Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

May you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year's Day. I will be away from electronics from the 26th to the 1st, so any new posts will have to wait until after the new year. Enjoy your presents, family, food, and gifts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

People behaving badly

Raise your hand if you've ever behaved badly . . . okay, there are too many hands. I can't count them all. As I am finally finished with the heaviest workload of any semester I've ever taught, I am now at a point where I can get some sleep, in theory, and I can do a little self-examination of my recent behavior. I am normally a very low-maintenance woman. I'm quiet. I'm laid-back. I'm stoic, not much ruffles my feathers. It takes a loonnnnggg time to get me to lose my temper, but when I do, look out.

So, yes, I have been working way too hard. Yes, I have been getting too little sleep. Yes, anyone who knows me, knows I turn into a major bitch when I don't get enough sleep. That said, the occasional outburst is to be expected, but a long-slow bitchfest that lasts for days, is not acceptable. I am an adult. I do know better. Recently, however, I have been reverting to the petulant child that has lived in me for over four decades. I recognized her the minute she resurfaced, but I couldn't do anything about her. I couldn't when I was little either. I remember very clearly as a child, getting angry or hurt about something, having an outburst, and then holding onto the anger, long after letting it go would have been appropriate, and would have been good for me. I remember being stuck in the anger. Seeing everyone around me moving past the incident, but I couldn't let it go. I couldn't laugh, smile, get over it, I just stayed stuck, with my arms folded, my lower lip stuck out, and pouting, to make sure the whole world knew, I wasn't over this yet, and neither should anyone else be.

I have found myself recently, thinking and feeling negatively about acquaintances. I have had ill thoughts about people's motivations, which is very bitchy, petty, and not like me. I had a particularly mean rant on my son's voice mail for perceived slights and misbehavior, only half of which he was actually guilty of. I didn't pull an Alec Baldwin, or call him any names, but I did call his character into question. Then I mentally beat myself up for days for being a horrible mother. Next "I showed myself." This is an expression I heard often from my mother, while I was growing up. She'd say, "quit showing yourself." Which meant, quit misbehaving, quit showing the world what a little brat you can be, quit drawing attention to your bad behavior.

I showed myself this weekend. I was tired. I was not happy. I didn't feel like doing what I had promised to do. Yet, the adult part of me knew, you don't back out, you don't let a person down, you keep your promise. So I went through the motions, clearly the petulant child, wanting desperately to rush through the obligation, get it over with, and yet again, not slowing down, just wanting to move on to the next task like I'd been doing for months. It took me a good two hours to get over myself. It took me two hours to quit showing myself. In the process, I know I must have hurt a dear friend, and that was never intended. By the time it was all over, I had gone back to my normal self. I had finally relaxed and was enjoying the evening, but at what cost? It's been years since the brat in me has come out so forcefully. Can I blame the hormones of the change for all this? Can I blame overwork and exhaustion? Or am I just human and sometimes, I'm a pain in the ass for no good reason? I'm sorry.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend in DC

M has a conference in DC this weekend/week, so we've been here since Saturday and we're here in DC through part of today (Monday). Since M was in meetings all day, I took the opportunity to go see sites I had not visited before, the MLK and FDR memorial sites.

It was a gorgeously sunny, brisk winter's day, about 40 degrees. I decided I needed the sunshine and didn't want to stay cooped up in a hotel all day. I hopped on the subway and went to the Mall. I found the MLK and FDR sites on the maps they have set up around the Mall and started walking toward them. They are both set up around the tidal basin across from the Jefferson Memorial. I could have gone directly to them, but by the time I reached the tidal basis, I had warmed up from the walking and it was just so gloriously sunny, I decided to take the long way and walk around the entire tidal basin to end up at the sites.

