Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A(n Easy) Quiz for the Day

Upon deciding to post this I had no expectations of stumping anyone. In fact I’ll go ahead and put the answer at the bottom. Anyway, here goes. Do you know what this two piece kitchen accessory does?

Sitting on a Paper Plate for the Task at Hand

Looks Like a Wicked Guillotine, Right?
Giving away the answer, I'll say it served very well after I brought home some poppyseed and sesame bagels. For the record, I realized the latter are far superior. The market, alas, only offered four and we wanted six for all the lovely lox (thin sliced smoked salmon) picked out at another store.

Poppyseed Overload
I love me some lox with capers and cream cheese. Technically, it’s Neufchâtel, but same difference. Yum.

Capers Add the Perfect Touch of Tart (if that's the right word)
Of course the tool is a bagel slicer, or literally a bagel guillotine. It’s not something I thought to purchase, but a long ago gift. I’m grateful because slicing at home keeps the bread from going stale so fast.

Star of the Show, Thin Layered Lox
Have you ever eaten lox?


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Anxiety - Blessings and Questions

It’s no secret that emotions affect our bodies. Anxiety and depression are no exception. I know this firsthand from (mostly) past experience.

For blessed little me, leaving outside employment eradicated all but some social anxiety. Severe attacks do raise their tremulous little heads now and then, though, and sometimes for no apparent reason. Last Sunday during a sunny quiet morning, a rather severe attack hit.

Why? I have no idea. But it exhibited the old familiar signs, dampening my motor skills and tightening my throat. It got so bad that I didn't trip and fall but my handwriting took on the appearance of a palsy patient’s.

Fortunately, driving a car in light traffic while blasting screaming death metal (!) often helps calm me, as does exercise. So, I forced myself to get ready and go for a swim at my favorite YMCA natatorium.

Founder & Lead Singer of Nu Metal Band Otep
On the way there, symptoms took a scary turn, affecting my judgment. I took a wrong turn down a one way street to find myself facing two lanes of oncoming traffic. We have lived in this neighborhood for twenty years.

I am happy to say my quick correction prevented an accident, even saving me seeing strangers’ faces of angry shock. Good thing the swim and ongoing whispered and screaming lyrics of singer Otep Shamaya eased me back to a peaceful state.

Does music calm you in times of duress?


Monday, January 29, 2018

Positive Sparks Monday - An American Great

I decided to stray from my ongoing music theme. Poking around Brainy Quotes last week, words by the great Frederick Douglass popped out to me. This great American became my hero the instant a grade school teacher introduced me to his works. I think the following quote sums up his spirit, and represents a philosophy we should all embrace without hesitation.

Amen, good sir. May you rest in peace.

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday Plans

Last Monday on my way to swim at a local YMCA, I noticed they are hosting an indoor triathlon. Mind boggled by the number of miles hardcore athletes were expected to swim, bike, and run, I went on my merry way.

Then on Thursday a strange idea occurred. Why not enter it myself? After all, it would challenge me not only physically but also socially, mentally. And it’s not like anyone has to accomplish more than about twenty minutes of each activity.

So I paused to read more about the event. It costs $40 (US) to participate. On top of that, it would probably take up a good portion of my morning, or even day, depending upon number of entrants. That’s prime writing time, not to mention the fact that cash could be saved for another ticket to see Palaye Royale once they embark on their headlining tour.

Guess what I decided to do?
PR Drummer Emerson Barrett's 'Bed Head' Sort of Sums Up My Choice

Friday, January 26, 2018

Time Share, a Study in Cats

I’ve noticed our short-haired cat Jezebel goes through phases every few years during which she is either more or less sociable. Here you can see which way the pendulum has swung.

Time for an Afternoon Nap
Tilly, however, does eventually get tired of sharing her favorite cat bed (yes, they have several, way more options than we humans have). That usually occurs when Jezebel goes into an excessive grooming mode. I believe that’s what happened here after I left the room.

Hey, Where'd You Go?
But never fear, Tilly found an acceptable alternative that still kept her within a few feet of my SO. This box has been saved for another purpose.

Thank You, Amazon Prime
Oh, well. We’ll get there eventually.

