Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Season

Things are new, then they age.  All things created get old, wear out, and must eventually make way for a replacement.  All things.  Thus it is with paramecia, land masses, people, solar systems, and years.

As it was, 2012 wasn't so bad for us at the Tiny House. We had some good times, made memories, were (generally) patient with each other and made progress in many ways.  It was a good calm year, one in which many things happened but none catastrophic and many joyous, for which I am grateful.

We needed a year like 2012. 

For many of you it was not as good, and for that I'm sorry,  I hope you get your 2012 in 2013.  For those who had a good year, I wish more of the same for you.  For those who had a tremendous 2012 - congratulations, please remember it in great detail, and spread the wealth and happiness. 

2013 will bring changes, that can't be helped.  Some changes will be purposeful, some accidental, some welcome and some very much not.  Life is change.  Without it, what would we learn?  I hope that whatever your changes are, that you are blessed with the strength to deal with them without too much stress, to enjoy the positives when they occur, and to breathe deep through the negatives knowing that indeed, nothing is forever.

All my best to all of you, may your burden be light in 2013 and your joys be many.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I got a red pot.

Biff and I celebrated Christmas today.  Tomorrow the Things come over and we'll celebrate with them.  Thursday we go to my Mom's house to celebrate with the whole family.  Christmas, it seems, will take nearly the whole 12 days this year.  I can live with that, as I think all this rush-rush and hurley-burley for just one day is too much stress and focus on consumerism, but that's another post entirely.

To slow down even more, this year we I decided that I wasn't going to open any holiday cards until Christmas day.  It seemed like it would be nice to be 'actively participating' in the festivities with those who sent cards on the day they were meant to be appreciated.  Plus which, it would give us something to DO for 30 or so minutes.  And it worked out, I think, inasmuch as each was read by both of us and sometimes commented upon (OK, outright mocked in one case) and sometimes ooh'ed over because some people are super-crafty and creative (TOD, wow!) and always appreciated because people don't HAVE to send cards anymore now that Al Gore invented the internet.  In previous years I've opened each card when they came, then hung them up in a prominent spot so the visual appeal was there, but nobody else really ever read them and soon they were nothing more than something to walk past on the way to get cookies.  So yeah, maybe a new tradition is born, we'll see.

Otherwise, we ate leftover Cap'n Crunch french toast for breakfast, put the angel on the tree, put Baby Jesus in the manger of our cheapo Walmart Nativity, opened gifts, tested out Biff's new toy at the airport, and ate sushi for Christmas lupper.  Super-duty low key day, which is likely to be a good thing given all the hustle and bustle coming up in the next few days.

And while I'd LOVE to be surrounded by family and friends on Christmas, sometimes it just doesn't work out that way.  Doesn't mean a good time can't be had by all those involved.

Whatever your celebrations, no matter how many or few of you were in attendance, may this Christmas and the upcoming New Year find you well, at peace, and absolutely SOAKED in the goodwill I'm sending out via super-secret mojo dance moves.  I'm better than Psy, baby.

Tiff out, in search of boubon cubes.  (NO, not this kind, though that now sounds like something I need to make. Think more like bourbon balls, only shaped like cubes.  Because why be normal?).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The MOST wonderful time of the year, is what I'm telling myself.

Thanks Mentalfloss!
Anybody fully stocked and ready for Christmas or whatever other celebration you might observe that generally coincides with the winter solstice?

I suspect some of you are, as I've been fortunate enough to be in receipt of holiday cards from a couple of folks who blog (THANK YOU, you show-offs!).  How do you DO that?  What's the trigger?  Where do you find the discipline to just sit down and write 'em out?

Good grief - we just bought our tree on Sunday and started decorating it last night - a whole WEEK before the Big Day!  Pretty soon it'll be February and time to take it down again.  Time is flying by and I'm not a huge fan of that action, I must say.

I did purchase Christmas cards, so there's a step in the right direction.  Also had a bunch left over from last year, so the supply isn't an issue.  It's me and my congenital laziness.  Also, we were travelling the first two weekends of December, and by the time there WAS time, it was already almost the middle of the month and that was pretty overwhelming.

To make matters worse, I once again signed up for a Christmas card exchange, so there's 40 extra cards to write out and MORE shame to absorb because 3 days after the list was emailed out I got my first card, FROM AUSTRALIA!  Way to serve up the humble pie there, Ozzie. 

This year I'm not opening up any cards until Christmas day.  It just feels like the season is so rushed, that December is nothing but 'let's get ready' and the day comes with such expectation that almost nothing could be perfect enough to live up to the hype.  Plus which, the Things are with their Dad on Christmas Day, Biff's kids are hundreds of miles away,  thus the celebrating will be for just the 2 of us and that's kind of weird.  It's OK, we both think so, and are fine with it being weird.  So maybe opening a huge stack of cards, opening a few gifts, and listening to the Christmas/Wintersong CD I bought in Williamsburg earlier this month will be it.  Maybe I'll need that time to rest up, because 2 days later we trek to a family gathering, during which time there will be family aplenty, after which time the year turns and it's right back at whatever we're supposed to be doing right now.

Yeah, maybe a few peaceful days alone with the eggnog and Harry and David gift basket goodies is just what we need.

