29 February 2008


That's the sum total of what fits me in my closet right now: nothing.

(Don't hate me for bitching about this, it truly is a pain in the ass.)

A few months ago, a good friend who is a fashonista took some time to go shopping with me, finding clothes in a new size that fit, since all of my clothing was too big. I didn't want to buy a closet full of new clothes in that size, because, as I knew then, I wasn't done losing weight, and I don't need to do another purge of hundreds of dollars worth of clothes, or spend hundreds of dollars to have things altered when those things became too large. Either way, altering or buying new, kind of a money-losing proposition. Having things altered is ex-spen-sive! Annoyingly so. I spent nearly $200 on alterations last time around, and some of it still didn't fit the way I thought it ought to. Yeah, I should have taken it back and made them fix it, but basically I don't like face-to-face confrontation, so I let it go. {Editor's note: "You're a wuss!"}

I've lost about another 6 pounds since that shopping expedition, and now I'm between sizes. Everything purchased on that trip last fall is too big. Skirts and dresses that actually DO fit aren't suitable for winter wear---have I mentioned lately that it is fucking freezing outside?--and so I can't wear those things either. The next smaller size stuff is a bit tight. Not so much that it can't be zipped, just enough so that you don't want to wear it for an 8-10 hour workday, because it is uncomfortable after 4 hours or so. And then there's a jacket and tank top that in my mind I should be able to wear now that are still much too small to put on. Grrr.

What's a broke girl to do? The only thing I can think of: head to the thrift stores. I've had excellent luck in the past at some of them, but we're talking hours and hours of searching racks, and then washing or dry-cleaning the hell out of it when you get it home, because thrift stores all smell the same, and I don't want other people's dead skin cells in my clothes.

OK, now that I've completely grossed myself out, time to go shopping!

28 February 2008


I like the winter.

I like watching the snow fall, I like curling up under a warm blanket with a good book, a cup of rich hot cocoa (laced with a dash of Frangelico, if you please) and settling in for the night while I listen to the wind outside.

I like seeing the world covered in a blanket of white, looking clean and new. Its almost as if everything that was dirty is suddenly clean, anything that was broken down and disused suddenly has new life.

I love the pine trees around my home right after a big snowfall, when the branches are covered with snow, which falls off or blows away in the wind over the subsequent days.

I like the sun (when we do see it, which isn't often) bouncing a dazzling reflection off of the snow, so bright that sunglasses are just a minor help, looking like tiny diamonds scattered across the ground.

I like when the cold in the air steals your breath away, shocking cold, even though you knew it was cold outside, you're still surprised by the intensity of it.


Somehow, it seems as each winter passes, I'm affected more by the cold each year.

I dress in layers all winter long; yep, I wear long underwear and I don't give a shit who knows it. Being warm is far more important. That extra layer or sometimes two when it is particularly bitter, makes a big difference. If I didn't tell you, you'd never know, anyway, because it is thin enough to hide under even my tightest jeans.

I learned how to layer properly in Sweden; where I lived, just off of Lake Malaren, the wind was biting and bitter, especially when you got close to the lake shore. The whole town is on the shore, practically. I learned the importance of a scarf in keeping warm; hence, perhaps, the obsessive scarf-knitting this winter.

This winter hasn't been particularly bitterly cold; I remember colder ones. But I don't remember being so cold myself in winters past. The only time my toes are warm is right when I get out of bed in the morning, or right after stepping out of a hot shower. Otherwise, they're like little blocks of ice.

Last night, after work and dinner and even a little time spent writing, I changed out of my corporate slave clothes into jammies, thick sock, slippers, and a robe, then wrapped myself in a blanket before beginning to work on my latest hat, a cable-knit dazzling white, made with super-bulky yarn. DH watched me wrap the blanket securely around my legs, and raised an eyebrow over the robe, which is very heavy.

"Cold?" he asked, sarcastically.

"Does it show?" I asked, snarky.

He laughed, and chuckled again later when I pulled another blanket out to wrap up in.

