112 – all those naps I hated in kindergarten

I’m sitting here gently sipping on a cup of coffee as I write this–well, 3/4 cup of coffee and the rest almond milk, among other adulterations.  Since June of last year, this is maybe my fourth or fifth cup of coffee.  Didn’t stop for any hoity-toity reasons–the smell of coffee nauseated me during a particularly rotten cold, and I switched over to hot tea.  Never really went back to coffee.

However, since that point, I’ve also started napping. A lot.

For instance, the first three days of this week, I’ve slept between an hour and three hours nap1every afternoon. Corey laughs every time I say anything about feeling guilty, but I honestly do. You know that 1 or 2 p.m. slump, where you end up going to get a candy bar? I either stretch out on the couch or go crash in the bed. (Please note, I work from approximately 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. every morning, online, at my virtual job.)

After my nap, about 4 or 4:30, I take a shower, and I’m ready for dinner and my evening with my husband.nap2

In the last six or seven months, I’ve napped more than I ever have in my life. The first time I said something about it to Cor, he said something about me not being a spring chicken. Then he saw the look in my eye. Now he just chuckles every time I say something about it, but words like “hibernation” are pretty much uttered under his breath. Probably wise.nap4

So, I’m experimenting on myself to see if coffee will change the pattern.

Why? Guilt, I guess.

For the past decade, I’ve seldom slept more than six hours a night, and most nights closer to four hours. I was obscurely proud of that – probably that Puritan work ethic that celebrates work and struggle over comfort in every instance.  Hate being stereotypical. Still feel guilty, though.nap3

So, last night, I was trying to convince myself it was a good thing… giving myself the pep talk, you know.

  • “You’re just catching up from all those years of not getting enough sleep…”
  • “It’s not like you have anywhere to be or anything you have to get done–you’ve already completed your workday!”
  • “Every woman in the world would love to have the opportunity to take a nap in the afternoon…”

And, of course, from that last one, the imp that sits at the back of my mind popped up and said,

“I am woman, hear me snore!”

I give up.

Waiter, more coffee!

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68 – making my way back

The first physical thing that is making me marvel at the moment is that it is 5:30 in the morning and I am drinking a cup of tea. My name is Lisa – and I was a coffee addict. I’ve driven down a mountain at dawn because, at the bottom of that mountain (after taking a left and driving five more miles) was a gas station. With coffee. tea

I highly recommend, if you’re going to make that kind of upheaval, do it when you’re feeling like crap anyway.  Which I was (allergies) and even the smell of the coffee was making me nauseous. My body was trying to tell me it was poisonous by its reaction to the smell, and when I ignored that, it showed me why… and because I’m stubborn, it showed me more than once.

So, Tuesday I drank five cups of tea, yesterday was two, today, who knows, but my stomach is so very, very happy with me that I’m not shoving coffee down it that I feel quite sunny.  Even though the allergies are still kind of sucking.

The second physical thing – I’m off all medications except some antihistamine for my allergies. When I left work in October, I was on four prescriptions and a half dozen OTC drugs for various things.  I’m down to vitamins and the antihistamine. I’ll be going back to the doc to get tested in a couple weeks, just to make sure I’m OK–but I’m feeling better every day.

Third and final physical thing – I’m back up to working out two days, taking a day off. Before the allergies laid me down, I was at 90 minutes of full-out effort on the Nordic Track, another half-hour to 45 minutes walk with Daysie. Back up to 65, and inching back upwards.

First and only mental thing – wrote the first creative thing yesterday that I’ve written in a long, long time, “The Voices of Solitary Things.” Such a relief to know that part of my brain still works.

53 – happy Valentine’s day…

Did you know that the flower-crowned skull of St. Valentine is kept in a church in Rome? Yeah, me neither, and it’s kinda urpy, to say the least.

Which is kind of how most men feel about this day.  According to most men I have ever met, it’s a totally-useless, invented-by-merchants, not-even-a-holiday day. Sorry, I appear to be channeling Dr. Seuss this morning.

