Monday, December 31, 2007

At last, it can be revealed

Twisted Tails wall hanging quilt. I made this for my Sister-in-Law, who rescues Siamese cats.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lovely holiday, lovely day

'Tis the season for the surprising and the unexpected.

Knowing that I would be tired from working the night shift on Christmas Eve, I had given myself permission to take some shortcuts with Christmas Dinner. Normally, I whip myself into a frenzy, trying to out-Martha the doyenne of Turkey Hill herself. This year, it was different - and better. Instant mashed potatoes and Stovetop stuffing have never tasted so good. I'm tempted to cancel my subscription to Martha Stewart Living and throw away my potato peeler.

Okay, maybe not .. but this year's Christmas dinner was good!

Today, I received a surprise call from an old friend. She's had a rough few years, after having commanded a company in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her mental health and her marriage were collateral damage in that war, but she has found her strength again, and finally feels joy and happiness in her new life.

As I was talking to K, my husband arrived home with a late Christmas present .. a Wii!! This, of course, meant that we would also have to buy a television-like device, which was a little too much for my brain to handle. Fortunately, Sam's Club had a beautiful Multifunction Monitor which met our needs .. and technically, it's not a television, so I'm okay with that!

We also had dinner at a great restaurant in town. I cannot believe that we have never been there before. It was spectacular. I lived in Italy for three years, and enjoyed many a magnificent meal. This meal ranks in the top three I've ever savoured.

I hope that everyone had a peaceful holiday, and is excited as I am about the year to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An open letter to the merchandisers at Wal-Mart

I'm onto you guys.

You've tapped into my phone line. It's screamingly obvious.

Whenever I'm offered extra shifts, you pull another cute scrub top out of your arsenal, because you know that I will cave and buy it.

Three weeks ago, it the Tweety Bird (TM) Christmas top, with all those cute sayings like Joy to the World! and Peace on Earth!

Was it a mere coincidence that you placed those tops on the rack the day after the December schedule was posted, with yours truly slated to work the night shift on Christmas Eve?

Two weeks ago, it was the adorable Peanuts (TM) top, with the dancing Snoopy and the fluttering Woodstock. You just had to make it in flattering shades of pink and periwinkle, didn't you?

Tonight - just minutes after I agreed to work a few extra hours this weekend, you dangled the new My Melody top in front of me. So far, I have been able to resist the cousin of Hello Kitty, but you just know I'm going to succumb, don't you?

This isn't about the money, or even the ever-decreasing space in my closet.

No, this is about honesty. You're making a liar out of me, you Wal-Mart evil-doers!

Eons ago, when I was in nursing school, we wore expensive white dresses emblazened with the Queen's logo. Yes, we stuck out like sore thumbs. The "real" nurses usually wore white tops and white pants. The truly daring amongst them struck a pose with .. wait for it .. pastels.

A few years after graduation, I found myself working in a small hospital in South-west Louisiana. My unit's "colours" were teal and coral. I loved those scrubs, to tell the truth. But I did notice that on the days that I wore a white or pastel scrub dress, my patients seemed more comfortable. I think they viewed me as more of a professional when my appearance matched their expectations of what an RN should look like.

Fast forward a decade. I swore up and down that, when I returned to bedside nursing, my professional wardrobe would consist of solids and subtle floral prints. This was easily accomplished at first, because there were next to no scrubs of any description available in this area. I paid exhorbitant shipping costs for some new, pretty but subtle scrub tops and co-ordinating scrub pants. My one concession to the brave new world of nursing in the 21st century was a huge collection of Crocs.

And now that I've hit my nursing stride, I'm drawn to fun, funky scrub tops, and the evil-doers at Wal-Mart are only too happy to feed my addiction.

I promise that, underneath the My Melody scrub top, beats the heart of professional nurse. Pinky swear!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yes, Rosie, there is a Santa Claus

On Saturday morning, against my better judgement and in anticipation of the impending blizzard, I went to the local Super-Walmart. I wanted to pick up a few supplies, and some last minute restaurant gift cards for my husband's hard-to-buy-for little brother. Most of Jefferson County appeared to have the same idea. Oy.

I think I would feel the same way about any retail establishment at this time of the year, but I found myself hating Walmart that morning. I hated the abundance of unnecessary plastic junk on its shelves. I hated the pithy Christmas music blaring over the tinny sound system. Most of all, I loathed myself for participating in the crass over-commercialization of Christmas.

At the checkout, there was a problem with the gift cards. Evidently, the system which activates them is in Arkansas, and was malfunctioning due to the ice storm. Perfect. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

I returned to my car, which I had parked somewhere out in Siberia. About fifty metres away, there was a hub of activity .. some people with big white plastic bags, waving at the passing cars. Hmm, I thought. Very strange. As I pushed my empty cart back to the cart corral, a man rolled down his window and said, "Ma'am! They're giving away free turkeys over there!" Right on cue, a woman walked up to me and gave me one of those big white plastic bags. There a large premium frozen turkey in there, and a box of stuffing mix, AND a can of cranberry sauce! Incredulous, I asked who was giving these turkeys away and why? The lady just smiled, waved her hand nonchalantly at one of the men handing out the turkeys, and said, "I don't know. He just likes to do this every year for you guys!"

