Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Old Rock and Roller, and I like it

I am a rockband convert. For a year or so I heard about Guitar Hero and shook my head. Who in their right mind wants to play an air guitar, plastic or otherwise and get scored? Me. Last night I played a guitar with a drummer and a singer. fun fun fun

This morning I announced that I'll be having tea with honey to improve the vocals. After all being New Years Eve we will be in need of some entertainment. The feedback was it will take more than that to improve my scores. Still I'm willing to try -- Old Rock'n Roller in the house.

One question though -- Who is Nirvana?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just a picture today

It's the mad dash to clear the chip for the next round of visiting. No time to write, but ample time for making more Maple Granola.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Busy Busy

It's been a busy day full of cooking, church work, folding laundry, cleaning, and visiting family. Though I love cooking, it's the visiting family I love best. We are due for another round of visitors over the next few days. All good.

I've started checking the daily temperatures. Not so much looking for the time to tap the trees, but wondering when or if winter will get cold enough to usher in a proper sugaring season. The week the girls return to school and life returns to normal, I'll spend a few quiet days out in the shack counting taps, checking buckets and lids, setting up the burner, fans and lights. The season should be 8 weeks away, but in these past few years I've tapped as early as Valentine's Day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ever have one of those days?

Did you ever have one of those days that on paper look like hell twisted up tornado style? Well, that was my today. This morning I woke up with a headache after dreaming about failing at the day's to do list. I was a failure even before my feet had a chance to cool against the floor. But there was no turning back -- the day had to march on.

Eight AM Mass followed by a World Youth Day parish presentation. It went great. My alter server did a fine job. Followed by the youth doing a wonderful job explaining their experiences and thanking parishioners. Next was lunch at the new American Girl store in "Boston" read Natick here. The young company was lively, and fun. The service was nothing to write home about. The girls didn't seem to mind. In my mind, we did it. We need not do it again, as the online sales are far better than what you find instore. Next was five PM Mass (my littlest one wanted to come again, so she did) with its presentation. After unsolving technical difficulties the youth presented off the cuff and did another great job. And finally a quick 80 mile roundtrip to my bro's and back to drop off for a sleepover.

Driving home, singing along to the music, I mulled over the day. It was wonderful to see the WYD pilgrims. Some I hadn't seen in months. It was great to listen to their enthusiasm and hear again what was special to them. It was great to see the little girls excited about being at the American Girl store and have a pleasant lunch. It was great weather for a night time drive. And it was great to see the bro and jewel and have a few laughs over a cup or two of coffee.

Here's hoping I have many more of one of these days.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Have New Cookbook

will cook...

My sister gave me a new maple syrup cookbook from Maine. I haven't been blogging because I have been cooking, concocting and planning. So far it has been Maple Granola to die for, Kahlua that will knock your maple coffee loving socks off, and maple brittle for loosening those tough to reach fillings. Next will be another batch of maple mead. These last few days we are enjoying the last batch that was fermented back in May. It is so tasty with egg nog. (Shhhh .... don't tell Auntie Paula about the Kahlua... )

Each of these recipes takes two cups or more of that golden goodness. I am going through our maple stash faster than "green corn goes through the new maid." But the season will be here in 8 to 10 weeks. I can hardly wait.

Kar -- thanks for the cookbook. It's a total winner.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Steeple

Last summer our church steeple was taken down for repairs. Today it was replaced. What a nice present for the community.

Poetry is Yoga for the Soul

I happened upon a book of Lowell's Poems, James Russell Lowell, that is, and when I took the time to read a few of his pieces I was struck by his use of words, and how quiet I felt while indulging in a reading moment. Poetry is yoga for the soul. For you can't read poetry in a rush. Each word has a purpose, is a place holder for emotion. While immersed in verse, the dishes dispersed... (sorry about that) and life's demands got pushed far awide as my mind slowly stretched to visualize Lowell's intended journey.

Christmas is coming... the goose is getting fat.

No goose here, just me. Being home sick with a wide assortment of homemade, not by me, Christmas cookies is a sparkpeoples nightmare. But the holiday and the end of the cookie supply are both within sight. Thank God.

I am so looking forward to Christmas Eve. The two little ones are participating in the Mass. For a few hours their focus will be off of Santa, and his pipeline to the American Girl store.

Yesterday was the first day I breathed more than I coughed. Finally, I got some Christmas shopping and cooking completed. For shopping, I have never spent as much as I did yesterday at the grocery store: NEVER. It was staggering. And for the cooking, my stove top looked like an advertisement for Le Crueset. Every burner going, even the stove. Recipes laid out at their specific station, surrounded by ingredients to be added next. The compost bowl overflowing as I eyed the 15 inches of snow that blanket the backyard between me and the bins. Why did we move them so far from the house? I even contemplated tossing the veggie waste into the trash. But all those wonderful egg shells and coffee grounds are so good for the garden... I'll truck them out later this morning.

