Olympic Trivia

While working out at the gym tonight and half-paying attention to the several TV screens overhead, I learned how they transported the horses who compete for the U.S. in the Olympics over to London.

They flew them there via FedEx.

I hadn't given that much thought before, but that was really interesting.  The veterinarian who did the video piece even looked over all the equipment they were packing, and found sugar cubes.

I wonder if the horses would rather win medals made of carrots and cookies.



Saturday Night Update

The Cat had a lousy morning--including an ineffective attempt to communicate "I got sick everywhere" in the early morning hours (Is that why she was tapping my face with her paw?), leaving me to find the mess on the dining room rug (and later the couch)--so she is conked out in her "I don't feel well" corner of the living room at the moment.  My back is to her as I'm typing at the table, but the corner is almost directly behind me, so I'm able to keep an eye on her from here.

I had a pedicure and hair appointments scheduled (my one luxury afforded by singing for the occasional wedding), so I left her to nap in peace.  After lunch, I caught a bit of a nap myself.  Which I needed, because right now I'm nursing the muscles in my upper back.  Muscles that are complaining because the chiropractor adjusted everything back into the right place after, I don't know, probably close to two months.  And the muscles got way used to the wrong positions, so it was ice-pack city for most of yesterday afternoon, overnight, and this morning.  The good thing was that I got to meet the new chiropractor that joined the practice, and she knows her stuff.

Thursday was interesting, because I had an interview in the morning.  While it is a nice school, honestly it appears to be a lateral move for me (all trade-offs considered).  I did, however, get a message while I was out running an errand later in the day, that another school district was interested.  I have to call them Monday.  We shall see.  The good news is that Younger Sister landed a job, so that's one of us taken care of.

In the meantime, I am enjoying my pretty toes and hair, keeping an eye on The Cat, and trying to track down info about the new album by one of my favorite (recently reunited) bands from my college days (and I also have a distant personal connection with one of the members, which I didn't know until well after my late friend J and I saw them play!).  They played the Free at Noon concert. . . all of which I caught on my way home from the chiropractor.

Good thing I topped off the tank with cheap Jersey gas before I headed home; I drove around listening to the whole set.  I laughed with tears in my eyes when they first came on, because all I could think of was my friend J and how it would have been her birthday the day before.

Pretty cool timing.



Great Suggestions!

Oh my gosh, you guys--your recommendations are fantastic.  I'm going to put together a list of summaries to give him with the gift card, and whatever doesn't fit on the gift card, he can check to see if he can borrow them from the library, because. . .

BIG NEWS: He just got a library card last week. Yay!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, blogfriends.



Your Reading Suggestions for. . . My Dad?

I know I usually talk about books over at my other blog, but in this case, I need to talk books with a special purpose:  I need some recommendations.

My dad's birthday is this month and it's almost always a challenge to come up with a gift he'd enjoy because it's right on the heels of Father's Day.  On top of that, he's the kind of guy who is more likely to go get himself what he wants rather than say, "I could really use xyz."  (Younger Sister OTOH is excellent at sending those kind of e-mails.  I appreciate that tremendously.)

That said, this was something he came right out and asked me about--and I had very little to offer, because it's not my genre.

Are you a fan of historical fiction, or know someone who is that you could ask? 

It doesn't have to be a recent title, either: if you enjoyed something or heard someone raving about a particular book, I'll take it.  Dad's not locked into a particular time period or anything.  Just historical and fictional and enjoyable.  

My plan is to give him a gift card to the bookstore with a list of suggested titles.  

Please place any suggested titles in the combox.  Thanks in advance for helping me out!



Today was a special day for The Cat: Her birthday!

She got a little taste of bacon at breakfast, and the bacon provided decent fuel for a nap marathon all afternoon.  One of the naps involved snuggling with me on the sofa as I read.  Right now, she's asleep under my chair.  I'm sure she's resting up for my Monday 5 a.m. wake-up call.

When it comes down to it, honestly I am surprised she is still here and still doing pretty well considering her ailments.  We take it a day at a time, and some days are better than others--but overall, most days are pretty good.

So here's a little tribute to our fluffy girl as illustrated by the past year.

She sleeps where she likes.

She also has taken to sitting like The Sphinx lately.
She's not that into playing games

One night, she climbed into the stereo cabinet just to avoid "poker."

