Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blues

There's nothing like blues. Well ok, good blues that is. There is just a feeling that is transmitted through the music that is incomparable to other styles.

We were watching a special on James Taylor, and a musician that I didn't know (forgive me all you music experts) who calls himself Taj Mahal interpreted one of his songs. I swear, you could feel it to the core.
When I told my husband-the-wise that few people can reach those depths, he responded that unless you have lived though the hardships, you cannot sing the blues.

"Blues isn't learned, it's lived" How beautiful is that?

Monday, November 27, 2006

A few undone buttons later...

Thanksgiving dinner turned out to be quite good actually. We ended up making less dishes than were first planned, which was a good thing because we ate the last of it last night.

The "ducken" and the stuffing were a true hit. Stuffing a deboned duck with a deboned chicken makes the end product full of flavor and very juicy, just the way I like it. The wild rice with mushrooms, almonds, pears and chorizo is highly recommended. It combined fall flavors with a hint of sunshine, perfect for a rainy day. Lacking? greens! we had no veggies throughout the whole weekend. Seriously. I think that I'm going to purge myself this week with nothing but greenery (ok starting tomorrow).

Last night, as I watched the bits and pieces looking a little pathetic in the pan I decided to give them yet another twist and go Mexican.
I added some more pieces of chicken and onions, shredded the whole thing and prepared a bit of mole. Slightly fried tortillas, stuffed, rolled, poured the mole on top, added the cheese, and voila! some wonderful enchiladas, great for keeping my girlie figure... HA!

After 4 days of not doing much besides eating, it was a bit rough going back to the office. But hey, reality has to show its ugly head from time to time.
So now, no looking forward to any rest until we leave to spend a week with the family over Christmas. Four generations will be together, it promises to be unbelievable. But that's another entry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Never say "I" when there's a "we" involved

Yup, dinner menu has changed yet again.

Yesterday I mistakenly wrote that I had decided what we were having for dinner. Never say "I've decided" when there are two involved, especially if the second party happens to be someone that enjoys cooking and is very good at it.

Soooo, the chicken is not quite what I had originally thought it would be. Have you ever heard of Turducken? It's a southern dish comprised of de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. So hubby, being the dare-devil that he is, decided that we would make our own version of it: we skip the turkey and go for a "ducken", de-boned duck stuffed with a de-boned chicken.
We're still having the pumpkin soup, which he's making (uff) and the wild rice, mushroom, almonds and... yes! chorizo, stuffing. The side dishes are still standing but the desert seems a little iffy right now. Hubby doesn't like pumpkin pie (I'll never stop learning something new). So I have to come up with another one... tick tick tick... by tomorrow.

Any suggestions? Forget about it being light, so far this meal is turning out to be a heart stopper, literally.
If you want to get in touch with us, we'll be the ones at the ER first thing Friday morning, getting our arteries unclogged.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OK, here it goes

I think that I've decide what we're going to attempt to have for Thanksgiving dinner (do I obsess or what?).

Starters: Pumpkin soup with chervil (it's all in the presentation, I have a little idea about it).
Main course: Chicken (it might change, don't hold your breath on this one) with glazed pears.
Stuffing: Wild rice with almonds, pears and a hint of chorizo - yes, I want my chorizo-.
Side dishes: Potatoes and mushroom puree; Green beans with almonds and mushrooms.
Desert: Pumpkin mousse.

Now, I do say attempt because theoretically it all seems very good, but watch everything turning out to be an utter disaster. Hey, if I can't experiment on my husband, who the hell can I experiment on, right?

I'll keep you posted on the adventures of this trial. You never know, it's still early and I might change my mind.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The mind of a crazy woman

You know how I said in the previous post that I was contemplating a "light" Thanksgiving dinner? yeah weeelll, the way it's being concocted in my mind it seems as though it won't quite turn out to be that... ahem... light.

Beware, you are about to see the workings of a crazy mind.

Jen, a coworker and reader of this nonsense, suggested sausage, cranberry and corn bread stuffing. Me, loving to complicate things, got inspired by it and decided that it sounded great but, 'how about chorizo instead of sausage, and pears instead of cranberries? Might as well just forget about the corn bread and make it rice pilaf with... almonds!' - yes, the only ingredient I had originally thought of - And wham! there goes the first button.
It all came about because I read a recipe about chicken with apples and Calvados. Aha, you see it, right?
So I started with chicken, apples and Calvados, accompanied by sausage, cranberry and corn bread stuffing. I'm ending up with chicken (at least we still have that) and pears accompanied by a rice pilaf with almonds, and chorizo. What?? it could be good! the secret is not to use too much chorizo, just enough to give it a humph, to use it as a contrast to the sweetness of the pears. See? there's logic somewhere in there.
Now how I went from point A to point B is a mystery even to me.

