Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lost In Translation

I don't believe I have ever posted this story. If I have, sorry. Hope you enjoy.

As I have said before, my great-grandparents never learned to speak English--despite the fact they lived here in the US for over 60 years. Actually, they really didn't need to learn, as they lived in a part of the country where a great many Finnish people lived. (The UP of Michigan has the largest concentration of Finnish people outside of Finland.) This didn't cause too many problems for them, unless they were confronted with the telephone.

My g-grandfather never used the telephone very often. I'm not sure if it was because of his lack of being able to speak English or a distrust of technology. There were, however, times when he HAD to answer the phone. He had quite a unique way of doing this. The phone would ring, he would pick up the receiver and announce, "Nobody home." (in an EXTREMELY thick Finnish accent), and hang up. End of phone call.

Great-grandma, however, used the phone every day. With her love of gossip, I don't believe she could have been apart from the phone for an entire day. She did fine, usually. And one day she had trouble. For some reason, she wasn't dialing the number she wanted correctly--she kept getting the recorded message "The number you want cannot be completed as dialed. Please dial the operator for assistance." After getting this message several times in a row, g-grandma got extremely frustrated, screamed in the phone "I don't give a shit your sister," and banged the receiver down. Obviously, she mistook 'assistance' for 'sister' and let the 'operator' know, in no uncertain terms, that she really doesn't care.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just Call Me Betty Crocker

I don't bake. At all. Anymore. K and I certainly don't need to eat the stuff--we both need to lose way too much weight--and I just don't feel like spending the time doing it. But this wasn't always the case.

The years we gave Christmas gifts to every person we know (and some that I'm sure we DIDN'T know), I would bake and give the baked goods as gifts. And I was totally crazy in the amount of stuff I would bake. This is my list from years gone by:

  • Nisu-12 loaves (this is Finnish cardomon sweet bread)
  • Cranberry bread-6 loaves
  • M&M cookies-2 batches
  • Sugar cookies-1 batch
  • Peanut butter kiss cookies-2 double batches
  • Spritz cookies-1 batch each of three flavors
  • Caramel corn-4 batches
  • Chex party mix-8 batches
  • Fudge-4 batches
  • Peanut brittle-2 batches
I just get tired writing that list. A bit nuts, right? And I did it every year for way too long. If I didn't have at least 10 dozen of each of the various cookies I made in the freezer by the second week of December, I was way behind. As it was, I didn't finish up my baking until a half hour before the last gift had to be delivered on Christmas Eve.

And all of that is over. This year I made my mustard sauce, Oreo truffles, ham & cheese crescents, cowboy caviar, mulled apple cider and ham & pineapple cracker spread. Period. I really like this minimalist attitude I have developed.

As is the way it is supposed to be, my Christmas baking tradition has been passed down to the next generation. While both of my girls do a lot of baking, I only get to sample what The Youngest does. Her 'big' gift to us every year is a basket of baked goods. And I must say, she does me proud. This year we got: 3 different kinds of cookies, caramel corn, Chex mix, nisu, cranberry bread, and prune AND apricot pinwheel tarts. I am so impressed with her: She makes pinwheel tarts and I have never made any in my life. And this is despite the fact that they are a big Finnish tradition here.

Piwheel prune tarts are one of the things that most of us just can't wait for at Christmastime. You start with a sweetened pastry dough and cut out squares. You then cut the squares so that you can fashion piwheels out of the pastry. Before folding the edges in, you put a spoonful of a prune mixture in the middle of the pastry square. (To make the mixture, you boil prunes till soft. Then you add a bit of lemon juice and sugar and mash. Also, some people prefer apricots instead of prunes, so a lot of people make both kinds.) You then fold in the edges to make a small pinwheel-shaped pastry and bake. (All of this prep has been made much easier with the manufactured tart cutters that are now available.) After baking, some people drizzle a bit of a glaze on top--as my mother-in-law did. These are the greatest things in the world to eat--if they are made correctly. And The Youngest makes them correctly. I am absolutely in awe of her skills. And I ate more than half of the tarts--both prune AND apricot.

