The View From My Window

The world as seen from my window and through my eyes

Ancient food residue February 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 3:07 am

I read an interesting article today that breathed new life into my view of washing dishes. A paleoethnobotanist from our university was part of a research group that identified chili peppers on ancient pottery found in an archaeological site. Really, how cool is that? Some poor ancient woman didn’t get her dishes clean and was exposed as a poor housekeeper some 6000 years later. Seems like we just can’t get away with anything in the kitchen!

Makes me wonder what people hundreds of years from now will be able to “dig up” about me. Here are a few predictions about what could be found in my “future” dig:

1. A vast store of single earrings indicating the propensity to lose one and be unable to part with its useless mate

2. A treasure trove of those extra buttons I saved from new clothing and never use

3. Odd and end pieces of silverware, because you never know when you might have more people than your matched sets will serve

4. Piles of nearly new high heeled shoes that I stopped wearing when I realized I was old enough to care more about my comfort than being fashionable

5. Shards of Johann Havilland “Blue Garland” china (remains of the set my mother gave me for my hope chest)

6. A mother’s ring with 6 stones (3 aquamarines, 1 amethyst, 1 blue sapphire and 1 diamond)

7. The remains of a Jack Russell Terrier, most likely buried on top of me (her name is Lucy and she thinks she owns me)

What will future archaeologists find out about you?

 

How can I describe how very cold it is today? February 14, 2007

Filed under: My View on Weather — auntlelo @ 4:35 pm

Cold:

algid, arctic, below freezing, below zero, benumbed, biting, bitter, blasting, bleak, boreal, brisk, brumal, chill, chilled, cool, crisp, cutting, freezing, frigid, frore, frosty, frozen, gelid, glacial, hiemal, hyperborean, icebox, iced, icy, inclement, intense, keen, nipping, nippy, numbed, numbing, one-dog night*, penetrating, piercing, polar, raw, rimy, severe, sharp, shivery, sleety, snappy, snowy, stinging, wintry

Yep, that pretty much covers it. It’s so cold in Small Town, USA that it literally hurts to be outdoors. At the moment, the temperature is 15 degrees, but the windchill is 7 degrees. Makes me wish for other adjectives to describe the weather. How about:

balmy, broiling, clement, close, flushed, glowing, heated, hot*, lukewarm, melting, mild, perspiring, pleasant, roasting, scorching, sizzling, snug, summery, sunny, sweating, sweaty, sweltering, temperate, tepid, thermal, toasty, warmish

Even broiling, roasting, scorching and sweltering sound pretty good at the moment. Makes me awfully happy I have an inside job and that I had a nice warm garage for my car to be in. There’s nothing more luxurious than not having to scrape ice and having heated seats at my age.

So, here’s your question of the day:

How long did it take you to scrape the ice off your car before leaving the house this morning?

 

Too many problems, not enough solutions (eye color brownish-green) February 13, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 8:01 pm

I’m having one of those days. I almost dread looking at my email because each one seems to introduce one more problem landing on my shoulders to be solved and nowhere to go for solutions. I feel empathy for all of them because the problems are legitimate—on all sides. What to do, what to do?

I have lots of ideas for resolving some of these problems, but, very little power to make things happen. I can suggest, encourage, brainstorm and partner all I want to, but, until people at the top decide to make things happen, there’s little more that I can do. Sometimes this endless cycle just exhausts me. Maybe I’m just getting old, disillusioned and burned out. Seems to be an epidemic that’s going around the office right now. It is cyclic, we’ve been through it before. And, it isn’t surprising considering the very heavy project load, the small staff and the horrible endless winter weather. Blah!!!!!

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. The people around me will also feel better and we’ll be able to think more optimistically about our work and its direction. Every once in awhile, though, it’s cathartic to have a good whine fest and get it out of your system.

 

The Luxury of Being Antisocial February 12, 2007

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:16 pm

I’ve always wanted to possess that thing that others have. The thing that makes them completely immune to feeling bad when they do what they want regardless of the feelings or needs of others. I start to do it sometimes, but, my internal conscience usually gets me by the throat and the next thing you know I’ve changed my direction.

