Monday, August 29, 2011

Lessons Learned

I retrieved CPM from JFK airport on Friday afternoon, just in time for us to jointly experience the wonder of Hurricane Irene's attack on the Midatlantic. I learned some valuable survival lessons. In no particular order, they follow below.

Bananas are now on the pre apocalyptic food shopping list, meaning you won't find any on your last minute supermarket trip, along with eggs, milk and bread. Apparently, survival french toast has been upgraded to banana french toast.

When you make that preparatory food shopping trip, avoid purchasing perishable items. Two weeks without a spouse in the house meant that my cupboard was totally bare upon his return, since I didn't actually do any food shopping in his absence. Since I was at the store shopping for the storm anyway, I grabbed the normal collection of food stuffs, yogurts, cheeses and such. In our previous home in the city, this would have been a non issue, as we NEVER lost power. In the new suburban home, we were without power for 12 hours, and I mentally cursed myself at every opportunity for having so much food that might spoil on hand. Next time, I'll stick to simply buying peanut butter and fruit until AFTER all threat of a power loss is past, and then go back to get the dairy and frozen foods.

Your nifty tank-less hot water heater, which saves you soooooo much money every month on your utility bills, needs power to heat the water. I took an ice cold shower with a flashlight shining on me. It felt a lot like what I imagine prison to be like. (Normally, I would have just skipped the shower, but I actually had to leave the house to socialize with people at a baby shower, so it was sort of necessary.) We need to get a back up battery for this. (Or, we need to just bite the bullet and put in a generator.)

This soup is really good, especially when it is rainy. I made it rather spicy (accidentally bought a can of hot hatch chiles), used whole milk instead of heavy cream, and tempeh bacon instead of regular bacon. We're eating it for dinner again tonight. If the power hadn't come back, and the leftovers had spoiled, I would have been severely put out.

Your garage door opener won't open without power. Duh. We should have gotten the one with the battery back up. We also should not have lost the key to the manual garage door. Double duh.

When you wake up to find the power is out, there isn't much you can do except go out for breakfast. I had this delectable stuffed french toast from Green Eggs Cafe.

Yes, I had the materials on hand to make my own, thanks to the shopping, but I didn't want to open the fridge and compromise the temperature. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And just for fun, here is a lovely shot of the normally sedate Pennypack Creek, engorged to the size of a raging torrent.

Like lemmings, on the way home from breakfast, we followed all of the other cars on the road and parked to gawk at the spectacle.

When the power returns, your neighbors will actually cheer.

True Blood has been really mediocre this season (not really a hurricane lesson, just wanted to get this out there), except for the lovely amount of Eric and Alcide naked butt shots.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Musings

On my lunch hour yesterday, I decided to walk the length of the Ben Franklin Bridge. It's near enough to my building, but still makes for a semi-respectable lunch work out session. Ironically enough, I hate driving on bridges. My palms sweat, I have to be away from the edge in a center lane, and I always feel that when I reach the apex, my car is going to fly off into midair. As a passenger I'm fine. As a walker, I'm okay...I can admire the view, but if I get to close to the edge, the sweaty palms might kick in, depending on the distance to the ground/water.

As I walked, I listened to some music on my iPhone, admired the view, and at one moment, actually had a strange thought...what would happen if an earthquake struck while I was walking along the bridge. Would I be tossed off, to die a horrible death in the Delaware River? (I frequently have very morbid thoughts when I walk alone and am sunk in my own musings.) I wondered if the experience would be similar to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse. (I originally saw this video in high school physics's a classic, though completely unrelated to earthquakes.)

I returned to work from my walk safely, albeit slightly sweaty. About 45 minutes later, while I was sitting at my desk, the building began to shake. The floor beneath me actually felt as if it was going to toss me off of my chair. My first thought...oh shit, the mechanical equipment that lives in the basement below me is exploding. I am going to die at my workstation. Great. Then I realized it was probably an earthquake. This struck me as slightly weird, given my earlier train of thought.

30 seconds of shaking later, I was still alive. I was however, slightly freaked out, and feeling like some sort of clairvoyant.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What to do when your spouse is away.