Unfortunately I didn't have my nice camera with me because both batteries had run down and I lost my recharger. I ordered a new re-charger, but it didn't arrive in the mail before we left for DC. So all these shots were taken with the camera on my cell phone. So, I've been to DC countless times and I live within 3 hours of the place, but I never knew there was a memorial site for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Official FDR website) I learned about it from a tourist travel book in the hotel. FDR's memorial is set up as outdoor rooms marking each of his 4 terms as President. There are pools, waterfalls, statutes, reliefs, plaques and it has a very peaceful feeling to it. Very calm, contemplative, relaxing.

This is one of the sculptures, depicting men on the soup line during the Great Depression.

Here is one of the many plaques displaying quotes from FDR. I thought this one was particularly important for our current economic situation and thought of the Occupy people in all the big cities around the U.S. I think a number of our politicians need to walk through this memorial and take a lesson from what FDR did in our last great economic time of need.

Next I went to the Martin Luther King memorial. (Official MLK website) This is a grand, impressive work of art. It looks like MLK is coming out of a mountain. It's very impressive and moving both from an artistic standpoint and from an historic standpoint.

Here is one of MLK's quotes (click on it to make it larger) that I thought was appropriate today as Rick Perry's recent poltical ad took a swipe at gays and accused Obama of having a war against religion. It's this kind of ignorance that allows injustice to continue in this world. We've got to stop this mentality of "us" against "them," and realize as long as we're attacking anyone, we will never live in the type of world we want. We have to remember we share this world, it's not something to be possessed by one group or one ideology.

Update: Here's what the captions are on the stone slabs in the pictures above since Blogger isn't allowing them to be enlarged when you click on them.

The first from the FDR memorial reads: The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

The second from the MLK memorial reads: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas is coming

Still bogged down with piles of grading, but I had to share this with you all. Thanks to Marilyn at Maeve's Madness for sending me this.

This young man is from Winnipeg(Story on him.), he played all the music, sang, and recorded this himself. Very talented!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you're having a great holiday. M and I got up early and did the 5K Turkey Trek at a local park. We didn't take pix at the race, so I lifted a logo on-line and an actual photo from the event's website. M did take a pic of me after we made it home, but honestly, we did jog the whole 5K. M did it in 35:35, which is slow for her, and I did it in 35:44, which is fast for me right now, but a month ago I did a faster time on a flat course. This one was packed with people, just under 300 I think. It was through woods and trails, lots of roots to jump over and plenty of people in the way so you couldn't jog a steady pace. Oh well. It's done and now I can eat without guilt. Oh, and the broken toe didn't cause me a bit of pain. Now the lungs, that's another story! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I was looking at the Signals catalog the other day and came across the following t-shirts that made me laugh. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just for Larena

First day . . .(these aren't the clearest pix because I took them with my camera on my phone.)

two days later. The bruising is darker, looking more black than red and in fact the whole toe looks a little gray. Other than that, the toe is doing fine. Taped it up and did a short jog today with no problems and no pain. Only pain came when I tried to remove the tape. Looking forward to the 5K on Thanksgiving. Okay, I promise, I will get another post up soon so you won't have to look at my ugly feet anymore.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Okay, so I don't have lovely feet and I have never had a pedicure in my life. My feet are utilitarian in nature and they have served me well.

That said, for everyone's future reference and for the uninformed, as I was, when you break a toe, you should elevate your foot, ice it, and DEFINITELY do not run on it.

So Wednesday afternoon as I was getting changed to go work out, I turned around in the bathroom and smashed my toe up against a wall that juts out around the tub. It hurt like a . . . you know, and I cursed loudly and sufficiently to let everyone within a 100 yards know exactly how much it hurt. That said, I thought I had just stubbed my toe. Never having broken a toe before (to my knowledge) I didn't even know what to look for, so I breathed deeply, continued cursing, and waited for the pain to subside. Then I resumed getting my running tights on and running shoes and went off to work out. I figured it would hurt for a little bit, but the pain would subside eventually, so just suck it up and do my jog. Well, about 2 1/2 miles into my jog, the pain was worse, I was having to land on the side of my foot to avoid making the toe hurt worse, and I had to finally give up and stop running.

