Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Half Locust Pose

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is one of Bear's Christmas gifts. He started out afraid of it (mostly, I suspect, because the guys were squeaking it madly and loudly in front of him when they showed it to him at first), but now basically just eschews it. We think it's the rubber smell.

I noticed this morning as I walked by it that it appeared to be in half-locust pose. The pose is perfectly executed because the rubber boobs assist the bird in staying up in a wonderfully straight line.

I'm not sure I feel the need for silicone boobage to assist in my locust pose.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
So we stopped at the grocery store today and Yogi Liz said, "Good. I'll pick up a lemon for my detox."

Of course I had to ask about that.

She told me she juices half a lemon, stirs in a Tablespoon or so of molasses and a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper. "It kind of flushes out the liver or something," she said. "But mainly, it warms me up. My hands are less cold for a while."

NATURALLY I had to try it. And what better vehicle to use to stir up said concoction than my new, adorable monkey espresso cup that Mensa Boy gave me for Christmas?

I didn't die. And my hands ARE warmer. Uh huh...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Uh. Ew! What is it?

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
We are thinking maybe a fungus was among us at Landsford Canal State Park. Would anyone like to weigh in?


Entertaining Wrap

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
If there were prizes on Christmas Eve for the most imaginative wrapping, Taylor would have taken it. The rest of us just put wrap on the gifts or tossed them into gift bags and called it a day.

Not my boy. He took the time to illustrate some boxes, either outside on the wrap or inside on the box. Here is Riley holding up a gift he unwrapped from Taylor. I have no idea what "kthxbai" means.

Here is one of mine. I guess "FTW" means "For The Win."

Oh! We are never sure if he spells stuff this way because he doesn't know how to spell, or if it's just bug us. We suspect it's the latter more than the former.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Merry, Slippery Christmas!

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
The guys got socks from Grandma Goetsch and the first thing Riley (center) did was put them on and slide across the kitchen. I think he might have actually been headed to the bathroom and nearly broke his neck. That's when he announced this wonderful phenomenon. They spent the better part of half an hour sliding up and down the kitchen.
"These are great," Nate said. "My feet are warm, but not sweaty!"

We had a wonderful evening last night. Beginning with Swedish meatballs and culminating with the sock slide. The only sad part of the evening was the Taylor's gift had not arrived. And we hadn't noticed. I ordered him a video capture card for his Playstation in mid-December and it never arrived. But I thought it had. He had ordered a device from Amazon about the same time using his birthday gift certificate from the Bullers. When that came we wrapped it up thinking it was the Christmas present. We finally got a shipping confirmation this morning from the other company. So he'll have another gift day next week.

We are about to head to a friend's house for Christmas dinner. My Vegan Chocolate Bundt cake will be a hit...I'm sure of it.

Merry Christmas everyone! Whether you are shoveling snow in the midwest or building an ark here in the southeast, we wish you a safe and happy day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Teeth and the Medicaid System

"When was the last time you saw a dentist?" I asked Riley last night.

He did not remember.

I asked because Nate had his 6-month check last week and it reminded me that I'd not thought of that for Riley. Riley seems to be okay tooth-wise. They look good, he doesn't have bad breath, but still and all it's not good to go years between dental checkups. Although many students do.

The questions was interesting in its' timeliness. About 2 hours later he broke one side loose on his retainer. It's a permanent retainer that is bonded to the back of his lower front teeth.

And he turned 19 today, so his Medicaid runs out.

A couple of friends at church (that's where we were when it happened) suggested a dentist in Lancaster. Apparently he does lots of Medicaid work. I called there this morning and got a VERY UNHELPFUL person with VERY POOR GRAMMAR.

I explained his situation and mentioned that this dentist had been the one to do the retainer oh so many years ago.

"Nope, he's not our patient," she said. "He ain't in the computer." (at this I gritted MY teeth and took a breath)

"Well at any rate, is there any way you can squeeze him in today to either fix the retainer or pull it the rest of the way off?" I asked.

"No," she said. "We don't got no more appointments before the first of the year."

Now here, gentle reader, picture me using a tiny bit of my training in pranayama...breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out... and pulling on my knowledge of ahimsa (non violence)

"Hmmm...," I said. "Do you have any suggestions for me with this type of EMERGENCY?"

"No," she said.

Well, fortunately I am a woman with a network. I called our family dentist in Charlotte, who referred me to a dentist/orthodontist in Pineville. They do a lot of Medicaid work and were not at all concerned about navigating the system for me. I took him there at 11.

I sat in the dentist office with Riley for a while folding cranes, trying not to be sick about how much it could cost. The receptionist verified that he still has coverage through December. And they could bond the retainer back on. But that wasn't covered. Could I pay the $72? Yes. And I made an appointment for him to have a checkup on December 29. Now we have to get the paperwork done so he can continue with Medicaid after the month runs out.

I've baked his birthday cake (yellow, with cream cheese frosting. Yuck. He's getting plenty of grief about this boring combination), and tonight we'll order Chinese (his favorite). Right now there are LOTS of noises coming down the stairs. I have Nate, Taylor, Riley, Mitchell and Ryan up there. It's fun listening to them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Boys are Back in Town!

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic my laundry room attests.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MensaBoy Joseph

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
MB made his acting debut last night as Joseph in the live nativity at the Billy Graham Library.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

King of Sharpies

He: "The paint is coming off my glasses and the place doesn't think they can do anything about it."

Me: "Isn't there a warranty?"

He: "Apparently not."

Me: "Well, you're the king of Sharpies. What's holding you back?"

He: "I already tried that on Taylor's and it didn't work."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Mat & Me

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
First let me begin this post by acknowledging that some of my readers will be convinced that I have gone off the deep end. But I'm counting on the few I know that have some yoga experience to understand what I'm talking about.

My yoga mat, even though this one is brand new, is my own personal clubhouse.

And I am the only member of the club.

I'm the only one that steps on my mat and I have a entry ritual too, just like any other club might have for its' members.

I unroll my mat green side up. It doesn't have a top and bottom per se. It is actually intentionally reversible. The bottom is a light blue and has a different texture to it. But when I unrolled it for the very first time last week I knew immediately that the green side was the "up" side. This is a permanent decision now, because when I washed it I draped it over the shower rod in the bathroom and later when I pulled it down the blue side got a snag from the shower curtain rings. I felt slightly sad when that happened but not a lot. It was sort of like when you get a new car and get that first scratch in it. It's over then. No more worrying about the first scratch.

So I unroll my mat by flipping it out and then I straighten it. If I'm fortunate enough to be on a surface that has no lines then the straightening is pretty simple. But on surfaces where there are lines, like edges of linoleum or wood or some other flooring material, I have to straighten the mat so that it lines up with those lines.

I never, ever step on my mat with shoes on. So I remove my shoes and lay them aside and put my red shawl and my strap within arm's reach. I also put my socks there in case I need them during svasana.

When I step on my mat, the world around me dims. It's kind of like bokeh in a photograph. A good photographer will adjust their aperture to put the subject in focus and then blur out distractions in the subject's background. Really cool bokeh, really strong bokeh, will cause the background to have very little definition...sometimes you can't really even see what the items in the back are. It's like that when I step on my mat.

The amount of dimming is controlled by me. If I am interested in the other students, I'll tune in my ears and open my eyes to what is going on around me. If I'm not, I will tune in only to the teacher's voice or the music playing. Much of the time I will go a step further and close my eyes.

When I'm on the mat it's just me and the asanas or pranayama. I work out my body and think about how grateful I am that it serves me so well. Sometimes I get frustrated with it. The Foot of Doom really caused endless trouble not just with my body but also with my mind and spirit as I struggled to do asanas and fought through pain and frustration. All of that happened on my old mat. I find it interesting that the pain left right as the new mat arrived. It's like a whole new practice right now.

Yesterday I wrote about using Yogi Liz's mat for a while. Her mat has affirmations and signatures on it from various teacher training things she has gone to. As I used the mat I would read these writings and feel affirmed myself, even though I knew they were intended for her. It was sort of like staying at friend's house while they are out of town and then rifling through their correspondence. A little weird.

I do not always practice with a mat. Especially at home. But when I use a mat, I use my own. It is like my own special home. I succeed and fail on it. I am happy and joyful and sad and frustrated and angry on my mat. It is my clubhouse.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

(Re)New(ed) Feet on a New Mat

Feet on Mat
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
So you've all been listening to my ENDLESS whining about my "foot of doom," as my jazzerbuddy Terri calls it. No? Then you must not be reading me on Facebook.

