Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve Big Three

  1. Call a cab, call a friend, call a relative ... hell, call a frenemy; whatever you do, do not drink and drive.
  2. Be safe.
  3. Have fun!

Monday, December 29, 2008

That There Was Karma

HAH HAH!!! I am such an ass ... I freely fess up. Want to know why? Because I am tickled pink that jackass Mangini got fired!!! WOO HOO!!! Yippee!! Hooray!! Boo Yah!
That there was Karma, working it out.
[don't yell at me! he prolly already has a new job]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Stolen, Most Awesome, Pasta Salad

I’m slowly, and lazily, recovering from my cold; just a little sniffly today. Lots of sleep and fluids is my motto, so I’ve not accomplished much other than sleeping and, um, drinking (juice, that is, although a beer or four would probably clear this puppy right up) . My excuse is that I had to work yesterday, and it was awful! Not work, just the fact that I didn’t get a four-day holiday weekend (cut to me, pouting just a little).

Let’s see, my big chores for la isla today have been to change from Christmas-themed to New Years-themed. Guess what was the most difficult? Coming up with party tunes for New Years Eve … there are soooo many from which to choose! It’s a WIP (that’s a work-in-progress, people) … Tubthumping is in because I love it; Pink and the Peas are just plain move it fun, and Lynyrd’s one of my all-time faves (along with Garth’s live version, which I have yet to find, and which will be replacing this version as soon as I do).

Who does that leave? Oh yeah! UB40 and Jimmy Buffet. Well duh, can’t have a party without them. The two new-to-me songs are by Rehab and Spirit of the West … jury’s still out, though. Rehab’s got a good rhythm, but I think a tad misogynistic for my tastes … and Spirit of the West makes me want to go out. To a pub. Right now.

I’ve also started working on my New Years resolutions, although I’ve come up with just the one, but it’s a doozy, so I’m okay with that … but that’s for another day. The only other thing I’ve done today is I made My Stolen Most Awesome Pasta Salad this afternoon, and no matter how many times I’ve washed my hands they still smell like red onion. Blecht! This is the recipe I stole from Brig … I’m posting it here, because you should give it a try (mmmm, yum, good stuff!):


  • 2 boxes Barilla Multi-Colored Rotini Pasta
  • 1 large bottle Wishbone Robusto Italian Dressing
  • 1 bag croutons, plain or Italian-style
  • (Add-In) Fresh broccoli florets (1 large head, cut into very small sections)
  • (Add-In) Black medium olives, whole (1 can)
  • (Add-In) 2 Cups cherry tomatoes, whole
  • (Add-In) 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • (Add-In) 4 large mushroom heads (sliced)
  • (Add-In) ½ large red onion, chopped
  • (Add-In) 6 sticks celery, sliced
  • (Add-In) half a 1” pepperoni log (about 4-5 inches, sliced and quartered)
  • (Add-In) 2 bags cubed Kraft cheese (Colby Jack and Cheddar)
  • (Add-In) 2 Tablespoons McCormick’s “Salad Supremo” for zest


  1. Cook pasta al dente style … after cooking, drain water immediately and rinse with cold water until all pasta is cool (may take a few minutes).
  2. After cooling pasta, splash ¼ cup Robusto Italian dressing over it before incorporating the Add-Ins.
  3. Toss in the Add-Ins.
  4. Toss with remainder of the Italian dressing.
  5. Right before serving mix in McCormick’s Salad Supremo spices for zest.
  6. Top with croutons or serve separately.

For those of you who wonder: after eating this for supper, yes, I fully expect to have a raging case of heartburn tonight. Mmmmm, so worth it!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad, Próspero Año y Felicidad!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!! To those of you who celebrate it and those of you who are subjected to it … enjoy!

It’s pretty mellow here; I’ve developed a runny-nosed, scratchy-throated cold, most likely due to lack of sleep … so other than talking on the phone to loved ones on the East Coast we’re just hanging out, me and my four-legged crew. I’m playing on the computer and messing around with my little ice green iPod Nano, which I’ve had for months but never used because every time I plugged it into my Dell’s USB port I got an error message, and no matter how many times I tried to work around that, draining the iPod charge to almost unreadable levels, it was always with the same result (you’ll recall I am not computer savvy).

But in my research I found that some folk who had this problem simply replaced the cable, so yesterday at Wal-Mart I remembered to pick one up, and voila! It worked!!

Yippy kai kai, yippy kai, yippy yay! Merry Christmas, Lisa!

So I’ve been playing with it ever since, because during all those months that I wasn’t using it I still managed to download 210 songs and videos (which I transferred to CD, which I used in lieu of the iPod).

I passed out gifts this morning to my crew: rawhide dumbbells and cookies for the girls, and catnip socks with three different flavored treats for the cats (yes, food is a big hit in this house). The girls took their dumbbells outside this morning and I haven’t seen them since, although I notice the pile is down from eight dumbbells to three full ones and two halves, spread across the deck, so they’re enjoying them. The cats have decimated their treats to such an extent you’d never know they were there in the first place, and are currently riding catnip highs sprawled all over each other and the bed.