So I go home, shower, get dinner, and M comes in from a late meeting. I told her I stubbed my toe and that I had a bruise. She took one look at it and said, "you broke your toe." M, having been a life long soccer player has broken many toes. She showed me the telltale bruise, how it made a perfect straight line across the joint and said, "right there is where you broke it." Hmph. So dummy me, I didn't elevate it, I didn't ice it, and I jogged on it. The bruise is much bigger, bolder, and lovelier today. So I'm being very careful (especially on stairs) not to step directly down on that toe. Every so often I will forget and step down off a curb or a stair with that foot only to be met with shooting pain to remind me, "hey dummy, you've got a broken toe down there." I am changing my workout to lift weights, do the rowing machine, bike and elliptical trainer to give it time to heal, because I am planning to tape it up and run a 5K on Thanksgiving morning, and broken toe or not, I am running that race. Then I'll behave after that and give it the weeks it needs to sufficiently heal. And before anyone warns me against running on a broken toe, athletes and dancers do it all the time, I'll survive. :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nice dinner back home . . .

Okay, so this post is long overdue and I apologize for how long it's taken me to get it posted, but that's just how busy I've been. So about 3 weeks ago or so, M and I went back to my hometown in NY and while we were there we went to dinner with my sister and her family, plus Marilyn from Maeve's Madness and her husband.

We went to an Italian restaurant that Marilyn recommended, Little Venice. Little Venice is the oldest Italian eatery in Binghamton, NY. I didn't expect much when we pulled up, then I saw the parking situation. The restaurant's parking lot was basically an empty city block and it was full! A full parking lot is always a good sign when you pull up to a restaurant. We weren't disappointed, it was good food in a family environment, not expensive, and we spent hours there talking and eating. I believe we were one of the last tables to leave.

So here we are: me, Marilyn, and my sister, Pat.

Marilyn has a lively, energetic personality and was such a delight to talk to. It was the first time I ever met her, even though I've read her blog for awhile. There wasn't a dull moment and no awkward silences trying to find something to say. She was full of stories and very engaging.

Marilyn's husband, J, also joined us and he was equally interesting to talk to. He and I discovered a common interest, genocides and the Holocaust, and we got into some intense discussions right off the bat. It's not often when I meet people that I'm able to immediately hit it off with them, and even rarer that the spouse is equally as interesting. This was a very fortunate meet-up with very interesting, well-traveled people. So Michelle in Vancouver, you've got a high standard to match when I come out there to meet you and celebrate my 50th. ;-)

It was nice getting to see my sister and her husband, J, again as well. Though, it's never enough time and I always feel rushed. I did go through some old pix my sister has with family and thought she might sit down and go through them with me, but she had a long, cold day at the market and was wiped out. I also got lots of garlic from her and J while there. I got pounds of the stuff and within two week of returning, I needed to send for more. It seem not only M and I love the stuff, so do all our friends and co-workers. Hopefully they'll all be planting some this Fall so I won't have to bring as much back with me next time.

I also got to see my niece K, and her new baby, R while we were there. What a sweet baby! Such a good disposition. You can tell he's well-loved and loves the attention he gets from everyone. I wish I lived closer to family so we could have leisurely sit-down dinners and catch up on a regular basis, or even stay up-to-date on everyone's lives. Oh well, at least I live close enough to make visits a couple times a year if I'm lucky.

So last week, when I first loaded these pictures and began thinking about doing this post, I was fondly remembering the great Italian meal and all the scents in the air at the restaurant and got a hankering for meatballs. I decided to make homemade meatballs and spaghetti for dinner. I think it's easily been more than 10 years since I last made meatballs from scratch. I think seeing a chef's advice on-line to include ricotta in meatball recipes also pushed my craving for meatballs. So I went to the grocery store to get ingredients. I planned to mix beef and pork in the recipe, which I was just winging and came across chorizo sausage when I was looking for meat. I LOVE Chorizo sausage! So I decided I'd use beef and chorizo.

