Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy Holidays

Bob’s doctor appointment went well.  In fact, for a man afraid of medicine and all things doctor related, it went really well indeed.  It went so well that he succumbed to both the flu and the pneumonia shot.  His doctor is awesome and readily works with his MD doctor on all things health related for Bob.  Anyway, Bob is scheduled to have an MRI on his back next month.  He is also to talk with an internal medicine specialist as well as a physical therapist.  Hopefully, all of these doctors can work together to put Bob back together again.  Heh.  No, actually, we just need to know what is going on with his back and get that fixed if at all possible.

In other health related news, we think our little cat Zoe might be blind or have head trauma in or near her left eye.  Light hits it weird, it looks like blood vessels are broken in the white part, and she is often blinking or winking that particular eye.  Other than that, though, she doesn’t act like she is hurt.  She runs, plays, jumps, leaps, eats, grooms, sleeps, and all things cat as per her usual behavior.  We’re keeping an eye on her eye though.  She is the dumbest of all our cats and the most impulsive so it may be nothing or it may be the result of something greater.

Bob is tickled a shade of color beyond the normal pink.  He writes poetry and usually submits something to’s annual money grubbing anthology.  This year his poem is the first one listed in the book and is the only one that features a poet’s biographical information.  He is sure this is a sign that he won their annual contest.  I am more skeptical and think that this was done in order to squeeze more money out of him.  Nonetheless, the book is very nice and quite fancy looking and it is good to have his work published even if it is through those shady salespeople at

We received our first holiday card in the mail yesterday.  It was from some friends of mine who were married 3 or 4 years ago, had a baby 2 years ago, and had another one this year.  I LOVE getting these cards, especially when they include photos.  However, I am not showing much gumption on getting our cards out this year.  We have been married 5 years and our family photo never changes.  Every year I dream that next year’s card will feature the face of our child and every year it is still just us.  Besides, what really happened this year?  We went to Florida, we got a service dog and then had to give it back.  We got a van for Bob…whoot!  We got two kittens.  We put an offer on a condo, it was accepted, we found we couldn’t afford said condo and rescinded our offer.  I was offered a new job but the offer was rescinded based on a technicality.  I should have graduated but didn’t. I had a couple of breakdowns and went back to counseling.  Bob’s eBay hobby did very well.  So, that’s our year.  Maybe just a photo card of our cats would be enough.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Issue Big Enough to Break Up a Marriage

After five years of marriage we have finally come across a very important issue that could end our wedded bliss.  I could swear we talked about this before we were married and Bob said he didnt care one way or another.  Well, I can certainly tell you with all certainty that he does care and he cares with vehemence akin to those who fight for reproductive rights for women.  What is this all important issue?  Im glad you asked.  Bob is all upset because for five years I have been hanging the toilet paper so the paper is pulled over the top.  The other day he pulled a bit and got a whole paper streamer rolling off the roll.  It was at this time that he chose to yell at me about how the toilet paper is hanging and how the correct way to hang it is so the paper comes from under the roll.  This is news to me.  I never knew he cared so passionately about the proper care and hanging of the toilet paper.  In fact, if he cared so much, you would think he would hang the dang paper himself instead of just leaving it sit on the side of the tub for days on end.  I am just going to hang it like Ive always hung it and let him deal with it.  So there.

Speaking of marital problems, we have been having some communication issues.  Why is it that he cant bring anything up without me taking it as a personal insult?  For instance he called me at work today and asked, Do you rinse the coffee pot out before you brew a new pot?  I said I did and asked why.  Turns out there were some floaters in the coffee pot this morning and he was grossed out.  No big deal and yet in my head I heard, You loser.  The coffee maker you bought sucks and so do you.  Why cant I just take these things at face value and not read into them?  Bob is not a hard man to live with.  What you see is what you get and yet I consistently think he is slamming me when he asks me the most basic of questions.  This makes it hard for him to talk to me and it makes it difficult for me to listen to him.

Bob is at the doctor today.  We found out that Bobs dad has a rare illness that results in breathing difficulties and cirrhosis of the liver.  It is called PVOD or Pulmonary-veno Occlusive Disease.  It is genetic/hereditary and not curable.  The list of symptoms is very similar to the problems Bob had that landed him in the ICU about 3 years ago.  They didnt know (and still dont) what it was that caused his problems then so if it turns out that Bob has it then he still has it and they need to do further tests to determine how to prevent further problems.  I hope his doctor takes him seriously and gets him scheduled for some tests to see if this is still an issue for him.  Bob hates doctors though and could just gloss over it all in an effort to prevent further office visits. 