Jeebus, I'm cold.

27 February 2008

Pins and

needles, of course. Picture me shrugging a bit sheepishly as you read the following.

eBay <ebay@ebay.com> wrote: Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 07:30:06 -0700
From: eBay <ebay@ebay.com>
To: Lucy
Subject: You won on eBay!

eBayeBay sent this message to
Lucy Arin.

Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay.
Congratulations, the item is yours!

Hi Lucy,
Congratulations on winning this item! The next step is to pay the seller.
14 Sets 7" Bamboo Knitting Needles US1-15 Double Point
14 sets double-point bamboo knitting needles
Sale price:$9.99
Shipping & Handling:
Standard Flat Rate Shipping Service $7.50
needle guy
Seller Information:

Chatsworth, CA 91311 United States

After ranting about the acquisition of "stuff" quite a bit lately, I'm a weee bit embarrassed at my recent e-baying.

But I need those needles. Imagine them, if you have a Y chromosome, as tools. Hat and sock-making is impossible without them. Knitting this winter is keeping me sane. And this is a great price; I paid $7.99 for ONE SET of dp needles at a local craft store. And....and....and....I'm all out of self-righteous justification.

I admit defeat over the war of acquisition of stuff.

I've forbidden myself to buy any more yarn until what I own is all used up. But that has not stopped me from looking at Colinette yarns and other wonderful (read that expensive) yummy looking yarns on eBay and Herrschner's, and Dreamweaver.


I'm sure I'll be admitting defeat on that one soon too, there's just too much that I want to acquire.

Oh! I thought of another justification! I rarely keep what I knit for myself, so I'm buying gifts when I'm buying yarn. That's totally OK, isn't it?

26 February 2008

It is Tuesday, and...

What? No, I haven't written a Tuesday post in a while. Stuck, y'see, for a topic that doesn't include a)my depression b)fandom c)side effects of my meds or d)general other whining, about work, (which is getting less and less fun as time goes on) the weather, (which yes, still sucks) or the thousand other things that irk me each day. Funny dumb blonde things haven't been happening to me so much lately, so even poking sly fun at myself is kind of out.

Except for this one.

I got asked out on a date last week.

Allow me to note for the un-initiated that I'm married, have been for nearly 8 years, and DH and I have been together for---Jeebus---14 or 15 years now. In that time, not only have I not dated anyone else, I've never considered it, either. I may be one of the least religious people that I know, but that whole wedding vow thingy? Till death do us part and all that? It means something to me.

The reason this is funny (well, to ME, anyway) is that I didn't realize I was being asked out on a date, and then had a V-8 moment (a dopeslap to the head) when it did dawn on me that I was being asked out. It went something like this.

Man: Wow, you're looking great these days. We should have a drink to celebrate, I could tell my friends I'm dating a supermodel.

Me, completely clueless: I'd love to have drinks with you and your wife. You should call me and we'll go.

Man: I wasn't suggesting that we bring our spouses.

Me: ...

Man: Y'know, like a date?

And that was the point at which I realized I was being asked out on a date, and that the entire conversation we'd had up until that point, about 10 minutes of banter, was him being flirtatious. *headdesk*

I'm kinda clueless, yo.

Me: ... H'mmm, (chuckle) y'know, I don't think DH would be so keen on that idea.

It could have been very awkward, but instead we both laughed it off and I still think it is funny. Mostly because I don't know when I'm being flirted with.

I'm ignoring the fact that he's that willing to toss overboard his own vows, because it isn't my problem. Thankfully. I've got enough other crap to deal with. But that's really kind of sad, isn't it?

In other news, because the job situation has become less ideal, I have been sending out resumes like mad. Nearly as many as when I was unemployed, which is also sad. I had to go buy more resume paper, because I ran out. I've gotten a couple of thanks-but-no-thanks letters back, but on Saturday when I checked our postbox, I got a letter telling me that a search committee is reviewing my resume and reference materials and that I should take the next step in the process, which involved filling out a diversity survey. Hopeful, because I really, really, really want that job. Great money, and doing something that I'm very good at. But because a search committee is involved, this is going to take for-fucking-ever.

