Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: good things (Page 3 of 3)

A Sprinkling of Random Orts….

1. The Crazy Cat Lady across the street is having a new roof put on. I thought that was odd, and the Wo confirmed it. There’s a reason you do roofs in the blazing heat of summer, because shingles have a sticky strip that needs to melt & adhere to the one below it, and if they don’t seal, all kindsa crap can get up in there & then the next big storm comes along and poof! The roof! The roof! The roof is in your yard! But anyway, she parked herself out there in a lawn chair, behind the big-ass dumpster with a beer, and was having a cackling ol’ time with the laborers. God, she is so crazy. We are just hoping that the enormous satellite dish that came off the roof goes INto the dumpster. Seriously. It’s like the size of the ones they use to talk to the moon. You stay classy, Crazy Cat Lady!

2. The dogs are not happy with the laboring going on across the street. Nor are they happy with the new neighborhood scallywag dogs, which seem to be a pair of mutts, one resembles a pit-bull-hound-somethin’ or other, and the other looks like the progeny of an overgrown long-haired dachsund that ravished a chihuahua one late summer afternoon. Good lord that little dog is a shit, running everywhere, barking this high-pitch trill the entire time, and his ears and tail stand upright (like a chihuahua’s) but they’re fringed with long fur, so this thing just looks ridiculous. Tripper tried to clamber OVER the fence to get at it, and boy am I glad we caught him in the act, because that would have just been awful. I think he was under the impression it was new, mutant breed of squirrel, and it HAD TO BE STOPPED.

3. The Great Kitchen Re-Organization was finally completed this afternoon. There are still portions that need cleaning & sorting, but the back breakfast nook/pantry area is clean, organized and whittled down. It is beautiful.  I threw away some old canisters that I liked, but knew no matter how much I lied to myself, just weren’t going to be used. And I sort of chortled nervously, like the Hoarding Police were going to come along and ticket me for Wastefulness. Now we have all the items we use the most in the most accessible places, and I discovered I have three (3) springform pans, none of which were thrown away, because they are all different sizes and they are each extremely beautiful. They’re next to the two different bundt pans, not to be confused with the mini-bundt pan muffin tin, or the daisy-cake pattern pan.  I love all my unitasking pans equally, yes I do. I stood by the back door and admired my work for several minutes tonight, because it was a lot of dirt, sweat & pitching out of things.

4. Speaking of stopping to admire your work. When I taught Amy to knit, I told her that when she came to the end of the row, to stop and admire what she had done.  A little bit later on, she asked me why I said to do that. I tell all my knitting students to do this, as they’re trying something new. Even though it’s just a row, it’s progress, often combined with an advancement of skill, and it should be recognized and rewarded. Even after all these years of knitting, I still love to stop and look at the fabric, hanging from my needles, to see what I have created with sticks and string.

5. The black-eyed pea dish from yesterday? Beans were still crunchy this morning. After 24 hours in a crock pot, on low. So I cranked it up to high and hoped for the best. They did finally cook, and were spicy & savory, but man, there was a lesson learned there, not a day into the new year: BUY CANNED.  Or at least do the boil-soak-overnight thing.

6. I’m going to try and tackle a little bit of organization up in the craft room this weekend; that was my original goal for my vacation, but with the acquisition of the fryer & french-fry cutter, the mess off the kitchen got bumped up the list. I’m glad it worked out that way, because the craft room can still be attacked in smaller chunks of time, but the kitchen area, with the dogs going out into the yard, needed to be finished – and gives me great satisfaction, since I do see it every day. Sigh. I don’t ever get as much done as I hope I will.

7.  I always have over-ambitious (unrealistic) goals for what I’ll accomplish – I’ve done that with knitting projects, too. Going out for dinner & hanging with friends? I simply must bring at least two projects, and perhaps a third, JUST IN CASE. Just in case we’re held hostage? Or snowed in? Or perhaps I fall headfirst into a large pile of cocaine, and consequently find myself knitting at warp speed, confused (but delighted) by my pratfall. I have, at long last, resurrected the Rambling Rows afghan – I’m on block 30, out of 46, and I realized from my Rav queue, I started this sucker over 2 years ago. So I’d like to finish it up while it’s still chilly in the house (it’s very cumbersome as a take-along project, and it’s also made of wool, so summer knitting on it doesn’t fly). Of course, I’ve also started a scarf, and committed to starting another one (and finishing it by the end of the month) in a Loopy Ewe KAL. Suddenly my Scarface scene doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, does it? (J/K! No-no up your nose.)

