Friday, December 18, 2015

Wish (less) Bone

When I was cleaning the kitchen on Monday, I noticed three wishbones that we had saved from rotisserie chickens.

I decided that Jeff and I needed some luck and I figured that one of us would win each try and maybe get a little lift.

I was wrong. On our first attempt, Jeff and I each ended up with only a small part of the bone, no wish included.

We just looked at each other with our stubby wishbones.

They were symbolic of all our recent bad luck.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

TV's Fargo

Fargo is one of my favorite movies.

I was skeptical about about the TV series until I heard that the Coens were involved.We gave it a try, and I loved it. In the first season, I tried to match show characters to the film's. TV's Lester was the closest to the Jerry character in the film, but Lester was worse. He actually killed his first wife, and then allowed his second wife to be killed. At least Jerry "only" had his wife kidnapped.

At first, I thought Molly wasn't smart enough to stand in for Marge. But Marge was already a success when we see her in the film. In the show we watch Molly become an excellent police office

In the first season, Molly was awesome; so was her dad Lou. The acting was solid; the story intricate and compelling.

I've been obsessed with the second season. Lou is back as a younger state police officer. Molly is an young girl around six. The season's plot revolves around a local crime family's battle against the acquisition hungry Kansas City mob, a car accident and its aftermath, and the story of Lou and Molly's family.

The finale aired on Monday. For me, it was a slight letdown from the action-packed penultimate show. But that's what it was supposed to be--a denouement for the season. I need to re-watch it. I have mixed feelings about Lou and Peggy's conversation.

Overall, the second season was incredible. The story was fascinating--I couldn't wait until the next installment. The acting was incredible. There were so many layers. I'd like to re-watch it all.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Stalking Black Cloud

It's been three weeks since my last post. I never intended to take such a long hiatus. I figured I'd write about getaway day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and/or Jake-sitting.

Instead, I was too busy, too pre-occupied, ultimately too depressed. I don't want to list all the bad things, all the things that have gone wrong for me. I'll  focus on two things.

The first is Spike. We've been managing the tumor on his heart for a year.  But now the tumor's growing. Spike has nodules on his liver and a diseased gall bladder. He sleeps most of the day and hardly walks. He's become a finicky eater. The vet says he could have another two days, two weeks or two years. With all his health problems, the two years seems like a dream. He's on six different meds.We're very worried about him: glad that he's not in any kind of pain, but sad to see how tough daily activities are for him.

Here's the second bad thing. Last week I was leaving for a tutoring appointment. As I put on my raincoat, my wedding ring caught on something, hard enough to hurt my finger. When I looked at my left hand, the diamond from my engagement ring was gone. I only had a few minutes to search that day. I was literally heading out the door--no luck. Later searches also proved fruitless. I moved my hand across the surface of the rug, swept the hardwood with a tiny broom and pan, shined a flashlight in the dark to try to get a glint of diamond.

I began to feel that I was living under a black cloud. Later I wondered if the black cloud was actively stalking me. Things felt that bad.

Things are less bleak now. But the black cloud is hovering.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Christmas Shopping and Holiday Angst

Thanksgiving is a week away, and we've been inundated with catalogs. I started Christmas shopping last week. I found a few things online and a few in catalogs.

Today I shopped in person. I stopped at the Stamford Home Goods. I love Home Goods--you never know what you may find. I found some ideas for Elaine's party (assuming she is having one--I haven't heard from her.) I picked up a few things for Jeff. (I can't list them because he's one of the few persons to read this blog.)

I then went to a tutoring session. On the way home, I went to an anniversary party at this store. It was literally on my way home. I did well, getting a belated birthday and a few Christmas gifts for family members.


I'm feeling ambivalent about the holidays. We have several family changes to deal with.

Spike is not as ill as he was last year--we worried about him surviving the holidays then. But now he is dealing with other problems.

I'm trying to get into some kind of holiday spirit, but it can be a challenge.




Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Trip to the Vet's

When I got home from the gym today, Jeff had noticed something off in Spike's right eye and made an appointment at the vet's.

Good thing; his eye needed antibiotics, and what we thought was a hot spot was much worse.

Our poor guy needed a shot for pain, antibiotics and eye drops.

Spike seemed better pretty quickly. Thank goodness, we got to the vet's today.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Today's Afternoon at the Dog Park

Because of my general malaise and my discouraging post this morning, I decided I had to post something more positive.

Today was an unseasonably warm fall day--it reached 61 degrees. So we took Spike to the dog park. It wasn't as nice as the day before his birthday, but very pleasant. We timed our visit for the warmest part of the day: we saw Chance and Tipper, their humans Art and Kevin, and met some new dogs and people. We even met a Basenji named Zoe. We've only seen one or two Basenjis before. It's a rare event.

As usual, Spike was reluctant to get into the car. We told him he would be happy when we arrived at dog park. Art and Kevin greeted him, a few dogs sniffed, but mostly ignored him as he "chilled" as Art said.

This may be our last visit to the dog park in a long time. It's not good for Spike to go in the cold. I just hope we have a few more unseasonably warm visits this fall.

Checking In

I've been feeling discouraged.

As if I'm treading water. I'm not drowning, but I'm still far from the shore and I'm getting tired.

It's the little things. I sweep or vacuum a floor and  minutes later, dead leaves are scattered across it.

On the way to the dog park, a hose breaks in Jeff's car causing it to overheat. We have to leave his car at the shop and take a cab home. The hose breaks when the auto repair shop is busy, so the car remains there for days. The replacement hose isn't expensive, but the labor to install it is.

It's the bigger things. Spike's health remains a concern. We thought he had finally kicked pneumonia, but he stated huffing again.

The holidays are approaching, bringing about as much stress as good cheer.

How will I make it to shore?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

TV Catch-Up Time

Now that baseball season's over, Jeff and I have been catching up on some shows that we've recorded.

In no particular order:

The Simpsons--I guess we're only recording this out of habit and with the hope that the writers can come up with a solid episode. I barely remember any episodes of recent years. It seems that a few have decent setups that the writers can't sustain.

The Big Bang Theory--we started watching this show when it went into syndication. I think it replaced Seinfeld on a local station. I'm enjoying the show, but am getting tired. I mean the show is getting tired. I was interested in how Sheldon would propose to Amy, but the show is dragging out that storyline, and it's annoying.

Face Off--nine seasons already. This is my favorite reality show, but I still wonder if they'll run out of quality contestants showing two seasons in one calendar year. The top contestants are good, but the bad are really bad.

More to follow in another post.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Celebrate! Spike Turns 15 Today!

We always celebrate Spike's birthdays, half-way days and anniversaries.Today is special. At Spike's size, an age of 15 is equivalent to 83 human years.

We had hoped to take Spike to the dog park, but it rained off and on all day. Spike's recovering from pneumonia; lying in the wet grass didn't seem a good idea.

At least we went to the dog park yesterday.We walked from the car about halfway across the field when Spike just plopped down as if to announce this is where I want to rest. Jeff and I got chairs from the car and hung out with him for an hour. A few dogs came over, looked at him and then ran off to play. It was a beautiful day--sunny, about 70 degrees with a cool breeze. I'm hoping for a repeat visit tomorrow.

Tonight we gave Spike a good steak dinner with a peanut butter Frosty Paw as dessert.

Happy Birthday Spike. 

Feeling a Little Better

after reading the second part of this post.  But I still need just a little more time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mets Post Post-Mortem

Sunday night feels so far away. Today I realized that if the Mets had won either Saturday or Sunday--there would have been a game last night. And maybe game seven would have been tonight.

I suddenly thought of these lyrics from this song.:

As I walk this land of broken dreams,
I have visions of many things.
But happiness is just an illusion,
Filled with sadness and confusion.
What becomes of the broken hearted
Who had love that's now departed?

So I'm still not ready to celebrate the Mets season.

All the talk about comparisons to the 1986 series was cool, but ultimately the 2015 Mets fell 4 to 1 to the Royals, as the 2000 Mets fell to the Yankees. That hurts; they couldn't even win a respectable two games.

I need more time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election Day Light

No national or state-wide elections today, but there are many local elections. Our current mayor Harry Rilling was re-elected. I haven't heard about the other races yet.

I'm more informed about the local elections than I've been in several years. I still don't know all the candidates and their positions. But it's important to vote. Too many people died securing that right. Others still struggle to exercise it.

I heard a report on the radio today that the US is behind most other industrialized countries in voter participation.  NY Rep Steve Israel wants to move election day to a full weekend to make it easier for people to vote. He says the Tuesday voting day was well suited to the 18th Century agrarian society, but makes it difficult to vote in a modern society.

I agree that we should make voting easier. Too bad many Republicans don't agree, crying about non-existent voter fraud.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mets Post-Mortem

The Mets season ended last night. It lasted a month longer than I had originally expected. But I don't feel pleasure in that. Not now.

I woke up this morning with this song in my head. I'm also angry. Angry at prima donnas like Yoenis Cespedes who thought he could hit when he couldn't run. Then there's Matt Harvey. Yes he pitched beautifully through eight innings, but I preferred Familia with a clean start in the ninth. I'm mad at Terry Collins for submitting to these prima donnas.

