Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Desserts

I’m writing this post to for a single reason – to tell a joke.  There's no hidden meaning or personal life lesson in today's post.  Basically, it's total fluff.  I told this joke earlier today but I think it’s so good that more than three people deserve to hear it.  And really, we need more jokes especially in light of the sad demise of the Demi Moore-Ashton Kutcher marriage. 
Here’s the background to the setup of the joke.  A few years ago, I went to Cambridge, Massachusetts on a business trip with my supervisor.  While there, we discovered Finale Desserterie and Bakery.  It wasn’t exactly your mother’s bakery…it was an upscale restaurant that only served dessert, so, uh, it was a desserterie.  I’m actually not a huge dessert person but even I found something delicious to eat…and maybe to drink too.  I liked the place so much that I started thinking about opening my own dessert restaurant in the future and calling it “Just Desserts”.  I actually got some flack for the name but I think it’s a pretty cool name.  So does a bakery in San Francisco.  But that’s a story for another day… 
 Anyway, today, I had to ask my now former supervisor a question regarding that trip to Cambridge.  We reminisced about Finale and she explained to another colleague that two friends opened it after they graduated from Harvard Business School.  And I said to them, “You know what that makes them?”  (Get ready.  It’s a good one!)

Two smart cookies.
You’re laughing.  You know you are. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For This I Give Thanks

Every year at Thanksgiving dinner, everyone at the table says what they’re thankful for.  Since we’re a bit of a sarcastic bunch, it’s usually not very heartfelt.  But I thought this year, I’d list some of the things for which I’m grateful on this Thanksgiving Day.  With not a bit of sarcasm. 
A clear blue sky after a night of hurricane force winds.
Driving through a forest in the Pacific Northwest and finding my inner Goonie. 
Chocolate milkshakes and sweet potato fries. 
Starting lines and finish lines and the friends who are there to cheer me on.  
SPF-50 sunscreen.
Barbecuing at the beach.
Second chances.
Being allowed to figure things out on my own.
Open door policies.  Even when the door’s closed.
A hundred different mentors who mentor me in a hundred different ways.
Always having someone to go to lunch with. 
Sleeping in late on the weekends.  Both days. 
Walks around the block.
Neighbors who have become friends. 
Cuddly kittens and a large, in charge cat.
Texting (but not when you’re driving!)
Naps.  Mid-morning, afternoon, and early evening.
Friends who I can get into trouble with.  And friends who I can call when I’m in trouble.
The people who believe in me even when I don’t believe in myself. 
A table set with my Nanny’s china and the three most important people in my life sharing this day of thanks with me.  (Oh…and the food isn’t too bad either!) 
Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!   

Sunday, November 20, 2011


In military records, there’s something called Operational Reports – Lessons Learned or ORLLs (pronounced orals).  Fun to say, right?  Basically, they’re what they say they are – reports of lessons learned from military  operations.  Last night wasn’t exactly a military operation but I definitely took away some important ORLLs that I’ll keep in mind for my next soiree: 
1.       One turkey is actually enough for 17 people, especially when you have a couple vegetarians in the mix.  No one actually eats a pound of turkey like the magazines say.  Making two turkeys just means more stress and more…turkey.  Who needs that?
2.      It doesn’t matter how small it is, people will hang out in the kitchen.  The only solution I can come up with is to buy a house with a bigger kitchen.  Yea!  More room for more people!
3.      Set your bar area up away from the kitchen.  This helps alleviate some of the kitchen crowding and also allows you to live out one of your teenage dreams.  Also, come up with a kick-ass name for your bar.  My bar was called “Turkey Landing Bar” because…it was on the landing of my stairs and there was a turkey on display.  It’s no nightclub in Sydney, Australia but it was the most rocking bar in the neighborhood. 
4.      Wine gets better with age.  Except if it’s been open.  So, the year-old opened wine that I set out…um, no good.  I’m sorry to anyone who drank it and/or got sick.  Whoops.
5.      People supplying their own alcohol is the best idea EVER.  Everyone brings what they like and, yeah, okay, my wallet says thank you. 
6.      The person who supplied 90 proof bourbon is the best guest EVER.  Yeah, yeah, it was for the cider.  I’m not a fan of apple cider.  I’m a huge fan of bourbon cider.  You know that gal is getting a return invite. 
7.      When you make a craft with feathers, you’ll find feathers everywhere for days on end.
8.      When pouring anything into another container, do it over the sink.  Actually, I should just not pour, period. 
9.      Some people do enjoy getting their inner Pilgrim on and will voluntarily wear Pilgrim hats.  But nobody likes to wear bonnets.  Not even the ladies. 
10.  Save all your receipts so you can return all the excess stuff you bought.  Or just save it for next year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Give Thanks or Eat Pie Trying