Tha’s all I’ve got for now! Enjoy the weekend!

Meet The New Year….

….Same As The Old Year….to paraphrase The Who, singing about something we ALL wish for ourselves, not to be fooled (again).

I rang in the new year by calming down three extremely pissed-off, barking black labs, who were certain we were under siege from The Enemy, as fireworks and god-knows-what-else exploded near and far from our house. I also was tending to the largest batch of crack Chex Mix I’ve ever made. Actually, the only batch I’ve ever made, but since the Wo was eating it for breakfast this morning when I stumbled out, and immediately asked me what in the hell I put in it to make it so full of WIN, I can only say, hey, I rocked in the New Year’s Chex Mix, baby. (The “secret”? Uh, half-again as much Worcestershire sauce as the traditional recipe calls for. We love us the nummeh brown winegar sauce.)

I followed up that winning first act with a breakfast of homemade Prune Cake from the Pioneer Woman, and do not let the name fool you. You will get on your knees and pray you’ll get another piece after you try the first one.  I served it with a tall glass o’ milk, and a shot of Reddi-whip on the side. Startin’ the New Year off RIGHT!

Then I threw together a batch of slow-cooker black-eyed peas, and that recipe lied to me about using dried beans. I thought I was in good shape, but 13 hours later, those suckers still have some crunch to ’em, so that’s going to be dinner tomorrow. Fortunately, we weren’t particularly hungry, because we got together with the Wo’s immediate family & ate at Ted’s Montana Grill. Deeeelish.  My brother-in-law got the Kitchen Sink Bison Burger, and good lord, that was the craziest damn sammich I’ve ever seen. It had ..well, yeah, everything on it, including a slice of ham and a fried egg! He loved it.

Before the Wo crashed last night, we spent some time playing our newest Wii game, Lego Indiana Jones and the something or other. Oh mah god, it’s pretty damned fun for a two-person game. We have to work co-operatively, though initial observations showed we were utterly incapable of it, as he would whip me into pieces, and I, once rebuilt, would attack him with my shovel. I noticed, playing the role of sidekick, that I got stuck with a lot more grunt work. Mostly because I had the shovel. Which is quite effective on enormous spiders, too. Anyway, we laughed our heads off, which was the goal.

End the year laughing, begin the next one with Chex Mix and Prune Cake.

We rock.

Happy New Year. Actually, I’m pretty sure this one will be a lot better than the last one.

The Year In Review

For about a month now, I’ve been mentally composing a post. It was roughly titled, “Things I’ve Learned This Year”.  Here are the notables.

1. Quite a bit of learning happened at work. Since we like to keep our job, we won’t write all that out. But I learned a lot about people, about being a manager, and about what is necessary, even if it isn’t always fun. Kind of like life.

2. I learned who my friends are. Some walked away, some set the ramparts on fire, some just drifted. That said, many stayed, some new people showed up, and I made some new friends. There was lots of learning. As I discover each year, I love my husband even more than I knew I could.

3. I finally pulled my shit together and got my own server for my web domain. Oh mah god. Quite the process!  But I really am happy to have my very own spot on the net, and how much the process taught me. The Learning. It is a veritable theme!

4. I feel like I’ve reached the next level (of which I presume there are countless)  in understanding my grief, understanding the why and what and an acceptance in general that I’ll never fully understand it. I’ve also reached, just recently, a very significant point of understanding in my life, as I look back on the years, the things my parents did and didn’t do, how those choices shaped all of us, but particularly me. Enlightenment is not always easy to climb to, but oh what a view. I also revealed the secret to understanding women.

5. I lost my post-holiday shopping craze. I didn’t go out the day after Thanksgiving, and I didn’t go out the day after Christmas. I did, however, go to both CostCo and Target today, New Year’s Eve, and thought I was hallucinating by the last leg of that journey. These trips only serve to underscore just how much I love the internets.

6. I spread my wings and started selling some crafty things – namely, DPN holders through local yarn shops & The Loopy Ewe. I also produced some “knitter” decals, and learned that buying in bulk is great at CostCo, but not always with new business ventures! (Feel free to buy 15 or 20!)

7. Speaking of wings, I got back in the swing of flying this summer, for work, and most everyone agrees, flying isn’t the most fun thing to do these days, especially as a plusher individual. Another fear faced & conquered!