But first, the cards.  Must write the cards.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The short list

Wrote a note ot myself yesterday to 'post,' and writ up this list of things to write about:

Shoestring budgets
Chewing off teeth
Grumpy cat
Bad taxidermy

So, that's what you get.


Those of you who are better or luckier with money than I am will laugh and laugh when I mention that I'm in a bit of a panic right now, as the following things are waiting in line for my money: a new front-end suspension for my van, new brake rotors for the van, a new teevee (the BAT now only displays things in neon colors) for the living room, and (eventually) a new teevee for the boys' room.  Panicl only because I don't use credit anymore and have to budget for this stuff and I just put in a new alternator in the van so that savings got a little depleted and I'm below my personal savings account comfort level.  I can't only assume the rest of you are the same about your money?

That last one, the teevee for the boys' room (seems like a luxury, but if they didn't have it then the LR unit would be hooked up to their Xbox and the sounds of slaughter and mayhem would be all that much more audible), will only be purchased if my planned long and loud and escalating argument with the company who sold us the teevee less than a year ago or the warranty company who is supposed to cover issues or the manufacturer or said piece of crap won't make good on the fact that their piece of crap didn't last a YEAR before starting to sh*t the bed and I did NOT pay $250 for a worthless piece of crap to clutter up the kids' room.  I paid for a video game-compatable television that displays the image clearly and, if it doesn't, can be fixed in a timely manner with help from the people from whom we bought a frekking 3-year warranty last December.  Not too much to ask, is it?  Am I being unresonable here?

I am very mad at this situation.  It will not be a good thing for whomever gets to read the letters I'm going to send.  After being told that the people at the warranty place 'can't find' my account, not being called back by 2 people who said they would, being run around by numerous folks who are clearly trying to avoid having to dish out another teevee and save their company a measly couple hundred bucks, I'm sick of being patient and am instead working up a good head of steam on this whole matter and pretty soon will have enough spit and vinegar bubbling up to write an extraordinarily arch note to the powers that be at whatever company I can find that might have some association with this mess, demanding satisfaction YESTERDAY.

Quite honestly, I do not have thousands and thousands in the bank waiting to be spent (the bulk of my savings go straight to the IRA).  Most of my paycheck is spoken for, as I'm still digging my way out from a buttload of debt.  I don't really HAVE an extra $250 to shell out on a new television, especially when I shouldn't have to.  I'd rather put that money toward a few Christmas presents, or whatever else is going to need to be fixed on that car, or the kids' college fund.  Someone, at some electronics company somewhere, is going to make me happy in this matter...and that is that.


Those other three things in the short list of stuff to write about?  Will have to wait for another time.  I'm stoked to the gills with righteous indignation and am off to craft a letter or 6 to the powers that be in an effort to get some satisfaction on this most irksome of issues.

'Til later, Tiff out.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creamed spinach for breakfast

Every day we face a big question at the Tiny House, one that I'm sure that you, dear reader(s?) face on occasion:  'What's for dinner'?

I don't think it's a secret that Biff and I like to cook, so the big question determines how we spend a fair chunk of our evening.  In general, I don't mind time in the kitchen, as cooking often results in the house smelling great and of course you get something to eat when everything is done.  It's the clean up I don't much care for, but that's why kids were invented, right?

Last night's 'what to eat' was a sirloin tip roast, roasted potatoes and onions, and creamed spinach.  All done from scratch, and the meal worked so well together that I thought I'd share a couple of recipes.

First, the roast.  I'd never done a sirloin tip roast before, so had to do a little homework.  What resulted was a method that combined a few different takes on how to prepare that roast, and it really turned out.  I had a 3.5-pound roast that was about 2 inches thick.  I seasoned the roast with a combination of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder, then seared both sides for 3 minutes in hot oil.  The roast then was sealed in an aluminum foil packet (also homemade!) and baked for 2.5 hours at 275F.  We let it sit for 20 minutes before opening up and carving.  There was a fabulous au jus in the foil that really worked well with the meat (as one would expect).  Pretty simple, really.

The potatoes/onion thing is super simple.  Dice an onion, one washed and unpeeled russet potato and one peeled sweet potato, season with salt and pepper and toss with a generous splash of olive oil.  Roast at 400F (I used the toaster oven) for 40 minutes, turning once.

The spinach was a fun twist on a more work-intensive recipe used by a famous food blogger (The Pioneer Woman)  that, while perhaps not as flavorful as hers (no onion and garlic), worked for this meal because I wanted something creamy, green, and mild to serve as a counterpoint to the bold flavors of the meat and potatoes.  In a medium pot, I melted 2 Tbsp butter, then added 2 c frozen spinach, covered, and let the spinach thaw, turning occasionally.    A little S&P at this stage doesn't hurt, as well as a tsp of white vinegar.  Then I added a slurry of 1 Tbsp flour and 1 C milk, let that come to temperature, then added (secret ingredient!) 1 ounce of light cream cheese.  Let the cheese melt over a fairly boisterous bubble, cook for 5 mins, stirring often, and it's ready to serve.  The thing I like about this is that no roux was needed, no chopping either, and the cream cheese gives the dish a lovely mouthfeel without being too heavy.

I KNOW, recipe posts are boring, but y'all should give these simple dishes a shot.  Home cooking rules!