Three things you should know about me:
1.   I don’t like Thanksgiving.  It’s not one of my favorites (which for the record are:  Fourth of July, Christmas, my birthday, and St. Lawrence day).  Thanksgiving for my family is just another turkey meal with a bunch of extra vegetables.  And rolls.  And dessert. 
2.   I very rarely, like almost never, cook – especially if it requires opening the oven door.
3.   Until last year, the thought of having people in my home who weren’t related to me by blood in my personal space home filled me with intense anxiety – and not because I’m a closet hoarder, I swear.  Seriously, the four years that I lived in my apartment, I had one friend over and that was for like fifteen minutes. 
With all that in mind, how is it that tonight there will be 17 people gathering in my house for our Second Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving (PTT) Feast eating turkey that I cooked in my oven?  Yeah, I still can’t figure it out either.
Actually, to understand let’s go back in time.  So, last fall sometime I was eating a Healthy Choice frozen meal – the turkey dinner – for lunch.  Yum-yum!  I thought, well, gee whiz, this is really delicious…IDEA!  Let’s have a Thanksgiving potluck at work and we could all bring stuff in and eat a Thanksgiving-y lunch together.  I had the whole plan in my head – my contribution would be anything store-bought because like, seriously, was I going to cook?  No way.  There are people much more adept in that area than me.  Yea!  Thanksgiving lunch idea, woo-hoo!
Then I told other people and they got the crazy idea that the Thanksgiving potluck should be at my house because I never had a house-warming party and then it kept snowballing and before I knew it I was taking turkey-makin’ lessons at TopChef’s house, watching YouTube videos about carving birds, and preparing for invaders visitors. 
Except for one minor snafu, I survived last year’s PTT feast.  I even had fun and enjoyed having my friends in my home.  I know, crazy, right?  I jokingly said it would be an annual event (although I was pretty sure I said it would be a moveable feast…) 
I haven’t been in much of a celebratory mood lately so I wasn’t really planning on having a Second Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving.  I waffled on the decision and then said, what the hay bale, let’s do it.  If my friends – even some from the city – want to come and share food and fellowship (I totally stole that line…), wear Pilgrim hats, and give pre-thanks at my house, they’re more than welcome. 
By the time you read this, I’ll have cooked (and carved) two turkeys, set a table for 18 people, and convinced my friends that to really experience Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims, we really must don bonnets and Pilgrim man hats.
Hey, anything’s possible.  

And a Happy Harvest to you and yours!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Choose Civility

A few years ago, the county that I live in, the oh so cool HoCo, came up with a slogan – “Choose Civility.”  Figuring that they could probably make money capitalize on this crazy new concept, they made a bunch of bumper stickers and people slapped them on their cars by the dozens.  Now when you drive down the road, you’re inevitably reminded to “Choose Civility” by the guy driving the huge SUV two car lengths ahead of you.  Lucky for me the bumper stickers are magnetic – I’m don’t believe in putting stickers on my car – so my “Choose Civility” bumper sticker is where all good magnetic bumper stickers should go – the fridge.  Yeah, I live in HoCo and I’m choosing civility every day.  Go me. 
I’m a pretty affable person (I mean, that’s just my humble opinion).  I can count the number of people that I truly dislike – like, seriously do not like – on one hand.  Let’s be honest, we all have them in our lives.  But there are a hell of a lot of people who rub me the wrong way.  And mainly it’s because they’re just rude or don’t practice the simple act of civility. 
 “Choose Civility” is catchy and all but when did civility become a choice?  I mean, isn’t that just something that we should all strive for?  I mean, how hard is it to be – not nice – but respectful of one another? 
I know the economy sucks, the 99% don’t like the 1%, and Demi and Ashton are divorcing but seriously people, let’s not rely on a bumper sticker slogan to remind us that we need to be civil to each other.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flower Power

