Sunday, August 31, 2008

35 Jars

So when I tell you that I spent the day canning, you can be sure for once I am not exaggerating.

Earlier this year, 8 tomato plants seemed like a good idea. Spring is about optimism. Everything is possible--canning, pickling, returning to nature. Late summer is about coming to terms with reality.

This morning, I went out to pick tomatoes. This is the first bucket load. Did I mention the 8 tomato plants?????

So, first I made "Garden Salsa," which made only a small dent in the tomato harvest. I swear it filled the stock pot, but only made 11 cups. But it's canned.

I still had tomatoes & jalapenos, so flipping through the canning book, I found a recipe for tomato carrot salsa. That sounded interesting. I made 14 cups of that & canned it. I'll keep you posted on whether or not "interesting" translates into "edible." Canning fumes can be dangerous and we have learned not to trust any of my ideas after spending 2 hours in the kitchen.

Still faced with an insane number of tomatoes but no more jalapenos, I decided to swap ethnicities and canned 14 jars of "bruschetta in a jar." Note to future dinner guests: If you don't like bruschetta, do not accept dinner invitations to Chateau Sutton-Goar for the next 2 years.

One entire day and 35 jars later:

we still have tomatoes. Spaghetti anyone?


Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Time!!!

The pool at the gym has reopened! It's time to go get the Goober Goggles!!!!

Be still my little capitalistic heart....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We Are Taking Tango Lessons!

In spring, a young man's fancy may lightly turn to thoughts of love...in the fall it turns to thoughts of Latin rhythms, dark-haired beauties in dresses with thigh-high side slits, and roses clamped tightly between a dancer's teeth.

We are starting tango lessons next week. I'm off to practice holding a flower between my teeth. What do you think--petunias or zinnias?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Little Lesson In Customer Service

So I mentioned before that I needed more beads to finish a sweater I've been working on. I first picked up the wrong beads, then when I took them back to Craft Warehouse to exchange them for the right beads, I discovered they were selling out their stock to make way for something else.

Panic!!!

If anyone is thinking this sounds a little familiar, it's because you might remember my frantic search for one yard of flannel fabric to finish a pair of pajamas for Andy. People searched Joann Fabrics stores throughout the U.S. and never found it. Almost a year later, Andy has PJ bottoms without a PJ shirt. (And for those who remember the entire story, I still haven't found where I squirreled away the in-progress shirt. We have stopped discussing it)

It was time for action. I posted the information on my knitting blog. On Saturday, I emailed Craft Warehouse to explain the situation and ask for their help. I Googled the beads and emailed any stores that carried the right brand of beads , and emailed a lady I once bought beads from in the past. I was a bit embarrassed to admit to her that I bought beads at a "big box" store, but I was desperate.

The results of my efforts are as follows:

A wonderful lady (or free-thinking man) named Duchess emailed me from Art Beads to thank me for my inquiry, saying they didn't carry the beads I was looking for, but providing a link to the closest thing they had. (I hadn't explained the part about ripping out hours of knitting if I didn't find the exact beads) Not what I needed, but friendly and helpful.

Lydia at Bead Wrangler sent me a very nice email saying she didn't carry Japanese seed beads--only Czechoslovakian ones--but directed me to Jane's Fiber & Beads, which DOES specialize in Japanese seed beads. When I am less pressed for time, I think the whole Czech/Japan bead thing is fascinating and worth looking into, but this was not the time.

Barbara at Jane's Fiber & Beads responded within 15-20 minutes saying they did indeed carry the beads I was looking for and they had 3 tubes left. Only 3 tubes!!!!!!! I wasted no time and called them with credit card in hand to order all 3 tubes. They were a little more expensive than the ones I had been using, but they were available and I was desperate.

That was all on Monday.

Today these came in the mail:
They are the perfect size, the perfect shade and the tubes are almost twice the size of the little tube from Craft Warehouse, making Jane's beads far cheaper than the ones at Craft Warehouse. They are perfect, perfect, PERFECT and the sweater has been saved (OK, I have been saved from ripping out the edging, restringing the beads, and reknitting the edging, but as at that point I might have been tempted just to cram the whole thing into the food processor, it really counts as the same thing)

Oh, and my email to Craft Warehouse? It has never received a response or even an acknowledgment.

