Looking to Build that Thirst

There are days when I purposely restrict my liquid intake due to job demands. There are times when I know I’ll be involved in a surgery or a study with very close time points that will limit my opportunity to run to the bathroom. Usually on those occasions I try to avoid spicy or salty foods. Well, it just so happened that there was a confluence of events that resulted in me consuming pizza. I’m not sure what was different with this particular pizza but by 2:00 PM I was dying of thirst! I needed water in the worst way and I couldn’t have any because I was doing tours and training. The training was over at 4:45 pm and I rushed to get my stash of Propel (Strawberry Kiwi) only to find it missing! I looked everywhere and finally found the empties in the recycling bin. I then resorted to my secret back-up bottle in my office only to discover that it too was gone. This forced me to open a tiny emergency only bottle of water. I gulped it down and was still thirsty. I refilled it at the water cooler and slammed another one back. Still thirsty. Refilled it twice more. I sloshed as I walked. And I was still thirsty. I changed clothes and realized I had a dollar in my purse (I hardly ever carry cash). I fought the urge to spend that crisp bill in the vending machine. As I exited past the Dasani/Coke machine I succumbed to the thirst and purchased a Strawberry flavored bottle of water. It was cold and I couldn’t help it – I opened it on my way to the car. I had decided I would just sip on it. It tasted good and it was so cold and refreshing – I drank it all. My thirst was waning. Finally I thought with glee. But by the time I had exited the parking lot I could tell that I had exceeded the quantity of water my body really needed. So without any prompting on my part, my kidneys started to excrete urine. By the time I pulled into the driveway at home my bladder felt like it was the size of a beach ball. I had to go so badly I could barely see straight to get the door unlocked! I’ve learned my lesson – 7 cups of water in 1 hour is going to get you in trouble!!

I was so thirsty you see
I craved cold water not tea
I drank like a fish
And now I just wish
I could find a place to go pee!

Because the topic was just screaming for a limerick!

Looking for Experts

The alarm went off and the sound exploded in the room. She had selected the loudest and most annoying alarm possible. She needed it loud so that she couldn’t roll over and go back to sleep. Usually Mister would be walking over her face just moments before the alarm would sound. She figured he hated it enough to make sure she was already awake when it went off thus reducing the unpleasantness. He wasn’t there so she was jolted out of bed. She managed to get to work on time and put in a full day of work. No one asked about her absence and she didn’t volunteer any information. The car was parked in one of the close spots so it didn’t take but a minute to get in and get out of the lot. There was only an hour before the vet clinic closed and she needed to get there to see Mister. The clinic receptionist saw her coming and simply nodded and ushered her into an exam room. In no time the doctor opened the door and carried Mister to the table. He looked awful. When she touched him she could feel that he was tense. The tubes were in the way for her to stroke his head. She touched his nose and he opened his eyes. The pain was evident. She turned to the doctor and he answered her question before she asked. “He’s in pain and weak. I think if you want to schedule the surgery, we need to do it now. I would feel better if you took him to the University. They have the expertise and equipment that I don’t have here.” She shifted her gaze back to Mister then back to the veterinarian. “O.K.” she muttered. “Let’s do it.” The doctor left her with Mister while he made calls and gathered the paperwork. This would be another day off work. She considered her options. She could call in sick which meant speaking to an answering machine, especially if she called tomorrow early. She could call her supervisor tonight and request tomorrow off but she’d have to explain herself. Procrastination wouldn’t help things. She made the call to her boss. At first all she could sense was irritation. As she explained the reason her supervisor softened. She was told to take the rest of the week off as vacation and that her work would be handled. After hanging up she stared thinking about this seeming act of kindness. She had a sneaking suspicion that there was an ulterior motive. Nevertheless she didn’t have time to fret; there were bigger worries to occupy her time.

Here’s another installment. We are in Texas and will be heading home soon. Geowoodstock XVII is over and was a lot of fun – especially since we were joined by saintvi and her daughter Joyouswind! I should be back to my usual schedule by next week…

Looking Brittle

If I fall down and break my crown
And bruise my knees and rip my gown
I wonder if you will hear my groans
Will you carry my brittle bones

As age advances to my door
With wrinkled skin and hair turned hoar
Beauty faded like cheap rhinestones
Will you carry my brittle bones

As my parents get old and die
I ponder death and often cry
Great tears and stifle muffled moans
Will you carry my brittle bones

In sleep and waking dreams I dwell
I long for heaven and fear hell
Through death’s door and on paths unknown
Will you carry my brittle bones

