Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I get worked up just thinking about it.

So all day yesterday, I sat in my window-view cube and watched the rain change over to snow. It was pretty and it wasn't sticky, so I wasn't too worried about my drive home. And I was right! The roads were wet but not that slick, there was precisely 0" accumulation and nothing was frozen. I thought to myself, "Sweet! Take it easy, go maybe 5 under, and watch my braking, and I should be home in no time. Easy peasy, livin' greasy."

And then I got stuck behind a little brown sedan with an Amway sticker, driven by Stan McNormalguy.

I came up behind him at a red light, and when it turned green, hand to God it took at least fifteen seconds for him to reach 25 mph. Which, it turned out, was his optimal (read: OHGODOHGODOHGODI'MGOINGTOSPINOUTANDDIE) cruising speed. This was on 86th Street. I have never in my life wanted so badly to ram someone off the road. I turned off first chance I got and didn't look back, not so much for my sake as for his. I was seriously flirting with full-on road rage (I'm not proud of that -- I'm normally a pretty mellow driver). In retrospect, I should have checked his license plate -- if it said "Alabama" or some such, that would have pretty well squared everything. But still: 25 in a 40, when the snow's not even sticking? Gimme a break. I hope the rest of the winter isn't like this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, criminy.

There's snow in the rain outside. It's officially past Thanksgiving.

Some thoughts after Thanksgiving

-- Want a delicious turkey with a brown and crackly-crispy turkey skin? Thaw (if applicable). Wash and pat dry, inside and out. Rub cavity generously with kosher salt. Butter the outside of that sucker to within an inch of its life, then butter it some more. I recommend using a brush, but if you can handle the melted butter without discomfort, use your hands. Preheat oven to 350F, then reduce to 325F as soon as the bird goes in. Time at 15 minutes per pound (12 pounds = 3 hours). Test with thermometer to avoid emergency room unpleasantness. Is delicious.

-- For leftovers, it's hard to beat the following: Soft white bread; sliced turkey breast; mayonnaise (really paint it on there, too); Clausen pickle halves, cut into quarter-inch half-moons. Combine into sandwich and consume. It's amazing.

-- For excellent pumpkin pie, use: 1 can filling + 1 can condensed milk + 3/4 c. brown sugar + 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/4 t. nutmeg, 1/8 t. cloves. Pour into pie shell and bake in preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375F and bake for 35 minutes. It's the brown sugar (instead of white) that really makes the difference.

-- Home is where the heart is, and family is where you feel at home. It sounds really corny, but this year I discovered that it's really true.

-- They're showing commercials for the Tintin movie, and I am so darn excited it's not even funny. And it doesn't come out for like three more weeks! Argh! #firstworldproblems

-- One part Trader Joe's Wintry Blend coffee + two parts World Market-brand decaf = my stash may just last me 'til summer this year, and I won't get the jitters. (Yeah, I'm drinking coffee again. It's soothing. But I'm stricly half-caf.)

-- Now that my household is all organized and clean and running smoothly, I understand like never before the saying that cleanliness is next to godliness. An ordered environment is the sign of an ordered soul. (Messy desks and genius are in a different category.)

-- I have never been so thankful for my situation as I am right now. I'm almost reluctant to let myself feel it because I'm afraid, at a visceral level, that something will come out of left field and ruin everything. I take this as a moment to practice my reliance on God. And for that, I am doubly thankful.

-- Leftover dressing with giblet gravy is the bomb.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Look at me, bein' all literary an' stuff.

After discussing the matter with a coworker, I have come to the conclusion that Stephen Moffat is the anti-George R.R. Martin. The former sets up a beloved character's death and spends the whole season building up to his escaping said demise. Cue cheers and happy tears from the viewer. The latter does exactly the opposite. Cue anger and book-shaped dents in the drywall. Valar morghulis, indeed.

(A note for any commenters: I'm only just finishing A Storm of Swords, so keep your spoilery spoilers to yourself. XOXO kthxbai.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fa la la la la. La la. La. La.

I'm feeling very festive.