I know the economists are stressing over all the "big box" stores that are closing because of lack of business, and I am indeed sorry that jobs are being lost, but perhaps some of them are closing because of the "big box" mentality rather than because of the economy. I have no idea, but I won't be dealing with Craft Warehouse again.

Later edit: The following day I did finally receive an email from Craft Warehouse--5 days after I emailed them--telling me they would be getting more Toho beads in on September 1 and I should contact my local store after that. So they did actually acknowledge me, but too little too late.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

They're Following Me

I have obviously not yet learned to not tempt fate, so Andy and I were just commenting on the relatively rodent-free July and August, so of course this morning, there was a mouse.

Fate, however, was having a bad morning and its aim was off a bit. The mouse was not in our house (or brought into our house as is usually the case), but it showed up at my office. Not even in MY office--it found its way into another sales rep's office, and as he was late and unable to defend himself, a trap was located, baited, shoved in his office, and the door was barricaded lest the mouse escape alive.

It was almost relaxing to have someone else find the mouse for a change.....though I need to be careful. I might be late in the morning and the current state of the mouse is unknown.

Monday, August 25, 2008

As I'm Sure You Noticed....

....there was no post yesterday.

Blame it on thiswhich resulted in thiswhich when all is said and done probably come to $12.73 cents per pint. That's without the therapy bills.

The tomatoes are ON and ON in a very big way. They are obviously liking the 4:1 compost to dirt ratio that we ended up with, but it is having some very odd side effects:I think I'll let you write your own caption for this one.....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baker City, Oregon



Baker City, Oregon, is about two and a half hours from Boise and the scenic quality of the drive depends on the time of year and the driver's need for a weekend away.

For a long time, we had wanted to visit the Geiser Grand hotel, originally built in 1889 and restored in the mid 1990s. I had driven through Baker many times in the early 1990s, and remember this building as a derelict eye-sore painted (windows and all) a dreadful cantaloupe-orange. I was excited to see it in its new non-monochromatic splendor.

The hotel was in almost complete ruin when restoration began, and it was known that there had been a stained glass ceiling, but no one knew what it looked like. This was commissioned as being likely to be similar to the Victorian era
and the woodwork kept Andy, woodworker that he is, entranced the entire weekend.

The staff was delightful,though they did insist on calling Andy "Doc" after he showed up Saturday morning in one of his summer ensembles from the "Toni Collection."

The costumed guides give tours of the hotel every Saturday at 3:30, and they have exhibits from the early days of the hotelincluding a delightful menu of Christmas dinner for $1.00. I shudder to think of the "dollar menus' one sees now.
Our room was on the third floor, which would have been the gaming/brothel part of the hotel. When touring the Pendleton Underground, I was told that in western/gold mining towns, curved windows on the top floor meant there was a brothel in the top of the building. I have no idea if that is actually true, but it does liven up walking tours immensely.

The restoration of the hotel, as well as the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, seems to have really brought Baker City back to life. When I was passing through regularly in 1992-1993, the most exciting thing about arriving in Baker was that they sold gasoline. Now it sports an Historic District,
complete with a Carnegie Library, a very tasteful Bank of America,a stunning Catholic church,
and a little Miami thrown in just for good measure. This was the old telephone company, and has been converted into a restaurant (which is unfortunately out of business), but they kept the old switchboard as decoration. As I sell business telephone systems for a living, I found this rather amusing. Honestly, wouldn't you appreciate it sometimes that you couldn't get a phone call because the operator went home for the evening?

The Natatorium has been converted into the Baker Heritage Museum, which is a truly outstanding museum for a community even twice the size of Baker City. It had an old school "bus"
which is even more astounding when one has experienced winter in Eastern Oregon,

a stage coach which promised to stop for ladies who needed to "pick flowers" but that believed men could hold it.

This fashionable carriage sports some very plush green shag carpet that Austin Powers would covet, and the upstairs had displays of furniture, clothing, household items, animals--just a really outstanding way to spend an afternoon. We stopped for coffee at Mad Matilda's, then stopped next door at Sane Jane's to browse for a bit.

