Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Your funny for the day

Click on it to see it better. As someone who loves language, I really appreciated this.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You be the judge

A friend of my husband's pointed something out last night. I want to know what you all think.

Does my dog look like Wilford Brimley? (For those who don't know who he is, he's an actor and now does commercials for diabetes--as he pronounces it, "diabetiss".)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just breathe

I had to go to the bank yesterday to get a cashier’s check. For some reason, at that exact time they had one guy working both the drive-thru (yes, my bank branch still uses humans and those fun pneumatic tubes) and the inside windows, one older bank employee fighting with some dying printer, and two branch heads dealing with the super-special bank-y stuff. (I’m an English teacher and that’s all I can come up with. My brain is like soup at this point in the school year.) Oh yes, and about six customers all waiting to do person-to-person transactions. Fun.

I whipped out a magazine and began to read while standing there, figuring I could either get annoyed or make the best of a situation. Meanwhile, the two men behind me stood there and muttered, complaining about the service, the wait, the inefficiency of the staff…. One even quipped to the other, “You know, I saw a sign that said, ‘We hire the handicapped’….” Oh, ha ha. I almost turned around but decided to keep mum. As the branch manager came over to see if she could speed things along, apologizing about eight times, the men responded a bit belligerently. However, as they waited, they began to talk, realizing they worked in similar fields (painting and contracting) and even exchanging business information. They discovered they knew some of the same people and had worked on similar projects. I of course pulled a Pollyanna, turned around and said, “Now, see? If we hadn’t had to wait, you two never would have had this conversation.” They laughed and the one guy said, “I knew you were going to say something like that. You probably work here!”, but they were kidding around at that point.

Driving home from another bank yesterday (we refinanced our house!), I got caught in classic 5:30 traffic. I have no A-C in my car. So I opened the window, cranked the radio, and belted out “Somebody to Love” by Queen because hey, who can hear me? Plus T was in front of me in his car, so we got on our phones (hands-free, don't worry) and decided where to go to dinner and just chatted.

Then, at dinner, I overheard the waitress apologizing to three elderly customers for messing up an order: She’d brought something out at the wrong time that they'd wanted sooner. The woman told her not to worry about it; she’d been a waitress herself and it was no bother in any way. She laughed the whole thing off, made the waitress feel better (who, admittedly, seemed a little ditzy), and they ate the rest of their meal.

In situations such as those, we have a lot of decisions to make. We can get steamed, complain, rant, demand to see a manager, etc., or we can make the best of it. Granted, sometimes we have the right to be annoyed, but so many of those sorts of situations are out of the hands of those dealing with it. One famous story in DH’s family involves some jerk airline passenger screaming at the flight attendant because of a delayed flight until my FIL basically told him, as only he can, to sit down and zip it and leave her alone. He got a free first-class ticket for doing that. I think we’re so used to instant gratification and we’re all in such a hurry that we don’t stop to consider anyone else’s situation. Again, customer service in some cases has taken a serious downturn, but in general, I’ve found that it all turns out better if we all calm down and take a breath.

I’m not always patient. Not at all. I have definitely lost my cool in these sorts of situations. I have various reasons to gasp and hold my breath this week, not just because of allergies, so in a way that’s reminding me even more to close my eyes for a second , inhale, and exhale. So take a breath, folks. I’m going to try to do the same.

Oh, and if you want to see a rather biting clip that has to do with all of this, click here and go to 4:56. It's only about 20 seconds and it may give you a smile.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My New Favorite Food jicama. It's in season from November until May, and it's a root vegetable with all sorts of nutritional goodness. It tastes a little sweet and nutty, and it gives a nice little zip to salads and things. Here's a recipe for Jicama-Apple Slaw--I made it last night, and it's delicious. The fresh herbs made the difference, I think. Enjoy!
Makes 6 servings, generous 1 cup each

ACTIVE TIME: 35 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes


1/3 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for garnish
1-2 tablespoons minced jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1-pound jícama (see Note)
1 tart green apple, cored (not peeled)
2 navel oranges
2 avocados, diced

1. Place 1/3 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons mint, jalapeño to taste, sugar, salt, cumin and lime juice in a food processor. Process until finely chopped, about 30 seconds, stopping once to scrape down the sides. With the motor running, add oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream until the dressing is well combined. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl. Do not clean the processor, but change to the shredding disk.

