Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free Writing About Free Writing

GBE 2 - week 32 is a 15 minute free write.  Check it out on the site, it gives the details.   But this is what I do all the time, free writing I mean.  I may have an idea to work from,  but often I just start writing and something meaningful tends to come out.  I think it just comes with practice.  Writing is soothing, energizing, and everything in between for people who have to write.  I do my best writing in the morning.  When words just seem to slide onto the page without effort and in a coherent fashion almost like the experience writers sometimes describe as "it just came to me."  I have poems descend upon me at all times of the day and night, but when essays, articles or the like flow from me as though someone inside by head is dictating the piece to me, it is usually in the morning.  It is not necessarily the very first thing I do but I think I do my best writing when I starting putting words on the page before 9 a.m.  So it is 6:30 in the evening now as I write this for the Tuesday post.  Probably won't be my best effort ever.  I just love writing and I'm trying to be more disciplined and using different types of motivations to develop the discipline needed for serious blogging and other types of writing.  Blogging gimmicks are doing the trick to some degree.  That isn't to say that the gimmicks are bad.  They aren't.  Nablopomo.  GBE 2.  These are just a couple of the blogging tools I'm employing to get me writing.  I need a voice recorder too.  I have to find an app for that for my Blackberry.  Writing ideas down isn't always practical.  And sometimes when ideas strike, I need to record them, somehow.  Discipline is good, but so are ideas.  Develop one and don't let the others get away. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Somewhere They Call It Boxing Day

Change on the home front is a constant but some time periods are more like rapids with swirls, eddies, and water rushing over submerged objects rather than the bucolic progress of a gently meandering stream.

The Holiday rush has ended, sort of, but just like this day that has the name of medieval, or possibly older, origins a sense of confusion about this next period aka the last 10 days of Christmas exists.  That is how it is with our family life over the next few days and weeks:  a bunch of eddies, swirls, and steady progress toward who knows what or where. 

It's been a hectic few weeks.  Zilla moved back in with us for the last few months of her university days, with her 110 lb. puppy. Hubby decided in July to take a short semester-long sabbatical this Fall. I frantically tried to get as much of a book written as I could but became overloaded in October and haven't gotten much done for about six weeks.

All this fal-der-al, and fiddle-dee-dee is a way to say I do not have as many neato keen discoveries for you today as I might have wished for a Must Know Monday or a Friday Finds and Facts.

I'm looking forward to being able to focus and follow-through on projects big and small beginning mid-January after my hubby is back teaching and researching everyday at the U.,  and I've  helped Zilla safely move across the country to begin her life as half of a couple.  Guess I better start saving up for a wedding in a year or two.  She won't live with someone without some sort of promissory portable wealth (a phrase from my anthropology days) of some sort.  She's my daughter and she learned her lessons well;  you know, cows and milk and such.

I have to admit I'm looking forward to a road trip, even in the middle of Winter.  I discovered,  only a few years ago,  that I love solitary road trips.  There is something about the call of the open road that I just can't resist given half a reason to venture out on one.

A bit of a digression here:   I haven't been on the road since driving back from my Mom's place for the last time after caring for her as she passed away in 2007.  That last trip wasn't fun.  There was another trip that was hard too,  it was the one where I stopped to see my brother on my way to the Counter-Inaugural in January of 2005.  It was the last time I saw him and was only a few weeks before he passed away from cancer.  I suppose this may seem a bit morose but this Christmas Day was the 25th anniversary of my Dad's passing.  Some anniversaries just can't be forgotten.

But it is time for some perspective that only the road seems to be able to give to me.  Some of my less than wonderful life experiences taught me that I was only safe when I was by myself.  In a car in the middle of the country, hundreds of miles from home where people know to look for me, and hundreds of miles from a destination where people expect me to be at some point in the future seems safe to me.  There is a section of the book on this:  "Inversion of the Expected."  It is, I believe,  a sort of protective semiotic strategy but that is too heady and abstract a concept to take up head or thought space during the holidays.  I want to think about this more and in relation to a couple other ways people create rather intricate behaviors supported by belief systems that may be based on total logically created poppycock.