Saturday night we took in "Pride and Prejudice" at the first inflatable theater we'd ever seen.
I don't know if the balloon really helped enough with sound to counter the addition of the constant hum of the fans keeping it inflated, but it did make the theater easy to locate and the play was delightful. I am a huge fan of P&P and while it was heavily edited, I felt it remained true to Jane Austen's work in spirit--which is more than I can say for any of the Hollywood attempts.

We have promised to return to the Grand Geiser for one of the Murder Mystery parties--and since we haven't yet met the resident ghost, the "Blue Lady." Apparently, if you leave jewelry lying about, she will rearrange it for you. There are supposedly other ghosts as well, and on September 12, for $50 guests can participate in a "ghost hunt" with the staff of some cable TV show. Now there's something you just don't run into at the Hilton!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Match.com

The pictures from our Baker City excursion can wait one more day (heck, the rest of the honeymoon pictures have been waiting almost 2 years to make it on the blog, so one week is really speedy for me).

Tonight's topic: ANDY AND I ARE DATING!!!!

All right, technically we're dating vicariously, but this is as close as we're going to get to the singles scene, so it counts.

Andy and I actually met 3 years ago on Match.com, and last night we helped a friend take pictures for his profile and tried to help him as he reenters the dating world after a 20+ year hiatus. I come from a family that is way too prone to offering unsolicited advice on every subject under the sun no matter how little experience or knowledge the "advisor" might have, so it's always a bit difficult for me to offer advice to anyone, but we did walk him through some of our experiences and adventures. The mild ones. The real horror stories, of course, we're saving until he's been dating a little while and is more likely to be able to take them. Such as:

* The man who defined "patronizing" to me and didn't mean it as a joke
* The man who sulked for 3 weeks because it took me 24 hours to return his phone call
* The man who spent our entire date talking to a plant
* The man who changed his age every week and might be eligible for selective service and retirement all in the same month
* The telemarketer who talked for 2 hours nonstop while I had to resort to hand signals to order glasses of wine. Unfortunately, I was never able to mime "bruschetta" and finally fled the restaurant before I fainted from hunger.
* The recently divorced man who wanted to make plans for the holidays while on our first date
* The aspiring writer who sent me pages & pages of prose so painful that he should not only have been kicked out of any freshman writing class, he should have been pummeled with large Shakespearean tomes while having to chant "thou shalt not abuse adjectives. Thou shalt not abuse adjectives"
* The 50+ man from Utah whose opening question was (and God knows I quote): R U fertile?

Ah, good times.....

Our little protege is off on his first date tonight! We helped him pick out women last night which might not be something to do with your spouse. When I left the room, there was some discussion about my lack of testosterone, so apparently I don't have very good taste in women. Rats! This is as close as I've ever been to really being "one of the boys" and I failed the entrance exam. Blast!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Back To Normal

Granted, "normal" at Chateau Sutton-Goar can mean almost anything--including many things that would be quite abnormal anywhere else. However, we are slowly adjusting to be able to spend money again--or being able to attempt to spend money as I still don't have those beads. It's a very indulgent feeling and makes one feel quite giddy--or that could be the heat as the first part of the week was abysmally hot.

In a fit of sheer rebellion, I ordered the 2009 refill for my day planner. I know it is 2008, and yes, I do make my living by selling technology, but I still don't want an electronic device telling me what to do. If I am ever in need of a pacemaker, fine--I will learn to take orders from a device, or at least my heart will--but until that time, give me paper any day. Now there are two boxes on their way to me--I am positively quivering in anticipation!

I remember as a child wanting a specific toy--the two I remember most was a Johnny-West type horse with movable limbs and a thing called Fashion Plates (which I would link to if they didn't keep coming up as "vintage" toys) which I thought would greatly spiff up the clothes I regularly designed for my paper dolls. I think I got the Fashion Plates for Christmas or a birthday, so there would have been at least a month of anticipation, and I remember saving up for that horse and the day I was able to buy it. As movable joints could easily be renamed "breakable" joints, the horse wasn't one of the most-played-with toys I ever had, but it was possibly the one I most enjoyed getting. It turns out, the ability to experience the joy of anticipation isn't limited to childhood--maybe only delayed gratification is. Getting to order two skeins of yarn and the anticipation of having it arrive is really marvelous--I feel like a kid again. Of course, as Andy will tell you when I am out of earshot, I tend to be a kid at heart (as well as most of the internal organs--though gall bladders are probably strictly adult), so maybe it isn't that surprising. Still, I'm going to savor the moment a little longer before buying those Goober Goggles.