Lucky you. I'm a champeen whiner!


First I broke (a stress fracture) the 3rd metatarsal on my left foot. In the process of having that taken care of, the "ultra-fashionable" boot they had me wear caused my somewhat dormant Plantar Fasciitis to come roaring on with a vengeance.

Well, I think I'm close to declaring myself HEALED!

How did this happen? Well, the treatment ranged from Earth shoes (x2), Super Feet insoles, distance Reiki healing, prayer, laying on of hands, acupressure massage by my massage therapist, athletic tape, very old Birkenstock sandals, icing and...a thicker yoga mat for those times when one MUST be!

Yogi Liz graciously allowed me to borrow her personal Jade Harmony mat for a bit to see if the thicker mat would benefit. You'll see in my next post why I felt particularly touched that she would allow me to borrow her mat. Mats are very personal, somewhat intimate items and to loan it to someone else...well, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't let just any old tom, dick or harry use mine.

But the thicker mat really helped keep me in yoga during the last couple of very painful weeks.

The Jade Harmony is a rubber mat. Quite thick and quite heavy. And the rubber smell never really goes away. To wash one is a major commitment as they can take days and days to dry.

So I decided to order a thicker mat of my own. While I like the Jade mat, Liz was able to order me a Kulae (pronounced coo-lie--long 'i') wholesale. So I was able to get an $80+ mat for about $36. The Kulae is made of TPE or Thermo Plastic Elastomer. It is a composite material that is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, and is 100% free from PVC, Chlorides, Dioxins, Latex and Rubber (free from allergens). It's a resilient, highly elastic material that is composed primarily of styrene-butadiene-styrene block copolymers. (this whole last bit was stolen directly off the Kulae website. I'm pretty sure they won't care.) I bought the Kulae Ultra, which is almost 1/2-inch thick. Pretty spongy.

So now I'm breaking in a new mat. The hardest part is getting it to be not slippery. I've washed it once already and will probably have to do that again another time or two.

But my feet don't care. They are HAPPY!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Backyard Headstand or "Dump-the-Migraine-Pose" or "Look Mom! No Feet!"

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I posed the question whether one should go to Jazzercise for a migraine or do yoga.
Yogi Liz suggested headstand, shoulderstand, plow, svasana and alternate nostril breathing first. If I felt like Jazz after that, go then.
Well, I was so relaxed from laying in the backyard watching the birds that I skipped Jazz after all.
But I did get Taylor to take this photo. I'd been wanting a photo of my headstand. He popped off about a dozen shots. After about 8 he was ready to leave, and then I decided to try straightening just a little more. I'm glad I did. My legs were probably at about a 330-335 degrees in those photos. I'm much happier with this. Maybe tomorrow, if it's not really cold out, I'll get him to shoot Wheel pose.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Too Ugly to Photograph

But this has got to be the BEST potato soup I've made to date!

1 large leek...chopped
1/2 large onion...chopped (just to add a little bit of a sharper onion flavor)
2 cloves garlic...smashed, chopped

Throw that in a pot. Keep it low because you don't want the butter or the onions and stuff to brown. Salt liberally, Red pepper flakes liberally, cracked black pepper liberally. Once the leeks start to break down, pour in some vegetable stock that you forgot you had open.

While that simmers for a bit:

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut up
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced thick

Put that in the pot. Add stock until you have the amount you want in there. Add dried basil, bay leaf, and then adjust salt and peppers. And then? If you think it needs just a little more richness, add the rest of the butter that you were too scared to put in the first time. Or maybe cream, or just some milk. Whatever.

Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are done. Smash them around a bit with your potato smasher.

Eat it.

WHOA! A great post-yoga late supper.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Strozzapreti with Roasted Tomatoes

I made this recipe the other night for supper. It's from the New York Times: a series they call "recipes for health.," I've tried a couple of the recipes now and I have to say I'm hooked! I'll try to go back there every week and see what's up.

Anyway, strozzapreti is a hand-rolled, hollow pasta. In Italian the word means "priest choker." Rather than summarize the origin of that, I'll past the Wikipedia story about it here:

"There are several legends to explain the name "priest choker".

One is that gluttonous priests were so enthralled by the savory pasta that they ate too quickly and choked themselves, sometimes to death. Another explanation involves the "azdora" ("housewife" in the Romagna's dialect), who "chokes" the dough strips to make the strozzapreti: "... in that particular moment you would presume that the azdora would express such a rage (perhaps triggered by the misery and difficulties of her life) to be able to strangle a priest!" Another legend goes that wives would customarily make the pasta for churchmen as partial payment for land rents (In Romagna, the Catholic Church had extensive land properties rented to farmers), and their husbands would be angered enough by the venal priests eating their wives' food to wish the priests would choke as they stuffed their mouth with it. The name surely reflects the diffuse anticlericalism of the people of Romagna and Tuscany."

Ha! I do have to say that the explanation about choking the dough to make it is pretty accurate. And it is a very thick, chewy pasta. So as a food it is highly choke-able. At any rate, it was fun to make and the guys immediately volunteered that we should have it again. I do have to say, though, that it took about an hour to make the pasta. I suspect each time I make it, it will take less time. I had a pretty good rhythm going by the time I was half-way through the batch so it went a lot faster. It doesn't really make a huge pot of pasta. But it's so thick and filling that it was plenty for the three of us with another small serving left for my lunch. The recipe says it serve two, but I think you'd be uncomfortably full. Also...I almost forgot...another reason I like this recipe is because it calls for fresh tomatoes, which I love. But fresh slicing tomatoes are a no-no in our house when they are out of season because they taste so plastic. Cherry tomatoes, however, are pretty good and available all year around.

Strozzapreti with Roasted Tomatoes

12 oz (about 22) cherry tomatoes, halved
3 T olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 C finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
1/2 C firmly pack fresh basil or parsley leaves

1 C grano duro flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs

First the sauce:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon of the oil and 4 of the garlic cloves. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet, cut sides of the tomatoes up. Roast until soft and collapsing, about 45 minutes. Do not allow them to dry or brown.
Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the remaining garlic clove, cheese and basil or parsley. Process until very finely chopped. It will look granular. When the tomatoes are done, immediately spread the cheese-herb mixture on top of them and mash them lightly with the back of a spoon so the cheese melts. Drizzle with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.

The strozzapreti:
Mound the 1 cup of flour on the counter, make a well in the center and drop in the eggs and flour. Using your hands, mix the eggs in the well, gradually pushing in more and more flour to make a pasty dough. Add more flour if needed, but don't let it get too stiff. You don't want it to be too sticky to shape with your hands and you don't want it too stiff and dry. Think about play-dough. Make it a little bit stiffer than that.
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface (wooden surfaces work best) until it's as thin as you can make it. Be sure you have enough flour down that you can pick up the dough easily. Cut the dough into strips about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. Don't worry about being exact.
Pick up a strip and wind it around a skewer. Bamboo would best but I just used a metal kabob skewer. Squeeze it onto the skewer (choking the priest) and then slide it off the end. It takes a little practice to get it down, but after several you'll figure out your own technique. Lay the strozzapreti out on a plate until you are all done.

Cook the strozzapreti in a large pot of boiling salted water. You want the pasta to be tender and slightly chewy, but cooked through. When it's done, drain it and pour into a large bowl. Immediately add the tomato mixture, tossing quickly.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fixing the New NewsFeed Feature in Facebook

I'm sure they meant well.
But it's really annoying.

I found this link on Chris McGinn's FB page. It is courtesy Michael Monahan, who is not my FB friend, but is for sure a regular one! Thanks Michael! Michael was frustrated because he couldn't see all his Mafia Wars family updates. He's not my friend on FB, so I sent him a message when I couldn't make his first fix work.

Here is what he wrote:

First, if you're looking for the video tutorials for fixing the News Feed in Facebook, they are now on YouTube. There are two you absolutely need to see to undo the new changes that lets Facebook decide who you see in your news feed. Here are the video links:

This is the updated original video.

This is the additional video. You need to do this to manually make sure that all of your mafia/friends are showing up in your feed. Even after doing all of the steps in the first video, Facebook was still not showing all of my friends, including a member of my top mafia!

If you've seen the video, and you're still having trouble, please check the following:

If you have NO edit link at the bottom, you have to HIDE one post! Pick something other than mafia wars, hover your mouse to the right and select hide. Now go back to the bottom, and see if you have the edit link.