I have been having some bladder issues and have been in the bathroom several times today.  We have four stalls and I always pick the fourth stall, furthest from the door/sinks.  Why is it when one more person enters, more often than not, they choose the stall right next to the one Im in?  If someone was already in the last stall, I would choose the second stall from the door, thereby leaving a stall between us.  I thought that was common public bathroom courtesy.  Also, why is it the person who chooses the stall right next to me is the person who grunts and strains audibly while using the facilities?  Yuck!

Last night I made the yummiest of turkey leftovers.  I boiled some noodles.  While they cooked I whipped up 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, a cup of sour cream, a dash of white wine, a pinch of garlic, onion, and curry powders, and a bunch of cut up turkey.  I added the noodles and some mozzarella cheese and covered with crushed Ritz crackers.  I baked the whole thing at 350 for 25 minutes and it was heavenly!  Really, so good.  I just made up this hotdish and it turned out great.  I have just enough turkey to make up a soup this week and then our turkey will be gone.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sweet Turkey Day

Sweet Potato Rum Bundt Cake
Originally uploaded by SunFlowery.
This is a photo of the sweet potato rum bundt cake I made for our family thanksgiving shin dig. Doesn't it look pretty? I worked really hard on it. I followed every instruction on the recipe to the letter and was really proud of it. However, it didn't go over very big. I had two pieces and others had a taste but we still have a bunch left over. I liked it although I do admit that there may have been a tad too much rum in the glaze. I should have shorted it like I thought to do, but I wanted to follow the recipe. Oh well.

Our Thanksgiving was OK. I managed to clean the house and get the cheesy potatoes made the night before. All Bob's family except for one brother and one grown nephew showed up so we had a party room full of people. I wasn't feeling 100% so I wasn't the best hostess, but they are all pretty laid back and I am sure didn't care. There is never a shortage of conversation in his family, so there was no pressure there. It's always nice to see everyone and the food was great, so all in all, it went well.

We found out from Bob's sister that his dad is ill and was diagnosed with something that is eerily similar to the mysterious illness that left Bob in the ICU some 3 years ago. Aparently it's genetic in nature and would explain several weird symptoms from that illness. Bob hasn't really had a problem with it since his discharge but it's good to know. He is going to the doctor on Tuesday and will bring it up to him then.

I didn't have to work today and for the first time in recent memory, I joined the ranks of the "Black Friday" shoppers. I was up and out the door by 6:30 in order to get to Walgreen's by 7. They were advertising prelit 6.5 ft Christmas trees for $20. I got one with multicolored lights. I also got some multi colored lights to decorate our balconies, and 4 stocking hangers. All for under $50 total. I was home by 8:30 and set up our new tree. I didn't realize how thin and spindly it was until it was set up and plugged in, but what do you want for 20 bucks?

The rest of this weekend will be filled with Christmas decorating, turkey making, and family gathering. Hope you had a nice holiday weekend yourself. Make some time to stop and have some bundt cake.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Put the ________ in Your Butt, Not!

Being the caretaker of pets can sometimes be very interesting as I found this morning.

I got up, left our bedroom to use the bathroom and noticed Chloe playing with a little hardened poo piece. Not wanting to encourage such barbarian behavior, I went to pick up the poo and noticed another piece of poo in the kitchen. I went to the kitchen and saw cat food scattered all over the kitchen floor. Zoe is usually the one who digs food from her dish to scoot across the floor, so I went to find Zoe to see if she was OK. She wasnt. She was sitting on the bathroom floor licking her bottom. I threw the poo and scattered food into the trash and then went to see to Zoe.

There is really no delicate way to phrase this so I will just say it. There was something hanging out of Zoes bottom. I tried to get a good look at it but Zoe was so squirmy and started to meow piteously when I tried to pull the thing out. So I ran her into our bedroom and woke Bob up. (He used to be a vet tech and is knowledgeable in all things animal.) At first he thought it might be innards. Yikes! Thankfully, with me holding her, he was able to get a better look than I had been able to get. He said it looked like cotton or string of some kind.