Who Needs Mattress Padding When You're Made of Wool?
Then again, this little kitten has an even better idea. And I am jealous, quite frankly.

A Boy and His Kitten

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mystery Substance - The Answer to My Quiz For the Day

Earlier I posted the following picture asking if anyone could guess the contents of my Rubbermaid container. Below you’ll find the answer.

Not Cottage Cheese or Yogurt
This is actually my Griffon Remedy body lotion. Loving the fact it’s fragrance free, thus better for healthy moisturizing, I buy the stuff from San Franciso in industrial sized containers to save money. Squirting some in a small sealed container allows me to keep a supply in our tiny bathroom. 
This Jug Barely Fits Beneath My Microwave Oven Shelf
Next you can see I wasn’t kidding about the creamy stuff being labeled as food. Using this really helps cut down on hangnails from swimming and my SO likes to smear on a good dollop in defense against winter dryness.

Beneath Omega-3 and Unscented it Says Skin Food
Do you moisturize your skin?


A Quiz for the Day

I have to admit that this is a tricky question. Taken in the kitchen, this photo is not of food, though it is labeled as such and stored in a food grade container. Any ideas what it is?

It Has the Consistency of Yogurt
 Looks a little like curds and whey, doesn't it?


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Towel Rack - and - How Easy I Am to Please

I got some great suggestions on FaceBook after lamenting about the lack of a place to hang my dish towels. And I thank you, ladies, one and all.

Unfortunately, my partner would not be happy seeing a damp towel lying against the cabinetry or dripping on appliances. I understand to a degree since an old range front rusted when I used the oven handle for a rack.

As luck would have it, I found a 16 inch tall free standing towel holder made by the Madona Bathroom Company. It cost $20 (US) on Amazon and arrived one day after ordering. I’m so pleased. Finally, someone figured out we don’t all use tiny tea towels in the kitchen!

Makes Me Want to Buy New, Matching Towels
The base has reasonable weight/girth and also a gripping surface underneath so that knocking it over isn’t likely. I’m really tickled every time I see it sitting next to the dish drainer.

Comes in Other Finishes, Like Polished Chrome
I Went Online to Recall the Other Options but
Curiously, it's Absent from Amazon Today
What do you think of the rubbed bronze look?


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Follow-Up on Arepas & Co

Anyone kind enough to read has the lovely Pam Jackson to thank for this. ~grin~ I appreciate your interest, my dear. As for my experience at this little strip mall place, it’s mixed at best. Our few ‘hole in the wall’ mom and pop diners are often a treat, and this miniature Arepas & Co. chain ended up falling well below that mark.

Their limited menu didn’t surprise me. The availability did. They were out of both beef and bottled water, two prevalent options we requested. I will say the staff (of one guy) was very friendly. He served tepid tapwater in Styrofoam cups after a fruitless back room search for the bottled stuff we purchased.

Thank heaven he only suggested pork or chicken for the meat options. I would have left otherwise.

Many minutes later as we awaited our order, his coworker acted just as kind, asking if my partner wanted cojita cheese sprinkles. Then the arepas were served ‘open face’.

“I hope you don’t mind,” the portly fellow said, presenting sloppy messes.

I asked about flatware, after which my partner fetched another flimsy set after the clueless guy presented one plastic knife and fork. Then I dug in, famished after foolishly starving myself all day.

The shredded pork and chicken proved abundant, as were the paired red and black beans. The creamy cilantro sauce on the pork was tasty, like my partner’s mild garlic sauce, though the flavors could have been more plentiful.

My stomach hated the experience later. And I didn’t get to taste their fried plantains, which I’ve cherished elsewhere. Maybe that’s just as well.

Can you believe I stomached a bowl of my chili later? Should I give them another try, perhaps at the original location?


Another Chain Restaurant – or – A New Culinary Adventure

On a little adventure the other day trying to find an open Indian restaurant, my partner and I saw a place called Arepas and Co. The place claims to serve Columbian comfort food, including the famous namesake, of which there are countless variants depending upon region (including Venezuela).