If after following all the steps, you have the edit button, but it isn't showing the "edit news feed" box, but an edit box that simply allows you to hide or unhide friends or applications, the fix is to go to the top of the home page. Click on NEWS FEED. As soon as that finishes loading, click back on LIVE FEED. Now go to the bottom and click edit.

Make sure that after you clear cookies, you LOG OUT of facebook! Log back in then follow the rest of the steps in the video.

For help with other browsers, follow these links to clear your cookies, then follow the other steps in the first video.

For Safari go here:

For Google Chrome: go here

For Opera go here:

For IE 8 go here:

For IE 7 go here:

For IE 6 go here:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shroom? Condos?

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
A friend refers to this as a photo of mushroom condos. They do look a little like some sort of multi-family housing, don't they? Aw. Sure they do. Use your imagination, for pete's sake!

It's finally cooling down here in the Carolinas. We are wearing SHOES. And SOCKS. And even the occasional JACKET. Yup. Of course, that doesn't mean we might not have an 80 degree day on Halloween, but things are definitely seeming rather fall-like here.

Mensa Boy is busy trying to put new rubber coating on the dishwasher rack. We had noticed brownish spots appearing on some of our dishes...the edges. Finally he decided to get to the root of the problem and discovered that the coating has started to come off in spots and the bare wires are rusting. New rack: $75. Bottle of rubber coating: $6. Keeping Mensa Boy busy and happy ("I'm sure having fun doing it!" he crowed.): PRICELESS.

Next project? Finding a way to replace the passenger rearview mirror on Big Green. I sideswiped a garbage cart last week. Photo to follow.

Time to retreat upstairs. Turns out that bottle of rubber coating stuff has a bit of an intoxicating aroma.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Operation Foot Rehab

Operation Foot Rehab is underway and I think I'm making progress.

This summer I sustained a stress fracture of the third metatarsal of the left foot. The ensuing treatment, which involved a special shoe, caused the plantar fasciitis to flare up to epic proportions. It was bad enough that my friend Terri actually dubbed the foot the "Foot of Doom." It caused real psychological problems for me, as it not only hindered by jazzercise, but also my yoga practice, and intermittently caused me to double over in pain as the heel would seize up suddenly and go into spasms.

Now, due to the miracle of prescription drugs and Birkenstock and Earth Shoes, I think I am working my way to normalcy.

But I am also working on my stance. I tend to pronate, which contributes to the arches falling. So I have put on a stretchy bracelet I bought from the Dorcus Widows Fund and I use that to remind myself to keep standing so that my weight is evenly distributing among all three points of each foot. I'm also working on making sure my feet are parallel and pointing forward. The bracelet reminds me to check. I'm starting to notice I'm doing those things more automatically now.

The prescription anti-inflammatory runs out in about a week. We'll see how the pain is then.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Squash Soup

A squash recipe I plan to try. I like roasting it but it's time to branch out!

Savory Squash Soup

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I went stomping around in the woods today with Yogi Liz and her young son Jared. We had a great time! And didn't really get lost. Not much. Just once for a few minutes but we found the trail. Jared is a real trouper. We were out there a couple of hours and he never flagged. I took my camera with me--the first time in many months that I've taken photos. It felt good to have it out looking for things to shoot. Jared did some shooting too. That kid can really see stuff. And Light! He shot a photo of me in a log and mentioned that he thought it would be good shot but "a little dark by your eyes." He was right! I can't tell you how many times I've failed to notice how the light is playing on someone's face, only to discover it when I got home and loaded it up.

We walked around on an 85-acre patch of property that is currently being held in trust by some bank or something. One of the creeks... maybe six-mile?... runs through it, although it is pretty dry right now. And there are woods and meadows. Four-wheelers have been running around in there and we found some paths that had been mowed and/or bush-hogged through there. We speculated that perhaps the paths were cleared so that potential buyers could get around to see the property. It doesn't matter. We enjoyed the paths, both man-made and deer-made, and had a great time.

I came home and did a nice yoga practice that involved backbends and inversions. For the second day in a row I was able to do a headstand in the middle of the room and stay there for a little more than a minute. I'm pleased about that. I'll try to do one each day for a while I think. Yesterday in class we did a twisted head-to-knee pose (Janu Sirsasana) and I think I'll also try to do those for a while. It did great things for my side ribs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Call a Spade a Spade, Why Don't Ya?

I hate props. In anything. Especially in yoga. I like to have my hands empty in life and on the mat. Heck, I don't even like to carry purses! Will I ever be a backpacker? Probably not. That would involve carrying my house on my back. The word "carry" is just not part of my vocabulary. I like to roam through life with my hands swinging free and unencumbered.

I'm only willing to use a strap in yoga because the one I have is cool and soft and just the right length and feels good on my bare feet. It's silk. And yeah, it's helpful at times. But I still only use it when I have to.

So today we were doing extended hand-to-toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana). Here's a photo. We were using straps to hold our feet up. I did fine standing on the left foot, which is weird because that's the foot that's been bothering me. But I simply could not find my balance on the right foot.

"You could move to a wall," YL said.

"Yes, but you know I'm too stubborn," I said.

"You could let your ego go," she said. (or something to that effect)

Argh. She's right. I do have an ego thing in yoga. I am more flexible and also have quite a bit of strength. When I am unable to do some pose, I'm not likely to admit it.

"You know I hate props," I said.

"Well, girlfriend," she said. "You might as well lose the strap then too!"

yeah yeah yeah. She's right.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Cold Busters

Everyone has their own way of coping with colds. Copious amounts of orange juice, hot tea, water, chicken soup, over-the-counter-medications, sleep, etc.

I get bored. At least my taste buds do. I get tired of having my mouth taste like the bottom of a birdcage for days. Orange juice and birdcage taste don't really work for me as a winning combination. I like hot tea but there's the whole caffeine thing. And of course I put sugar in there. So between the sugar of the orange juice and the sugar AND caffeine in the tea, I end up feeling kind of worse. Chicken soup is good, but can be a bit dull on the tastebuds too.

I pretty much don't use any otc meds for colds unless I absolutely can't sleep at night. I've always ascribed to the theory that letting the cold run its' course is better than beating back some of the symptoms only to have them rage back worse than before. Sinus stuff is notorious for that.

I stopped using sinus stuff a couple of years ago when we got hooked on neti pots. We each have our own (mine is a special ceramic...theirs are plain white boring ones). Here is a link on WebMD about them. My Dad has used salt water to clear his sinuses for as long as I can remember. But he puts table salt in his palm, adds water, and sniffs it up. That's waaaay more painful. I like to use sea salt in my neti pot. For some reason it seems to be milder on my nasal passages. Mensa Boy adds a little baking soda to his with the salt. But I think he still uses table salt. I use the neti pot whenever I'm stuffed up or if my nose is running and I feel like I'm sniffing a lot. I could be wrong, but I feel like I'd rather rinse that junk OUT than sniff it IN. So when I start sniffing, I do another rinse.

This time I've also taken to using a sinus rejuvenation oil that came with my pot. It was there in the box and I just never seemed to think I needed it before. Last night as I got ready for bed I decided to give it a try. BETTER THAN VICKS! The oil contains green myrtle, inula graveolens, rosemary verbenone, eucalyptus dives, peppermint, spike lavender. I don't know what the second stuff is, but I don't care. You just tip the bottle on your fingertip and then touch just inside each nostril with your finger. You get a menthol-type of feeling down your nasal passages at first. I was able to get to sleep quite well with my nose clear and unclogged. Drug free, too. The bottle says you can do it 3-4 times a day so I've done it each time I've used the neti pot today. The oil is by a company called Baraka, which is the company that made my neti pot.

I've also switched up the tea drinking. Instead of just black tea, I've been drinking some Yogi tea that Yogi Liz gave me yesterday. She gave me two teabags each of the Cold Season and Throat Comfort teas. The Throat Comfort tea is very nice, but I wouldn't say that there is anything that sets it apart from the Twinings herbal teas, which are less expensive. But the Cold Season that's a different story. The blend of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and clove really give the tea a heat that helps with the bronchial and nasal discomfort. I liked that. But dang, that stuff is expensive. I seem to remember that it's about $7 a box! Another tea I like, that Yogi Liz also hooked me on, is Stash's chai green tea. This tea also has that winning combination of cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger, along with some other goodies.