But you will just have to wait to find out more about all that,  because it is a time for conversation with family and friends over jigsaw puzzles and board games while sipping mimosas or hot chocolate and nibbling on gingerbread and chocolate truffles, and have one of each for me will you, please, as I can't for many reasons.  The Time of the Longest Nights, the days around the Winter Solstice, the 12 days of Christmas, the 8 days of Hanukkah, the 7 days of Kwanzaa, call it what you will  is a time for hot drinks, rich food, and leisurely getting together with friends and family over a longer period of time than other times of year seem to allow these days.

Hope your holidays are continuing and you are with those you love!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Crepes for Two

Hubby is over at the turtle tank picking out dried shrimp from the canister of turtle food and Randy the Turtle is gobbling them up as fast as they are dropped in the tank.  Merry Christmas Randy! 

The doggies are chowing down on braided doggie chews made of raw hide.  The cats have been brushed with their new brush.

Our tummies are full too!  Our traditional Christmas breakfast of coffee, mimosas, and Christmas Crepes. The recipe will follow a bit further down.  They make great New Years Day Crepes too!

It has been a relaxed Christmas morning thus far.  This is our first Christmas on our own since 1989.  While we were expecting Zilla to be here with us this Christmas, her Honey Bunny's older brother sent her a ticket to surprise the HB in Minneapolis for Christmas.  She left yesterday morning, and when her HB arrived at his brother's house to open gifts before Christmas Eve Dinner he thought he was opening a "coffee table" over which Zilla had been obsessing and was supposed to be for their new home (and life) together that will start in January.   HB's older bro. told him Zill had something shipped to him and he had assembled it.  So HB was none the wiser when there was a huge box among the presents.  He was dumbfounded when Zilla popped out of the top of the box.   What a wonderful present for them, and what a wonderfully calm Christmas for us!  The East Coast contingent of the family are down at the winter home of  Poet Boy's parents South of here, close to the border, and we will see them later today or tomorrow morning to watch the twins dressed in new clothes play explore new kinds of play with new toys. 

I'm happy and content.  I'm writing and Hubby is sketching.

Here is the most decadent recipe ever, it is Hubby's own, perfected this year after over twenty years of testing.  Yum!  We've drastically cut the usual amount of sugar this year and it is not only something that might be appropriate for a celebratory breakfast even for a diabetic like myself by cutting the sugar or substitution of a stevia-based sweetener for the sugar.  The fat content is sinful, and absolutely delicious.  It is probably safe to eat this once a year.  More often would not be healthy; delicious, but not healthy.  


Robin's Christmas Crepes

Strawberry Topping (for 4 crepes)

4 very large strawberries (or as many as you want!) sliced into very thin slices
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 Tbs. sugar

toss all ingredients together and let stand while you make the filling and crepe batter

Crepe filling (for many!) 

1   15 oz. container (which is  425 gr.) ricotta cheese
1 stick of butter (1/4 c. is 113 gr. which is also 4 oz.)
1 pkg. of cream cheese (8 oz. which is 227 gr.)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. sugar
lemon zest

beat all ingredients together (we used a mixer) beat until mixture is a consistently thick, smooth and creamy

makes far more filling than is needed for four crepes,
cover and refrigerate unused filling,
use in crepes when you whip up new batches of crepe batter and fruit topping for others as they drop by throughout the day or week of festivities  --  topping keeps for up to three days when properly sealed and refrigerated 

Crepe batter (for 4 crepes)

beat together
3 eggs
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream        
1/4 tsp. of vanilla
lemon zest

slowly sift
1/2 c. flour
into mixture

pour 1/4 batter on preheated and oiled griddle, or pan, to make a nice round crepe,
flip crepe over when top of crepe begins to appear rubbery and non-liquid,
cook until done and lightly golden brown on both sides

repeat 3 more times until you have four crepes


We usually have the person eating the crepes do their own assembly.

place crepe on plate
spoon filling to taste into the center of crepe and spread to desired thickness
roll up the crepe
top with strawberry topping

Eat and enjoy!


May this Holiday and the coming New Year be Merry, Bright and Prosperous for all of you my dear readers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Graduate Growing Pains

I didn't succeed with Nablopomo this month, but I did succeed with doing an absolute ton of stuff.  But it has not been enough for everyone around me.  Expectations placed on mothers are sometimes huge and unrealistic ones. Sometimes mothers do not live up to expectations both realistic and unrealistic.  Moms are humans. 

