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Archive for June, 2010

Floating away

Snapped some pictures out on the deck last night. I really like how this one turned out.

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Gobsmacked

The past couple of weeks have not been great.

There’s been stress at the job. The workload never diminishes, which is a great thing if you want to stay employed but not that great when you just want a little time to catch your breath. There’s also a part of my job that requires me to deliver bad news to people. I usually deliver this bad news via letter with an illegible signature at the bottom.  Yesterday every caller who asked to speak to me was responding to bad news I sent through the mail. None of them were happy and all of them knew to ask for me because that signature is scribbled above my name printed in a completely legible font.

I dealt with that stress by allowing Nathan talk me into visiting our favorite Chinese buffet. I have not been to that buffet since I returned to Weight Watchers in October. Everything was incredibly greasy and none of it made me feel any better.

Tonight we’ll be having soup. That won’t make me feel better either, but it won’t make me feel worse.

I’ll also be experiencing more stress as I continue to rebuild my lost iTunes library.

A week and a half ago I lost every single song, TV show and movie I’ve ever downloaded, ripped or stolen (come and get me, RIAA).  It was a result of a system backup gone wrong and I lost. it. all.

But get this, I sent a pleading email to Apple and they very generously let me re-download everything I have ever purchased from them at no additional charge. They didn’t have to do that but they did and they said I could only do it once.

But I also restored part of my library from a two-year old backup CD of my purchases and whatever else I had on my iPod Touch. After I re-downloaded everything I needed from iTunes, I went through the library and deleted all the duplicate tracks.

The thing is, after I would delete a group of dupes I’d go back through my library later and see the existing tracks of the dupes I just deleted were no longer there either (because they had the ! next to the track title). I’d scratch my head, wonder what was up and retrieve the missing tracks from the Trash bin.

This is the point at which most everyone who is not me would start to wonder if they were, in fact, deleting duplicates.

So last night I thought I had my iTunes library good and cleaned up and as a final measure I emptied my Trash bin.  And that’s when I found out I had not been deleting duplicates.

I had, in fact, deleted most of my iTunes purchases. Again.

I also deleted several of the albums I had just ripped back into my library.

Oh, the f-bombs they were a-flyin’.

I don’t understand exactly how the iTunes file system works, but I do now know that it is entirely possible for a song to be sent to the Trash bin and play from the Trash bin if iTunes still thinks it’s in the library somewhere.

I will not be emailing Apple again.  If they didn’t already think I’m stupid, admitting I deleted the library again would just confirm that I am.  Instead, I will be sitting down with my iPod and every CD I can find and very carefully replace what was lost. It has already been a very time consuming process and it annoys me to no end that I have to do this again.  As great as Apple is, they don’t exactly make it easy for you to retrieve anything other than what you purchased from them from an iPod Touch.  Getting your own lost music off the device requires an investment in 3rd party software. And in my case I guess we really can call that an investment, can’t we?

In the end I’m really no worse off than I was had Apple not allowed me to re-download everything. I have lost every movie I ripped from our own DVD collection, a couple of movies purchased from iTunes in addition to an entire season of Spongebob Squarepants.

In the grand scheme of things, my loss is a trivial one.  Nobody died or lost a loved one.  It was just music and crappy TV.  As I told Nathan, it could have been worse. I could have lost every photo I’ve ever taken. That would have been tragic.  Needless to say, I have a brand spanking new external hard drive ready and waiting to serve as my media backup. Every photo, video and song on my computer is going to be backed up regularly from now on so long as I don’t screw things up in the process.

And that’s the Reader’s Digest version of what’s been going on over here.

How’ve you been?

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Food porn

Last week I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate chips. The recipe I used came right off the chip bag and it called for two sticks of butter.

I love to make cookies and this batter was so light and fluffy that I couldn’t keep my fingers out of it. I’ve always been that way with cookie batter. Raw eggs be damned, I will eat spoonfuls of the stuff before a single cookie comes out of the oven.

