Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Political correctness run amok

So while heading to the library to drop off some (overdue) books, I passed one of the many places you can drop off your used Christmas trees. Only it didn't say "Christmas Tree Drop Off", it said "Holiday Tree Drop Off". Which at first made me laugh at the ridiculousness of the political correctness of it. But then it kind of pissed me off. I mean really? You can't even call them Christmas trees anymore?

And this led to the following conversation with Mister C after I got back home...

Me: So I found a place that takes trees over by the library.

MC: Cool.

Me: Yeah, except we can't bring our tree there.

MC: Huh? Why not?

Me: Because we have a Christmas tree and they're only accepting "Holiday" trees.

MC: (laughs) That's pretty bad.

Me: I know. I mean seriously, what the hell other holiday is associated with trees anyway?

MC: Arbor Day.

Me: Well okay, but I suspect the supporters of Arbor Day would frown on everyone going out and cutting down perfectly good trees and then throwing them out a month later.

MC: Oh yeah, huh?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The day after Christmas

Our main tree has been dying since two weeks before Christmas so we had made the decision that we would pull it down as soon as possible. On Sunday, after some nagging from Mister C, I undecorated the tree so it could be dragged out of the house and gotten rid of.

What I didn't count on when I started the process was the methodology that Mister C would employ to get rid of the tree. I guess I thought the process of dismemberment would begin once the tree got outside. I guess I was wrong.

Check out the mighty hunter carefully approaching the tree from behind. Note what he is carrying in his hand. That's right people, he's going to attempt an indoor landscaping project! (at this point I must add: kids, don't try this at home!)

He attacks the unsuspecting tree from an un-defensible angle. His trusty hunting dogs circle warily in case the tree makes a break for it.

He has his prey right where he wants it! He looks rather pleased with himself, no? It looks like it's pine salad for dinner tonight!

Getting into the field dressing portion of the hunt. Note the wild kitten "helping" from the left. He had to be removed before he became an amputee.

Oh lord, the pine needles are raining onto my carpet!

Izzy hoping she gets her portion of the kill, a branch maybe?

Another wild cat stalks around the landscaping. It was at this point that the mighty hunter was forced to remove all of the wild critters from the area as they were causing him to slow down the dismemberment process. They all got shoved unceremoniously into the bedroom. Much squawking and complaining commenced immediately.

I think he just removed the "tree steaks". You know, the most desired portion of the tree.

And no, my carpet wasn't always green.

Fully dressed tree, just need to have the "head" stuffed and hung on my wall to commemorate The Great Christmas Tree Kill of 2010!

And the mighty hunter drags his prey out of his favored hunting grounds.

Seriously, don't try this at home.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Lucky for Master J, Mister C and I put in a good word for him with Santa while we were at a party last Sunday.

Hope your Christmas is joyful.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus!

We spent part of our day decorating the gingerbread house. I understand that is not a recognized ritual of the holiday today but if it's any consolation, I did air my grievances with my friend Brandy.

The finished product!

Side view

The back

The creative part of the architectural team.

A little cat torture as part of the festivities.

And yes, I do recognize that the outfit is a "Mrs. Santa Paws" version that I have put on my male cat. But I couldn't get a decent picture of the Antagonizer in the outfit because she was walking backwards and bitching the whole time it was on her. That, and I was laughing too hard to focus.

Catch up

I'm finally feeling a ton better after finishing up my antibiotics today. I still have the nagging cough that gets worse as night falls and keeps me up for several hours during the night. But I can breath now and I'm not being mistaken for Mister C when I answer the phone (Thanks, Mamoo!) The worst part is that while I went to my doctor last week, I didn't get medicine until I called back in on Saturday morning basically demanding something. I got the call back that she had called in the prescription after hours. A prescription for an antibiotic I'm allergic to. The ONLY thing I'm allergic to. Way to read a chart Dr. Bozo. By the time Mister C brought me home the medicine the doctor's office was closed and I was desperate. So I loaded up on Benadryl and took the medicine. The first day was really itchy and I had a red rash but it eventually cleared up and with continued antihistamine I made it through. Having said that, what the hell kind of doctor calls in a prescription for a medicine their patient is allergic to? It's like she was upset that I basically "made" her prescribe something and tried to punish me. Or she's really, really stupid.