Daughters are human too, but sometimes they are scary monsters.  Zilla got her nickname with good reason.  This past week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.  Her last semester of college was this past week.  She attended the more intimate School of Science Graduation where the graduates actually walk across the stage while a saying they have chosen is projected on the stage's backdrop and hands are shaken and recognition given.  It was good.  She had a bit of a melt down when we were where we were told to go after the ceremony and not where she thought we would be, but we all survived, met up, and her sister, father and I are all very proud. 

Did I mention her sister who lives in NYC along with hubby and twin 1 year old daughters are all in Southern Arizona for the Holidays? 

Zilla has always easily been wound up and at times has difficulty disengaging and the stress of finals, the details and expenses of graduation, coupled with her understandable anxiety about completing applications for graduate school in in the next few weeks, and about moving across the country and away from nearby family shortly after the New Year is taking its toll on her.  The graduation party at our house was a success... both the early part with our friends and those folks with small children, and the later part that was more raucous and composed mainly of her friends were pleasant and appropriately celebratory for the people to whom they were tailored.  

Still I am the target of my baby's scorn more often than not in the past week as not everything is unfolding as smoothly nor exactly in the manner she envisioned and she feels the need to affix as much blame as possible to me.  I actually understand this.  It doesn't mean that I accept the blame nor tolerate the scorn, but I understand why we are so touchy about everything.  My therapist once reminded me that often it is easier to leave a place or person when there is some anger reinforcing the necessity of the separation. 

I'm proud of my baby.  This is a difficult time because we are close, stress is high, and it makes us both sad to think of being so far away from each other.  We will get through it and it is instructional to learn that being close can make for more stress at times of transition than families that are not as close and just going through the motions required of a formal occasion. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rain Again, an observation and poem

I woke up this morning to more rain.  It usually doesn't bother me, but today it does.  It is a cold sad rain.  An unopened package from Ypsilanti was on the kitchen table.  A friend, now dust and perhaps  a memory at any given time  - his words were in there.  Parkinson's was killing him when I knew him.  His eyes, pale and piercing, could see through people.  For some reason, he liked what he saw in me.  Those Monday nights at the Unitarian Universalist Church were a treasure.  Rest in peace my friend. 

rain again

Tucson was once lush
diorama of spears hefted
by little brown men
and a dying mammoth
told me so

this wet lack of sun
sends me back
the world of chill childhood 
lives in such damp days

is different

some of his last poems
are in that book
on the coffee table

words from when I knew him

"you, you can come back"
after hearing me read
and i did

all the way from
For Neruda, For Chile
to surfings

nfh, 13 dec 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not the Best of Days

Stressing out big time, too much to do over the next three days.

The graduation party is Friday. I'm hopelessly behind. Zilla has her finals this week. One today, one tomorrow and one Weds. I guess I will just do what I can and say heck to the rest.

I wish I really could be that non-plussed by this sort of thing but after living with renovation for the last 5 years (my husband bless his heart wants to do most major projects himself) I am so tired of not having the house together.

I'm sort of in a bleak mood today. At times I wish I had it together a bit more than I do. I guess I will just tell myself that I have 10 years of backlog and I've only been regaining my health for the last 6 months of that time and it will get better.

Back to scrubbing, sorting and baby-proofing!

This is officially the lamest blog post I've ever done.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Empty Nesters Done Nesting

Are you what is now referred to as an empty nester?  I prefer to say I am done nesting.  Empty nest syndrome is a maladjustment to children leaving home and heading out on their own.  I prefer to frame the experience as a success.  You reared your children and now you are done nesting.  Seems perfectly logical to me.  I know I am not alone in viewing this life transition this way.

So if you are also done nesting, feel free to grab the following image and scale it to your needs to post as a widget (badge of honor for being a successful parent) on your blog.  I made it today.

I will turn this into a badge with code when it is a bit less hectic around the home front.  I think I will host a Done Nesting Blog Carnival next month too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Photos and Family History

Spent the day sorting through stuff in order to have a garage sale within a few days, and helping my husband organize the content of some boxes he brought back from being in storage in the state where he grew up.  He passed through there when he came back from sabbatical on the East Coast. 

