Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - If It's Tuesday, this must be Random


Be sure and pop on over to the Un Mom.  Hopefully you can catch her before she runs barefoot down the street chasing the UPS truck.

While you are out running around in the blogosphere, stop by and check out Momspective's RTT--it's a gas!

As I write this post, I'm drinking the last of my Shui Sin tea from Ten Ren.  It's a loose leaf tea, and it is pretty good.  I purchased it in a variety pack.  My blog is not monetized--I do not receive compensation for mentioning things I like.  That is only a clarification not a criticism.  I think it is great that bloggers have the opportunity to earn a few dollars via their blogs.

I'm also eating applesauce.  Applesauce is so easy and cheap to make (not to mention-no preservatives), both cooked and raw.  Raw applesauce is just pulverized apples that have been peeled and cored, with or without sugar or sweeteners, spices and/or other fruits.  A food processor, food mill or blender is all you need.  I prefer cooked applesauce and it stores wonderfully in the freezer.  It's much easier to cook your own applesauce and freeze it than to can it.  If you are not a well-seasoned canner, it is also less scary to freeze it. 

Today is cool and blustery and will hopefully bring some rain.  I love the heat but like Twenty Four At Heart, multiple consecutive weeks in the 90s and 100s in September brings about a certain fatigue.  So it is a welcome change to sit here in my pullover hoodie and jeans snuggled up with my cup of tea and writing this post.

For parents of young children, hang in there; blessings await you as they grow and become independent.  My 17 year old daughter awoke late this morning--too late to catch the bus.  It was so fantastic to just hand her the car keys, rollover and go back to sleep.  No more jumping out of bed, putting my clothes on backwards and inside out, running in circles trying to find my purse and my shoes while my hair goes uncombed (and sticking out like Medusa's) and my teeth unbrushed as I cuss and hurry my kids into the car in a race to shuttle them to school before the bell rings.  Of course, I rolled over and went back to sleep with one eye open because MY-TEENAGER-HAS-THE-CAR!  It's a trade-off.

A special shout out to Super Jenn, as she begins her first day at home alone with three little ones instead of two.  You can do it Jenn, I had four in the span of ten years.  The youngest is now 13(almost 14--she constantly reminds me) and they are all still pains in the ass healthy and happy.  You can do it!

My overcast, cozied up day has me pondering other food pleasures besides my tea.  When I was a teen, I learned to make hot cocoa from scratch.  As a mother, I found that making my own cocoa allowed me to create savory memories for my children.  When we lived on the east coast and it snowed, my children would almost always come in from playing in the snow to find hot cocoa steaming on the stove.  Even now, if we drive up north to "visit" the snow, I will often pack a thermos of my cocoa.  Occasionally, they will arrive home from school on a cold day to find it waiting.  Here is my cocoa recipe:

In a two quart sauce pan, add one cup unsweetened cocoa powder and one cup sugar.  Add to that one tablespoon of water, one-eighth teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is completely blended.  It should look like chocolate syrup.  If it is pasty, add a little more water.  Once the chocolate is blended, add milk.  Reduce the heat to medium low and stir constantly until the cocoa begins to steam.  Do not boil.  I do not measure the milk, I just pour until I have the blend that I want.  Some days, I only add a cup or two of milk which makes it rich and strong (and slightly bitter for you dark chocolate lovers).  Other days, I dilute it with lots of milk so that the chocolate tastes more like an essence.  Your kids will probably like it somewhere in between.  I have not tried sugar substitutes, so use those at your own risk for this particular recipe. 

By the way, this is a dump recipe for me, I measured it so I could share it with others, but it really looks more like this:  equal parts cocoa and sugar-eyeball about a cup of each.  A pinch of salt, a splash of vanilla, a little water.  Cook according to above instructions, dump in as little or as much milk as you want.

