Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. April rolls in at the end of this week and in celebration of that infamous date (April 1st) answer this question-What is something foolish you've done? Just one? This is hard, because some foolish things I've done have hurt people while some foolish things I've done have just been funny. I tend to forget the latter. And I remain, in some cases, deeply embarrassed by the former. So I think I will just conclude here by reiterating: Just one??

2. With April comes Easter and that classic edible treat known as tell me...what's your favorite way to fix/eat chicken? That wasn't what you were expecting, was it? I 'fooled' you. teehee. Roasted whole chicken with garlic and rosemary rubbed under and over the skin. It's a little bit of heaven on earth while cooking and again while eating. And for the record, dear readers -- I think I'm one of the few people in America who really cannot abide the taste or texture of Peeps! (see #8)

3. What's the best museum you've ever visited? Or your favorite? Or the one you'd most like to visit? The many museums of the Smithsonian in Washington DC are incredible. I especially love Air and Space, the Natural History museum, and the American History museum.

4. You know what they say about April showers...what's your preference-a shower or a bath? While I enjoy the occasional bath, I'm mostly a shower girl. There is something soothing about hot water flowing downward from your head to your feet.

5. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"...fact or fiction? Why? I'm afraid I could write a book here. For two hearts that are in tune with each other, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Every time I'm away, I miss my hubby terribly! But for two hearts that are showing the strain of unresolved problems, absence can be the catalyst for divorce.

6. What's your favorite product made/grown in your home state/province? I'm from New Jersey, and there are two fruits you cannot find better anywhere else:  1) STRAWBERRIES! Nothing beats a New Jersey strawberry, picked freshly off the vine and still warm from the sun. 2) TOMATOES! The soil in NJ is particularly well suited for them, and again -- freshly picked and eaten, they are incredible.  Note: I grew up on my grandfather's farm -- strawberries and tomatoes were annual crops and all we had to do was walk out of the house and pick to our hearts content. Thanks, Grandpop!!

7. What is going on in the world today that affects you the most? The insane and uncalled-for rise in oil prices. No way is it necessary for the price of crude to jump just because of the financial headlines or because summer is coming. Yet that is what happens. I wish the U.S. Government would take some action! There is oil to be found in North America, for pete's sake.  And I wish the American people would look carefully at the profit and loss statements of the big companies like Exxon-Mobil. They are making an absolute fortune (billions of dollars) while our personal budgets are strained to the max.  And that's my rant for the day, folks.

8. Insert your own random thought here.  Randomly speaking, my mother surprised me many, many years ago by admitting she absolutely LOVED Peeps. I could never fathom it because her sweet tooth wasn't all that dominant and Peeps are incredibly sweet. But, to each his/her own. It was one of the things about her that amused me during her last years.
Thank you, Joyce, for another round of great questions!
- Catherine

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raising Charley, Part IV

Remember, this is what 5 month-old, 50 pound puppy-monster Charley looks like now:

Yesterday I was standing at the kitchen sink, refilling the dogs' water trough bowl. I was vaguely aware that Charley had come into the kitchen, but otherwise was absorbed in my own thoughts during this time-consuming process. I didn't feel him settle onto the floor right behind my legs.

Switching off the faucet, I turned my body away from the sink. Immediately my legs were twisted; both feet dug underneath Charley's considerable body, pinning them nicely while my upper body continued forward motion.

And then I danced.

To the breathless tune of "oh no! oh no! oh no! oh no ..." I lurched around the kitchen, fighting for control of my body and the water bowl.

Yes, the mop was required later, but I did stay on my feet and eventually made it to my destination with the still mostly filled water bowl. 

I call it The Charley Dance.

- Catherine

Monday, March 28, 2011

Channeling Mom

Last night we had roasted whole chicken with a combination of olive oil, fresh rosemary, and garlic basted under and over the skin.

Number 4 prepped the chickens under my direction (she's already a good cook but is learning the fundamentals of roasting meat, making gravy, using up a whole chicken, etc. while she's at home with me this month).

The chicken was incredible and the gravy was richly browned and flavorful.

And that is what surprises me! 


You see, my mother made perfect gravy (no matter whether it was poultry or beef). And I always made the worst gravy known to man.  Despite Mom trying to teach me how to do it correctly, it always had a funky flavor that was unappetizing.

