Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Facebook Notification Day!

Sorry, I will not be posting "Happy Birthday" on your Facebook wall.  It's nothing personal.

I just don't do FB birthdays.

Facebook doesn't know when my birthday is, and I don't want to know when yours is unless you personally tell me.  I don't know if this makes me a birthday purist or just a curmudgeon, but for me, birthdays are for people who don't need a social networking site to tell you when they are. 

I know the exact birthdays (day, month, year) of all the important people in my life.  When I see a date, i.e. April 17, I'll think, "Hey, that's my sister's birthday!"  I may neglect to send her anything, but I always do remember the date. 

When my (other) sister had a birthday a few years ago (Dec 17), I sent her this ecard:

And when my brother had a birthday (May 24), I sent him this:

He responded, "Oh God, that Facebook thing is so true.  What an awkward way to spam up my facebook wall."

I noticed just this week (Feb 20) that my other brother, who has a FB account but is never, ever, EVER on Facebook, received a bunch of Happy Birthdays! on his wall.  This is like yelling happy birthday in an empty room to someone who lives several states away.  He's never going to hear it. 

As you may have figured out by now, instead of FB, I prefer to send Someecards to people in my life on their birthday.  They have a lot of really great snarky sentiments.  

So if I know you on FB and don't post to your wall on your birthday, don't take it personally.  Just remember that this is my wish for you:

For other fun birthday cards, see Someecards

Monday, February 17, 2014

Crockpot Glop

If you read my blog back in the Dark Ages (2008), you might remember the story about my ex-wife who, when she moved out, took all but two of the cookbooks with her.  One of those two cookbooks she left was a "slow cooker" cookbook, which led me to discover that I had a crockpot! (See part two of that post, "Bachelor Feed, Part Two: Return of the Crockpot." Also see how tiny my beer bottle collection was back then:

Compare that to now:

It's grown so much.  [sniff]

Well, a lot has happened in my life since then.  (See every blog post from 2009 - 2014.)

In the past five years I've changed a lot of the ways that I shop, cook, and eat.  Now I buy food at farmer's markets, co-ops, and Whole Foods. I've learned to make my own granola bars, croutons, and avocado spread. I eat salad, fruits or veggies almost every day.  Arugula is on my weekly shopping list, for Granola's Sake!

I can barely recognize that newly divorced Tim from 2008.


When we moved in together last summer, Katherine discovered my crockpot.  (Yes, I still have the same crockpot from my first marriage.  Is that wrong?)  And she is determined to put it to good use.  We've made three or four things in it over the past few months.  But they've all been huge disappointments.  I think it's because my tastes have changed.

As I wrote back in 2008: "A crockpot is something you throw a bunch of ingredients into and then let it cook all day and make your house smell like food. What a brilliant invention."  It still makes the kitchen smell nice, but it turns out that putting high-quality, fresh ingredients into a pot and cooking them all day takes all the flavor out of them.  Despite all the spices we throw in there, the food that comes out seems listless and bland.

So my theory is that crockpot cooking is not compatible with the crunchy granola organic local (expensive) diet we enjoy.  Crockpot recipes involve ingredients that are canned or frozen or otherwise, uh, cheap. You can't replace those things with fresh local foods and expect them to taste as good.  Because the crockpot will cook the hell out of whatever you put in there.

Katherine is not convinced.  She keeps looking through crockpot cookbooks (that she makes me check out of my library) to find recipes that will work.  Last week we tried another dish: something with chicken and wild rice and veggies that looked promising.  At the end of 8 hours in the crockpot, it sure made the kitchen smell good.

But what came out was bland gray glop:

Chicken and Rice Glop: it's what's for dinner.

It wasn't bad.  It certainly nourished our bodies.  It just wasn't... great.  We didn't look forward to eating it, so the leftovers sort of hung around in the fridge, getting passed over for other stuff.  As of this writing, it's still there.

So my theory remains.  The crockpot is no longer relevant to the way we cook and eat.  I thought this last batch of glop had convinced Katherine, too, until I caught her this morning online at the library website.  She was looking at yet another crockpot cookbook.

Not even an Act of Glop can deter her.    

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Shoveler

Here's something I never expected when I turned my life upside down, quit my job, moved 150 miles away and got married.

My new main purpose in life seems to be to shovel snow off the driveway.  I've become The Shoveler.  That's what I do. 

"Lucille, God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well."

I remember when the snow started, back in December, I thought it was noteworthy that I had to shovel 5 times in two weeks.  Ah, I was so young and naive then.

I took pictures:

Standing proud with my shovel. I had no idea this was only the beginning.

Look how tiny those icicles are! At the time I thought they were big. (See below)

 But the Winter kept on coming.  And coming.  And coming.

Since 2014 began we have alternated between bitterly frigid temperatures and snow.  The only "snow days" that Katherine has had at the school where she teaches were not because of snow fall, but because of cold.  One day the HIGH for the day was -12 Fahrenheit (-24 C).  The other time she got off the low was -16 F (-26 C), but the high for that day was a balmy 0 F (-17C), which really didn't seem like it warranted a day off.