Hey, you should thank me for the recipes.  I WAS going to post about my church experience yesterday, which was great, and interesting, and all contrasty and stuff.  But then I figured 'hey, everyone eats' so I went for the popular vote today.  :)

Tiff out.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Sad dogs and big people

Or, perhaps, the other way around.

Sad people, for all those electoral reasons.  Hey, it would be awesome if we could all be happy, but that's called Utopia and even there you'd have the Oligarchy ruling over you telling you how to be happy, so what's the selling point there?  At least HERE you can vote your conscience, bitch about the outcome if it doesn't suit you, and can go out and purchase a case of Miller High Life tall boys without some demi-god in a bad hairdo and obseqious manner come sniveling up to your pen to tell you it's time to eat the manna and bed down like a happy little cloud, please forget about the beer.  Utopia, it's like that.

Look 'er up.

Eh - Perhaps, I get a little mouthy from time to time.  I blame the bland mundanity of my work surroundings, esp. when I am at work, for the RATM-istic ichor.  Cubicles, mine in particular, are frelling BORING, and even with my plush brain cell and E. coli toys things just aren't very very interesting and awesome. We need some RC sharks at work, or at the very least some almost-dangerous poison dart guns to aimlessly (in the most literal sense) fire off at one another to liven up the 2:30 slump time.  This would be much more like the workplace of the future I was promised in 1969, random dangerous interludes and all.  PLUS FLYING CARS!

Also, don't go wandering around in parts of YouTube you're not given permission to.  Word to the wise. Scary stuff in just a few tangential mouse clicks.  Yeeesh.

I hope you're all well.  I know I am.  I won't tell you HOW I know that.  Wonder away, y'all!

Tiff out.

Friday, November 02, 2012

First frost, and other stuff

I did not know this.  Now, I do.
When the kids are with me and school is in session, we all pile into the car on school days at around 6:50 (to 7:05) and hie unto the school to get them there before the first bell rings at 7:15.

Seven freaking fifteen.

At this time of  year 7:15 seems very early indeed, as it's still DARK AS MESS outside and because 'dark' in the morning means 'you really should still be in bed,' it's a struggle to get up and out.

Today was more of a struggle to get out ('up' took care of itself because I was asleep by like 9:30 last night - 9 hours later I was capable of waking up!) because what I thought was a heavy dew on the windshield was solid.   As in frost.  As in 'where the heck is the ice scraper,' which in this case was a school ID and worked just fine, but still...frost.  And all the cats were out last night.

BTW - All the cats are now in.  They're not stupid.


We had a Halloween party the other night.  On Halloween, to be exact.  The party was mostly populated by teenagers, who are very boisterous people when you get right down to it.  Therefore, the bounce house was a very good idea.  As was the photo scavenger hunt, which got them out on teh street to be boisterous in someone else's space for 45 minutes.  Brills!

During the initial phases of the clean up, I was ultra-ruthless and just chucked stuff into the trash that I might have ordinarily saved (only to throw out 5 days later).  Last night, Biff comes up to me and asks if we have any more spinach dip left because, as he says, he wanted to 'bite it.'

I had to say no.

The whole thing of spinach dip, along with the cute lil spider bread bowl I made went straight into the trash as soon as the last guest left the building.

But we still have lots of candy.  Turns out that I'm not stupid either.

(Yes, I am, it must be said.  The candy is all packed in cute Halloween goodies bags and was supposed to have been given out to the boisterous ones.  D'oh!)


More on stupidity - The Things and I went out a couple of weeks ago and bought some pumpkins, which we failed to carve.  Now we have 4 giant pumpkins sitting outside, doing nothing.  I can still carve them, right?  Maybe make one look like a turkey, carve some nice maple leaves into another, some cranberry sauce into a third, and round out the group with a 3-D representation of a Pilgrim or something?  Do they sell templates for those things, or do I have to start with a witch on a broom and go from there?

Those pumpkins shall NOT go to waste.  I paid too much dang money for that to happen.


Tuns out, I don't like it when people talk over each other.  Not on the radio, not in conversation, not in debates, not in meetings. 

I'm not talking about brief overlaps or verbal assentions when someone is making a good point, I'm talking about entire SENTENCES overlapping and voices being raised and neither (or any) of the co-talkers will give up talking so that people can have a chance to understand what's going on.  It's rude, it's bully-ish, it's self-centered to the max.

 Because, really, how hard is it to wait your turn LIKE YOU WERE TAUGHT IN KINDERGARTEN?


November.  NaNoWriMo AND 30 days of thankfulness.  How about 'no.'  Instead I pledge to write here twice a week and go visit all my old blogging buddies who I haven't read in a while.  Pretty sure awesome things have been happening that I don't know about and that you don't (shock!) post on FaceSpace.

Look for me on an internet near you, soon.

Tiff out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Some things I did not know

I am still impressed with this thing I do not know, nor ever expect to:  "An eigenvector of a square matrix is a non-zero vector that, when multiplied by the matrix, yields a vector that differs from the original at most by a multiplicative scalar."


collinear is spelled correctly


This happened. You really ought to click that link. REALLY OUGHT TO!


Also, we might be getting a hurricane/thunderstorm/gigantic ball of watery wind-y fury arriving sometime in the next few days.  Whee!!  Must go out and get soy sauce, mouthwash, and carrots.  You know, the ususal emergency list.