Sunday night Mister C and I got to attend a holiday party slash charity fundraiser for a dog rescue that was hosted by one of my clients. We didn't stay long but it was nice to get be able to get dressed up and meet some new people. Santa was there as was a photographer. I'll post a picture as soon as it arrives.

I applied for a "real" job the other day. Mister C suggested I do so. I'm not really thrilled about doing that and I'm not giving up real estate unless I have to due to conflict of interest, but I'm giving the working world another shot. I thought I did my time but I guess I must have violated my parole or something because it looks like I might be going back in.

Today, I (finally) put together the gingerbread house I bought at the co-op two weeks ago. Master J watched me do the "build" and he did install the door. It has to cure for twenty four hours before we decorate. Master J and I are going down the cookie and candy aisles tomorrow so he can get the required supplies for decorating. I have some ideas but I'm going to let him do what he wants.

And finally...Mister C gave up on me painting the exterior of the house by myself since I've been sick for the past three weeks. I talked with the painter that lives down the street and he gave us a reasonable quote. Mister C agreed it would be worth it to go ahead and have it done. Only problem? We had to un-decorate our house this week. So there we were, at ten on Sunday night, up on a ladder removing the lights. It looked like we were recreating my favorite Dr. Seuss book/movie. But wait, it gets better. The painter power washed the house the next day. Yesterday, he came back and started caulking the house. And then it started raining. And it hasn't stopped. So now, I have no lights, there are white patches and lines all over my house and water is pooling up around the foundation where the earth was pulled away in preparation for painting. I can't win for losing on this one.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gordon Ramsay meets The Swedish Chef

Master J has been watching and helping me bake since he was old enough to drag his chair in front of the oven to keep an eye on the cookies.

He knows how to read a recipe (and actually does). He is capable of doubling or halving a recipe as needed. But most importantly, he knows how I do things in my kitchen and generally follows suit.

The first thing I do is read the recipe. Even if I've made something a hundred times, I scan over the recipe as a reminder of the order of things. Then, based on the recipe, I turn the oven on to preheat while I pull out all of the ingredients I will need. I get together any mixing bowls that will be used as well as all of my measuring implements. Once I have everything together and start putting it together, I put away each ingredient as I use it. I do this for two reasons: first, it makes clean up easier and second, it guarantees that I don't forget to add anything. If it's still sitting out, I haven't used it. Simple, right?

Master J does a pretty good job of doing things this way. He's like Gordon Ramsay without the f-bombs. He enjoys a well run operation and the products one produces. So when he asked if he could make cookies the other day, I said that although I was still too sick to help, that if his dad would help him, he could.

Mister C agreed to help him. Mister C is not a baker. His baking style is reminiscent of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. Minus the apron.

I sat on the couch watching in horror as Mister C casually destroyed my kitchen and my belief in his intelligence. Master J stood next to him trying to circumvent further damage. The conversation is loosely translated here:

Mister C: Okay, get me the measuring cup so I can add the flour
Master J: Uhhh, Dad? Wait...
Mirth: Don't do that. Have you read the recipe yet?
MC: No, it's cookies. How hard can it be?
M: Read the recipe, the flour doesn't go in yet.
MC: What? It says "stir together in a small bowl flour, baking soda, salt" What's the problem?
M: Keep reading.
MC: Oh. (He proceeds to follow this direction) Where's the butter?
MJ: I put it in this bowl. You need to soften it so set the microwave for ten seconds but check after five.
MC: K. (He sets the microwave for twenty)
MJ: Uhhh, Dad? Wait...(panicked look at me)
MC: What now? It's soft.
MJ: It's melted. This isn't going to come out right.
MC: It'll be fine.
(He throws it in the mixing bowl with white sugar. Master J tries to hand him the brown sugar.)
MC: Why do I need brown sugar? I already have white sugar.
M: Read the recipe.
MC: Fine. (eye-roll) Oh.
MJ: We need to soften the brown sugar, it's hard.
MC: It's fine (he tosses it in)
MJ: Uhhh, Dad? Wait...
Mister C flips the mixer on and looks at me smugly. About fifteen seconds later a golf ball size chunk of brown sugar comes flying out of the mixer and skitters across the kitchen floor toward a waiting dog.
MJ: Uhhh, Dad? That's not supposed to happen.
MC: Huh, wonder why that happened?
M: How hard was that brown sugar?
MJ: And why is the batter white?
MC: I don't know. (he now pours the rest of the hard, crunchy brown sugar from the bag into the mixing bowl without measuring while I try to pull my eyebrows out of my hairline.)

