October 17, 2010

What's Cookin'?

I have decided to make black bean soup for dinner and instead of just opening cans I'm gonna cook the beans.  I soaked one cup of beans overnight then added salt to the soaking water after reading a blog by a vegan cookbook author this morning.
I then drained the rinse water and added 1/4 whole onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 bay leaves and salt. When the beans are tender, which should take a couple of hours, I will discard the onion, garlic and bay leaves, and there should be about three cups of black beans.
In large soup pot I will sauté the rest of the chopped onion, two chopped cloves of garlic and two cups of sliced carrots.  When those are done, I will add the beans, 1/2 cup of orange juice, one can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles and enough bean broth to make it a soup.  Salt, pepper and cumin will spice up the dish.  I would add a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce if I had it.

What to go with the meal?  How about some real southern cornbread and a cabbage slaw with red bell pepper with Caesar dressing?  Yup, that will definitely fit the bill.  A cheap red wine and Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra ice cream for dessert sounds good to me.

Let me tell you, the aroma in my house is glorious right now.  I love cooking!

Because the beans were so dang good and all of the ingredients so far were organic, I decided to ditch the Rotel tomatoes.  After I discarded the bay leaves, I left the onion because it had basically disintegrated and the one garlic clove I could find I smashed and added to the sauté mix.  I used the juice of 1/2 organic orange (devoured the other half) and then added Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes.  I don't like my soup to be too "soupy" and this turned out to be "da bomb".  Too bad you can't have any.

October 16, 2010

The Doctor Is In

I really dislike going to the doctor.  All of my life I have gotten nervous the minute I step into the building and only feel relief when I am outside the door.  It is completely irrational but it's the same feeling that I got when I would get in trouble at school or at home.  I just know the doctor is going to yell at me for being fat or for not living right.  Rest assured, I rarely got in trouble at school or home and I am perfect.

I had to go to the doctor this week to get my medications refilled.  I arrived a bit early hoping that I could get in right away but I ended up sitting in the waiting room for forty-five minutes.  The waiting room has two tv screens, one playing some news program and the other giving health advice and advertising medications.  The news was all about some missing girl and her mother who beat her and some celebrity scandal.  There was an older man across the room who kept falling asleep and snoring himself back awake which kept me entertained, but it couldn't keep me from getting anxious and thinking that this was a complete waste of time.  

The nurse finally called my name, directed me to the scale (which always lies about my weight), and then took me to the exam room.  She chatted me up a bit (at least she was in a good mood for once), and then took my blood pressure.  She was quite pleased with my numbers this time so that helped relieve some of my anxiety.  She then said the dreaded words, "the doctor will be with you shortly".  

So.....I waited and I waited.  I've known my doctor for ages.  I've even cooked a dinner for him and his wife that my boss decided he wanted to throw.  Hmmm, did I say that right?  Do you actually throw a dinner?  Anyway, the doctor was doing an exam in the room next to mine and I could hear him saying things like, "I am going to order a mammogram for you" and "no, we need to do that now since you're here".  To me that translated as, "to hell with my next patient, she can just wait some more".  I was in that exam room for thirty minutes, chomping at the bit.

Mister Doctor finally strode into the room, read my file on the computer screen, asked me how I was doing, and then chastised me for not getting that mammogram that he ordered last year.  I explained to him that the cost of the test is what is keeping me from getting it, and we discussed my insurance for a bit.  He then ordered another mammogram for this year.  Obama care needs to kick in quicker for the under-insured like me, then tests like mammograms would be more accessible.  He then asked if I have any vaginal bleeding or bloody stool.  Why would he ask that?  He must have been jonesing for a problem to explore.

I then had to go to the phlebotomist (medical vampire) and get my blood taken for my thyroid test and metabolic panel.  This is the first time a vampire has hurt me. Note to vampires, don't move the needle up and down once it's in the vein.  I then made a hasty exit and await my test results.  I assume that they are fine because the "doctor man" never called me about them.

I have survived another medical visit nightmare and I don't plan on going there again in 2010.  The doctor may be in, but I'm outta here.