Bob went to get some toilet paper while I settled Zoe for the extraction. You would think that pulling something dangling out your bottom would feel good (Or at least feel better than leaving the thing hanging there), but if Zoes cries were any indication, you would be wrong. Thankfully, it seems that Bob got it all. He said I should check the litter boxes and keep an eye on Zoe to see if she acts ill or upset. Then he said that rule number one for things coming out of a cats butt is NOT to pull it out. Then he said that as a former Vet Tech, he can amend rule number one. Heh. I thanked him profusely and took Zoe out of the bedroom. I put her down and watched her run up to her sister, tackle her, and then run off to play with a cat toy left on the floor.

I scooped all the litter boxes and did not find anything amiss, so I think it was just a flukey thing and she will be OK. I dont know where she would have gotten a hold of whatever it was she ate. I will keep an eye on her though. She is NOT the brightest bulb and is not very smart. She clearly acts without thinking or consideration and is the cat most likely to lose her 9 lives first. But I love that little dimwit and am glad shes OK.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Today is My Thursday

Bob has finally agreed to see a doctor.  His OK came in no small part from a talk he had with his sister about the health of their father. Turns out Bob’s dad has some health issues that are genetic in nature and one of them MAY explain Bob’s weird blood/bloating/breathing difficulties of 2003.  So Bob wants to talk to his doctor about it…and while he’s there he might as well talk to the doc about the back thing too.  Good plan.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  It seems as though everyone I work with knows someone with critical health issues;

      a.)  My Manager’s MIL has lung cancer that has moved to her bones and is in excruciating pain.  She finally received a referral to head to Mayo for some treatment.  My Manager’s dad died around this time of year 3 years ago from brain cancer so she is feeling the effects rather strongly. Her mom also has a form of Leukemia and her sister in law is battling breast cancer. 

      b.)  Another co-worker’s mother fell and broke her hip/leg last week.  It doesn’t help that her mother also has Alzheimer’s.  This poor little old lady has been in the hospital since last Wednesday night and is confused and in pain and not understanding where she is or what she is doing there.

      c.)  Big Boss’s mother in law passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago.  Her father in law passed away about this time last year.

Add Bob’s pain/back issues and my grandma’s fall and Bob’s dad’s ill health and we have a cavalcade of family health issues here at work.  It certainly makes us conscious of one another’s feelings.  Suddenly we’re all careful, serious, and caring towards one another.

This is the recipe for the Bundt cake I am making for our Thanksgiving festivities, sans raisins:

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with Rum-Plumped
Raisins and a Spiked Sugar Glaze


3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
2 large or 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for salting the water
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk

Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, and all-purpose flour for greasing the pans

1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream (35 %)
Remaining rum macerating liquid from raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt cake pan. In a small non-reactive bowl, soak the raisins in the rum for at least 30 minutes or several hours. Meanwhile peel the sweet potatoes, cut them in half and then cut each half in 4-inch slices. Place the slices into a pot of cool salted water, cover, and then bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and then cook until the sweet potatoes are very, tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain off the water, and allow the potatoes to air-dry for a few minutes, then use a potato masher or large fork to roughly mash them. Measure out 2 cups of the mask and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl with a whisk or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs a little just to break them up. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and pale, about 2 minutes with a mixer, 3 if whisking by hand. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla, then beat to blend. Drain the raisins and set aside, but add 1/4 cup of the rum macerating liquid to the batter. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and mix until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

3. Into a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in the raisins.

4. Pour the entire batter into bundt pan. Bake in the center of the oven 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake is just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the rack. Set the rack over a baking sheet or large plate to catch the excess glaze. This cake must be glazed while still warm, so it absorbs the maximum syrup--so don't take it out of the oven and go to the movies!

5. For the glaze, combine the brown sugar, butter, and cream in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens somewhat, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the rum. With a long wooden or metal skewer poke holes all over the cake, concentrating on the top. Spoon about half the warm glaze over the cake and let the cake and remaining glaze cool for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has thickened slightly. Pour the rest of the glaze over the cake, letting it dribble down the sides, then allow the cake to cool completely before cutting and serving or wrapping and storing.

In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley (Artisan/Workman Publishers, 2001). Featured in Eat Cake: A Novel by Jeanne Ray.

