Friday, December 29, 2006

The new seed catalog's here!

Aren't those beautiful?'s that time of year again. The fine folks at Burpee Seeds torment me every year by sending out their catalog in winter. (Other companies' catalogs will follow soon.) I become almost obsessive looking through the catalog and deciding what seeds I want to order. And I can't get the garden going for several months! Argh!

I've already laid out my planting plan for next year. I haven't had much luck with peas or carrots, so I'm ditching those. I'm adding broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I will also plant the usual suspects: pole beans, corn, peppers (hot and sweet), herbs, cucumbers, and zucchini. We also want to give watermelon and cantaloupe a try. Oh, and did I mention tomatoes?! My favorite of all things to grow, and I could eat them till they're coming out my ears. Store-bought tomatoes pale in comparison. Nothing is like a homegrown tomato. Yikes, I think my mouth is watering!

I'm going to give my mini-greenhouse another try this year. I need to add lights for the warmth and extra light, because the seedlings just don't get enough of either in the basement (although it sits in front of the sliding glass door in the walkout basement). But I love starting seeds because you can try so many different varieties of things, and I think you can grow hardier plants to set out in the garden.

We grow garlic, too, but I planted that back in the fall. You plant in the fall and harvest at the end of the following summer or thereabouts. We love our garlic. I'm also hoping that our asparagus is going to be a bumper crop this year. It takes a few years to really get established, and this should be the year.

I need to calm down, because I've got a couple of months of winter to get through before I can even start seeds. Damn you, Burpee Seed Company!

I take it back! I love you, and love your seeds! I don't damn you!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

One final Christmas comment

I'm not sure why those big inflatable Christmas decorations have become so popular. I don't find them the least little bit charming. In fact, as Ken and I were driving around the other day, I told him that they actually make me want to pop 'em with my BB gun just to watch 'em deflate. "I'm mellllltinggg!"

And yes, we did watch the original "Scarface" last night, and it was pretty cool. The remake was surprisingly close to the original, other than the change of locale and contraband. The whole relationship with Tony and his sister was pretty weird, but it was actually creepier in the original. In the remake, I could tell that he was just weird about his sister in that he put her on a pedestal, and expected her to stay innocent and unsullied by whatever unsavory things he was doing, or unsavory people he hung around with. In the original, I got a vibe of something a little deeper than that, which I found interesting. I also thought the scar choices were intriguing. In the remake, it's basically a two-part scar, through Tony's eyebrow and onto his cheek. In the original, it's only on his cheek, and it's in the shape of a cross. Not sure what they were trying to say there, because Tony was not a good guy. Sure, he had his moments of family honor and gangster integrity, but he was still a gangster.

I gotta say, both movies made me want to read more about their respective eras. I've read some about the Prohibition era and how nasty things got, but not a whole lot. As for the Cuban refugees, I've read very little. That happened in my lifetime, but I was young and blissfully unaware of many of the things that were going on in the world at the time. I think I need to remedy that.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

He hit it an' quit it

R.I.P. President Ford, but I have to say I was a little more bummed to hear that James Brown died on Christmas morning. (Nothing against Pres. Ford--I believe he was a fine and decent man who served his country, but I know he had been in poor health, and he was in his nineties. It was not totally unexpected, while JB's death was a surprise.) Time for James to put on the cape for the last time. He was ultra-cool, and every pop, rock, and soul artist today owes a big debt to the man.

Hope everyone had a fun and happy Christmas, and was able to spend time with the ones you love. We had a wonderful time with the kids, my family, and each other. Check this out:

A quickie trip to Vegas at Christmas, you ask? No! It is a picture of my favorite Christmas present, a replica of the Vegas sign that lights up. The small white bulbs at the perimeter travel, and the star flashes yellow and red. It is so cheesy, and I love it completely! I got lots of great things, including books and "I Love Lucy" stuff and Big Dogs shirts and boxer shorts...but I love my Vegas sign the most. I have a great husband. He knows what I like!