My family is weird, but his family background is truly unusual.  The snapshots we found today included baby and childhood photographs that I hadn't ever seen, and that he thought no longer existed. I was so glad that my daughter and her step-sister will have a more complete history of his family.  Portrait photos to go with names, and houses and cars give a context that really fills out understanding of a time and place.   There were semi risque pics of his mom taken by his father.  They were very free-thinking people when it came to sexuality but they were arch conservatives when it came to politics and social issues.   His dad was an extremely fine gunsmith.   There were letters and documents in the boxes too. National Rifle Association memberships and awards, shooting club patches, and hints at Hubby's Dad's first marriage provided links that tied the photos and documents together.  There are more dates to help us fill out a timeline that has always been fuzzy.

I went online and re-upped for ancestry.com and began searching.  My husband always thought that he was a bastard... but that isn't really true.  His parents did marry, a bit late perhaps by societal standards, but I found out when and where they married.  I haven't found out much about his dad's first marriage.  If there had been children I think I would have found the records from birth announcements in the newspapers.

When I was growing up my family always recited lineages as though they were litanies.  It is odd to now be able to build those same sort of lineages for my husband's family even though both parents had been gone for ages by the time we married.

Personal history, family history, and the flavor of community are so difficult to capture after the fact.  I'm glad we can write it down for the kids now while we still have control of most of our faculties. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bucket List or Dream List

Been playing around with graphics today... one of my favorite things you might have deduced by now.  I was playing with the title of this blog when I began thinking about the things I want to accomplish during this next phase of my life.  A bucket list if you will.  GBE2 had it as a weekly writing prompt last week.  And while I didn't get the post written then, I'm doing it now.  Day late and a dollar short as usual.  But what the hey, this is about fun, motivation, and peer response.  Deadlines be damned!

Ok, here goes:
  • Number one on the list is definitely to get the book on healing MSbP abuse done and spend a while on marketing it.  
  • The Gene Stratton-Porter biography is high priority too after MSbP book.
  • A month of wearing wool sweaters, eating oatmeal, and writing in a stone cottage on an island (Hebrides - maybe Skye) just off the Scottish coast has always been a dream.  
  • Touring through the desolate wilderness of Patagonia in South America.
  • Spending a week in Paris with time spent between the Musée du Louvre  and the Museo de Orsay. 
  • Redeveloping my relationship with my husband so that we are best friends again.    
  • Having a garden again.
  • Making bread again.
  • Getting up to 400 plus as my regular score in Scrabble®.  
This is fun because I'm making it fun.  It isn't a list of things I've failed to do as yet, it is a list of things I still dream about doing.  I'm glad I'm still dreaming!  What do you dream about doing now that you are done nesting?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Juggling Squared Feeds A Writing Experiment

Oh I wish I had time to write the way I would like to write. The coming Holidays, my 21 year old's graduation from university, her birthday, my husband's 35 year old daughter, her husband who is adapting to have a prosthetic lower leg, and their twin 1 year old daughters, and her birthday all arrive within a few days of each other.

I am challenging myself to write through the frenzy of the next month. Writing provides comfort, entertainment, solace, political engagement, and occasionally income for me. I have always written on a keyboard. My first big purchase in life was when I was 16 and I purchased a professional office model Royal electric typewriter. Crisp, tidy, inviting words that I put on a page have been a near daily occurrence for decades of my life. I like to revise, edit, and hone each piece. Many, many times my creative thoughts and fingers are racing so very much faster than my internal editor can run.

Feel free to click and copy this graphic for your non-commercial blog!

Blogging, especially on a daily basis, requires a spontaneous, yet rigorous, process of writing to create a product. At least it does in my world where I don't have hour upon hour to spend crafting a final Blog product every day. Writing poetry, and writing, and rewriting papers and research reports were the mainstays of my "keyboarded" writing for ages, letter writing and journaling were the purview of pen-in-hand. Blogging combines these modes of writing that, for those of us who learned to compose on paper and then transcribe via a typewriter, come into being through different brain to hand, neural pathways and processes.

A further difference, for old fogey types' such as "Done Nesters," is that we would also nearly always do a complete rewrite as we retyped from penultimate draft to final copy. This is how we learned to create coherent pieces of writing. This differs from how the bloggers who learned to write on personal computers and laptops create their product. Most blogs also require a personality-infused style of writing that is somewhat at odds with the multiple edits and more formal style of writing that lots of 40-plus writers have as their default.

