28 November 2006

That's not how you're supposed to do it, is it?

Black Friday. Where did this term come from? Is it a reference to retailers' bottom line? It a reference to the color of shopper's eyes as a result of fighting over the last perfect gift on the shelf?

Either way, it sounds like a bad movie title from the seventies.

We opted to stay away from any retailer that day. Because I was having sinus problems, we chose to put off buying our Christmas tree until Saturday. John and I went bowling instead. This would be my first time to walk into the lanes with my new ball, shoes and bag to bowl. I was very excited until I went up to throw my first ball.

The shoes I had been wearing for bowling (for twenty years) had leather soles on both left and right shoes. They were ugly beige things made by Brunswick, but they were broken in. I could "shuffle" up to the lane in them. Because I am right-handed, my slide shoe is the left. These new shoes have rubber soles on the right shoe (read: NO shuffling), and microfiber on the left.

As I dropped my new ball at the foul line, I followed it for three steps past the line to keep from falling on my face. A man bowling on the lanes to our left asked, "that's not how you're supposed to do it, is it?". Um, no.

Needless to say, the Easy Slide came out of my bag and both shoes were liberally coated with it. I managed to pull a 157 out of that game -- only 30 pins below my average. Then I followed it with a 225, 202, 187, and 199.

Needless to say, I like my new ball.

27 November 2006

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I continue to be thankful.

I'm thankful that I am now starting my fifth week without cigarettes. Although these patches tend to be messy (adhesive) and make me have weird dreams, I have to remember the good it's doing me to wear them instead of smoking.

I got out of bed at 6:45 on Thanksgiving. It was a relaxing morning. While frying three pounds of bacon both for breakfast and later use in some recipes, I called my mother and talked for a while.

I baked a dozen biscuits. Thank you, Pillsbury for the frozen buttermilk biscuits that were as good as homemade. I needed two and a half biscuits to complete my ingredients for Cameron's cornbread dressing. We ate breakfast and began preparing other things for Thanksgiving dinner.

In the past, we'd gather around noon and begin Thanksgiving dinner at 1 or 1:30. But, this year we planned to eat at around 6:00. Since the mincemeat and pumpkin pies were baked the night before and the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, mayonnaise and onions had been layered in a springform pan for the caviar pie, I could map out what I thought would be a relaxing day preparing our dinner.

After a little prep work was completed I made a pitcher of Bloody Marys to take over to my friend Cleo's house. She wouldn't be joining us this year as she had for the last several years. The extra number of folks she wanted to include for Thanksgiving dinner was more than we could handle in our humble home. Cameron's and my list alone was seven -- with her list we'd have been at 13. Our table seats 8, uncomfortably. So I pulled the Grand Prix out of the garage, top down, and drove over to her place. What a beautiful day it was: sunny and 68°.

After spending about an hour there, I was now about 40 minutes off of my predetermined schedule. Less than a mile from home, I had to call Cameron from the car and tell him that I had left my house keys at Cleo's and was on my way back to get them, and would he please fill a muffin pan with the frozen Texas yeast rolls so they could thaw and rise in time for dinner. Of course he was glad to.

I then called Cleo and asked, "are my keys lying in front of your microwave?" They, of course, were. We spent another few minutes on her front porch. I wiped away her tears because she couldn't be with us, I told her that I loved her and headed home. Now, I'm over an hour behind.

Cameron helped me peel potatoes. I cleaned Brussels sprouts, then peeled carrots for Copper Penny Salad. Our friend Nancy Fletcher brought this salad to a Thanksgiving pot luck at our fondly remembered friend Jimmy Davidson's house, years ago. I wanted them this year, for Thanksgiving, because she passed away in September after a long battle with cancer. Remembering how many times we talked about getting together over the years and never doing it made me feel sad. And in some twisted way, having her salad there meant something special to me.

As the clock neared 4:30, our friends began arriving. I finished the caviar pie and set it out for an appetizer and continued finishing up the other things. Dressings went into the oven about 15 minutes late. I couldn't figure out what John had been doing at the other end of the kitchen, but he knocked the receiver off of the phone and it landed on top of the Saran-covered yeast rolls, flattening two of them since they hadn't been baked yet. Cameron finished the mashed potatoes, and put cranberry chutney, baby dills and baby gherkins in serving dishes. We poured gravy into the gravy boat and he put it on the table. Because I oversteamed the carrots, they were just buttered and placed into a covered dish. Copper Penny Salad needs carrots that are not too soft. The oven roasted Brussels sprouts were transferred to an iron skillet and caramelized, then topped with chopped bacon. The ham had been glazed earlier in the day. The turkey was carved.

Since table real estate is limited, everything was served buffet style from the kitchen. We ended up sitting down to dinner at 6:45. Not my best showing with time, but definitely not my worst. With choices of Pinot Grigio and Penfold's Shiraz, dinner turned out pretty nicely.

Afterwards, I whipped the heavy cream for the desserts. Only a couple of people opted for pumpkin pie. I am pretty much the only person who eats mincemeat pie. Even though there isn't any meat in it, I don't think many people get past the name. My mother had always made it for us as children, and it's been a tradition with me ever since. The apples, dates, raisins and spices are fantastic. It's just not Thanksgiving without it.