And now for too much information: My body is not liking what I did to it, still. That is the one thing I DON'T like about these--I eat WAY too many, WAY too fast. And I pay the price for many days after. But that is what the holidays bring--too much indulgence. And that isn't too bad a thing, as long as it ends in a reasonable amount of time. ;)

cookie love

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maybe Later

A month or so ago we heard the news that K's nephew's oldest daughter was pregnant. She was finishing up her last bit at the university and was on her way to begin her life and she got side tracked a bit. Last night, we got the phone call that she lost the baby. He was 17 weeks old, about 6" long and perfect in every way. There is no explanation as to what the problem was and there probably never will be. I am incredibly sadden by this because it brings back memories of C losing her first son 7 years ago. I want to DO something to make things better, but know there is nothing I CAN do. It is hard to feel so powerless. This just brings another depressing element to the Christmas season for K's family. (His Dad died a couple of weeks before Christmas, so that anniversary is always there.)

I have a few ideas for posts, but they tend to be whimsical and humorous--emotions I'm not feeling at the moment. I'm sure things will be better tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

All WILL Be Well

As I sit here enjoying my last cup of coffee before the frenzy that is Christmas Eve begins, I am quite content. The Youngest and her husband got here late yesterday evening and we have had a wonderful visit so far. They have gone to do some last-minute walk-through of the mall and The Husband just got out of bed. (He did his last night shift last night.) The house is quiet and peaceful. I know, however, that through the next few days I will go through every emotion there is. There will be anger, sadness, joy, rage, love, and above all, melancholy. This is as it always is with me and always will be. There will be many days of contemplation over the next few weeks--as always happens at this time of year. But as of this moment, I am content and know I will be fine.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas. To those who sent personal greetings to me, I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you--but know you are in my thoughts. Eat, drink, and be merry--because the beginning of January, we ALL will be on diets!

And remember the REAL Reason for the Season!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not Even A Lump Of Coal?

I'm deep in my holiday depression, so I might as well continue with very depressing posts. Today is no exception.

I LOVE getting presents. I have no guilt admitting this. While I like giving things to everyone I love, I almost think I enjoy receiving more. I'm like a little kid when it comes to getting things. Just the thought that someone made the effort to get me something that I would like, is heartwarming. I realize a lot of this comes from not getting exactly what I wanted when I was a child--The Family didn't have all that much money--and I wait to see if the present I open is something I really, really like. Much of the time, I am pleasantly pleased with what I find. Almost as many times, I am not very happy. There are far too few people--read that as 'family'--who don't put much thought into what I might want. (My friends read me very well and very, very few times am I disappointed in what they get me.)

This year there will be no presents under the tree for me--other than the possibility of something from The Youngest and her husband. Nothing comes from The Oldest and her family. I realize that they are on an extremely tight budget, with eight in the family and only part time jobs, but still. She talks about the kids making homemade gifts and she tells me about the name exchange they participate in with The Family, but nothing comes into our house from them. While I have insisted on backing off to an extent, we provide an awful lot of money and articles cost-free to their household. It is our decision to buy things for them, but I'm beginning to feel very much taken for granted these days. I am pretty positive that The Mother and The Father don't go without gifts from my kids and grandkids--ever. And I am just as sure that they don't provide hardly anything to The Oldest and her family. But still, they are treated more like her parents than we are. It hurts--deeply.

So, where does The Husband come into the picture? There will be nothing from him this year, either. At the beginning of the month, he suggested we buy a computer as our Christmas gift to ourselves--and I agreed. However, I changed that to TWO computers, as I would NOT be happy with our laptop if I have a new desktop to use. And it is hard enough for the two of us to share the desktop we have, so we really need separate computers to keep a happy home. (The laptop we have was a mistake for us to buy. We spent too much and didn't get anything more than someplace to play basic games. Live and learn.) While I knew I could get two computers for what he wanted to spend, upon further research, I KNEW we couldn't live with anything that basic. I am so over getting 'the biggest, fastest, most powerful' computer, but I won't get the bottom of the barrel, either. So, because of less than $500, I haven't ordered the computers. We can't come to an agreement on how much to spend. (Really, all he has to do is go up on what to spend and I can come down a bit--it could work.) And there will be no gift for me this Christmas. This year will suck eggs, big time.

