Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dog's Eye View

Today is my big brother's birthday.
He's 48 today.
From the moment I got to work this morning and my brain kicked into gear, I told myself "Call your brother when you get home tonight and wish him a happy birthday."
Then I get home, and The Child has a tooth ache. Our Kitten is in heat.
Hubby hasn't been feeling well.
My house smells like someone dumped a pile of dirty socks in the ventilation ducts.

It's one of those days when I am expected to be the ultimate care giver to all of my loved ones.
And it doesn't stop here. Tomorrow, Hubby goes back to the doctor, kitty gets fixed, and The Child goes to the dentist for the first time and I know it will not be a pleasant venture.

I really kind of suck at one-on-one care giving. I'm great at giving hugs and cheerful words, but when it comes to actually caring for someone who is ill, well, I sort of freak out a little. And at the moment, every one in my family is broken and will be depending on me to help them mend.

So the practical voice inside me says "Buck up, little cowgirl, these people need you and you will rise to the occasion." Meanwhile the IMPRACTICAL voice inside of me says "A Gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and a bottle of jim beam would surely make me a loving and caring person."

We'll get through it. We always do. I know I've stood in this spot before.

Any way, Happy Birthday, Big Brudder!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Answer to one of life's questions revealed...

So if you have ever wondered what the hell is this man wearing and why would any sane man ever want to wear that?

Here is your answer....

Ladies and Gentlemen, a blast from my past.
You're welcome.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

These are a Few of my Favourite Things

I love lazy Saturdays. I get up, I surf the net, I snort down a whole pot of coffee, and then the rest of the family awakens. Sweet!

Even more fun, I discovered a few new blogs from blog surfing from one to the next, and bookmarking them this past week. So this morning, I got to sit and actually page through the many fashion blogs out there. Dang! I wish I was in my 20's again, because if I were, I could SO rock that genre! These young gals hit the thrift stores and create totally unique wardrobes with their found treasures paired with incredibly cute shoes and accessories. To some, such as my hubby, it may sound quite lame. But to me, it is very inspiring. I wish I could take it to the extremes they take it to, but I know that if I tried, folks would just look at me and say "Oh, look! She's wearing all the 80's shit from her attic today!" Sure. Like the shit I wore in high school would even fit me today! (Well, maybe it would??) But anyway, reading those blogs really makes me want to go thrift store shopping!

And that is exactly what we did today. Saint Vinny's has recently moved to its new location and we were fortunate enough to come during their grand opening celebration. As part of their celebration, they were also holding a silent auction on some of their finer donated items. I am still crestfallen. They had an amazing vintage coffee table with a tooled leather top, and ultra-ornate legs in perfect condition. Be still my heart! And there was a pair of Museum Quality Hand Carved chairs that even caught Hubby's attention. The wood portion of them were very decorative and antique. Someone had covered them in cheetah patterned fabric which made them even more eye catching. I wanted these items in my living room! So I started the bids on all items. They said to come back at 1PM to see if you won.

When we came back at 1PM, the groovy table was gone, and the bids on the chairs had raised $30 each. I kept upping the bids trying to insure that I got them. But in the end, a young gal who reminded me a lot of My #1 Son's friend Sarah came up and asked "Are you Brenda? We're bidding against each other on those chairs." And I said "Yes, I love them." Then her mother asked "Are you a collector or are you bidding to take them home?" Well, I admitted that if I WERE a collector, these chairs would be quite a find at the low price they were going for, but no, I just wanted them in my home. My opponent said she had just redecorated her den in a jungle motif and really wanted these chairs as well. And then her Mommy gave me THAT look.
Spoiler: "Mommy didn't need to say it, but Mommy was prepared to throw money at this auction to ensure her little girl gets those chairs, so I may as well stop bidding.".

So yeah, I lost that bid too. But I did come home with a few Elvis Collector books that I can post up on Craigs List and double the value. And I also found some very cute shoes, brand new, and 3 outfits for work, which is good because this time of year I tend to feel like I wear the same 4 outfits day after day, week after week.

Oh, and I realized this week, with the odd weather we had (snow and rain Monday, snow Tuesday, rain Wednesday and Thursday, 80 degrees Friday, and then rain again today), that this gal really doesn't have a mid- weather jacket to wear. I have Winter. I have Cool Summer. No Spring jacket. So I rectified that as well with a long black spring dress coat. It's probably too dressy to wear with my wellies on a rainy day, but, hey! I love me wellies! I'm gonna wear them every time it rains!

