Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birds of a feather

My husband handed me his favorite down vest the other day, wondering if it could be washed. This vest, which I purchased about 8 years ago, has been a total work horse. Tim wears it whenever he's working on a construction project in cold weather, and his love for this vest shows, believe me -- because it's covered with paint stains, bits of glue, and much, much sawdust.

I put it in the washing machine, using the delicate cycle recommended on the label. Then I put it in the dryer on very low.

I forgot to check if there were holes in it before I did any of the above.

You guessed it.

Down and feathers everywhere! And I don't know how long it will be before I finally get all of it out of the washer and dryer. Every time I open one of the machines, it looks like something inside is molting.

The vest, by the way, is a shadow of its former puffy self.

My husband hasn't seen it yet.

I may never show it to him because I think he might cry.

- Catherine

Friday, January 29, 2010

It's Friday.. by the numbers

I usually do the Friday Fave Five, but I have been completely off schedule today and I never got to it.

So, here are some random things:

I have an unscheduled weekend ahead of me. Ye-es!!!

Tonight #7 is going over to a friend's house for a couple of hours, so Tim and I will hit Costco for the monthly visit to get necessities in bulk.

#7 will turn 14 in the upcoming week! He was just 4 years old when I married his Dad.

I got to have coffee this morning with #3 and her daughter, and that is always fun.

#4 will be back on the North American continent (for good!) in just 30 days. Yeah!

The dog (I guess he's #8, technically speaking) keeps wanting to visit those two hoodlum bulldogs that live three blocks down from us, despite the fact that they threaten to tear him limb from limb whenever he sets foot in their alley.

Have a great weekend!

- Catherine

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Love is patient, love is kind... love hopes all things, believes all things, bears all things. (That's my abridged and paraphrased version of what it says in 1 Corinthians 13)

Love is not a casual, throw away phrase with no pronoun in front of it.

When I hear "love-you-bye" as someone rings off a phone call, it makes me want to shake that person and say, think again! First of all, where is the personal investment? You didn't even put the "I" in front of "love you" -- so your personal investment is minimal. Saying, "Love you" is not anything like saying "I love you." Don't believe me? Try it sometime and see for yourself.

We throw around this phrase "love you" (or even worse, "love ya") a bit too frequently and too casually as a culture.

Love bears all things -- that means it's a commitment, an act of the will even when the feelings aren't warm and fuzzy.

Don't just toss it out there. Mean it. Invest in it. It's love, after all.

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

1. How good are you at delaying gratification? It depends on what it is. If it’s some kind of personal communication (such as email), I’m lousy at waiting and I want to get to it RIGHT NOW. If it’s a gift or something fun, I’m very good at delayed gratification.

2. Maybe a marshmallow wouldn't be too difficult a temptation for you. What food (or anything else) would be most tempting? Oooooh, there are too many to choose. Probably anything with warm, gooey melted cheese that would be cooling off if I let it sit there any longer.

3. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being saintly) how patient are you? Once again, it depends. On a good day, I’m as patient as the day is long. On a bad, menopausal hormonal day, I have the patience of a starving nit.

4. Have you ever waited for something in life only to be disappointed upon realization of the goal/object/etc.? I don't think that has happened since I was a kid. When I was about 9 or so I wanted a particular toy for Christmas -- and I'd looked forward to it for months -- only to be disappointed when I got it because it really wasn't that much fun to play with.

5. Are you a person who takes shortcuts? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on the circumstances. If the shortcut is as effective, I'd probably take it. If not, then I do the whole thing.

6. Which line is hardest to wait in? The regular checkout line is harder than the express.

7. Did you wait to discover the gender of your unborn child until its birth? I already knew she was a girl by the time she’d been assigned to us (my daughter is adopted).

8. Are you more patient with children or the elderly? Elderly.

9. Did you ever sneak a peek at a present? When I was a teenager, I sneaked a look at the Christmas presents that my mother had wrapped only in tissue paper, which meant you could see the present through the paper if you pushed down on it. I ended up feeling let down on Christmas morning since I already knew what was under the tree and there were no surprises. I never did it again.

