Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Juneuary Day, Sausage and Vegetable Linguini, and Good Cookies

I love those few-and-far-between stay-at-home days. They are oh-so-rare in the busy running of a life with no margin...!

We have been in winter's icy hand the last week or so...well, the Texas version, anyway...but today it took a break and we had a perfect spring day. June in January. It was a bit windy, no big deal for this Azore-raised girl, and a generally lovely day, even if one's tastes run to autumn.

D is here, along with the little girls, which always makes the most mundane the most exciting, as in "By myself it I would manage to get this done in 30 minutes, but with your help I can do it in three hours!" Cooking for instance. We did a lot of it today, crockpots, stovetop, and oven, all of which kept the kitchen nice and warm. A little too warm at times for this Juneuary day.
For lunch we had one of our all-time favorites, Sausage and Vegetable Linguini:

l lb. sausage, sliced
5 bell peppers, cut into strips
1 3-oz can of black olives, sliced
1 small bag of frozen peas
4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 8-oz pkg linguini
1 c. Italian salad dressing
pinch of garlic
pinch of oregano

Cook pasta in one pot. In another pan saute sausage and veggies. Mix everything together. Serve hot or cold.

That's how the recipe reads. As usual, we change whatever we want. Fewer bell peppers, leave out the peas, more olives, spaghetti instead of linguini (are they really any different?!), whatever looks right that day.

Plain and simple, and GOOD! Eat it now, eat it later, hot, cold, part of a meal, or all by itself...YUM-YES!!!
And a recipe from my sorely missed bff Jo, Good Cookies:

2 chocolate cake mixes
1 brownie mix
3 eggs
3/4 c. oil
3/4 c. water
lots of options: chocolate chips, peppermint chips, crushed peppermint candy...

Mix everything together. This will be STIFF! You may want to get the he-man in your life to stir it up for you. Drop on the cookie sheet and bake at 350 till done (you're on your own for how long). You can refrigerate or freeze some of the dough for later, or, if you are cooking for the Army, as we were today, go ahead and cook the whole thing.

This isn't exactly a healthy recipe, but it makes a TON, and they are tasty, if you don't eat too many. You will have enough to pack up a box for the cadets at West Point, take to the neighbors, share with a friend, and still have some left for the little girls to smear all over their faces (and possibly other places). Nothing shabby about that!

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Messiah

Some random, in-no-particular-order thoughts on America's new Messiah:

  • Where, exactly, does this paragon of excellence come from? Kenya, Kansas, Hawaii, Indonesia, Columbia? For having a poor, single mother, 18 years old at his birth, he appears to have been quite the world traveler.
  • And where, exactly, was he really born? There's no birth certificate to prove he is even eligible to be president of the United States, and so far, nobody with any authority has had the fortitude to challenge him to produce it.
  • This one-of-us, everyday-guy, man-of-the-people has slave owners in his family tree! When it is ultimately decreed that the poor white never-owned-a-slave sods of today's America owe restitution to the born-free blacks of today, which side will Obama line up on?
  • Goodbye to the polite punctuality we have come to expect from President Bush. Hello to the keep-everybody-waiting, who-cares-about-your-time rudeness and inconsideration of President Obama.
  • And on another rude note: The new Commander-in-Chief paid not a moment of attention to the troops passing before him for review. He was too busy talking to the man behind him in the comfort of his heated review stand, and too bad about those poor suckers braving the elements outside.
  • Why do we care how much foreigners like Obama? Did they vote for him or something?
  • Barack Hussein Obama decided to use his middle name "as an olive branch to the Muslims." Huh? How about extending an olive branch to the half of the American population that didn't elect him?
  • It certainly eases my mind, in these turbulent economic times, to have a president so mindful of the financial struggles of the American public that he limits himself to in excess of $160 MILLION for a one-day event.
  • And not only that. With the country on the edge of a deep, dark recession, ethics and morality aside, he has managed to find the $$$$ to resume funding to the anti-life UN Population Fund.
  • Obama is going to git 'er done. And he's not going to waste any time. Just a couple of days in, and the Executive Order is out: Close Guantanamo. The question that hasn't even been asked, let alone answered, is: What exactly is going to happen to the inmates? Oh, no worries. Give them a free pass to America and hire an ACLU lawyer for each and every one, courtesy of the beleaguered American taxpayer. Ok, that problem's solved.
  • But even for Obama's staunchest (ex?)fans, all in Washington is not quite rosy. Gosh, I hate their luck!
  • So, we're not sure of where he came from, or who he really is, but at 1/4 black, 1/4 Arab, and 1/2 white, welcome to America's first "black" president...well, at least black-ish.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Parade

