The Difficult, Challenging, Sorta Good, Very Long Day

I have a headache. Everything I touched today fell apart.

Okay, no. It’s not that everything really fell apart. It’s just that everything became such a bigger deal than it was supposed to be. And I’m not complaining. Because there’s nothing I love more than being challenged and I probably haven’t been challenged enough lately. But if we could space these challenges out some, I might not have a headache.

AND … just when I thought my head was about to explode, I called home from the office, just as a courtesy, because I am nice like that, unlike some other spouses I know, to let my spouse know that I was still at work when I would normally be halfway home and that I would be just a little bit late today.

(I should get some sort of prize for that run-on sentence. Do they award chocolate for poor sentence structure?)

So as I was saying, I called home. I said I would be late. The husband said, “Okay. But will you do me a favor please?”

I didn’t even wonder what the favor might be. I was tired. I said, “Sure. What?”

At this point, he would normally say something like, “Drive careful, will ya?” Except today he didn’t say that. Today he said, “Say hi to Lucy will you?”

“WHAT?” I screech-whispered into the phone, hunching forward and tucking the phone in closer to my face. “No. No. I am not talking on the phone to our dog!”

“Yes. Come on. Just do it.” He was cracking himself up now. There was no question in his mind that this was going to happen. I’m not sure where this was coming from because, you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that my husband does not normally have silly tendencies. That’s my department.

“Mark. No. Stop it,” I whispered fiercely. I was not in the mood for this. This is something my daughter would do, not my husband.

“Yes. Come on. Hold on while I put the phone by her ear,” he was insisting.

He needs to get out more, I thought as I resigned myself to the fact that, like it or not, I was going to become the doofus who talks to her dog on the phone. But I refused to pretend like it was cute and funny.

“Okay,” Mark’s voice sounded a little more distant now. “Say hi to her.”

I hunkered further down at my desk, casting sidelong glances to make sure no one was witnessing this colossal act of stupidity. I lowered my voice, and so as to discourage any further attempts on his part to solicit any further participation on my part, I muttered in the flattest tone I could muster, “hi. lucy.”

Mark was giggling. I swear he was giggling and then cracking up and his voice came back clearly on the phone as he laughed, “Her butt is wiggling and she’s bouncing off the walls! Do it again! Hold on…”

Please God, not again.

“Mark, no… if you ever want me to get home tonight….”

My pleas were interrupted. “Never mind. She ran off to the front door. She’s looking for you outside.” He was still giggling.

“Yeah. I’m gonna get my work done here so I can come home tonight anyway,” I said dryly, trying to make him see my eyes rolling via mental telepathy.

“Okay. See ya in a while!” He was still laughing. Clearly he was oblivious to the fact that I was rolling my eyes at him. Or he was choosing not to acknowledge it. He’s an expert at that.

I’m sure you think that this story ends with my headache magically disappearing due to the comedic relief provided by my husband and dog. You’d be wrong. But there is a happy ending in that I did eventually make it home where my dog attempted to wiggle her butt off the back-end of her body in her overwhelming joy at seeing me again. And she tried to eat my black boots as I was attempting to get them off my feet. But I didn’t even care because it sure was nice to have such a warm welcome after such a challenging day. But I am  definitely not having any more phone conversations with Lucy. She’s a terrible conversationalist and her phone manners are deplorable!

June Cleaver Makes Potato-Cheese Soup in my Kitchen

I don’t want anyone expecting me to be June Cleaver. June Cleaver wore skirts and blouses and pearls and heels. I’ll wear heels when I feel like it, but you’re more likely to catch me barefoot when I can get away with it. Barefoot in a pair of hip-hugger, flare jeans and a v-neck sweater when it’s cold outside.

June Cleaver kept a tidy house. My house is tidy. For about one day out of the week. I have better things to do than spend all of my waking hours tidying up. I don’t think June Cleaver ever slept late. I have recently discovered the joy of sleeping late. I slept until 10:00 yesterday morning! And I doubt that June Cleaver ever threw a bowling ball. And I really doubt that June Cleaver ever drank beer, much less straight from the bottle.

I do not want to be June Cleaver. Except for those occasions when I do want to be her.

