Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh dear. Another recipe post

Sorry all y'all who don't cook or don't enjoy time cooking or really enjoy Wendy's take out for a 'real meal' or who (gag) have a gourmet kitchen but 'are simply too busy to cook.' This post is not for you.

Now, for the REST of you, here's the deal for today. I'm going to post a recipe. It involves making a stock (but doesn't have to) and it involves more than one pan. Can you handle it? I said, CAN YOU HANDLE IT?

If so, read on. This might be the most simple complicated recipe you'll read today.

Chicken a la Padrone, or whatever the Spanish word for "king" is.

Oh wait, it's "Rey." So...

Chicken a la Rey!

Background: Today, I worked at home, and had ample time hanging out doing stuff while waiting for other stuff to happen. So, I made chicken stock. OF COURSE I DID!!! DOn't tell me you wouldn't do the exact same thing (except for Renn, she'd bake.)

Not so hard, it's just a bunch of chicken bits I had leftover from deboning bone-in chicken breasts (hey - 99 cents a pound? I'm totally up for deboning!) and had thrown in the freezer for 'later,' plus a couple of bone-in chix tatas for the meatiness, plus a gallon or so of water, a Tbsp of salt, a quarter cup of white vinegar, and 2 bay leaves.

Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for.....a few hours.

Like I said, I had the time. YOU, on the other hand, have different fingers and also can just boil for an hour or so if you choose to make it. It's a labor of love thing. You can also make it on the weekend and freeze portions for later. Really, you can. It's not rocket surgery.

Remove the chix bits. Let cool. Pull meat offa bone and throw the bones away. Set the chicken aside.

(alternatively, you COULD use canned stock, but normally it's chock FULL of salt and...uh...comes in a can. Plus which, it won't make you house smell great while cooking, so, yeah. Your choice)

OK, here comes the cooking part. You'll need the following:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, cut in half and then sliced fine
1 large bell pepper, color of your choosing, diced or chopped
2 (or 5) cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/1 tsp pepper
the meat from 1 chix breast (that you cooked in the stock, remember?), shredded or chopped
2 cups chicken stock, that you made with your own hands and are as proud of as if it were the Heisman trophy or a new baby
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a good sautee pan, when hot add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Let sautee for 4 minutes on high heat, stirring frequently, then season, cover, turn down heat, and let veg sweat for 10 minutes.

Add chicken, stir.

Whisk flour into broth until fully incorporated. Turn up heat on chicken and veg mix to medium, pour on the broth mixture, and let bubble until thickened. sprinkle cheese over top, cover, and turn heat to low until cheese is melted. Stir.

Serve over rice. Or mashed potatoes, if you hate rice.

What do you hate rice?

Anyhow, that's the dish. If you're not into dairy, you can leave off the cheese. If you're not into gluten, use potato starch or corn starch or some other flour to thicken the mix. It'll work no matter what, and of course you can play with the spices like mad. Just don't skip the cumin. You'll regret it.

Seriously people. I MEAN IT.


Also, there are people in my environs who saw a double rainbow tonight. There are pictures. I did not see the rainbows (but did see the pictures, or else how would I KNOW about the rainbows??), but I am not jealous at all, because we have cats.

And hey, you KNOW that trumps all suits. Even the rainbow one.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It would be a glorious day to spend in bed

"If you can't stand the weather in NC, wait 10 minutes...." Oh, how true.

Last week we were sweating our double chins off, and suddenly we're in the middle of fall. There are pumpkin vendors where the zucchini sellers were a few days ago, the Dollar Store is putting up Christmas decorations, and just yesterday I saw someone putting up cornstalks, THEE classic sign of autumn, at the local Baptist church.

With those kinds of symbols and portents abounding, can frost be far behind?

Well, yes, it can, but let's not go there. Allow me a moment of hope, if you would, that this long hot beesturd of a summer is finally over, and the most glorious time of year, SWEATER WEATHER, might at last be taking root in the Piedmont. Oh, to break out the hoodies and boots, to wait for the one perfect day to go take a hike in the woods and kick up crisp leaves, to bonfire (it is TOO a verb!) in the backyard and toast hobo pies and marshmallows under a clear black sky.

I love fall. Every year it's an anxious wait for its arrival. Every year since moving to the FURNACE that is NC it seems to take longer and longer to arrive. Every year, when it does, it's like a switch gets flipped on inside me and I can think more clearly, become more alert, begin a season of productivity that the Southern summer won't allow due to reasons of insane hotness.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in NY, where fall starts around the time school does, lasts just a few pristine weeks, then gives way to a 6-month winter that the onset of cool weather signals 'hurry up and prepare to be bunkered in!' Time to get the harvest in the storehouse, time to enjoy the last of the good weather, time to make the most of the sun while it's still around.

