29 September 2009

Blog vacation

Things are really stressful right now between boat-freaking-loads of work, my second full-time job (TPT, who is a much more fun job than the first one, but just doesn't pay as well), constant back pain (will be visiting the doctor who slashes with a scalpel next week), visits, visitors, spring cleaning (yes, yes, I know it's autumn), and various other stuff that creeps up and attacks without warning.

Even having the blog is stressful. I want to write stuff, but I am too tired. Then I get annoyed that I haven't blogged. So, in order to reduce my stress by a teensy bit, I am going to take a blog vacation. I should be back in about a month.

However, as an appropriately neurological send-off, I will leave you with the immortal words (and music) of Schoolhouse Rock:



(Although the glaringly obvious neurological mistake in this song annoys me a lot)

24 September 2009

When she cries, I hurt inside

Yesterday, I took ThePinkThing to the allergist. There has always been a potential shellfish allergy hanging over her head. When she was young, we not infrequently went to a local Chinese buffet for dinner. Several times, she developed red spots when we got home. These spots didn't seem to bother her, weren't typical hives, but there was this nagging suspicion that she was allergic to something there. Shellfish seemed the most likely culprit, as the primary reason we went to that restaurant was so that TheHusband could eat lots of crab. Eventually she had a blood test at her pediatrician's office, which turned out "weakly positive". So I finally decided to get her tested for real.

The allergist took a reasonable history and did a quick exam. TPT has never had an ear infection, doesn't have asthma, has no environmental allergies that I am aware of. She is probably the most boring kid he's seen all week. Then came the prick tests. I didn't want to tell her about it prior to the visit, because then she'd just worry and worry. So I told her after the doctor left (coward) and before the medical assistant came in to do the dirty work. TPT was tested for allergies to clams, crabs, shrimp, lobster (thermidor?), and scallops. He also tested her for allergies to wheat, milk, soy, peanuts, and tree-nuts. Why he tested those is beyond me, because she eats wheat, milk, soy, and peanut products with zeal and glee. Not too much in the way of tree-nuts, but not because of allergy. His reasoning for doing the tests was "just to be totally sure", which seemed weak. Probably a combo of CYA medicine and jack-up-the-price medicine. (Why yes, I am cynical. Thank you.) Add in the histamine and saline prick tests, and that meant that she had 14 pricks in her back.

Which comes to the point of the post. She cried. And begged me to stop them from doing it. I held her hand and kissed her head, and told her it would be over soon. After the tech left the room, I told her one of her favorite stories about when she was a baby to distract her for the 20 minutes we had to wait. She wanted me to take this picture so she could see what her back looked like.


The only one that turned up positive was the histamine one (which is done to be sure that the patient can mount an allergic skin response). So crab feast, here we come! TheHusband was ready to hop in the car and go off to Atlantic City to a really amazing all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, but we have plans this weekend, so I nixed that idea. He'll get to eat crabs to his heart's content, as will TPT (hopefully).

22 September 2009

Hostess gift

Wisegeek says that a hostess gift is:
A hostess gift is a gift which is given to the host or hostess of an event by guests. A small hostess gift is generally considered appropriate for dinners and parties, while guests who are staying for several days may get something larger. The ideal hostess gift is tasteful and elegant, reflecting the presumed good taste of the host or hostess, and it is also something which the recipient would not personally buy for him or herself. While the hostess gift might seem like a quaint tradition to some people, it is still alive and well, and bringing a hostess gift to an event will indicate that you are well mannered and that you have been raised in polite society.
What makes a good hostess gift? Flowers -- they're safe, and just about every female likes them. Chocolate? You can't really go wrong with chocolate, but some people are picky about chocolate they eat. Wine is a nice idea but can be troublesome. You run the risk of offending a teetotaler or bringing along an inferior wine to an oenophile's house. And then you look like a dork.

So what do you bring over for a slightly snide, somewhat dry-humored coworker who always enjoys your hi-jinks? Pop Rocks and a marshmallow gun, that's what! We had my coworker over for dinner last night. He's the one who I labeled for the move way back 2 months ago. He's a really funny, witty and smart guy, who ThePinkThing really likes. It might be, in part, because she isn't sure if he is a kid or a grown-up, as she has said. He's 26, so at least legally he's an adult. But he has a marshmallow gun in his office and likes to make people's phones scare the piss out of them.

We played with that marshmallow gun for quite some time. The funniest was when TM (my coworker) acted like one of those ducks in a carnival shooting range, going back and forth, back and forth. And we could even eat the ammunition, which TPT did a lot. As you can imagine, TPT was in 7,000th heaven. Pop rocks and marshmallows? Too good to be true, even though the gun was on loan. But he did leave the bag of marshmallows.