This is Joey’s 16th Christmas, and sadly, it is most likely his last. He’s been stricken with the same thyroid condition that took his littermate Ben five years ago: he’s absolutely ravenous and always thirsty, but has dropped half his body weight in three months. He has no pain, so it’s just a waiting game. This took Ben in less than six months, so I know what to expect. I’m on watch.

But this afternoon Joey sits in my lap, idling along, occasionally slipping into that full-throated diesel roar he gets going when particularly happy … right now due to my absent-minded scratching of his chin (his absolute fave). It’s a little difficult to work the computer one-handed, but he digs his claws into my leg whenever I stop scratching that chin of his! Guess who is boss?

Even though it’s a relatively uneventful Christmas day I don’t mind, because the Christmas celebration is all about family, and it’s when I get back home next month that I’ll really make merry … I can hardly wait!

BTW: on the 23rd, when I had that 52 minute five-mile drive? Seventeen accidents on that stretch of road! Whew!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

When I Think What I could do with Ten Grand

NFL (e.g., No Fun League) does it again. I just read this off the Patriots blog and, after my initial disbelief and "you have got to be kidding me" reaction, had to share:

Welker Fined 10k

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots receiver Wes Welker has been fined $10,000 for making a "snow angel" in the team's 47-7 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday, colleague Christopher L. Gasper reports.

Gasper caught up with Welker today in the Patriots' locker room, and asked him about being fined. Welker said he wasn't sure if he would appeal, but he acknowledged his snow-angel-making days are over.

"It was a spur of the moment deal, and you can be sure that it won't happen again," Welker told Gasper.

Per NFL rules, players are not allowed to go to the ground for a touchdown celebration (unless it is a prayer). The official reason Welker was fined, the NFL confirmed today, was for "unsportsmanlike conduct for participation in an illegal demonstration by going to the ground."

Well, I Laughed ... and it WAS Sweet

Okay, this just tickled my funnybone: my boss handed out Christmas presents to his direct reports today. Which was really quite sweet (those of you who are in the know about the history of his tenure understand why I say that) ... it's been a number of years since a manager here has given gifts, and Boss came in from his vacation to do so, bringing his little girls to pass out the gifts (they're jonesing for tomorrow to arrive so badly they've got the dt's).

And when Boss got to me he felt it necessary to explain, quite apologetically, that while he had gotten the others gifts that fit what he knew of their personalities, he hadn't been able to do that for me (for various reasons we rarely interact), so had resorted to getting me a gift card instead.

I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he felt bad about that (I mean, really, what kind of an ass scoffs at a Christmas present, for goodness sake?), so I put his mind at ease and thanked him for being so thoughtful. We all wished one another a merry Christmas and that was it.

Awhile later I opened the card and pulled out the gift certificate. Guess where its from? This is the part I find very funny ... its from Kohl's!! Bless his heart, Boss is telling me I need to work on my wardrobe!!! HAH hah hah hee hee hoo hoo hoo!!! Not really, but that was the first thing that popped into my head because the only thing I get from Kohl's is clothes.

Okay, maybe not funny to the rest of you, but here's the sitch; I work in a manufacturing facility where I wear dungarees and logoed shirts every day, with a hard hat and steel-toed shoes (granted the shoes are Sketchers pink and white sneakers, and the hard hat is canary yellow), and I'm tall, so half my dungarees are highwaters because I seriously dislike shopping and generally buy multiple colors of the same thing and last time I got the wrong size but didn't realize until after I'd washed them.

So anyway, I'll be using my shiny new gift card to get a new pair of dungarees, and I'll make sure they fit (no bright white socks peeking out between the cuff of my dungarees and the top of my shoe!). And the best part is, this is the best gift he could have given me!! I love gift cards, they let me pick out exactly what I want!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grand Slalom

What a Grand Slalom the drive into work was this morning! I had jokingly told my family members on Facebook that I wanted some of their New England snow, seeing as they’ve all gotten a foot plus the past few days and all I got was rain that melted what little snow cover there had been. But I digress.

This morning I let the girls out, and as they caromed off one another in their surge to the steps, each trying to get down into the yard first … no reason, mind you, just Great Labrador Fun … I noticed it had started to sprinkle. No biggie … the girls are very good at notifying me (and every other non-hearing-impaired organic creature within a two-mile radius) when they want to come in from the rain. So I set about getting ready for work.

An hour later I let the girls in, confirmed the rain had stopped by observing my now non-spotted deck, and headed down to the garage. Can I just say right here how very, very much I happen to appreciate the wonderful architect who invented the attached garage? MWUH! XOXO!!