I am disappointed that M was marching in Obama's parade today, but I am thrilled that he was marching in the President's parade. In true West Point tradition, the cadets were thoroughly drilled and practiced, sub-freezing temperatures and any other problems be hanged, so I pretty much gave the activities of my day over to tv-watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Corps of Cadets. It was a colossal waste of a day. Well, except for collecting some fodder for this blog. ;-)

After slogging through endless pre-inaugural and inaugural and post-inaugural hoopla, we were more than ready for the parade, which, "due to circumstances beyond our control," was an hour and a half late in starting. We did not know that the West Point Corps of Cadets would be at the very front of the parade, though we knew they would be close to the front, and we mistakenly perceived this as an advantage. We could not have been wrong-er.

Obama's arrival was "fashionably late," while the parade outside languished in the freezing weather. By the time it actually started, a goodly portion of the parade goers had simply given up and gone home, and rumor has it that some of the participants in the parade were suffering from hypothermia by then. All this while Obama, the man of the people, took his leisure getting settled into his front-row seat in his climate-controlled reviewing stand.

Well, ok, we ourselves can't really complain. Other than the wasted time, we were comfortable enough in front of our tv set in our own living room, ready for "America's parade," as it was described by the press. America's Parade? Cool! Bring it on!

Due to Obama's lateness in arriving in the reviewing stand, the parade had already begun to file past when he got there, and he completely missed the first set of flags that went by. We were able to catch a glimpse of the very tips of the flag poles looking over Obama's shoulder through the window, and then the camera showed a head-on shot of the approaching Army band followed by West Point. We were all set for a good parade.

Only a funny thing happened on the way to America's Parade. Instead of showing us the parade, we were shown one shot after another of Obama watching the parade. Or, more accurately, of Obama not watching the parade. The new Commander-in-Chief was far too busy glad-handing the people around him to be able to review his troops passing before him, with the first military unit not to get his attention being none other than the Corps of Cadets of West Point, traditionally the very first unit to march under arms for a new president.

The press did treat us to one very short glimpse of the cadets, mistakenly announced as "The United States Military." M had told us where he would be standing, so we knew where to look: second from the right, as they marched forward, with Obama not reviewing them on the left. Hmmm...M on the right, Obama on the left...Yes, that would be right...or "accurate," I guess I should say ;-) Well, it was good that we knew where to find him, because all we got was a nanosecond of a look before we were back watching Obama (not) watching.

And that was the parade. I hope that it isn't an omen of things to come to the military from the hand of their new Commander-in-Chief. Now we can only pray.

And so, good, bad, or ugly, I'm off to remove the "NObama" sticker from the back of my van...

Coronation Day

Today's the day the whole world has been waiting for! It is time for the advent of America's new Messiah. Er... President. It's the day that Barack Hussein Obama, elected by a shameless, sycophantic media, steps out of the fictional "Office of the President-Elect" into history, into a day, according to said media, of epic importance, more significant apparently, than any other presidential inauguration. Ever.

This same media is absolutely mesmerized by America's first "black" president. It is infatuated with him, far beyond the hand-holding stage. Twitterpated, as Bambi would say. Boot-licking, fawning, and swooning to a point past embarrassment, as evidenced by some of the commentary today:

  • I lost count of how many times I heard the phrase "history being made." Newsflash: History is made every Inauguration Day.
  • According to Katie Couric, the darling of CBS News, "It's impossible to be too hyperbolic about the importance of this inauguration."
  • And Bob Schieffer's comments on the festivities: "Washington has never seen anything like this before." What? Washington has never seen a president inaugurated?!
  • "This president is so inspiring, young children all over the country have stars in their eyes?" Fascinating. I myself have never known any young child to have such definite political leanings.
  • "At last, a president that represents all the people." Huh? I don't recall voting for him, and he and I have such severely opposing views on so many basic issues, he can't possibly represent me.
Why is it that Mr. Obama was courted and interviewed and treated to press conferences long before he was ever inaugurated? And how is it that for the last several weeks, the media took to calling then-President Bush "Mr. Bush," while referring to then-Mr. Obama as "President Obama"?