As for dinner -- it came out okay enough. Pot roast, gravy, broccoli and noodles. I thought the pot roast was dry but TH and TM ate up a whole boatload of it. The broccoli was a little overdone, but that was an issue of inattention and poor timing. And the brain jello for dessert. The chicken dinner on Saturday turned out better.

20 September 2009

Adventures in Cooking 1

As I noted in my previous post, it is Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish new year. It is the start of the High Holidays for observant, and even not-so-observant, Jews. I grew up in a somewhat observant household. We weren't kosher in or out of the house (mmmm, shrimp; mmmm, cheeseburgers), and we did not keep Shabbat. We celebrated the holidays that most Reformed Jewish households celebrated -- the High Holidays, Passover, and Hanukkah. As kids we were dragged ... er, um, I mean went to temple on the High Holidays (specifically Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur -- evening and daytiome services.). But really for us the holidays all revolved around family and food.

I grew up in the same town as my close-in-age cousins and about 20 minutes away from my maternal grandparents. My other cousins on my maternal side lived in VT until I was in college, so their presence at the holidays was not constant (but always pleasing). We alsways had dinner at my grandparents apartment on Rosh Hashanah. Baked chicken, brisket, mashed potatoes baked in chicken fat (beyond amazing, but too scary to eat nowadays due to the instant cholesterol deposition that occurs), kasha varnishkes, my mom's jello mold, nut cake at Passover (drool, drool), chocolate chip cookies, chopped liver... Not all at once, but eaten over a few hours. Sometimes we all ate at the dining room table with it opened all the way. Sometimes there was a separate kids table. Was my grandmother the best cook ever? No, but in my memory, the food was fabulous in every respect.

As I have said before, I find cooking to be scary. I never learned the basics (e.g., to brown meat before cooking it in a liquid so that the juices stay in). I am nervous in the kitchen and tend to follow recipes slavishly. Except that I never plan ahead and have the correct ingredients. So then I have to improvise, making me even more nervous. When I get home at the end of the day, I am not often in the mood to cook -- I am too tired. I swear that TPT thought all cooking was done in the microwave for the first 2 years of her life. But I want to cook. If I cook for us, we will inevitably eat healthier foods, less processed, less salty, less fatty. So I am determined to learn to cook some basic foods and make them well.

Last night I made chicken. All three of us prefer dark meat, so I tend to buy chicken thighs. I had about 3 lbs of chicken thighs to cook, and I wanted it to be extra good (Happy New Year and all that). So I incorporated what I had observed my aunt do when she visited, and also what Claudia did with chicken. While it was a totally simple meal, it came out great!

Basically I browned the chicken on all sides in my wok, then I poured in about 1.5 cups of water and the appropriate amount of bouillon, covered and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. I then made my own gravy for the first time ever. I listened to Claudia and made sure to mix the flour in cold water before mixing it with the drippings. Then I served the chicken and the gravy with noodles. Sliced cucumbers were the vegetable, eaten by TPT and me. Not a fancy meal, and probably not impressive for those of you who cook regularly and well, but an accomplishment for me.

Tonight I am having a coworker over to dinner, and I will be serving pot roast, egg noodles, and broccoli. What's for dessert you ask? Brainzzzzzz, of course. (It is actually peach jello made in a brain jello mold, but that's good enough for me.) I'll tell you how it all came out tomorrow.

19 September 2009

16 September 2009

Zzzzzzzzzz. Or not.

(Picture from Abstract City, Christoph Niemann's visual NYTimes blog)

This is literally one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. I want to know how Christoph Niemann got inside my bedroom and my head...

I am not a good sleeper. In fact, I often stay up late to make myself so tired that I can fall asleep more easily. In other words, if I am dropping dead tired, I can fall asleep within 20 minutes. Otherwise, all bets are off. A friend pointed me to this NYTimes blog post by an illustrator, and I about bust a gut laughing.

How the hell did he know???

Scammer receives an "F"

So TheHusband and I are trying to sell our china cabinet and buffet to make room for the new furniture (arriving later this afternoon!). We put an ad up on Craigslist and got 3 responses. I replied to each of these three people. One never responded back. One was so obviously a scammer that I told him that I totally saw through him and to go away.

Here is my email exchange with the third responder:

*****************His response**************

still up for sale?

***************My reply*******************

Yes, they are still for sale. We would love to have them gone by Tuesday evening, because we are getting our new dining room furniture on Wednesday. We are accepting cash only. If you want them you will have get them out of the house yourself (it'll take two people).

Thanks,

***************His response**************

Hello,
I am glad it is still available for sale.I am very much interested in buying your item and i am ok with the price. I am only able to make payment by money order at this time b/c i am away on assignment. Please provide me with your name , address and phone number for payment. It will take about 7days for payment to get to you. As per pick-up, I will make arrangement for the pick-up within 2 business days after payment has been received by you. I don't mind adding thirty dollars so you can keep it in my favor.Please take the posting off craigslist today and consider it sold to me. Thanks

Expecting to hear from you soon.

