Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Over and Out?

Not yet sure if I will post again before midnight I shall consider this the last post and even if it is not, we can refer to it as the last post of the year part 1.

For the third straight calendar year I can say that no day passed without exercise; this statement has been true since October 9th of 2010. Not every workout has been the perfect one but I do my very best year round and I consider this a great accomplishment.

Over the last few months, my whole food intake has been off. It all started with some bad stomach pain and even worse heartburn. Eventually, it led to the discovery of gastritis (thank God nothing really serious) but no real root cause. After some research, I question if the daily intake of whey protein post morning workout had been the reason (or at least part).

In general, these past few months since the stomach thing, I've been off - not just with food but with the whole flora and fauna thing in general. I need to find that harmony again.

I had a bad year with the books, not nearly enough reading but I am remedying that for 2014 having gone about 2/3rd's of the way through what will be the first book I finish in 2014 and several more lined up behind.

I suspect January will be a difficult month at home only because of the disruption of the kitchen remodel. Depending on the actual start date, it may tip into February but I hope it's not as awful as it seems - the idea of not having a kitchen at all for 3-6 weeks scares me a little, and my poor cat will deal with fright each day of work 9as he did when the roof was done, the bathroom and even the painting.

I baked this morning and I don't know if my oven is mad at me because I already purchased its replacement or I am not on my game because the end results were sloppy. Fortunately, the sloppiness only refers to appearance and doesn't alter the flavor.

I guess before I go, in the chance I don't make it back, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy new year for 2014. May you all find what you are in search of and have a dream or two become reality...and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Soup to Nuts

This may seem crazy to you but it was fun to write out (or rather, type out).

I had taken out some chicken thighs I had in the freezer thinking it might be a good idea to use them, but what would I concoct this time? I placed the thighs in the refrigerator so they would begin their thaw and got on with my day.

After church on Sunday, as my daughter and I were headed for brunch I declared, we must stop at the market so I can get some fresh ingredient for a nice batch of homemade soup – and that is what the chicken that began its defrost the afternoon before would be used for.

Later in the day, I began with the mise en place. I carefully washed the carrots and celery and chopped them, along with the onions for the mirepoix. I chopped up some garlic, pulled out the spices I planned to use and then, realized that I was lax in my inventory knowledge while at the market earlier that day. Turns out, I needed to make another trip as I had an insufficient supply of stock.

I carefully contained what I had prepared thus far and headed out for another go at the market. As I walked through the fresh produce aisle en route to my destination, I spotted some butternut squash, not in my original plan for this soup but it struck my eye and all of a sudden, there was a flavor in my mind that I wanted and so I crabbed the package of pre-cut (time saver) butternut squash then headed for the stock and found my way back home.

And so it was time to construct the soup. The simple anticipation of wondrous aromas was enough for me to imagine them, and almost sense them as if they already existed. I put a little oil in the dutch oven and let it heat; I added some cumin seed to get it toasting and begin the aromatherapy.

I seasoned the chicken pieces, then placed them in the pot to get them browning. I removed them after they were sufficiently browned and added a touch more oil and a little butter and then, the mirepoix. I seasoned with salt and pepper then added some curry powder and a few bay leaves giving it all a good stir and then let them sweat it out for a bit but not before adding some garlic to the mix. The aromas were for real by now and I knew, it would only get better from here.

I think we all have this therapeutic perception about eating soup but form me at least, I find it at least equally, if not more so, therapeutic to make one; it’s the whole idea of building it – constructing it, then, just letting it be for a while, so everything becomes part of the whole.

I gave another stir, then added the chicken pieces back in and the cubes of butternut squash and then, a nice layer of salt and pepper before adding the stock and giving a little stir before popping the lid back on the pot and letting time take over for a while.

After about an hour and a half, I added some grated potato to the mix. I know, sounds odd right? It’s one of many different ways one can thicken a soup – I hadn't used this method in the past so I wanted to give it a go, so I did. About 30 minutes later or so, I retrieved so of the butternut squash and carrots and a smidge of the soup and carefully pureed them before adding them back for another stir and the final 20-30 minutes or so.


When the time arrived, I cooked up some egg noodles (at the suggestion of my daughter) and soon after, we began to eat – and it was bliss. Everything from the start harmonized into a joyful moment in time that I could share with my child. Hours later, we still enjoyed the lingering aromas.

I Was Wrong/Clarification

Back on December 9th, I wrote this post after learning that Billy Joel was being awarded the Kennedy Center Honors. After watching the show and learning more about what the honor is about, I was wrong to mic in my feelings about Billy Joel in the present with specificity of this honor.

I want to clarify that after watching the show and learning more about what this is all about, I do thing he is deserving of the honor and I was quite moved with the tribute they gave him.