(This feeling only applies to humans though, as the cats and dog seem unfazed by the change in the air. Their intensive nap schedule cannot change, as getting the required 22.5 hours of sleep a day is critical for their continued wellbeing.)

Boy it'd sure be nice if I could still wear corduroys without risking setting my thighs on fire. Cords just scream Fall, don't you think?. I once had a pair the color of an eggplant. They were not only purple, but also high-waisted (at least as high as the young lady in the photo there waving hello at you, and you) and PLEATED (this was the '80s, lots of things happened that probably shouldn't have). I loved those dang pants. This being the '80's it just might have been that I wore them with multiple polo shirts UNDER a long-sleeved button-down Oxford, because that is how I rolled back in the day. Oh! And I most likely wore a skinny belt too! And way too much makeup! And some kind of loafer, Docksiders perhaps, that were likely very unflattering and stumpified the look, but I'm a tall girl and didn't need to accentuate that overly much.

(<---totally stylin, 1983 Numismatic Association of America grad seminar style!)

Yeah, those pants were awesome. Almost as awesome as my candy-apple red chinos. Size 8. One of my proudest moments ever, and one that will never be repeated, for I starved myself for those damn pants. Had cheekbones that could cut glass and hipbones that bruised my boyfriend, but I got into those pants and sashayed my ass around campus, workin' it like it was my job. Those pants and a nice Shetland Sweater (under which I probably wore too many polo shirts and a button-down Oxford) and the omnipresent Docksiders were the perfect fall outfit, when I wasn't in the eggplant pants, that is.


Now? The perfect fall outfit is something along the lines of elastic-waist pants and an oversized hoodie, under which I wear hardly anything at all (fat is a wonderful insulator!) and below which I'm likely wearing knock-off vans or Chucks, but the feeling of fall is the same. Luxurious chill, alertness, a sense of preparedness and exuberance. I guess I can't explain it, but I'm grateful for its seeming arrival here nonetheless.

Because THIS summer? Was, truly, a b*stard of epic proportion.

Please, let it be over. This time, for real.


Am I right about fall being the most wonderful time of the year, or what? Please feel free to ring in on this most pressing of issues, or to confess what your most questionable favorite outfits of all time have been. We won't mock you, much.

Tiff out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting old really sucks


So, hey. It's been a while, hasn't it? Almost a week, and that's rather unusual for me. I normally can prattle on and on about nothing at all on the slightest provocation, but this past week has seen me strangely silent. Not sure what's going on, but I'm blaming it on menopause.

So much can be blamed on menopause.

Let's check the boxes on things I'm currently blaming on menopause, shall we?

  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Weight Gain
  • Digestive 'issues'
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin

Paints a pretty picture, does it not? In short, I'm currently living life as a lazy, nervous, fat, gassy, flaky, balding woman.

I'll wait for you to regain your senses after being walloped by the vision of that much sexy being incorporated into one person.

Some of these items are easier to live with than others. For instance: I've been fat and lazy for years, so having something to blame it on other than my lack of discipline or motivation is rather nice. Of the other issues mentioned, can you then guess which of them I'm most upset about?

If you guessed 'hair loss,' you'd be right.

Because of what menopause and general aging has done to me, I don't have much left going for me except a miraculous capacity for self-deprecating humor and what used to be a nice head of hair. The hair was strangely important. Fact: we all lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. Also fact: hen a person with long hair loses a hair, that it can look like a lot of hair being lost. Perhaps it's just that I was an abnormally gifted person in the realm of holding onto my hair in the past, and now at almost 50 years old I'm getting my comeuppance, yet this transition isn't an easy one. See, I started growing my hair out a few years ago, and really liked how it was looking, I even held a little pride in it, which of course leads to downfall. "Downfall' for me comes in getting hit with the hormonal ugly stick, at which point shit just started going pearshaped (like me!) left and right, and up and down. I feel like I'm walking around just dropping hair at a frantic pace. Just combing it is a traumatic experience, and one on which I'm probably expending way too much nervous energy (see 'anxiety' in the list above.

Y'all, I'd thought that the cessation of visitations from Auntie Flo were going to be easy to get used to, and they were, because 35 years of that crap gets OLD, but the continuing adjustments to my physicality are starting to grate my cheese a little. I mean come on, after a few years of adapting to 'the change,' you think the changes would stop!

So, body, enough already. Stop losing your hair, quit with the sudden sweats, please cease the random anxiety attacks. Besides going bald, we really don't have all that much to worry about right now, so I'd appreciate you going a little bit easier on your seeming goal to rack up every single symptom of menopause that's ever been cataloged. Being a lazy, nervous, fat, gassy, flaky, thin-ponytailed old lady is about as much as I'm willing to take.

You have been duly notified.

(ed note: of course just being totally stressed out could cause hair loss too. Let's just say 2010 has not been the kindest, most gentle year for stress-free living...)



