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Archive for the ‘Just W’ Category

Interlude and Deliciousness

Once again I’m struggling with bloggy guilt. It’s been too long, but I’m busy and tired and did I mention that I’m tired? Oh, and also, tired. It’s our crazy season at work, but every year it seems to surprise me anyway. And life has been interfering with pretty much everything lately, and we’ll talk about that, but not tonight because I’m not ready yet.  And of course it’s the holiday season so there are three times as many things happening and all at the same time, and there’s shopping to be done and gifts to make and Halloween decorations to put away. (What? I said I was busy.) And tired. The Tide and Drano and soda and toilet paper (read: all the nonperishable items) I bought recently stayed in the trunk of the car for about two weeks because unloading them seemed to be too much effort. (Thank you, Klondike, for unloading all my crap last weekend.)

Aside regarding the Halloween decorations: I put them away, in the attic, all by myself, like a normal human. This is pretty much the first time I’ve gone into the attic for more than a thirty-second dash since the first bat episode almost four years ago. Yay me!

Every year we shut down the “office” (air quotes now since we work from home and the office is virtual) between Christmas and New Year and given the way the holidays fall this year, I’m trying to figure out how many bonus days I can tag on. Two weeks sounds pretty awesome, not gonna lie. 🙂 I’m counting down. Wendy Staycation 2013 is going to be a blissful slugfest!

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Updated….I totally neglected to include the part where I’m not sounding lame! I had tap class tonight – woo hoo! I was TIRED (perhaps I’ve mentioned this) and it’s cold out and I really wasn’t feeling like going to class. But every week, even when I feel less than motivated, I leave class feeling happy and lively and in a supremely good mood. I love spending time with my friend Jon, and it’s great to have a standing weekly time to catch up with him. And the class is FUN. It’s challenging and Miss Donna is really pushing us now to learn more and do more and there still is not going to be a recital so stop asking. 😉  I love it, even when I feel clumsy and like I’m never going to get the hang of something. So YAY, it definitely helped me shake off my slump today.

Ok, now, back to where we were before I remembered that I forgot. 😀

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And because I sound of like a downer, let’s move on to something better, like DESSERT! A few of my Facebook friends asked for the recipe for the pear, cranberry & gingersnap crumble I made for Thanksgiving. It’s SOOOOOOOO delicious, and super-duper easy to make, I promise. And it’s fruit, so come on, it’s like health food. The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, but I’ll share it here too, because I hate blogs that just tell you to click through to other things.

Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed dark or light brown sugar (I like dark)
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (About 16-18 store-bought cookies, smashed to bits. You could use a food processor to make really nice, even crumbs, but then you would have to wash it, which is why I never use my food processor for anything. I put them in a large Ziploc bag and pound the hell out of them with a rolling pin.)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of white pepper, especially if your gingersnaps aren’t particularly snappish
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
4-5 large ripe pears (about 2 pounds) (The original recipe suggests Anjou, but I’ve used whatever nice pears I’ve been able to find in the store) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (Peeling the pears is the only part of this that sucks – they’re slippery. Enlist someone else to help, then delegate pear peeling while you do all the “hard” work – thank you, Klondike.) (There are a lot of parentheses in this step!)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.

In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan. Sure, you could do this in a bowl but then you’d also have to wash that bowl and hooray for fewer dishes. (Thank you Smitten Kitchen.)  (I think I’ve also made this in a 9×13 baking dish before, too. There is plenty of crumble to cover a larger surface area, not to worry.)

Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (in a 2 quart dish, mine didn’t come close to bubbling over but I see no reason to risk it) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs. See how long you can wait before digging in.

Did I mention that it’s delicious? Because it IS! And it’s so pretty! Look! Pretty!

pears & cranberries, pre-crumble

Pre-crumble topping

Just out of the oven - yum!

Just out of the oven – yum!

Ooh, and I should mention that the Lovely Lettie is the one who put me onto this recipe in the first place, a few years ago when I was doing my annual plea for new dessert recipes for the holidays. 🙂

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Check THIS out!

scarf

I MADE THAT!

Just like I said I would.

And actually, it’s been done for weeks; I just didn’t have time to brag about it.

This is the first time I’ve ever followed a pattern all on my own and made something without my former Crochet Guru coaching me through the entire process. Sure, it was supposed to be a pair of socks, but details, schmetails. (Spellcheck isn’t convinced that “schmetails” is a word. Curious.)

I was feeling proud of it to begin with, but yesterday I was wearing it when I saw Mourtney, and almost the first thing she said was, “Hey, nice scarf!” And if you know Mourtney like I know Mourtney, you know that she does not compliment your accessories and accoutrements just to be polite. The girl is a fashion maven who takes her shoes very seriously, so the comment was the icing on the cake.