10. What is the longest you've ever waited for anything? I waited 7 years to move in with my husband after we got married (long story of a blended family, dual careers, and living 2000 miles apart when we married).

11. Who has more patience, you or your significant other? He does, hands down.

12. Which of the following songs about waiting is your pick for the best? (OK, you may substitute another, if you like.)
A) Anticipation by Carly Simon
B) The Waiting by Tom Petty
C) Right Here Waiting for You by Richard Marx
D) Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James

The Waiting by Tom Petty, because there’s a slightly monotonous effect to the song – and waiting can be, at times, monotonous.

And that's it for this week!

- Catherine

Thanks to Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee for hosting this weekly meme. If you'd like to play along, you can link up at her blog, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rambling stuff

1. I have two fire extinguishers in my kitchen and I’ve never actually had occasion to use a fire extinguisher. You can’t practice using a fire extinguisher or you will waste the whole container, so how do you know if you know how to successfully fight a fire with the extinguisher? You don’t, I guess. And very comforting that will be should I ever have a fire in the house.

2. Why does my dog have to race past me to the top of the stairs? I’m plodding along with a basket of laundry and he’s hauling his butt as fast as he can go, nearly knocking me over. He’s not getting anything when I get to the top – and he knows that – so is it just canine one-upmanship or what?

3. I’m wearing a "Thanks, not Cranks" bracelet and it’s making me cranky. Just sayin’…. And switching it to the other wrist now….

4. Why can’t I see my lower eyelid twitch, even though I can clearly feel it?

5. After 9 years of marriage, my husband finally told me that he doesn't like ricotta cheese. I called him a Philistine and put away my lasagna recipe.

Happy Monday!

- Catherine

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adventures with Hank

Hank Williams Jr. (no comma in the name), as you may know, is our dog.

Every day Hank and I take at least two walks. The morning walk is partly for him and partly for me – I set the route and the pace, and he has to keep up with me. But Hank is a lab/shepherd cross and, although he’s pretty mellow, he dearly loves getting out to freely roam the neighborhood for a good long sniff.

Preferably all by himself when no one is keeping tabs on him.

Well, I worry about Hank getting hit out there – because, dang it, I’ve never been able to teach him to look both ways before crossing the street. And then there is the little institution known as Animal Control, which is pretty active in enforcing the leash laws in our town.

So, in lieu of Hank going on the lam and possibly ending up in the canine poky, he and I take a daily, mid-day ramble. He’s still on his leash, but I basically follow where he wants to go for about 20 minutes so that he can sniff everything to his heart’s content. (Bonus for me is 20 minutes of fresh air in the middle of my work day.)

We enjoyed the spring-like temps and sunshine of a few days ago. So did all the other dogs in the neighborhood – many of whom were out in their fenced-in yards. As we walked one alley, we came up to a yard with a rather low fence and two small, stocky dogs running toward us. I am not good at identifying breeds, and these might have been mixed breeds, but they definitely seemed to have some bulldog of some kind in them. And they did not like Hank sniffing on the other side of THEIR fence. Hackles were raised, teeth were bared, snarling was heard. Hank looked startled at first because he generally gets along well with other dogs. And clearly, these dogs did not like him one bit. After his first shock, Hank raised his own hackles and started barking at them. They barked back. And so it went.

I started yanking on the leash, glad there was a fence between the two malcontents and my affronted pup.

Eventually I got Hank away, but not before those two hoodlums ran the entire length of their fence, barking madly as we made our way down the alley. “And stay out!” was what I heard them saying.

So, off we go down another block, this time on the sidewalk. There are fewer dogs left in front yards than in back yards, so perhaps the rest of our walk can be peaceful.


Passing a house on a corner, I see a fluffy little something or other coming to the front gate. White fur sporting a topknot tied with a purple ribbon. Cute, I think. But then it was like “déjà vu all over again” – hackles raised, teeth bared, snarling heard. Once again Hank is startled as he sniffs from his side of the fence. Once again he starts barking in reply. Once again I am yanking him along.

By now I’m ruing the spring-like weather that's brought out all the dogs. And Hank’s feelings are hurt. I know this because he pretty much stops sniffing and heads steadily for home -- with two potty breaks along the way on the sacred ground of other neighborhood dogs.

