Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Commuters Tale...

Here we are another January, and another new year. It may be new yet a lot feels the same.
It's rainy and grey today, I'm contemplating what to make for dinner, and the pups are splayed out in front of the fire snoring away.

In most of my child-rearing life at home I've created a routine in order to get through the days, I like routine, it gives you things to look forward to and little cornerstones for your daily life. I actually think the only reason humans created calendars is to have some way to cut through the monotony that life can sometimes feel like. With the marking of a new day, week, month, year it allows us to turn a page on life and feel a sense of accomplishment. Then of course we add in some flare, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays,...lets celebrate each one once a year? It's a brilliant plan really. keeps us keepin' on!

Since most of my last 18 years has been at home with kids my routines revolved around my children's needs. Their music lessons, school work, sick days, weekend activities, dinners, lunches, there was a certain way we navigated these things that we were all familiar with.
With both kids out of the house all day now my routine has changed a bit, it's now centered around the dogs...ok not completely....well,  a little.

Actually one of the things I kind of dig about my new routine is my morning drive to take my daughter to school. I know most people who have had to commute on the regular hate it, maybe its new to me so I like it, it could also be that it's not terribly congested and the little trek is fairly interesting to look at? But I also enjoy the people I've gotten to depend on seeing every morning and their whereabouts tell me if I'm running late, or perhaps we've given ourselves more time than usual...it's my own unique calendar that uses people's locations and NPR's morning addition in lieu of numbers.

One woman I see running almost every morning. She has very thick long curly hair that she wears cascading out of the back of a baseball cap and she always has on these light up tennis shoes like the kind you usually see toddlers wearing. I've seen her at many points in my route, even in the pouring rain and snow. Sometimes she's by the bus stop in front of the apartments where the young man with the sunken shoulders and the shoulder length hair is, and sometimes she's much further down the road where it feels like you're out in the middle of nowhere with huge trees on either side of the road. If you didn't know that there was a highway beyond the trees you may never suspect it. If she's by the apartments we're early, near the huge trees...we're running behind.

The young man by the apartments is an interesting character, I can't tell if he's depressed or defiant? Maybe both? He's usually there in the mornings, if he's not I'm definitely behind schedule. One afternoon as I was headed to pick my girl up after school he was at the bus stop and it was almost like seeing a retail employee outside of their workplace or a teacher on the weekends, it felt odd...and had no relevance to my commuting timetable.

There's a young man with a bike that is usually by the veggie stand that's at the corner by the freeway entrance. There's a bus stop across the street from it right at the on ramp and I've always assumed that's where he's headed...someone has kindly put a primary colored bench there that I sometimes see people lounging on on my drive back home in the morning, no one consistent though.

If I hit the little area with the corner market, library H&R Block, teriyaki place and liquor store as Marketplace comes on I am officially late. I much prefer to be circling back under the bridge and up the winding road with the house that kinda looks like something you'd see in Tuscany, but with bars on the windows, that leads to the little area with the corner market, library, H&R Block, teriyaki place and liquor store..but late happens sometimes.

As I circle back under the bridge I usually see a gentleman with a large coat walking. It always feels a little unsafe to me to be a pedestrian around all these semi trucks and on/off ramps to the highway,  but there's a bus stop there so somebody must have green lighted that idea? If I've given myself enough time on a Wednesday, Food for Thought is on. I've bookmarked the Faux Smoked Pastrami and the Best Biscuits Ever,  and that just reminded me, I need food tweezers.

Right before the four way stop of the veggie stand I see the man who carries a child on his shoulders along the side of the road. Not sure if it's his son or younger brother? He looks young enough it could be a brother, but it's probably his son. I can also tell if he's running late depending on how fast he's walking. I often wonder how his shoulders handle carrying the little boy every morning, it makes mine sore just thinking about it.  I only see him on my drive back home and unless I'm super late or stopped to do something we've moved on to the news. 

Once I drive down into my neighborhood I usually see the woman walking with the little dog or the man with what looks like a black lab puppy, he does a lot of sit and stay with him on the side of the road, whereas the woman and the little dog meander.

I've been known on a particularly juicy news day to bring Kirstin Kendrick in the house with me to continue listening while I clean the kitchen from the night before, but more often than not I prefer the quiet contemplation of what to make for dinner while the pups are splayed out in front of the fire snoring away.

