Monday, November 30, 2015

Back to Work Monday

Not much to report; typical day back to work. Had bought some children in my life Advent Calendars and bought myself one too... It's a manger scene with 24 stickers and you put a sticker up each day, building the scene. Since the first sticker is tomorrow, I was looking at it tonight. One of the animals is a cat... had scene donkeys, sheep, even a cow, but never a cat. Guess it's possible!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sent in my DNA kit

Glad I live alone and no one had to observe me spitting into the test tube collection. You had to fill it up to a certain line... and it took me about six spits to do it. Will go into the mail tomorrow... to Utah... can we say MORMON?? So now we wait 6 to 8 weeks for the results!

Mary, Judy and Baby Adelyn

Actually Grandmother Judy holding Adelyn while Great Aunt Mary.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What I learned today

Am editing a piece where the author used the word CAKEWALK... He had it as two words, and I wasn't sure so I checked and was also curious about the origin of the word. Here's what I found... I've never heard of these real cakewalks.

(formerly) a promenade or march, of black American origin, in which the couples with the most intricate or eccentric steps received cakes as prizes.
a dance with a strutting step based on this promenade.
music for this dance.
Informal. something easy, sure, or certain.

Just checked Google images, and sure enough...

Friday, November 27, 2015

DNA Kit Arrived

It's smaller than I thought -- I don't know why I thought the box would be bigger than this, but I put a pen in so you can see the size, sitting on my keyboard:

Inside is an instruction book:

The first step is you go to the site and register your serial number. Then you (ahem) "Gather DNA." This means you spit into a test tube until it reaches a certain line. It says you can't eat, drink, smoke or chew gum for 30 minutes before you "gather." You probably shouldn't be swapping spit by kissing, but that's a fairly safe bet for me.

Then there's a vial of "stabilizing liquid" that you pour on top of your spit and shake it. Put it in a sealed plastic bag and off it goes in the mailer:

Man's Best Friend

Fran says:

Don't think I sent this one. Dave giving Charlie a Thanksgiving hug. He's such a sweet pup. They adopted him. Spent a large part of his life in a cage. You should see him now.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Thanksgiving

Hired a car and driver to take me to my sister's so I went out a bit early so I didn't have to rush when the guy arrived. So I'm sitting here in very mild weather (later the driver asked me if I wanted the a/c on in the car it was that mild, but I had the window open and was enjoying that).

Enjoyed the ride out there with some fantastic looking late fall trees like this one:

It's  good thing I'm an open minded liberal New Yorker or else this driver's name could have been a bit scary... he was a lovely man, but look at his license:

Ok, so I arrived a bit late because of traffic. This is Louisa with Oliver.

And this is Louisa with Holly who is the shy cat.

We started out all hanging around the kitchen with a bunch of appetizers... my shrimp, one guest's little bits of tenderloin beef on a round of french bread and I think a dollop of horseradish cream and chopped chives... then this guest (Cathy) also made what I had thought of making... hers was mixed nuts fried in butter and brown sugar, then spiced with rosemary and salted. Really good. I just remembered she had an extra jar she said I could take home and I forgot it... oh well. Then we had cheeses and I cut up the sausage I'd brought... Scott had shrimp dip in the refrigerator that he forgot about, but we had more than plenty.

This is Charlotte and Louisa, and the kids had (I think) sparkling cider, so my niece is not hitting the bottle... it was non-alcoholic.

Then it was time for dinner. They have a beautiful formal dining room with French doors that I love that really only gets used for special occasions. It was beautifully set, and Scott did the flower arrangemtn which all agreed you'd pay $300 for at a florist, but he did it with bunches from the grocery store.

For dinner there was turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, brussel sprouts with sauteed bacon, onions and mushrooms (really good), dressing and I'm probably leaving something out. Oh yes, homemade cranberry relish.

Scott also made yeast rolls that were warm and huge and wonderful, and I ate two!

Then for dessert... well there was an accident with the guest bringing the apple pie and she dropped it bringing it in the house, so she salvaged what she could and we renamed in Apple Jumble. I still had a piece (a spoonful) and it was wonderful. The guest sitting next to me also commented how good it was, and I think out of a desire to be polite she said that it was delicious "for being disfigured." So I had disfigured apple pie.

The other choices were chocolate pecan and chocolate silk. Of course, home made whipped cream:

And now some miscellany:

This is my sister Mary Elizabeth.

This is Clark and his mom. 
This is Charlotte wearing Christmas ear muffs Cathy had brought. I told Charlotte that this is the problem buying presents for teenagers. Never would I imagine that she would love those earmuffs which she was wearing. I asked her if she would wear them to school, and she said yes. 