So I hopped in the Durango and was off. I’ve had the four-wheel drive engaged for the past few days because it handles better in the wind and rain, so it wasn’t until I turned from my street onto the next that I noticed every square inch of roadway was covered in black ice. I’ve never actually seen it like that before. Usually there may be sections of icy areas on the drive, but this time there wasn’t a single, solitary section of the first five and a half miles of my 37 mile commute that wasn’t slicker than snot.

The two mile trip up Main Street to the 1st highway wasn’t that bad. Our little bedroom community has a 25 mph speed limit unless posted otherwise, and it’s enforced strictly enough that every last one of us knows at least three out-of-towners who’ve gotten speeding tickets. It is a rare gathering indeed that doesn’t have someone complaining about the speeding ticket he or she just got on the way over. But I stray again (I do that, don’t you know).

So driving slowly up Main Street was no different than any other day. It was the entrance to the 1st highway that hinted at the fun we were about to have. That was the first accident I came across. For some reason the two vehicles involved decided to pull over to opposite sides of the on-ramp, making maneuvering through them even more hazardous for the rest of us, but you have to cut people some slack when they’ve just been in a fender-bender … they tend to not think very clearly for a moment.

I got up on the highway and proceeded to creep along for the next mile at a steady 5 mph until I passed the little import, inching along with her hazards blinking, who had been slowing both lanes to a crawl. Quick aside: is it really necessary to use hazards when everybody and their brother on the road is in the very same situation? What? Is the drive for that one person that much more hazardous than it is for everyone else on the road? Didn’t think so.

Now I am the first person to admit that I am a driving hypocrite. I will roar blue thunder at all and sundry who do not get out of my way on non-weather-impaired days. If there’s a posted speed limit I exceed it. If there’s a curve I take it hell-for-leather. If there’s a fool blocking my way I have been known to weave through traffic to get around him or her (I do not, however, tailgate, flash high beams, honk, or otherwise harass other drivers … I just want to move, not kill anyone).

My giant pet peeve when driving is the jackass (can’t think of a nicer term, although there are many that are far more offensive) who tools along in the left-hand lane … you know, the Passing Lane, also known as the High Speed Lane … enjoying what appears to be a friggin’ Sunday drive during rush hour. Sigh. Here’s a Rule of Thumb: if you’re being passed on the right, then you’re in the wrong (lane, that is). But still, I wander away from my point, again.

The point being that although I am a horse’s ass of epic proportions during a “regular” drive, I am nothing of the sort while driving in rain, sleet, snow, or ice. At those times I am serenity personified. Right at the get-go I acknowledge that yes, I am going to be late to wherever it is I am driving, and nothing I can do will change that fact. Once that’s out of the way, I settle in and enjoy the challenge. It then becomes more of a live action role-play from some video game than an actual chore.

So this morning, I get past the timid little import, and rev it up until I am fair screaming along at a whopping 12 mph. That lasted a half mile, until I came to the small hill that leads up over the train tracks, otherwise known as Automobile Armageddon. A tractor trailer and a dump truck were sitting in the right breakdown lane, yet another little import was mightily, but ineffectually, trying to buzz up the hill from the left-hand lane, the right-hand lane was little occupied (apparently being between a semi and a madly swerving subcompact is no one’s idea of fun), and there was no left-hand breakdown lane as there is an exit there. So that took a bit of attention to get through.

The next hurdle was a much longer hill that also curves around a very wide corner. This was un-navigable. There were jackknifed tractor-trailers, stalled vehicles, and stranded commuters all over the place, pointed in every direction imaginable … both lanes of travel, plus the left and the right breakdown lanes, plus the grass median between our West-bound side of the highway and the East-bound side. It was ridiculous! I've never seen such a thing! I lost count at 23 vehicles. This is the sort of situation you see on the evening news, happening in some far-off Northwest territory, not here.

By this time I was leading a caravan of six other vehicles, who all followed me across the median to the outer road, which we took to a set of traffic lights further on that dumped us back onto the highway at the top of the hill, just beyond the hazards. Still black ice, but only for the next half mile, when we got onto the Interstate, which was smooth sailing, honking along at an exhilarating 45 mph.

In all it took me 52 minutes to drive 5.5 miles from my home, then another hour to drive the rest of the way to work. I think the next time I wish for New England weather, I’ll contain myself to balmy summer days. That'll learn me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seething with Frustration

So I went to Price Chopper to pick up some sandwich meat, and noticed when I got home and pulled into the garage that one of my headlights is out. Sigh. Something else that has to be fixed right away. This along with the check engine light that’s been on since last week. Great, I'm a headlight down and having engine trouble during the Midwest Winter (cold and dark early every day), yay! Guess I’ll stop at the dealership first thing tomorrow morning to see if they can fit me in.

Great news! The Patriots won!! YES! But, when my boy Wes Welker made an innocent little snow angel in the end zone, he was penalized (see it here:! What?!? But the Dolphins (ptooie!) won, too ... the Chiefs were thisclose to pulling it off, but no! They had to tank ... again ... meaning my Patriots still may not make it into wild card position. Don't think I've forgiven the Chiefs for Brady, either ... they can't do anything right!