Someday soon I'll be able to celebrate a great season. For now, I mourn what could have been.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hit the Restart Button

Last week I had good intentions. Monday went pretty well; Tuesday and Wednesday were just okay.

By Thursday, everything had fallen apart. It's tempting to blame the Mets. They swept the Cubs on Wednesday night--I was up late and celebrating. But that would be unfair.

I never got my act back together, though I managed to do what I needed--the minimum--to get through the rest of the week.

Time to try again.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beer School: The Cider Class

Jeff and I were the only students at beer school today. I got stuck in traffic and was 15 minutes late, so teacher waited for me before he started class.

We tasted four ciders: all were good. The most unusual were a pumpkin and a strawberry lime.

Jeff and I once visited a cidery in Virginia on our drive back from visiting parents in Hilton Head. Otherwise we haven't had many opportunities for cider tasting. Thanks Sedona Tap House.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Last night Jeff and I went to see Rocky Horror with a live show at the Maritime Aquarium. It was fun, but I was also disappointed.

First thing, the show was scheduled at 9; the preliminaries didn't start until around 9:20. We heard a few rules, waited longer, than heard a few more rules. The "fun" stuff, asking Rocky virgins to the stage, took too long and wasn't that funny.

The live actors were good; the commentary was funny at times, but mostly redundant.

Maybe I'm spoiled. The first several times I saw Rocky Horror at the midnight show in the 8th Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village. I remember the first time asking my boyfriend why that guy was in a gold bikini. He said, "You'll find out."

The 8th Street Playhouse is long gone, as our my days of living in the Village.

Current shows are a pale reproduction of the 8th Street productions, but are better than nothing.

The Waiting...

is the hardest part.

The Mets secured their place in the World Series on Wednesday night, the Kansas City Royals last night.

I'm ready for the next round. I don't want to wait until Tuesday. (Though glad the series didn't start tonight because we had plans.)

Five days is a long layoff. Some say it's bad for the Mets because they've been so hot--we don't want them to cool off.

On the other hand, Manager Terry Collins says it's a good thing for the Mets young pitchers. It will help Yoenis Cespedes' sore shoulder. Juan Uribe may be able to play. Even if he's not ready, Uribe will be there. After all he's the only Met with World Series experience.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Books on my Nightstand

I love to read and I love books. But a few months ago, I realized that I hadn't been reading many books recently. So I selected a few and put them on my nightstand. I figured I would be more likely to read one if I had the books nearby.

Here's my stack:

Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn G. Heilbrun
I got this at a library book sale. I had read some of Heibrun's detective novels under the pseudonym Amanda Cross. The book examines how women's lives are written in biography and autobiography.

Simply Southern by Cappy Hall Rearick
A gift from my mother-in-law, Simply Southern is a collection of newspaper columns. The short pieces are good for reading before bed.

Hollywood Be Thy Name The Warner Brothers Story by Cass Sperling and Cork Millner with Jack Warner Jr.
Another book sale purchase, this is a history of my favorite movie studio.

Big Girls Don't Cry by Rebecca Traister
I read good reviews of this book and then picked it up at Barnes & Noble. Traister's observations of the 2008 presidential election should be interesting in light of the 2016 race.

Film Noir The Dark Side of the Screen by Foster Hirsch
I got this book about 20 years ago when I was part of a classic movie group. I started re-reading it when I took my film noir course over the summer.

I finished Writing a Woman's Life, and will return it to a book shelf. I'm about three quarters through Film Noir and about halfway through Simply Southern. This is the first time I've read more than one book at a time outside of school. I like this approach and will continue with it.

Mets Sweep Their Way to the World Series!

Mets win 8-3.

By the second inning last night the Mets had scored six runs, all with two outs. Lucas Duda tied the Mets playoff RBI record with five (joining Curtis Granderson, Carlos Delgado, my beloved Edgardo Alfonzo and Rusty Staub.)

NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy hit a home run in six straight post season games--another record.

The Mets swept a best of seven series for the first time.

The Mets are the first team to sweep a team in the post season that sweep them in the regular season.

The Mets answered my question.

Wow!

What more can I say?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Another Dog Park Afternoon

I took Spike to the dog park yesterday around 4. It was a beautiful day--warm with blue skies streaked with wispy clouds. Mostly Spike laid down in the grass.

We saw only one dog and human that we knew, but met a new dog who had the same dancing bears collar as Spike.

Spike was slow to get into the car as we left for the park (maybe he thought we were going to the vet's) but he was happy to get to Taylor Farm.

It was a lovely day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NLCS Game Three

I felt confident tonight. But... I heard a Mets fan say it's been too easy so far--that scared him. I heard another say that the Mets are usually the underdog. With Jacob deGrom starting--that's not the case. That scared him.

Why are Mets fans so afraid?

There was no need to fear tonight. The Mets won 5-2. They were never behind in this game. deGrom was off to a rough start, but only gave up one hit after the first inning. With his third win, deGrom tied the record for most road wins in a single post season along with such luminaries as Madison Bumgarner and Cliff Lee.

Wright and Cespedes each had three hits. Murphy had another home run tying Beltran's record for homeruns in five consecutive playoff games.

I never expected a 3-0 lead. This is awesome. Let's go Mets!

Happy Birthday Keith!

Today is Keith Hernandez's 62nd birthday. I think he's scheduled to do pre- and post-game analysis tonight for SNY's Mets programming.

Tonight is the NLCS game three at Wrigley Field with the Mets leading the Cubs 2-0. Let's hope the Mets give Keith a special birthday present.

Monday, October 19, 2015

According (or not) to Plan

After an unproductive last week, I hoped to start the week off on a better note. But there are always glitches.

Yesterday morning, I opened a kitchen cabinet; a screw fell out and the door was hanging by one hinge. I was afraid if I let it go, the door would rip off the second hinge. I had to call Jeff out of bed to help me. We couldn't find a screw to replace the lost one and ended up removing the door. Another item to add to the to-do list.

Spike had two accidents, which required immediate cleaning and a mid-week load of laundry.

I tagged along on an appointment to see two of the WPA murals that aren't on public display. The person who had agreed to let us into the building forgot, didn't answer her phone and had to be replaced by someone else. It was only an extra 20 minutes or so for me, but annoying.

I spent about a half hour reviewing records of one student's tutoring appointments and finding an email I wrote to the office back in August which should have resolved the situation back then.

I know: I can't expect what to expect. 

Yesterday, I made a to-do list for the week. I listed 14 items--some were daily tasks ( e.g exercise, post on this blog. I did both today.)

I did two of three cooking to-do's. I made a double batch of flank steak and black bean chili. I also "fixed" the vodka sauce I made last week. It needed more crushed tomatoes and spices.

 To be honest, some distractions were of my own making.

Let's see what tomorrow does to my plans. 

Half Way...

to the World Series.

That's how a sports reporter on CNN described the Mets 4-1 victory over the Cubs and Jake Arrieta last night. I wasn't thinking in those terms; I was thinking in terms of a seven game series. I expected that Arrieta would be the toughest pitcher against the Mets, but the Mets handled him. They scored three in the first inning, including a two-run homer by the sizzling Daniel Murphy.

Dare I hope for a sweep? I can hope, but better settle in for a long series.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's on my Mind

1. The Mets
I forgot how much fun it can be to have your team in the post season. To believe. To share a camaraderie with everyone wearing a Mets logo.

2. Spike
He's recovering from a bout of pneumonia, but we're still concerned. We can see that his back legs are getting weaker. He's also had incontinence issues. Whenever we think we have it all figured out, he surprises us. We're concerned about how he'll do this winter.

3. Beer
Jeff and I have been enjoying beer school at Sedona Tap House. I learned today that I'm not a big fan of Octoberfest-type beers. They're good, but not my favorites. I wish I had kept all the sheets from previous sessions.

4. Nanowrimo/Nablopomo
I'm tempted to try nanowrimo again, but it's too much too soon. At this point, I just want to write more. I can commit to blogging every day during November. In fact, I'd like to at least match the number of posts from last year at 173.

5. Time Management
After wasting most of last week, I want to make sure that I can focus and accomplish things. I'm still tracking my time (at least until the end of today.) I made some plans for the week--now I have to figure out what I can do when.

A Halloween Party

Last night was our friends' annual Halloween party. You'd think after seven years, I'd remember that even though it's a Halloween party, it's usually held two weeks before Halloween. I need to figure out my costume earlier.

Many previous parties had themes such as angels and devils, dead celebrities, and Mardi Gras. This year's was theme-less. I had two ideas: Melisandre from Game of Thrones and Magenta from Rocky Horror. I was thinking of Magenta because we're going to see Rocky Horror next Saturday. Jeff was thinking of going as Riff Raff.

I had bought a wig for a party a few years ago, but got sick and didn't make it. I wanted to wear that wig as well as red opera gloves, red tights and a "Devil's" necklace with a large red stone I had previously purchased.

When I dragged the Halloween stuff from the bin, I realized that my wig was red and black--not red as I remembered. I didn't have the right clothes to finish Melisandre. The wig was all wrong for Magenta. I'd have to get a new wig and maid's uniform. Yes I could wear both again next week, but it just seemed too much. I'm not exactly rolling in money; Halloween costumes aren't a high priority for me. They aren't usually well-made, and we don't have a lot of storage space.

