Wednesday, August 31, 2005

More Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They came over again and filled a couple of waste bins and a couple of waste bags. They also scared me by climbing up onto the "treehouse" in our backyard, which is little more than a rotting platform, and trying to pull down a very large dead limb from the tree. Luckily, neither of them fell, but I was regretting not having my camera handy to get pictures of them.

They discovered that a portion of our backyard is old branches in a wild pile that's now covered in ivy and blackberry. I think we need a wood chipper to get rid of that, and I have no idea how we'd go about borrowing one.

They really want to bring in a bunch more guys and pull all the ivy and blackberry out, but I'm not sure how many guys they will round up for the job. If they do, though, they can make a serious dent in the chaos.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Laura's Easy Meatloaf Recipe

Disclaimer: I don't cook. I never bothered to learn to cook because my mom was a FANTASTIC cook and for some reason it never occurred to me that I would need to learn when I left home. I have been slowly and painfully learning how to cook through the last 15 years, making lots and lots of really stupid mistakes. I'm sure there are mistakes in the following recipe (feel free to point them out in the comments if you'd like) but it works for me. This is a meal that actually tastes pretty good that I can make. And I'm putting it up on this boring blog mostly for my use later on... and to remind myself just how incredibly easy this is to make.

Ingredients: 2 eggs, 2 pounds ground beef, 1/2 cup milk, 2-3 slices bread (finely crumbled), Johnny's Seasoning Salt, steak or BBQ sauce, any spices you can find in the kitchen, and one really big bowl.

Toss all the ingredients in the big bowl, picking out what spices you want to add by how you feel today. Johnny's Seasoning Salt is a family favorite, you don't have to use that, but use garlic, onions, paprika, parsley, thyme, rosemary, pepper and anything else you like. This is a really easy recipe, so you can make it more than once and try different combos. If you aren't feeling confident, grab a meatloaf mix from the local grocery shop... but those are just a bunch of spices, and you'll want to add your own anyway. Much more important is some steak or BBQ sauce. In a pinch, ketchup will do, but you'll want something liquid to add besides the milk and eggs. Put in as much or as little as you feel like, but you don't want it to be soupy. I usually add a splash or two.

Mix with clean hands until well-blended.

Cover bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Don't know why, but this seems to work. Maybe the bread sops up all the liquid or something.

When you are ready to cook it, shape it into a loaf and put it in a loaf pan or a larger pan that has edges (it will leak a little when it cooks). It should hold shape if you put it on a larger pan, but I haven't tried it, personally.

Cook at 375 for 1 hour.

You can serve it immediately. Leftovers should go in the fridge. Makes lovely meatloaf sandwiches. Makes about ten slices, give or take a couple depending on how thin or thick you slice.

  • Use your hands to mix. They should get cold, but it'll blend best that way.
  • Don't store it in the fridge in the pan you cooked it in. Put it on a fresh plate. You'll want to wash your cooking pan right away.
  • If you like, you can add a design in ketchup on the top of the loaf before you cook it. Adds a little flair and a tiny bit of taste.
  • High quality bread makes a better loaf. I use the heels of sourdough bread we get from a bakery.
  • High quality meat helps too. Lean is good.
  • Best served with mashed potatoes and a veggie.

You Can Help

The Red Cross needs money, not goods. If you have any money to donate, help the folks down in New Orleans.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Wellhouse

I'm sure all of you were dying to see what was in the wellhouse out in our backyard. Well, I finally took some pictures. Here 'tis.

Here's the wellhouse itself. It's close to the house, and has been pretty much covered in ivy and blackberry vines since we moved in.

Looking inside the door, the first thing you see is the refrigerator... and yes, it's definitely a very old refrigerator. The hole at the base of it is the well itself. Around the corner to the right is the pump. None of my pictures of the pump came out.

The "floor" of the wellhouse. It's actually not quite as bad as it looks. Although I wouldn't trust an adult's weight on it, the boards aren't too bad. But it's still entirely too dangerous to leave open like it is.

Here's a view down the well itself. It's really hard to judge the distance, but it doesn't look too far. It's also nice and wide, so if somebody did go down it there's room for rope/ladder/rescuer.

We'll have to either nail it shut again, or maybe cover the floor a little better, soon. It's a nice size, and I wouldn't mind cleaning it out, putting a more solid floor down, and using it as a shed. The base is very nicely made with lots of brick and stone. And I have to wonder if anyone out there would have any interest in a well pump or the old refrigerator. Anybody ever heard of a well pump collector?

Another Sleepless Night

The nausea started up first thing th- er, yesterday morning. I'd had less than four hours sleep when it woke me. I took some medicine and, as usual, it put me out for a few hours. I think people called me on the phone and talked to me during that time. I'm not sure. When I finally woke up again, I got myself some breakfast, did some blog reading, and waited. Annoyingly enough, the nausea started again. I took some more medicine and fell asleep until the evening.

