Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Late night gas

So, not much creativity this morning because I was at the gas pumps at 11:30 pm last night to be sure I had enough gas on hand to continue to get to work. I went to this same station a week ago, and tensions were high and people were on the verge of fist fights. This time it was very genteel in a sort of 1 for me, 1 for you sort of way. And the monitors hired by the station for each entrance helped. As did the police presence.


And the bail out failed.

Have I mentioned I was a CPA? Yes. GAAP and debits and credits. GAAP? It stands for generally accepted accounting principles and is used in the United States.

Well it seems a rule called "mark to market" intended to keep institutions honest included in the overkill bill called Sarbanes Oxley has had unintended consequences.

Basically it says rather than showing an asset at the amount you paid for it, you must show it at the current market price. While in general this is usually a good thing, sound assets (performing loans in this case) are getting marked down to nearly $0 because of the overall financial/economic situation when they are still performing (performing = folks like us still making their mortgage payments on time). This is an element of what is facing the banks and other financial institutions that invested in banks. It is NOT the only element of the crisis.

But it's interesting to see GAAP get called on the carpet. Wonder how that gang is feeling about now?

Keep an ear out: I heard Newt Gingrich last night saying that changing this rule alone would ease some of the immediate pain. Last week I heard something similar. It'll be interesting to see if anything about this rule changes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick penne supper

My friend Cindy doesn't like to cook as much as I do.

She does love penne pasta. And broccoli.

Cindy, I read this recipe recently and it had you written all over it. I just can't recall where I read it which is becoming a much too frequent occurrence. I figure you could make this in about 30 minutes start to finish. Serve with some wine and you've got a pretty impressive, quick meal for that someone you entertain.

Cook 1/2 box of Barilla penne pasta (brand is just to help with portions because I didn't measure anything). About 5 minutes before the pasta is al dente (Cindy - the pasta box will tell you how long that it takes to cook to al dente), add broccoli florets (the kind already cut up and ready to go) - I used about a quarter of a pound.

Drain penne and broccoli. Slice a few grape or cherry tomatoes and put in the boiler. Return pasta and broccoli to the boiler (the heat from the pasta and broccoli cooks the tomatoes just a little).

Stin in juice and zest of one lemon, plenty of salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil and last but not least: plenty of parmesan cheese (I used the shredded blend of parmesan, romano, asiago in the fridge) - say 1/3 to 1/2 cup.


Yum. This I know because it's what was for supper last night.

Easy, right? Not much measuring and using stuff she probably has in her fridge and pantry. Okay, except the lemon. She might not have the lemon. But Cindy, you drive by the Fresh Market on the way home and we both live less than a mile from a Publix. A lemon would be easy to get. And surprisingly, it made all the difference. Gave it a lightness and set off the olive oil.

That's it, Cindy. From me to you. And everyone else.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

She's Back!

13 days after the series of photos I took of a spider that looked very much like this one, with a web strung between the same two trees, I took this photo. Looks like the same spider to me. Does anyone besides me find that surprising?

The next day, this spider was tucked into the exact center of the web hanging out.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Unrequited Golden

...Gus wished that she would notice he had feelings, and not just treat him like a towel rack...{sigh}

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?

Monday I went to this seminar. It was like having a vacation day. I LOVED Dave Cross. I LOVED Photoshop. I LOVE learning new things.

Now I have a dilemma: Photoshop Elements (I currently have this) or Photoshop?
How do you pick? Help? Anyone?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Postcard Project = Arkansas

On her blog, At Home with the Farmer's Wife, the Farmer's Wife invited anyone interested to participate in her postcard project and she would send a postcard from her vacation destination. As it turns out, I was 1 state off my guess for the destination Missippi. And she updated her blog briefly to say she was in her vacation condo but without power courtesy of Hurricane Ike. So no help there. I didn't really think she and the Farmer were in Texas.

Today my postcard from the Farmer's Wife arrived, and I'm sharing.

