Wednesday, November 29, 2006

list, master

So, I made a list last night. It was very long, and even though I was able to cross off many things today, I have many more items to add. (I am feeling much better, only the remnants of the cold remain.)

Single-line items are so deceptive. Yes, it looks like a single task, but for example, something like "mail DD's letters" involves addressing, stuffing, and stamping envelopes and then taking them to the post office (well, stopping by the post office during an errand run.) But if I break the tasks down into sub-tasks, the list will become even longer than it is, so I will continue to downplay the complexity of certain tasks. It makes the list more approachable.

Lists are good when you have a lot of things going on that it's important to juggle appropriately. I'm thinking the life of this list will just about extend through this weekend but the reality is, I should probably keep a list going until Christmas.

Oh, how I'm looking forward to being list-less again!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I'd like to blame my total, utter laziness on this nasty cold, but I have the feeling that even if I were healthy (you know, that's a relative term), I'd still be doing nothing.

Things have piled up a bit. Eventually I'll get it all done, but for now I'm just being a slug and trying not to feel guilty about it. There's the sense that my potential for being a slug is soon to evaporate: the possibility of work looms. I sent in my application for my substitute teaching certificate last week; let's see how long it takes to get here.

DH spent most of the weekend putting up all the Christmas stuff. There are just a few decorating tasks left for me to do and I've yet to do them -- but it's still November, they can wait.

Maybe tomorrow I'll make a list.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

out, out damn cold!

The sinus junk progressed to a full-blown cold late Thursday, and I've been going through tissues at a record pace ever since.

I can't remember the last time I had a cold this bad. Sure, a few sniffles here or there, but not this full-blown misery. Ick.

To console myself, and inspired by Jane's annual shopping post, I created my own Amazon aStore this evening, where you can see many of my favorite things: Sane Shopping Oasis. Yeah, if you order something, Amazon will give me a tiny kickback. I spend a lot more on my ISP than I've ever made at Amazon, but since I want to link to products when I write about them, it makes sense to have the affiliate account.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

never before

And most likely, never again -- today marks the first time ever I have served a holiday meal exactly on time. I was aiming for dinner on the table at 1PM, and it was. I'm trying to decide whether or not it was a small miracle or just the fact that the kids are getting older and therefore don't need as much attention and don't get in the way, in fact they can actually help now. Or maybe it's just that I've done this enough now that I've got it down? I don't think so, since the last such meal I made was, true to my usual form, finally ready to eat an entire hour later than I had originally planned.

Well, I do know what the difference was this time: I made a list yesterday, and a schedule for today. I've made lists before, but never in this much detail. In the interest of future happy holidays, here they are, transcribed from my notebook for legibility.

pies - bake!
- pumpkin: scrape, bake, cool, puree
- graham cracker crust
- assemble, bake
- slice apples
- regular pie crust
- assemble, bake

cranberry sauce

rolls - make dough & refrigerate

- dry bread
- saute vegetables
- assemble, refrigerate

prep green beans

prep cauliflower

clean & prep turky; prep vegetables for the pan

I actually did almost all of that yesterday, along with two doctor appointments (DD's well visit, DS1's allergist), and buying a new camera online at Circuit City (they had a deal with 1 GB SD card that beat Amazon, amazingly) and picking it up on the way. (The "order online, pick up at store" process was quite smooth.) The only thing I didn't get to do was the turkey, but that was OK because everything else was in such good shape... eventually.

Yesterday was in reality a series of minor disasters: it took a tremendous amount of effort to scrape out those pumpkins, and much longer than I expected. The cranberry sauce cooked over, big time, in the microwave. Huge mess! And the pumpkin pie cooked over also, which caused billows of smoke to pour out of the oven when I cranked up the heat for the apple pie. Of course the smoke detector went off and the ADT people called to make sure the house wasn't burning down:

ADT: Is everything OK there?
Me: Yes, I had a pie cook over in the oven.
ADT: (making a note)Thanksgiving pie, all right. So I don't need to dispatch anyone there?
Me: No, please don't, this is embarrassing enough.

We opened every window and ran all the ceiling fans plus a box fan and it still took about two hours to really clear all the smoke. The kids thought it was funny. Of course.

Fortunately, the pies themselves were not affected in the least. We tucked in to both of them last night after dinner. The kids were shocked, but I said, "I made these to get eaten, I'm not saving them for anything." No one complained, of course, especially not with the accompanying whipped cream (wasn't on the list, but I made it anyway.) DS1 declared the pumpkin "divinely delicious" which, I freely admit, made my day.