One more thing.  Years ago, I picked up a very pretty, discontinued set of Mikasa china at a thrift shop.  It had almost all the pieces for service for ten, plus serving dishes.  Because I invested so little, I do not lose my mind worrying about breakage when I use it.  Thus, letting my kids drink their special homemade cocoa out of a china cup on a saucer made them feel like they were doing something extra special.  Even now, it is easy and inexpensive to pick up a single teacup with a matching saucer at a resale shop.  Collect several cup and saucer sets so that you have enough for your kids and let them have tea or cocoa parties.  I promise, it will create fun memories for them.

Did I seriously just write this warm and fuzzy post?  Okay, fess up, who spiked my tea with happy pills?  Oh wait; it is probably just that I got "some" last night.  But then I get "some" most nights or days as the opportunities "arise".  Okay, do not feign shock and surprise.  If you read my profile, it says that I am satisfied with my life.  How could you possibly not even suspect the source of my satisfaction?  Hello---McFly!

And so on that note, this concludes my Tuesday Randomness.  Now, off with you.  Go see what opportunities of your own "arise".

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - For Appearance Sake


 Keely seems to be feeling shitty, but she never disappoints, be sure and hop on over to The Un Mom for some good Random.

I have sympathy pains this week for Julie at Momspective, her sweet child accidentally tried to wash her cell phone in the dog bowl (he was trying to help his mommy, honestly he was).  I can sympathize because last spring, I dropped my Blackberry in the toilet, and it was not pretty--neither the wet malfunctioning Blackberry nor my meltdown.   BTW, if you get a chance, catch her and the other Wii Mommies during their Broadcast on Fridays.  They share lots of good info and advice and not just about Wii Fit.

Once again, I have to thank Twenty Four At Heart for inspiration.  Her post "Cars Are Getting Smarter But I'm Not" triggered my idea for my random thoughts and I was having some serious brain blockage (probably because I'm distracted by setting up my team for the Fantasy Football matchups this week).  A shout out to the ladies in the League--Momspective, MadMom, Not Just 9 to 5, Team Nickleberry, I Complete Me, AlliC, Ms.Purr, The Bumbles, Tonoogle

(Annaliese and Sheree, my blog sleuthing did not find your blogs, please send me the links and I will update them here and use them in the future)

So, I'll get on with it already.  Twenty Four's experience getting her signal fixed caused her some annoyance over the blatant staring at her attractiveness.  I occasionally find myself experiencing that same kind of annoyance, which is surprising because it's only been a few years since I went from invisible to being noticed.

I mentioned before that I lost 147 lbs a few years ago.  I have a post in the works about that whole process and will include before and after pictures.  I hope to get it finalized and posted this week or next.

Since the weight loss, I've gone from being invisible (and often ignored) to being noticed--sometimes in extremely amusing ways.  I freely admit that most of the time I feel flattered; it's such a change from being ignored.  Like Twenty Four, I have benefitted from this new admiration I receive.  Interestingly, it sometimes comes in the form of free food (ironic and amusing because of the weight loss).  I've gotten a wink and a free BBQ rib; a smile and a free egg roll. I often get noticeably better service as well.

Once, as I was walking into a store, a man walking in the opposite direction began looking my way.  Unfortunately since he wasn't watching where he was going, he ran smack into a pole!  I walked away quickly in an attempt to hide my laughter, but I'm sure he saw me laughing.

Another time, I was sitting in my car at a gas station and glanced over at a man sitting in his truck at the next gas pump.  His head kept dropping and almost hitting his steering wheel.  All I could think was "WTF, is he having a seizure or stroke?"  When I got out of my car to pump gas, he got out of his truck and came over to tell me that he thought I was beautiful.  I was flattered but also a little creeped out.  I was even more creeped out when he followed me as I drove out of the gas station.  I started to be concerned then was relieved when I turned and he kept going straight. 

One of the oddest experiences I've had since my appearance changed occurred when I went to a dance club.  My husband and I enjoy dancing and try to go out at least once a month to dance clubs with our friends.  Neither of us is the jealous type and we have agreed that it's okay to dance with others, even strangers who ask nicely.  One night, I was asked to dance by a younger man and accompanied him to the dance floor.  I must mention here that I had on a skin tight dress and no bra which made me look completely flat-chested.  It was too tight to wear my chicken cutlets anything padded.  So, I had a certain "boy in a dress" look about me.  I do tend to wear my makeup like a drag queen a little more flamboyantly when I go out to clubs.  It's all part of my fun!