Arepas Image From Wikipedia Article
The SO has longed to try the food since that day. I’ve been postponing, trying to get back into the swing of workouts and swimming while maintaining a happy, heavy writing schedule. Today is the day, though. I cannot put it off any longer. And as the blog post title attests, this is not a mom and pop kind of place.

I’ll try to have a positive attitude. Heck, even chain restaurants start with a few stalwart folks trying to support a family. And as they go, this one serves something a little different while also not being a worldwide conglomerate. So maybe purchasing their wares won’t fund a proxy war in some unsuspecting nation. ~sigh~ I know, be positive. And I’ll probably like it, even if I feel the bloat afterward.

Have you eaten Columbian cuisine?


Monday, January 22, 2018

Positive Sparks Monday - Music to My Ears

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

I don’t know why, but the band Bon Jovi tends to be put down by folks a lot. They’re sort of like Nickelback that way. And I’m sorry, but I’ve enjoyed concerts by both groups. That said, I decided to follow my ongoing theme of inspirational quotes by musicians and go with one by John Bongiovi (see what he did with his name there? And yes, I’ve been an obsessive music geek since grade school).

Thanks again to Brainy Quote. The image is my own.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Excited? Or Neurological Condition?

I’ve noticed in Jezebel an increasing oddity. Usually it happens when she’s looking out a window, so we are assuming she vibrates out of excitement.

Have you ever seen an animal act like this?


Friday, January 19, 2018

Leftovers Taken to a New Level

I adore Indian and Indo-Chinese food. But nothing I’ve managed to cook up from packaged sauces compares to what some of our fine restaurants serve. So the other day my partner and I went on a bit of an odyssey to satisfy my craving.

First we ordered online from our local place Indian Rasoi (I understand that rasoi translates to ‘kitchen’ in one dialect). At first planning to stay home and write, I decided to drive at the last minute.

And good thing.

Upon arrival my partner found a locked door and a ‘temporarily closed’ sign and I decided it time to move onto plan B. While I eschew owning a smart phone, having one in the car proved fortuitous. At my urging we located a place a few miles down the road called Indian Chaat Café.

After we were headed home with our yummy orders, we received a phone call from a Indian Rasoi employee. As it turns out, there was an accident resulting in injury. They were forced to close without notice and rush their family member to the hospital. My SO had the kind presence of mind to say we would be coming by sometime in the near future once they were up and running again, and we wished everyone well.

Fast forward to several days later. The chicken vindaloo is gone, as is the paneer tikka masala. Well, except for the sauces. So, what’s for dinner tonight?

My Photo Probably Doesn't Do the Food Justice; Still, Yum...
I thawed a frozen chicken breast, sliced it into cubes, browned them, and added both sauces. Hopefully, that’s not sacrilege. But it smells delicious.

Do you like leftovers?


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jezebel Strikes Again

Our two cats are aged, as mentioned the other day when I shared an image of Tilly staring at me. Jezebel, however, does retain more of a playful nature. She reserves it for the middle of the night mostly, however.

(big shock, right, fellow cat lovers?)

One thing she’s taken to doing is opening a drawer built into our recliner couch. I have witnessed her during the daytime, lying on the floor and digging her nails into the upholstery to drag it open. I can only imagine she discovered the delightful reaction by accident, and find the evidence walking by with breakfast in hand.

That said, for a while Jezzy had fun dragging off a stringed stuffed mouse toy tucked into the top of one of their cat trees (three! All built by my dad, whose a dog person, I might add). I’d get up the next day and have to look for the mousie, setting up her challenge for that evening.

That activity kind of went the way of the dodo, though she still climbs those carpeted towers now and again. But I want to encourage her play, stimulate her mind a little. And catnip mostly seems to bore the girls now for some reason (perhaps diminished senses?).

So I decided to move the toy and try this:

How's It Hanging, Mr. Mouse?
As you can imagine, she has not played along the way I imagined. If the drawer is open, the mouse might remain dangling there like a hangman’s victim. At least I caught her in action, as you can see in this series below.

"What's This?"
She Works Fast Sometimes
"Eh, I'm Done."
"Time for a Nap"
Getting Comfortable
"Almost There... What?"
How do you like to play?