Finally I decided it was silly for me to stress over a fun night with friends. I would just be a vampire. I could wear the wig, gloves, etc. and a cape we already had. Jeff wasn't sure what to wear, so we went to three costume places yesterday and got a few accessories: bat earrings and a black skirt for me.

I was a vampire in red and black. Jeff was a huntsman--wearing on old costume because it was warm. The temps dipped down into the thirties last night.

A voodoo king and queen hosted the invisible man, Batman, a devil, a Blue Moon beer, a couple of cats and others. The house was decorated inside and out with cobwebs, spiders, snakes, a crawling zombie and skulls. A neighbor contributed some home brewed beer; another offered road kill stew.

As usual, it was a fun party.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

NLCS: Game One

Mets won 4-2. Once again Murphy kicked off the offense, hitting a home run in the first inning. But he also made the final defensive play of the game. d'Arnaud and Granderson contributed RBI hits.

Not only did Harvey pitch well, he played his position well. Familia got four outs for the save. Oh by the way, he gave up his first hit in the playoffs. We can live with that.

We went to a Halloween party tonight (more in another post) and only saw the beginning and end of the game. But we watched all the highlights on the postgame. Thought of this song.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Miscellaneous Musings

It hasn't been a good week for me personally. My workload was light. That's a problem because if I don't work, I don't get paid. I told myself not to worry about it: work will pick up again; I can use the time to work on some of my long term projects.

Unfortunately, I had an unproductive week. I did nothing on my long term projects. For the most part it was because I was lazy. I've been up late watching baseball, especially the Mets, and haven't been getting enough sleep. This makes for late and/or slow mornings. My right shoulder hurt on Tuesday and Wednesday. I had cold symptoms on Wednesday. Review of a test took much longer than I expected.

I don't want to whine (though you might not believe that based on the previous paragraph.) I'm just trying to figure things out.

Watching the Mets has been fun. For the most part that is: I felt a few moments of anguish. I was nervous and angry when Harvey gave up three runs in the second inning of Game Three. I even told Jeff that could be the series right here. But then I told myself not to give up, never give up on this team. Ultimately the Mets won 13-7.

Last night, I didn't count the Mets out when they were down 1-2 in the bottom of the first, but I tried to prepare myself for a loss. Even if the Mets had not advanced, it would have still been a successful season. Now it's much sweeter.

Speaking of preparing myself, two weeks ago, I was preparing myself for the worst with Spike. He has a form of pneumonia, and it's taken him a long time to recover. He's much better now, but is still on medication. The only thing I want to prepare for now is his 15th birthday.

Mets Advance to NLCS!

Game Five. The first decisive Game Five in Mets history. The Mets won and advanced to the National League Championship Series.

The Mets won the game 3-2 and the Mets won the series 3-2. Now that's symmetry.

What a night. After getting a 1-0 lead, deGrom gave up four straight hits and two runs in the first inning. He struggled through several innings, but proved he was the ace of this team. He kept the Dodgers from adding on.

Noah Syndergaard didn't give up any hits in the seventh. Then it was up to Jeruys Familia: six outs.

On the offense, it was all Daniel Murphy. He hit a RBI double in the first. His steal of third base in the fourth tied the game. Murphy's solo homer in the sixth sealed the deal. 

Bring on the Cubs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NLDS: Mets Edition

Saturday's Mets-Dodgers game was traumatic. And not just for Ruben Tejada.

The game started off so well. The Mets scored two runs against Zach Greinke, a rare occurrence.

Then Utley's slide took out Tejada permanently for this season and created a controversy. Almost everyone agrees the slide was late. Some claim it should have been called interference. I was angry that Utley was awarded a base that he hadn't touched. I heard an umpire on the radio who said that the runner is never penalized for listening to what the umpire says even if it's a bad call. If Utley had been called out, the inning would have been over before the Dodgers took the lead.

I would prefer that Utley were called out over Utley suspended for two games. But the ways of baseball can be strange.

Last night--game three--the Mets got revenge: a 13 to 7 win. That's much better than plunking some Dodger.

But tonight--not so good. The Mets fell scoring only one run to the Dodgers three. I was convinced that the Mets would win tonight. I don't want them to go to LA. I still believe, but the Dodgers have regained the home field advantage.

I want to see the Mets against the Cubs. Let's go Mets.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Family Day

Jeff's parents live an hour from us, so we usually make a day of it when we visit. It just doesn't make sense for us to pop up for dinner (especially when rush hour traffic would lengthen the trip.) My mother's only a half hour away so dinner visits are more doable.

Recently visits have been tough to arrange. Jeff made the last few trips to his parents without me because I was working. Late afternoon conference calls for Jeff and tutoring sessions for me made it tough to arrange dinners with my mother. The last time I saw her was a weekday when I took her to the eye doctor and then had lunch--Jeff couldn't make it then.

Today was a parental double-header. First we visited Jeff's parents. His mother suggested a new Thai restaurant. The three of us had lunch specials. For me it was tom yum soup, spring rolls and panang curry with chicken and brown rice--delicious.

After lunch we visited Jeff's dad. He's in the health center at the retirement home. It's just down the hall so Jeff's mom visits twice a day. We left so he could nap before dinner, then sat outside with Jeff's mom and Spike for about an hour. It was a warm, sunny afternoon.

My mother lives about halfway between us and Jeff's parents. So it was convenient to stop there for dinner and a visit. A nice family day.


Chicken Soup

I'm a big fan of rotisserie chicken dinners. I pop the bird in the oven for a half hour and usually make stove top stuffing and a salad--a nice easy dinner.

Last week our friend Jenn was talking about using rotisserie chicken carcasses to make broth for chicken soup. I've never made my own broth before and tried it this week. I bought two rotisserie chickens on Monday. We ate most of one for dinner. Then I cut off the chicken and cooked the carcasses in a large crock pot for about six hours to make a broth.

Tonight I made chicken soup using that broth and leftover chicken. I sauteed garlic, shallots, jalapeno and yellow pepper and added that to the broth. I also added chicken, three carrots and celery stalks, and some fresh thyme leaves. This was the best chicken soup I've ever made.

Making broth was took time, but wasn't labor intensive--the taste was worth it.


Nine Years

The Mets are back in the post-season. Nine years ago they also played the Dodgers. I don't remember that series. I do remember how the NLCS ended; curse you Yadier Molina.

I'm wearing my Mets colors, my Mets earrings and one of my Mets pins. This pin has an American flag; Jeff bought it for me at the 9-21-01 game: the first baseball game played in New York after the World Trade Center attacks.That was an awesome night.

Tonight was another awesome night--the Mets won 3-1.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jury Duty and a Traffic Jam

Yesterday was not a good day.

I got up at 6 to go to Stamford for jury duty at 8:30 AM, then waited until 9 to hear an annoyingly perky clerk advise us about what to expect. Next we watched a video, followed by a live appearance by a judge (who used to be our state representative or senator.) At this point, we had gotten three different versions of what to expect as a juror and how important jurors are to the American way.

A break until 10 to wait for the lawyers extended to 10:15. The lawyers gave a brief description of their civil case, listed names of potential jurors, parties to the lawsuit and witnesses. I wasn't called for that jury and was released around 12:30. As I was waiting, I analyzed my time logs (more on that later.)

I served on a jury about 12 years ago, and enjoyed the experience. But that came a relatively slow time in a job and lasted only three days. Now jury duty could have worked if court sessions ended early enough and I could make my tutoring appointments. But it was a relief not to have to try.

I went home for lunch and to walk Spike and then headed to the office for a tutoring appointment. Returning home, I entered I95 right into a huge traffic jam. A major accident around my exit (15--can you tell that I'm from Jersey) and backed up traffic for four exits. I got off the highway at the earliest opportunity and tried several back roads: it took me 1.75 hours to get home (normally a 15 minute trip.)

I don't want to make light of the accident--at least one person was killed: being stuck in traffic is nothing compared to that. But as I was creeping along, I was thinking that the traffic jam bookended a wasted day.



Time Traps

Recently, I've been tracking my time. My analysis to date hasn't been very meaningful. Although I thought I  was doing well, I found I had missed several hours. D'oh--time to try again.

Even before I tracked my hours, I knew what some of my time traps were: TV, Internet, slow mornings.

The TV trap has been around the longest: Jeff and I have been talking about this for years. Jeff had suggested that we spent a night or two without TV. I've been resistant to this idea; I like the sound of TV around me. But I've been coming around. We now have a virtually unlimited capacity on our DVR--most of my films noir still reside there--so we don't have to watch everything live.

I have to admit that I still planned part of my Monday morning around things I could do while watching the Bette Davis film, "Cabin in the Cotton." It wasn't a complete waste of time (I exercised, put away laundry and reviewed a SAT test as I watched.) But it wasn't an effective use of time.

I don't think that my time tracking accurately reflects the time I spend on the Internet. I often find that I search something that may take a few minutes, but then I spend a half hour plus on something somewhat related. 