Just before I left on vacation I was helping son#1 clean up his house because finally (after nearly 6 months) the insurance company is starting the repairs on their house. This will result in having the house lifted off the foundation so that they can make the needed repairs to the basement and foundation. They will also gut his bedroom. So I was helping him get organized so that all the furniture in his room would fit into the living room, basement and attic. In the course of carrying an arm load of empty glass bottles (mostly sparkling lemonade and birch beer), I tripped on a cardboard box. I fell hard. I tried to catch myself and to avoid breaking the bottles. I managed to hold onto all but 2 bottles (which didn’t break). In the process I hit my knee on the metal strip that separates the carpet from the laminate flooring. I immediately felt pain in my knee and shoulder. By the time I got home my left shoulder was throbbing, my neck was stiff and my back was having spasms in waves. The next morning I felt like I’d been run over by a truck – twice. With judicious use of water massage, massive doses of Ibuprofen, and comfortable shoes (slip on variety) I managed to make it into work. In my head I don’t feel any older than I did at 30 but my body is starting to feel some effects of age. I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to and my bones are becoming a little brittle…

This is a Kyrielle which is a poem of 4 stanzas each consisting of 4 lines with 8 syllables. The last line of the first stanza becomes the refrain and is repeated as the last line in the subsequent stanzas. The stanzas are also written as rhyming couplets thus the rhyme scheme is: aaxX bbxX ccxX ddxX.

Looking Newly Minted

We are still in Eastertime (according to the church calendar) and for those newly minted Christians, it is when they enter into Mystogogia. Mystogogia is a whole Post-Easter journey when the newly baptized are fully integrated into the Christian Community. Most people (even in the Church) think Mystogogia is only something the new members have to do. But in reality it requires participation by everyone! It means being welcoming, inclusive, nurturing, and serving as an example and a mentor. We welcomed seven or eight new people into our church on Easter. But the person I have the most contact with is a graduate student who has embraced the Catholic Church. He is so excited. He was showing me his medals before I left on vacation. He has 5 of them on 2 chains – St. Jude (his name Saint), St. Mary, a Holy Spirit medal, one of Notre Dame, and a Crucifix. He was proud to tell me about each one. I was a little worried about him earlier this year when he was struggling to find his balance and navigate the stresses of graduate school working in a high pressure lab. He managed to gain some equilibrium (and a little weight and some sleep). Then he hit a speed bump. He is trying to get his girlfriend (not fiance – yet) to take a job near the university. She is currently 6 hours away. She hasn’t found a job so has widened her search to include an area even further away. He was unhappy to say the least. He ended up in my office where I gave him an animal cracker (because sometimes it is just necessary to bite the head off something). He proceeded to spill all his woes. I think I’m a surrogate mother to many of the students. I offer them a non-judgmental ear and cookies and or chocolate (because Dementors are real and seem to feed on graduate students). But mostly he just needed to hear that hope has not died, nothing has happened that can’t be changed, and that 11 almonds in the last 12 hours is not sufficient nutrition to maintain brain function. The next day he was actually chipper. I suppose having breakfast AND lunch will make any day brighter (and the power of prayer is real)!

Looking at Found Wealth

The meeting was thankfully brief. The lawyer didn’t really want to be there anymore than she did. She took her seat and discovered that Aurora Dupin had been left a chunk of money by some rich woman that she had befriended eons ago. Lu mostly pretended that Aurora didn’t exist. If she tried hard she wouldn’t think about her for weeks on end. It wasn’t working now. Aurora was her twin sister. She was a major contributor to Lu’s disgust with the human race. She was dead now, mostly, except when Lu remembered. The lawyer had papers to be signed, initialed and dated. She was given a list of documents she needed to provide. Once that was all done she’s have an infusion of cash into her bank account. Even in death Aurora was up to shenanigans. She probably scammed the old lady in some way. That was how it usually went. The paper work was finished and the perky woman came in to gather it up. She couldn’t recall the name but then it probably wouldn’t matter since she had no intention of ever having to speak to her again. As she sat in her car preparing to drive home, the memories flooded back. It was always painful to have to think about her twin. The betrayal, the mocking laughter, Aurora’s smirk infiltrated her mind. For a brief moment she relived the crushing realization that her sister had sabotaged her life. That had been the moment when she gave up on people. She decided that she didn’t want or need a husband. She could be happy without lots of friends and definitely happier without family. The sudden rap on the window startled her. She could just make out the face on the other side of the glass. “Are you O.K.?” the perky woman was asking. Lu nodded yes and started her car. She backed out before the perky woman could ask any more questions and headed home.

We will be on the road for the rest of the month. Although I can read all your posts and comments, I’ve found that posting comments from my phone doesn’t work! So unless I’ve got a good internet connection I might be a little tardy commenting. Rest assured that I’m as addicted to WP as I was Xanga and I’ll be searching for a way to connect to you all!