Patience, like being flirted with, isn't something I'm particularly good with. Guess I'll need a distraction in the meantime. Hey! I can knit WHILE watching that TV show I like, what's it called again? With the two cute brothers? Right.

25 February 2008

Projecterna (av denna minut)

The Projects (of the moment)

Here's how I know I have OCD: I get immersed in something (I'm sure you can think of one or two I've had over the past year) and that's all I do or think about for a while. Obsessive behavior at its finest.

Lately, it has been the knitting. To the exclusion of all of my other obsessions, which, frankly, isn't a bad thing. But I've been knitting like a house on fire. Two hats, three scarves, a third hat cast on to needles, an afghan that's been on needles for nearly two years now....and about a bazillion other things I'd like to knit. I posted picutres of the red hat the other day, so I'm not reposting. But here's the other hat.

Why, yes, it IS on the head of a teddy bear. No one in the house was willing to model.

Then there are the scarves; I made one with Fun Fur, and it is warm and fuzzy and all kinds of funky colors.

It is kind of in a heap in this picture, but I took a close-up to show the fuzziness too.

Then there's the scarf that was a pattern experiment, and it is so short that I think it suitable only for a child. I might yet rip it apart and make something else with the yarn. Teddy, my model, is an average size toy bear.

The third scarf is one made from 5 skeins of a discontinued yarn that I got for super-cheap. Knit on the diagonal, I am in love with the pattern. It is at least 12 feet long; scarves, in my ever-so-humble, at least scarves of the winter variety, ought to be long enough to wrap around your neck a couple of times, especially when the pattern is holey.

The afghan isn't likely to be done anytime soon. It is an awesome color, a hot lime green. It is a baby blanket. I like to make things for babies in unexpected colors, gender-neutral, something outside of the norm because it is fun. But this one is a bitch. 170 stitches make a row. So moving forward, getting the darn thing to a reasonable dimension, takes for-bloody-ever, and I've lost patience with it. But it is pretty, isn't it?

Here's a detail of the cabling; my stitches aren't perfect, but I like 'em.

If, however, I cast everything I wanted to knit onto needles, I'd have at least 8 more projects in the works. Dishcloths, made of organic cotton. About 4 of them. A chemo cap for a friend who has cancer. At least two more hats for other purposes. A baby blanket that I've got the yarn for but never started.

And just when I thought I'd found all the yarn and bit projects all over the house, I found two more things. A sweater, made during a knitting class that needs pieced together, a collar knitted, and the ends woven in, and a box of yarn purchased for the infamous "Lighthouse" blanket that I knit six squares of the thirty-six required and declared it a lap blanket because the pattern was so frustrating.

I really ought to finish the sweater; it has been done and in pieces for at least four years. Nah...I've got too much else to start!

21 February 2008

Ranty McRanterson

I hate Wal-Mart. With a burning passion that borders on the slightly insane. If I need the sorts of things that Wal-Mart sells, I go to Target. Or a drugstore. Or the grocery store. Strangely, I don't feel the same way about Sam's Club, my irritation is reserved solely for Wal-Mart. Also known locally as WallyWorld.

Unfortunately, sometimes I still have to go in there. There are at least 4 of them within a 30 minute drive of my home, two less than ten minutes away.

Yesterday was one of those days. I ran in to one of them, and the walk through the parking lot was an immediate annoyance. It was full of trash. People are pigs, yo.

The other day, I was watching Dirty Jobs on Discovery, and the host, the affable Mike Rowe, was in a storm drain in Los Angeles that I swear was hip-deep in trash. The dirty job was cleaning out the storm drain with the assistance of a vacuum truck. He ranted for a few minutes about pigs of the two-legged variety, and walking through Wal-Mart's parking lot, I have to say I agree. What a disgusting mess.

Don't you realize when you toss a piece of trash out of your car window that it is going to go SOMEWHERE? Gross.

