Friday, September 25, 2009

Just add water and stir

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it...

Oops, sorry, flashback to the '80s there for a moment.

But really, I'm thrilled to death! For the first time in a whole year we have a bathtub.

And what a tub it is--36" wide, plenty big enough for my ginormous ass. And it has bubblers! Yes, that's bubblers, thousands of tiny fingers massaging me all over...

Oops, sorry again. I have an active fantasy life.

So anyhow, now all we need is walls... and a floor... a sink... a toilet. Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot the most important part... faucets! And then I'll be in the water, bubbling away
, naked.

Don't expect a picture.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bye, bye, birdie

For three mornings in a row we got up to a freaking great blue heron trying to eat our fish.

The first morning he was sitting on the roof of the shed. He must have already dined in the pond, because the fish were all hiding for their desperate little lives and the bird left a huge trail of crap on the roof before taking off.

The second morning I hopped out of bed at 7:15 and pulled up the blind in the bedroom to find the bird standing on the beach staring at the water. He was HUGE, bigger even than the fake one that's supposed to scare him away. The koi were swimming around, but the goldfish were nowhere in sight. I pounded on the window and the bird took off.

The third morning Dave found the bird standing in the water, amongst the fishing line that we have strung across that's supposed to keep him out. Dave scared him away.

So yesterday afternoon instead of watching the Eagles get humiliated by the Saints in the second half, we put the net over the pond. It's a sad day when you can't even sit and enjoy your own fish and water lilies without the barrier of a net.

At least there was no bird there this morning.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Family ties

According to USA Today, becoming the parent of your parent is an emotionally wrenching process. Family ties, fraught with guilt and fear and uncertainty, tangle us up as we do our best to deal with the endless carousel of doctor appointments and legal matters, bills and paperwork, shopping and transportation for parents who can no longer do for themselves.

A poll showed that 41% of baby boomers with at least one living parent are providing care of some sort, financial or personal, and 8% have had parents move in with them. An estimated 34 million Americans devote an average of 21 unpaid hours a week caring for elderly relatives.

My 92-year old mom is happily settled in a partially-assisted senior apartment, with my sister keeping her supplied with necessities and handling her finances. I swoop up every 6-8 weeks to take her to the doctor and do a marathon of inventory, shopping and minor household chores. It's worked for us so far.

Now Dave's mom has reached the point where she can no longer live alone, at least in our opinion. She, of course, doesn't agree. It's one of those no-win situations. She spent all last winter shuttling between the homes of her three children, spending the majority of the time here with us. We have to find a more permanent solution.

Whatever happens, nobody's going to be happy.

I think Dylan Thomas got it wrong. My plan is to go gentle into that good night. I've already decided that I'll go cheerfully to the old folks' home when my time comes. I pray I'll keep enough of my marbles to know when, so that my daughters will never have to suffer the heartbreak of forcing me there, burning and raving, raging against the dying of the light.

And my vow to myself... no whining.

Starting tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Men in tights

I just finished watching my beloved Philadelphia Eagles decimate the Carolina Panthers (go, birds!) and it got me thinking.

We Americans love our football. It inspires video games, fantasy leagues, and beer-guzzling, couch-slouching Sunday afternoons. And Sunday evenings. And Monday nights.

What is it about American football that's so... stimulating?

Is it the violence? Well, kind of. It's a very physical game, with powerful players pushing and pounding on each other. You gotta love a hit that's so hard it rattles your TV. But I don't think that's it.

Is it the athletes? Those mega-millionaires who, because of fortuitous genetics, have become our modern-day heroes? Some of them think they're above the law, and even after conviction and incarceration are still revered as long as they continue to perform on the playing field. Could that be the reason we love the game? No way.

Is it the attitude? That take-no-prisoners approach that pits brother against brother and even family against family in rooting for their favored franchise? Maybe a little, but that's not the real reason.

