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.


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.