The husband, guitar player extraordinaire, has not toured very much in the last several years. In fact, I've gotten downright used to his regular presence at home lately. So much so, that I was really dreading this most recent two week absence, which is short in comparison to previous tours that I've survived. (The worst tour ever was one on which he spent five weeks away from home in December/January. There is nothing more depressing than being home alone in the dead of winter. I lost a lot of weight from not eating regularly, and walking the dogs constantly in cold weather to occupy myself. I can vouch for the weight loss effectiveness of "brown fat.")

So, what to do with myself?

I read. Thanks to George R.R. Martin, most of the reading was an 1100 page behemoth, his latest installment in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. I also squeezed in the follow up to The Magicians, The Magician King. Today I'm getting started on Y: The Last Man.

I watched some crap movies with the furry kids curled up with me. Burlesque. Country Strong. You know, movies that I wouldn't even dare to suggest to CPM because I know how ridiculous they are going to be. I enjoyed both.

I shopped. New glasses from Warby Parker were purchased. I was dead set on the green ones, but the brown ones kind of grew on me, so I got both. Their Home Try On program rules...I did two different sets of five frame options, and settled on these two. At $95 a piece, the combined cost is STILL less than what I paid for ONE pair of glasses on my last visit to the optician.



I bought some patio furniture at Lowe's. It's not expensive, but it does the job. I am particularly fond of the bright green umbrella. It makes me happy.

I also fixed some minor stuff that needed fixin' about the house, hung some pictures, that kind of crap. One thing is certain, it certainly is easier to keep the house clean when I'm only going around picking up after myself. (Having a spouse is a lot like having a toddler, sometimes.) Still, I cannot wait for him to get home. I would have made the worst military wife.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little insight

This will either be the most boring post ever, or you will learn a lot about how my brain works. You will see that I am possibly insane.

I hate kitchen clutter. Raising dogs from puppy hood taught me some important kitchen organization lessons. First, keep the counters free and clear of anything that you value. Dogs, especially puppies, will grab anything that appears interesting and/or edible from counters. (In a bag on the counter, gone, on a plate on the counter, gone, on the stove, gone. No matter how small your puppy, they will figure out a way to get up there.) Second, put locks on the cabinets. All of them. (My dogs easily figured out cabinets, including metal cabinets that had a magnetic latch--I said bye bye to my entire Tupperware collection, all of my wraps and baggies, miscellaneous and numerous food items, and a gallon of extra virgin olive oil.) Third, put the trash behind a door that requires opposable thumbs to open. Failing that, put it behind a door with a strong baby lock. Failing that, burn your trash outside until the neighbors complain.

The focus of this post will be the clear counter. My kitchen does not feature a handy bucket of kitchen utensils within easy reach of the stove. (I lost one early in puppyhood to the chewing, and decided to never replace it.) Nope, the utensils are (neatly) stashed in a drawer. There are no containers of tea bags (edible), no flour jars (edible), no sugar (edible). On the counter you will see my giant cutting board, my toaster oven, my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, my blender, dish soap, and the dish drainer. (If the dogs were not elderly, the dish soap and drainer would be hiding under the sink.) Basically, I keep out the big heavy items that if attacked by a curious pet, would knock them unconscious and teach them a lesson in counter avoidance. On the stove (back burner, far from curious paws), until yesterday, you would have also seen my glass tea kettle. We drink a lot of tea.

This one.

I've been through four of these kettles since CPM and I began cohabitating (that would have been 15 years ago). The whistling top has a tendency to melt. They are sometimes hard to find. (I always bought two at a time.) Still, I far prefer them to the "regular" teapot. I like being able to see my water and to know that the inside is actually clean of crud.

Lately, I've developed an interest in the electric tea kettle. I read about them on some blogs. I had deep internal debates. Did I really want another thing that would hang out on the counter? I decided this past weekend to make an exploratory trip to Bed Bath & Beyond. I found one that I liked, at a price that I didn't like.

This one.

I left the store without it, realizing that I had a (free) perfectly (free) serviceable (free) tea kettle at home. (I did however, get some new toothbrushes, a wall holder for my hair dryer, and some flushable bathroom wipes...who can leave that store empty handed?)

Yesterday, I arrived home from work and performed my ritual toss-bag-on-bench-take-dogs-outside routine. I noticed a funny smell in the house, but didn't investigate. I spent my usual five minutes tossing the frisbee to Squirt until she decided she was ready to pee. In my "mommy" voice, I asked the dogs if they wanted to go in and eat. They rushed in, I followed, and again, I noticed the smell.