I want to further clarify my frustration with him as an artist in the present moment remains for all the reasons specified.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sharing Music

A great musical treat for me this year was getting to know a really terrific young singer-songwriter named Jessie Albright. Jessie replaced my friend Meghan in a band called "The Road Dawgs" (who I've seen now, oh,  about 100 times or more, and have become friends with) but she also writes, records and performs as a solo act.

In 2014, among many landmark events for Jessie, she will release her first album called "Waiting Patiently" and I thought I would share the title cut for you. Give it a listen below, enjoy the lyrics, and then see below for more about Jess, her web site and her forthcoming release.

**************************************************


Lyrics

Caught in a place
where there's no one but you
sleeping in quiet
only your face shines through

Reality steals you from me
and as hard as it may try
I will keep on living my dream, day by day

'Cause I know there will be a day
when you hold me in your arms
and I will be there waiting patiently

You're all I see
when the sun don't shine
When I feel weak, you'll be there by my side

No matter what I do I
only have eyes for you
And I'll keep on living what I know is true

'Cause I know there will be a day
when you hold me in your arms
and I will be there waiting patiently

What do I do when I think I can't make it through?
What do I say when people ask about you?

This I know you won't let go and neither will I
Can't you see I'm in love with you now, why would I lie?

'Cause I know that there will be a day
when you hold me in your arms
and I will be there waiting patiently
I will be there waiting patiently
I will be there waiting patiently
**************************************************
Let's talk a bit more about this....

I should first point you to Jessie's web site: http://www.jessiealbright.com/

At her site, you could hear more of her music, purchase her first single (and donate to World Vision at the same time), see photos,  read a bio, and learn much more about Jessie including the soon to be released album; also, please sign up for her newsletter!

The reason I chose to feature the song "Waiting Patiently" is because when I heard her perform it last night, the lyrics took on some meaning for me. As I've talked about many times here and other places, whether it's a song or a poem, the beauty of the written word is the that regardless of the inspiration and meaning to the author, we as the reader (or listener) are free to interpret and give those words meaning in the context of our own thoughts, feelings and lives. Some of the lyrics in this song take on a very personal meaning to me.

Earlier today, I asked Jessie about her inspiration for this song, because I was of course curious- rather than reveal that here, you can hear that from her at a show or you can ask by interacting with her on her website :) Enjoy the song here and the other two on her web site and let them take on meaning for you as well.

I must recommend though that you get out to a show, that's where you will get the best Jessie experience. Jessie is awesome as both the leader singer of The Road Dawgs and in her Solo performances - please treat yourself to one, you won't be disappointed!

What's the Story Morning Glory

This post has no association with the Oasis song. It struck me as funny because it isn't morning and that I woke up much later than usual today, though it is only because I went to bed much later than usual.

Here is a selfie I took this morning as I was aping my reaction to it being the time that it was.

There is a terrific and super funny video I shared on FB the other day that I wanted to post here as well. This guy is in an airport and gets right up next to people talking on cell phones and does something he calls "cell phone crashing", it's so funny, please watch!



That was hilarious, right?

Well, as I type this it is 12:32 on Saturday afternoon and I feel like I need to feign productivity in some form, though posting to a blog can be deemed productive; at least I think so!

I'll catch ya all a bit later.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Wise Ass

This was all over Facebook today and I wanted to share it, but I thought here was a better place to do so (plus, I came up with a pretty great title for the post).
 
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.
 
Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
 
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.
 
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
 
As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
 
MORAL : Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
 
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happens.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Recipe: Tasting Table's Deck the Ramen Ball Cookies

I saw this on Good Morning America on Christmas Eve morning and was very intrigued; I'll need to make these some time soon.

Crazy Christmas Cookies
From the Kitchen of Tasting Table
Servings: Over 8
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 30-60 min

In the avalanche of holiday cookie recipes available this time of year, it can be difficult to choose which to actually make. Solve that problem with unique and delicious recipes from Tasting Table, like these Deck the Ramen Ball cookies. We guarantee you've never seen treats like this.

Ingredients
·         ½ cup heavy cream
·         8 ounces 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
·         1 (4.2-ounce) pack ramen (the cheap stuff that when eaten raw tastes like crackers)
·         2 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds
·         Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel
 
Directions
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Place chocolate in a medium bowl and pour cream over it. Let melt for 1 minute, then stir with a spatula in tight circles until smooth. (If there are still lumps, buzz the chocolate with a hand held mixer.)

Transfer to a small baking dish, spreading the chocolate mixture out to help it cool faster. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Place the ramen noodles in a plastic storage bag. Bang them with a heavy ladle or rolling pin until finely ground. (You should have about 1 cup.) Transfer the ramen to a shallow bowl. Mix in the roasted black sesame seeds.

Roll the chocolate by hand into large grape-size spheres and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Warming the chocolate slightly in your hands will help it stick to the toppings.)