2. Using a small, sharp knife (or a peeler), carefully peel jícama, making sure to remove both the papery brown skin and the layer of fibrous flesh just underneath. Cut the jícama and apple into pieces that will fit comfortably through your processor’s feed tube. Shred the jícama and apple in the processor. Add to the bowl with the dressing.

3. Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from the orange. Working over the bowl with the slaw (to catch any juice), cut the orange segments from the surrounding membranes, letting them drop into the bowl (like you're sectioning a grapefruit). Squeeze any remaining juice into the slaw. (Discard membranes and peel.) Add avocados; gently toss to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and mint leaves.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 288 calories; 23 g fat (3 g sat, 10 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 8 g fiber; 296 mg sodium; 584 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (120% daily value), Fiber (32% dv), Potassium (17% dv).
1 Carbohydrate Servings

Checking in, myself

I'm taking a leaf out of Scarlet Lily's book and just letting you know I'm still out here. This time of year is absolute insanity with exams coming up, everyone frantically scrambling to get everything done, etc., etc. I promise, promise, promise that if springtime frost has not killed my rapidly growing vegetable garden, I'll post pictures and all that good stuff. I've essentially become a crew widow (I mean nothing against you, sweetie--I know how hard you work) because DH is coaching and acting as an excellent role model to a local school's rowing team. Having been on a team as a member and coach myself, I know how much commitment it takes. Plus his girls did well enough to make it to Nationals in NJ, so that's a HUGE deal and I am very proud because I know my husband helped make that happen. They've got a regatta in Canada this weekend, so I'll try to go and cheer them on. If I remember correctly, there's enough down time that I can probably get a lot of work done between races....

This spring also marks Operation Personal Bootcamp, because I looked down the other day and thought, When did I get that gut? Why won't it go away when I stand up? Oh yeah, I'm out of my twenties and need to more actively work to keep my body from becoming a gelatinous mass of cellulite, broken dreams, and lost/lamented super-fast metabolism. Sigh. C and M, remember how the family called me "Garbage Gut"? Ah, those halcyon days have long since passed.... So I rode my bike to the supermarket yesterday. Yikes. At least I got my workout in--my goal now is to not become winded on either end of the trek. OK, it's not really a trek; t's only a few miles away. But it's good to have a goal, right?

All right....

1) Fit into various summer clothes that have become mysteriously tight
2) Ride with speed and cheer to grocery store while being able to sing entire score of The Sound of Music and ride home while balancing groceries in my little front basket
3) Resist lure of America's Next Top Model and Law and Order: Criminal Intent marathons.

I consider those reasonable and attainable, at least by the end of the summer.

But I can have pizza, yes?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What is it about Tuesday?

Well, I meant to do a happy, upbeat post about the good weather, my growing vegetable garden, and the awesome sushi we had the other night (sushi has come to my area--THANK GOD). But I can't do it, partly because I don't know how to send pictures from my Blackberry to the Internet. I just lost my smile today; all I have is that distracted, automatic one you flash so people don't know how you really feel.

Tuesdays always get me down. I think it's because on Monday you're just coming off the weekend and you still have that store of sleep and not having been at work. By Tuesday, the weekend has worn off and Friday seems so damn far away. I let one of my homeroom boys get on my nerves (he was pretty rude; it's not worth getting into) and then vented about it later in the faculty room, next to an ACTUAL vent where people can hear me. Fortunately one of my colleagues reminded me of this...because she could hear me in the hallway. Great. So hopefully she was the only one who heard. I try not to let adolescent obnoxiousness get to me, just let it roll off my back, but for some reason I can't find my Zen today. I'll get over it. There. I'm over it. Really. Promise.

Then I realized I'd paid a bill late, which means it screws with our credit rating, which frustrates me because I'm trying hard not to do that sort of thing anymore; it's why I BOUGHT the Blackberry, but this happened BEFORE I bought it and I then feel guilty because it's not just my finances; it's our finances that this affects, and guilt does nothing, blah blah blah, aaaaaggggh. Plus our finances are tight as it is, so it's frustrating. I have numerous presents to buy for numerous weddings and I worry that we won't have enough money to do anything for ourselves until we're old and gray. OK, now I'm just wallowing, but I won't for much longer. Promise (truly).

I'm sorry. I'll stop my pity party now and remember all the things I do have that make my life amazing, and there are plenty. Tuesday just got to me.