5-7-5

There was a hauntingly beautiful sunset last night on the southern California coastline.

I was inspired to haiku whilst standing on a slight rise above our lagoon and my phone captured this strangely intense halo effect.

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My poetry chops are a little rusty…but writing a haiku is like creating a post on Twitter; that 140 character limit causes drastic slash and burn style editing and revision to convey only the essence of intention. No word salad here!

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Gallimaufry. What’s That? Today’s Confused Hodgepodge.

Gal·li·mau·fry  [gal-uhmaw-free]
…a hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.

That’s today’s title and a great descriptor…a little bit of everything ‘cos, well, just because.
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Update on my son...

Staples removed (20+ of them!!) thanks to my good friend’s doctor hub whom we’ve known since our boys were in first grade and we used to go to aerobics classes together…he’s a topnotch internist at North County Internal Medicine.

A while back they added something special to his practice, NCIM Aesthetics — specializing in state-of-the-art laser skin laser technology PLUS my personal favorites: Botox, Juvederm, and Radiesse. Give ’em a call @ 760-726-2302 or email NCIMaesthetics@gmail.com

So far, the only hitch in Angel Boy’s recovery was a by-product of taking Augmentin for an infection he got in the hospital…another really awful stomach bacteria called c. difficile, but with a switch to Flagyl and some high quality probiotics, his fever and the infection disappeared. He’s finishing up his recovery in SF with DIL. Alll he needs to do now is build up his strength and gain back the nearly twenty pounds he lost over the last month.

Me (‘cos it’s always about me, right? I mean, even when it doesn’t seem to be all about me, it’s really ALL ABOUT ME.)

Suffering from writer’s block again, so I’m watching back to back episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, Real Housewives of Orange County (or New York), and Sherlock —  all very successfully helping me NOT create a post — or writing — of any value. There’s no real writing inspiration, just escapism.

Honestly, I don’t know who I’m crushing on more: Randy Fenoli from SYTTD (I’d kill for his eyebrows) or Benedict Cumberbatch as the ultimate Sherlock. I love them both! But not nearly as much as I’m lady boning for Richard Roxburgh as criminal lawyer Cleaver Greene in Rake, (the original Aussie one), not the US version, on Netflix.

Watching SYTTD and Housewives is something I can ONLY do when my tugboat man is out to sea; it’s one of those pesky non-negotiables when he’s home.

He literally REFUSES — says, “Im outta here” as he leaves the room, so I save them as my guilty pleasures when he’s thousands of miles away.

A successful marriage is all about compromises, right? Do I want to have a fight about a stupid TV show? Nope, not this Princess.

With my very empty nest, it was time to put on my comfortable shoes and flex my weakened shopping muscles. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent the day as a little retail butterfly, flitting from one store to the next, checking out the offerings and laying down the “plastique”; I’m a bit rusty and needed a warm-up before attempting one of the big malls or my own personal mecca, South Coast Plaza.

After a great hour-long boot camp class at 24 Hour Fitness, I checked my watch, 10:00 a.m. and I was off! First to Target for essentials, then Trader Joe’s and a vacuum store for a new powerhead belt, on to Marshalls to test my shoe-spotting and ability to browse both-sides-of-the-aisle-at-the-same-time skills.

After the one hour mark, I was a bit tired and thirsty so I stopped to eat an apple and grab a bottle of water — it’s imperative to stay well-hydrated and nourished whilst shopping.

Revived, I meandered downtown to get my glasses adjusted and stopped at my favorite consignment shop where I’ve previously discovered Valentino and Missoni treasures –not so lucky on this day, but I didn’t leave empty handed; there was a sweet and comfy chartreuse bathing suit coverup  that called out to me.

This practice shopping excursion ended with a visit to Lowe’s for vegetable seeds, a pomegranate tree, and mesh to cover an apple tree that’s being eaten by nasty ground squirrels, presumably cousins of the elusive Spirit Squirrel™.
Click here to read all about it.

Still all about me, but on a serious note…

I was just diagnosed with vitreous detachment in my left eye which is sad because I thought the sparkles I was seeing was once-and-for-all proof positive of my Princess-ness.

However, I was wrong. Here’s the info from NIH (National Institutes of Health) in case you ever see sparkles and it’s not the optical or silent migraine type of lights.

It’s definitely NOT something to ignore…

What is vitreous detachment?
Most of the eye’s interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps the eye maintain a round shape. There are millions of fine fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina, the eye’s light-sensitive tissue. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks, and these fine fibers pull on the retinal surface. Usually the fibers break, allowing the vitreous to separate and shrink from the retina.

In most cases, a vitreous detachment, also known as a posterior vitreous detachment, is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment.

Who is at risk for vitreous detachment?
A vitreous detachment is a common condition that usually affects people over age 50, and is very common after age 80. People who are nearsighted are also at increased risk. Those who have a vitreous detachment in one eye are likely to have one in the other, although it may not happen until years later.