Regards

(Great, another one of these asswipe scammers, I think to myself. It pissed me off, so I responded thusly)

***************My reply****************************

My name is Natasha Guest. My address is 7359 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814. My number is (301) 652-9200.

(This name is totally made up -- don't know anyone with this name. The address and phone number are for the Bethesda, MD police station. Ha, I think, go there looking for your money...)

***************His response**************

Hello,
I have given my assistant the go ahead to mail payment to you.You should receive payment within the coming week( 6-7days time).Once payment is received we can proceed with the pickup.Thanks for your understanding and patience.
Regards.

(Hmmm. Could I be wrong, and did I miss out on selling the furniture? Regardless, I didn't respond to this email)

***************Newest email**************

Hi,
I hope you are fine and alright. I have been busy myself but doing great. There is something i think i must bring to your notice. After a reconciliation of my account, i discovered that somehow my assistant must have over paid you. The payment that was meant for another transaction was sent to you and the one meant for you was sent to another; however i want to believe i won’t have a problem with you.
Please once you receive your payment, i will like you to deduct your money and send the remaining via western union to the manager of the shipping company that will help me with the pick-up. I will ask them to contact you as soon as possible, Let me know if this is ok with you. Please contact me as soon as you get your payment.
Warm regards.

(A-fucking-ha! My initial thought was correct. I wonder what the Bethesda Police Station will do with that check...)

Unfortunately, we still have the old china cabinet and buffet and are expecting the new furniture today. Anyone want a 60 year-old Queen Anne-ish (traditional?) solid wood china cabinet and buffet that are in reasonable condition?

15 September 2009

The other white meat

My house at lunchtime the other day:

TheHusband: What do you want for lunch?
ThePinkThing: Pancakes.
TH: We don't have any [frozen] pancakes, and I can't make them.
TPT: Then I want waffles.
TH: We're out of waffles, too. How about turkey?
TPT: I don't like turkey. (Odd, since she loved turkey just a couple of weeks ago)
TH: Ummm... (thinks it over) How about this white ham that Mommy bought the other day?
TPT: White ham?
TH: Yes. She bought it with the other ham when we were at Great Wolf Lodge.
TPT: Okay.

Eats lunch.

TH: Did you like the white ham?
TPT: Yes, it was really yummy. But isn't white ham, Daddy. It's really light pink ham. Mommy should buy it again.

Please note that the "white ham" which TPT is referring to was Sara Lee Pre-Sliced Oven Roasted Turkey Breast. TheHusband won that round handily. And I never could've gotten away with it.

Sometimes it concerns me that I have a husband who can lie convincingly at any given moment...

11 September 2009

Fishy Trollopalooza

What could be fishy about a Trollopalooza, you ask? Well, last night (and adding the cherry to the sundae of my anniversary), I got to meet up with the Hot Chick, the famous Janiece. She brought along an entourage, which consisted of the Smart Man (he's smart and nice), the Smart BIL (Smart Man's brother, who made me laugh), and the Hot SIL (Smart BIL's wife, who is Smart as well as Hot).

The fishy part comes from our choice of meeting place -- a sushi restaurant in Rockville. Shockingly, no stinky tofu was involved, although much fish was consumed, down to the last piece of the crunchy shrimp roll. It was a lovely evening -- much talk, stories and laughter. TheHusband and Janice traded Navy stories, which were interesting to hear.

Unfortunately, no other UCFers could make it (I spit in the eye of Michelle's boss for his cowardly ways), although the sushi restaurant might have collapsed under the weight of hysteria if Jeri, Michelle, Janiece, and I were all there together...

Sadly, the evening ended on a violent note, when Janiece offended me, and I took steps...

10 September 2009

This is my husband... (Updated)

This is my husband. There are many husbands, but this one is mine. My husband is my best friend. He is my life. I must master him as I master my life. (That means I get to wear the pants in the family!) My husband, without me, is useless (heh!). Without my husband, I am useless (not true!)

My husband is human, even as I, because he is my life. Thus, I will learn him. I will learn his weakness, his strength, his parts, his accessories, his sights and his barrel (pot belly?). I will keep my husband clean and ready (soap, towels, shampoo, clean laundry), even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

--To TheHusband at the beginning of year 10: Happy 9th Anniversary!

(Adapted from "The Rifleman's Creed", which all Marines learn [and used even though TheHusband was a Sailor, not a Marine...].)
_______________________________
Updated to add the following (thanks Husband!!!):

09 September 2009

09/09/09 at 9:09:09

Cool! Now I'm waiting for 10/10/10 at 10:10:10. :-)

08 September 2009

Ouch, Ooch, Eech, Ank

That was what my brother and I used to say when walking across the hot sand at the beach in Atlantic City. I say it today about my back. I'm off for epidural #3. See you all tomorrow, because I'm already a bit drugged up, and I can't imagine what I'd be writing after my second dose of Valium. Toodles.

