Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quinoa stuffed peppers

What a wonderful day! It was cold and rainy but that did not deter me one bit. I straightened up and prepared a wonderful breakfast. I don't know which I enjoy more: Friday night collapse in front of the TV, or leisurely Saturday morning brunch. Both, I guess!

I made a scrambled egg with cheese, home fries and rosemary artisan bread toast with homemade blackberry jam. Coffee with French vanilla cream. Sound wonderful? It was!

I love to clean up the kitchen while listening to a lecture or a sermon. It gives my brain freedom to listen while my hands are working. Today I listened to the third-to last lecture in a 72-part series on Spiritual discernment.

After cleaning up from breakfast, the kitchen-fest continues. I like to cook a bunch for the weekend and the beginning of the week. Today I made sauteed yellow squash with onions and tomatoes. In the oven I placed a pan of red potatoes and a pan of carrots and corn to roast. And best of all, I tried a new recipe. This one was stuffed peppers with quinoa, feta, raisins, onions and nuts. yum, yum, it came out better than I could have thought. It tasted wonderful! Here is a photo:

Friday as I led the kindergarten kids to their place where they get picked up to go home, one boy was telling me that he was excited to be headed to Toys R Us after school. I exclaimed that was indeed a fun trip. Then he said that they were also going to Babies R Us. I said, "Is there a baby in your family?" He said "No,  that's where you go to GET a baby."

Tomorrow is supposed to be 67 degrees and sunny again. That will be nice. But you know what? Every day is nice. It's all good.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spring walk-around in the backyard

It is a cold but very clear day here in GA. The sun feels warm, though! Though the air is cool, bracing even, the sun's strength warms me to the interior of my bones.

I took a stroll around the yard. The pre-spring stroll, looking at winter's waste and ravage, and seeking little signs of spring. Here is what I found-

I bought this little birdhouse at the end of summer last year at a yard sale. No one has moved in yet, but this is the prime time for birdies looking for a new home. If I could boil cinnamon inside, an old realtor's trick, I would, to entice any mama bird to move in!

The ole planter is shooting up one daffodil. I think it's a daffodil...

Boo! Three crows on the lookout for whatever it is crows look out for.

The lilies look so cute. Wait! What's that spot of yellow?

Let's get a bit of a closer look--

An interloper! Is that a daffodil which has crept in among the lilies?

The sunlight was streaming through the thick magnolia leaves.

There was a moon in the blue

Don't take anything for granite! Har har har. Actually, the granite picnic table and benches have sunk a bit lower into the ground and the crack in one of the benches has grown a bit larger. But I still love the table.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I don't have a sense of smell. I have heard that smells trigger memories. For me, it's the sounds that trigger them.

I was thinking tonight of a sound in my grandmother's house. There was a 6-cup Pyrex coffee pot that was always on the stove, which was always on.

The gas made a tick-tick-tick sound or maybe that was the pot on 'low' flame. Either way, I used to love it when the house was quiet, and I'd sit in the kitchen and hear the tick-tick-tick and see the low flame under the pot. People visited my grandparents quite often. There were always visitors, so there was always coffee.  Even when there weren't visitors, coffee was always on. To me, the coffee pot represented life, because where there was coffee there were people, and the flame was on and the kitchen was warm.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Frost a-coming

I know I am going to regret this...but I was supposed to get a haircut two weeks ago, and I didn't because I was sick. As I recovered I consoled myself with the notion that there was always Winter Break. I decided I'd go on Friday or Saturday. Ahem, that's yesterday or today.

Of course my hair resorted to looking the best ever the last two days. It is all white, and it is positively glowing, curly and soft. I know that I know that I will lament the fact that I am passing over the chance to tame it until at least Tuesday...but it is very cold and very windy out right now, and I just don't feel like moving from the comfy gas fire and the quietude of the apartment.

There. Now that I have written this, my hair will, I am sure, collapse into a straggly mess and I will look like Gorgon Medusa again.

The temps tonight are supposed to plummet. (I can never hear the word plummet without thinking of Monty Python's flying plummeting sheep.)

Combined with the whipping winds, the wind chill temps will go down to single digits. Brrr. And to think that just yesterday I was wandering around the yard in my socks, picking wildflowers. But that is Georgia for you and that is why I love it.

On the upside, maybe I'll get some new frost pictures. Here are two from 2008:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Of jammies and kid art

Happy Valentine's Day! Mine is great. Why? As a wise friend asked today, "Is it wrong to live for the next time you're going to put on your jammies?"

No, indeed, it is not!

I love putting on my comfy clothes when I get home. I have some soft sweat pants with fleece inside, and some old shirts that have gotten frayed at the collar and sleeves but have worn down to a fine level of softness. It feels so good to take off the work clothes and slip into my jammies!

I'm especially excited because this is the start of a four day weekend. We have "Winter Break" and that means no school Friday or Monday. Woo-hoo!

