Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gamer Food

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I haven’t mentioned it before, but…I’m a gamer. I love playing D&D style games.

With previous groups, I would often “entertain” when they were at my house. I loved making snacks and desserts for them. When that group fell violently apart – too many inter-group conflicts and then half the group moved – I decided that the next group, I would not invest so much effort into. It was too expensive and time consuming.

Currently Mister W and I are in a group that is running the latest Pathfinder Adventure Path: Carrion Crown. It is full of the spooky. This current group is near perfect gamer gold: they all bring snacks of their own to share, they are focused on the game and there isn’t a single ounce of party/player angst.

So it was exciting when at the last game session, one of the players suggested that we do a potluck. I heart potlucks! We went with hamburgers, potato salad, chips, drinks, and I got to make the dessert.

I love desserts more than I love potlucks.

I ultimately decided to make Monkey Bread, a pull-apart cake like creation that should probably be considered illegal for the sheer amount of butter used. Biscuits rolled in cinnamon and sugar and drenched in a caramel pecan sauce! Talk about heaven!

But while I was at the grocery store picking out my weekly supply of fruits and veggies, my eye was caught by a gorgeous display of bell peppers. Oh and how they inspired me!

Gamers, I thought need food for energy and not just junks. No crashing and burning for my group. I decided to make a veggie tray with a creamy ranch dip. And oh how delicious it was! First thing I plan on doing in the new place? Start a garden! I need peppers all the time!


Clearly more than just peppers went into the platter. The Baby Bella mushrooms were just perfect with the dip and the crisp crunch of the sugar snap peas was delightful!

After gorging ourselves on veggies, which everyone was surprisingly thrilled with, we then tore into the Monkey Bread,

which, according to one gamer is, “of the devil.” That didn’t seem to stop him from eating nearly half of it!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What She Wants...She Knows She'll Get

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Aside from freaking out about packing up all my junk and then finding a place to stash all the said boxes of junk until Moving Day, I have been making a list of all the things we will need to purchase for our new place.

The list stands thusly and in no particular order:

1. outdoor garbage cans
2. clothes line
3. wheelbarrow
4. bunk beds
5. microwave
6. small dining room table
7. area rugs
8. lawn mower

At this point, that’s all I can figure until we actually get in there and see what else we might have need of.

Now with just under two acres, Mister W and I were quite aware of the amount of yard work we’d be doing and we immediately started figuring a budget to buy a lawn mower which would be a big expense.

He wants a BIG one. A ride on one. A Manly, with a capital M, one. Like this, the John Deere x749:

Me? I’d just prefer something we could afford. Like this self propelled Craftsman.

A few weeks ago, Big Sis and I were killing some time in Sears and wandered into the Lawn and Garden section.

“Let’s look at lawn mowers,” Big Sis said and headed over the display.

She eagerly climbed aboard one of the big John Deere’s and began making load engine noises.
“Really?” I asked.

She smiled. “I like this one!” she said twisting the steering wheel to the left. “And, I could help and I could practice driving at the same time.”

“Ha!” I laughed, “Like I’m gonna let you ever learn how to drive the way you crash grocery carts!” I shook my head and told her to hop off as I walked to the display of push mowers.

“These are a bit more in our price range.” I said looking at the line of shiny red, orange and green mowers.

Big Sis walked over and began playing with a mower. “It has too many things on it, Mom.”

“Hmm, and the ride on ones don't?” I replied looking at a simple, less expensive model, a non self propelled model. I got tired just thinking about pushing it across the lawn.

With a sigh I looked up at Big Sis and indicated that we should go. But then, as we turned to leave, we saw The Mower stashed away in the center of all the other mowers, kind-of hidden against a column.

“Mom!” Big Sis dashed further into the display, practically crawling over another row of push mowers. “This. Is. The. One.”

Following her, I tripped over the wheel of a mower and stumble up next to her.

“It’s beautiful,” I said. “Classic and Classy”

“And it’s totally in our price range,” she said holding up the tag. “Look, it’s a hundred less than that other mower you were ogling.”

“Yes, it is,” I replied, running my hand over the handle.

“You like it.” Big Sis sing-songed softly and then pulled it out to test it. She pushed it back and forth a few times, the blades making a soft click-click whoosh. “Let’s get it now.”

“We need to talk it over with Daddy,” I said.

“But,” She started, then stopped when I gave her The Look. “Fine.” She gave the mower another push then put it back against the column.

We turned to leave, narrowly escaping a salesman who had been circling for some time with another customer.

“You know, Mom,” Big Sis said as we walked out of the store, “we need it for three reasons.”