For most of the spring and summer, my front stoop was adorned with potted impatiens and a geranium.  It was the closest that I came to planting a garden this year and I managed to keep them alive for most of the summer.  When fall arrived, it was time for mums, hay bales, and pumpkins.  Out with the old, in with the new.  I tossed the geranium - with its yellow leaves and dying flowers - in my backyard with the intention of throwing it away on the next trash day.  But I forgot about it and there it sat, forgotten and lonely.
Yesterday, I was in the yard and I was surprised to see that forgotten and lonely geranium coming back to life.  No one’s watering it, no one’s paying any attention to it, but there it is doing its own thing. 
Blooming away in spite of - because of? - its circumstances. 
Imagine that.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why Not?

Progress is a nice word.  But change is its motivator.  And change has its enemies.                                                                                                        Robert F. Kennedy
It is a heady business, that of change.  It’s hard and who wants to do anything that’s hard?  Most especially if It’s. Always. Been. That. Way.
One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.                                                                                             Robert F. Kennedy
Should people stop trying to create change because it’s hard?  Because not everyone agrees with them?  Because it’s just so much easier to not change? 
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
                                                                                                Robert F. Kennedy
How far are people willing to go to create change?  To make it happen.  To not give up.  Is it worth rocking the boat only to run aground?  And then start all over again because the struggle really is worth the fight. 
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why…I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?                                                                          Robert F. Kennedy
Yes, change is hard.  It’s scary.  It’s risky.  But change also brings with it the promise of new possibilities.  Change brings with it the chance to make things a little better.
We need the people who create change.  We need the people who aren’t afraid to rock the boat.  We need the people who dream of the possibilities.  We need the people who ask why not.    
Let's not ever stop asking why not. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It Still Counts, Right?

I’m in a bit of a conundrum.  I wrote a (completely pun free) post for one of the blogs at work today.  I think that counts as part of my 30 posts in 30 days endeavor.  Right?  I mean, are the blogging gods going to strike me down if all 30 posts aren’t here at TnT?  (By the way, I just gave my blog a new nickname!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Crush Factor

Since most days I act a sixth grader, it’s probably not a huge shock to find out that I engage in that all too common middle school rite – the crush.  While most of my peers are busy meeting potential life mates and forming actual adult relationships, I’m still hanging on the monkey bars giggling about my crush o’ the moment.  I am so mature.
I had my very first crush in the second grade.  His name was Greg Tarlo and he was the cutest boy in Room 6.  It never went anywhere because, well, we were seven and do you honestly think I told him that I had a crush on him?! 
My next serious crush was, of course, Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love.  And we already know that 1) I was to shy to ask him to a dance and 2) I still giggle like a nervous schoolgirl around him. 
Then there were the crushes on all the guys I worked with at the supermarket, including Muffin Boy, the Utz guy, the meat guy, the bakery guy, the frozen food guy.  But I never, ever had a crush on any of the deli guys.  I mean, who wants to crush on a guy who cuts the cheese? 
(Seriously, if you did not laugh at that one, you have no soul.)
Ahh, let me tell you about Muffin Boy.  Tall, dark, and handsome, I saw him every morning when he helped deliver Thomas English muffins to our store.  That crush was borderline - actually, I guess technically not borderline – illegal.  I was the older woman, 21, to his 15 going on 16.  For the record, I did NOT know he was 15 going on 16.  He was very tall and mature for his age.  As soon as I found out he was 16 (um, on the day that I gave him a birthday card - can you say, Denise is a dork?  'cause I did.) and that he was helping his dad deliver muffins, I stopped my crushing.  I still can’t look at Thomas English muffins without blushing just a tad.    
There have been other crushes here and there over the years.  And there have been a few threats of bodily harm to friends if they, God forbid, actually reveal my crushes.  (Did the bell ring for fourth period, yet?) 
But today, an idea – so far-fetched, so ludicrous, so ridiculous – was suggested to me that made me laugh in disbelief before I quickly disagreed.  What if, what if rather than being the crusher, I was the crushee?  Well, doesn’t that just spin the Earth off its axis?  I don’t think I’ve ever conceived the notion of someone actually having a crush on me, of all people!  Is it possible that I have a crushability quotient?
Not that I’m going to find out…because, OMG, that would be sooo mature embarrassing!  {giggle, giggle}   