For the past 4-5 weeks, it's only gotten above freezing one time that I can remember, and that was in the low 30's.  Usually it gets into the 20's, which is warm enough for it to snow, and then Mother Nature takes a huge, wet, white dump all over us. Again.

I'm starting to feel like the guy in this funny old story.

I've lost count of the number of times I've shoveled this winter, but I can tell you that I've shoveled at least four times this week. (Twice on Wednesday.)   I'm getting really OCD about keeping my driveway clear.

Want to see what a month's worth of snow and frigid temperatures look like?

See those huge piles?  I'm running out of places to throw the snow.

You want icicles?  THOSE are icicles. If you cut them open you can count the ice rings.

Despite all my grumbling, I actually enjoy shoveling... when I have the time.  A few times I've had to get up at 5am or 6am so that I could shovel the freshly fallen night's deposit before I leave the house.  Those days suck.  But when I am blessed with a morning off work, and I'm caught up on all my other chores, it's kind of nice to bundle up, get out into the fresh air, get some physical exercise, and feel a sense of accomplishment when I'm done.  And to play with my new yellow shovel.

 I've moved mountains (of snow) with my new yellow shovel!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Screw You, Rafa

I don't ask for much in this life:  a nourishing tasty meal, a warm shower, a cat on my lap, a dependable car, a secure job, people who love me.  Oh, and I want Rafael Nadal to cry.

For those of you who don't know him, "Rafa" (as he is known to those of us who know him so well) is the #1 men's tennis player in the world.  As far as I can tell, he is a perfectly nice person.  He's not a rude player, he doesn't cheat, he doesn't talk trash, he doesn't torture puppies (as far as I know.)  He works hard and loves his mama and wins and loses with grace. 

But there are some legitimate reasons why I don't like to watch Rafa play.  He grunts, which is a habit that a lot of pro players have gotten into, and I find it obnoxious.  He plays with a scowl on his face, like he's constipated or something.  Every time it looks like he might lose, I get my hopes up, and then he stubbornly comes back to win.  He takes FOR-EV-ER to serve the ball.  After every point, he leisurely towels off his face, arms, and hands.  He stands there and pulls his shorts out of his butt crack, wipes his face, fixes his hair (left side, then right side), and I start yelling at the TV, "Serve the [VERY BAD WORD] ball, Rafa!  I have shit to do!"

Rafa picks his butt.  Before. Every.  Serve.

Seriously, his matches take about twice as long other matches, and I have limited time to watch tennis.  Serve the ball already!

But most importantly, Rafa's mean.  He keeps beating Roger Federer, one of my favorite players, when all Roger wants to do is win a major tournament.  He's only won 17 of them.  Rafa keeps preventing Roger from winning his 18th, which would be four more major tournament championships than any other man in history. But poor Roger just can't get past Rafa.  He hasn't won a major tournament in two years, and his time is running out.  He's already 32.  It's ridiculous to feel pity for a guy who has 3 more championships than any other tennis player in history, but Rafa is just so mean to Roger.

Roger gets second place to Rafa.  Again.


One of the reasons I haven't blogged in a while is that for two weeks in January I followed the Australian Open, which filled up my TiVo with eight hours of tennis a day.  On a good day, I might have two hours of time to watch, so I had to fast-forward through most of it.  (There were other things going on in my life to keep me away from blogging, but following the Australian Open didn't help.)

My basic rooting strategy when I watch pro tennis is to root for 1.) Roger Federer, and 2.)  Anyone But Rafa.  So when Rafa and Roger play each other, my rooting interest is doubled.  Or squared.  Or exponentially increased.  Or something like that.  I don't know the math behind it, I just know I love Roger and hate Rafa.  I'm not proud.  I'm a sports fan.   

So when Rafa and Roger met in the semifinals of the Australian Open, I made a deal with the Universe.  I would give up all my Christmas presents for the next five years if Roger would just beat Rafa.  And make him cry.


Alas, Rafa did what he always does and overpowered (the aging) Roger.  Again.  My dream of someone making Rafa cry would have to wait for the next tournament, I guess.  

Someone please wipe that victorious smile off his stupid face



And then an Australian Open miracle happened! 

Nadal's opponent in the finals was Stan Wawrinka.  Stan is a 28-year-old pro who's spent his entire career as a top 20 player, but only the 2nd best player from Switzerland.  He's Roger Federer's friend, hitting partner, protege, and countryman.  (They won the Olympic Gold in doubles together.)     

Lately Stan has broken into the top 10, and has been challenging some of the best players in the world.  Earlier in the tournament he had upset the #2 player in the world, Novak Djokovic, someone he'd lost 14 straight matches to.

Stan's career record against Rafael Nadal was 0-13.  He'd never even won a set against him. But Stan did the unthinkable in the Australian Open final.  Stan played amazing and breezed through the first set.  Then Rafa hurt his back, which ironically changed the momentum of the match, but Stan was able to fight back and win the match.  He beat Rafa!   And bonus:  because Rafa's back was hurt, he even squirted some tears!   

I'm almost as happy for Stan's success as I am for Rafa's failure.

Thank you, Stan Wawrinka, for doing what Roger Federer couldn't.