The Wine Incident of 2007

Dec 29, 2007

Last night, Handsome and I were sitting in the game room, on the great, big comfy sofa, watching a movie. An action-adventure movie, in 5.1 Dolby surround sound, on his big-screen TV.

And suddenly the evil, treacherous, bad guy came out of nowhere, slamming into the car window in his (soon-to-be failed) attempt to kill our hero, Bruce Willis. (The bad guy should have known that he couldn't kill Bruce, but I guess he didn't read that part of the script.)

Anyway, the attack was so sudden, so unexpected, such a surprise (at least to me) that I nearly jumped out of my skin. Which meant that my glass of wine really did jump out of its glass. Into my face, onto my sweater, all over my blanket, over the back of the couch and onto the floor behind me. Can you imagine?!?!

At least we had a good laugh while we cleaned up my mess.

New Year's Resolution #1

Dec 23, 2007

Experience fewer flight delays this year. (Of course, this requires the cooperation of the airlines and the weather.)

My final flight of the year was scheduled to leave Seattle at 11:00 AM. We didn't leave till 12:45 PM. Which would mean that my connecting flight would be arriving in Austin about the time I touched down in Dallas. The only good news was that my connection at DFW was delayed three hours - so I didn't miss my only way home. Thank God for small favors.

This comedy of errors and weather has been consistent for me ALL FREAKING YEAR! I cannot remember the last time any of my flights departed or arrived on schedule.

It all started in February when the snow and ice delayed my flight so severely that Handsome and I had to miss our connection to Maui (!!!!!) and spend 8 hours in LAX - which is quite possibly the worst airport on the planet. We lost a whole day of swimming and sunbathing. Wah!

Then in April, the security line was so long in Sea-Tac that I actually missed my flight to Austin. By about 1 minute. The plane was still parked at the gate, still attached to the building. But they had only just closed the door and refused to let me on. I actually cried right there at the airport in front of God and everyone.

At Thanksgiving, my connection was so tight that I had to hijack a golf cart for the 10 minute drive (the walk would have taken half an hour). The nice lady dropped me off at my gate as they announced the final boarding call. Then we sat on the tarmac for two hours. Houston was experiencing lightening storms and the whole airport was shut down. But at least I was on that plane!

Every single flight to anywhere outside the state of Washington included a 1-2 hour delay. Weather, mechanical problems, more weather, security checks, so many problems. It just wasn't my year for air travel.

But, I'm hoping 2008 will be better. Here's hoping the universe cooperates with my resolution.

Happy Solstice

Dec 21, 2007

Today is the shortest day of the year and marks the turning of autumn to winter. The upshot is that we'll start (slowly) to have more daylight.

This never seemed to be a big deal to me until I started spending so much of my time above the 45th parallel, in an environment that is generally grey and overcast. I have learned that eight measly hours of sunlight just isn't enough for a girl raised in the South. We need sunshine and lots of it.

And on top of all this, I'm flying home early tomorrow morning where we get ten hours of sunshine on the shortest day of the year. And where, even in winter, the grey skies are few and far between.

So, today I celebrate the solstice. Thank God for Texas, and here's to more sunlight!

Walking on the Wild Side

Dec 20, 2007

You won't ever guess where I was today. Ok, I'll tell you:

1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA

No joke. I was there. The campus is HUGE. The best part is that I was dropping off a loaner to a customer. I felt like a spy infiltrating the enemy's camp right under their noses.

Sudden Realization

I don't know why it's taken a lifetime of reading to realize this, but it's true. I love the happy ending.

I like romantic comedies and cowboys riding into the sunset. I like it when the crime gets solved, the bad guys get what they deserve, and the good guys live happily ever after. Or at least to fight the next set of bad guys who will also get what they deserve.

And I only like scary books and movies when the heroine* gets to kick butt and win the sexy guy.

*Yes, I said heroine. I'm a bit of a feminist at heart. And like any neo-feminist, I like pretty lingerie, never having to lift anything heavier than a champagne flute, and polite gentlemen who open doors. And of course, I admire dangerous women who can take care of themselves and still win the heart of the tall, dark, and handsome man.

Gifts of Christmas Past

Dec 18, 2007

I was reading over at A Girl and A Boy about memorable Christmas presents, and Leah asks the question, "What was the best gift you ever gave and/or received?"

Well, let me tell you about that.

Nearly a decade ago, I bought Handsome a trench coat for Christmas - about two weeks before the big day, actually. It was long and water-resistant, warmly lined, and had a leather collar. It was (and still is) beautiful. The store wrapped it for me in a huge box with a big ribbon. I hid it under the bed.*

Christmas Eve rolls around, and he's dutifully loading the sleigh for our three-hour trek to our family's houses. It was also one of the coldest Christmas Eve's on Texas record. He carried four loads of luggage and presents down three flights of exposed stairs. And the super-warm trench coat was still in its box, under the bed. The poor man was freezing.

And I could do something about that! So, as he enters the apartment for the final time, I'm beaming in front of the fireplace with a giant box. "I thought you should open this one now," I announce - beaming proudly at the surprised look on his face.