So even though we had a few difficulties, yesterday was a successful prep day.

Here was today's schedule:
- in at 10
- flip at 11:35
- test at 11:55

cauliflower - 12:00

green beans - 12:40

- roll out 11:45
- let rise till 12:40
- bake 15 min @ 400

stuffing - in at 12:30

The turkey was 11.5 pounds; I roast it at 400 degrees on a sturdy V-rack, upside down, for the first 85 minutes, then flip to brown the skin on the breast and finish cooking. Before I put it in the oven, I slather butter all over it; in the pan and in the bird's cavity I put rough-chopped onion, celery, and carrots. It's an extremely easy prep but it turns out a great looking and great tasting bird, plus the most amazingly delicious pan scrapings for gravy, which I left off the list, but I still had time to make anyway.

The cauliflower goes in the microwave for about 12 minutes (I did 15 minutes today and that was a little too long, it was a bit watery). Then it goes into the food processor with butter and sour cream, for our "mashed". I just don't do mashed potatoes anymore -- these are delicious, even the kids eat them, albeit in tiny quantities.

For today, because there was gravy, I didn't do anything special to the green beans, just steamed them in the microwave for 15 minutes. Perfect.

This is the first year I ever attempted rolls. In fact, it's the first time I've ever made dinner rolls, period. I used a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book for refrigerator rolls, and it worked beautifully. I made crescent rolls, and DD helped me roll them up. Most of them unwound, but no one cared, they were still delicious. I think they unrolled because I put too much butter on them, but who can blame me? I think the phrase "too much butter" describes an impossible state when it comes to rolls.

DH helped with clean up along the way and set the table (and also kept me well plied with mimosas for a good part of the morning), and of course he carved the bird and then disassembled it for the soup pot (which is now merrily simmering).

After dinner, I played Monopoly with the kids (DS1's Lord of the Rings edition) for nearly two hours. And then we had pie, and I had a nap while the kids watched the rest of the Harry Potter movie they had only seen half of last night (Goblet of Fire).

All in all, it was the kind of family day Thanksgiving is supposed to be, perfect for counting my many blessings.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

bump up the meds!

My endocrinologist is insane.

But for some reason today, I'm feeling a little -- ok, a lot -- better. Like I have a firm grip on things, not just clinging by my fingertips (no wonder I have no fingerprints).

But back to the endo. Her assistant called me today with my numbers. My TSH is up to 0.07, from 0.05 back in September -- that tiny .02 difference probably does explain my extended funk. My T3 was running low-normal, too, but I'm too lazy now to go find the paper so I can actually record the number here. So, there really is something going on with me, chemically, so to speak.

Here's the insane part: the endo wanted to bump up my T3, Cytomel, from 5 mcg/day to 25 mcg/day. She wanted to quintuple my dose of T3! When I went to Houston in 2005, I was nearly literally bouncing off the walls on only 15 mcg/day -- every single practitioner who saw me remarked on how agitated I was. Of course I was freaked out about needing a neck dissection, but it wasn't just that, I was bordering on thyrotoxicosis.

I refused, after I told the nice assistant that the recommendation was insane. (I think I actually used that word.) I asked, "Does she know I'm on only 5 mcg now?" Apparently, she does. And she thinks going from 5 to 25 is just the thing to straighten me out.

So I begged off, saying I would explore other possibilities (cyclical hormonal fluctuations are still a good possibility). Then I called to make an appointment with a new endo that comes highly recommended. I can't get in to see the new doc until February, but I'm hoping a cancellation will get me in sooner.

Anyway: I figure I can bump myself up to 10 mcg/day, a dose I was on for a very long time, without doing any undue damage. A huge part of my brain is appalled at the idea of self-medicating this way, but the rest of me just says, oh, get over it. I have a ton of Cytomel and my prescription is actually for 10 mcg/day, even though I haven't taken that much in months. So I could argue I'm going back to what was actually prescribed. Still, the "you know you're not supposed to do that" feeling is lingering... but now that I know that my TSH actually did tick up a little, I don't know why I'm hesitating.

I think I feel better because there really was a change in my labs. It's such a relief to know it's not "all in my head." Tomorrow will be the real challenge -- better still, or back to hanging off that cliff? I am so tired of that scene. I need to remember all the physical symptoms pointing to hypothyroidism, too -- and not just the weight gain. This is real, and it needs to be treated.

