Thursday, August 27, 2009

Word(s) of the Week

Some coworkers and I were discussing words we loved. Words like:
  • PUNGENT (adj) - Affecting the organs of taste or smell with a sharp acrid sensation. Alternately, pointed or sharp.
  • THWART (v) - to prevent the occurrence, realization, or attainment of.
  • CURMUDGEON (n) - an ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.

The curmudgeon wanted to buy a pungent cheese for lunch, but the grocery store's low inventory thwarted him.

Don't you love words?


Sunday, August 23, 2009

When TH is away....

...I get to do all the cooking. Yesterday I made pita pizzas with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sliced roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and a spinkling of mozzarella cheese. Tonight I sauteed onions, garlic, and gorgeous mushrooms from the Farmer's Market in olive oil and butter, then poured it over whole wheat spaghetti.

All for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random acts of kindness

A friend of mine, hearing that I've been feeling stressed out, sent me a chamomile teabag through interoffice mail. It made me laugh.

Truly, the smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
-- Mother Teresa

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just around the river bend...

I've been feeling a little stessed out lately, the kind of stressed out that makes me feel creepy-crawly and trapped in my own house. Usually the only cure for that kind of stress is a jaunt into the great outdoors. But, as you know, around here, the great outdoors can be a little hot during the summer. The solution? Kayaking.

45 minutes of propelling myself along the glittery river, watching flocks of geese fly over, laughing at one awkward yet effective duck landing, seeing fish jump, and saying hi to other friendly kayakers and river folk? Fantastically rejuvenating afternoon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The best things in life

For my last summer Friday day off, I took myself downtown to the California Museum. This hidden gem tells the stories of great Californians, in its California Hall of Fame. It also presents a display of California's remarkable women, which moved me deeply. To see so many women, such a broad array of talent - from artist to athlete to activist - finally recognized, and to realize that each one of those recognized was supported, mentored, and backed up by many others, was so powerful. But I digress.

The main exhibit I went to see was titled, With Malice Towards None. It is the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition, from the Library of Congress. This display is one of only 5 in the entire nation.

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. -- Mr. Lincoln.

All this, for $8.50.

Next I walked over to a Sacramento institution, the Fox and Goose pub. This one-of-a-kind restaurant serves amazing pub fare, but also yummy breakfasts, and is the site of a vibrant live music scene. Today's meal: poached eggs, a crumpet (with lots of butter, of course), and a grilled tomato. Delish. All this, for $10.00.

Continuing my travels, I passed the fortune cookie factory, and stepped in for a bag of rejects. Yummies, for $1.25.

My last stop? Beers Books. My fave used/new bookstore, this place has a resident store cat and 10% off book purchases during the lunch hour, M-F. I found several great books in the sidewalk sale bins, and, browsing, also found my next book club read: Pascali's Island by Barry Unsworth. Score!! 5 books, for $8.32.

A great day, supporting local economy, enjoying all the things I love, for less than $30.00. Gotta love it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm just sayin'.

I'm not sure what scares me most about the former AK gov: how she keeps clinging to misinformation, or the fact that so many people are still supporting her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In other news...

Trying to stay on top of the CSA produce means homemade spaghetti sauce:

And squash and onions with thyme and rosemary...


Health Care Crisis

I am deeply disturbed by what I'm hearing about people's behavior at the health care forums happening around the country. Fights? Shouting down officials? Police escorts? WTF, fellow citizens??

According to the New York Times, "Lawmakers of both parties agree on the need to rein in private insurance companies by banning underwriting practices that have prevented millions of Americans from obtaining affordable insurance. Insurers would, for example, have to accept all applicants and could not charge higher premiums because of a person’s medical history or current illness. All insurers would have to offer a minimum package of benefits, to be defined by the federal government, and nearly all Americans would be required to have insurance."

According to some Americans (who shall remain nameless, but include a former Alaska governor), the reform would mean mandatory euthanasia, the end of Medicare, and depriving people of health care.