Cor's BearAnd, I just deleted three paragraphs on giving/not giving, because they weren’t funny. You’re welcome.  What was funny was a friend’s post to Facebook yesterday of a picture of a soaped-up, miserable dachshund in the bathtub, with the caption “February 13 is National Wash Your Wiener day!”  Makes perfect sense. And a hell of a lot funnier than the unmourned paragraphs that now float around in the ether, or ethernet, as the case may be…

I did, of course, get Corey a gift for Valentine’s Day, witness the mustachioed bear in a cup also adorned with a mustache.  It’s kind of funny, since he’s got a mustache at the moment. Not terribly funny.  And, to a certain extent, it was only done because I gently tortured him into buying me a gift, so that meant I had to buy him one…  which just shows you that the universe has a sense of humor.

‘Cause it does… like the fact that the bear is now sitting next to the coffee pot, so there’s a card, candy, cup and coffee on the counter occupying one square foot of space. If “bear” didn’t start with a “b,” it might possibly create a black hole, thus destroying the earth and life as we know it.

Is it recipe time yet? As you may know, I like baking, but I hate cooking. So last night we had chicken patty sandwiches and Tater Tots®, because I was the one doing the cooking. Honestly, if you need this recipe, you’re in bigger trouble than you know–you need help. Badly. Run!

Recipe for the Reluctant Cook

Ingredients:

  • Frozen chicken patties, one per person (or two if someone’s really hungry and totally undiscriminating)
  • Frozen Tater Tots® (or shredded, seasoned potatoes that look like nothing else on the face of the Earth), a bunch of ’em.  You can count ’em  out and put ten of them on the sheet for each person if you want, but you can also give this up as a lost cause, good lord, just go out to dinner!
  • Cooking spray. *sigh* You’re still reading this, aren’t you. (The cooking spray is that aerosol can that says “Pam” on it, or if the grocery buyer is a penny pincher, it will say “cooking spray.”)
  • Hamburger buns, one package, or at least one for each person eating.

Instructions: (seriously? You’re not serious, are you? Dang.)

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (Turn it on, in other words. Then turn the dial to 400 or use the Λ button on a digital oven until it says 400. Press “start” if it’s digital.  There is no “start” button on an oven with a dial. Seriously. Stop looking for it.)
  • Cover a cookie sheet with foil (cookie sheets are the large flat pans that are always under other stuff in your cabinet and make an incredible racket when you pull one out.)
  • Spray the foil with a light coating of cooking spray.
  • Place the chicken patties and tater tots on top of the foil, in a single layer, no pile ups.
  • Open the oven door.
  • Put the cookie sheet with the patties and tots on it in the oven.
  • Close the door.  No, not the kitchen door, the oven door.
  • Wait 20 minutes.
  • Open the oven door.
  • Get the cookie sheet with the food on it out of the oven (warning, the cookie sheet will be HOT. Use a potholder–the half-inch thick square things that your kid brought home from occupational therapy–kid’s got a bright future.) and set the pan on the stove top.
  • Poke one of the chicken patties.  If it’s soft, then flip it over, and turn everything else over too.  Once your fingers start to get burnt, go find a spatula, and use that to turn them over.
  • Put the whole pan back in the oven.
  • Wait five minutes. Check again.  This time, eat a tater tot.  Blow on it first–it won’t actually cool it off, but it makes me feel better. If there is no crunch, just sort of a wet soggy feeling and a texture like tapioca pudding without the pudding, just the tapioca beads, then they’re not done yet.  Put the pan back in the oven for another five minutes.  Keep doing that until everything’s crunchy, but not burnt.
  • When everything’s done, call your significant other and/or adult children still living at home, and tell them to make their own sandwiches.
  • Go sit on the couch until everyone has gotten their stuff, then go make your own sandwich.  They left you a couple of tots (should have counted) and a chicken patty that is the exact texture of a hockey puck, but thinner.

