Monday, December 16, 2019

Ephemeral Beauty and a Quick Tip

Watching the snow fall yesterday evening, I delighted today at the full frosted glory of my Harry Lauder’s Walking stick (a cultivar of the common hazel). Upon my return from swimming I should have taken photos right away. Instead I started laundry, and an ongoing thaw melted away much of nature’s snow sculpture.

Still, there is one shot I thought might be interesting to share. This awkward overhead angle isn’t optimal, but the catkins stand out rather nicely.
A Very White Monday

As for that laundry, a few years ago I stopped drying favorite clothes in the electric dryer. Sometimes, not every granule of laundry powder dissolves in the wash and chalky residue appears upon these line dried fabrics. This recently happened to my black Palaye Royale band shirt.

Tumbling several moments in the dryer with some wet items articles didn’t eradicate this excessive streaking. Inspiration struck, and I’m happy to report a recycled dryer sheet solved the problem.

Are you a fan of fabric softeners? If so, do you prefer liquid in the washer or sheets? Please share if you know more of depleted dryer sheets’ many reuses.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday Silliness

I set up my water bottle ice tray the other day and, upon opening the freezer door later, found an ice ‘finger’ formed near the frozen spear's exact center. Seeing this pointed straight out at eye level disturbed my husband, especially when I made the comparison with the legendary1982 science fiction/horror movie, “The Thing.”

MacReady: "...nobody...nobody trusts anybody anymore..."
Have you seen any of the films starring actor Kurt Russell (quoted above from “The Thing”)? If so, do you have a favorite?


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sous Vide or Not Sous Vide, Part Two

Well, following the prior post on my food fanatic husband's penchant for cooking experimentation, here is our verdict on the sous vide cooking method for a whole turkey.

That cooked bird, whose sacrifice we greatly appreciate, turned out delicious. My clever husband chose well. What we cannot devour in a few days will be frozen for future consumption.
In the sealed cooking bag he opted to use chicken broth in place of the suggested water. I concurred, and later portioned the resulting stock in numerous freezer bags. In future, we likewise agree, some sodium free broth would be preferable as the resulting stove top corn bread stuffing came out extra salty.

(Don’t judge; I like the classic brand from my childhood… Heh…)

Also, I may note, the prepared stuffing mix is available in lower sodium. Anyway, twelve hours in a 150F degree water bath followed by a 450F degree oven roasting for thirty minutes resulted in an overall tender, fall apart juicy texture with a delectable outer crispness.


I have since cleared the kitchen of entanglements and obstacles. The equipment, meanwhile, needs cleaned before storage and now our refrigerator is making strange noises.


Are you ready for the holidays or, like me, do you wish 2019 would end already?


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Sous Vide, or Not Sous Vide, Part One

I apologize for the Shakespearian pun. My will is too weak to resist. At any rate my husband discovered sous vide (French for ‘under vacuum’), a slow and low temperature process a year or so ago.

We’ve enjoyed many meats, steak and chicken and fish, all prepared in a small, dedicated tub of heated water. A follow-on oven roasting or stove-top browning often completes the dishes. Today we tried something different, an entire turkey.

Crazy, huh?

This required a bigger container for the heated water. Ironically, he came up with the brilliant idea of using our propane turkey fryer equipment.
Check This Out...
My only fear is getting tangled in cords or something. The entire process is supposed to take twenty-four hours. And we started around 3pm or so.

Rebels toward holiday rituals, we’ll feast tomorrow afternoon and I’ll let you know the results. Yum.

Have you heard of sous vide? Would you try it?


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Lesson for the Electronic Age

Everywhere we turn these days, Western sensibilities encourage us to ‘go green’. Medical communications via email seemed a reasonable, outright expedient concession.

Well, that didn’t quite work out as planned.

The bills sent by our health network have been delivered straight into both mine and my husband’s accounts spam folders. ?!? This is how I ended up getting sent to a collection agency over charges we never saw.

I discovered the circumstance by accident, having tagged an unsolicited email as spam and opening that folder for verification. So now we know. Since this discovery, we have paid over three thousand dollars (US) for 2019 services.


Prior billing notifications dropped out of the spam folder, which is annoying. Worse, the billing summary on our network portal web page shows zero account information on file. ??? It's frustrating, for sure.

Do you ever check your spam email folder? Can you believe the billing department never called about the issue first?