In case you missed it, I’m aggravated today. My mailbox fell apart weeks ago, and I have the replacement, but haven’t been able to put it up because somebody (who shall remain nameless) borrowed my drill last summer. Yes, that’s right … last ... summer … and has yet to return it, although I was promised that I would have it back this weekend ... again ... (this being the third or fourth weekend of my discontent). And it's not like I can stop at somebody's house on my way home from work, because somebody is never there!

This is the same drill I need to put up my used-to-be-new lined curtains, which I've had since July (bought in plenty of time to put them up for the Winter, but that little plan has been blown all to pieces), and which would be a great added line of defense against the freezing cold drafts that come in around my windows.

Yes, I’m venting … yes, I’m peeved. This is the same somebody who has my paper shredder. And backed my Durango into my not-quite-all-the-way-open garage door whilst pulling out two years ago and has yet to fix either the Durango or the garage door. And killed my dog. Okay, that last one isn’t fair. But still; the purpose of venting is to vent, not to be nice, and I guess I'm just not as over that as I pretend to be. Especially when I am aggravated!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2009 Corporate Policy Changes

EFFECTIVE: January 1, 2009

  1. You are advised to come to work dressed according to your salary.
  2. If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag we will assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise.
  3. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise.
  4. If you dress just right you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

Sick Days:
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days:
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year.
They are called Saturdays and Sundays.

Bereavement Leave:
This is no excuse to miss work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives, or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend the funeral services in your place. On those rare occasions when employee involvement is necessary, the services should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

Bathroom Breaks:
Entirely too much time is being spent in the bathroom. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract into the wall, the stall door will open, a photo of the occupant will be taken, and said occupant will be ejected. After an employees second offense, his or her photo will be posted on the company bulletin board under the 'Chronic Offenders' category. Anyone caught smiling in the photo will be sanctioned under the company's mental health policy.

Lunch Break:

  • Skinny employees are alloted a 30 minute lunch, as they need to eat more so they can more easily appear healthy.
  • Normal size people are alloted a 15 minute lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figures.
  • Chubby people are alloted a 5 minute break at the standing-room-only health bar, because that's all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast or V8.

Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation, and input should be directed elsewhere.

-The Management

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hey! It’s a Shiny New Day Over Here!

I am recovered from yesterday (my bad-poopy-icky-awful day) and am back in my regular optimistic state-of-mind.

Plus, I had, while not technically a 2nd interview for the NJ job, an interview nonetheless with the gentleman who’d be my peer, and who I’d work with very closely. It lasted almost an hour, and our styles appear to complement one another, so I am industriously thinking good thoughts.

I’m also listening to CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!! Seriously, is there anything better? I love it!! What other time of year can I hear ten versions of the same song that are all different and all equally as fun/fantastic? Huh? That's right, at no other time!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bad Poopy Icky Awful Day

I hate days like today, when all does not go according to plan and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Blecht!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's a Winter-Long Hug ...

I had never heard of furred scarves until a couple years ago when Mom showed some to me. I loved them! I had to have one! But not one of those skinny little accessory ones that were all the rage, oh no! I had to have a big, thick one for real use in Winter storms.

So Mom knitted me the most awesome scarf ever, bar none (it’s the berry/blue one on the right in the picture here). I wear it all Winter long. Mmmmm, I love this snuggly bit of warmth … it covers all the way up my ears, and keeps the cold chill of the Midwest freeze … er, breeze … out (my friends are so jealous). It’s like getting a hug from Mom all Winter long.

Last Winter I knitted one for Mom, just to see if I could, in a rust undercoat with black furring. I quickly discovered that I am nowhere near as skilled at knitting. Mom can multitask … she watches television, she carries on intelligent conversations! She knows how to finish the darn thing! Not so, me (I had to mail it incomplete to Mom so she could close off the final row, and the one time I tried watching television I dropped stitches … then, somehow, rows later, I miraculously picked them up again – still don’t know how that happened).

And I can’t for the life of me knit loosely, so Mom’s beautiful new scarf weighs 8 pounds, or thereabouts; she’ll have back strain if she ever actually uses it. I think its pretty good for a first attempt ... even if it does look like a two-tone wall tapestry made by a nine-year with a case of the palsy ... and am fair chuffed with my mad knitting skills.

Anyway, this Winter is no different, and my scarf from Mom got all kinds of attention as the bad weather set in. In fact, a colleague at the plant, once she found out mine was hand-made (by my Mom to boot, giving me an inside line), asked if Mom took orders. I told her no, but offered to try one (the blue/black one on the left side of the picture … a work-in-progress).

What have I discovered? I still can’t knit loosely (no worries, it’ll be nice and warm and keep all artic breezes out), and the best site on the web to see how to start a row is here: (the long-tail cast-on is what I used). Oh! And that I cannot believe how long it took me to remember how to tie a slip-knot! Sheesh!