After the trip into Wal-Mart and $15.86 poorer (q-tips, lipstick, knitting thimble) I started noticing the trash everywhere. On the streets. In vacant lots. In parking lots. In the corners at plazas and strip malls. Litterbugs, the lot of humanity, I swear.



I took some time to take a memory lane stroll yesterday. My old non-profit job was tethered loosely to a hospital. Since I lost the job, I haven't been back into the building but once; and that was under extreme duress. (No, *I* wasn't in the hospital, but I'm not telling what it was for. Anyway.)

So yesterday I went of my own free will, because I'd spoken on the phone recently with one of my old colleagues, and he suggested when we spoke that I should stop in and see him if I was in the neighborhood. I've purposefully avoided that part of town for quite some time now, because seeing my old office shuttered and looking abandoned breaks my heart.

I know the closure of the place wasn't my fault. As much as I despise that phrase (not my fault) in this case, it is true. Intellectually, I know that. I do. Really. In my heart, it is another story. The fact that the place closed on my watch....I was the director. If not *my* fault, whose? The buck stopped with me. Even being in the neighborhood brings all of that back. The rest of the time, I don't think about it much, so staying away has been a good policy.

But I like my old colleague, and I've missed him. I decided that it was time to face the elephant in the room, bite the bullet, tackle the tiger.

Everyone in administration at that place has a gate-keeper. Someone who decides if you're holy enough, or whatever, to get in the door. I breezed past his, asking if he was in. The gate-keeper didn't recognize me, but didn't stop me either.

When I walked in to his office, he did a double take; just like in the cartoons. Hilarious, truly.

"Look at you!" He nearly shouted. "You look like a model!"

We had a lovely chat, and then I popped in to see someone else I haven't seen in a long while. She also told me I look fantastic.

Later, I was at Sam's Club, and the cute little cashier was shivering; I'd thought it was hot inside the store. I told her she was cold because she's skinny. "When I was skinny, I was cold all the time too," I said.

"You're not heavy," she said.

Um? Yeah? I am? That's what I think, anyway. So I told her that a year ago I was nearly 200 pounds, and I still think of myself as hugely overweight. She asked how much I weigh now.

"157 on the scale this morning," I said.

"Aren't you so proud of yourself? You should be so proud! I don't even know you, and I'm proud of you!" She told me. "And you're thin! You're doing great! Keep it up!"

Isn't it amazing how the words of a stranger can change your outlook? I walked out of that store on air. All I see when I look in the mirror is the additional 20+ pounds that I still have to lose, the muscle that still isn't there, the dark circles under my eyes, the things I don't like.

My head swelled just a bit. All those compliments combined with the fact that I wore a pair of size 8 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) pants......well, it was good for the ego.

20 February 2008



Even the word makes me wince.

I've had troubles with headaches since I was roughly 10 years old, when complaining about them scored me a trip to the eye doctor's to check and see if poor vision was the cause of the headaches. I still remember sitting in a darkened hallway after they'd put those horrible drops in your eyes that force your eyes to dilate so that they can look for.....what, exactly? No idea. I also remember being terrified that I'd leave the eye doctor's with glasses; as far as I was concerned, it was bad enough that I was one of the "smart" kids, adding glasses would just further deteriorate my social standing in a typically horrifying time period in any kid's life: middle school.

Nothing was wrong with my eyes back then. I told the adults in my world that, but we checked with the eye doc just to be sure. I can tell you now that I was one very tense little kid. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school, and worried excessively about all kinds of things. I've never really lost that anxiety; only for brief periods of time have I lived without it.

Research I've done as an adult has taught me a few things about my headaches. While I do get migraines from time to time, my usual garden-variety headaches are of three basic types. Tension headaches, caused by stress. Weather-related, when a large low-pressure system moves through my area, I get a headache. I've no explanation for that one. Finally, the last bunch are related to my menstrual cycle. TMI, I know, I know. But those are caused by hormonal shifts. All of them tend to be 'cluster' headaches, which means that they're re-occurring, lasting several days. They also have 'rebound' characteristics, which means that they come back after medication wears off, often worse than before analgesics were taken.