Immediately sprinkle the rolled chocolate with a little sea salt, pressing down so the salt sticks to the truffle, then roll it in the ramen mixture.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Holiday Shuffle

I think I may have written about what Christmas Eve was like in my childhood, I don't have the energy right now to confirm, maybe some other time. I know I have talked about how this time of year can be difficult for me sometimes.

I went to church this afternoon with my kid, that made me happy. What made me happier was to see her perform with the band. I've watched her rehearse of the last few months and to see all that hard work come to fruition was touching.

I dropped her off at her mom's after church then I was off to my friends Mike and Sara's house and there was lots of fishy foods and fun conversation.

Tomorrow, I will spend some time with my kid in the morning and then later go over to my friend Linda and Bill's for dinner.

My belly is growing!

Merry Christmas!

33 Questions about 2013

This Meme is becoming another annual tradition, I forgot how hard it is!
1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Visited Wisconsin.
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
While I rarely if ever make a formal resolution, I did vow early to go into the year with a “Pay-it-Forward” attitude and I did that very successfully (in my opinion).
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, my pal Barbara gave birth to the very cute Parker Raymond at the end of January.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My aunt Lena, affectionately known as “Aunt Babydoll”. Aunt Babydoll was the last living member of my mother’s siblings.
My friend Wayne also passed away as did my cousin’s wife, both at a very young age.
5. What countries did you visit?
Remained in the U.S.A. all year (though I believe I was on tribal land at one point).
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I’m not sure how long I should ponder this question without an answer before moving on. It would be relatively easy to take it from a materialistic perspective but that seems like such a cop out.
I must say that earlier in the year, during a pretty big snowstorm, I vowed to get a pair of “grown up” boots as my feet were freezing; the boots I have are kind of shitty. I have not yet invested in those nice warm, high end boots as of yet – but I hear L.L. Bean calling me.
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 15th. I got to spend that that with 5 amazing people that I wish I could spend more time with. Also, I was psyched that the jelly Belly factory had sugar free jelly beans after the tour of the factory!
April 20thwas pretty special too – see next question.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think my commitment to paying it forward, most notably capped off by a visit on April 20th to some areas deeply affected by hurricane sandy. I was able to tour the damage, spend time with friends who were affected and bring handmade afghans and blankets to a number of victims as gifts from the knitting guild at my church.
9. What was your biggest failure?
One that comes to mind is not podcasting as much as I feel like I wanted to.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a pretty bad go with some gastritis that sidelined me for a short time but kept me uncomfortable for a long while and to this day has my flora off.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I recently bought this “as seen on TV” contraption called the “Flip Fold” and I love it! It’s a gadget for folding shirts; I blogged about it here.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I recently learned of a situation where several of my friend’s kids were either giving away all or part of their lunch and buying food for people in their school who have less access to food. They did this all on their own with no prompting and had been doing it for as long as a year before revealing so to their mother. These are not just extraordinary kids, they are extraordinary people. I am so proud and honored to know them.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Dennis Rodman, Kanye, and that Duck Dynasty jerkoff.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Kitchen remodel – in progress. Mortgage got a hefty chunk as well.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
One student in particular that I know has dreamt of being a nurse but flunked out on two occasions for a variety of reasons. In the midst of the second time, her mother was diagnosed with leukemia but she persisted and just passed the program this week. These are the stories I live for in this line of work.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
While I am not sure if listening to this song will bring me back specifically to this year (or it will but I won’t recall the specific year, just the year it was out), I do know that of the songs that were big this year, the one I feel had the largest impact on me was “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. I love the song, the sound and the vibe and have heard two great cover versions of it performed by some friends of mine.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Yes
ii. thinner or fatter? Regrettably, fatter.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer financially, but only a little (thank God).
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Creative writing, reading.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating when I really shouldn’t have or didn’t need (or even want) to. I know, that just made me sound like I’ve gained 100 pounds instead of just 6 or 7!
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With friends, and some time with my daughter.
21. How many one-night stands?
None.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Breaking Bad – though it was the last season, every second of it was brilliant and it had the best series finale in television history.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No.
24. What was the best book you read?
TIE:
Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road by William Least Heat-Moon
Attempting Normal by Marc Maron
25. What did you want and get?
My daughter to have some kind of epiphany about school; she’s really come into her own and made honor roll for the first time and I’ve received several notes about her improvement.
26. What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn’t see many movies at all and even less of this year’s releases. That said, I loved “Sound City”, a music documentary directed by Dave Grohl.
27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I went to see my friend perform and hang with a few other pals. I turned 49.
28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I know it would sound shallow and perhaps even stupid to say winning the lottery, especially because I think I played once, maybe twice. I don’t have a problem working, even working hard – I’ve done so for all of my life thus far. I just wish that my work was more about a ministry, mine is teaching and not have to have a dependence on working to live. Quite frankly, I’d settle for a nice salary boost but should I luck into a windfall, I have vowed to help others and make a significant part of the rest of my life about giving and donating time and money to those less fortunate.
Reading this back about an hour or two after reading it and it sounds so ridiculous in a way! I’m not really sure how to approach this…this whole exercise is quite draining!
29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Simple.
30. What kept you sane?
What is this “sane” you speak of? Seriously, my kid keeps me grounded more than anything. Also, trying to keep things into perspective and respect the things I have and try my best to share with those that don’t. There are times when I feel down and like I wish things were different but then I see people without jobs, without shelter, food and realize even at what I feel are my hardest moments, there are people that would kill to trade places.
31. What political issue stirred you the most?
The gross misconception of the Affordable Care Act and the Conservative bashing of our President. The conservatives in general were a major downer as was the fundamentalist Christians who have destroyed this country.
32. Who did you miss?
My friend Wayne passed away suddenly earlier this year, at the age of 45. We didn’t spend a ton of time together after he changed jobs but we had a lot of good times together and it was a friendship that grew from a working together situation that didn’t start well.
33. Who was the best new person you met?
I haven’t really gotten to know any of the new people I’ve met this year well enough to add them here.
That’s about the size of it.
And now for a current picture of me:
 