They stumble through the rest of the recipe until it's time to put the cookies on the cookie sheet. This is where the difference in style becomes really obvious.

MJ: Uhhh, Dad? You're doing that all wrong. They need to be evenly space, they're not going to cook properly. They'll be uneven and melt together.
MC: It's fine! (Slop! Slop! Squish!) They'll turn out fine!
MJ: No. No they won't. This is not going to work!
MC: (putting pan in the oven) You'll see, they'll be great.

Five minutes later Master J checks the oven...

MJ: Oh this is bad! I told you they were going to melt together!
MC: It can't be that bad! (Looks in the oven) Huh, maybe I did put them too close together.
MJ: That's it. I've had enough! No more baking with you!
MC: Well, it's not how they look that matters, it's how they taste!

As soon as the misshapen, melted together atrocities are done and cool enough to eat, everyone grabs one.

MC: See, they're not that bad!
MJ: They're not that good. Oh, yuck! I just got a big chunk of brown sugar! Can I spit that part out?
M: Yeah, go ahead. Thank your dad for helping you make cookies.
MJ: Really?

So, yeah, they were pretty tough to eat. And running across large chunks of brown sugar was the norm, not the exception.

Also, had it really been the Swedish Chef and Gordon Ramsay in my kitchen the conversation would have been the following.

SC: First, you put de fleur in the bowl!
GR: Hold on mate! What the f*&^ do you think you're doing?
SC: Then you add de melted butter and you stir it like dis!
GR: No man! F*&^! You can't melt the f(&^ing butter!
SC: Whoopsie! De brown sugar seem to ave flied out of de bowl!
GR: Oh my gawd! What the hell kind of place are you running here?
SC: Now, put it all on de baking sheet, like dis!
GR: Ah hell, man! Don't you have any pride? F*&^! No wonder you don't have any customers!
SC: And den, you take de cookies out of de oven and you eat! Bork! Bork! Bork!
GR: I quit! I can't work with such incompetence! Good luck mate!

The end.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sorry I've gone missing

I'm getting my backside handed to me by what I believe to be a cold and sinus infection combo. When I'm not doped up on Nyquil to stop the running nose, I'm laying about the place in sweats and moaning. I do believe my 102 degree temp has made me less than articulate enough to write a post worth actually reading. So, with that in mind, I'll leave you to your own devices. Hopefully I'll have something fantastical to post about tomorrow or Tuesday.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Marine Biology Department at ASU

Mister C and I went on a field trip with Master J today to the marine biology department at ASU. Who knew they even had a marine biology department here in the desert? But they do.

Master J's PI class, along with the PI classes for two other schools, got to go on a field trip there today to learn about plankton and whales. As with all of his PI field trips, it was pretty interesting. We got to hear Associate Professor Susanne Neuer speak about the wonders of ocean biochemistry before being sent over to listen to whale songs with Eric (whose last name escapes me). I'm so glad my child is in a school where they recognize the good parts of him as well as the bad and give him opportunities like this one.

Master J checking out some plankton under the microscope.

The kids were divided into groups, blindfolded and then mixed up. Then they had to find all the members of their pod by using their pod specific call. Master J was part of the cow group. It was pretty amusing listening to the barnyard as the kids tried to find their group.

All in all, a pretty cool day for both the kids and the adults.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Purrfectly lovely!

I got a few good shots of my friend A's two cats the other day. Seeing how much they look like two of my own it's no wonder we're friends. Also, I was supposed to send these to her when I got home that day and I keep forgetting. It's all good though, she knows I'm kind of ditzy like that and she puts up with me anyway.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

From the site Naval History and Heritage, the USS Arizona

USS Arizona Memorial (2002, my image)

Thank you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

There was a spaghetti squash amongst my fruit and vegetables this morning. I've never tried this particular vegetable, nor had any desire to do so. I dislike squash in general. But, since it showed up in my basket, I thought I should at least give it a try. At first I thought I would try it "later in the week" but I know me too well. I know that I would keep putting it off until the undesired item finally started to go bad and then throw it out. I decided to dive in and serve it tonight with some baked chicken.

