Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our Need for Space

These aren't mine, but I would love it if they were!

Yesterday hubby David and I went out together to run several errands. As we parked in one shopping plaza, I noticed a pet store. The last time I had been at this plaza, Heather had said "oh, let's go see the puppies!" And we had, and it was fun. I am not a big pet store person - we have always picked out our animals at the Animal Protective League, but who can resist looking at puppies? So we went in, and each cage had 2 or 3 puppies inside. And they were so sweet. I noticed they were all lying on top of each other in their cages, even though there was lots of room throughout the cage.

And I thought I guess we're born with that desire to cuddle up with other creatures. And somewhere along the way, we develop a need for space. I know that I have a strong need for space. If people get too close, I think ok, that's enough. I don't ever say "you're a little too close," but I do have a friend who will tell people to step back if they are too close.

I have spent a lot of time with parents of special needs kids, and a big commonality is that the kids don't understand or respect space. They are always standing too close. And we are always reminding them to give us more space.

And I'm thinking now that those kids are like the puppies. Maybe we should be more like them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Heather is 21 today. I can't believe it's been 21 years since we rushed down to the hospital, having no idea what to expect (she came 2 weeks early, and I missed the movie in Lamaze class about a woman giving birth).

We had a family party for her last week when she was home for spring break - here she is pictured with Grandma at the party.

Now she is at Miami U, visiting her friend and enjoying her new legal status.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deer in Our Yard

This picture of some visitors in our back yard was taken a few weeks ago. I hope they get their fill now and leave our garden alone when it's actually growing stuff!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boston Ellen's Chicken Noodle Casserole

As promised, here's the recipe I got from Boston Ellen, who I also call Betty Crocker. I wish I had a photo,
but we ate ours pretty quickly. It's quick to assemble and just hits the spot.

Boston Ellen's Chicken Noodle Casserole

Small box of frozen peas.
4 cups (uncooked) of medium width egg noodles
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans chicken (or equivalent of cooked chicken)
1 cup milk.

Boil noodles and combine with other ingredients. Put in greased baking pan
and bake @ 400 for 35 minutes or until heated through.

*my note - while it wasn't in the recipe, I added a half cup of grated cheddar and it was good.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I am Hopeless

Well, for anyone who read my blog 3 months ago, you might remember that I had a brainstorm right before my last doctor's visit - I brought some home-made ginger snaps to my doc, had my usual weigh-in (and it wasn't good) and when he walked into the office, I held out the bag of cookies and said "these freshly baked cookies are yours if you don't comment on my weight." And he said "deal!" and hell, it was an easy office visit.

Well tomorrow is my next visit, and I swear every time I go to the doctor, I say ok, I WILL lose weight by my next visit. And then life happens, and life brings stress, and for me, stress means extra eating. It didn't help that last night we went to my sister's house for my nephew's birthday party and she had made her amazing oatmeal cookies. No one makes oatmeal cookies like Laurie. And while I had vowed to work really hard this week before the appointment, we ended up sitting around the table, sipping herbal tea, and my sister-in-law and I did the take-a-little-piece-of-cookie-and-keep-doing-that-and well, soon it isn't a little piece anymore.

And then my friend Boston Ellen, who has given me great recipes over the years, mentioned the other day she was making a chicken noodle casserole. Ooooh, I said, that sounds good. So she gave me the recipe. And it was easy. I assembled it yesterday, and today all I had to do was come home and put it in the oven. I thought ok, I will take one helping and then remove myself from the table. One more failure. We sat around with the noodle casserole and fresh italian bread and even skinny Heather took multiple portions. Thanks a lot, Ellen.

And having resigned myself to having a bad outcome tomorrow, I lowered myself to the last resort - I baked a lemon blueberry bread, and wrapped a few pieces for the doc. I told Marsha at work what I was doing, and she said "you're baking for him again? It's not even a holiday!" And I'm thinking "duh, Marsha, I don't bake for him because it's a holiday; I do it to lessen my guilt by silencing him!"

