a very merry holiday season, and they send you all their best wishes for the new year!

What we have learned this year:
  • There are worse things than having a cat in a cast. One of them is trying to keep the cat quiet and inactive while in the cast.
  • Happiness is a state of mind. Sometimes that state is closely related to delusion.
  • Type A personalities cannot have a “small” garden or do a “little” canning.
  • If you have gone on a 90-day spending ban right before the economy tanks, it’s hard not to have a few worries that you might have caused it.
  • The people who most want pity are generally those who least deserve it.
  • Not in anyone’s wildest imagination would 3 pumpkins make 5 half-pint jars of pumpkin butter, no matter what the recipe says. Try 30.
  • As we prepare to embark on a year of no processed foods, we realize many people will start turning down dinner invitations.
  • Labeling things as one plants them in the garden would save a great of time and frustration later.
  • Being a bad parent is not illegal. If you’re a single mother, it’s a protected right.
  • Only the most insane knitter will tally up all the yarn she currently has in her stash. Hobbies are not the place for reality checks.
  • Boise has a Tango Society and tango lessons are quite fun, but the rose in the teeth thing isn’t covered in beginner lessons.
  • Read plant labels carefully. A “pimenta” is not the same as “pimento,” and is in fact an insanely hot chili pepper.
  • If one has accidentally eaten an insanely hot chili pepper thinking it to be mild, rinsing one’s mouth out with alcohol really does numb the burning.
  • The people who were giving us so much flak two years ago about putting a large amount down on our house and not taking out the equity to invest in the stock market are pretty darn quiet now.
  • Visiting Ellis Island makes one realize how brave our ancestors really were.
  • If you make a cake out of green tomatoes, it’s best to let people try the cake before telling them what’s in it.
  • It’s good to make friends with the owners of small hotels—especially ones that are only two hours away and have fun events.
  • I realize people have done it for hundreds of years, but I am still foolishly delighted when I can successfully grow our own food in the garden.
  • Nothing brings one’s ego down to size faster than having to hold a cat so he can use the litter box.
  • A “normal” life is something other people have.
  • Facebook is the new way for adults to have no idea what is going on.
  • A cat might look extremely silly after it’s been shaved in several places for surgery and I.V.s, but it does really cut down on shedding.
  • Green tomato jam is just as weird as it sounds.
  • “Month of” experiments are a great way to learn things, but one’s friends are likely to think one is a few pom poms short of a cheer squad.
  • Once one starts doing silly Christmas letters, it’s impossible to go back.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How I Did On Yesterday's List

So my plan of action for yesterday was:

1. Make spicy peanut soup
2. Make the Mexican layered dip--using homemade salsa
3. Mix the onion dip (would it be Christmas without Lipton Onion Soup Mix dip?)
4. Bake an apple cake
5. Mix up an herb cream cheese spread
6. Dig out all the serving plates & pieces we received for our wedding.
7. Watch the cat to make sure the current cast lasts more than 24 hours (1 hour 10 minutes being his fastest removal time to date)
8. Mix more onion dip when I have eaten the first batch
9. Send 10 more Christmas cards
10. Gloat that I don't have to be out driving around in the 3 inches of new snow!

How yesterday actually went:

1. Spicy peanut soup - MADE
2. Mexican layer dip - MADE
3. Lipton Onion Soup Dip - MADE
4 Baked 2 apple cakes because there was a slight misunderstanding involving how many sticks of butter compose one cup......
5. Herbed cream cheese spread - MADE, but a little bland so still in progress
6. Serving plates - still exactly where they were, but we think we know where that is.
7. We've had the same cast now for 36 hours! We're excited! But we do keep checking Theo's toes to make sure this cast isn't too tight....
8. I've been showing remarkable restraint on the onion dip. Okay, I had some, but there's still enough left for tonight--now to just make it the rest of the day.........
9. Christmas cards......I did email the Christmas letter to about 50 people yesterday, so that sort of counts, doesn't it?
10. Gloat - Done, Done, DONE! We don't plow roads in Boise--we dump sand on them, which I'm sure made everyone feel better yesterday when they were sliding around in dirty snow.
BONUS: Made the cranberries for Thursday's dinner
BONUS: Made almond butter crunch--I'm feeling SO Martha!!!