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Crazy Time

I have been busy falling behind writing toward my National Novel Writing Month project, and thus have been a bit absent here. I’m experimenting with this Comic Sans font that some writers swear boosts their output. Not sure it’s working because I’m almost two full days’ word count behind, but real life issues have been dragging me down this November.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share something that a local friend posted on our NaNoWriMo FB page. Truer words could not be spoken (though I thought the last word was ‘bat’, which I find even funnier… Heh…).

Doesn’t the best comedy have a ring of truth? And what do you think of this font for blogging? Be well! 


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mixed News & Joys, Including the Mighty Mites within a Determined Garden

Our summer produced terrible gardening weather. Watering grass and perennials not in budget, I lamented disappointing flower displays and a lackluster produce harvest. Invading species flourished, of course. Weeding became a regular source of cathartic exercise.

Oh, well. We can only hope next year is better. In addition, end of season surprises delighted me. First, a purple coneflower:

Normally over four feet tall, this stunted character shows off...
And here is another example. Short as I am, I have never seen such perseverance!
A Diminutive Black-Eyed Susan

Meanwhile, our dryer vent provided a good nesting spot for some rodent. So that issue is fixed. Though we could have saved money with a DIY investigation, my husband considers the professional cleaning a good investment. The heavy duty machines are worth preserving, for sure.

In an unrelated question, have you ever gotten collection agency notification on a medical bill you never received?


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Decking the Hall – Spin Cycle for the Win

The other day I discovered our clothes dryer working improperly. As some idiot home builder put the thing on an interior wall, the tubing connected to it runs up that wall, across the ceiling, then to the window vent. I figured lint had built up.

Taking inspiration from Strayer, I looked up on Youtube how one might go about finding and removing a potential clog. Well, my husband decided to go with professionals. We expect a technician to visit next Saturday morning.

My fingers are crossed that this old workhorse doesn’t require expensive repairs.

Meanwhile, I discovered something great. As long as its twin, our heavy duty washing machine continues operating well, I could live just fine without an electric dryer. In fact, I wanted to freshen my top sheet today and the spin cycle did such a good job it was ready for the bed within an hour and a half.

I just need a proper clothesline. See below... ~grin~ What can I say? Improvisation is my forte.

Have you ever seen an old fashioned wringer washer in use?


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Purple People Ear Protection

Hearing protection is very important to me. Loud rock concerts are just one source I’ve guarded against for decades. Since fearing reuse to be the source of an inner ear infection my husband suffered earlier this year, I stopped using our preferred foam plugs more than once.

In thoughtful response he ordered a bulk package of twenty five sets and opened the delivered package this afternoon. To our surprise they are not the typical orange. Dear Pam of Life Through My Eyes, I thought of your adoration of purple.

Do you have a use for ear plugs and recommend a type?


Monday, October 28, 2019

Recovering the L – Teamwork & How I Fixed My Keyboard

Concerned over the improper seated L key on my laptop, my husband consulted Uncertain replacement would fix the issue, I nonetheless helped make sure he selected the correct kit. Even identical makes and models with the precise same layout use different hinge configurations.

If you’re in need I recommend this website, not for personal gain, but because their service is consummate. Videos provide instruction, prices are reasonable, and the warehouse ships within twenty-four business hours. My key remained in the envelope for several days, in fact, as I feared attempting to repair a working keyboard would backfire. This morning I decided to take the plunge and remove my rocking L key.

DH offered to hold a flashlight for me but anyone standing over my shoulder wrecks my concentration. So I tackled this detailed handiwork without telling him. My composure held even during the intimidating task of ripping off the tiny rubber cup and scraping away all adhered remnants. I worried the new one, a literal key component, wouldn’t stay put.

It did!

A minute piece must have broken from my original hinge pieces, preventing the key from snapping into place. Anyway, I’m delighted with this minor success.

What do you hope to achieve today?


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday Silliness

A friend shared this on FB and I had to pass on the pun. Liz, you might want to skip. ~wry grin~ Happy Saturday!


Friday, October 25, 2019

A Bumpy, Lumpy Year & the Blessing of Excellent Healthcare

A month after my reaction to blood pressure medication, we received a bill for over $1,080 (US) from the emergency services billing company. I called to question and was told that the ER doctor was out of our provider network, we were responsible for payment, and I needed to file any appeal with my insurance company. If that organization refused further compensation I should call her again, she said, promising her employer would work with us (presumably an installment plan).

I spent a few hours calling back and forth between these corporate entities. Our insurance provider insisted we only owed $75.44 and the billing company had no right to demand payment of that declined balance. An opposing customer service rep insisted that was untrue, that the insurer had no right to limit the amount due as no contract existed between these two firms.