Until Mom passed away in November of 2009.

Suddenly gravy-making made sense. I was able to follow every instruction she'd ever given me and it all worked. And every batch of gravy that I have produced since then has been killer, quite frankly.

Very weird.

But thanks, Mom!   :-)

Good gravy is a good legacy!

- Catherine

Friday, March 25, 2011

A little poem for Friday

'Tis the end of the week.

Life is a major irritant.

Friends are the antidote.

Music - wine - conversation.


Happy weekend, everyone!

- Catherine

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I've been monitoring the health insurance claims for the emergency surgery that I had to have two weeks ago.

So far, the hospital bill alone is over $20,000.00 -- and that doesn't include any of the doctors yet.

One shot of morphine cost $125.90.  One measly shot!

Next time I think I'll just die.

It would be cheaper.

(Okay, just kidding about that last bit.  But really! The charges they submit are ridiculous!)

- Catherine

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

Ta-da! Today is the Hodgepodge and I'm back in the game. Thanks to Joyce, our hostess, for the weekly questions!

1. Sunday was the first day of spring. So they say. Ahem. What is your favorite outdoor springtime activity?  Cleaning up the yard, actually. I love getting it spruced up and planted -- such a great and thorough change from the dead winter!

2. Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?  My friend, Erin, who is an amazing cook. Any time she'd like to come on over, I'd be happy to see her ....

3. When did you last fly a kite? When I was about 11, I think -- at our house. There is quite a lot of kite flying on the beaches of NJ all summer -- beautiful and complex kites -- but I never was part of that particular activity.

4. What topic puts you to sleep faster than anything? Philosophy; i.e. man's thinking about man. I'm much more interested in God's thinking about man, actually.

5. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events? Daffodils -- my mother. She affectionately called them her "daffy-down-dillies" and she looked forward to their return every year.

6. What significant historical events took place during your elementary school days? The early space missions (John Glenn, all the way up to the early lunar missions). The assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK.  The Vietnam War. Kent State. Hmmmm..... I was in elementary school from 1963 to 1969 (6th grade). I could google for additional events, but it's more fun to try to remember them myself and to read them from the blogs of others who are participating today.

7. Do you swear? Do you pseudo-swear? (You know crap, shoot, friggin'?) I occasionally swear and often pseudo-swear. I'm not proud of the swearing. The pseudo-swearing bothers me less.

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, I miss the cookies known as Mallomars. A Mallomar, which is an incredible dark chocolate shell coating a teaspoon of marshmallow on top of a graham cracker crust, is truly is the world's most perfect cookie. They are (were?) a staple of New Jersey grocery stores all winter long. And they are neither seen nor heard of out here in the West.  Sigh. I could eat the entire package in one sitting. Of all the "native foods," of NJ, I miss Mallomars even more than pork roll -- and that's saying something for a Jersey Girl.
- Catherine

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Raising Charley, Part III

If you follow my blog, dear reader, then you already are acquainted with our Charley, the Shepherd/Great Dane mix puppy, born last October.

Charley has grown to be a genuine snuggler, especially in the evening when the day of play is over.  He wants someone to sit next to or, preferably, on.

Unfortunately, Charley now weighs in excess of fifty pounds, so snuggling can be ... shall we say? ... problematic.  In fact, it could be detrimental to your health if he chooses to take a running leap onto your lap.

It's easy to forget that this medium sized dog, who is now taller and longer than our 7 year-old lab mutt, is only five months old.

Five. Months. (i.e. approximately 150 days).

As in ... still a baby because he hasn't been breathing oxygen for more than a half a year yet.

Fifty pounds at five months. And he wants to snuggle with us on the couch. Where he takes up the same amount of butt room as a full size human being.

Unless he is draped across several laps.

Which is heavy.

He was neutered a couple of weeks ago, and I am happy to report that some degree of calm has come upon him. He sleeps a bit more during the day and is not as quick to chew on everything as he used to be. He sleeps all night now. And he no longer clings by his teeth to my bathrobe in the morning as I get his food from the 50 lb. dog food sack (which sack gets us through, oh, about a month ... if we're lucky).

He is very definitely a Mama's Pup, sleeping as close to me as he can get all night long (he's on the floor, but woe betide us both if I don't check where my feet are going before I get out of bed, because Charley is Right There).