So all this got me to thinking that it might be time to try the Yogi Tea recipe in the back of a Kundalini yoga book I've been reading. Here is the recipe:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 20 whole cardamon pods (split the pods first)
  • 8 fresh ginger slices (1/4" thick, no need to peel)
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular or decaf black tea leaves (approximately 1 tea bag)
  • Dairy or soy milk and honey or maple syrup to taste


Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then pull back the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add black tea, and let cool. Strain and store in the refrigerator. Reheat when you want a cup and add milk and honey to taste.

This is great stuff! Whole cardamom can be hard to find. I buy mine from Penzey's online (because we don't have a store), but I'm thinking you could probably locate it in Indian or Asian grocery stores. Also, Yogi Liz suggests keeping the spices that you strain out. She makes another smaller batch with that as a way to stretch the bucks. I've put all but the ginger slices into an old Penzey's spice jar in the fridge.

So that's what I'm sipping as I write this. I think the black pepper really kicks this up to a whole new level of immunity-boosting. I don't add milk. I may try that. But I'll add it one cup at a time.

So. The soup. The chicken soup I've always made when someone has a cold has always been just run-of-the-mill. Simmer a bird, add onions, celery, carrots, bay, salt, pepper. Then add noodles or rice. blah blah blah. If your mouth already is bored, this soup, while good, is not really going to wake it up.

So I went back to the ginger. Mensa Boy hadn't gotten home with the ginger root for the tea yet, so I pulled out the minced, jarred ginger I have in the fridge. I whisked in a good heaping teaspoon-worth. Then I crushed up three big cloves of garlic and tossed in a pretty good-sized helping of red pepper flakes. I could actually TASTE this soup. This time we just poured it over basmati rice in our bowls. I didn't bother with the carrots and celery. I didn't hear any complaining!

So that's what I did today. Oh, and the sleeping. Lots of sleeping. And the cookies. Did I not mention the cookies? I end up munching on cookies periodically through the day when I have a cold. Birdcage-mouth, you know.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stir-Fried Tofu and Peppers

I wish I had taken a photo of this before we ate it. It was gorgeous. And a winning supper, too!
Apparently the original recipe calls for beef, but this tofu version was delicious. Tofu is a hard sell for my guys but I think I'll try it on them. Peppers are a piece of cake. They like those. We've had sausage and pepper pasta several times lately.

Stir-Fried Tofu and Peppers

I discovered this feature on the NY Times called "Recipes for Health," and I'm going to make a point of checking for new ones every couple of days. The next one I think I'll try is Pasta with Walnut Sauce and Broccoli Raab.

Today I hung out all day with Yogi Liz. We started with her morning yoga class and capped the day with her evening one. Both classes were an introduction to Yin Yoga, which I've been doing on my own for several months now. I may regret doing two in one day...I'll know tomorrow, that's for sure!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I stumbled upon this show on Fox the other day and was instantly hooked. Here is the website.

An adorable Spanish teacher (Will, played by Matthew Morrison) decides he will take over the high school Glee club after the former teacher is dismissed. He was in the club when he was in high school and has those glory days stuck in his head. "Back when I was here at this high school, the Glee club ruled!" he proclaims to the student body at an assembly.

The Principal agrees to let him work with the club, but he has to PAY $60 a month to keep it going. And monitor detention for several months. He is up against a malevolent cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, who is played by Jane Lynch of "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind," as well as many other comedies by Christopher Guest. Sue wants Glee to fail because her budget is cut to allow for some of the expenses. One showdown between Sue and will starts with:

"Sue: Iron tablet? It keeps your strength up when you menstruate.
Will: I don't menstruate.
Sue: Neither do I."

The music is fantastic and every character has something that makes you want to say they are your favorite. You've got to give this show a try. Go to Fox on Demand and watch each episode. The main problem I'm going to have is watching on TV. We don't have surround sound. But when I watch on my laptop I have a nice sound system with a subwoofer so the music really stands out.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"I Don't Know about Tomorrow

I just live from day to day."

The words to an old Gospel hymn by Ira Stanphill, circa 1950.

Recently we've had a lot of things happen at our house. Complicated stuff. Nothing life-threatening, mind you. So don't worry about that. We've just found ourselves in situations where we are given opportunity to help some guys who have needed us.

We feel fortunate that we can help. Fortunate that we have the means to help.

But a question I get asked by friends and family is "what are your long range plans in this situation?"

Yesterday I felt kind of beaten down by that question. It's a reasonable one, but one I just could not answer. It's a question that I myself would normally would be asking. I'm a planner, a plotter, an organizer. And so my lack of a plan, and being asked about having one, kind of weighed on me. I began to feel inadequate because I don't have one.

But after talking it out, praying it out, thinking it out, I've come to the conclusion that, for now, it's best to just not have one. To just roll with the punches. To take each day...each it comes.

"I don't know
About tomorrow
I just live from day to day
And I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
And I don't worry about my future
For I know what Jesus said
And today He walks beside me
For He knows what lies ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to under-understand
But I, I know, I know, I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds, who holds my hand
Oh yeah, yeah, yes, hey, yes
Who holds my hand"

Monday, September 07, 2009

Begin day: Yoga. End Day: Yoga

That might have been too much. I think I will need to take a day off tomorrow. I am sore. It's a pleasant soreness that tells you that you have been working out, but this soreness also tells me "Hey! I could really use a rest here!" And so I will.

My friend Terri has taken to calling my left foot the "foot of doom." I think that's pretty funny. And the humor has helped me to let go of frustrations with it. Actually, the foot has been getting better and better and really has not bothered my yoga practice too much this past week. I just have a lingering wish that I could stop the anti-inflammatory medication. It's keeping me from sleeping very well. It kind of jazzes me up. Not really much, but just enough to keep me from sleeping for very long.

Mensa Boy's knee took a turn for the worst yesterday morning and he's been a little miserable. But now this afternoon he said it started to feel a bit better too, so he's going to do some of his physical therapy exercises here in a bit.

Wow, this turned all medical all of a sudden. What am I? 80?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Fun, Soul-Satisfying Day

It was, it was. A soul-satisfying day.

Two yoga classes this morning. The first was an hour long and was primarily moon salutations. Those are hard work if you want them to be. And I did, so it was. After a 45 minute break, the second class began. That is a 90 minute class and we did several rather yin-like poses, where you sink into a pose and then hold it for a few minutes. There were yang bits, which were primarily standing poses like the warriors and triangle. But the yin bits were very timely for me, since I was tired from the first class and had run out of time to eat anything for breakfast that morning. Yogi Liz has a very soothing voice, which is pleasant to listen and relax to. That voice has become all the sweeter for me this summer too, as it is now not just the voice of my teacher, but also the voice of my friend. I had a very hard time rousing myself from Savasana in both classes as a result.

The afternoon began with a very nice lunch of leftover steak in a salad of greens, organic tomato and croutons I made from a stale croissant, dressed with blue cheese dressing. Then a nice nap.

After the nap Mensa Boy and I ventured out to Target, World Market and Harris Teeter. It was a fairly quick trip, as his knee was pretty sore. After we returned, I put a loaf of bread in the oven and changed for a hike in the woods with Liz, her son Jared and their dog Rusty. We tramped around for more than hour, battling spider webs, sticky plants and bugs. We decided we'll do it again when the leaves are starting to change.

For supper Liz made a frittata and we had naan, which we made out of the same bread dough recipe we've both been using for bread. I think I've found a new obsession in naan. It was delicious and easy and we stuffed ourselves silly with it, washing that and the frittata down with a Muscato Blanco from California. We ate this sitting on their lovely screened-in porch, which hangs out into the woods behind their home. We listened to the ciccadas and cats and the occasional neighborhood dog. We capped the evening watching 6-year-old Jared play Wii mini golf for a bit.

And now it's 10 p.m. and there are still two days left of the weekend. Cool.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I Have No Idea How to Title This

Today's recap:

We left for Mensa Boy's knee surgery (torn medial meniscus) at about 8:15, dropping Taylor at school. As we pulled out of driveway, we stopped and said goodbye to Nate, who was packing for his move back to Erskine.

The surgery went well. I think MB had more fun than I did. The surgery center waiting room was a bit of a zoo this morning...have I mentioned how much I had places like that? And wondered aloud why everywhere we go there must be TV showing tabloid journalism? It was a bit like a bus stop in there and I still feel a little of that bus-stop style grime on my person.