And, lastly, apparently, it's customary now for HS boys to ask HS girls to 'be their girlfriend,' without all that messy business of dating first.  Seems a very efficient way to establish...something?  IDK.  I had one experience like that in my life, and it was....odd.  None of this trying on of the 'dating persona,' just straight into girlfriendom.  Of course, I was young and very insecure then, and today's young women seem VERY secure, so maybe it works for them? 


That's it from the fireside, as I wait for the text that summons me back to the HS after a FB game to pick up Thing 1. OOPS!  There it is now!

Aaaaaaand, it said 'N is giving me and B a ride home.'  Friends with cars = Mom being totally uncool. 

Another thing I suspected, but did not want to know.

Tiff out.

Monday, October 22, 2012

We do these things, these things we do

Because cats make posts better
Y'all.  Seriously.  This has got to stop.  All this clamoring at my door, hollering and moaning your pitiful (and, for some of you 'spittleful' [you should go get that checked out]) entreaties for me to Just Get Back to Blogging, Would You Already.  I can't STAND it anymore, the din was so dinny that it was hard to do anything but hide in the back of my closet with some old shoes and my French Horn case for protection from the terrible beggary.

You are a convincing lot, you two.  Oh, you know who you are, and for YOU, here's something of what's very exciting and possibly noteworthy going on with me.

1) It takes me about 2 months to write a thank-you note.  If you ever do or get something for me, don't expect anything before that 60-day window.  Just like the billing department where I work, it's all about holding on to worth for the longest time possible before a payout.  That's just good accounting practice, is what that is.

2) At the risk of over-sharing, I'll do it anyhow: Thing 1 has a girlfriend.  I KNOW!!!  Through this I've learned that he's got pretty dang good taste in women.  No slatterns or fancy-women for him, thank goodness.  Phwef!

3) It's possible to spend 50 dollars on pumpkins and associated organic autumnal display matters.  Did it yesterday, on the most perfect fall day ever invented by the gods of weather.  It hit about 65, not a cloud in the sky, the air crisp and the sun warm.  This is the weather I FORCED the Things to got out into with me, away from their beloved electronics and their dark cave of a bedroom.  I am a mean mom like this, with the forcing outdoors and such.  That's what has to happen when frog-marching your family into a memory-making episode.  And, if they don't remember, I have the picture to prove it.  Just one, that's right.  It's all about the efficiency.

4) We met our neighbors last weekend.  After living in this house for over 5 years, we finally met the folks 2 doors down.  We're very careful about this kind of thing, obviously.  Actually, we made them meet us by hosting a block party and luring them in with hand delivered invitations and promises of hotdogs and cornhole.  Who the heck knows what they thought of us at that point, because that can sound a little pervy.  Anyway, it was great to meet folks and hang out for a couple of hours, and maybe get to foster a sense of community in our weird little part of town.  Totally worth the prep time, and with the help of some friends who lent a hand in the preparing for and running said event, it was a practically painless party.  Those are the best kind!  Also, the local food bank was the happy recipient of lots and lots of leftover uncooked dogs and their attendant buns.

5) Have I mentioned that I had to go on thyroid meds a couple of months back?  The old 'roid was giving up in a most spectacular fashion, so I'm levothyroxine-ing it up over here are LOVING the fact that I can now get my hose on with ease and it doesn't take an act of Congress to slide my wedding band off.  Oh, that crazy swelling!  It had gotten really bad right around the time we went to CT in July; something felt really 'off,' and it was.  After about a month on meds the swelling was down and I can only imagine that the unseeable things that go wrong with hypothyroidism were righting themselves.  While I don't love the fact that I'll have to take meds for the rest of my fool life (because you have to remember to take them, see), it's wonderful that they are available, are reasonably cheap (thank you, insurance), and work so well.  Removable shoes FTW (For The Win, y'all).

I hope that you both are doing well and that your worlds are ratcheting along nicely.

With that, Tiff out.

PS - I still haven't fixed that comment thing.  Feel free to leave one anyhow and it'll just get added to the big list.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Time to party!

Seventeen years ago today I was sitting on a surgical glove filled with crushed ice.  It's really the best way to celebrate giving birth, the ice-glove.  Probably TMI, but keep it in mind next time you're faced with discomfort in the girl zone due to, uh, complications of childbirth.  Ice gloves are serious business in that situation.

The ice glove is great when needed, yes, but the best thing was the arrival of Thing 1, a 7 pound 8 ounce 22-inch-long leggy squal of a boy, my heart in someone's tiny body, my love grown ten-fold.  NEVER in my life had I felt so very connected with another human being, never has another human being changed me so utterly.  Complete adoration for that small bundle of human was instant and magnificent. 

The worst thing was maybe the reason for the ice glove, or maybe the upper respiratory infection I got while IN the hospital after his arrival, but I digress (even though I can still recall CLEARLY how amazingly terrible I felt, physically.   Everything hurt, everywhere, and that's even before we launch in to a discussion about trying to nurse.  I've tried to block those memories from surfacing ever again).