So, that's Charley at five months. It's hard to believe that he was this tiny once upon a time (at the age of four weeks):

Because now he looks like this this: 

- Catherine

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Things

It's Friday (I have a talent for stating the obvious, don't I?). 

I haven't ranted in my blog since Monday, although I'm still feeling extremely snarky about the current political crap in the world.

A full week of feeling snarky is enough, however, so I will concentrate today on five good things about the week that is past.

And that's what you, dear reader, are getting today.

Five Good Things (none of which is political, unsurprisingly):

1. My body is healing nicely after last week's emergency surgery. The dressings are off the incisions and the incisions are starting to itch -- a good sign.

2. I'm enjoying my time with my daughter (Number 4). We've worked on crafts together, cooked together, and just had our usual goofy time hanging out together.

3. Grandbaby #9 was delivered safe and sound. (A boy, 6.6 lbs, 19+ inches.)  Everything is going well with Grandbaby #10, due in June. And we've just learned that Grandbaby #11 is due later this year! I foresee our own sports franchise here.

4. We've had a short string of dry, spring-like weather and it has been balm for the soul as well as the earth. The horses are kicking up their heels in the pasture and the dogs have begun to run off their winter fat with endless games of "Fetch" and "Keep Away." Best of all is the return of sweet, early morning birdsong, THE most cheerful sound on earth!

5. Charley, at five months old, is as big as Hank. And still growing. That's not the good part. The good part is that he is growing quieter, and he understands and minds us better now. Life in the house is a bit less frenetic, thank goodness! Now if we could just teach him to bark in an "inside voice" ...

Happy weekend to all, and may Spring find you soon, if it hasn't already!

- Catherine

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Open letter to Charlie Sheen and the Media

Dear Charlie Sheen and the American Media Outlets:

Millions of people in Japan have seen their lives torn apart forever by the earthquake and the resulting tsunami. Their homes, their livelihoods, their family members -- all swept away in the space of a few moments. Not to mention the continuing and future threat of radiation poisoning that could affect the entire region if not the entire globe.

Millions of young children around the world will go hungry today and every day. Many, many will die today from hunger and/or the diseases that result from undrinkable water. Some of those kids are right here in America, believe it or not.

Millions of responsible American adults will work twelve to fourteen hours today for less than $10.00 an hour in order to try to provide food, a home, and medical expenses for their families.  And those same responsible adults will pay in excess of $3.50 per gallon for the gasoline necessary to get to and from those jobs.

And you, Mr. Sheen?  All you seem capable of doing is whining to the public about how mistreated you have been by the cancellation of your multi-million dollar TV contract.

Multi. Million. Dollars.
While ordinary (read: never-seen-a-million-dollars-in-my-life) people struggle, you cultivate the media to help you flaunt to the world your extravagant, drug-addled lifestyle complete with porn-industry girlfriends.

I'm sure you've heard this piece of advice often from each one of your ex-wives and from your family, but likely never from the people who are making gigantic amounts of money off your personal circus:

Grow-the-hell-up, little boy.

And as for you, oh multi-billion dollar media outlets of the United States?

The same advice holds.

Grow Up. 

Your rabid pursuit of, and slavish devotion to any story that sells advertising dollars -- no matter how reprehensible the subject -- makes a mockery of our country's priceless and precious "freedom of the press." How about a breath of fresh air for a change? How about just one of you finally and publicly refuses to participate in the Great Melt-Down of a Public Figure?

Don't run the stupid story. It's nothing new or news-worthy. It is -- once again in our history -- nothing more than the irrational rantings of an immature, ego-maniacal personality.

Let it go.

Let the rest of us, who have real and serious problems to deal with, real and deep joys to celebrate, have a breather from the crud of Sheen's cess-pool lifestyle.

I don't watch TV news and I don't listen to the radio. I read the print/online news stories very selectively and I realize I have a choice about what I do read. 

But every day the headlines absolutely scream with Sheen.

Enough already.

Put real life in perspective for a change.

Grow up and shut up.

- Catherine

Saturday, March 12, 2011

And a strange journey it has been.

Five days ago I was complaining because it was Monday.

Four days ago I awoke with an excruciating stomach ache that sent me to the ER at 6:00 in the morning.

