Today and Yesterday and a couple of days after tomorrow

Today my husband David and I got together with my father-in-law Shel, and Shel’s lady-love Linda for lunch. We had dinner together last night at Bahama Breeze, because COUPON. And we’re having dinner with them Wednesday for the purpose of congratulating my niece Naomi on graduating (early) from high school. I’m not sure where we’re eating, but I bet a poo-kon will be produced at the end.

Such an exciting life I lead! We eat out based on whichever of us has the best restaurant coupon!

It’s not that we can’t afford this stuff; we count ourselves lucky on that score. It’s that using a good coupon is one of our little family jokes. We’re not “extreme couponers;” we throw away grocery coupons although we do pay attention to in-store deals. We just keep an eye out for good deals from restaurants and some retail places that we actually visit frequently.

I’ve got a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon that’ll be used for something or other shortly. It’s our go-to place for housewares (kitchen) and soft goods (bedding and towels). I’ve got something from The Container Store that may lapse before I get around to going there; I usually reserve a trip there for Christmas gadget-shopping and my occasional “get organized” kicks.

A couple of months back, we met Shel and Linda at Texas de Brazil because Dad had a coupon good for half off for at least 2 entrees in a party of 4. But when the check came, he realized he’d left the “poo-kon” (my word) at home. As TdB isn’t an inexpensive place, there was dismay and anguish generally. But I saved the day, because I’d received the same email offer and it was still buried in my stack of emails that weren’t important enough to read, but important enough to not delete (most coupon deals I mark as spam and delete, but I give businesses I actually patronize a “pass”).

Last year for Shel’s birthday, we produced an edible “coupon good for 1 happy birthday” That was a pretty good prank, and also delicious. So redeeming it was… a piece of cake.

Upgrades in Progress

Not much accomplished today other than upgrading both the iPhone and iPad to the latest version of iOS, and also replacing a WordPress plugin with its replacement.

Everything seems to be working – the plugin pulls in items I post at Google+ and is highly configurable. I may tinker with getting it to create items as asides.

We ate lunch out at a neighborhood place, David and I, and then I had a nap.

Pretty much a perfect day off.

There are more upgrades contemplated, but tomorrow’s plan is pretty fuzzy.

Giving Thanks

We brought 2 pies to the family Thanksgiving gathering; we mingled, caught up with family members, got a new recipe (actually more of an ingredient list) and listened to all the chatter.

It’s always a good time lying in wait for cousin Randy’s trays of cream cheese and onion stuffed mushrooms. I could eat a whole tray of those things, they’re legendary. However, the ingredient list I snagged was for a tasty grain salad made with farro and unbrined Italian olives. So yummy.

The after-dinner conversational topics covered the usual ground; how lucky we all are, how busy we all are, health stuff, and a good dose of David’s cycling exploit today – he went riding with a friend and had to gear up so as not to become a popcyclist.


Here he is, my shrimp with lobster claws (his description). He reports that he was warm enough today, though he’ll probably never be a true winter cyclist. He had to take some ribbing from cousin David, who lives just blocks from where my David was riding today.

Cousin David is pre-diabetic and so there was some information sharing about diet, exercise, and staying on top of things. Other family members are also diabetic, but were not participating, unfortunately.

We enjoyed seeing everyone, but for a few years now, I’ve been taking some time to remember those who are NOT there to gather around the table. Of course I miss my mom and my own family, and I miss my mom-in-law Leah. But there’s still much to be thankful for. But I also wish some other family members had chosen to be there, instead of making it clear they don’t want to be.


Happy Snowy New Year

A cold white blanket of snow covers Burbclavia; we managed to get to the gathering place to celebrate the new year with family and eat yummy chili with all the extras, and the obligatory lox ‘n bagels.

My nephew Josh is in town and brought his girlfriend Ashley; FIL Shel and Linda made the trek and so did my BIL Dan and his girlfriend Tammy. Mitch and Gloria put on a really nice buffet and of course Rosie the pooch princess provided entertainment.

