Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The pattern of my life

English muffins, ciabatta, focaccia, soft pretzels, croissants . . . and snow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More whine with that?

After a lovely visit with my northern family (where I was snowed in overnight), I drove home on very slick roads. Almost every half-mile there was a car freshly spun off into the snowy oblivion, lights on and engines running. The drive was a little tense and it was good to get finally home --

But when I arrived, I couldn't get into my driveway -- it took 40 minutes just to shovel an entry and enough of a spot for my car to pull in. At least a billion (if not zillion) inches of snow, I'm certain. Sure, I know that it snows in Michigan, and that I have become sissified by my aching back and creeping age, so I had the foresight to hire a snow guy -- who knew that he would be in jail on a child support warrant during every major snow storm so far this winter?

A gypsy in new orleans told me that I don't rely on anyone for anything, in contrast to my daughter, for instance, who sends frequent "mommy help" messages (and like the pavlov dog that I am, of course I generally respond). I always thought I was pretty self sufficient, it's true, so it doesn't happen often, but today in the driveway I would have been glad to have someone like me to send an s.o.s message to. But I do realize that this is a minor problem, and that after a sore back and a little self pity, I will be fine again.

Some very self sufficient people - not pretend ones like me - are having real problems this winter, not sorry little inconveniences like mine. In Alaska, where temperatures which are generally very cold, have been unusually and horribly cold, native people who live in small fishing villages are suffering this winter, forced to ration food so that they can have enough heat to survive. A number of Alaska bloggers have been trying to bring attention to their plight, which is so far being effectively ignored by their state government, and to raise funds for food and heating oil.

That's the kind of news that generally slaps some sense into me. So I'll toughen up and shovel a path for my functional car on my suburban driveway leading to my 2 1/2 car garage next to my warm and food-filled home . . . but I can't promise to stop whining about it. And I think I might be on the verge of figuring out why I never moved to Alaska, despite its incredible beauty. The village folk who survive on so little, and who work so hard for that survival, have my deepest respect. I think that this will be a sad and diminished world if we can't provide the occasional helping hand so that their traditional ways can continue.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rare and terrible weather

It is 11 degrees below zero in Detroit this morning. That is the actual temperature, not the wind chill. I know it is sissy weather compared to what they get in Alaska (where they are also having an extreme winter), but it is not the normal pattern here in the midwest. There has been snow and freezing weather in New Orleans. The sky is falling.

I do not know if all of our weather changes are man-made, but I am certain that we have not helped the matter with our pollution and lack of care.

We are expecting a lot from the new administration's environmental policy. I hope we are not disappointed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

We have a Winner!

Yes, Snowbird (and Jennifer!), my sister and I had brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans. My sister announced to everyone who spoke to us that we were eating at the Court of Two Sisters because we were two sisters. As is typical of the two of us, my sister ate only the roast turkey, roast beef, and mashed potatoes. I had sworn I would try the boiled crawfish but there were none - the cab driver who brought us from the airport said they are not always in season. So I tried the shrimp (do all gulf shrimp have such thin shells and are they always served with all their little legs still on? -- but the remoulade served with them was fabulous), the sweet potato and andouille sausage, the crawfish louise, the crawfish and spinach pasta, and the duck a la' orange. As is also typical, my sister and I both had bananas foster and ice cream with praline caramel sauce, but only I tried the whiskey bread pudding.

I really had a good time. My sister and my daughter bring out the silliness in one another, and we did some very silly things as a result. But it was a lot of fun. There is no place quite like New Orleans, and that is just as true after the storm as it was before.

So congratulations Snowbird, you are my winner! If you will email me your box number, I'll send out your tacky New Orleans souvenir!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Contest Clue #3 - you can get this, really!

C'mon bloggy friends, this is not that hard. As Snowbird correctly guessed in my last post, I just got back from the Big Easy, New Orleans, NOLA. It is the place where my son and his wife lived early in their marriage, where my grandson was born, and where my daughter lives today.

I only have one sister. She and I ate outdoors at a place in New Orleans, in the French Quarter, that was (as my sister kept telling them) named for sisters like us --

Last call -- can anyone guess the name of the place where we ate? I have a NOLA souvenier just waiting to be sent to the first person who can name that restaurant!

Contest Clue #2 - where did my sister and I eat?

As Jennifer commented on yesterday's post, it's important to know what city we were in. I had a really good time, even though I had not really expected to have a good time -- other than the visit with my daughter -- because we stayed in the ultimate party section of a famous party town. And, as long as you don't stray from this quarter, the city seems to be well recovered.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

You're all winners to me . . .

I have not been able to blog or check email this week because my sister and I are on vacation. But I have lots of time now because our flight back home is delayed until who knows when. So, to pass the time for me, I have a mini prize package for the first correct answer to a question --

Here is clue #1.
We had a meal at an establishment that seemed to be named especially for us. Can you tell me where we filled our faces yesterday?

If there is no correct answer, I will post clue #2 in the next airport if they have wi-fi!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hello. My name is Gail and I'm an addict.