This is Charlotte holding Holly with the basket  she has chosen as her home. Note Charlotte's beautiful smile since she got her braces taken off on Tuesday.

This is Clark, Louisa's twin.

Here's a selfie when I got home. I took it to show I was wearing the hoodie that Mary got and that Barb, Michelle and I also bought so we can be quadruplets.


Mary's Thanksgiving

Mary reports:

The pictures aren't very good, but here are Doug, Aunt Dorothy and her son Scott (centerpiece from Doug and Dwight), Dwight, Devin, Mary Ann and the pies ready to serve, along with an apple torte and whipped cream, Devin and girlfriend Victoria. The other pictures were way too dark. That chocolate amaretto brownie pie was outrageously good.  We had a wonderful time. Mary Ann put out a delicious spread of appetizers followed by a delicious spread of food and wine. Lovely.

Milo's Thanksgiving

Mary captions this: Milo is being a little clingy.

Fran's Thanksgiving

Fran can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe David, her host, is someone she used to work with... so here goes...

Fran reports:

My friend David and our 20lb bird flying out of the oven. I didn't take pictures of the meal -- too busy eating the roasted root vegetable salad of beets, sweet potatoes and parsnips with special dressing, turkey dressing to die for (celery, leeks, onions, shallots, pears, fresh bread crumbs), made from scratch gravy, made from scratch mashed potatoes, made from scratch pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream. Everything was made from scratch, except for the cranberry-orange relish. 
David and I started prep on Wednesday, and today we spent about five hours finishing up cooking/baking. It was grand.

Oh yes and neighbors later brought three pies --nutella pie, chocolate cream, pecan pie for a second dessert. The 2nd photo shows my end of the dessert table (David is at far right). Can you tell each of us has slipped into a food coma?

We gave thanks for abundant food and abundant friends. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Eve

I'm about to make a list of what I have to take with me tomorrow so nothing gets accidentally left in the refrigerator. I was assigned to bring appetizers and after researching the Internet for way longer than I should I took the somewhat easy way out and am bringing fresh shrimp. Got cocktail sauce to go with it and will add horseradish to spice it up. I am hoping my hosts like horseradish as much as I do.

Also bought an expensive can of WHOLE cashews, and some great sausage to go with the hosts' cheese tray. Car is picking me up at 1:30 tomorrow so I can have a relaxing morning.

I don't know if it's my age or the times we live in, but it seems people I know are way more grateful and sentimental than years past. Had some lovely conversations with friends today.

Hope you all have a great day -- and send PHOTOS!!

ps... along those lines of sentimentality, this has always been one of my favorite quotes;

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Pies!

I don't know what part of Thanksgiving I like the best -- mashed potatoes and stuffing is a contender, but so are pies!

Here are Mary's contribution to her family Thanksgiving... with her commentary... Mary typically bakes, but this year, she bought.

She says:

I just picked up the pies I bought from Food & Friends and they are gorgeous!  The other nice thing is that they are fully baked - I thought I'd have to thaw and bake them.  I think I might bake the apple pies anyway just to get the juices flowing. The pies are, from left to right, pumpkin, apple, and chocolate brownie amaretto.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Milo's Outdoor Connection

Mary says:

It's supposed to get very cold tonight so I brought in my beautiful hibiscus. Milo seems to like it   there were leaves on it and he has moved them all to the floor.

So far with Stephen King

I'm only half way through the first story, but it takes place at a closed-down highway rest stop on I-95. I've seen these closed down stops in my road travels, and there is something spooky about them -- a place which was once so full of life and now it's boarded up and abandoned.

I was thinking that is the genius of Stephen King-- that he takes everyday things that aren't necessarily scary on face value and makes them scary.

Barb's Fall -- One Month Later

Not quite a before and after, but here's how Fall has progressed on the Upper West Side.

This is the photo from October 23:

And this same view today:

In the coming week, Barb promises photos of the Macy's parade balloons being inflated on Wednesday night which happens in her neighborhood.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What I'm Reading

I plowed through the Jackie Collins book -- so raunchy -- she seems always to have some male character who is "well-endowed to the point of being ridiculous." But it's a good story with interesting characters, not necessarily believable characters, but there's a skill in telling a good story. And she does.

So moving on to another popular fiction -- the newest Stephen King. This is a collection of short stories with the added benefit that he talks about his life while he was writing the particular story. I've only read the introduction where he talks about writing, how it is different to write a novel vs a short story. I also follows Stephen King on Twitter, and he's a very interesting person.

Hopefully, I will not have bad dreams, despite the title.

Amazon describes the book this way:

A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.