And it did provide that nice, “I’m not just watching TV like a bump on a log, I’m being productive” feeling that I like, so we’ll see what transpires next. Don’t hold your breath for anything that isn’t some kind of rectangle: scarf, afghan, granny square.

And now it isn’t quite so sad that it’s cold out, because hi, new accessory. 😀

I’m lame on Friday nights and I like it.

So guess what I’m doing. Right now. Go on. Guess.

If you said, “Sitting on the couch watching television, “ you get zero gold stars and 150 Obvious Points.

BUT, if you guessed sitting on the couch crocheting a scarf LIKE A BOSS, you just earned TEN POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR!!! SHAZAM!

And if you have no idea why that is amazing news, or more like just kind of little news, or not even really news at all but maybe just mildly interesting, read this week’s other post.  Oh, and “like a boss” might be a slight exaggeration.

And yes, I recognize starting is not finishing but starting is half the battle. Or something. I’ll finish it, I swear! And you will see it and you will ooh and you will ahh.

Aside

POST Traumatic Stress Disorder

Ok, so y’all remember about my crazycakes interaction with the not-a-nun, right?

 

I went to the post office today to check my PO box again.

 

And.

 

I saw a man, wearing a clerical collar, wrestling a HUGE box out of his car.

 

Needless to say, I RAN in the other direction.

 

Shew….

 

Who needs brown paper packages tied up with string when you have self-sealing envelopes?

A while back I posted a list of things that drive me crazy. Lest you think I’m a supercrab who only focuses on the negative, I thought perhaps we should have an equally obscure list of things that I adore beyond reason.  Let’s call it….

Things that make me unreasonably happy and sometimes I go on at great length about how much I love them:

  • Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate forever envelopes. Delivered to my home, for free. Or maybe they charge $1 to deliver, I’ve lost track, but still totally worth it for my work-from-home set up.  All I have to do is stuff them full, address them, and leave them outside my house for Mailman to pick up. Postage never expires. No waiting in lines. No fake nuns.  Woot!
  • Dropbox – It’s perfect for file sharing for work, since we’re in different locations. It’s perfect for volunteer work where people need access to the same documents. It’s perfect for accessing random crap from my phone, when I’m nowhere near my computer, like the list I made of movies that I used to own but no longer do but would like to again, in case I see one in a bargain bin somewhere. It’s perfect for everything. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to use. My mom was telling my about a medical emergency her husband had a few weeks ago (he’s fine, I promise) and in the story she had to leave the hospital to go home to email someone a document. My immediate reaction was, “I need to show you how to use Dropbox”.
  • Self-sealing envelopes. I know it probably seems that I’m obsessed with mail. I’m not. But I do like mail, and I do NOT like the taste of envelope glue. Plus, you know, George Costanza’s fiancée Susan. But mostly I can’t believe it took so long for someone to come up with these and now that they exist I appreciate the crap out of them.
  • Shazam. An app on my phone can listen to a few seconds of music and tell me what song it is and who sings it? THAT SHIT IS AMAZING! For this reason alone I consider my smartphone a worthwhile investment.
  • My scarf from Ireland. 3Names and I spent a marvelous week traipsing around and all I knew was I wanted to bring home some piece of knit something. I looked at loads of sweaters, but they were all big, bulky-looking affairs that aren’t my style and probably would have made me spontaneously combust. One day we were in a little shop on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, where it’s literally like going back in time. In amongst some of the more typical souvenir-type items, I found a lovely, soft, colorful knit scarf, long enough to wrap around my neck twice when it’s really cold. The tag said it was hand-made in Ireland. Was this a trap for a gullible tourist? Ha! When I took it to the clerk to pay she said, “Oh, my neighbor Maggie made this.” I wear the crap out of it, but gently, so as to extend its lifespan, and when someone comments on it, I get all happy-like.
  • Fuzzy Blankie, capitalized because that’s its name, not just a description. Fuzzy Blankie was a gift from Sunshine a few years ago and it turned me into Linus. It’s warm. It’s soft. It’s fluffy. It’s comforting. It’s soft. (It’s so soft it deserves to be mentioned twice.) It’s white, and somehow, miraculously, the Queen of Spill (that would be me) has managed to keep it remarkably clean. Dogs are not allowed to lie on it.  Fuzzy Blankie is always there for me when I need it.
  • Compliments from strangers. No explanation required.
  • When Ruby Dogwonkafonka sticks her face right up in mine and burps. I know that sounds disgusting. Ok, it is disgusting. But it makes me laugh every time. Partly because it seems so deliberate, and she never looks sorry. And her timing is impeccable.
  • This one set of hand-me-down sheets that my dad gave me. I have no idea why he didn’t want them anymore. (I know exactly why he didn’t want them anymore; they didn’t match his décor.) They are so soft and comfy that they have made all other sheets completely inferior. I am on a quest to find something that will be their equal, but so far I haven’t found anything. Or anything that I can afford. But. I. Will.
  • This video. I am not sure how many times I have watched it, but I would guess it’s in the neighborhood of 36,284 times. I think it’s hilarious. (FYI, you’re only committing to a minute and thirty-eight seconds of your life if you click the link.)
  • The infamous rainbow shower head.  
  • This blog post. It makes me laugh my ass off. After Beyoncé, it’s the thing I’m most committed to getting the entire world to read.

