Friday, February 29, 2008

Haiku Friday 2/29/08

Haiku Friday

俳句の金曜日

Yay for today, day
two-hundred fifty-seven
smoke-free and joyful.

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=

Bad kitty haiku
because of the night I had
when they were all bad.

First, the silky one.
He meowed and meowed and
made me want to cry.

After allowed sleep
for just 20 short minutes
the game was back on.

Now, the orange one.
Puking loudly. 2 AM.
Me? Awake, cleaning.

Back to sleep. Again.
Ah, but again, not for long.
Kitties are so bad.

This time the fat one,
loud growling at the orange one.
In cahoots, all three.

By then 3AM,
hoping for any reason
work would be canceled.

Sleep deprivation,
breaking me down and somehow
will extort more treats.

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=

What the hell is this?
February twenty-ninth?
Happy Leap Year, Y'all!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 2/28/08

Today is smoke-free day 256, and it's also time for Thursday Thirteen!



In honor of returning the Trekkies 2 dvd to Netflix since it didn't get here in time for Tom and I to watch it together before he left, and then mid-haiku it seemed poetically perfect for me to return it and wait until we can watching together, for this Thursday Thirteen I bring you...

The Next 13 Movies in My Netflix Queue:
(I shuffle these around constantly, so there is little chance that these will actually be the next 13 I rent, but taken as is from my list, here is a peek at the first of the 169 in my queue)
  1. Sweetland / Independent - Not sure when I added this to my queue or how I even found out about this movie, but it sounded really good, and Netflix said it was liked by others who, like me, enjoyed The Namesake (which I loved).
  2. Elizabethtown / Comedy - I saw this and gave it 4 stars, but the joy of being me is that I rarely remember movies beyond just whether I enjoyed them or not, so I'd like to watch it again to remember why I liked it.
  3. Train Man: Densha Otoko / Foreign (Japanese) - This looked cute, got decent reviews, and I do like watching Japanese movies and TV shows, even if my Japanese is bad enough that I rely heavily on the subtitles.
  4. Freedom Writers / Drama - I haven't seen this, it got decent reviews, and Netflix recommended it to me because I liked The Pursuit of Happyness, Remember the Titans, The Notebook, Erin Brockovich, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (one of my favorite movies).
  5. Run Lola Run / Foreign (German) - This one sounds spicy, hectic and just plain good to me, and I think Tom mentioned liking it at one point, too. Netflix recommended for me because I loved Secretary, Lost in Translation, Edward Scissorhands, American Beauty, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Maria Full of Grace.
  6. Quinceanera / Independent - Another recommendation by Netflix that just sounded like it could be really good, and I look forward to seeing this one. Netflix recommended because I loved The Station Agent (I even posted about it awhile back) Pieces of April (a favorite of mine), Sherrybaby, Transamerica, Maria Full of Grace, Brokeback Mountian, Jesus Camp, and Born Into Brothels.
  7. Because I Said So / Comedy - Um, I can't tell you why that's in there other than that it sounded like it might be funny at some point. Maybe I'll keep it in there, maybe not. We'll see.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia / Children & Family - I really enjoyed this book and hope that the movie does it justice. The previews made it seem like a different story than the one I remembered loving, but previews are sometimes like that.
  9. Eurotrip / Comedy - Sometimes I really like the kind of comedy I think this will be. Netflix also said they recommended it to me because I liked American Pie, American Pie 2, Waiting... (I liked this more than I should admit), The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, and Billy Madison (yes, a little Adam Sandler theme going).
  10. Kramer vs. Kramer / Drama - I remember seeing this in the theater when I was as young as I was in 1979, and I remember liking it then but haven't seen it since. Then Netflix reminded me about it with the recommendation thing because I liked Rain Man, An Officer and a Gentleman, When Harry Met Sally, Working Girl (another of my all-time favorites), and Big.
  11. Steel Magnolias / Drama - Remember when I said above that I remember whether or not I liked a movie but often not much else about it? Time to see this one again. That, and I have a friend who is always going on about getting Shelby some orange juice (or something like that) saying it's from this classic. It's also been recommended because I liked a long ass list of apparently similar movies such as Beaches, Fried Green Tomatoes, Pretty Woman, Ghost, Sleepless in Seattle, A League of Their Own and a bunch more...
  12. Kiss the Girls / Drama - Ooh, such a good book in a really good series. I can't imagine the movie being as good as the book, but I'll try it. Netflix also recommended it based on my enjoyment of The Green Mile, Sleeping with the Enemy and some others.
  13. Moonstruck / Romance - Somehow I have never seen this. I have picked it up a million times in the video store, pushed it further down in my Netflix queue but never actually watched it. Apparently Netflix thinks I'll like it because I liked Mask (*loved* it, actually), Nine to Five, The Color Purple, Bull Durham, and a bunch of other movies I've already listed somewhere above.
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Checked In, Inspired, New "Me Time" Vegan Recipe

