Saturday, June 26, 2010

If you want God to laugh, make a plan

(The events of this entry took place on Friday, June 25, 2010. I just didn't get to finish writing about it earlier.)

I had it all figured out last night. I would take Sheila for our walk a little earlier than usual so I could wake up Henry early enough to take him for a haircut and get him to Youtheatre on time. I would then run errands with ruthless efficiency and get home in time to Get Things Done.

Had I listened carefully, I might have heard some Almighty snickering. It took me ten minutes past the alarm going off to realize that the music I heard was not, in fact, part of my dream, but rather the alarm itself. I fed the beasts, then got back into bed with a mug of coffee. I closed my eyes for five minutes and woke up about 45 minutes later. Oopsie.

These days, my walks start out slow, then increase in level of "briskness." I try to keep the pace for a few blocks, slow down a little, then cool down for the last couple of blocks. If Sheila insists on sniffing at something, I usually walk in place while she sniffs. It doesn't get to me because she's fairly selective about stopping.

Not this morning. No, Princess Fluffybutt had to sniff at every single blade of grass, tree trunk, and telephone pole along the route. It was difficult to maintain my patience as I reminded myself that she wasn't doing it deliberately. At least, I didn't think so. In addition, I had something that felt like the second cousin to a shin splint in my left leg, and I was having trouble picking up the pace.

Then the worm happened. It was making its way along the sidewalk,  part of it covered with grit, and it looked unhappy. I wanted to rescue it, but the thought of touching an earthworm gives me the hot and cold collywobbles. Seriously, if I am phobic about anything, it is worms. I can't stand touching them, especially par cooked. I found a leaf to pick it up and put it on a shady dirt patch. It took way too long.

Once home, I roused the boy and dragged him to see Barber Bob. He wanted to put it off until the weekend, but BB is not open on weekends. Mr. Ibrahim cut Henry's hair, and he did a great job (and gave him a shave), but it took a lot longer than I expected, and then I made a few driving errors, so Henry was late.

I headed up to Sheetz because I was low on gas, and just as I turned onto Dillerville Road, the car gave that hesitant heave that means I'm about to run out of gas. Fortunately, I was practically at Sheetz, so was able to avert disaster. Okay, it wouldn't have been as bad as that time I had to walk half a mile to Turkey Hill, but still.

I got nothing else done except to take the cat out into the back yard for a while, and I read part of Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be by Teri Lesesne. This is a brief but excellent book on helping students become stronger, more adventurous readers. I have found a lot of ideas I want to use in my own classroom, when I have one, and I'm going to use this summer to refresh my knowledge of young adult literature. Right now I'm also reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It's a big fat Southern Gothic tribute to Twilight. Maybe that's not fair. But right now, it's one of those books I want to read and at the same time, it makes me restless.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Here we go

After 3 1/2 years in which my mom died, I got laid off from my job of 17 years as a librarian, I started to substitute teach, and I went back to school for post baccalaureate certification, I am finally certified to teach English in grades 7-12. In addition, I have an instructional add on certification in Communications and one pending in Library Science K-12. Go me. I just don't know if I'll be able to find a job.

After a day of hopeless self pity and tears, I decided to just pull it together and try to be proactive, not just in my job search but in other areas as well. Included on the list was to start reactivating this blog to keep a record of what and how I'm doing.

The areas are getting into shape; finding a job; writing YA literature; and getting the house in order. There may be something else, but I don't recall.

Lately, I've been walking Sheila for about 2 miles a day. Today was a shorter woods walk, but I won't be doing that again for a while. I became a walking smörgåsbord for mosquitoes, and instead of taking a dip in the river, Sheila rolled her head and ears in the fishy, sticky mud. Ew. We went home and I gave her a bath.

Tomorrow, we begin to get on a routine of some kind. I'm going to blitz the scriptorium (computer/office area) tomorrow so that it's just a pleasanter place to work and see what I can get done.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Okay, this has to stop

I'm still depressed.

The chickpeas I cooked this morning turned to slurry. What is up with that? Every other time I cooked chickpeas from scratch, I've let them simmer for hours and they still come out like out-sized buckshot. Today, after half an hour, they had mostly dissolved, and what was I going to do with them? Spackle the walls? I think I'll stick to canned garbanzos, thank you. 

Here it is mid morning, and I've done almost nothing. I want to go to Giant in E'town, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting out of my pajamas and robe and into some clothes, let alone getting into the car. 

Responded to a job opportunity at, but the school wants all the info in the file sent to them as well. Is this a test of whether I'm serious? Great. I'm going to see what the transcript printouts look like, because I am not sending for transcripts every time I apply for a job, since that is why everything is on the web site.

I feel so useless. It's as if I haven't made any progress since December 2006. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Battery not included

I'm going to blame it on the snow, but lately, I haven't felt much like doing anything. The Olympics also seem to have interfered with the daily rhythms of life. Well, they're over, and the snow is melting--still very present, but melting, and it's time to get moving.

I got up at 5, fed the beasties, let the dog out, made oatmeal and coffee, unloaded the dishwasher, made hummus, made sandwiches, dealt with an extraordinarily grumpy Teen Two, renewed 5 prescriptions over the phone, cooked basmati rice, cooked lentils, cut up vegetables, and cooked vegetable lentil curry, all before 9 a.m. Go me. I've also cleaned up everything except for some of the bottom of the curry pot. I scorched it a little, so I transferred the curry to a container, and I scrape at the bottom every so often.

I need to shower and go get the medicines. I'm going to stop in at the ReUzit store to see if they have any 3 quart pots available, because I usually need the one we have for more than one thing. I'll take a 4 quart if necessary. I doubt there will be anything, but one never knows.