I refuse to take a prescription for them. Dr. H, the family doc, gave me samples of Imitrex and Relpax a few years ago to try for the headaches; Imitrex made me feel like a space cadet. The headache disappeared, sure, but the side effects! Among a bunch of other really weird things, my skin felt too tight. I've never tried the Relpax for that reason.

I got interested in aromatherapy as a possible solution to the headaches. Lavender and peppermint/spearmint essential oils do help, but don't solve the problem for me. Unfortunately, because I'd love a natural solution to yet another of my problems that doctors don't understand well.

The migraines, when they come, make me sensitive to light and sound, make me nauseous, make me pretty incapable of doing much of anything other than lying down in a dark room. Perhaps the worst part is that the garden variety headaches morph into migraines if I can't get a handle on them. Two days or so with a tension headache spells m-i-g-r-a-i-n-e. Ugh.

The current one is a tension headache. My job is stressing me the hell out, and I'm not dealing well. Would anyone out there like to give me a credit card and pay me to travel for a living? 'Cause I'm pretty sure that'd solve this whole tension/stress lunacy. Just a thought.

18 February 2008


"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
~George Orwell, Animal Farm, published in 1945

On Thursday last week, I was listening to NPR and marveling, yet again, at President Idiot's latest crisis-mongering tactics. Will it ever end? *Sigh* Not until he's out of office, at any rate.

Here's the scoop:
Congress and the pres are facing off over a continuation of a bill that allows Uncle Sam to place wiretaps on foreign citizens, in foreign countries. Yep, you read that right. If you, living your life in Italy, as an Italian-born citizen, are doing something that brings you under Uncle Sam's suspicions, Uncle Sam seems to think that he ought to be able to tap your phone. Regardless of Italian law, apparently. Now I'm using Italy as an example here, but as I understand it, we're talking about hush-hush wiretaps all over the world.

This irks me for a couple of reasons, not least of which is that I value my own privacy highly. Very highly. So I think that everyone is entitled to protection of their privacy. Additionally, we get all up in arms when OUR civil rights might potentially be violated, but furiners? Damn, who cares about that, anyway? No one, apparently. Urgh.

No one is above the law; if you believe in democracy, freedom, and the rule of law, then this is wrong. Going outside of legal systems in other countries, in my ever-so-humble, is a violation of their sovereignty, plain and simple, no ifs, ands, or buts.

To play my own devil's advocate for a minute, I do understand why the intelligence services (oh, and I use that term loosely) would want this ability. Easily. You'd probably worry that if you informed the foreign government of your intentions that they might tip off their citizen, or forbid it entirely. I'm sure that the spy agencies place taps all the time anyway, with or without legal consent. At least, that's what the movies would have you believe.

I should note that I'm also hotly opposed to the feds listening in on MY calls overseas, which has been in the news previously. If someone wants to listen in while I bitch about my job to my Mama, firstly they're going to be bored witless, and secondly, I want to know who is listening and why.

Ah, your tax dollars at work. Joy.

17 February 2008


One of the things that I haven't done much of over the last year is knit. I like to knit; but I took no enjoyment from it for a while, so I put it down and stopped doing it when the depression started to sneak up on me. I'd look at my yarn stash, sigh, and close the bin without taking any joy from the colors or textures in the box, or without thinking about the possibilities of projects as yet uncompleted.

I picked it up a few weeks ago, and pawed through the box, marveling at the yarn I've managed to accumulate in just a few short years of knitting. I learned how to knit in my late 20s, because I thought it would be soothing. (And it is; when it isn't frustrating the hell out of you.) My S-I-L gave me two and a half skeins of Fun Fur that were left over from a project of my niece's, which joined bits and pieces left over from projects of my own, and yarns I bought on sale with no plan in mind. I decided I could handle making a scarf made with the FF, something that wasn't a pattern per se, just stitches cast on, knitted until the scarf was long enough, and then cast off. Simple.

