Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Old Furniture

ding dong the couch is gone!
which old couch?
C's old couch!
ding dong that ugly couch is gone!

FINALLY. After approximately 3 1/2 months of storing the old couch in the dining room and the old love seat in the basement, the good people from Goodwill arrived this morning to collect our donation. What cavernous rooms we have now! C and I had a helluva time getting the love seat into the basement; extracting it was no easier and resulted in a scratched wall and a scratched wooden floor. (Honey-do projects for me, I guess, though I'm questioning the utility of refinishing the floor.) The couch barely fit through the front door. If the neighbors were watching, I'm sure they had a good laugh. (And knowing our neighbors, I'm sure they were.) Mid-move, I ended up with the worst cramp in my foot EVER. Each toe on my left foot was pointed in a slightly different direction.

And yes C, I'll admit it, I am sure we will never own a couch as nap-friendly as the old one.

I am anxious to learn which of my parental units won the bet they had going on when the couch and love seat would no longer be permanent fixtures at La Casa B.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another Great Equalizer: Jury Duty

I've been summoned.

I am "on call" for two weeks in mid-January. Woo.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Corn Bread Redux

Hope ya'll had a peaceful Thanksgiving.

A previous post describing my failed attempt at baking corn bread inspired a Friday night meal of ham and beans with noodles and cornbread - a family favorite (well, on MG's side anyway...the men ate chicken instead). Both MG and auntie JG were quick to point out that "My Gawd! Your Grandmother NEVER used a Jiffy mix." Auntie JG promptly emailed me the recipe, and MG later confirmed with Grandma's recipe card. And when we stopped by Grandma's grave on Thanksgiving, I apologized for tying her cornbread legacy to a 33-cent Jiffy boxed mix. Hopefully she has stopped rolling. FG snapped a fine photo of the steaming hot corn bread that I forgot to download. The corn bread tasted SO much better than the crap I made.

Anyway, for posterity's sake, here's the recipe in my Grandma's writing:
We think you bake it in an 8x8 pan at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

Update (10:12pm, Monday, November 26, 2007): FG just emailed me the photo of the glorious cornbread! Isn't it just gorgeous? Do you think that it helped that I had NOTHING to do with its creation?!

Travelers Beware!

Monday, November 19, 2007

My New Vice

C and I found a new product in the peanut butter aisle at Wal-Mart. I can't stop raving, and if I lived alone, I would have long since double-dipped my spoon in the jar. Who am I kidding - the jar would be long gone if that were the case. The product in question:

Sweet Mother of Pearl. Peanut Butter & Co has produced the most orgasmic peanut butter product I have ever tasted in my life. Ever. It's neither crunchy nor creamy, but rather, "crispy." It reminds me of my favorite Girl Scout cookie flavor - Hoedowns (although I think now they're marketed as "Tagalongs") - the cookie with peanut butter dipped in chocolate. Even better - Dark Chocolate Dreams is not a bad choice health-wise among peanut butters, as it contains no cholesterol, low sodium, no hydrogenated oils, and no refined sugars. I'm sure it's pretty tasty on a sandwich or fruit as the label suggests, but I've only been able to eat it straight out of the jar. We might be running out of spoons because of this.

Reading for Fun

I was sad but not surprised to read in today's New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education that Americans are reading less than ever. Reading has always been a favorite hobby of mine, even if it did take me awhile after law school to enjoy it again! As you might have noticed, I've started posting a picture of what I'm currently reading. Full disclosure: it took me a week after I posted A Thousand Splendid Suns before I started it, and I haven't yet started The Red Tent. I encourage you to share your favorite books here; maybe I'll get around to listing my favorites some day.

By the way, I highly recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns (as well as Khaled Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner). Historical fiction might be my new genre of choice.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cornbread

Having gazed upon the box of Jiffy brand cornbread mix in my pantry for well over a year, I decided today would be the day that I made cornbread. I even remembered to buy eggs at the grocery store, as my last experiment with cornbread involved EggBeaters and resulted in a flat cornbread that easily split down the middle sideways.

In my mind I had visions of light and fluffy cornbread drenched in melted butter. If only I had ham and beans to go with it...of course, a pot of ham and beans for one (C does not like beans of any sort) goes much further than it should. I briefly considered heating some black-eyed peas until I saw the cook time on the bag.