Peace,

V






Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Was Snow White a Vegetarian?

There are three Hummingbirds currently dive bombing one another right outside my kitchen window.

I have two hummingbird feeders, 2 seedy bird feeders...pretty sure that's what they're called, and a hedge that produces some kind of berry that the crows go nuts for, basically I'm living in a bird sanctuary.
I actually just refilled my hummingbird feeders as they were running low after the snow over the weekend. I think all the birds panicked a little when winter was suddenly here and that's why they're getting so aggressive. when I refilled the upstairs feeder I got close enough to one of the hummingbirds I could see these super hot pink feathers on its head, it was absolutely stunning!

I never realized how much I love woodland creatures until Roger the squirrel started visiting our old house shortly before halloween one year. He was a happy little squirrel who enjoyed eating our freshly carved pumpkins, sitting in Michael's shoes, that were on the front porch due to an unfortunate dog poop incident, and lounging in the sun. I really got close to Roger, or at least close enough to give him a name... even though Habanero, our only dog at the time, was not happy with his presence.

Sadly when we moved, our new house didn't have any front porch squirrels, I'm not really sure why? Someone told me they thought it was perhaps because of all the crows? Do crows eat squirrels? I don't even want to think about that. I know a lot of people don't care for crows, but I like them. I enjoy how bold they are, how they hang in packs, and I like the way they walk with an attitude.

We have a pair of ducks that like to visit our swimming pool too.
Before we open it up each summer and the chemicals haven't been dumped in to give it that swimming pooly shade that makes ya wanna dive in, and it hasn't been heated to a temperature that makes you want to dive in, on several occasions we've found two ducks gliding across it, or they'll just sit beside it contemplating a swim. It's really very sweet and makes me feel bad that I've enjoyed eating duck in the past. I might need to reconsider that.

Speaking of reconsidering eating cute animals, Michael is going to kill me, not really just like in a "OHMYGODSTOPNOWWOMAN" kinda way, if I remove more things that I feel bad eating from our diet, like pigs.

I decided I could no longer eat pigs after following about 6,497 instragram accounts of mini pigs and maxi pigs, and swimming pigs and then read that they're the 2nd most intelligent animals behind chimpanzees! They're smarter than my chihuahuas! I tried to explain my reasoning to Michael and Thelonious by asking if they could eat the dogs? They seemed to think they could if they were as good as bacon, Fela however joined me and we haven't looked back. It really hasn't been that hard, even for those of us who aren't as "on board" as Fela and I, since I'm the main chef around these parts I just don't buy and cook pork anymore. Michael on a few occasions has bought bacon, but his only real consistent pork eating is pepperoni, whenever we make pizza I buy turkey pepperoni and he gets some pork version that I try to ignore....it's working out fine.

Recently there was a video on the Facebooks of a wittle cow that supposedly thought it was a dog. I feared watching it because I knew if I did I'd start feeling guilty about loving a good steak or a gooey cheeseburger so much, so I didn't....but it's still in the back of my mind, and those damn ducks too....I just wish they weren't so tasty.

Peace,

V

Monday, November 6, 2017

Jumpsuits and cigarettes.

My bathroom smells like salt and vinegar chips.

It's Monday and with Mondays comes the need to clean my filthy house, okay it's not filthy,  just neglected. When the weekends roll around I need them to feel as weekendy as possible, and honestly doing housework to the level that I do during the week ruins my weekend vibe. Unfortunately my family doesn't always feel like picking up the slack, or they're willing to unload the dishwasher, or vacuum, but not do ALL the chores that need doing when you have 4 people and 3 dogs living under one roof...so the house suffers, but mostly just on the weekends. 

So this morning,  despite my lack of real desire, but with a strong sense of duty, and being kinda overwhelmed by it,  I got to work and cleaned....which explains the salt and vinegar chip smell in my bathroom, because my favorite cleaning acutramon is Dawn and vinegar.
My family actually makes fun of my love for Dawn and vinegar, but it literally works on just about everything! Soap scum, toilets, laundry stains, baked on grease...you name it...Dawn and vinegar. 