At last, a woman with our insurer told me she put in a dispute on our behalf with the billing company. What?!? Confused as I am, I don’t intend to drop the matter.

Fast forwarding to the afternoon, I told my primary care physician when he asked about my stress level. Steam practically pouring out his ears, he admitted a lack of expertise but expounded upon his opinion. He thinks our insurer knows full well their company is responsible for the $1,080.

My doctor believes both enterprises hope the patient pays without question, satisfying the greed of each. Lots of folks cave into pressure from this extortion, he explained. My husband would have been one of them, sad to say. In fact, Dr. S maintains utter disbelief in the ‘out of network’ explanation.

I guess my next step is a friendly call to the ER facility, or perhaps a personal visit. Then, in about a week, I intend to call the biller’s representative for information on the insurer’s alleged petition and proceed from there.


Meanwhile, a lingering lump on my scalp grew three times larger over the summer. My hairdresser classified it a harmless cyst (called a wen) and advised having a dermatologist remove the cumbersome bump. I mentioned this to a medical student during her initial consultation, she passed it on to Dr. S, and he (fulfilling his residency at this clinic) consulted a senior physician before she followed up on their examinations.

This attending physician assured me their procedural department could remove the cyst, which insurance would be much more likely to cover versus a dermatological procedure. In addition, she kindly spent valuable time accompanying me to the checkout desk so as to assure both ideal scheduling and proper insurance coding. For one $20 copay, I will undergo this little outpatient surgery and receive a surreptitious follow-up on my blood pressure. Nice, huh?

Whew! I’ve rambled enough. But how nice to find caring, competent professionals. Wish me luck on the other mess.

Have you heard of a wen before?


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wabi Sabi – Revering Nature’s Unconventional Beauty

Wabi sabi is a Japanese world view emphasizing acceptance and reverence of the imperfect, incomplete, impermanent, even desolate. A comprehensive article on the website Tofugu addresses this complicated concept, exploring each of the two standalone words and their connection to Buddhism.

Societal shifts and mainland exchanges influenced approaches toward wabi sabi, and this perspective trickled throughout national consciousness over the ages. Contemporary groups, for example, honor this tradition with parties celebrating the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms. Wabi sabi’s traditional origin linked to tea ceremony, that history is considered an excellent study resource.

As for me, I am guilty of the common Western, rather exclusive focus upon imagery, sabi, the aesthetic. The philosophy of wabi permeates deeper within Japanese culture, and their very language. That said, I used my camera during a recent hike to literally focus upon what I considered visual portrayals, however inaccurate or pretentious.

I wish my Greek influenced opinions of beauty were kinder to the aging human body. ~sigh~ There is a reason I prefer being behind the camera lens.

Do you find the appearance of fading vegetation interesting?


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Splintered – a Quality Control Fail

Despite repeated advisement against inserting cotton swabs in my ears I sometimes can’t resist. Lucky for me, I didn’t suffer damage from a bizarre product flaw. An actual metal splinter with very sharp ends (!) got caught up in the cotton fibers.

Having made this discovery when checking the used swab for excessive wax, I feel extremely fortunate. How did I not injure myself? And now I check for foreign objects prior to use.

I’m horrified at thought of some oblivious parent swabbing a sick baby’s clogged nostril with that thing. ~shudders~ On that note, I should notify the manufacturer.

Would you ever expect to find such a thing?


Monday, October 14, 2019

L is for… Love?

Well, I pulled a loser bonehead maneuver yesterday evening. An attempt to clean my keyboard resulted in the L key coming off. I thought I could just snap it back into place, but found that not to be the case. Online searches this morning resulted in a partial victory as the key is usable, just not attached properly.

You see, one of the two plastic retainer clips remained attached to the key itself while all the demonstrations show those bits being installed first and the key snapped in place overtop. I’ve decided to wait until my husband comes home for his professional tech advice. Otherwise, any further attempt may result in breakage of those tiny plastic pieces.

That’s okay. This is an opportunity to blog about something lighthearted for a change. It seems I’ve done little other than whine and complain of late.

And seeing as it is the L key reminded me of a favorite comedy, “Dodgeball: a True Underdog Story”. Vince Vaughn is at his comedic best in my opinion, and the entire supporting cast is right up there with him.

Specifically, the bittersweet skit between Gordon (portrayed by prolific and esteemed character actor Stephen Root) and his mail-order bride seated in the gymnasium with her stepchildren came to mind. These images sum up their story.