Only, once he tore into the package and pulled out the coat, he was no longer surprised. He looked a little pissed. Oh sure, he loved the coat, but "I could have used this an hour ago. You mean while I was freezing my butt off, you had this here the whole time?!?!"

He still wears the coat, and he loves it. He has used it every winter since then. And, he reminds me every year of what that perfect present cost him.

I still think it's pretty funny.

*It turns out that "under the bed" is a great place to hide things from Handsome. He never looks there. Sneaky, sneaky me.

Half a Bag of Spinach

Dec 15, 2007

Earlier this week, we all tried our hand at Nutmeg Spinach. But we still have half a bag left over. So here's what I came up with:


  • 2 oz. diced prosciutto (they should sell this in your grocer's deli, but you can use a couple strips of chopped bacon if you can't find it)

  • 1/2 lb. quartered crimini mushrooms (or white, shitake, or oyster mushrooms - up to you)

  • 1/2 lb. asparagus, cut in 1-2 inch lengths

  • 2 diced Roma tomatoes (or other sweet tomato)

  • half a bag of spinach (we hate to waste food)

  • cooked pasta (I used campanella, but orichette, penne, bowtie, or other shaped pasta will do the trick)

Begin by sauteeing the prosciutto in a little olive oil until you can smell it - delicious. Add in the mushrooms and asparagus, continuing to saute until they're nice and tender, about 10 minutes. Quickly add the tomatoes, spinach, and pasta. Stir it all together until the spinach is just wilted. Take it off the heat*.

For seasoning, use a little pepper and basil. If you're feeling wild, add some fresh chopped garlic along with the tomatoes and spinach in the last step. You won't need any salt with this dish as the prosciutto (or bacon) will be enough.

Serve warm with fresh parmesan cheese and the beverage of your choice.

Buon Appetito!

*I'm not using exact heat measurements here, because I cook on a gas range. Always have. By my guess, we're at a little less than half-flame. Enough to work quickly but still not burn the food. Use your best judgement - you know how to cook on your stove.

Answering Prayers

"If we could all hear one another's prayers, God might be relieved of some of his burdens."

- Ashleigh Brilliant

I read this today and whispered a silent prayer, "dear God, I hope I relieved at least one of Your burdens today." And in that moment, I was reminded that this is service to God. This is what it means to "wait upon the Lord" - to become His eyes, His hands, His protection, His tool. To bring His loving-kindness to the people around us, especially those with a prayer in their eyes.

You can see it: a prayer in their eyes, a burden you were meant to relieve.

A Very Good Day

Today was one of the best work days I've ever had, if not the best. I didn't "sell" anything. No one placed an order or spent any money with me.

But the looks in their eyes. That "AHA!" moment where imagination meets reality, where something they never could have imagined becomes not only possible, but something THEY CAN DO right now, in their next class. It makes it all worth it.

Hearing a teacher say, "I could do this with my kindergartners" or "my third graders would love that" makes it all worth while. All the rejection, every "no" I hear - none of it matters to changing the future for a teacher or a kid.

And when a teacher says, "I need this to do my job better and to help these kids learn better" - the whole world changes. For all of us.

God, I love my job!

Sounds About Right

Dec 14, 2007

  [T]he only things in the flat Crowley devoted any personal attention to were the houseplants. They were huge and green and glorious, with shiny, healthy, lustrous leaves.
  This was because, once a week, Crowley went around the flat with a green plastic plant mister, spraying the leaves and talking to the plants.
  He had heard about talking to the plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did.
  What he did was put the fear of God into them.
  More precisely, the fear of Crowley.
  In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn't look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. "Say goodbye to your friend," he'd say to them. "He just couldn't cut it . . ."
  Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.
  The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified."

From: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Earnest Request

Dec 12, 2007

Some of you may have noticed (at least I've noticed) that my friend Jeff of
Jesus' Nerdy Little Brother
fame has killed his blog. Again.

Well, he killed it a couple months ago, actually. And a year-and-a-half ago before that. But it was part of my daily blog-visiting regimen, and I looked forward to reading from a college friend. And the name was pretty great.

One can just see a younger version of the Big Guy working on an abacus, keeping accounts for the carpentry shop, building a rudimentary calculator out of leftover scraps from the wood pile. Wondering why his older brother got all the cool abilities. Sure JNLB invented the first punch card, but what does that compare with wine flowing out of the garden well? And let's not get started about dinner (not to mention leftovers) or day-trips to the beach. It's just not fair.

But I digress. Jeff, if you're out there, it's time to come back. Refresh your template and start writing. Again. Again.

The Reason God Made Nutmeg

Dec 11, 2007

Spinach. Not eggnog, contrary to popular opinion.

Ok, so try this:

Saute some diced onions in butter and olive oil. Real butter. Margarine is not butter. Trust me in this. You can use scallions or cipollini or shallots or Texas 1015 - whatever you like. It doesn't really matter.

So, cook the onions till they're nice and tender. That means transparent. You know this.