    He totally goes with the chair with the missing leg, no?

    He totally goes with the chair with the missing leg, no?

  • Tomás, the colorful metal t-rex Klondike gave me for Christmas. Whose boyfriend is better than mine? Come ON, I have a t-rex in my freakin’ living room.  (My style is, um,eclectic.)
  • My next door neighbors, Jim & Phyllis. They give me vegetables from their garden and chili and baked goods from their kitchen. They let me borrow tools and ladders and a power washer. They keep an eye on me. And my house. And my dog. In a nice, neighborly fashion, not a Gladys Kravitz way.
  • Crack cookies. They don’t actually call them that at The Fresh Market, but they should. They actually call them something like Heath bar cookies, and they are stupid delicious. I make people eat them so I can get them to concede that they are, in fact, freaking amazing.

As said when the other, negative list concluded, this is not all-encompassing at all. It’s just my version of Maria von Trapp’s raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. (When did this blog become so full of nuns??)  Personally I think my list is a little better than hers, but she had to deal with Nazis so I’ll cut her some slack.

Aside

Symptoms of Adulthood

Sometimes I have random thoughts like, “I wonder what would happen if I got in the laundry basket and rode it down the stairs like a sled”.  And then I remember how lame my health insurance is and I decide perhaps that wouldn’t be the best way to test it.

Klondike also just reminded me that the stairs are pretty steep and the landing zone at the bottom is small and full of walls and corners and things.

Bats are assholes.

Warning: this post contains a lot of f-bombs.

So. It’s that time of year again, apparently.

What time is that, you ask?

Bat season.

Sigh.

Many of you remember my prior episode with an uninvited house guest.

This one began in very similar fashion. I was awakened around 3 a.m. on a random August night (morning) to see the intruder flying into my bedroom, causing instant panic. I once again fled to the backyard to regroup.  My traitor dog hadn’t even waited for me to wake up and assess – she was already downstairs in the kitchen waiting by the back door when I got there.  Jerk.

A raccoon was hanging out on the fence in my yard when we got outside.

“No,” I yelled at it, shining my flashlight (and by “flashlight” I mean flashlight app on my phone) into his face. “No, I cannot even deal with you right now. Get the fuck out of here.” He acquiesced.

So there I was, once again pacing in my back yard in the middle of the night, thinking if there is ever anything that’s going to motivate me to get married again, this would be it.

I got super brave this time. My panic sweats led me to turn on the a/c, which meant I had to close the windows, which meant I had to walk through the entire house. Which I did. Clutching the tennis racquet that has lived next to my bed since the last encounter two years ago. I didn’t want to hurt it (mostly because the idea of having to then deal with a dead or wounded bat stressed me even more the fuck out), but I needed to have some defense just in case. The tennis racquet was useful for things like pulling back the curtains to check for Batfucker (yep, I named him) before leaning in to close the window. It was useful for things like reaching into a room and flipping a light switch. I went room by room through the entire house. I closed all the windows. And I didn’t see Batfucker anywhere. I left a couple of lights on and settled onto the couch, figuring out what to do next. And it occurred to me that I had only actually seen Batfucker once, when I first woke up. Was it possible that I had dreamt the entire thing? That there was no bat?

No. Ruby had fled the scene. She has never once left my room in the middle of the night, until now. Clearly she had seen it too.  And after about an hour of sitting on the couch feeling like I was going to cry or puke from nerves, Batfucker flew into and then out of the living room. I tried not to freak out. I have learned way more than I want to know about bats, and I know that all it wants is to get out. I scurried to the front door and opened it, and opened the screen door, hoping for a repeat performance from last time when the bat showed itself in somewhat timely fashion. Sadly, however, Batfucker had gone into hiding and refused to take advantage of the exit strategy I had prepared. I was a wreck. And moths were coming inside to have a party.  I closed the door and sat paralyzed, no clue what to do next.