It's good that we got in this shopping expedition today, though. Little Oc gets fixed next Friday, so I have a feeling next Saturday we'll all be taking turns telling her "Don't Lick That."

So how did you shake the rain from your soul today?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This would be a riot!

Wouldn't it be fun to have something like THIS in your living room?

Personally, I would put it in a corner of the room surrounded by happy growing plants. One would have to be certain where they wanted it because, well, it would be quite heavy! I couldn't rearrange like I enjoy doing. But it might be worth it.

I can imagine it now, Family Christmas. Jamming my whole family into our livingroom. Everyone drawing straws as to who has to sit in the tub. And then those who win suddenly find out that it's quite cozy! Ha!

Well, I'm off to work! Have a spectacular day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My kingdom for a camera!

The weather has been so fabulous these past few days that I come home from work asking The Child "What do you want for dinner? Come on, answer up, you're burnin' daylinght here!" Then we snarf down dinner and I head out to the garage and commence to working on stripping down one of the two tables I have out there.

The bad thing is that I don't have a digital camera at the moment, so I won't be able to show you all a BEFORE picture... although having 2 identical tables still sort of leaves one to know what the former looked like. So, all I need to do is get the camera gear logged up onto the computer within the next few weeks. Why so long? Well, this is my passion. I don't want to rush through any of the stages in refinishing these tables. Right now they are hideous! But I know they will look totally righteous when they're done. And this fabulous weather just makes me want to spend as much time puttering around outside anyway.

I have a vacation day tomorrow. The Child was trying to talk us into going to The Children's Museum in Appleton. Hmmmm. That's in the same city as the Habitat For Humanity Re-Store. Be still my heart! I know they will have a big table full of mismatched tile that I can smash up and use to mosaic the top of one of my tables. Come to think of it, that's where these tables came from to begin with! It's full circle!

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's not really deja vu

Have you ever had the feeling of Deja Vu?
You get the feeling that somewhere somehow you have done the exact same thing, thinking the exact same thoughts as you are at a specific moment in time.
The lore of this is that if you do have deja vu, then that is telling you that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at that moment. You are on the proper path in life.

I've had deja vu many times in my life. But if I waited for moments like that to appear in order to feel that I am on the correct course in life, I'd be in a sorry state!

As I said yesterday, I've been browsing through the zen habits site these past few days.
It's a great place to go if you're feeling a little discouraged about your current path.

One post that I particularly liked was Find Your Amazing Work . I shared a print out of this with my supervisor and coworkers, making sure to point out that even a Zen Columnist feels that the work we do every day is an amazing thing. I know there are days when Those Upstairs seem to be spending too much time dumping more work on us. And there are days when we feel that the Doctors and the Nurses really carry the bulk of the weight. But you know what? That's not true. Every day that I go to work, I help save a person's life. I know the warning signs of a stroke or a heart attack (Different in each of the sexes), and I am able to recognize many symptoms and know if they ought to talk to the nurse for medical assessment right now or if it could wait. I am able to talk a depressed person into keeping their doctor appointment, and I am able to make a crabby person laugh. I'm able to help a very ill person get through the mundane clerical portion of their visit with speed and ease so that they can rest and conserve their energy. I know how to operate a wheel chair - not even all the doctors and nurses know how to do that! But mostly, I love helping people. In many cases, I can either make or break a person's day. I choose to make their day.

So, yeah, I'm not making a ton of money. I make enough to pay some bills. But I love helping people. That is my amazing work. Who needs a 5 year plan. I'm where I'm supposed to be right now!

P.S. It's been 6 months today since I quit smoking! I ROCK!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zen Habits

Easter was an enjoyable day. We all ate far too much, but it was fun catching up with the in- laws.
But now, it's time to focus on the week ahead.

I didn't get a lot of house cleaning done this weekend. I was more preoccupied with keeping Hubby busy and keeping his mind off of smoking that my normal routine sort of went out the window.
And rightly so. I woke up this morning thinking about how I wanted to make Waldorf salad to bring along to MIL's, but our celery was limp. I said to Hubby "Maybe if I make the Waldorf with everything else, we can pick up celery on our way out of town and I can just add it at your Ma's." Well, the next thing I know, Hubby is saying "I can run to the store and buy celery. Do you need anything else? I can go to the store."

I looked at him and said "You haven't even had a real cup of coffee yet. Why do you want to run to the store?" Uh huh. Just as I suspected. When he came home with the celery, he smelled of freshly smoked cigarette. Dammit! I shoulda stuck with plan A.

