Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

Today I sent out email Christmas cards (which is about as good as it gets for me any more). Now I have to wrap and cook roast beef, tomato soup and mac and cheese (hard mac, as my nephew calls it.)

I'm having a bit of spell of holiday cheer. I love the Christmas email because people email right back to say hello. It's very sweet and reminds me of my good friends and family.

Christmas Eve begins at 5:00. That gives me 2.5 hours. Have a great Christmas if that's the way you roll, as Erik would say. Who picked it up from one of the many times he watched Alvin and the Chipmunks. Because it's a long drive from mountain town to mountain city, but well worth it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On being sick

Sometimes, I prefer the sick version of me. For the four days I was sick, I learned how to be a better guest--not always getting in the way, worrying about compensating my hosts every twelve minutes by offering to cook or clean or empty the dishwasher. I let Erik's parents, just wake up with Z and play whatever she wanted without saying, Zo, Grandma and Grandpa can't play nonstop. I finally realize they only do this a couple weeks a year. They can get up early. I finally let my mom make me three kinds of toast and tea and find movies for us to watch all day Sunday. I let Val cook tacos without helping or even doing the dishes. I let Erik shop for gifts without worrying if I was doing my fair share. Erik cleaned and shoveled and I just laid in the bed and listened. I think I found an off switch. I kept seeing it in my head. It's electric blue and if I focus on it enough, my brain truly does not speed at a thousand miles an hour.

But being sick also irritates me. I missed a big deal party with for one of my friend's kids. We're trying to repair our friendship and this set us back. I missed a neighborhood party at my friend Sylv's. I missed going downtown every night and I love going downtown when I'm here. I'm also annoyed by realizing how frantic I get in trying to make everyone even--seeing everyone exactly the right number of times. I drive myself nuts and then end up in a crabby mood because I'm always fretting. I don't like being a fretter and I think that's part of the reason I was sick for so long. Also, I was not eating enough yogurt.

It is snowing like crazy up here in the Cove. Perhaps we'll ski tomorrow. Or sled.

I'm actually getting excited for Christmas. Perhaps I should finish shopping? Tomorrow. Today, I have to make up for all the writing I didn't do although I do think I
Plus I have a list of other things due by the end of break.
  • 1st year review (I know. I've been there 3 months. They review yearly.)
  • AWP talk.
  • National teach-in day presentation.
  • Syllabus 1.
  • Syllabus 2 (speaking of which, I'm still getting emails for people asking me to let them into my class. I'm already over by 4 in each! Stop. It's Christmas week!)
  • Holiday cards? New Year's Emails? Some sort of missive into the nonblogging universe saying hello.
My hope for everyone? May no one be sick for the rest of the week. Maybe even the rest of the year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We did make it

We're here. It's snowing here too. Apparently, it's winter.
We're at Erik's mom's house where the snow hits hard. I have a stomach ache but think I'm on the mend.
Rick's sister and her daughters and her two dogs are staying here. Erik's sister and her dog is here. We're hunkering down, making halibut and salmon even though Rick's sister and her daughters don't eat fish. I'll make hollandaise and try to convince them that everything is edible with hollandaise on it.
Update when stomach is fully returned to its steely self.
Happy weather!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Will We Get Out of Here?

It is forecast to snow thirty-one inches by five p.m. tonight. I don't think we'll get that but Erik has shoveled for an hour and a half today after an hour's worth last night at nine. Cleo looks like a little skunk out there. I'm taking her running because if at all possible, we're heading north in the morning--come rain or shine or snow or sleet. We'll be like postmen.

For HighTouch I've included a picture, thanks to Egg who reduced it to a reasonable size. I need Photoshop.

Friday, December 12, 2008


On Yahoo today, they posted the 13 most overrated careers:
Not only was Professor on that list but so were all my back up jobs. What? Being a farmer that sells a $2 pair isn't an easy gig? I had planned on going to med school if this whole professor thing didn't/doesn't work out.