I think these children struggled not to laugh...
The expressions on the other guys' faces cracks me up every time...
If the world is your oyster, will irritating the entire globe give you pearls?


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Feeling Better for Being the ‘Bad Guy’

My husband, God love him, has a strange reaction to other peoples’ cats. When he really (frequently) likes them, he offers to take the animal(s) into our home if needed. I neither encouraged this behavior nor made a big deal of it.

Until now.

The neighbor across the street took him up on the proposal! They’ve had a dog for quite a long time, added a cat around three years ago, then brought home a puppy. MacKenzie the cat and this new little dude, apparently, fight a lot.

Like cats and dogs, as they say.

Well, I cannot see this going any direction but sideways. What if their daughter wants to visit all the time? Kids stress me out. Even worse, should she not want to see her cat, that would make me feel ill toward the child.

That’s not even addressing how our geriatric gal Jezebel might react. Independent as that cat acts, it would be awful if she went into permanent hiding.

“But you were quick in willing to take in Dillon,” my husband noted.

I also had no clue that the orange kitten dubbed ‘Styx’ came from a loving home. Meanwhile, this neighbor acted insistent, as if kitty needed a new home immediately.

Well, as mentioned, I had to be the bad guy. Since he sent my husband numerous text messages about this, that’s how I replied, writing that the timing felt wrong (which is true). And at least hubby had a good proposal addressing their issue.

For my part, I know puppies grow up and generally calm down. What I asked this neighbor, as DH suggested, is if MacKenzie has a high perch to which she can escape.

Upon first adopting her the family declined to accept one of our tall cat trees by not replying. I could only imagine the lady of the house didn’t want a bulky piece of carpeted, slightly tattered furniture cluttering her home. What they could do, as TV show host Jackson Galaxy would advise, is research consumer options. There are many, such as impermanent window perches and even cat ‘shelves’.

Jackson Galaxy: Musician by Night; Cat Behavioralist by Day
Have you ever watched “My Cat From Hell”?


Friday, October 4, 2019

Brotherly Love

Yesterday my husband’s one brother, the middle of three, made a whirlwind overnight visit. At age sixty he retired, rather against his will, and gets bored without physical activity.

Tackling chores around his home and helping his daughter set up housekeeping in her new apartment kept him busy for a while. And don’t misunderstand. He didn’t just move her belongings in and hang pictures, he refinished old furniture pieces, restoring and enhancing their beautiful utility.

Hours spent splitting wood for neighbors was considered entertainment. Then an old basketball hoop on his property received a fastidious restoration before being handed over to a ten-year-old boy who lost his in a storm. The industrious philanthropist actually ran out of projects close to home and begged us for busywork.

Before he’d been in town for more than ninety minutes (half the time spent driving here!), Michael powered through numerous indoor tasks. Then he went outside in ghastly heat to tackle my requested gardening chore.

A tired old grass garden now full of weeds...

I’d planned to help but never got the chance before he finished. Several times, he complained that the work was too lightweight.

Debris is curb ready; plot set for spring tilling.
~shakes head~

Gotta love him. He is a very amusing fellow I’ve always appreciated. Now, I am awed. Not only is he a formidable force of nature, his intention is to stay busy doing good deeds for other people.

“Call me if you need anything,” he said before heading back north.

This evening he’ll be attending a former colleague’s memorial service. While the tedious cross-state commute alone wears me out, it disappointed him when my husband had not procured a hose long enough for him to clean out our gutters.

Should I start a list of projects, and perhaps call upon not only him but also those neighborhood kids looking for odd jobs to help out and learn from him?


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Help Around the House

Relentless doorbell ringing and knocking yesterday afternoon forced me to open the door. To my surprise, the young gal (J) from across the street stood there with four of her local friends. They wished to perform some sort of yard work for cash.

I liked the idea of supporting their industriousness but found myself at a loss, my experience with kids limited. What did they expect to do and for how much? I asked what they planned to charge.

J admitted they were undecided. She suggested five dollars for a small yard, ten for a large. The others agreed. Unsure how to translate that, I consented when their persistent young spokesman mentioned raking around our tree.

It needed done and seemed simple enough. The children were elated. Despite confusing chatter from five excited kids, I determined that we were their first active clients.

Complications soon arose. They carried no tools of any kind. Could they borrow ours? Sure. I handed out our sole lawn rake and shop broom the littlest girl requested.

Where should they dump the leaves? I thought about having them scattered over the garden. They would likely blow away. So we went with garbage bags.