Today's list:

1. Clean
2. Make sourdough rolls to go with tonight's soup
3. Listen to Christmas music the entire day
4. Do a quick check for any vermin gifts brought in by Callisto. (Yesterday's was a bird)
5. Enjoy Christmas eve!!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today's Plan of Action

We're having a bit of an "open house" over Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with a soup night/ornament exchange Christmas Eve, and a brunch and dinner Christmas day, so today the cooking starts. Today's plan:

1. Make spicy peanut soup
2. Make the Mexican layered dip--using homemade salsa
3. Mix the onion dip (would it be Christmas without Lipton Onion Soup Mix dip?)
4. Bake an apple cake
5. Mix up an herb cream cheese spread
6. Dig out all the serving plates & pieces we received for our wedding.
7. Watch the cat to make sure the current cast lasts more than 24 hours (1 hour 10 minutes being his fastest removal time to date)
8. Mix more onion dip when I have eaten the first batch
9. Send 10 more Christmas cards
10. Gloat that I don't have to be out driving around in the 3 inches of new snow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Few Numbers....

28 - number of days of having a cat in a cast
2 - number of casts the cat has managed to pull off so far
4976 - number of attempts the cat has made to pull off the cast
4 - average number of hours of sleep now averaged at Chateau Sutton-Goar
10 - number of cups of coffee now averaged at Chateau Sutton-Goar
160 - number of Christmas cards sent to far
100+ - number of Christmas cards still left to send
0 - number of new friends Toni is going to allow for the next month or two
66 - temperature that Toni programmed into the thermostat for "daytime"
70 - temperature that Toni bumps the therm0stat to each day after all fingers and toes have gone numb
9 - days until the Year of No Processed Foods begins
312 - number of forbidden foods that will be consumed in the next 9 days
147 - number of times Lite 108 has played Frosty the Snowman so far this month
11 - Christmas stockings made and wrapped
538 - number of errors made on the 11 Christmas stockings
18 - number of times Toni has watched "Muppet Christmas Carol" this year
3 - batches of cookies Toni intended to bake
1 - batches of cookies Toni actually baked
3 - days left until Christmas!!!
-2000 - amount of money left for Christmas after veterinary bills....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Have Been Tagged

I have been tagged by No Blog Rachel (and yes, she gets the irony--I believe she intends it.)

The rules of this one:

* go to my 4th picture folder
* go to the 4th picture in the folder
* tell you 4 things about that picture
* tag 4 more people

So, this is the 4th picture in my 4th folder:
Theo "helping" me type. This picture is pre-injury and way before the whole cast saga & sleep deprivation marathon that we're currently on. My four things about this picture...

1. The vet who vaccinated Theo thinks he is part Maine Coon, which is an American cat breed that might be descended from 6 cats Marie Antoinette sent to the New World in preparation for fleeing France herself. (Do you think they guillotined aristocratic cats as well?) Legend has it that domestic cats mated with raccoons and that is how the name was born. Besides being biologically impossible, have you ever known a cat that didn't have the sense to keep a healthy distance from raccoons?

2. Some of the Maine Coon personality traits are a relaxed and easy-going nature, highly people-oriented without being clingy, a desire to hang out near its people without needing to be on anybody's lap, a very kittenish personality throughout its lifetime. A breed book at the vet clinic--where I've been spending a lot of time lately--says that they are known to have strange sleeping positions and may be generally pretty friendly but may select one person as its own "special friend," which would explain why he lets Andy sleep through the night but not me, and why he has been glued to my side all day.

3. The physical characteristics of the breed are large, muscular cats (which makes them really difficult to restrain when they have removed their casts), long flowing coat that is heavier on the stomach and legs--forming "breeches" (which Theo had until they shaved him), an extremely bushy tail, and large round eyes. Theo is currently weighing in at 14 pounds (of which, 5 might be tail), so if nothing else, he's a big boy. And is completely bullied by little Callisto.

4. Theo has pretty much been my constant sidekick since we adopted him--without being clingy or needy except when he's spent a night or two at the vet's--which is why I'm going to such outrageous extremes to get my little buddy back to good health. I actually grew up on a cattle ranch where cats had a life expectancy of about 2 years before they were eaten by something or run over, so I've come a long way. A long, expensive way....

So, my 4 people to tag:

Toni in Florida.

And nobody has caught the mouse yet. What happened to "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.....?"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet...We're Hunting Mouses....

Obviously in the holiday gift-giving spirit--and probably because Theo is getting so much attention lately, Callisto brought in a lively little mouse this morning, and promptly lost it here:
That's right--in the Christmas tree. Originally we thought he was just under the tree, but after removing (and thoroughly checking) all the gifts and the tree skirt, the mouse was nowhere to be found. Now mice can actually climb, and if you were a mouse and the alternative was to be slowly tortured to death by a cat, I'll bet you would be willing to attempt to climb an artificial Christmas tree. Which we think he did.

Callisto lost interest after a few minutes, so I brought out the heavy artillery:
I know his mousing ability has been seriously impaired by the cast and broken leg, but had I been able to convince him that there truly was a mouse loose in the house, I'll bet he would have been pretty amazing.