And, what does this mean for The Husband, in terms of what is under the tree? Well, I won't be going all out as I usually do, but I WILL be putting gifts under the tree for him. I can't stand to think of anyone going without having gifts to open on Christmas Eve--and I won't allow it to happen. Maybe I should get myself something to open, just so I won't feel left out? :|

Part of the problem I have with not getting presents is the fact that The Husband and I are very much ignored throughout the year. IF we get cards--only from The Youngest, I might add--that is the extent of how we are acknowledged at special times through the year. This includes birthdays, anniversary, and Mother's and Father's Day. Thing is, I KNOW in-laws and The Parents are NOT ignored on their special days, because I have seen the presents purchased for them. It is so hard to not show how bitter I feel at times. It is so, so hard to not feel appreciated by your own kids. It is like a dagger through the heart--literally.

Now, I didn't post this so that people will feel sorry for me. My blog is a place for me to vent, that is all. I'm a big girl and will survive this year, just as I have survived all of the rest of them. Mid-January, the latest, I will be fine. Until then, I will wallow in self-pity. We all need to wallow at times--mine just happens at this time of the year.


(I realize I will feel like an absolute ass on Friday if things turn out to be different than this scenario. And I WILL admit my mistake, right here, with face red as Santa's suit. But I don't believe I will have to swallow my pride and admit my mistake. I've lived with these people way too long to not know how they are. Such is life. :|)

A Little Late...

I had my first cry of the season tonight. It is a bit later than usual, but it definitely won't be the last before the new year. I hate this time of year.

Sad

Monday, December 21, 2009

Scrinchy

I'm NOT in a good mood. It started yesterday and I'm not sure why. All I know is that the scrinchiness has finally set in and I am absolutely sure this will be the suckiest Christmas I have ever had. It just doesn't feel as if anything is going to go right. And I am on schedule to get everything done in time and everything. Damn. I hate feeling like this--and, unfortunately, I am very rarely wrong when I get these feelings. It is probably a lock that this Christmas is going to suck eggs--big time.

Grrrr

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pointless Wondering

I ordered something for my girls and myself for Christmas. Of course, I get to use MY gift before they even open theirs, but whatever. The gift I got us is called a Droodle. It is a notepad that can be used in wet/damp situations--like in the shower.


I have ALWAYS had great and wonderful thoughts while showering--change the world type of things--but have always forgotten them by the time I got where I could write them down. My mind wanders so much when I do things unconsciously--LIKE showering--that I needed something in which to write down these fantastically wonderful thoughts. And so I bought myself a Droodle. And it wasn't too soon, because I had a great thought last night.

The indigenous people of the US are called Native Americans. WHAT do they call the indigenous people of Canada? Are they also called Native Americans?

Now, after reading that, aren't you THRILLED that I can write down my every thought while showering? :D

(Seriously, though--are the Canadian indigenous people called Native Americans, too? I REALLY want to know!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas--Politically

Saw this during my rounds of the Gore* and thought it was pretty good.


Christmas cards sent to my friends of different persuasions:

To All My Democrat Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Kind of the way things are these days. :D



*Also something I picked up on my surfs--alluding to Al Gore saying he 'created' the internet.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quite Cute, Actually



So, the above little critter is kind of cute, isn't it? Well, that is a plush, very, very enormous, representation of the swine flu virus. Still cute? I think so. Anyway, someone came up with the idea of making viruses into stuffed toys--and they are sold here. I think having some of these in a doctor's office would be a hoot! I have every intention to get the 4 menageries for The Youngest, so she can display them at the clinic where she works. What a fun way to remind people to get heartworm meds for their dogs!