She makes friends with neighbors (and messes with dogs).
Stalking the chipmunk who hangs around our patio
is also a frequent hobby.

She still can vault herself up to the top of the kitchen cabinets for an all-out, sprawled-out snooze.

She's just a wonderful, furry, feline friend!



I'm Still Around!

I didn't mean to "fall off the map" after my last post.  There have been a few trips, books read, meetings at my side library job, phone tag playing--you get the idea.  On top of all that, while during my trip to a museum, I bumped into my co-librarian.  What are the odds?  If you subscribe to the idea of Mercury in retrograde, probably you'd say "pretty good."

Anyway, we spent about 20 minutes yakking about the changes to our positions, and now I don't feel weird that I felt awful after my meeting (item #4 here): She said she felt sick for a week after her meeting.  I still don't get what's going on, so our bumping into each other raised the issue again (and all the attendant anxiety) in spite of my having taken a bit of a break from the whole thing.  I figure I'll give myself a few more days and then check my school email account sometime next week.

Gotta run for today but more posts to come.



My Week Might Have Peaked Already

Today, I took a road trip to Maryland with my parents to visit with my great-aunt, who is an 80-something nun residing in a retirement home for senior nuns in her religious community.  Her hearing and memory aren't terrific, but she never gets cross or frustrated.  In fact, she was pretty enthusiastic about trying on the new (plain blue) skirts Mom brought her--one of the main reasons for our visit--and was game for lunch out at the mall.  We even got her to taste dessert despite her initial protests.  

I know my mom was happy to be able to check in on her, and I got to see her digs for the first time since she moved there a couple years ago.  Her little room is decorated with Irish pride paraphernalia and a ton of family photos and mementos.  There's even a photo of Bunny in his "Kiss me, I'm Irish" outfit tacked to her mini-fridge.

But before all that went down, this morning The Cat convinced me to get up early. . . and then ignored me. . . leaving me time to sit down and write.  I actually worked on my novel for the first time in ages.  New ideas, too.  I put on a CD and just got it all down on paper.  Reviewed and revised a few older notes as well.  Now, I just need to figure out how to keep that momentum going.  (I have a horrible feeling it has to do with being relaxed, which is a rare state around here.)

Tomorrow?  An eye exam.  I can hardly stand the excitement.



A Bit (or Possibly More) About Books

While the majority of my book discussions are going to go over to my other blog, titles relating to the single life and/or personal improvement will be discussed here.  I have a few comments about two I recently read. Both of them have long subtitles that I am omitting here for ease of discussion:

1. Have Him at Hello by Rachel Greenwald.  This book was mentioned in a combox over at Seraphic's place, and out of curiosity, I checked to see if the library had it.  I was able to request it and spent some time reading a little bit before bed over the course of a few nights.

The premise of the book is to discuss the author's findings from interviewing men about the dates they had and what made them decide whether to have a second date.  Mostly she focused on what made them decide not to have a second date, and while obviously some things just don't work out and/or it wasn't anything "you" did, she did find some common gaffes or off-putting things that a substantial number of women did while on first dates.

I liked the breakdown into various faux-pas categories (e.g. "Park Avenue Princess," "B*tch-in-Boots") along with a little checklist to see if you fall into any of those mistakes.  The good thing is that it never shames the reader and always offers suggestions for improvement (or in some cases, curbing bad habits.)

Of course, there are plenty of funny (or sad depending on how you look at it) anecdotes, and the book does talk positively and include stories about dates that went well.  It might be embarrassing to request at your library, but thank goodness for online requesting and self-checkout.  I definitely am taking away some positive moves. . . when that first date time comes around again.

2. Quiet by Susan Cain.  I was number one-hundred-and-something on the holds queue when I requested this title from the library months ago.  And boy, was it worth the wait.

There have been plenty of books written about being introverted, and being an introvert (INFJ) myself I'm interested by the topic.  Not of all of them are ones I'd recommend--in fact, I know have one buried on my desk with a bookmark stuck in it.  This book, however, is something that I wish everyone, introverted or not, would pick up and read--not only so extraverts would cut us introverts a break, but also so we introverts would cut ourselves a break!