This was fun. Doesn't she have beautiful penmanship? And there's one more surprise to come - someone wins the cheesiest souvenir that she brought back from Arkansas. Wonder what that could be...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Lives of Others/La Dolce Vita

I have watched several movies over the past few days. Last night it was The Lives of Others which is a German film about life in East Germany and the Stasi. It was compelling despite the lurid yellow subtitles. It is the story of a Stasi agent and interrogator and the artists he is assigned to bring down. The lack of overt violence helps create more tension, I think and a great deal is left to your imagination mine is always happy to oblige. It seems to be all the more terrifying due to its focus on all the small intrusions and indignities the GDR forced on its citizens.
Because it is a film icon, I watched La Dolce Vita. The story is of a journalist who takes himself off the sidelines and inserts himself into the middle of the shallow, empty society life he covers. Two interesting things - Under the Tuscan sun refers to La Dolce Vita by inserting a character complete with fountain scene in it (don't tell me you didn't see Under a Tuscan Sun). The second is that there is a character in La Dolce Vita who must have provided Mike Myers his schtick (sp?) for Austin Powers. That's all I could think about as this guy pranced around. He was a friend to the actress who ultimately gets in the fountain and is echoed in La Dolce Vita. Again, this one had the lurid yellow subtitles, but it's surprising that they work. I guess it's to keep you from forgetting to read as you get caught up in the scenery.
So, two doses of "culture". It's been interesting to see that foreign films are telling the same stories we tell in our films, on tv and in newspapers. I'm sure that's the point - we're not all that different from each other.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Favorite Things Giveaway Winner

Drumroll, please! Congratulations #1, blueviolet! Soon you will be enjoying the wonderful Amazing Grace fragrance.

Thanks for everyone for sharing, and I'm glad to meet you, so to speak.

Blueviolet, I will contact you by email to get your snail mail address.

Favorite Things - a giveaway

There are several of my favorites in the snapshot above. First, the sconces that came with the house. They had these glass chimneys that were etched with a little pattern - but one is broken. Still I keep them tucked away because they remind me of the dimestore glass candleholders my grandmother had with a grape pattern on the chimney. I loved those things. I don't know what happened to them.

And the green bound books - they were salvaged from the management office in the building my company bought back. It was the management office that my company originally built out and furnished. But it is a new time, so the old accessories were up for grabs. I got these books and one very large leather bound book.

The bookend is one of a pair, and made of plaster. They are named Lauren and Molly after my cousin and me. We were born the same year, within a month of each other. They are showing some damage from time and moving, but so am I.

That brings us to the Amazing Grace products by philosophy. I have always been fond of perfume. I don't feel dressed without mascara and perfume. Anything else is overkill. This fragrance was billed as having people get close to you because you smell good, clean, fresh. So after mulling it over, I bought some of the Amazing Grace fragrance. Then I went back and bought the body wash/shampoo. Then the lotion. I love it. Then I fell for it's sister: Pure Grace. They are both wonderful. They are all I wear now. Everything else is just not right.

The point? Well, I have been cleaning out, and I found that I have the unused hand cream and roll on fragrance from a larger kit I bought. I'm a sucker for kits, because that's where the value is. Both smell divine. And I want to share.

Just leave a comment by 8 pm EST Sunday evening and tell me one of your favorite things and why, and I will select a winner Sunday evening (fine print: sorry, I can only ship to those of you in the contiguous United States and with a street address because there are liquids involved). If there's more than one of you, I will use the random number generator to select the winner.

If there's only one of you, well, congratulations.

I look forward to finding out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chicken Little

In the past several days and weeks of economic uncertainty, political grandstanding, and talking heads playing the part of Chicken Little, I finally heard something that made sense today:

It doesn't make sense to point fingers, unless you are pointing the way out.

I was in the next room, so I couldn't see who said it, and don't recognize the voice, so I can't give credit.

Once I read that there is a balance to be sought between the catharsis that comes from talking about problems, and having talking about the problem becoming the problem.

If you turn off the sound and look around you, life is going on:

Groceries are being bought, high school bands took the field at half-time last night, college football is on tv today, church bells will ring tomorrow, lost dogs are found, there's a farmer's market up the road, neighbors are jogging by or walking dogs, here in the south we have beautiful a beautiful fall day...

I am at some risk in this market like many people. But I think we have to hold on to the fact that the normal activities of our lives fuel America's economy. And those things are going on by the millions. Just look around.

That's what I'm going to hold on to.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Getting my house in order

Sort of like spring cleaning it hit me. Not that Spring cleaning has ever done more than deal me a glancing blow.

Anyway, I have been on a "git 'er done" kick I sure hope there's nothing obscene about that phrase.

There was the final installation of the Bose 321.