But perhaps I am particularly ill-suited to the rhythms of the academic calendar. In August and early September, I am all embittered complaint wondering how the hell I have to be some place on time when I just want to work on my whining. I mean writing. And then, when the semester really gets going, I hunker down and the rest of the world drops away. I hardly leave the house. I email my students (rather than just respond to their emails). I say yes to every independent study and special project. Then, at the end of the semester, I am alternately cranky and. Oh wait. Just cranky because students still want stuff (4 people came into the advising center yesterday. On a Thursday. Of Finals Week! One asking me if I knew if they could graduate sooner under a different catalog year.) But I do start to look up and around. I try to make phone calls and emails to people who aren't students or don't work at my work. I make 7 plans for fun. I start writing again. But then Christmas takes a huge chunk of concentration and then it's time to think about the semester starting again: First year review, syllabi, new marketing project.
I presume early January will be full of complaint then no one will hear from me from the middle of February until April 1st. And then I'll be wondering, isn't this all over all over again?

Final analysis: Winter break isn't long enough to feel relaxed and re-absorbed into human culture and summer break is too much absorption altogether.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Easy Monday Meme

As Seen at Anastasia's and Inside the Philosophy Factory

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea (spelled lightning, no?)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (do hand-turkeys count?)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (Bambara with Leonard Schwartz. Lobster “pie.” Ew.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (I like the idea of someone not doing this. They close their eyes every evening from 9 until 10 in the summer and 5-6 in the winter).
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (I was born in the place of my ancestors. And I have been to Evanston Wyoming too. Also England and Germany).
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (the latter half)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (some days).
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (unfortunately for the audience)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (no but I bought some groceries for a woman at the check out whose card wasn’t working)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had my portrait painted (Thanks Bek!)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (KJ—wait to do this meme until July)
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (only once. Don’t tell my mom)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Twice.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (I’ve caught trout but I don’t think I did the head-bashing or gutting).
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (Although I don’t think “swimming” is quite the term).
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Obviously I need to sing in a band and ride (and fall from) flying machines and give more blood (although it makes me pass out).

Sunday, December 07, 2008


There are deer hanging out inthe back yard. A lot of them. I hope we have some delicious grass. It's cold out there.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Bullets of De-complaint

I can't think of the opposite of complaining. Plus, mostly I mean a retraction. Perhaps I won't even bullet this list.

Oh, but I will.

  • The makers of nebulizers proved un-helpful but Zoe's pediatrician's nurse proved a godsend. She heard my plight, took down Z's name, wrote a prescription and faxed it over to the home health outlet right by Zoe's school.
  • The bestowers of licenses and license-plates were quick (ish. 1 hour). I got new license (not horrible picture) and new plates that are protecting the environment as we speak for a mere $25 more dollars.
  • The soup Erik made for dinner spilled only a little in my bag and was as delicious today as it was last night.
  • My kind friends and friends on the internet (and in real life) buoyed me with their kind comments and good ideas. I shall indeed meet for writing group and connect my bullet points in so preparing for writing meeting.
  • And, I might have figured out a plan for the would-soon-be-failing writing project. A little bit of one.
  • I still have no fantastic email but I'm sure it's just stuck in the pipe somewhere waiting to fall upon me like so much delicious soup.

The Bullets of Complaint

  • Zoe's nebulizer broke last night. Now she's all hacky and I have to try to find a new one today. Last time, one just arrived at our door but that was thanks to a hospital stay. I'd rather drive the desert long to find one myself than have the hospital involved.
  • The people who are helping me find a nebulizer are not calling me back. Perhaps my phone is broken and calls cannot get through.
  • It is also though my email is blocked and only the most persistent and determined emails can get through. Thank you for ye who email.
  • I must register car today. And get a driver's license. Have I gotten a haircut in the last 8 months? No, I have not.
  • I have university-wide committee meeting that tends to go for two hours. Two!
  • This last week of class? I have no motivation.
  • I haven't slept well in two nights.
  • I have an impossible writing project that I really cannot do because I am too lame. Perhaps I can write a writing project all in bullets. That I can at least accomplish.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Report: Thanksgiving

It seems that Lis, in the cold, cold north, and I, in the cold at nights, warm in the day southwest, practically worked in the same way on Thanksgiving. I too made my own broth. Nor would I let anyone help in the kitchen except for Em to mash the potatoes and Rick, who, the day before, was allowed to make his own cheesecake. I too am a kitchen tyrant and need the order and the manner of things to go just so (although I relented much on Saturday and Em helped me a ton to make roll the pasta and to peel the butternut squash for the lasagna.)