It's taken me several starts to get this post written, and there's more to come, so stay tuned. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

21 November 2006

Jellied. No Berries, Please.

After I made cranberry chutney Saturday night I pulled a vintage Ball Freezer and Refigerator mason jar out of the cabinet to store it in. Since there was more than enough to fill the jar I filled another smaller jar and took some to our friends Gene and Cindie.

She said, "THIS is cranberry to me. Gene likes the crap in a can."

After I laughed out loud, I told Cindie that I like the crap in the can, too -- but the day after Thanksgiving, with a turkey sandwich on wheat with Hellmann's (even though they didn't take my advice and revert back to glass jars) and lots of baby dills.

Anyway, the recipe for the chutney came out of The Commercial Appeal many years ago. It's pretty easy to make. A bag of cranberries, two cubed apples, a chopped onion, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, cayenne, black pepper, allspice and a microwave are all you need.

Outside of being excited about the approaching holidays, I am going to drive out East today for lunch. My new bowling ball should be drilled and ready for me to pick up at Bartlett Lanes. I can't wait!

The new ball.

I'm going to see if I can get a group of people together for some practice bowling on Friday afternoon -- prior to our annual pilgimage for a Christmas tree. I need to be ready for Sunday's league bowling. We're still in first, but only by one game now. It's time to step it up.

Happy Thanksgiving.

16 November 2006


The parking lot and drive-thru lane at the Midtown Starbucks needs some Ex-Lax. I'm not endorsing a brand. Thankfully, a healthy diet (including plenty of fruits, vegetables and yogurt) and chlorophyll supplements alleviate any necessity for such. It's just what my grandmother always had in the medicine cabinet.

Anyway, I am sure that the persons responsible for planning the Starbucks site did the best they could with their limited knowledge (being out-of-towners, I presume) of how the intersection of McLean Boulevard and Union Avenue works. The intersection was busy when the practically out-of-business Panchos was there 10 years ago.

Now, with the Starbucks on one corner, a giant, hideous Walgreens across the street on the opposite corner, and people driving into the lot the wrong way from McLean and the drive through line extending several cars into Union, it's just a big stinky mess.

Like what Edith left in the cat box last night. Why on Earth is it that when you buy a litter box with a lid that your feline companion feels that he or she can forgo the covering of the crap ritual? She'd much rather scratch on the plastic lid for 45 minutes than take the few seconds to cover up the pile. And, the box is clean. Brand new litter -- two days old.

Speaking of days, I am on day 15. And, dammit, I just realized I forgot to put the patch on again. Perhaps it's a subconcious thing. The Band-Aid residue is gross. But, thanks to a helpful hint from GBoogie and a little experimentation of my own, I have finally figured out how to get the residue off of my skin. The witch hazel worked (with a little scrubbing). Now I'm using baby oil. It's all good.


Nonfat-triple-venti-caramel macchiato on the #4 key. Gotta go. Have a great Thursday.

13 November 2006

Something's Not Working

I'm still not smoking. Good.

I'm still watching what and how much I eat. Good. Lost another percentage of body fat. Good. Still at 183. Good.

Haven't made it back to the gym yet. Not so good. Ditto Friday's overindulgence in martinis.

I went to a housewarming dinner party on Saturday. It was a nice, quiet evening with friends in their beautiful new home. Cameron didn't go -- didn't feel up to going -- we were having issues.

Went to league bowling Sunday. The standings sheet says our team is in first place. My average is back up to 180. Chris' is up, too: 215. Out of the four of us, our team's handicap is the lowest on the league. We ended up winning 3 against a team that pre-bowled. What's not working there is consistency. My first game was in the 150s, my second was 214, and the last was 143.

While I have been avoiding any shopping, (good) I am going to look for a replacement ball and shoes, today. Probably a bag, too. My shoes are 20 years old -- which when you consider that I wear them 28 times a year -- I've gotten good service out of them. The ball is at least 8 years old and saturated with lane oil -- resurfacing usually only lasts until around the second game of the week after the service is performed.

Anyway, I don't know if I am expecting too much of myself, too soon.

I guess that's my nature. But, that, in and of itself is the problem. Right now, I can't help it. It seems that when I gain momentum in a certain direction, especially if it's good, I want it across the board. NOW.

It's like that sometimes, too, when I gain momentum in a not so good area too. (Like the last couple of years' credit purchase extravaganza). I go until I can't anymore.

I've got to keep trying. It's Monday. I'm at work and really don't want to be. And, I suppose if I'm doing this instead of revising some design work, I'm making this morning's entry title come to fruition.

Need to get something working.

10 November 2006

Goodbye, Ed

I was sad to see the news yesterday that Ed Bradley had died. On Larry King Live last night his colleagues cemented all that I felt about him. He had always seemed like a great man. And, apparently, he was.

03 November 2006

Ah, Another Glorious Morning...