As I drove out of the parking lot, I stopped to say thanks to the apparent leader of the group. He was wearing big sunglasses and had his toque pulled down low over his forehead. I suspect that the two or three days' worth of beard was a temporary addition to his appearance. The one part of his image that could not be concealed was the huge grin on his face.

I have no idea who "he" is, but I think I know who he works for.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quote of the day

You know, honey, most people don't put up new birdfeeders in the middle of a blizzard.

One would think that after thirteen years, my husband would understand my quirky logic. I was already bundled up for shoveling, I wanted to get the pole and feeder mounted before the snow got too deep, and my birdies were hungry!

There had been a flurry of activity at the feeders this morning. Clearly, the birds knew that they needed to build up their energy reserves for the pending storm. Chickadee after chickadee flitted up to the sunflower buffet at the window, to my delight and to the consternation of the cats. The blue jays pecked away at the suet bars. The mourning doves gathered the seeds which had scattered on the snow.

And then .. he arrived. A brilliant male cardinal, the first I've spotted this winter. I'm going to call him Eric.

Obviously, the new feeder had to go up immediately. What's not to understand?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Alternative title: no good deed goes unrewarded!
Alternative, alternative title: making my frugal Daddy proud!!

On Sunday afternoon, my friend, Miss R, called from post. She was in quite a state. She had locked her car keys inside her car, and the spare set of keys were on the bulletin board in her kitchen.

I have a key to her house, because my son and I walk up there every weekday to take her aging hound dog out to do his business while Miss R is at work. We're only a couple of miles away from post, so it was no big deal to "rescue" my dear friend from this predicament.

I rarely venture onto post these days, given that the Super-Walmart is closer and sets its prices fairly close to those of the Commissary and PX. So, I thought I'd take a stroll around the Commissary (that's on-post grocery store for you civilians!) to see what was new and yummy. It turns out that Sunday afternoon is a good time to purchase meat from the Commissary. Since the store is closed on Mondays, anything that has an expiry date for the following Tuesday gets marked down for "quick sale" at about 4 pm. (Shhh! Don't tell anybody!) I scooped up some lovely steaks and lamb chops on my unexpected trip to post. I thanked the butcher for the lamb, and he expressed relief that someone had cleared out their inventory. If the marked down lamb chops don't get sold by the end of the day, then they are put in the frozen and reduced section. More often than not, my new friend told me, the frozen lamb does not get sold, and is simply thrown away. What a sin!!!!

The moral of the story is: be available to help your friends.

Oh, and the second moral of the story is: don't bother calling me on Sunday afternoons. I'll be hanging around the meat department at the Commissary, waiting for the markdowns!

Monday, December 10, 2007

An open letter to the mainstream media

You're pissing me off.

Forgive the profanity, but there is simply no other way to express my disgust for you these days.

I am an intelligent, busy woman, trying to stay on top of current affairs. You - and I'm pointing my finger at all of you in the press - are making it very difficult for me. Your obsession with the trivial and inconsequential has even tainted my dreams.

Last night, I dreamt that I was floated over to the Inpatient Mental Health Unit, where I was tasked to care for Ms. Britney Spears. How could such a notion have entered my psyche? Again, I point my finger at the so-called serious news outlets. I don't read the tabloids. I don't even have a television. And still .. and STILL!! The trials and travails of Ms. Spears are always in my peripheral vision.

Can't you serious news types see that this woman is very, very sick? Don't you understand that the constant blitzkrieg of the paparazzi is making things even worse? Why do you feed into this collective psychosis?

Leave that poor woman alone! Her antics are not newsworthy. They're just sad, and you are pathetic for putting them on the front page.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Modern living

My mother just instant messaged me - to tell me to go to bed!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Waiting game

I spent the vast majority of my waking hours yesterday in the waiting rooms of various automobile service shops - hence, the completion of two garterlac dishcloths. The first half of the day was devoted to the switching out of the all-seasons to snow tires. That task in and of itself is not time consuming, as the Blizzaks are already mounted on their own rims. However, given that there is a dearth of tire service shops in this area, those of us who are not brave enough to change our own tires are compelled to spend a loooooooong time in the "lounge" while we pay someone else to to the task for us.

After completing my bi-annual stint in tire purgatory, I ran a quick errand. As I was driving home, I noted that the driver's side window was down by a crack, and wouldn't budge. Hmmmm. When I got home, I tapped it from the outside .. and down it went into the mysterious abyss that is the inside of a modern car door. Apparently, the clips which hold the windows of the Jetta are plastic, and are notorious for snapping in the cold. I must say that the customer lounge at the local Volkswagen dealership is a cozy place to hunker down and knit while the warranty work is being done.

So, while I was sitting, and knitting, and trying to tune out the hunting shows and college football on the ubiquitous televisions, I did some thinking. It seems to me that there is an untapped market in this area, a demographic which is being ignored.

The 10th Mountain Division is noted for being the most frequently deployed post since September 11th. Urban legends would have us believe that when the (mostly) guys are deployed, their (mostly) wives don't always do the greatest job of keeping up with automobile maintenance. I can't speak to the veracity of that rumour, but let's just run with it. What if there was an automobile service center which catered to military spouses? Imagine a place that was clean and cozy, with a day spa and high quality child care. Perhaps there would even be a place for scrapbooking and other crafty pursuits.

I think it would be a license to print money. Could someone get on top of that?