   This is the recipe for the cheesy potatoes I plan on making:


·       10 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup

·       8 oz. container sour cream

·       1-1/2 cups shredded Cojack cheese

·       32 oz. pkg. frozen hash brown potatoes


Spray 4-6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine soup, sour cream and cheese in medium bowl and mix well. Pour half of potatoes into prepared crockpot. Top with half of sour cream mixture. Top with rest of potatoes, then remaining sour cream mixture, spreading evenly. Cover and cook on high for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours. 12 1/2 cup servings.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Deer in my headlights

It was dusk (about 4:30 around these parts nowadays) as I was driving home from doing our laundry last night.  I drove down our residential street and noticed that one of our neighbors up the road had added 2 life size lawn deer to their front yard.  “Hmmm,” I thought as I drove closer, “lawn decorations are just not my cup of tea. If people wanted deer in their front lawn, they should live in the middle of nowhere and let them eat their grass and drink from their bird baths.”  Just as this thought flashed through my brain, one of the lawn deer raised its head and looked at me as I drove by.  Turns out you don’t have to live in the middle of nowhere to get deer eating from the buffet that is your lawn.  Turns out you can live a mile from a major interstate, a couple of miles from a large, multi store mall, and in the middle of a major urban area.  Cool. “I hope these deer are smart enough to know how to cross the street without getting hit,” I thought as I passed the recently deceased body of a fluffy little skunk. 

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Moving On

I need to get that rotten letter off the top of my screen so that calls for a new entry.

My poor little grandma fell down and she looks like she got beat up by the mafia. Putting together the events of what happened, it seems that she bent down to tie her shoe and fainted. She hit her head and has a giant carpet burn on her forehead. She also has a black eye and a great big yellow bruise from her forehead to her chin. She thinks she twisted her leg with the new knee as well. She had a CAT scan on Friday and thankfully it came back normal. She has doctors appointments Monday through Wednesday this coming week to check on other stuff. I stopped by her place on Saturday to check on her. I never noticed how small she was before.

While at my grandma's, I helped her with her laundry and I got a list of stuff she wanted me to pick up from the store. As we walked down the hall, Grandma spoke of the day when she would feel like herself again. I wondered if she was hoping for something that wasn't going to happen. She is 83 after all and not as spry and healthy as she once was. I do hope I am wrong and that, once completely healed from this latest knee replacement, she will be back to her old self again.

So, I spent Saturday running errands. It seems as though we were out of everything plus we needed stuff for the upcoming holiday. I was able to get everything on budget. Bob was impressed but he should know by now that I am a great bargain shopper and never pay full price for anything, if I can help it.

I did our laundry and cleaned on Sunday. I also went to see the new Wil Ferrell movie, "Stranger Than Fiction". I really liked it. Not a little bit because I adore Wil Ferrall, but I enjoyed the story as well. True there is a bit of belief that needs to be suspended to truly enjoy the story but it works for me. It doesn't hurt that Elf was on USA tonight either so I got another Wil Ferrall fix at home.

I am thankful this is a short week. I am back to working 8-5 on Monday through Friday and will change counseling to Wednesday at lunch. Although this week, I don't work Thursday or Friday. Well, actually I'll be working Thurday, I just won't have to leave the house nor will I get paid. Heh. I can't wait. I am making cheesy potatoes and a rum infused sweet potatoe bundt cake. I bought a small turkey to fix later in the weekend for me and Bob and will make us our own little Thanksgiving feast.

A friend of mine whose marriage fell apart said her mistake was not changing her husband soon enough into the marriage. I am not sure if that is what she meant to say, but I told her if she thought she could ever change her husband, that was her first mistake.

Bob's back is still giving him problems. He refuses to see a doctor at this point because he doesn't think there is anything the doctor can do for him. I said he could probably get a script for massage therapy or chiropractory (is that a word?) but he still refuses. If I never knew this before, I sure know it now; unless someone is willing to do something, you cannot make them do it. Since I promised Bob I would never nag him, I can suggest he visit a doctor (and do so daily) but beyond that, he is a big boy and will have to make his own appointment when he decides he's had enough. Here's hoping it's soon.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

DHL Watch 2006

The laptop has been delivered.  Finally.  It has arrived, been signed for, and is sitting in its box on my desk at home.

As for the cheesy potatoes mentioned in my last entry, it is one of my all time favorite recipes.  I am trying to remember it off the top of my head but it includes a large bag of frozen, cubed potatoes, a bag of shredded cheddar cheese, a can or two or cream of mushroom soup, and some sour cream.  Everything is mixed together and then baked until bubbly and cheesy.  So. Good.  I make/bring it every year and rarely end up with left overs.  I think I need to make more this year so as to enjoy the left overs.  Mmmmm, cheesy potatoes.