So yes, 17 years ago my eldest arrived, 5 days late after nearly a week of labor.  I was ready to have him, but sad to not be pregnant anymore.  While I'd perfected the waddle, I loved the reason for it and the notion of 'baby.'  He is my first, and was an amazement to me, even while still snugly housed in me.  Also, an expert in utero gymnast.  Holy heck did that kid MOVE.  It's nice to think back on.

As a number goes 17 is not a lot, but as time goes it's rather a long stretch when you see how far a person can come in 17 years.  He's nearly a man now, but he will always, always, always be my baby.  My 6-foot, 4-inch, deep voiced, whiskery, blue-eyed, happy, goofy, baby. 

Happy birthday, Thing 1.  I love you tons and bunches.

Getting prepped for senior portraits yesterday...STYLIN'!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Things get beyond me

Somehow, in the hubbub that has been the past few weeks, things have gotten out of hand.

Namely, my left thumbnail.

It's coke-worthy, and I've never even done coke, but addicts of yore are scoping it out and licking their cracked lips feverishly in hope that hey might get to scoop some magic powder of this Snoop Dogg Carrie Fisher nails that's working here.  It's just that good.

I am not a long nail girl, but everyone in a while I'll let one go and forget to gnaw it down to seemly proportion, and then wind up with a blade big enough to move WIND with, and that's not good.

And so it must go.  MY BIG NAIL.

Sleep well.


Also, would anyone understand and condone the Armor Hot Dog theme song anymore?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Can you comment on this?

Trying out a new comment thingie.  See it down there?  You should try it.  I'm OK with waiting for you to do that.

So, did you try it?

Did it work?

If it works, shout 'Hurray!' with a degree of enthusiasm that's a touch over the line for the average introvert and throw your hands in the air in a jazzy fashion, because that would be appropriate given that the template for this blog is in the dreaded HTML old-school fashion and sometimes chunks break off and I'm not sure where to put them once they do. 

If it didn't work, one of my email addresses is over there on the right - drop me a line and let me know.

'Preciate it.


For the record, I still loathe the following:
  • spiders
  • palmetto bugs
  • most chocolate-mint things
  • political ads (who doesn't?)
  • the willfully ignorant
  • clothing tags
  • getting poked in the ribs
  • hot weather
  • undercooked chicken
  • beets

But it's Friday, and there's little to loathe about that.  So, ray of sunshine and all.

I'm off to run errands and maybe get brave enough to take out the bag of trash that's making the house smell like a diaper pail.  Anyone have great tips on how to temporarily suppress the smell-to-gag reflex?  Because that's what it's going to take...

On that note, Tiff out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

narrative, persuasive, haiku about Dr Who

Doctor Who runs fast
Toward the crazy enemy
Battle won, Tardis!

(an assignment from the kids while they were cleaning up dinner, to ME, who suggested a poetry battle of sorts.  I like to think I owned their 'impossible' challenge.)

Feel free to submit your own.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chasing Foxes in Little boxes

Post = nothing to do with content.  It just is.

Because sometimes, when you just have ONE kid to talk with after not seeing him for a week (custody agreements stink), and he's eating dinner with you, you find out a LOT about his life andd start falling in love with him even more, as if that was possible, which it is, because I just did it.

Good Gosh, he said 'it was an Epiphany moment!' in a part of our talk and, really?  Who would not like their kid to know not only the word, but the correct meaning of epiphany?  Nobody, that's who.

And also, he understands what it means to be in tune.  And wants to be there.  And realizes that you can't ever trust a cue from a flute player.   EVER.  Not their fault they can't count.  Have to take up the slack and count for them.

I'm sorry that the other kid is sick and wants to hibernate, but I am not sorry for a minute that the other one, my younger giant almost- man, wanted to hang with me and just lay out what his day is like.  It is a moment I pledge not to forget.

Love you, boy.  Love your being, your dreams, your plans, your insight, your obsessions.  Some of the best of me and the worst of me is in you, and I hope that's OK with your complex, introspective, humorous self.

And that was dinner.

Tiff out.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Then there were the buzzards

Today started out great, with a lie-in until 1 PM in the afternoon.  No, seriously, 1 in the afternoon.  I think I went to bed last night at around 2 AM after watching WAY too many 'My Strange Addiction' and '19 and Counting' videos on the YousToob.  Also, 'Feed me Bubby,' a video series in which an intrepid young man videos his grandmother (the Bubby) cooking Kosher.  I now know how to make schnitzle, stuffed cabbage rolls, and what 'haimish' means. 

As a result of the Bubby-ness, I might rename this blog to 'A Haimisher Platz' just to see what kind of traffic that would bring.  Have I ever mentioned I love listening to people speak Yiddish?  I do.  It's this strange gmish of almost-understandable Germanic speak with weird alien noises thrown in and I should just learn how to speak it and then go confuse some Jewish people.  Because Oy!  Wouldn't that be nebbisher of me?

Sometimes I wonder about myself.

A place we were today.  Photo by Biff
So, right.  After sleeping for almost 12 hours it was time for  ADVENTURE DAY!!  The plan had been to hop in a tin can, elevate it to 3000 feet by means of props and flaps and ailerons and such (also with a hefty dose of PRAYER by me, as it is how we stay up in the air), and fly down to the Pik n Pig (watch the video!) for supper.  Proof of how much more comfortable I am with flying, I was actually looking forward to the trip - the beautiful weather only added to my excitement to be up in the air.