It's just annoying me. You see, he's not on this roller coaster by himself. He's dragging the whole family along. And with every slip, the withdrawal lasts longer. It takes 3 days to get the nicotiene out of your system. Every time he sneaks a smoke, he's reloading his system and adding yet another day and night of hell.

When you quit smoking, you have great difficulty sleeping that first week. You have freaky dreams when you do sleep. But your brain wakes you up all night with electrical charges, and in Hubby's case, muscle spasms. Last night I forced him to take a Lorazepam at bed time, telling him that his best defense in standing strong is a good night's sleep. Yeah, he still had trouble, but I do think it helped. But of course, when he tosses and turns, I get awakened as well. Yay.

The scary thing is, he is at work right now. He normally does the majority of his smoking at work.
Will he get through the night?

So in the mean time, I've gotten the kitchen back in order, and I'm now relaxing surfing the net. I love going from blog link to blog link to see what I stumble upon. I've been to Zen Habits before, and although I don't swallow it all hook line and sinker, there is often good food for thought.

One thing they mention is that we need direction and focus. At this point in my life, I don't think I really have any BIG direction or focus happening in my life. Sure, there's helping Hubby quit smoking, making sure that I stay a non-smoker, reaching my goal weight and feeling healthier, raising The Child so that he is not completely warped and will hopefully be a productive member of society. But I don't really have a big plan that I'm aiming toward. I don't have a 5 year plan. I don't have a 10 year plan. Unless you count Not Getting Cancer. But that's more a hopeful wish than a plan.

I did finally get my bike road ready. That makes me happy. Now I need to get my body used to biking for long distances so that I can start riding it to work! That's a previous goal met, and a new goal set.

Getting up earlier is a goal. My work hours will be changing soon. On Tuesdays I will have to be there at 7AM. Which means if I have to get up an hour early for one day a week, I may as well get up early for all days of the week. My goal there is to get my ass out the door 4 out of 5 days a week to walk before my morning shower.

I also want to kill my television set. Is that a goal?

Perhaps I need to spend more time reading Zen Habits to regain my focus. I've been coasting a lot lately. I need a Zen Kick in the pants.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter, Etc.

Not much new around here at the moment. Easter is tomorrow, and Hubby is talking about maybe dying even more eggs. I have never seen a family eat more eggs in my life. The gas is astounding! Help me!!!

I'm sad to see lent go. I really looked forward to the Friday Menu at work. Potato Encrusted Cod is quite yummy! And it is especially fun to yell out "Cod Nuggets!" in a moment of anger! Hubby and The Child joined me for lunch yesterday. Where else on earth can you feed a family of 3 for $5? We can't even do that at home!

Hubby is trying to quit smoking. It's more difficult for him. I don't think he's ever made it more than a day or 2. And he always smokes the cheap nasty smokes so there's more tar and nicotiene in them. So if he does this, I need everyone to make an extra big deal about it!

I had the opportunity to take the majority of next week off work because most of the docs are gone and it will be slow. Well, I am taking Tuesday and Friday off, but I don't think I'd be able to handle hanging around home all week with Hubby quitting smoking. I'd have to kill him. Granted, if I killed him he would be a former smoker, but it would be for all the wrong reasons.

But the cool thing about him quitting is that it is giving me a chance to get back in touch with all the reasons why I quit. And that helps a lot. Especially since I've been down this road before.
I know that after 1 month you really want to try a cigarette. After 2 months you really want to try a cigarette. After 4 months you really want to try a cigarette. and at 6 months you really want to try a cigarette. And each time you do, the odds of you starting up again increases. I like the money too much to ever go back to being the big smoker I was, but still... I'm finding out that most of the people I know who quit are on the fence at the moment. They are bargaining with themselves. The have at least one cigarette a day, telling themselves that it doesn't count because they aren't smoking like they used to. I don't want to be like that. Because I know me. One would lead to 5. Five would lead to 10. And I'd be right back where I started, only more broke than ever with the costs rising!

Another bonus is that my clothes won't smell like an old cigarette any more! W00t! (There is nothing more aggrivating that to have gone through the journey of quitting smoking only to live with a smoker who leaves all of your clothes smelling like he stood beside them all and blew smoke directly at them. I hate it!!!!).

On a completely unrelated subject, the remote I had ordered a month ago finally arrived in the mail. I loaded it with batteries, re-set the television set and....nothing. The damned thing still won't work! I just don't get it! And I spent $25 on that stupid remote! I don't want to buy a new television set! Right now they're charging far too much for television sets what with the digital programming change-over and all. It makes me want to take the T.V. upstairs and toss it out a window. Well, okay, so I'll admit, I always thought it would be cool to toss a Television out an upper story window. Now I actually have a real reason to do it! Hmmmmm.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

I went to the library this weekend and checked out some books to read.
Before I headed there, I went to two different places on the internet.
Firstly, I stopped at and typed in titles of some of my favourite novels.
Amazon always has a recommendation; "If you enjoyed reading BOOK A, then you will enjoy reading BOOK B".