Before that, the pressure washing of the house and deck why? one wonders, because it's outside and only going to get dirty immediately.

Before that, there was the dealing with the albatross other house.

And before that was the new roof on this house.

Yesterday was the servicing of the treadmill that I was afraid to plug in after the basement flooded shortly after I moved in. You see, I moved in and had the electricians in to provide a grounded plug just for the treadmill. Then the basement promptly flooded, in biblical proportions to boot. After I had the basement fixed, the drought started. It took several months to get the basement done. Not sure that the flood had done anything to the treadmill, I didn't plug it in. But now it's had it's check up and tune up and is ready to go.

Yesterday there was also the visit from the trusted contractor for the list:

fix the bathroom ceiling (hole)
awnings (cost effective) for the east/west windows because there is not enough roof overhand to fend off the rain which falls into the window sills even I know this is bad juju
paint the front door
touch up the woodwork where someone has nicked it all over the place I don't clean, it can't be me
stain/seal the deck

Still to be done, some requiring a visit from other folks:

Assemble storage shelf (another delayed project courtesy of the basement flood)
Paint upstairs
Sort through and clean out stuff in basement from other house
Replace the pressure control valve (so that water does not spew from the toilet again)
Figure out if I can have a flat screen tv over the fireplace, freeing up more seating area which is in short supply (this will likely involve numerous visits from electricians, home audio whiz kids and the aforementioned trusted contractor)

It was more peaceful when I was complacent.

Watch out family.

This is all in pursuit of my luring you here for Thanksgiving.

All will be made clear in time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toad Lily

My toad lilies were moved to their current location this year when the path was cut through the monkey grass from the drive to the front door.

There they thrived.

Today, I noticed that one bloom was open.

As photos go, this one's not perfect - I lost the focus and highlights on the pistils. Pistols? Pistils. On the other hand, I can see the "hairs" on the edge of the leaves.

As flowers go, it's glorious - just look at all the details, including the surprise of the ring of yellow in the throat.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let there be sound

On top of the entertainment center, and on the floor next to it is a Bose 321 sound system. What's unusual about this system is that it is two years old and newly installed, both at the same time.

Yep, I ordered it. 6 months interest free. Then, because I didn't think I could do all the plugging in of wires without a second set of hands to be sure the tv didn't make the whole thing fall over on me when I turned it as far sideways as the rotating piece would go, it sat. And sat. And sat some more. Until it became a burden. As in,

are you ever going to get that thing plugged up? It is easy. You know how to do it.

But I need a second set of hands, I whined to myself since everyone knows golden retrievers don't do home improvement. Gus, in particular, would be interested in home destruction, but never home improvement. Plus they have no hands. Duh.

But then my sister and brother-in-law came to pick up my niece from my mother's and called to say "do you want to get lunch?" and I was all "sure, what about Boneheads, or Five Guys? haven't tried Five Guys? then we must go there".

Then we all went back to my house. Where, because my BIL said he would hook up the Bose 321, because I thought it would be a jiffy and I had asked if he would, my BIL hooked up the Bose 321.

After installing the Bose 321 by himself (no second set of hands) my BIL said

"lo, you push this button, and let there be sound: movies and cds and tv and AM and FM, all sorts of sound".

And I did.

It was good.


Monday, September 15, 2008

No one puts baby Cotton in the corner

This is baby Cotton. Because she's younger and smaller than Gus, and I got her when she was a baby.

She's not feeling well. Again. She spent the weekend with the reflux syndrome. And she's mad at me right now, because I gave Gus one of those treat holding puzzle toys because I was drained from work and needed to cook for therapy and Gus is, he's...well, he's needy. And high maintenance. And a menace toward shoes and handbags when he's bored. And needy. Anyway, Gus got one and Cotton didn't because chewing on that thing will irritate her esophagus. But Cotton got several pieces of cheese because it is soft.

After Gus got the everlasting treat ball, she moved in to take it from him, because no one puts Baby Cotton in the corner. And I said "NO!", so she moped her way in here and flopped. So this is Cotton sulking. Can you tell? Looks a lot like about to fall asleep, huh?

This is a closeup so you can get the full sulk effect. Easier to see her sulk now isn't it. No?

I'm sure this next one will clear it up.

Cotton. Hey, Cotton. Hey. I know you're just sulking. Wake up and give the people your squinty eyed smile.