8. Discovering the joy of Social Networking. Not only for my job, but as a labeled social butterfly at an early age, I do love Facebook & Plurk & even a little Twitter. I love trying out new things, and yet there is always the need for balance, since all of those little devils will suck your time like nobody’s business. Through Facebook, I also became highly addicted to PackRat, until the devs changed the entire game so they could make a buck off it. On the plus side, I got hours of my life back!

9. The older I get, the more torqued I become about political things. Between the election and our mayor, my electoral college of nerves reached a frazzling point. I wrote my city council member, I voted, I fought with my husband.  My guy won, but much remains to be resolved here in Kansas City. Grrrrr……

10. I’ll end with a recent, fantastic experience. I teach a lot of knitting, and always learn something from my students in return. I’ve taught a lot of people to knit over the years, but this week, I had the honor of teaching my dear friend Beth’s daughter Amy how to knit.  She is a bright, quick study, and it was fantastic to see the moment of comprehension, as the movement and process clicked in her head and her hands. I understood two things in that moment – the fleeting but motivating experiences my husband must have as a teacher, and a smidgen of the journey parents experience. Just one tiny slice in time, but richer by far than most.

FYI, she doesn’t want to stop knitting. We went to lunch and she couldn’t wait to pull her yarn out and continue. (Apologies for the cameraphone pic…)


Happy New Year.

Thanks for sticking with me. I love your comments, and I appreciate the kindnesses, shared laughs and understanding you give me.

May next year bring you learning, wisdom, joy and happiness. If you’re a knitter, may there always be plenty of yarn and other knitters to laugh with you. If you don’t knit, well, you should learn. Learning, it seems,  is what it’s all about. 🙂

Pardon My Twang….

…But I keep hearing an old-timey version of a Ralph Stanley song running through my head, specifically the refrain, “The darkest hour is just before dawn”.

Now, those who know me, and even those who don’t, yet come here for all the sparkling Grief Blogging might worry that I’m in a depression. Fear not. Well, I am, a little, but really, anyone over the age of 14 is bound to get the blues this time of year, what with all the manufactured joy and pre-packaged expectations that come with “The Holidays”. Nope. I’m in the darkest hour because I am cleaning and reorganizing all the kitchen accoutrements. Holy shitballs, Mabel, this is a Task and A Half! And basically, with most un-cluttering and organizational projects, you have to explode the whole thing before you can put it in order. Right now, Houston, we have esplosions.

This morning, I moseyed down to Index, a restaurant supply store in the River Market, and boy, it’s easy to drop your whole wallet there. It gets hypnotizing, as you walk around looking at all these…things… you start to think, “Well of COURSE I could use a dozen of those little stainless cups they serve ketchup in at McCoy’s,” and you catch yourself mentally visualizing and measuring your oven, just in case this enormous cookie sheet could fit in it. And of course you’d need the matching Silpat. I caught myself eyeballing a sugar pourer. It was only $1.50. I was certain that would be useful. I could throw the old one away. Update the sugar pouring aspect of my life.  You wouldn’t believe the siren songs I hear in my head in that store.  Anyhoo, I did NOT buy anything off my list, my goal was to get some large foodservice-grade containers to put baking supplies in (flour, sugar) and then at least one more big one for rice. This is the downside of the CostCo shopping – enormous bags of flour and rice, and where in the hell do you put them? Shove ’em in the back room off the kitchen, that’s where. Alongside last winter’s birdseed, which, upon unearthing, I later caught Tripper EATING. He is such a motherfucking black lab it makes me crazy. Birdseed. To him, it must have been some gourmet trail mix. (That is going out to the greenhouse. I did not buy a tub for it.)

So now my fantastic birthday-present-to-myself from this summer, the KitchenAid 6, sits on top of a chrome cart, and stacked in glorious organization under it are the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and on the bottom shelf, rice. I will be able to just pull the cart in to the main kitchen area & use the mixer on the cart, instead of having to lift and move the beast onto the countertop (because it’s so tall, it blocks the cabinet doors. Yep.)  And this one beacon of organization and containment is in the middle of the dining room, and its strangeness is making Suzy crazy, so she’s been lying here GROWLING at it the whole time I’ve been typing. Dogs. Thank god they can’t drive, they’d lose their minds.