Today is smoke-free day 255. I still get the little check in reminders from the Chantix GetQuit program (much less often, but I still do check in, why not, right?), and today was about my inspiration to continue not smoking. I have so many reasons not to want to compromise my health and life by going back to smoking that I don't even know where to start. The further away from smoking I am, the more I'm glad that I took that leap, even if I was afraid I'd miss smoking, especially when the "me time" thing would kick in (like I've talked about a few times... here and here and here and here and here and here and here because I get this sense of entitlement after long days about things like deserving coffee and relaxing with cats, and it used to include smoking). Right now, it's pretty much all "me time," all the time for awhile, and I still don't have to smoke. Best of all, I don't even have to agonize over it. As I mentioned yesterday, over the past few stressful days I did have a few extra tuggings, but they were actually just little whispers. Even blogging fairly religiously throughout my Chantix days and all the days since, I can't really tell you when the last really strong urge was. I'm sure another one will come at some point, but today I'm feeling great about a lot of things, and I'm inspired to keep on this journey not smoking just thinking about the life ahead of me with my man.

In the spirit of my beloved "me time," I'm treating myself to a recipe tonight that I've been wanting to try because it sounds like my kind of thing and super yummy even if it also happens to be vegan (I'm kind of the opposite of vegan, I think, because I love the taste of bacon cheeseburgers, but I do wrestle philosophically with the whole eating meat thing and could almost be vegetarian, but just not quite, but can't really imagine me going vegan...), Creamy Chickpea and Tahini Casserole. It might not sound so excellent to everyone, but I do love me the chickpeas and also tahini (if you do not know the joys of tahini, it's sold next to the peanut butter in my grocery store, and it's made from sesame seeds, which are already fabulous to me). Redefining "me time" isn't all bad, and it's so worth it in so many way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tom Update, Explained

[updated to add that the previously undisclosed location is warm and friendly Tulsa, OK because now that it's been disclosed, I thought I may as well update here, too. And now you know :)]

Yes, I know, I know, I'm getting emails, and so many of my lovely readers are understandably confused by this whole Tom on the road thing. I've been deliberately vague, but not intentionally confusing or aggravating with it, I promise. Truth is, it's difficult for me to balance how much to share publicly with goodness knows who is reading (I've seen the search words that lead people here, and we all know that those can be scary and creepy), while it's also impossible for me not to say anything at all as if nothing is different in my life.

Public nutshell bare bones and a wee bit less vague version: Tom will be working out of town for a period of time, but we see this as a good thing (the working, not "the apartness" because that's the not good part). I don't know exactly when I'll see him again, but when we do, it will likely mean that we've gotten our shit together a bit more so that we can get on with a life so full of hopefulness that it is bursting at the bloated seams (careful, I'm easily excitable), which would really just translate to pretty mundane regular and normal no big deal at all life stuff for folks who aren't all giddy like us crazy kids with big little dreams and whatnot.

Any of you all (y'all) listen to country music? Kind of how they can make boring everyday stuff seem all sappy and sentimental and awesome when you stop to really think about it, like "It's a Great Day to Be Alive" by Travis Tritt (song, lyrics) or "My Front Porch Looking In" by Lonestar (song, lyrics) or "Just Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Vassar (song, lyrics) or "Boris the Spider" by The Who (oops, just kidding, not that one) - yep, exactly that kind of sweet and simple life kind of sentiment is what I'm saying about our big little dreams of living happily ever after, amen.

Did that help explain? Any of it? At all?