As it was, Theo spent the morning napping on the rug in front of the fire, Callisto spent the morning snoozing on the bed in the guest room, and I spent the morning with a yardstick & flashlight trying to find that darn mouse.

It's a good thing people who have pets live longer. I'm going to need my extra time to catch these dratted mice........

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Lessons Learned

* The very things that I love about cats as pets--their independence, their lack of self-pity--are the very things that make them dreadful patients.

* Each year I set high expectations for how much I can get done during the holidays, fail miserably, and yet I still think I can do it the following year.

* If you kept separate last names, decide which name you'll use for your pets BEFORE you get to the vet clinic. This will save a lot of confusion and explaining.

* Keeping a cat in a cast is damn near impossible.

* Trying to save money by turning down the heat loses its appeal when it drops below freezing.

* After 3 emergency trips to the bet clinic to have a cast put back on your cast, designing kitty suspenders becomes immensely appealing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's nearly Christmas And We Have Snow!!!

Which you would think would be almost a given in Idaho, but Boise usually doesn't have snow on the ground. It will snow overnight or in the morning, everyone crashes into each other on the drive to work because they can't remember what driving in snow is like from year to year, then it melts off by afternoon. But it snowed this weekend and yesterday and it's still around. I have to admit, I'm thrilled. Not having to drive in it much helps, but it just never seems like Christmas without snow.

Of course, I always manage to forget that in order for the snow to stay on the ground it has to be really cold. Yesterday I finally relented and agreed that 66 degrees in the house is not really adequate when it's 19 degrees outside. Geez, just because Andy can't type with mittens on....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kitty Rehab, Day 20

So, tomorrow is the three-week mark in the fun experiment called "kitty in a cast," and the days are getting longer. Theo is now aware that casts come off, and we are now aware that Theo can pull casts off, so it has become a pretty constant battle of wills. On our side we have control of drugs, control of food, and control of the doors. On Theo's side, he has control of sleep and the fact that at least one of us is a big freaking softie where her pets are concerned. So far, I'd say Theo is pretty much winning.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Lessons Learned Today

1. While Valium is in general a sedative, for certain cats it has the completely opposite effect.

2. Three hours of a mad injured kitty on speed can really suck the life right out of you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We Have Regressed

Yesterday morning our injured kitty, Theo, surprised us by pulling the cast off his foot entirely. Just two weeks after the surgery, there were lots of kitty screams going on--matched scream for scream by Yours Truly as I tried to keep a very angry cat from chewing up his own leg and causing a few thousands of dollars more in damage. Andy came running like the faithful husband he is, and we got him to the closest vet.

Today we're back to this:
Even with the new kitty pain killers (which mercifully cause serious drowsiness), Theo is now aware that the bandages come off and keeps trying to chew on it. The Elizabethan collar, the poodle-do--I can't say I really blame him for being angry. That's why we got kitty valium.

I wish I had known that helping him use the litter box might have been the high point of this whole process.......

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December Hopefulness

December--specifically Thanksgiving day to Christmas day--is the only time I listen to normal radio. The other times of the year it's audio books or Public Radio International, but in from Thanksgiving to Christmas, one of our radio stations plays nothing but Christmas music, which is fun and much easier than continually changing cds.

Since this is my one dose a year of normal radio, I might just be a little overly-sensitive to advertisements, but does Christmas in any way make you think of dental work? I guess I could see after Christmas when a filling or two has been removed by Grandmother's homemade toffee, but leading up to Christmas, I just can't say that I would be at all swayed by a special on tooth caps. Is it just me? Have fillings really become an impulse item?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Good News & The Bad News

Yesterday was the 2-week mark in Kitty Convalescence, and Theo got a festive new cast for the holidays:
The bad news is, the vet mentioned 6 more weeks--not 4. And of course, all 6 weeks involve keeping Theo quiet & inactive. Do you think this vet has ever encountered a cat that wasn't sedated? Granted, cats sleep around 18 hours a day, but it's those remaining 6 hours that can really get you.

Today is relatively easy as there is something different about this cast versus the old one, so Theo can't move as fast with this one, but that's only a matter of time. To add insult to injury, they didn't give me any sedatives--either for the cat or for me. Maybe it's time to introduce Theo to the world of white chocolate martinis.......

White Chocolate Martinis

In a martini shaker, mix:

6 oz. vanilla vodka
3 oz. clear creme de cacao
3 oz. Godiva white chocolate liqueur

Add ice & shake until chilled. Serves 2

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now I Don't Feel So Bad

OK, last week I was sort of regretting the decision to not do a Christmas party this year (it seemed a little like overkill with Soup Night tonight and having people over for Christmas), but now that the holiday party invitations are pouring in, I'm relieved. I thought there would be fewer parties this year with the economy the way it is and all the job uncertainty, but we are double & triple booking on weekends from now until Christmas. The food! The merriment! The extra hours at the gym to burn off the food & the merriment!