“Take that!” is what I heard.

- Catherine

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

It's been a bit of a tough week here and my brain's not happy this morning (read: I am not capable of thinking my way out of a paper bag).

But, in the interest of showing up and participating, I offer these five favorite things from the week that is just about to expire:

1. my dog Hank - he makes me laugh every day. I've got a blog post about him waiting in my drafts folder -- I'll post it either this weekend or on Monday.

2. this headline from our local paper made me laugh -- and not for the first time has something like this been published. In Pocatello, the Holy Spirit is quite accomplished. (Holy Spirit is a local Catholic school, which I'm sure you've figured out by now.)

3. my husband's preliminary calculations show that we will probably get a tax refund this year instead of having to pay (last year the monthly deduction for my state income tax had been miscalculated, so we owed a chunk of change on April 15).

4. not having to travel this weekend. Given that my brain seems to have taken a holiday, I'm not sure I'd make it to my destination. I'll be very happy to stay home and watch the NFL playoffs.

5. a doctor's office that will bring you right in if you really need to see the doctor TODAY.

Thanks go to Susanne at Living to Tell for hosting this weekly meme.

- Catherine

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In which I buy another purse

I've developed, in these last two or three years, a thing for purses. I used to be the "owns one sensible bag for years" type, but things have changed since I hit mid-life. Maybe instead of buying a sports car, my mid-life crisis is a collection of purses?

Or maybe it's because I finally realized in my middle age that I am more apt to keep a purse organized and neat if it is... new.

I bought this really great purse at a small shop in San Francisco's Chinatown:

It's the bling-iest purse I've ever owned, although by today's standards, it's still pretty tame. But it's red! A lovely, vibrant shade of red! I've always stuck to shades of brown, tan or black -- because-those-colors-are-neutral-and-go-with-everything (my mother's everlasting advice) -- but I just couldn't resist this beautiful, hobo-style purse of red leather, with red braided straps and just a bit of silver bling.

I was so excited about it that I changed purses as soon as I got back to my hotel. And then I set out across the city, feeling oh-so-trendy.

Here was my thought pattern as I left my hotel: I will look so, so cool if I hold this very stylish purse in the same very stylish way as the very stylish celebrities, like Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet. You know... the purse is hanging from my arm (not my shoulder), and my arm is bent at the elbow, thus casually placing my hand in the air in front of my body while the bag lays against my hopefully very stylish blue jeans.


I catch sight of myself reflected in a shop window and I realize the awful truth. I look like a middle-aged, menopausal, frizzy-haired woman carrying a stylish purse that would look tons better if it were carried by, oh, Sandra Bullock or Kate Winslet.

So much for the mid-life crisis.

And another thing I realized as I carry this hobo-style purse? A hobo purse only looks good if it's just about as empty as it was when you first took it off the shelf in the shop. You cannot fill up a stylish hobo purse and let it expand to it's fullest capacity or it will look, well, like a .... diaper bag. With bling.

- Catherine

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Gold and Blue Day

It’s mid-January, with most of winter still before us. Yet there was just the barest hint of Spring in the air on this beautiful afternoon, and I drank it in as though I were dying of thirst. The sun shone, not shrouded in haze for a change, and the temperature rose to 40. More significantly, the air was just a wee bit soft, and the sun’s warmth enveloped me, even as a light breeze lifted my hair.

There will be more cold weather to endure here in Idaho, but today was a reminder that Spring will, inevitably, come again.

I wondered at my blue mood, even as I relished the golden sunshine and the dog capered around me with delight. I miss my mother, no doubt about it. She loved the Spring, and her home always looked its best in the Spring. Each year she considered what to plant and went about her gardening in the Spring. Each year she waited for her daffodils to come up -- "daffy-down-dillies" she affectionately called them.

This year we will do Spring and daffy-down-dillies without her.

I keep reminding myself that where she is now in Glory, it is Spring 24/7. Indescribable beauty surrounds her. Winter is over for good and she will never know the biting cold again. Of that I am glad.

But there is no need to plan my annual Spring visit to the mountains of Pennsylvania. And, oh, how I do miss her.