My inner June Cleaver, who is a slightly rougher version of the original, came out today. She wanted to make potato-cheese soup. First things first – June made sure there were tunes. June knows that cooking is way more fun with music. She docked the iPod on the iHome and turned on her favorite Pandora radio station. She opened up the fridge and found a carrot, some celery, some white onion, some Russet potatoes. She turned up the volume and then proceeded to take those veggies and she peeled and she chopped. The celery, carrot and onion had to be chopped very, very fine. The potatoes just had to be cubed. June is pretty good with the big knife and a cutting board. She swings her hips to the sound of  Billy Currington and hums along while she chops.

The veggies go into the big soup pot along with some chicken broth, a little bit of salt, and a tiny bit of white vinegar. June turns the heat on medium and waits for the broth to start boiling.

In the meantime, she pulls some strips of bacon from the meat keeper and tosses them in a frying pan. The grease begins to sizzle as the pan gets hotter. June keeps an eye on the soup and tends to the bacon at the same time.

Mmmmmm BACON!

While she waits for the vegetables to cook and for the bacon to get crisp, June chops up some green onions and readies some shredded cheese. These will serve as garnish for the soup, along with the bacon, which will be crumbled as soon as it has cooked and cooled enough.

The soup has been boiling for a while now. There are just a few minutes left on the timer. June scoops some flour into a small mixing bowl and whisks it together with some milk. When the timer goes off, she adds the mixture to the soup and simmers it for a while until it begins to thicken.

And once it has thickened, June adds a whole bunch of shredded cheddar cheese and stirs the soup until the cheese melts. She’s thinking it’s going to be good. In fact she knows it’s going to be good. And she knows this because Ward, who hasn’t been seen all afternoon, has suddenly appeared behind her as she’s stirring the soup on the stove. He wraps his arms around her waist from behind and rests his chin on her shoulder, breathing deeply the aroma that is steaming from the pot.

“Smells good,” he murmurs.

“Of course, it does,” June says with confidence. June nudges Ward out of her way so she can ladle the soup into a couple of bowls and then she sprinkles on the garnishes. She brings it to Ward who is waiting at the table now and he says, “This looks good enough to be served in a restaurant! You could open a restaurant, you know that?”

“Yeah, right,” June scoffs back at him.

“You could,” he insists.

“Whatever,” she says, calling an end to the subject. But she smiles.

And her soup was pretty darn good, even if she wasn’t wearing her heels and pearls when she made it.

Potato Cheese Soup

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon grated carrot
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 slices bacon cooked
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion

Peel the potatoes and chop them into bite-size pieces. (About 4 cups) Make sure the celery and onion are minced into very small pieces about the size of a grain of rice. The carrot should be grated into very small pieces.

Combine the vegetables with the chicken stock, salt a vinegar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Whisk together the flour and milk in a medium bowl.

Remove the saucepan of vegetables from the heat and add the flour and milk mixture. Put the pan back on the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes or until the soup has thickened.

Add 1 cup Cheddar cheese to the soup and simmer until melted. By this time the potatoes should be tender and falling apart. If not, continue to cook until the soup is as thick as you like it.

To serve, spoon the soup into bowls. Divide the remaining 1 tablespoon of Cheddar and the Monterey Jack and sprinkle on the soup. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it evenly on top of the cheese. Top off each bowl of soup with chopped green onion.

Josh on the Ice

My brother and his wife are in that stage of life when their kids’ activities inevitably overlap. Sometimes there are more places to be at one time than is physically possible.

Mark and I are in that stage of life when we often have nothing on our plates. My brother, realizing this about us, called a couple of weeks back to see if we might be able to help him out on a Friday night. Among his four kids, one had a hockey tournament in another city, one had a gymnastics meet at home, and the youngest had a hockey game in a nearby city. My brother would be accompanying his oldest son to the out-of-town tournament. His wife would be accompanying their daughter to her gymnastics meet. He wanted to know if Mark and I might help them out by taking their youngest, Josh to his hockey game last night.

It was an easy decision. We had nothing on our calendar and were free for the evening. Josh is my godson, so I have an extra soft-spot for him anyway. And he’s eight years old. Kids are cute at that age. Besides, hockey is one of the few sports our own kids didn’t play, so we thought it would be fun to go cheer on the little guy.