At this point I don't know I'm even waiting for tomorrow to take more Cytomel. I could've taken more this morning after the phone call. I need to get over this resistance and just do it.

Friday Night Lights: uh-oh

Episode 1.7, Homecoming

I haven't been motivated to write much of anything, and I haven't been too enchanted with anything, lately, so I kept putting off writing up last week's episode -- you know, on the off chance that I might snap out of this whatever and suddenly hear birds singing and not feel so dismal.

No luck, so here's Homecoming, which I can sum up in one simple non-verbal utterance: uh-oh.

I still love the characters, I love the way this show is put together, I especially love the acting. I love the tiny things that make everything hang together so well. The show doesn't just look real, it sounds real, too. It doesn't have one consistent soundtrack, it has audio motifs for different characters and different situations. I still really like all that.

What I'm concerned about -- what gives me the "uh-oh" feeling -- is the predictability. Too many things were too easy, or too easy to call, in this episode. Tyra's party was a huge hit! Who woulda thunk? Smash chokes under pressure -- what a surprise! "We're concerned about your size and strength" are code words for "start shooting up steroids, now." Gee, really? Riggins gets off the booze, goes for a run and lifts weights, and magically, he's the go-to guy for the win. Yay, Tim!

It didn't all suck. I'm in awe of Jason Street's physical decline even while he's remastering the limbs that still function: his face is going slack and pale, and he's losing his pretty-boy look. I'm also loving how Jason is returning to form and thinking about his future and what his life will be like. He always was a planner, and he's a smart kid, but there's a lot of confusing information to process right now. I think the writers are handling his character very well.

I'm starting to hate Lyla with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns, but then I realize she's just a TV character and I need to get out more -- but seriously, that girl is e-v-i-l (only small letters because she's not really that bad). Or maybe she just uses baby talk too much. (That could be it.) "Don't hate me, Tim," made me want to puke. And give Riggins a hug, the big idiot. Is it really his fault that he's in love with Street's girl? Yes, but I'll give him a pass because he only recently sobered up, and I'm hoping that he'll figure out what a snake Lyla is now that he's not in an altered mental state all the time.

The former-QB plot was another in which I felt I was dodging anvils. Big success in high school translates automatically to big screwup once out of Dillon's protective enivrons -- of course. It's too trite to even call it a cliche, but Kyle Chandler was awesome anyway. Tami's commentary on the situation was spot-on if cliched, and nicely contrasted with her own comfy life: Hey, I didn't fall into that trap and neither did you. Tami perhaps sees that she has a calling to bring these football stars down a few pegs before they all implode, post-graduation. Or, in Smash's case, post-Homecoming game.

Finally, I am so rooting for Saracen and Julie. The asking-out scene was classic Saracen, who didn't even let Julie get a word in edge-wise. Here's hoping 1) she said "yes" and 2) we get to see them on a date, soon. Man, Coach Taylor's pre-date speech to Saracen should be one for the ages.

So: it sucked, but not completely. And it was miles above last week's Battlestar Galactica, which was the worst episode this season, possibly ever. Yes, I know, I'm approaching the "damning with faint praise" level here, but it's all I got, this week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

better late...

I finally climbed out of my funk long enough today to work on the recipe for December's column. It only took two tries -- lots of tweaks and what-iffing in between, though. They are still somewhat extravagant, carbohydrate-wise, but well worth it, I think.


But now I have to go write the column. If I send it tonight, technically it will only be five days late.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Conservatives aren't hypocrites! (via Instapundit).

Liberals are.

Brooks was surprised at his principal finding -- that conservatives are, across the board, more generous with time, money, even their blood, than liberals are. He even admits that, ten years ago when he first started doing this work, he would have "hated" the inevitable conclusion of his research. He is well aware of what to expect: "I know I'm going to get yelled at a lot with this book," he said. "But when you say something big and new, you're going to get yelled at."

But it's not big and new. Conservative philosophy rejects mandated charity via tax-funded government programs, but it embraces charity on a personal basis. The only ones who are surprised by this are liberals.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I've been having the most amzingly detailed, somewhat disturbing dreams lately. If I had the leisure to sit around and analyze them, I'd find them fascinating, I'm sure.

In reality, I find them annoying because they put an edge on the start of the day that I don't need. No one should have to deal with feeling peeved before they even set foot out of bed.

My most significant interpretation is that my meds are off, and this is just another symptom.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I had my bloodwork drawn this morning, at an excruciatingly early hour. And since I was already up, I then did a solid six more errands before I got home. Left the house at 6:30AM, made it back just before 11:30. It's nice to shop just as the stores are opening.