Yeah, I think the thyroid meds are kicking in.  Anxiety is low, enthusiasm up.  Extremities not nearly as swollen.  *Fist pump*

Yep - I had no problem getting into the plane, was looking forward to the ride, only startled a little bit at some turbulence I would have shrieked at 6 months ago, and had a good time watching the world go by.  As is the rule for me, I did not take the wheel when it was time to change fuel tanks, because that is sure to result in instant crashing and burning.  Sorry, Biff, I'm just not 'there' yet. 

It was a good ride, and eventually we found the airstrip tucked neatly into a gigantic FOREST of trees, with very little accommodation for things like 'plenty of room for approach' or 'taxiing distance' but that's not an issue as I was with a pilot who knows his stuff and by squeezing my eyes shut and praying some more I was sure everything was going to be OK.

Then I opened my eyes.


We were not far over the runway, descending nicely on a good glide slope juuuust clear of the trees, when three miserable cusses of turkey buzzards flew directly underneath us, not but a few feet from the prop. Bird strike = not a great idea when you're in a small single-engine aircraft, at ALL.  Biff had to gun the engine, hop the plane up a few more feet to clear the potential birdstrike, then put down fairly heavily on the runway and crank on the 'stop this plane' systems hard so as not to plow into the trees at the end of the runway.

Not once did I shriek or utter words of final passage.  He was working so HARD to land the plane there was nothing to say until we were taxiing off the runway.  Then it was only to mention how very exciting all of THAT was, which was the truth.  VERY exciting.  Bowel-chilling exciting.

So, after narrowly avoiding death by avian, I thought I was doing great with the whole 'hey I'm cool with flying' thing, and we had an enjoyable time.  Until, that is, we finished eating (the best danged smoked chicken I have ever had, and that is no lie.  Delicious), and it dawned on me that we had to get back in the plane and brave the buzzard-ridden tree-enrobed fear-maker of a runway again.

Which, predictably, is when some terrible little neuron fired up in my reptilian brain shouting 'oh HAIL NAW!', which, unapproved by me, started making my stomach twitch.  Other parts of me tried damping down that twitch, but more prayer, a stern talking by my conscious mind, and an attempt at being chipper had no real effect.  Something was brewing south of the esophagus, and it was only a matter of time before that something had its way with the rest of me.

Well, the long and short is that I made it to the parking lot after the cashier part of the meal was done, fake-coughing and paroxysming like a champ before the first wave broke the shore, as it were.  Not to overshare, but only a delicate little bit of iced tea came up. Oh yeah, not so bad, thos kids playing cornhole 50 feet away just thought I had to stop to take hock a big ol loogie!  Fabulous. Made it allllmost to the plane before the next breaker breached the beach, and STILL only tea arrived.  Such a gentle, forgiving stomach, to serve up the last of what I took in and not the whole meal!  Way to rock it, digestive system! 

After that, there was no more.  Apparently, the part of me that needed to barf out of abject fear was satiated with the effort given, and all was well thereafter.

The ride home was enjoyable, even.  I got a cool picture of Raleigh to show for it, see?
A picture I took today. It was kind of muggy at 3K feet.

So, sadly, maybe the anxiety isn't fully under control after all.  I wish it was.  There were such high hopes early in the day, but those stupid turkey buzzards that almost killed us dead in front of 'cue-eatin' locals just about ruined my high spirits, and that plain sucks.

However, knowing that Biff is SUCH a capable pilot makes me more than willing to continue to try out new adventures and to keep pushing the anxiety back into a corner of my psyche that's strong enough to overcome it.  That, and the Pik N' Pig is totally WORTH the trip.  As are many other places I'm still too nervous to attempt.  Baby steps, y'all, are still progress.

Tiff Out.

PS, on our way back to home base, we were jockeying for position with a pilot who had just made her first solo cross-country flight (at least 50 mile from start to destination).  She is a pregnant Indian lady (her radio calls are almost melodic, what with the accent. Very charming).  That, my friends, is what stones of steel are.  Pregnant and getting your ticket.  Yowza.  Further Yowzahood?  Her husband is getting his license too.  Crazypants awesome.  As was tonight's sunset seen to the left of our plane's tail.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Running the ant ranch

Our house is utterly disgusting.

Oh, it's clean alright, or mostly so, but as this is North Carolina it tends to be at the whim of Nature, who sometimes comes calling in the form of pestilences (pestinlenci?), mostly animalic in form.

Take THIS abhorration.  That's right, it's a ring of freaking ANTS, right next to another ring of freaking ants, who are here so often we've trained them to form RINGS, like a freaking circus, so as to amuse us while they're overtaking our home and eating all the chocolate they can find while silently cursing us in hive-mind ant-speak.

Because they totally do that.  All the time.

OK, not really.  They're actually feasting on Terro, the best ant killer-slash-macabre amusement for the very bored thing there is available for belaguered homeowners as ourselves.  One drop down, and in 5 minutes there's a little halo of ants, sucking up liquid death.  Which they will take home and feed to the other ants in their terrible little colony which is right under your (my) house.  Don't let that one keep you up at night.

I love the Terro.  It's a very amusing way to kill something.