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Jersey Update

I got that initial interview for the position in NJ … had it over the phone Monday morning with the man I’d be direct-reporting to. It lasted a bit more than an hour, and I was very nervous (I do not enjoy selling myself). I way over-prepared for it, and thought I annihilated any chance I had at the job.

Then the HR guy called and said it went well. Go figure.

I’ve been driving Dad crazy throughout, poring over the job description with him, coming up with discussion topics and areas of opportunity, then sending him notes from the interview and coming up with additional subject matter for a follow-up discussion with my will-be boss (hey, there is nothing wrong with the power of positive thinking, people).

I told Dad tonight that when I get the job (more positive thinking) I’m going to have to pay him commission for all the work he’s done. In the vernacular, “true that”.

So, keep thinking those good thoughts that I get to (and through) the next step, which will be callback interviews, and I'll keep you posted.

Oh! Aaaaand ... my wreath from Mom came today!! I love it, love it, love it ... and Mom sends one every year because we love the cardinal on it (makes me think of Valley Rd, and how "our" cardinals used to sit on the fence in the backyard). Sigh. Now it really feels like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Boogie's Summit

Boogie, our black Lab (seen here recovering from this mornings ordeal with the aid of her much-loved "binky" Froggy-Bop), absolutely lives up to her complete name of “Full Tilt Boogie”. That girl is 85 pounds of on, all the time (unless she’s asleep). She has worn a figure-eight in the backyard that I fear will never recover enough to support life again. At the almost middle age of just over five years, she still drops off to sleep instantly, just like when she was a puppy. On or Off, those are her two speeds.

And she’s practically fearless (when she’s in her fenced-in backyard … put her on a leash and take her for a walk and it’s an entirely different story, though, the big, giant pansy). The only time Bear (she has many nicknames) has trouble in the backyard is when we get freezing snow. She and her littermate, Kaia (our yellow Lab), access the backyard from the kitchen, which is on the second floor; so they have to descend the steps from the deck to the yard.

Their very first Winter, the morning after a freeze, they both charged out the door, across the deck, and halfway down the frozen stairs before gravity took over and deposited them ass-over-teakettle in a squealing, tangled, heap of shock at the bottom of the icy steps. Kaia promptly forgot about it and enjoyed her first romp in the snow. Boogie has never forgotten, and first freeze every year since has been extremely traumatic for her.

This year was no different, as I discovered this morning. After having left them outside over an hour playing in the yard (they’re a little nuts and love the cold), I went to let the girls in before leaving for work (actually to bring the Durango to the dealership, but that’s an entirely different “check engine light" story). Kaia came right inside, arrowing straight to the cookie jar for her morning treat, but no sign of Bear.

Now, you have to understand: these two are joined at the hip … on those very rare occasions one comes inside while the other remains outside, its only to stand less than two feet away from one another, barking through the (usually) closed door in some doggy version of a “you come here … no you come here ” argument (which Boogie generally wins through sheer persistence).

Anyway, back to this morning; no Boogie, and Kaia is totally unconcerned. I call Bear, and get a pathetic little yip in return, so I go into the back bedroom to look out the window down into the backyard. Sure enough, my little chicken is cowering at the bottom of the stairs, tail tucked in, terrified.

So, how did I get her inside? First I stood at the top of the stairs and encouraged her. No dice. Then I went down into the backyard and tried walking her up the steps. No way, no deal. Eventually I did walk her up, but not in a straightforward manner, oh no! I started with three steps; she sniveled her way up them to me, and ducked and ran back down to the yard. We do this twice, then I pull a change-up on her and go up five steps. Bear comes up four and runs for the hills. And every time she beats a hasty retreat to the yard during this fun fest she has to take a courage-building circuit of her figure-eight before she comes back for more torture.

Eventually we worked our way up and down the steps, me laughing the entire time (she's just too funny), until on the last attempt Boogie realized she was closer to the deck than the yard so charged up the last couple steps instead of down the eight hundred and sixty two she’d already traversed (okay, that may very well be a tad subjective on my part, but it sure felt like that many).

Oh joy! Oh rapture! The celebration that ensued when Bear reached her summit!! Rocky Balboa has nothing on my girl. Cookies for everyone! Sigh. We’ll do it all over again next year (or next week, depending on the weather).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Penuche Fudge

Penuche is a non-chocolate fudge, but it isn’t maple fudge either. The only “real” flavoring added is vanilla, but don’t mistake it for a vanilla fudge. Its delectable taste is due to the sugar, and when caramelized properly, it is incredible! A good penuche has nuts … usually pecans or walnuts … otherwise it’s just too sugary.

Since most folk out here in MO haven’t heard of it, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it may, along with ZaRex, Autocrat Coffee Syrup, and Furtado’s Chourico, be mostly a New England thing.

