Busy Day


We take food seriously in my house.  We stake our reputations on the foods we bring to pot lucks.  I will (almost) never show up to a food event without an offering of epic proportions.  And when we have people over, they are in for a culinary treat.

This was my day.

I got up around 6:30 and decided I wasn’t going to walk.  I made sad, pathetic excuses and climbed back into bed.  But I couldn’t go back to sleep.  Buddy got up soon after and started frying bacon for the tater tot casserole he was making for the Mandatory Fun today (http://ithilen.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/mandatory-fun/).  I was not making anything because I was a a little miffed by the whole thing.  The plan was for him to get everything ready for the casserole before he went to work so I could just pop it in the oven later in the morning.  So he fried bacon and then the hamburger meat.  As punishment for not walking, I cleaned the bathrooms.

I have three levels of cleaning:  Good Enough, Good, Inspection.

Good Enough is the daily efforts.  Wiping up spills with a little water so stuff isn’t sticky.  Putting stuff away that has just piled up on the bar.  Folding the couch blankets.  The kind of stuff that keeps the place looking respectable without me dragging out the cleaning supplies.  Tidying up, you know?

Good is the level we usually pull out for parties.  All the public areas get swept, mopped, vacuumed, dusted, and windex’d.  The bathrooms get the most attention.  It’s the type of cleaning I should do once a week, maybe, but tend to only do for parties.  It’s actually one reason we host parties.  Sure, we like hanging out with people, but it’s a handy excuse.  “Man, I really need to vacuum.  Lets have some people over Friday.”

Inspection is a layover from the School of Music.  You’d think that Basic would be the source of my cleaning paranoia, but it really wasn’t.  Sure, they’d freak out if you didn’t have a 45° angle on your bed corner, but the cleaning was really basic.  It’s not like they gave us cleaning supplies.  Someone was bound to drink some.  No, SOM featured 5 Drill Sergeants who had very little to do and so focused their energies on ruining the lives of their soldiers.  My roommates shoes were chucked across the room because they were displayed incorrectly.  They would fail you for paper towel lint in the tub, a strand of hair in the sink, or a speck of food on the microwave tray.  There were rumors that they failed a room because the grout was dirty, when in reality it was just gray grout.  The guys apparently went over the grout with whiteout in order to pass muster.  They failed an entire floor because the first three rooms had dust on the  shoes under their beds.

We had inspections every week.  The first one was a surprise.  The second one happened the next day if your room failed.  Then there were field nights every other week with an inspection at the end.  The worst were the Command Inspections every couple of months, where the DS, the Commander, and the XO would walk through and look at your room while you stood there trying not to panic.

Needless to say, we adapted to this stress by having a lot of industrial-strength cleaning products, extra sets of sheets so we never had to make the bed once we got it perfect, and a penchant for cleaning everything that we could see as well as several things we couldn’t.

Have you ever seen that anti-drug commercial about Meth where the anorexic girl is scrubbing the bejeesus out of everything with a toothbrush because she’s tweeking so hard?

Yeah.  It was like that.

Inspection clean is a once a quarter or “The Parents are Coming to Visit!” event.  It means that I clean base boards, the bases of toilets, the microwave, the fridge, all the small appliances, the remotes, the decorative jars and knick-knacks, the window sills, and anything else that I can see is dirty.  I even do a thorough cleaning in the master suite, which usually gets half the vacuum/duster attention of the rest of the house (funny how the rooms we use the most are also the one’s we put off cleaning the most => we’re the only people who see them, after all).

Today was a blend of Good and Inspection.  I did a thorough job on all three bathrooms, laid down PetFresh baking soda on the carpets (so they smell nice when I vacuum), and when I eventually vacuumed I made sure to use the hose for all the edge stuff I’m usually too lazy to get.  The sweeping and mopping (dining room and kitchen) were done yesterday.  No toothbrushes were harmed in the cleaning of my house.  This time.

I also ended up finishing the prep-work for Buddy’s casserole because he had to go to work.  Then I churned tiramisu ice cream for tomorrow’s Bday BBQ.  While that churned, I put down the baking soda, then vacuumed, then put the casserole in the oven, then finished vacuuming , then showered, then got the casserole out to cool, then took a 15 min nap, then loaded up the car for Mandatory Fun.  I wore heels so no one could make me play games.