While there, I fielded phone calls from Nate about his room situation at Erskine. Somehow, they neglected to give him and his roommate a room. Huh. The guys had emails from Erskine this summer with their room assignments. They had both paid fees. It was not pretty. Nate vacillated between wanting to explode and sinking into despair. He gutted out the day, living out of his car and talking to me on the phone and texting Erin. Finally around 2 they got a room in the freshman dorm with a promise to be on the waiting list for an upperclassmen one.

MB's surgery went well. Before they took him in they gave him the happy juice in the IV and I commented that his eyes were starting to roll around in opposite directions. "" he muttered. After the surgery was over the nurse said "He was good. Happy. Smiled a lot." I told her he's that way all the time.

On the way home with a prescription for Demerol, we decided to have it filled at our Harris Teeter. I would pick up a sandwich and MB looked forward to going into the store because he always wanted to ride in the little carts. But HT's pharmacy said it's against SC law for them to fill scrips signed by a physician's assistant. YIKES! By this time I was just tired and hungry and anxious to get the scrip before MB's pain set in. So I dropped him at home, and drove back up into NC to get that filled. Have I mentioned how much I dislike CVS pharmacy? They are a study in slowwwww. I did get a good meal though, finally. I ate at the Amazing Wok while I waited the 40 minutes to get the Demerol.

So now we are all home. I have some chicken stock cooking from bones from Sunday and we'll have a light soup supper and settle in with the tube.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Riley at Lander University

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
It's been a wild ride getting Riley ready for school this past week. And none of it would have been possible without the help of our church and other friends.

Riley is part of Nate's group of friends. He has been living with a family on the other side of our neighborhood off and on for the past year. He's an unaccompanied youth...the official term.

This summer Riley came to me and asked for help getting everything squared around at Lander in Greenwood, SC. He'd been accepted quite late...July 27...and wasn't sure what to do because he had missed deadlines for orientation and housing applications, etc. He also did not have financial aid package.

And I noticed that he couldn't see. Glasses were broke, last contact ripped. No transportation...his friends drove him to work and back.

With the help of Dr. Long, O.D. we got him fixed up with glasses. Hope Carter, his financial aid officer at Lander, helped us with his financial aid. Chandler Darling, Asst Director of Housing at Lander, helped us with the housing waiting list. Belair United Methodist Church gave him $1666 to put on his tuition bill and cover textbooks for the next year. Many friends came forward with dorm room supplies.

Riley is now (unofficially) our third son. We'll be his permanent address and emergency contacts. He'll stay with us during breaks and visits back to Indian Land. Lander is about 30 minutes from Erskine so Nate will be his transportation and overall helpmate. We feel very fortunate to have Riley as part of our lives. He's a very nice, gentle young man with a soft voice and calm personality. He's quite independent, just needing a little assistance every once in while with complicated stuff. The boy owns his own pots and pans!

So. The wild ride part. Here's where the entry can get long.

On Tuesday or Wednesday Riley had been told that he didn't have a dorm room assignment. He was on a waiting list. He thought he was going to have to just stay home. He had no idea what to do next. So I called Gayle Summey, our pastor, who is also from the Greenwood area. She put me in touch with the director of the Wesley Foundation on Lander's campus. Within a couple of days we had the name and phone number of a family that would take Riley into their home for a few days and provide him transportation to and from campus.

So we decided we would take him Sunday night since freshman orientation is Monday. I also emailed Chandler Darling to ask her if anything could be done to help Riley, due to his status as an unaccompanied youth. It was funny how I picked her. I went to the Lander website and there was a photo of all the housing people. I just liked how she looked. And she wasn't the top gun...I never think it's really good to go straight to the top. She's second in command. So I emailed her and she emailed back that same night. She thanked me for bringing his status to her attention. She couldn't promise anything but they'd consider it.

Saturday morning I sat down at my computer at 6:30. At 6:52 an email came in from Lander. It was a copy of an email they'd just sent Riley telling him they had a dorm assignment! I was so excited I ran into Riley's room and jumped on him as he slept. So we scrambled around and got the van packed to move him. None of us, including Riley, had ever been to the campus and we had no idea what the dorms were like, so we packed everything as though he were moving into something similar to Nate's room at Erskine.

Nate, Riley, and their friend Mitchell followed in Nate's car and we made the trip. It's about 3 hours.

When we arrived we found that Riley had been assigned to an upperclassman apartment right across from the main complex of buildings. Each apartment has four students in it. There is a small living room, bath, and full kitchen with refrigerator, microwave and stove. We found one bedroom locked so we moved him into the other room.

Then we headed out for lunch. When we came back we found the occupant of the locked bedroom there. It turned out he's also a freshman...he's from Clinton, which is about 30 minutes from school. Riley's apartment key is supposed to open his bedroom door, so that's why that door was locked. Riley was supposed to share the left bedroom with Daniel and there will be two other students in the right bedroom. AHA!

So when we left Daniel and Riley were getting acquainted and Riley was going to see if he could get the key problem resolved. He'll move his stuff across the hall then.

I felt sad as we pulled away from Lander. I was a little sad when we took Nate to Erskine last year, but not quite as much as leaving Riley. I knew Nate had a car, needed to get away from Indian Land, and would call us anytime he needed help. But Riley doesn't have a car and he never asks for help. He also is new enough to living with us that I'm worried he may not call if he needs something. But by the same token, he's more independent than Nate. More of a problem solver. He'll be okay. I'll be okay.

Family Dinner: BC

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic

This dinner took place Thursday night. We had a big taco night with all the kids.
That's Erin, Nate's girlfriend, there behind Mensa Boy. She has actually started college now. She's attending USCL and has classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Nate, of course, is next to her. He goes back to Erskine on Tuesday.
On the other side of me is Riley. We took him to Lander yesterday. I'll tell more about his college odyssey in my next post.
Taylor, naturally.
And in the forefront is Mitchell. He's a USCL student too but is taking a semester off to work.
We had a blast with everyone around the table passing bits and pieces of taco fixings and of course they all talk video game jargon so most of the time Mensa Boy and I just smile politely and nod.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inspired by Julie/Julia by way of Yogi Liz

asparagus soup
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
So. I saw the fantastic movie, "Julie/Julia." And it turns out buddy Yogi Liz also saw it the same weekend, several states away.

Liz said she was inspired by the movie to pull out her vegetarian cookbook and start cooking from it every day. I know what she made the first two days, but haven't asked what might be today's meal.

So I says to myself I says, "Well, I've got a cookbook I asked for and haven't cooked one single thing out of it. It's "The New Moosewood Cookbook." Now, anyone who has read my blogs at all since 2003 will know I could never get by with going vegetarian every day. And I also don't like to get stuck in some sort of culinary routine. Even if it meant something different every day. I have food commitment issues. But I figured it couldn't hurt to try to cook some stuff from this cookbook.

So here it is, page 3, first recipe, "Cream of Asparagus Soup"

2 lbs fresh asparagus
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups water
2 cups hot milk
2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp tarragon
White pepper to taste

Break off and discard the tough asparagus bottoms. Slice off the tips and set them aside. Chop the remaining stalks into 1-inch pieces.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized skillet. (I ended up dumping it into a larger skillet. Go ahead and just start with the larger one) Add onion, asparagus stalks, and salt. Saute for about 20 minutes over medium heat. When the onions are clear and soft, sprinkle in 2 Tbsp flour, while stirring constantly. Continue to cook over the lowest possible heat, stirring frequently, another 5 to 8 minutes.

Add water, stirring constantly. Heat to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle in the remaining 1 Tbsp flour, mixing well. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Puree the soup with the milk, bit by bit, in a food processor or blender. Return the puree to a kettle or large saucepan, and season with dill, tarragon, and white pepper.

Cut the reserved asparagus tips into small pieces, and steam until just tender. Add these to the soup, heat very gently (don't cook or boil), and serve immediately.

We had some stale bagels lying around, so we toasted those and buttered them for a crunchy side. The only thing I'd change is less dill. I did not have dried, but I had fresh. It was just too dilly. But then, neither of us are big fans. I wouldn't leave it out altogether, though.

This recipes makes 4 or 5 servings. When we called the guys and Erin to the table, we told them it was asparagus soup. "Oh, we're fine," they all said. Good. More for us!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Fish Market in Baxter

It was girls night out last night and we went to the Fish Market in Baxter. I'd never been there. But I can tell you, I'll go back again and again in a heartbeat. I thought about my sister a lot while I was there because she loves to go to good seafood restaurants.

