Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Still as a Bunch of Crap, I Imagine"

I've been keeping a daily journal pretty consistently for over 25 years. I've accumulated many notebooks over that time. I don't have the room or the inclination to keep them all. So periodically I read through some old journals, save what I think is interesting or important and toss the rest.

In the past few weeks, I've re-read about 12 notebooks. Some were regular-day-to-day entries, some were written on trips, one was a small journal that I tucked into my pocketbook for train trips to New York City. 

The title of this post is the last line dated July 22, 2010 in one of those journals. I was speculating how the journal would read years later. I was right.

My journals are modeled after morning pages, and morning pages aren't supposed to be art. There's nothing wrong with throwing them away.  I've threw away most of mine.

This time around, I decided to keep only three of the journals: chronicling trips to Phoenix, Portland and Tuscon, Bisbee and Tombstone.

I had hoped for more. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Canine Visitor

This morning I was doing some SAT questions when a neighbor stopped by. She was going to the hospital and asked us to watch her dog. I was happy to help, but it was a bit overwhelming. She thought she was seriously ill; she was crying; she was worrying about who would care for her dog in the long term. She brought down a pet cart, several blankets, coats, a bed, food. She gave us some cash.

She was released from the hospital in a few hours and took her dog back home. I'm glad it was a short visit for her sake.

It was weird for us to have a dog here that wasn't Spike. We went for a walk around the block, and I realized it had been seven months since I had taken such a walk with Spike. I miss those walks. We miss Spike.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What's for Dinner?

One of our Christmas presents was a gift certificate for Plated. It's a similar service to Blue Apron.

Plated is a little more expensive per meal than Blue Apron. You can opt for two servings of two meals per week. The Blue Apron minimum order is two servings of three meals. Both allow you to skip weeks.

We've only had two weeks of Plated dinners. Our second week's meals arrived this weekend. Friday night Jeff made Greek beef and lamb tacos with pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds. We were intrigued by the idea of pomegranates and enjoyed the tacos. The side dish was a cucumber-tomato salad.

On Saturday, I prepared roasted carrots and burrata with bulgur and blood orange served over arugula. I was especially interested in the roasted carrots. I had clipped a recipe for roasted carrots and avocado over a year ago but never got around to making it. This version was tasty. But I would have tweaked the recipe a bit--less burrata and arugula and more vinaigrette.

Last week's Blue Apron entrees included seared salmon with salsa verde, buffalo chicken sandwiches and Korean tteok and spicy pork ragu. We eat salmon often, so this selection wasn't anything special. I don't care for the Blue Apron sandwich or burger selections. I prefer their meals to be a little more exotic. The Korean tteok and spicy pork ragu was the highlight by far. Tteok are tiny steamed rice cakes. We loved them with the pork, bok choy and spices.

Discovering new foods and combinations is the highlight of these services. We've enjoyed a lot more hits than misses.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Day

Can't help but think that we're paying for a mild fall and winter to date. We've known about this storm all week--we just weren't sure how it would break.

I canceled two tutoring appointments today. I wasn't tempted to go out because both students have months before their actual tests. I feel bad for the kids whose SAT's were canceled today.

A few years ago, there was a big snowstorm the day before the SAT's. It was bad enough to cancel schools, but not bad enough to cancel the SAT the following day. The students got an extra day to study. Sweet.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Today was similar to last Monday. Other than going to the gym, I stayed in and did some household things. Last Monday, it was cooking. Today I did laundry and did some cleaning and organizing in our second bedroom.

Jeff's way ahead of me. He worked most of Saturday and a good part of today. He got rid of a lot of old paperwork--a few garbage bags full of shreddings. He's even open to throwing things out.

One of my problems is that I get easily distracted. I looked through books and notebooks and organized my art supplies. At least I consolidated things, filled half a bag with trash and another half with recycling.

But with Jeff and I both committed, we'll get this room back in shape in no time.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ten Good Things

I'm giving myself a challenge--to list 10 good things about this week.

1.  I've been getting decent nights' sleep (still need more, but if I do wake up in the middle of the night, I can go back to sleep.)

2.  I've had a good exercise routine--worked out daily since last Monday--three gym visits and three work-outs here.

3.   On Monday, I made some vegetable broth, chili and a very good pumpkin-apple-carrot soup.

4.  Jeff and I met a cute beagle on Wednesday--and she'll soon be eligible for adoption.

5.  I won the lottery (only $8, but I am a winner.)

6.  I finished a request explaining why I should get a raise (at least the first draft that I gave to my manager for feedback.)

7.  I started a docent project that I've been putting off for about two months.

8.  Jeff started a major cleaning project in the second bedroom and inspired me.

9.  We had a delicious dinner via Blue Apron: Korean Tteok and Spicy Pork "Ragu."

10. I resumed blogging.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Books on my Nightstand: Revisited

In October, I listed the books that I was reading. I finished the last one about two weeks ago.