As odd as this may sound, I'm hoping those labs show something other than "normal", because I'm nowhere close. I am so dry these days that even with drinking constantly, I'm always thirsty. My lips hurt no matter how much DCT I slather on them. My hands are apparently impervious to lotions, even the really good ones that usually work when nothing else does.

That moisture has to be going somewhere. The air is not super-dry here, either. It has cooled a bit, but around here that means higher humidity, usually. The heat hasn't been on since last winter -- heck, most days at mid-day the a/c kicks on.

This is how bad it is: knowing I had a blood draw this morning, I forced fluids last night before I went to bed. When I got up, I drank 32 ounces of water before I left the house, and another 16 ounces on the way up. (So much for leaving early and bypassing the traffic; it took an hour.) The tech couldn't find any veins in either arm. Tried the right hand, and the veins were barely popping after what felt like 5 minutes in the tourniquet. Didn't matter, it rolled, and she couldn't stick it. Tried again with the left and finally hit one, but it took at least 2 minutes (seriously) to get half a tube, little dribbles trickling in to the rhythm of my pulse. It was freaky.

I've been a bad draw for most of my life, but usually hydrating well before hand gets around most of the problems. Today's experience was as if I hadn't had a thing to drink in half a day.

Right now? Thirsty as hell, and I just had two huge mugs of tea. This is unpleasant, so I hope it either shows up on the labs, or just goes away.

I wonder if it's related to the sinus junk (major post-nasal drip, moderate sinus congestion)? Perhaps tomorrow's doc (TMD guy) may have a clue about that.

Monday, November 13, 2006

lousy housekeeping

Riccar RSL4

A couple of months ago we bought a new vaccuum cleaner. It weighs 8 pounds, so I can actually use it without provoking a sciatica attack.

Even so, I've probably only vaccuumed three times in the two months we've had the thing -- not counting the three times I vaccuumed up the Moon Sand that DD got for her birthday, that doesn't count. I'm talking about honest-to-God, clean-the-whole-floor vaccuuming.

I just don't do it. Well, I do it more often now that we have the Riccar. This is not a testimonial but I do love that machine. It does a fantastic job on both the tile and the carpet. The bare floor setting has a squeegee-like thing that prevents the airflow from the vaccuum from just blowing the dirt around the floor, the way my old one did. (Brooms are just too slow for me -- we have a lot of tile.)

As I was vaccuuming this morning, I thought about what a lousy housekeeper I am. I have fantastic intentions. I bought the book Home Comforts and actually read most of it. Not only that, I agree with the principals involved. A well-kept home is not just nicer to look at it, it's healthier and overall, just better to live in.

So I was thinking about why I'm so bad about cleaning.

One reason is I can get away with it. Our tile floor is gorgeous and more than one color, so it never really looks dirty. Our carpet is exactly the same color as what little fur our kittens shed. (I admit to coordinating pet color and interior decorating color schemes.) I don't let the kids eat on the carpet, and they rarely wear their shoes indoors, either. What dirt there is on the floors doesn't really show.

In the bathrooms, it's the same deal: I can get away with it. I have friends who are forced, more or less, to clean their bathrooms every day because their kids are disasters in there. Mine may leave an occasional glob of toothpaste, but overall, they're pretty neat. We rinse out the tub every evening, and I clean the rest of it when it reaches a grunge level I can't tolerate. (My grunge level is much lower than DH's -- but I don't expect him to clean the bathrooms, anyway. He would if I asked him to, but that would just be lame.)

Overall, I do a clutter patrol practically every day. Sometimes (like now) the kitchen counter and my desk are crying out for archeological expeditions to recover their pristine surfaces, but that isn't even a half-hour's work, honestly. I'll get to it. Generally, I don't let stuff pile up all over the place. So when I do want to clean, it's not like I have to do the pre-cleaning declutterfying. That gets done practically every day.

My one non-negotiable, doesn't stay dirty room is the kitchen. Dirty dishes don't stay in the sink any longer from breakfast to lunch, and clean stuff gets put away. I cook too much to tolerate a dirty kitchen, and my kitchen is big enough to have places to put everything away. I'd say I love my kitchen, but that's not exactly right. I love the layout of my kitchen, but I'm coming to hate the flimsy cabinets (we didn't have a choice with those) and I'm so, so tired of our laminate countertops. But neither one of these is anything close to a priority. Maybe if I have a few surgery-free years, we can afford to redo it.