All I know for sure is that for better or for worse, or for indifferent, we're on. Don't worry, we'll have the press and the media to keep us up to date on the events of the day, but if we want to know the truth, I'm quite certain it would behoove us to stay awake and pay attention.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Year Day

It's a New Year, and here we go again. The first month is halfway over already, and time is going just as fast as ever. Next thing you know it's going to be New Year again, but for now it is *still* 2009.

I got my Man off to work this morning, and that left me home alone for most of the day, a rarity around here the last few months.

It was cool this morning, though not too cool to go for a walk in the park with my friend, but the rest of the day turned out cold (well, cold-ish) and clammy. The kind of day that is perfect for sitting in front of the fireplace, only we don't have one. How is it that the chimney sweep doesn't have a fireplace...???

After my walk I did all the everyday things: phone calls, paperwork, errands, paperwork, tidying up, and did I mention paperwork? The bane of my life....

Late in the day we had a visit from C and De and the kidlets, who were passing through town. De was offered a job in the next town over and will almost surely take it, so big changes coming up in that quarter. We all went out to dinner (Does Taco Bell qualify as a *dinner*-worthy establishment?), and then we parted company.

On another front, this afternoon we heard from M that he has been assigned his spot in the Inaugural Parade: 2nd from the right in the 2nd row, so we will know exactly where to look for him, and I can't wait! My Man is taking the day off from work so he won't miss a thing.

Tonight we went to the Bible study where we have been studying Luke for the last oh-so-long. When we study something, we study it thoroughly ;-)

Afterwards there was a phone call from M! I see him pretty much daily on IM and text messages, but we don't get to talk often, so it was the perfect ending to a perfectly ordinary day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Whiff of Winter

Well, at least what passes for winter in Texas.

This morning was our second day in a row to wake up to cold, clammy air and rainy, grey drizzle alternating with rainy, grey rain, and thin, cold sunshine sparkling through the ice-clad branches of the trees. Even the dumpsters sported rows of icicles, and car mirrors and windshields were spread with sheets of lacy ice. Whatever it may feel like, new ice (and new snow when you can get it) makes everything beautiful...lovely and appealing, but, alas, treacherous. Hmmmm.... sorta like sin, come to think of it.

But, unlike sin, winter doesn't stick around for long. At least not in this part of the world. We may have had one full day of winter yesterday~according to Rusty, the 30-something high yesterday occurred at 3am~and this morning may have called for hats and gloves, but this afternoon hats are dismissed and jackets are abandoned. The wild wind may not have quite succeeded in blowing us off the road, but it thoroughly swept every wisp of cloud from the overcast sky leaving only blue behind. Not the rich blue blue of autumn or the bright promising blue of spring, but still, clear watery blue.

M, up in the wilds of New York, laughs when we say *cold.* Well, what might you expect from someone who is watching new snow falling on a Hudson River half frozen over. Now that's Winter. What we have here is just an imitation. A Windy Wisp of Winter.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Last Day

Well, just a couple of hours in the car in the dark, not really a day at all, at least not on this end.

M and I left the house today at 4:20. AM. to catch the first flight of his trip, leaving at 7. He didn't actually have to be back at West Point until tomorrow, but as much as we would have enjoyed one more day with him, it was going to cost $500 to change his ticket, and as it develops, even outside of the $ factor, there are some definite advantages to giving yourself some margin. It definitely cuts down on the stress when

