Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Measure of My Days

Ed often asks me, "How was your day?" when he gets home from work. Thirty years ago that question could elicit a long conversation. Today? Not so much. What is the measure of my day? I've been thinking a lot about that lately.

My first concern of the day: Was I able to get on the internet? If so, there will be e-mails to read: from my sister, maybe my daughters, some friends, and then I'll read a few blogs. There will be the inevitable Scrabble plays with my sister, my eldest daughter, and a friend who lives two blocks away, but whom I only occasionally see. I may even write a page or two on this blog.

Who did Charlie Rose interview last night? That's almost my first question of the day. Thank heavens for TIVO! This morning I listened to his conversation with Rahm Emmanuel, in which they discussed President Elect Obama's management style and their recent interaction with Congress. Lots to think about! I "saved" it, knowing I'd want to listen to it again. Turning to CNN in time to hear the end of a pre-Inauguration whistle-stop speech in Delaware where the train coming from Philadelphia picked up Vice President Elect Joe Biden. I nervously watched
our almost new President walk out through the crowd, shaking hands, chatting, etc. I'm wishing he would keep his charismatic self behind bullet-proof glass! His taking the oath of office on the Lincoln bible and team of rivalry comparisons almost seem to be challenging, taunting, or provoking the unthinkable. It's making me crazy!

I knit. I write. I incessantly watch, read, and consider the political goings-on of the day. I have much more time to think about these things and to read the current books that are being discussed than I ever had when younger and when working. It is only because my own personal world has become narrower that I have the time or energy to become engrossed in the wider world.

I feel lucky that I enjoy my life. As a fairly private person who has always enjoyed solitude, I don't miss going out and about every day. As I am aging, my personal world seems to be getting narrower, however. I'm not yet what one would call frail, but my lack of easy mobility causes me to find staying at home easier than going out. And I am quite content. It might have been otherwise.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How long...?

Ever since I started getting home delivery from Safeway, our pantry has been overflowing. It's that "free delivery" if you order $150 worth and five of these items that gets me every time. And then there's the buy one, get one free. Anyway, I decided after my last delivery on December 24th that I would see how long we could get by living off the pantry, refrigerator and freezer before ordering again. Were it not for produce, I think we're good for a few weeks. Yesterday, I dug into the big bag of pinto beans that my Latina friend, Adela, brought me when she took care of me after my knee replacement surgery. That must have been five years ago...that bag of beans will last us a lifetime!

I cooked up two cups of beans with some Jimmy Dean Italian sausage, a diced up baseball sized yellow onion and some not quite shriveled carrots, canned tomatoes, fresh thyme and parsley left from that last delivery, and a bay leaf from Nancy Keltner's yard. Well, 2 cups of beans makes a lot of bean soup. We have bean soup to last us all weekend and perhaps then some.

We do love home delivery of groceries though. Ed doesn't mind stopping by in between deliveries to pick up some fresh produce, a loaf of bread, or a half gallon of milk. It's the big long lists of strange sounding names that he dislikes. And frankly, I'm often inspired by what is on sale or what I see when I'm browsing down the "aisles" on-line. Who knew, for instance, that Crisco now has a spray-on product that contains a mixture of oil and flour to prepare cake pans? Who knew that Kraft caramel now packages caramel chips? How easy those caramel chocolate brownie bars are now to make - no unwrapping of 50 Kraft caramels!

Our last delivery contained a prime rib roast ($26 worth) that I didn't order. It was the day before Christmas, so it was probably someone's Christmas dinner. I called Safeway customer service, thinking maybe the delivery person could come back for it, but they said, "Just enjoy it!" that they would just have to throw it away, that it could not be redelivered.

It doesn't happen often, but occasionally we are billed for something that wasn't delivered. Customer service is always most accommodating, giving credit on next order of more than the value of the item.

Friends gave us gift certificates for Schwan's Home Service for Christmas. I've never had anything of theirs, but do see their truck around town now and then. Jeanne says that they lived off of their meals when she was recuperating from her accident and subsequent surgeries, so she thought we might enjoy their service, too. She says their ice cream bars are favorites, but that they haven't had anything they didn't like. I need to continue bringing the freezer inventory down a bit before I order from Schwan, I think.

I'm able to sit here at this computer, browse with the help of Google, and find almost anything I want (or need). Some things arrive within a day from the time I order, including groceries from Safeway. Being agoraphobic wouldn't be a problem. How long, I wonder, could one stay within these four walls?