What really grabbed me was that the author actually brought in the sensitivity (particularly as studied and discussed by Elaine Aron).  I definitely fall into the classification of being a highly sensitive person (seriously, I took the test from the book) so it was fascinating to see how it related to introversion.

There is so much covered in this book--from childhood, to school, to work, to parenting--that I wanted to read it and study it over and over.  Unfortunately, because it was a library book in high demand, I wasn't able to keep it beyond one borrowing period.

So I treated myself to my very own copy last week.  (I let myself look in the bookstore after having blood drawn at the endocrinologist's last week--everything's fine.)

It's not a small book, but I devoured it.  Part of the ease of reading was my own interest, I'm sure, but also Ms. Cain writes with such a vivacity and insight that it never feels dry.  I will have more to say after a re-read, but I will wrap up by saying that even if you never have been labeled "quiet," odds are pretty good that you work with, grew up with, live with, or even possibly raised/are raising someone who has.  (Yup, they even talk about introverted children and their extraverted parents.  And vice versa.)  Here is your chance to understand why "quiet" people are the way they are. . . and maybe help foster some of that "quiet power" to produce great relationships and work.



I Ask You. . .

. . . would you even dream of going into a library and putting your feet up on a table?

As you talk loudly on your cell phone about how you're going for a smoothie later and OMG your NAILS are in NEED of a manicure?

If you are, you're pretty much off my Christmas card list.  But most likely you are not a self-involved middle-aged woman who can't be arsed to take a call someplace more private. And, you know, not annoying the living daylights of anyone else trying to use the library.

I know it's hot, Yapparina, but this isn't your air-conditioned living room, and five minutes in the vestible between the doors wouldn't fry you.

Other than that, pretty good "second day" at my public library job.  I learned about how we manage when our circulation is offline (it sucks, but most patrons were very understanding).  Although apparently it was too hot for our notorious problem patron--I know of him only from e-mails from the director and other staff--to come out, we were pretty busy.  And I fielded my first crazy reference call from a senior lady on a quest to contact a documentary film maker (I am SO SORRY to the college whose film department contact info I provided her) who spelled out everything she was writing down.  And she was writing down pretty much everything I said.

There was a lovely patron who worked 40 years at a university library and was very encouraging, even giving me her contact info.  I have a lot of thoughts about what we discussed--and what I have been thinking about lately--that I am itching to share.

But right now, having not slept well during this heat wave, I'm thinking a drink of water, prayers, and bedtime is more my speed.



Happy Independence Day!

I am celebrating by trying not to melt during yet another heat wave.

Melted Calico, anyone?




The Summer of Salads

I tend to eat salads for lunch or dinner a lot, especially in warmer weather.  Most of the salads I eat are some form of protein thrown on a bowl of spring mix, plus dressing--possibly an extra veggie or two if I find a carrot or celery in the fridge to chop up.

Pretty often, it's just a can of tuna, drained (I put it in the fridge first to chill) over spring mix, plus balsamic dressing.  If I'm lucky, I have hard-boiled eggs or olives in the fridge.  Yummy.

Poor Girl's Nicoise, kinda.
Over at Table for One not too long ago, Solitary Diner made the Thai Steak Salad from Cooking Light, and she made it look so easy (not to mention tasty) that I had to try making one of the others from the issue.  I present to you. . .

. . . Farro, Green Bean, and Fennel Salad with Tuna.

 Recipe here.

It pretty much took the time they said it was going to, and it did turn out tasting pretty good.  I did have trouble finding non-precooked farro, and as usually happens with rice, it boiled over while it was cooking.  (My stove's burners retain heat too long, and they won't cool to simmer fast enough. I forget that I have to switch to the opposite burner set to the right temp.)  I also wound up making the whole box because it was too hard to divide.  The other half is in the freezer for future salads, I guess!

Also, I did not find oil-cured olives as listed in the ingredients, so I just used kalamatas.  I like those.  It made for a nice, light-tasting salad overall. I did not taste the dijon mustard in the dressing, so my best guess is that it just is there to cut the fat in the dressing.  I did use the recommended brand of tuna, and it is very mild.  My one complaint about the tuna is that the cans had unusual rims that did not work well with my can strainer.  Olive oil everywhere.

Would I make this salad again?  Definitely.  I even could sub in other veggies or protein with this base and dressing.

But maybe not until I'm done eating the leftovers.