That's about the extent of my planning, now that dinner is pretty much out of the way. I'm also supposed to write for a subbing job application for Penn Manor. Sweet Babboo has such a knack for inspiring me to feel like a deadbeat because not only have I not found a teaching position--which we expected--the sub jobs appear to have dried up. I keep checking, but nothing shows up. I don't like feeling like this, and I don't think SB sees the housework/cooking/chauffeuring as an equal trade.

Maybe I'll just go to bed for the rest of the day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bread and Sheila

I have two loaves of whole wheat bread in the oven. It's 100% whole wheat, but the dough seems much lighter than when I've made it before. I'm looking forward to the end result. Still some cleanup to do, but I'm not in a hurry.

While the dough was rising in the pans, I took Sheila for a walk down to the river. Since the little right of way was snow covered, we walked up the street to the alley, turned right, and headed down to the next street. On the way, we stopped, hearing furious barking. A little dog that looked for all the world like a black and white brindled fox, except for the tail, which was one of those stubby "stick" ones--charged toward us. Sheila stood her ground, and she and the dog touched noses. Sheila sniffed at the little dog's butt, and the dog tried to reciprocate, but s/he was too short to reach her as they moved around in a circle. The dog did a funny leap into the air, looked at Sheila, looked at me, seemed to nod briskly, turned around and trotted away.

Sheila eagerly tracked two other dogs we saw from a distance, sometimes following their tracks to walk in deeper snow. We caught up with them in the parking lot--Max and Chelsie--and Sheila was more subservient. She climbed snowbanks and had a generally good time as we made our way back. The river was rough today, with waves washing up on the boat ramp. It made me think of Lake Ontario on windy days at the lake house. I miss it.

When we got home, Ollie looked up from the armchair where he has been curled most of the day, yawned, stretched, and went back to sleep. He has about 20 minutes before Teen One and Teen Two arrive home and shatter the peace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Clothes dryers, oranges, and oatmeal

I love oranges. I say this only because I just found a bagful that I bought, and I was afraid they'd gone over. I tried one, and it was lovely, if messy. I think oranges could be a metaphor for life: sometimes sweet and juicy, sometimes dry and bitter, often messy. Enough of that.

I started making oatmeal in the morning this week. On Sunday, we had the Great St. Valentine's Day Oatmeal Massacree and Debacle, when I tried cooking it entirely in milk, and the milk scorched almost immediately. It also left a nasty layer of scorched milk baked to the bottom of the saucepan. I worked on that sucker on and off all day and got most of it off. My Sweet Babboo got the last bit. My hero!

I mentioned it to someone that day in Meeting, and he told me that he cooks it with less than the 2:1 water to oatmeal ratio, then makes up the difference with milk. I tried that, and it does makes a very creamy pot of oatmeal. I use 3 cups of water and add 1 cup of milk. What occurred to me in the process was that it took a lot less time than I thought it would. In fact, I would even venture to say that it doesn't take much longer than making the instant stuff from the packets.

This is becoming true of a lot of the things I haven't done because it would take "too long."  I made homemade pizza on Sunday afternoon, and the crust part really didn't take that long--and kneading it was particularly satisfying--so much so that I am going to start baking bread again.

Today's main project, however, will be laundry. Our dryer gave up the ghost last weekend, and a visit from Bob the repairman revealed that there would be no resurrection. We bought it used, and apparently it was pretty old then. It would cost too much to repair, so we're in the market for a new dryer.

My Sweet Babboo thinks it would be very simple to haul the laundry through two feet of snow to the clothesline at the back of the yard. Granted, there are paths trampled for Sheila, but they are circuitous, and then there's the issue of the clothes freezing on the line and the amount of laundry in proportion to the amount of space on the clothesline/number of clothespins...well. You know.

Sweet Babboo counters that people managed it for ages without clothes dryers. Good for them. It's also easier for one to say that when one is not the person who does the laundry on a regular basis. I will be washing batches of clothes, bagging them, and taking them to the laundromat on Market Street to use the dryers there.

Actually, I could start some bread, come to think of it....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Beans with Moroccan Seasoning

I made this up on Sunday. I soaked two cups of black beans the night before and cooked them Sunday morning. I still have some of the beans left over. I'm going to experiment with turning them into some kind of little patty, like sliders.

Notes on the recipe: I use minced garlic that I buy in honking big jars. I know it's not as good as mincing the stuff myself, but I really think that it is possible to carry the "chop wood, carry water" thing too far. We love our garlic, and I would be spending a lot of time mincing it otherwise. The point is that I don't know how much garlic I used, which is why I say "to taste."

The other note: I found the directions for the seasoning mix on the Internet. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it's lovely.

Black Beans with Moroccan Seasoning
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
Minced garlic to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
3-4 cups cooked black beans
3-4 Tbsp Moroccan seasoning mix (see below)
1 can of diced tomatoes
Sea salt

Moroccan seasoning mix
5 tsp ground nutmeg
5 tsp ground cumin
5 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together thoroughly and keep in an airtight container. 

  1. Heat oil in a skillet.
  2. Sauté onions until translucent
  3. Add garlic and cook, stirring to keep garlic from sticking and burning.
  4. Add diced red bell pepper. Stir fry until tender crisp.
  5. Add black beans and 2 Tbsp of the Moroccan seasoning mix. Stir and heat beans.
  6. Stir in diced tomatoes. Add 1-2 more  Tbsp of Moroccan seasoning mix and a pinch of sea salt. Continue cooking until heated through. Adjust seasonings.

I served this with quinoa cooked in vegetable broth. I love quinoa; it's unexpectedly crunchy and tasty. You could serve this with (whole wheat) couscous or brown rice. I think the accompanying starch should be on the bold and sturdy side to complement the dish.