However, Lis and I departed on a few key points. Sadly, in the ways that make me come off a bit more boring. Cranberry sauce? Just orange zest and the juice of an orange. Stuffing? Mushrooms, onions, celery and sage. The yams and sweet potatoes had a bit of brown sugar, pecans, sage and butter. They were supposed to be tossed, thanks to Martha, in cayenne pepper but I forgot and then used Z as an excuse for not doing it (thanks Z!). The worst deparature? My lame thinly sliced, raw turnips, beets, radishes, cheese and crackers for lunch/appetizers. I always forget the early feeding. And we had no fancy cocktails. Just wine. And not even too much. Weird.

I did brine the turkey however. In the cooler went about 2 cups of salt, 1.5 cups of sugar, some juniper berries (Alton Brown called for allspice berries which I could find nowhere). I let it brine overnight and until noon the next day. Then, ala Alton, instead of stuffing the bird I infused the cavity with an apple, sage, rosemary and onion. Covered the whole thing in Canola oil and cooked the 16 pound bird for 2.5 hours (first 30 minutes at 500, then the rest at 350) using the new Jenn Air oven and its integrated probe. When the meat of the breast reached 165, the oven turned off! The turkey came out entirely brown, entirely cooked and moist. Even the useless white meat was pretty tasty. Next time, I think I'll use a bit more salt or salt the top like I would usually.

Again, the whole thing seemed like two days of work for 20 minutes of eating but it was good great fun. The gravy was the best ever. The appreciation large.

I just ate too much leftover turkey. We had a lot of leftover turkey. Not so many leftover mashed potatoes, most likely because 2 of the 7 of us are vegetarians. And the 7th, being Z, ate almost nothing.

I believe our guests for the long weekend had a good time. We went down to Sedona for lunch on Friday at Oak Creek Brewery, walked along the creek of the same name at Slide Rock park and hiked up to the vortex. This time, we had to hustle because lightning was striking in the near distance and if lightning's attracted to anything, it's a vortex. It was a quick trip down the canyon. Next time, I would like to linger in Sedona. Maybe even eat dinner and stay the night. When there are no tourists. Which might be never. That night, we played Cranium as we had the night before but Friday night, we stupidly brought out the Trivial Pursuit which brought out the uber competitiveness of some and stupidly made us stay up until midnight. Z slept with us because the other beds were packed with guests, coughed all night, and kicked Erik in the head. I was surprised to find myself able to function the next day.

But function we all did. On Saturday, the guys played disc golf, the women-folk walked Cleo the dog and Zoe the cold-ridden toddler who every nine minutes or so all weekend made a lovely noise when she wanted something, much like the noise made from a cow mooing because she's stuck in the mud. Perhaps her lungs felt muddy. Surprisingly, the noise was entirely unpleasant.

Saturday night, the lasagna. No games. Just chatting and a tiny bit of wine. Lovely.

Yesterday, after the folks left, cold-ridden myself and nearly comatose from turkey or a lack of sleep, I still managed to grade. And watch 3 movies, ET, Forrest Gump (ugh. And yet not that bad.) and Ratatouille plus the t.v. shows, Property Ladder and Top Chef. All in all, a complete weekend.

Now I have to finish a grant proposal that's due today and make some big decisions about books and travel plans. Thankfully, I'm fully sated with the egregious amount of leftover turkey I just ate. However, I still need to think of what to make for dinner. I have basil. And leftover turkey.