All of this is just to say that after lots of hours of driving, sometimes in conditions that were a little bit on the white knuckle side, Tom has safely arrived at his undisclosed location (that I'll probably disclose eventually anyway because I don't see why that would matter, but I'm still sorting out my boundaries).

Whew.

Wondering/Wandering

Today is smoke-free day 254 because just having tuggings (actually, more like tiny little whispers that couldn't even muster up to tugging level) more often the past few days still doesn't mean that I have to smoke. This brings me joy.

The weekly Heads or Tails hosted by Skittles is pretty fitting, even if this will be super short and right to the point.

HEADS - Wonder *OR* TAILS - Wander
(yes, tails before heads in my backward world)

Wander: Tom made it another handful of states closer to where he is headed, so it's kind of like wandering, but less aimlessly, I suppose. In any case, everyone will be delighted when that part of this is done, even if it means that he's that much further away when he gets there.

Wonder: I wonder when "the apartness" will be over so that we can get on with the happy, and I wonder what our life will look like one year from now as a result. Ah, insert many happy thoughts here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Paranoid Android Still Doesn't Smoke

Today is smoke-free day 253, and until Tom is all safely arrived and off of roads that sometimes have ice and snow and blowing snow and mountain passes and other stuff, I'm in kind of a different place in my head and not really even keeping up with all my favorite blogs as well as usual. I spend free moments checking road reports, keeping track of his trip and telling myself he'll be just fine because the paranoid android part of me worries entirely too much because I am madly in love with that man out there driving through the wild blue and sometimes snowy yonder...

This part is a little stressful, and the thought of smoking has popped into my head more times since yesterday morning than it usually does in an entire week, but then I feel so very glad knowing that the thoughts will pass quickly and that this will still be a bazillion times easier than the first days and weeks and months. A piece of cake compared to then, actually. So, my silly mind can conjure up whatever thoughts, still run to the first "go to" feel good thing that used to work before I'd even heard of Chantix and smoked my way through the stresses of life, but today I'll just take another deep breath, content that a deep breath is a healthier "go to" feel good thing that my brain just hasn't completely figured out so automatically. I've said it before, but it's true: I smoked for 20+ years, and I'm only 253 days quit, so I have no complaints that my mind is still adjusting, and I'm content with where I am, even having these thoughts sneak in sometimes because it makes perfect sense to me that it's not an overnight process (or even a 253 day process, apparently).

Now that I'm content with that aspect, I wonder how the highway is looking near milepost hurry up and get there safely but soon...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekly Winners Sunday 2/24/08

Sunday means Weekly Winners, thanks to Lotus for this whole cool thing.

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

It's been an *incredibly* long week, but I took pictures ;)

My week began leaving Chicago last Sunday, going through my favorite part of O'Hare Airport. It was wonderful seeing my dad before the big surgery, and it's wonderful that his recovery seems to be going well, even if I can't still be there (thankfully the rest of my family is, though!).


Then I already shared shots upon arrival in Portland last Sunday. And Pho at our favorite place on Monday one last time before "the apartness."


I spent much of the rest of the week cooking for my man, so that he'll go with a full tummy and knowing he's pretty darn special to me. I made things like Denny's-Style French Toast (the best French toast in the world, if you add almond extract and nutmeg and mix it all in the blender), Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings (comfort food made so stinkin' easy) and these yummy but healthier version Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas (green salsa rocks):


Then I broke out the big guns with this little menu for the tearful weekend (the recipe numbers correspond with those on RecipeZaar.com, but the sappy is all mine). Everything on the menu turned out yummy and was appreciated, which is why I love cooking for Tom and making silly menus, too:


We woke up Saturday morning to a gorgeous day to enjoy together, with rare sunshine in Oregon in winter and the kitties enjoying some fresh air...