ALSO, slugs.  *shudder* It's slug season, apparently, as just now there were no less that FIVE of the slimy snotballs oozing across the front porch, and a couple of weeks ago there was a big mutha LEOPARD SLUG in our kitchen.  Look it up, it's an awful thing.  CSB time, when heaving myself up from a gardening position a couple of weeks ago, I put my hand (accidentally!) down on one to haul myself to a standing position and came up with a mucus-filled palm like I haven't seen since the Things were virus vectors from the planet Daycare.  The zenith of gross, really.

Also, Palmetto bugs.  Cockroaches that fly.  We should speak no more of these foul creatures.  They're not worth the time God spent in making them, really (sorry God.  Some things you did?  Total loser experiments, IMHO).

Then there are the swarms of mosquitoes that will suck the very marrow from your bones as you try to harvest the sweet last fruits of a disappointing garden.  Way to heap salt on the wound, mosquitoes.  Who also carry West Niles Virus.  You asses.

All of that means that I'm officially ready for Fall.  Which, in NC, comes in December or thereabouts.

Three more months, three more months....


How Y'ALL been keeping?  Infested with the bugly world, as we are here, or snug as a bug in your own little rugs, happily immune from Nature?

(This is the kind of thing that happens when I've not posted for a while.  You get bugs.  Exciting!)

Tiff out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The thing about boys

Today is the first day back to school for the Things (one's a senior and one's a sophomore this year.  Good Lord!).  So, like generations of good parents before me I took them back-to-school clothes shopping yesterday afternoon.

That's right – about 14 hours before the first bell rings, we were in a JCPenney grabbing up novelty tee shirts and new shorts.  We are an 'in time' family like that.  Pays to plan ahead.

Never mind that I had to practically DRAG them out of their boy cave, I also made them TRY ON the clothes they were (oh so mildly) interested in purchasing.  I am that bad Mom.

Half the uniform, must be cargo!
I'm also cheap.  Well, OK, situationally cheap.  For example, I bought gut-buster 5 Guys cheeseburgers for them for lunch at 6 bucks a pop, which isn't cheap, and then lasered in on the 'clearance' tables at the JCPenney as the optional place to start shopping.  I see nothing wrong with this, as a 3 dollah tee shirt probably wears almost as good as a 15 dollah one.  The Things know this, and happily pawed through the piles looking for something that met their tastes and expectations.  I think we did pretty good, walking out with 1 Superman tee, 2 pairs of cargo shorts, and 2 short-sleeved polo shirts (I insisted they get something 'nice' to wear in case they're even invited someplace…nice) for 62 bucks.  Yay JCPenney!

Then we walked around the mall looking for more deals and steals.  Long and short?  Could have stopped at the JCP, as the prices only went up for there.  Belks = nothing but Lacoste.  Nordstrom = yes, this Burberry polo can be yours for a mere 150 beans!  Macy's = would you like your shirt in neon or this other neon?  Thank goodness for JCP, as it was the only sane choice in a world of generally overpriced and ugly 'fashion.'  I should point out that my kids won't even approach and A&F or Anthropologie; they're too 'trendy' and apparently the Things hate the music.  I think they were raised by wolves or something…

Yeah, boys are different.  At least our boys are.  They couldn't really give a hoot about what's on their backs.  And for this (among many other things), I love them.


Were you all 'fashion-forward' as a youngster?  I was not.  I didn't really care what I wore as long as it didn't itch or wasn't too tight or didn't make me feel hot.  Sometime during college I think is when I started really caring about what I wore, and that lasted about 10 years, then I became a Mom so everything just spun out of control after that and now I have 4 pairs of pants and 10 shirts I like so there's my wardrobe.

If you WERE a fashion plate, are you still now?  If not, why not?  I suspect that you're either in it for life or just have brief flirtations with caring about fashion (not to be confused with 'style') only to abandon it once some life change comes along that allows a departure from it.

And if you ARE a fashionista, please tell me what's hot for fall.  My wardrobe, as you might expect, needs some serious updating.

Tiff out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh, Eudorable thing

We have a bookshelf in the master bedroom CRAMMED with books I can't bear to or simply won't get rid of.  The copies of all the "Little House" books I've had since I was a girl are there, as are copies of "Jitterbug Perfume," "Another Roadside Attraction," "Things Fall Apart," "The Silmarillion,"  several Harry Potter books, and you get the idea.  There's a wide range of stuff in there, from all different periods of my life, and all kept safe in case they ever come in handy.

I think maybe Biff has a couple of books in there, but I can't be sure.  Most of them are ones I've read, loved, and want to, someday, read again.

Recently, on one of those 'some days,' I pulled a slim-ish volume from the shelf, thinking a collection of short stories would be the way to re-start my re-reading.  Ah, Eudora Welty!  A fortuitous find!  I remember reading Eudora Welty when I was 30 years younger than I am now, and loving how she spools words out so effortlessly (or so I recall it seeming).  The language, more than the stories, was what got my attention.  I've always been a fool for well-used words, and so eagerly anticipated reading these short stories again to become reacquainted with the flow and cadence of her languid Southern prose.

makes sense, trust me.
And what I got, right off the bat, was "Livvie."