OH, but see, there’s more. There’s a huge big ol’ reason all of this is happening, besides the fact I’m on vacation, and alternating between lolling about & knitting and being productive. I got a really kickass Christmas present. Two, in fact. One from my MIL (Momma Linda) and one from my husband. We draw names in his family, and she got mine. And she has heard me bitch and pick fights with said husband over …wait for it…. a french fry cutter. He has refused to buy it for me because it is…impractical. A unitasker. No. I am not married to Alton Brown, but sometimes it sounds that way! I wanted one because the cheapy one I  had broke, and I wanted a solid, restaurant-quality, never-gonna-break sort of french fry cutter. DO NOT ASK ME how many times a year I make french fries. Because that is not the point. Here was something I genuinely wanted. For years. It started to take on a lifeblood all its own.  James would complain about how hard I am to buy for, and I would always look at him and say, “French fry cutter.” Yet he refused to get it. (There were arguments made about our walls and the fact it has to be mounted to one, blah blah blah DETAILS, people. Trivial details.) So, since my MIL and I are not unlike each other, she went and ordered me the mac-daddy french-fry cutter to beat the band. Doesn’t have to be mounted on a wall, either. And when she informed my husband of this gift, he knew his goose was cooked. Or tater was sizzlin’, whichever metaphor you prefer. Because in the past – and as recently as last week – others had offered to pool resources, to go around him, to buy it for me. I refused. I purposefully never told my father, because he would have had it shipped express the next day to make a point.  This was my lynchpin. My sand in his Vaseline.  So the Wo knew he had to do something. And he ordered a twin deep-fat fryer from CostCo. Yes. That clanging noise was everyone’s arteries slamming the doors on crazy. CRAZY. But he had to get with the program or have it forever held against him, and it has made me laugh repeatedly since Christmas day, because it’s partly an O’Henry short story, partly a clash of personalities and priorities, and through it all, completely filled with love.

Anyway, now, all this stuff has to go somewhere, and some things need to be removed, since they are ever-so-rarely used. And I’m taking FULL advantage of the no-limit-on-trash-bags opportunity this week, going a little crazy with the tossing, but it feels good.  With the bonus that now I can have my very own State Fair in the kitchen anytime I want.


The sun is slowly sinkin’
The day’s almost gone
Still darkness falls around us
And we must journey on
The darkest hour is just before dawn
The narrow way leads home
Lay down your soul at jesus’ feet
The darkest hour is just before dawn

Like a shepherd out on the mountain
A-watchin’ the sheep down below
He’s coming back to claim us
Will you be ready to go
The darkest hour is just before dawn

The narrow way leads home
Lay down your soul
Let jesus in
The darkest hour is just before dawn
The darkest hour is just before dawn

For everyone who found their heart aching over the holidays, just remember…. you are not alone.

Happy Happenstance

Yesterday, I left for my lunchtime hair appointment. I was exactly on-time, which is always a riveting moment and should be noted, since on-time has never been one of my strengths.

My stylist greeted me with a slightly puzzled air – turns out, the appointment was for Thursday (in her book). I chalked it up to her pregnancy brain, because I never make plans on Thursdays, as I am often at a client meeting that can last an undertermined amount of time. This week, I wasn’t going, so I just told her it wasn’t a problem & I’d see her tomorrow, and now I could go to CostCo and get a new mini-fridge for my office!

You know, the old one-door-closes-and-a-window-opens thing? Or, make-the-best-of-it? So into the blowing cold wind & tiny snowflakes I went. Walked into CostCo and saw my BFF Beth! She was there to pick up pictures, but they’d mucked up the print job & needed to be redone. She didn’t have plans, so we cruised through CostCo together. I especially liked the part where I wrestled the enormous fridge box into my cart, telling her that while I knew she wished she COULD help me, secretly, I was hoping everyone around us would look at her with disdain for not helping her friend out. (She is not able to lift anything over 10# right now while recovering from a procedure.) (Obviously I was prepared to wrestle this by myself. She actually helped by holding the cart still.)

I got a fancier, bigger model (of course you did, I hear my husband utter), but I had researched them on Consumer Reports, and they basically hated all those little ones. The brands of the bigger ones they did like still cost a bit over $100 online, just for the hated-little size. So, that was all the justification I needed, my fridge is the equivalent of hunting quail with an elephant gun, but whatev. CR said it’s good, and that’s all I need!

Getting it in the car would have been easy, had the Murano been cleaned out. We purposefully didn’t get it seated in the cart, so it would be easier to offload. But I had to keep tilting and wedging the box in the hatchback area, and all I could think about was when I first moved here, and moved a 70-plus pound air conditioner into my apartment – by myself. That was a bitch and a half. People walked by me and watched me struggle then, too. Whatever. I am MIGHTY, dammit, and I am tenacious, and I am stubborn.  I realized afterwards that some of the looks might have been because my shirt had pulled down and my bra & a nice expanse of my bosoms were greeting the world cheerfully. Hm.