Writing a Woman's Life is more of a scholarly work than the books I usually read. Reading it before bed is not the best way to approach this book. I had to go back and reread things. I enjoyed the discussion of Dorothy Sayers.

Rereading Film Noir The Dark Side of the the Screen was fun because I had been watching films noir this summer. But I skimmed it more than carefully read it.

I also skimmed  Hollywood Be Thy Name The Warner Brothers Story. The main thing I took from the book is that Jack Warner was an ass. It didn't have as much information about the stars (especially Bette Davis) as I would have liked.

I didn't care for Simply Southern. I stuck with it because it was a gift from my mother-in-law. Plus the author inscribed the book to me. The author's "good old girl" persona bugged me; the worst insult she could come up with was to call someone a Yankee.

Big Girls Don't Cry was the best of the bunch. It's a fascinating analysis of key women in the 2008 race: Hillary Clinton, Michele Obama, Sarah Palin and Elizabeth Edwards among others. I'll make sure to read more of Rebecca Traister's work.

Time to pick the next batch of books. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Powerball Dreaming

I don't usually play the lottery, but I'll occasionally buy a ticket when the jackpot is big. $1.586 billion is pretty big.

Jeff and I each got $20 worth of tickets in two separate stores in adjacent strip malls a few hours before the drawing. We didn't talk much about what we would do with our winnings. We had fantasized about such things years ago. We mentioned buying a place in Litchfield County and maybe a winery. I said I wanted to travel.

Early this morning, I knew we weren't among the big winners. But I heard there was a million dollar winner in Connecticut. It wasn't me, but I didn't know where Jeff's tickets were. He could have been a winner. He wasn't.

But two of my numbers matched the powerball. $8 is better than nothing.

Film Round-Up

I caught a few films on TV last week.

The most recent film is Mad Max: Fury Road. Based on the reviews I read on IMDB, the film is polarizing: people love it or hate it. I'm not a huge fan of chase scenes, and that's something like 95 percent of the movie. But for the most part, I enjoyed it.

The Woman on Pier 13 is one of my noir course films that I didn't get around to watching. Brad Collins (Robert Ryan) is a young Communist who thought he left the party, but couldn't escape forever. I like this film although it's hard for me from this point in time to take the villainy of the Communist Party so seriously. But besides the Communist Party angle, the story and acting are strong. I like the character of Brad's wife Nan Collins (Laraine Day.) At first, she's rather passive and submissive. But after her brother is killed, she goes into action. Nan does have to be rescued, but at least she tries.

The Racket also stars Robert Ryan and features William Talman (who plays a Communist enforcer in The Woman on Pier 13.) Here Ryan is a local crime boss whose violent ways clash with the national outfit. Robert Mitchum is the honest police captain who beats the mob.

The Big Sleep stars Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe. It's an intriguing but confusing story, with additional scenes written and filmed to beef up the romantic relationship between Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I wish I could have seen the original version. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


I've felt good about my accomplishments for two consecutive days. That doesn't sound like much. But the way things have been going for the past few months (badly) two days is a long streak.

Yesterday I concentrated on cooking and other household chores. Today I focused on an annual review. I went to the gym yesterday and exercised here today. I even wrote two blog posts.

Now, to just keep things rolling.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Working to Normal

My last post was hard to write. I told myself that I should write a post every day--at least until I got back in the habit of posting. Then I blew off that idea for a few days.

In the week after Spike died, I did the minimum I had to. I had two tutoring appointments, and took my mother to the eye doctor's. Then there was Christmas. Jeff and I were in no frame of mind to celebrate. But we felt obligated to participate in family events. We had some nice moments but it was very hard. Probably my favorite part of Christmas day was walking Jake. It was a warm day and it was nice to just get out where I could think and not have to be "on" for anyone.

It was a relief when Jeff and I got back home Christmas night. We ate leftover Chinese and watched The Man Who Came to Dinner and a Simpsons Christmas episode.

We spend most of the week watching TV. I discovered five season Game of Thrones marathons (one season each day.) Then a day of the Marx Brothers, The Thin Man and the countdown to the New Year. At midnight, Jeff toasted Spike.

With the New Year, I've been trying to get myself organized, do my chores, work on long term projects. Today I made some progress. I went to the gym for the second time this year; I made vegetable broth, chili and pumpkin apple soup. Baby steps.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Two Weeks Ago...

we put Spike to sleep. I usually dislike euphemisms, but I hate the expression put him down, and I don't want to say outright that we killed him. Besides the process was very peaceful. He did just go to sleep with an assist.

This was the toughest decision Jeff and I had to make. Knowing it was the right decision doesn't help as much as I thought and hoped it would.

It rained the day Spike died and it rained again last Tuesday when we picked up his ashes. As if the world was mourning with us.

We think of him every day: Oh, we better take him out. Is it time for his medicine? We look over to what had become his favorite spot in the kitchen. But Spike's not there. For the first time in almost 14 years, it's just Jeff and me.

I haven't had the heart to write. I haven't had the heart to do much of anything. I know it will get better. I know we'll find another dog to love. Now all we can do is mourn.