It rained, but really only a drizzle.  The kids liked the water balloons but had much more fun are the park’s play equipment.  The adults didn’t play games because they were full of good food and the field was covered with Canadian Geese poop, like a gross, non-deadly mine field.  When I got home, I tossed a pork shoulder in the slow cooker and took a well-deserved 3 hr nap.

As I’m reading back over this, I’m realizing that I made out like this was a food post and then went into a treatise on cleaning, which isn’t interesting to anyone.

The food post goes like this:

My husband got up at 6:30, an hour earlier than usual, to make a casserole for a potluck we were made to go to.  It’s his best dish.  Who makes their best dish for forced food festivities?  While I cleaned the bathrooms, he prepped the pork shoulders (we forgot to do that last night) for the pulled pork dishes for tomorrow.  At 9:30 last night, I was making the ice cream mixture so I could churn it today.  We spent over $200 on groceries yesterday.  There is a whole beef tenderloin waiting to be broken down in the fridge.  Why?  Because two small roasts, 6-8 filet mignon steaks, and “the chain,” that’s why.

Serious food.

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15PM00000072011 · 19:49

Mandatory Fun


I shouldn’t write about this.  If the wrong people read it, they might get upset.  But I’m really frakking annoyed.

Mandatory fun is exactly what it sounds like.  The boss says he/she wants to reward the troops for all their hard work.  Or maybe it’s just a quarterly event to build morale or something.  There’s a BBQ or potluck scheduled.  The boss wants to make sure it is fun so he delegates.  “Johnson!  Think of fun stuff to do!”  Johnson comes up with a few things, little games for the kids because kids need games while adults can just socialize.  Then a few days before the Fun, the boss demands games for the adults so that no one leaves early.  So Johnson scrambles to get together more fun stuff to make grown adults do.  Because that’s how you reward people for hard work.

Have you ever tried to make something fun?  Better question: has anyone (who is not your friend, but with whom you must be civil) ever tried to make you have fun?  It never works.  I have been forced to go to a BBQ on the beach in Hawaii.  Twice.  Both times, it was a Saturday right before deployment, as in, the last day I would have away from everyone there for the next year.  One of them started at 9 in the morning.  Everyone bailed as soon as the boss gave his little speech.

Another time, one of my bosses wanted to do a Frisbee football tournament.  But no one signed up, possibly because there just weren’t enough people to make big teams.  And, you know, musicians are not known for their athletic enthusiasm.  So we all showed up for the picnic and the bosses said everyone was going to play Frisbee football.  They named captains, who picked teams so we could have a stupid tournament of a stupid game which a dog could play better than me.  I was in flip-flops.  I spent my game walking from one side of the field to the other, my passive aggressive “eff you” strategy.

I have many stories of forced fun.  It never works.  Especially when the boss gets involved.  The best intentions turn to pot.

I hope it rains.  Except over that lady’s bathroom.  I wouldn’t wish a leaky bathroom ceiling on anyone.

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15PM000000112011 · 23:51

Bodacious Buddy Birthday


Today is my husband’s birthday.  The party is a BBQ on Saturday.  However, as his wife, I decided long ago that it is my duty to make sure his birthdays are special.  Before Buddy, I had numerous disappointing birthdays, but I haven’t had a bad one since we got together.  So I do what I can.

On vacation, we went to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house (so gorgeous).  While there, we picked up an architectural Lego set for his growing collection (Rockefeller Center).  Then I told him it was for his birthday and he couldn’t put it together until then.  Mwahahaha!  It’s been sitting on our coffee table for a week and a half.  Today, I wrapped it.  He laughed a lot.

So yesterday, he decided he wanted a Reese’s Peanut Buttercup and a Baja Fresh Mountain Dew.  He really knows how to dream big, right?

Well, yeah.  We used to keep cases of soda on the house.  For a few years, when I was in the Army, I had a 4-can-a-day habit.  I cut back to one a day eventually.  Then, I stopped drinking soda some time last year, I think in the spring.  I was drinking a can in class for the caffeine and I was still falling asleep.  It dawned on me that, while I can deal with a product being less than healthy for (even diet or ‘zero’ varieties), I will not continue to pay for something that doesn’t fulfill its primary purpose.