Unfortunately, my expectations were dashed. The cornbread was neither light nor fluffy; it was more like polenta - maybe 1/2" think in the middle. Taste was OK but grittier than I prefer. I followed the directions and used an 8x8 pan. I swear that MG uses Jiffy, and that Grandma D did too. So what did I do wrong? What suggestions do you have for improving my cornbread?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Updated: Office Musings re: Tree

I realize that none of you will find this nearly as funny as I do, but as I just nearly peed myself from laughing so hard, I figured it was blogworthy.

I occasionally check my work email in the evenings, and this evening I just discovered that my campus contact had so nicely sent me pictures of the name plates depicting my donor-inspired scavenger hunt. The name plate near the tree, however, had a giant swath of birdshit on it! She apologized for the "poo-poo" and graciously offered to take another picture as that one was probably not donor appropriate.

If only I could share the picture with you, you too would be doing the silent shaking tears-running-down-your-face laugh that I've been doing for the past 5 minutes. I couldn't even explain to C why I was convulsing. My tummy hurts. I have to look at it again before I go to bed!

Office Musings

Anonymous lethal farts aside, I generally avoid work topics on this blog. However, the past week or so has provided somewhat irresistible and universal office experiences that seem worth sharing.

1. Certain office habits gag me with a spoon...totally. Fortunately, the Fingernail Clipper will be relocating soon. However, the Loogey Hocker will be sticking around, and cold and flu season has only just begun.

2. In an effort to drink more water without actually drinking water and to conserve body heat (see below), I try to drink a cup of flavored hot tea every afternoon. I usually keep a variety pack of teas in my snack drawer. Unfortunately, every variety pack comes with a lemon-flavored tea. No matter the brand, lemon tea smells like Pledge to me, and I cannot drink it. So I offered to share a bag with my friend M. I shouldn't have told her of my Pledge-related lemon tea aversion, as she too tasted Pledge after a valiant effort at trying to convince herself it was a "liquidy lemon drop." My next victim will not get the Pledge story.

3. After several days of freezing in my office, I finally found the appropriate level of attire (a long-sleeved turtleneck with a corduroy jacket) to keep me comfortable. It was nearly 60 degrees today, so I'm afraid to think of what real winter will bring. I share my office block with two other women - one in the throes of menopause who controls the thermostat; the other in the throes of pregnancy. Therefore, my need for basic warmth is subordinate to their hormonal shifts. I get new neighbors (a man and a conference room) soon, but until then, I'll be the shivering one immediately to the right and then left of the lobby.

4. My job duties this week include tracking down a tree, bench, and plaque located somewhere on campus planted, installed, and hung in honor of a donor's family. I'm happy to report that 2 of the 3 have been located!

USPS: The Great Equalizer

Why does the USPS consistently staff no more than half of its service desks during the lunch hour (or any peak hour for that matter)? I cannot remember a time when I have waited fewer than 10 minutes for service at the post office. Today was no exception, though I was pleased to see that all three of the clerks stayed on duty when the clock hit noon. Inevitably when I'm waiting in line, it will be someone's break time, regardless of the length or surliness of the line. Did I mention that this has occurred in every community in which I have ever lived?

If USPS operations are indicative of the US government's approach to universal health care, then we will be in dire straits if Hilary is elected.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gameday in Lincoln

It was an ugly day in Lincoln yesterday as my Wildcats were trampled by a shitty Nebraska team. I am embarrassed. I am also still a little pissed off at Nebraska for running up the score. Cathartic, my ass. It was poor sportsmanship plain and simple. Boo. I am SO done with college football this year...well, for this weekend anyway.

I brought my binoculars for pre-game people-watching in the skyboxes and was surprised to find Bill Snyder and Tom Osborne discussing something intently. Worlds will collide if Tom offers Bill a job.

Yesterday when I foraged for Runzas at halftime (stupid idea that's still punishing me), the friendly concessionaire welcomed me to Lincoln. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi! Could I have two Runzas and two bottled waters, please?
FC: Sure. Is this your first trip to Lincoln?
Me: No. I actually live here, and I have season tickets.
FC: Uhhh...I don't want to know. That'll be $12.

Did I mention I was decked out in all of my purple glory? :-) Go Cats!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mr. Wilson

Over my lunch hour this afternoon, I stopped by a local jeweler to replace some watch batteries and inquire about soldering my wedding band and engagement ring. When I first moved to Lincoln, I asked a townie acquaintance for a jewelry store recommendation, and she immediately suggested Fred Wilson Jewelers at 13th and O. As it turned out, Fred Wilson has been a jeweler for over 60 years. He is well past 80, a bit hunched over, and ever the gentleman.