The second place I visit for reading options is I've always loved reading his books, and am always on the look out for a new release. But I discovered a while back that Stephen King himself is a voracious reader, and on his web site, he sometimes lists what he is currently reading and if he likes the book or not. I've found some very captivating stories this way! (Incidentally, I also found that he does indeed have a new release - but, alas, the library had all of their copies checked out. I may have to buy it.)

However, I found "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd while searching Amazon and typing in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. Betty Smith is a wonderful author. I've read all of her novels and am now looking for someone new. I absolutely LOVE "The Secret Life of Bees". I hated to finish the book because it was so captivating and well written.

The story is set in the early 60's and it is obvious that the author did a great deal of research while writing the story in an effort to keep it accurate. But there are so many very subtle things that the author added into her story that really warmed my heart. It is a talent to do such a thing. In this day and age, we often feel that we must be blatant and obvious to drive a point home. Sue Monk Kidd sneaks her point around the corner of your heart in such a soft way that it tickles your senses for a moment and then you catch it. And then a tear comes to your eye.

The star of the book is a 13 year old girl named Lily who is portrayed to us in a very real manner. As she tells you things about her life in the first person, you just want to climb into the book and just hug her until it is all better.

Lily goes on an amazing journey that is highly taboo in the early 1960's, and bees play a subtle side-story throughout the entire journey. My Uncle Ben used to keep bees. It takes a special type of personality to be able to do such a thing. And Ms Monk Kidd captures that personality perfectly in her novel.

The story is so beautifully written that it transports you into it (And isn't that what we hope a
good story would do?). At one point, I was reading it in the cafeteria at work and had to stop. "Can't cry here! I'm at work!" I had to tell myself. So, indeed, you will need kleenex when reading this beautiful tale. But it is absolutely worth the effort.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's like the day after Prom Night!

Just a few random thoughts:

I always feel so let down the day after the local elections.
There's no surprise with this one either.
Creepy Guy is now our new Mayor.

On the up side - I'm not alone in my feelings regarding the school referendums!
W00t! We live to protest another day!

Never eat a container of Wintergreen Icebreakers like it's a package of candy. If you have, you will know why. :-O

I volunteered to help out in other areas at work in the upcoming future. At first my boss was grateful to have a volunteer. Then the next thing I know, she's telling me to go sit in that area and re-train. What a slap in the face!

The seeds that The Child and I planted a few weeks ago are finally starting to sprout - with no thanks to our Kitten! I think she knows that we are hoping that 12 catnip seedlings will sprout to be hearty plants in that little terrarium because she just can't leave the darned thing alone! I finally had to move it to a different place in the home to discourage her. So far, we have about 4 catnip plants sprouting, 3 Lupines, 2 Popcorn plants, lots of basil, a few cilantro chutes, and a few random whisps of dill sprouting. I've never been much of a gardener. I'll have to keep you posted on how we do.

On a related note, I keep seeing Umbrella Plants all over town that are just impossibly gigantic and towering! I get so excited when I see that because I know I have one in my living room! It can only get bigger! I found out that we have something in common, that plant and I. We both adore coffee! Sweet! We make enough coffee ground compostat our house to probably start our own freakin soil business! So this plant is going to be very happy!

I sure wish I could find (and properly operate) our digital camera, because The Child has a new hair cut and he just looks so darned huggable! I guess you'll have to wait until the school pictures come round.

My Oldest son sent me an E-mail yesterday saying that his cousins on his father's side have just discovered him on MySpace. He said within a half hour he had 30 friend requests. What was my response? "Ask them to send you money!"

Ok, I've randomed you enough for one night. I'm off to see what's on The Child's T.V. since our feckin remote is still yet to ship! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I've achieved perfection!

Since our first visit to Pilara's, Hubby and I have been on a quest to concoct the best simple recipe for Waldorf Salad.
I think I finally have it right.

you start with 1 pint container of whipping cream, and you whip it until it turns into whipping cream (duh!). While whipping, you add 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of Miracle Whip.