And for those who want to poo-poo King, remember Shawshank Redemption is based on one of his short stories.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Not Exactly on My Bucket List, but...

I did something today I have wanted to do for a number of years. I didn''t do it previously because I couldn't really justify spending the money on a non-essential, but now I'm a bit ahead money wise so I did it:

I ordered a DNA kit from so I can see from whence I came.

If you just go by family ethnicity, I am German and Swedish, but... I have been told twice by different doctors that I have something (a discoloration on my eye, and a discoloration on my gums) which they told me they have never seen on a white person. Hmmmmm... of course part of me is hoping I have something more interesting than German/Swedish DNA so we'll see.

I ordered the kit, and when you get it, you supply saliva in a tube and send it back and then it takes six to eight weeks... so stand by for the results.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rainy Thursday

In NYC, it's mild -- 60 degrees or so -- and the media has been threatening torrential rain all day, but so far, nothing. I guess it's supposed to start soon as they are speaking of "a messy commute."

In Washington DC, Mary writes:  It was so nice and warm out and I had felt a little cooped up so I took a walk. She provided these photos:

Happy Birthday, Barbara!

I knew her when she was young and foolish (and so was I)... been through a lot together, and she has been (and continues to be) a wonderful friend. Happy, happy Birthday!

I must include a cup of coffee (her favorite beverage, well, ONE of her favorite beverages, to go with the cake:

Actually with her PhD in linguistics (which I have to brag about on her behalf), this is the mug she (and, OK, I'll include myself) should be drinking from: (or rather "from which we should be drinking)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Good Rich People

Many years ago, Mary said, as we were bemoaning our finances, "We would make good rich people." Meaning we'd be good to our staff, spend our money wisely etc. so it's kind of becoming a saying between us.

Now NYLottery has a new ad campaign where they show some rich person doing something really stupid, like bathing in champagne, and then the announcer says something like, "Admit it, you'd make a good rich person."  Meaning you wouldn't do anything that stupid.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

True/False on Twitter

When I read this, I read it as "True" and then looked again. What do you see?

What I'm Reading

I've gone from an academic book written by a history scholar with 20 pages of footnote references to pure trash from Jackie Collins. This book is so dirty and so readable...the perfect mindless book. I need a beach and a beach chair, but I'll have to make do.

Adelyn at 10 months

Such a cutie; I just want to pinch her little cheeks!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Small Moral Dilemma

 I ordered a set of 8 plastic envelopes -- legal paper size -- from a catalog to organize some paperwork.

I really liked them when they arrived... the clear (heavy) plastic envelope closes with a flap that has a snap of either side. I took one of the envelopes, unsnapped it, put some papers in, snapped it closed, then opened it to take a paper out. On the fourth snap, one-half of the snap fell off and it can't be fixed.

I wrote an email in the "contact us" form at the catalog website calmly explaining what had happened. I didn't want to just leave a bad review because when I went to read the reviews, they were all glowing about these envelopes. That was yesterday.

Today I got a form email saying essentially tell us if you want a refund or a replacement.

My dilemma was that this only happened to one envelope so I didn't think a full refund was right. Of course I hadn't opened and closed all 8 envelopes yet.

Marilyn was here this morning and without hesitation she said "get the refund" and said that I didn't know how many others would be bad. Which is true.

But I can't help but feel I am not entirely deserving of a 100% refund. I can tell myself that they have imnpressed me with the resolution and I will continue to be a customer... the full price was $14.95.

What would you have done?

Was 1968 really THAT long ago?

In 1968, I was 18 years old so I was sort of, kind of an adult. So the picture below really gave me pause. Everything about it looks so ancient -- like how you'd look at a picture of the Roaring 20s! Yikes. I guess I forget (sometimes) the technological changes that have taken place. I wonder where all those old switchboards are!

BTW, as you can probably tell, this is a Tweet from the LBJ Library.

: LBJ with the White House telephone switchboard operators, Nov. 13, 1968.
Embedded image permalink

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Snow in Denver

Ready for winter? A friend sent me this photo of his street today. Now it's warmng up, he says, and will be in the 50s. Looks like a Christmas card except the reality of it isn't so merry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My New Favorite Thing

This is carbonated blood orange water. I just love the name "blood orange" -- there's something so dramatic about it. This water has the sweetness of regular orange juice and the tartness of grapefruit juice at the same time.

The other feature I like is that there is a little metal foil tear off covering for the top of the can. See how clean the can looks? I remember reading years ago that rats and mice pee on the cans in warehouses. The few times I have to drink out of the can I recall that and think, "Well, it looks clean to me." But this is a nice extra.

And here's what it looks like pinky-orange combination... and now, alas, there's only about two sips left in the glass.