After that, we grabbed a bite at the Westport Flea Market, and I was greatly amused to have my order called in song. (to the tune of Snoop Dogg/Pharrell’s “Beautiful”) “Jennifer….. I just want you to knoooow….that your food is doooone.”

The new fridge is fantastico, if a bit overkill for an office fridge, but it actually keeps things cold (the other one conveyed more like … the notion of cool.) I actually had shards of ice in my Diet Coke this morning, so I took the temperature down a smidge. I like the ice, but I also put some apples in there, and I don’t want those frozen. Of course, I could put them in the crisper. Yes. I now have a crisper. Currently it holds the mini ice cube trays. For the mini freezer. Yes.  Shush.

‘Twas a happy day. I did get my haircut today, it’s fabulous! I came back and ate my sammich from my new fridge & need to figure out who has Diet Coke on sale so I can stock up. And then, tomorrow’s Friday! Yippee skippy! Cold weather & knitting go hand-in-glove!

The First Step Was Taken….

Tonight was the party night at the American Royal. We went to several tents – we always have a great time at the KCTV5/KSMO tent, and then, because we knew both an attender, and the cop working the “door”, we sorta crashed the Worth Harley-Davidson tent, which was pretty awesome. After a while, we went back to the KCTV5 tent, to make sure we thanked everyone & said our goodbyes, and on the way out, I saw my chance.

There was a young police officer working security there, as well, nice nice guy, and was doing an inordinate amount of texting. It’s not really major case squad down there at the Royal, though I’m sure as the night goes on, the drunk & disorderly rises.  So I decide, now’s my chance. I started to tell him, then I stopped, imagining the worst, he told me to go ahead, just tell him, and I did it.

“Has anyone ever told you they’re afraid they’re going to lose their minds, lose utter control, and try and take your gun away from you?”

The answer? It’s a helluva lot more common than I ever imagined. (Yay! I am not alone in wanting to hurtle myself right into unmitigated stupidity!) And he continued to tell me just how aware he is, at all times, of where he is in proximity to other people, how he doesn’t want people behind him, and he’s always aware of where other people are in relationship to his weapon.  As sorely tempted as I was to fake an attempt, HA HA, wouldn’t that be hilarious, I wisely chose not to. And I walked away, shouting to my husband and mother-in-law that I’d made the first step in ridding myself of this phobia.

Oddly enough, it didn’t even cross my mind when we met up with James’ former D.A.R.E. officer, someone I adored the minute I met her, and she gave us both hugs (talk about your perfect opportunity). She told me she’s got some great stories for me (I practically jumped with glee, except I was so tired by that point, I couldn’t have left the earth for a second). Can’t wait to plan that dinner, I love me some first-hand COPS. We then admired the drug-seizure vehicle her partner was driving – a souped-up Denali with spinner wheels and a DVD player system (in the front!), and then our jaws dropped when the trunk doors were opened. The entire cargo area was filled with the biggest speakers I have ever (EVER) seen in a car. I made a joke about how this kinda makes drug money look good, and she said she spins it the other way. I’m not sure exactly what that is, apart from the fact I think those speakers can actually sterilize you at 50 yards. Oh, well, yeah, JAIL. Duh.

The evening was great fun, and the big event is tomorrow – I’ll take pictures, and give you a full report on the day of judging. I know by the time Sunday rolls around, I’m going to have sauce & smoke coming out of my pores. …

All-in-All, A Good Day.

The beginning of my day had someone telling me they thought I was brilliant (and no, they weren’t from Dublin, where EVERYthing is brilliant), and it came from someone I respect, so it definitely meant something. The end of my day (well, the sun’s going down, anyway) contained an email from The Loopy Ewe, informing me of a sneak-up, and my DPN holders are in the store. I hope they sell at least one or two, so I don’t throw up in horror and embarrassment! No news on the scarf exchange, but I appreciate the sympathy and shared frustration with the situation. It’s a bummer, but what can I do at this point? Nuttin’, honey.

There’s lots of other good news, but if I stuffed it all into one blog post? It’d be like eating all your movie theater candy in the first five minutes. But hinty-hinty, we have done our part to stimulate the economy in the past three days, and someone just might have herself a fabulous birthday present! 🙂

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