The divine Ms Kenju has a nice wrap-up of a harpsichord concert we went to yesterday, so I won't repeat it here. You should go read though. It's more interesting that it sounds!


THE ONE WHERE I TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER (and thus firmly cement my place as a budding elderblogger):

You know what's nice?

NOT ROASTING, is what's nice. Also, getting rain. Also, getting more rain.

It's only like 70-something degrees outside, the AC hasn't kicked on in hours, the lawn has stopped crisping, and Tinkerbell got a free bath courtesy of mother nature. Bonus - it's not supposed to get above 85 degrees here for the whole next week!

Fall might just be thinking of making an appearance here. And about dang time too, seeing as how it's nearly OCTOBER.




Well, that's it for now from this little corner of the world. Sure hope y'all are rocking your own patches of turf!

Tiff out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Here, and there

Lord, help us all who are roasting in the South. There will be no break from the braincookery anytime soon!

I just looked at the weather forecast for the Raleigh area over the next few days. This is what I saw:

(apparently cactii will be springing up all over for a few days this week!)

Details are thusly:
Today – hi 86
Wed – hi 90 (gah!)
Thu – hi 93 (double gah!)
Fri – hi 93 (nature hates us!)
Sat – hi 93 (I give up.)
Sun – high 81 (wait, RAIN? I've decided to not move to Seattle)
Mon – hi 81 (I might need a sweater)

That forecast, my friends, contains a stretch of weather that the locals call ‘effing HOT,’ where the 'f' does not stand for fabulously. This malingering horrible hotness, however, should come as no surprise to anyone around these parts as this is the year we’re absolutely SMASHING the record for having the most days in the ‘90’s. Oh my yes. The former record-holder was 2007, when it was so hot and dry 100-year-old oaks were wilting and weeping willows couldn’t muster up as much as a sniffle. That year there was a total of 83 days that hit the 90 degree mark, 77 of which had occurred by this point in the calendar.

2010 is proving to be a bully in the hot department, with a total thus far of 87 90+ days. I think we’re safely going to have at least 4 more to that total in the next week, with the promise of more to come. Also – we’ve been a while (nearly a month!) without rain of any sort. Not even a thunderstorm. Those cactii you see on the weather graphic are for real, man. There was a herd of tumbleweeds rolling into town this morning, and by gum if there weren’t some armadillers ridin’ em! Hoo-EE!

Y'all - we're used to hot down here, but 'used to' and 'accept as a way of life' are two very different things, and I'm thinking we can't take too much more of this before we all simply sublimate into a pile of reddish dust in our cars and on the sidewalks, simultaneously giving up pretense of being able to survive under such brutal conditions.

It will be much like the rapture, except limited to a geographic area. All y’all up north won’t get to play along in this mass extinction, I’m afraid, because I just took at look at where the Biffster is going to be this week and up in MI HAILZ-a-poppin right about now because the temperatures have soared into the 80’s (!), and in NY they’re getting rain Wednesday and Thursday, with highs only in the 70’s. OoooOOOOooooo....That’s daggone near-to parka weather, right there!


How is it where YOU are? Hints of fall? Woodsmoke in the air? LL, have you had snow yet?

Do tell, and then have a lovely afternoon. Tiff out!

Monday, September 20, 2010

25 things - it walks the land again!

I was tagged on Facebook not long ago by a lovely wonderful woman with an apparent penchant for cruel and unusual punishment of her friends, and thus I am now facing down the barrel of a 25 questions meme, which I thought died out long ago (because honestly, when was the last time YOU read or did one?) but apparently still has enough life to kick a few of us upside the head to knock out a few loose tidbits that might be of interest.

Thus, the following:

1. I adore editing, which you already know about because I wrote about it last week and you of course slavishly soak up my words with the thirst of a dehydrated camel and commit everything I say to memory, for one never knows when one will need to recite chapter and verse of something you’ve read here at a cocktail party.

2. Despite this love of editing, my own work has suffered in the past because once I’m done writing something, I very often don’t care to read it again (this is especially true of things for work). HOWEVER, my ol buddy Kingfisher taught me to love editing my fiction, and what do you know, what I wrote turned out better and better with each pass of the editor’s wand.

3. I have not written fiction in a very long time.

4. Most of the fiction I write is terribly dark, there are frequent horrific deaths, and often there are spiders. It’s just what comes out when the inner me is allowed to run rampant across the page.

5. I liked running the Wordsmiths site, but after a while it got to be too much to do every month. Not only did the owners of the site have to come up with the prompts (which naturally required lengthy discussions about what is appropriate), but then we’d word count each, critique each submission, write one of our own, post the compilations, etc etc. So, it died, very much like the characters in my stories.

6. Today I’m totally channeling Blanche Devereaux's sartorial sense. Note her swingin' outfit in the photo at right. Mine's almost like that except it not SCREAMING HOT PINK. It's not all-black either, and includes sequins (I KNOW!!) so I feel like I'm really making a fashion reach. Oh yes, I'm rocking the retiree style - woot!