I know a lot of folks swear by the Fly Lady, and I think that's great. I have actually been using a sort-of-Fly Lady approach for years now, with my daily clutter patrols and insistence on keeping the kitchen up. Whatever my problem is, FlyLady isn't going to help me.

For some reason, while vaccuuming today I had a flashback to what my life was like during my first marriage, when I would vaccuum our humungous condo every single week. We were just two people who were practically never home, but I'd devote three or four hours every weekend to cleaning the house. Weird. It was some sort of compulsion, I think, because it was what I was supposed to do. I don't really remember my day-to-day life from back then very well, through a combination of willful forgetting and repression. I wondered this morning if my complete inability to stick to a housework schedule goes back to those years of being so completely stuck to a schedule.

It's possible, I suppose, but I don't really buy it. That was a long, long, long time ago and frankly, I don't feel oppressed by housework. I used to get annoyed having to unload the dishwasher every morning, until I realized I was being a spoiled brat about it: hey, I could be hand-washing all those dishes before putting them away. It's just life. Life takes work, especially when you have a family.

I don't know where I got this skating-by attitude, but it's annoying me lately because I see the same thing manifesting in DS1. I can spend hours online steadfastly ignoring the things I could be or should be doing around the house. I rationalize that it's just my priorities -- and I don't accept that it's a faulty rationalization! We always have good food to eat and clean clothes to wear, everyone does their homework on time, and I manage to be only 5 minutes late to every appointment.

The important stuff gets done. I wish I could find a way to motivate myself to do those things that are manifestly less important, but still really nice. When I'm feeling better, it's easy to do those things. When I'm just holding on, they become overwhelming. I'm doing a fairly good impersonation of a not-depressed woman these days, but I think that's starting to fray around the edges. I'm going up for my bloodwork tomorrow morning, and hopefully I'll get this straightened out. The return of the sinus junk and post nasal drip from Hell are not helping at all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Friday Night Lights: Scylla, Charybdis*, all that jazz

Episode 1.6, El Accidente

I don't think anyone in the real world pays attention to episode titles, but "El Accidente" encapsulates the Buddy Garrity (and all the footballers') method of spinning away anything mean, dirty, or downright illegal that will hurt their chances of winning: It was an accident.

Two parallel plotlines this week beat us over the head with the difference "doing what's right for the team" and "doing what's right." This is the ugliest that Coach Taylor has ever behaved, staunchly insisting, I won't lie about recruiting Voodoo, but then pointedly failing to pony up to the truth of the matter: Voodoo may well have been ineligible (he needed residency of a month, and we don't really know when he showed up in Dillon), and more to the point, Buddy Garrity lied in his testimony to the council. So Taylor kept his mouth shut, and seemed to get the outcome he wanted for his team.

Of course Taylor's under all sorts of pressure, and losing that win would jeopardize his job and destabilize his entire family's lives. But does that make it OK? He seems to think so, evincing a "do what you gotta do" kind of air.

Matt Saracen once again goes through a crucible of sorts, with his non-footballer friends ragging on him for "going over to the Dark Side." They have a point. When Voodoo taunts Reyes and calls him a wetback, Reyes takes out his frustrations on one of Saracen's friends, Caster, putting him in the hospital. Reyes then makes a big deal out of the fact that Caster provoked him with racist epithets... which is, of course, a lie. Reyes even manages to hold onto this lie while looking Taylor in the eye.

Now Saracen knows that Caster never went after Reyes, and doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He knows Reyes is a thug, but he's the thug that anchors the defensive line and the team needs him. It takes Saracen the better part of the episode to figure out what's right, which leads to a completely charming scene with him and Julie at the Taylor's front door. It's clear that Julie is hoping that Saracen is there to see her, and they make almost-casual small talk until Saracen asks to see Taylor. Julie's disappointment is quickly masked but there if you're looking for it (as I obviously am -- don't worry, Julie, Saracen's not letting his teammates hook him up with some rally girl, he has already told him he "has someone else in mind" for Homecoming.)

Taylor, to his credit, doesn't have to struggle with his conscience on this call at all, and boots Reyes off the team. This was a much-appreciated turn, because the Tami-Coach discussions over the Reyes incident featured Tami defending Caster and questioning Reyes' story, and the Coach pushing back and not wanting to examine that story very closely all.