DHL is of the devil

So, no laptop delivered to me at all yesterday.  Although, we do have clean carpets.  Bob said they were in an out in 45 minutes and no one swore at him, so you know we’re good there.  One of the blessings of paying rent is free carpet cleaning.  Who knew?

I have been on the phone with DHL three times today to see if I can get a clear answer as to why my laptop has been fixed for over a week now and it is not yet in my possession.  Even though they swore it would be delivered yesterday, I found out that the reason it wasn’t delivered was because the driver left it on the dock.  Nice.  They are telling me today that it will be delivered between 11:30 and noon…for sure.  Yeah.  Not holding my breath.  If it’s not delivered today, I am filing a police report claiming DHL stole my laptop.

Work is going OK.  At the end of the month, my boss had a bunch of reports to run.  Since the exodus of Mrs. Manager and Loud Girl, several duties have been divvied out among the rest of us left.  Loud Girl doesn’t like me and she doesn’t like Another Manager, but since this was the first time we have had to run reports since her leaving, she was supposed to come down and help us get these things done.  My Manager came over to ask if LG had come down and I said no.  My Manager got this hurt and defeated look on her face so I asked her what was wrong.  She said LG was supposed to come down and help Another Manager with these reports.  She said she knows LG doesn’t like Another Manager but that by not helping, it’s actually hurting her, My Manager, and making her look bad to her superiors.  Nice.  And professional.  We did manager to get everything done, but not with Loud Girl’s help.  Thank God for people who know what they’re doing and aren’t too proud to help out.

We had a building evacuation drill today.  We usually have them in July but it was skipped this year due to the sale of our building to another management company.  I think I prefer the July drills.  It was sunny but very chilly. 

Bob’s back is in bad shape.  He won’t see a doctor or chiropractor, but I am fearful that he is really going to injure himself beyond repair if he keeps plugging along without care in this matter.  He said if it still hurts today, he will call tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath.  It’s bad enough that he stayed in bed with a heating pad all day yesterday.

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week already.  Bob’s family is coming over to our place.  We have pot luck Thanksgiving.  I am bringing the cheesy potatoes.  Maybe I’ll bake a bundt cake with my new fancy pan.  I have a good sweet potato cake recipe that I would like to try out.  It also contains rum.  How can I go wrong with that?  I will make my family my guinea pigs. (Why does MS Word not recognize “bundt”?  It is a word, MS Word!  Look it up.)

I have been doing some sleuthing in preparation for our summer trip and am getting excited about it.  I haven’t been to Sioux Falls since 1996 and I think the last time I was west of Mitchell was when I was 10 or so.  My family went west to visit friends in Wyoming and we stopped at all the tourist-y things in Western South Dakota on our way.  I remember being so disappointed that the Crazy Horse Monument was going to take 20-30 odd years to complete.  I can’t wait to see the progress for myself.  Anyone know of any good motels or campgrounds to hunker down in out there?  Let me know, leave me a comment. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Bundt Day

You know how, when you don’t have anything good to write about so you don’t?  And then you have lots and lots of stuff to write about but it’s been so long, you don’t know where to start?  Yeah.  So maybe a recap?

My period is kicking my butt this week.  I have been living on extra strength Midol and heating pads.  In January or February, I am going to finally have the endoscopy to see if I have endometriosis.

I had a job interview today downtown.  It went well.  The woman interviewing me was quite pleasant and in between questions we actually chatted and got on quite well.  I think I would like to work downtown again.  She said she would let me know by late next week.

We have clean carpets!  I had to move all the living room furniture into the dinning room last night and it freaked the cats right out.  Bob left me a voicemail before noon today to say the carpet cleaners had come and gone and everything looked nice.

I still do not have my laptop.  When I checked the site to see what the sam hill is taking so long, I saw that they had finished with it on the 8th and had sent it on.  The stupid delivery company had tried to deliver it twice, though they had not left a message or a slip to say they had attempted delivery.  They also had not left it at the apartment manager’s office, which is what they are supposed to do.  I called on Monday only to be told they will attempt delivery on Tuesday.  I arrived home on Tuesday to find that they had not attempted delivery in any way, shape, or form.  I called this morning and was told they will attempt again today.  I reiterated that they are to leave it at the management office if Bob isn’t home.  I called Bob at 2pm and no delivery had yet been attempted.  I called the delivery company and was told they would be there by 5pm.  We shall see.  My computer has been fixed for a week and not delivered!