Ho! Ho! Ho! No wonder Santa is fat. 'Tis the season!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Nice Little Surprise

We've been married for over two years now, and when I say that we received a LOT of gift cards for our wedding, it's almost an understatement. In fact, we still have some of them, which is a really bad idea as many merchants continually decrease the cards' value over time (Johnny Carinos is really bad about that). Today I discovered we still had a card for Linens & Things, and as they are going out of business, it was now or never.

I was a bit concerned that they wouldn't honor the card as they are in liquidation--or that it had decreased to a value of about 37 cents, but I am pleased to report that they indeed honored it AND without decreasing the value at all. I know it's a bit too late for them to be of any help, but KUDOS to Linens & Things anyway.

It's quite an interesting experience to shop in a store that is ready to sell you ANYTHING in the store--light fixtures, shelves--anything that was physically in the store that didn't have a pulse. I decided to pass on the industrial shelving--we're trying for more of the "home" look than the "Home Depot" look--but a cash register might have made an interesting centerpiece....Of course the things we need--towels, a larger stockpot, hangers, a bathroom vanity set that isn't held together by superglue--were mostly sold out to shoppers who were smart enough to do the vulture-swoop shopping early, but I did manage to find enough items to use up our gift card WITHOUT resorting to a singing trout. YAY! Free AND tasteful shopping!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

'Tis The Season Of Friends

As I sit here with writer's cramp from addressing Christmas cards and juggling our schedule to get in all the holiday invitations, I am just overwhelmed by the good fortune to have so many wonderful friends in our lives. We should be having a bad year having both gone through layoffs and having to rework our budget a few times, but between being surrounded by great people--and having an attorney to keep the ex wife away from us so we're not receiving the hateful letters every week/day--we're having the most marvelous holiday season I could imagine.

Thursday night we had dinner with some friends--an older couple who grew up during the Great Depression--and besides just being wonderful people, they could teach us all a lot about being happy with who we are and what we have. They grew up with large families and little money, and learned to enjoy card games because cards were inexpensive. Board games were not. They taught us a marvelous game called "Hand and Foot," and we're going to have them over here shortly for another round. We're also getting a group together for pinochle and they've invited us to join a supper club. How cool is that?

Monday is the next Soup Night, and we have ornament exchanges, Dutch Oven cooking parties, Christmas parties, and even a Winter Solstice bonfire party to enjoy. We might have had to cut back on spending money this holiday season, but we still have what's truly most important in life. I hope you do as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Countdown Begins....

January 1 begins the "Year of No Processed Foods," which makes December "Use Up Forbidden Foods" month, also known as "weird casserole month."

Our rules for next year are:
1. No corn syrup in anything. (That's just a personal thing for me because food manufacturers slip it into almost EVERYTHING and I find it highly annoying in addition to being unhealthy)
2. We are each allowed 2 "forbidden" items a week, which might very well translate into 104 diet Pepsis.
3. Processing that we could do ourselves is allowed, such as canning, freezing, dehydrating, washing, pickling, making butter, making cheese, etc.
4. No ingredients that we can't identify. Chemicals really aren't food.

I'd like to say we're trying to lower cholesterol counts or something measurable, but we both had physicals when we took out life insurance, and all our scores were actually very good. Andy's could maybe be better, so we might use him as the benchmark, but I've eaten pretty healthy most of my life and my scores were phenomenal so they don't really have much room to improve. Not that I'm trying to brag or anything, but when one makes a sweater out of bad yarn, one gets a bad sweater. When one builds a body with bad food, I think one can only expect a bad (unhealthy) body. It's the old computer thing: Garbage in--garbage out.

That being said, it is Christmas and I am SOOOOOO going to have one last fling with potato chips and Lipton onion soup mix dip. (Technically, potato chips will be allowed next year since they are just potatoes, oil, and salt, but I doubt Lipton onion soup mix would qualify and I'm seriously not deep frying anything). Still, 26 days left.....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have You Ever Noticed....

that the stupider the injury, the more noticeable it is?

Tonight I have a big knot on my forehead which is brilliantly visible even to the pretty much clueless. Did I get it while roller blading or even winterizing the garden? Nope. I was putting up Christmas decorations. I can't even explain it exactly, but somehow I walked smack into a door--a door which has been in the same place the entire time we've lived in this house. And of course being December, the holiday party invitations are already stacking up, so over the next couple weeks I'll be explaining this beauty to almost everyone I know.

I wish I were a good liar. Then I could say I was slalom skiing or doing a tricky ice skating double-axel. Instead, I get to explain how I got my arse kicked by a door.

