Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wilting . . .


Boston is in the midst of a massive blinding heat wave with almost no end in sight.

Isolated Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
Partly Cloudy

Well, I guess that's not technically true; it looks like things cool down slightly after Tuesday. But it's only Saturday, we've been living through this for days, Wednesday feels very far away.

And if I could sit in front of a fan with my excellent library books and a cold drink, that would be one thing, but I have taken on almost more editing work than I can handle (college tuition looms! I am too scared to say no to anything!), PLUS I'm working offsite at my first temp job for four days.
(Aside: I LOVE this job!! It is so easy, and I have lots of down time, so I've been able to do a little editing. It's also air-conditioned! It also has great coffee!!!)
PLUS: Mimosa leaves for college in less than a month (26 days, to be precise), so it's time to get serious about getting her stuff together, PLUS her computer is acting up and neither Husband nor I can figure out what's going on. Our best faint hope is something called a "swelling battery" (and who isn't swelling in this heat? My feet look like small squishy pink pumpkins. All this editing = lots of sitting, which is no good for my circulation, especially in a heat wave), which we will attempt to replace today.

PLUS: Li'l Martini leaves for camp tomorrow, so we've got to get him ready as well — and oh yes, we have a houseguest at present! A friend of one my bridesmaids is in town, so we are putting her up for four nights. Easy-peasy, she's a delightful guest, I've seen her all of 10 minutes so far, but it's just one more thing.
(Aside: Husband met her first, since I was temping, and texted me: "She's pretty cute!" "Calm down, tiger," I texted back.)
And, of course, it's Chore Day. I would put it off, except the house gets especially grubby during a heat wave (we have fruit flies EVERYWHERE and the rugs are matted with shedded cat hair. Oh, our lucky houseguest!).

And finally, Mom just found out that she needs open heart surgery — I am being pretty chill about this, but of course I am anxious. (Mommy! Mommy!)

Ai yi yi!!
Sadly, I think I need to face the fact that the demon rum is not my friend right now. As appealing as a frosty margarita sounds, I feel even more hot and swollen afterward. Perhaps I will embrace temperance.

At least until Wednesday.


Friday, July 15, 2016

How Many Is Too Many?

You tell me your answer, then I'll tell you mine. (Hic!)

But shut up, I totally just won Final Jeopardy. Tequila is my FREN. Frennd. Frendy-thing. Whate'r.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Letting My Fear Overwhelm Me

Gentle Readers, do you remember the history of my exercise path on this blog? Here is a quick overview:
  • Zumba — LOVED! But my arthritic knees no longer allow it (I could maybe do Zumba Gold, but the last time I looked I couldn't find a class)
  • Tai Chi — 100% totally completely not for me, not even at all. Oh my.
  • Stationary bike in my basement — not terrible, once I got my fabby Derri-Air cushion . . . but not exactly #1 on the Hit Parade of Fun-ness
  • Deep Water — LOVE! But it's not offered in the summer
So here I am, not exercising and feeling very sluggish. My knees hurt, it is hot, so many challenges!

And I haven't been on that bike since . . . well, I can't even remember when.

But when I thought about it, it sounded so hard. And worky. And potentially hurty.

And in the way that unpleasant-seeming jobs tend to do, it stayed in my subconscious, where it both (1) nagged at me and (2) GREW, to the point where I was actively afraid to get back on the bike. Afraid of the pain, afraid of how confronting how out of shape I am, afraid afraid afraid. And paralyzed.

I hate this feeling. I am a BADASS. I am not afraid of anything except praying mantises, bridges where you can't see the endpoint, grasshoppers, and large parties. And I'm WAY less afraid of bridges than I used to be! In any event: Yesterday I decided that I am an idiot, and I channeled one of my favorite literary heroines:
(Note: Emily of Deep Valley is my least favorite book in the Betsy-Tacy series, I think it's mostly a huge slogfest of gloom, but I adore Emily herself. She is a pistol! And very inspiring, particularly yesterday.)

I didn't even make myself put workout clothes on, because I didn't want anything to derail me. I simply went downstairs in a sundress, almost no underwear, and barefoot. Putting on my sneakers is work! Nothing was going to stop me!

First I lifted weights (I love lifting weights. Why don't I do this more often?), and then I got on my bike, bare feet and sundress and floppy bosoms and all, and I pushed those pedals for exactly one song on my iPod ("Can't Stop the World" by the Go-Go's, if you're interested).

And it was fine. Obviously not ideal, but fine. It was enough to break the ice and get over my fear.

Today, I vowed, if I didn't have any work in my Inbox (I've had editing out the wazoo), I was going to ride the bike proper.

And I didn't, and I did!!

I  rode for 20 minutes, and then a few more, doing a sort of "cool down" to the theme from Dynasty. Four miles, and I am one sweaty kitten! And very happy.

I still don't love riding that bike, but it's okay. It's good to break a sweat by doing something other than just being hot. And there was a moment (when "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge came up on my iPod) that I felt pure joy.