We picked up Josh after I got home from work and loaded him, his hockey sticks, and the big bag o’ hockey gear into the truck. The rink wasn’t all that far from home, but because of rush hour traffic, we gave ourselves an hour to get there. And as we expected, the drive was slow. Josh chatted from the back seat in that adorable way that little kids have of expressing themselves. Eight year-olds are honest. There’s not arrogance. They just tell it like it is.

“You guys are lucky to be coming to my game,” he announced as he watched the scenery pass out the window.

“We are,” we agreed. “We’re excited about seeing you play,” Mark said.

I was excited too,” Josh said in earnest. “I was counting the days.”

There was a little lull in the conversation before he picked up again.

“I’m a fast skater.”

“I heard that,” I said. “Your dad told me you’re pretty good.”

“I scored a goal at my last game. It was so fun! It was easy too. We beat that team like eleven to nothing. I like scoring goals. We’ll probably win our game tonight.”

The truck continued along the freeway and it was quiet again until Mark asked Josh about school. He rambled on about movie-reward day and how “some… a few … a handful” of his classmates hadn’t behaved during music class.

“The music teacher doesn’t yell at us,” he said.

“That’s good,” I said. “So how does she ask kids to behave?”

HE … claps his hands and just says, ‘Sit down, please.’”

I smiled at the not-so subtle way Josh had corrected my misconception of his music teacher’s gender.

“I think his throat must hurt,” Josh said about the teacher who doesn’t yell. “That’s why he doesn’t yell at us.”

I tried not to giggle.

Josh kept watching out the windows, asking periodically how long before we’d arrive. I assured him it wouldn’t be too much longer.

“Hey, look,” he shouted! His head was tilted upward as he watched the clouds in the sky. “It’s a frog!”

“Where,” I asked?

“Right there! See him? He’s holding a tea-cup in one hand and a shrimp in the other!”

I couldn’t see the frog in the clouds but pretended I did. I wished my imagination was still as unfettered as Josh’s.

We finally arrived at the hockey arena where young parents with young children hovered around, watching their kids play or helping them into or out of their hockey gear and socializing with each other. It occurred to me that it wasn’t so long ago that my days were dictated by my kids’ activities.It wasn’t so long ago that my social life included parents of the kids who were my kids’ teammates. But there I was, feeling older and somewhat like an outsider.

Mark went into the locker room with Josh and helped him tie up his skates. Then we found a place against the clearest spot I could find in the plexi-glass where I might snap some shots of Josh playing.

The game was fun. Those little kids are impressive the way they get around on their skates and manage to handle the puck. They also spend a lot of time tripping over one another, falling and getting back up again. I was impressed with their resolve. But no wonder Josh was tired by the time the game was done. We offered to take him out to a restaurant with us, but he was ready to go home and shower and slip into his pajamas.

Oh, and Josh was right. They did win! Two to nothing. Josh almost got a goal. We told him how we watched him get ready for the pass in front of the net. He was there. He was open. But the pass never came.

“He wanted to get his own goal,” Josh said of his teammate who had failed to pass the puck. There was no judgement in his opinion. Just fact.

Josh was quiet on the way home. It was clear that he was tired. He told us he hoped we’d come see another one of his games sometime and we assured him we’d try.

I helped him carry his stuff back into the house when we got him home and he gave me a big hug before I left.

It was fun spending time with Josh. I hope we do it again soon.

Kindness Unexpected

Not too many people surprise me anymore. But today I was surprised.

I came down with a cold early this week. At first it was all in my head, or more accurately, in my sinuses. I spent a couple of days feeling as if my head was going to explode. Then last night, my head began clearing and the cold moved downwards. So now I’ve got a lovely cough.

Michael is the newest member of our department. He’s always the first one to arrive each day. I’m always the second one in. It’s quiet before the rest of the crew arrives.

This morning, I came to work. I got settled at my desk. I coughed. I logged into my computer. I coughed some more. Michael appeared in the doorway of my cubicle, looking hesitant.

“Miss Terri,” he asked? (He calls me Miss Terri. I’m not sure why. I think he’s just uber-polite.)

“Hi Michael,” I said.

“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help noticing you’re coughing.”

“Yep, I’ve got a little cold going on. My turn I guess,” I said. Michael had endured a nasty cold for a couple of weeks recently, and so had Belinda.

Michael had a worried look on his face. “Well,” he said, “I just wanted to say that I’m sincerely sorry if you caught my cold germs. I really tried to keep my distance from everyone, and I went to the doctor and he said it was nothing more than the average cold. I know I sounded really bad, but there were a couple of days when I just couldn’t stay home and I had to come to work.”