...and some evidence that spring is coming (in more ways than one, so full of hope):


Then there were a couple forms of drama on our last day for "awhile"...
(scroll down to skip the drama and get to the pictures)
  1. While out and about, we witnessed some teenager getting beat up by another in a sneak attack while another recorded it (sick puke world), so we called 911, at which point I found out that my phone makes an obnoxious and loud sound when I dial 911 (not so good if you are trying to be stealth and hiding in the closet while a would-be killer breaks in), followed by my having to speak the word "emergency" to confirm that it is one (again, not really something that seems all that safe to me). I understand that people butt dial, but come on, really. I could rant further. Separate post for another day.
  2. After driving the rental car around for awhile, it occurs to me that we didn't have proper insurance on it. Long story about what the credit card would already cover and how I sort of got distracted with my research and preparation since there was the somewhat sudden trip to Chicago, the mentally exhausting pending "apartness" from my beloved and possibly general mental damage (though it was really unlike me to make such an error). Thankfully, after the above witness statements to the police (they did catch the bad guys, yay!), there was just enough time that we got back to the car rental place in time, and the car rental folks were decent enough to void the original contract and start anew with another that included the insurance.
Meanwhile, Daddy's girl was likely still looking like this, as she had in the morning splash of sun, blissfully oblivious to it all:


Now properly insured, we spent much of our day just driving around in the rental car so Tom could get used to it and because the gas mileage is decent (though not decent enough to offset the idea that gas prices just jumped $0.25 right before the long drive...). We talked and laughed and got a little teary eyed sometimes and detoured once in awhile to places like this...




...partly because it was easier than being at home where the pending "apartness" is all too real (and far too sad to think about), and also because the smell of that Super Simple Pot Roast was driving us batty and making us drool unattractively. When it was finally ready, the pot roast was so incredibly delicious at the end of a long day that ends a long week of what's likely to be another long batch of longness before the "apartness" gets all done, hopefully sooner rather than later:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Haiku Friday 2/22/08

Haiku Friday

俳句の金曜日

Two-hundred fifty
smoke-free days
of loving life -
Nice deep breaths are mine.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Netflix will be late,
so no Trekkies 2 in time
for us to enjoy.

We watched the first one,
laughed and enjoyed together,
then queued second one.

It doesn't seem fair,
a small injustice done us,
but we'll be OK.

Perhaps I'll return
Trekkies 2 unwatched and wait
'til we're together.

Such superstitions,
anything to keep us safe,
anything at all.

Yes, yes, yes, that's it,
as if it's meant to be such,
waiting for my man.

And so I'm content,
and it's turned into something
to look forward to.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 2/21/08

Today is smoke-free day 249, and thankfully it's already Thursday and time for...

Photobucket

With the end of the WGA strike, new shows will be airing before long (well, true for some shows, anyway - here's a really great list of what returns when if you haven't seen it yet), and in anticipation of such joy, here is a quick sampling of the kind of shows that float my boat.

13 TV Shows I Love Watching
(no particular order and far from a complete list):
  1. Ugly Betty - because this is really one of the best shows on TV ever, period complete with satire, comedy, drama, and all good stuff that I didn't expect
  2. Wife Swap - because "normal" typically falls between the extremes, but they are fun to watch because it makes me feel like I have my shit together
  3. Lost - because I like it when questions are answered with more questions (instead of ever answering the old questions)
  4. The Office - the first few seasons made this the best sitcom *ever*, and I hope this season isn't so over the top when it returns
  5. ER - because it's habit, even if I no longer care whether everyone is killed off, but hoping it comes with dramatic previews shown for weeks in advance of airing
  6. How I Met Your Mother - because it's just a fun show, and seeing Doogie Howser all growed up still entertains me (especially his smarmy character, Barney)
  7. Parking Wars - because watching people get really mad when nobody is actually doing anything wrong to them is kind of funny, and these good parking people are just doing a job and paying the bills (similarly, I also liked A&E's Airline show back in the day)
  8. Samantha Who / Aliens in America - together because I've never watched either when they aired, but both are good shows that I didn't think would be so good
  9. Big Love - because I *love* this show, bigly, and await the return of a show that seems to show the good and bad of polygamy in an entertaining way (and Margene is just super cute) - for the record, I'm cool with whatever crazy entanglements people care to have with one another, just no teen brides or other icky, thank you
  10. Kyle XY - because I like the characters and the storyline, mostly, and went to high school with someone who works on the show (as I found out during credits and almost fell of the couch but didn't because the potato chips had grown my ass enough to stop me)
  11. Desperate Housewives - because it recovered after going off the deep end for awhile and is such a wonderful guilty pleasure to have on a Sunday night before the hell of another suck ass Monday
  12. Pushing Daisies - because it's original and quirky and likable and features the Pie Hole
  13. Supernanny - because if I were ever to have kids, I'd want Jo to help me when I ran out of all my non-parent-who-thinks-she-knows-it-all-about-raising-kids-anyway answers (no hate, thx)
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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Update #2

One more quick update to again thank everyone for the good wishes. My dad is out of surgery, and the surgeon was able to accomplish what he set out to do. Things are looking good, and we are all feeling very relieved. Now onto the recovery! (I can't even imagine what that must be like...) Thank you all again!