As I approached the kitchen, I noticed the dog bowls were on the floor, as if the dogs had eaten already. Hmm, I thought. That's strange, their dad isn't home from work at the moment. He does work from home though, so, I decided to give the spouse a call to verify that the dogs had eaten earlier. As I was waiting for him to answer, I noticed that the stove was on. Let me write that again. THE STOVE WAS ON. NO ONE WAS HOME. On the lit burner was the remains of a glass tea kettle. Next to the stove, on the counter, was a mug with a tea bag inside, patiently awaiting the infusion of just barely boiling water. Unfortunately, the wait would be long, since the water had long boiled off and had left a lovely chemical laden burn mark inside the kettle. The house, miraculously, was not burnt down.

Needless to say, later that night, CPM gave me money and I went and bought the electric tea pot, which now holds a place of honor on my counter.

The end.

Monday, August 8, 2011


There is a horse farm located one block away from my house.

After having dinner at Cantina Feliz, we drove past the farm as the sun was setting, and I remembered that I had a bag of organic carrots lingering in the produce bin of the refrigerator. The horses, as you can see above, were tantalizingly close to the fence nearest our street. And thus, CPM and I made some equine friends. We feared that someone from the barn would yell at us for corrupting the horses, but we escaped detection!

The white horse featured above is a girl. She has one blue eye. She is also very pushy, as she shoved all of the others out of the way and in an attempt to get all of the carrots for herself.

This guy was my bud. I was out of carrots by the time he approached us, but he let me rub his head for a good long while. Possibly, he thought my fingers were carrots. He was very lippy.

I have a feeling I'll be buying lots of carrots in the days to come.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Being Honest

I don't sew anymore.

I haven't sewn anything since my Halloween costume of 2010, and that was a last minute hack job, since we were deep into home renovations and moving plans.

All of my fabric has been in boxes in my basement since we moved into the house. The likelihood of it leaving those boxes for a viable project in my house is pretty slim. The likelihood of it leaving my house to be donated to someone who might actually use it is better.

There is just NO SPACE in the house for proper planning/cutting/sewing. (At a little over 800 square feet, there's actually no space for much of anything.) Eventually, we will finish the basement, and there could be space for sewing, but honestly, I've lost the urge to sew. I find that I far prefer buying a lovely, quality, item of clothing to sweating hours making something that I will definitely find a flaw in. The perfectionist in me demands finished seams and clothes that don't pucker. EVERYTHING that I've made for myself (with the exception of my Sencha Blouse and my bow tie bag) is gone, ravaged in closet downsizing missions, or tossed in a fit of distaste at the lack of garment perfection. Yes, I could work on achieving perfection, but patience is not a virtue that I possess in great quantities.

I don't actually miss the sewing. I sometimes wonder where I used to find the time to do it at all. After performing the normal post work rush of pet care/dinner prep/clean up/dog walking/miscellaneous house chores, it's usually time to collapse onto the couch and catch an hour of television before I fall asleep at 9 (or collapse into my chair and read for a bit--this depends on what night of the week we're talking about). The workday starts all over again for me at 5:30 a.m.

Weekends are a haze of house cleaning, laundry, food shopping, and other miscellaneous chores. If I'm lucky, feeling motivated, and the weather is cooperative I take a long bike ride or a long walk on one of the weekend days. Mostly, though, Sunday night arrives in a flash, I'm vacuuming madly, and I wonder again, when did I used to have time to sew? Do I even want to have time to sew? And if I'm honest with myself, the answer is no.

I like having the ability to sew, the knowledge that I can hem trousers, make curtains, or whip up a skirt. I enjoy reading crafty blogs and books. I just don't enjoy the act anymore. This doesn't make me sad. I have realized that I've mentally moved on. The item has been checked off of my "to do" list. I'm ready to learn some new things, or perhaps revisit old ones. (Maybe learn another language or craft. Maybe revisit the knitting, since it can be done in small spaces.)

I may sew again. I'll never get rid of the hardware, the machine, the scissors, the pins, the thread. I'll always be available to help those who can't hem their own pants.