Case in point: when you have houseguests, shouldn’t you make a concerted effort to be a part of the conversation and stay up late enough to show you’ve made a decent effort to care that they’re there in your house as your guests? I have this secret pet peeve. Being the Mom in the house, it always seems to be my job to make sure everyone is fed well, comfortable and happy when they’re in my home. I think this is a throwback to growing up with the June Cleaver model. Last time I checked, the deed to the house was in two names, thus, two people should be responsible for the well fed, comfortable and happy guests. Correct? When my house is full of people, I spend most of my time planning menus, cooking or doing dishes because meals are something my guests look forward to. However, I’ve noticed that the rest of my family begin to take on the “guest” persona, too. They leisurely sit around the house, ignoring their regular chores like the taking out of trash or unloading of the dishwasher. They don’t bother to help entertain the guests by offering conversation or other activities while I’m busy . I have become a multitasker extraordinaire when in the kitchen. Yesterday, I found it interesting that while I was in the kitchen fixing dinner, there were two males sitting in the living room watching TV and when the phone rang they both yelled,”Mom, the phone’s ringing!” And the worst thing is when I’ve been up working all day and my loving spouse wakes from his nap in the recliner to announce he’s tired and just goes to bed, leaving me to entertain the guests alone.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone at my house loves to have guests. I love to have guests because they’re usually my children coming home to visit. I think the others that share my house love guests because that means a “mini vacation” from chores or other obligations. Ah, bliss! Reading, watching TV and lots of naps while the family hotel quietly operates around them. My, it must be quite a life! Maybe someday I’ll sit around the living room reading a book or watching TV and wait for someone to call me to breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ll shovel my food in my mouth and then get up and return to my chair to watch a movie, leaving my other half at the table to visit with the company while they finish their meal. Then, I’ll pretend I don’t notice when the person that prepared the meal has to also go to the kitchen and clean up alone while everyone else is off having fun again. And when the phone rings…

Well, you get the picture.

 

My View on Buttermilk Pie February 11, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 10:44 pm

I’m fixing dinner for my Mom for her birthday. Her usual request is to “keep it simple” and “anything but steak or roast.” Her preference has always been for some kind of pasta or seafood. When I asked her what she would like for her birthday dessert, the answer was “your choice.” (If you want to get a glimpse into why this kind of answer frustrates me, refer to the previous post regarding my view on menu planning.)

I decided on an old southern favorite and one that enabled me to use the rest of the quart of buttermilk I bought yesterday for my chocolate sheetcake. Tonight’s dessert is Buttermilk Pie. It is yummy good, full of calories and one of the ultimate comfort foods. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Pie

Note: recipe obtained from NPR feature, “Kitchen Window.”

This pie is a traditional Southern treat — and very sweet. The basic recipe below is from Country Cooking by the editors of Southern Living magazine (Galahad Books, 1974) and is what my mother refers to these days (the index card long gone). I’ve added alternate measurements for those of you who prefer a version that’s not as sweet.

3 eggs (or 4 eggs for less sweet version)

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour, plus a little for dusting

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 cups buttermilk for less sweet version)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs slightly and add sugar and flour. Then add melted butter and mix well. Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix.

Dust the unbaked pie shell with a little bit of flour. Pour batter into shell, and then sprinkle a little more flour on top.

Bake at 325 degrees until the custard is set, approximately 1 hour.

 

My View on Planning Menus February 9, 2007

Filed under: My View on Events — auntlelo @ 9:24 pm

Why can’t I think of anything interesting to cook? I spend hours watching the Food Network, reading lovely cooking magazines and blogs about food. But, when the time comes to actually go to the kitchen and cook something really new and exciting, I have a devil of a time coming up with ideas.

One of the challenges is taking into consideration the likes and the dislikes of all of the various people who will be sitting at my table. My husband dislikes salads with anything except iceburg lettuce (how boring). When my Mom comes to dinner, she doesn’t like for me to cook steak or roasts. I have some children who like spicy food and some who don’t. I have a son-in-law who doesn’t like cooked ham. There are people who like casseroles and some who detest them. The more people, the more challenging it becomes. No wonder I pull my hair out!

Usually when my kids come home to visit, I try to cook the things I know are their favorites. So, inevitably, we end up with lasagna, spaghetti, meatloaf, fried chicken and the staples they’ve grown up with. I even have kids who ask for ham, beans and cornbread! So, I’ll wait on the glorious gourmet fare until all of them have gone back home. I’ll put away the wine and ccoking sherry and focus on lasagna or chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes–piles and piles of it. I won’t do flan, but instead make buttermilk chocolate sheet cake. I guess the important thing is that everyone that sits at my table is happy and comfortable. Maybe every now and then I’ll sneak a new recipe in and it’ll go unnoticed, just for my own entertainment!

 

Tongue-tied!

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:15 am

I was in a very entertaining meeting this morning. It wasn’t your usual garden-variety directors meeting. No, this one was a 6th grade silly free-for-all that frequently erupted into uncontrollable giggles. It’s an even funnier scenario when you realize that everyone around that table was at least age 35-55.

It was probably the natural reaction to a week of stress and too much cold weather boredom. Or, it could have been the chocolate covered Oreos I brought to sweeten everyone up. Perhaps it was watching one of our students throwing up on live TV on YouTube. Whatever it was, the result was a directors meeting where not much was accomplished.