Baby Cotton is asleep in the corner.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A shortage of...

Israeli couscous. I bet you thought I'd say gasoline since all the stations around me are em-pah-tee!

Mais non, ma petit/petite chou my little cabbages, I am speaking of israeli couscous. The base of my favorite salad, possibly my favorite salad ever.

None at Publix near.

None at the Peach Publix.

None at Whole Foods.

None at Fresh Market.

Just labels below empty shelf space.



Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Spoils by the numbers

5 bags, 4 shops, 3 stops, 2 friends, 1 lunch.

2 bags of dog treats and toys.

1 bag with 1 birthday present and 3 t shirts.

1 fruitless trip to a Verizon representative.

1 fruitful trip to a Verizon store for a return.

4 pairs of shoes after an 8 month shoe embargo.

1 lipgloss exchanged for 1 wrong shade.

1 nail color + 1 for half price nail color and 2 hair products isn't she born with it?.

4 hours of escape.

Friday, September 12, 2008


[Before I start let me say that you should all visit my brother's blog - yesterday's post about being a practicing attorney while studying for the seminary was downright funny.]

TGIF because I took the day off.

TGIF AND I took the day off because it's bridge night.

Because otherwise the ladies would have not been able to find the dining room table for all the junk that lands on it during any given week.

And the kitchen would be a middle school science experiment.

And Cotton would have created a puddle the size of a small pond on the bathroom floor due to her inability to keep the water in her mouth when she drinks. Well, that may still be true because a dog's gotta drink, right?

So with the day off, I am going grocery shopping, dropping the dogs at doggie daycare (alternately called wear 'em out please i am having guests), and then I shall cook.

Tonight's menu:

Guacamole with chips (i've never made it myself before. aren't guests good for experimenting? after all, they go home and you don't have to deal with the fall out)

Simple salad of romaine and grape tomatoes with homemade ranch dressing (homemade ranch dressing = YUM)

Southwestern Soup (i always lose the recipe and have to get it again from my sister in law, who is a saint for always giving it to me without pointing out my obvious shortcomings. i think maybe this time i've got it though because she sent it to my office email, which means it's now permanently part of the company's records and I can search for it) with maybe a yogurt/cucumber/cilatro relish on top

Corn sticks (canned from the cold case)

Pioneer Woman's apple dumplings (kid tested, mother approved, by my same sister in law above)

And for grins, I'm making myself some Fall Couscous that I used to be able to buy from Eatzi's before it closed. Then I had to conduct a no holds barred search for the recipe because it is my favorite. But that's another story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


...and saw...



NOTHING! But I heard he/she/it. Hulls continued to fall around me. The dogs cowered by the back door, not wanting to get hit in the head with a whole nut.

By now I'm sure you've figured it out. It's an army of squirrels. They don't care how long I have to be at work only to come home to a deck I can't even walk across. No, not them. They just care about feasting on hickory nuts.

Here's my mental picture of one of the footsoldiers of this awful army. I didn't take this picture, but I did alter it. I feel it fairly reflects the foul fiend ( I read this in Jane Austen and have wanted to work it in somehow).

What's a girl to do? My brother and his arsenal are not handy. Plus I think the neighbors would notice me firing away over here with limbs falling off the tree and Rambosquirrel here laughing away from a zillion feet out of reach.

I fear I am going to have to live as a virtual prisoner, until the feral cats get him or the hickory nuts run out.

"here, kitty kitty. nice kitty..."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Expose: Just the facts, m'am

Fact: I have a lovely deck on the back of my house. And the weather is just getting right for sitting out there and enjoying being outside.


Just look:

I woke up to the sound of something falling, and hitting the windowsill. I thought it might be rain. What I found was very disturbing. And painful.

Fact: The deck and deck stairs were covered in shards of hulls. They feel like walking on glass.

Fact: This was one morning's work, because I had swept the deck the night before.

As I took these pictures, shards of hulls continued to fall from the sky. I felt like whatever it was had made me a target and was throwing more even as I stood there.

I looked up...

to be continued...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


This house, and the person in it, are being held hostage by a creature that lives in the yard. This creature's malicious, jeering, property threatening...evil , I tell you. I'm working on an expose, because someone's got to do something!

More later.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday afternoon

This is what happens on a Sunday afternoon at my house.