So, I am giving myself permission, in this coming month of tightly scheduled events and impromptu family activities, to write for two hours every morning. This will keep me sane. This also will require getting up at an absolutely ungodly hour and going to the gym, then writing from 7 until 9 a.m., and letting my family know that joint enterprise breakfasts will begin to be made by us as a group endeavor at 9 a.m. What this will also promote, at least that is my plan, is the honing of my quick write skills when time is crunched but there is a wealth of material from which to draw upon in those limited moments of writing time.

This wealth truly is a wealth that is made up of many rich blessings: my darling baby all grown up and moving away to go to grad school, twin one year old grand baby girls visiting our home for the first time, a son-in-law who is a wonderful writer and is adjusting amazingly well to a changed body after life-altering boating accident, and my wonderful step daughter who works in the New York publishing industry and has said she might be able to shop around my memoir about growing up in rural, bucolic isolation on one of the last truly old fashioned farms while surviving the rearing of a mother who today would be classified as suffering from the factitious disorder, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.  These are all very exciting elements in and pf themselves, let alone together!

I know my limiting and enabling constraints; I can churn out acceptable copy the first thing in the morning. Without fail this is when my best writing is done. While there is the occasional instance to prove my generalization wrong, the quality of my writing decreases with every passing hour of the day.  With so much that I want to capture there should not be any lack of subject or motivation, so I just have to stick to the schedule and work on what I guess I will think of as flow for lack of a better word.  Flow for me means combining the personal creativity of what I think of as journal and letter writing energy with the final draft polish and editing vibes that keyboarding provides for me. 

I will have an overflowing basket of observations, rituals, and discoveries to provide prompts and topics aplenty to feed my urges to communicate in writing, and I have the schedule in place to facilitate my best effort; so,  there is actually method to my seeming madness. Sometimes the busiest time is the best time to blend in a new ingredient, this time the combining of types of writing into my own style of blogging that captures the best features of both types.

Do you agree, or am I taking on too much?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Discovering the Truth About Christmas Treats

I miss the taste of the sweet treats of the season.  I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in May of this year, so this is the first Christmas season without sugar.    Sigh.

I'm lucky though, I can control the disease with diet and exercise and Metformin.  I don't have to do the daily blood tests.

I've learned to stop and appreciate the beauty of the treats under glass in bakeries, to breathe in and delight in the memories and emotions that rich scents of cinnamon, almond, clove, fruit evokes.  This lack has made me appreciate the real treats when I find them.  It is almost like a game.  I ask myself,  " If I could freely eat a few, select sweet treats, would this be one of them?" 

To my surprise, I find myself usually answering,  "No." 

If the tempting item is in a bag, I remind myself it is not fresh.  And fresh, straight from the oven, still gooey and steaming is the only way to eat most treats such as cookies.  I walked down the isle in overstock and remainder grocery I go to at least once a month, a store that saves my budget and me from despair, with all the baking goods to get a great deal on cans of evaporated milk, and walked right past the boxes of brownie and cake mixes with their ingredient lists of over 15 items including preservatives and fillers and multiple forms of second class sweeteners. No problem.  If I were to indulge, it would and indulgence with something homemade with love and real true ingredients.  In the grocery near my home, I walk in and the sweet smell is overpowering.  It is cloying in its overabundance, and there is something missing.  The scent of spices, butter, nutmeats and simmering fruit is absent.  There is just the smell of white flour and sugar.  This, too, I can forgo.

The piles of candy everywhere brighten with red, white, and gold wrappings.  But I can decorate with strings of popcorn and cranberries and shiny baubles;  I don't need gold boxes of chocolates,  and bowls of red and green candies.

I am pretty sure I can figure out how to make a fruit cake that is filled with the heady richness of freshly ground spices, healthy fruit and nuts and a tiny bit of honey and just enough Stevia to add some sweetness without bitterness so as delight guests and allow my own indulgence once or twice.  I am sorting through my recipes and looking for recipes I can modify so as to be able to make plates of treats to give away without exposing myself to dangerous temptation.  Many recipes I remember from my childhood were simple ones that I can adapt to use a sweetener that is natural, and with a lower glycemic index than the "white death" soaked cookies we too often think of as "Christmas cookies."  Chocolate (dyed green) and white (dyed red) cookie doughs rolled into flat sheets then layered and rolled and sliced to make pinwheel cookies were always on my mother's Christmas sideboard.  She also made almond flavored butter cookies shaped into tiny crescents with a clove stuck in each one.  Regular plain and simple cookies can be decorated with chopped fruits, nuts such as almonds that can be tinted into festive colors.   I will include clementines on the trays, and nuts, just like they did in the days of the Nutcracker. 