During the second period of sleep I experienced some sleep paralysis, including an extremely vivid dream involving a person going into the wellhouse out back that we recently made accessible. I was awake enough to recognize that it couldn't be happening, but I couldn't move to get myself up and check. I wanted to check. It was one of those cases where you feel like you absolutely must get up. But I couldn't move. It took me what seemed like an eternity of panic before I realized that it had to be sleep paralysis and managed to doze off again. When I next woke, I was able to move and the first thing I did was run out and check the wellhouse. Yeah, it was just a dream. There was even a spiderweb across the door. Nobody went in there while I was sleeping.

I think I could write a decent horror story based on the dream about the wellhouse I had. But if I do it, I'd need to do it soon. The dream has already faded into tatters and will be gone by tomorrow. I'm not really inclined to write about it. It was, however, the kind of dream that some people would say had "meaning" if they experienced it. To me it was just another side-effect of the anti-nausea stuff.

Ah well. Eric just mumbled something in his sleep. He's not nearly as talkative tonight as he was yesterday. Yesterday he was actually singing in his sleep.

I should go to bed and at least try to get to sleep. I have my doubts that it will come. I'm feeling slightly dizzy and nauseated, so maybe I should take some more medicine. I'm just afraid of the dreams that might come if I do.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's 2 am

And I'm not the slightest bit tired because the anti-nausea medication put me out for so long this morning and afternoon that I can't sleep at all now. The good thing is that I haven't needed the medication since I last woke up, which hopefully means I'm getting better finally. I have mulled over whether or not to call the doctor back and have them check me out again, since this stupid thing seems to be taking its dear sweet time going away.

Ah well. Maybe I'll go sit in bed and listen to Eric. He's been talking in his sleep for the last hour or so, but I've been down in the living room and can't quite make out what he's saying.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yay, my computer's back!

Er, actually, that's about all there is to say, isn't there? All seems to be fine now...

Blackberry Update

So the yard waste guys took all the bags, even the ones that were split open and spilling spiky blackberry vines all over. They took the lot. Whew.

And the squirrels are very confused. I watched one yesterday as it tried to find its stash of something. It had a nut of some sort in its mouth and was looking frantically to find where to hide it. The lack of ground cover made it really nervous... not that squirrels are generally calm.

And lastly, the meter reader came by with his machete in hand and looked at the yard in surprise for a moment before simply pulling up the cover and reading the meter. He shook his head as he left... I wasn't sure if it was shock, dismay, or amusement.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cutting Blackberries

The missionaries came over again, this time bringing reinforcements in the form of two more missionaries and a returned missionary who happens to live across the street from me. Five guys... they filled two very large yard waste bins and 14 yard waste bags. They decimated the ivy in the front yard, making it possible for maybe the first time since we moved in to see the street from our porch. They also made a large dent in the blackberries in the back yard, even uncovering the wellhouse.

I actually think I prompted them to get to the wellhouse, as I mentioned that Eric and I had never opened the wellhouse, and for all we knew there might be dead bodies in there. The two young men working in the back seemed spurred on by this declaration, and after a short time I heard the sound of nails being pulled and a rusty squeak of long disused hinges... and when I went out back they had opened the wellhouse and were peering in. I will take some pictures, but not right now. The wellhouse wasn't quite as empty as we thought it was, though close enough. In addition to the pump, which I was expecting to be in there, there was also a cabinet that looks a lot like a very old refrigerator. The boards covering the well itself are old and rotting, and not terribly safe. The missionaries threw a rock down the well to see how deep it is... it's not deep. Deep enough to be a problem for any kids wandering around, which is no doubt why it was nailed shut to begin with.

The other missionaries working in the front yard had their own discoveries... mainly a whole lot of toys that had been left in the area over the years. Each new toy prompted a laugh as they tossed them into a pile. Among the stranger items was a Koosh ball and a bicycle horn that has Goofy on it.

I have my doubts that the yard waste guys will pick up all 14 bags. Some of them are split, and all of them are full. But then, I didn't really expect them to take last week's bonanza either, and they did. At least this time I had the sense to ask the missionaries to put the yard waste on the curb to start with, so I didn't have to haul them all down to the curb myself while sick with this ear infection.