Next, a child appeared at the door asking for water. I gladly carried out five bottles and came back inside, sitting down to continue watching the video my husband paused.

Another knock. Now what? Once more hitting pause, my comfortable couch-bound guy snickered. Ha ha…

The kids needed more bags. Okay. Do you have a leaf blower? No. Sorry.

As his colleagues scurried about, the lead entrepreneur kept me captive, chattering about future plans for their company. How could I complain? He hoped to invest in a leaf blower at some point.

A good while later I answered the door one final time. Stammering with indecision, the young fellow estimated their available service hours and told me they would return the next afternoon. I deferred, suggesting we send a text message to J’s parents.

Of course that didn’t stop them banging on the door today. ~sigh~ Sad to say, I lacked the energy to face another eager inquisition and so my husband passed along the fact we had no current work needing done.

I have to say they worked hard, hand stuffing debris into the bags, even asking what we wanted done with the remaining leaf shreds. The yard looked fine as is, much better than before. Twice I praised their endeavors, once to the young man before he left. He took it in stride, saying a successful business required effort.

This little group did more than enough for what money we had on hand. That young fellow also apologized for all the interruptions toward the end, which was nice.

They were so cute I took a picture. Now I just need to figure out more work for them and make sure to have cash on hand.

Don’t you just love conscientious youths?


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Goodbye, Sweet Tilly

Sleepy Girl February 2018 - Better Days
I am sad to report that Tilly the cat passed away in her sleep overnight. Losing her thus proved a bittersweet ending because, for the first time, my husband experienced a pet whose end didn’t involve euthanasia. His family’s animals always suffered hard and our original sweet kitty was euthanized in August of 2014 after battling cancer.

July 7, 2019 Catnip Jamboree
In fact, I made an appointment yesterday to, in all likelihood, have a veterinarian ease Tilly from misery this very afternoon. Letting her go seemed the kindest thing as her breathing had taken a serious turn for the worst over the last day and a half.

God and perhaps Tilly herself, in a way, took that painful decision out of our hands. For that, and our near twenty years of memories, we are grateful.

Jezebel getting in on the action that midsummer day.
Peace and blessings to all.


Friday, September 20, 2019

The Lap of Luxury – a Tale of Two Kitties

Our nineteen-year-old cat Tilly continues to defy the odds, acting healthy and happy despite breathing issues. We expect her little heart is a ticking bomb with the mysterious mass shown on an X-ray. Obviously, we are glad she received another (rather) successful thoracic tap since her ongoing quality of life seems so good.

Here she is collapsed in blissful sleep upon my husband’s heating pad (more like a cozy blanket). He is so loving that he relinquished that low-set warmth to her overnight instead of sleeping on it himself as usual.
That squarish pale center was shaved for fluid removal, the poor thing.
Of course the camera woke her by the third click. She didn’t get up until later, though, when wanting ‘daddy’ on the couch providing his lap. In fact, as I type she has been bothering him to get off the computer despite the fact the hour is a mere half past noon. And she just ate some kibble before returning to his office.
Now you can better see which end is which...
Meanwhile, Jezebel gets her point across, too. That old gal pranced into the living room this morning. I followed, presuming her doing the hungry dance so I’d fill the dry food bowl. Instead she wanted to show off her claw sharpening skills on the kitty ‘condo’ before jumping atop that furniture so we could look out the window together.

The other day she supplanted my laptop, very deliberate in tapping the keyboard for removal. Gotta love cats that know how to get whatever luxuries they want.

Do you sleep with an electric warming blanket or heating pad?


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What Fish?

Because he likes to hear my reaction sight unseen from another room, my husband emails me the occasional shocking website link. Today’s article features a surreal looking deep sea fish. In the subject line he typed “Sweet Dreams!”

Upon seeing the handsome young angler, Oscar Lundahl, I knew how to respond. I waited until my husband approached to question me so he couldn’t misunderstand the sassy comment.

“What did you think of that fish?” he asked, grinning.

“Actually, it took me a while to see the fish.”

Confused, he looked over my shoulder at the image. Realization dawned and he burst out laughing. “Well, I’m definitely not gay.”
(He's nineteen?! Don't judge; I'm harmless)
If you are not too squeamish to view this doomed creature, an unaltered photograph is located at the bottom of this post. I also recommend this short article on The Sun website.

Have you ever gone deep sea fishing?


By the way, I am happy to report that Tilly the cat is breathing easy right now, happy sleeping on my husbands lap.


Keep scrolling for the freaky faced fish...




Chimaeras Monstrosa Linnaeus AKA Ratfish