- Catherine

Mom's place:

Monday, January 18, 2010

The color of my life

We've been renovating and remodeling our Pocatello house for the last couple of years. Prior to that, we freshened up the Salt Lake City condo before selling it in 2007. So we have a lot of leftover paint in the basement.

The last paint job was about a year ago, when my husband finished my office in the basement. We are, once again, ready to paint -- the doors that belong on the closet in my office, and that need to be reinstalled so they can be removed from the storage room in the basement (to make way for other things, of course).

As always, Tim wants to do this while I am away, so he goes to the basement storage room to look for the correct color the day that I leave for San Francisco. That night we talk on the phone.

Tim to me, speaking from the storage room: What color did we paint your office last year?

Me: Isn't it Cottage White like the living room and the kitchen?

Tim: I don't have any Cottage White left. What room did we paint Mirage White? I have some of that left.

Me: I have no clue where that might have been used. What color is Mirage White?

Tim: I also have Bridal Veil White. What's that from?

Me: Ah! That's the ceiling in the living room. It was also the ceiling in the living room of the SLC condo.

Tim: I have a gallon and a half of Natural Linen. Did we paint your office Natural Linen? (he asked hopefully since he has a gallon and a half of it).

Me: No. Natural Linen is what we painted the walls of the condo before we sold it.

Tim: I don't have any Cottage White and I don't think that's the color on the walls of your office. Was it Cinnamon Cake?

Me: I don't know. What color is Cinnamon Cake?

Tim, sighing deeply: I guess I have to go to Home Depot, gather some paint swatches, and try to figure out what color we painted your office last year.

Me: You do that.

Tim: By the way, the kitchen isn't Cottage White like the living room.

Me: It's not? Then what color is it? I thought we'd planned to paint the living room and kitchen walls the same color. And you need the same color for the front room off the kitchen, when we're ready to paint that

Tim: I don't know. But it's not Cottage White.

As of this writing, neither of us really has any idea what color we used in my office, although I still think it was.... Cottage White.

- Catherine

PS -- update: it was Mirage White. Who knew?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Anne of Green Gables

I finished reading Anne of Green Gables last week.

There is something about books we loved in childhood that stays with us and influences how we think -- in adulthood -- about the characters of those books. I did not read Anne as a child and have come to her solely as a middle-aged woman.

It's not the same thing.

That said, I can see why Anne is so beloved. The scrapes and foibles of the character are endearing. What child has not made mistakes when baking a cake from scratch? What child has not gotten lost in dreams and play, to the detriment of the household chores. I grew up in a time when we were not reminded (nagged) by our mothers to do our chores -- we were expected to remember them and complete them. And there were consequences if we forgot. I can see how Anne was loved for her similarity to everyday children.

I also enjoyed reflecting, as I read, on my childhood spent playing in the woods and fields near our house, so similar to the childhood of Anne Shirley. And I felt sorry that my daughter never had those same opportunities, due to both safety and geographical reasons. My reading of Anne of Green Gables brought home to me again that we live in a different day and age, and that's sad in so many ways.

I did not find Anne's bent toward drama as endearing as her forgetfulness. In fact, I got tired of the sentences that started out "Oh,....." Maybe I am too practical. My mother swore I was a dramatic little girl -- and maybe I was -- but not like Anne Shirley.

I cannot say that I have the emotional connection to the character of Anne Shirley as do those readers who knew her when they were children. But the story was certainly well written. And I am interested enough in Anne to feel that I want to make my way through the whole series, just to see what Montgomery does with the characters.

And so, on to Anne of Avonlea.

- Catherine

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

It's the weekly roundup of highlights -- more importantly, it's the weekly reflection on what it is that has made me smile this week. I don't know about anyone else, but it's just too easy to fall into the rut of thinking negatively, so I am grateful to Susanne at Living to Tell for hosting this weekly meme.

1. Putting technology to good use by texting a charitable donation to the American Red Cross for their Haiti relief fund. Now THAT is cool. The word about the relief effort was spread via the Internet -- blogs, twitter, Facebook -- and giving the donation required only a quick and simple text message from one's cell phone. Being able to jump in and help immediately feels a lot better than sitting Stateside and wringing my hands. I send a shout-out to the cell carriers, too, for being willing to channel the funds through their accounting systems. Thank you!