We also need new furnace filters, but we're saving that for a Date Night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back in the Capitalistic World

Who could have imagined that spending $100 could actually be difficult?

Monday I returned to Craft Warehouse to exchange the beads for the right color and discovered that they are currently out of the right color. As the most intelligent thing I could get out of the young clerk was "Huh?" I have no idea if being out of this color is a temporary or permanent state of affairs.

I haven't yet had time to go to the Swim & Run Shop for my Goober Goggles, but the pool at my gym is in the process of being repaired anyway, so I guess it isn't urgent. Still, it's a chance to buy something after 3 months of retail abstinence....

As I have so little to show for it, it doesn't really feel like the ban is over. The yarn has shipped, though, and when a box shows up at my door with yarn, THEN it will definitely feel like the ban is over!

Monday, August 18, 2008

We Were Away

This weekend we actually went to Baker City, Oregon, to stay at the Grand Geiser Hotel--which will be detailed in tomorrow's entry. So, my shopping took a little bit of a back-seat (after placing my yarn order at 6:00 AM--I do have my priorities), but I was able to find two yarn needlescomplete with a carrying case, so obviously everyone else loses them as well--$4.95. Then I found this in a used bookstore for $2.00.

It was written in the early 1950s with graduating seniors in mind, and says in the introduction that they have been taught facts and that now it is time to learn to think and have well-thought-out opinions, and presents 4 essays with 4 different points of view on topics ranging from writing well to motion pictures to collectivism vs. individualism. The topics are perhaps a bit outdated--atomic age, Communism--but I love the very thought of this book. Could you imagine people forming their opinions through thoughtful research and reflection instead of from 30-second sound bytes and knee-jerk reactions? Well, neither can I to be honest, but I think it would indeed be wonderful. This is my next book to read. $2.

Years ago I started collecting Christmas ornaments from places I had been--after first trying sweatshirts, which got expensive, then coffee mugs, which take up space and eventually made their way to the Idaho Youth Ranch. The hotel had a Christmas ornament available--9.00

and as Andy and I both love to cook, we went "half-sies" on a cookbook featuring recipes from hotel restaurants throughout Oregon. $12.50.

And on the way home, we did stop to get my beads, only to get home and discover

I got the wrong color. I have been using "Amethyst" and came home with "Light Orchid." I'll be trying that one again on my lunch hour. $2.65--sort of.

So far I have spent $41.67 of my $100, which should leave me enough for my Goober Goggles. YAY!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I CAN SHOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Really, in general I am not much of a shopper and usually break into open hostility when drug along to the mall on a weekend, but after 90 days of not buying anything but food, it feel marvelous. Wonderful. Refreshing. I'm going to have to see if banning myself from cleaning the house has this sort of effect.....

It's 6:47 AM and through the miracle of the internet, I have spent $10.57 on 2 hanks of yarn to finish this:
which from the picture could be anything--most likely some sort of bag--but it will be a shawl, and when I started it about a year ago, I somehow didn't use the yarn I had purchased specifically for it and which there was enough of, but instead chose a yarn that I had bought for something else & which there was not enough of. Guess what I didn't learn until after the spending ban had begun? That was an easy one, wasn't it?

The thrill of entering my credit card number, updating my shipping information because I'm on a year-long yarn buying ban (except if it is to finish a project that I started without knowing I would need to buy more yarn--closing a loophole that I would totally have exploited by now) and hadn't ordered from them in so long that my information was no longer current, and now knowing that sometime in the next few weeks there will be a box outside my door containing yarn....!!!!!!!!! I don't even need to spend the remaining $89.43--I've just had the most satisfying retail experience of my life!

I have achieved a little personal growth--or knowing I will have to be fessing up on the blog later does stop me from doing the really embarrassing once in a while. The website in question offers free shipping on orders over $50. Normally, as it's yarn and I am completely delusional about how fast I can knit, I would have thrown in some yarn for a sweater (they did, in fact, have a hunter green wool that I think would make a nice sweater for Andy--I'm totally selfless if I get to buy yarn), or maybe some sock yarn, or some laceweight yarn because it's small and doesn't take up much space, and to avoid paying $2.99 in shipping costs, I would have purchased another $45-75 in yarn. Whew, money choices like that--I should go into politics!!!!!