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 RetroMemespective

This meme is sort of becoming an annual end of year tradition. Here's how it works. Go into your archives from the past year and post the first sentence of the first post from each month. For this year, in compiling them with this level of rigidity I found the whole thing utterly boring; so I changed it up a bit. What I've done, with the exception of June (because the last post of the month was the first one I saw and it re-caught my attention), I started with the first post of each month and went through that and each post after until I caught something that grabbed my attention enough to think it might catch yours thinking, hoping, wondering if, you read it, liked it, didn't like it, or want to read it based on the sentence (or in some cases, sentences) I pulled for this post.

I know there are readers out there but there are very few who comment on the posts and for at least some of them, I do really wonder what they mean to you. Enjoy!

January
From 1/2: ” “I bought a chinois today...and another half sheet pan, two silpats and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, you got me, I didn't really get the chinois. LOL! I did; you know which one I didn't get.”

February
From 2/6: “While packing a book into a manila envelope today, my hand slipped and thus created a rather deep and painful paper cut.

March
From 3/12: “I was accidentally rude today and felt super bad."

April
From 4/3: “I think in some way, this is a piece of an illustration on my thoughts about the impact of education on civility and civilization and society in general..”

May
From 5/6: “First (and foremost), are you freaking kidding me? Pizza, from a vending machine!”

June
From 6/30: “I was at the supermarket yesterday and as I passed the deli counter, as I do maybe once every couple of years, I thought about a cold cut called Liverwurst.”

July
From 7/7: “My daughter and I were having breakfast at iHop and in the both across from us, there was a very young girl playing with a spoon, trying to balance it on her nose with no luck.”

August
From 8/18: “I was at a red light on a two lane road and I noticed the car in front of me and in the lane to the left, the rear window was lowered and out came a pinwheel in the hand of what I presumed to be a young child.”

September
From 9/7: “Winter Street is a long quiet country road that start (or ends if you are coming the other way) just across the street from me.”

October
From 10/2: “From Gunpowder to Teeth Whitener: The Science Behind Historic Uses of Urine.”

November
From 11/23: “It started with an email from a student whose work had taken a bit of a turn of late.”

December (Up until Today)

From 12/1: “I must go shopping. I am completely out of generosity and want to get some.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mom and Pop Shop

There's a little place called "The Sherborn Sandwich and Pizza Shop" that I learned of a few years ago from a colleague at work who discovered it. My colleague cracked open a styrofoam container one day that had what looked like pizza, but it was different. When I asked her what it was, she replied, "breakfast pizza!" "WHAT!" I replied....

It was the following Sunday that I went to visit the place along with my daughter and we've continued to drop by almost every Sunday since. I believe I've talked about the stray cat that lived outside this shop for years, his name was "Killer", and he was a sweetheart in the time that we knew him. He disappeared at the age of 21 or so and Dave, the owner, believes he just went off into the woods to die. Killer was missing most of his tail and was pretty beat up but had a great disposition. Dave says when he had a mate, he was protective and meaner, hence how he got his name but when his mate died, he became a pushover.

A few months ago, my daughter and I went as we always did and noticed the shop was closed. I knew that when school started up again, Dave had no help left and I assumed he was just having a hard time with staffing until the shop was closed for a few weeks in a row. I lost track of time to try inquiring and one week went to another and I finally thought a few weeks ago to call over and see if anyone answers.

Lo and behold, Dave answered. We talked for a bit and as it turned out, Dave's back went out bad and he had emergency surgery and went through a really tough time. His wife opened the shop for just a short time each day during the week. Even the Sunday I talked to him, he was about to close up the shop at 11:30 but said I a few weeks he'd be back full force.