Morning finally came. My friend Leonard suggested that Animal Care & Control would come if I called; this was news to me! I dialed, and yep, sure enough, they would send a team. An awesome team, who did a very thorough search, and were super apologetic that they weren’t able to find Batfucker. (On a side note, there are a lot of jobs that would suck. Having to go into someone’s house and look in every nook and cranny for a live bat would be the death of me. I just had a full-body tremor just thinking about it.) It was possible the bat had found a way out of the house. It was also possible the bat was in some tiny spot where they hadn’t located him.

Goddammit.

So now I’ve had three hours of sleep, significant emotional trauma, and no closure. (Sounds like most relationship breakups I’ve been through…)

I spent the day walking around my house like some kind of demented tennis junkie, clutching my racquet.  I knew it was unlikely Batfucker would make a daytime appearance, but it was my bat security blanket. I poked curtains, towels, clothes in my closet. I held the racquet in front of me, looking up, down, around corners before entering rooms. I was literally scared of my own shadow.

I tried to be rational. Batfucker wasn’t lying in wait for me. He wasn’t trying to sneak up behind me. He wasn’t flying around the house during the day. He might even have been gone.

Except he wasn’t.

I had gone to tap, even though I was so exhausted, both mentally and physically, that I had no idea how I was going to make it through class.  I got home just before dusk, trying to psych myself up to behave like a normal human in my own home. I was pissed that I didn’t have a certain resolution. My home is my haven, my favorite place to be, so to be scared of being there was crushing.  I took a shower (with the tennis racquet sitting by the tub). I got some dinner ready (with the tennis racquet sitting on the kitchen table). Dinner was in the microwave and I was taking a glass of water into the living room when Batfucker swooped into the room.  I am sure this will come as a tremendous shock when I tell you that I freaked the fuck out. However, I did try to keep my head screwed on in the midst of the freak out, and I ran for the front door, shouting at the bat what the plan was: open door wide, go away.

I stood, shaking, on my front porch, when I realized the gravity of the situation: I had gotten separated from both my tennis racquet (kitchen table) and my phone (living room couch). I was completely unarmed, and I couldn’t call for help.  But surely it wouldn’t be long before Batfucker would take advantage of the lovely egress I had provided, right?

Ha.

The Dumbest Bat Ever had infiltrated my house. I sat on my porch swing for half an hour watching through the window, as it flew laps around living room, totally missing the WIDE OPEN DOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM. Surely Animal Control would be able to get it, if only I could call them.

And then he disappeared. Crap. Now my fear became what if Animal Control came and he had gone into hiding again. I crept to the door. I peered inside. I saw nothing. I dashed in, grabbed my phone, and ran back to the porch. I waited a few minutes in hopes that he would return to his circles around the front room. Nothing. No bat. Grr.

I called Animal Control. I explained the situation. They said they would send a team. I sat back on the porch swing. Moments later, an apparent miracle happened: the dumb bastard found the door, and flew out into the night. Batradication complete.

I ran inside and slammed the door behind me. I called Animal Control and said never mind, thanks anyway. I told myself over and over again that there had only been one, it was gone, and there was no reason to be shaking like a leaf, or scared of the dark, or still clutching my tennis racquet (which I had retrieved from the kitchen). Logically I knew it was over, but the heeby jeebies weren’t so quick to relinquish their grip.

I have had three bats during my 3.5 years in the house (y’all didn’t hear about the first one, it wasn’t much of a story, although it’s on the list of reasons why Mourtney is such a great friend).  So now I will pay a Large Chunk of Money to have my house professionally bat-proofed. And it will be worth every penny. And it better work, goddammit. (They guarantee it will, so there’s that.)

As I write this, 24-ish hours have passed, and I am about 98% back to normal. Normal, of course, means sleeping with a tennis racquet next to my bed.

Things I have learned/observed/gleaned this week:

  • I am not a shrieker. You know how Carrie Bradshaw screams all the freakin’ time, usually over nothing? That’s not me. I’m a yeller. When I saw the bat fly into my bedroom, I did not scream. I shouted, “MOTHERFUCKER!” (Of course I did.)
  • If you live in the city and you have a live (wild) animal in your home, Animal Control will send someone any time of the day or night. They’re staffed from 6 a.m. to midnight, but someone is on call those remaining six hours. I had no idea. I hope I never need to call again.
  • There is nothing on tv at 4 in the morning. (Just kidding, I already knew that.)
  • You can have your house professionally bat-proofed (thank fucking god).
  • My friend Leonard is a wealth of information about bat resources.
  • Bats are assholes. (I already knew that, too.)

Please, for the love of god, let this be my last post ever about bats.

 

Note: If you ever have a middle-of-the-night trauma and need someone to talk to, you can call me. I won’t come help you remove a bat, but I will offer moral support over the phone like nobody’s business.