I chose this story not because I had any particular affiliation with it, in fact it's almost certain I'd never read it before. No, I chose it because it's SHORT and I was in bed and needed something I could finish before falling off to sleep.  It's not a BAD way to pick something to read, really, and sometimes it's rewarding.

So, "Livvie" it was.  This is the story of a young woman who marries a much older man who had been very powerful and still was wealthy enough to run a farm, mostly, as time wears on, from his bed.  She is married to him for 9 years until, at last, he spends his days sleeping and she spends her days being quiet and trying to feed him.  Not exactly riveting material, right?  Until Miss Baby Marie shows up, that is, and Livvie has to deal with an intrusion from a world with which she is almost entirely unfamiliar.  Baby Maire peddles cosmetics, and had to practically hunt down Livvie, who lives very far away from almost everything.  She is a pushy thing, foisting all kinds of wares onto Livvie, who can't pay for anything by herself unless the payment can be made in eggs.  Baby Marie doesn't need eggs, and so leaves abruptly. 


I KNOW.  Confusing.

Then a young man makes the scene, a vibrant strong feller who captures her attention, accompanies her home, smashes some of the old man's precious bottles on his precious bottle trees, then witnesses the old man's death and of course winds up kissing Livvie.

The end.

Right then.

Words mean more than stories it is, as I was unable to make much of the plot line.  Don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous read, with descriptions and phraseology so lush it'll make your head sweat, but I wasn't really getting a great vibe from it.  Until I did a little research on it and found THIS exploration from the 1940's, which totally makes sense and totally makes me appreciate what Miss Welty was trying to do.  Livvie as Persephone!  Of course!  Naturally, anyone in any way, no matter how small, versed in ancient texts would have recognized that right off the bat, but I am not versed in any real sense in ancient texts and so was left with a nagging sense that I'd missed something.

Indeed I had.  Just a little something about the life/death cycle and how a young girl is captured by Satan (or similar) and has to have a periodic spell of 'death' before being rescued by a vigorous re-representation of the dead husband and brought back to Mother Life.  How very clear it all is now, and how much have our basic stories not changed from 'boy meets girl.'  I supposed I 'got' that circle of life idea from my reading of the story, but in some ways the plot is somewhat staid and plodding and predictable, except for that whole Miss Baby Marie thing.  Left to my own interpretations, I'd be pretty sure that one was a red herring for the eventual climax.

Hey, nobody ever accused me of being the sharpest crayon in the box, and I'm OK with that.  But watch out, if I keep on reading and researching and looking for 'meaning' when I don't undestand, someday I might, just MIGHT, have a point.

Which this post does not.

Tiff out.

PS - if you'd like another, less thickly-worded, take on 'Livvie,' go read this.  Genius work by a highly thoughtful scholar, boiled down to 1 paragraph of nothing but meaning and insight.

PPS - that was sarcasm, mostly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

If I had a nickel...

I need to start construction of a giant safe..
Over the past couple/few years I've been working on paying down my debt, Dave Ramsey style.  I am fortunate enough to receive a paycheck that has allowed me to make some significant strides toward being revolving debt free, and I'm sure if I pinched more pennies a little harder I'd be much further along on the journey than I am, but I like to live a little and now make money and the relative lack of it as huge deal.

Anyhow.  Let's not let my lack of stringency get in the way of what I see as some very good news indeed, which is that I am now only 2 payments away from paying off one card completely, and have paid down about 1/3rd of the other card.

'Gee,' some of you with little to no debt might be thinking, 'Just how bad WAS it?' One word?  Bad.  Two words, VERY bad.  The card I'm paying off had over $10K on it 3 years ago, and the other card had far more than that. The debt piled up because 1)  I have a GREAT credit score so the allowable balances were sky-high (and I was too stupid to tell the banks 'no thank you') 2) I'd financed 2 moves including 3) the furnishing of a couple of HOMES on those cards, plus did things like 4) oh to HELL with it, I need this thing, and 5) vowing I'd pay it back 'later, when I had money.'

Well, 'later' started almost 3 years ago, and I've not looked back.

Slowly, very slowly, the albatross is being removed from my neck.  I no longer wake up in a sweat about money, how much I don't have, how that next bill is going to be paid.  I've not used a credit card in 2+ years, and know on a daily basis what my approximate balance is and where that money should be going.  It's not always simple, and sometimes I have to borrow from the slush fund (my savings) to make all the 'out' match the 'in,' but then the next paycheck comes and I pay myself back what I took out, hopefully plus a little.

I'm still afraid to look at my credit score, though.  It went from sky-high to Grade F in a few years, I'm sure.  Let's just say there are few if any creditors sending me offers for their cards, and there's not a single bank out there contacting me with their low-low car loan rates anymore like they were doing a number of years ago.  Those days are gone, I suspect not just me but for all of us.  All that 'free money' wrecked my credit score, and it's been an experience well worth the effort to try to get out from under.

Like I said, I'm very fortunate to have a good job that pays well, and I'm grateful every day for that.  I want to be a better steward of what's been afforded me, and once those bills are paid off and I've built up the 6 months' savings that is recommended, I will be able to use my money in ways I've never dreamed of.  It will be a different way to live, but by this time next year I expect to be out from under the credit card debt and well on my way to finding out what it feels like to be 1500 (or so) dollars 'richer' every month.

You know, just in time for Thing 1 to start college...