Things got raucous (or at least very loud) when Josh showed us this crazy trivia game called Face Off, where you hold a smartphone up on your forehead that shows trivia; the point is for each player to correctly guess what’s on the screen that everyone else can see. The song category was a flop because those of use who CAN sing or at least carry a tune didn’t know any Justin Bieber songs. Seriously. Justin Bieber? In a few years he’ll be Vanilla Ice with a bad combover.

The carrot cake with the orange/rum/butter sauce was pretty good! It wasn’t pretty, but it tasted amazing.

It’s been snowing all day and the front walk looks like David didn’t run the snowblower twice already. This weekend will be snowy and cold, and Monday the HIGH will be -8F, and it’ll get down to -15F if the forecast holds true.

Wish we’d ordered the fireplace insert when we first looked at it.

Damn. It’s even snowing on my iPhone, in a twee animation Apple has on the current version.


Things Done, Things Left Undone for January 8 2013

Things Done

  • Tidied house with David for Wednesday’s cleaning ladies
  • Cleaned out a couple of boxes in basement and reorganized a bit
  • Repacked Christmas ornaments in a bigger tub (except for Mom’s figurines)
  • Hung out with friends online listening to music, because laughter is GOOD FOR YOU
  • Hugged my husband David because I love him very much
  • Did my oral care stuff
  • Listened to even more music, which makes me happeh
  • Collected more items for donation or disposal YAY
  • Tweeted to an astronaut, IN SPACE, about the song he recorded IN SPACE

Things Left Undone

  • Church website and Facebook page GAH
  • Clean, dust, vacuum office, UGH
  • Sort unused clothes and reorg closet
  • Exercise. Okay, danced a little to “NASA Johnson Style”

Things Done for January 6 2013 #fb

Things Done

  • Uploaded Christmas pictures to the St Nick’s
    Facebook page
  • Dinner with Mitch and Gloria, played with my doggie schniece, Rosie
  • Went to church and sang, sang, sang. Choir mistress cracked the whip!
  • Did all my post-op oral care stuff morning and evening
  • Shhh! We’re growing bone. It’s like backfilling your gums, people

Things Left Undone

  • Work on new web graphic for St Nick’s website.
  • Update blog, ditto
  • Need pack away Christmas box and last of the ornaments
  • Need reorganize boxes in basement

Inspired by a Facebook
post by Gillian Horvath; list accomplishments daily. Some days, getting out of bed counts!

A Pleasant Good Night

The weird warm weather continues. I’m getting the idea that it might be better to plan for a cool weather biking and walking vacation in late January than count on a cross-country ski vacation. We’re thinking of going someplace in Michigan, but plans are vague yet. After a lazy Sunday afternoon (David did go for a bike ride) we went to his dad’s so David could sign the mat for a photo he’s having framed for Shel. It’s another in a series of landscape photos – kind of high end “my kid’s art on the fridge,” if you will. It’ll look very nice. Afterwards we went to dinner at one of Shel’s favorite places with another family friend. It’s one of Shel’s favorites because they have GREAT coupons.

It’s Donut Day Somewhere, And I’m Having A Moms’ Day Here


According to the Facebooks, my sister Timmy is enjoying the first major snowfall of the season up in her pretty Idaho Panhandle valley, and my sister Tudy reports a bunch of heavy, wet snow in Salt Lake.

Today must be Donut Day, as we say in the fambly: the day Mom would make homemade donuts to celebrate the first snow of the season. Going to Krispy Kreme would not cut it; Mom used to make a fairly dense deep-fried donut that was a solid dunker, not one of those greasy loops of yeasty puff that Krispy Kreme makes.

I remember as a kid the phone would start ringing when the first flakes appeared; people would call from all over and ask if it was “Donut Day” or not. Mom would not pull out the deep fryer until the forecast was pretty certain for snow, and then she’d wait for that first magical day when it “stuck” and covered the lawn AND the sidewalks. My niece Raeanne and I would both bring schoolfriends home when it happened on a schoolday; “My mom is making donuts today!” or “Grandma’s makin’ the donuts!” and my sisters and cousins and aunt would drop by… there would be a pot of coffee and a fire in the fireplace, and people would just show up, nab a couple of donuts or donut holes and a cup of coffee, and hang out for a while.