Friday, January 9, 2009

To Die For

I'm a self-acknowledged political junkie. I watch Bill Moyers Journal on Friday nights and Meet the Press and George Stephanopolous every Sunday morning. Frankly, we've had a bit of a conflict in our house the past few Sundays when football interferes with Fareed Zakaria. Before football season, we always TIVO'd Fareed and Ed and I watched it together. The past few weeks, however, the TIVO has been recording football, so that Ed can click through the commercials while watching the game. I've had to be sure to watch GPS live at 10 a.m. on Sunday - with commercial interruptions.

TIVO has been a great addition to our lives. I'm not sure how we could get along without it. There are some programs that I just never want to miss. For instance, Charlie Rose comes on much too late in the evening for me to watch it regularly. It does repeat at noon the next day, too, of course, but that's not a great time for me, so I TIVO his interviews every night and watch them the next morning - without fail. And moments later, you might find me in at my computer ordering a book that has just been discussed from amazon.com or our public library.

My reading list this past year has had very little fiction on it. I've been reading such things as The Post American Era by Fareed Zakaria; The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein, and The World is Flat by Tom Friedman. Not really light reading.

So when my daughter, Valerie, told me of a new mystery author that had been recommended to her by the owner of a used bookstore she and Sean had visited, I laughingly said I could use some mindless reading matter. She giggled a bit and added that they were mystery/romance. I asked, "You mean they are "pulsing manhood" books?

"Definitely!" She had read the two paperbacks she had bought on her first visit to the booksore, Drop Dead Gorgeous and To Die For, and had made a second trip for two more.

So I wasn't surprised when Val brought me the four Linda Howard books that she had thus far acquired. I'm no connoisseur of the romance novel, but I can assure you Ms. Howard is no John Grisham or even Robert Parker. But I have finished all four of the "romantic suspense" novels...and it is only January 9th! Even though not great literature or nail-biting suspense, the pages did seem to keep turning.

However, amazon.com delivery today brought Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan - Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound. The first twenty pages - "a brief history of how we got here" - didn't tell me anything I didn't already know: "It was a wild drunken party of dishonesty and greed on a national scale." I'm hoping the book will prove worth the read. Thus far, her advice seems sound:

  1. When it comes to money, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  2. If you cannot afford it, do not buy it.
  3. Always choose to do what's right, not what's easy.

Do you know what your credit card interest rate is - currently?

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Knit Two...

Last night I frogged the first of a pair of socks for the third time! Frustration!

Frogging for the uninitiated non-knitter refers to the "rrrriiiiippp" that takes place when you unravel knitting. It's not that it was such a complicated pattern, but just as I was about to turn the heel (the first time I had to rrrriiip), I discovered a dropped stitch about five rows down. Ordinarily, I could just knit it up using a crochet hook, but the pattern involved a k2tog and then knit into the first stitch...making a bit of a cable stitch. Not possible to do with crochet hook. I thought I might be able to just unravel down to the problem. Not possible!

The second time...I don't even want to talk about it!

Now the third time. I guess the pattern used more yarn than usual because about two inches above the heel, I became aware that I wasn't going to have enough yarn to make the sock tall enough for its intended owner. What to do?

My helpful husband suggested that I just continue and make it the length I wanted by using the second ball of yarn that I had reserved for the second sock and then use a different yarn for the toe/foot of the second sock. "It's going to be hidden in the shoe anyway, isn't it?" Who's to know...or care?

While I've knit many unmatched socks - almost anytime I use self-striping yarn, it tends to pool differently or I don't start with the yarn in exactly the same place, and the socks end up similar, but not exactly the same. But that's intentional - sort of. And they're striped. It's okay to have them turn out kind of funky. But these are dress socks. Sean will probably want to wear them to work. (Okay. I know he'll probably not take his shoes off at work!)

Well, I just couldn't do it. I rewound the yarn as I rrrriiippped...and have now started again. I am using a different yarn for the toe (as Ed suggested), but both socks will be the same - have the same "different" toe. A deliberate intentional difference.

I'm reminded of the time my aunt Teedy brought home a couple of lengths of navy blue serge that she'd found on sale. I can't remember for what occasion, but she planned to make me a gored dress - probably similar to something I'd seen Jane Powell wear in a movie.

She cut it out and sewed it up one night. In the morning when I tried it on, she and I both noticed that every other panel was black - not navy blue! In the dark they had looked the same, but in daylight that midnight blue was black. (Did you know that many men are unable to tell the difference - day or night!?) Fortuitously, it was every other gore, so it looked almost on purpose. It could have been worse.

Teedy, being creative in more ways than one, advised, "Just tell your friends this is the latest trend in Paris!" She did some fancy embroidery stitches that made the dress even more special - and more French-like. I loved that dress until I outgrew it and handed it down to a younger friend. Someone somewhere may still be wearing the dress - that serge would NEVER wear out!