2. Being able to get out of the cold of Idaho and experience a few days of the moderate temperature of San Francisco.

3. Spending about an hour out on the Bay yesterday, on a ferry ride that I took for fun and relaxation. Lovely!

4. Room service breakfast -- the ultimate luxury, but the only way to get ready on time for a morning meeting. I wonder if my husband would consider bringing breakfast on a tray to me at home????

5. Orthotics for my poor feet - they really do provide a level of comfort that I can no longer go without.

I'm in San Francisco until Sunday, and then home again.

Have a great weekend!

- Catherine

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helping Haiti

Saw a tweet on my twitter feed this morning -- text the word "Haiti" to 90999 and your cell carrier will donate $10.00 to the Red Cross. In fact, it was a tweet from singer/songwriter Amy Grant.

I researched the effort online, and it looks like it's true. As of the time I am writing this (7:21 a.m. PST) the Red Cross has collected some $3 million through this effort. THREE MILLION DOLLARS in what I think is less than 24 hours and may be even less than 12 hours.

Social networking used for good -- I really, REALLY like that.

So, if you wish to give an immediate $10.00 for the relief of Haiti, please text the word Haiti to 90999.

There are other efforts underway. Compassion International has a disaster relief fund set up, and you can donate to it online if you wish. I am a Compassion sponsor, although my child isn't in Haiti. Another Compassion sponsor from our online blogging community is Melanie -- and her sponsored child IS in Haiti. Right now she has no idea whether the child and her family are safe.

You don't have to be a Compassion sponsor to donate to the Haiti relief through Compassion. See to make your donation online.

If there are other relief efforts you want to highlight, please do so on your blog. I'd enjoy reading about them and I think that others would as well. The online community is shaping up to be a major resource for getting out the word.

So, that's two that I am putting out there: the text message relief (Red Cross) and Compassion's disaster fund.

And, as always, we need to continue praying for the people of Haiti.

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

Hosted by Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee. Thanks, Lid! This is what I consider the weekly coffee klatch. (If you want to play along, too, answer the questions on your own blog and link up at Lid's, using the Mr. Linky-thingy at the end of her entry).

1. When was the last time you craved a food--what was it, and did you cave? Chocolate. Yes, I caved. (Of course, I caved – it’s chocolate!)

2. M & M's or Skittles? M&Ms all the way. Skittles are, and always have been, wannabes in my book.

3. Have you ever read the Bible completely through? Nope, but I’m doing it this year for the first time.

4. How long does it take you to really wake up in the morning? I’ve never clocked it, but I’d guess it depends on the situation. If there is something going on, I can and do wake up in a hurry. If it’s a regular morning, maybe it’s 10-15 minutes to the point of coherence.

5. Have you ever been on a cruise? If not, would you like to? Not yet, but I would like to someday.

6. Who is your favorite actress? I don’t really have one. I do like Kate Winslet, but I haven’t seen all her movies, nor do I want to see all of her movies – it definitely depends on the subject matter.

7. ______ is something that I will just never understand. Tearing down/disrespecting a fellow human being in the name of politics. I mean, really! Must we tear each other to pieces over something that fleeting?

8. How much of a technology junkie are you? I like technology if it will improve the functionality of my life, but not just for the sake of being up to date.

9. Do you enjoy selecting greeting cards for people, or is it more of a cultural "have to" for you? I make most of the greeting cards that I send, and I enjoy that very much.

10. When was the last time you got a new style/haircut? About two years ago, and I still like it a lot.

11. What do you enjoy shopping for most? Depends on my mood. Sometimes it’s clothing and sometimes it’s housewares. Either way, TJ Maxx is my best friend.

12. What's the last thing you think of before you leave the house? “Lock the door.” My husband grew up out in the country and he still doesn’t always remember to lock the door. Drives me nuts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Core

Yesterday marked the third time that I used my new workout DVD. I actually progressed a bit further this time -- before having to give up and just watch because my muscles simply wouldn't do what the nice lady in the video wanted them to do.

She says it's all about The Core.

My Core says otherwise.