We really need to work on relaxing.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


When I was in Italy, my imagination and love of history were stimulated. I made a list of books I needed to read, books about the artists, books about the history, books about the architecture, and of course books about the masterpieces that I had seen and couldn't get to.

Saturday morning, as I took Gus and Cotton for a walk before a decadent day of manicure/pedicure and lunch out with a friend, I saw a spiderweb. Nothing I say can do it justice, so I will let the photos speak for the masterpiece. And if you click on the photos, you might be able to see that girlfriend wore red shoes to work. You gotta love that.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Deruta, Italy

After visiting Assissi, we drove down to Deruta. Does that sound familiar? That's where all the pottery comes from in Italy. In fact shortly after I got back, a Christmas catalog came and they had ceramics from Deruta for sale.

This was the first store we visited, and ultimately the one we loaded up in. When we first arrived, he was showing how he painted a piece. He was so good at the intricate pattern on the wheel that it looked easy.
This was the only place I felt an overwhelming need to buy...I didn't feel that way so much in the other cities.

The showroom...full of temptation

See no evil...but I bought that bowl in the lower right corner, the salt and pepper shakers in the center and the napkin holder (and more) anyway

Shopping hangover (see all the stuff on the wooden table and on the floor? it got it's own trip back to the US of A)

Aldo, the attorney turned artist, shows us his workroom downstairs...

and a plate painted and coated in the stuff in the pot from the previous picture.

But most importantly, this is Millou, Aldo's very vocal and friendly teen aged cat.

Oh boy, did seeing Millou make me miss Gus and Cotton! The drive to Deruta was beautiful - if I remember correctly, we traveled by a lake for some time.

The ceramics all arrived about 4 weeks after we got back. One night at Cindy's house we had so much fun opening everything up. It was just like Christmas.

I did love visiting Deruta. And next time I'll actually go into the old town.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The birdbath

This is the birdbath in my backyard. It is sitting on a chunk of concrete that was dug out below the deck to make a parking spot for my car off the street.

So what is the significance of this birdbath? It's empty. Because of the drought.
What you can see when all the water evaporates are the little pebbles in the birdbath.
That look suspiciously like the pebbles on the path in the background.
That I told my niece not to put in the birdbath.

They hang on my every word.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Supper

My sister and brother-in-law invited me to join them for supper at a Cajun restaurant near their home. Their friend D and I were being treated in honor of our August birthdays. During supper, which was yummy, the power went out, but only after our suppers were delivered.

Before you accuse me of spectacularly missing the shot, I tried to get both girls in the photo, the one on the right was not interested until the last minute and tried to get in the shot. I'm sorry she waited too long, because this would have been a wonderful photo of my brother-in-law and his daughters. It is a wonderful photo of him.

The younger of my nieces loves the camera and quickly struck a pose again--this time with my sister, her mother.

This is focus - on a cartoon on my iPod with no sound because I didn't have the headphones with me. I thought it was interesting how alike they are despite the difference in their ages.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nowhere better to be

Late one evening I was closing up and turning off, and I noticed this guy on my back door screen.

His camouflage wasn't doing him much good here on the back door screen. As I opened the door to go out to take his picture he turned and moved about, uncomfortable. When I went back in, he moved about, watching to be sure I meant no harm after blinding him with the flash. He was gone by the next morning, probably to one of the many trees in my backyard.

Seeing this reminded me that we are all made for something special and sometimes what that is--that purpose--is obvious like with leaf bug here, and sometimes it isn't. When we're outside that purpose, we are uncomfortable and awkward, and feel exposed.

But when we are doing the thing we are meant to do, there's nowhere better to be.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mamma Mia I'm slow!

Okay - I must be one of the last few women in America or the world for that matter to see Mamma Mia. But see it I did this weekend. LOVED it.
I have downloaded the soundtrack, pieced it with the broadway soundtrack where it left out songs from the movie, and that has been the soundtrack for my Labor Day weekend.

It made me remember how much I loved ABBA's music, and I could remember where I was and what I was doing when Mamma Mia, Waterloo, Winner Takes It All, Fernando (not in the movie), Dancing Queen all were part of the pop culture.

I want to share that with you, so click on Mamma Mia the movie and enjoy a synopsis of the movie.

And if for some reason, you haven't been to see it: take a girlfriend and Get thee to a theatre pronto. And if you have seen it, go again - the sing along version is coming out.
Mamma Mia it made me feel good!


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