But it's still early, I still have 2 days to come up with a definite meal, and so who knows? I might go from B to Z in one jump and decide to order-in Chinese instead.
Hmmm glazed duck... uh oh, here I go again...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hmm

I've decided that having only one day off (class on Saturday, remember?) is killing me. Yesterday I purposely stayed up late just because I didn't have to get up early this morning... HA! I still got up at 8:30...agh. So basically, I have no weekend. If I don't do anything on Sunday I feel guilty. Why? because I don't have another day to do what I have to do. Those little menial tasks like, oh I don't know, doing laundry, watering plants. Forget about any thoughts on pampering myself. Well the thoughts are there but not quite the action itself. Last time I gave myself a facial mask? I think dinosaurs were still roaming the planet.
I could be doing that instead of writing you say? hmm don't think so, this is my time off.

In other mindless news: Thanksgiving is next week. You wouldn't know it from walking around the city. It looks like Christmas is tomorrow! - yeah hubby and I went for a walk yesterday after class, I need air from time to time you know?-. It's pretty, but way too early for my taste. Aaaanyway, not complaining here, just saying.

Back to Thanksgiving. First of all it means that I get 4 days off (uff), that'll give me a breather. It also means that I better use that time to work on my final paper due in 3 weeks (double agh). But I decided that we're still going to have a Thanksgiving dinner, with a twist.

The twist: there's only 2 of us, scratch the turkey bring on the chicken. But, and this is a big but, it doesn't have to be boring. I'm going to stuff it, not quite sure with what yet but almonds will be involved. I've also thought of the desert, individual pumpkin pies. Fluffy and not as heavy as the traditional ones. A little bit of yams; They have to make a presence, the poor things are ignored the rest of the year.

What I'm saying is that I'm cajoling a superb Thanksgiving dinner, using the traditional main ingredients in a non-traditional way: small portions and light. The kind of dinner that won't make us unbutton our pants thinking that the food must have reached our brains by the time we're finished.

Well, I still have to survive 3 days before that. I'm off to have a glass of wine to drown my sorrows... and hit the bed early.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And more on today's wonderful day

Yeah, I forgot to mention that to complete my day I had to go to the GYN. I must admit that as I was enduring the exam I kept thinking "my husband will have to go get his prostate checked in a few years..." and somehow, that gave me solace. My bad.
Damn those twice a year check ups. Seriously! Nothing like having a bunch of strangers hovering over you when you feel your utmost vulnerable.
I kept my socks on and didn't shave, that was my rebellion. I used to go through a whole routine the day I was going to see the doctor: shaving, moisturizing and wearing the nicest underwear I have... like they see it, right.
Anyway, all systems are a go, but I wish there was a less invasive, or at least humiliating way to check.

Pimples Galore!

I've got pimples. At 39 I got pimples! Last night I saw one that was making a shy appearance on my chin, and so I nuked it with my ever-so-faithful Neutrogena solution thinking that that would be the last of it.
I wake up this morning to see it in full bloom nagging me. Fine, a little more nuking, a little make up and off we go.

The damn thing not only refused to go away but it reproduced while I wasn't looking. I am now the proud (ahem) owner of three, yes three such entities all localized in the same "homey" area. What the hell? OK, so they are not huge, they are small and barely noticeable, I think, but still they are there.

It reminded me of aaaalllll the pictures that were taken of me during my teens. I always had a damn pimple. But I'm no longer in my teens, I am a full mature woman and apparently the maturity decided to come through as almost being riped... pimples!
So I had a panini today, and last night hubby and I had a tapas kind-of dinner comprised of smoked salmon, cheese, prosciutto, and marinated beef, accompanied by wine... not the healthiest granted, but come on! Pimples?

They say that beauty is on the eye of the beholder... well don't be beholding me, it ain't pretty to my eyes to walk around with 3 pimples on my chin.

Agh! and it's raining. Pfff this days sucks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Phew!

Hearing of other people's heartaches makes me realize how difficult it is to find someone that will stick by the good and the bad.
It seems as though there are instances where the timing is wrong, or the people are wrong for one another, yet they try and the imminent break happens living scars that are difficult to heal.
This can happen to a couple, family members or friendships. There are just some things that aren't meant to be, yet we still try.
Is the trying a repetitive downfall into painful experiences? Or is it simply the result of naive human nature believing that there must be something better?
We make the same mistakes over and over again but eventually, I hope, we learn.
Although if history is any indication ... then maybe not.

