Monday, December 4, 2017

Aaaaah, November.

Oh, my.

I have written so many blog posts in my head during the past few weeks. November is, after all, my favorite month. It contains my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving), my favorite gift (a birthday Skype from all four Boys wherein they talk and tease and tumble over each other like puppies, even though they are fully grown and live in four different states), and of course, my favorite Husband.

But I didn't take the time to sit and write out those blog posts. Instead, like all of us old folks who can't figure out Snapchat, I posted poorly framed pictures on Facebook.

The 13 pies that were my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast, for example, since for the first time in 25 years or so we spent the day away from the House on the Corner. Much Older Sister offered to host the extended family and the day was wonderful.

(A footnote on the pies: So much fun to make. I rarely make pies, so this was my excuse to experiment with crusts and fillings, and we ended up with seven different varieties. Except for the two pecan types which had to be chiseled out of the pans after the filling seeped under the crust, most were edible.)

But I haven't posted any pictures of the end of the month, which was spent with that favorite Husband. We had just ticked over 34 on the years-married counter so he knows me fairly well and invited me on the very best kind of anniversary trip--a CPA continuing education seminar.

You laugh, but I prefer this kind of get-away to a spa. For two full days Husband scoots off to hear about the newest tax wrinkles and I have the run of the hotel room, where I read good books (The Magpie Murders, which is delightful), binge-watch British procedurals (oh, Broadchurch, how I love thee) and justify these indulgences by pretending to be productive.

Then when his seminars are done for the day, Husband and I hit the town. We measure old pump organs in antique shops, and decide that even dismantled they will not fit in Earl's hatch.

We search out local food and find such delicacies as "Italian Nachos"which are built on a foundation of (I'm not kidding) fried pasta.

I do not have pictures of the visits to Lowe's and Menard's, but it would not be vacation without at least a few hours spent wandering around the clamps aisles.

So now I'm back, and I have a couple of posts to write. But I'm sighing happily at my remembrance of November.

It's my favorite.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I'm Thankful for Much, Not the Least This

We are thiiiiis close to Thanksgiving, and all around me are things for which I am thankful.

The gorgeous colors on the trees, which made us wait this year until we thought it was going to be a drab autumn then surprised us with splendor.

My morning gig as a middle school accompanist which has turned out to be so. much. fun.

That my dental work is in the past rather than in the future.

And Acorn television, which is a cheap way to feed my addiction to British procedurals.

Thanksgiving also means I'm in frantic hurry-up mode on all the cozy projects I hoped to finish by Christmas so I often have Acorn playing in the background while I'm knit-one-purl-two-ing, and because I am not always exactly sure what the Brits and Scots and Irish are saying, I keep the closed captioning on.

That's fortunate, because as binged on The Clinic I mistakenly thought this mother was taking her son to the cinema to reward him for good behavior when he got a shot and it wasn't until I glanced up at the screen that I realized the Irish apparently reward good behavior differently than we Kansans do.

Whshew. I'm really thankful I'm a Kansan.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Do Not Google This

I'm doing very well after my oral surgery, thank you. The self-pampering continues, and I intend to make that last for a very, very long time.

Part of the reason the pampering can continue is because I'm looking a little fairly horrifyingly ragged around the edges. You see that ankle in today's illustration? Transpose the bruise to my right jaw, add six square inches of yellow shading around the edges, throw in a heaping helping of swelling and you have an idea of what I look like six days post-operation.

I am pretty, pretty, pretty.

I am so pretty that I could not bring myself to use any of the eight selfies I took in an attempt to show just how marked I am. Did you know that when make-up artists try to make someone look older, they shade in natural smile lines and wrinkles? And that when subcutaneous bleeding settles from the upper jaw to the lower jaw, it settles into the smile lines and wrinkles? Yes. I am vain enough that I don't want that shared on cyberspace.

So I turned to the internet for an image I could use to show just how bad I look, and that brings me to the point of today's post:

Do not ever, under any circumstances, Google "image face bruise following oral surgery."

Oh. My. Gosh.

People, those images are truly terrible. You not only get the run-of-the-mill discoloration I'm sporting these days, you also get images of THE SURGERY ITSELF, complete with broken teeth, gaping wounds, and Sharp Instruments Inside Mouths.