One of the funniest moments was during what should have been a very serious discussion about pandemic flu communications. My boss tried, he REALLY tried to get through it without completely losing control. But, when the poor guy mispronounced a physicians name and said “Pooperstock”, the 6th grade silliness just took over. That was it–we were done. We never got close to my agenda item which was, not surprisingly, webcams. But really, how could I have outdone “Pooperstock?” That one has to be a classic!

So, what was the most embarassing “misspeak” you’ve made? I’ll bet you have some real doozies!

 

My view on Webcams February 8, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:15 pm

Yesterday I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time defending my position on webcams. I even took a phone call from a veterinarian in Indiana who wanted to ensure that I knew how important it was for him to have access to a certain webcam so he could check the weather here in our state because he has a farm here. (By the way, nothing was further from the intended purpose of said webcam, so it really didn’t make much of an impression on me.)

Time out! Since when did having a webcam become both a priority and a privelege? I’ll set aside my first impression of some webcams I’ve seen. You know, the ones that seem to serve those voyeuristic tendencies some people have. No, I’ll focus on the fact that some webcams present risks that folks here where I work don’t often think about. We forget about the people that use webcams to show the world foolish pranks that seem innocent, but, cost PR people a lot of time when having to deal with the press, parents, administrators, etc. We forget that there are people in the world who just aren’t nice and would use the webcam for the wrong reasons, like stalking. We forget that there are a lot of other priorities that can’t be funded because of limited resources and that doing something like investing in webcams is both frivolous and unnecessary. We forget that some people simply don’t like the thought of being watched without their knowledge or permission. It’s called “privacy.”

I would agree that occasionally a webcam has a useful purpose, but, those times should be well thought and well planned. And that, dear readers, is what I think about that. Hmmph!

Now that I’ve completely slammed webcams, are there any you find useful? I’m always open to being convinced that I’m wrong.

 

My view on schedules February 7, 2007

Filed under: My View on Events — auntlelo @ 1:18 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how my life can look one way one day and be completely tossed around like a salad the next. I should know by now that when my life is quiet, it’s usually just the calm before the storm.

The phone rang a lot last night. Mostly calls from family who will be arriving at my house for a visit this weekend. All of them offspring, I might add. It never rains, it usually pours. That’s okay–I love it when the kids come home to visit. It means I can cook like I used to and not have to eat leftovers for days afterward. That means there will be lots of laughing and joking and hugging and shoes piled in front of the door. The refrigerator will be opened at least a hundred times and the dishwasher will run non-stop. I’ll wash at least 2 loads of towels every day. It’s almost like Christmas! 🙂

And this weekend is just the beginning of a whole year of company and busy weekends. My son and his girlfriend are moving back to Small Town, USA from the great state of California. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up with us for at least a few weeks until they get on their feet and find a place to live. That sort of thing is awfully hard to do long distance.

Our grandbaby is due April 11th.

I’m traveling to Boulder to help judge a Web site competition in late April and visiting the in-laws while I’m there. As soon as I get back I’ll attend the first of the family weddings of the season–one of my nieces. (I won’t even begin to include all the bridal showers and such I have to attend this year. They’re too numerous to mention. I even have a refrigerator magnet with dates of showers and weddings so I don’t forget!)

We’ll have the wedding for our oldest son in May.

Yesterday I was asked to be a faculty member at a summer communications institute. It’s a week long institute in July, two weeks before my daughter’s wedding. My husband and I had a long talk about it last night and he’s encouraged me to accept because I need to do something for myself this year, too. It’s a great professional opportunity for me. He says he’ll hold the fort and there are lots of other hands that can help with last minute wedding preparations. So, I guess I’ll do it. It’ll be a lot of work, but, it might be nice to get the heck out of dodge for a week this year!

I have no idea how many houseguests and so forth will be in and out of our house in the next few months, but, it’s sure to be busy. Better oil the hinges on the front door!

So, what’s your view on houseguests? Love ’em or hate ’em?

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows February 6, 2007

Filed under: My View on Events,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 9:33 pm

I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m full of anticipation and dread. The final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released in July and I join millions of fans all over the world as we struggle with conflicting emotions. J.K. Rowling herself admits feeling the same way. She quotes Charles Dickens in revealing her thoughts about the completion of Book 7:

“It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years’ imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever,” reads the passage from Dickens’ preface to “David Copperfield.”

Adds Rowling: “To which I can only sigh, try seventeen years, Charles.”

I can hardly wait to start reading Book 7 and yet I dread that it will be the end of the series. It’s hard to believe that several years ago I started reading Harry Potter not for myself, but, to make sure I knew what my youngest son was reading. He actually gave up reading the books about Book 4 because they had became too long and complex to hold his interest. However, now he’s ready to go back and pick up where he left off. I hope he enjoys them as much as I have. Thanks, son, for introducing me to such a delightful reading experience. I’m glad there are so many other adults who are fans so I don’t have to hide and pretend!

It’s going to be a long 6 months…