It is very difficult to make … if cooked too long it’s hard as a brick and very brittle, so it basically shatters when cut into. Nam is the only one in the family who can make a perfect batch (and even she's had her fair share of “bad” batches, although there’s really no such thing as a bad batch of penuche), but Mike’s (pictured here) is a very close second. Notice the color? Mmmm. This one is from Christmas ’07. The recipe here isn’t Nam's (you're not allowed to have that), but it should do for beginners (a candy thermometer is helpful, but not necessarily required):


2 C brown sugar
1 C white sugar
1 C heavy cream
2 T light corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans


Butter an 8x8 inch square dish.
In medium saucepan combine sugars, cream, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat.
Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that does not dissipate and does not bead when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface.
Remove from heat and let cool without stirring until bottom of pan is lukewarm.
Pour in vanilla and beat until creamy.
Stir in nuts.
Pour into 8x8 pan.
Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Snow of the Season

Kaia and Boogie this morning, trying to remember they like snow.

My only duty today was to go to Home Depot for a new mailbox, since the original was plastic and after 15 years it simply disintegrated in the mailman’s hand. I filled the bird feeders first and, in one of those strange coincidences, as I closed the truck door an alarm went off. My first thought, “What the heck is that?!”

Was it the truck? Nope … from somewhere in the house, so I went back inside to figure it out. Smoke alarm? Nope. Cell? Not even close (besides, the alarm was far too loud). Finally figured out it was the battery on my alarm system (because the panel said “Batt Low” – duh).

So I called the service and they confirmed the battery has outlived its three-year life expectancy by an additional three years, which is why it has been unable to recover from the Great Power Outage of Thanksgiving Day. I’m the dodo who never noticed the alarm board was giving me written notice of the battery’s defection, which is why it finally bellowed the message to me via the alarm.

Great, call around to five different Radio Shacks, each getting progressively both further and farther away, until one had a single battery left. But they’re closing in an hour. Pulled the dead battery (scary!!), bagged it and flew to the mall. Got my newbie, came home and installed it. Then ran the system test … completely forgetting it blasts the siren for a few seconds and I have cats. Heh heh, it was pretty funny … they rocketed through the house when that siren blew! Hah, hah, hah, ha, hee, hee, hoo!

But this reminds me of my first tornado experience in MO, when I was watching television and something kept beeping and the acoustics of the apartment made it seem as though the beeping came from the locked closet that housed the furnace and water heater, to which I had no key. I was just getting ready to call the building Super when I realized the sound was actually coming from the television.

Okay, for someone who grew up with the Emergency Broadcast System, which let the television viewer know in no uncertain terms that this was a test of the Emergency Broadcast System, it seems a little stupid to me to have MO’s weather-related EBS, home of the fast and furious tornado, be a delicate little "beep" from the same television that continues to show the regularly scheduled program. And yes, I know the EBS is no more, but I’m just saying think of another way to let people know about imminent death!

Someday I’ll tell you about my first experience with the tornado air siren (yep, I didn’t know what that sound was, either).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Holiday Playlist

Got our first snow today. Wasn't much (slushy & didn't stick), but there you have it.

Today I’ve accomplished almost nothing, except … and this is a huge exception because it took far longer than I care to admit … I added my holiday playlist to La Isla d’Lisa, and I am fair chuffed … yeah, me!

See, I’m not all that skilled at solving the technical puzzles. I do try … I Google for instructions, I ask friends in the know, I even select the “Help” option of every application I encounter. All to no avail – I don’t get it. I have, however, become the defacto Queen of the Workaround. And I luck out. A lot.

Take today … first I searched blogs until I found one with a playlist, then I clicked on the [Create Your Free Playlist] button, which brought me out to Project Playlist, where I created my initial list of Christmas songs (very fun). Relatively easy so far, but try as I might I could not get that list onto La Isla d’Lisa.

So I cheated: I added a second Christmas Tree Mini (easy-peasey from its web-page) and edited the Title and the Content to that of my playlist which, of course, was far too large, with miles of my favorite Christmas songs (I’ve hardly met one I haven’t liked) … so I had to engage in a fierce edit session to ensure it wouldn’t bog this page down.

Which got me to thinking: just what is my favorite Christmas song? Actually, that’s a no-brainer: my Dad singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, but that’s by command performance only. The best of the rest is Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, and has been as far back as I can remember. Something about that song, and the way only Andy can sing it, just encompasses Christmas for me.

As for the rest, it really depends on whether I’m in a mood for the standards, their country cousins, their rocking nieces and nephews, their crazy kids, or some mishmash family reunion of them all. Due to this, my holiday playlist will no doubt suffer multiple permutations before the end of the season (but Andy will always be one) … hope you like them!

Friday, November 28, 2008

What's Up With That?

Why is it every day the meteorologist says something to the effect that overnight temperatures may reach the lowest we've seen this year? Hello?!? It's the beginning of Winter ... of course the temps are still dropping! Sheesh.