Anyway, Buddy agreed that it was a waste of money and we stopped keeping it in the house.  He still drank some at work for a while, but kicked soda completely on December 1st.  That was also about the time he gave up cheap candy bars.  I still indulge in the occasional candy bar, but since I can only eat dark chocolate I usually can’t find one when cravings attack.

You may have noticed that I said “cheap” candy bars.  That’s because if we paid $7 for a bar of gourmet chocolate, we will (try) not to scarf it down in one sitting.  So they don’t count.

I found a giant-size Reese’s bar (because it’s got to kill the craving for a year) and then spent three hours scouring gas stations, pharmacies, and grocery stores for the elusive Baja Fresh Mountain Dew.  Pepsi has a helpful website where you can look up where the different specialty products are sold.  Except it was almost completely wrong.  I found two places that actually sold Baja, and they only had 12-packs, which was not an acceptable portion size.  So I got his second choice (Throwback Mountain Dew with real sugar, also hard to find).  I bought a Diet Cherry Dr Pepper for myself as a consolation for the rough search.

I brought them home, wrapped them up, and while Buddy was mowing the lawn on his birthday (!), I made dinner (baked chicken and steamed broccoli), lit some candles, and changed for a romantic evening (hockey jersey and jeans).  Cuz we are super classy like that.  Don’t worry.  We’ll be drinking plenty of adult beverages on Saturday to make up for having soda with our “fancy” dinner.

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The point I’m trying to make is that a special day comes from special details, not silly extravagance.

I’m ending this with the exchange we had while watching Kitchen Crashers.

Buddy:  Sure.  Use the old “blind dog” routine to pick up chicks.

Me:  Those were the days, eh?

Buddy:  Bwahahahahaha!

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15PM000000112011 · 23:51

Working Out


This morning, I walked my butt off.  If you happen to find it, please let me know.  I need it for sitting and filling out my jeans.

People who struggle with their weight tend to hate people like me.  I am not skinny.  By model standards, I’m practically obese.  However, my weight and BMI is average for my height, which makes me thin but still curvy (stupid thighs).  This engenders hate, not merely because I’m thin, but because I don’t have a rigorous work out schedule and strict diet  to maintain my weight (not since I got out of the Army 4 years ago).  In fact, I tend to lose weight when I stop working out.

However, like everyone else in this culture I have body image issues, and as 30 looms closer I’m becoming more paranoid about weight gain.  Both my parents are obese.  Most of my brothers are overweight.  Most of my friends are overweight, or think they’re overweight.  I may be thin, but I’m not in shape.  I am weak-muscled and I get out of breath far too easily.

Okay, that sounds lame.  Here’s the thing.  I don’t have personal discipline.  I hate going to the gym (get up, get dressed, drive over, get gross, drive home, shower, feel exhausted the rest of the day, ugh).  Even when there were classes I loved, like Body Combat and Spinning, I still needed a Gym Buddy to keep me going every day.  I stopped going when we moved here because they don’t teach Body Combat anywhere and my Gym Buddy was too far away.

I also have a healthy distaste for running.  Before you running fans leap down my throat, please understand that running in the Army was always stressful and painful.  The Army pushes you to your limits in many ways, but it doesn’t care if you get to your limit the healthy way so long as you get there.  I got stress fractures in my hips at Basic.  I needed knee braces by the time I was 25.  I told my sister once that I knew I had done a good run when I felt near throwing up at the end.  She was aghast, for some reason.  And don’t get me started on unit runs, which are supposed to be team- and morale-building exercises yet somehow contrive to be exquisite forms of torture.  You try getting 1600 people to run at the same pace (too slow for most males, too fast for most females) for two miles, and don’t forget to yell at and shame those people who can’t keep the pace.

Anyway, I hate running.  My hips and knees agree with me.  I also hate “dieting.”  I love chocolate.  In fact, sugar is major weakness of mine which my teeth do not thank me for.  Salt is a close second, followed by butter.  I have significantly reduced my intake of these guilty pleasures, but if I ever had to give them up entirely it wouldn’t happen.  I love food.  I will not go through my life on “diets” when I can just be conscientious of what I eat now and train my taste buds away from the foods that will kill me (I’m looking at you, fast food).