And since I knew I had blown it, and I was tired and the house is a mess and we have a houseful of people coming over tomorrow night to celebrate Heather's 21st birthday, I really did myself in. I ate spicy jelly beans as I watched House.

I am hopeless.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Being Middle Aged

My first boss died of a brain tumor in his mid 40s. About 10 years after he died, I was talking to one of my co-workers and he commented that he was the same age as my boss had been when he died. He said you know, this is the age where you finally come into your own, and it's too bad he never got to experience that.

I was surprised by the comment, because this co-worker and I rarely talked about anything other than work. But it was one of those comments that always stuck with me.

Sometimes people make the comment that they would love to be young again. I am not in agreement. While I'm starting to feel old in many ways - with memory loss, aching joints and daily medications - I don't want to go back there. I think of youth as always worrying what people will think. Decisions being made based on how others would perceive me. Yeah, I've been there and done that, and I'm quite happy with where I am.

In my youth, I was a workaholic, and I thrived on that. When our company went through an upheaval years ago, and we were all stressed out to the max, I started to re-evaluate my priorities. And I decided that more than anything else, I wanted peace and balance in my life. I set up an interview at a company that was a 7 minute drive from my home, after driving downtown for 19 years. The position at this company was a lesser position than what I had previously held, and I wanted that lesser position. But the person interviewing me didn't get that, and had me come back for something like 5 interviews with different employees there, who were all shocked that I was going DOWN the career ladder. I explained to each one that I was looking for more balance and fewer responsibilities. I didn't understand why they didn't get that. I'm thinking it's a middle-aged mentality.

I had one interview at a place where the interviewer reminded me of me 25 years ago. She was very important at that company, and she felt important, and it was very important for her to feel important! During the interview she talked disparagingly about employees who arrived right on time, who took their full lunch, and - god forbid - who left right at 5:00. I honestly was feeling there wasn't enough air in that room and I had to get out of there! I thought lady, there is more to life than your job! But she was young, and hadn't smartened up yet.

I think part of aging is really enjoying the simple things that I would have found boring in my youth. Like gardening. I started to get into that a few years ago, and I can't tell you the joy I experience in the summer just walking out to my little flower garden and vegetable garden and seeing what's growing there. I'm thinking when you're young, you have accomplishments like good grades or starring in a school play or getting on a varsity team. Now, getting anything to grow when there was previously only soil is a major accomplishment that makes me proud!

And while I have known older people who speak their mind to the point of being obnoxious, I think middle-age brings with it an it's-ok-to-say-what's-on-your-mind mentality. As long as it's respectful.

Part of being middle-aged is also being able to see your kids in a different light. I'm not there to tell them what to do anymore, but to watch and hope they make the decisions that are best for them. Of course as a mom, I will always worry about my kids, but it's kind of interesting to see the paths they choose for themselves.

So I don't yearn for the days of my youth. I'm quite content with where I am right now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Musings

I have a pair of slippers I've had for many years. Too many years, I guess. They are so comfortable. They are suede with a hard rubber bottom, with a fleece lining. Well, after many years, they are torn - I mean like 6 inch slits - and the fleece is kind of hanging out. But I love these slippers. The other day, David said "you need new slippers" and I said "these work fine for me." I mean, it's not like I wear them out in public. Last night I was cleaning the dining room table and saw that he had left his beloved Cabela's catalogue open to the page on slippers. He doesn't get that I don't want new slippers! Some things are just fine the way they are. Even if they don't look it.

I heard a cat meowing earlier this evening. I went in search of a cat who might have been locked in a room or closet. I went past daughter Heather's room. She was in over the weekend, and she does not believe in making her bed. Well my oldest cat, Bing, who gets huge every winter cause he stays in (he slims down every summer) was all curled up in a ball on Heather's jumble of blankets and sheets. This big blonde ball. And I went to pet him, and it was pouring outside and you could hear the rain coming down, and I just thought I'm so glad we brought this animal home from the animal protective league 10 years ago and we supply him with a warm, dry, loving home, while he provides us with his own brand of love and lots of amusement.