A few days ago I rearranged my pantry cabinets, getting rid of expired stuff and reorganizing everything into better order. It freed up some space and gave me a concrete idea of what I do and don't have on hand, what I need to stock up on and what I really don't need more of, and some things that I don't need at all.

Saturday and Sunday, I did the same thing to the rest of my apartment. I'm actually rather proud of the accomplishment. I worked through half my bathroom storage before I even ate breakfast on Saturday, for Pete's sake. (And I promised myself I would take it easy over the weekend. Right.) My kitchen is now much more tidy; I cleared out a bunch of stuff in storage (goodbye, shoes I don't wear anymore and will never wear again!); I even unpacked my books and knickknacks and set up the shelves in the living room/bedroom/office/vestibule. (It's a very small apartment.) I'm finishing up the last little bit tonight while I cook green bean casserole for the pitch-in at work tomorrow, and at some point I'll load up the car and head to Goodwill and Half Price Books. Probably tomorrow. Heck, I cleaned out so much stuff I'm even donating a chest of drawers I don't need any more. Cleaning: It's good for the soul!

Anyway: I said I was feeling festive, and I am. Decorations go up tomorrow and Wednesday, to be finalized and lit Thursday night, and I've got two pitch-ins at work and Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, and the day off work on Friday to laze around and eat myself stupid on leftovers bask in the joyous glow of the season. Plus, I feel like I'm finally taking control of my life this season, instead of just reacting to everything and passively waiting for things to get better. I'm happy with myself and where I am, and I'm confident in where I seem to be going. That, more than anything, is why I'm feeling festive.

Squeeeeeee! *dies*

And is promptly strapped to a board, jolted by captured lightning and revived by a mad, yet handsome and oddly intriguing, scientist. Why, you ask? Three words:

Lego.

Steampunk.

Typewriter.

SqueeeeeEEEeeEEEEeeeeEEEEEEEE! *dies again*

It's funny 'cause it's true.

Got this in my e-mail over the weekend. (If you know who wrote it, let me know in the comments.)

Adam said, "Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me every day. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me." And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself."

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail. And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal." And God said, "No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG." And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that Adam's guardian angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but perhaps too well."

And the Lord said, "No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not always worthy of adoration."

And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat's eyes, he was reminded that he was not the supreme being. And Adam learned humility.

And God was pleased.
And Adam was greatly improved.
And Dog was happy.
And the cat didn't give a damn one way or the other.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Taking stock

Got on a tear last night and cleaned out my "pantry" (really just some cabinets), checking expiration dates and rearranging everything. I think it started because I was looking for rosemary? Or maybe cinnamon. Either way I decided to rearrange my herbs and spices, and it spiraled from there. Lesson learned: I have too much dry pasta and nowhere near enough canned vegetables, and enough instant miso soup to keep me in slurpy tofu-studded heaven for a year. (Don't judge me; I got the packets from someone who didn't want them and unloaded on me when I asked where she got them.) I also found a couple cans close enough to expiration that they're dictating my dinner for the next couple nights, but that's okay. I like tomato soup.

I am also almost completely out of white sugar, which I never would have allowed to happen if my cabinets were organized better. But now they are! And now I have room for more supply redundancy, namely of flour and the aforementioned sugar. The downside is that there's currently no place for potatoes, but my godmother keeps hers in a fridge in the garage so I guess that'll work for me too. Onions are currently stored in their net bag on top of the canister of yellow split peas.

I wasn't kidding about the vegetables, though. I had two cans of peas and one of green beans and that was it, which means I would die of scurvy long before starvation got me. This will be rectified over the coming weeks. I like vegetables; I just forget to eat them. Raw carrots and celery would be easy, but they still provoke a visceral reaction because that and bean soup was all I ate for lunch for like six months while I straightened out my finances a couple years ago.

I do not want to go back to that, ever.