I made the scarf over two evenings, in about 6 hours, knitting slowly and carefully. It turned out beautifully, fuzzy, warm, and I've gotten compliments on it from friends and strangers alike. I kept it for myself, the first thing I've ever kept for myself of all the things I've knitted over the years, and I'm glad I did.

Encouraged by how well that turned out, I decided that I ought to use up the yarn in my yarn box, finding projects for the bits and bobs left over, and using the other things I bought with no plan in mind. I've forbidden myself to buy any more yarn until the majority of what I've already bought is used up.

I've also tried a few things that were a little more difficult, stretching my skill set a little bit. I made a hat. Red, which is my current favorite color.

There's a few flaws; but each time I make something I've never made before, there's a learning curve. As soon as I finished it, I cast another hat onto the same needles; I sense an obsession in the making.

14 February 2008

This is a fine stew.

I went to see the doctor yesterday, braving cold temperatures, bad roads, and heavy snow, because I think the depression is backsliding.

While I was there, of course, I took the opportunity to have him look in my aching ears to make sure that the creeping crud has not turned into an ear infection (thankfully, no) or strep throat (again, no) or something more than what I thought it was, a simple bacterial sinus infection.

Before I begin to ruminate on the disease of depression (yes, again) I want to share some more upbeat news; the only benefit, as I see it, to having a cold is this. According to the scale, in the last week I've lost 7 pounds. I'm not hungry, the only upside to not being able to breathe and being so dizzy from the congestion in my ears that elevation changes, going from sitting to standing, were a potential fainting spell. At the moment, I weigh less than when I got married, nearly eight years ago, at 25 years old. Woot!

As difficult and painful as it is, I am always truthful with my family doctor. I don't sugar-coat what I'm feeling, nor what I think is really going on, when I talk to him. Sitting in the exam room, waiting for him, always freezing my butt off, I'm usually so nervous that I'm nauseated. I feel that way at the shrink's sometimes, too. Spilling your guts to someone who isn't your closest friend, someone who isn't already inside your heart and head, is damn difficult.

The first thing he said when he walked in the room was, "Look at you!! You're looking fantastic!"

I cracked up. "I wish I felt as good as I look," I told him. "Between the cold and the depression, if I looked like I feel, children would run away from me crying."

The cold has just about killed my vocal cords, so even talking is tough. But I told him about the dark days I've been having. Why I think that's been happening. What I'm willing and not willing to do about it. How I remember he wanted to add Effexor to my regime of Wellbutrin.

He tends to pooh-pooh my worries over side effects of the meds and my fears of becoming psychologically dependent on them. He listens, but either tries to soothe my fears or brush them away. He always tells me the same thing that someone else said to me recently; just because a side effect is listed in the medication's literature, that does not mean that YOU are going to have that side effect. Those are potentials, not necessarily realities.

Wellbutrin XL is a SNRI; Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. I'll allow you to google that one yourself, or click here for Wiki's definition. The drug blocks some of your brain's ability to absorb serotonin and norepinephrine. As I understand it, anyway. This is part of the chemical imbalance in your brain that I'm always talking about, which I firmly believe is the cause of depression.

It bears repeating: depression is NOT about being sad. Depression is about an inability to do things that you normally enjoy, a dimming of the lights in your life, making you feel like you're metaphorically stumbling around in the dark. Depression is about not having the will to do anything; it isn't that you can just 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' or 'snap out of it'. You certainly don't want to feel this way, but not only can you not stop it, it is hard to see sometimes that it is even happening to you.

So the meds fix the chemical imbalance in your brain. Were it any other disease, diabetes, for example, no one would hesitate to take the meds. You'd die without the insulin used to treat diabetes. But it is perfectly acceptable to urge someone to not take anti-depressants.