Three days ago they did a CT Scan and inserted a tube up my nose and down into my stomach.

Two days ago the surgeon went in through laparoscopy and removed an intestinal obstruction that nearly took my life.

Yesterday I came home.

That's how fast this all happened. Day one, day two, day three. Modern medicine is amazing and I really am grateful to be alive. Intestinal obstructions can kill the bowel very quickly -- and if the bowel goes, then so do you. Literally within seconds of the blockage being cut, my small intestine had returned to normal color and function.

Today I'm sore.

And I'm also getting ready for my daughter's bridal shower tonight, grateful and right on time.

- Catherine

Monday, March 7, 2011

It IS a Monday

You know it's Monday when ....

1. The puppy pees in three places for no apparent reason. That's after about a solid week of being dry in the house.

2. You can't get hold of someone whom you were urgently advised to contact TODAY, and, to boot, are told by his receptionist that she doesn't know when he will be in.  Doesn't know?

3. Your schools go into lockdown because some idiot student posted a Facebook Event detailing a school shooting that was to take place in one of our schools this afternoon.

That's right. Lockdown.

Our local paper has the story (thus far).

Thankfully the lockdown has been lifted and they have someone in custody. I hope they kick his/her butt.

Happy Monday to us.

- Catherine

Friday, March 4, 2011

Heeing and Hawing

I toyed yesterday with the idea of publishing a politically oriented blog post. The insanity from all levels of government is becoming unbearable and I'm sick to death of all the lies and maneuvering.

And then I got a grip on myself and remembered that I really hate political debate and that, being a poor debater, it is best left to others.

As a remedy to all the negativism, therefore, I went looking for something funny.

Well, one of my fond childhood memories is of watching the TV show Hee Haw with my parents and my brother, in the little, dark-paneled living room, on the black and white Zenith. Thus I had to go searching for a Hee Haw clip on Youtube and, do you know -- this is the first time I've ever seen Hee Haw in color!

I feel old.

But no matter because it is Friday! And in just "two sleeps," Number 4 will be landing at the airport! And in between now and then, I'll be leading worship at the Idaho Seasons of Refreshing (the annual Christian Motorcyclist Association's weekend conference).

So -- for your Friday-start-the-weekend pleasure:

- Catherine

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

Well, it's Wednesday and you know what that means -- da Hodgepodge!

This week the Hodgepodge is, for me, a welcome break from bad news, bad news, and more bad news. Seriously, there is insanity at every level in our lives!  When does this end???

Okay, without further ado...... drum roll please.... I bring you Joyce's questions of the week, along with my incredibly pithy answers:

1. March 2nd is Dr. Seuss's birthday so I'm you like green eggs and ham? Okay-how about this do you like your eggs? Or don't you?  I love eggs.  Breakfast eggs definitely should be scrambled, preferably with a little onion and a little Jack cheese. I also love Deviled Eggs.

2. Is March coming in like a lion or something less ferocious where you live? We're having gentler temperatures this week and I am soaking it in. No doubt there is wind and more snow to come, though -- this is Idaho after all.

3. Do you work better or worse under pressure?  Better under pressure.

4. March Madness-are you a fan? It's college basketball in case you're wondering. And if you're outside the USA tell us-is there any sort of 'madness' taking place during March in your part of the world?  I am so NOT a fan. I just can't get into the basketball thing. In fact, I will be sulking until football starts up again.

5. Under what circumstances do you do your best thinking? When I'm settling down to sleep at night or when I'm awake in the middle of the night. I'm not sure why that is or what it says about me, but that's the truth.

6. What item of clothing from your wardrobe do you wear most often? My sage green, cotton "Park City" hoodie. I've owned it for more than six years and it is very worn, with frayed cuffs and grease spots.  But it is so comfy that I can't give it up!

7. Do you use sarcasm? Like I need to answer that.

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking: Charley, bless his 4-month-old canine heart, is almost as big as Hank. He is sloppy, floppy, loving, lovable, and somewhat dense, but it seems that potty training MIGHT just finally have gotten through to him. I am relieved that he hasn't relieved himself on my rugs for four days straight. AND -- he goes in for his operation next Wednesday and there will be no hodgepodge about that!
- Catherine
PS -- if you want to play along, use the graphic above to get to Joyce's blog and link up your own answers.