$89.43 to go!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 98 - MY LAST DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Provided I make it until midnight tonight, I have now gone 90 days without buying anything new!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!

There have been 2 exceptions: the mouse bait, which we viewed as a necessity somewhat above food & shelter, and a new cell phone battery for my cell phone because it is necessary for my work. However, because of the spending ban, I found one for $5 on Ebay rather than going to a store & probably ending up with a new phone because extra batteries are almost as much as a new phone. So it still saved me a lot of money.

And what are we doing with all this extra money? Savings. One of my goals is for us to have one year of living expenses set aside "just in case," so that's what we're working on now. So our spending habits, while not as draconian as they have been, will continue to be pretty strict. In return, I'm also setting aside money for us to go on a cruise next fall. It's been much easier to save for the big things when we stopped buying little things.

One thing that we have been talking about purchasing is a pressure cooker. (After the pumpkin butter incident, doesn't that just make you nervous?)

But of course, the big news for this weekend is:Joann's is having a sale!!!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 97 - So I've Been Thinking.....

Friday is my last day on the spending ban, so technically if I stayed up until 12:01 AM on Saturday, I could start online shopping then......A very worthy thought and well worth considering.....

We're finally getting lots of tomatoes!!!! Canning attempts will be posted for your amusement in about 2-3 weeks. Right now they're still enough of a novelty that we're pretty much eating all of them as they ripen. The cucumbers have far outstripped us and we're giving full sack loads to anyone who comes over--with or without their permission. If we have to, one of us distracts guests with a garden tour while the other one breaks into their car and plants a few sacks of cucumbers. They drive away grateful that we didn't plant zucchini....

Admittedly, we might be taking the gardening thing a bit too far. Tonight Andy actually said, "Today there was steam coming out of the compost bin--that's really exciting."

Obviously, we need to get out more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 96 - It Would Still Be Cheating

We have decided that it would really be cheating if I asked Andy to pick up something at the store because his spending ban is over and mine isn't. It's amazingly easy to be quite firm with rules pertaining to something that doesn't matter in the slightest.

The latest issue: The insane volume of pumpkin butter I made on Sunday should be frozen. No matter how full that cupboard may seem, we just don't have THAT many small plastic containers. It might seem like it at times, but we just don't. So, our options were to 1.) Have Andy, freely spending man that he is, go get containers that "we" want, or 2.) bite the bullet and find another way to do this.

I am good under pressure. And faced with two stockpots full of cooked, spiced squash. At first I kept thinking that it wouldn't work to put it in two dozen Ziploc baggies because it would be really hard to scoop out later, and then it hit me: FREEZE IT IN THE BAGGIES, AND HAVE THE SENSE TO PULL IT OUT OF THE BAGGIES WHEN IT'S STILL FROZEN AND MOVE IT TO ANOTHER CONTAINER TO THAW.

Sometimes, I can be brilliant. Not when it would clue me in that 4 pumpkins cannot possibly cook down enough to make 3 8-ounce jars of any particular substance, but at least it kicks in occasionally.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 95 - I'm Almost There!!!!!!

I have 3 days left on my spending ban (remember I have 8 extra days for that darn mohair), and I'm starting to slow down when I drive past shops. I'm looking at the catalogs being delivered to our house--well, except for the motorcycling and woodworking ones, but by Friday......I've browsed Amazon's website. I've checked the balance on my personal "allowance" account (we each have an allowance every month that is automatically transfered into private accounts--it beats having to explain why a woman really does need 10 pairs of black shoes). I flipped through the newspaper ads left in the breakroom today.

My list so far:

* 2 hanks of yarn to finish a shawl currently in progress
* a silver button/clasp of some sort for a sweater that I finished but that still needs a button
* earplugs for swimming
* new Goober Goggles
* a new yarn needle
* beads to finish a beaded edging on a sweater that's almost done. Obviously, when I can't shop, I get a lot of knitting done.
* if I have money left, something totally frivolous that I see at the checkout counter!!!!!!! Hey, there's always a use for Superglue!