I had to read and re-read the directions several times to "get it". They're not difficult, I was just sort of distracted and hungry. Once I figured that part out, the biggest problem I had is that it took a little longer than I expected to cut the squash in half lengthwise. I almost cut my left hand off with the first knife I tried. Eventually, and several knives later, I got it cut in half and the seeds removed so I could toss it into the oven. After rotating it once and letting it cook for an hour, the skin softened and I took it out. Taking the fork to the insides was kind of fun in a "Cool, I'm creating something!" way. I tossed in a little sea salt, pepper and a few tablespoons of Parmesan and tossed it together. I put some on Mister C's plate as is. For myself, I cut my chicken up and threw it into the squash and mixed it up some more.

Now came the test. Mister C looked suspiciously at the squash and announced that it smelled funny. Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for. But he tried it. As did I. And guess what? It's really good. We both really liked it. Even Master J gave it a try and said it was good. He had already eaten earlier so he didn't want any more than a bite but at least he tried it. I'm never going to mistake it for actual pasta of any shape, but it's really tasty. The texture is fairly al dente and the flavor is pretty mild. While it doesn't taste like pasta, more importantly to me is that it doesn't taste like squash. I think I can add this one to the grocery list.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stupid, condescending Wii

I got owned by my Wii today.

Let me back up. Waaaaay back up. All the way to two Christmases ago when Mister C got me a Wii Fit. It's a pretty fun little piece of equipment and fyi: I ROCK at boxing. Not bragging people, just telling the truth. Just ask Mister C. In fact, just mention to Mister C that you heard he likes to box with his wife and watch the twinge of fear cross his face. It's no holds barred my friends, and I take no prisoners.

Anyway. I did the whole body fit test when I got it and put in my goals and time-line and all that. I used it a few times. Then, like anything else to do with fitness right after January 1st, I never touched it again. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm pretty sure I had to move it out of the way several times to get the RockBand equipment out. But otherwise, not so much.

Fast forward to today. I decide I want to be reassessed by my Wii-Fit to see what kind of progress I've made since the last time I used it. First things first, I had to re-read all of the directions to figure out how to make it work again. Then, I had to change out the batteries because they were dead. Finally, after messing around with it for fifteen minutes, it was ready to use. It made me wait a few seconds and then told me to step up.

And then, it chastised me. It was all "It has been 353 days since you've used your Wii-Fit." It mentioned that I had lost 23.4 pounds since the last time and dropped (barely) into the healthy BMI range. Then, it said "Better late than never." Are you kidding me? What the heck? Who knew the Wii-Fit was a sarcastic trainer?

After the trauma of the body check, I decided to do some working out. I did some boxing (of course!) and a few strength exercises. Then I thought I would try some balance exercises. So I picked the snowboard slalom first. I royally suck at that. And I do mean royally. I think I missed 99% of the flags every time I went down the course. I couldn't control the board, I ended up in the fence every time. So after running the course eight times I decided that maybe snowboard slalom wasn't for me. I decided I would try the skiing slalom. At least for that I would be facing forward, certainly I could manage that much.

I did do better at the skiing than the snowboarding. But I still sucked. I did the skiing course about a dozen times and did improve substantially. It still felt really weird and my stupid Mii just refused to do what I thought I was telling it to do. I tried the ski jump a few times and did pretty good at that. Then I tried the tightrope walking, but gave up after falling off five times in a row.

At this point I was getting sort of discouraged. I mean every time I finished something it was telling me that I was "unbalanced" or at "amateur" level. It sucked. So I looked at my options and figured I would try some aerobic activity before I gave up completely.

I clicked through to the very basic, beginner level aerobic set. I started it up and tried following along. I thought I was doing pretty well but it kept telling me I wasn't following. It told me if I couldn't figure out the steps, maybe I should watch the other characters feet and try to follow that. I tried that and it still wasn't working. What the hell? I was so aggravated I was ready to sell the stupid thing on Craigslist.

So I started really watching the footprints on the screen as I was stepping up. They just wouldn't line up. And then it hit me. I stepped off. Made an adjustment. Then got back on. And suddenly all was right with the world. I'd had the stupid Wii board facing the wrong direction the whole time.

Wii: 1
Ditzy brunette: 0

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weight Loss Continues

I somehow managed to lose a pound and a half over the Thanksgiving holiday. Never felt hungry and even ate pie with homemade whipped cream for several days. That's something worth being thankful for.