OK, how many of you readers saw the cook as a man?  Look again… no gender noted.  🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

42 – coffee commoner – instructions for Walmart vanilla coffee

Followed a couple of crumb trails around the web regarding coffee and found there is NOTHING that I do right as far as coffee goes. I was checking on all this stuff because my husband’s a bit of a coffee snob. When I hear his alarm go off each morning, I head for the kitchen to make another pot of coffee for him with fresh ground beans. We don’t keep them in the freezer; that’s a no-no, they’re kept in a cool, dark cabinet.  At least, I think it’s dark, it’s too small for me to get in there and close the door and test it.

Me, on the other hand–I’m kind of the opposite of a snob, a coffee commoner, if you will. For those who genuinely love black coffee, made with fresh ground beans, read no more… be gone! I have nothing else to say to you. For those who stayed, here’s the recipe for the perfect cup of coffee for those of us who want (need, crave, jones for) the caffeine without the bitter taste of actual coffee. We also don’t want the caloric load of the lattes, etc., at the big coffee chains.

Great Value Coffee Bricks, available only in stores
Great Value Classic Roast Ground Coffee bricks, available only in stores

So, brew any kind of cheap coffee you want–I use the Walmart coffee that comes in the bricks. I know it’s had the vast majority of the air removed, or it wouldn’t be bricklike, so it should, technically, be the freshest-tasting of the ground coffees. Not that I care, ’cause, by the time I’m done, the coffee is actually going to taste like it smells, no matter when it was ground.

Disclaimer: I can’t say “don’t do this at home,” because other than hotel room dinky coffee makers, and work, the only place you could make coffee is at home. And if you do weird stuff to your coffee at work, they look at you funny.  If you do decide to risk it and follow the recipe below, it as at your own risk. You’ve been warned. Seriously. Stop it! Put the tablet DOWN.

Coffee Commoner’s Calorie-Crunching Coffee

  1. If you forgot to turn the program on last night to have your coffee maker start brewing before you wake, stumble around the kitchen to find the ground coffee, then the filters. After you’ve beaten them into submission and finally got one single filter in the coffee maker’s basket, put in your desired amount of ground coffee. For me, it’s 4 tablespoons for a 12-cup coffee maker. This makes my bestie’s head explode, she uses half as much. So, make it like you ordinarily would.
  2. Wash the cup you used yesterday, since you forgot to do the dishes last night as well.
  3. Do NOT give into the temptation to fill your cup while it’s still brewing. I don’t KNOW why, I think it may just be my OCD kicking in. Lord help me, AADD and OCD combined mean that it makes me crazy when it’s not done right, but not for very long. Squirrel!
  4. Fill a 20-oz cup with coffee to approximately 3/4 full. If you’re using an 8 to 12-oz cup, what is wrong with you?
  5. Add one tablespoon of powdered creamer, any kind.
  6. Add one teaspoon of vanilla (I use the $1.09 bottle of imitation vanilla, yes, from Walmart). STOP! put that measuring spoon back and eyeball it for God’s sake. It’s too early in the morning to be measuring more stuff! Please note, I actually leave an old tablespoon measure in the coffee, and in the creamer, but for buck-a-bottle vanilla, you can skip the measuring spoon.
  7. Add three Splenda (or the Great Value equivalent, which is what I use) or two or one or none. I like my coffee sweet.

    Blue Diamond Almond Milk, Vanilla, Unsweetened
    Blue Diamond Almond Milk, Vanilla, Unsweetened
  8. Add one-quarter cup of cold, unsweetened, vanilla-flavored Almond Breeze Almond Milk (the one that says 30 or 40 calories a serving on the front). This is the only one where a brand name is necessary, I’ve tried the rest, this is best. I buy the shelf-stable version, as shown at right, and always have three or four on hand.  Oddly enough, you find it on the snacks aisle at Walmart; don’t know why.
  9. Microwave instructions:  Your microwave may vary from mine – in mine (not in yours) I microwave the now full 20oz coffee cup for 20-30 seconds to bring it to MY comfortable drinking temperature.
  10. Drink it. I drink mine through a milkshake straw (the unbendy kind, which I seriously have to order from Amazon, can’t find them in any store). The straw is the reason why I only put my coffee in the microwave for 30 seconds. If I just opened a new box of almond milk, and it’s not cold, I only put my coffee in the microwave for 20-25 seconds.  Otherwise, it’s like lava through a straw. You have been warned. Neither I, nor the management, nor the owners of this blog site are responsible if you don’t