This is my point.  If I ever become overweight, I have no confidence that I will be able to drop the pounds on my own.  Besides college tuition, it’s what scares me most about having kids.  What if I spend the rest of my life trying to get rid of the baby weight?  I know this is silly.  I know Buddy will help me get back in shape if I ask.  I know it is silly to be scared of something that hasn’t happened.  Still, it’s the only motivation I have now.  I can’t allow myself to gain weight (which is not the same as being out of shape, believe me).  If I stay in shape now, maybe I won’t have to fight my weight later.

It’s not a good long-term motivator.  When school starts and the temperature drops, you probably won’t see me walking.  It’s difficult to be paranoid of something that doesn’t appear to be happening.  Then again, if I keep reading my Mom’s blog about her weight loss struggle and the insane amount of gym work she puts herself through, I might just stay motivated.  Here’s what I did today.

40 min walk (personal best on distance in the first 20, beat my time by 13 sec on the way back)

5 sets of:

20 sec push-ups (on my knees to alleviate shoulder pain)

40 sec Charlie Mansons (abdominal twist)

20 sec leg lift

20 back crunches

All of this while my cats watched disdainfully, because if they get obese it’s my fault, not theirs.

To all you naturally skinny girls:

Do not assume that you can eat whatever you want.

Do not assume that skinny equals healthy.

Do not EVER mock overweight or obese people, especially when you see them working out.  Most people aren’t born that way.  Even with good genes and a high metabolism, it can and will happen to you if you don’t take care of yourself.

(Sorry about the soap box.  I had meant this to be funny and all this seriousness happened instead.  Next post, nothing but jokes.  I promise.)

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15AM00000092011 · 09:44

Transformers 4 to Insomnia in One Conversation


So this is how our post-movie conversation went:

About 20 min of “Michael Bay has murdered my childhood.”

5 min interest in the new Dracula Untold movie.

Which transitioned to another 5 about Gary Oldman Dracula (added history to the origins gave the character depth) and Gerard Butler Dracula (um…interesting, but he’s a little too Scottish to be Judas…nice hair, though).

Then there was the paradox of Benedict Cumberbatch, who is gorgeous as Sherlock with his hair and his collar, impressively demented as KHAAAAAN, and murderously vicious as the voice of Smaug.  Yet in all the ComicCon photos, where he is smiling excitedly with fans and mugging with Smaug Lego statues, he looks…like…a fanboy at ComicCon.  Not even British attractive.

Which led to why all-tooth-smile is the only prerequisite for epic evil villain roles, Tom Hiddleston and Michael Fassbender being the premier examples.

You may think you have seen Fassbender’s scary smile, but you haven’t until you’ve seen him genuinely excited, like when he was on Top Gear.

We are convinced that he has more teeth than anyone else on the planet.  He’s got, like 45.  The extra one is hidden behind his ear.

Then Buddy proposed a horror movie called The Tooth Fairy, starring Michael Fassbender, which we would use to frighten our children into obedience (or therapy).

He takes your teeth and adds them to his own.

Good luck getting to sleep, faithful readers.

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15PM00000092011 · 21:42

Comedies vs Bad TV


So, I had a late night.  Got a text from Dad that Mom was in the hospital (it was a kidney stone, pretty nasty).  That sort of makes sleep an unwelcome friend (lots of weird dreams).  Today, I did a lot of sleeping.  Because I’m still sick.  And, you know, not sleeping well.  And, okay, I don’t have much else to do.

But, well, if I sleep all day I feel like crap.  Also lazy.  Very, very lazy.

So when I started to doze off while reading, I sought entertainment from the TV.   Hundreds of channels (maybe thirty of which I regularly visit), hours of recorded shows (most of them are Buddy’s since I have so much time to watch mine).  And obviously, nothing to watch.  I settled on a horrific Jack Black/Michael Cena film.   Finally, I couldn’t stand it and switched over to the Netflix.