Last weekend was BUSY!  Friday night was a fundraising dinner for the organization that helped us raise money for Bob’s van.  It was fun.  I won a Nordic Ware Bundt cake pan and mix (Happy Bundt Day everyone!) and 4 tickets to the Minneapolis Chocolate Extravaganza at the International Market Square.

Saturday morning/early afternoon I spent several short hours with my mom and nephews shopping at Southdale.  We also ate lunch at Fuddruckers and wandered the Sculpture Garden.

Saturday afternoon I took 3 girlfriends to the Chocolate Extravaganza with the tickets I won the night before.  It was fun.  It was chocolatey.  It was an extravaganza.

Sunday, I woke up with a horrible headache and cramps but powered on and attended the Minnesota travel show.  It wasn’t that great but I did manage to get plenty of brochures on Alaskan cruises.  I also got information on getting Bob a passport.  Since we will most likely be flying into Vancouver, Canada, he will be required to have a passport.  It’s a good idea anyway, but an added expense we hadn’t counted on.

We have decided that instead of doing the lake resort vacation this summer, we are going to do a roadtrip to Mount Rushmore.  Bob has never seen the monument, the Black Hills, or the Corn Palace.  So we are going to make it happen this summer.  We don’t know when we will take this western travel escape, but we do know we will be stopping in Sioux Falls on the front end.  Whoot. Thankfully, I also picked up a South Dakota travel guide at the travel show.

So, there’s your recap.  I have more to say, specifically on some stuff I am learning in counseling about my eating.  But that will have to wait.  Happy Bundt Day!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Look What I won!

Hey Lap and Kathy, look what I won! Wanna set up a date for coffee and cake? Mmmmm, bundt cake.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Brother

I meant to write yesterday but was home with a nasty cold.  And no matter how sick I am, I just can’t stay in bed if I’m home.  So yesterday was filled with bill paying, pumpkin tossing, cat litter scooping, kitchen cleaning, ant poison trapping, and DirecTV attendant assisting.  Our main TV now works and is receiving the satellite signal.  The only frustrating thing is that I can no longer tape one show while watching another.  This is their clever way of getting me interested in the DVR.  Can’t do it yet.  Maybe at Christmas.

What I wanted to write about is an exchange I had with my brother.  Though he is two years younger than I am, (two years to the day!  Now that’s family planning.) I have always looked up to him.  He is one of the funniest, smartest, and hippest guys I know.  He always has been. I used to wish I could be more like him.  He always seemed so confident and self assured.  He always knew what he liked and popularity be damned.  Yet that attitude tended to draw people to him left and right so he always seemed to be pretty popular.  Growing up ahead of him and yet feeling in his shadow was hard.  He was so sunny and friendly and happy.  He was the compliant, uncomplicated one.  He was the smart one. He was the athletic one.  He didn’t throw tantrums.  He knew how to work the system of discipline our parents had set up and worked it well.  He could make us laugh at the drop of a hat.  He started in comedy early.  I remember when he was little more that 1 1/2, waking up and deciding the best way to wake the rest of the family was to crow like a rooster.  Did I mention his smarts?

When we were teenagers, our parents experienced a spiritual renewal and changed overnight.  They became more conservative. We attended church every time the doors were opened.  My dad tried to institute family devotion time at dinner.  Through all this, my brother and I did what we could to go along with them without rocking the boat.  Eventually I found my own faith and source of peace in Christ. At that time nothing scared me more than the thought that mom, dad, and I would be enjoying the fruits of Heaven and my brother would be left alone in the pit of Hell because he had not professed any kind of faith.  In fact, when I asked him about it, he gave me the most honest answer I’ve ever heard to date.  He said, “I am not going to become a Christian now because I am not done having fun and I can’t be a Christian AND do what I want to have fun.”  During this time, my brother was…finding his own way.  It’s his story to tell, but we had reason to worry other than his rejection of Christian things.  I never stopped praying for him.  He used to say we were hypocrites.  Knowing he thought that, I used to pray that God would bring people into his life that could minister to him better than mom, dad, or I could.  Eventually, it happened.  My brother took a longer road to get there, but he found his way to his own faith and relationship with God.

I only share all of this to say that now the tables have turned.  My brother is praying for me.  Once again he is the good one, the smart one, the shining example and I am the…opposite of all of that.  I am the complicated, overly dramatic, tantrum throwing, depressed, perfectionistic one.  He has found his faith.  He does not subscribe to the simplistic faith we were taught as teens and is by no means one of the “Christian right”.  He is still smart, funny, hip, and a consumer of popular culture.  Yet he is passionate in worship and unabashedly in love with Jesus.  We had an email exchange the other day that, though reached no consensus, warmed my cold little heart greatly.