(I'm sorry if I have posted about this site before--which I think I have--but it is just too fun to not post about one more time.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interesting

I mentioned a while back that my GYN of more than 25 years has retired. This left me with having to find a new doctor and I decided to just go with the one who inherited all of his files--at least I'll see her for one time and decide whether I stay there or not. I made my yearly appointment for next month and yesterday I received an envelope in the mail from the office. Inside were papers that need to be filled out along with a 'welcome to our office' letter. It was the standard stuff--parking directions, where they are located, etc--until I got to the end of the letter. It stated that the office is completely scent-free and I am to abstain from wearing any perfume or scented lotion for my appointment. Is this something new that doctor offices are doing or is this a bit of a fluke with this office? I have never heard of this before. So many questions come to mind.

  • I wear perfume every day of my life--just something I do. It is like breathing for me--totally a habit and not something I consciously do. If I inadvertently put some on before going to the office, will they ask me to leave and make a new appointment?
  • Is this policy due to a worker's allergies or is this for their patients' well-being?
  • Does this mean that the office personnel are deodorant-free? Or have they figured out that you CAN buy unscented deodorant?

While I do have an aversion to over-powering perfume/aftershave/cologne, I get physically ill whenever I smell a 'natural' person. Even 'good, honest' sweat tends to nauseate me. I'm hoping there will be none of that in that office.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do It All Over Again

After all of the cleaning I have been doing lately, I am finding that I have to start all over again. My cat is dropping fur faster than a Christmas tree drops needles on December 26th! I am very close to changing this:




To this:


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Octopus

Very, very, very fascinating article and videos on octopi at National Geographic. It shows an octopus carrying around a coconut shell to use as a shelter when needed. The octopus seems to be an even smarter creature than chimpanzees when it comes to using tools. Quite interesting and the video is just great.



The full video is at the National Geographic site.

OMG!!!

I have no problem with people owning guns, even though we have none. I feel it is the right of every citizen to have them if they want. And I think I side more with the NRA than with the 'left' on registering, etc. But really, I think this just makes Americans look like a bunch of yahoos!



And they even have a website. Really...is this a problem for most people? I'm assuming this commercial was shown regionally around the US because I never saw it before and I see most of the stupid commercials and infomercials with my living vampire hours and all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday Night

The night was all about hockey. We got to the ice arena with plenty of time to spare, making sure to get 'our' seats. I really didn't need to worry, as the university had men's and women's basketball games going at the same time--against a local rival. Attendance at the hockey game was down by about 150, but a decent crowd, nevertheless. Announced attendance was 724.

I was a bit concerned with how the Rangers would play. This was the third game in as many days for them. I know the guys are very young, but that many games will take their toll, no matter how young/old a person is. And they didn't play up to their abilities. While they lost by only one, they only scored once on eight powerplay opportunities--NOT good. And they didn't get their first goal until the third period! I was beginning to worry that they WOULDN'T score. And the first goal was the reason for it being a special night.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was the 2nd annual teddy bear toss. As I hadn't been to one before, I had no idea how the whole thing worked. I knew the teddy bears were to be tossed on the ice after the Rangers' first goal, but that was all. As I said, I was getting concerned that there would be no goals and the stuffed toys would have to be tossed at the end of the game, but the guys came through at the beginning of the third and scored. Almost before the horn sounded, to signal the goal, people started throwing the toys through the air. (I thought there might be an announcement, but it didn't come.) It was quite neat watching the ice get littered with toys--and as far as I can tell, no one got hit. I KNEW my throwing arm wasn't as good as it used to be, so I had K toss our contributions--and even HE didn't get them very far onto the ice. I now know that I never would gotten them over the boards. Once the rain of toys was done, the Ranger players themselves went around and gathered them up. They picked up at least two large garbage cans full of toys. Not a bad showing for only the second year. (I will post final numbers when /if they are announced.) I REALLY wish I could have taken a video, or at least a picture--but everything happened much too fast for me to get it done.