“Michael,” I said, waving my hands as if brushing off his concerns. “It’s not your fault. It’s just that time of year. I get one of these every winter and my daughter just had it last week. Don’t worry!”

“Well, okay then,” he said. “But if there’s anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable, please let me know. If you want some juice or anything, I can run downstairs and get some for you. Just let me know.”

I was damn near speechless. Who does things like that? I mean, most people I know are nice enough, but not many would go so far a s to offer to go buy some orange juice for a sick coworker.

All I could do was mutter a very shocked “Thank you!”

And then I went and told all of my office buddies about Michael’s kindness. Most of them did that thing where they put a hand over their heart and cooed, “Oh my gosh! He is SO sweet!” (Michael is engaged. The consensus is that he is going to be a great husband!)

His kindness made me feel so good today that I decided to pay it forward. We have a couple of external auditors working in our office this week. One of them was looking for a Mountain Dew yesterday at lunch time and was disappointed to find there was only the diet variety in the pop machine on our floor. While I was down on our other floor today, I noticed the pop machine there had Mountain Dew. I bought one for the auditor and brought it back upstairs, leaving it on his desk with a note saying, “I grabbed a Mountain Dew for you while I was downstairs today. Enjoy.”

I hope maybe it made him feel as good as Michael’s kindness made me feel. He did come and thank me. He seemed a little surprised. Maybe he thought I was weird. But maybe he thought, “Hey, not many people surprise me anymore…”

Bowling Better

“Can you be a sub on my bowling team?”

I laughed at my best friend and said, “I’ve bowled a handful of times in my life, mostly under those disco lights at Moonlight Bowling. I don’t think you want me bowling on your team.”

“You don’t have to be good at it,” she said. “I mean, you pretty much know how it works, right?”

“Um. Yeah. You throw the ball down the lane and try to knock the pins over.”

“That’s all you need to know. I’ll take care of the other details.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was three years or so ago when that conversation took place. And being a sub on the bowling team quickly turned into being a regular in the second half of that season. I used one of my son’s bowling balls that he had used in his junior bowling league. I rented shoes. I did okay too. I held my own. And I had fun.

I think I was surprised that I had fun. I was surprised that I wanted to do it again when that first season ended. Prior to joining the team, I had a stereotype image of the sport of bowling. I pictured bowling as something that middle-aged, lower-class men did to get away from demanding wives and the pressures of home life. I pictured Ed Bundy look-a-likes, with beer-bellies swelling under their button-down bowling shirts. I pictured a place filled with the haze of cigarette smoke and pitchers of beer on every table.

courtesy Google images

“Listen Jerry, bowling is a man’s sport. If God had wanted women to bowl, he would have put their breasts on their backs so we would have something to watch while waiting our turn.” … Al Bundy

My mental image was a little bit off.There’s no smoking allowed anymore. Oh, there are definitely some beer-bellied men in the sport. There are some beer-bellied women too. There are men and women of all ages, from all kinds of backgrounds. And maybe some of them are there to escape having to be somewhere else, but for the most part we all have one thing in common. We love to bowl.

It took a while to convince myself that it was okay to like bowling and to want to get better at it. Up to that time in my life, I hadn’t really invested myself in anything that I didn’t have to do. Growing up, I learned to believe that most hobbies were a waste of time and money because I’d never had the opportunity to explore any interest to the point where it might require a time or financial commitment. In my adult life to that point, I had done the things I was supposed to do. I earned a living. I took care of my family. I invested time and money in activities and sports that my kids enjoyed, because I wanted to nurture their abilities as much as possible. I had a few hobbies of my own, but for the most part, they didn’t take me outside of the house. And somehow it escaped me that it might be good for me to nurture other interests of my own and that it wasn’t too late to do so.

I turned a corner when I bought my own bowling ball and shoes and made a (maybe subconscious) commitment to the sport. I began to make friends at the bowling alley, with people besides just the girls on my bowling team. I learned more about the sport, like  how to score a game and how to make the ball go where I wanted it to go so it would knock down the most pins. (That’s a skill I will forever be trying to perfect!) I watched others bowl, especially the ones who were good at it. I tried to learn by watching them so I could improve my own game.