Let the holiday fun begin!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Random Updates

* Until the last week, I'd never given much thought to how often a cat might need to pee, or how often a cat should pee, or how much a cat should pee. N0w this consumes much of my day.

* At some point, one has to simply decide "enough" on Christmas decorations. Otherwise it could go on indefinitely.

* Now that the "experts" have finally announced that the country has been in a recession since December of 2007, I can't help but be optimistic that the bottom is near. Economists are generally the last to know anything.

* I have promised myself not to find a cat sitter when we're out at holiday parties this month. Theo really is fine in the kitty cage at least once in a while.

* While I love that one of our "easy listening" radio stations plays Christmas music continuously from Thanksgiving to Christmas night, Delilah really just makes me want to drink.

* When I don't have a lot of time, my ability to live on soup and salads knows no limit.

* If the vet tells me to continue to keep the cat calm and quiet after the next visit, I will try to refrain from smacking him.

* To go to bed knowing I will not be presented with any live animal gifts in the middle of the night is quite relaxing.

* When I wish our lives would return to "normal," I am apparently referring to a 30-second span that occurred in June of 2005.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Martha In High Gear

Thanks to an ill-conceived plan involving this:
which Andy swears was the most masculine-looking kitty harness at the pet store, we had a very frustrated kitty who ended up spending the morning in kitty time-out:

giving me some prime Martha time. A little addition to the stair landing:
and I redid the stair decorations, which don't photograph well but look really nice. I need to attach a few bows, but I think it's nice.Speaking of bows, I tried out a few on some light fixturesand liked the effect so much that the dining room chandelier got a little attention.I liked the bows better, but I don't have any more bows and I don't know how to make that type of bow (and was being way too lazy to look them up).

The stockings are up,the banister is decorated,and it looks like this will last at least one more year:
It's a centerpiece I won a few years ago, and every year I take it out and glue whatever came off back onto it. So far nothing has happened that a little hot glue can't fix.

Theo did forgive me by afternoon, but Callisto has gone into hiding. I think she's afraid we'll stick a big cast on her as well, so today I found her here:
Can't see her? Try in between the pillows:It's the Kitty-Protection Program. Glad she doesn't know about the kitty enema. She might have moved out entirely....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sort of Martha-ing

I don't know. I don't actually watch her show, but I have a hard time picturing Martha nursing a cat in a cast:After tonight we'll be down to two medications, so that's exciting, but I just don't feel very Martha-like saran-wrapping a cat's cast before he pees. Maybe I should be using colored saran wrap?

I did get our Christmas tree up and decorated:

though this year I decided to do a very non-Martha tree and I used the tinsel-type garlands like the ones I grew up with. No ribbons or beads or anything exotic this year. Just simple and festive, and I'm quite pleased with it so far, though it needs a few gifts under it to look truly Christmas-y.

I did get a bit ambitious with the entryway:
and those bows are handmade and everything. Well, I bought the ribbon--let's not get crazy here--but I did tie them myself. Granted, they look better at this distance than they do up close, but we don't have any 10-foot-tall friends, so that's okay.

Tomorrow the stockings go up!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Little Useful Information We Didn't Have 24 Hours Ago

Around midnight, we came across some information that no one had thought to share with us previously, so as a public service, I thought I'd share:

1. A cat recovering from surgery will be given drugs. These drugs might cause kitty constipation.

2. Feeding a cat a little pumpkin puree would....um...."soften" things up a bit and prevent this particular problem. (Which would have put yesterday's pumpkin pie in a whole new light, but that's another story)

3. A vet clinic isn't likely to mention this fact when you take your cat home.

4. A constipated kitty in a leg cast is one of the most pitiable creatures ever--especially on his way to the vet clinic at midnight for a date with a tiny rubber hose.

5. Do not joke about your cat's total humiliation--it might tempt the kitty gods to make his life even worse.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Martha Is Nursing A Cat

Theo, our youngest cat, came home from the hospital yesterday after surgery on a broken leg
and his first day home has been a bit of a full-time project. His cast, which is quite festive,is about twice as long as his leg would normally be when moving, so he tends to go in circles. The vet said to keep him quiet and confined, which is a very easy thing to do when you have an entire arsenal of drugs at your disposal. It's quite a different thing in a normal home. We constructed a cage for him which basically kept him confined, upset, and flinging himself around all night. Out of desperation, I finally let him out and have just stayed in our bedroom with him to keep him from trying to jump on things, and that has worked as well as can be expected. He still hides a lot and thinks he can outrun the cast, and I have to help him with the litterbox and put plastic wrap over his cast so he doesn't wet on it, so there hasn't been much Martha-ing today.