Valentine's Day is a huge deal to little kids. The kindergarten kids were so excited all day to pass out their Valentine cards and to have their little party. I received a couple of Valentines I did not expect from some kids in another grade I have to discipline fairly often when I am on general cafeteria duty. But they were so sweet to think of me! It makes their little gift all the more precious.

One kindergarten girl I work with drew a picture for me. She drew it on a 2X2 piece of spiral notepad paper and carried it all the way from home to school in a loaded bookbag, without getting it wrinkled, and gave it to me as she walked up the hall at first bell, holding it out and waving it like a pennant. I love her drawings. They are sophisticated line illustrations that remind me of artist Annie Vallotton. You can learn more about the fabulous Vallotton here. My little gal, and she is only 5 years old, draws using lines that for all their seeming simplicity, evoke movement and emotion. This is what she drew for me today--

Now I ask you- is there any better of a Valentine's Day present a person could get? No string of pearls or tray of candy or dinner out could compare to the care and consideration of a little girl's simple line drawing of love.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter break ahead

We are getting a hard rain here now. I don't mind. Up north they are still digging out from the terrible blizzard, and right now in neighboring Mississippi they are experiencing a terrible tornado outbreak.

I like the sound of the rain on the awnings and the coziness of being snug and warm inside.

We have a short week ahead and then a four day weekend. It is a kind of mini-winter break. It is kind of weird to call it winter break with temps in the low 60s this week. My heating bill for January was only $44. Not that I am complaining, mind you.

Two of the four weekdays, Wed. and Thu, are half-days with kids. Not for us, but they go home at noon. Sometimes having a shortened day actually ends up being more hectic, but overall I like them. The short day is because teachers are having conferences with parents. I get to get caught up on all my work and some cleaning up of my room and helping other para-pros clean their rooms. As a para-professional (teacher aid) I don't have to have parent conferences, something I really hated when I was a teacher. LOL, now I get to hide.

I was due for a haircut last Friday but I got sick, and this weekend I was too lazy to budge from my humble abode to make a foray to the hair cutting lady down the street. I know I will really regret that laziness tomorrow when I have to tame my hair onto something resembling non-Gorgon like.

I think for the long weekend I will have a change of pace, and write, study, and read. I am laughing because that is all I ever do on my off time. And I love it. I would not have it any other way.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Beautiful 3-Hour Sand Drawings Created with Only a Rake

England-based artist Tony Plant has been creating what he describes as ethereal work for more than twenty years. He interacts with the environment by painting rocks, making tracks through the snow, and dying water, and he then leaves the projects behind to be washed away and erased back into nature.

More here

Monday, February 04, 2013

My pity story

So I had the Norovirus over the weekend. I came down with it Friday night and it hit the big time at about 11 pm. From then through until 6AM, Saturday morning was a merry go round of, well, all the fun that Norovirus can give, and more.

This is my pity story.

No one likes to be sick, and the rest of Saturday was no picnic, although the throwing up had stopped. The chills, fever, had shakes continued and continued hard. Sunday I was some better. I knew this because I kept down the dry toast I made. Monday I stayed home because I'd learned via WebMD that I'm still contagious for up to 3 days after onset and also because my fever hadn't been down for 24 hours (a school rule). But as I hauled all the bedding and laundry out to the washer in the garage I learned it was a good idea I'd stayed home anyway- I was a lot weaker than I'd thought.

But the low point was Saturday at 3:30 AM. I'll tell you what happened so you can all give a good "awww" over the keyboard.

Norovirus is a throwing up and diarrhea disease. You get the idea. I was sick each hour to hour and a half between 11-3:30AM. I had read at one point, I think it was 2:00 am, that one should wash all the clothes one was wearing because the virus can live a long time even on hard surfaces and up to a week or  so on carpets and fibers. I shuddered to think of kneeling on the bathroom floor and how exposed my clothes were by that point. Use bleach and warm to hot water and dry in a hot dryer, the directions said. I'd already changed 3 times, and I was wearing the last bed clothes I owned. Unless I wanted to wear my jeans to bed, I had to do a wash, and soon.

It was 3:30 AM. I was chilled, shaking, weak, and tired. The washer is in the detached garage, 30 feet away and outside. Outside was the coldest it was all year, 22 degrees and a bone-chilling night air. Sighing, I girded my loins, packed the clothes into a plastic bag, and went to the front door. I heaved a sigh, and flipped the porch light on.

The bulb blew out.

I stood there for a second, then began laughing. I mean, what else could I do? The momentary flash of light and then pitch darkness seemed like such a perfect punctuation to my awful night. It was a "take THAT" moment of extraordinary proportions.

I grabbed the emergency light, hoisted the laundry bag, and opened the door to the frosty night, stepping out the door.

At first I was all 'woe is me' because I was alone and sick. But when I really thought about it having another person there would drive me crazy and I'd hate it. So if I had to go out into the night to get the laundry done and ensure clean bed clothes for my sanitized protection, so be it. Obviously, it didn't kill me.