So, for a total of 40 calories, and a total cost of maybe eight cents a cup, you have something that tastes better than most lattes (no burnt taste from the espresso beans), and doesn’t mess with your digestion like lattes made with real milk, which 60 percent of us can’t digest comfortably. It also doesn’t screw around with your hormones like lattes made with soy. And, it requires a $20 coffeemaker, not a $100 machine with specialized coffee pods, which costs approximately ten times as much per cup.  The other optiion, of course is BigBucks CrackCoffee lattes, which cost approximately 50 times as much, and can have up to ten times the calories, plus the aforementioned caveats. You also don’t have to learn another language to get what you want.

Last note, if you really are calorie-crunching, you can leave off the powdered creamer and it will be ten calories per cup. I’m not sure what it adds, but I know when I don’t add it, I don’t like the taste as much.

So, if it is early morning where you are, cheers to you, my fellow caffeine addict…raise your Walmart coffee cup to a world that allows each of us to fix our coffee just exactly like we like it.

Rock on wit yo bad self, you caffeine addict…
Lisa

26 – thundersnow

One of the many reasons we left Oregon is that the perpetual damp chill was making both of us ache in every joint, particularly in the winter.  So, we headed for West Texas, which is drier, sunnier and warmer in all seasons.  Or at least, that was how we remembered it.

And it was proving out to be just that, at 79 degrees on Friday, Nov. 22.  We were running the air conditioner most of the day, as the House McNugget was about ten degrees hotter than it was outside.

However, by the time I got out of the house yesterday morning-about 10 am on Saturday morning–all my car windows were iced up. And, it just got colder and wetter all day long.

Then last night, we had what was a first for me, a “thundersnow.” thundersnowWhich is exactly what it sounds like. It never came closer than about five miles, but the terrain is so open here that there’s little to deflect the sound wave of the thunder or the light show that provokes it. Unfortunately, eight people have already died due to this storm–and as I peek out at traffic headed southeast and northwest on the Interstate, I seriously doubt that they will be the last.

So, for today, we are in the House McNugget and not going anywhere. My greatest ambition is to get my husband to assist in trekking the laundry over to the laundromat here at the RV park.  Then back to curl up with a good book or some old movies.  

Note to my East Coasties – it’s headed your way – you might want to leave earlier than you planned for your Thanksgiving dinner. Be safe, people, this is a heck of a storm. Time for that third cup of coffee…The thaw is supposed to start late tonight, early Monday morning. See you then… 🙂

21 – the virtues of virtualization

Working in a virtual environment has its pros and cons, as does face-to-face.  It’s been so long I can’t remember the face-to-face ones, but here are the virtual pros and cons:

Pros of a virtual environment:

  • Flexible hours–because most of my team was East Coast, and my natural inclination is to be up at 4:30 anyway, I basically worked on Eastern time for most of the last three years, first in Texas and then in Oregon.
  • No commute expenses—from bed to coffeepot to your office/workspace is only about a thirty-second trip, or a minute if you doctor your coffee a lot.
  • Meeting continuity is awesome.  Someone who gets up from a tense face-to-face meeting to take a bio-break can be seen as rude. When you’re virtual, you can mute yourself and still listen in on the meeting. Please note this IS when you’ll be called on to contribute, so use it wisely. And noiselessly, if at all possible.
  • Work-Life balance can be so much better, especially for parents who have tons more time to spend with their families because the commute is taken off the board.
  • No clothing expense, unless you’re on video. I had one decent shirt, and that was the one I wore at all telepresence meetings. 🙂

Cons of a virtual environment:

  • Dedication, discipline and drive are needed to work from home on an ongoing basis–and believe me, people know if you’re not available at all times.
  • Connectivity issues—if you lose cellphone signal a lot, or your Internet provider is up and down a lot, it’s a real productivity-killer.
  • Separating work from home life is tough—being able to say “I’m done with work” is hard when you live where you work.
  • The need to get away from the house can become a real problem, leading to issues like retail therapy, among others.
  • Without body language to rely on, people who don’t express emotions and intent well through their voices can be seen as harsh and even hateful.
  • A crying child or a barking dog has an outsize impact on whether you are seen by others as professional.
  • Your self-image gets a little schlumpy when you’re wearing pajamas or sweats to work in every day.
  • Making those working connections that are so necessary in our networked world is much, much harder in the virtual world.