We were able to watch some DVD's we've been saving for a while. It can be hard to find time to watch them, because we do have our favorite shows we like to watch (my personal favorite is "The Office"). But with a few days off, we were able to watch some good ones. A couple of pleasant surprises were "16 Blocks" with Bruce Willis, and "The Inside Man" with Denzel Washington. I was expecting something mundane, but both of them grabbed my attention and kept me watching. Last night, we watched "Scarface" (the remake). Man, I had never seen the whole thing! And Ken said it had been years since he saw it. I loved it. Hard to believe it got an X rating at first, because to me, the violence and language didn't seem all that extreme. I've seen much worse. But it came out in '83, and I guess it was pretty rough for the time. Al Pacino is amazing. I've always liked him, but he was uncannily good in this movie. Of course, I could hardly wait for the "Say hello to my leetle fren' " line! We got the special edition package of the movie, and what a neat surprise to find out that it includes the original movie with Paul Muni. I think we might watch that tonight. Neat concept to go from the Chicago gangs during Prohibition to the cocaine traffic in Miami in the '80's. It works. No matter what the illegal product, I guess it's all the same: supply, demand, collateral damage, and destruction. My favorite scene of the movie is towards the end, when Tony is burying his head in a mountain of cocaine. It's awful to see, but it says it all.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

      Mele Kalikimaka!


Thursday, December 21, 2006



Shame on me for forgetting to include "Chris Isaak Christmas" in my Honorable Mention Christmas CD's. There are many nice renditions of Christmas songs on there, but my favorite is "Mele Kalikimaka." It's just plain fun to say that!

Well, one more day of work, then a nice little break for Christmas. We'll have Christmas Eve with my family, then Christmas Day with just us and the kids. Should be a fun time. Things seem to be getting a little quieter at work, too, I imagine because most doctors' offices are closing early. That bodes well for those who have to work the weekend and the holiday. (If I haven't mentioned this, our lab is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have to work every other weekend and three holidays a year. Luckily, my family is very understanding, although it's tough to have to miss a lot of family functions.)

A while back, I was talking about our raccoons, and included a picture of one hanging out in a tree, munching on the bird food. Here's the same guy, but he's all decked out for this time of year:

Ha! I cracked myself up on that one. I'll have to be sure to put the Santa Turkey up here,'s even better.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Shopping is DONE!

I did the last of my Christmas shopping today. YAHOOOO! I also finished all the wrapping I needed to do. I'm so happy to be done with it. I'm definitely not one of those people who wait till the last minute to get it all done. Nothing against them, but are they INSANE? They have to be, to wait that long to get things done. That's just setting yourself up to be stressed out, don't you think?

I listened to some Christmas music while I was wrapping. I've been taking some into work, too. I have rather strict requirements for Christmas music, and I can't listen to just anything. My personal favorite Christmas CD's--we'll do the Top Five--are:

1. Christmas With the Rat Pack - This is the best of all, in my opinion. I'm a big fan of Dino, and his voice is smooth as silk on classics like "Silver Bells." And there's funny Rat Pack banter, like after they sing a song, Dean asks Frank, "Hey--how 'bout an eggnog?" Love it! (I don't have a CD of just Dean, but I think I'm going to have to remedy that, because I love his voice.)

2. When My Heart Finds Christmas - Harry Connick, Jr. is New Orleans born and bred, and the songs that have that New Orleans feel are the best. The title song brings a tear to my eye every time. I give another nod to Harry with my Number 3...

3. Harry for the Holidays - That great voice! The song "This Christmas" just sends me, and his duet with George Jones on "Nothin' New for New Year" is almost heartbreakingly beautiful and sad.

4. Boogie Woogie Christmas - The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Brian puts such a great spin on some classics and some fun new songs, and they all ROCK! (He's a guitar god in my world, if I haven't mentioned it before.) On this CD, he does The Nutcracker Suite, and his duet with Ann-Margret on "Baby It's Cold Outside" is as good as Dino's version.

5. The Nutcracker - Still puts me in the Christmas mood, no matter how many times I listen to it. It's fun to play this and sort of prance around like you can actually dance ballet. It's fun to pretend, even for a total klutz like me!

Honorable mentions go to "Dig That Crazy Christmas," the second Christmas CD by The Brian Setzer Orchestra; The Ventures (for a surfin' Christmas); Los Straitjackets (more surfin' cool); and anything Elvis. (Elvis's "Santa Claus is Back in Town" is rockin'!) Remember: just because it's Christmas doesn't mean you have to listen to lame music. Take the time to find the good stuff. It's out there!



Monday, December 18, 2006

A little more Bond stuff

I got an email from my buddy at work, Jim. He'd read my previous entries about "Casino Royale," and had this to say: "Pierce Brosnan was smooth and charismatic, and I liked him as Bond, but I never believed he could kick anyone's ass.  This guy is different.  And I like the less flashy, less superhero bond character."