Even with the final score, the night was fun. We got to see good hockey, I didn't freeze my ass off--I had to wear TWO sets of Cuddle Duds to pull THAT off--and we got to contribute to a child's happiness in a roundabout way. And then we came home and watched the Wings win THEIR game, so I was a pretty happy camper.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Funny

Everyone knows I'm not an Apple fan and I have no intentions of ever getting an iPhone. And I do find the 'there's an app for that' commercials a bit annoying. I will NEVER see one the same way again.




HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! (via icanhascheezburger)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Teddy Bear Toss

Since starting my hockey blog, I don't post too often about hockey here. I am making an exception today. Tomorrow night we will be attending the Rangers' 2nd annual teddy bear toss--and I HAD to post pictures of the bears that I will be tossing. I have two of them because we didn't get to the game last year.




All of the stuffed toys will be donated to the hospital, fire departments, and police departments to be given to children in stressful situations. This should be a fun night.

Christmas Decorating

I finished my decorating today! YAY!!!! And I'm only two weeks later than I usually am! BOO!! But, I am done. So I decided to post some pictures.

I currently have two Christmas-themed collections that I regularly add to. One of my collections is angels. Right now I am displaying two shelves full, but I still have quite a few more angels that I DON'T put out. I just don't have the room to put them all out. I have my favorites and unique angels on display.



My other collection is Nativities. I have fourteen and seem to get at least one new one every year. I only have one 'traditional' Nativity and several vintage ones. Each one is unique in some way.



It took me years to finally get the centerpiece for my dining room table the way I wanted it. I have done this for the past few years and still am not tired of it.



Finally, this is our tree. All of the ornaments I made myself, including the tree top angel. One of these years I plan on making a garland, also, but that probably is just wishful thinking on my part.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

HA HA!

Yeah, It's Winter

Today K and I had hair appointments and thank goodness the weather quit blizzarding. (I don't think that's a real word, but it says what I want.) I'm not sure just how much snow we got over the last 36 hours, but it was a lot. Everything is covered and K had to do quite a bit of shoveling this morning. And it is always a learning experience to go out and about after the first big snowfall of the year.

After our appointments, we needed to go to the grocery store. K parked the Envoy and I opened the door, stepped out, and promptly fell on my ass. Actually, it was more on my tailbone. I don't think I even got all of my weight on my foot when I went down. I hit a snow-covered ice patch and went down for the count. I'm lucky my head didn't go backwards, cause I would have hit it on the running board, possibly knocking myself out in the process. While I wasn't seriously hurt--at least it doesn't seem so at this time--my jeans were wet through in several places. NOT very comfortable, at all. And what gets me the most: I was wearing snow boots--which I RARELY do--when I fell. I thought that was one of the reasons to wear boots and not sneakers or some other non-snow compatible footwear. Ah, the joys of living in the Great White North*.

As we were driving home, we were following a young woman driving an SUV. She's lucky she was driving a 4-wheel vehicle, because that is the only thing that kept her on the road for as much of the time as she WAS on the road. The first time she spun was going around a corner. As she started turning the 90 degrees, she lost control and wound up facing the direction she just came from. She just looked at us, smiled, and turned back in the direction she wanted to go--just as if this is an everyday occurrence. (Actually, after watching her driving, it probably IS!) She continued in the direction we were going, turning another corner--which she navigated okay--onto a straight street that leads into town. Things were going relatively well--she kept driving through the snow on the side of the road that the plow left--and suddenly she was spinning out of control once again. This time she missed a couple of mailboxes by two feet and wound up with the front end of her vehicle in the snowbank. Thankfully, the banks aren't that high yet, so she was able to back her way out--after three attempts, I might add--and with a wave and smile in our direction, she was on her way once again. I really don't think she made it to her destination, but I'll never know. We turned at one corner and she kept going straight. I very much doubt she ever has driven in snow before.

Adventures in winter living--sounds like a good title for my life here.