The lighting wasn't good over the stove but here are my babies. Ingredients: ground beef, ground chorizo sausage, one egg, small container of ricotta cheese, oregano, 4-5 cloves of fresh crushed garlic, parmesan/asiago/romano dried cheese, salt, pepper, olive oil, Panko Japanese bread crumbs. I think that's it. The chef said to make sure you use ricotta cheese and he said not to fry them, but to saute them in a spicy Marinara sauce, so I did. I think each batch, I did two batches of meatballs, took 20-25 minutes over low to medium heat to cook. They turned out really light and flavorful. They were the best meatballs I ever made. M really liked them too, which is saying a lot since she's a great cook. Since I made so many I told M we could just put the extra in the freezer and have them another time. She said, no, she wanted meatball subs with the leftovers. So we had spaghetti one night, two nights later had subs and then had subs for lunch a couple of days after that. Okay, I satisfied my craving for Italian meatballs.

Yeah, this is what I've been saying!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's okay to bully if . . .

Just thought I'd keep you informed of what politicians are doing in Michigan.

The animals aren't safe either.

Another post is coming, just bogged down with grading right now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Halloween Creation

Don't worry, the post about the dinner back home and meeting a fellow blogger is coming up next. I just thought I'd throw this post in since it's so close to Halloween.

So this year I thought we should add a new decoration to the yard for Halloween. I'm still trying to fix the gargoyle. I think I've figured out how, now it's just a matter of finding enough time to do it before Halloween. So for this new decoration I began with 80 feet of PVC piping.

I also picked up 32 ninety degree angle fittings. It turned out I only needed 16.

M was out of town last weekend when I began cutting and building the creation so I had to figure out how to cut long PVC pipes by myself. I ended up threading the pipe through the slats on the stair rails and then propping the pipes up on bricks so I wouldn't saw through the steps. It was quite a show with one foot holding down one side of the pipe, a hand holding down the other side of the pipe while my other hand held the saw and made over 32 cuts. My back was sore by the time I was done.

Next came the assembly, putting 32 pieces of straight pipe into 16 elbows.

Then I had to begin painting all the pieces,

and painting,

and painting,

Can you tell what I'm building? Next I began stuffing wadded up newspaper into different sized plastic garbage bags. Lastly I found red reflectors for the eyes. What do you think? They're probably under 2 feet high and around 8 feet wide.

Ithaca Farmer's Market

While we were in NY we visited the Ithaca Farmer's Market and were very pleasantly surprised.

This market is not as big as the Madison, WI Farmer's Market that wraps its way all around the capitol, but it has a lot more character and beauty as it is nestled in the woods along side Cayuga Lake.

The Market is under cover, yet open-air. As you approach the Market the first thing you notice is the wonderful aromas in the air. Not only does this Market have fresh produce from the farms, it is also host to prepared ethnic foods. When you approach and smell garlic, fresh bread, pizzas, Indian and Thai foods, even if you just ate, you'll be hungry and wanting to sample all the foods in the stalls before you.

The Market also opens up on a lovely dock area on Cayuga Lake with benches and picnic tables so you can sit and enjoy the food while also enjoying the lovely view.

We were there on a brisk Saturday morning and got to see rowing crews passing by the Market as we enjoyed an amazing brick oven pizza.

I can't even begin to do justice to the flavor of this flat bread pizza. We had an apple, bacon, cheddar cheese pizza, all local ingredients and the flavors were robust and rich. I could have eaten another whole pizza it was so delicious!

So the following are shots of the oven and of the various vendors at the Market. There were all the expected fall produce: garlic, pumpkins and other squashes, flowers, local wines, cheeses, wood carvings, leather works, other textiles. It was a meal for the eyes and the nose. I would highly recommend anyone who is in the Ithaca area to make a visit to the Market. The link is at the top of this post so you know how to find it and when it is open.

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...