Brothers letter to me:

      Amy -
      magazine is a great resource (IMO.) Their slogan - God-Life-Progressive Culture is spot on. They focus on those three things  - - "Christian", as well as "Secular" - from a Christian worldview. A recent print addition featured a spread on the group Jurassic 5 - who shared how their Muslim faith forms their music.... Not that they were condoning pluralism - - but they are not afraid to share other's views. It helps us to understand the culture around us - and to relate.......

      I would challenge you to NOT "abstain from all things God" right now - but to dig deeper in to what it means to be a Christ-follower. There are TONS of things "out there" right now that are really helping me to grow and understand what it means to be a child of God's. And not nice, neat three point sermons on how to have a "perfect life'.... I think we were brought up on  a theology that was a little watered down, and that made us think that if we say a
      sinner's prayer, we'll have it all figured out.

      A couple of suggestions for you -
      1.) Read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell.
      2.) Download iTunes when you get your laptop back, and subscribe to the Mosaic Podcasts -  (no iPod needed - you can listen on your computer.) Download and listen to ALL of the message series Life's Toughest Questions by Erwin McManus. And I mean ALL OF THEM.....

      Ok - off the soapbox - but I hope you understand I'm not trying to preach to you - - just trying to let you in on a few of the things that have helped shaped me and my faith, and how I approach trying to figure it all out

My Reply to brother:


      As for avoiding God things right now…I don’t think I can help it.  God things are too painful for me right now because…well, because of the dichotomy of what  I am feeling in what I read and know to be true in my head and what I feel in true and am experiencing in my life.  I know you’ve read it before in my blog, but I lived my life trying to be pure and obedient to God.  I thought if I did everything “right” He would honor, reward, and bless me with the things I most longed for; marriage and children.  Not to mention that these are things He seems to want for people as well.  And yet we know the rest of the story.  I didn’t marry until I was 33 and so far children just don’t seem to be in the cards for us.  And it hurts.  A lot.  And we go to the most fertile church in all the land.  I have talked with the pastors and asked them if they couldn’t put me in touch with other women struggling with the same things and they have come up empty handed.

      Through counseling I am learning that for some reason, I have taken on and internalized a belief that I am bad and therefore am being punished.  I am bad and therefore deserve the punishment.  I am bad and…well, just add a myriad of other negative stuff to that.  38 years of internalizing this belief does not lead to a happy life at this point.  Hence the depression, the anger, the avoidance of God stuff. 

      I think it is ironic though that we are at a point where you are the one encouraging me to seek the things of God for myself when 20 years ago the shoe was on the other foot, huh?  I used to think in terms of black and white.  I used to think there was a formula/answer for everything and now I know things aren’t nearly quite so simple.  I feel like God is laughing at/mocking/teasing me.  When, on the odd occasion, I do pick up the Bible I seem to stumble across the verses lauding parenthood and exalting the blessings of children.  Oh, sure God.  Tell me these things then with hold them from me when you alone have the power to change things.  Whatever.  

      So, that’s where I am at right now.  I never used to think I surrounded myself solely with all things Christian and yet now that all things Christian either hurt or offend me, I am finding I am culturally ignorant. I am experiencing a sort of pop culture rebirth.  And yet I do still see things through a filter of faith, so I am not completely torn apart from the basic foundations.  I am not rejecting God himself or belief in salvation, redemption, grace, and eternal life.  I just don’t know how to reconcile what I’ve been taught about God and what His Word says about him and what I am living right now.  Thankfully God is patient and knows my heart and situation.  I also have faith that He will allow me to work this out to some kind of reconciliation.   I hope so anyway.