September 12, 2010

The Labor Party

Humbling, fun, grueling, sleep deprived and pooped all describe my Labor Day weekend of 2010.  My friend Marcy got “a hair up her ass” and decided to throw a big bash which was not to be missed.  After a sleepless Thursday night (due to a violent rain storm which knocked out the electricity and made me unable to sleep for fear of oversleeping), I took to the road after work to begin the four hour drive to Oklahoma City.

The grueling part of the trip began on the Cherokee Turnpike when the rattling noise that had been going on for about three weeks underneath my Toyota Matrix got a bit louder and then ended with a loud bang in the direction of the rear of the car.  Not being one to be smart with my automobiles, I decided to not make my usual stop at the midway point of the turnpike and drove straight through to “the city”.  Just so you’ll know, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the engine so there was no real danger to the car and I made it safely to my destination.

The sleep deprived part of the story continued through Saturday but there was so much to do that I didn’t let it get me down.  For some reason I didn’t sleep well on Friday night but I’m sure that most of you don’t sleep that well the first night in a strange bed.  Saturday morning came way too soon and with it brought much to do to prepare for the Big Bash.  Marcy had invited over 150 people and there was lots to do around her wonderful home...blowing leaves, scooping poop, setting up food and drink tables and tidying up.  What is it about Marcy's parties that makes me drive for hours and then work my ass off?  You'd have to attend one to know how worth it it is.  Of course, Marcy's ass no longer exists from all the work she did.

The fun part was the party.  Marcy’s back yard was where most of the action took place and as you can see in the picture it is one great back yard.  What a wonderful venue for a party!  Marcy is the hostess of the decade and the guests were a mix of her good friends and interesting acquaintances.  I had many conversations with some of her new friends and with people I’ve known for a long time.  I think this was one of the best parties she has ever had.  According to her count, at least 90 people were in attendance which I think is probably a record.  Oh, and did I mention the food?  My contribution was cheese and fruit combinations...sweet ripe cantaloupe paired with Spanish Manchego, organic bing cherries paired with Cambozola and organic black grapes paired with Havarti.  There was such a variety of foods, everything from hummus to pasta salad.  Everything I tried was good and there were lots of things to try.  The shindig began at 7:30 and continued until after one o’clock  in the morning.  I lasted much longer than I thought and left at around midnight.

Sunday was a day of rest.  It should have been spent cleaning up but...

The humbling began on Monday afternoon when I went to Kim and Ron’s wonderful home.  Ron graciously volunteered to take a look at my clanging car problem and he found that a bracket had come loose from a protective panel.  He worked his magic and after about 30 minutes had fixed the annoyance.  He then noticed that one of my tires had only 8 pounds of pressure and, after filling it with air, said that there must be a slow leak.  The words he used were “that was a blow-out waiting to happen”.  Gads.  How very humbled I felt and thankful that he was concerned for my welfare.  The drive back home was completely uneventful.  Thanks Ron!

I arrived home pooped but happy.  I love visiting Marcy and seeing all of my OKC friends but home is where my heart is.

March 11, 2010

Cell Hell

I have done what I said I would NEVER do. I have ditched my land line and am now in cell hell. Don't get me wrong, I really like the cell phone thing and being able to talk to people no matter where I am but I don't like the fact that when I am speaking the other person can't "cut in" with a quick word without interrupting the sound. Do you know what I mean? I hope so because I don't really know how to explain it.

Now for some of my pet peeves about cell phone usage and user behavior.

At work I sit at a desk behind a tall counter and people will often lean over the counter and talk on their cell phone directly in my face while they are waiting to finish a transaction or make an appointment, etc. My reaction is to get up and walk away until they finish their conversation and give them dirty looks from time to time. One time the client really didn't get the hint and kept on talking and I was able to get a cup of coffee, tidy up the pharmacy, chat with my co-worker and answer a few phone calls. I think she must have talked on her phone for about 15 minutes. One of these days I am going to start screaming at them.

Again at work, some people will answer their phones while in the exam room. My reaction is to make eye contact with the doctor (if that doesn't work I open the door and motion with my hand) to tell them to exit the room until the phone conversation is over. I suggest that the doctor wait a few minutes after the client is finished being rude before re-entering the exam room. One of these days I will add a "rude cell phone" usage fee to their bill. Actually, I think I'll start that policy today.