I remember my mom baking cookies when I was a kid and even back then I could not keep my hands out of the batter. Autumn is the same way and there’s something about her blatant thievery of dough that reminds me of myself when I was young.  And yes, it is a little frightening considering how all that cookie dough now hangs on me in 150 pounds of excess weight.

Of course that excess weight did not come from stealing cookie dough from my mother’s bowl. It came from being the kind of person who would make her own batch of dough and eat the whole thing raw. I didn’t even have to have chocolate chips or a recipe. I’d just start dumping butter, sugar, flour and vanilla together until it tasted like the dough my mother made.

I remember the day my mom first told me about ice cream made with real cookie dough. She said Jane Fonda or some other celebrity had talked about it and so we spent weeks looking for the stuff in our local stores.  This was at least 25 years ago before it was everywhere, but I remember scouring the frozen food section for the mythic flavor I was sure would replace Hudsonville Strawberry Cheesecake as my absolute most favorite ice cream flavor ever.

Now I wish I’d been the one to dream up cookie dough ice cream. It’s such a simple concept and yet look at how popular it is now. It’s right there in the case next to your Moose Tracks and your Butter Pecan and your Mint Chocolate Chip. And I’ll bet the person who dreamed up the cookie dough genius is not only a lover of the dough like me but stinkin’ rich to boot.

I think that’s how some people get rich. They discover their passion, figure out how to enhance it and capitalize on the opportunity to share it with others like them. Just look at Larry Flint.  He parlayed a love of sex into a multi-million dollar business.  Of course he now keeps to his wheelchair and pees in a bag, but for awhile there he was somewhat of a revolutionary.

Maybe it’s silly to compare cookie dough to porn, but we all have our vices.  Some are just a little sweeter and a little more delicious than others.  Look at it this way; if one can turn an addiction into an enterprise, anything is possible. That doesn’t exactly help me with my cookie dough problem, but it is comforting to know desire and obsession can be the vehicle which drives us toward success.

And if you happen to get a warm crispy cookie at the end, that just sweetens the pot.

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Yesterday I had my first physical therapy appointment. It was not the torture session I imagined it would be.

And?  My PT is kind of cute.

Actually, he’s pretty hot.

Of course I had not shaved my legs in a couple days, so I doubt he thought the same of me. He did praise me more than once for having lost fifty pounds so far. He said he lost sixty pounds himself a few years ago and that the rate at which I’m losing is ideal.  It hasn’t felt ideal as of late, but I understood what he was saying.  Slow weight loss = good. Fast weight loss = bad.

I am really excited about working with this guy because he’s all about telling me what’s possible.  Up to this point I have felt extremely limited in what I can do physically, mostly because I’ve set limits for myself based on what I thought I knew about the arthritis and what my previous orthopedist told me I should and should not be doing.

For instance, twenty minutes into the hour-long session, the PT started talking about stairs and how I should be incorporating them into my fitness routine.

Excuse me? Stairs? I do not do stairs. I have been told not to do stairs because they put stress on the knees. Stairs are the reason I’m in physical therapy in the first place and I only do them if I have to. Like the stairs in my house that lead up to the kitchen. Obviously I need to take them if I want to eat, but I have never considered doing them for fun.

In fact, I have been known to send laundry baskets full of clothes skidding down to the landing in an effort to avoid the stairs.  Of course the laundry doesn’t find its own way into the washer and I usually only employ this method if Nathan’s already in the basement.

But the PT insists there is a right way to do stairs, and when done correctly it’s one of the best workouts around.  Tomorrow he is introducing me to the 2 ½-inch step.  Whoa, Nelly.  He also gave me a little hope as far as becoming a runner some day. He said it’s not out of the question but that I should only start a running program once I’ve lost more weight so that I don’t exacerbate the problem in my knees.

I have a feeling this guy is going to be my Yoda.  Only hotter.

A hot Yoda. I think that may be the most ridiculous oxymoron ever.