When Buddy came home some time later, he stared aghast at the screen as Xena, Warrior Princess, waged hand-to-hand combat with a guy while they both stood atop the heads of the crowd which had gathered to fight the battle.  In answer to his blatant horror at my entertainment choice, I explained.

“If I’m going to watch bad television, I’m going to watch good bad television.  Xena might be terrible, but I grew up loving this show and watching with my mom.  Way better than the crap they flog to us everyday.”

The lesson, kids?  Just because a movie has a bunch of famous, well-loved actors, doesn’t mean it’s worth wasting a couple of hours for half-cocked punch lines and gag-inducing gags.  And watch classic bad film and TV, with friends and booze.  It is much funnier than so-called comedies.

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15PM00000092011 · 21:30

Rainy Day


It’s raining.  There’s thunder and lightning.  This weather usually makes me feel like writing or snuggling up with a book and some tea.  I have had my tea.  I am doing my writing.  But I’m still too sick for intelligent cogitation.  I’m going to snuggle down with book 46, Pratchett’s Soul Music, wherein the Discworld discovers “Music with Rocks in.”  It stars a guitar player named Imp y Celyn, which translates to Bud of the Holly.  Yeah.

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Grandma Stories


My Mom-in-Law is a very nice, quiet woman who does things like stock her fridge with our favorite drinks when we come to visit.  She’s the type of woman who sends cards for every holiday.  If you mention off-hand what your favorite clothing store is in March, you will get a gift card to that store for Christmas.  She over-gifts, but not in a gaudy way, like she’s showing off how much money she has or anything.  It’s endearing.

And she is just so polite.  Which is why I found the following exchange so funny.  Buddy’s folks were hosting a BBQ while we were in town so we could visit with the rest of the local family, which consists of a brother and sister-in-law and their teenage sons.  It was getting on in the afternoon and Grandma was getting impatient for the other guests to arrive, mostly because she was worried about rain being forecast.

“You told them to be here at 4.”

“I told them they could come early.  Goalie Grandson is probably driving.  It always takes him twice as long.”

“Gasp!  Did Grandma just say that Goalie Grandson drives like a grandma?!?  I’m telling!!!”

“I only meant that he drives carefully.”

She spent the next half hour putting her foot in her mouth.  It was adorable.  And I did tell on her.

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15PM00000082011 · 20:54

Still Ucky


Mucus.  So much mucus.  And the coughing.  I’ve had lots of yummy tea today.  I love the tea.  It is mucho bettero than meds.  I wish I could constantly drink tea, but alas, I can only have short bursts of awesome before it is gone.  Then I have to get up and make more.  I need to get someone to make tea for me.

I had some pretty hearty soup for lunch.  I made the broth yesterday by boiling onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in chicken broth and water for a 1/2 hour.  I also made a large batch of orzo.  Today I layered spinach orzo, cooked chicken, and the broth mix.  It was pretty tasty.

I’m still not firing on all cylinders.  I’m sorry.  Maybe you should go read someone else’s blog for a bit.

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15PM00000092011 · 21:00

Habit Breaker


Sunday, I was ready to kick this summer in the teeth.

Monday, I got a pretty good start (had to do my walk without my watch because the battery was dead) but was ultimately frustrated by some of my efforts.  Buddy and I had to get fancy cupcakes to boost my mood (also to celebrate our 2nd-1st Anniversary).  My throat was feeling scratchy so I took some cold meds before going to bed*.

Tuesday, I rolled out of bed, took more meds, and rolled back into bed.  Then I slept on and off all day.  Went to bed with a migraine, an upset stomach, and a bad feeling about my summer plans.

This morning, my throat was no longer scratchy, but I have a cough that has me looking over my shoulder for the Grim Reaper (if you knew how long it took me to come up with that we analogy, it would be abundantly clear how sick I am).  My head is packed with cotton and rusty nails.  But, I managed to make some chicken broth which is going to make this sick better, or else.

My school stuff is figured out, so at least that’s one thing I’m not worried about.

I’m going to have another…um..tea…or nap…or something.  Hate being sick.
*Buddy has a theory that it is actually the cold meds that cause colds.  He defeated his version of my cold with just cough drops, while mine seemed to drop like a hammer only after I took my first dose.  I’m beginning to think he might not be just paranoid.

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