I'm now working on my 4th load of laundry and contemplating jumpsuits. We had an auction to attend this past weekend and I was feeling bold, so I pulled out this jumpsuit I bought a couple years back and wore that. I'm a little obsessed with a jumpsuit, although the going to the bathroom with your shirt off in public is a little awkward...but whatevs, it just forces you to wear a nicer bra in case someone sees you. I don't know if my love of a jumpsuit is due to the fact it's an all in one outfit, it's just a dress with legs, or I'm secretly obsessed with the 70's and I don't even know it? But what can I say, I just love the idea. 

This summer I bought a romper, on a whim. A romper is just a jumpsuit with shorts instead of pants. I think they also call it a playsuit? But that name makes me think of a onesie, and small children, and for some reason at 45 I'm not really wanting to go for that look. ;)
Despite the fact that the jumpsuit I wore on Saturday was kind of a cheap one that I hadn't really remembered I had until I was rooting around in my closet to figure out what to wear, I really enjoyed it! It fit well, was fun to accessorize and it made me want to expand my jumpsuit options as the holidays are just around the corner...I mean literally, like just a few weeks, which is crazy.
Thanksgiving is only 2 1/2 weeks away! 

This Thanksgiving will be extra special as alongside all the turkey, and stuffing, and pie, Thelonious turns 18, which is honestly also crazy! I swear like 3-4 months ago he was 8, but maybe I'm not keeping track of time correctly, or I'm just trying to ignore it. I honestly can't believe my oldest child will be able to vote, and buy cigarettes....that's really the best part about being 18. The other day Thelonious sent me a birthday list with all these grown-up clothing items that a young man like him would want, no more toys on that list, no more legos or tiny fridges full of coke and chips.....I'm thinking of getting him a jumpsuit, and some cigarettes this year. 

Peace,

V

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fire Woman.

It appears we may have an issue with our thermocouple.

I don't know exactly what that means, but I do know it's about the size of a pinky finger and it plays a vital role in making the flames in the gas fireplace in our living room go WOOSH!

According to experts on YouTube with names like "Greyfurnaceman" and "FireParts" replacing our thermocouple should be pretty easy, however I'm just not feeling like I have the necessary skills to do it, as I can't even seem to figure out who made our fireplace or what model it is, and this after we've been rather intimate all morning.

This fireplace issue just cropped up so suddenly? Yesterday morning after dropping Fela off from school I turned the fire on for the little dogs, because the mornings are getting chilly and they're wittle, with wittle furs that aren't as warm as they'd like, and per usual it WHOOSHED on and slowly warmed them up. They like to lounge in front of the fire for a few hours before I make them their breakfast and draw their baths....
At around noonish I turned the fire off and that was that. life as it should be.
Fast forward to last night, the temperatures went down into the 30's, there was talk of snow overnight or early morning, we had just settled into our nightly couch time and Mikey went to push the fireplace button and all that came out was...beep, followed by no flames, no WOOSH, just beep.

After messing with it for longer than we should and really cutting into our evening time, we frustratedly left it and watched American Gigolo.

God that movie is dumb. I don't know that Ive actually ever seen it all the way through? I mean I remember certain scenes from it but I think I was young enough when it first came out to not really pay attention to it, other than the fact that some of my friends moms were all hot and bothered by Richard Gere. Needless to say I enjoyed it in it's corniness and I was amused by the implied dirtiness of some of the language like "How much for one fuck?" as it was obviously pretty risqué at the time, OH, and the full nudity of Mr. Gere, maybe that explains my friends moms?

At one point Michael jumped back into troubleshooting the fireplace and it was at just the scene where Richard (I feel like I know him well enough now that I can call him by his first name) gets out of bed leaving Lauren Hutton, who is stunning by the way, and as he stood by the window naked saying something or other I said to Mikey, "Wow, look he's fully nude! Like full-on weiner!" At this point Michael was once again laying on the floor blowing canned air into some part of the guts of the gas fireplace in a last ditch effort to try and hopefully dislodge something that was causing the lack of a WOOSH, so he wasn't exactly as shocked or awed as I was.
Shortly after the canned air failed to work he got up in frustration and we continued to watch the movie together and have some wine. While the remainder of the film wasn't as shocking as that liquid air/full-on weiner scene we both thoroughly enjoyed the early 80's fashions. Then we went to bed and briefly listened to Whitesnake, but that's another story.