Then there are the mornings. If I don't have a morning appointment, I tend to linger over my journal, coffee, CNN news and emails. Soon an hour (or more) flies by. I enjoy the lingering but regret the time that I've lost. I've gotten better about my mornings, but have a way to go.

Time tracking/time management is a work in progress and a long term project. At least I feel optimistic about the beginning. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

On To the Post-Season

The regular baseball season is over.

For the first time in nine years, the Mets' season isn't. They stumbled down the stretch--losing five games in a row-- but they pulled out a 1-0 win over the Nationals in the final game to reach 90 wins. Also Jeurys Familia tied the Mets record with his 43rd save this season.

The fans are true to the orange and blue. Let's go Mets!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Another Canine Health Update

On Wednesday, Spike started wheezing.We were scared because of the last time he was wheezing. We took him to the vet's on Friday morning; after  $600 worth of testing, we got the good news that he only had an infection. He actually seemed worse yesterday, but is not wheezing as much today.

Spike has just over a month to go before his 15th birthday.We're looking forward to the celebration. Unfortunately, we have to be realistic-it may be his last. It's been about 2.5 years since his major spleen surgery, and almost a year-and-a-half since he had a cancerous growth removed. He has arthritis and a severed ACL. He needs help on stairs and  he rarely leaves the property on his "walks." But Spike is still enjoying life and we're still enjoying being with him. 

We love you Spike.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Working Out By the Numbers--Revisited

I went to the gym four times this week: Monday I did back, biceps and abs, Wednesday I did chest, shoulders, triceps and abs, Thursday I did legs and abs, today I did back, chest and abs. Each day I did 30 minutes of cardio. Today I walked on the treadmill. I usually only use the treadmill to warm up and cool down, but it was a surprisingly good cardio workout.

I feel good. This was a good workout week: I increased my weights in several exercises. Plus I did 45 minutes of exercise at home one day.

I write down my gym workouts in a small notebook. Recently I added a line about home workouts--usually just the date unless I work more than a half hour, then I add the time. (I don't count exercise if it's less than a half hour.) If I didn't keep this book, I probably would overestimate the number of times I worked out.

Checking out my notebook, I worked out three times a week ten times and four times a week twice. This was better than I expected, since I only went to the gym 61 times all year. But overall, it's pitiful--a 22 percent attendance for the year-to-date.

At least September was good; I can build on that.



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More on Time and Laura Vanderkam

It would be an exaggeration to say that I'm obsessed with Laura Vandkerkam: but I keep a time log as she suggests, I get a weekly Time Tip email from her, and I like her blog so much that I am reading it backwards from her first post.

I have a book of time management tips, a book on time shifting, a book on motivation, and a copy of seven habits of effective people (not quoted because I'm not sure of the exact title--I never got around to reading it.) That doesn't include numerous magazine articles I've read over the years.

I don't know if Laura speaks to me more than the other authors, if I'm more receptive now or a combination of both.

I've been trying to work on several areas to make my life better. One example is that I'm more mindful about how much fruit and vegetables that I buy. I got sick of throwing out spoiled fruits and veggies. I'm now buying fewer of each fruit, and fewer types of vegetables despite how good the selections at the farmers markets look.

I'm going to the gym more consistently and also doing more exercise at home. I'm not achieving my goal of exercising 30 minutes each day, but I've always known that was a reach.

Our condo is cleaner than it has often been in a while. I still have books and papers piled on the coffee table and love seat; I still have major cleaning/organizing projects to complete, but things are looking up.

I'll never be the person who schedules herself down to the minute. I don't want to be that person. But I like being more productive and efficient. That's good. 


Back in Business: PC Edition

Picked up my PC yesterday. The Geek Squad had to reset the motherboard and reconnect the battery. I'm not sure what that means. The "Geek" couldn't explain why my PC needed that since it hadn't been dropped or "moved around a lot".

Jeff had purchased a spare PC when Amazon had Prime Day a few months ago. I've been using that for the past week-and-a-half. That keyboard is much larger than mine and has a number keypad on the right. I was just starting to get used to the configuration. Now I have to relearn my own keyboard. It shouldn't take too long.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Time Management Paradox

As I've written before, I started tracking my time for a week. I decided that I should track another week or two before I do any analysis.

Unfortunately, my computer died last Friday. On Monday when I planned to start the time log for my new week, I realized that I had saved my time log worksheet on my computer that was in the shop. I tried to download the form again, but the link wasn't working.

There must be several other time spreadsheets. But when I tried to download another, it printed a blank page. I gave up.

So I wasted a half hour trying to manage my time efficiently.


Sigh.

N L East Champions!

They did it! The Mets won the NL East with a 10-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. I'm crying as I write this. This is the Mets' first trip to the post-season in nine years.

Today we saw a Duda grand slam and another Granderson home run, punctuated by the Wright's three run O Captain! My Captain!

The Mets are for real. Let's go Mets!

Is everyone a Mets fan now?


Friday, September 25, 2015

Lucky Number's One

I was going to play this song when the Met's lucky number was two, but the Mets (with the help of the Phillies beating the Nats) have leapfrogged to a magic number of one.

Maybe we should just listen to the first verse (paraphrased): "We're having so much fun. Our lucky number's one."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Magic Number Down to Three

I wasn't happy with the recent performance of the Mets at Citi Field (3 and 6) where they had been so good all year. But tonight's win combined with another Nationals loss lowered the Mets magic number to three. I finally believe.

Let's go Mets!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Autumn

Today is the autumnal equinox, the first day of autumn, my favorite season.

I completely disagree with article. It isn't even internally consistent: fall is the worst season because it's "an off-ramp straight into the worst time of your life." WTF?

I prefer F. Scott Fitzgerald's: "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." courtesy of  Glamour Magazine, October 2014.

RIP Yogi

Yogi Berra died last night at age 90. Yogi is first and foremost a Yankee. But he also has a link to the Mets: briefly as a player and later as a manager.

Years ago, I picked up The Yogi Book at Shea Stadium. I loved this book so much, I read parts of it out loud to random fans as I waited in line at a Shea concession stand. I showed it to my friend Annette and she barely talked to me the rest of the evening; she kept reading it and laughing.

Yogi was brilliant: the Buddhist magazine Tricycle once ran an article, The Koans of Yogi Berra.

My favorite is "When you come to the fork in the road, take it." This is my mantra against indecision and inertia.

"You can observe a lot by watching." This also speaks to me. I need to pay attention.

Thanks Yogi.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Specter of 2007

I've written 60 posts about the Mets, describe myself as a Mets fan in my profile, watch almost every Mets game. Obviously, they are important to me.

No matter what happens next, this has been a good year. (Why does that sound familiar?)

In April, I would have been happy with a winning season. But it wasn't long before I wanted (and expected) more. 

Watching the Mets has been exciting, but also exasperating and nerve-racking. 

Tonight was one of the exasperating nights: the Braves won 6-2.

Many Mets fans are haunted by the 2007 season. The Mets had a seven game lead over the Phillies on September 12. They lost 12 of their last 17 games and missed the postseason. Some of us will never feel secure until the Mets clinch the division.

The Mets lost their last two series to the Marlins and the Yankees. Tomorrow is the rubber game of this series. I'm not afraid of a collapse a la 2007; I don't thing the Nationals can prevail, but I am concerned about the Mets young pitching staff tiring out.

At least the Nationals lost tonight; the Mets magic number is down to six.






Sunday, September 20, 2015

Last Summer Sunday

I've had many weekends off this summer; most students want the weekend off for vacations and college visits. Now that school's back in session, I'll be working many weekends.

But not today. This may be the last Sunday I have off in a while. On Sundays when I don't work, Jeff and I often have a full breakfast. Our go-to breakfast is scrambled eggs--which I made today--and a fruit cup of apples, peaches and raspberries with a touch of Grand Marnier.

I did a few light chores before we left to go to a flea market at Mathews Park.Then we headed to Sedona Tap House for beer school. Today was the second IPA lesson. In addition to the beers, we shared kobe beef sliders and Thai shrimp--delicious.

We came home and sat outside with Spike to end a beautiful summer day.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Accepting

I went through a phase for about four or five weeks when I just felt overwhelmed. I was relatively busy with tutoring students; I had prep work to do for the revised ACT essay and the redesigned SAT. I was concerned with Spike's health issues and worried about finances, especially my seemingly never-ending car expenses.

I kept telling myself that I shouldn't feel overwhelmed. I am lucky and privileged in many ways. I have free time and financial and emotional support. So many people have it worse than I do.

But telling myself how I should or shouldn't feel is pointless. I can't rationalize or talk myself out of my feelings. I just have to feel them. I just have to accept them.

Accepting my feelings was the first step to overcoming them. I still have a lot to do, but feel better about it. I've tried to focus on doing a few things each day. I  did a time log of a week.

Baby steps that I hope will lead me somewhere.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

168 Hours

I think I learned about Laura Vanderkam from a Linked In article. I've linked to her before. Recently I signed up to get a time tip emailed from her every Monday.  Last week I did a time log based on her book, 168 Hours (which I haven't read.) I've decided to track my time for another week. I'll start again on Monday.