I will make Christmas trays of goodies for family and friends, and if so moved to do so, I may sample one bite from each type on different days, and I will allow myself to roll the tastes around, over my tongue, savor the real, true sweetness of home made delicacies without artificial anything while sharing the Holidays with the real, true sweet things in life: my family and friends.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My rough notes from Captain Mark Kelly's Talk Tonight.

Waiting for the talk by Cpt. Mark Kelly to start on the U of A campus.

The talk is sponsored by the Tucson Festival of Books. My husband is p.o.ed that the Arizona Daily Star had the first 12 rows reserved for "VIPs."

The event was to start at 7:30 p.m. with everyone in their seats by 7:15 but there was security theater getting inane everyone was outside waiting in line in the cold as the very slow progression to get in finally started.

Someone is at the podium speaking about the Festival's good works.

New mayor and some council members in attendance.

M.K. will sign.

Message from Gabby. Month ago.

Kid in a space suit.

Physical, occupational, an hour each and a couple hours in speech therapy.

Injury: leg improves - right arm doesn't.
Stamina is very good.

Why the book? Telling the story to remember it. "Seemed like the right thing to do." They aged to tell all personally. Jeff Laslo collaborated with them. Couple hours a day driving and talking to him.

Grew up in neighborhood where the Sopranos was set as the son of two cops. 


1st date in prison. China/young leaders. Long distance.

Still haven't taken honeymoon. "Need to work that in."

Exactly the same personality. Right brain wounds alter personality.

He'd rate comprehension at 100 percent. Maybe 98.

Not like a stroke.

Caregiver of crew or Gabby. Prior skills in complex decision, planning, organizing. Advocate.marriage - that is what he signed up for.

She is positive, determined... Does not want to miss therapy, even for President Obama.

Gave her cane she walked to garage and threw it out.

Healthcare: we've made poor choices.
Limited amount of therapy. 10 yrs. With one month of therapy. A few months in a row would have fixed everything.

"Try not to mess up."

Remember that Michelle Obama is very tall.

Neonatal room with bed . No sleep 8th  or 9th then decided decisions required sleep.

2nd opinion group think equal stupid. Ask a junior person's opinion. None of us is as dumb as all of us. In group Conf room at mission control. Told that to surgeons in care mtgs. Demanded a second opinion.

Gabby forced him to get 7 second opinions when he had prostate cancer.   No way brain surgery with out.

Google effect. Gabby's mushrooming "presence."  Bothered him at first.  He got over that.

Daughters. Distant and strained relation teens.
Even worst things have good things come out.

On Bono, "Gabby is in love with both of us."
he had met gabby before. Same picture on her desk.

Danger of space flight. Courage learned from Gabby. 2007. 39 flights and 2 space flights and he didn't have the dangerous profession.

Patience. Learned to be patient.

She is a compassionate person.

Learned a lot from writing.

At Mesa verde school earlier today.  Yearbook from school taken into space. the most impact from all of this year, Ron Barber, Gabriel's death?  No - 9 yr old girl. Tragic. Christina Taylor Green.

Compartmentalization. Helped. Training for care giving and space flight. It helped. Focus you learn to - to fly.  For moments in time to be able to forget about every thing else.

GG coming back to Tucson? Decision still to bemade. Eventually spend all of time in Tucson.

Continuing service is probably a motivator.

She wants to continue - time will tell.

Her office is still functioning. Everything but voting. Shooting on sat. Office open Monday.

Marches out the door every morning.

Will decide on anniversary events.

Next for him?  "My job is to make sure she can run for office."

Audience questions.

Sarah Palin... Not yet, I 'm waiting.

Wash your bananas.

Destruction of rain forest seen from space. 2001 2011 clearly see the destruction. Atmosphere isn't that big.

Brain injury Iraq -- therapy early and for a long enough time. Treat early and enough.

E.T. - Paused???? Small sharp teeth and live under bed.