“First, it would be good exercise for us.”

“Uh huh.”

“Second, Little Sis could help without you worrying she’d chop her leg off.”

“Good point.”

“Finally,” Big Sis looked back over her shoulder for a last glimpse of The Mower, “during the Zombie Apocalypse, we’d still be able to mow the lawn and we wouldn’t have to worry about gas.”

Oh, Big Sis! Sometimes you know me far too well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Don't Just Like Them! I Love Them!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

On one of the applications I had to fill out, I had to answer a ten question short response test to gauge my personality and attitudes towards teaching.

1. Why did you become an educator?

Fair enough and easily answered with just a touch of BS babble.

Then I got to question two:

Do you like kids?

Huh. Interesting. How can I possibly answer that without sounding like a lunatic?

This is how I wanted to respond:

Do I like kids? Duh! I enjoy a child now and then; the smaller the better, you know, when they are juicy and tender and mostly uncorrupted by pollutants. Jonathan Swift was definitely on to something. A little seasoning to spice them up a bit, though I guess it depends on my mood – a handful of fresh basil and garlic, you could whip up a tasty Italian dish. And don’t get me started on all the different cuts! But, like lobster, I find that their exorbitant cost only allows me to partake in children as a rare treat.

This is how I actually responded:


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Hate Playing Waiting Games

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Remember when getting a job meant walking into an establishment and physically, with a pen, filling out an application? Maybe handing over a resume typed on cream-tinged heavy weight paper. Crisp black letters struck stark and bold on paper that you really couldn’t afford, but you bought because wanted to make an impression?

Those days are long behind thanks to technology. Oh, how the internet makes things so easy and then complicates the shit out of them!

After e-applying at all manner of places (not out of choice but out of necessity as that is how the company wants it) I play a waiting game, checking my email hourly, just in case one of the HR people deems me worthy to contact.

I can recall each time I have applied for a job, shaking hands with the manager or owner, feeling confident that while I might not get the job, at least I gave it my best and showed them who I was. Now, I can only hope that the few smackerals of bytes I typed into text boxes and the few drop-down menus I made a choice on were the right ones.

And the real kicker is that back in the day potential employers would at least call you to let you know if you didn’t get the job. (Do I really sound like I’m seventy? Because every time I use that phase I imagine a grandma’s wavering high pitched squeak and a determined finger wagging.) According to the few people that have regaled me with job-hunting tales of woe it is rare indeed for an employer to call with a “thanks, but no thanks.”

What happened to common courtesy? What happened to verbal communication?

Oh yeah, the—ooh, I’ve got mail!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Like Camping Without All The S'Mores!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Florida is once again on fire and has been for sometime. With all the smoke in the air, we have good days and bad depending on wind direction. Today is a bad one. This morning when I went out with the dog, I let her do her business and then instead of walking, we came right back inside.

That is not haze or fog in my 'hood. That is the heavy smoke that rolled into the area from the Honey-Prairie fire and many others making the air quality unsafe. 

I love "camp fire" smell, it is one of the best parts of camping it brings about a craving for s'mores and flashlight tag - but this borders on the ridiculous!

One might even wonder if it ever acceptable to wish and hope for a tropical storm to rage across the region!

Good-bye Carl Freedman.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Many years ago when I was in college, I was required to take a “senior seminar” class in order to graduate. Beyond any hope, I found myself taking, with my BFF Lindsey, the senior seminar to top all senior seminars: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Literature.

Thrilled to be taking such a cool sounding class, I pushed down feelings of uncertainty about the professor. I had taken classes with Dr. – before and I was never fully impressed. Oh, she knew her material, but I always felt like she threw things at us on the cuff, never really planning out anything. And while as a teacher I can say some of my best teaching days were those when I taught on the fly, I can also say, I do much better when I have a plan and modify it as I go if needed.

I might not have liked her classes, but there was no way I was going to pass up the chance for a senior seminar class that actually focused on my favorite form of literature.

Enter the stack of books for this class:

The class itself was about what I expected. “Exploring” the books together, no real plans, just a touchy-feely haphazard trip through the semester. The fun was taking it with BFF Lindsey and a few other friends. But it was the book by Carl Freedman that made the class so intriguing.

We tore the book apart ridiculing Freedman ever step of the way. I scrawled scathing comments in the margins, wasted tubes of highlighters on each page and referenced other books and authors who had said it better. BFF Lindsey and I would compare our comments after each assigned reading. Of course, being a college student, I knew everything and was quite high and mighty in my arrogance and superiority and I had no problem discuss Freedman’s flaws in class.