He'll have this cast on for 9 more days, then I'm really hoping for something a bit smaller. 6 weeks of a cat in a cast--should be interesting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 25

Now that I have shared my cold with my loving spouse, we're a rather pathetic tea-drinking, soup-slurping lot around here today. I know the sneezing, coughing, clogged nose thing is all a part of my body's immune system fighting the cold germ, but what I really want to know is, "Are we winning???" Four days into the campaign--it doesn't feel like it.

I have continued with the Martha on a Budget holiday decorating, though with several rest periods involved. Who knew decorating was exhausting?

For the centerpieces for our wedding, my friends graciously assembled 30 of these on the day of the wedding:
I think each of them weighed in at about $10 each, and have now been reused for my parents' anniversary party, several holidays around here, and have now been slightly rearranged to be stairway decorations:
I'll actually add some greenery later when the other boxes come out of storage, and none of them match as I was trying different ideas for each one (and the curls of spare bits of wrapping paper really turned out surprisingly well--I'll get a closeup for tomorrow).

There's sort of a landing partway up the staircase, so I wrapped up another box (the trick is to only wrap what is visible and recycle--the bow is from 2 years ago), and I think I'll add some small ones around it.

Tonight the decoration boxes come out of the garage and the Vicks comes out of the medicine cabinet!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Finally - A Little Martha Action

I have slept the majority of the weekend and the cold is still hanging in there, but I feel less rotten today, which is something. Our youngest cat, Theo, is going in for surgery tonight to repair a damaged leg, and worrying about him seems to have negated the effects of Nyquil, so I started on Christmas decorating today.

For above the new armoire in our bedroom, some decorative packages:
I think I got a little over-exuberant with that gold bow, but at least it's festive. I thought the white bow turned out really well:
The center is a very cheap plastic button I had left over from something, but I really like how it looks. This is called Martha on a budget decorating.

Earlier this year I found some red towels on clearance, so I did a little machine embroidery & decorative stitching and voila:
I think I'd make the design bigger next time, but for this one I was pleased just to figure out how to embroider on terry cloth.

And the fun stuff:
Wrapping up gifts for the nieces & nephews, which are mostly without bows because they all have to be shipped & bows never survive the United States Postal Service.

Tomorrow: more decorating and learning to deal with a cat in a cast.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Do You Think Martha Ever Gets Colds?

Martha wanna-bes definitely get colds. I've had 24 hours straight with Nyquil and still don't feel great, but at least I've slept through most of it. One new thing I have learned however: Half-doses of Nyquil may function as a hallucinogen.

More tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

IT'S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of silly ecards, but my all time favorite one is back this year. You have to see this.

(Good heavens--three posts in one day--am I caught up yet?)

Coping With a Hostile Ex Wife, Part Six

NOTE: I am not an attorney, psychologist, counselor or therapist. These are simply my suggestions and thoughts having dealt with a bitter ex-wife for the last 3 years.

With the holiday season approaching & the economy tanking, I'm noticing more and more searches on dealing with a hostile ex wife. Lack of money does bring out the worst in people--as often do the holidays. So, for what it's worth, some idea that might help you survive the holidays.

1. Do not let the guilt of divorce lead you to be a bad parent. Too often divorced parents try to buy the child's affection, or buy things to interfere with the other parent. When we bought Andy's son a train set as a gift, the ex immediately had to buy the exact same one for him to have at her house. Children do not need 20 presents at Christmas. It can be really tempting to buy elaborate gifts out of guilt, but have you ever enjoyed being around a spoiled child? Doesn't the word "brat" spring to mind? Don't turn your own child into one. You are trying to raise a decent human being, not win a popularity contest.

2. You are not obligated to spend Christmas with people who make you unhappy. You have one person attached to your life who is horrible and mean--you don't need to accept any others. We were recently traveling on a commuter train, and all the talk of the holidays was not about the excitement or parties or even money--it was about family problems and obligations and not wanting to have to see certain relatives. If your family get-togethers are stressful or unpleasant, don't go. Being biologically linked to someone doesn't guarantee that you're going to like him or her.

3. Let others know what you're going through. Last year we had to made some very difficult decisions, and ones that were going to be hard for some people to accept. When explaining our decisions to some of the relatives, we actually sent an outline of everything we had tried to do over the last years--actually predating me & going back the full 5 years since the divorce--and simply attached a large sampling of the ex wife's abusive and spiteful emails and letters. In order to save face, Andy really hadn't ever been open about how bad the situation had gotten, though many of his family members suspected that it was much worse than he was letting on. It really helped to tear down some of the walls, though I think the shock of how nasty she actually has been was a bit overwhelming for some of them.