7. Given the choice between doing dishes and folding laundry, I’d take reading.

8. As a young band geek, I served as the drum major of our HS band as a junior and senior. Won an award for best drum major once. That was pretty sweet.

9. My lingerie drawer is a Rubbermaid bin that sits on the floor of our closet.

10. We have no dressers or other clothes-holding furniture in our entire house. It’s either in the closet or in the laundry someplace. Space is a major consideration for ANYTHING that comes into the Tiny House, so a bulky item like a dresser is a no-no.

11. We do, however, have a desk, a bookcase, 2 recliners, and a drum set in our bedroom. PRIORITIES, people.

12. Halfway done, and I’ll have you know my body is making gurgling noises that would put The Creature from the Black Lagoon to shame. Or Chthulu. It’s that impressive.

13. It takes me a LONG time to makes friends with people, but once I consider myself your friend you’re stuck with me for life. It’s hard to me to give up on friendships, even when years and miles separate me from folks I used to be close to.

14. Even though I cling to friendships like a barnacle on a blue whale’s back, I suck and keeping in contact. With time, I’ve realized that most people suck at keeping contact. This is why I love Facebook. Two minutes of status updating and you’ve alerted the world to whatever is going on.

15. There are days I’d like to give all our pets away. Then I see the Things loving all over them and recant that thought. Despite the mess they make and the constant upkeep they require, pets are good for kids.

16. When I was a kid we had rabbits. My mom is wicked allergic to animals, so nothing came inside, except for Smokey, a little gray kitten my folks adopted from a neighbor’s litter and who lasted one night in our house before mom became a histamine playground. Back to the neighbor’s house Smokey went, and lo did I sob and wail, concerned that ‘someone would take her who loved her as much as we did,’ and similar nonsense. I think that was the first time I felt my heart break.

17. If I could quit my job today and go into the remodeling biz with Biff, I would. Creating things, repairing things, building and improving things is tangible and real and very unlike what I do for a living. It would be nice sometimes to be able to point to a thing and say “I did that,” and I’m not talking about a stack of clean dishes or some neatly-folded sheets.

18. Someday I plan to write a book. Well, I suppose that I am already planning to write a book, so perhaps I’ve met that particular goal. The book is a fantasy, set in a world of metal-folk, and features time travel and a search for how to drown. And that’s all I have to say about that.

19. See? Even in my planned book I’m intending to kill people off. There’s no escaping my fascination with death. Or conjoined twins/human freaks/plastic surgery before and after pictures/stories of people who’ve lost massive amounts of weight. My interests are diverse and dark.

20. Looking at me, you probably wouldn’t guess I have some very odd fascinations. Not every phreak looks goth, y’all, and not all of us have given up on phreakyness once we hit 40 (or…ahem...48…). It’s kind of nice being a California-looking girl with a encyclopedic knowledge of what could go horribly wrong with people. This might explain all those deaths in my fiction.

21. I could easily become a wine snob.

22. When I retire, we’re going to buy a big ol RV (or transporter (I have high hopes for technology)) and just drive around. I’m GOING to see all 50 states as part of my bucket list, and idly moseying around back roads sounds like a great way to do it. Or I might just pack us up and move to Floyd VA and hang with the hippies while waiting for the transporter tech to be perfected.

23. I am more and more pleased that shoe stores are carrying more and more shoes for the ‘bigger foot.’ As a gal with size 11 hoofs, it’s good to know someone’s awakening to the fact that not only those who wear size 7 shoes should have an assortment of cute things to wear on their feet. Not that I shop for shoes that often, but then I do I like something to choose from besides ‘so sensible even your gramma won’t buy them’ or ‘crazy-ass whacked out stiletto.’

24. Along those same lines, I do wish Payless would bring back the wild Airwalk vans. Mine are wearing out, them being my go-to shoes for everything not work-related. How hard can it be to stock skull-and lightning-bolt bedecked size 11 sneakers? Sheesh!

25. Lastly, I’m learning that ‘I love you’ can be applied to more than just the people in my family, and that it can be a way of life and not just a phrase of intimate affection. This is….life-altering, and very very gratifying. Not always easy, but then what would life be if everything came easily? So, despite the fact that my first thoughts toward the texting-while-driving ninny in front of us on the highway this morning who was erratically swerving and changing speeds was ‘die in a fire after being chewed on by rabid dogs you ignoramus!’ I must now, because of the ‘love your neighbor’ thing, temper that thought with the hope that the ninny gets to where she’s going safely and that I hope there’s no crisis in her life that’s causing her to endanger the lives of countless others with her foolish insistence on paying attention to her daggone CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING! See? That’s much better, wouldn’t you agree?