So, I gutted-up and applied for a promotion within my company ... one that will, if I get it, include a move back East to NJ. I'm fluctuating between way-cool-junior excited and oh-my-goodness-what-have-I-done nervous. There are so many things to consider every step of the way, but ... nothing ventured, nothing gained … and it’s not like change is really anything new to me.

First step was applying; I almost didn't, until a colleague and I were talking it over. That got me thinking, and I sent my resume pretty much the day before deadline. Next step - getting the initial interview. I should find out next week.

Think good thoughts!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

This morning the electricity went out and I thought, “You’re kidding, right? No electricity?!? On Thanksgiving Day?” Unless making a meal in a crock-pot, there aren’t many worse days, cooking prep-wise, to have no power.

I called around to friends in the area, and chatted up our immediate neighbors as we turned out of our homes like ants after a heavy rain, discussing the situation in driveways and over backyard fences. Turns out there’s no power to a fair footprint of our little community, and none of us can get a live person on the phone to report the outage (although we all dutifully followed the automated prompts to tell the lords of technology we were adrift in a sea of … nothing much going on).

Then I called Dad, because he’s one of the four most knowledgeable men I know, and that’s what I do. I got his confirmation the plumbing should work fine (no electric parts), but the house may get cold, because although we have a gas furnace, the blower is electric. Sigh. No problem while the sun is up, but if this lasts any length of time, we could be entering frozen-boogers-indoors territory, and ain’t nobody likes that.

Obviously KCP&L discovered the problem and fixed it, or I’d not be writing this, but the power was out long enough for me to really miss it. We couldn’t look at the news to see what was going on, or pop in a movie, or listen to the radio, or get on the computer and pay bills or pull up the internet. I couldn’t even read a book unless I sat in the window, and it was just too cold sitting there. I couldn’t jump in the shower to get ready for the day because there was no hot water left.

And then I had to laugh, because I now have an appreciation for what my nieces and nephews mean when they whine that there’s nothing to do on those (rare) occasions we adults banish all forms of electronic tomfoolery while the grownups are talking. I believe this must be similar to how they experience being grounded, too (a condition for which I now have much greater empathy).

What this little stint of capricious boredom has reinforced is that I have many things for which to give thanks, and am generally proficient about recognizing them … even if only eventually. I like being a finds-the-silver-lining sort, because that’s just the way it is: no matter the situation, there is some good that comes of it, for some one, some how, every day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why I'm Missing 'Lil Ole Rhode Island

Having been out here in misery … er, Missouri (inside joke, never gets old … to me) … for almost a decade, and having lived in NJ for at least half a decade prior to that, people ask me what I miss most about little old Rhode Island. Well, there are thousands of things I miss, but here’s what’s on my mind right now:

  • I miss the sound of the foghorn when I’m still in bed early in the morning on a foggy warm/cool spring day
  • I miss the island humidity that smells like only humidity near the ocean can smell
  • I miss red tide at Second Beach
  • I miss Second Beach … and Purgatory Chasm
  • I miss the deep blues of Narragansett Bay, and the color of the sky
  • I miss Maple trees (oh, how I love Maple trees)
  • I miss the cloud formations native to Aquidneck Island
  • I miss Brenton Tower (e.g., the Brenton Reef Offshore Light Station)
  • I miss sailing to the Block’s New Harbor through fog so thick it feels like I’m breathing cool steam and have cotton in my ears, and talking to the people on a boat 30 feet away becomes as intimate and muffled as a whispered conversation by firelight
  • I miss Aldo (the elder) putt-putting around said New Harbor selling pastries while happily "singing" Italian opera at the top of his lungs
  • I miss riding around Aquidneck Island on the Vespa with my Dad, just the two of us
  • I miss watching Mom and Dad slow dance around the kitchen, with that disgust only a teen can muster, of 40% “ew, gross!” and 60% “I hope I’m that lucky when I’m old like them” (youth being a currency only the young can spend)
  • I miss lying on the foredeck of D'Lite with Mom, having girl talk while Dad and the boys play cribbage in the cockpit
  • I miss flying kites and having unauthorized bonfires (don’t try this at home) on Ocean Drive
  • I miss Saucy Silvia (and Charlie on the MTA) at the Sheraton Islander
  • I miss Easter and Thanksgiving at Nam’s, where work and play go hand-in-hand
  • I miss Christmas days at Nana’s and Grampa’s, and Christmas nights at Uncle Paul’s and Auntie Elaine’s
  • I miss potato wedges at Chicken City (but only sometimes)
  • I miss the world's biggest captain’s chair and Nibbles Woodaway (the big blue bug)
  • I miss having days (days!) to prepare for a possible hurricane, and that only once a decade or so (tornados are so impatient)
  • I miss soft, fluffy snow in Winter that sounds like bacon sizzling (instead of the driving ice storms of the Midwest)
  • I miss gentle rains that don’t tear up the neighborhood and rip roof tiles off houses
  • I miss the many different RI and MA accents, and the dearth of “R’s” in most of them
  • I miss being able to spend hours outdoors every day in the dead heat of summer, because no matter how hot it gets, it never gets as hot as MO, and there’s always shade, and almost always a breeze
  • Mostly I miss my family, and I thank God almost every day that no matter how far away I get, they’re always just a phone call away

But I also know how true is the adage "you can't go back", as I learned the year I returned to Aquidneck Island, between stints in NJ and MO. Change didn't measure up to What Used To Be, but What Used To Be? Well, that will live forever in my soul, and that's good enough for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, Missouri has its share of awesome things, and one of these days I’ll tell you all about some of them.