Isn’t it nice to know that there are people out there who will accept you as you are and yet pray for positive change?  My brother is one of those people.  I still want to grow up and be just like him.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Eat Cake

So far, so good with the bundled DirecTV from our phone companyin a way.  I had to call the phone company yesterday because when the installer had Bob call to verify the install, they upsold him to the next package and didnt ask for the bundle info.  But after one pleasant phone call, we are back on track and all set with the plain old non-fancy package.  However, when I got home last night, the main TV in our living room was not getting a signal from the satellite.  Our little 13 inch TV in the office was working fine, but our main TV was out of commission.  I resigned myself to call the DirecTV customer service line.  After wading through a ginormously large phone tree/menu, I finally got to a customer service rep.  She was pleasant enough but she asked me the 27 questions I had just waded through to get to her and the answers had not changed.  So she had to forward me to another customer service rep that could help me.  After asking me the same 27 questions, the new service rep determined that a tech would have to come out because we were only getting half a signal on the main TV.  This customer service rep was friendly, professional, and even somewhat chatty.  Hopefully this will be resolved between 1-5 on Thursday afternoon.  In the meantime, Bob and I are enjoying sharing the 13 inch TV in the office.

Speaking of technical issues, I am still waiting for the packaging for my laptop to arrive.  I kind of thought it would be there yesterday.  My poor laptop is just sitting useless on my desk.  I wish the shipping stuff would get here so I wouldnt have to look at my useless computer day after day.  Needless to say I am getting a lot more reading done.  My current read is a novel called Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray.  Though Ray is from Tennessee, her novel takes place in Minneapolis and I have to say she has the Minnesota Nice vibe down pat. Plus it features some recipes for amazing cakes.  There is always room for cake.  Book Description Taken from  Ruth loves to bake cakes. When she is alone, she dreams up variations on recipes. When she meditates, she imagines herself in the warm, comforting center of a gigantic bundt cake. If there is a crisis, she bakes a cake; if there is a reason to celebrate, she bakes a cake. Ruth sees it as an outward manifestation of an inner need to nurture her family—which is a good thing, because all of a sudden that family is rapidly expanding. First, her mother moves in after robbers kick in her front door in broad daylight. Then Ruth’s father, a lounge singer, who she’s seen only occasionally throughout her life, shatters both wrists and, having nowhere else to go, moves in, too. Her mother and father just happen to hate each other with a deep and poisonous emotion reserved only for life-long enemies. Oh, yes indeed!  Add to this mix two teenagers, a gainfully employed husband who is suddenly without a job, and a physical therapist with the instincts of a Cheryl Richardson and you’ve got a delightful and amusing concoction that comes with its own delicious icing.  One of Jeanne Ray’s specialties is giving us believable, totally likable characters, engaged in the large and small dramas and amusements of life. Eat Cake is whimsical, warm, and satisfying. Eat Cake is Jeanne Ray at her best. Pull up a chair and eat cake!  About the Author Jeanne Ray works as a registered nurse at the First Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee. She is married and has two daughters. Together, she and her husband have ten grandchildren. Jeanne is the bestselling author of Julie and Romeo and Step-Ball-Change.

I am going to visit my grandma tonight after work.  She was moved from the hospital to a residential care facility on Sunday.  The care facility is just a mile or so down the road from us so is handy in that way.  I havent seen her since Friday so I hope she is doing OK.  My poor little Grandma. 

So, Halloween.  We were geared up and prepared for dozens of trick-or-treaters.  We got 10 and all of them are kids we have known all along.  Where were all the kids we see playing in the courtyard that are unfamiliar to us?  Many more families moved into our building over the past year but they either dont allow trick-or-treating or they go somewhere else.  So now we have this giant bowl of candy left over, not that it will go to waste or anything.  If you are looking for ways to use up your left over Halloween candy, a good way to use it up is to bake it into brownies.  Kevyn Burger from FM107 spoke of this last week.  Just take any left over mini or bite-sized chocolate candy bars (excluding the ones featuring cookies or wafers) and mix them into a regular brownie mix.  Bake as directed and each bite will feature a little chocolate candy surprise. I have not tried it yet but think the Milky Way Midnights would be heavenly in a batch of brownies.

As part of my effort to embrace technology and all things new, I am now listening to yahoo radio, Todays Big Hits on my work computer.  Its not bad.  I now know, though, that I am not a fan of Urban, Hip/Hop, or R&B.  I do like Weird Als parody of Riding Dirty, some Jay Z stuff, and I like Justin Timberlakes stuffbut thats about it.  I am not a fan of the Pussycatdolls, Rihanna, Beyonce, Chamillionaire, Mary J. Blige, etc.  I guess I tend towards more rock/pop/alternative music.  I dont like the Mariah Carey female R&B overproduced stuff either. Blech.  (Speaking of Weird Alhave you seen his video for White and Nerdy?  Oh.  My. Word.  Get yourself over to YouTube and watch it right now.  The best part is Donny Osmond dancing crazily in the background.  Check it.)