Phwef. That took a long time. I’m supposed to tag people, but all the creative in my head leaked out coming up with those 25 outrageously interesting things about me, so tag your own dang self if you're hard-up for blog fodder or want to relive the good old days when memes ruled the interwebz.

Tiff out!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Living la vita doughnut

Lordy lordy lordy, what a day. While spending the day at home working on workly stuff, I've promised myself that I'd take a shower/get the dishes done/fold the laundry for the past 6+ hours, and have any of them yet gotten done?

Um, no.

Instead I've been neck-deep in document reviews, which I do love to do, and the time has flown by.

On normal days, when I have to do the writing, the hours creep past like pigs in a molasses river, slowly oinking along in a sticky flow. Even though my JOB has' writer' in the title, I suspect I'd be happier as 'editor,' a position that implies a certain power and leeway to craft messages, pick apart punctuation, and adopt a set of rules and apply them liberally to things like style and format. Editing is the bit when you get to tear apart someone else's work, armed with style guides, intuition, and no fear of reprisal. It's delicious, the editor's work.

While it's a happy thing to have an inbox stuffed with stuff to edit, the sad fact is that I have all this other writing to do too, and it's the nasty sloggy kind of writing that involves paper shuffling, detective work, reorganization, and the brainial equivalent of scutwork.

Ah well, at last I still have my job. Yes, yes I do. The layoff fairy did NOT leave a pink slip under my pillow.....yet, so I'm glad as a monkey in a poo factory that I'm still drawing a paycheck. Scutwork, come on over any ol' time - you and me are going to get along just fine.

As soon as I finish up this editing here.


What parts of your job do you LOVE, and which could you live without? Do tell us all about it, won't you?

Tiff's out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where's the brown ribbon?

It's official -I have numb-butt syndome. Been in this chair for the past 3 hours, with a few breaks to visit the room of repose, and my rear has disappeared. Well, at lest it FEELS like it has, because I'm not getting much sensation from down under.

Can bedsores be far behind? One wonders.


Had a too-quick visit from my mom Monday and Tuesday. She's on her way to a beach near here to hang with her besties for a week, which sounds lovely, doesn't it? I'll bet THEY don't get numb-butt syndrome; they'll be too busy visitin' and shoppin' and poolin' and whatnot to let much grass grow under their derrieres.

Ah, retirement. When you fill your calendar with stuff you WANT to do, not stuff you MUST do. I wonder if I'm ever going to have that luxury? At the rate I'm saving for our future, the answer is a big fat 'no.'

Anyhow, it was great to see the mom-unit and to have some hangout time with her too. She took the kids to the hotel pool yesterday afternoon which is awesome, and we had dinner, took a quick walk, and played dominoes until 45 minutes after the Things' established bedtime. 'Twas much fun, but now she's on her way to bigger and better playtime with the gals, and we're back to our regularly scheduled routines.

At least I think we are. It seems that 'routine' for us is an elusive creature, what with everything that's gone on this year. We won't know how to act without a crisis of major proportion going on!

Personally, I'm all for that.


There's a woman at work who has dropped 8 pounds in 10 days on the HCG diet. Sounds great, right? All you have to do is eat no more than 500 calories a day and take human chorionic gonadotropin daily for 20-some days, and you'll be cleansed of toxins while dropping oodles of pounds.

What's that you say? Some nonsense about there being more calories in a Little Debbie snack cake than you're allowed ALL DAY on this diet? Are you asking if this is some kind of mistake, what there should be a '1' in from of the 500?

Well, no.

The eating plan allows for 500 calories a day, max. And low/no carbs. And no sugar. And no alcohol. No salmon. No pork. Limited choice of veg.

But you DO get to drink lots and lots of water and have only coffee for breakfast, so what's not to love?

My point exactly.

The diet is supposed to be a fat flush (therefore the hCG supplementation, which mobilizes brown fat to be utilized, much like a pregnant mama's fat is used to feed a fetus she might not know she's carrying for a while), which is an attractive term, don't you think? Fat flush? Whoosh, buh-bye!! Muscle mass is supposedly not affected, and the hCG might even boost testosterone levels which would make it easier to gain muscle mass.

But.....500 calories a day? No alcohol? For 6 weeks?

One wonders if being skinny is worth the dreadful dreadful suffering those kinds of draconian restrictions would engender. Certainly there's potential for life to lose a little of its zing, even if you DO get to use' the juice of one whole lemon daily.'

Your thoughts?


That's it from here for today. I'mma go see if I can activate some gluteal nerve endings by taking yet another hop and skip around the building. People might point and laugh, but phantom-ass syndrome demands swift and decisive corrective action!!

Y'all rock what's left of this mid-Sept humpday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Heh heh heh - part innuerable.

'Shoulda put some cream on it'

Heh. Thanks Kenju!


Let me just put this out there: I hate the way our house smells when we return home from vacation.

Vacuuming and going over the furniture with the Bissell hasn't helped much this time.

