Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Do NOT Have Prescription-Strength Diarrhea!

I have been without a cell phone for a long time. A long, long time. For me, that's been just fine. For anyone trying to get hold of me to tell me something or ask me questions or beg for a ride, it's been irksome. Husband finally remedied this by ordering me a used phone from eBay, a Motorola Razor in hot purple. I wanted a phone I could just flip open and talk on. I don't use a whole lot of functions on a phone except the actual phone. If I could afford an iPhone, I'd get one, but my iTouch works great for everything that doesn't need dialing.

So my phone arrives, and Husband puts my SIM card in and gets it all set up for me (cause if it was left up to me, the phone would sit there for months doing absolutely nothing), and then when I test it out, I find that I can't hear the person to whom I am speaking. The person to whom I am speaking can hear me all right, but I can't hear anything back unless I turn on the speakerphone. It's annoying, and the seller is sending us a refund, but in the meantime, this is what I have.

While I was at Elannah's gymnastics class today, Husband phoned me. I had to turn the speakerphone on, and when I informed him he was on speaker, Husband loudly and obnoxiously yells,

"Hey! I just wanted to remind you to pick up your prescription for diarrhea medicine!!"

Then he laughed and laughed and laughed. See what I have to put up with?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spoiler Alert: the Mouse Gets Eaten

Cats are just as full of personality as any human. This is not news to cat people, of course, and I guess I am, after all, more of a cat person than a dog person. I like the independence of felines. They don't really need you until they do, and that suits me just fine. I don't always enjoy the constant love and affection of a dog -- not that I don't appreciate their loyalty and devotion. Far from! It's just that dogs smell so awful when they're wet. And who knows where their tongues have been moments before they lick your face thoroughly??

Having said that, cats do pose their own sorts of challenges. We got our cat, Lincoln, for Gabrielle's birthday last year, and he's a character. Myles, our older, bigger tom, is really kind of a scaredy-cat, if you'll pardon the expression. He was always cautious, but when he got picked up by the pound for hanging out with the wrong crowd around an apartment building a number of years ago, he got even more cautious. We were lucky to locate him after he disappeared, and my sister bought his freedom from the animal shelter cage for $150, which was more than most of us could afford at that time. Lincoln, however, is the quintessential boy: curious, active, and always ready for a fight. Once we got him neutered, he settled down a great deal, and now he and Myles are the best of friends where once they were devoted enemies.

Myles doesn't make a lot of sounds, but I can pretty much read his mind because I've known him for nine years. He will come and sit in front of me, not quite looking into my eyes and giving the occasional tail twitch or eye wink and I'll know he's thirsty and his water's gone or that he wants to be let outside. He purrs immediately when I stoop down to give him a good scratch under the chin. Lincoln I don't know all that well yet. He plunks himself down in front of me, stares me directly in the eyes, and gives me the most earnest look a cat ever gave, and I'll still have to guess what he wants. He has a little, squeaky mew, like a kitten's, and when he gets bored at night he'll stand outside my door mewing until I drag myself out of bed and try to guess what it is he wants me to do for him. I would ignore him, but I'm a light sleeper and he'll just mew until I get up anyway. He's got me well and thoroughly trained. If, after I've tried to let him outside or give him a little food and it turns out that's not what he wanted, I'll grab Myles off his proud spot on our bed and dump him outside my room door. "Go entertain Lincoln, Myles. You're nocturnal." Usually, Lincoln will shut up and the two will either lick each other vigorously until they start to play fight, or they'll run like crazy things up and down the stairs. I just try to get back to sleep.

The other morning, I spotted a mouse on the floor of the pantry. After my initial surprised yelp, I turned around and grabbed Myles so I could throw him into the pantry and he could do his job. He didn't understand what I was doing and was quite affronted at my efforts to throw him anywhere. I dropped him and grabbed Lincoln, who was too surprised to argue. The moment Lincoln's feet hit the floor, he located the mouse and grabbed it. Mouse in his mouth, he came out of the pantry to get some entertainment from his breakfast. Unfortunately for him, however, the mouse had expired either from suffocation or fear. He refused to play. Lincoln batted the tiny, furry body around for a moment and then looked at me with his big, brown eyes. I was heading downstairs for something, and he followed me eagerly, and this time I could tell he was waiting for me to throw him at another mouse. "Hey, buddy," I said to him, "I'm not the mouser around here."

When Linc and I got back upstairs, Myles had helped himself. The mouse tail was sticking out of his mouth while he chewed vigorously. Myles is not picky about those sorts of things. Good boy. I'm just glad our cats don't lick me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eric Cartman Suffering From Quantum Jitters. Classic.

I have started numerous blog posts, only to abandon them due to time constraints, lack of anything really pithy to say, or just out of a fit of pique. Isn't it fun to have a fit of pique? The next time you don't want to do dishes, have a fit of pique and leave them alone. Come back when you're ready to get sudsy. And then tell me what your fit of pique involved. I think it should involve throwing something -- in a non-injurious fashion, of course.

Speaking of fun things to say (like "fit of pique"), today's word is "infarction," as in: Husband and I and some doctors thought he might have appendicitis, but it turned out he only had an infarction of a piece of the fatty apron that surrounds the transverse section of the colon. An infarction is when some part of you lacks blood supply and dies, and in this case, a piece of that fat got twisted, which cut off its blood supply, and then died. Fortunately, while it has caused him some pain and happened to be located just by the appendix, it isn't something that requires surgery. Dodged that bullet!

Hey, if Husband can truly say that a piece of him has died inside, does that mean he's now qualified to write country music?