Today, instead of sticking around church while my kid had band rehearsal, I took a drive over and I was happy to see Dave, some new hired help, and this quaint little rustic shop back to running full force.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ignoreland

I took this musical meme from last December, where I took it from December of 2008 but updated it to my current iPod selections - these are the songs that came up today:

1. Put your iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. Tag 10 friends who might enjoy doing the same as well as the person you got the note from.


IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
"Don't" by Billy Currington

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
"Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
"Relaxation Spa Treatment" by Dan the Automator

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
"Miami Beach" by Garland Jeffreys

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
"It's Rock and Roll" by Lyle Lovett

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
"You Never Need Nobody" by The Lone Bellow

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
"Army Ants" by Tom Waits

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
"Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" by Coldplay

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
"Kissin' Time" by Kiss

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
"Nothing Much Happens" by Ben Lee

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
"Maria" by Patti Smith

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
"When You Were Mine" by Prince

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
"What a Girl Wants" by Christina Aguilera

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
"Everything Must Go" by The Holy Modal Rounders

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
"Lonely at the Top" by Randy Newman

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
"Forget Me Not" by The Civil Wars

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
"Rough Justice" by The Rolling Stones

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
"Big Foot" by Chickenfoot

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
"Maggie May" by Melissa Etheridge

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
"Surprises" by Billy Joel

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
"Teenage Pregnancy" by Cake

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
"Eye Candy" by Josh Turner

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
"Endless Sleep" by Leo Kottke

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
"My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
"My Confession" by Josh Groban

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
"Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
"Ignoreland" by R.E.M.

Meme: Staurday 9 - Happy Holidays Edition

Copied from here.

1. As you can see, when Sam Winters was a little girl, she loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. If you could ask Santa for anything at all, right now, what would it be?

For it to all work out, he knows what it is.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?

Nice, I've spent much of this year focused on he whole "pay it forward" theme and it has been very rewarding.

3. Are you traveling this Christmas? If so, are you going by car, plane or train?

No plans to travel.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?

No, but I did commit to a kitchen remodel, which is really attacking my savings.

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie or TV special? Have you seen it yet this year?

I love Frosty the Snowman, but I haven't watched it yet this season (maybe that's one of the things that's been missing?)

6. Which do you prefer: candy canes or gingerbread?

Wow, for most of my life that would have been candy canes but right now I feel like it's gingerbread.

7. Close your eyes and tell us the first carol that comes to mind.

Mary, Did You Know (not a traditional carol but a great song)

8. What's your favorite winter beverage?

Hot cocoa

9. What will you remember most about 2013?

The best day of the year was back in February, hanging in the Midwest.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Might Not Be Aware How Hurtful it Can Be

"Would you like a candy?" "Here's a piece of cake?" "I made some cookies, have one!"

I love to bake and share what I bake with people, I love when other people bake and want to share as well. I love when people are kind enough to offer me their baked goods, candy, just about anything. Almost every time though, I respectfully decline and thank them for their thoughtfulness.

Sometimes, people refuse to take no for an answer and get a bit more persistent...

"One won't kill ya!" "It's the holidays!" "Live a little!"

Sometimes they really are just said in a light hearted context but sometimes, the repeated persistence comes form a place I just don't understand. People have a reason for declining and there should really be no pressure beyond the "no thank you", but there sometimes is and for those who persist with this kind of pressure I ask you on behalf of me and all who decline your offer to please, stop. You might not be aware of how hurtful it can be and it may not be your intent but your end result is making the person politely and respectfully declining your generous offer feel bad, sometimes really bad.

I can't speak for others, but I decline for a reason. I am pre-diabetic and have a genetic and metabolic predisposition to having diabetes. When diagnosed as pre-diabetic, I made a choice, one that was very difficult and often causes me great mental anguish daily - but I made a choice to try to eliminate processed sugars from my diet as best I can, surrender the things I love so much - cake and candy. When you offer me something, I always want it! I always want to negotiate with myself that one piece won't kill me but the truth is, it can; not directly but it can be a spring board.

It hurts to not be able to indulge in sweets, it hurts to say no, and it really hurts a lot when someone I care about or anyone for that matter belittles, even unintentionally, my denial of their offer.

I know I am not alone, the reasons may differ but in the end, the result is the same. When you badger and persist, you are hurting someone. Please, think about that before being so persistent, even in a jokey way.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Speechlessness

Last night I had to make a decision for how to handle the snow situation. either I had to get my ass out there very late, at around 11 pm or I had to be out there at 5 am to move the snow. There was a brief moment where I thought I could have my kid get on the bus then take care of the snow at my own pace and go to work late. the problem, That means I would have had to surrender the 10 minutes or so I get in the car with my daughter while I drive her to school and I saw no good reason to make that sacrifice when all I had to do was go out and move the snow. the reality is that as much as moving the snow was unappealing at 11 pm, I know for sure it would be less appealing at 5 and likely harder to do after overnight temperatures had their say.