Let's just all slow down, take a deep breath, and find the common ground. What do you think about all this? Here are some of my thoughts.
  • Our knowledge about health and medicine is quite good, even superior. We know that prevention is less expensive than treatment. We also sometimes know when treatment or intervention is more costly than its results. Why is this information not available to everyone?
  • A person has the right to be healthy (whether or not they squander that right, is an issue for another post).
  • The government already has its hands in health care for its citizens (Medicare is one example). Therefore, their involvement is a non-issue. Let's talk about the quality of their involvement.
  • The rising costs of health care, to individuals and to businesses, is burdensome to many.
  • The provision of medical care as a perquisite to employment makes health care a class issue rather than a quality of life issue.
  • HMOs are not equipped to continue providing services in the same way (ie., opening emergency rooms to all, including the uninsured; 15 minute appointments for the insured). Health care workers in the current system are overworked. Overworked workers lead to un-well workers. Who will take care of us when our doctors are sick?
  • There are other countries in the world whose governments sponsor health care for their people, and these countries are not full of evil commies (or maybe they are, that could be an issue for another post).
  • [This space open for other ideas which have not developed but are percolating as I consider different viewpoints.]

This is not an issue that can be solved immediately, but if we can make some changes, we can get on the road to better health. Give it a chance. And stop yelling at each other; you're raising my blood pressure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. -- Rachel Carson

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Whip-my-butt-into-shape update

I had hoped to swim this summer, instead of run - the campus where I work has a lap pool, and that seemed an ideal way to 1) workout in the afternoon without really caring how hot it gets, 2) workout at no cost (I am anti pay-to-exercise at the moment, just a personal thing, nothing wrong with it if that's what works for you), and 3) switch up the exercise regimen so I don't get bored. However, problems with the water system have shut down the pool for the summer. So it was time for Plan B: operation run at 5:45 am.

I've come to the realization (again) that I do not exercise well in the mornings. I first reached this conclusion in college, when regular morning workouts ended in painful mornings. I'm not really sure why I thought it would be different (better) now, 16 years later. I only knew that there is no way in heck I would be running at noon in 90+ degree heat. But now, experience has taught me that there is no way in heck that I can keep running first thing in the morning.

I have to say that sometimes, I really did enjoy the morning run. At that hour, the air is sweet and fresh, there's no one on the streets to witness my dripping, staggering self, and it gave me a good feeling to start the day so virtuously. However, a lot of days I couldn't complete the workout. I struggled with feeling sick partway through (for various reasons), sometimes actually getting sick partway through (dry heaves are not fun, and I've had more than my share this summer). Getting up at 5:30 to run at 5:45 meant going to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 at night.

I feel strongly that exercise should be something to look forward to, to anticipate and to enjoy. Running in the mornings is something I dread. Working out at the hotel gym in Louisville last month reminded me how much better I perform later in the day. I'm strong! I kick butt! I don't feel sick, ever! And it's a great way to beat that afternoon slump that hits me every day at 3:00. Running at lunchtime is ideal because it breaks up the workday, and running after work is a great way to burn off the day, and give me a good appetite for dinner. But neither of these preferences is possible. So I have to figure out a plan for August and September, until it cools enough for me to return to lunchtime runs.

Whatever that plan turns out to be, I do know that I have benefitted so much from my running and workouts that there's no way I'm giving it all up just because I'm a weenie in the morning.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Limited edition

I don't know about you, but I love things that are "limited edition." No, not useless tchotchkes, but things like...strawberries. Or cherries. Or corn on the cob. There's something about the fact that you can only get these briefly, for a limted time, that makes the enjoyment of them even sweeter.

My current limited edition favorite? Dreyer's slow-churned ice cream, Mud Pie flavor. For those of you who may live under a rock and don't know the glorious beauty of Mud Pie, it is coffee ice cream, chocolate fudge, and chocolate cookie crust. When you get a slice of the pie in a restaurant, often it is topped with whipped cream, cherry, and nuts. Ahhh. Perfection. And this ice cream is sooooo gooooood.
What's your favorite limited edition treat?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm just sayin'.

There are days when all I want to do is lie on the couch and read. This is one of them.