Through several watch batteries over four years, I have the found the service excellent and the prices very reasonable ($6!). What has always intrigued me about the store are the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of thank-you letters Mr. Wilson has hung on one wall. Some are from children, some from famous Nebraskans, and all express heartfelt thanks for Mr. Wilson's kindness and exceptional service. While waiting for my watch batteries this afternoon, I browsed the wall (and some very nice silver necklaces - C, I hope you are paying attention) and noticed three more huge binders of thank-you notes. Mr. Wilson has undoubtedly impacted many lives during his career.

Showing appreciation has always (well, in my adult life anyway) meant a Great Deal to me. After paying for my watches (and entrusting my rings to Mr. Wilson's care who immediately noticed the minor damage after 6 years of friction), Mr. Wilson proceeded to tell me about some of the notes on his wall. Many were from nuns; it seems he's the jeweler of choice for women taking their vows, though he was quick to point out that he's not Catholic. He explained that he takes care of the UNL track team's watches and rings, and that one time Bob Devaney invited him to sit in the press box at a football game...and that three seats down was none other than Johnny Carson! He pointed out several notes on the wall - one from a local TV personality, and another from a girl thanking him for the ring he designed for her 16th birthday. He then quickly flipped to the thank-you note the girl's sister wrote him several years later thanking him for her 16th birthday ring. He showed me a note from Mike Johanns (former mayor, governor, and Ag Secretary and current Senate candidate).

He then asked me to "stay put" as he walked to the back of the store. He came back, asked me to turn around, and proceeded to clasp a small string of pearls around my neck. From the notes on the wall, it seems I'm not the first woman to be presented with such a gift! He explained that it was a strand of pink freshwater pearls. I thanked him profusely - what else can you do? We chatted a bit longer (he made an excellent KU football joke at the expense of the Huskers), and I left as another customer arrived.

I know the pearls aren't too valuable; and to him, perhaps it was merely a business decision, but to me, an incredibly kind gesture. Mr. Wilson has a customer for life, and both of us benefit from that relationship! And now, I am one of the fortunate people who gets to thank Mr. Wilson for the kindness he has shown me.

You can be damn sure I'll be using my finest stationery.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Office Farts

One of my dearest friends and colleagues (who shall remain nameless to protect his/her guilt) farted near the printer located just outside my office door. Unfortunately, The Fart followed him/her in to my office and lingered for a good 10 minutes while we discussed a contract I'm writing for one our donors. The Fart's presence, though painfully obvious, went (and remains) unacknowledged.

This confirms Mom's advice to fart in parties of three or more...only the true farter definitively knows who dealt it.

Suggestions on how I might in the future extract myself from such an occurrence without embarrassing the other party are much appreciated.

Autumn

My readers who know me well know that I am NOT a Morning Person. I never have been, and I never will be. I do not function well Monday through Friday without caffeine, preferably in the form of a grande non-fat no-whip mocha from Starbucks (Tangent: I think I got food poisoning from my former favorite coffee shop, so I've been a daily Starbucks devotee for the past month). As a child, my parents used to bait me with McDonald's to wake me on Saturday mornings - they'd even promise that we could sit in the covered wagon! It sometimes worked (they may argue this point).

Because of my aversion to mornings, I rarely see an actual sunrise, unless I: a) happen to be traveling; or b) am at KAY Camp. However, with this Congressionally-mandated extended Daylight Savings nonsense, I've actually had the privilege of seeing the sun rise a few minutes before 8am, or at the very least, seeing the sun in all of its orange glory shortly after it rises and peeks out from behind the Capitol as I turn into my parking lot. It's quite lovely...perhaps for no other reason than because it is a novelty for me. And, combined with the changing leaves, and the GORGEOUS chrysanthemums in full bloom planted all over the neighborhood...well, autumn once again has proved why it's my favorite season.

All that being said, Omaha's favorite weather-guesser, Bill Randby,* indicated that after we "fall back" Saturday night, the sun will be setting around 5:18 on Monday...just as I find myself driving home from work. So as we bid Daylight Savings a fond farewell (I am giddy at the prospect of an extra hour's sleep), please comment and share some of your favorite things about autumn.

* C, a native of Omaha, finds Lincoln's newscasts a bit hokey. And while I don't disagree, I seem to know more about what's going on in Omaha than I do about Lincoln.