Finely Dice up 2 apples, add 3 stalks of celery finely diced, include 1/2 cup raisins, and 3/4 cup of walnuts.
Blend all of this into your whip cream mixture, and YUM!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gallery Walk

It is the first Saturday of the month.
That is when Oshkosh holds Gallery Walk.
This was our first time ever attending Gallery Walk. It's spring, and I'm just dying to do something - anything out of the ordinary now that the snow has melted and I no longer want to hibernate!

I received an E-mail the other day from Crescent Moon saying they were planning to participate in the Gallery Walk as well. That in itself is pretty damned cool. You see, Crescent Moon is a salvage resale company in down town Oshkosh. I just love stopping in there when we get the chance. J and Julia have some very awesome ideas to offer when it comes to making use of reclaimed salvage items. And well, somehow during one of our visits, we got to talking about White Chicken Chili, and I promised Julia that I'd drop off my recipe for her one day. I kept my promise, and it happened to have my E-mail address on it, so now I'm on their mailing list as well. And I'm cool with that. They have some groovy stuff. In fact, she's going to call me with a price on a 1940's Oshkosh City Directory. I collect those and don't have one quite so old, so I hope it will be a good price.

Gallery Walk was quite fun. Many of the participating businesses had big signs outside their shops so that people would come in and browse the art they were featuring this evening. Some of the art is actually quite good. Some of it.... well.... perhaps you really have to like that sort of stuff...

I managed an Art Gallery for 7 years. I got used to saying "Oh, yes! You wonderful taste!" When I was actually just trying to make a sale. I will never really understand most abstract art. Nor will I understand why those who create abstract art think it needs to be on a gigantic canvas. I secretly believe that most artists who create abstract art probably lack the ability to do realism in any form.

Another exciting part about attending Gallery Walk is that you are able to go into many stores that are never open to the general public, or simply are never open at all. And now it makes sense to me. Some of those stores are rented by artists and they use them as their art studio. They paint and paint and paint until the first Saturday of each month, and then they slap an obscene price tag on their work and open their doors. Can you tell I wasn't impressed?

And speaking of obscene, silly me, we wander into one gallery, and I suppose I ought to have expected it, but I was so busy trying to make out what the artist had painted when suddenly The Child yells out "Boobies!!!" and I look at the wall opposite to the one I'm looking at and it's all S&M art. I had to quickly usher The Child out of the gallery, eyes shielded, hoping he didn't take in too much of the scene before his exclamation.

On the whole, I'm glad that we went. It was fun. Oshkosh does have a few very promising artists. And Down Town has some very nice store owners. And we got some fresh air and exercise. So it was worth it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Support Your Local Museums!

I just read about an upcoming exhibit at the Paine that I can't wait to see!

We are a family of Museum Dwellers. It's what we do when we want to do something as a family
that is fun and educational. And we always make sure we visit when the Art Fair and annual Plant Sale is being held at the Paine, as well as any other summer tourist attraction they may hold.

Because the city's museum usually has more Family-Friendly exhibits, we usually end up spending our money there rather than tootling kitty- corner to the Paine and spending the cash on their entrance fee. We just can't afford to visit both on a given Sunday.

However, the Paine will be holding an exhibit starting June 6 that I will make sure we see.
The Collection of the George Eastman House of Rochester, N.Y. will be on display. This is a collection of over 100 photographs spanning from the past 150 years of American life.
They promise to have photos of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O, as well as works of Ansel Adams.

Photo by Danny Lyon

I am hoping these will all be larger than life and even more captivating than the small prints and poster art I have discovered through the years.

I can't help myself. Photography has long been my favourite art form.
When we visit the museum, The Boy and The Hubby love looking at the exhibits. I enjoy them as well, but what I'm always most looking forward to is the basement where there are always awesome old photographs to enjoy and admire.

How can one not love old photos? They transport you back to the era in which they were taken.
They fill my mind with questions, and also answer many ponderings I have had while reading the old novels I so adore.

When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. I have the talent and the creativity. And along with that, I also have that slanted vision of the world that your average person has never really experienced (I often need to remind myself that others may not find many of the things I get all excited about as even mildly interesting). It's a feeling. A personality quirk. But also a very fun and beautiful way to appreciate this world. But somewhere along the way, I got sucked in to the hustle and bustle of the general population and ended up reserving my artistic talents for home improvement challenges and Functional Furniture Art. If I really put my mind to it, I probably could jump in and do what I love for a living. But I lack the marketing skills that it takes in order to command a strong commission for what I do. Therefore, I would starve. My family would starve. The Child would really miss eating Gourmet Noodles. So I guess I ought to stick with my true talent - helping people. And that in itself is pretty darned righteous!

Come June, look for my review of our visit to the Paine! I can't wait!