The football stuff wraps up with Buddy Garrity pissed about Reyes' status but downright frantic, because Voodoo, demoted to defense, has gone back to NOLA, and as a parting gift held an interview in which he refuted every lie that Buddy Garrity told to the council. Looks like that "W" is a goner for sure.

In the third plotline, Street tells Riggins to stop being an asshole (not in so many words, but yeah) and to help him. Riggins decides he loves Jason more than Lyla, and does: he breaks Street out for a long drive and a day on the lake. Weirdness abounds when Lyla comes along, but only for the occasional awkward moments, including the classic Lyla backing off her earlier statement of "taking all responsibility for what happened." Both of these guys should dump her, I'm telling you. Still, the day seems to be a complete success until Street sees Riggins and Lyla hugging goodbye in the parking lot. It's not a sexy hug, and they don't mack or anything, but that hug goes on way, way too long for people who aren't supposedly anything but friends -- and who, until quite recently, had nothing in common but Jason. So now Jason has something to torture himself with.

I didn't love this episode. Too many leaden plot points rained down on us, and it seems to me that the writers could start giving Saracen a break or two any day now. In real life, that kid would be suicidal. He's a sophomore and expected to lead the team on and off the field. What kid could withstand that, plus the dad in Iraq and the demented grandmother? I like Saracen, a lot. I want him to ask Julie out and have fun, and not be tortured the way he has been pretty much since the beginning of this show.

Having said all that, I'm still completely hooked here. Even the characters that get miniscule amounts of screen time -- like Tyra resisting Tami's "guidance" -- manage to be more than two-dimensional. It's a sad fact the biggest failure of characterization so far this season is Reyes, who we have never seen before and will most likely never see again. He's the cardboard cutout bogeyman of the episode, and it hurt the story. But I'll still be watching next week, and rooting for the Panthers.

(I don't really care if they win -- oh, I do for Saracen's sake, I suppose. I just don't want Taylor to get fired!)

* Taylor and Saracen spent most of this episode between rocks and hard places.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

in spite of it all

OK, so I haven't said much lately. I've been doing too much running around and had company and all that jazz. Plus I've run into a seemingly never-ending string of irritants, to whit:

- my camera died right before DD's birthday. Up until that day, it had been cranky, but usually giving it a whack sufficed. On the day of her bday, no more, it was dead. Sigh. I took photos with DS1's bottom-of-line digital, and they actually look OK... if I could just figure out a way to get them out of the camera's internal memory and onto the damn card! Why did it do that? I can't find the cable (of course), and I never needed it before because the pc has a card reader. Jeez.

- the dryer, after acting up for the better part of the past year, also seems to have passed into the great beyond. Or at least the control dial has. Repairman coming tomorrow, and we're hoping we can keep it in the $200 range, which is a lot but still significantly less than a new dryer would cost.

- Cooper, having recovered from his eye thing, promptly relapsed in the other eye, and had to go back to the vet. Back on a stronger antibiotic and different eye goo. He looks better already. Tomorrow he goes back for his last round of shots. We are financing our vet's summer house, let me tell you.

- DD's cake (pictures coming eventually) came out fine but I couldn't get the frosting to set for the roses. I dithered around with it for way too long before I decided to add more sugar, which of course was exactly what it needed. One of my tips was bent at the top (it's amazing how easily that can happen) and had to be pitched. Another time, numerous lumps in the frosting -- even though I sifted the sugar! -- drove me nuts. It should have taken me an hour and a half. I spent three hours on it.

- Driving up to the Scottsdale, we brought the iPod so we could listen to tunes. The batteries in the transmitter died. The extra batteries in the car have gone missing. No problem, buy more batteries at the mall for the ride home. At the Fast Fix Jewelry repair, pay over $10 for two AAA batteries. They're dead, so no tunes for the trip home, either. Actually, this turned out to be kind of good news because I thought that the transmitter itself had died, but no, it was just that they sold me, at ridiculous markup, dead batteries.

- After several consecutive days of eating too much, eating too much junk, and not exercizing, my weight climbed up past the weight on my license. After 3 days of cleaning eating and exercize, I'm back down to 140. I hate this. Coming into fall, most of my pants don't fit. I don't want to be skinny, I just don't want to have to shop for new clothes.