That's why, instead of a picture of what my face really looks like, you see a bruised ankle and a yellow flower. And because I value the sensibilities of anyone who might see me in person, I'll make a concerted effort to turn the other cheek to the public.

You're welcome.

Friday, November 3, 2017

This Food Picture Has a Story

Pure delight
It's a shame I posted the picture of my lunch on my Facebook page yesterday--it was so much more colorful than my supper that you see here. Baked sweet potato, banana, Costa Rican mug of cafe con leche next to a bottle of pain pills. 

Supper, on the other hand, was monochromatic. Baked potato. Cottage cheese. Ice water. Salt and pepper. 

It was one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted

Three hours before my colorful lunch, I had been blissfully unconscious and unaware that an oral surgeon was in the process of removing my final (unerupted) wisdom tooth, which had decided it was ready to leave this world one way or another and was dissolving and taking part of my jaw with it, and hey! Let's see if this back molar is ready to go, too!

Several decades ago, I had oral surgery to remove my bottom two wisdom teeth. My experience was not nearly as cushy as Husband's wisdom teeth removal which, in his college days during the halcyon days of insurance largesse, included a three-night stay in the hospital. My (impacted) teeth, on  the other hand, were removed in an office procedure that left me fighting pain and a lingering abscess for the next six months. 

So I was not at all delighted when my dentist discovered that the tooth I had lovingly cradled under the skin waaaaaay in the back of my mouth all those years was going rogue. 

Not. At. All. 

However, I discovered yesterday that oral surgery has changed in the years since that first extraction. The most obvious difference was that back then the dentist offered a few of whiffs of nitrous gas to ease the process. While that was a decent step up from biting down on a stick, yesterday's surgeon gave me an IV that obliterated the time between "I'm just going  to tape this needle down now" and "Okay, please step from the wheelchair over into the recovery chair. Your husband is bringing the car around." 

Seriously, it was mind-boggling. 

I know that something happened in my mouth because I have a tiny mark where some sort of retractor kept my lips pulled back, and oh, yeah, I look like an over-industrious squirrel preparing for winter by storing  All The Acorns in her right cheek, but after a single pain pill yesterday, no pain. Thankfully, the back molar was discovered to be intact and it's staying put. 

And Husband has been pampering me endlessly. That colorful lunch (which was pre-pain pill and I was still a little too dopey to fully appreciate) was served on an inlaid wood tray. After a no-breakfast, no-lunch day, though, the baked potato with cottage cheese supper was soft and salty and hit the spot like not even a Kansas ribeye could have done.  

Especially if you look closely at that monochromatic picture. The only dab of color is smack in  the middle, and it's the frosty blue label on a York Peppermint Pumpkin. 

Thank you, trick-or-treaters, for not eating this piece of candy. It was perfect for what ailed me. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Soup Season

First of all, please accept my apology that I didn't style today's food picture. I was a dozen spoonfuls into the bowl before I remembered I had intended to artfully compose a still life so succulent and steamy it would make you lick your monitor. Instead, you get a half-eaten bowl of soup with flecks of tomato and seasonings messing up the bowl and the artfulness.

Bobby Flay would be appalled at the presentation but I regret nothing.


I basically have two seasons on my calendar--soup season and non-soup season, and during the past few weeks Kansas has finally been cool enough that I don't feel guilty putting soup on the table at every meal. (Well, not breakfast. We are not savages. Also, bran flakes know no season.)

Just in those two weeks I have made Cabbage, Sausage and Potato Soup, Chicken Tomatillo Soup, and Minnesota Heartland 11-Bean Soup. (Click on the links for recipes and a much more beautiful shot of the bean soup.) I recommend them all, with the caveat that the tomatillos caused Husband to drink two glasses of water in a row and consequently I inherited all the leftovers. But that was not a problem at all, because they were delicious.

Husband, bless his heart, indulges my soup explorations, although once in a while he plaintively asks if I remember that one really good casserole I used to make. Then I have to remind him why everyone should love soup.
     1. It is delicious.
     2. Easy menu planning--no side dishes needed.
     3. It tastes good.
     4. It seems virtuous. I do not know why this is, but when slick-covered magazines talk about the simple life they often name-check soup.
     5. Easy clean-up.
     6. Have I mentioned the delicious factor?