Book signing line outside (again) in the COLD. We didn't stay for the signing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Buying a Certified Used Vehicle - Part 2

The saga of the car purchase by my darlin' little daughter continued over the last few days and reached a new resolution today. And you thought it ended last Thursday when she signed the papers.  Wrong.  Much to our surprise on Friday when we picked up the car from our trusted mechanic after he had done a thorough inspection of the car, he let us know that it had been involved in some minor repairs and had probably been in a fender bender of some sort.

How did he know this?  Well in bright sun light you could see that the front right bumper had been repainted.  It was an excellent paint job, but the color/texture was just slightly different from the rest of the vehicle.  You could see that the hood had been removed and reinstalled by the slight impression of where the nuts were initially tightened down on all the bolts that secured the hood to the body.  Some of the non-structural screws (pretty much redundant ones) were missing as seen from when the car was up on the rack.  The computer initially showed an error on electrical system of power steering column on the initial computer scan.  Another error showed on the power to the window controls in the drivers door.  Follow up more detailed computer readings showed nothing wrong, but the initial report showed something was potentially problematic.  There were several minor chips in the windshield.  A cup holder in the back seat was broken.

All in all these are relatively minor problems, but still, the car was not in the condition it was presented as being in at the time of purchase.  This meant that although we got it for a good price the initial starting point at which it was priced was $1500 to $2000 higher than standard price (per Edmunds or Kelly blue book) should have been priced.

I apparently raised my daughter to be one tough cookie when it comes to negotiation skills.  In fact I remember using the phrase, "This is not negotiable!" fairly often in discussions when she was still in the lower grades of elementary school.  Saturday a.m. we took the car back to the dealer and said we were returning it because of the condition.  No ifs, ands or buts.  We did not accept a loaner.  We thought they might lower the price then and there, but they asked for time until this morning, Monday, to find other options for us.  We agreed.    They had our trade in, the down payment, and the purchased car over the weekend, so the ball was firmly in our court.  We were being reasonable and we were the ones being inconvenienced.

Today, after a tiny bit of my daughter staying firm on her expectations and rejecting cars similar to the one returned, that were not what she wanted, the dealer offered a model that was a year newer, the next model up that has many upgraded features as standard features, and had a sticker price that was $5,000 higher than the sticker of the model she had returned, and had half as many miles as the returned vehicle.  They agreed to have the paperwork for the new car done later in the afternoon when she could return for the same price so she could come in, sign, and be out the door in 10 minutes.

The dealer was pleased that my daughter was pleasant and allowed them to right the mistake.  What could have been bad PR for them turned out to be an opportunity for them to get some very good PR from a satisfied customer.

She picked the car up this afternoon.  

The first car was a 2008 Jetta SE with a few upgrades.   The car she came away with today is a 2009 Jetta, Wolfsburg edition.  The $80 inspection fee we paid the mechanic to check out the car was the best investment we have every made. The moral of the story?  Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle as soon as possible after purchase (before if possible,) and do not hesitate to continue the negotiation after the day of purchase if something is discovered.  You do have three days to return almost any major purchase. 

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease," as the old adage says. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baking with Stevia

Today I began experimenting with how to bake with stevia.  Unfortunately I am out of eggs and butter.  The Stevia in the Raw that I used had printed instructions saying that I could use it like sugar 1 to 1.  I just make a no egg cakey sweet bread with whole wheat flour, a bit of baking powder and stevia instead of sugar and oil instead of eggs.  I also used kiefer yogurt, a banana, and vanilla.  It turned out edible but with an aftertaste of stevia.

This is a good start for learning to bake without sugar, using whole grains, and yogurt, but I have a long way to go.

Next experiment will be with unbleached white flour, eggs, and butter and about half as much stevia with apples rather than banana.

I baked this version in a 9 inch lined cake pan with the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  I also need to lower the temperature a little or decrease the cooking time a bit.

Eating it with butter and a glass of milk made it more palatable.   I'm thinking that using it like bread and eating it with peanut butter smeared on it might be good.  

An almond and cinnamon crumb topping might also be good. 

I enjoy baking but I need to do it in a healthy way and sugar and fake sugars are not good for humans so I'm trying some alternatives.  I used to use honey but I'm trying to use low glycemic ingredients.

The best page I've found on Stevia

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Empty Nester? I Don't Feel Empty.