So far I am very optimistic about the outcome of the physical therapy. I ultimately decided to get the second opinion because I wanted someone to be able to take me to the next level of recovery.  I have a lot more weight to lose, and even though Yoda suspects my knee pain may be from overuse (Saturday-Arc trainer, Sunday-elliptical, Monday-2.6 mile walk), he did not say I should not continue doing what I have been doing.  He just wants to help condition my body so I can do it without pain.

Isn’t he awesome?  I have three more sessions scheduled with him and I’m very much looking forward to them.

And it’s not because he’s hot.

But that does help.

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Nathan and I have signed up for a local CSA this year. This is a big step for us considering a few months ago I didn’t even know what CSA stood for. FYI, it stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”.

The CSA was not a small investment, and as we’re approaching our first pick-up next week, we’re steeling ourselves for the onslaught of greens and whatever else will be part our share.  We’re excited and kind of nervous about it because we rarely venture beyond the likes of lettuce, corn, baby carrots and the occasional spinach.  We’re also sort of bad about letting things spoil.

The good thing about having all these vegetables on hand is that it’s gong to completely change the way we shop and cook. Instead of getting the Sunday ads and making my list according to what’s on sale, I’ll be able to take stock of our CSA share and plan meals around what we have for that week.

I’m also hoping to introduce Autumn to some other veggies she just might like. At this point there are only four vegetables she will eat; corn, carrots, tomatoes and lettuce. She has yet to discover the juicy sweetness of a Vidalia onion or the savory snap of asparagus sauteed in olive oil. Any time we put spinach on a pizza she’ll tear off the toppings and eat just the meat and cheese.  So this CSA experiment is going to be good for us all.

I’ve bought three cookbooks that I’m sure will help me get through our first CSA season:

From Asparagus to Zucchini

Simply in Season

Farmer John's Cookbook

Nathan and I have started to page through these book and we’re really excited about what’s in store for us this summer.

I’m very excited about supporting local growers and going to the store less. In a perfect world I’d be able to get everything I want at my CSA, but we don’t live in a climate the supports mangoes and avocados.

Dang.

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Sunday was my father-in-law’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and I’ve found myself already very fond of his new wife. I only just met her a few weeks ago but there’s something about her that says “grandma” to me.

I think this new wife is everything my father-in-law wanted wife #2 (Terrie) to be for us and for Autumn. She tried awfully hard but we could never get past her being the woman who was already spending nights with my father-in-law a month after my mother-in-law’s death.

Nathan and I never grew close to Terrie and because of that we never realized how much she meant to Autumn. Autumn doesn’t remember Nathan’s mom. To her, Terrie was the grandma she remembered and the one she lost to a heart attack last November.

Autumn’s feelings about Terrie’s death surfaced throughout the day on Sunday. She mentioned it a couple of times after the wedding, but it wasn’t until I put her to bed that night that she finally uncorked the bottle and let her emotions spill out.

She sobbed and said she missed Terrie and wished she hadn’t died. She didn’t want her grandma (my mom) to die,  she didn’t want to die herself and she cried for the grandma she never really knew. I held her close and tried to allay her fears, but I wasn’t at all prepared for the conversation. I explained that everyone dies sometime, some when they’re young and some when they’re old, but that we can’t go through life always worrying about losing people. We just have to enjoy the time we have with them.

The conversation left me feeling drained and I still don’t know if I handled it correctly. All I know is that she was grieving and seeing her grandpa marry someone new had obviously stirred up something for her. She processed a lot that day, from being in the wedding to meeting all her new cousins, that it’s no wonder she had a little freak-out. I’m actually impressed she held it all together as long as she did.

Someone told me these types of conversations will occur when you’re least prepared to handle them. She advised to figure out the answers beforehand so you’re not caught so off guard when they are asked. That would have been excellent advice to have received a week ago.

Have you ever had to tackle a tough subject with your very young children?  How did you handle it and is there anything you wish you had done differently?

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