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Breaking Convention

Since childhood I've had a tendency to buck convention. It didn’t matter if the cool high school kids talked during study hall. I preferred to have my evenings free for more interesting pursuits like blasting Ozzy Osbourne or sneaking out to see my boyfriend.

(I blame you, dear Liz A., for the remembrance of my school days. Thanks for sharing your stories of substitute teaching and more)

Nowadays I might leave my Christmas tree up an extra month or so because I got it set up late. This year, I had a Halloween display on my mantle through New Year’s because those things made an appearance just days before October thirty-first. Don't blame me, though, I asked for help bringing up boxed decorations and got none. Then puppy dog eyes at mention of putting my haunted house away set the tone.

All that brings me to now. My kitchen island is home to a vintage cookie jar and another oldie-but-goodie, an aged ceramic turkey. Yes, I have had the little guy out for a few months. To my credit, I only got the piece this year after my father cleaned out the old homestead before selling.

Things got moved around a little the other evening to make room for the deep fryer. And then, thinking I should wrap up and store the turkey, I saw this:

Don't the Kittens Look Wary Observing the Bird? Cracked My Simple Self Up
What unwritten rules of the adult world do you like to break?


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Silly Me Strikes Again

I tend to go into anything with the best of intentions, like saving paper. Tired of fiddling with the often broken down ActivTrax kiosk at my local YMCA, I thought printing workouts at home using both sides of the sheet the way to go.

This has been going on for a few weeks now. You’d think I would have it down pat, knowing which side of the printed page should face up inserted in the paper tray. You would be wrong. The other night I ended up with this:

Weirdly, the Last Workout Remains Pretty Legible Here
Thus, I wasted ink by having to print it again. But by golly, I got it now. And I’m probably more certain to remember in future. Right? One can hope.

Flipped Over It's Less Useful Than the Workout the Kiosk Spit Out en Español
 How often do your good intentions backfire?


Monday, January 15, 2018

Positive Sparks Monday - Another Musical Note

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Today I’m going with another musician, one who I adored as a child. The world was a better place for having you in it, John Denver.

Thanks once again to Brainy Quotes for this. The photo is my own.
Do you know any of John Denver's music? 


Sunday, January 14, 2018

I've Got My Eye On You

Why do I feel like someone’s… Oh.

Excuse Me, It's Time to Get On the Couch
Can you believe Tilly is somewhere around her mid teens? Those eyes are still so clear, as you can see. And somehow, some way, her wispy fur (guard hairs thinned by hyperthyroidism or its medication, maybe?) has regained its former wooliness.

Unfortunately, she has never been a good self groomer. From the back she looks like a field of high brown grasses beaten down every which way by heavy rain or snow. If it wouldn’t distress the old girl so, I’d shell out money to get her groomed like we did multiple times a year for the better part of a decade.

Have you ever had a pet that needed professional grooming?


Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Silver Lining

I am very blessed. Don’t ever believe me if I say different. But aging has increasing irritants, perhaps especially since my mother's passing drew my attention to mortality.

For one thing (two, I guess), the hair on top of my head is thinning while strays on my chin are multiplying. They’re light colored, at least, but that also makes them harder to spot until long enough to darn near braid. ~sigh~ And the few measly pounds shifted around from weight lifting have left a wattle under my chin.

My reading glasses need replaced, too. With true fine print I’m better off without them, label pressed near my nose. I’m wearing them as I type, though, since the prescription works better than what my driving glasses have. At least both are adequate for that task.

Yesterday I developed a rare headache which was written off to said glasses. Going from reading in bed for an hour to the computer for several more has consequences, after all. Then I realized it was more than that when my laptop screen got really dark at the bottom, staying bright on top so it was bifurcated.

The light show indicated I was suffering a migraine, albeit a minor one. Thankfully I can say this pain and sensitivity didn’t send me diving under the bedcovers with a pillow over my head and bandana like a tourniquet in a crazed effort to ease that throbbing left temple. Perhaps foolish, I turned down the brightness of my screen and continued writing. Another blessing is they were never frequent, unlike what some folks I’ve known have endured.