Though we spent some long, late hours at the ER on a Saturday night, we were highly entertained by the Irish medic. He instantly picked up on Husband's accent, and then spent a lot of time cheerfully abusing the Welsh while Husband just as cheerfully abused the Irish. They both abused the Scottish, of course, but I don't recall any abuse of the English. The English just don't have enough obvious quirks to be abused, I imagine. Or, at least, Husband and Irish Doctor simply didn't have time to get that far. Another endearing quality of Irish Doctor's was that he was amazed we had six kids and that they were all mine. Amazed! And he took a poll of all the other medics and doctors hanging around (who all happened to be 20- or 30-something males, and who all wandered in at various points to poke and prod Husband's abdomen) and came and told us they all agreed that Husband looks too young and I look to good to have had six kids. Awww, bless!! May the wind always be at his back, and may the sun shine on his shoulders wherever he travels in life.

Between PTA volunteer assignments, working, putting up the kitchen back splash, and carting children from one activity to another, I managed to invent a recipe. Well, I took one recipe I know for hot chocolate and made it different, I should say. Husband came home with some Stephen's Gourmet drink powder -- you know, the company that makes all those delicious hot chocolate mixes? A colleague of his was drinking a spiced pumpkin-coconut flavor they have out now, and Husband mentioned that I would love something like that. I believe coconut milk is a pantry staple, and I love to try exotic, non-alcoholic drinks. His colleague gave him some of the mix to bring home so I could taste it, and it was pretty good. There should have been more coconut, and the spices were a little pumpkin pie-like, but it was very creamy and warming.

I decided to make my own version. It's definitely interesting and tastes nothing like the Stephen's mix. I quite like it, but I can't think of anything to compare it to. You'll just have to try it and see if you like it. I dumped stuff in, so I'll have to approximate measurements. Play with ingredients that you like. You could go more with a more traditional pumpkin spice mixture, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, of course.

Pumpkin Coconut Kick

1 can unsweetened coconut milk (NOT coconut cream!)
1/2 can sweetened, condensed milk
3 cups regular milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (cardamom is pricey, but a little goes a long way)
1 teaspoon ginger
a dash of cayenne pepper

Mix coconut milk; sweetened, condensed milk; and regular milk in a heavy saucepan. [At this point, you could change your mind and just add 3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder if you want the most delicious hot chocolate you've ever tasted] Whisk in pureed pumpkin. Combine cardamom, ginger, and cayenne in a small bowl and add a little of the milk/pumpkin mixture, mixing until smooth. Add spices to the milk mixture. Heat until just simmering, or whatever temperature you like a hot drink to be. Ladle it into mugs. I didn't try this, but a dollop of not-too-sweet whipped cream would go very nicely on top. Now, enjoy the kick in the back of your throat, and if you have a cold, this will probably help cure it.

If that drink isn't your style and you now have a bottle of cardamom you don't know what to do with, try this:


One soda-size can fruit nectar in your choice of flavor (Kern's does a good fruit nectar)
Plain yogurt
a little sugar, to taste
1/8 tsp cardamom

Take a tall glass and fill it 1/3 full with plain yogurt. Add in as much nectar as will fit. Add the cardamom and whisk the mixture thoroughly. Add more yogurt if you like it thick, or more nectar if you like it thin. Taste and add sugar if you like it a little sweeter.

My brother made this for a group of his friends one night, and he just made pitchers of the stuff rather than individual glasses. He bought the large cans of apricot nectar, and I gave him some of my cardamom so he didn't have to splurge on an entire bottle he will never in his life use up.

In self-education news, I finished my bout of fiction reading (with a great deal of enjoyment) and decided to devour some non-fiction this time around. I picked up two books: Everyone Loves You When You're Dead, by Neil Strauss; and The Hidden Reality, by Brian Greene. The Strauss book is a series of portions of interviews of various musical and acting celebrities that Strauss performed and did not publish during his years as a writer for various publications. It's fascinating. There are lots of bad words (celebrities can be so foul-mouthed!), but the insights into people who have come into fame (or not come into as much fame as they think they should) are very interesting.

Greene's book is equally as fascinating in an entirely different way. It deals with quantum mechanics and cosmology in explaining the existence of parallel universes. And dang if he doesn't explain it in such a way that I can understand it! After that beautiful a-ha! moment when the first few chapters all fell into place in my head, I was able to explain it to Husband and Sian in such a way that they could understand it, as well. Greene even uses Eric Cartman from South Park (which I do not watch, but fortunately still understood the reference) as an example. Millions and millions of round Cartmans sitting on top of mountains, either affected or unaffected by quantum jitters. It's a giggle moment. I'm still working my way through the book, but mathematically, I now believe in the possibility of infinite parallel universes.

I have to grout the back splash in the kitchen, but when I do, you'll get pictures. I'm pretty proud of myself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Counting a Few Blessings

I'm having a great day. It's not anything specific, but I have an overall feeling of joy. Joseph does NOT seem to have pneumonia and is steadily improving. I've got my tunes on and I stop intermittently to dance. I've got things to look forward to. My toe and fingernails are painted a decent, grown-up color.

The snow is melting and the weather forecast says it will be somewhat warm today. I redesigned Elannah's gymnastics studio in my head yesterday (it will only cost hundreds of thousands to build the improvements I have imagined, but when you're dreaming, money is no object). I've got great friends. I am successfully turning down sugar left and right. The cats are funny. I played the piano for quite a while this morning. I intend to pull out my cello later.

My mom just called and asked if I'd look up some draperies for her on the internet. My grandmother is moving in with my mom and dad, and Mom's busy getting the house ready for her to begin living there as of this Friday.

Once I manage to plan and execute dinner in a timely fashion, this day will be pretty much perfect.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Are You Drinking in the Gutter??"

My kids showed me this little series of YouTube videos called Kid History. I have laughed so hard my latent asthma has surfaced.

If you want to laugh so hard you get wheezy, watch these. Gather the children. There are four total.