Just that one moment, you understand.  But still.

And no work has shown up yet! Perhaps I have a free day? That would be amazing. The only thing on my docket is a lunch date with a friend I haven't seen in a while. I could get rid of the enormous crap pile that tends to grow in front of my computer, and then spend the day reading library books! Oh bliss, oh joy!

To review: I am a BADASS.

(Hmm, I guess that's really all.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How [Not] to Cook Beans

Our financial advisor $u$an had us look at all of our expenses (part of figuring out how to pay for college), and to no one's surprise, "Eating Out" was quite the robust category. Thus, I've been cooking a lot more, even in the heat, even after working all day, oh poor me. But we've been eating very well!

Tonight was Taco Night, yum. I make the tacos with ground chicken (Husband has been trying to avoid red meat because of his propensity for gout), and they are muy delicioso. Usually I serve Spanish rice and refried beans, but we just had rice last night (with the world's tastiest stir-fry! Leeks and mushrooms and red pepper and snow peas, dang me it was good! but I digress) and I didn't have any refried beans, so I went another way. I made a yummy red cabbage slaw, which one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Sol Azteca, serves as a side dish. (I didn't have a recipe so I did it by taste, and for me it was perfect.)

And I decided to fix some black beans. Into a pot went a can of black beans, a can of tomatoes, some dried minced onion, some garlic salt, and a dash of chipotle. Doesn't that sound like it should be good?

I heated it for a bit and then tasted it. Hmm.

Well, if I was going for the award for blandness . . . good news!

And then the craziness began.

Bland? OK! I added more salt and chipotle. Result: Too salty AND too hot.

I remembered having this problem with salsa once. The surprise solution: Sugar! So I added sugar.

Result: Still too salty, still too hot, and now too sweet.
I drained off some of the hot salty sweet juice and added some water. No change.

I dumped the whole thing in a strainer and removed all excess liquid, returned the beans to the pot, and tasted them. A tiny bit better, but still too spicy and salty.

Think, think.

And then I figured out what to do, even though it is disgusting. I added mayonnaise. And this milded out the flavor nicely, and I now had something slightly resembling bean dip. I served it with tortilla chips and warned the kids that it was spicy. And that was that.

(After all that, I thought it was pretty tasty. But I am not likely to make this again.)

The rest of the dinner was great, and now it is behind us.

I am feeling a little aimless and antsy, because I just watched Seasons 1 and 2 of my favorite new show Jane the Virgin and also finished a really good book, and while I have a stack of new library books, none has really grabbed me yet. I'll watch Jeopardy in a few minutes and then probably just sit and stare.

Oh! Husband downloaded Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for me, which I know I will love! OK, then!

Life is sweet.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Watching a Friend Turn 50

I went out for drinks with my pal Sexy Em this week; she turns 50 this month and is feeling somewhat agitated about it. However, she says that she's decided to STOP, just STOP angsting about food, exercise, her weight in general, men, and work. Sounds good to me!

Though I'm angsting about weight again, because my miracle days of magically losing weight seem to have come to an end (nine pounds gone! poof!), as my weight was up this morning. Which seems impossible, because it was 3 million degrees here yesterday and I must have lost 42 pounds of sweat. But I also ate sushi for lunch, which = sodium, which = probable weight gain. Oh, who knows. I'm certainly not moving around much, it is too darn hot and my knees hurt again.

Turns out, cortisone may cause an increase in hot flashes!! Who knew? I am regularly bathed in sweat several times an hour.

Sexy Em asked me how I felt about turning 50 (at the time), and I said pretty good. My lifelong resolutions have always been to lose weight, manage money better, and do something with my writing, and at 50 all of those things were going pretty well. Of course, now I'm turning 54 and my life has gone to crap in those areas.

Oh, well!

Some interesting and/or good things that happened this week:
  • I made a stupid mistake in calculating Mimosa's college expenses — and for once, my dopiness worked in my favor! We will pay almost $2K less per month than I'd estimated, which is HUGE! Happy, happy.
  • Li'l Martini just heard: he's a Madrigal again! I'd been a teeny bit worried that there'd be some blowback from our Troubles with Mimosa and the Music Dept., but apparently not.
  • I met with a nice lady at a temp agency in Boston, and I think I'll get some pleasant summer work in air-conditioned suburban offices — still seeking that elusive perfect second job.
  • That being said, I have a TON of editing right now. Money, money!
  • Yesterday was 3 million degrees, but the weekend is supposed to be much cooler and it already feels better outside and in. I just turned off my fan, in fact! Ugh, how I hate being hot.
  • Remember the m*****-f****** hornets that tried to kill me last summer? I've been a tad fretful about pruning Death Tree, even though it really needs it, because what if they're still lurking and plotting my demise?
But this morning I mustered my wits and my garden shears and eradicated a full third of that crazy tree. Nary a hornet in sight! Yay, me. I am a BADASS.
But now I must get back to the gonzo editing job. Just wanted to do a quick catch-up!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Password Is . . .