Update

For anyone keeping score (and because I feel like I should be *doing* something besides pacing inside my head, but I'm not allowed near scalpels and am halfway across the country, so I blog instead), the surgery was delayed by another few hours for another emergency, but my dad really did go in about two and a half hours ago (around 2:30PM Chicago time), so we should have good news within the next few hours. I, for one, will be wound just a wee bit less tight once we get to that phone call.

Many thanks to all who have sent along prayers and good thoughts. It's much appreciated.

Anticipating Good News

Today is smoke-free day 248, and I probably won't be quite right until I get the call saying that my dad is out of surgery (the open heart surgery is today). So far, I'm just hearing that surgery was delayed slightly due to an emergency but that my dad should be in there within the next half hour or so and that he is in decent spirits, ready to do this thing. I'm expecting good news within the next 5 or 6 hours, but of course, I'm still kind of pacing a bit inside my head. Which is far, far better than standing outside smoking and pacing as I am certain I would otherwise have been doing, and how silly would that have been? Funny enough smoking occurred to me this morning but was dismissed pretty much as soon as the thought popped into my head.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Letter P

Today is smoke-free day 247, and I'm way behind on responding to comments and checking out all of the fellow Weekly Winners participants (scroll down on that page for the links, sheesh, 59 of them!) from Sunday. It won't be long before I'll have more time on my hands than I really care to have, and then I'll be all caught up, all the time, while missing my Tom during our temporary absence from one another. Gah.

But today, behind as I am on "blog stuff," dreading as I am "the apartness," today, I bring you my Tuesday Heads or Tails, brought to you by the letter P (my favorite letter because I sing potty songs like a 3 year old), hosted by Skittles.

It's P Time. Portland, and Pho. The Pictures (ha, another P!) are clickable if you'd like to see them full-sized and full of glory.

Returning from my trip to Chicago, I arrived in (P is for) Portland right around sunset and sweet Tom drove while I took pictures:



Much of the money I've saved not smoking has gone to this discovery I made only last September when my dear friend J, who told me about his success quitting smoking with Chantix, came to visit. Now I'm truly in *love* with all my heart, and I can't believe I lived so many years not knowing the joys of this yummy Vietnamese noodle soup heaven, (P is for) Pho, which we had for dinner last night at our favorite place, as one of many last hurrahs before "the apartness":

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back "Home," Body, Mind and Spirit

Today is smoke-free day 246, and I'm back in Oregon. It's funny that I still consider Chicago more my "home" than Oregon where I currently actually live. I lived the first many years of my life in Chicago, and all of my family is still there, so it's "home." All that to say that I'm back safely home in Oregon where I actually live and that even with some devious thoughts during the trip here and there, I did not smoke.

It amazes me that a few beers combined with an opportunity to smoke still seem so dangerous to me even this far into not smoking. Really. It all turned out fine, and I know that other folks do just fine even in smoky bars with smoking friends long before this point, but it all goes back to the different paths thing that applies to things like how we each react to drugs like Chantix and also how we react to life as a non-smoker, each being individuals that bring our own different selves into the process complete with body, mind and spirit that are our own. It's possible for me to still entertain briefly the idea of having a cigarette after a few beers and an opportunity, but it's just as possible for me not to follow through with it because, frankly, I don't want to take a chance of going back to smoking and having to someday quit all over again. Just knowing how I am and what triggers I still have is also kind of like coming "home" in the sense that it is extremely familiar and that I'm perfectly content with where I am along my path simply because it's mine to walk, and I'm still not smoking.