Next up is the rest of my kitchen, where I go through and organize all the little-used cubbies and corners. Then the bathroom closet and cabinet; then the living rooms shelves and credenza; then the storage space in the spare room. A few more evenings should do it, and some this weekend. It'll be fun. I enjoy that kind of work. It helps that my godmother is an organizing goddess; she's taught me a lot over the past two years, and she pushes me to achieve instead of just whining about the state of things and watching more TV. (Not that I always do, but generally speaking it's effective.)

And on a more serious note, the current organizing drive is partly driven the nagging sense that I should get squared away now because Winter Is Coming*. And I don't really mean the seasonal change, either. Organization: Helping to batten down hatches since before hatches were a thing.


* To paraphrase someone I saw on TV Tropes, George R.R. Martin is one of the best authors I've ever read, and I hate his guts. If you've read the books, you'll know exactly what I mean.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ephemera

I'm sure the readers in my audience will understand the following scenario: You read a book series when you're young (I was 7, maybe 8), forgettable at the time, that makes a great impression on you. It's your first real exposure to a particular genre (in this case, real science fiction, not just kids-build-a-rocket-in-the-backyard stuff). However, you don't understand that impression until you're much older, at which point you've forgotten most of the books, save for a few half-formed impressions. You didn't really understand it at the time. Even worse, you didn't finish the series because your source of the books (a Sunday school class) ceased to be a part of your life, and you can't find the books anywhere. (They weren't exactly mass-market best-sellers.) And then one day you idly Google the series, expecting nothing, same as always happens.

And you find them.

All four books are on Amazon crazy cheap (see above comment about mass-marketability). The only reason I didn't buy them on the spot is that I'm afraid of spoiling a pleasant childhood memory. (That and the shipping.) *le sigh* If I group them in with some Christmas shopping, I could get free shipping, so there's that.

What would you do?

I chortled in my joy, even.

In an update to the "find a pair of boots that fit my feet and my legs" saga, I am happy to report ... success! I walked into a Marshall's on a hunch, and there -- there, as under an angelic spotlight, with lo the heavenly choir singing, was a pair of over-the-ankle boots with a sturdy tread, a side-zip closure and functional laces. Frabjous day, they were in my size. Calloo callay, they were half off the MSRP. I bought them immediately, and I am wearing them now to break them in -- I don't even really need my braces, although they will fit inside if I rejigger the laces first. I am really, really pleased by this. I love my Converse tennies, but they're not exactly suited for foul-weather walking. These, however, will be fabulous. Glee!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The song's in your head now. You're welcome.

"On the seventh day of Christmas, mee-mee-mee-mee-mee-meeee ... " Good grief, but I do love the Muppets. The John Denver/Rolf the Dog cover of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is lovely, and more poignant than most versions. And yes, I'm listening to Christmas music. Have been for months, actually -- Jars of Clay's "Christmas Songs" is has a permanent place on my mp3 player. I find it soothing. But I do reserve the Muppets and the Charlie Brown soundtrack for November. The tree goes up next weekend, but I don't turn on the lights until Thanksgiving night. That's right -- I'm actually going to decorate this year! My cat's going to have a ball with all the sparkly things. Woot!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

"You make $700,000 a year! What did you spend it on?" "Shoes."

Bought some adorable boots with my birthday money (thanks Grandma & Grandpa!), but when I went to break them in they didn't fit right. I have small feet and round calves, so if they fit my leg they don't fit my foot, and vice versa. One "I'd like to return these" later, I'm debating whether to buy boots online, from a company that I know fits my feet, or to drive all over hoping to find something similar that I won't have to pay shipping (and that I can try on in the store).

Although now that I spell it out that way, I think I'm going to bite the bullet and go the online route. It's Converse, and I know they'll fit. (And the shipping's free if you spend more than $75, which I will.)

ugh blargh i wish my feet would just be normal.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Maybe a portmanteau of "sack lunch" and "regret", although I don't see how that could possibly be pronounced

There should be a word for when you pack a lunch, and it's a perfectly serviceable lunch, but then about half an hour before you eat it you catch a whiff of someone else's lunch and it gets all your juices flowing for whatever it was they brought, and you don't have an appetite for your own lunch anymore. English: It's totally inadequate!