Monday, November 24, 2014

Leftover Day

Traditions have to start somewhere...right? So we've decided to start a new one.

We call it Leftover Day.

Thanksgiving is the time for family. We make a ton of food, eat a ton of food, then talk about all the food we ate. Most of the time there are leftovers, and many questions as to what to do with all of the food before it goes bad. I have teenagers, so I my leftovers don't usually last very long, but I remember having leftovers from past Thanksgivings.

I noticed some of my friends didn't seem thrilled about being with family for Thanksgiving. In fact, some dreaded it because of all the drama that ensues. Since this holiday is geared towards family, even with the drama potential, no one really wanted to not go over for the traditional family Thanksgiving meal.

So I devised a solution.

We invite several friends and people with no family over on the Friday after Thanksgiving for Leftover Day. If they have leftovers they bring them, or bring a side dish. We make an extra turkey, and one or two side dishes (if we weren't hosting that year), then have a second Thanksgiving with friends. Everyone has their signature side dish or dessert, so we all get to try something different at the Thanksgiving table, and maybe share a few new recipes. Any unwanted leftovers are boxed up and sent to the local shelter or to local families in need. 

I always manage to have enough left over to make turkey salad for lunches for work and school, my fridge is cleaned out, and no food will go bad. I get to spend some extra time with friends, and there's no pie daring me to eat it. 

Oh yeah, this is going to be a new tradition in our house!

Would you be willing to try having a Leftover Day? If so, I'd love to hear how it went!

Monday, November 17, 2014

MRI Yi Yi!

Once upon a time I had a shoulder. It was a good shoulder, but it got strained and decided to go on strike. Now I no longer have a shoulder- I have this creaky old arm hinge that hurts whenever I try to lift stuff.

I asked for an MRI. I got an X-ray. X-ray said the bone was fine. Duh. I already knew that. This wasn't a bone issue, medical people- even you told me it was a tendinitis thing. But let's waste some fundage anyway by taking useless pictures of perfectly healthy bone. Sheesh.

Only after the X-ray was I allowed to get an MRI. So I took my permission slip and off I went to schedule an appointment.

I've never had an MRI before. Oh, I've heard tales of claustrophobics having panic attacks and people not knowing they had metal in them (like a pin they swallowed in the second grade), but I watched House and Bones and knew that those machines weren't as small as my friends had told me- they seemed roomier on TV. After all, TV doesn't fabricate...right?

The TV people lied.

Everything was hunky dory as I lay down on the little bench, trying to keep my bulk from slipping off the sides as the technician screwed on a shoulder holder thing that reminded me of a really weird-looking C-clamp. This was to keep my shoulder from moving during the photo shoot.

They laid a cotton blanket on me that was thin but warmed me up in a jiffy- especially nice since the room was below freezing. I really want to know where they sell those things- I want one to slip between my sheets on winter nights!

I also had a firm pillow tucked under my knees to make things more comfortable. Back spasms are bad if you have to lie still for forty minutes. I was given a panic button to summon the tech if I needed anything. Now it was time to stick me in a tube that reminded me of the casket shooter that shot Spock's body into space in Star Trek: Genesis.

As my head went in I was also concerned I might reenact Mr. Incredible's entrance into the travel pod in The Incredibles. A few more pounds and that might have actually happened!

My body parts that tried to slide off the sides were suddenly scooped up and pressed against the very tight walls of the machine. Oh sure, my shoulder had some support now, but was squished against the C-clamp and the wall. Looking up only rewarded me with a close look at frosted glass that glowed like a small sun. 

To hide the impending noise of the machine, I was gifted with earphones. Before the earphones were put on, I was given ear plugs. Talk about an oxymoron. But the best part was that my ears were already half plugged with wax (yet another health issue from the Wonderful World of Old), so I could barely hear the music from the 80's that I'd requested. 

But I'd heard that machine. 

I imagine it would sound the same from the inside of a dryer that contained a pair of sneakers. Thump, thump, thump. I hit the button several times to ask for her to turn up the music, but my requests fell on deaf ears- or the button she gave me was a fake one. I suspected the latter. I closed my eyes and thought happy thoughts- like how I was eternally grateful not to be claustrophobic.

Believe it or not, I fell asleep.

The sound of my own soft snoring woke me, and the tech clicked in. "How are you doing in there?" she asked. I think she thought my snores were me having labored breathing from a panic attack. "I'm good- can you turn up the music please?" But I heard a click after "I'm good" and the music remained muted.

So I fell asleep again.

The machine stopped and started a few times, and she kept announcing every four minutes that another four minutes had passed. And each time, she woke me up. Apparently I didn't need an update- I needed a nap.