  • you just commented on the great traveling conditions: good weather, good road, bare minimum of traffic, and suddenly you have to slam on the brakes when you come upon a sea of red lights on the road in front of you, and a whole herd of 18-wheelers and assorted other vehicles bring you to a complete standstill, with the only movement on the scene coming from one emergency vehicle after another screeching its way to somewhere down the road ahead of you, and you end up creating your own ramp to escape the interstate. Adventure driving at its finest. Just as you pull up to the feeder road, two more ambulances whiz by barely giving you time to stop, and then as you cruise down the access road toward the stoplight, you get a look at the cause of all the commotion: a dead 18-wheeler flat on its back, bellowing smoke into the night, sprawled across all southbound lanes of the interstate, attended by a host of ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks. And then just for good measure, the stop light holds you up for a good half hour. Ok, maybe not that long, but at least long enough to convince you to "run" the light. Or when
  • you make it the airport with still enough time to make your flight (unlike the hapless wannabe passengers at the kiosk next to you who are firmly informed by the friendly computer that "It is too late to check in for your flight."), but then you run into an ignorant, overly-zealous security guard whose disdain for the military is blatantly obvious, causing him to direct you into a safe little glass cubicle where he abandons you until he gets good and ready to make an example of you to the airport at large, waving his little magic wand up and down your body, and then patting you vigorously up the front and down the back, making sure you stay put by holding your shoes hostage, and letting you go with barely enough time to make the "last call" for your flight, thus ensuring that you will not have time to file a complaint against him. And then
  • you make it back to West Point a day ahead of your roommates, allowing you to choose your bed and your desk, register your phone, set up your computer, grab a laundry cart (uncontested) so you can move all of your stuff in one trip, no hurries, no worries; and the next day when the rest of the corps, suffering delayed flights and missed connections and other travel perils comes dragging in, you have a nice, leisurely day on your agenda, while theirs is overloaded with anxiety and stress, and they still have to move in and unpack.
What a difference a day makes....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! x2

New Year's Eve found us on our way to visit Little Granny at the nursing home in Kerrville. We don't get there often enough, and we wanted to be sure and make the trip while M was here.

As we walked up to the front door, we noticed a van unloading: speakers, amplifiers, guitars, microphones, they had it all, right down to the three men, dressed all in black, relieved only by a white bandanna tied around the throat. Black felt cowboy hats, black Western shirts, black pants, and black...I had sorta expected black cowboy boots, but nope...canvas, tennie-style shoes (black, of course)...?!

We went around them into the lobby and immediately noticed people were beginning to gather. Some were seated in chairs placed around every edge of the room, others were being wheeled in, still others were shuffling along in their walkers. Whaddya know, it's PARTY TIME!! And we are just in time!!!

We collected Little Granny from her room, and settling in on one of the couches, we observed the remaining party preparations. As "The Sounds of Yester-Year" set up their stage, one of them commented, "I hope we get out of here early. I want to have some champagne tonight," and over in the dining room, aides were busily arranging fancy cookies on plates and pouring champagne ("With?" or "Without?") into fancy glasses.

I was tired, and it was the perfect time for a nap. Not a real nap of course, mostly just "resting my eyes." Anyway, how much sleep could I get with the Princess continually poking and pinching me while the sounds of the Lonesome Whippoorwhil and the Chattanooga Choo Choo were blazing away just inches from my right ear...? As I said, it wasn't a real nap, although I confess I was unaware of the aide standing in front of me until she very pointedly shouted, "Cookie?" at me. And she did mean "a" cookie, so I took care to choose only the very best...which, after it was too late to trade, turned out to be some sort of fruitcake cookie... Yum-no.

Well, that pretty well finished my pseudonap. While the Men in Black carried on valiantly with their repertoire, an aide passed out party hats and horns and tiaras and noise makers, after which came an announcement:

"We are going to count down the New Year! At 3 o'clock!"

Well, I supposed it would be the New Year somewhere in the world, even if not in Kerrville, Texas, and it looked like the members of the band were going to get their wish to go home early. I couldn't help noticing, though, that when the aide offered them champagne, they chose theirs "with." Hmmm.... champagne now, champagne later. New Year's x2 for the Men in Black.

Fifteen minutes later it was 3 o'clock, and right on time, the countdown began. Upon reaching "0", the Sounds of Yester-Year began their twangy rendition of "Old Lang Syne," something I hadn't ever heard before, and as for the noise makers and the horn blowers, let me just say that was one lively party! A whole lot livelier than our next one nine hours later... Party now, party later. New Year's x2 for us.

Shortly after the countdown we took off for a short visit with Aunt Fiona and her new husband. We still had a long trip ahead of us, but no hurries, after all... we had all year in front of us.

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!