Remember the game show Password? I loved it. My brothers and I were devoted to game shows in our childhood. Our all-time favorite was Match Game, which we attempted to recreate with the neighborhood urchins whenever possible.

I used to have cassette tapes of some of our do-it-yourself Match Game episodes (taping yourself on a tape recorder was a big thing back in the day) — wow, I would give a lot to hear one of those again! But alas, like sands through the hourglass . . . well, I think I'm losing my grip on that metaphor, but anyway, those records of our genius are long gone, who knows where.

But I am excited to see that next Sunday, ABC is offering a three-hour block of game shows: Match Game, Family Feud, and $100,000 Pyramid! I have high hopes, especially for the latter. Constant Readers know that I love few things more than a good party game, and Pyramid has become one of my favorites. Nothin' but good times ahead!

Jeopardy and Pyramid are constants at my own parties, and Mrs. Cynicletary and I have also done versions of Match Game, Family Feud, and Let's Make a Deal for the work parties we co-hosted for years. I've become newly enamored of Password over the years, and I plan to play it at the next party I host.

Which leads to today's challenge. Husband and I were driving home from a bittersweet lunch date (more on this in a moment), and I said, "Let's play Password." He sighed and said, "Sure." (Playing games with me is not always so fun for him — we think about things so differently, making us very bad partners for charades or Pictionary, where you really have to be in sync with your partner. However, we are well-matched for Trivial Pursuit and Cranium, where our different knowledge areas complement each other. It's good to know these things.)

Here are the clues I gave him:






And I've told this story so often now, I honestly can't remember if he guessed it at "pink" or if I broke down and told him.

How my mind works: There is ONE iconic summer fruit, in my opinion. You go to a picnic or barbecue, there is ONE fruit that is always there, front and center. If you didn't get it after "summer," you should definitely get it after "rind."

How his mind works: The fruit in question is something he loathes. He prefers to live in a world where said fruit does not exist. Ergo, it would never cross his mind as the answer to a game question, never, never, never, not even if I spelled it for him.

How my mother's mind works: One clue at a time, paying no attention to any other clues. Her guesses were fruit: apple, summer: peach, rind: orange or grapefruit, seeds: orange or grapefruit, pink: pink grapefruit.

How other people's minds work: There are lots of summer fruits, but so far everyone else has guessed it after "rind."

When choosing your championship team for Password, this might be a good screening tool!

And here's why the lunch on the day in question was bittersweet . . .

I've mentioned Mrs. Professor, my elderly friend, before. I've been friends with her for about a decade, and we have lunch together every few months. Last fall she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, though she was doing pretty well, but then the cancer began to spread; she finally decided to stop chemo and call hospice. We had lunch every couple of weeks after that, and she was still doing pretty well. But on May 27, she fell out of bed, stopped breathing, and that was that. She died in her son Brian's arms.

I will always remember the date because I was having dinner with Mrs. Cynicletary that night, the kick-off to her big birthday weekend, and my minister called me while we were eating. She wanted to let me know personally, knowing how close Mrs. Professor and I were.

I spoke briefly at her eulogy, and afterward I was asked to serve the coffee at her collation, the role that had traditionally been hers. It was such an honor.

And on Monday, Husband and I went to the restaurant where Mrs. Professor and I always had lunch. She seemed to know everyone there, and I wanted to make sure they knew what had happened.

She was fierce, stubborn, generous, frank, smart, and funny as hell. She was a great broad. I adored our friendship, and I will miss her forever.

By the way, when I was serving coffee at her memorial service, I got caught up in a story I was telling, and a man who wanted coffee decided to serve himself rather than wait for me to notice him. I heard Mrs. Professor in my ear, barking, "Lady! Pay attention!" Too funny.

I will end there.

Arggh!!! Death is the worst.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slightly Snockered


I pulled together a nice dinner for my family, veggie frittata and green salad and banana bread, and then made myself a cocktail, a Bohemian Cooler, with lemon and rye and elderflower liqueur and ginger beer. I usually make and drink two hefty ones, so I can use the whole can of ginger beer without wasting it.

(And I can hear Brunie now, saying, "If only there was something one could do with unused and unwanted ginger beer . . . perhaps a receptacle or household appliance designed for such a purpose . . .")

Brunie is not a proud Native American like I, that's all I'm saying.

Raper of the earth. Waster.

OK, that's all I'm saying.

But I am only a third into tonight's first drink, and Katy bar the door!! Maybe I should've had more than a handful of cherries and a slice of cheese for lunch?

On a related topic, here's a snippet from an e-mail exchange that I've saved:
Brunie: I can't wait to see you tomorrow! I can drive us to the movie after lunch.

Me: Driving plan = perfect. See you tomorrow! Spoiler: I plan to drink a lot. Making the driving plan even more perfect.

Brunie: I always assume that every movie-going experience we share will involve you saying, " I plan to drink a lot." Saves time...

Hardy har har.

Though, you know, probably accurate.