Then it was over and I was extracted from the machine. My shoulder was killing me. It didn't like being shoved in a C-clamp and a Star Trek tube for forty minutes and let me know most insistently. 

I was helped into a sitting position, and my head spun. "Oh, that's normal," she said. "You'll be fine in a few minutes." Then she tried to rush me to stand and get out of the MRI room. I put a hand up and warned her to give me a minute- unless she wanted to try to pick my bulk off of the floor all by herself. She waited a minute until I was ready to stand. Smart lady.

I went into the changing room and slid off the robe, then spent the next ten minutes trying to get dressed with a shoulder that refused to cooperate. I did not want to go out into the real world without certain undergarments (at my age, gravity is not my friend), so after a struggle and a lot of awkward twisting, I finally managed to get dressed. Then I got the heck out of there.

I should be getting the results this week. I have to wonder what MRI really means. Personally, I think it means Majorly Rectal Irritant, which means a pain in the posterior- or in my case, shoulder. But you get the idea. Please keep me in prayer, Dear Readers- I need them!

Monday, November 10, 2014


I know why God gave me children, but why did He have to give me teenagers?

These people think they know everything- and thanks to technology and new math, most of the time they can prove it. But I have questions that need answers!

Why can a teenager program my new cell phone in 3.2 seconds, but can't figure out the proper setting for a dishwasher?

Why can a teenager talk or text friends on the phone forever, but can't remember what they did at school for eight hours?

How can teens make themselves a four course breakfast, but can't remember to put the food away?

How can teens be up at the crack of dark to go on a trip, but can't manage to crack an eyelid when the alarm goes off for school?

How can they understand new math but don't understand the simpler, old math?

Why are we parents considered dumb as stumps- until we brainstorm a way to get them out of trouble?

Why do teens think spelling isn't important, but get mad when no one understands their written work?

Why are teens okay with spending money- unless it's their own?

And why, King, of Kings and Lord of Lords, can't these teenage people clean up after themselves when they make a mess? I don't care if it's their rooms, the couch, or the kitchen- the house seems to be their personal dump site!

I really wonder if God was dealing with Adam and Eve as teens in Eden. "I gave you a garden and all I said was 'Don't touch that one tree'...and what do you do?" Then God places His hand to His head and sighs, muttering to Himself, "Thou shalt not kill...thou shalt not kill...I need to write this down...."

So God decided right then and there to invent The Mother's Curse- because He wanted them to have kids that act exactly like they acted.....

Teens. Can't live with 'em, can't sell 'em on Ebay. But you gotta love 'em, because you're the only one who can brainstorm them out of trouble....


Monday, November 3, 2014


That's it- I'm going to start a commune.

I'll start with friends and get them to move to a plot of land several hundred acres square. We'll build luxurious houses that are solar and air powered. There will also be a huge communal pool- because having one hundred separate pools is just silly- because we'll be spending all of our summers together anyway.

Since we'd have all the acreage, we'd start an organic, self-sustaining farm complete with farm animals and in-ground fish tanks for talapia, perch and any other good-eatin' fish that would provide all the fertilizer for the huge greenhouses so we can grow stuff all year long. I know it can be done- I saw a guy from Milwaukee grow a million pounds of food on a mere three acres!

Families will work together- everyone would trade skill for skill- you help me clean, I cook for you, you fix this for me and I handle your taxes- everything within the commune would run fairly smooth using the barter system. 

The best part is the kids would always have someone to play with and the at-home parents will have real grown-ups to talk to. We're talking major happy potential here, people.

For the public, we'd have stores for the produce, restaurants serving fresh organic food, and stores for homemade goods and crafts. If done right, this could be a self-sustaining neighborhood!

Okay, so the idea isn't a new one. The Amish have been doing this forever- without the cool pool and solar panels. But it's still a good, viable idea. Especially if you can get enough people in on it. 

So...who wants to start a commune with me?

Monday, October 27, 2014

If I Had One Wish

If you had one wish, what would it be?

Have you ever been asked that question?

I decided to give this question some seriously deep thought. What would I wish for? Other than more wishes, that is.

Then it came to me. If I could have one wish, it would be to understand any language, whether it be spoken, written, or signed. 

I could go on and say "so I can do a world of good for mankind" but that wouldn't be the entire truth. I would be cool to truly translate ancient Egyptian writing, read the original biblical texts, and translate the new math, but if I was really honest? I just want to understand what multi-lingual people say on the bus.

You know what I'm talking about- those people talking to their friends (quite loudly) about some adventure or drama they experienced- and just when they get to the good part, they switch to a different language!

"Well I told Niko that he was crazy, and I wasn't going to put up with his stuff anymore. And you know what he did next? Gouda mezzah pala blork zazzer remmy snark!"