Many, many times over these past few years since I started bowling, it has occurred to me that I’ve never really learned how to bowl. I did only what I knew to do and improved some by trial and error. But sometimes I’d be talking with others who really know the game and I would be embarrassed to join the conversation because I didn’t really know the ins and outs of the game. For instance, the place where you stand when you’re preparing to throw the ball? It’s made up of a whole bunch of vertical boards. Each board has its own number. One time while practicing, someone suggested I try standing on a particular board on the approach and I had no idea where it was.

I was getting better at bowling than I was when I first started, but I hit a plateau and didn’t know how to get past it. So when I met my friend Teri in summer league last year and learned that not only was she a really good bowler, but an actual bowling coach who offers instruction, I nagged her to run a class that I could attend. Teri and her partner, Lonnie ran a clinic at our bowling alley last weekend and for three hours, I learned the basics of bowling and then some. I learned all the things I thought I should know but was afraid to admit I didn’t know. I learned about timing, and the optimal number of steps one should take on the approach. I learned that it was important to keep my fingers curved when holding the ball, and to keep them that way when releasing it. I learned how to swing my arm and how and when to release the ball for the best performance. They taught us that throwing hard and fast doesn’t necessarily mean throwing accurately.

And I learned that the number of boards varies between bowling alleys, but the boards are marked with a dot on every fifth board. The middle dot always signifies the 20th board!

courtesy Google images

Teri and Lonnie taught me all kinds of things, so much that I probably won’t remember it all. At their suggestion, I chose to focus on a few things, and once I get comfortable with them, I can build on them with the other stuff.

Last night I went to my Monday league. During warm-ups, I practiced standing on a different board than I normally do. I practiced my new swing and release, trying to remember to keep my fingers curved, bend my knee, kick my right leg behind and hold my balance with my toe down on the floor. Everything felt strange and different. I watched as my ball consistently went close or directly to the place I wanted it to hit the pins. It took a while and I had to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. My game was not going to improve overnight. I spent a lot of time moving my starting position slightly to the left or right, in an effort to find where I might hit the pocket consistently. I was getting frustrated during the first two games because even though I sometimes felt more in control of the ball, sometimes it went somewhere completely unexpected. Teri had brought one of her young helpers along when she came to leagues last night and told him to watch me and offer pointers when needed. He told me to just relax. He said I was doing all the right things, but my arm was still too tense when I was throwing.

courtesy Google images

Throughout it all, I remembered that as much as I want to be a better bowler, the other big reason I bowl is because it’s fun. I bowl with some wonderful ladies who don’t really care whether we win or lose, as long as we have fun. And as soon as I remembered that and stopped thinking so much about all of the mechanics of bowling, it all began to come together. I talked with the girls and shared a whole lot of laughs. We cheered each other on. And I threw five strikes in that third game, which for me, is a pretty good thing.

I was excited after that third game and sorry to see the night come to an end. The fact that I had begun to grasp some of the new things I’d learned from Teri and Lonnie made me want to get back on the lanes as soon as possible to keep working on improving my game. I can’t say that I’ve ever grown bored with bowling over the past three years, but last night I felt a renewed sense of excitement about it.

I guess it just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn something new!

Life is Good – January 22, 2012

It was warmer this morning when we woke up. Twenty-two degrees! Lucy and I decided to go for a walk since it’s been a while. We headed out before sunrise and it was so quiet and peaceful. Did I say we walked? Lucy likes to run. She made me run a little bit too. It wasn’t so bad. I might try that again sometime soon.

There’s a temple along the route we took today. It looks really pretty in the pre-dawn morning.

Later in the morning, Jake and I went to the bowling alley. I have a friend who is not only a phenomenal bowler, she’s a bowling coach. She runs clinics to help others learn to bowl better. I nagged her for months to run a clinic at our bowling alley, and so she did. We spent three hours figuring out what we were doing wrong and what we were doing right. We practiced drills and honed our new skills. I am amazed at how much I didn’t know going into this but I’m excited to start working on improving my game. And it was really fun having Jake along with me. He keeps to himself too much sometimes, but we have our love of bowling in common. I’m really glad I convinced him to come along with me.