But the light blowing out the ONE moment I needed it? Come on...

How Lady Violet and Don Corleone are the same

Have you ever stopped to think about how similar the stories of the Godfather from Sicily, Vito Corleone, and the Dowager from Downton, Lady Violet, really are? Please enjoy this tongue in cheek look at two powerful family leaders who are, after all, fiction.

They both manage a multi-generational dynasty that is business mixed with family. They both are benevolent dictators of all who live inside their spheres.

First and foremost, for Lady Violet and Don Corleone, it's all about the family. Family, family family. Either you're in-as Michael and sigh, Fredo are, and as Tom Hagen isn't. As Mary, Edith, Sybil and even Matthew are, and as Tom Branson isn't. There's people like us, and there's everyone else.

Lady Violet: "Robert, people like us are never unhappily married.”
Godfather: "Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again."


Lady Violet and Don Corleone both have a strong sense of national identity. It's Rule, Britannia! And Cosa Nostra! all the way.

Violet: "I'm so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I'm with her, I'm reminded of the virtues of the English."
Matthew: "But isn't she American?"
Violet: "Exactly."

Godfather: "No Sicilian can refuse any request on his daughter's wedding day."

Lady Violet: “Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house.”

Godfather: Mr Corleone is Johnny Fontane's godfather. Now Italians regard that as a very close, a very sacred religious relationship.

Both Lady Violet and Don Corleone run their dynasties with an iron hand and a cunning eye for success because they both understand the difference between friend, ally, and enemy- and what to do with them.

Cora: "Are we to be friends then?"
Lady Grantham: "We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective."

Godfather: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

As much as it is about the present family, neither Lady Violet nor Don Corleone take their eyes off the next generation for very long. As much as it is about the family, it is more about the heir. To whom will the heirship go? Who will run the next generation dynasty? Fredo's not capable and Tom Hagen's Irish, so it has to be Michael. Sybil, Mary, and Edith are girls, and Patrick and James are dead, so Matthew it is.

Lady Violet: Mr Travis, may I remind you? William Mason has served our family well. At the last he saved the life, if not the health, of my son's heir.

Godfather: She's very beautiful. To you, she's beautiful. For me, there's only my wife and son.


Both Lady Violet and Don Corleone know the how to apply velvet pressure, requesting a favor in oh, so pleasant terms.

"Lie is so unmusical a word..."

"Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he's refused the first, understood?"

And who can forget Lady Violet impressing every so, erm, gently upon the Vicar to Marry William and Daisy...

Lady Violet: Finally I would point out, your living is in Lord Grantham’s gift. Your house is on Lord Grantham’s land and the very flowers in your church are from Lord Grantham’s garden. I hope it is not vulgar in me to suggest that you find some way to overcome your scruples."

Don Corleone: "Do me this favor. I won't forget it. Ask your friends in the neighborhood about me. They'll tell you I know how to return a favor..."

And if the velvet glove approach doesn't work, there is always the radiator--

Lady Violet, on Branson as her grandson-in-law: If we can show the county that he can behave normally, they will soon lose interest in him. And I shall make sure he behaves normally because I shall hold his hand on the radiator until he does."

Vito Corleone: Bonasera... Bonasera... What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? Had you come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day.

Both Lady Violet and Don Corleone know their position and expect beneficence as their due.

Of course my flowers win the Downton Annual Flower Show every year. They are the best flowers, aren't they?! Aren't they????!!!

It's been fun to compare the dark and violent mob world and mafia don to the light and Edwardian airy chiffon world of the Countess. The upshot is, we all love tough old cookies who know how to keep the family running.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Norovirus stinks

At school, we received an all-staff email alerting us to the fact that a case of Norovirus had been found at one of our District schools. We were advised to wipe down surfaces with Lysol or bleach and to thoroughly clean our keyboards.

Maybe I didn't do that fast enough, of maybe it was already too late for me, but by Friday evening I was sick.

And I mean sick.

I haven't been this sick in 30 years, which was the last time I threw up. It was all that I remembered it NOT to be.

Norovirus is the 'cruise ship' virus, or a virus that presents like the stomach flu, but isn't. It is a small virus that ravages the intestinal system and lasts 24-72 hours. One may be contagious even after that, however. Worse, the bug stays alive on surfaces for days and even weeks. It takes a good few minutes of standing bleach to kill the virus on any surface like tables and doorknobs etc.

The virus is extremely contagious and passes through food that's handled by someone who has the virus, and may not even know it. Or from touching surfaces that an infected person touched. The virus stays alive for a long time on even hard surfaces. I look at my table at school where I sit with the kids now quite differently. Ew.

Jerry Seinfeld's non-throw up streak lasted a mere 13 years. Child. Mine lasted 30. The last time I threw up was December 16, 1983.

Do what you can, friends, NOT to get this highly contagious and very hardy virus.