It's really NOT what we wanted to have to come home to after 1) volunteering to give up our seats on the last leg home in order to get a cupla $250 flight vouchers, 2) finding out that there was not a car to be rented in Charlotte due to some confabulation of tintinnabulisitic Omacron Perseiids, 3) sighing heavily over and over so as not to scream in frustration, 4) getting a clue and going online to rent one of the cars the desk staff said didn't exist ("Reservations only": should have been the tipoff to not try to wheedle so much and get straight to playing the underhand), 5) then driving 3+ hours to get home, when the flight we stood down from would have covered the same distance in 30 minutes...and we never DID use the 10 dolla meal vouchers the gate ladies gave us.

But, even though we gave up the flight, and had to spend more money to rent a car, and then spend more TIME to get home, the ride was almost worth not being shoved into the human feedlot they call an airplane for yet another soulless venture into what used to be called 'the friendly skies.'

Sometimes, the back roads are the best, and we still have those dang vouchers in case we're ever fool enough to want to go sky high, ever again. If we do, we'd have to leave the house to the pets again, and I'm simply not strong enough at this point to come home to that specific reek that signifies 'the dog's been chewing herself on the couch again and there's probably cat piss under the couch.'

To add further humour to the matter, my Mom's coming to town tomorrow. Normally, this calles for a thorough steam cleaning of every available nook and cranny, but there's simply no time this time, so I'm hoping Febreeze and low lighting will cover for a week's worth of absence from this place that should make the heart grow fonder.



Upcoming will be a draft of my letter to the airline that carried us mostly home tonight, including the phrases

  • that's what you get for sitting in the back row
  • I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do
  • you there, get back off the plane
  • we only have one sandwich
  • all y'all are nothing but a new crop of farktards that can't even match up to the herd we had yesterday, so just shut up, moo, and take your seat already!

Oh yes, we're brewing a big ol pot of vitriol up in hyar, and an overnight steep will be just the thing to really get the full flavor of indignation it carries when crafted with the utmost care.


But, lest ye thinking we did not have a good time out west, let me just say : wine tour, dominoes, pancakes. "Shoehorn on a stick," stir fry, new showerheads. Cows mooing at dawn, honeybees on the windshield, irrigation of alfalfa. Purple tablecloths, NAPS, and hugs. One missed picture of a perfectly red leaf among green, a mind-photo of sprinkler-wetted trees backlit against a setting sun dropping drips of gold in a bead curtain to the moist green lawn, a sliver of moon setting deep orange into the blue Delta.

Such things cannot be made second to a momentary irritation. Indeed, such things when taken notice of, tend to sustain a person through times of travail.

Still, I wish I'd hurried up and pictured those droplets of shimmering gilt falling from a screen of deep green leaves today when the rental car people kept telling us there were no cars, instead of imagining their dark horrible deaths, no matter how fun it was to imagine them and their bosses plunging headlong into the burning sinkhole left behind when empty promises suddenly collapse. Somehow, I'm guessing the karma balance would be that much more on keel....

Oh well, tomorrow I'll let some old whoozer cut in front of me in traffic, maybe let someone get a cup of coffee in front of me at work, and on balance I'll be ay-OK. Because letting go of those little evil fantasies as a way to cope with what I perceive to be injustices aimed at my personal being? Ain't gonna happen.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Left Coastin'

Yes - I do think this is a little slice of heaven...
My first In n' Out burger was experienced yesterday, and might I just say it's a darned shame we don't have these on the east coast?
Five Guys, Steak n' Shake, Cookout are all good, but...well, this is a quintessential California experience, right? Couldn't we just bring a little of the hand-cut french-fry experience home?
We are having as good a time as can be had when the reason for a visit anywhere is for a funeral. The folks out here are wonderful, the scenery striking, the atmosphere warm and welcoming.
More later as events warrant, but I think this is Biff's story to tell.
IF he ever decides to blog again.
I give him a couple of days, then I'm taking over. It's great material, but I sure don't want to hog it all. ;)
Have a great weekend. I'm off to see if I can nab a few more hours sleep before another big day of fun and frolic on the western edge of Ahmurka. We come home Sunday, so we need to grab all the goodness we can while there's daylight to do it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Off we go again

Tomorrow we get on an airplane at 6 a.m. to jet out to California.

On Friday we will be funeralling it up with the western part of Biff’s family, celebrating his grandmother’s life. It will be interesting, I’m sure, and a lot of fun to see family again, and will be touching so I'm bringing tissues, but one thing this funeral will not include is a burial.

Uh, so, who gets the urn?

No urn either.

Nope – she wanted to be planted in perpetuity beside her long-deceased husband, who is waaaay over the other side of the country in New York.

Yep. She's taking one last trip, and it's a humdinger.