Yes, that's me following my hubby to the dance floor in my skin tight black dress

I walked onto the dance floor with the young man and we began dancing.  We were dancing along quite nicely and then he twirled me and I spun in and landed front to front smack up against him.  It was at that moment (because of my skin tight dress) that he realized I was indeed a girl because I did not have a penis and testicles wiggly parts below the waist.  He said, "you are not what I thought" and then he promptly turned and walked off the dance floor.  I stood looking at him in astonishment.  He thought I was a man in a dress!  I guess I should have been humiliated?  However, I found it hilarious and went immediately and told my husband and friends.

Those are just a few anecdotes in my experience post weight-loss.  It truly has done wonders for my self-esteem, but the novelty is wearing off, and at times, it's actually annoying.  I hope that doesn't make me seem ungrateful.  It's only that I wish to be noticed for many other attributes that rank higher on my list than appearance and truthfully, having experienced the opposite effect, deep down it makes me feel hypocritical.  I'd much rather be known for my kindness, dependability, generosity, intelligence and humor.  Someday my looks will change, and I will stop being noticed for my appearance.  That's okay with me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - With Caffeine


The Un Mom is starting a new career.  Something about godfathers and horse heads.  I'm hoping she'll have a BOGO for this service(it's too hard to choose just one).  Be sure and go over to her blog for some Randomness.

(Special thanks to Twenty Four At Heart, her pumpkin spice latte tweet gave me my inspiration for RTT)

TGIT!  RTT always seems to get me back on track for the week and assuage my lack of Monday blogging guilt.  Mondays are just crazed days for me and will remain so until November.  Here is my typical Monday:

Get up at 6:00am, make breakfast and school lunches and go teach a class from 7:45-8:45

Arrive back home and re-orient my home from an Entropy laden weekend (that's if I don't have some kind of appointment to go to).  For you non-science types, entropy occurs when a system goes from a state of order to a state of disorder or chaos.  Thus, weekends and any given day, my home experiences entropy.

Go teach another class from 12:30pm-1:30pm.  The rest of the week my classes are each 90 minutes long.

Run back home, attempt to finish chores, make dinner, spend a few minutes of quality time with my hubby (if he's not working) and my youngest child who feels like a Monday orphan.

Leave at 4:40 to begin a carpool and arrive by 5:15 at band practice

From 5:30-8:30, teach ten distracted and fatigued but hard-working young ladies marching drill and equipment work.

8:45-9:15 Reverse carpool

9:30-11:00 Any remaining chores, and hopefully, some time reading my favorite blogs (enough brain power to read but not enough to write).

Sometimes I make it to bed by 11:00 and sometimes I don't.

Currently Mondays and Wednesdays are like this.  For most of October it will also be this way Fridays and Saturdays.

My title mentioned something about caffeine...

I am a caffeine addict (Hi, my name is NeCole and I'm a caffeine addict, it's been zero days since my last caffeine intake).  So yeah, I'm not in recovery.  Once in a while, I get clean from caffeine, but eventually I go right back to it.  I started drinking coffee when I was eleven years old.  Yes, eleven!  All of my family drank coffee and being as I was somewhat of a hyper child, my doctor advised my parents to give it to me.  Give a hyper child coffee???? Whaaa....t???? Apparently, the theory was that based on homeostasis, caffeine will actually mellow out a hyper kid.  Interesting theory.  Being a biologist, I understand the theory, but having experienced it, I am somewhat skeptical.  This was back in the good old sixties, before Ritalin and Adderall were readily available and the only medications available to me were anti-psychotics.  SOOOO ANYWAY!  By my senior year in high school, I drank two and a half 12-cup pots of coffee each day by myself.  That's a lot of coffee!  This was in addition to the unmeasured Diet Coke and chocolate I consumed.