Symptoms and Detection
As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina that you may notice as floaters, which appear as little “cobwebs” or specks that seem to float about in your field of vision. If you try to look at these shadows they appear to quickly dart out of the way.

One symptom of a vitreous detachment is a small but sudden increase in the number of new floaters. This increase in floaters may be accompanied by flashes of light (lightning streaks) in your peripheral, or side, vision. In most cases, either you will not notice a vitreous detachment, or you will find it merely annoying because of the increase in floaters.

Treatment
How does vitreous detachment affect vision?

Although a vitreous detachment does not threaten sight, once in a while some of the vitreous fibers pull so hard on the retina that they create a macular hole or lead to a retinal detachment.

Both of these conditions are sight-threatening and should be treated immediately.

If left untreated, a macular hole or detached retina can lead to permanent vision loss in the affected eye. Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters or an increase in flashes of light in peripheral vision should have an eye care professional examine their eyes as soon as possible.

But enough of THAT stuff, right?

On that happy note, I’ll wrap up this Wednesday gallimaufry and try to focus on a submission for Erma Bombeck Workshop all because I opened my big mouth on Twitter and kinda sorta got dared to do it. SCARED! Wish me luck, y’all!

ermabombeck

 

 

Wordless Wednesday — Moose Tracks — Don’t Murder Animals

Is it really Wednesday already? On my way to a Pilates class, here’s my contribution:

Moose Resting in Tall Grass in Grand Tetons.

moose

He didn’t move all day. He was about ten feet from the trail when we began our hike and four hours later, he was still there. We watched him for a while, admiring his rack (ha ha) and wondered how anyone could kill such a beautiful creature and mount the antlers on a wall for decoration. 

It hurt our heart and soul to think that if this lovely animal wandered off the protected lands of Grand Tetons National Park, he’d be slaughtered.

If I was anti-hunting before this trip, I have become (if possible) even more militantly against animal murder.

At the risk of offending anyone, I’d like to suggest that hunters have sociopathic tendencies. That opinion was derived from an animal rights group and it resonates with me. 

I guess this wasn’t so wordless after all.

Wholesome whole wheat bread

I baked a loaf of whole wheat bread to go along with the Veggie Lentil Soup. This is a  consistently good recipe.  I’ve had a lot of success with it. Sometimes I don’t have nonfat dried milk and it comes out great anyway. I’ve tried it with honey, agave, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Still good. They’re right about adding orange juice; it really does soften the whole wheat-y flavor. My son loves raisin bread so I’ll add a cup or so when he’s around and he can eat a whole loaf right in front of my eyes. “Course he’s over six feet tall with a freaky uber-metabolism; he’s the only one I know around here that can do that.  Plus with the whole portion control thing, no one else is allowed to have unlimited amounts of anything.

Just out of the oven I spread about a half teaspoon of butter on top to get a shiny crust.

King Arthur was founded in 1790 and is located in Vermont.

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • *Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

tips from our bakers

  • Why the range of water in the dough? A lot depends on the weather, the season, and how you measure flour. You’ll need the lesser amount of water in the summer; or when it’s humid/stormy; if you measure flour by weight; or if you sprinkle your flour into the measuring cup, then level it off. You’ll need the greater amount of water in winter; when it’s dry out, and the humidity is low; or if you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then leveling it off.
  • The liquid sweetener you choose makes a difference. Molasses produces the darkest loaf, one with old-fashioned flavor. Honey yields a lighter, milder loaf. Maple syrup makes a less-sweet loaf — unless you use real maple syrup, in which case it’ll be similar to a loaf made with honey, albeit with a faint hint of maple.
  • If you’re someone who tends to taste whole wheat as somewhat bitter, try substituting 1/4 cup of orange juice for 1/4 cup of the water in this recipe. A bit of orange juice tones down whole wheat’s somewhat tannic taste.

1) In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

4) Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

5) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Yield: 1 loaf.

Your tax dollars at work

Here in SoCal, we’re enjoying temps in the eighties. It’s dry and sunny and hard to believe the other side of the country is in the midst of an epic disaster. I’m happy to report my son is weathering the storm in San Francisco; he emailed from Stanford‘s library. I hope everyone else makes it through the night unhurt and unscathed.

This morning I stepped onto the deck intending to feed our resident scrub jays and heard the roar of a helicopter overhead, I mean right over my head. Our street sort of borders on an undeveloped hilly area and there’s also an elementary school across another street. Sometimes really bad traffic accident victims are transported here and picked up by an air ambulance that lands on the playground. However, this helicopter looked like a huge military one and with all the weather turmoil on the east coast and what seems to be a surge in crime locally, I thought this was the beginning of the end. We’ve all heard the dire predictions of the Mayan calendar, right? The helicopter circled a couple times, diving ever closer, and landed at the school playground. It was unbelievably loud! Were we under attack?