*Yes, I know that Canada is the Great White North, but most people think we ARE part of Canada, so I use the term to describe us. Deal with it. ;)

Just A Short Visit

STILL trying to get the house ready for Christmas. Yesterday and today I finished up the cleaning and tonight I started the decorating. Hopefully I will finish tomorrow. I'll be trying to post a bit more regularly after I'm done. Until then, enjoy this:




And no, I don't plan on decorating like this. ;)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Three Blondes Sharing One Brain

The Oldest and two of her girls were out running errands today. They had to stop at the local hospital to make a delivery to an employee there. Once in the hospital, they went to the elevator in order to go to the second floor. On the second floor, they walked past the six-step staircase they avoided by using the elevator. Oldest said she looked around just to make sure no one saw what dumb-asses they were. :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Damaged Goods

And things just keep on getting better. Everyone that reads this blog knows how much I am not a fan of the season. I have been trying to get the house cleaned up and ready for the decorating, but circumstances are not what I want. And here I go, making a short story very, very long.

First, we'll start with my OCD kicking in. I decided to begin my cleaning in our bedroom--not a large room and it doesn't take all that much to get it in decent shape. While cleaning, I decided to do a bit of downsizing and started to remove a whole bunch of 'dust collector'-type stuff we had hanging around--tchotchkes and the like. It worked so well, that when I got to the computer room and sewing room, I figured I would just plow ahead. And I went overboard.

(It was right after the bedroom that I went and cleaned the upstairs bedroom--otherwise known as 'the cat's room.' Other than cleaning up enough fur to make three more cats, nothing very exciting happened.)

My sewing room was a disaster. I have a banquet table in the room--for me to use as a cutting table, etc--and I couldn't see one inch of the top of it. To say there was a lot piled on the table, is an understatment. So, that is where I began--and I went from there. I purged and packed and rearranged and stored within an inch of my life. When I was done in the room, it actually echoed--but it felt so good to have the room cleaned, that I moved on to the computer room.

Our computer room is also our 'office,' so every piece of paperwork that we save is stored here--and every bit of office supplies that a household could ever need. We have a rolltop desk on one wall and a computer desk/center that takes up the most of two other walls. And each of these were piled with unfiled and unsorted stuff of all kinds. And to take it a step further, I had decided to change the 'decor' of the room from whatever it was to a hockey theme. We needed a place to put all of our hockey keepsakes, mementos, and paraphenalia, and the computer room was ideal. This, of course, meant some more purging. Things went quite well, until I was very close to being done--and then IT happened.

I never wear shoes in the house. At the very least, I wear my Birkenstock sandals--without socks. Just my preference and no other reason. This has, on more than one occasion, caused me a lot of problems. Not wearing shoes was what caused me to break my toe, for example. Anyway, there I was when the book began to fall--the heavy, oversized book. Of course, it landed on the top of my foot. The corner of the spine of the oversized book fell on my foot. Immediately, the spot where the book fell turned black. And it hurt. But I was able to continue on with the cleaning, so I did. The following day, I did laundry and got the packing done for our road trip. And on Friday, I walked through stores all day long. We visited with our friends and went to eat and at the end of an extremely full day, I finally took my shoes and socks off so that I could shower. And then I saw it. My foot was black and blue from the ankle all the way to the toes--and it hurt so much to flex my toes that I almost cried. Needless to say, I didn't walk too well today. The only bright spot: my foot doesn't ache when I am at rest. This has put my schedule behind and now I don't know WHEN I will finish decorating the house. I don't need this.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Going Missing

I will be missing in action for a few here. Yesterday I realized that I needed to do a bit of decorating around here and jumped in with both feet. Unfortunately, my OCD kicked in and I have made MUCH more work for myself than is necessary. While I KNOW I have to clean before decorating, no one said I need to completely re-do two rooms! Yes, I am tearing apart my computer and sewing/craft rooms--purging and organizing as I go along. So, between the cleaning, decorating, and a road trip this weekend, the time on this machine will have to be brief. Have a great next few days and I'll be back with a vengeance next week. But then again, I may be back before then--who ever knows.