Remember when Bette Midler played a acerbic witch in Hocus Pocus? She followed the above statement with, " makes me SICK!"

Not me. Not today. It has finally stopped raining. It's a bit cool (38° F) this morning at 8:00 A.M.

It's a beautiful day. No cigarettes and and no booze since Tuesday.

And at 9:15 P.M. I left the office after having finished the 44-page layout for an annual report I've been working on for the last week and a half.

Yee haw. I feel great. Now, it's time to put out the fires I've been letting blaze as I've gotten this report done.

Have a wonderful Friday.

02 November 2006

Vivid Dreams

Under the heading "When using this product" on Nicoderm CQ package, bullet two states, "if you have vivid dreams or other sleep disturbances remove this patch at bedtime."

Since last night was the first night for me to wear the patch I didn't know if I would have sleep disturbances. I suppose not being able to go to sleep until well past 3 a.m. would be considered a sleep disturbance. And, I slept lightly. Very lightly.

I'll take the patch off tonight when I retire.

I need to get going -- today is the last day for early voting.

I'll promise to do my best today, but just in case -- LOOK OUT!

01 November 2006


Today was a day of a lot firsts that have me pretty excited. This morning, at home, while I was getting old paperwork together for shredding I found myself reaching for a cigarette. Twice. Yet, I intentionally threw away the one cigarette I had left as soon as I got up because today was my quit date. So, after arriving at work I got settled, listened to voice mails and read e-mail. I opened the file for the project I have been working on for the last week and began plugging away at it. Knowing that I was going to be sitting inside Temple of Deliverance Church of God In Christ for an hour or so beginning at 10:30 meant that I had to get some work done before my early "lunch" hour and a half.

I ducked out at around 9:30, ran up to Walgreens and purchased my first box of Nicoderm CQ. While I was there, I found a bag of Popcorn, Indiana Kettlecorn Popcorn. The packaging was so "up my alley" that I had to buy it for the bag, alone, for my reference file. Even though I'd heard of Kettlecorn, I'd never had it and wasn't really that curious about it. I mused about how the company is called "Popcorn, Indiana," yet is based in New York. (There really is a Popcorn, Indiana. Growing up in Indiana I know, too, there's lots of corn.) I carefully removed the hideous chartreuse green "$1.99" sticker that the Walgreen's people stuck haphazardly on the bag and sat it on my desk so I could occasionally look at the simple, folksy design.

Great design gets me every time.

At 10:30, Patty, a former co-worker who's still a good friend, picked me up to take us to the Temple for a political rally for Harold Ford, Jr. The race for Senate between him and Bob Corker is pretty tight, from what I understand. On the dias were some expected dignitaries. Beverly Robertson, the director of the National Civil Rights Museum was on hand. And, God Bless her, two of the others mispronounced her last name as "Robinson". There was Gail Rose. Two other state senators. Bishop G.E. Patterson and his wife. The candidate's father, Harold Ford, former 9th Congressional District Representative. But the main reason I attended was that President Bill Clinton was speaking. So, the second first for me was seeing a President in person. He is still as charismatic, optimistic and insightful as he ever was. He talked about the difference between conservatives (be they Democrat or Republican) and ideologues, saying that conservatives will stop digging when they find themselves in a hole because they realize that they're looking in the wrong place for an answer. In Arkansas, he said, 2+2=4, just like it does in Washington, but that ideologues will test the facts over and over even if they continue getting the wrong result. He said an ideologue believes they know the answers before the question is asked. And, when they find themselves in a hole, and still haven't solved the problem they ask for a bigger shovel. There's more to how his speech moved me but that is totally another subject.

Back at the office, the third of the firsts was opening that bag of popcorn. What a surprise! I read the "story of the product" on the back of the bag while I ate a few delicious kernels. I didn't know that to make kettle corn, cane sugar was added to the kettle along with the corn and oil. At first I thought the popcorn was like a very light version of Cracker Jack, but it was more like the flavor of Fiddle Faddle -- not as dark and heavy as the former. The bag says, "crispy & crunchy, sweet & salty." And, I'm all over anything salty. I had to share it not only because I often go from office to office in the creative department with something new to share, but in this case if I hadn't shared it I would have eaten the whole bag. And, that goes against my renewed nutritional aspirations. Portions, portions. Calories, calories. (Thank you, Robert Harling, for giving Truvy the opportunity to sarcastically mock the woman carved from cream cheese while eating wedding cake at Shelby's reception.)

Give me a cookie.

After work, I went to Petco to buy cookies and Dentabones for Doris and Billie. Once back in the car, I contemplated how pleased I was at making it through the day without a cigarette. So to reward myself, I dialed Cingular directory assistance and called the celebrated Lotus restaurant (of which I'll write more later) to get a carry-out dinner of Vietnamese Vermicelli and Vietnamese egg rolls. I have some left for lunch tomorrow. Maybe I'll write about the virtues of Lotus' vermicelli then.

I hear Nancy Grace on the television. So, as this day of firsts draws to a close, I have not smoked 18 cigarettes. I have saved nearly $4. And, it's time for a good night's rest and looking forward to day two.