BTW: Johnny Dare cracked me up this morning, talking about how people decorate for Christmas earlier every year, and how he usually has the best in his neighborhood until (gasp!) the new folk moved in. Apparently they gave him a run for his money last year, so all he had to say about his plans for this year was, “I don’t care if my electric meter looks like a fan. Oh! It’s on!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Elementary, my dear [...]

So this is blogging. Hmm. Pretty tame so far. What to say, what to say? In the words of an old friend, from those halcyon days of autograph books and summer Girl Scout Camp (the two-week sleep-away kind, thankyouverymuch), "Can't think, brain dumb, inspiration won't come; no ink, bum pen, best of wishes, Amen".

But then again, I don't need ink for a blog, so it doesn't quite fit, does it? Methinks I shall have to dwell on this a bit more.

[Who am I kidding? We all know this is just a test while I set up my page!]

This is actually an older tale, from April 25th (before the blog). I was cleaning out my e-mails and found it, so figured I'd share (again, for some of you). My local friends were checking up on me the afternoon I had a wisdom tooth removed:

You guys are silly ... and sweet ... I knew I had the best friends ever! I'm doing totally swell. I have my drugs ... mmmm ... darvocet ... and my bed ... mmmm ... pillow ... and my freakin' job calling me 8 times already this morning!
  • "Lisa, we need a clock on the 2nd floor." (Really? Now? Just can't wait 'til Monday, huh?)
  • "Lisa, how do I dial into that conference call?" (With the exact same number we use for all of them!)
  • "Lisa, do you have a copy of the dashboard on your hard drive? Because I overwrote the one on the shared drive, and now it's only one page." (Oh, man ... sigh)
  • "Lisa, do I have to dial a 9 for an outside line?" (Um, if you can't get an outside line from your desk phone, but can call me on your cell to ask why, perhaps ... and this is just a maybe here … but it's quite possible you can use your freakin' cell for the other call as well!)
  • "Lisa, do I have to go to headquarters today?" (I don't know ... do you? Do you need a secretary while we're at it?)
  • "Lisa, was yesterday's accident where Guy sliced open his hand and required stitches, pain meds, and time off an OSHA recordable?" (Now WTF do you think?!?! YES!!! YES, IT WAS!!! He went to the hospital and was treated and needs time off and pain meds!! YEEEEEEES!!)
  • And finally, "Lisa, do I need to make labels for these five items?" (Um, do we want to sell them? Then YES!)

But I'm really enjoying the darvocet, and the fact that now only one section of my mouth hurts, as opposed to the entire right side. This little gem of a tooth was vertically impacted (which is really no big deal) but also imbedded in the nerve and had a giant cavity that was making it feel like five of the bottom teeth and three of the top all had cavities at the same time, and I knew that was wrong because three of them have had root canals and shouldn’t “feel” anything. My teeth must be made of chalk or something.

Oh yeah, and this is how my “ordeal” went: they put the blood pressure cuff and finger heart-rate-beep thingy on and left me for about 20 minutes, but I made them have to keep checking on me because I quickly realized I could make the finger heart-rate-beep thingy do whatever I wanted … got it down to the 40’s, people, and up to 103. Yay, me! They finally just asked me to stop playing with it.

So the doctor comes to do the procedure, starting with knocking me out, and he’s telling me it’s goat milk, to promote calcium growth, and I’m like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” So he sticks the syringe in my face and, sure enough, the stuff they knock you out with is white. I’m like, “Oh! Funny.” But, you know, not really.

So then he shoots it into the back of my hand, and the stuff BURNS halfway up my arm. So I tell him and he says, “Well, it shouldn’t … does it really?” Duh. So I traced the line up my arm to where it stopped burning, then I’m like, “Wow, I’m already starting to feel this.” And I’m wondering how long it’s going to take and whether I’ll snore (or pee) and, you know, typical Lisa stuff, when the tech says, “Lisa? Wake up.”

And I’m freakin’ done! WAY COOL! And I’m not sitting in a puddle, or slipped to the floor, or drooling all over. Well, I am drooling, but I’ve got a huge hunk of gauze in my mouth, so no worries. It was a strange feeling … like I was in the middle of a dream and got woken up … I couldn’t remember anything.

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