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Friday, December 16, 2011

All Things Great and Small

Poor little fishy! I forgot all about buying him frozen brine shrimp for Christmas when I looked down into the mini-freeze and saw the cartons labeled 'Frozen Mice'. It did cross my mind, briefly, to crack open the boxes, snuggle the rodents in my coat, and try a little bit of CPR but then some common sense kicked back in as the shock wore off enough for me to slam the door shut in revulsion. Now don't get all yell-y about the shrimp. I felt kind crappy for them, too, but I've never raised baby shrimp in and bought them toys and treats and watched them grow.

My husband yells at me every time we watch a nature show and I wind up curled on the couch shielding my eyes every time a baby wildebeest bites the dust or a daddy penguin gets the hypothermia and the little egg rolls off his feet to doom. No, of course I don't want the predators to die, but don't they ever choose the salad bar?

What can I say? I believe in Karma, Murphy... and James Herriot.

(All Things Bright and Beautiful)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings

Cecil Frances Alexander

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yes, Kitty

I awaken often to whiskers tickling my nose and four little cat pudgies patting me on the face. If I do not respond or fall back to sleep the gentle tapping gradually becomes a 9lb cat body bouncing off of my recumbent from like a 10-year-old on a trampoline, alternated with a paw now slipping under the blanket and to pull it off my face. That's okay, Kitty. Humans hate sleeping in on weekends.

'Cat Man-Do' (Wake-Up Cat)

Feed upstairs kitty marveling again in his cacophonous purr and downstairs we go, kitten-cat and I, the comforting plunk-plunk-plunk rhythmically descending the steps behind me and into the kitchen. Coffee and laptop on first, Kit-Cat. Yes, I know. The nerve of me!

Greet the doggies! "What do you have Rei-Guy?" to the little boy before his tail helicopters right off of his body. He always greets us with one to several stuffed toys 'caught' in his oddly cavernous terrier mouth and if you pause in recognizing his bounty he begins to rumble a mounting 'grr-rr-rr' and wiggle harder until you think his head might loll right off. "Prince-Ness!" to the little girl whose front feet I can feel stretched all the way up to my behind. If I don't let her lick my face twice she'll put her ears down and mope until I cave.

Oh, smell the coffee brewing! Wash dishes and wipe counters whilst being transported to paradise by the beautiful whispers of Mr. Coffee. Has there ever been heard a more beautiful drip-gurgle?

Dishes done, cream and sugar, lovely first sips, email check... and a paw through my hair with a little orange face stretched above the window seat to peek over the top of my chair. Onto the screened porch to stalk chipmunks and squirrels ... and that 8-point buck who wanders often through our yard this year. Nice dreaming, Mr. Pusses.

Set the oven timer and kitty is chilly and ready to come in before his 3 minutes are up.

What's that, Puss-Puss? Yes, Master. Your bowl is reduced to an unacceptable 50 nubules of cat nutrition. I see those hairy eyeballs leveled in my direction and understand the pert lip licking to mean, 'Yes, the foods you are walking toward. The kibbles of crunchy goodness that sometimes get stuck between my teeth, the niblets that scatter into your purse when I overfill my mouth. Bring it to me! I shall rubbeth my scent onto your flesh in gratification and snack directly from the bin if you doth take too long.'

So the kitty will eat and then will trot upstairs to ride other kitty down the hall causing the dogs to bark at the meowling and the hissing and my husband to yell, "Shut up!". It's a reliable soundtrack.

And on goes our day. Are you owned by any pets?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Photographs and Sugar Cookies

I do not know how anyone ever manages to get a photograph of their children all looking the same direction without the use of double-sided velcro and spinal rod implants when I can not manage a photo of two dogs and a cat in the same area of the room at one time, which is why our Christmas card this year has three totally unrelated photos gathered possibly from separate years with one pet left out. (Two left out, really. The fish declined.)

I might have put sweaters on the pups and tried for fresh photos then but every time I put an outfit on the female, the male comes over to test her out. What can I say? One of our dogs has a costume fetish.

My husband has gone off for most of the day at least to fish with his father in NJ. Hooray!You who are married or as good as- particularly those of you whose significant other also works from home rarely leaving you alone- know what I mean and set quite the example for single me giving up whoops whenever you were left to fend for yourself, too :-) And so I revert to my traditional M.O. for when the cat is away- I clean. Ha! Indeed, I am crazed. I clean and rearrange furniture and take mad joy in sometimes carting off goods at which I am sick to death of staring to the town dump. I've been known to install shelving in closets or paint the bathroom in his absence. Circle your shopping carts, True Value! My husband should sign up for alerts.

Since Thursday afternoon I've cooked up a pan of lasagna so heavy it barely made it into and out of the oven, a pot of beef vegetable and bean soup with a Corona and brown sugar for secret ingredients, a coffee cake with crumb topping I've neatly polished off (again! it never lasts a day), and my first batch of spaghetti sauce. There is an easy 4lbs of mixed soaked dry beans freezing in Ziplocs, and one pot of them that sat overnight on the stove in broth and spices.