I think 2 hours is just too long for an American Idol episode. I can only watch it if I'm reading a paper or doing laundry or dishes in between songs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A True Duck Story

This post is dedicated to Sharon, because this story made her so happy.

A True Duck Story From San Antonio . . ...

Something really cute happened in downtown San Antonio this week ...

Michael R . is now an accounting clerk at Frost Bank and works
downtown in a second story office building.

Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck
choose the concrete awning outside his window
as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk .

The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of
the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air.

She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks,
And Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched .

Michael worried all night how the momma duck was
going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy,
downtown, urban environment to take to water,
which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching .
Tuesday morning, Michael watched the mother
duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch
with the intent to show them how to jump off!

The mother flew down below
and started quacking to her babies above .

In his disbelief Michael watched as the first fuzzy
newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly
leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below .

Michael couldn't stand to watch this risky effort.
He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs
to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling
was stuporing near its mother from the near fatal fall.

As the second one took the plunge, Michael jumped forward and
caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete.
Safe and sound, he set it by the momma and the other stunned
sibling, still recovering from its painful leap.

One by one the babies continued to jump.
Each time Michael hid under the awning just
to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall.

The downtown sidewalk came to a standstill .

Time after time, Michael was able to catch the
remaining 8 and set them by their approving mother .

At this point Michael realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey .

They had 2 full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs,
and pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the
San Antonio River.

The onlooking office secretaries and several
San Antonio police officers joined in.

They brought an empty copy paper box to collect the babies.
They carefully corralled them, with the mother's approval,
and loaded them in the container.
Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood .

He then slowly navigated through the downtown
streets toward the San Antonio River . .

The mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight .

As they reached the river,
the mother took over and passed him,
jumping into the river and quacking loudly .

At the water's edge, he tipped the box and helped
shepherd the babies toward the water and to their
mother after their adventurous ride .

All ten darling ducklings safely made it into the water
and paddled up snugly to momma .

Michael said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward
the beaming bank bookkeeper, and proudly quacking.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly and leave the rest to God .

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Musings

Ah, another Sunday.

I went to bed late last night. First David and I watched the Mama Mia movie with Meryl Streep. Great music. He didn't remember much of it; says he was into rock in those years. Then I watched a Lifetime movie called America, which was really good. When I was sick a few weeks ago, I tried to watch several Lifetime movies but they just seemed to exaggerate good and bad - the good wife and the evil husband kind of thing. But America, about a boy named America who was in the foster care system, was very well done. Rosie O'Donnell was in it.

I woke up at 6:30 and decided while I was up, I'd let Pepper out, and then I went back to bed. I'm reading a very interesting book now called Mozart and the Whale; an Asperger's Love Story. It's the true story of a man and woman with Aspergers who meet and fall in love (although making it work is a big challenge and I don't know if it ultimately does work cause I'm not done with the book). So I read for a while and fell back asleep, and I must say, when I am able to sleep in on a weekend, it's wonderful. Cause lately I feel like I'm just gliding through life in a foggy haze. Lack of sleep does that. Sometimes it helps when I take 2 benadryl at night, a half hour apart, but I wake up just parched when I do that.

Got up at 10 or so, David went out to get our Sunday bagels, and, well, this is what Sundays are all about. I put a pot roast in the oven that I discovered on a blog ( We have a rehearsal this afternoon, and this pot roast can cook for 8 hours (I cook it a little less than what the recipe calls for), so we will come home and dinner will be done. I love that. I wish I could work that out every day.

Every winter I say I'm going to get more into crock pot cooking, and then I don't. Most of the recipes I have involve too much prep in the morning, and at 6:00 AM, I do not feel like doing much kitchen prep.

Work has been stressful and it is so nice to me to have 2 days not worrying about it. For 10 years, I was a manager, and I thought about work 24/7. It was always on my mind. No more. Weekends are for getting away from the old grind, in body AND in spirit.