I keep telling myself that taking the meds isn't a cop-out. It is a very difficult thing to reconcile. At the moment, I'm OK with the fact that a)I need them and b)I may need them for the rest of my life. But I go through stages with that, where sometimes it isn't OK that I need them, that I ought to be able to cope on my own. FFS, what does it say about me as a person that I can't cope on my own without a chemical crutch? That I'm weak? That I'm incapable of dealing with stress? That I'd be better off locked in a ward? Eeek.

So one med is bad enough, even when you believe that there is not much you can do on your own without some help for your body to process the excess stress hormones that you produce. But I knew going to the doc's this time would lead to a second med. And if all of the above is true of me with one medication, what does it say about me that I need two? Ouch.

He told me that he'd had a plan all along, that when the Wellbutrin didn't work for me at the smallest dose, that he'd had a contingency. That's great, wish he'd let me in on that one. Seriously. But he gave me samples of Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. This is a different type of anti-depressant; again, if you want the technical details, check Wiki. According to the doc, my depression is such that I need both; he claims that this will enable me to be the person I remember wistfully right now.

We'll see. I'm still working on what I believe with this disease.

13 February 2008

Dessert Fiend

I am a sucker for a well-written recipe. I admit it. My geek-factor knows no limits. Yes, I will read a cookbook, cover to cover, just like a novel. The result of years of this behavior is that I don't really need a recipe to construct something, because of the enormous amount of trivia that resides in my head. Want to make a quickbread? (Muffins, cornbread, banana bread & the like) I know the basic formula, and can toss it together with little trouble. Likewise just about anything else. So, sure, there are practical applications to this knowledge.

But I also find that I'm a sucker for the recipes on the back of packages of anything; the oatmeal canister lists recipes for oatmeal cookies, the bag of coconut has macaroon recipes, heck, even the tinned tomatoes I toss in all sorts of things for dinner have suggestions about what to use them for.

Lest we think this is a uniquely Yankee sort of thing, I have to point out that even the Swedish stuff that I buy from IKEA-land's little grocery store (products produced in Sweden, things that are hard to find here, like Vanilj Sas, {vanilla sauce} Nippon Soppa {rose-hip soup} and various other things) have recipes on the back of the boxes. One of my favorite "wow" desserts comes from the back of a box of vanilla sauce, which is perhaps best described to the American palate as a kind of thin vanilla pudding that's used as a sauce for all sort of desserts, notably Swedish Apple Cake.

The instructions were simple, perhaps three lines of Swedish text printed next to a picture of a skinned, baked pear, with the top cut off and almonds spilling out of the hollowed-out center, the little cap balanced rather precariously back on top of the nuts.

"Hollow out and core a pear," it suggested, "and stuff the hollowed space with a mixture of almond, cinnamon, and corn syrup. Bake at 175'C for 15-20 minutes or until the pear is tender. Serve warm, with vanilla sauce."

Simple. Elegant. I first noticed this at about 20 years old, and made it for a family gathering of DH's, back when he was The Boyfriend. DH's brother raved about it, as did almost everyone who tasted it. So I've kept the recipe and pulled it out over the years when I've needed a wow kind of dessert. I've made a few changes, though, feeling as I do these days that corn syrup is right up there next to the teevee laugh track on the scale of evil things on this earth. Honey is a more-than-acceptable substitute, and is even (gasp) good for you.

Shortcuts for this would be to use canned pears, but I must point out that canned pears are canned in heavy syrup 99.99% of the time, and even rinsing the pears does not remove the ridiculous amount of sugar that resides in them after being canned in that nasty stuff. Use fresh pears unless you have no other alternative.


6 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and centers hollowed out, tops cut off and kept for presentation
3/4 to 1 cup almonds or pecans, or a mixture of the two, roughly chopped (the amount needed will depend on how large your pears are)
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1 packet vanilla sauce (substitute sugar free instant vanilla pudding, thinned out so that it could be poured out of a gravy boat)


Make the vanilla sauce/pudding, and set aside in the refrigerator.

Mix nuts, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl. Spoon into hollowed out pears, overstuffing them. Put the caps back on. Place the pears in a lightly greased 9x13 glass baking dish, and bake at 350'F until the pears are tender. (about 15-20 minutes) For additional flavor, spoon a small amount of honey over each pear during the baking process. Serve warm, with chilled vanilla sauce.