When I got back inside, I was cold, wet, tired and my left foot was numb. I sat back for a few minutes and took a peek at FB and in seconds, my body, heart and soul were renewed and filled with warmth. Even people that you know are amazing can surprise you with just how amazing they are.

I hope that each of you can find such moments.

Monday, December 16, 2013

It Hit Me

"Stop existing and start living."

An old friend from high school had that posted on their FaceBook page and it made me sad because my first immediate thought was that I was one of those that was just "existing".

it didn't feel good for that to be the very first thought that comes to mind after reading that quote. It doesn't feel good to feel the same hours later - but it's true.

Marc Maron recently said this on an episode of his awesome WTF podcast, "I don't like the hassle of entry, but once I'm in, I'm good." How many of you can relate to that statement? I know I can. Some of his statements that followed make me laugh (only as an avoidance I think to feeling some other emotion), "That's the key to my anxiety", "The portal into my dread." That's some deep shit for sure! "How much can you talk yourself out of before you even do it?"

Somehow this had become a therapy post, though I can understand if you read it as a shout for help. I often get a bit darker around this time of year, Thanksgiving through New Year is typically a bit rough for me.

On a more positive tone, I ended up getting the most beautiful Christmas tree I've ever had! I'm looking forward to decorating it with my daughter tomorrow; my thought is to go minimal.

Be well and thanks for coming by!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

22 Days

I started the 30 day plank challenge for a number of reasons. Once I began, I set my sights on completing all 30 days - I had no idea what I was in for; no idea how hard it would be. With the exception of the first couple of days, almost every day was a challenge and more surprisingly, a learning experience.

I succeeded for 22 days, though on that 22nd day, I felt both one of my greatest challenges and one of my greatest victories. I fought hard, for about an hour and a half to two hours through more than a dozen attempts . By the time that three minute timer expired and buzzed, the pain and pleasure merged into such a release.

Yesterday was day 23 and I woke up having the comfort of knowing that though very difficult, a three minute plank was actually possible, this was not the case just a day or two earlier. I started earlier in the day. I felt the soreness from the day before but I fought throu it best I could. Knowing it took many tries the day before, I was prepared for a fight. In the end, after three hours and several dozen attempts, I had nothing left to give, I fought, I sweated, I even cried, and then instead of dwelling in th fact that I had not completed the 30 day challenge, I decided to celebrate achieving 22 days of success.

Perhaps in the new year I will make another go, perhaps not. For now, I continue to exercise every day and still do it through a few nagging injuries ans sore joints. The whole fitness and proper eating thing has been a greater challenge of late but I take it all one day at a time.

Never surrender!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Three Very Long Minutes

I had found my way through the three 2.5 minute planks over the last four days, it wasn't easy, but I got through them. Today was time for the first 3 minute plank I while I expected a challenge, I didn't know it would be such a difficult one.

With each failed attempt, a little bitty bit of doubt built up and I wondered if it was even possible after sic, seven, eight tries all lasting anywhere from a minute to two minutes and change. I never gave up though, I decided to fight hard and even through the pain and doubt prove to myself that I could accomplish this.

I lost track after eleven attempts but I do know that the attempt that led to success there was pain, severe pain, my tee shirt had crawled up my stomach, my arms, abs and entire body was trembling and when the timer sounded indicating success, I yelped, fell to my stomach and tested up with joy.

Not much time for celebration, tomorrow I must do it again and the day after, I add 30 more seconds. One day at a time, one challenge at a time, never give up and never say never.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Listening Party

I just reviewed the list on my library account of CD's I borrowed. I don't buy many CD's anymore but rather borrow them from the library and rip them to iTunes. Here are some I've listened to this year and a word or two about them:

  1. Blunderbuss - Jack White: Loved it, made me like Jack White
  2. Push and Shove - No Doubt: Excellent!  
  3. Covered - Macy Gray: I love cover versions, this is pretty unique and surprised me.
  4. Born to Sing No Plan B - Van Morrison: A nice listen as I recall, nothing earth shattering, but cool.
  5. Unorthodox Jukebox - Bruno Mars: I liked it a lot.
  6. The Carpenter - The Avett Brothers: I only discovered them this past year, great stuff!
  7. The Idler Wheel...-Fiona Apple: It didn't knock me over like it did the critics but I did like it.
  8. Trespassing - Adam Lambert: Disappointing overall.
  9. Songs for the End of The World - Rick Springfield: Surprisingly awesome.
  10. Rebel Soul - Kid Rock: Dig him, dig this record.
  11. Music From Another Dimension - Aerosmith: Time for them to hang it up.
  12. Natural History - J.D. Souther: Brilliant!
  13. Push the Sky Away -Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: good stuff, if you like Nick Cave.
  14. The Next Day - David Bowie: Very good, but again, not to the level the critics gave it.
  15. Enjoy Every Sandwich (The Music of Warren Zevon) - Various: All covers of his songs, fun record, great listen.
  16. Save Rock and Roll - Fall Out Boy: badass!
  17. The Jazz Age - Bryan Ferry Orchestra: Totally unique!
  18. 13 - Black Sabbath: Worth the wait...a pleasant surprise.
  19. Wrote a Song for Everyone - John Fogerty: Love it.
  20. See You There - Glen Campbell: Haunting, amazing, totally amazing.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Emoticating