Fast forward nearly ten years and Carl Freedman is still sitting on my bookcase. Proudly displayed among my other college library: Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton, thick English Lit books, thin religious tomes, Pamela and Wuthering Heights, etc. I’ve not given these books a second glance since putting them one the shelf and swiping them with an occasional dusting cloth.

With the move upcoming, I’ve had to reconsider my priorities and really look at my books with a critical eye. Prior to this move I had upwards of nearly two thousand books in my house. When I by a book, I make a commitment. I offer the book a forever home, making promises that up until this year I have kept.

Now, books have to go. There isn’t any other choice. I have too many and will soon be in a house that cannot hold them. Tough decisions had to be made.

I started with three piles in front of my bookcase: Keep, Donate, and Undecided.

It was easy at first. All the novels I read once and knew I would never read again quickly went to the Donate pile. I hesitated over my stack of Christopher Moore books. The only one I reread is The Gospel According to Biff…the rest found there way into the donate pile. Keep was also easy, philosophy anything stayed, the Riverside Shakespeare? Keep. Milton? Keep. And on it went until I got to Carl Freedman.

Carl Freedman spent two days in the Undecided pile along with the rest of the Senior Seminar books, a stack of Templar Histories, and some literature anthologies. At one point, Freedman even went back on the shelf, I was so torn. But in the end, it was Mister W who set the stage for a good-bye.

Mister: So…book packing seems to have stalled out a bit.

Me: Yeah…I’m having some separation issues.

Mister: Need help?

Me: NO!! I mean, no, honey, thank you, I do not need you to throw out all of my books.

Mister: Do you need some advice?

Me: (sigh) Sure, honey.

Mister: You are showing a tendency towards hoarding—


Mister: Let me finish. You have the tendency, you know you do, and you get it from your Dad. For the most part, you have it in check except when it comes to your books and your crafts. Everything else you have no trouble parting with.

Me: .... And?

Mister: If you know that you are never going to read the books again…then—

Me: Yeah…

Nothing gets me motivated more than being compared to my father’s hoarding.

So, good-bye, Carl Freedman.

I will keep all my fond memories of you, but it is better that we make this a clean a break as possible. I give you, reluctantly, to the local library along with your shelf-mates.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Because I Suck At The Blogging, That's Why!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I admit quite readily, that I suck at keeping things up to date. I still have a Micheal Phelps calendar on my wall from 2009 open to January. I never flipped to page to see the next awesome Micheal Phelps photo. Never.

In any case, I have some good excuses umm, reasons - yeah, reasons - good reasons for not posting.

First, I'm boring. I haven't done much. Okay, really I have actually been doing a lot. But most of it is all just "regular" stuff - playing with The Girls, doing laundry, procrastinating.

Second, I am stressed about the whole stupid house situation, dejunking and packing. We found a nice house to rent and the move is on (have I mentioned this yet?).

Third, I am scouring and applying for jobs. I don't want to change jobs because of the economy but I also don't want the job I have. What a conundrum. With the move upcoming, I need something though. Once we move, there is no way that I will be able to commute to work! I'll be working to pay my gas bill!

Fourth, surviving the last weeks of school and trying to maintain my composure. And truly, surviving the last few weeks when the students have shut down because they took the FCAT and clearly have nothing more to learn takes a lot out of a person!

Fifth and quite honestly the most important reason, I have actually been quite diligently researching and planning for a story.

I am going to try a June NaNoWriMo (right, 'cause I need to stress about more stuff) and although NaNo is about a novel in a month, I am not going to rush too much on this one. I have some heavy hitting science research to do so the plot doesn't end up like a bad SyFy movie.

And let me just say that having to resort to the research librarian because I can't find an obscure text about 18th century farming techniques in Florida is slightly awkward.

"So, are you doing a paper?" He asks.

"Um...not exactly, just researching." I reply.

"" He asks, one eyebrow popping up into a near perfect arch.

Seriously! Why can everyone else do the Spock eyebrow?

"Well, actually, I need it for a story."

"Oh," he says and I get the feeling he is actually disappointed. "So you're a writer?"

"Yes." I say my face disappearing into a Farmer's Almanac. "Do you think you can get the book about farm tools?"

"Sure," he says, "I'll have to put a request in for it."

I nod. "Thanks," and turn back to the shelves.

He was totally mocking me. I know it. Snarking almost.

So that's where I am. Counting down the last few days of the school year. Searching for a new job. Scribbling notes. Packing. Reading. Plotting.

Breathing. Just breathing.