I discovered that by tracking my time I'm somewhat more mindful of how long things are taking me. I know some of the things that are eating up my time. I have to be more precise about what to record. Sometimes I combined things: e.g. watched the Mets, made dinner, did dishes.

 This post will help me make sense of my time tracking.

I've tried to track my time before. Nothing much came of it. I hope to do it right this time. 






27

Today is our 27th wedding anniversary.  No getaway this year, but we're going out to dinner. We decided on Harbor Lights Restaurant. We haven't been there in a long time; I remember going there for a Valentine's Day lunch.

At about this time 27 years ago, we were in the middle of our ceremony. I was late because of the limo from hell.

Marrying Jeff was one of the best moves I ever made.


Monday, September 14, 2015

High Tech Frustration Dream

Had my first last night. I couldn't access my voicemail messages from my phone. In reality, that is one of the easiest things to do on my phone.

The dream included other frustrations as well. I bought an ice cream bar and then couldn't find it. I was walking long distances carrying books and a quilt. I don't remember why I didn't or couldn't use my car. I had years-old appointment books with me; I didn't know if I had a tutoring appointment scheduled. If I did, with whom?

There was more to the dream, but it kept coming back to my inability to work my phone--my usual frustration dream foe.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Romesco Sauce

One of the things that I love about Blue Apron is trying new things. I enjoyed the catfish. 

Last week we tried Romesco Sauce. It was awesome: simple and delicious. You roast red pepper, tomato and garlic cloves with olive oil and smoked paprika. After they cool, finely chop them, then add pistachios, vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.

We originally served the sauce over seared steaks with roasted potatoes. We had enough left over to save. Later last week I served it with salmon. It would also be good with chicken. I'll have to try that sometime.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Reunion

I went to a work reunion today. I had run into a former co-worker at the dog park about a year ago. She found my card with my email address, forwarded the invitation to me, and Jeff and I went.

I was one of the few from my division, but I still knew most of the people. It was fun to see people I haven't seen in years, plus a few I'd like to see on an ongoing basis.

Two people told me how our old company was like a family, and that they haven't experienced the same feeling in today's corporate world. I didn't quite get the family feeling myself. For one thing, I didn't work in the original smaller location. I was also a little bitter when my job was eliminated. Other managers saved people who had lost jobs. No one cared enough to save me. Maybe that was my fault, I don't know.

Regardless, it was fun today, and I'd like to go to another reunion.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Magic Number

How long has it been since the term Magic Number meant anything to the Mets? Maybe seven years: in 2008 the Phillies achieved their magic number and took the National League East pennant from the Mets.

17. That's the Mets' magic number to clinch the NL East. Yesterday it was 19. But the Mets beat the Nationals again: the second sweep of the year against Nats. 

Last year the Nats won 15 of 19 games against the Mets; this year Mets have won 10 games and the Nats six.

Is this a changing of the guard?

I'm ready.

Jeff and I will be there at the last game of the season, ready to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Destiny?

Tonight's Mets game was incredible.

Background: The Nationals had closed to four games behind the Mets; the Mets lost the weekend series to the Marlins as the Nats beat up on the Braves.

On Monday, the Mets took the series opener against the Nationals 8-5. Big.

Tonight Matt Harvey started. I was feeling ambivalent about Harvey after the recent controversy about his innings limit. But I figured he could prevail.

Harvey didn't look very good: ultimately giving up seven runs in five-and-a-third innings.

At the top of the seventh inning, the Nats were up 7-1. But these Mets are never out of the game. They tied the game against three Nats relievers in the seventh. In the eighth, pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a home run against Nats closer Jonathan Papelbon. That was all closer Jeurys Familia needed to gain his 38th save.

I heard a Nats announcer last week claim that the Mets were scared of the Nats. I beg to differ. This game could be the nail in the Nats' coffin.

Back to School

Beer school, that is.

We attended the first session, but then missed a few. We returned this Sunday for Massachusetts beers. Unfortunately, I got stuck in traffic returning from a tutoring appointment and was about a half hour late.

I didn't get detention, but my punishment was worse: I missed three beer tastings.

Monday, August 31, 2015

In Praise of Routines

Routines have derogatory connotations. People are encouraged to break out of their routines. Routines are dull, boring, unsexy.

I've found that I need routines. I work part time, and don't have a normal work schedule. It changes day to day. That means I should have plenty of time to work out, clean, cook gourmet meals and write.

Right?

Well, no. It doesn't work that way--at least for me. I need to make plans and schedules for myself. Even if I can't complete those plans and schedules, I accomplish more. 

Spike's morning routine has changed, which means mine has also. He now needs to go out first thing in the morning--sometimes as early as 5:30. Most of the time I go back to bed to catch a few more minutes of sleep--or 1.5 hours if he gets me up at 5:30. But this can be an opportunity to jump start my day.

I was intrigued by this article that I read two weeks ago. Today I tried the lemon water (good) and did 15 minutes of exercise before I ate breakfast. I didn't follow all of the other suggestions--I'm on my laptop right now. But it's a start. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Today's Holidays

August 26 is National Dog Day. I'm all for honoring dogs. Spike is an integral part of our lives. Almost every day, I read a story of how a rescue dog saved a person or family. Dogs rule!

Today is also Women's Equality Day in honor of women (finally) getting the right to vote. I was a bit confused because I just wrote about the anniversary of women's suffrage. Apparently, August 18th was the day the amendment was ratified; today was the day that the amendment was certified. Hey, more celebration is always good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"I've got my crossroads feelings"--Mets Edition

It's been a wild season: exciting, frustrating, up, down.

August started well with two consecutive series sweeps. The Mets stumbled against the Rays, but then sweep the Rockies in a four game series. Momentum?

The Pirates came to Citi Field on Friday. After the Mets lost the first game, broadcaster Keith Hernandez said something like Mets fans, you really didn't think that the Mets would win the rest of the games, did you?

No, that would be ridiculous. But this was a big series for the Mets, and they were swept. 

Two teams have swept their season series from the Mets: the Pirates and the Cubs. The two teams leading the National League Wild Card race are the same Pirates and Cubs. The Mets are six games behind the Cubs and eight games behind the Pirates.

If the Mets are going to realize their dream of a post-season, they better win the division. They were lucky that the Nationals have been playing badly; the Mets are leading by four games.  But, oh, what could have been.

The Mets pulled out a win tonight against the Orioles 5-3, despite a scary bottom of the ninth. Let's go Mets!

Note on the title of this post.

Happy Anniversary Women Voters!

It's been 95 years since the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was ratified. We don't honor the suffragists enough for their hard work and sacrifice.

Thank you.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

More on Summer (and Other) Songs

Sunday's Times has a summer song article here. I didn't realize that the Lovin Spoonful's Summer in the City was the New York summer song. I have my own memories of that song described in this post. Funny, the time when my dad first heard Summer in the City was when he was driving down to Florida with my brother, aunt and cousin. This was the same summer when I had gone to Florida with my aunt, uncle and cousin that I recently mentioned here. My father, brother and I returned home a few weeks later.

I have other music memories of that Florida trip. We didn't like my cousin Barbara's album selections. My cousin David bought two albums in Florida when we were there: Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, and a Paul Revere and the Raiders album. I think it was Midnight Ride. The timing is right, even if I don't remember all the songs. We listened to them over and over. We even dedicated A Most Peculiar Man to Barbara's boyfriend Andy.

The Times article inspired me to play a few summer songs, Roger Miller's In the Summertime and my favorite, Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone. Soon, I'll be singing this.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Blue Apron Experiment

I saw several commercials for Blue Apron and was intrigued.Then a friend from the dog park mentioned that she and her boyfriend have it and like it. She also offered us a referral which gave us three complimentary meals.

One of the first things Jeff noticed was that the packaging wasn't environmentally friendly: lots of little plastic bottles and baggies of knickknacks: flour, spices, tomato paste, etc. Each package of six meals (three meals for two people) comes with two large "ice" packs.

I was underwhelmed with the first meal: cod and soba noodles with eggplant. When I was away for a few days, Jeff enjoyed the Chicken Milanese and Vadouvan-Spiced Lamb Burgers. We skipped the following week. Up next: Steaks & Roasted Potatoes: good but simple. The first meal I cooked was Mexican-Style Chicken Tortas. They are basically upscale sandwiches: good but a bit too complicated. I ended up with several dirty prep dishes and feeling a little frazzled.

I reviewed the six recipe cards we'd received. The recipes feature lots of eggplant, squash and zucchini. I get it; they're in season, but we're not fans. Three recipes required breading: too time-consuming and messy for me on a normal basis. I need more prep time than the cards indicated. I figured Blue Apron wasn't right for me.

Then I made the Crispy Catfish. I prepped the fish as instructed. The side dish is a Sicilian Eggplant Caponata. I made variations: more pepper and much less eggplant. I added a side salad of romaine and kale. It was delicious--why hadn't I tried catfish before?

That reminded me of one of the reasons we were intrigued by Blue Apron: an easy way to try new foods and recipes. We'll probably go to a delivery every two or three weeks based  on our plans and Blue Apron's menus. I'd prefer to get two meals for two instead of three for two, but that's not an option.