It's probably a really good thing we set that $100 limit.........

PS. I noticed as I was flipping back in posts to the beginning of our ban that I seem to have completely forgotten that May and July would have 31 days instead of 30, so I originally had Andy's ban ending on August 10 and mine on August 18. Obviously, when one is suffering from retail deprivation, math skills are the first thing to go....

Dealing With A Hostile Ex-Wife - Part Five

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

As sad as these situations were, there seems to be more & more internet searches about dealing with hostile ex wives--just the traffic increase on this site alone is frightening. I'm sure the failing economy is having an impact, or maybe the number of hateful ex-wives really is increasing. Whatever it is, it's obvious people are needing some help and looking for answers. So, my latest round of suggestions:

1. Know the laws in your state that can protect you. If the ex-wife is harassing you, calling when you have asked her not to do so, sending hateful emails, calling you at work--whatever--put it in writing how she may contact you. State explicitly that you do not wish to be contacted by her in any other way. We sent a copy to our attorney for reference. If she violates your stated request, you may have grounds to get a restraining order against her. 3 violations (in Idaho) constitute a felony and she can be sent to jail. Check the laws in your own state and do whatever you need to do to allow you to get a restraining order. It's time to have a zero-tolerance policy concerning abusive ex-wives.

2. Establish rules of behavior in your own home and stick to them. If the ex cannot be civil and decent, do not let her do drop offs at your home. Not only should no one be treated badly in his or her own home, it will make your home an emotionally "safe" environment for the child/children.

3. Take all the steps you can to protect yourself from identity theft. Quite often, one spouse will know the other spouse's social security number. There are ex spouses who are so determined to strike out at the other person that laws don't even seem to slow them down.

4. The less she matters, the worse she might get. In talking with everyone I've encountered who is coping with a hostile ex (husbands as well as wives), and judging from our experience, the idea of just not mattering anymore fuels much of the behavior. As you move on, as her behavior matters less and less to you, as her hurtful accusations mean less and less, she may escalate her behavior in order to get a reaction. At least if you're angry, she still matters. This may be when she is most dangerous, so be prepared. I don't think there is any way around it--unless maybe someone close to her finally steps in with the "you're divorced, get over it, move on" speech--and I don't know if there's anything to be done. We tried for quite a while to let the ex pretend whatever she wanted, but that led to her asking to know things that were none of her business, greater interference with our parenting choices, and probably just delayed the inevitable. When we received a long email from the ex saying her "gift" to him would be to be out of town during our wedding (3 years after their divorce), Andy finally just had to say basically "I could not possibly care less what you do--it just doesn't matter in any way." We've been married almost 2 years now, and I can't say that we've moved out of that "needing to matter" mode, but the more time that passes and the fact that she cannot contact us in any way, shape, or form without going through our attorney, she will hopefully move on. At least our lives are more peaceful.

5. Take care of your health and your relationship. Stress can be physically damaging and can destroy relationships/marriages. Take up a sport together, find time to spend together, plan date nights, go to counseling--whatever it takes. A bitter ex wife will do everything she can to see the ex husband's new marriage fail--she has probably been blaming him for all the problems in the first marriage, and for him to go out and have a successful second marriage actively disproves that. She needs the second marriage to fail, and if you aren't committed to each other and able to work through problems and communicate and support each other, she will get her wish. A very wise family counselor told us, "Put your marriage first, children second."

6. Surround yourself with positive people. It might sound simplistic, but if you have to have one person in your life who is a constant source of meanness, spite, and hate, it will drain you. The only way we've found to combat it is to surround ourselves with large numbers of friends who are loving, supportive, and caring. They will help you get through this--even if you don't openly discuss the problems with them.