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lazy Sundays

I have a confession to make.  I spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing.  Like, absolutely nothing.  There are entire weekends when I don’t do anything productive or worthwhile.  Aside from feeding my cats and doing other minor household chores, I really don’t do anything on the weekends.  I think, well, I think I’m an incredibly lazy person.  It’s odd, I’m not a lazy person at work.  I actually think I’m a pretty hard worker.  But it’s my down time – that time when I’m not at the office, when it’s just me and the cats, that I think, oh my God, I’m lazy.    
There are a hundred million things that I should do.  I have household projects that I really could tackle by myself but I don’t.  There is a bedroom in my house that still needs a second coat of paint – a year after the first coat went on.  I have electrical outlets and switches to replace – which, you might be surprised to learn, I actually know how to do.  I have a curtain rod that is sitting in my basement that I really should put up because I’ve had it for two years and the window kinda needs curtains.  A year after starting on a bathroom demo, it’s still in the same shape I left it on the day that I took a break.  I have pictures to hang and a desk to organize and a refrigerator to clean and yet, weekend after weekend I find myself not doing any of it.
It’s Sunday and I’m doing what I always do on Sunday.  Being lazy.
I think, deep down, there is something wrong with me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I’m taking a chance here, dear readers, but for you, it’s worth it.  I’m pretty sure that after reading this post, my mother will call me to remind me “you know what you need to do.”  And I will grudgingly sigh, roll my eyes, and say “I know,” and then ignore her advice.  Of course, I know what I should do.  Doing it is an altogether different matter, however.  Oh well, here goes.
You guys know I’m hearing impaired – by the way, I just found out this is politically incorrect!  But it’s okay if I say it.  Just don’t you say it.  Anyway, I’ve never considered it to be a disability although according to this Q&A paper about hearing impairments and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), I’m pretty sure I’m Example 2:
If an individual uses mitigating measures, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other devices that actually improve hearing, these measures must be considered in determining whether the individual has a disability under the ADA. Even someone who uses a mitigating measure may have a disability if the measure does not correct the condition completely and substantial limitations remain, or if the mitigating measure itself imposes substantial limitations.
Example 2: An individual with a hearing impairment uses a hearing aid to amplify sounds. With the hearing aid, he can detect sounds such as traffic, sirens, and loud conversations at a very low level. For this reason, he must be in close proximity to the origin of sound in order to hear in a meaningful way. This individual is substantially limited in hearing even with the mitigating measure (i.e., the hearing aid).
Granted, this paper was written in 2006 so maybe things have changed.  I’m too lazy to find out if there’s anything more recent on the subject. 
While I’ve never considered myself to be an American with a disability, I am grateful for the ADA and its impact on my life.  And not just because of all those ramps that businesses had to put in.  No, my ADA victory came in the form of volume controls on public pay phones.  (My mom’s Norma Rae moment – making my high school install volume controlled pay phones!)  Of course, when’s the last time anyone used a pay phone?  But it’s nice to know that I could if I needed – or wanted – to.
So, I don’t consider myself as having a disability.  More like an inability.  I’m unable to hear – without mitigating measures, of course – just like I’m unable to smell or unable to use chopsticks.  Generally, I do pretty well.  Or at least I think I do pretty well.  Maybe I just hang out with loud people.  Or they’re all speaking loudly because I’m there.  Oh gosh, that would be embarrassing!
Sometimes I don’t hear everything and I’ll try to make sense of it in my head – like when I might not hear all the parts of the story about how hard it is to get your kid to nap and in my head I’m wondering who got kidnapped and why you're even at work if your kid was kidnapped.  It just gets all scrambled up and I realize the conversation quickly veered off track somewhere along the line, well, along my line at least.  Usually I think, gosh, they must think I’m a total space cadet. 
Overall, I compensate well.  At least that’s what my mom always used to say.  I work a little harder.  I focus a little more.  And while I only fall back on it in dire circumstances – like when my hearing aid battery dies mid-conversation – I’m a fairly good lip reader.   
I’m also a strategic positioner.  I know where to sit in meetings or at lunch to make sure I’ll be able to hear.  I know who has to be on my right, who can be on my left, and who really should be directly in front of me so I can read their lips.  It’s a pretty good strategy except when I forget who the lefties are.  Walking down the hallway, it’s best if people are on my right side.  I’ll usually maneuver myself so that I’m on the left and my good friends usually drift to the right – without any comment or awkwardness or shouts of "get on the deaf girl's right!".  It’s not something codified in the ADA…it’s just something they do because they’re kind, caring people.  Or they don't want to have to repeat themselves.  
Is it embarrassing when I don’t hear something?  Occasionally.  Is it frustrating being hearing impaired?  At times.  Is it frustrating for my friends and family?  I imagine - and worry - that it is. 
Do I wish I could hear like everyone else?  Yes. 
But then I wouldn’t get to turn everyone off.  And that's not such a bad ability.        
The story of my life.
(I'm not sure how to give credit - I found this on Pintrest.
I'm assuming it's from