Today is more food prep and dare I say, more shopping, in addition to wrapping and more cooking. The fruit for the Christmas pudding has been bathing in rum this night... And I dreamed about homemade crackers. But somewhere tucked in amongst the wanna dos and the gotta dos, I might just head out for some skiing. Santa and REI brought an early Christmas present: new skis to replace my beloved broken old ones. They were on sale. Maybe I'll ski down to the compost bins.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Too sick to write

But if I weren't I'd write about:

My annual love affair with my winter boots
The first big snow of the season
Today's Christmas play
Reading poetry
Cranberry hot pepper fudge

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Plate

The air is crisp.
The radio rings forth
with songs dishing out holiday cheer.
The kids are buzzing with wishful excitement.
Santa or not, they're ready...
The weather is turning for the worse,
ice melt awaits in the garage.
All will be okay.
The play will go on.
The Child will be born.
Three very hip wisemen will lead the rejoicing.

The pending storm is an invitation to slow down, enjoy family and friends.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


According to converging is:
a intransitive verb: to tend or move toward one point or one another : come together : meet converging paths
2: to come together and unite in a common interest or focus
3: to approach a limit as the number of terms increases without limit

For me, it is Friday into Saturday. Within a 24 hour period there is a Girl Scout meeting, a dress rehearsal, 14 pizzas and a sheet cake to be picked up and delivered, and a play -- all candy-coated with a winter storm. One report says only an inch or two of snow. Others say we'll be hit with upwards of 8.

As I tell my oldest, worry won't solve a thing, but saying a prayer can move a mountain. I'm opting for prayer. And not for me, but for those kids who have been practicing night after night and those Girl Scouts who are so diligently working on their Bronze Award. So. please, if it must snow -- just an inch or two... or more on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coughing as a weight lose strategy

For weeks my weight has stood rock solid ten pounds above goal. No amount of walking, swimming, controlling portions has moved the scale up or down. Resolved not to worry about this, I changed my tune to not gaining weight over the holidays. I am actually counting the days until January 2nd when life and diet strain will return to normal. And then I got sick, and hit pay dirt. Afterall if you can't see the silverlining, it's not Christmas.

Not only am I considering entering coughing as an Olympic sport, I am just about ready to launch my whole program on how you can use it as a weight lose tool. For I have shed three tough pounds with my new regime; a miracle. I'm eating the same, but my only form of exercise is the continuous flexing of my back, shoulders, abdomen, and chest wall muscles. I firmly, (ha ha -- pun intended) believe that those still flabby after children tummy wanna be tucked sags are finally coming in under the belt.

So as I cover yet again with this latest typing interrupting hack session, on the inside I'm smiling... 7 more pounds to go...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


These past 24 hours I am rediscovering that a person shouldn't take breathing for granted. God, give me strength to go along with these drugs and lifetime supply of cough drops.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Stepping Pride and Joy


When you hear the word addiction you think drugs, work, alcohol, food. For me... it's puzzles. It's terrible. I can't get within 5 feet of a puzzle without getting sucked into a piece pushing frenzy. Dishes pile up. Laundry lays in the hamper for days. Christmas cards go unaddressed. This time I had the excuse of having to check the piece count. See I found this great 1000 piecer at the church yard sale, and we needed to make sure all the pieces were there... before we give it as a Christmas gift. If you know my family, then you know who will be opening up this beauty in a week or so. It is the perfect gift, and we have happily confirmed, "Yes, Uncle Mike... it has all its pieces."

Now for those Christmas cards...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So Proud

At a time when newspaper front pages are littered headlines that send you back to bed; the covered pulled over your head, I've have a report that makes this mama proud. Of course, there are many stories of youth doing good, but they don't sell papers. So many stories that don't make the paper grade: Christmas plays, tree lightings, litter brigades, yard clean up crews, food and sock collections, visiting the shut in. All happening. All happening in this town. So when you see the paper, remember all is not lost. The vast majority of youth excel in great ways. Too bad their efforts are this world's best kept secret.