How about the complexity? Football is a convoluted melange of complicated plays, micro-managed coaching and consummate player specialization. But, no, it's not that, either.

For me, and I think for most fans, it comes down to emotion, a thrill-of-victory, agony-of-defeat kind of thing. The fervor of an action-packed competition between world-class athletes. The heart-swelling love for your home team. The shrieking, leaping joy of a touchdown and the gut-wrenching pain of viewing a season-ending injury. The pulse-pounding euphoria of a hard-earned win, and the dispiriting melancholy of a lost championship.

Every single facet of the game is filled with passion, and that's why I love it. And to top it off there's the spectacle of bulging muscles and sculpted butts in skintight pants.

Oops, is that the real reason I watch football? Nawwww, not me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Confessions of a failed domestic goddess

Cooking isn't my thing. I don't like doing it and I'm not good at it. When I'm cooking, the family always knows when dinner's done... when the smoke alarm goes off.

The fact is, I tend to have tunnel vision, seeing only what I'm interested in at the moment. When I'm reading a book the house could fall down around me and I might not notice. My kids have perfected the art of getting my attention, a very loud "Earth to Denise!"

So for 36 years of marriage Dave and I have been going to restaurants. A lot. Not every night, mind you. Way back B.C. (before children) we used to eat out about 4 nights a week. Once the kids came we couldn't do that anymore, so for 20 years or so I managed to slap something on the table most nights.

If that sounds a little haphazard, well, duh! Cooking isn't one of my talents.

Now that the girls are grown and gone, we've kind of worked out a system. Dave and I each manage to make a meal about once a week, and the rest of the time we eat out, order in or have leftovers. Hey, it works for us.

But in the past 36 years I
have managed to find a few, very few, things I'm really good at cooking. Meatloaf is one. And stuffed peppers... ahhh! Made them last night and they were wonderful.

Hey, maybe I'm not such a failure as a domestic goddess after all.

Now if I could just learn to clean.


Dee's stuffed peppers

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
Salt/pepper/paprika to taste
1-1/2 c. cooked rice
1 lg. jar spaghetti sauce
6 lg. green peppers
A little cheddar cheese, shredded

Brown ground beef, add chopped onions & cook until clear. In a bowl (or right in your fry pan if it's big enough) mix ground beef with rice, add salt/ pepper/ paprika to taste, and stir in about 1 cup of spaghetti sauce.

Cut tops off peppers and clean out insides. Spray a large casserole or baking dish with non-stick spray and spread a small amount of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom. Stand the peppers up in the dish and loosely fill them with the beef mixture. Top with a little cheese if desired and pour the remainder of the spaghetti sauce over the top.

Cover and bake at 375 for about 50 minutes if they're warm, or about 1 hour 15 minutes if they've been refrigerated first.

Six servings of about 400 calories each.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I finally gave in and joined Facebook. I've been resisting for ages. I already spend way too much time online, and with all my Yahoo groups and fan fiction buddies, I figured I have all the friends I need.

Besides, I have two completely different identities. There's the serious, real-life Denise the church lady, who writes technical articles and does church newsletters and multimedia. And there's the dee-mented Dee the Plum fan fiction babe, who writes smutty stories, spends her nights in chatrooms and cusses like a sailor.

So when I joined Facebook a few days ago, I tried to keep it to the crazy Dee, my online persona.

But then for some insane reason, only God knows why, I went ahead and added my education information to my profile, including my high school. Within 12 hours I had a friend request from my childhood next-door neighbor, whom I haven't seen since, jeez, I don't know... maybe my wedding?

With a big sigh I accepted her as a friend and then found another high school friend, and then found one of my local friends and... well, you get the picture.

So if you know me as Denise the church lady or Denise the technical writer, well there's a little more to me than that. And if you know me as Dee the fan fiction writer, well there's a little more to me than that, too.

It probably won't be long before my nephews and nieces find me, and my neighbors, and my technical writing clients.

Shit, now I'm going to have to stop cursing. Damn it!