Pricey, though. My salad was $6, my scallop dish was $19 and then we had creme brulee. With a tip, my own single meal ran me $40. And it would have been a lot more if I'd had to pay for my wine. But girlfriend Jennifer had a coupon for a free bottle of wine. I still feel guilty about paying that much out of our family's budget for a meal for just me. I won't do that very often. I think the guys ate sandwiches last night. Of course, they were probably as happy with that as I was with my scallops.

I have to tell you, I rarely order scallops because they have to be cooked exactly right. And these were. There was a delicious sauce on them, which I'll have to look up because I can't remember but it was some kind of fruit. They were served with lightly steamed whole green beans and nice bed of spaghetti sauce cushioned them on the plate. NIRVANA!

Gotta run.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sock Drawer Wars

It wasn't really a war. More like an insurgency, if you think about it.

Mensa Boy was out of town. Some of his very nice SmartWool socks were in the wash. When they came through the process, they "ended up" in my drawer. They are very nice socks. Very comfy especially when one is wearing a special shoe on one's BROKEN FOOT.

But. I was busted. Yesterday I lost my attention and opened my drawer while MB was standing nearby. He spotted the migrant socks right away.

"Uh, those socks. Can I have them back? Or do you need them for your foot?" he asked.

Sure. I could have played the BROKEN FOOT card. But I didn't. I would have felt too guilty.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I Still Think of Him as Sweetie Boy

Taylor has been quite sick this past 10 days. No complaining. Takes after his father. Just moping around coughing, not being a bother. He went to school the first day because he wouldn't dream of NOT.

At 1:30 he appeared in my office. Red in the face, low-grade fever, coughing, eyes glassy. Said he felt light-headed. I took him home. He was sad that he hadn't been able to stay to have his first class of building construction with Mark Bonda. Before we left I asked if he needed any books. He said he'd left them in his English class. So I went down there, knocked on the door, and asked about them. "They are right there, " she said, pointing to a seat.

"Would you get them for me?" I asked. "I don't want his classmates to know his mommy came to get his books."

And so she did.

After consulting with another mom in the building, I decided to take him to the doctor on Tuesday. It turns out he has sinusitis. So we went to Target and, while we waited for his prescription, we picked up the rest of his school supplies. One of the items he needed was an agenda.

As we were looking at all the agenda/planner choices (and there are a staggering number), we happened upon one that had school year dates, boxes big enough to write in, and yet the entire book would fit in his cargo pocket. "This is it!" he exclaimed. "We (the agenda and him) were meant for each other!"

He's so cute.

So on the way home I told him that I had made a point of not going into his classroom to get his books. I didn't want to embarrass him in front of his classmates.

"You wouldn't embarrass me, Mom," he said. "Everyone knows who you are and they all think you are cool."


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Apparently Unembarrassable

My boy. He started high school. Well actually he officially starts Monday. Friday was Freshman Orientation. They got their locks, they got their books, they visited teachers. They ate pizza.

Staff have been asking me if he will be horrified if I acknowledge his presence at school. Each time I've said that he and his brother have always seemed glad to see me there. In fact, they have, at times, asked me to come to school.

So I decided to test it out. "Watch this," I said to a staff member.

And I walked up to the lunch table where Taylor and 7 or 8 of his buddies were munching on pizzas. I squeezed my way in between Taylor and buddy Eric, curled my arms around their shoulders and said "HI!" In my perkiest voice.

They introduced me around the table. Each friend saying something to me.

Made me proud.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Yoga: Definitely Not for Sissies Part II

Kundalini. Yup. That's the yoga style I spent an hour with this morning. And I think I'm still trying to catch my breath. I finished the DVD at 9:37 and it's now 10:09.

Yogi Liz brought me three DVDs that she thought I might like to try while I deal with this stoopid foot thing. One was on Yin, which I've been doing for some time now...usually on Sunday afternoons. One was Yoga Mind & Body, which is Erich Schiffmann, whose book I've been studying for some time now, and the third was a Kundalini DVD.

I really have not known anything at all about what Kundalini is. I've heard the word and that's pretty much it. But this morning I found out that it's a very intense floor practice involved breath and movement. The heart was definitely getting a good workout this morning.

After doing this practice, I feel much more optimistic about my ability to keep up my exercise while waiting for the foot to heal. It has definitely been hurting MORE now that it's in the walking shoe, but he warned me that would happen. What is NOT hurting more is the fracture. What IS hurting more is the plantar fasciitis, which has been acting up all summer because I've been walking around barefoot all the time.

So, I'll just do what I can. I probably won't go to too many classes because I think it's hard on the teacher to have someone that constantly needs accomodations, and it's distracting to the other students. I know pretty much for sure that I'm not going to the intermediate class tomorrow night. I may still go to Liz's classes because they are more for beginners. We'll see.

The short of it is that I feel better in my brain and am pretty much ready to stop mourning the foot and just move on.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Whaat! No Jazz? Three Weeks You Say?

Yup. That's what he said. He actually said "3-4 weeks" but I have a selective obeying problem.

I have a stress fracture of the 3rd metatarsal on my left foot. I don't know how I did it. But it is my "landing foot" when I practice handstands. I could have just crunched that baby once, which might not have been so bad except that I've been pounding the feet all summer with yoga, jazz, hiking, dogwalking, etc.

So what's done is done. I am stylin' today with a navy blue velco shoe and a black "smart wool" sock. I am so glad Mensa Boy loves those socks. They should keep my foot dry in the hot, unforgiving environment in that shoe. I had to put an Birkenstock insole in there too because it's so flat that my plantar fasciitis is just screaming. The right foot is decked out as usual in my favorite black sandal and my toes are colored with the OPI shade called "I'm Not Really a Waitress." The main thing is that I know I'm going to wear long pants until this over. I'll feel way to conspicuous in shorts or crops.

I went to yoga last night after the appointment. My dear friend Liz is all about finding ways for anyone to do yoga no matter their issues. We did a great floor routine that worked the abs and back muscles. Almost no standing. A couple of down dogs, in which I just made sure my feet were flat on the floor and not flexed. It's great when you have such a compassionate, smart teacher.

This morning I go to the wild and wooly town of Lancaster. I'll be at the district office for the annual updates about computer systems and data entering student data. There are always little changes that happen in July when we roll to the new year.

It's been exciting at the school. Lots of new kids coming in. I thought the economy would slow that down, but apparently not. Sure, there are some coming back home after leaving the district. They are moving back to be with family again. But there are plenty of kids that are just moving here because Mom or Dad bought a house here. We will have an enormous freshman class. As of Tuesday night we had something like 186.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Today is the first day of my regular school schedule: 7 - 3:30 or 4:00 (depending upon how long a lunch I take). I'm glad. The 10-hour days are just not that great. Usually I'm worn out by Friday and don't do much special that day.

But last Friday I did go hiking on the Anne Springs Close Greenway with my friend Liz. I posted some photos on Facebook of a few things we encountered while there. Our original plan was to kayak on Lake Haigler, but it started raining while we were hiking to the lake. So we ended up just hiking around in the woods for a while.

The kudzu is in bloom now and boy are those flowers pretty. And they smell so good! Kind of a cross between sweet peas and honeysuckle. I was amazed. I guess I'd never been close enough to kudzu to know that it even blossomed and flowered.

Saturday I did the jazz and yoga thing and then went to lunch with my friend Paula. My new favorite place to hang out is Back in Thyme in Fort Mill. I know they have a website but I can't find it right now. It's basically just an old house they've converted to a coffee shop. They also have sandwiches. I had a wonderful albacore tuna wrap. And I like their coffee. I have their house roast coffee with a double shot of espresso added. So far I've not sat inside the shop, but there are several rooms, all decorated comfortably. I like sitting on a little stepping-stone style patio that has a round table with an umbrella. The only drawback to that spot is that there seems to be an ant home underneath it.

Sunday was church and then Cassie and I went for supper in Ballantyne to a cafe called "Sweet Tea Cafe." It was quite good. There are several little restaurants cropping up around the area where the Catholic church is.