To be fair, she is from New York, had lived there most of her 90 years (having moved to Cali around 1973 after her husband passed on), but there are hints that their marriage was not all peaches and cream so this cross-country transport comes as a bit of a stunner. I suppose though that going ‘home’ has more meaning than just finding your place among the seraphim; it also means knowing your earthly remains will nestle in the arms of a place you loved and had sprung from, spending physical eternity alongside the one to whom you promised yourself until death you did part.

She’s being buried in a lovely part of the world, just north of where I spent some time growing up. There’s good rich soil there, and farms among the deeply rolling hills. All 4 seasons do their best to outshine each other, with crisp spring days stretching into loooong summer evenings, until autumn sweeps in with broad strokes of color and the unmistakable tang of oak leaves and woodsmoke. Winter is the longest season; I’ve seen snow in October and snow in May up there, and nobody sees their lawns for at least three months of the year. It’s mighty quiet in winter, or at least it is until the kids rush out of their houses, bundled up in layers, noses pinking immediately, grabbing sleds and snowballs and being out 'in it’ because Winter lasts a long time indeed so there’s no reason to sit inside and wait it out. Do that and risk being on house arrest for 6 months. Better to grab the mittens and saucers and head out to see what trouble you can get into before your fingers freeze.

I wish I could go to the burial. Maybe I can, but taking 3 days off this week for a funeral might be seen by the company as quite enough mourning, thanks very much, now strap on the keyboard and get back to work.

Still, they’re the ones who have initiated the ‘use it or lose it’ policy in terms of vacation days. It just might be that I use a few of the up traveling to one of the lands of my youth, and helping an old lady get back home.


Posting will be sporadic this week. We’re traveling tomorrow, don’t know what’s happening Thursday, and Friday’s the big show. Then there are the wineries to visit. Busy busy!

Y’all keep well. See you around soon.

Friday, September 03, 2010

oh, smug

It is 12:30.

I am still in my PJs.

I just ate cookie dough ice cream straight from the container.

Yep - still love working from home.


The company I work for was bought out last year by a mega-corp. For a while, things rolled along smoothly, with nary a hint of impingement of their SOPs, WPD, templates, guidelines, or other shenanigans sullying our baby business.

And then, things started to change. We had to start training on their SOPs. Their software systems were put in place, and we had no choice but to use them, even if our old systems were way better. There's talk of switching over to their templates and styles and content guidances.

Also, there are the layoffs.

Colleagues from our former place of employment have started being notified of their 'go forward' status. First wave was for ex-US countries. Our wave starts next week.

I'm almost happy that I'll be in California for a funeral then.

While I'm hopeful that I'll keep my job, I'm not stupid enough to think it's a sure thing we'll all be retained. I've never been laid off before, and it's starting to make me nervous and sick with anticipation, a feeling I abhore.

What's it like, being laid off? If you'd had the experience, please share. I'm feeling in need of some mental guidance here. I've worked full time for the past 20+ years, and am proud of the work I've done. To know that it might not be valued enough to be considered business critical is dreadful and demoralizing.

I'm making myself nauseated. Must stop dwelling on it.

On the bright side - if I get laid off, ever day could be 'eatin' ice cream in my PJs day!' There. Silver lining found. Who cares about things like bills when there's that to look forward to.


Biff and I will be winging our way west next week to go to the aforementioned funeral. It will be good to see that part of the family again, even under sad circumstances. His relatives are such....NORMAL people, with great hearts and a very earthy sense about them, which is great because they're farmers! College-educated farmers, mind you, but they still know their way around a tractor and seed mill.

Plus which, it's perfectly gorgeous out there. Biff was right when he said that California just smells different, which sounds odd but really isn't once you've been there. Out in the Sacramento area, and in the valley in particular, it smells very teal blue, a mix of water and growing things. At least it did in the Spring. I've no idea what color it smells like now, but shall report back at the earliest opportunity.

It's something to look forward too, and will get me the hell out of Dodge while all the shoe-dropping is happening at work.


Well, I guess I'm off to polish up my resume. Time's a-wastin'!

Y'all have a glorious, gorgeous, grandiferous weekend. Tiff out.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The one that's bipolar

Is anyone clued in to how Facebook chooses what ads to run in the sidebars of different pages? Because right now it's telling me to "unleash my inner pinup" by attending a hair and makeup training in New York City.

Yes. ME.

A 48-year-old, chubby, freckled mess of a woman who leaves the house for work with wet hair, who wears clothes so much they do actually get holes in them (I poked an elbow through a favorite shirt the other day, the material is too thin to repair! SOB!), whose makeup routine consists of hiding the rosacea (for I have it, you know)/drawing on eyebrows,/slapping on mascara, and who wears heels about once a year.


Yeah. That'll be the day.

And thus my next Hallowe'en costume idea is born.


Things come in threes, so it is said.

Death, apparently, is among those things. After the untimely and massively shattering death of Biff's Dad early this year, and the sad slipping away of his Mom in June, it would have seemed that he and his family had really had quite enough of death.