Tomorrow I plan to make the Chicken Milanese (saved the recipe card) but with my own sides.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Recent Restaurant Round-Up: Norwalk

Rincon Taqueria: I remember driving by this place a few times, noticing a new taco place, then later forgetting where it was. Then I read this review in The New York Times. Jeff and I made it for lunch about a month ago.

The same spot hosted various sandwich/deli places over the years; I've been to a few of them. Rincon elevated the space. A half wall separates the dining area from the counter. Mexican tiles line a few walls. It was simple, but cute.

The menu was also simple: tacos, empanadas, chicken quesadillas, burritos, soups. We tried the first three. They were very good. We also got a complimentary small plate of rice, black beans and spices--the best I've ever had.

Sedona Taphouse: We've been anticipating this place for over a year. It's located right down the hill from us--about a three block walk--and boasts 500 craft beers. We went to the Grand Opening and back Sunday for Beer School.

We headed down for "happier hour" on Grand Opening Monday--two weeks ago. Beers were $5.00, as were several appetizers: various sliders, tacos and flatbreads. We tried the pulled pork sliders and tacos. As we ordered another beer, I said something to Jeff that if we kept eating and drinking, I wouldn't want to cook. We decided to stay for dinner. Monday is Steak Out for Charity: $10.00 steak night with $5.00 going to a local charity. We had Black Angus flatiron steak with garlic whipped potatoes. Delicious.

We returned this Sunday afternoon for a complimentary Beer School class on Belgium beers: some were familiar, but many were new. After we tasted nine beers, we tried a few more menu items: Wagyu beef sliders, the Italiano and BBQ Chicken flat bread pizzas.

Sedona Taphouse has been a great find for us and for our neighborhood. We'll definitely be returning.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Back Home

Let's hear it in song by Karla Bonoff, Simon and Garfunkel and Carole King.

I got home Thursday and it was bittersweet. The morning at Mercy Center looked so beautiful, I longed for another day. But I also missed Jeff and Spike.

I had a tutoring session on Friday; that student is in Italy now. Another is in Hawaii: I'm jealous of them.

I have the weekend off and I'm enjoying that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Memorable Lines: 1945's Noir Classic Detour

I think Jeff and I watched Detour years ago, but it didn't make much of an impression on us. This time around, when I watched it as part of the Summer of Darkness, I watched it more closely.

Detour is the quintessential B picture noir, with a small budget and tight shooting schedule. Errol Morris said, "It has an unparalleled quality of despair, totally unrelieved by hope."

The movie includes these great lines:
 "Life's like a ballgame. You got to take a swing at whatever comes along before you wake up and find it's the ninth inning."

I may be prejudiced because I am a baseball fan, but I think baseball expressions and metaphors are rich and beautiful.

Mercy Musings

It's taken me about 15 minutes to log in to the Internet which has definitely disrupted the mellow calm I've been feeling this morning.

This is our last full day here. Last night I thought I might be ready to go home today. Now I'm glad for another day.

I slept much better last night. Woke up early again and  journaled. Next, I showered, dressed, got coffee and walked around the building and the grounds. At eight, I had a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, French toast, more coffee and orange juice. I walked the labyrinth and sampled the water views from several wooden benches.

Now I'm sitting on my private porch. I guess people are busy in programs because I've only seen two other people outside.

Jeff sent me a wonderful email last night. It included the lines:

"It is more important to enjoy yourself than to write down words on a piece of paper. Who knows maybe you just need to stop thinking for a bit so you can start thinking again."

Last night I was doubting my writing--wondering why I did it--wondering if I am a writer. Darlene said something to the effect that by virtue of asking the question, I'm a writer.

I revised about 400 words and wrote about 600 yesterday. As I was writing, I thought that I had too much description, too much exposition, not enough action. It needed so much work.

But that's the whole point of the shitty first draft. You have to get something down first before you cut, edit and revise. I'm on my way.




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mets in First!

With yesterday's 12-1 win over the Marlins, the Mets took over first place in the division, for the first time since June 19. The Nationals are one game back.

No matter what happens next, this has been a fun season for the Mets. If my notes are correct, they've only dipped below .500 twice this year. The 11-game winning streak was exciting. After weeks with virtually no hitting, the team made two deals before the trading deadline and called up a young prospect.

We're not going to wait for next year. Let's go for it now.

First Night in a New Place...

means a lousy night's sleep for me. I've been aware of this since I traveled down to Florida with my aunt, uncle and cousins to visit another cousin. I've found I often have a sense of dread arriving at a new place after dark.

This time, I only had the problem sleeping. I got up at six, despite feeling exhausted. I sat on my private porch and wrote in my journal. I had opened all the windows last night and it was cool in the morning.

It is warmer now as I sit on the porch and write this post. The ceiling fan helps. Unfortunately, I'm seeing glare on my monitor and a reflection of myself, which is distracting. It's hard to use my mouse and see my cursor.

Oh the humanity.

I've been thinking about the difference between writing on paper and on a monitor. The monitor is more practical, more forgiving about misspellings and other errors. I suppose there is something more elemental in using paper and pen. At some point, I'll head outside with a notebook and see what develops. It was at Mercy Center about 25 years ago at I embraced my poetry.

I arrived with a writing plan of sorts. Since my blogging has been so sporadic--okay absent--for most of July, I will write at least one post each day. I will also work on a piece I'm calling "The Last Retreat," a fictionalized account of my retreat with Darlene last year. I wrote an entry when I was there, but couldn't post it: Internet troubles--one of the many annoyances of that location.

This year will be better.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mercy Center

I arrived at Mercy Center around 4:15 today. My room is quite nice, with a private bath and a private porch and a water view from the porch. Darlene is next door. We have the only two rooms on this corridor. We are next to a kitchenette area with sink, tea supplies and a small refrigerator. We are close to one of the meeting rooms but no one's been using it today.

It feels very odd to be here: familiar touches but also many changes. I guess I've been here about ten times before. Today's my first visit since the renovation. There's much less room for large groups of overnight guests. The dining room crowd was rather small.

It is eerily quiet. Some people are here on a silent retreat. But I doubt it ever gets really rowdy here. It's 10:20, so not exactly early.

This is the only writing I've done since I got here. Hope to jump start something.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hello August

I had a busy July. As soon as I write that, I feel I need to qualify that statement. I still worked well under 40 hours a week. But I was always switching gears from teaching from tutoring to training, from SAT to ACT to WPA docents. During the middle three weeks in July, I didn't work out, didn't blog, rarely wrote in my journal.

I finished my class on the 24th and my student docent training on the 28th. Last week was quiet.

Next week's my vacation. I'm going back to Mercy Center for a writing retreat with my friend Darlene. I'm guessing it's been at least six years since my last visit. That was my only time in SeaScape.

We'll be in the main house. We requested two specific rooms, but have no idea if we got them. I think we put our request in early, so maybe we'll luck out.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

U-S-A !

Jeff and I don't watch soccer often, but we do watch the World Cup. Today we watched the end of the Mets-Dodgers game before we turned on the final women's match. Amazingly (pun intended) the Mets took the series with a big 8-0 win today on a second strong pitching performance by Steven Matz.

When we switched to the World Cup about five minutes into the game, the USA was already up two goals to none over Japan. Shocking. The US team ultimately won 5-2.

All in all, a good sports day.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The King is Dead...

Long live the King.

Jeff and I don't have many Fourth of July traditions. But we do watch Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island.

Today Matt Stonie defeated eight-time champion Joey Chestnut, 62 to 60 dogs.

I was intrigued by a sign: "Free Kobi. Let him eat."

An annoyance: ESPN can't be bothered to show the women's competition. They only show the last two minutes.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Miscellaneous July Musings

Last Friday (okay--not July yet) I realized that I was putting on make-up to go to the dog park. (I did the same yesterday.) I wear make-up more often than not, but not usually on a day that consists of going to the gym, cleaning and going to the dog park. But dog park Fridays are more like cocktail parties. They could end up with us going out to dinner, so I figured make-up was in order.

This week Thursday seemed like a Friday because Friday was the official 4th of July holiday. Eight of us met at the dog park yesterday because Norwalk's fireworks were tonight.

July will be a busy month for me. I'm teaching a three-hour class each weekday morning for the next three weeks. I have tutoring obligations for Monday and Friday afternoons, possibly Wednesdays, and docent training obligations for Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I mentioned how busy this could be for me, my mother snarked that I would just be like people with a normal job. Okay she has a point, but she didn't take into account all the prep and travel time. Plus it's annoying to hear this from a woman who hasn't had to work in 40 years, and has no idea of today's job market.

Some great lines from the first few episodes of "Orange is the New Black":

"Nice is for cowards and democrats," says Red.

"That's why you women end up in prison because you suck at crime," says corrupt guard whose name I don't remember.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's Official

I heard today that I've been recertified to teach the redesigned SAT.  As I wrote earlier this week, I figured I would be recertified, but it's nice to know it's official.

As an added bonus, I also got word that I passed a quiz to complete an ACT training update based mostly on upcoming changes to the essay.