Last year I found a sugar cookie recipe I just love. The ingredients are very basic and it's delightfully easy to memorize and toss together in a pinch. They bake beautifully as cutouts or spoon drop and are melt-in-your-mouth lovelies.

May I share?

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies (click me! click me!)

Yum! What homemade holiday cookie favorite of your comes to mind when the baking itch hits?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Holly Jolly Christmas cards

I succumbed to the allure of photo Christmas cards this year and it is already a relief with the order only one hour old. Every year I do my best to add a hand-written note and complete with holly leaves and holiday stickers to every active address in my book but this year, I'm throwin' in the towel!

VistaPrint has a deal running right now on photo cards. Our kids are all covered in fur or in fins and I spent just over an hour this morning cutting and pasting various photographs from my Nikon transfer folder into several different card styles before finally settling on three aligned photographs so that each animal at least appears to be looking at the recipient. The program is rather user-friendly as you can cut and paste as many times as you like until you find a favorable arrangement and save your creation to your computer if you should need more time to decide. One of the things I like best about Vistaprint is the ability to open and utilize an account for free. There is no need to register for the 7-day trial period and wish on Rudolph's nose that you remember to cancel it before dinner hits the table next Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsom

The brown and curly, crunchy leaves are blown into giant piles by my spouse and since we have over 100 trees, counted once by said spouse until he gave up, over our half-acre yard that is fine with me as I am not about to rake, at least not until I clear the garden in the Spring; and the pile-up makes great protection and cavorting for the chipmunks living and nesting about the yard. Last May when the hubs went away on one of his annual fishing or golfing trips I celebrated my long weekend of freedom by single-handedly filling 20 contractor bags with 2010's fallen foliage, and carting them and useless household items to the biannual township dump day. I think the strapping young community driver was quite impressed with my lifting skills and he was so cute I nearly found more to throw out for the chance to go back and flirt a bit ;-) Hey, when the cat is away, the mouse will elude herself she's still got it and at least dream of playing!

With most of the leaves down now and blown into camel size lumps and one good snow behind us we are rightly swinging toward winter. Heck, I walked into the local CVS on October 31st hoping to find marked down candy and some lovely Thanksgiving decorations and was nearly swallowed by Christmas regalia! Had I been on the ball I'd have shopped for harvest items on July 5th when Independence Day items went to sale and just before the first Chrismtas card boxes came out with the Back-to-School items. Heaven knows if you want a new bathing suit for summer you had best scoop it up in June or risk scrounging the rejects scattered amongst the wool socks and snow boots. How foolish do I feel needing a new pair of shorts in August when it is already down to 98 degrees outside?

So indeed the news is still full of the 4-6 inches of snow we were 'hammered' with on Saturday. I was disappointed when it stopped! The dogs and I had a run or two around the block and through our plot, we threw snowballs off the deck, and there is still part of my snowman's head melting slowly in the shade of a huge rock along the driveway. When the power flickered for the 95th time and finally gave out toward midnight we had a great fire roaring and all the candles laid out at hand. I zipped the duvet onto the down blanket, tossed it on the bed, and the four animals bunkered down with us for a wonderful sleep. Even my morning coffee tasted fabulously brewed on the grill in my Coleman percolator! But before you slap me for being too perky, the power did come on late Sunday morning directly after I finished washing and shampooing in an unheated bathroom with cold water from a recycled milk jug, camp style ;-)

Monday, October 31, 2011

flipping flapping fugaroo

I am not entirely sure what happened or even how to apologize, but I lost my shiz at work this morning and not just at my boss- oh, no- no I have a hissy fit in front of my young client and her mother.

Controlling my emotions has never been my strong point. Truthfully most everything my mother ever told me about myself has come round to haunt me (and when my bangs fall just right I'll even sing to myself, "There was a little girl, who had a little curl...") I don't handle change well, not unless I have my quiet time to take a breath and put it in its place, and I thrive best with routine. So when my schedule was changed on me last minute twice last week and I arrive at my regularly set appointment at 6:15 this morning to find another nurse's car in the driveway despite a quick check of my monthly roster affirming today as mine, and upon entering learn she alone was told by our schedulers over the weekend that I was to be somewhere else today and might she be able to cover? ... well I sort went into hissy fit mode and might have mouthed an F-bomb. Twice. Really, really uncool.

Dealing poorly with change, indeed! I felt badly for the other nurse having driven out, even if it was her snafu, and I felt badly for the other scheduler we had to call who hadn't any record of the swithceroo, and I felt badly for the family being caught up in it and for the bus driver possibly needing to wait about, and for myself at the injustice of having my schedule being altered behind my back! Argh!
And that is something I struggle constantly to handle- my hatred of having my set schedule changed and my guilt over hating it so.

What's a girl to do? Because dropping F-bombs in front of clients is absolutely not the way to go!