A true addict will "use" in any form.  That's me.  I will use caffeine in any form, in any state (meaning wet or dry, gel or powder, liquid or solid) temperature be damned!  Hot, cold or tepid are all fine with me.  I drink coffee, tea and diet cola products and prefer them artificially sweetened.  I drink coffee thick as mud or watered down and weak, black, loaded with cream and artificial sweetener(and sometimes booze), flavored up mochas and lattes, and just about any other way possible. I love coffee flavored food products and of course, chocolate.

The best coffee I ever had was at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia.  My preferred coffee stop is Starbucks, but any will do. I have a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf frequent flier card but alas, the closest one is in San Francisco.  I like the Dunkin Donuts coffee.  I will even drink instant, but I grind my own beans at home.

I don't consume nearly as much caffeine as I used to, but no matter how much I drink, it has lost it's ability to keep me awake.  I can drink a full pot of coffee and fall asleep easily.

Once an addict, always an addict

And now, I'm all out of random.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A promise is a promise...

I follow my fair share of blogs and admire all of my fellow writers.  My list is "eclectic" for lack of a better word (hold the groans til the end please).  Last week, I read a post at Citizen of the Month that gave me pause.  It seemed that the writer, Neil, had lost some of his inspiration mojo and received just the right kind of direct order encouragement that he needed from a cyber dominatrix lovely female Twitter follower.  She advised Neil to blog every day for the month of September and he in return asked to be rewarded with...wait for it...her bra size.

Now, good ole Neil took some flack from his  pervy friends male buddies who felt he should have gotten more of a (ahem) money shot--the top kind.  However, I personally felt completely enlightened as to how to torture the hell out of encourage other bloggers in their hour of need.  Then on Tuesday, I lit up my blog with a major PMS rant.  Full on bitch fest and finger pointing.  Shame on me.  Neil could have really rubbed my nose in it.  Instead, he wrote a great piece that humbled me and made me find the error of my ways all on my own ( and really made me smirk and laugh, cause he's so good at that and it's why I love his blog).  To show my gratitude, I promised to show Neil my boobs today.  And here they are:

Yes, those ARE my boobs.  As promised, I'm showing them and if you look closely at my shirt, you will see that I desperately need them to keep my bra from collapsing. My former nice Double D's went away when I lost 147 lbs.  Boobs are almost all fat, so if you lose a lot of fat, well they pretty much go away.  As a bonus for Neil, the current size is 34B so you don't have to guess.  There now, I hope I have inspired not only Neil but anyone else who may have lost their blogging mojo.   For those of you looking to buy your own chicken cutlets boobs, I purchased these at Fredericks of Hollywood.  If anyone has other dumbass ideas great suggestions for inspiration and encouragement, please tell someone else let me know.

PS @ Neil, sorry this is so late, but life got in the way today.  AND it is still Thursday on the West Coast, so technically I met the deadline.  Cheers

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Holy Soapbox Batman


This week's randomness is about a place where I told my husband that I would not go.  The intent of my blog is not to bitch, but now I'm renegging on the no-bitching edict I set for myself.  Two topics I generally avoid are religion and politics.  I consider those subjects highly personal and never come away with good feelings after discussing them.  And I do mean never.  BUT,  I have seen and read some things lately that quite frankly leave me feeling cold and dirty.

A friend on Facebook posted the following: "No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.  If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day."

Now, it did not say, "if you agree with this, you should support socialized medicine", but look at the very essence of the message without reading the political implications. (Go ahead, I'll wait while you re-read it)

No one should die or go broke because they get sick.  Walk a mile in the moccasins, folks; and yes, I was uninsured years ago and know of which I speak.  For those of you about to get up in arms and up in my face with the but, but, buts and Obama the Socialist, stop and think about what you know about the government sponsored programs in this country.  THINK ABOUT IT.  Per an eloquent comment left at Citizen of the Month, we've had socialized medicine for years.  Can you say Medicare?  What do you think that is?  I am willing to bet many critics of healthcare reform will run right out and sign up for Medicare as soon as they are eligible. And Medicaid?  How many of you realize that many states have converted Medicaid to privately funded HMOs?  Additionally, if you are active or retired military personnel, you already are using socialized medicine.  VA and military hospitals and physicians are paid by and work for the government. So does already utilizing socialized medicine make us a socialized country?  The answer is no.  Last time I checked, we were not the United Socialist Republic of America.