I think of General Douglas MacArthur in his farewell speech to West Point, when he spoke the immortal line: "But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps."

Obviously he never met the nice lady in the video and her Core.

My last conscious thoughts are NOT going to be about The Core, I can promise you. Instead, they'll probably be something very dark concerning my lack of anything Core.

- Catherine

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another new word

I came across a new word while reading Anne of Green Gables: "coruscations," as in "Her eyes dwelt affectionately on Green Gables, peering through its network of trees and reflecting the sunlight back from its windows in several little coruscations of glory."

My spell check doesn't know what to do with such a word.

Certainly you can get a sense of what it is by reading the sentence. But having a sense of things is just never enough, so I looked it up. According to the sources I checked online, the word dates from at least the early 19th century. And it means a sudden flash of light.

In Anne of Green Gables, "coruscations" is used in the narrative, rather than the dialog. But Anne Shirley, with all her dramatic tendencies, would have loved that word.

We in Pocatello can see a coruscation every sunny day -- it's from the Farm Bureau building that sits on the east bench above town. The building has a full glass front that faces the setting sun. Watch out when you're driving on the Interstate -- the "coruscation" is blinding.

- Catherine

Saturday, January 9, 2010


It's Saturday evening. I spent the day at our church's leadership retreat, which was truly excellent. My husband gave one of the best expositions of why we celebrate the Lord's Supper that I've ever heard.

Right now I'm parked in front of the family room fire, cozy in my flannel jammies, snuggled up with my man, watching the Cowboys crush the Eagles.

The Eagles have broken my heart tonight, but never mind.... there is always next year.

Does anyone else think it's... strange... that The Who will be doing the Super Bowl halftime show? If the trailers are to be believed, Roger Daltry is wearing GLASSES on stage now.

I feel old.

Tomorrow is church, then helping a friend move, and then another NFL game. When the season ends in February I will miss the weekly NFL snuggles with my hubby. It's the only sport we both like to watch. Ah well. September will be here before we know it.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

- Catherine

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Fave Five

Susanne at Living to Tell hosts this weekly meme. If you want to play along, you can link your own Friday Fave Five post to hers by using the Mr. Linky-thingy at the end of her blog post.

After a week of vacation and fun, re-entry to normal life is hard -- and seems to be getting harder as I get older. On top of that, I had a major proposal due yesterday -- no ifs, ands, or buts about the deadline. I made it with about 3 hours to spare.

But I really am endeavoring to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Participating in this weekly meme helps me do that, so here we go!

My five favorite things about this past week are:

1. I have a job. So many are looking for work and want to work, and there just isn't much out there -- at least, there isn't much available in our area. My own position looks to be set for at least another 5 years, and I am thanking God for that every day.

2. Our new bathroom (basement level) is almost done. Yay! (Okay, yes it means a third bathroom to clean, but it also means that the inside of our house is nearly finished -- just some cosmetic stuff left to do after this new bathroom is completed.)

3. It didn't snow much this week.

4. Just found out that my daughter, Abigail, is now a Facebook friend to her third cousin, also named Abigail. The girls have never met. (I've never met the other Abigail, either, actually.) But what fun!! I still think it's very interesting that my cousin, Karen, and I -- unknowingly -- both named our daughters Abigail.

5. Through someone else's blog (Joyce, I think?), I found an online "Read the Bible in a year" website -- and I'm going to do just that. Prior to this, I've been daunted by trying to take in and understand that much Scripture inside of a year. I tend to read small sections and think about them for a long time. But this year I'm not going to strive to understand each and every thing that I read. Instead I'm going to let it wash over me like water, and I'll get from it whatever God would have me get.

Have a great weekend!

- Catherine

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Oh, the agony

I started my new workout regimen today. And I about died.

I like the T-Tapp series of workouts (disclaimer: I have no financial interest in T-Tapp©). Two years ago I did their 15-minute Basic Plus workout every day for several months, and it worked very nicely to help me lose a few inches. And then I developed a rotator cuff problem and I had to find something different. I wanted to take my time, consider my options, and find just the right workout that would help me get in shape but not aggravate the shoulder.

I guess a whole year should have been enough time.