All this to say - it is difficult and scary to feel alone while confronting the world. I empathize and completely understand all those that feel let down by an ideal of what this society considers a whole person: Someone that has found their "shoulder to lean on", as if that is enough.
I am so thankful to be with someone that plain gets me. I am with the kind of person that in a distant future will not give a second thought to filling the glass on my bedside table so that I can put my dentures in it.
And that, after all, is what counts

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beware loooong election-day entry...

There is something about walking outside on a crisp morning, while it's still dark, knowing that you are on your way to witness one of the greatest exercises in democracy. Somehow the effect of having too little coffee or lack of sleep doesn't seem so important after all.
I had been looking forward to doing this for a while, and so I strolled the three blocks that separate my house from the polling site not even noticing that the streets were still asleep.

When I got to the site it was total chaos.

I've been told since then that the average age of poll-workers is 77, and I can vouch for that. There were 18 people crammed into two little building entrances and all knowing more than anyone else about what had to be done, where things had to be hanged, and who was doing what.
After the walkers were put aside, envelopes were opened, signs were distributed along with duck tape, and off the little ants went, to hang things here and there, color-coordinated and looking pretty: blue for “vote here/vote aqui”, and orange for “no electioneering beyond this point”.

The site coordinator arrived, looked around about 15 minutes before the polls were to open, and gathered her workers around admonishing...
5 minutes later signs were re-hung in their proper places, people were set at their posts and all looked properly in place and very professional at 6:00 AM on the dot.

The first person was already standing on line while we were all trying to figure out where our heads were, that same person was greeted by a cheerful "good morning" the moment he stepped in.
Pretty impressive for people that know will be spending the next 18 hours doing exactly the same thing over and over.

I was the youngest of the group and I must say that I was dreading the hours ahead. It is no small task to be trying to concentrate for so many hours (with two one-hour breaks). But all the elders were taking it in stride not once complaining... And so we set to welcome those that believed that whatever they were doing had some impact on their future.

Our little poll had 3 districts, represented by 3 tables each overlooked by 3 people, plus the inspectors and the translators. My job was to look up voters’ addresses and tell them which table they were to go to. I was the “hi! Are you here to vote?” person. After many, many addresses I could not keep one straight, and so although I looked like an absolute moron, I had to ask almost everyone to repeat what they had just said.

In normal circumstances it’s the kind of thing that puts everyone over the edge, but not this time. People were if not receptive to human glitches, patient to human error. And so the day went by, with passer-byes offering to bring coffee and neighbors happily surprised to see a known face greeting them.
There was the funny guy making comments that were not to be had in a voting poll (as much as I agreed with him), and the prankster making comments on the intercom against the present government, which had the on-duty policeman on his toes. But all in all it was a day of neutral ground. All came to do what they had to do, and left.

My day had as a background the cranking sound of the voting machine, the last vestige of mechanics in this country. We were the last to have voters do any kind of physical effort to cast a ballot. That, followed by the grins on the faces of many first-time voters as they were walking out knowing that they had said their piece, was priceless.

I greeted first-time citizens, come-to-age voters, and old timers. And they all reminded me that it takes each voice to make a country.

I’ve had people telling me that they are proud of me for being there. And I say to all that I’m proud of having witnessed anyone coming to say what they wished their country to be.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

November 7

This day will go down in the annals of memory as one of the most brutal days I've had so far.
Up at 4:45 AM, at the voting poll by 5:30 AM; one hour break at 1:00 PM and finished by 9:00 PM... outdoors and looking up people's addresses so as to tell them where they were voting (yeah, I wasn't a translator after all). I was the one saying "Hi, welcome" and "Goodbye and thanks for voting", or "no sorry you have to go [yet] somewhere else". More on that in a later post.
I am cold, I am tired, but still must say... what a day.
I'll write about it tomorrow, after I've thawed and regained some kind of brain function.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Size does matter

I've changed the size of the font because it made me feel like I had aged 10 years (had to squint to see the damn thing).

Better?

The lurkers, the lurkees and the others.

I'm a newbie when it comes to this whole blogging thing and so I never realized how much of it was out there or how important it's become!
I've spent much of this weekend "lurking" - just learned that that's what people like me do, not being a voyeur as I thought, which doesn't sound any better than lurker anyway- and I must say that there's some funny things going on out there.

Note: Most of the weekend on the computer? I was avoiding weekend chores. Plus I'm a bit under the weather anyway, and I don't feel like reading Freud so shoot me.

It seems that just about everyone is blogging these days, and lurking as it is. Now, apparently there is such a thing as traffic, which is your blog being visited (now that's a nicer way of putting it) or hit as some call it. The more you visit a blog the more you get to know the players, and if you're not too shy you post a comment. That in turn gets people to look up your blog, which makes you look at theirs, and so on. If the blog is appealing it might even end up in someone's link list, which then creates an infinite chain that can or not make for great reading. And so this way little communities are formed and "virtual" friendships are made. Which in our world means in a global way.