My software teacher years ago spoke of driving to work sometimes and not recalling how he’d gotten there, migraines outnumbering his sick days. A former coworker went so far as to get medication she could inject into her leg. Considering them, another thought occurred to me.

Besides being lucky to have survived young adulthood (some of my youthful stunts are legendary acts of stupidity), nearing middle age saw a decrease in all types of headaches. I just needed to wait this one out. Ultimately, a couple of naproxen sodium tablets before an early dinner helped.

The Protagonist in This Dark, Delightful Flick Knew PAIN
How are you feeling today? Have you seen the movie "Pi"?


Friday, January 12, 2018

Just for Grins

Yesterday I took a look at book eighteen (“Dog is my Copilot”) of my BloodMoon series and feel like the chapters are starting to take shape. It put me in the mood to share my title list, for… you know… grins. I hope you enjoy the silliness.

Blood Moon
Bark at the Moon
Cat’s Meow
It’s Raining Cats and Dogs
Kennel Club
Nine Lives
This Vacation Photo Doesn't Really Fit This Story, Sad to Say
My Characters Are Nowhere Near the Sea
Wolf’s Bane
Man’s Best Friend
Letting the Cat Out of the Bag
Dog Days of Summer
The Wolf at Your Door
Scaredy Cat
Obedience Training
Top Dog
Leopard Print
Cat Nap
A Leopard Can’t Change Its Spots
Dog is My Copilot
Chasing Cars
Biting the Hand That Feeds
Dog Catcher
Dog License
Dog With at Bone
Cat Got Your Tongue

I am happy to say that many of the twenty-four titles aren’t strictly American English sayings (some adapted from other cultures, I’m learning, which is cool). Most tie into the storyline. For example, “Dog is My Copilot” features an airplane crash which skilled, dedicated pilots kept from causing any fatalities. Well, almost. My hero… well… never mind.

Do you have any more animal based sayings to suggest in case I need more?


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Staying Warm or Staying Cool (Under Pressure)

Reading a Facebook discussion about crazy weather reminded me of a saying learned in childhood. “Don’t like the weather? Wait fifteen minutes.” And then I remembered an awesome video from several years ago. This weather announcer really ran with it when the computer went haywire showing area temperatures.

Check this out:

Would you stay so cool under pressure?


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Teasing Taste of Spring

I know it’s still January. Thanks for that Facebook reminder, Bernadette. ~grin~ I think that made today all the sweeter, in part because I didn’t have to think about mowing the grass.

Not a Sight Seen Today, But I Know Goldfinches Await in the Fields
Dressed in their Drab Winter Garb Yet Still Adored

With temperatures nearing sixty degrees F today, I got to enjoy my back patio for the first time in months. The sun came out, cardinals were singing, squirrels raced across the neighbors field. I even found a friendly visitor in the little cat that likes to wander through (I’m ninety nine percent certain the healthy looking tortie has a good home).

Of course it didn’t last. Clouds overtook the sun and winds kicked up. Still, I wrote almost an entire chapter of my latest WIP before the chill chased me indoors. That makes me very happy.

How are things where you live?


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Feeding Time!

This post is thanks to Pam Jackson. ~hugs~ I've been meaning to write this up and you inspired me to take a few moments away from fictional storytelling.

We started using paper plates to feed our cats their canned wet food, repeated servings set out on the same ones so as to cut down on waste. I’m not even sure how the trend started. But my partner liked my solution for storing an opened can and the habit stuck.

They Love Their Chicken Soup for the Soul Weight Management Formula
What’s funny is they used to eat off china plates. Literally. I bought the set while still living with my parents. In the real everyday world, sturdier dishes replaced breakable plates. Which, in hindsight, may be why we switched to paper after getting stone flooring.

Tilly Demonstrates How to Hold the Plate Steady with One Paw
Either way, the cats don’t care. And Jezebel finally learned Tilly’s trick of stepping on the plate.

The Plate Stays More Still Than Jezebel!
She finally slowed down for me to snap decent images. I liked how the multiple overhead lighting shadowed her ears here.
Jezzy Eats Fast While Somehow Looking Delicate
If you have such a pet, how do you serve dinner?