After bowling, it was time to return Kacey to school. Her long winter break is over. She wasn’t happy to be leaving Connor. Connor wasn’t happy to see her go. I was feeling sad she had to go back. But I keep reminding myself that college is a good thing for her; the right thing. As much as I love having her around, she has to grow up. We picked up her friend, Matt and brought him back to school too. They chatted and laughed in the back seat while we drove. I was glad Matt was there to take her mind off the sadness of leaving Connor.

It rained most of the day, so the roads were sloppy and a bit slippery. But we made it back to school safe and sound. Kacey’s good friend, Caitlin was already there and waiting for her. They were happy to see each other, which made it easier for me to drive away. My sister had come along for the ride, so I had some fun company on the drive home, making it hard to feel too down.

Besides, I give Kacey two weekends before she’s back home again. And I’m not complaining!

Life is good!

 

Cold Days, Board Games and Home Cooking

I feel like an idiot in this stupid coat!

We’ve had a stretch of cold weather over the last few days, with below zero nights and only slightly warmer days. We even got a little bit of snow. Lucy finally succumbed to the winter coat a little bit and stopped trying to bite it off of her body long enough to sit and chew on a stick.

She’s also discovered that the house has ground level windows and has begun to peek in them when she’s out in the yard. Of course, I play right into this and if she appears outside the family room window, I go over and talk to her through the glass. The other day, I asked, “Do ya wanna come in? Do ya?” And then I motioned upwards and said, “Go up on the deck! I’ll let you in.”

Mark wanted to know if I seriously thought she understood me.

Anybody in there?

I just had to laugh at myself after he pointed out how silly it all seemed. I don’t know why I talk to my dog as if she can understand reason. Maybe because she’s the only one willing to listen without passing judgement. And besides, I knew she would hear the patio door open and come running, so whether she understood me or not really didn’t matter.

I was off of work the last couple of days in an effort to spend some time with my daughter before she goes back to school. She’s been on winter break from school for nearly a month and somehow those days managed to just slip away. I love having her home. It’s going to be hard not seeing her smiling face every day and hearing her stories. I’m going to miss the way she manages to make me laugh and smile with her infectious, fun attitude.

Since it was so cold yesterday and we really hadn’t made any plans, we decided to just hang out at home. Connor came over and we spent the afternoon playing Scrabble at the kitchen table, talking smack to one another and laughing throughout. Connor played the word jugs, laying the J on a triple letter score and the S on a triple word score, earning him sixty points! For the remainder of the game, he continued to remind us of his skill and pat himself on the back for having such good strategy. However, I somehow managed to pull ahead in points and beat him by just a few points. (Must be due to all of those Words with Friends games I have going online. Practice makes perfect!)

Connor couldn’t stand the thought of being beat, so he demanded another game. The Letter Tile Gods were smiling on me in game two and before each of my turns, I was already plotting out where to lay the next amazing word. Since I took the lead from the start and never looked back, my opponents felt the need to make fun of me. I played the word festoon and a day later, have still not heard the end of it. Kacey and Connor keep finding ways to work the word into conversation and Connor keeps telling me he doesn’t think it should have been allowed on the board because it’s not even a word people actually use any more. I said that wasn’t true and reminded him of the wintery festoon that still hangs in my foyer, even though the other holiday decor has been put away for the season. The coup de grâce came when I played the word jingles, laying the J on a triple word score for forty-eight points, leaving no chance for them to catch up.

I hope they’ll be motivated to improve their skills and play me again. I haven’t played Scrabble in years and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it!

After a lazy Friday, there were things that needed doing today. I’ve been slacking a bit the last few days on my effort to do more home cooking. So first thing this morning, I plucked one of the many underused cookbooks from the baker’s rack and began browsing for ideas. This week, I’ll be working from the Top Secret Restaurant Recipes cookbook, a five-dollar bargain I found at a Kohl’s store about three years ago and have never once used.

One nice thing about this cold weather is that it makes it easy to want to stay inside, which makes it easy to want to cook. This week , on various days, I’m going to make Tony Roma’s Carolina Honeys (barbecued ribs), Ruby Tuesday Potato Cheese soup, and Olive Garden Alfredo Pasta. From another cookbook, I’m going to make a pork chops and hash brown dinner. Tonight, at Kacey’s request, we’re having her favorite Cheesy Wild Rice soup.

Aaaaand… I just realized, we’re all going to get fat if I keep cooking this way. Next week I’d better work on home cooking with a bit of a healthier aspect to it.