- I have no fingerprints. In order to get my substitute teaching certification, I need a fingerprint card from the FBI. About 2 months ago I finally managed to get my prints taken and send them in. About 4 weeks later, I got a notice from the FBI asking for a reprint; they said my prints were unreadable. Interestingly, the state of AZ didn't have any trouble with my prints. The technician at the fingerprinting facility took one look at my fingertips and declared that they were basically worn off. You can still see them, of course, but the ridges are so flattened that it's nearly impossible to get a clear image of them. So, now what? I asked her. Not to worry -- apparently this condition is fairly common among people who do things like work with chemicals or wash their hands alot -- like I do, when I'm cooking, and usually I'm cooking at least twice a day. She says that they'll find whatever distinguishing characteristics they can, and issue me a card anyway. I hope it doesn't take too long.

- My web host, iPowerWeb, has been flaking out on me on a monthly basis for a while now. When "Host 18" (my server) was down yet again (all the problems trace back to problems on this particular host), I asked if I could get off it. The tech offered to upgrade me to a "vdeck" whatever that is. OK, what's the catch? I have to download all my files and re-upload them, not to mention changing the server information with my domain registration, etc. In reality, it probably won't be too much of a hassle. But the way I'm feeling right now, it looks like a huge opportunity for screw-ups.

- Trying to post this yesterday, Blogger was fried. When it finally came back up, it asked me if I wanted to switch to the Blogger Beta, so I said sure, go ahead. I didn't realize it would take all night to move the blog! But here it is and it seems fine, and I see now that there's a new field below this edit box for labels, which is something I've wanted for a while now. But last night it just felt like I was thwarted at every turn.

The "hanging on by my fingernails" feeling persists. A friend from thyca counselled me to get my TSH checked, so I made that call today -- the depression + weight gain would seem to indicate something going on there. We shall see.

Even through all that, we're all OK. My in-laws had a nice, if way too short visit (having to go home and de-kennel the dog). DD's birthday was a smashing success, in spite of needing a GPS to navigate Scottsdale Fashion Square and its parking structures. Everyone's happy. Why can't I be?

Monday, November 06, 2006


It's 6:20AM. I'm never up this early, but today my in-laws are heading back to Connecticut, so I hauled myself out of bed to say good-bye.

It was a good visit, very busy and fattening! Lots of stuff to write about, but that will have to be later, as I can barely keep my eyes open now. We managed to pack a lot into these past few days. I like the house like this, though. The kittens are on an early morning prowl, but other than that, there's only the hum of the computer. For now, for a just little while longer. It's an anticipatory silence.

Friday, November 03, 2006

November's column

A recipe for which patience pays off: Carrot Raisin Cranberry Bread in the November issue of the Low Carb Luxury online magazine.

The first day, just out of the oven, the texture was too crumbly and the cranberries too aggressively tart. The next day, after "settling" in the fridge, the texture was lovely and moist, and the cranberries were a nice kick in a sweet and spicy setting.

It's lovely just as it is, but butter or cream cheese wouldn't be amiss on a thick slice. It has a bit of the cache of fruitcake, but none of the stigma, and only a fraction of the work.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Friday Night Lights: Lyla Garrity is her father's daughter

1.5: Git'er Done
(spoilers, as usual)

Finally, some football. For a show ostensibly about high school football, there isn't a whole lot of game footage -- or practice footage, for that matter. I appreciate that, and I appreciate that when the Panthers do finally play, we don't have to slog through 20 minutes of football. The entire game gets compressed down into less than 5 minutes, and most scenes are sideline scenes or locker room scenes. It's all about the people, and not about the game -- and somehow that combination has me sitting on the edge of my seat, willing Matt Saracen to pull an impossible win from himself and his teammates.

It's a credit to this show that I both want the Panthers to win, desperately, and that I do not know whether or not they will. And when they pull off the win, I am just as happy as I would be if one of my real-life teams had won (not that that has happened any time in the recent past -- but I will always savor being at game seven of 2001 World Series, when the DBacks finally put the Yankees to rest.)

But the win comes too early in the episode, so you know we are not going to end on a high note. And just as Coach Taylor is enjoying all the congratulating back-slaps and high-fives, he's getting hauled on the carpet for a recruiting violation. Since this is the very subject he broached with Buddy Garrity when first approached about bringing Voodoo on board, Taylor has a reason to be pissed about this. And it won't just be Taylor that will be dinged if Voodoo is found ineligible: the Panthers would be stripped of their hard-fought win.

Speaking of Voodoo, his show-boating was predictable, but his "This is an arranged marriage" speech was awesome: the truth that no one wanted to articulate, but everyone acknowledged. I enjoyed Voodoo's downfall (even though it was bad for the Panthers), and I loved, loved, loved Taylor kicking his ass out of the locker room and off the team. Of course, it's likely that Voodoo himself (or his agent) called up the authorities on Taylor as payback... but that will take a few episodes to come out, if it ever does.