That’s all that come to mind at the moment…

6 – from the olympic peninsula

Typing this on my Droid tablet, in a hotel room in Port Angeles, Washington. The Red Lion Hotel looks out over the harbor where the ferries come in from places like Whidbey Island; Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, among others.

Port Angeles is the largest city up here, with 22,000 people or so, large enough to have a Super Wal-Mart.  I know it’s a weird way to judge a town, but if there’s enough of a population center to have an Uber Wally World, then there are certain other minimums that are met in terms of other things that are less definable. And, since it’s a recent design of Wal-Mart, it’s either been built just in the last two or three years, or is profitable enough that it rated a redesigned front–either of which tells me this town is thriving, in their estimation.

I like the town – even in January this far north, it is bustling… of course that impression wasn’t hurt any by the fact that this hotel is full to bursting with a ton of kids here for a big MLK weekend basketball tournament. Luckily, they all settled down by about 9 pm last night.  We finally stopped feeling like we were inside a bass drum from the boom, boom, boom of not-so-tiny basketball-sized feet running down the hallway above us and outside our door.

It’s nearly 6 am, which gives me a few more minutes to finish my third cup of hotel-room coffee (I’ve had worse), take a quick shower and re-pack while Corey is waking up.  Looking forward to the day – we drove up I-5 yesterday, and then took 101 North, which was the quick way to get here.  Once the fog lifted coming out of Oregon, we saw quite a bit of Puget Sound’s offshoots that go about a hundred miles southward into the state, but still on the Eastern side of the Cascade mountains.  Port Angeles is poised on the northern tip of that range, where the mountains subside into the Strait of Juan de Fuca (try not to pronounce that in your head, k? :))

Today, we’ll head straight west, and see as much of the northern-most tip of the Olympic Peninsula as we can, then south as far as Aberdeen.  From there, we may slide back over to I-5, or we may just continue down 101 as far as Tillamook, Oregon.Much depends on whether we dawdle at the beginning of the day. We want to see the western foothills of the Cascades here in Washington–everything we hear and see on the map tells us it’s much less developed than Oregon, but we want to see it for ourselves.

I was going to say “with our own eyes,” but that’s always sounded urky to me… who else’s eyes would you look at something with, and even more important, HOW DID YOU GET THEM? (For the new victims, er… readers of the Trials and Tribulations, this is where the “AADD” piece of the title is derived :)) Squirrel! (And if you don’t know where THAT comes from, watch the movie Up.)

So, anyway, “Why,” you ask, do we want to see this side of Washington… well, since you asked, we’re contemplating buying some land up here–there’s no state income tax in Washington, and the amount we would save by moving up here and not having to pay Oregon income tax would literally pay the monthly mortgage on a very nice piece of land.  It’s tempting… since I can work from anywhere, our address is of supreme unimportance to my employer… It’s definitely a future option for us, but it’s a few years away, if we do it at all.  Seriously, though, even on these gray January days, this land is incredibly beautiful.

Oh, and I’m healing fine from the surgery in December.  Still not supposed to lift anything heavier than ten pounds, but doing really well overall.  Started running on the elliptical last week Monday, probably a week earlier than I should have, and after two days, I decided I’d rather nap in the afternoons for a while longer. 🙂  I’ll try again this week… or maybe next week.

Have I mentioned that I love my life?  The peace and serenity of simply watching the scenery roll by and talking to my husband for hours on end of possibilities and our past lives and what’s next for us, and why…  With apologies to Jimmy Stewart, this is a wonderful life indeed.  So glad I’m here…