My dad's surgery is still scheduled for Wednesday, and he's in good spirits and in good hands with family. I couldn't stay in Chicago longer, but we had a great visit, and I'll be "home" in spirit.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekly Winners Sunday 2/17/08

My visit home to Chicago version of my Weekly Winners, with thanks again to Lotus for hosting this great idea.

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

Earlier in the pre-Chicago trip, I made this easy, yummy and somewhat healthy-ish One-Pan Chicken Parmigiana (click link for recipe - yes, this is the fourth time mentioned - it's that good!)

What I Crave

Connected to My Past

The Creek (where as a child I ice skated, sledded over it, too!)

Pizza, Real Pizza

Self-Portrait

Icicle Kind of Cold
Meow

One Good Doggy


Relaxing with a Friend

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ick

Today is smoke-free day 243, but my clothes and hair smell all nasty and smoky. My family went to a place where smoking is allowed inside, and there definitely was some smoke in the air. Yes, at one point, looking down at that table just below me and seeing menthols made my mind wander (I still don't really go where it's smoky usually, so I'm not used to it), but returning home and having to go to bed with stinky hair because it's too late for a shower doesn't thrill me, and any small desire related to smoking is back to gone again, no Chantix help required at this stage. I walked around smelling my hair for months after quitting, amazed at how delicious it smelled. Tonight? Ick.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Senseless

Haiku Friday

I don't really know what else to say here, so relatively close to home, the Northern Illinois University shooting. I was accepted there a hundred years ago but chose another school. The same for my nephew, except he would have been attending right now, as he reminded me while we watched the local news unfold. I'm not even sure I have the words.

Our hearts are heavy;
we'll never understand such
senselessness loss of life.

My thoughts with all those
whose lives will not be the same -
I can't imagine.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 2/14/08

Today is smoke-free day 242, no matter where I am but even better being home.

Thirteen Things I'm Re-Remembering on Trip Home to Chicago
  1. Sleeping on planes is usually difficult.
  2. The earlier the the flight, the more annoying I find fellow passengers.
  3. Chicago is cold in winter.
  4. Every member of my family cranks the heat up to 8 million degrees because Chicago is cold in winter - in this sense, I've been too warm, mostly. (This one is actually new because I'm *always* too cold, until now.)
  5. White Castle really is wonderful. 3 cheeseburgers with rings is perfect. Otherwise 4 cheeseburgers and no rings since you can get rings anywhere. In a pinch and in case of accident due to prolonged absence, 4 cheeseburgers and rings is OK, too. Apparently.
  6. Pizza from where I call home will always be cut in squares, and I can still eat half a medium even while still too full from a miscalculation at the White Castle.
  7. Chicago gets ass loads of snow.
  8. Snow looks awesome while it is still pure and white.
  9. Snow loses any appeal if you have to shovel it (I haven't this trip) or when it gets dirty and/or slushy.
  10. Cars look like ass in Chicago's winters with that nasty grayish salty film. Still better than the concept of gravel in Portland where it kicks up and continues to chip or crack windshields months after that one little flurry hit.
  11. Being smart enough to wear the gym shoes and pack the slip ons pays off because otherwise snow really would have gotten in around the sides. Good think I'm a smartie pants/shoes person.
  12. Trees on the street where I grew up continue to grow from tiny when I was younger to huger each visit, no matter how many years you are gone, and it's always an amazing measuring stick of some sort I can't articulate.
  13. There's no place like home. It's Valentine's Day, and I've already done the love thing earlier this week, but it's still good to be home.

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Bud Light Songbird

Today is smoke-free day 241, and I'm all safely arrived in Chicago. Flight was uneventful other than the Bud Light Songbird sitting kitty-corner from me - 4 beers, 3 hours, waking me up with random singing along to the headphones with XM radio every time I started to doze off even just a little. It was always just a few words, maybe one line of song. Just enough to knock me out of any sleep I'd managed to fall into at all. Did I mention that this was a 6AM flight? Who knew they even served that early. She called a friend before take off and presumably the same friend upon landing and disclosed to said friend number of beers consumed, so that's how I have an exact count since I was trying to sleep, not count beers (sheep maybe). Maybe she was petrified to fly. I would have been petrified to not be able to smoke, but that's no longer a concern of mine. Thankfully. Quality time spent so far with family has included White Castle and the real deal Chicago pizza at a hometown favorite haunt, quality, indeed.