I feel like most of the last 24 hours have been emotionally charged. Not every one of them have been bad, there has been relief, joy, and happiness as well. 

One thing I was reminded of is that inspiration comes from many sources and I like to be open to all of those sources. Inspiration is a beautiful thing and very often following the light of that inspiration can alleviate the difficulties that we encounter in daily life.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Piano Man/Kennedy Center Honors - My Take

This was the headline I saw today, "Billy Joel, four others receive Kennedy Center Honors:. I read further, "Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock and opera star Martina Arroyo are being awarded the nation's highest honors Sunday for influencing American culture through music..."

I guess this is more about how I feel about Billy Joel in the here and now than whether or not her really deserves this honor, because I haven't really researched the true significance of this honor nor it's other recipients.

Billy Joel's music has been an integral part of my life and he as both a song writer and performer has also had significant impact. However, and this is something I have been vocal about, over the last twenty years, I feel he has bastardized his career and his body of work to some degree. I am not saying that his songs mean less than they ever did, but I do feel like he has damaged his integrity and I don't know if the total package of Billy Joel today measures up to such an honor any longer.

This might sound a bit judgmental, it might be a bit extreme, and may sound as if I hate Billy Joel but I can tell you, it's hard for me to say because I have been a huge fan of his but have had a very hard time respecting his handling of his career. After his last record, he announced publicly that he would be "retiring from rock and roll". This made me sad but he has every right to do so so and his body of work would remain in tact - so be it.

The thing is, he's not written any more rock/pop music (except for the song "All My Life" which he recorded and "Christmas in Fallujah" which was recorded by Cass Dillon). He made a big to do about wanting to write classical music. In 1998, an album of classical music written by Joel, but not performed by him was released (Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano) but that's all the public ever got to hear about that area of his life. Again, I had no issue with him ever releasing any classical music or anything. As far as I was concerned, I had no expectation of anything from Billy Joel and was fine to have his past works to enjoy forever.

The thing is, he never went away! Tour after tour - solo and with Elton John, Joel continued to tour, recycling set lists and old material. I saw him in 2009 and enjoyed the show but in recent years I've seen him perform at way less a level than he should. I don't expect his performances at the age of 63 to be the same as they were at 37 (though somehow the might anomaly known as Bruce Springsteen still brings it night after night, tour after tour) but I do expect a show that respects the music, the fans and the "legend". My assessment of his career over the last 20 years is that he's just gotten lazy and only goes out there to perform to replenish his bank account and not to make any kind of statement as a performer. If he's not performing anything new, all he has left as a performer, or more accurately, a performer with integrity, is to provide something special - not just the same old show people are familiar with.

Joel recently signed on to do a "residency" at Madison Square Garden; one show per month for as long as the public demand remains. Will the "Piano Man" step it up finally? Will the shows dig deeper into his catalog? Perhaps expose some of what influenced his life and career? Will he finally make the musical statement he's lacked for the last two decades or will he just sit down and the bench, play the songs we all know over and over the same exact way and collect his paycheck? All that remains to be seen and after which, maybe then should he be considered for something like the Kennedy Center Honors.

Planking, Day 18

It's not yet 5:30 am and I've already managed to pull offa plan, a two and a half minute plank at that.last evening, my two minute plank too everything I had and about half a dozen tries, this confused me because the day before, I pulled off the two minute on the first try.

I was expecting the two and a half minute to be significantly more difficult but but some miracle, I got it on the first attempt (thank God). I have noticed that I have an easier time with them in the morning than later in the day.

In other news, there's a little bit of a wintry mix outside that will be fun to get through but nothing super significant, more like just a warning from Mother Nature not to forget where I live :)

Giving my final exam tonight in one of my classes, it'll be nice to put that one in the books....perhaps I will check in later but for now, enjoy the day and the week.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Phone

I spent 3 hours and 20 minutes on the phone last night, some of it my sister-in-law, the rest with my brother. Might I advise that it's not a great idea (nor even a good idea) to talk on the phone that long when you've got soreness in the throat and have a repetitive cough issue.

Needless to say it was an unpleasant night of sleep and difficult morning but it was worth it because I hadn't spoke to them in months and it was nice of them to call me for my birthday (technically this was my call back because I was out when they called, but the get the credit :))

I spent most of the day in the house not doing a lot. Until of course I realized I needed to get a workout in.