So it was a busy weekend, full of opportunities to connect with friends before buckling down to 205 more days of work! And speaking of's time to go!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Upside Down & Inside Out

I'm getting better and better at the headstands (Salamba Sirsasana). I'll ask Mensa Boy to take a photo this afternoon. I can get right up there and stay for quite a bit. I should probably time it, but I'm basically staying there until I find myself thinking: "I should come down now."
After that I do a shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana), a plow(Halasana), and then finally corpse (savasana). It's a nice little mini practice I can do several times a day if I want. What I'm doing with the headstands now is trying to balance away from the wall. I'm doing it a few inches away so I can always recover if I go backwards, but after I get balanced it hasn't been a problem.

That's the upside down.

Tomorrow my schedule turns inside out. Back to work. As I walked Bear around the block this morning, I found myself thinking "Tomorrow I'll be a at work for 2 hours already. Ugh." But really the first two weeks won't be so bad. I'm not looking forward to the 10-hour days, but at least I get 2 more Fridays off. I'll be dressing 'way down for the first few anyway as I'll be in the file vault most of the time. It's a mess in there right now with the rising 9th grade files in boxes on the floor. And I'll have to shift pretty much all the classes a little now because the incoming classes are getting too large for only 2 drawers each. I need to look around for an audiobook today for my mp3 player.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yoga and Crisp

We had a pretty violent-sounding thunderstorm last night. I got home around 10:30 and the heavens burst forth with a torrential downpour shortly after that. I got into bed around 11:30 and a short time later the fun started. The lightning sounded like it was striking right behind my neighbor Mary Jean's house. She's across the street and has a small wooded area behind her house. I had visions of her house being hit. But it looks like nothing really has happened much. Not many downed branches. Everything is just very soggy.

Last night in yoga we did headstands. It was not hard. There were others in the class that had done them before. For those of us who hadn't, we lined up together on the other side of the room and received comprehensive, one-on-one instruction on proper positioning of hands, wrists and elbows. Then we basically just walked our toes up to our heads and flipped up. It's exhilarating to be upside-down like that. And if you are careful not to sink into your shoulders and put pressure on your head, you can stay up there for quite a bit. But the sweat really rolls off you!

After class the two teachers worked with me a bit on my downward dog. My left shoulder is not happy in that pose. As I extend my arms further out in front, I'm angling them down too much and then I get intense pressure and fatigue in that shoulder. First they had to diagnose the problem, then they said a whole bunch of stuff that basically just entered my brain and sat there incomprehensibly. I'm really counting on my teacher Liz remembering all that was said and then walking me through it more slowly in the coming weeks. And when I'm not so fatigued. That whole process was another sweat-fest as well. It's amazing how much your body works in something that looks so simple. I know many people think yoga is just a lot of stretching. But there is a lot of hard effort that goes into even the simplest poses. But you have to be inside the skin to really grasp it. It looks effortless on the outside most of the time.

After that the three of us (the two teachers and I) went out for a late supper to salad/soup/sandwich place called Crisp. Here is a write-up about it from Creative Loafing. Now I'm telling you, if I lived in the Elizabeth neighborhood I'd have a tough time staying away from there! I had the F.C.N. salad, which is Fruit, Cheese, Nuts. Walnuts, craisins, pears, bleu cheese and apple in some wonderful greens and then tossed in a roasted lemon vinaigrette. The server asked if I wanted the dressing tossed in or on the side. "Tossed in, but just a little bit," I told him. And he essentially squirted about 1 1/2 Tablespoons on this giant salad. That was a salad that I hated to see end!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I am generally the host of a few bruises. Pretty much all on my legs. But this one is really out of this world for me. And of course its' sheer size and obvious location (when it's summer and you are wearing tank tops in yoga class or short sleeves in jazz), cause many questions.

And there is no one-sentence explanation I can offer for it. Here's the shortest version I have:

I was hanging off a wooden footbridge on the way into the lake to retrieve my car key.



Mensa Boy and I watched this movie last night. It's the true story of the Bielski brothers and their efforts to stay alive during WWII. Farmers, they fled to the forest after finding their parents murdered on their farm.

When in the forest, they found other displaced Jews hiding out there and they all banded together to form a community. Eventually their numbers swelled into the hundreds and the Bielskis took care of them and also transformed them into a group of freedom fighters.

It's a good movie. It started out slow. I almost lost interest but I'm glad I hung in there.

It's been incredibly mild here the past few days. We were able to turn off the A/C and open our windows yesterday. Mensa Boy and I went to Landsford Canal and had a lunch and did a brief hike. It was a good day to be out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Like a Big Grown-Up Play Date

Last night I went to Charlotte with my friend Liz to the yoga class at The Yoga Center. This was my third visit and by far that most fun. The teacher, Phyllis, was back on her game after being down with a virus for a couple of weeks. And so she worked us hard.

We did a lot of prep work on the ground and at a rope wall. (You can see a photo of that on the website) This was all leading up to doing backbends and handstands. I was very pleased to be able to get up into a handstand unassisted at the first try. My backbends were pretty good, too. But we did those with chairs underneath them. So I think my next step will be to do backbends starting on the floor.

We came out of there not tired but really energized and feeling like we had worked hard. To start the day in Jazzercise and then end it in yoga is a GOOD THING!

In between? Not much. I finished the first season of "The Wire" and then read my book. I can tell I'll probably finish it today. It's good to have a book that you can dive into and are reluctant to put down. But I do need to do some house stuff today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bob talks about Salkehatchie Summer Service

You need to turn the volume up on your computer very high. This was recorded on my Nikon D90 DSLR camera. I'll post Taylor's video in a while. (They take a long time to load!)

Pervert or Vitamin Deficiency!

Well, I started this book a few minutes ago and have already fallen in love with it. "Don Basilio was a forbidding-looking man with a bushy mustache who did not suffer fools and who subscribed to the theory that the liberal use of adverbs and adjectives was the mark of a pervert or someone with a vitamin deficiency."

This could end up being a lost day!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Wouldn't 1 to 10 Have Sufficed?

I lifted this image of the "Vrschikasana" pose from

Yesterday I ventured gingerly back into yoga after laying out all day Tuesday with the sciatica. I waited all day until around 3 p.m. before the restlessness finally overtook me. In my defense, the day was not a total loss, as I did spend nearly three hours washing windows and blinds. So I decided to pick up Iyengar's "Light on Yoga" and see what he recommended for this ailment. There is very detailed appendix of injuries and ailments in the back of the book, where he recommends asanas that should ease the situation.

Well, standing asanas of course. I did all of them except any the involved twists. Even the balancing ones went well. But all that took about 40 minutes and I was sweating by the time I was done. I decided to skip the rest of his suggestions and just do pigeon, which is also called Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. Eka means "one," pada the leg or foot, and kapota means dove or pigeon. Rajakapota means the king of pigeons. It's a fun pose, but I only did the prep for it, which is one leg folded in front by the stomach, the other leg straight back. You then can lean over the front leg and rest your head on the floor.

Anyway, I know pretty much none of you do yoga, unless I have lurkers out there. The point of this post really is about Iyengar's book. I picked it up at the beach for $4 and this was the first time I've actually used it. And there is a certain amount of reading you have to do to figure out how to use the pose section. Here are the instructions for the asana section of the book:

"After the name of each asana, there is a number with an asterisk. These number before an asterisk indicate the intensity of the asana; the lower the number, the easier the asana, the higher the number, the more difficult the asana. The easiest number is 'one,' the most difficult 'sixty.'"

SIXTY?I mean, c'mon! So 'one' is just standing in Tadasana, which is mountain pose. Utkatasana is only a two, which is basically a pose where you pretend you are sitting in an imaginary chair. I mean, that's a really hard pose. Try it. I'll wait.

See? Hard. Yet only a two. And he's got these twisted up poses that are only a fourteen. I found one that is fifty-eight, but it's basically standing on one foot, holding the other up behind your head with your hand, and then stretching the other hand out front. Yeah, hard. But I think the twisty ones are harder.

I don't get it.

Anyway, today I'll go back to my yoga class and just not do any twists. I'll take it easy on the other stuff. The hip is a little sore, but not bad. And I really should do more windows.

Oh. The pose above? Is scorpion. Iyengar rates it "Thirty-two."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ok. Tired of Doing Nothing Now

Only because I'm sidelined for the sciatica. Hopefully I can get back to some yoga and jazz by Friday. In the meantime, I think it's time for some window cleaning. I've got windows and blinds that seriously need some attention. I still have "Cause of Death," by Patricia Cornwell, checked out from the library. So I'll strap that on and start up here in a bit. I could also monitor Le Tour, but I think I'm going to do that this afternoon. I love my DVR!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fireworks Song

Not really any rednecks in my 'hood, but we still managed to have quite show last night. We didn't go out and see anything...we had been outside for hours already that afternoon. But I think we had fireworks for about 4 hours last night.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fabian Cancellara

Videos of the day

Fabian Cancellara ran away with the stage win, yellow and green jerseys today at the opening of the Tour de France in Monaco. It was like the great baseball games... the winning happened at the end of the day.