However, I don't think private insurance should be eliminated completely.  It should be available to those who cannot stomach the public health plan and have the means to purchase it.  Canada and New Zealand have private insurance options in lieu of public healthplans and/or as additional supplements.  And elective surgeries, especially cosmetic, are almost never covered by insurance, so the cosmetic surgery industry probably won't notice any change.

So now you are thinking that I am an Obama supporter promoting socialized medicine.  But you would be wrong.  What I have just written seems pro-socialized medicine, but in reality, I believe I am just giving more word space to the side that I feel has been under and misrepresented.  I did so to encourage you to not jump into the fear-mongering feeding frenzy.  My only goal here is to encourage everyone to become informed and educated and to stop assuming that change=bad.  Our system is broken.  We need to fix it.  If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

Next item up for bid...

I recently read this article "Marcos Breton: Obama speech boycott teaches ugly lesson".  Parents are pulling their children out of school to "protect" them from President Obama's Address.  Really people???? You are missing the perfect opportunity.  Parents should take the time to sit down with their children and discuss what they saw and heard.  Then, while you have the floor and your child's full attention, talk to them about how you feel about political issues and why you believe and support your specific position.  It is a perfect teaching opportunity people!  Like sex ed, you are making a mistake if you ignore the subject of politics or try to "protect" your child by keeping them from the information.  Plus, look at it this way.  The children who remained in school and saw the speech are going to give your child their bastardized version of it on the playground, on the bus, and in the lunch room.  Is that really your preference?  If you care so much about your views and ideals why are you not actively sharing them with your kids?

Like sex, you give children information that is appropriate for their age without scaring them.  It's the responsible thing to do and to not do so means one thing (I am going to say it people) you are a lazy parent.  The most responsible thing you can do is to adequately prepare your child to deal with the world around them.  This includes the political world.  If you do not talk to your kids about politics and instead send them as a novice 18 year old voter to the polling place--ill equipped to vote--then you have done them a grave disservice.  You cannot instill the most basic essential political ideals ten minutes before they pull the lever or punch the chad.

So, unless you prefer them to be apathetic or better yet, develop radical opinions that don't jive with the morals and ideals that you want them to take with them into adulthood, you need to start talking to your kids about politics, not keeping it from them.  You cannot teach your kids patriotism without including politics in that lesson.

One foot off the soapbox.  I did not vote for Obama, but the hate mongering against him is despicable.  Now go read something more amusing at The Un Mom.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The (evil) Little Old Lady Who Lived on F Street

Twenty years ago last November, a Sacramento sheriff made a grisly discovery.  A grandmotherly lady named Dorothea Puente, who ran a boarding house for indigents and the elderly, had buried seven of nine boarding house residents that she allegedly killed.  In her yard beneath her garden and concrete slabs, law enforcement found the bodies in various stages of decomposition.  Unbeknownst to them as they discovered the victims, Puente successfully planned and executed an escape.  Luckily, the sensationalism achieved through newspaper and television journalistic efforts resulted in Puente being recognized and captured in Los Angeles.  She was returned to Sacramento, granted a change of venue to Monterey and convicted of three of the nine deaths.  At last report, she was serving life without parole in Chowchilla State Penitentiary.  This story gained world-wide attention back in 1988 because of its uniqueness.  Puente did not fit the typical profile of a serial killer.  She was a woman of advanced age who was known in the community for her kindness and generosity.  She also had rubbed elbows with celebrities and politicians, including several California governors.  In reality, she was a diagnosed schizophrenic, psychopath and sociopath.  She was also a skillful liar with a significant criminal history that included forgery, prostitution and theft by deception. 