This morning we awoke to snow. Not a lot, but it made for a very festive drive to drop Fela off at school....lot's of dusted white lawns, and this particular road that's lined with huge evergreens was downright magical looking, which increased my desire to try and figure out why the fireplace stopped working. When I got home and saw the little dogs shivering I promptly turned on all the overhead lights in the living room and got to work. After consulting "Grayfurnaceman" and "FireParts",  vacuuming out more dust from under the fireplace than I care to admit, and messing with the pilot light and gas line I've come to the conclusion that we may have an issue with our thermocouple.

I don't know what that means, but I know it's about the size of a pinky finger and it plays a vital role in making the flames in the gas fireplace in our living room go WOOSH!

Peace,

V


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jimmy Cracked Corn

My kitchen smells like corn chowder, which is lovely.

I have this 30 minute corn chowder recipe that I've used for years and love, but I pretty much change it every time I make it. I've added extra veggies that I needed to use up, a variety of meats that I needed to use up...it's basically like the pre-compost of soups, which admittedly sounds awfu...er AMAZING! ;)
You know how Ina Garten always talks about "Turning up the volume" on her more traditional recipes? That's my plan with today's corn chowder, I'm thinking of adding lump crab, or perhaps some shellfish, something fun to make it feel extra special....'cause "How bad could that be?"

Ina Garten isn't really the kind of person that comes to mind when I think of "Turning up the volume", she seems kind of soft spoken and laid back, not like the kinda woman that really enjoys rocking out, more like rolling out a pie crust (see what I did there?), or doing a crossword puzzle. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I appreciate the solitary activities in life and I'm absolutely obsessed with pie crust so we're on the same page, although I'm more of a scrabble gal myself.

Over the weekend I refilled my hummingbird feeders and one is perched on my window feeder right now drinking away. I love these little visitors, they make me so happy when I see them. Despite their small size they're kinda badasses, watching them dive bomb and attack each other over sugar water is pretty entertaining. Unlike all the crows on our hedge, and the ducks who've visited our pool, hummingbirds are the lone wolves of birds. Rarely do you see them in pairs and if you do they're  fighting each other...they'd make for great reality T.V. characters.

Speaking of badasses, my "wittle dogs" are not about the current rainy weather. They have as much interest in going outdoors in it as I do. This morning when I forced them outside to go potty the looks on their faces were pretty sad. Habanero being stoic and dutiful looked unhappy but willing to endure, Tank looked perturbed and for a way to get past me and back indoors, and Bill turned right around and ran back inside without making eye contact. Bill has no interest in ever stepping a paw outside when the ground is wet, he's kind of like royalty that way. Naturally I removed my cape and let him walk across it, sheltering him from the rain with a tiny umbrella....

Back on the topic of soup, yesterday I made a cream of mushroom soup that turned out really good. In the beginning of the recipe you infuse the olive oil with fresh rosemary and sage, which made my kitchen smell like thanksgiving and made me excited for the holidays!  I should be updating my corn chowder/pre-compost of soups with leftover turkey before ya know it. Happy November!

Peace,

V


Friday, October 27, 2017

Steak And Other Nonsense.

I spend my days with three little dogs. Habanero is an 11 year old terrier (of some kind) and Chihuahua mix, Bill Murray is a brindle Chihuahua aged 5, and Tank is his dad, also brindle, 8 years old. I love them each very much and can't imagine finer companions now that my kids are gone during the day. I think I just get dogs and they get me...probably because we are both such creatures of habit. I like a routine, always have, until I don't like the routine anymore and I feel completely annoyed with the monotony and want to shake things up, so I bark out the window or buy a new toy...wait. God, sadly that's not far from the truth, no wonder I love dogs.

You know what I don't like? Waze.

Michael is a believer in Waze like bible beaters are with the good book. I think it's because of his lack of direction...which actually works for bible beaters too! I'll be here all week, folks! ;)
He would much prefer to let Waze guide him where he needs to go whereas I have my preferred routes everywhere. I like the routine of them regardless if they are more trafficky than an alternate one in the moment. Im not saying it makes sense, but it makes sense to me.
There's one particular route that Waze aways tries to take us to get on the highway that literally makes me angry! I hate this route so much that whenever it's suggested, only when Michael's driving because I never use Waze, I literally lose my shit. Luckily, having been married as long as we have he's aware of my feelings about this Waze (get it) to get on the highway,  and will either try to keep me from seeing that Waze recommended it, or will at least acknowledge my hatred of said route in a thoughtful manner.