How rude! Don't they know that people are trying to eavesdrop? And you know someone else was recording it on their phone. Unfortunately my stop comes up before I can ask the video guy for his contact information, so now I'll never know what Niko did. Dang it.

God does fill many wishes, but I seriously doubt He would grant me that particular one- simply because He knows I would be using it more on the bus than to better the world. 

Still, it would be cool to know what people say- especially about me as I walk by. You know they do this when they stop speaking English, look at you and giggle, then switch languages when you get in earshot. Just once I would love to hear what they really said, and respond sweetly in their own language. Just seeing their expressions would be priceless. Just thinking about it makes me grin.

 Now you tell me- what would your one wish be?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shouldering On

Once I had a shoulder. It was a nice shoulder, soft, flexible, and strong. Then I went to the gym and used an above-the-head weight machine. This is a machine I've used many, many times before, and my shoulder never complained. But one day it happened. 

My shoulder had enough and I heard a lovely little Pop!- and I could no longer use the weight machine.

A few months later it felt tons better, and I had to pack up a three-story house by myself. some of the boxes were 70 lbs. but I did it, and my shoulder never said a word.

At least until a few months after the move. It started out as a tiny whimper, a small whine, and infinitesimal grumble once in a while. I continued doing my mom, wife, and homemaker thing, and rested it when it started complaining a little too much, which wasn't often. That was two years ago.

Now my shoulder is a cantankerous, cranky old nag that refuses to leave me alone- and hinders me from doing the simplest of chores. Lifting a frying pan has become hazardous to my well being, and grocery shopping is torture. So I went to my clinic. I went to my clinic for over a year for the same issue, and they kept telling me the same thing over and over. It's tendinitis. Stop lifting stuff.

I am a mother, people. You know as well as I do that if I don't lift it, no one else will. But the pain got so bad that for a while, I did stop lifting stuff. So now I sit here, still in pain, and a house that looks like it was hit with a garbage truck.

I had had enough.

My next appointment warranted a slightly veiled threat to the intern. If you medical people don't stop looking at the outside of my shoulder and start looking at the inside, you are going to have one very large, loud woman to deal with- one who can sing very bad opera. The intern (I never get the resident doctor) relented and scheduled me for an X-ray. An x-ray. Two seconds ago you're telling me it's tendinitis, next you're setting me up for an x-ray. X-rays are for bones, you twit. Not tendons. Why give me an x-ray?

The clinic intern replied, "It's procedure. If we don't see anything, then we'll do an MRI."

Procedure. Translate that into "Let's waste even more time and resources doing something that might kinda-sorta tell us what might possibly be wrong before we do something that could actually help you" and you get the idea. Clinics have a lot of "procedures", hoping you'll get frustrated enough to go away.

But they underestimate me. I'm a very stubborn, large woman who has two teenagers. I have enough body mass and gumption to wait out your silly "procedures". And I'll sing very bad opera while I wait. 

Last week, I had my x-ray in record time. I think the intern told the tech of my opera skills. This makes me very happy.

My x-ray review appointment will be this week. Let's see what the pretty picture is and if in fact there is anything worth seeing- or will they finally break down and schedule an MRI?

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of "Shouldering On"- when I divulge the test results!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cook vs. Chef

I am a cook. My husband is a chef. Neither of us has been to culinary school. He's a natural, and I had to learn from others- and sometimes from him.

What's the difference between a cook and a chef? Allow me to break it down for you:

A cook makes simple meals with a few stocked ingredients.
A chef makes elaborate meals with five hundred thirty-six ingredients that need to be bought fresh that day.

A cook uses one pot to boil water.
A chef uses twenty-seven.

A cook usually uses no more than two pots or pans to make a meal.
A chef uses every pot, pan, baking sheet, mixing bowl, utensil, and kitchen gadget to make a meal.

A cook cleans the kitchen as the food cooks. 
A chef never cleans or rinses anything and tosses everything in the sink and on the counters.

A cook has a dirty apron and a clean kitchen when the food is done.
A chef has a clean apron and a kitchen that needs a HAZMAT team when the food is done.

A cook's food taste like it was from mom.
A chef's food tastes like we got it at a fancy restaurant.

A cook usually has leftovers.
A chef never has leftovers.

A cook, at the last minute, can make something edible out of hot dogs and spaghetti.
A chef, at the last minute, can use what's in the fridge to make a brand new, fantastic recipe worthy of publication in Food and Wine magazine.

A cook hates it when the chef accomplishes the above and complains to all of her friends.
A chef loves it when he accomplishes the above and brags to all of his and her friends.

I am a cook. I cook all week, sometimes twice a day. My husband is a chef who cooks twice a week, usually on the weekends. Thank You God that he doesn't cook more often- I don't think the kitchen (or I) could handle it!