A wee bit of a sugar buzz, just the thing to combat the creeping crud and the blahs. Honestly, though, this is not an unhealthy dessert. A serving is ONE pear, and although nuts are high in fat, you're not getting an overdose of them here. Likewise honey is high in sugar, but again, better for you than refined sugar or *shudder* corn syrup. Since vanilla sauce isn't widely available, using skim milk to make sugar free vanilla pudding, and adding about two tablespoons of it to each pear isn't adding anything miserable either. So relax. Eat one. Savor it.

10 February 2008

I can never remember

Is it "Feed a cold, starve a fever" or "Feed a fever, starve a cold"?

Either way, karma's kinda biting me in the ass. There's a miserable creeping crud going around; almost everyone I know, from DH to my yoga teacher has had it. I've been sort of smug about the fact that I haven't caught it; serves me right, I suppose.

I haven't been this under the weather in a long, long, long time. The pain from the sinus pressure is bad, and DH says I look like a drug addict, my eyes are all buggy from the decongestants.

Can someone please explain to me why it is that the congestion seems to travel from one side of your head to the other? Why can I breathe through the right side of my nose and not the left, and then a few hours later, I can breathe through the left and not the right? Why does my face swell, and why do even my teeth hurt? Actually, I know the answer to the last two; sometimes facial swelling is a by-product of the clogged sinus passages, and the toothache-y feeling is due to the pressure from the same.

The wheezing I could do without, too.

07 February 2008

Not again.

'Cause I am barely breathing,
And I can't find the air

~Duncan Sheik, Barely Breathing, Duncan Sheik, 1995

I haven't posted anything for a few days because I haven't had very many ideas for posts. I've a few half-written posts, but mostly, when I sit down in front of the computer, I've been at a loss for words.

The darkness is creeping up on me again. I think. I want to curl up into bed all the time, I'm exhausted for no reason. I don't feel capable of doing anything, barely moving, barely breathing. I present a pretty together face to the outside world, but when I'm alone, for the first time in my life, I'm lonely.

I treasure time to myself. Normally, anyway. Time for solitude is something that I require in order to keep from going batshit insane. I love traveling alone, time spent wandering a bookstore on my own, reading under a tree in the summer with no distractions. But lately, I'm feeling like something's missing when I'm alone.

I'm terrified that the 'I want to sleep constantly' is a symptom of the depression backsliding. I've had a couple of these events over the last year, when the depression worsens. You'd think I'd be able to recognize it for what it is, having a bit of experience with it. Not so much. I'm unsure if the sleepiness is a natural inclination because its dark, and cold, and not a hell of a lot is happening in Ohio in February, or if it is indicative of a miasma rising up around me.

I made an appointment with my family doctor for next week; its been about 4 months since I've talked with him about the meds, and it is time, even if we make no changes. What upsets me about this is that he said last time we spoke if the 450 mg/day of Wellbutrin wasn't getting it, then he'd add Effexor. I don't want a second medication. Plus the side effects of it listed on Drugs.com scare the hell out of me; sleepiness, suicidal thoughts (!!!!!!), extreme thirst, higher blood pressure. I'm already thirsty all the time, and I already bruise easily, another potential side effect. It also looks to me like I wouldn't be able to take my sleeping pill if I was taking Effexor, which would be extremely bad. On the upside, it is used to treat anxiety. My anxiety levels haven't been this high since.....high school? When I was wound so tight that any tighter and I'd have broken, splintered into millions of bits.

Fret, worry, fret, worry, fret, worry. Ugh, I'm sick of this cycle.

02 February 2008

Overheard, regarding the Superbowl...

A mother and daughter, walking in to a grocery store; the little girl was perhaps 4.

Child: "Why are we going?"

Mother: "Because they invited us to watch with them."

Child: "To watch a football game? Why?"

Don't worry, sweetie...I don't get it either.