At a coffee shop a hot shot Walmart Executive type walked up to the counter to order, all the while chatting on his cell phone. He held the phone away from his ear, placed the order, then immediately resumed his conversation. The coffee shop staff must be used to this kind of behavior because it didn't seem to phase them. I would last one minute as an employee at this place because I would ignore the customer until he/she got off the damned phone. Had I been on the other end of the phone I would have hung up on him.

Driving down the road a woman in the next lane was texting and driving as if she had never driven a car before. At the stop light I gave her "the look" and shook my head. Too bad the police are never around to nail those bastards.

At the grocery store a woman was talking on her phone so loudly that the whole store could probably hear her conversation. Another time a woman was yakking at check out and not once did she stop the chatter. Had I been the check out person I would have double rung many items just to piss her off.

No one is so important that they can't either not answer the call or end a call whenever they are interacting with a real live person. I find it rude for people to answer calls when they are somewhere where, if cell phones had never been invented, they would normally not be available. People need to slow down and remember to be polite. Really, you and whatever the caller has to say just aren't that important.

February 14, 2010

Ode to Saint Valentine

Heed my words Saint Valentine
You'll never be a friend of mine
Disappointing is your day
Inspiring these words I say
A poet I will never be
A card of love I will not see
Now, if I could I'd find a dandy
And say "Give me chocolate candy"

I have never liked the "holiday" known as Valentine's Day.  It often seems to be a day filled with disappointment and unfulfilled expectations.  I was sitting in the cafe at Barnes and Nobel yesterday afternoon looking at fashion magazines (don't say it, don't even think it) when two young women sat down behind me and started talking.  Well, I just couldn't resist eavesdropping and here is some of what I heard.  Apparently, one of the women was questioning her relationship with some guy and seemed to be on the verge of breaking up with him.  The last statement I heard was "He even asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day and I said he should be able to think of something.  And he'd better get the thing I want or that is the end".
To me, that is the most ludicrous statement that ever comes out of someone's mouth.  How in the world is that guy supposed to know what she wants?  He can't read her mind and she won't tell what she expects from him so he is thwarted before he even starts.
I used to work with a woman who got angry with her husband every year because he never got her what she wanted for Valentine's Day.  I asked her if she told him what she wanted and she said no and that he should KNOW what she wants.  One year they were in a shopping mall and she pointed to some teddy bear that she wanted and hinted that it would make a perfect VD present but on that Valentine's Day she was pissed again because he didn't get the EXACT bear she had pointed to.  Unbelievable.

I do have one positive VD story and it was in 1985 when I was in Oklahoma taking care of my mother as she was dying of cancer.  I was a long way from my home in Arizona and my ex (this is before we were married and subsequently divorced) made some hearts cut out of wood and painted them different colors and then painted "I love you" on them.  They were all different sizes and I loved them.  What a very sweet and appropriate gift for Valentine's Day, something homemade and from the heart.  My mother died a few months later and I went back to Arizona and married my ex the next year.  It was a wonderful time and I cherish the good memories.                              

Valentine's Day should be a day of celebrating love, not being disappointed by what didn't happen or by what material gift you didn't get.  Next year, skip the  crappy store bought card and make something meaningful.  Write a poem to your loved one.  Bake a cake or some other confection.  And whatever you do, say "I love you".

February 4, 2010

Weather Or Not

Oh my aching head.  Why oh why did I have that last shot of bourbon?  It must be the weather.
It is now February and the weather has been rotten.  Last week we had five inches of snow and the darned stuff just won't melt, making a muddy slushy mess of my driveway.  
I used to love snow.  Now all I think about when it snows is "how in the heck am I going to get to work?" or "how long is this crap gonna last?".  The hills in my area make driving treacherous, especially for someone like me who has landed in the ditch way too many times.  I am the driver people need to watch out for in bad weather.
When I was younger and lived in Oklahoma I drove in the snow and ice all of the time and only bumped someone once at a stop light.  Of course, there are no real hills in Oklahoma City so the driving was relatively easy.  Not so in Northwest Arkansas.  I know the Ozark Mountains aren't anything compared to say the Rockies, but they are steep enough to cause trouble when the ice and snow come pouring out of the sky.
Today it is raining and will continue to do so into the night which will probably then freeze and make my morning commute a joy.
Is it spring yet?