Saturday, December 06, 2008

O Christmas Tree

Thank you pine tree for allowing us to cut you down to decorate our home.

Last year, we trekked out to the Merry Christmas Tree Farm to find our Christmas tree. We have decided to make cutting a fresh tree one of our holiday traditions. So, today, we began our quest for the (not so) perfect tree.

One of the things we love about cutting a tree from this farm -- besides the fact it is small and local and has alpacas -- is that the trees aren't perfect. If we wanted a perfect tree, we'd buy an artificial one.

Although we set off in a different direction from last year, we ended up in about the same area. And the tree is pretty similar to our 2007 tree. It's tall and slender, fresh and fragrant.

And with a price of $30, pretty affordable. Tomorrow we'll trim the tree and deck the halls and get the Christmas season rolling.

Christmas alpacas

Friday, December 05, 2008

Follow me

Based on all the comments on yesterday's post, I'm not the only person worried about the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. And, more importantly, it looks like I am going to have to lead this sorry group of survivors, seeing as I had the highest score.

New Year's resolutions for all of us:
1. Stock up on canned beans and Twinkies (they say those sweet golden cakes last forever)
2. Learn to fire a rifle/pistol/automatic weapon
3. Take up jogging/running
4. Buy a baseball bat or other blunt object and practice using it

I also think we should make it a habit to cover ourselves in Pam Cooking Spray, Vaseline or olive oil so the zombies will have a harder time getting a good grip on us. Hmmm... maybe not the olive oil -- that might make us all the more tasty.

Another day of thanks

I woke today to an outside temperature of one degree Fahrenheit and a sore throat. So, today, I'm especially thankful for hot showers, silk/wool-blend socks and space heaters.

Ripley is especially thankful for sunbeams and down comforters.
When I first moved in with my significant other, we didn't let the pets on the furniture. I had Ripley and the Fat Cat, and the S.O. had a Doberman. If we had let any of the critters on the bed, we wouldn't have had anywhere to sleep. That, and Jenny, the Dobie, had some issues with incontinence, so, yeah.

After a valiant struggle with Wobbler Disease, Jenny died, and we were left with the Rat Terrier and the Fat Cat. I think those two have benefited from our sorrow (and probably a little guilt) of losing Jenny. While neither one gets to sleep in the bed with us at night, they are very seldom chased off the bed during the day.

Because I chose to adopt two shedding machines and, even though I don't like to admit it, have allergic reactions to all that hair, I'm thankful the comforter has a removable cover that can easily be thrown into the washing machine and dryer.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

When it comes

Today, I am thankful to have friends who are preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. Because when the Zombie Apocalypse inevitably comes, the human race has a better chance of surviving if more of us are truly prepared.

Apparently, I need to step it up a few notches.

I answered the questions honestly. I think I need to run more, stock up on canned goods and learn to handle a fire arm.

And if you think the Zombie Apocalypse isn't possible, you need to check out this:
5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bird by bird

Today, I want to say thanks to Lisa. She's been a great friend and editor for several years. While she probably won't be my editor after this Friday, I'm confident that the friendship will continue. Lisa took me under her wing at the newspaper and taught me, among many other things, AP style and how to find my voice.

When I first started writing for her, I still had a host of other duties I had to perform for another boss. During some of those early days, I wasn't sure how I would get everything done on time. Because Lisa and I are friends, I was able to go to her and tell her my concerns. She sent me the following passage from Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird":
"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."
I printed it out and tacked it to my cubicle wall. I looked to it often when something felt overly daunting. Even now --with a work schedule that isn't so crazy --when life seems to put a huge obstacle in my path, I look to this passage, and it helps me through. And it reminds me that I have a friend I can turn to, whether I'm looking for advice on the correct usage of effect or affect or I just need a word of encouragement.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coffee talk

I am thankful for good coffee. However, I'm not sure if I should be grateful to my significant other for getting me hooked on it. Until the past year or so, I spent my time perfectly happy being a tea drinker. I tried coffee in the past, but it always tasted bitter to me.

When I visited New Orleans years ago, I really wanted to drink a cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde -- just to say I had. Little did I know folks in New Orleans add chicory to their coffee to make it really strong tasting. I couldn't finish the coffee and had to have hot cocoa with my beignets. It wasn't quite the experience I was going for.

I tried flavors and cappuccinos and finally gave up, deciding I just don't like coffee. No big loss. Except that coffee drinkers seem to enjoy it so much, there must be something to it.

One day, while sipping my chai with the S.O. at Starbucks, he suggested trying an Americano. I did, with a little milk and sugar. And I liked it. Next time, I ordered a latte and -- you guessed it -- I liked it. Now I find that I actually like the bolder coffees better than the mild ones. I don't even need as much milk and sugar in my coffee as I did when I first started drinking coffee. Does this mean my palate is becoming more sophisticated with age or just that I'm killing off my taste buds and can only taste strong, bold flavors? (I've also developed a taste for red wine, dark beer and black olives.)

The good news is coffee can be a significant source of antioxidants:
In fact, it is the top dietary source of antioxidants in many populations, including in the United States. Moreover, roasted coffee residues retain their antioxidant ability; it isn't lost in processing.
The downside is now we have to buy a bigger coffee pot.

Monday, December 01, 2008


This month, I'm participating in National Blog Posting Month. I started last month but got in a little late. The plan is to post something every day in December. The theme for December is thanks.

Years ago, while going through a bit of a rough patch, I learned about something called a gratitude journal (it was probably something on Oprah, but it's not as corny as it sounds). The idea is to write down the things you are grateful for -- count your blessings. For awhile, a couple of friends and I e-mailed each other every day with our gratitude lists. For awhile after that, I kept a physical journal. Funny thing is once the rough patch eased up, I wrote in it less and less -- the more I had to be grateful for, the less I kept track of it.

When things were bad, it was hard to find things to be grateful for, but I could always come up with at least a few. It seemed important to look at the bright side of life. I guess I had to remind myself it could always get worse. I always had a place to live, food to eat and people who cared about me. And when I dug deeper, I could find plenty of good things in life.

But when things are good, I think I take it for granted and don't thank my lucky stars for what I have.

Looking back through the journal I kept, I see I often wrote that I was grateful for my health, my pets and my loved ones. That still holds true, but should never go without saying.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's 5 o'clock somewhere

I'm sipping a chai, watching the snow fly this morning. I was planning for today to be a day of rest and recovery after yesterday's 5k (it really was a big deal for me). But despite the snow and slippery roads, we're supposed to drive to the S.O.'s mother's house for a belated Thanksgiving dinner. Which means today is going to be more stress than rest.

Maybe I should be drinking Irish coffees to prepare myself for the drive and the dinner.
Or maybe I should just follow the dog's lead and go back to bed.