Because it has been a WHOLE year since I worked out.

So, here it is January 2010. There are only 6 months left until it's time to run my annual Summer Session -- a job that kicked my butt, physically, in the summer of 2009. I cannot afford to be that exhausted again. So I've got to get in shape.

A friend of mine used one of the other T-Tapp workouts last year and really loved it -- and it's designed for middle-aged women. Well, hey, that's me! So I bought it. And I tried it.

And I hate it.

I'm sure it's very well designed and will do exactly what the nice lady in the video says it will do. But I'll be 100 years old by then, judging by today's results.

HOW did I get so out of shape???

- Catherine

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Random Dozen -- the first of 2010

1. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a cranky-baby-hissy-fitter, how much of a complainer are you? I go through spurts – sometimes I get as high as a 9 and sometimes I’m a 1. That averages to 4, but the reality of when I’m pitched at a 9 is, of course, much worse.

2. When someone else is talking, do you listen, or are you thinking about what you're going to say in response? I REALLY try hard to listen, but I do lapse into the habit of thinking about my response – partly because I’m deathly afraid that my middle-aged brain will not be able to come up with any response at all when the person actually stops talking. (It has happened.)

3. I just deleted 1062 messages from my email account. Do you have any plans for a clean sweep this month--of anything? I just moved over 1,000 messages from my inbox the other day, too. Must be something in the air. Seriously, I don’t have any specific plans but since my husband is on the verge of finishing the basement, I’ll probably do a clean sweep in those rooms (family room, my office, my craft room, and the new bathroom).

And now, here are some brilliant questions from a gal named Angie at Angie's Ad Lib who graciously offered to let me borrow her brain. Please go over and see Angie because it was so nice of her to help me out. Thank you so much, Angie!

4. Tell us about your perfume. Was it a gift? What does it remind you of? Do you have a signature scent? I don’t wear perfume. I occasionally have worn an essential oil blend that includes patchouli, but even that is seldom. I got out of the habit of wearing perfume or cologne when my asthma worsened about 15 years ago, and, even though my asthma is much better, I’ve just never resumed wearing a scent.

5. What is your best organizing tip for the new year? “The Daily 7” from Stephanie O’Dea. Following this list of seven daily chores really works to provide a basic structure for running my household. I’m just sorry I didn’t come up with it myself, it’s so simple and ingenious in its approach to organization.

6. What is your favorite comic strip? Mutts – I love Mooch!

7. Do you sleep with a fluffy or flat pillow? Fluffy-squishy, because I like it to well up around my ears and my jaw when I’m lying on my back.

8. What color is your kitchen? Why did you choose that color? Our kitchen is cream and amber with accents of amethyst. Sounds awful when I say it that way, but it’s not. When we redid the kitchen in 2008, we were looking for a color scheme that would open up our small space. I found a cabinetry finish of cream (painted wood) with an amber glaze, and I fell in love with it, so we had our cabinets finished that way. We chose the floor tile, countertops, and backsplash to go with the cabinets, and we ended up with a very subtle amethyst shade of solid surface countertop. The whole combination works really well, and it did accomplish our purpose in opening up the room. Here's a pic taken right after it was finished but before I'd actually moved stuff into it:

And here's the before pic:

9. What’s the most interesting bumper sticker you’ve seen? Boy, I seldom remember those, even when I think they are laugh-out-loud funny. Ah, okay – there is one that I saw some time ago: a drawing of the planet Earth next to the words “Wish you were here.”

10. Do you prefer an expensive writing tool or whatever is lying around? (Are you a Montblanc or a Papermate?) I always lose expensive writing tools, so I just use Papermate. But I must say that writing with an expensive pen is really a treat.

11. What chore doesn’t feel like a chore – you just enjoy it (at least most of the time)? Cooking dinner pretty much from scratch, pretty much every night. I love to cook and I like the satisfaction of providing my family with a good meal.

12. If your parents often repeated themselves, what is something one of them said more than once? “It builds your character.” That was the stock answer to any complaints about chores or anything else we were required to do.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wit and Wisdom of Anne Shirley

"Saying one's prayers isn't the same thing as praying." That's from protagonist Anne Shirley in the chapter entitled "Anne's Apology," from the book Anne of Green Gables.