She’d make plain, cinnamon sugared, and powdered sugared – that’s it, no fancy stuff.  The batter she made resulted in crusty, wrinkly donuts that had a “snap” when you bit into them; not soft or tender cake, it was a more substantial bite held on to the sugar coating, but tasted good plain, too. Any kids that showed up early were put to work rolling donut holes in jelly sheets and plates full of sugar, and there was lots of laughing and “Hey! No eating until everybody gets here!” jokes.

That rule was frequently broken.

The thing is, I had a major “moms’ moment” earlier while reading my sister Timmy’s Facebook update about the “first snow of the season” and how it was Donut Day in northern Idaho. I started to type out a comment about missing the taste of Mom’s donuts, and Facebook helpfully supplied a link to my “other Mom,” Leah. I had to… just stop for a second and feel the absence of my two moms all over again, while David snoozed by my side.

I should explain that Saturday mornings are generally spent sleeping in, listening to the radio (WBEZ’s Saturday lineup includes Morning Edition, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and now This American Life). I generally have my iPad handy, reading the Internets news and the Twitter and the Feeddler (a blog and news aggregator that I can share stuff with). So I was catching up with Facebook friends and family (Hey! My niece Holly is playing golf in Africa! With zebras!) and sharing silly Finnish videos) when I ran across my sister’s snow post (and my other sister Tudy’s “it’s snowing in Salt Lake too” post) and commented.

I cried a little, very quietly but intensely. David slept peacefully while I looked at Leah’s little pop-up link and thought how much I missed her (she passed in May this year) and my own mom (she passed in June 2006). It seemed like a thing to be blogged; I started to set up the post and all the techy things that go with that, like grabbing a screencap image and hunting down a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to make it easier to type on the iPad. I didn’t want to drag out the laptop, since I still had to at least start the post this way in order to get the image. Blah, blah, techy bullshit blah.

So while writing this up my niece Raeanne (who lives just below my sister Timmy in their little valley) called to say, yes, “It’s Donut Day! I’m makin’ the donuts!” while I was still in the middle of my “moms’ moment” that inspired this post. This makes me have a happeh and a sad, because of course I’m not there to help roll out donut holes in sugar (and sneak some of the “ugly” ones) and laugh and talk with family.

We talked for an hour, catching up. Her daughter Paige ordered her not to make donuts yesterday, when it also snowed, because it hadn’t snowed in Kellogg where Paige was, so it didn’t count. She had to wait for today, and Paige would make the donuts herself.

Now THAT’s tradition.

Ranny has to get ready for a houseful and get all the stuff set out, but we still gabbled on about family stuff and all the little things that you miss out on when you’re not hanging out in the same room, drinking coffee and eating donuts with a bunch of friends and family.

I sure don’t need the donuts (working from home has been a very sedentary experience) but I expect a care package soon, dammit!

Love you all. It’s Donut Day!

I Have Become The Mean Neighbor Lady I Hated As A Child #fb


Once upon a time in my childhood, my year revolved around the “kid holidays;” the beginning of “school’s out” for summer, Halloween, and Christmas.

In my candy-addled mind at the time, Halloween loomed pretty large – not quite as big a deal as Christmas, but one in which kids were kind of autonomous. We had to work for the biggest candy haul possible, whether we or our parents made our own costumes or had store bought ones. The year I was old enough to go out trick-or-treating on my own was probably when I was… 7 or 8, although I stuck with the other neighbor kids in an area bounded by about 1 or two blocks on either side of our street, but not across the busy street west of us. A block east of us, there was a gully, so that served as an irregular border on that side.