I ran out the front door and across the street with my camera. About a dozen cars had stopped to watch what was happening. It was then that I noticed the entire student body was outside on the far field, sitting “criss cross applesauce” on the grass. There were police cars and white police S.W.A.T. vans surrounding the helicopter. I asked a neighbor what was going on and she told me it was part of the drug program. Drugs not hugs or hugs not drugs, something like that. In case you were wondering, here’s where some of your our tax dollars are going. I have no idea how much it costs to send a military helicopter from either Miramar Naval Air Station or Camp Pendleton and the police officers were diverted from the actual job of preventing crime. Do you believe that this has any effect at all on future drug consumption and/or selling of drugs? As a former teacher and a mom, I say no, but I’m a bit jaded with regards to the whole “Just Say No to Drugs” propaganda. I have a hard time believing that anyone has not tried drugs or not sold drugs because they were forced to attend a couple of assemblies or colored a worksheet or two. I believe it’s the home environment that makes a positive difference and it’s peers that influence our kids, too. I guess I’m kind of curmudgeonly resenting the use of our military and police to scare these kids straight, and I’m not convinced it’s a good use of my tax dollars.

Customer Service: Bad Versus Good

A tale of two experiences
The bad: I was out shopping, well, NOT shopping, just looking really; browsing, but most definitely NOT shopping. I wasn’t in the mood after my recent purchase and return, but I was kind of looking for a new ginger grater, so I went into Sur la Table. I found a nice variety but they were a bit pricey.  I realize that I’m packed full of contradictions–I’ll buy $300 worth of Chanel cosmetics while at the same time I also feel that $12.95 is too much for a kitchen utensil. I guess that’s what makes me unique, right? I continued to browse and made my way over to the electric kettle area. A gentleman (he was wearing an apron with the store logo on it, so I assume he was an employee) asked me if I was looking for anything special. I told him I was in fact looking for the kind of electric kettle that the captain used in Singapore. It was a pump dispenser-type that stayed hot. I haven’t been able to find that version. OK, I am not making this up when I say that he simply walked away from me. No response, not one word, nada! Hello? Am I invisible? He. walked. away. I was flabbergasted. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps he was going to search for it in a catalog on the store computer and return to where he left me. But no, he walked over to a cluster of other employees and apparently continued the conversation that my presence in the store had obviously interrupted. My mouth hung open and I was absolutely amazed. What could have possibly possessed him to make the effort to walk over to where I was and then just leave? There does not seem to be a rational explanation for his actions. Am I missing something? Did he think, “Oh screw it, I asked if I could help her, I didn’t expect her to actually need some assistance!” I mean, I’ve had some retail experience of my own–I know it’s hard to find that balance with being helpful and courteous but not hovering, and not openly exposing your hatred for every single human being that walks in the store and picks things up and replaces them where they don’t belong, leaving fingerprints on glass shelves, not to mention children who are holy terrors–I’ve been there. I could have done something. I wanted to sashay over to that pod of apron-wearers and jut one hip out and point my finger and say, “Oh no you din’t just walk away from me, oh gurlfrenn, no you din’t just diss me like that!” I seriously thought about going all ghetto on his ass. I considered finding the manager and in a more grownup fashion share my bizarre experience but it didn’t seem worth the effort. I think it is actually more effective to not ever patronize establishments with poor customer service. That will be my very last time in Sur la Table and I love to bake and cook; it’s their loss, not mine.
Now for the good: For a special treat, prior to the captain leaving for this most recent assignment, we went to our local In-N-Out. Even though we’re vegetarians, they have a “secret” menu my son had clued us into years ago. We always order a Grilled Cheese; it’s basically a hamburger without the meat. We share one order of fries and one chocolate milk shake. Yum! We were in the drive-through and it took forever; we were in line for approximately twenty-five minutes. It wasn’t an especially long line; we couldn’t figure out why it was taking so long. After we finally paid and got our food, we drove around the corner to a pretty street with a nice view. Everything was wrong–the sandwich was cold with congealed cheese, the milkshake had melted into chocolate milk, and the fries were lukewarm and rubbery. After having waited so long, we were so disappointed that we decided not to go back  and just to throw it away and go home. Captain had to pack and we needed to be at the airport at 4:00 a.m. the next morning. A couple of days later, I found the receipt and thought, what the heck, I’ll give them a call and tell them about our bad experience. We have never had a bad experience before; In-N-Out is such a treat for us–sometimes we ride our bicycles there and eat overlooking the ocean. Very cool and a great way to burn the calories too. I spoke with a very nice young lady in customer service and gave her the information she requested from the receipt. She said she was really sorry we had a bad experience and would send us a couple of vouchers for two complete meals. Hurray for good customer service! I thanked her and sure enough, the voucher promptly arrived a few days later. In-N-Out also followed up with a telephone call today to make sure we had received them and to ask if we enjoyed our return visit. I’m gonna wait until the Captain gets back next week and treat him!

That’s the tale of two ends of the spectrum of customer service. Will I go to In-N-Out again? You bet! Will I never spend any money at Sur la Table and tell everyone how I was dissed? You betcha!