Weekends are free writing times which means there are no official themed prompts published for those of us participating in NaBloPoMo.

So I have decided to rework something written ages ago when I fist thought of starting this blog.

I have not felt empty since I gave birth to my lovely little bird who, in this blog, I shall call Phoebe.
I did miss her kicking me at first after she was born, even though I held her in my arms as the flutter, thump, kick, was a constant from the “quickening” when I first consciously felt my little babe’s jab to my kidney until her birth.  Okay, okay, actually it was just fluttering at first… but eventually I became convinced I had a world champion pugilist inside me.

Anyway, this post is just a bit of explanation about the blog title.  I will never be done parenting or grand-parenting, Goddess willing (more on the use of the word Goddess another time) but I am done nesting.

When I studied for one short but memorable semester with in Dr. Earl Count (I am NOT making this up!) in college  who was an octogenarian when he taught the course on The Biogram I learned a great deal.  Not enough for Dr. Count,  though, who gave me a B for the course much to my dismay.  (I, me, moi only received grades of A, or so I thought up until that time.)  One of the things I learned about in his course was nesting behavior and something called the broody phase.  All female vertebrates when they are pregnant, if I remember correctly, experience a broody phase where normal behavior is replaced by behavior that is directed toward creating an environment that accommodates the successful rearing of offspring.

I think I am done with the broody phase and the following nesting phase where offspring are raised.    I’m off to focus, for the most part and to some degree for the very first time, on my own life. So while I will always be a mother, I have exited the broody phase and am exiting the nesting phase.  This blog will chronicle this transition and perhaps the next phase of my life. 

Additional Info:
If you are into ethology, the book we used for the course on the biogram was called, Being and Becoming Human: Essays on the Biogram by Earl Count.  I found it to be a very good text that rounded out my reading of Lorenz, and Eibl-Eibesfeldt when it came to basic ethology. 
(Wanna make something of my love of bibliography? Let’s step outside.*)
* see:  Notes page.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Gifts We Give to Our Children

I am so happy that my husband and I were able to help our daughter get a nice car -- today!  She will be graduated from university very soon and will head off across country on her own.  I'm not a 1 percenter, no where close, not even in the same universe.  So the car is not brand new.  But it is a nice car, an import, has all the bells and whistles, is a couple years old, and as a certified used vehicle has a two year or 25,000 miles warranty.  We were able to give her a sizable down payment so that she could afford payments on a car that will last through grad school and beyond with any fortune at all.

The gift is more than we can afford, but that is okay.  The Hubby and I are both products of totally dysfunctional families that did as much to hurt us as to help us.  I swore when I married and had a baby that I would raise my daughter to know that she is loved and that she would never doubt that she is entitled to have her needs met.  We've done better than our parents did in raising children, but we were far, far, far from perfect parents.  But we've always tried to meet her needs and prepare her to launch herself from our nest into an independent life from the best footing possible. 

So if I am posting a response to the Day 2 NaBloPoMo prompt: "What was the most disappointing gift you received as a child?"  and I am not sure that the above stuff relates, but anyway... I guess that the most disappointing gift I received was during third grade when my Christmas gifts were an ugly hat, a Bible, and some bath salts.  I was really sad that I didn't get anything fun.  But now that I'm older, this does not seem as bad as it did then.  We were very poor.  I still have the Bible.  The gift I was most disappointed by was the most precious gift a parent can give to a child, it was what I wasn't given as a child.  That was the gift of self esteem and self-worth that comes from knowledge of unconditional love.

We gave my daughter a gift today that helped her get a car, but the most important thing we've given her isn't related to physical objects or money and while that is good, it isn't good that we understand this from getting not so good things in childhood.  It can and does get better though with acceptance and understanding that healing takes place not only within individuals but over generations. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

I really want to get back to FUN posting, so I'm doing NaBloPoMo this month, December 2011.  I hope to fill the month with lots of photos and fun posts about family, milestones, grandbabies, baking, and traditions. 

As an early Holiday gift, I'm posting this texture (above) that I created for use in Second Life® back a couple of Decembers ago.  Feel free to use it if you like in a craft project or other non-commercial use.

 Similarly, feel free to use this folk-craft texture made at the same time by me with the same restriction, non-commercial use.

 Same story for this one. 
And this one.