4. Consider giving Alec Baldwin's book as a gift. As a rule, I never read anything about celebrities because I think worshiping someone for being good at a job is a bit strange, but I did read this one and anyone who has gone through the hostile-ex drama will see his or her own story in it. He does have some great advice as well, and I think the more publicity there is about bad mothers & hostile ex wives will help blow apart the continuing stereotype that being a "mother" actually makes one a good parent.
5. Spend some quiet time unwinding and reflecting.
There are some things you'll just need to accept:

* Bad people exist and they often have children.

* In spite of everything you do, ultimately the child/children will have to decide for themselves what kind of person they want to be, and they may choose to be like the hostile ex. EVERYONE MAKES THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT WHO THEY CHOOSE TO BE AND EVERYONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PERSON THEY CHOOSE TO BE.

* Just because someone chooses to always see themselves as a "victim" and feel sorry for his or herself, you are under no obligation to do so. My favorite sob story was the one about being "abandoned" by everyone. If you are hateful to others, no one will want to be around you. You're not being "abandonded." You are driving people away by being a mean & hateful person. That's a choice & there are consequences to all choices.

* Verbally or physically abusive people can be nice, but nice people are never verbally or physically abusive. Don't be misled by temporary niceness.

* You're going to be accused of darn near everything. Unjust accusations can be really overwhelming, but eventually you will get used to them and they may actually start to be sort of funny. Now I'm just waiting for one of us to be accused of the Kennedy assassination, nevermind that neither of us was even born yet.

* Your ex is not miserable because you divorced her. She's miserable because she has chosen to be. You have no obligation or responsibility to her.

* It is not illegal to be a bad parent. I struggled with this one for a long time, but it is not illegal to allow a 7-year-old child to play first-person shooter video games, or to sleep in the same bed with an 8-year-old, or refuse to allow play dates, or to serve only food high in sugar, or to take a child to video game arcades every day, or to have no rules or boundaries, . It might be pretty universally acknowledged to be spectacularly poor parenting, but it isn't illegal and there is nothing you can do about it. You will just have to live with it.

* You will need to decide for yourself how far you are willing to go. Do you want to battle it out no matter what? Is there a point where it might be in the child's best interest (and yours) to bow out? That's a decision only you can make, and no one wins either way. It can feel like a desperate situation, and suicide rates among divorced men are quite high & MANY men have contemplated suicide to get out of this kind of scenario. There are other options and having a child obligates you to pay child support, but it does NOT require you to be miserable.

* This will cost you a lot of money. Our legal system is set up very nicely to allow for legal harassment. Set up a savings account and put money aside every month for legal expenses or whatever else comes up. If you can afford it, put an attorney between you & the bitter ex. We have assumed that we'll both work a year or two past normal retirement to make up for all the expenses of having an attorney, but anything is better than having to deal with her nastiness and spite directly.

* You are responsible for your own happiness. Yes, this is a terrible thing to go through, but it is up to you whether it destroys your life or not. She's racking up legal and medical bills? Make a game of seeing how long you can go without buying anything new and HAVE FUN WITH IT. Learn vegetarian cooking to cut down on your grocery bills. When the spite and meanness get overwhelming, have some other divorced friends over and play Bitter Ex Bingo (suggested categories: types of false accusations, scenes at drop offs, hate mail, jealousy--whatever). Do not fixate on the situation, but find a way to cope. A bitter ex can take your money and can temporarily take your children, but kids are smart and they will probably figure things out one day. In the meantime, do not let it control your life.

* Your children and/or your ex wife may destroy any future marriages if you don't learn to cope with them, and they may hope to do so. Most marriages fail & second marriages are even more prone to do so. If you don't have appropriate boundaries with an ex and appropriate rules of behavior for a child, future relationships are probably doomed. Talk with other couples who have survived, go to counseling, commit to making your marriage work. We've been very lucky as working through all of this has actually made our relationship stronger, but it has taken a lot of work and a great deal of humor. We've finally become so immune to her hatefulness that several months ago we spontaneously started celebrating every time a new hassle with her turns up. I don't know if it was the thrill of having an attorney as a buffer or just the realization that we're obviously so happy & making her so jealous that now she's having to go out of her way to create problems, or her obvious desperation to be important to people who couldn't possibly care less about her--whatever it is, we might actually start to look forward to her dramas soon.

* This too shall pass. Every day, week, month, year that goes by takes you one step closer to being legally free of your hostile ex.

Month of Martha - Day 21

A forage at the local library turned up these
so my plan for yesterday was to actually sit down with this book
and plan a week of Martha meals. If you can't read the print on the cover, this book is called "Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook; Four Seasons of Great Menus to Make Every Day." Since it's November, I flipped to the "fall" menu, and the first menu I came across was:

steamed Brussels sprouts
mashed rutabagas
roasted rack of venison with pomegranate sauce
seared apples

I actually couldn't even identify a rutabaga, if truth be known, but I am very much game to try it if for no other reason than to be able to use the word rutabaga in a sentence every now and then, "I made the best rutabaga souffle the other night...." which is, of course a complete guess on my part as I'm not sure what one does with rutabaga except obviously mash them. Still, that sounds a great deal better than the Brussels sprouts. Anyone else forced to eat those things as a child? In all fairness, I have actually tried them as an adult and they were vastly better than the smelly, mushy things we were given as kids, but tolerating them & going out of my way to fix them are very different things.