But, and here's a big but, I've noticed as well that many people tend to take this whole thing way too seriously. I've read some entries with their corresponding comments that would put to shame many soap operas. It seems as though they don't realize that by going "public" in cyberspace, they become open game; When you have a blog you should expect the good, the bad and the ugly to come and get you. Now granted, as the owner of the blog I think that you should be entitled to either accept or reject those comments that you deem unwanted. But if you allow them, well then you have to be able to take it in stride.

The other thing I noticed is how shocked some people were at the fact that something they wrote, let's say something touchy, was read, and lo and behold! got a reaction. What the hell? If you don't want it read, don't write it, seriously 1+1=2? it's on the Internet, chances are it will be read, and you know Murphy's law right?

Not that long ago I was guilty of censoring a friend's comment. The funny thing though is that if it had been a complete stranger I wouldn't have cared and most likely would have left it in, misspells and all. But because it was a friend's I didn't want any reader judging, and so I chose to edit and censor some parts of it.
I did tell my friend something about this being my turf and blah blah blah, but truth be told, I was completely aware of the fact that it could have been misinterpreted, since most people do not know the personality behind it -and the sarcasm that is ever present-. And although the friend in question might not give two damns about what people think, I do.

My decision was validated by some of the things I read. I really do not want my blog and/or its comments, to become a pissing match, which it would have most likely turned out to be if anyone had commented on the said comment. I can criticize, but don't touch my friends or my family, if you do, the gloves come off.
(Although I must admit, some of the stuff I read this weekend was hilarious.)

When I started this blog back in January I referred to it as a modern version of a diary, which in some cases it might well be; but knowing that people you know -and some you don't- are reading it, makes self-censoring a must.

For instance, I will never name names (besides hubby's because everyone knows that I'm crazy about him), and will try to hold my tongue when it comes to cursing (what can I say, my mom reads this), nor will I talk about things that are too personal, because, well, they are personal. Hence the title blabbering. In other words nothing too serious or that may have repercussions.

Playing it safe? hell yeah. If I didn't want to, I would start a blog that was completely anonymous, wouldn't tell anyone about it, and pray the cyber-gods that I wouldn't be recognized... Now there's a thought ;)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Update

I got another letter from the board of elections. Apparently I'm to be a translator of... Korean and Mandarin!
Yes, that's what's needed in my neighborhood and apparently they think I'm it.
What the hell?
I applied as a Spanish translator people!
I've tried calling them to say that I do not speak Korean or Mandarin and have been greeted by a voice mail in... Korean (I think).
This election is looking very promising...ahem.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Unbelivable. For a company that claims that "family comes first" Wal-Mart is showing, once again, its ugly head. I'll let you read the article, but it makes you wonder if you're not living in some kind of parallel universe.

So the big issue is that absenteeism has gone up in the workplace. Whoopy-doo. Instead of finding ways in which to chastise the workers, shouldn't they start looking as to why it has gone up?

"Personal illness makes up for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, with the rest due to family issues, personal needs, stress and an entitlement mentality."

Let's look at this for a minute, shall we?

  • Personal illness: if we had better preventive care and more accessibility to medicine (read: being able to afford it), 35% would not be absent.
  • Family issues: a bit broad isn't it? are we talking about death of a family member? your father had a heart attack? your grandmother fell and broke a hip? your kids are sick?... which one is it? But again, if we were able to afford health care maybe many of these "issues" wouldn't be an issue at all.
  • Stress: hmm, your employer punishing you because, oh I don't know, there was an accident in the highway and you might be 10 minutes late? yeah, that could stress the hell out of anyone.
  • Entitlement mentality: Actually I searched for what this one was about and couldn't find any definite answers. There were references about Americans in Lebanon, medicine needed for people in Florida, morality, Katrina and Rush Limbaugh... not quite clear, but anything that mentions "mentality" can be interpreted in so many ways that really, using it as means to punish people seems a little... vague? Call me crazy.
The fact is that yes, research has proven that the working force is more and more often late or absent from their jobs. Wouldn't you see this as a reflection of other problems? I mean if the trend is going up-ward, something must be happening.
Are people less happy at their workplace? Could this be a reflection on the society at large? What a thought.

I wish corporations, or companies, schools or even governments stopped looking for the "bad" things people are doing and more to the "why" they are doing it.
Well, maybe it is easier to slap than to understand. Let's treat everyone like idiots and idiots they will be...

It's almost winter, and there are no cooking entries so far. This girl is not happy.