And I don't have anything more to add to that except that it's so very, very true.

- Catherine

Saturday, January 2, 2010

BBQ sauce recipe

A few people have asked, so here is the basic recipe that I started using recently. This makes a tangy sauce with a nice balance of flavors.

BBQ sauce
• 1 cup of ketchup
• 6 tablespoons brown sugar
• 4 tablespoons vinegar
• 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon dry English mustard
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• A pinch of salt and pepper
• Chili powder or Chili Sauce to your taste.

Combine everything in a bowl and whisk until the dry mustard and the brown sugar have dissolved into the liquid ingredients. Pour the mixture into a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes until you have a nice thick sauce.


I'm reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time in my life, and just a few pages into the first chapter I came across the word "overbrinuning." I have a pretty big vocabulary, but I'd never heard of overbrinuning. I assumed the proper word would be the verb "overbrinune." So I did what any red-blooded American does these days -- I Googled it.

Nothing. Google politely asked me if I'd misspelled it and did I really want the word "overbrining?"

I did not, thank you very much.

I wanted overbrinuning, as in "One could have eaten a meal off the ground without overbrinuning the proverbial peck of dirt."

I wrote to my good friend, Ruth, who has a degree in Library Science and who is a purveyor of fine used books. I knew she'd have an old dictionary that would contain what must obviously be the very arcane word "overbrinuning" (Anne of Green Gables was written over 100 years ago, after all). As I waited for her response, I eagerly anticipated learning a new nugget of trivial information from the past.

The reply I got was: must be a typo. A typo? In my $5.99 stock paperback copy that of course had been carefully proofread before printing? Ruth suggested that her own copy utilized the word.... "overbrimming."

I thought it over. Then I searched for a version of A of GG where they allow you to read the first few pages as a preview. Sure enough -- "overbrimming" is the correct word.

It's still a strange and stilted turn of phrase, though: "One could have eaten a meal off the ground without overbrimming the proverbial peck of dirt." The old proverb to which Montgomery refers is meant to be a consolation for when one accidentally eats something dirty -- specifically, that the average person unknowingly ingests a peck (two dry gallons) of dirt in their lifetime. Montgomery was saying that Marilla Cuthbert was such a zealous housekeeper of Green Gables that, even if you ate directly off the ground, you wouldn't be adding to your lifetime's quota of a peck of dirt.

My house and the surrounding postage-stamp sized grounds are definitely not up to that standard of clean. In fact, if you ate off the ground in my yard, you would definitely be overbrinuning overbrimming the proverbial peck of dirt.

I wonder if I could hire Marilla Cuthbert?

- Catherine

Friday, January 1, 2010

Friday Fave Five

This weekly meme is hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell.

1. Today is New Year's Day and it is also the first Friday of the month. The women of our church will hold our monthly First Friday Lunch anyway, despite the holiday. (Actually, we expect a better turnout since many are not working today.) So, I'm looking forward to a fun lunch today.

2. My walk with the dog this morning was very, veeeerrrryyyy quiet. That was partly due to the softly falling snow, but I think a smidgen of it may be attributed to a gigantic, city-wide hangover. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed the quiet.

3. Looking forward to dinner and a movie with my husband tonight to celebrate our anniversary.

4. Looking forward to participating in the Lucy Maud Montgomery reading challenge that Carrie is hosting over at Reading to Know. Surprisingly, I have never read any of Montgomery's books -- not even the famous Anne of Green Gables. Not sure how I managed to miss them when I was growing up, but miss them I did. I intend to make up for that, at least a little bit, by participating in the challenge. If you're interested, you can check it out by clicking on the link. (PS -- I'm starting with Anne of Green Gables.)

5. A good recipe for homemade barbecue sauce. Sounds silly, I know, but most commercial sauces contain ingredients that my husband can't eat -- and the ones that don't contain forbidden ingredients also don't taste all that good. I found an excellent recipe that I'll be able to tweak to our tastes, so that means we are back to eating BBQ pulled pork on a regular basis (one of our favorite dishes).

Happy New Year to one and all, and have a great weekend!

- Catherine