Lance Armstrong's team, Team Astana, had 4 riders in the top 10, Armstrong bringing up the rear at spot #10.

Vive le Tour!

Get a Second Opinion?

A man fell off a cliff and was hanging precariously from a tree branch. He cried out "God, please help me!" God answered, "Have faith and I will protect you. Let go of the branch." The man, stunned, cried out, "Is there anyone else up there?"

Friday, July 03, 2009

"'Que Sera, Sera' a song that begins with Q"

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
That was the text message I received from my dear friend Julie this afternoon. And I laughed and laughed!

The first day we were at the beach, we were walking back to the beach house, talking about what games she wanted to play that evening. I am not a big gamer, board or otherwise, and I admit I was making fun just a LITTLE bit. As we walked along I suggested a game we could play without any hard rules, cards, boards or whatever. And moreover, the game could get more interesting as we got further down our bottle of wine.

"Let's come up with a song for every letter of the alphabet," I said. Julie loves to sing, is a fantastic singer, and had said she wanted to sing together during the week she was here. Well, I can't hold a candle to her vocalizations, so I was hoping this kind of thing would satisfy that urge of hers and also be a game I could deal with.

On we went, coming up with some pretty fantastical songs, although I did make fun of her for her inordinate number of hymns and spiritual songs (she is a preacher's wife, after all). And we got a little mired down at at times. But when we got to 'Q' we were totally stuck. And had no internet access either.

This bugged her. Julie does not give up. In fact, this is a photo I took of her on another quest she had while we were at the beach...her desperate need to find a shark's tooth.

We never did come up with a song for the letter 'X.' I have internet access now, but haven't availed myself of the opportunity to google it.

Que Sera Sera. Maybe we'll never come up with one for 'X.'

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Away We Go: A GREAT Movie!

Cassie and I went to see this movie this afternoon. I absolutely loved it. Yes, I did get restless near the end, but I get restless near the end of most movies.

So this couple is expecting a baby and they realize they really have not grown up. They lived near his parents (hers are dead), only to have the parents announce they are moving to Belgium for two years. They live in a crappy, run-down shack, and so they decide maybe they should move somewhere too.

So they start off on a round-the-country trip to visit friends and family to see if there is a good placed for them to settle down with the baby. And along they way they learn some valuable lessons in how to, and how not to, be parents.

It can be a little crude at times. I would not take my 14-year-old son to see it, but it's a great flick for adults.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I'm up early this morning on a summer day. Got up at 6:30. I'm stressing myself about summer ending too quickly. I have to report back on July 27, so it seems like I'm not getting much of a summer break at all. I don't think I've fully recovered from the last round of 10-hour days, and now I'm dreading the next round already. So I'm doing a lot of self-talk, trying to remind myself to enjoy each day as it comes. Otherwise I think I'll lose the enjoyment of the current time off because I'll be brooding too much about going back to work.

"I live a day at a time. Each day I look for a kernel of excitement. In the morning I say: 'What is my exciting thing for today?' Then, I do the day. Don't ask me about tomorrow."--Barbara Jordan

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Didn't Embarrass My Teacher

So we went to The Yoga Center in the Elizabeth neighborhood in uptown Charlotte last night. Phyllis Rollin teaches Iyengar style yoga, which is very precise and detailed. There's not really any room for making the poses your own in terms of style. But I think that's a good thing sometimes. You really learn about your own anatomy as she leads you through what you think is going to be simple forward bend. She starts pointing out parts of your body that haven't thought of before, and telling you to adjust each of them. I mean, when I bend forward over one leg, I usually don't think of the opposite side of my ribs collapsing.

Anyway, we did not do much sweating, which Liz had told me we would do, but she also said the class seemed easier last night than usual. We attributed that to the fact that Phyllis was a little under the weather.

There were two men in the class, which was kind of cool, and I ended up next to the wall by one of them, Tom. He had a lot of back issues going on and so was doing most of his poses rather gingerly and receiving some assistance from Phyllis. As we were working on a prep for handstands, I muttered to him, "So when do we get to the napping part?" And he really enjoyed that one. The woman on the other side of him said, "That's just a rumor we spread to get people to come to yoga." And then pretty much our entire wall of people started cracking up. Phyllis hadn't heard the conversation, so she walked along the line of us asking us what was so funny, which made us laugh even more. All in all, it was a challenging yet fun class. I think I'll go back whenever I can, although that will mean sacrificing my Monday night Jazz class. We'll see.

This morning it's Jazz and then yoga at The Gym in Fort Mill and then afternoon is free. I have some tidying up, bathrooms to clean, and laundry to do. And I imagine I should cook supper too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Is that Utthita Hasta Padangustasana or Utthita Parsvakonasana?

My yoga teacher told me in an email last night that the class we are going to is fun. It will make you sweat and work hard. The teacher is funny. Then she said:

"I realized - she also says all poses in sanskrit! so we will just do as the other students do..."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Church: The Whole Family

I couldn't be happier. Well, I imagine there are things that might make me happier, for right now? I'm delighted that Nate, Erin and Ryan are all coming to church with us. We'll be filling that second pew!

"I am familiar with Potato Gun safety," he said.

That was the end of the last conversation Mensa Boy had with the kids last night. All four of them (Nate, Taylor, Ryan and Erin) had disappeared around 8 o'clock. After asking me if they could "shoot my onions."

"No," I said. "I need my onions." I didn't even bother asking them to clarify.

We went to bed around 9:15 (yes, on a Saturday night) and shortly after that we started to hear sounds from the garage. Bear was also barking from his perch in Taylor's room.

Mensa Boy went down to investigate. He came back and said "At least there are no flames involved." Apparently they were building a potato gun with PVC pipe and cement. They had a can of hairspray and planned to use that as a propellant for potatoes.

"Three of them are adults now," MB said. "I hope they don't get in trouble with the police."

He said they were going to take it down to one of the stalled developments where there are no houses being built right now and shoot it off. He was tense. I reminded him that he and his friends had done a lot worse than that. "Yeah," he said. "We tended to use fire."

There are several videos of people making and using spud guns, or spudzookas on YouTube.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Game of Set

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Julie likes to play games. Not in the negative sense of the word. She likes to play board games and card games. We played Sequence a couple of times while she was here.

And she played Set quite a bit. I get the hang of it, sort of. But don't have the patience to find the more complicated sets. Here she is showing Mensa Boy how it works.

This has always been one of his expressions that I find most endearing.

Mensa Boy's Dog Training School

Latest tip for housetraining:

Brainwashing. "It's FUN to not poop in the house."

He and Taylor talked about posting signs around the house to this effect. In bark language, of course.


Last night we tried Kingklip. I'm glad it didn't look like this when I bought it. Kind of eel-y lookin', eh?

I was looking for salmon to make our favorite salads with and saw this. The meat was gorgeous-looking and the price was $8.99/lb. I asked the fishmonger about it. He told me it's a lot like grouper.

And it is, but it has a very firm, almost crabmeat quality to it too. It kind of strings like crabmeat, if you get what I'm saying. We grilled it. I put Jerk seasoning on it after brushing it with olive oil. I started with it on foil on top of the grill and then moved it to the grates to finish. We also had roasted corn on the cob and salad. Excellent meal! We had a little piece left over so today I've shredded it and added to pasta, fresh tomato and pesto for my lunch.

Last night we watched an episode of "Expedition Africa." I think it's on the History channel. Too lazy to stop and look it up. Anyway, these people are reinacting Stanley's journey when he ended up finding Livingston. Kind of cool.

Did Jazz and then yoga this morning. I have one month to do as much yoga as I can before school starts. I intend to do that. I also talked to the teacher about doing a couple of private sessions. I've told her what my goals are and she'll craft a home practice for me. Woot!

Mensa Boy is out fixing the sprinkler system. It got stuck on the last station the other day and sprayed for something like 90 before I noticed it. He says it was a bad that how you spell it? He's so cute when he fixes something he's never fixed before. Proud of himself. And he should be! His next couple of projects are the ice dispenser in the refrigerator and the carpet cleaner.