Here are my new glasses:
I'll be rocking these in addition to another pair I have - a little variety for the eyewear!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Forties

The very first time I ever wrote on this blog on my birthday was in 2004, the year I started it. That year I turned 40 and today, I turn 49 - then end of the forties. I've lived my entire 40's here in bloggerville!

Moments after I started my work day, a friend brought me balloons for my birthday, which was sweet but it cracked me up because I really love balloons. I got invited to the allied health department's pot luck and it was a good one, cause I got to eat without having to bring something (is that terrible for me to say? Oh well, too late, I said it, and I meant it). I like potlucks and often participate. this was a last minute courtesy invite by that department in thanks for my good service to them.

Looking back, I seem to have a track record for getting sick in December. I am still nursing a constant cough and it sucks.

I am now half way through my 30 day plank challenge! Tomorrow I get to do a 2 minute plank - oh joy :)


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Three Pics

I refer to this as an Oliver selfie. He was sitting on my lab facing away from me and I set up my phone with the front camera so he can see himself - I just wanted to see his reaction and I snapped several pics randomly - this one stood out.
 


My new shoes, purchased today! Get this, not only were they on sale for $39.99, but I used a 25% off coupon and a $10 reward they sent for my birthday and left with them for $19.99 net. #winning

This car was in front of me on route 30 and reminded me of some special folks that I miss.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Like a Giant Steel Wool Pad Soaked in Flames

That's what my throat felt like when I woke up this morning. I hated to, but had to call in sick (actually email in sick). I stood in bed until 12:30 pm and even then, only got out of bed because the bladder was full.

I took some various medicinal items and had a bowl of cereal and watch TV for about 20 minutes - and then went back into bed. I spent more time in my bed than I have in a very long time, in fact, since the last time I was sick.

Made me wonder, perhaps my body intentionally gets sick because it's the only way it knows it's going to get the amount of sleep it needs/desires/wants.

Lots of zinc, vitamin c, fluids, rest and I am feeling better than this morning but I still have a slight cough and the throats is still a little sore. Time for some more rest.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Reduced to Tears

Saw this a short while ago:
And then I just lost it, bawled for 10 minutes. Life can be so darn confusing sometimes!

In Hindsight: The Whole Pay it Forward Thing

On January 5th, I wrote a post called The Whole Pay it Forward Thing, you can click on that link to see that post.

As of today, 4 of the 5 people that responded to my post have received their gifts from me, including one today where I surprised a friend at their job with some home made baked items. I've had the 5th one set for a while but haven't been able to connect since she was super busy planning a wedding and changing careers but I am hopeful that we shall meet up for a pint before the end of 2013. Additionally, there have been a number of random times during the year where I just hit someone up with some type of surprise gift.

This whole "Pay it Forward" attitude has been an intentional recurring theme for me this year and I need to tell you all just how great it is.

One thing I've been wanting to do recently, and I will but the timing has been off, is to buy a military member lunch. I go to Whole Foods for lunch pretty regularly and often I will see soldiers that serve locally in there and have had this idea to just be there in front of or behind them in line and put their lunch on my tab. the timing hasn't worked itself out yet but it will and I can't wait.

I am one of those people who loves gadgets, technology and all sorts of neat stuff. I don't have an obnoxious amount of "things", I don't see a reason to plus, I couldn't afford to. However, I do like having thing and this whole exercise in giving has been a great way to focus on things that are more important, on the people that are important and on the people that have less than I do.

One of my other philanthropic commitments this year was to help fun Hurricane Sandy charities. In addition to cash donations, on several occasions I have donated all of my commissions from my Amazon associates account.

For a second, this almost started to feel like a long brag session but it isn't. The point of all of this is to express the joy that all of this giving had brought me. Most understand that there is a certain joy in receiving and many have heard the expression, "'tis better to give than to receive" but few make an experiment of it for a year to find out of it is true; I did this year and it is pretty great.

Special thanks to my old neighborhood pal Darcie for starting me on my quest. I am planning to put out the 5 gift thing again next year.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

I Must Go Shopping

I do not know who the author of the following is; it was introduced to me today and I had to share it, especially now, at this time of year. Please, print a copy, keep it with you and every time the craziness of the season gets to you, read it. Also, please share it.

I must go shopping. I am completely out of generosity and want to get some.

I also want to exchange the self-satisfaction I picked up the other day for some real humility. They say it wears better.

I want to look for tolerance, which is worn as a wrap this season. I saw some samples of kindness and I'm a little low on that right now. One can never get too much of it.

I must try to match some patience. I saw it on a friend and it was so becoming. I must remember to get my sense of humor mended, and keep my eyes open for some inexpensive goodness.

Yes, I must go shopping today.