Friday, November 4, 2011

Changing Seasons

It is a quirk of my home that the floor in my bedroom is ceramic tile.  Certainly more fitting in a house built in the tropics than my little oasis in Maryland suburbia.  On summer mornings, it’s a treat to pad across the cool tile in bare feet as I prepare for the day ahead.  But as the leaves turn and then drift to the ground, as the days get shorter, and as the temperatures start to fall, I dread those first steps out of bed in the morning.  My feet hit the cold tiles, chill me to my core, and I am sadly reminded that winter is coming. 
Have I ever told you how much I dislike winter?  Not the magical parts, of course.  Just the parts when I always seem to be freezing. 
I think it might be time to break out the cardigans.   

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Eggsellent Evening

It’s 10:20 and I just got home so this is going to be a quick post – nothing substantive, basically a Facebook status update on steroids.  Gosh, it’s gonna be a long month!
My day in an eggshell – work, flu shot, chicken pot pie for lunch, rave reviews on a new dress that I wore, a margarita and dinner with TopChef before we went to a cooking class with Chef Egg, stuck in traffic on the way home. 
Did you really think I could write about an evening with a guy named Chef Egg without using egg puns?!  They’re just so (over) easy!  And they make me crack up.    
Chef Egg’s a very cool guy who teaches people how to cook while wearing a sparkly baseball cap (or is a baseball hat?  What’s the difference?  My coworker and I actually engaged in a debate about this the other day!)  Anyway, Chef Egg is very skilled, funny, and pocket-sized cute.  He made ginger chicken, some kind of salsa, and rice with beans in it.  It was good – although I picked out the beans.  Surprisingly, there were actually no eggs cooked tonight!  I’m going to write more about him after I check out his website and try out some of his tips for a little dinner party I’m throwing this month.
Now, I’m going to have a small piece of chocolate cake before I go to bed!       
Post 3 posted with an hour and a half to spare!  Whew! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Biting Off More than I Can Write?