OK, that gets the football out of the way. What about everything else? I still love Tami, I adore the way Saracen was an idiot around Julie, and then beat himself up for it, and I think it's wholly consistent that Jason would decide to not waste the six months in self-pity that his obnoxious roommate did, and throw himself whole-heartedly into rehab.

What didn't work so well for me was Tyra's fling with the oil development guy. First off, ODG came off like a rapist/serial killer with his "Do you want to go for a drive?" shtick. I wanted to slap Tyra for saying yes. And I wanted to slap her again for falling for him, when obviously he was just passing through. I understand Tyra wanting to find a way out of Dillon, but ODG is not going to do it, and I thought she was smart enough to understand that. We can just chalk her disappointment up to one more example of the perils of casual sex. He doesn't love her, and in fact has someone to go home to -- and Tyra should have stuck to her "I'm not going to sleep with you" guns.

Speaking of people who shouldn't be sleeping together, we come finally to Lyla and Tim. Poor Riggins, he really loves the girl, and he'd like to have a real relationship with her -- his expressions were so tortured when Lyla was putting him in his sex-toy-only place. But I have no contempt for Riggins (OK, maybe a little, but he's pathetic, and what young man will resist a gorgeous girl throwing herself at him?), because at least Riggins is honest with himself about what he is doing. He knows he shouldn't be in love with his best friend's girl, and he shouldn't be sleeping with her, either, but he loves her! This is probably the only chance with her he'll ever get! I don't necessarily agree with this twisted logic, but I can see Riggins clinging to it.

Lyla, on the other hand, is going straight to hell, and not just for sleeping with Riggins and lying to everyone -- Jason, her parents, anyone in her general vicinity -- about everything. Two scenes in particular stand out: with Tami, she's still clinging to the old story which she has already abandoned in her heart, but can't yet admit to having done so in public. I started out thinking that it was pathetic that she would attach herself so thoroughly to Jason at such a young age, but in Lyla's eyes, she is Hillary Clinton to Jason's Bill. She would wield some serious power and influence being attached to a star quarterback, and she knows it. Combined that with the pious/faithful girlfriend thing she has been rocking for years, and you can see why she can't easily give it up.

Earlier, I decried her falling into Riggins' arms as a betrayal of her character, but that's because I was as snowed as everyone else by Lyla's front. The reality is, she does what she wants, she takes what she wants, because she knows how to do it and she knows there will be no repercussions. In this, she is her father's daughter; Buddy will do what it takes to get the Panthers that championship. The second scene that cemented my opinion of Lyla was her berating Riggins, and dumping all of the blame for their situation on him: He is the one that is sleeping with his best friend's girl, nevermind that she is sleeping with her boyfriend's best friend! It was all on Riggins, and she could stand there and deliver that speech, believing every word of it, because she is Lyla Garrity, and she can do whatever she wants in Dillon, TX.

It's always so exciting when a very pretty girl is revealed to be rotten to the core. Contrast Lyla and Julie, who is genuine and funny and a pain in the ass in the way that all 15-year-old girls should be. Lyla would never do a web search on open high school coaching jobs for her dad, because they own Dillon. Julie's just a witness to the stresses her parents are under and not-so-subtley trying to help them out and get herself out of the pressure cooker, too. (I told DH he needs to remember that "Daughters are supposed to be a comfort to their fathers," line. I'm sure it will come in handy later.)

I had a tv-themed conversation today, and I professed that FNL is a better show than Battlestar Galactic. I haven't said too much (anything?) about BSG here, but I adore it; it's gritty and real in the way that my late lamented Farscape was, but scifi will always be easier to do that reality, at least in some ways. In BSG, they can make up the rules as they go along, more or less, from fashion to interior design to slang -- everything. FNL is constrained by being in the now, and in Texas. Yes, it's a fictional town, but FNL is exceptionally grounded. The dialog, sets, costuming, the camera work, even the cars they drive -- it's authentic. All the tiny things add up, like the way that all the girls have that Texas look -- the long hair and the fresh faces. The way the landscaping is more brown than green; the way that rain came down in torrents during the wind sprints. The producers and writers of this show get it, and that comes through perfectly.

It's a pleasure to care about these characters and learn more about them from week to week. Here's hoping that Saracen gets to keep that "W".