Friday, December 12, 2008

From the mouths of babes

"Mommy when I am older will you tell me if Santa is real. I don't want my kids not to get presents."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Puzzle

I had the little one home sick yesterday. She was the loudest hacker at her table and voted out of the classroom for a day. Actually, that's not true. On Monday I was dropping off snacks for the class when over a coughing chorus her teacher told me she was visiting the nurse. Just a virus, but she looked bad. So Tuesday, I opted to keep her home. Gave her a day of rest, mixed with vision therapy and math problems. But all life came to a halt when we brought out the new to us, Santa with trains puzzle; a 1000 piecer; a yard sale find. At 3 o'clock I ran to meet the rest of the elementary school crowd get off the bus. Barely fixed dinner due to piecing together the windows. Then we were latish for play practice over Santa's pants. This morning, breakfast was a wave towards the cereal as I worked the tiny locomotive.

I was thinking about getting the Christmas cards written today. I might be able to do it, if I stay away from the puzzle: a black hole for time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Early Bird

I woke up around 2 thinking about stuff and to do list items. The air is warmer this morning. I could actually get my face out from under the covers without thoughts of donning my jacket and hat.

It is so nice to be in the quiet and relatively warm. Working away on those tiny agenda items that are constantly falling off the plate called life. Closure on the small things helps me to gain a handle on the bigger tasks. Now if I could just finish the rewrite on my book. If I complete it by Dec. 31, I'll submit the whole thing to a First Novel contest. Now wouldn't that be a great way to usher out the year...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Can you truly ruin pot roast?

Yes, but it's a forgivable offense, and one my family didn't seem to notice. Despite burning the pan, read here -- coming close to ruining my maple sugaring finishing pan, the meat didn't seem to suffer too much. Or the story goes something like: The family was desperately hungry and would have probably gnawed on the bones of the three month old roadkill raccoon I can still detect parts of on my weekend walks.

Christmas is a time were a usually very busy life becomes even busier. I noticed this yesterday when I was collecting the last of the bottles at the church, (there must be close to 700), and realizing I was going to have to count these at home and return them myself. I soothed my anxiety with the mantra, "A bag a day." Yesterday I returned 120 or so bottles and cans, based upon the cash I received. Today I'll do a few more, in between everything else.

Then around 2 this morning, I also realized that due to my desk top computer failure that I cannot create anymore World Youth Day DVDs. Oh, I still have my images on the hard drive, thank God, but to put them together with the music, I don't have that capability. Then panic set in, except for the copy I lent out a month ago (The promise was made. It would be returned...) did I have another copy in the house? Finally warm enough to rise, but not shine, I found one. Watched it. And put it in a safer place.

So on those overly busy days, pot roast is best.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Now this is Christmas

Forget the mall hustle and parking shuffle, today was Christmas prep at its finest. The parish Christmas play practices are in full swing. It will be another stellar performance. And as far as gifting, finally a holiday, due to the recession, I can look forward to. We are making gifts this year. Together we are pouring soaps, decorating chocolate covered pretzels, baking cookies and concocting fudge and truffles. There is more chocolate than stress in the air.

Now, if I could keep the kids from licking the pretzels... rest assured, we aren't showing signs of disease -- yet this season.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I have Christmas light envy

I didn't see a leg lamp in the mix. I guess there is always room for improvement.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Note from the Neighbor

Dear Neighbor,

You may think I'm a free loader, with an ever expanding bum, but I'm not. It's my genetics to be a bit wide in the hips. From what I've seen... I'm sure you can relate. And don't mistake all my hustling for having an angle. I'm working at being totally self sufficient and living completely off the land. (Next year, I have plans to install a PV solar system.) But to make ends meet, I have a job. I'm a landscraper. Enclosed is my card. Hire me. I'll do your lawn. Tirelessly working nights and day, mowing, clearing clover, trimming gardens back, especially beans... providing more than the usual two seasonal clean up.

Oh I've heard you complaining to the other neighbors. Don't deny it. Just because I moved into the 'hood without the usual truck, and caravan of family and friends bearing up under boxes and furniture. I'll have you know this place, this hovel or hole, as you call it, is my home. And I have worked tooth and nail to get it just right. Scratching and clawing threw the litter and debris left by the previous tenants. This place was just filthy when I moved in. Instead of tossing out innuendo, come over for the tour.

In addition to the prominent main entrance and foyer, I now have an entry through the rose garden and a bulkhead with root and wine cellar under the shed. My improvements are so extensive that I've been able to tap into geothermal for heating and cooling. It really is quite comfortable. You won't catch me wearing a silly hat around the house.

And yes, it did get a bit hectic this summer when my children were home, but they've moved out now... unlike yours. Who, continue to chuck rocks through my front door, and climb on my roof. Nice kids, you doing such a great job raising them.


Marmota monax Sciuridae

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's time to make the fruitcake

Actually, it's past time, since the cakes require time to mature; clothed in rum soaked cheese cloth. With hosting Thanksgiving, I didn't have the time or space for fruitcake construction. But now the time is here and the rum is flowing freely.

Monday, December 01, 2008