November’s NaNoWriMo.  I’m all over that.  Imagine my surprise when I logged into Facebook this morning and saw a post from my friend TopChef about NaBloPoMo.  November’s also National Blog Posting Month!  30 posts in 30 days!  All in an effort to improve one’s writing, grow one’s blog, and maybe win a prize or two.  Any mention of prizes and I'm in!    
Now, I’m not the most disciplined of bloggers.  I mean my high point was in August when I managed to write 16 posts (what was going on in August?)  Let’s not even talk about October when this blog almost disappeared.  Sometimes, I just don’t have anything interesting to write about – I mean do you want to read about my commute back and forth to work every day and the eight-ish hours in between?  I didn’t think so.  And you certainly don’t want to hear my rants, like the one I almost posted last week about finding corrugated cardboard in a neighbor’s trash can on garbage day.  It’s two-thousand-eleven!  You should be putting your corrugated cardboard in the RECYCLING bin.  Doesn’t anyone care about our landfills anymore?  Okay, back on point…
I’m going to try really, really hard to post for 30 straight days.  I’m not sure I’ll have a lot to write about but I’ll do my best.  I can always fall back on the writing prompts on the NaBloPoMo website if I get really desperate.  Or I might just post random pictures of the kittens (they really are cute!)  Hey, it’s National Blog Posting Month….not National Blog Writing Month!   
So, it looks like I’ll be doing a lot of writing this November.  I’ll let you know how my fingertips are doing on December 1st!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Not So Novel Idea

I wrote my first book when I was in third grade – a biography about Abraham Lincoln.  It wasn’t for school or anything; I was just really into Lincoln and wanted to add my two cents to the historical record.  I typed it up on my manual typewriter – an ugly green hulk of a thing that I hated at the time but wish I still had – and took it to school to show my teacher.  I was so proud.  She told me it was a bit short.  A future Doris Kearns Goodwin, I was not. 
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I learned to read.  I’ve always had grand dreams of becoming a great novelist or at least a half-way decent mass paperback author.  But aside from a short stint writing for my college newspaper – we parted ways due to literary differences – most of my writing was private.  Password protected and not to be revealed to actual readers.
There was the next Great American Novel that turned out not to be that great.  One night, I decided I hated it so much, I deleted all 700 pages.  700 pages!  What was I thinking?! 
There’s the historical fiction book that I’ve started and stopped a hundred times but continue to research just in case I ever do decide to finish it one day.  Okay, it’s really just my excuse to collect family trees of European royalty.
There’s the mystery story that I started a few months ago that I can’t seem to figure out how to solve. 
Then there was my foray into romance – writing, not an actual romance, of course.  As someone once said to me – you, writing romance?  What do you know about romance?  Point taken.  I don’t know anything about romance.  And I certainly don’t know about those parts that really make romance books sell.
Of course, there was my autobiography – hey, former superstar QVC host Kathy Levine wrote an autobiography!  Why can't I?! 
For every story that I’ve written though, there are ten more unwritten.  Sometimes, I think I might be schizophrenic with all the characters chattering away in my head.  At least I’m never alone with my thoughts!
Recently, my friend Nebraska Outback – a fellow Deadliest Catch fan, fellow blogger, and proud Nebraskan – encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo.  A quick Google search indicated that NaNoWriMo wasn’t some sort of babbling nonsense but actually a pretty cool event – National Novel Writing Month, an annual event during November when writers…write.  The goal – write a novel in a month.  50,000 words in 30 days.  Possible?  Entirely.  Especially if you have a good story to tell.
All my stories?  They weren’t good.  It’s easy to delete a 700 page manuscript when you know it’s crap.  For the most part, what I’ve written has been crap.  I was trying to write stories about things that I didn’t don’t know about and because of that my stories were unbelievable - and not in the good way.  Worse than that, I didn’t believe in my stories…or in my ability to write. 
But this year, I’ve learned that when you write from the truest part of yourself, your words, your stories…they’re not only believable, they’re good.  And every once in the while, even funny.
There’s a lot that I don’t know about.  But there’s a lot I do know about.  Like good friends, strong families, loneliness, overcoming fears, good times, laughter…
The makings of a good story.  Maybe even a great novel.