And for a few giddy moments during the cross-over between summer and fall, as chronicled in the messy-bowl picture today, there is the perfect confluence of soup and WATERMELON! I sigh with bliss.

Ahhhh. Is it time for lunch yet? I think I'll have soup.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I'm New to This

Alligator log. Another photography class project, and you have to squint to see it.
Why, yes, this is me. Posting twice in two days. Or, as my Loyal Reader(s) might think, posting twice IN THE SAME DAY.

The last post about my photography class? Was posted yesterday. But you might not have seen it until today because Facebook is a terrible nag. Let me explain:

A couple of months ago I decided there might be people visiting this space who aren't my Facebook friends in real life (or IRL, as we hip web-sters say). These people might not give two hoots about my personal opinions on baseball results (oh, Royals, we grieve) or on whether the latest episode of Outlander was boringly Claire-centric, or at least boringly Claire-in-Boston-centric.

So I set up a Facebook page especially for this blog. It's right here: Empty Nest Feathers.* That page is navel-gazing and trivialities all the time.

What I didn't know was that Facebook is the biggest nag since Edith Bunker, but in a much less lovable way.

"You haven't posted for six days--your readers miss you!" this new page informs me if I look away for a moment.

"You could increase readership if you posted more often," it whines, as if I weren't aware of this pretty obvious fact.

"Where are you? Do you still exist?" it guilt-trips.

Okay, I made that last one up, but I am not making up that my blog's Facebook page nags incessantly.

That's why yesterday when I posted my positive review of my photography class I made sure to link it to the blog's Facebook page. That's the only reason I can think of that I didn't link it to my personal page, and instead set the privacy setting of that link to "groups."

What does that even mean? Does it mean my high school class reunion pals now have special insight into my non-skills in photography? Or the group that shares pressure cooker recipes? Or the fans of The New Yorker? All I know is that I did not get one single reaction to yesterday's post that didn't come from the blog's own Facebook page, and that meant either I had done something wrong or my Much Older Sister no longer loved me. (Thank you, MOS, for six decades of being my staunchest supporter. Mwah!)

This morning, when I discovered the errant setting and undid that goof, the world settled back into its normal groove. My Loyal Reader(s) read, my terrible photography prevailed, and Facebook nagged me that I could "Improve interaction with more posts, MomQueenBee!"

Ah. Back to normal.

*Thank you, thank you, if you have liked that page! It gave me a warm glow!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Say "Cheesy"

Over-edit much?
There is a woman in Small Town who takes the most beautiful pictures with her cell phone.

I am Facebook friends with her, and Mr. Zuckerberg's algorithms consistently pop J.'s shots straight to the top of my feed because I click the heart-y emoticon every time she posts. Sunflowers, people, architectural features--they're all good in a way that's inexplicably visceral, and she shoots them on her iPhone.

That's why I was in the first few students to sign up when J. agreed to teach an iPhone photography class.

I am a terrible, terrible photographer. Of all the classes I've ever taken in my life, my worst grade was in my (required) college photography class. Granted, that's only because I saw the Cyrillic handwriting on the wall and changed my Russian class from graded to pass/fail before a Deh was recorded in my transcript, but the psychic scars from that photography class left have persisted through a career in which I was regularly called on to take pictures.

But guess what? The iPhone is a magic gizmo that has none of the trauma of f-stops and apertures and ISO and film speed and whatever. (Maybe you're seeing why I got such a terrible grade in photographer? It was the "whatever" factor.)

And J. is a delightful teacher who acts as if each of her students is so clever for seeing that afternoon light, or that interesting bark texture, or look! It's a butterfly on a flower!

She and her co-teacher, E. (who is in charge of the Android users), continually encourage as they lead us old ladies--yup, all women in the class--through the different on-screen editing techniques.

So now I've been thoroughly converted. The pepitas I made Saturday suddenly weren't just a crunchy salad topping, they were texture! Color! Autumnal! And my phone wasn't just a camera, it was crop! Sharpen! Adjust saturation! Add golden glow!

Four classes and I've moved from someone who's afraid of photography straight to one of those annoying over-editors who think their snapshots are Old Master landscapes.  It's a shame I missed the interim stage of taking good pictures and leaving them alone.

But I'm finally having fun with photography. Now if I could only exorcise that Russian class....