Posting will continue to range from sporatic to none until I return on Sunday, but I'd sincerely like to thank everyone who has sent best wishes for my dad's surgery next week. Due to timing, I won't be here for the surgery itself, but he's in great spirits, and we are having a nice visit. If we stop enjoying the visit (not likely) it's good knowing that I, too, could drink and sing to annoy sleeping people on the return flight to cheer myself up as needed. If I have room next to all the Sliders and pizza (and Chicago dogs tomorrow...).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's a Love Thing

Today is smoke-free day 240, and I love my life enough not to suck poison into my lungs while hoping for the best, fearing the worst. Today I love me enough to give myself some better odds.

It's also the time of the week for Heads or Tails, and today is all about Love.
  • I'm headed home to Chicago tomorrow in advance of my dad's (third) open heart surgery scheduled for next week, possibly sooner. Sometimes he's funny about saying it, but I know that my dad loves me, always has. I hope he knows I love him, too. I make a point of telling him I love him, just in case.
  • My mom had no trouble singing songs about loving you a bushel and a peck, and her love was the kind that shouted from rooftops and lived in proud pictures in her wallet. Now 13 years since losing her, I know that some love transcends death and that even while I think of her *every* *single* *day* and miss her tremendously, I know she lives on through me because her love impacted my life and is a part of who I am today.
  • I've had bigger loves and smaller loves in my life, and each one has taught me something. Typically, the more painful, the more I've learned, but I'm hoping the all the really hard stuff is behind me.
  • I've learned it's possible to love a child I never got to meet while hoping for another chance, somehow, someday to love a child that lives long enough to love me back.
  • Finding someone you love enough to just want to see the person smile is an experience not to be missed. Knowing that it's reciprocal is pretty damn awesome, too. I cook for my sweet Tom, and he makes me lattes, and we smile at each other a lot. Those are wonderful symptoms of our brand of love, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on here endlessly, but I'll spare you all the mooshy gooshy details.
  • Oh, and Love? Is an action word.
Since I'll be loving my family in (freezing ass cold) Chicago the rest of the week, I don't know how often I'll get a chance to post, but I know you all love me even when I'm gone (right?) ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beauty in Nature / Confessional

Today is smoke-free day 239, and I do not throw lit cigarette butts out the window.

I was pretty sure that I would have nothing to contribute to the latest cool project Lotus (Sarcastic Mom) has going on over at her blog. I mean, it's all about Beauty in Nature, and I'm the first to admit that I am probably a tree-hugger's nightmare because I don't tend to go out of my way to save the environment one recycled pop can at a time or whatever. Sometimes I make my bad self feel better by acting like there is something wrong with the hippies good custodians of our environment that care because it makes me feel better than admitting that I'm just too damn lazy, and apparently, crusty. Truly, I'm annoying and obstinate in real life for no good reason - hard to believe, I know... My stance on saving the environment has typically been that if "they" (whoever "they" are) make it easy for me to recycle, then I'll play along. Where I live, it ain't easy, so I tend to throw away stuff that I used to toss into a recycle bin.

Still, I thought about some changes I've made in the past several months and realized that while the environmentalist folks are not in any danger of losing status for most concerned and helpful and making the most difference compared to pitiful little ol' me, I am doing my tiny part. And, secretly, between you and me, my girl Lotus has maybe inspired me to pick up another good habit or two (shh... don't say that out loud).