And of course, who among my generation didn't see Bambi at a really young age? Eat Bambi? Are you kidding????? Do they even sell that in grocery stores, or did Martha go shoot her own?

Remember that "every day" part in the title? How about roast pheasant with grapes and walnuts? I did actually hit a pheasant with my car once, so I guess I know how I could actually obtain one, but that seems like a lot of extra effort and a tad more dependency on bad luck than my meals usually involve. How about "chunky cipolline tomato compote" or "fennel carpaccio with blood oranges and black olives?" I don't even know what those are.

Really, I do love to try new recipes, and have attempted many complicated or exotic dishes because they sounded good, so I don't have a problem with that. I run into a sticking problem with "great menus to make everyday," and that "quick cook" part. Sure, the actual cooking time might indeed be small, but if it takes me 3 weeks to SPECIAL ORDER ingredients, I don't think that really counts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Month of Martha - Failure Number One

Since I'm Martha-ing, I decided our home needed some color, and this fall I planted two mums in the front flower pots. Mums having always been described to me as "fall" plants, I thought this made sense.

Today is November 20, and here's one of the mums:In the store it actually even had flowers. I don't actually remember what color the flowers were, as they all promptly fell off, but I was theoretically going to have fall flowers.

What I have insteadare spring flowers. I took this picture today, and the petunias are going crazy. In fact, this is the best they've looked all year--and it's November 20, which is very much "fall" rather than "spring."

I even have something else coming up
Er, do I still get Martha points if I get the wrong flowers to come up? Do you think Martha ever has argumentative flowers?

Before Or After?

So, this week we were visiting several different friends on the east coast, which required flying through Chicago's Midway airport, and wehn I went in to the restroom, I was a bit overwhelmed by the actual stalls. These aren't even bathroom stalls--they're more like vaults. They go almost all the way to the floor:
and almost all the way to the ceiling, which is at like 9 feet tall.
So my question is, is this just sort of a new design thing, or is this the new Larry Craig bathroom stall model?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We're Alive!!!!!

We're tired, but alive. No actual Martha-ing, but I have ENORMOUS plans for tomorrow......

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Month of Martha - To The Other Extreme

So obviously I decided not to take menus from the Good Housekeeping library book--which had nothing whatsoever to do with Andy's threats of divorce over any gelled meats in our home--but when I received the weekly email from Epicurious.com and their "quick and easy" "everyday" dinners, I thought I was in luck.

The recipes may indeed be pretty fast to make, but it would take me at least 2 days to drive to a store that sells these ingredients. I do at least know what tsatsiki is, but as anyone who has ever visited Idaho will tell you, we're a little lacking in ethnic diversity & ethnic foods. Fresh clams, even if I were willing to eat them, have to be special ordered as there are a few states in the union that aren't actually on the ocean. And all of THAT is setting aside that their weekly shopping lists would cost almost our entire grocery budget.

I will have to remember to stop scoffing at those fish sticks--if I do decide to try a week of the Epicurious menues, that's about all we'll be able to afford for the next 3 weeks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 11.....and then some.....

A quick update:

* We have purchased a pressure canner so I may can low-acid foods like soup and vegetable stock. We will be taking bets on whether or not our kitchen ends up with a new skylight.

* Soup Night was thankfully not enhanced with a live vermin floor show.

* I have finally located my old refrigerator magnets, and had forgotten that I had combined several sets including "tabloid headlines" and "pickup lines," and we have been spending an embarrassing amount of time creating pickup lines for each other involving moonlight and aliens.
* We have planted flower bulbs, and feel pretty confident that we got the tulips and crocuses (croci?) in correctly, but we couldn't figure out which end of the anemone bulbs were which, so we may have sideways flowers in the spring:* Even though I have all sorts of free time, I still can't keep up with the list of projects I dream up for myself.

* So far I have not been even slightly tempted by Martha's cookie recipes of the day, but Andy can still dream.

* The Social Season has officially begun, and last week's marathon is about to be dwarfed by Extreme Socializing Week! I would be pitching this to Fox as a "reality TV" idea, but then I'd probably have to take back all the things I've said about their "news" service, so there goes that idea. It does mean that blog posts may be a bit spotty for the next few days, but one can NEVER have too many friends--even if it might be smarter to spread things out a little....

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...