7. Help someone else. When dealing with a bitter ex wife--whether you're the ex-husband or the new wife/girlfriend--it can feel like there is no escape, that this horrible person can make your lives miserable and that the child custody system is there to help her do so, and it can consume you. Get involved in a charity, volunteer at a hospital, or talk to someone who is dealing with a major illness such as cancer or cystic fibrosis. I spent 2 years working with cystic fibrosis patients, and have several friends battling cancer right now, and the strength and bravery and determination that all of them have shared is simply humbling. It's been a great reminder that life isn't fair, and I'm sure over the next 10 years we'll continue to have legal battles and expenses, and continued nastiness, but there are so many worse things we could be going through--and we will be legally free of her in 10 years.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 93 - The Garden

Today started brilliantly. The weather was cooler all morning--which was a wonderful change--and Andy came in with our first really good tomato harvest,then I found some cucumbers that should have been picked a week ago, but haven't turned yellow yet.
Then we (I) decided we (we) should make something with our pumpkin crop. I had borrowed a recipe book from the library that had a recipe for pumpkin butter, which sounded promising. We discovered that anything involving pureed pumpkin really isn't safe to can, but it would be okay to freeze. So, I picked a recipe that said it would produce 3 8-ounce jars of pumpkin butter. That sounded like a good amount.

It called for 4 medium-sized squash/pumpkins, peeled, seeded, and cubed. There are no pictures of that part, as we're not ready to laugh about that yet. I'll just say it involved 2 hours, almost every knife we own, one of Andy's woodworking saws, and I think we'll be finding pumpkin seeds in the kitchen for another week.

Fruit "butters" cook down a great deal, so while I was surprised that 4 pumpkins would produce 3 jars, I was willing to believe the recipe--presumably someone who writes a cookbook knows what he/she is doing. It now seems that there are some other possibilities--the author can just have a mean streak, might not be able to do math, or there was a typo and it was really meant to be 30 jars. It filled 2 stockpots:
I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing that it did turn out really well. On the one hand, I'd hate to spend 6 hours making something that we didn't like, but on the other hand, it's a bit unfortunate that you both really like something that you plan to never make again. Of course, depending on how long this stuff can last in the freezer, we aren't going to need to think about that for a while--possibly years.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 92 - Andy Went Shopping Today

Even though yesterday was officially Andy's "free to spend" day, it was also a "work day" and a "dinner plans with friends" day, so he didn't actually get to spend money until today. I can't believe the entire world doesn't revolve around our bizarre experiments!

His list:Extra coffee travel mugs to use in the garage when he's doing wood working projects.
Manly magazines--makes sense as the only magazines we subscribe to are Cooking Light and Cook's Illustrated, and I wouldn't call either of those exactly "manly." The poor man has probably been suffering from a little estrogen overload lately.The 4th Harry Potter movie. While we have decided that most movies we can just borrow from the library, there are some "favorites" that really do qualify as "must own."
Twine. Just 'cause.
Plastic forks because if we keep showing up with just spoons people will stop picnicking with us.A bunch of screws that we must need for something.Sandpaper--obviously, our lists had zero chance of overlapping.Natural wood filler--I think the fake stuff is perhaps less filling...

Two woodworking things, which he did sort of explain but which I will not be able to explain. Which is fair--I'd never make him try to explain anything in the sewing room.

And real roses
Just 'cause.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 90 - Not Spending is No Longer My Biggest Problem

Andy's spending ban ends tonight--mine ends next Friday. However, I would gladly extend mine another month to be finished with
The vet (who was probably chuckling to himself the entire time) said to give Calisto one and a half doses (syringes full of pink bubble-gum scented goo that I shoot into her mouth) twice a day for a week or until the medicine is all gone. Don't let the size of that bottle deceive you--it's WAY bigger than it seems. I've been good & only slopping a little over the sides, but it's still only half empty. Calisto's cough does seem to be getting better--or it might just be that it's hard to tell as she is now fleeing for cover whenever she glimpses me. This really might last until Sunday--let's hope it ends before one of us runs away from home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 89 - Andy Has One Day Left

Friday Andy will be able to buy anything he wants--or at least up to $100. I have promised myself to be warm, loving and supportive and to not grumble too much that one of us is still deprived of retail therapy.

Maybe I'll spend my last shopping-deprived week figuring out what to do with 30+ pumpkins...
So far I've found recipes for pumpkin flour, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin waffles, baked pumpkin, pumpkin muffins, and if Andy hasn't fled in squashed-induced terror by them, we can always freeze pumpkin puree.

Thank heavens it wasn't 2 zucchini plants--I think that would have been grounds for divorce.

The New Additions

Shortly after moving, we had to put our oldest cat down, so we have adopted 2 new kittens to keep Theo company: Mostly Theo is not thr...