06 September 2009

Briefly quiet

Claudia, Doug, and the horde have gone over to Doug's sister's house in Falls Church. They should be back around 4 or 5 pm. Our other internet-guest will be leaving in about an hour and a half. It is quiet here, and ThePinkThing is calmly coloring a Barbie mermaid picture. Although she is enjoying the craziness, she is just not used to it. Claud and I get to leave all of the kids with both husbands and have a girls' sushi night tonight. The boys (and girl) will get a movie night.

More later -- I'll post a write-up and pictures from our visit to the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Here is a photo for your amusement. Found at boredstop.com

04 September 2009

A Whole Week of Fun (and Chaos)

Yesterday at around 4:50 pm I got a phone call on my cell. The phone said "Hi honey, I'm home!" My BFF is now ensconsed at my house, with her husband and 4 kids, and we get to keep them for a whole week. A whole week! Sushi! Indian food! Hang-out-with-friends time! The Maryland Renassaince Festival! Ben and Jerry's ice cream! Planet Earth! We will even have an extra added bonus visitor -- a fellow-LMB-listie, Christine (xinef), who is willing to trek down from Canada to visit with all of us, will be arriving this afternoon. Chaos Central!

TPT glumly tromped down to the bus stop this morning but was cheered by my saying that I'd pick her up early.

03 September 2009

Labor Day?

After dinner last night we reminded ThePinkThing that even though we will be having visitors from tomorrow through next Tuesday or Wednesday, she still has to go to school. I did mention that Monday was a holiday, so she didn't have to go to school on Monday and could play with the boys all weekend and Monday too. Her reply: "I know Monday is a holiday, Mommy. It's 'Labraham's Day'."

02 September 2009

Arcades, Skee-ball, and Air Hockey

While were staying at Great Wolf Lodge, we dropped some money in the arcade, because we all like arcades. TH loves arcade games, and he spent many hours in arcades when he should have been in school. I loved playing skee-ball (and spent many an hour doing that in one of two arcades on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City [Fun-Spot and Playcade]), so TPT comes by her love of arcades honestly.

Skee-ball has changed quite a bit since my misspent youth of the early 70's. Skee-ball, for those of you who don't know, is a game similar to bowling, but the lane is much shorter, on an upward incline, and the point is to get the baseball-sized ball into a hole rather than knock down pins. It was one of the only arcade games I was good at when I was younger, and I still do well at it.

Great Wolf Lodge has a new-fangled skee-ball game with an alien. The point of alien skee-ball is to nail the swinging pendulum and drop the alien down. Of course, while you're trying to nail the alien, it taunts you. TPT found that part hilarious. I nailed the alien twice in one game and won about 30 tickets. Good for me.

But in the back of the arcade at Great Wolf Lodge was my favoritest arcade game -- air hockey. The game I can't resist. I'll play it even if my back is killing me, and I play hard. Air hockey! You know, the game where the table blows up air from teeny tiny holes, suspending a plastic puck on a somewhat frictionless surface. This allows the players to smack the crap out of the puck using plastic handles. I LOVE this game, and I play viciously (except against little kids -- I will cut them a break). TheHusband also likes air hockey and is not averse to a good hard game.

Our first game of air hockey took place in California -- we found an air hockey table at a mini-golf/arcade place and had ourselves a "nice" game after a round of miniature golf. I bet TH something (I can't remember what) that I would whip his ass. He immediately took me up on the bet. Why shouldn't he? After all, I am short, dumpy, non-athletic, and a bit spastic. He's more than a foot taller than I am and much more coordinated. Easy meat, I suspect he thought. He played easy on me for the first minute or two, but then he realized that was a bad idea. I promptly beat his ass by a score of 7 - 1. Ka-ching!

As it happened, I had never passed along a crucial bit of information. We had an arcade-sized air hockey table in my house when I was a kid. My parents finally donated it to the local Y when my brother and I were in college. But we played it. A lot. So I had lots of practice. I regularly beat my cousins and other boys my age, and I haven't really lost my touch. I did confess after I won that first game, and he vowed never to show me any mercy ever again (at air hockey, at least).

We have an ongoing contest -- we play every time we find a full-sized table. I am the West Coast champ. I think he's the tropical champ (Florida). We found a table at the place where his 20th high school reunion was held and played best 2 out of 3 games. To his great annoyance, I won that match, so I am definitely the Ohio champ. I am now the Virginia champ as well. TPT's eyes were big as saucers watching us whale on the puck, hitting it as hard as we could. Her mom and dad were really trying to beat the other one, no holds barred. She was actively rooting for me, and she jumped up and down when I won (7 - 4). Take that, Husband!