Not so, say the fates.

His Grandmother passed away in the early hours of yesterday. This is the grandma in California who we went out to visit with in April. A fantastic lady, she was forthright, demanding, interesting, and frail. Congestive heart failure was sapping her strength, she couldn't walk more than a few feet at a time without getting winded, needed help getting out of the tub, and was clearly pissed off by how her body was letting her down. Mind clear as glass, body as useful as a bad set of dentures. Still worked, but just not very well.

She was 90, and will be missed. I was looking forward to going out to see her again, but the next time we meet she won't know it.

I sure do hope that things come in threes, because that family simply can't take any more of this death stuff. Enough is, quite plainly, enough.


Ah well, this is the stage of life in which we find ourselves. Not so much with the weddings and babies, and much more so with the funerals and hospitals. Life is cycling through as it does, and we just go along for the ride.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cough sputter snurfle, and a BURNIN' FEVER

People who share are awesome, don't you think? Generosity is a virtue, a happy giver is well loved by God (paraphrasing there), 'tis better to give than to receive. Some people are like that, just giving and giving until there's nothing left to share but the germs that are infesting their systems, so they give that too, even if the recipient isn't really all that keen on what's up for offer.

Which is why I'm here blowing my nose, trying to blink away the gunk in my eyes, and coughing like a steam engine. I accepting Thing 1's offering of a few good germs (or virii, more than likely), and am now anticipating a 24-hour run of the snots.


On the plus side, there's a nice long nap in my future, which almost never sucks.


Basmati rice is so much better than regular rice it's ridiculous. Completely worth the money.


Despite my earlier riff on giving (which was, you'll note, heavy on the sarcasm), there's this. Grrrr. Fat cats getting rich off the misery of their minions isn't anything new (hey, business is business) but 50 MILLION for being at the helm of a bought-out company? WHAT?!?!?! How absurd is this?

Let's take a little trip down fanciful lane together, just to check out the absurdity: If I won the lottery, and it paid out 50 million dollars, and I gave up half for taxes, there would be 25 million left over. This is CASH MONEY, to do with as I please. At my current net pay rate, I wouldn't have to work, after a few mental calculations it's clear that I wouldn't ever have to work again and in fact I could spend at least twice as much as I do now and I still wouldn't have to work a day in my life again, ever. In fact, my heirs for at least 2 generations probably wouldn't have to work, EVER, even if they spent twice as much as I do right now, and that's not counting any interest the money might make.

Twenty-five million dollars will carry a lot of people a long way into the future, is what I'm saying.

Twenty-five million dollars is what's known colloquially as a metric shit-ton of money. Former CEO of Schering-Plough Fred Hassan made 50 million dollars when Merck bought Schering out. Fred Hassan was at the time probably already richer than Midas given his work history, and very likely didn't NEED that money, but clearly didn't turn the offer of a metric shit ton of money down. Lucky Lucky Fred.

Begs the question: What do you figure the regular working stiffs got when THEY got laid off? Did THEY get enough money to live the rest of their lives on just for being booted out the door? Did THEY get a golden parachute big enough to offer complete and total confidence that no matter what happened, they would have enough to live on for perpetuity? Did THEY roll into the next job pretty as you please, while sitting on the Board of Directors of innumerable other companies, thereby earning a nice tidy income to supplement to ridiculous amount of money they'd just been given to leave their jobs? No, they did not. Poor unlucky working people.

Each person laid off from that company who wasn't in the higher echelons of management most likely walked away with a severance package that would cover their expenses for a few months, while Fred and the other denizens of the upper chambers roll around in so much cash they have hundred-dollar bills wedged into their ass cheeks and they floss with fifties. Looking at the financials referenced in the CNN article, you can see that Freddie walked away with 33 times his yearly salary (of about 1.5 million bucks!) in severance. Note: this does not include the stocks and options granted to him, with are worth approximately 10 times his years salary.

Yes, I do believe that if someone offered my 33 times my yearly salary to leave my job, I think I'd have to say 'yes.' Add to that 10-fold my yearly salary in stocks and options I'd be shouting "HELL YES" so loudly I might hurt myself.

But nobody is ever going to offer me that kind of dough, because I'm a bottom-dweller, an average Jane, a working stiff of the most common variety who would be turned out with 6 weeks of pay and not much else.

And now I'm fuming mad at the inequity, and what's more I'm mad at myself for not clawing my way to the top of any given career ladder so I could suck at the teat of fiduciary largesse like the other movers and shakers. Because flossing with cash money and pulling big dollars out of my butt crack sound a whole lot better to me than a few weeks of payout and the unemployment line.



And thus, my transformation into a disgruntled old lady is complete.


I'd better stop now. With my dander this high up I might start in on any old topic and we'd be here all day.

Y'all have better things to do, I'm sure.