What I've done already (and confessions):
  1. Several years back I stopped throwing lit cigarettes out of my car window because I became enlightened (and feared setting a forest on fire or getting a ticket). I know, before that I was an asshole. I agree.
  2. That said, at the entrance of any store, restaurant or other place I treated as my own personal ashtray, in the absence of a proper butt receptacle (or even just a garbage can), I continued being guilty of putting a cigarette out with my shoe and not picking it up leaving it there so that some other poor shmuck would have to clean up my mess while the rest of you had to walk past it in disgust. I quit smoking on June 18, 2007, so I no longer do that. Yes, I'm glad, too.
  3. It also has to be a good thing that I'm not polluting the air with stinky cigarette smoke, too, no? Not sure, but still glad I did the Chantix thing and quit smoking, because I'm tired of breathing poison air, and sometimes I smoked while I hiked. I'm sure everyone loved it.
  4. Speaking of hiking, now I actually walk sometimes instead of driving (because walking still helps me not want to smoke), and I only wish that I lived in an area where I could do that even more. Still, every little step helps.
  5. I admit, most of the above are more just a bunch of happy horseshit things to remind me why I'm glad I quit smoking than about me actively trying to do right for Beauty in Nature, but this one is more real (though my motives were money related). I have purchased three of those reusable bags from my favorite grocery store. I am religious about using them, too. Ask Tom. I will go back inside the damn apartment to get them if I forgot at the last grocery unload, and if I then leave them in the car, I'll go back out to it mid-shop to get them before checking out. When you are as forgetful as I am, this process can be annoying. I *love* these reusable bags because:
  • they hold much, much more than the nasty paper/plastic ones
  • they are much more sturdy
  • best of all, and my real motive, if I'm being honest here (why stop now) the store gives me $0.06 back for each bag!! If you do Maggie Math, me going to the store about 100 times a week (so that I can cook stuff to torment people with pictures on Sundays), bringing 3 bags each time = $0.18 per trip = either a whole bunch more lattes, or early retirement, not sure.
What I'm inspired to do from here (and confessions):
There would be almost no point to this post if I didn't feel inspired enough to at least make some small changes. Painless. Little. Changes.
  1. Did I mention that since recycling where I live requires me to do something other than just throw stuff into either "the garbage bin" or "the recycling bin" (those were the easy days when I recycled with the best of them!), as in I think I'd have to actually sort stuff out, that I'm a lazy and careless person when it comes to this kind of thing? No more excuses. No more lazy. It's not that hard to separate out the recyclables and bring them with me when I'll have to start taking out the trash when Tom is temporarily away (sob).
  2. Read all of the wonderful ideas other bloggers have come up with as part of this project, and pick out the easiest ones. Just because it's easy stuff doesn't mean it doesn't make a difference.
  3. On some of my said walks, I will carry a bag to clean up other people's messes. Lying to myself all those years that cigarette butts didn't count as litter was a bunch of crap, so I'll do it without even griping, grumbling or whining, instead thinking of it as my own little form of making amends.
  4. OK, that's plenty for a start for someone like me. Other than continuing not to smoke or pollute or litter (funny how I used to not consider cigarette butts litter in the same way as other pollution like fast food wrapper trash that makes me *so irate*), continuing to walk instead of drive when possible and using my wonderful money back reusable grocery bags.
I might live a lot more years as a non-smoker. I don't want to live in filth. Beauty in Nature does matter to me, no matter what the lazy part of me says. Thank you, Lotus, for the reminder and reason for me to think.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekly Winners Sunday 2/10/08

The reason I bother waking up on Sundays: Weekly Winners, hosted by Lotus!

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.


































































Highlights of My Interpretation (and Slight Adaptation) of Rachel Ray's Sliced Steak Stroganoff in French Bread (aka Strogie-Hoagies) (click link for actual recipe - yes they changed the link after I posted this...)
Watercress (another first in my kitchen)Ingredients (dry vs. fresh dill, onion powder vs. onion)Butter, Olive Oil, Together in Heaven (and in my pan)

Strogie-Hoagies 1

Strogie-Hoagies 2

Strogie-Hoagies 3
CoatedHeatedCooking

Strogie-Hoagies 4

Strogie-Hoagies 5

Strogie-Hoagies 6
CookedMy Helper/Kitchen MuseBroth

Strogie-Hoagies 7

Strogie-Hoagies 8

Strogie-Hoagies 9
Making Yummy Even Yummier1/3 Cup Anything Good = 1/3 Rounded Cup Instead!Lemon Juice & Dill - Almost Done!

Strogie-Hoagies 10

Strogie-Hoagies 11

Strogie-Hoagies 12
The Hoagie, NakedThe Hoagie, DressedThe Hoagie Dressed, Accessorized

Strogie-Hoagies 13

Strogie-Hoagies 14

Strogie-Hoagies 15









Me, Ready for Lunch, Perpetually


















Me, Ready for Lunch