Computer Woes

Eric here, logging on via Laura's computer (so if this posts as being written by her, don't you believe it!) Well, at long last, some good news on my computer. But I supposed I should back up a bit and say what went wrong first. Last Tuesday, things just started going kerplooey (yes, that is a technical term) with my computer, a wonderful little Apple ibook laptop that I got last spring. It's been a real trooper, getting me through lots of stuff and going with me to lots of places, including two trips to California. So as you can imagine, I was not happy when it started going kerplooey. I tried to restore the system file from the disk, but that just seemed to make things worse, and my attempts to restart it just went nowhere. So I thought I'd take it in the next morning. Bad timing there! The main road out of town and into Seattle was completely closed off due to a fire. I didn't realize this, however, until I was well into the backup. I eventually realized just how cranky I'd be by the time I got through the backup, and how little time I'd have (I still had to go to work that afternoon), so I turned around and came home. I had to work all day Thursday, but Friday afternoon I finally had a chance to go into town and drop it off. It's probably just as well I didn't have it this weekend, as we were inundated with visitors anyway...

At any rate, I finally got the good news earlier today. The shop called, and found that I had a banged up hard drive. The good news? They were able to save most of the data! There were apparently a few bad blocks, but nothing serious. They will, of course, have to replace the hard drive, but at least it's cheaper than a new computer. And while I'm paying so much to get it done, I decided to spring for a little more and upgrade the capacity from 60 gb to 80 gb. So I should get it back in a few days. Good thing, too. The past few days have shown me just how important my computer is, and how much I do on it all the time. Of course, now I'm also going to back a lot of those files up...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sitting in a Sea of Nausea

So, I thought, I went for nearly two weeks with this ear infection without taking anything for the nausea. How bad could it be if I go without for one morning so I can get some cleaning done around the house in time for the party tonight?

Never, ever, ever ask "how bad could it be". Just don't.

I'm now waiting impatiently for the medication to take hold so the room will stop spinning long enough for me to get some cleaning done. I might have fifteen minutes before the stuff knocks me unconscious like it has every other time I've taken it. I wonder if I can get the room clean in 15 minutes?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Jordan!

And a happy birthday to my nephew Jordan!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More Grieving Parents

Here's another article about some grieving parents... these ones met with Bush and were impressed by him.

Pulling Ivy

So the Mormon missionaries came to my house about a week ago, as they usually do once a month. I grew up in the church and they like to check in on me. It's always the same conversation, and the missionaries always end it with, "Is there anything we can do for you?" I was in a flippant mood and said, "No, unless you feel like cutting back blackberry bushes and ivy!" To my immense surprise, the one missionary took me seriously, "Sure," he said, "I'm from North Carolina, and I'm used to dealing with wild plants!" I still thought he was joking, especially since his companion was turning a strange shade of grey, but he said he'd call me and set up a time to do yard work.

And he did. They came over yesterday morning and pulled ivy from around the house, a job I haven't been able to do for awhile. It took the two guys and myself two hours, but we got the worst of it away from the sides of the house and into eight yard waste bags for removal (hopefully) tomorrow by the city yard waste truck. It was a job that would have taken me at least two weeks to do alone, if I was even able to manage it.

What's even more incredible is that the NC missionary wasn't quite satisfied. As they were leaving he told me they would call again and see if they couldn't get a few other missionaries in the district over, and tackle the mountain of bushes in the back yard.

One Year...

It's been one year since I started this second blog... one whole year of Gjoblaaging...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Some Quotes

Can you guess who said these quotes?

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

"You can support the troops but not the president."

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home."

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. ...these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"

Answers here.

Happy Birthday Christine!

Happy day, big sis!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Mother's Eyes

White Crosses
White crosses are reflected in the glasses of Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia as she looks down at them at the roadside camp near President Bush's home, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005, in Crawford, Texas. The nearly thousand crosses that line the road show the names of soldiers who have died in the Iraq war. Zappala's son Sherwood Baker died in the war on April 26, 2004. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Washington State Quarter

The Seattle Times had a nice article today about the new Washington State quarter. But what really amused me was one of the four quotes they chose to represent the anonymous opinions of people around the state who wrote in. See, when the Times reported on this some time ago, I immediately went to the website indicated and put in my twenty-five cents worth. To my immense surprise, my statement, which was submitted anonymously like all the others, appeared in the Times today:
"No apples. Please. And no crowded mishmash of ugly symbols. Let's pick one thing and show that. The most beautiful and timeless designs so far are the simple ones. Washington is the Evergreen State, so let's showcase our evergreens and our mountains. ... But please, no apples."
Heh. I halfway expected that no one would ever read my opinion. But now I know that it was not only read, but it struck enough of a nerve that The Times thought it was worth printing.

From the article, I get the impression that we're likely to either get Mt Rainier alone (my preference) or an annoying jumble of images including Mt Rainier. I wouldn't object to this idea, either: "Our quarter should show an orca breaching on its side with Mount Rainier in the background... Unbridled beauty and freedom." Yeah, I could live with that.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Here's to my Dad, who managed to support a family of seven children through some of the toughest times Seattle ever saw. Happy birthday, Dad!