Hooray for me.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Matz at the Bat

Steven Matz made his Mets major league debut today. There was a lot of talk that what the Mets needed wasn't another pitcher, but a hitter.

Today Matz gave them both: strong pitching as well as a record setting performance with four RBI's.

The Mets are on a four game winning streak, swept the Reds and are now three games over .500.

Can I believe again?

TCM Summer of Darkness

I signed up to take a free online course, Summer of Darkness, via TCM (my favorite channel) and the Canvas Network on Film Noir. It started on June 1, and I'm woefully behind.

I get emails Monday through Thursday with short clips from selected films and some thoughts. TCM airs the full movies and more each Friday. Students can comment on Twitter and/or TCM message boards. There's some additional reading and video lectures.

Students can certificates for completing the class if they take quizzes. I'm working my way through the emails, films, reading and lectures, trying to catch up.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SAT Re-Certification and Training Weekend

I have the weekend off, a stark contrast to last weekend when I had  RSAT--redesigned SAT training--for two full days. I also had a lot of prep to do beforehand. We have four new books and a new test (no, I didn't do them all.) I'm sure more materials and changes are on the way. It was an intense weekend, but it was also fun.

The RSAT doesn't debut until next March, but the redesigned PSAT will rear its ugly head this October. We have to be prepared.

I haven't heard officially that I "passed." That's slightly annoying, but I'm sure I would have heard already if I had messed up.



Friday, June 26, 2015

Posting Problems

A more precise total would be Not-Posting Problems. 20 days since my last entry. Why haven't I been writing?

I can't explain it. I've been relatively busy, but not crazy busy, so that's not it. I know that each day without a post puts posting further back in my mind. Then by the time I think about posting--I'm too tired or lazy.

I've started about four posts when I haven't been posting. Ah, that's it. It's the finishing that's the problem. That could be my six word novel mantra. Yes, I can finish six-words. Apparently not short blog posts.

I'll have to try harder.

Wonder if anyone missed me.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Fourth Visit's the Charm

For the first time this year, I made it to the gym four times in a week. Ideally, this would be a common occurrence and not a rarity. But for now, it's an accomplishment. Hooray for me.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

DP Thursday

This afternoon Spike and I went to the dog park. It was a beautiful day: sunny, cool breeze, flowery scent. It was a great time.
          I need to remember how much I enjoy these visits, More importantly, I
          need to remember how much these visits mean to Spike.
       

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy Anniversary Johan and the Mets

Three years ago, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history.

Many other pitchers had come close with one-hitters, but Johan remains the only Met to go that distance.

I hope this game didn't short circuit the rest of his career, as some have claimed.

Who will be next?

On Time Management and To-Do Lists

A recent post describes a week derailed. I realize how much more my week would have been affected if Spike had been a child rather than a dog.

I wrote last year that I can't expect what to expect.

These thoughts are swirling in my mind. As I write this, I realize that I won't get to bed early, which was my plan about an hour ago. But when I was doing the dishes, I realized that I needed to write. I've been remiss in blogging; my last post took me several days to finish. Even if no one's reading, I'm better when I write.

After my derailed week and feeling wiped out by a severe allergy season, I started this week by trying to be focused and goal oriented. Today my goals were to go to the gym, make carrot ginger soup, clean the kitchen (maybe the bath too) and tutor.

But it occurred to me that today was a perfect opportunity to make chili. It was rainy and cool and I didn't have to work until 4. So, I changed my plans. After my workout, I stopped at the grocery store to get two cans of crushed tomatoes. I had everything else I needed to make a double batch of flank steak chili. The result is that the kitchen floor is still dirty, but I have more food options for the next two weeks. We had chili for dinner tonight with a salad. I froze about half of the remaining chili and have a few lunches or dinners of chili in the frig. Tomorrow we'll try the carrot ginger soup at dinner. I also froze almost half of that. I think the sacrifice of a clean kitchen floor was worth it.

Tomorrow is my late night; I work from 4 to 9. I need to prep for a tutoring student and my ACT class.Thinking about a pasta salad for dinner along with the carrot ginger soup. I should be able to clean the kitchen floor too.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Jeyne Substitutions

The show-runners of Game of Thrones made many changes from the the books of A Song of Ice and Fire. Changes are necessary because of the different art forms. Of course, Martin's books are nothing if not sprawling; deletions and consolidations of characters and plot lines are also required.

I've probably liked more changes than I disliked.  But I reacted more to the changes I disliked.

Let's get to the Jeynes.

Jeyne Westerling appeared out of nowhere in A Storm of Swords. She's very vague. So is Robb, since he's not a point of view character. But Jeyne is removed from the action twice over. There is no point-of-view character anywhere near when she and Robb marry. The story is that Jeyne comforts Robb after the "deaths" of Bran and Rickon. Robb marries her to protect her honor after comforting leads to sex. She does not attend Edmure's and Roslyn's wedding.

Apparently Jeyne wasn't exceptional enough for the show-runners. They created a  special woman who isn't like the others: Talisa. a foreign beauty and a feisty healer. I remember an interview with George R.R. Martin. He was discussing the problems with feisty peasant girls in medieval fantasies. He said the feisty peasant girls would be raped. Talisa was a high-born woman, not a peasant. But otherwise, she seems the epitome of the character Martin mocked. At best, she's snarky with Robb at their first meeting. I'd characterize her as disrespectful and rude. Robb is intrigued, but not everyone would be so forgiving. Talisa is lucky Roose Bolton wasn't in command that day. He has no problem with rape. At least, Bolton would force her to work only on the Northmen and restrict her movements.

Robb's marriage to Talisa is much more short-sighted than his marriage to Jeyne. I understand how a teenage boy could break his vow to the Freys--he is trying to live up to his ideals as an honorable man. TV Robb--a grown man--is just selfishly stupid, instead of honorably stupid.

I've written about the Red Wedding here. The fetus stabbing bothered me for several reasons, especially the idea that the death of fetuses is worse than the death of live persons. I get the idea of potential innocent life and the next generation of Starks, but it's hard for me to divorce the death of the Stark fetus from today's political climate.

Then there's Jeyne Poole. Jeyne is Sansa's best friend. According to this wiki, she appears in Game of Thrones. I remember a scene from the Winterfell banquet in an early Season One episode, but don't remember Jeyne appearing again. What if Jeyne had been an example of a little person hurt by the battling lords, instead of Ros? Maybe Jeyne wouldn't be believable as one of  Littlefinger's top aides, but she would have been a true innocent hurt by the war.

Instead the show-runners ignore Jeyne and replace her with Sansa as Ramsay's wife/victim. I was shocked when I heard this. At the end of Season Four, Sansa appeared ready to take her place as a player apprentice if not a player herself. She had learned how to read people and how to hide her own feelings when necessary.

Despite the show-runners' assertions that she is now pro-active, I think she was played by Littlefinger. He even smirked when she agreed to go to Winterfell to marry Ramsay Bolton. Believe me, I tried to convince myself that it wasn't a smirk, but a smile of pride. It was a smirk.

I get the appeal of replacing Jeyne with Sansa. As many have noted, it raises the stakes; Sansa's story stalls at the Vale.

But Sansa is not Jeyne. While it may have happened off-screen (or off-page to be more accurate) Jeyne is a broken woman. She lost her family as and when Sansa did, but she had no name (or brother with an army) to protect her. She had no hope. Littlefinger sent her to one of his whore houses and who knows exactly what she was subjected to.

However rough Sansa had it, however many times she felt alone and frightened, she had the name of Stark. There were some that respected that name.

There are still some that respect that name. If the Boltons need a Stark to legitimize their claim to the North, they can't afford for Ramsay to mistreat/abuse that Stark. Characters in A Song of Ice and Fire were angry enough about the fake Arya--and many knew she was a fake. Abuse of a real Sansa would create more anger.

Sansa has already dealt with the attentions of a sadist in the first three seasons--Joffrey. It's a step back for her to be in the same position again, even if the show-runners try to sell at as Sansa being pro-active.

They're full of shit.

I cursed Benioff and Weiss as I watched Sansa's rape. I considered turning off the show for good. I couldn't do it. Claire McCaskill did. Rhiannon won't recap it any longer. I'll miss her recaps and analyses.

Going forward, I'm not sure what I'll do. Each season, I've felt less psyched for Game of Thrones. It's still must see TV for me. Damn, I watched a season marathon on Memorial Day. The rape scene was as bad as I remembered. I hate rape as a cheap tool of empowerment or revenge motive. I can't expect much from Benioff and Weiss, but I still hope for something better.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Week Derailed

On Sunday when I thought about the upcoming week, I told myself I would have to plan and be well-organized to get everything done. Things ended up okay though getting here was tough.

On Sunday night, Spike's "stomach" problems took a turn for the worse. I had to treat carpet stains, do an unexpected load of laundry and take Spike to the vet on Monday. I already had to drive to a Stamford pharmacy to get Spike's Chinese herbs, so half of my day was gone before I knew it. On Tuesday I went to Motor Vehicles to get my license renewed; that was about two hours out of my life. I also tutored or taught every day.