Good way to put it, Jimi! Just goes to show you that guys are liking this Bond, too. It's not just a bunch of women thinking he's hot, everyone is liking the turn they've taken with the new Bond. I hope they keep it up, and keep the tone a little--or a lot--on the dark side. It makes for a much more intriguing character and movie. (Think of "Batman Begins," my favorite Batman movie of them all. Very dark. Loved it.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

I hate the mall

When I was in high school, the big thing to do on Saturdays was hang out at the mall all day. I don't know what I was thinking, because I'd rather be forced to listen to Michael Bolton for 8 hours than spend 8 hours at a mall. I guess I was young and foolish, and honestly, there wasn't that much to do around here at the time.

This time of year turns the mall into its own circle of Hell. I got into the Christmas spirit quite nicely the other day when I was wrapping Ken's presents and listening to some nice Christmas music, but nothing can get me out of the spirit faster than a trip to the mall. When I do have to go, maybe once or twice a year when we need to get our rings cleaned, I'm on a mission, and I want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Strike fast, strike hard. Shock and awe. But I usually end up behind a lollygagger, who always seems to come to a dead stop right in front of me and look in the window at a freakin' candle or something. Ugh, it makes me want to scream!

That's why I do my Christmas shopping online, or at a local store where the crowds aren't quite so large. And I've learned a lesson from Ken by starting very early, usually back in the summer, so the monetary damage is spread out over a few months rather than one big bomb. I really do enjoy the holidays, although it might not sound that way. It's only the walking-around-the-mall part I have a problem with.

And think about this: an awful lot of zombie movies are set in malls. To me, it comes down to a simple choice. Either avoid the mall at all costs, or go there and get your brain eaten by zombies. Then you can listen to Michael Bolton all day long and it won't bother you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

We now return to our regularly scheduled program

Sorry I haven't posted anything new for a week or so, but we were on vacation! We had a great time, and while it's always hard to get back to work, it was nice to be back home and sleep in our own bed. Sheeba was also very pleased to have us back. Uncle Shane takes very good care of him, but Sheeba is always happy when we get home.

We went out to visit Ken's Mom and stepdad in Oregon (had a very nice visit), then drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, where we spent a couple of days. Had a nice time visiting our friend Todd in SF, and had some delicious seafood and Chinese food. Yum!

The drive down to SF was so gorgeous. We drove through the Redwood National and State Parks, and for a couple of tree-lovers, it was just like heaven! (I'll put up a couple of pictures soon.) The drive along the coast is so awesome. It can be a little scary, because there are no guard rails on this unbelievably twisty road, and it's a pretty quick plunge into the Pacific, but seeing the surf crash on the rocks is just such a neat sight. Ken handles the driving just fine, so no worries there.

We got to scratch our gambling itch at the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, Oregon. Played a little craps and then some blackjack, and ended up ahead. Is there any game as fun as blackjack? Not in my book! Man, it's fun! I asked Ken if he thought I played fairly smart, and he said yep. The guy to my left said to me once, "Nice hit." So I must have done okay. I won a couple of double-downs, but never got the cards to do a split. Next time!

Craps is a lot of fun (at least when you're winning), but it is so complicated for me. I think I would have to study for quite a while to understand all the odds and the bets you can make. Every person working the craps table that I've encountered (even in Vegas) has been extremely helpful, thank goodness. But of course, they want people to win so they can get big tips.

One surprising sight, a few miles into California, was a dead black bear by the side of the road. He wasn't real big, but was bigger than a cub. It looked like he'd been hit by a car. I sure felt bad to see that, but it also told me just how wild it is around there.

It also made me appreciate our country so much. The magnificent trees, the wide open spaces, the ability to roam the countryside and see so many interesting things and so much beauty. Oh, it was wonderful! I get this way every time we take a road trip. Imagine how I'll be in a couple of years when we do our Route 66 trip...I'll be a basket case! (I don't think I've written much--if at all--about Route 66. I will do so soon.)

Saturday, December 2, 2006

The winter storm that wasn't

I swear, these forecasters around here....

Wednesday and Thursday were all gloom and doom, at least six inches of snow, perhaps much more! What did we get? Nothin'! Zip! Quite a bit of rain, some fairly heavy snowfall at times during the day on Friday, but nothing stuck.There is no snow on the ground whatsoever.

Why can't weather people just admit that it's a very inexact endeavor? Things around here can get especially weird with what is called lake effect snow, in which cold air blows over a warmer Lake Michigan and creates heavy snow. How much certain towns (sometimes within a few miles of each other) get can be completely affected by which way the wind is blowing. I suppose being a meteorologist in this area is not easy, but I think they should recognize that, and I think it would be very refreshing to hear one of them say, "You know...I really don't know what the hell is going to happen. We could get nothing, or we could be shut down for a day or so. Hey--it's northern Indiana! What do you expect?" Now THAT would be an accurate forecast.