I was tagged by Snowbird, and now, as a point of honor, I'm supposed to list 5 of my addictions and then pass this on to 5 other suckers .. . . er, I mean bloggers. So here goes:

1. I am addicted to my grandchildren (and their parents). No matter how tired or cranky or achy I feel, they make me smile. Heck, they make me laugh out loud. Like any addict, I am willing to give up pretty much anything (time, job, dignity) to be with them.

2. I am addicted to my MacBook laptop. I feel naked without it. I stay up too late, laugh too loudly, think about places we can go together and things I want to tell it, and lose track of time when we are together.

3. I am addicted to fantasies about how my life could be different. I think about how things would be if I had been smart enough to dump Dr. Cranky when I first wanted to, before he became ill. Or what it would be like if I had traveled when I was young, or if I had dated sooner than 15 years after my divorce or if I had changed jobs or if I had saved more money. I think about how nice it would be to entertain but don't invite anyone over. I think about how much fun it would be to meet people but never leave the house. I think about all the degrees I could - but don't - have, all the jobs I could have - but didn't - do, all the weight I haven't - but wish I'd - lost. I also think about what my life would be like if I spent less time thinking about how things could be different and more time actually doing the things I want and enjoy.

4. I am addicted to sugar. To a lesser extent, I am addicted to food. I can eat too much of anything. But heaven help me once I've had a taste of sugar. Dr. Oz understands, but I don't think he sympathizes.

5. I am addicted to Sanibel Island. Even if I never step foot on it again, I've swallowed enough saltwater and sand over the past several years to consider it a part of me.

So, there are 5 addictions, the tip of my iceberg. I'll save my list-making compulsion, my repeated attempts at homemaking arts, and a whole lot of other addictions for another day!

And now I'm required to pass this tag on -- many of my long-time favorite blogs have already been tagged, so they are out of bounds. But I enjoy a lot of blogs that are newer to me, and I didn't know Snowbird or Tink or Tootie when we first [inter]met, so I guess it's fair to tag bloggers that I enjoy but would not know even if I bumped into them in the elevator.

I tag Keeping it Real at 66 Degrees North Latitude, the first person to show me pickled beluga, AND how to make it, should I ever have the opportunity.

I tag Alice and Her White Rabbit, because she is also a Sanibel junkie.

I tag The Farmer Files -- I have really enjoyed learning about Hawaii from her, a place I never knew I wanted to go until I discovered her blog! I am sure she will bring interesting stories from wherever her family moves next.

I tag Little Black Scrap Cat, because I like cats and because (sigh) she's way more creative than I am.

I also tag A girl and her Dogs, although she might be too busy to read this, let alone make lists. This girl (and her dogs) are busy mushing their way through life - I lack the nerve to even quit my job - as she did - far less to live out such a challenge!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm it!

I've been tagged by my friend Snowbird, who was tagged by Our Vanilla Life who was tagged by The White House -- to list 5 addictions and tag another 5 people. (Whew. Does this make me the most recent It Girl?) The addictions part should be easy, and 5 will only scratch the surface!


A new year, and my last day off before the regular work life begins again -- I know a lot of people make resolutions this time of year but honestly, do you really think I'm going to lose weight or exercise more? Let's not get crazy here.

People do promise, and achieve, amazing things -- I am in awe of some of the things that Elden, a/k/a "The Fat Cyclist." does with his days, from his cycling activities, his most-important family care, his remarkable fundraising efforts and, maybe most impressive to me, his ability to laugh and make me laugh during the tough times in his life.

And it is hard to even imagine the courage and sheer grit that it took for Jillian Rogers, a young, former reporter to not only quit her job and become a dog musher with Spitfire Kennel, but to finish the grueling (read: "impossible") Gin Gin 200 dogsled race. Two hundred miles, more than 24 hours in gale-force winds and minus-45 degree temperatures. (can I still brag about keeping my thermostat set at 65?)

So let's get real. I am not a rough and ready take-it-to-the-edge type of person. I am not even the break-a-sweat or go-hungry-between-meals kind of gal. Instead of making promises of supernatural events (like dieting), what big challenges to I envision for me in 2009?

(of course, not to minimize my abilities, I started the year on an amazing babysitting marathon with my adorable little grands. My sister emailed me on the 3rd day to ask if there had been any tears yet, and I was happy to report that I was not yet crying. See, I too am capable of remarkable feats of strength, including watching kids run, playing hide and seek (preschool style), laughing like crazy, and building with blocks and lincoln logs . . . I had so much fun.)

And then there's this blog. When I started over a year ago, I intended to use this forum to challenge myself more on environmental issues. But - typical of my low impact definition of "challenge" -- somewhere along the way I took a fork in the road and have become more involved in slow food, locally produced groceries, and a growing appreciation of the basics.
My bread baking has been a lot of fun. It is the perfect winter hobby. Not too expensive, an excuse to use the oven, and very satisfying results. I want to find more time to learn cheesemaking, too.

All in all, I am pretty content with my change in direction, just a little concerned that I am getting more boring by the minute. I am happy to relax, but I don't want my mind to turn into mush, either. I'll have to give it some thought -- but there's plenty of time. The year is young.