In spite of far-reaching notoriety, I don’t recall the national media coverage of Puente’s case(I was living on the East coast and pre-occupied with small children).  My first exposure to her story was in 2004, when I first read Daniel J. Blackburn’s book “Human Harvest: The Sacramento Murder Story”.  Blackburn’s account--and several others--chronicle the Puente story, among them “The Bone Garden” by William P. Wood, “Disturbed Ground” by Carla Norton, and an unusual recipe book titled “Cooking with a Serial Killer Recipes From Dorothea Puente” by Shane Bugbee.  Blackburn’s version is the only one I have read and is an excellent account of the events and background of the case.

My second exposure to the Puente case came after I began working as a deputy coroner.  An intern in our office was preparing a presentation and had retrieved newspaper articles and investigative items from the coroner’s archives.  I loaned her my copy of Blackburn’s book to further her research.

Yesterday, I was perusing the August/September 09 edition of “Sactown” magazine and discovered an article on the Puente case titled “The Life and Deaths of Dorothea Puente” written by Martin Kuz.  In his article, Kuz detailed six months of correspondence and prison visits with Puente as she told her story, clinging still to her denial of killing anyone.

True crime, especially notorious murders, has long fascinated me. Additionally, I have always been drawn to fictional murder mysteries.  I remember watching Perry Mason reruns on television as early as age nine.  I even owned a paperback copy of Erle Stanley Gardner’s “The Case of the Crimson Kiss” and it was heavily dog-eared.  In more recent years, I have become a fan of both fiction and nonfiction works by authors such as John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell and Dan Brown.  A huge turning point for me came during my senior year in college.  I had signed up for a course in popular literature, and Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” was on the required reading list.  That book changed me.  It was then that I first considered writing a book.  I am now in the very earliest planning stages for that book and yes, it is a true story of murder that [to my knowledge] has not yet been told.  I will also occasionally share stories from my time as deputy coroner, some of them were true crime murders, often they were heartbreaking, all of them were fascinating, and occasionally, some were humorous (yes, Virginia, circumstances around death can sometimes be funny). 

I shared this with you so you can comprehend my inspiration for some of my future posts.  In turn, I hope I have inspired you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Band Camp

This one band camp...(my apologies to Facebook Friends who must endure repeat material)

Random Tuesday Thoughts(time machine to the past--yesterday)


As before, click the button and proceed to the Un-Mom’s RTT
I’m here to get my randomness on…okay, okay, okay, so I'm late with this, but I'm behind with my writing so I wanted to ease the void just a little.  As Captain Dumbass so eloquently put it, “What? There's no rules here.”  Click here to visit his RTT from yesterday.

So, from Friday until Sunday evening, I was held hostage teaching malleable high school females [colorguard] drill and equipment work for this year's AHS/OHS competition field show.  The show is titled ContiNuance, with an emphasis on nuance.  This show subtlety flows through music and movement with flowing water concepts and no breaks between songs.  Our fearless leader, the indomitable Mr. H, is renowned in these parts for his innovative band show concepts.  Go back to the future for a picture of band camp on Wordless Wednesday.

I sorely regret missing the attempt to set the Guiness Simultaneous Skinny Dip Record July 11.  More on this later.

It looks like I won’t make it to the California State Fair for the first time since I moved to California.  My kids took themselves last week, so at least I don’t have mom guilt.

My son and his wife celebrated their one year anniversary on Sunday. Happy Anniversary Bubba and HA!

There is a museum in Phuket entirely dedicated to seashells (I am a rabid shell collector).

Our washer broke Friday and my husband ordered a new washer and dryer. He moved the old machines into the backyard, unaware that our 17 year old daughter had left some laundry in the dryer. It is, of course, teenage protocol, to leave your clothes in the dryer until you are ready to wear them (it’s either the bedroom floor or the dryer).  This prompted her to make some snarky comment about her family being rednecks if they have to go into the backyard to get their clothes out of the dryer.

Hubby also repainted the laundry room and loaded my favorite casino game—Fortune Pai Gow Poker--onto the computer (thank you baby).  My new laundry machines will be delivered tomorrow.  LG, I think.  The old dryer still works so if you live in Sacramento area and want to buy a reliable used dryer, send me an email. Or leave me a comment.

My 13 year old daughter’s school pictures came on a CD this year.  Hello technology!

That’s all of the randomness I can muster for now, stay tuned!