Add in half a bag of cleaned baby spinach that you bought at the HEB on a whim. Saute the spinach with the onions until its just wilted. Be careful here. You HATE IT when spinach is overcooked. (That means a green mess of stringy goo.)

Take it all off the heat. Quick or it'll overcook like you hate! Add fresh ground pepper, sea salt, and a dash or three of nutmeg. "To taste" - whatever the heck that means. Stir till all the spices are mixed in.

Serve with scrambled eggs or as a side dish to grilled chicken or roast pork loin. Yummy.

And you thought you didn't like spinach.

Well, That Was Strange

I created a MySpace page to stay in touch with some friends. It's pretty basic, nothing special. I haven't customized like I have this site. Mostly, it's just a way to connect with some people I love who don't visit over here.

Anyway, on MySpace (for those of you as techno-illiterate as me) you can ask to be someone's friend and others can ask to be your friend. I'm getting requests from people I didn't even know existed. And it's not like I put in any specific information about myself - just my location, that I'm married, and a link to this blog.

A Jimmy-Buffet-esque band in Austin wants to be my friend. A woman in California (with even less info on her page than I have) wants to be my friend. A guy selling pharmaceuticals wants to be my friend. Who are these people?!?!

Note: Now they'll probably drop by this blog, see that I've mocked them, and NOT want to be my friend. That's probably not such a bad thing, really.

People Are Strange

Dec 10, 2007

I find the Interstellar Light Collector fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way. Standing in magnified moonlight doesn't make much sense to me. I guess it takes all kinds.

Vanity Plates

I have some strange obsession with noticing vanity plates. Not that I would ever have one myself, but I do enjoy pointing and laughing at those folks who do.

Last week there was this one: HEBOTIT

I'm assuming that Mr. Hebotit gave Mrs. Hebotit that lovely Cadillac SUV as a present. It could also mean that she bought it for herself with the inheritance after he bought the big one.

I saw this one at the mall: BIT

I don't even know where that one comes from. Initials? Kennel operator? Vampire?

And tonight I saw this one at the grocery store: KITEMAN

My first thought was of Handsome who likes to kiteboard. But, it was an aging van parked in a handicapped space, so probably it's some old man who makes kites out of crepe paper and Elmer's glue in his moldy garage next to the rusty van.

Week! End!

Dec 7, 2007

Goodness, this has been a long week. What with all those pesky customers and travel and meetings and email and phone calls. And then with the conference calls and the dead iPhone, it's a wonder I made it to Friday without falling over.

And next week is looking just as busy. At least there are two days between now and then.

Same but Different

Dec 6, 2007

I read this from an author whose writing I enjoy: "I was raised by scientists and tend to be on the Scully side of the equation. . . I always look for the rational explanation before going to the supernatural explanation."

What I find interesting about this is that I was raised by religious people, but still fall on the "Scully side of the equation," looking for a rational explanation first. Makes me wonder if this kind of scientifically inquisitive mind is nature or nurture. Makes me think the "God gene" theory may be right.

At the same time, I cannot discount the supernatural. There are too many things that defy scientific explanation, too many things I've seen or known.

Coffee, black

Today I had a cup of french-pressed, organic, free-trade coffee. Served black.

I haven't had a cup of black coffee since college, I think. And the experience brought back so many memories of sitting in the rec room on the first floor of the men's dormitory. Sadly, I can't remember what we called that place. I can't even remember the name of the Hall itself. Pathetic.

I do remember the women's dormitory was Veda Hodge Hall. And the women who lived there were Veda Mooses. To this day, I have no idea why we were called that. Moose are not native to Texas.

But, I digress. Black coffee = college and chess and writing code till the wee-hours.


Dec 5, 2007

Yesterday, my iPhone died. It wouldn't charge or boot up. And that really sucked because I base my whole day around that phone. It has my calendar of appointments, my contact list complete with phone numbers and email addresses, and the internet . . . not to mention my voice mail and email. Today was a serious case of withdrawal and disconnection from my work.

But the guys at the Genius Bar rock the planet, and I walked out with a brand new phone. And so many unanswered voice messages that it'll take me till next week to catch up. Oh, and some new accessories, too. Can you really go into an Apple Store and NOT buy something?

The God of Disappointed Hopes

Dec 4, 2007

Someone we love died today after a long, painful ordeal with his heart. He needed a new one, you see. And then he finally got one, but never woke up after the surgery. Now he's gone.

It's impossible to know if he would have had more days without the heart-replacement surgery, relying instead on the failing organ he was born with. We'll never know. His wife and kids will never know.

It's hard to believe that a God of miracles didn't (or perhaps wouldn't) intervene in the way we all hoped and prayed He would. It's hard to believe in Him when this kind of thing happens.


Dec 3, 2007

The slowest line (at the checkout, at the airport, anywhere, everywhere) will be the line that I am in.

Industrial strength automatic toilets are really some sort of SURPRISE bidet/toilet combination.

That perfect thing will always be the most expensive thing in the store, any store. Every single time.

I Did It!

Dec 1, 2007