Watching Time Fly

Sand seeps in a stream
Grains finding their own level
Hourglass time flies

The packing is nearly complete. It is a matter of checking and double checking the list in case something has been forgotten. Flying is still more complicated in the US than in Europe according to several Graduate Students. They say that the ruled enforced by Homeland security are silly. In Europe no one takes off their shoes and there is no prohibition of fingernail clippers, pocket knives with blades under 3 inches, batteries, or baby formula over 2 ounces! We will be checking a bag since we have lots of “contraband” that can’t be carried into the passenger cabin. Basically we have what are called “TOTT”s that is Tools Of The Trade. For geocachers it will include a big magnet on a telescoping handle, a mirror on a telescoping handle, a multi-tool (pliers/saw/knives/screwdriver/awl), flashlights, batteries, and a multitude of miscellaneous little things like a scroller and a tick puller and some swag. Oh and my walking stick. I can’t function without the stick! Anyway the check bag will also have some of our “just in case” clothing. We will be renting a car and theoretically our first stop after getting the car will be at a grocery/Walmart to get a disposable cooler and some food. Traveling for a week means that we will try to eat out only once a day. The hotels all have complimentary continental breakfasts and lunches will be out of the cooler to cut down on expenses.
The only other things that have to be done involve paying bills and making arrangements to have the mail collected. It is times like this that I’m glad we don’t have any pets. When Ranger was still alive it was always a chore to find accommodations. Most of the time we had to have one of the boys come over and stay at the house to take care of him. The few times we boarded him, he would come home hoarse from barking and have such intestinal upset that it was just too hard on him and us. One time early in his life we took him back to the breeder’s place for boarding. He came home with bite marks on his nose and a matted mess. Seems she turned him out into a field with her own “pack” and they didn’t take too kindly to him. He spent the rest of the time locked in a stall in the barn. He must have eaten his weight in horse manure and what he didn’t eat he rolled in… Yeah, no dogs now and I’m pretty content with that.
Time is flying and this marks week 6 in the countdown to retirement. When we get back from our vacation it will be week 4 and I’ll be in crunch time.

Looking Shellshocked

The last 14 days have been hectic. It started May 3rd. You see my devoted and demented husband decided we should divest ourselves of the detritus and debris of several decades. No we didn’t rent one of those trash bins that you chuck everything into and then it gets hauled away. No. We participated in the annual neighborhood garage sale. We also invited saintvi to add her stuff to our stuff because the more stuff you have the more people will buy. (I don’t understand it but it is how it works.) So Friday night found me organizing the garage and making a sign with general prices. I worked until the wee hours of the morning. We opened the garage for the early birds at 7:30 AM. Sparky manned the sale while I showered and dressed and waited for saintvi to arrive. My mother’s flight was scheduled to arrive at 1:19 PM and Sparky had to leave for work at 12:30 PM. (note that the individual who wanted to have the garage sale left half way through the day). I was able to leave the sale in Joyouswind and saintvi’s capable hands while I drove to the airport and collected my mother. The sale continued until about 4:30. We made some money (yay)! The thought was to have the sale continue a couple more days but Sparky was dead set against that. In the meantime my mother’s plan was for me to drive her to Muncie to connect with her peeps. If we left at 6:30 AM Sunday we could get to Muncie and to church by 10:30 service and she could really enjoy a “homecoming”.

We had lunch with several of her long time friends and then spend the night. Monday’s agenda was to visit her favorite second hand stores, lunch with friends, a visit to her 104 year old friend, dinner with more friends, and then the drive home. We were able to do it all and survive. We arrived home late Monday night. Tuesday was son#2’s college graduation.

(the graduate with his grandparents and then with his parents)
This was a big deal as he is the first of my sons to get that college degree.  We (his parents, brother, and grandparents on both sides) sat through a horrendously long ceremony. Everyone vowed that no matter who was graduating we would pay them not to walk! Since it was happening in the evening, a party was impossible. We had hoped for Friday but that didn’t happen due to schedules. Wednesday was shopping at the Goodwill stores in town and lunch with sons #1 and #2.  Thursday was a dinner at Sparky’s sister’s house because his sister from Montana was in town for 48 hours, there were 2 birthdays, and it was a kind of a Mother’s day celebration. I was supposed to make pies for the party and I did – but Sparky put them in my car instead of in his car and I rode with son#1 in his car since he didn’t know the way. Needless to say the pies were not in attendance!