He's a good man.

Thankfully it's Friday again, and we all know how much I love Fridays.
Being a birthday week we've had some very indulgent meals, followed by lots of indulgent leftovers, in fact I just fed the dogs the very last of the Filet Mignon for breakfast. Surprisingly they loved it...although they did ask for a touch of steak sauce to go with.

Speaking of steak sauce, this is another area where Michael and I differ on our preferences. He's an A1 kinda guy, and I'm a Rothchild Farms Chop House Steak Sauce kinda girl. Not trying to stir anything up here, but on names alone mine is just better! I mean, it sounds like a luxury steak sauce! "Rothchild" sounds like a family name that has a long lineage in the steak sauce arts, many years of fine tuning this secret recipe that commoners like us have finally been given access to!! A1 sounds like a rental car place. Michael obviously disagrees with me and likes the classic vibe that A1 has to offer. It's pepperiness that is meant for the common man to consume on a large marbled steak, with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, and a black coffee. To each their own.

The nice thing about Michael and my differences is they seem to blend well together,  like colby  swiss and cheddar, we're literally the Velvetta of marriages. He accepts my love of a superior steak sauce and I like his appreciation for a classic. I accept his love of Waze and he tries to avoid that one route to the highway that makes me angry, or at least acknowledges it in a thoughtful manner.

Peace,

V







Wednesday, October 25, 2017

You'll Shoot Yer Eye Out.

Yesterday my youngest child turned 15, how that happened I really have no idea? The last time I checked I was 26 and newly married, or maybe I have early onset Alzheimer's again.
Okay that's always my copout, in reality I remember a lot of my kids young child years, and at this point having read some of my older posts here I remember them with rose colored glasses...because they sounded like hell! ;)

Because it was our girl's birthday Mikey stayed home to celebrate, even though this is the first year that she's in brick and mortar school (that's the term we homeschoolers use if our kids attend a traditional school situation, and it makes me laugh because when I think of a brick and mortar school automatically an old fashioned schools like the one in A Christmas Story comes to mind, which is not at ALL what her school looks like. On a side note my husband and my mother-in-law actually went to that school...like the real one where A Christmas Story was filmed! How cool is that? But I digress....)so it was the first year that my daughter wasn't actually at home for her birthday day, but Michael and I celebrated anyway. He brought the recycle bins up and emptied the food waste, I frosted the birthday cake, there was a trip to the store for birthday dinner fixins' and some other super exciting stuff, so yeah...it was pretty celebratory.

Seriously though, the sun was out and it was truly a beautiful day so it felt nice, although as always happens when you take an extra day or two off you just start to get in the groove of relaxing as it's time to get back at it. That's why I think vacations should be at least 2 weeks, maybe a month. If I ever run for office, which I've considered, my first order of business will be extended holidays for everyone. Like mandatory 2-4 week holidays when you start to get stressed out and aren't doing your best work. I'm pretty sure it would solve the worlds problems.

Speaking of solving the worlds problems...I just made the mistake of looking at a news alert which made me feel exhausted by the worlds problems. As Ive gotten older Ive become more politically aware...much to my families chagrin. While I registered to vote on my 18th birthday, and I've always voted...at least in presidential elections, I've had the luxury of not needing to follow politics as closely as I have since hitting my 40's. Maybe it's part of getting older, maybe it's that my kids are getting to an age now that I see the world more clearly that they'll be inheriting, or maybe it's just the current shitshow of a climate that can't be overlooked. While I could go deep into a rant (I've become so good at it that Mikey told me yesterday that I should create a podcast called Ranting with Rue, which is a possibility if running for office doesn't work out)  I will refrain...because that's what social media is for. This is my blog, and it's focus should be the things that make me happy, like birthdays, and extra days off with my honey, and the possibility of implementing mandatory months off in my future imaginary political career....where all is right with the world.


Peace,

V