I did get a break--one of my deadlines was extended from today to Tuesday. Surprisingly, I have free time this weekend to work on that deadline. A few tutoring students decided to wait until the fall instead of taking June tests.

I just need to keep plugging.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rebound

It's been a few weeks since I've written about the Mets. During their magical early season winning streak, I wanted to praise them daily. Then it ended. I really wished for one more win. Then the Mets would have established a team record winning streak.

I was annoyed that it was the Yankees who stopped them. But at least that loss didn't hurt the Mets in the NL East standings.

Unfortunately, the Mets have played pretty poorly since then. They lost series to the Yankees, Marlins and Nationals. They won the next two series against the Orioles and the Phillies. But then the Mets were swept in a four game series at Wrigley Field. They returned home only to be shut out 0-7 by the lowly Brewers (now 13-24.) I couldn't even finish watching Friday night's game. It was just too much.

When we turned on the game last night, the Mets were leading 1-0. So far, so good. Then the Mets exploded for a 10-run fourth inning. They eventually won 14-1, giving Jacob deGrom a much needed win and a season record of 4-4. deGrom got in on the offense himself, going three-for-three.

As I write this, the Mets are up 5-0 in the top of the fifth. They are tops in the National League East, leading the Nationals by a half-game. Several players remain on the DL, including Captain David Wright and starting catcher Travis d'Arnaud. The Cardinals are heading into town for four games: this week will be the biggest challenge of the season to-date.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Lovely Day...

Today was a good day. Why? There was no great news today. Instead, it was some good little things that added up. I thought it was important to acknowledge the good things. Usually, it's the small bad things that bring me down.

The weather cooled down. Monday and Tuesday were warm and humid. I didn't want to complain about heat about our bitter winter, but I was happy when it cooled down. Spike took me for a long walk. As I've said before, that's a good sign that he's feeling well.

Then I had a great workout for the second consecutive day. I used free weights both days. I then cooked and prepped meals. I made lentil salad and carrot jicama salad.

The biggest downside of the day was when Spike refused to get into the car to go to the dog park.

Silly boy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Math Madness and Reading Rigor

The redesigned SAT will be launched in March 2016. Because I'm an active tutor, I'm among the first group in my company to be trained for the new test. I'm glad because the live training will be in the second half of June, a traditionally slow time. Unfortunately the flip side is that I have to take a redesigned SAT practice test now when I'm busy with SAT and ACT students prepping for tests in early June.

I mistakenly thought this test would be relatively easy for me because I'm already certified to teach the ACT. The writing is similar to the ACT, but the rest is different. The new SAT math is tougher than the ACT's. Apparently, the reading is also tough: I've only finished one passage.That means SAT reading is on my agenda for today. And the redesigned essay.

What fun.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hooray for Spike!

Today Spike is 14-and-a-half. I taught a class tonight, so took him to the dog park around lunchtime. It was a nice day. Spike seemed reluctant to get into the car, but was happy to get to Taylor Farm.

I took a few pictures of him with my cell phone, but wasn't happy with any of them. So here's a favorite taken at Taylor Farm a few years ago.



It's especially nice to celebrate Spike's half-way day this year. There were times when we questioned whether he would make it.

Happy Half-Way Day Spike. We love you.

Monday, May 4, 2015

DPF and Summer Clothes

Jeff was working from home on Friday; I was finishing an editing job. As 5 PM drew near, we talked about going to the dog park. I was hesitant--I still had some work to do, but decided to go. I had already picked up a rotisserie chicken for dinner, and Jeff agreed to make the sides.

We saw a few friends there who decided they couldn't wait any longer for our first dog park Friday. The weather wasn't ideal--somewhere around 50 degrees--but we needed to kick off the season.We had some wine and caught up on the news.

This morning I couldn't find a blouse I wanted to wear. I realized that I had put it with the summer clothes in the closet of the second bedroom. So I moved heavier long sleeved blouses and pants into the second bedroom, and brought back the short sleeved and sleeveless blouses.

Winter is finally banished.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Roses

I received an unexpected surprise last Saturday: a dozen roses from the mother of one of my tutoring students. 



I took this picture after a few days: I had trimmed the stems and placed the roses in two different vases. 

I don't usually get gifts from my tutoring students. In the past, I've received a few gifts around the Christmas holidays. I appreciate them all, but the unexpected gifts are the best.  

Busy

I've been thinking about how busy I am lately.

I have several tutoring students and I'm teaching an ACT class. I have to finish a WPA project for the Arts Commission. I'm dealing with health insurance and income tax problems. I'm studying for the revised SAT, and need to take a new test.  

Then there are all the normal day-to-day to-do's: preparing meals, shopping, doing chores, paying bills. I also want to work out, do yoga, and, you know, blog and write.

Then I listen to my students. Each of them listed a litany of tests, essays, research papers and projects in  a very short time period. 

I'm not so busy after all. It's all relative. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

11 Straight: 10-0 at Home

The Mets have been awesome. They have the best record in baseball and have been perfect in their first home stand.

The Mets also have an 11 game winning streak, tying a franchise record. The '86 Mets also had an 11 game winning streak in April, and started their season 13-3.

Tomorrow, the Mets head up to the Bronx for the first of two subway series against the Yankees. Let's keep things going.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

RIP Rosie the Riveter Model

A few minutes ago, Jeff told me that Mary Doyle Keefe, the original model for Rosie the Riveter, died at age 92. Reading the story on CNN, I realized that I'd never seen the original Norman Rockwell image. I know the second image in the story with the caption, "We Can Do It!"

The image and idea of Rosie will live on.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

11-3

This is the best Mets start in history; they had the same start in 1986. Is it an omen?

I believe.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eight in a Row, Seven Straight at Home, But...

It's been fun to watch the Mets lately. They won opening day and their first series against Washington. They lost the next series in Atlanta, but won the finale, which started their winning streak, including their first four-game sweep of the Marlins.

It's only been two weeks, but two weeks of winning beats two weeks of losing or mediocre play. Even when they placed David Wright on the DL, the Mets didn't miss a beat; Eric Campbell has subbed admirably.

On to today's game. We lost two players, hit by balls. The first was pitcher Jerry Blevins, hit by a comebacker. He still managed to throw out the hitter, scooping the ball into his glove, and tossing it to first base. Then catcher Travis d'Arnaud was hit by a pitch.

Can we hold on? I'm a believer.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mets in First

I thought about writing a post with this title on Opening Day, but refrained. I was happy enough that the Mets had returned to their winning ways.

The Mets now have sole possession of first place it the National League East with an 8-3 record and a six-game winning streak. Things are looking good.

Let's go Mets!

Daffodils

Earlier this week on a walk with Spike I noticed the first daffodils in bloom. Yesterday, I picked up two bunches of daffodils at Trader Joe's. I selected flowers with closed buds, hoping they would last longer. They opened beautifully today.


 
 
 
Every time I look at them, I smile. A great value at $3.00.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jeopardy: Second Try

Tonight I took the Jeopardy online test for a second time; the first was over two years ago.

The test seemed much harder this time. There were a few questions that I just didn't know, a few more that I didn't remember in the 15 second limit: e.g. catalytic converter.

I thought I did pretty well two years ago. This time, I think I blew it.

I just have to wait and hope.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What's Cooking?

I picked up rack of lamb about a week ago to try a lamb recipe with mint pesto. It was easy. Season the racks with salt and pepper, brown the lamb and then roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, cut the lamb into chops, and spread the pesto on them. So much better than that artificial mint jelly.

I served the lamb with baked sweet potatoes and a kale/romaine salad with carrots and red peppers. We also enjoyed a pinotage called Six Hats.

Everything was delicious.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Five Years

My father died five years ago today.

He hadn't been feeling well, but his symptoms sounded like a reaction to new medication. I still remember the call from the hospital: my disbelief and shock.

If he were still around, we would be talking baseball--excited about Opening Week--hopeful for the Mets (me) and the Phillies (him.) I wish I could have that conversation.



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Signs of Spring

Two weeks into spring and we're still hearing about snow in weather forecasts. Winter doesn't want us to escape its icy grasp. But things are looking better.

On Monday, the landscapers were working on the grounds; Tuesday was the last day of the Winter's Farmers Market; Spike visited dog parks several times this week; we saw a Mister Softee truck on Saturday.

And then there's baseball. We watched several spring training games, and the Mets played very well. I know it means nothing, but I find it hopeful. Opening Day is tomorrow. That's when it counts.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What's Cooking?

Last fall, Jeff got some mint pesto at the farmer's market. We weren't sure what to do with it, so we froze it.

Recently I googled recipes for mint pesto. Many involved lamb, which we don't have. Plus I have to be in the mood for lamb. So I checked out chicken-mint pesto recipes, and found this, a variation on another recipe. Then I made a few changes to the variation of the original.

We didn't have arugula (plus Jeff doesn't like it.)  I used the full amounts of wine, lemon and garlic, but half the bean and chicken. The full amount of lemon was a mistake, and I should have used more chicken. I used canned beans instead of dried beans and reduced the cooking time. Because I reduced the cooking time, I browned the chicken before baking it.

It was still very good, although a bit too lemony. I expected the mint pesto to be sweeter than it was. I'll make adjustments next time.