(Sunny Apple made with Pink Lady and Jonagold apples and Spring Cherry made with tart and sweet cherries)
Of course it was also the last ceramics class which I had to miss. Friday found us saying many goodbyes since Saturday was putting my mother back on the plane to Philadelphia very early in the morning (up at 4 AM, at the airport by 5:15 AM, boarding by 6:00 AM and take off at 6:30 AM). Followed by a complete collapse for 1 hour. I took the car in for service (which ate 3 hours of my day). Sunday was Mother’s Day and we took Sparky’s parents out to lunch. Then it was back to the grind. I slaved all week at work trying to catch up on all the disasters that were just waiting for me. In my free moments at home I started on the vacation preparation. I started THE List. The list is the most important part. It details what needs to be done and when, what goes in the suitcases, and where we are traveling and what we are doing. Working off The list, I am still in the process of loading geocache coordinates into the GPS, packing the clothes and the check bag, and printing the agenda and maps. No matter how dazed you feel having read this to the end, I assure you it is only a ghostly version of how I feel… I really hope this is not how retirement feels! Vacation is looming and I have so much to do. On the bright side I am 6 weeks away from retirement!!

Looking at Chocolate

She loved chocolate. She considered it one of the major food groups. When she had returned after visiting Mister there hadn’t been time to make a proper dinner. The fries were a poor substitute for a meal. With the clock ticking, she had hurried to the appointment. The bowl of chocolates on the conference table was enticing. She could see Lindt truffles amid the individually wrapped Godiva and Dove chocolates. There were even some gold wrapped Ferrero Rocher in bottom of the bowl. It was tempting to take a couple but all she could think of was Persephone eating the pomegranate seeds and being condemned to remain in the underworld for a time equal to the number of seeds she ate. That would be a nightmare. She stared at the chocolate but kept her hands in her coat pockets as a check against reaching for the bowl. Perky had disappeared, thankfully. Her thoughts had returned to anxious anticipation of what the meeting would reveal. Obviously the lawyer felt his time was more important than hers since his “arriving shortly” was a lie. Wasn’t this a tactic that the police interrogators used? Make someone wait for a long time in a room all alone to play games with their psyche? She was struggling with her inner voice which was telling her to just walk out and go home. The wrenching reality was that home was gone. She had a house but without Mister it was just four walls. That thought burst into her consciousness with such fury that she gasped and then fought mightily to hold back the tears. Mumbling under her breath, she decided to leave. Just as she stood the door opened. A younger man entered looking stern. He was reading something in a folder and didn’t make eye contact. Standing at the table she was more than eager to leave, especially when the he didn’t acknowledge her presence.
Here is another episode of An Introvert’s Story. Several people have felt that they resemble this character. I am a shameless people watcher and an observer of human interactions. I have taken a variety of traits I’ve observed and created an amalgam that has become Lu. Some of this is me (I do believe in chocolate as a health food and it can be medicinal in many instances)…

Looking in the Kitchen

I thought I had posted some food porn but seems I put it on the back burner until National Poetry Month was over. I was cleaning up my photos and realized that I hadn’t posted about my latest culinary experiments.

First up was a panic meal. I was pressed to make a dinner and there wasn’t much in the house. I threw together an interesting pasta meal consisting of spaghetti made of brown rice and quinoa. Supposedly gluten free and vegan and oh so good for you. I like my gluten. The taste wasn’t horrible but the texture is “toothsome” – you cook it and there is a very fine line between chewy and completely spongy/slimy. The pantry contained a jar of Vodka Sauce from the discount store (an off-brand that looked a bit too red orange). I happened to have some broccoli, green olives and a few frozen shrimp. I thawed, heated, sliced and combined the whole works into a delightful meal topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.

My second experiment was a few weeks later. I had had Lebanese Rice a long time ago (before children) and had gotten the recipe but never made it. There were some items languishing in the pantry and I figured I’d give this dish a try Lebanese Rice aka Hashweh.
1 lb. ground beef (the leaner the better)
1/2 an onion diced (or 3 T. dehydrated chopped onion)
1 t. Allspice
2 cloves crushed garlic (or 1/2 t. garlic powder)
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. cinnamon or cardamom (I have both so used a 1/2 t. of each)
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Brown the meat and drain the grease. Add all the above ingredients plus 1/3 c. water. Stir to allow the spices to coat the meat and cook until the water is gone. Stir in 1/3 c. golden raisins and 1/3 c. pistachios or pine nuts to the meat.

Make 2 cups of rice (according to the usual directions) adding 3 T. dried parsley or 1/2 c. fresh chopped parsley as it cooks. Once the rice is done combine the meat and rice. Turn it out onto a large serving tray or bowl. Top with 1/3 c. slivered almonds and additional chopped parsley (which I ran out of).

Because Sparky is not a fan of the raisin, I added the raisins to the top of mine and used dried cranberries for his. The above is the picture of my serving since he tucked into his before I could take a photo!!
This was so good that just the other day Sparky wanted to know if I was going to make it again anytime soon. He rarely asks for a particular meal so he must have really liked it!!