As I got into my 9th, 10th, and 11th years, I had a bigger range: my costumes were never pretty princesses, they were generally tomboyish ones like pirates and gypsies and hobos. Once I think I was some kind of space alien with googly eyes Mom found on a crazy craft-glue yarn base built on a balloon – although that may have originally been my niece Ranny’s costume. Anyway, my costumes had to be practical and allow freedom of movement, because I had a lot of blocks to cover. Toward the end of my career as a trick-or-treater, I went several blocks on either side of our house, almost as far as my school 6 long Salt Lake blocks north, and I went east along all the streets that hung on the edge of the gully until the curve brought me uncomfortably close to the range of a childhood enemy, into whose turf I didn’t care to stray. Mostly, I was out on my own then, until 9 o’clock at night. I’d return with my plastic pumpkin full of goodies – and yes, my last year I took a pillowcase, like the “big mean guys” who still went around in their teens (pathetic, really, but I had to admit the pillowcase got me some negative comments that last year).

I had a strategy: any house that was lit was fair game. Any house that was highly decorated or appeared to have an extra fun feature like a “spook alley” out the back or in their garage was a big draw, and sure to have lots of candy. I mostly remember ringing a lot of doorbells and hollering “TRICK OR TREAT!” and glimpsing the inside of a lot of Salt Lake bungalows. I stayed out as late as I dared but when the streets started to feel empty and the only other ones out were the big kids with pillowcases (who were not above taking a smaller, weaker kid’s candy) it was time to head home and survey the haul.

Any house with no lights showing or an unlit porchlight was to be avoided, however, because they were OLD MEANIES who DIDN’T HAVE CANDY.

I quickly learned which of the elderly and middle-aged people with no kids living on our street were useless for Halloween candy-gathering purposes; they were nice enough the rest of the year, but mean at Halloween. Oh, they might give an actual neighborhood kid something home-made, but there was a protocol. Home-made stuff was okay only if we knew them and greeted them by name. Strangers, not so much. Even then I remember the warnings about needles and razors in apples and popcorn balls, and so reluctantly I threw those out (the popcorn balls, anyway). People living on other streets with their lights off and not showing any decorations were just mean and not to be bothered with.

Well, last night I officially became the mean lady that doesn’t give out candy at Halloween. I have become the kind of adult I loathed as a trick-or-treater.


Yes, I barricaded the front walk to prevent kids from getting to the front door. And then I blocked the front door with a lawn chair, and placed a large pushbroom over the doorbell so the li’l dollinks couldn’t ring the damn thing.

In this woefully fallen modern era, kids no longer go around in full darkness; most of the activity ends after the light fades. The littlest kids, toddlers really, are still taken around by their parents, but now they’re loaded into the family car and driven to the neighborhoods of friends and family (or simply driven to richer candy hunting grounds, sadly). The evening hour sees a few older kids going around, and then it’s over. But there’s no way for the early ones to see if the porch light is on; they come to the door in packs and ring and knock.

Other years here in the neighborhood, I’ve actually dressed up to give out candy, but always had a lot left over which inevitably got eaten by yours truly (David never was big on chocolate candy, and now he’s eating much too healthily). The last couple of years we haven’t bothered to get candy, and it got to be pretty irritating listening to the doorbell ring during the “early shift” of very young toddlers whose parents couldn’t tell the porch light was off. So we started putting chairs and things on the walkway, but they’d just push them out of the way or come around on the side where there’s a bare spot in the flowerbed.

So yesterday, after about the 4th or 5th doorbell rang AFTER placing lawn chairs on the walkway, between two big lilac bushes leading up to the door, I did the Mean Neighbor Lady thing.

I opened the door with a crash, stuck my head out (there were about 5 or 6 little kids running across the lawn, with an adult or two out on the sidewalk) and hollered,


I heard a male voice calling to them “You guys have to pay attention – you have to look to see if the porch light is on.”

I sighed and retreated to the hall, and after they left, rebuilt my barricades more thoroughly. That’s when I propped the second chair up against the door (which is not that great an idea if the house burst into flames set by aggravated trick-or-treat toddlers bent on candy-deprived revenge). And I also grabbed a big push-broom from the garage and propped it up over the doorbell. A broken mop stuck through the sides of the other chair into the lilac bushes on either side completed my anti-toddler defenses, but of course like the Maginot line there was a big gap on the side where we took out a juniper tree that was too close to the house.

Yes, my childhood self hates what I have become. Maybe I’d better buy some candy while it’s still in the stores but on markdown.