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Showing posts from January, 2011

P is for Pinakbet

Pinakbet.  What a chicken says when it wants to gamble? Nope.

Pinakbet. An Ilocano dish with eggplant, bittermelon, tomatoes, and long beans? Yep, that's it. If I happen to have kabocha squash and/or okra, I'll throw some into the mix, too. Depending on my mood, I'll make it with or without pork. On rare occasions, I'll go classic and add a bit of bagoong (fermented, finely ground fish or shrimp). I say rare because that stuff is very salty. Click here for a photo of what pinakbet looks like.

How do you pronounce pinakbet? I say pin-auk-bit.  But, you must realize that I don't have an Ilocano accent. Never had.

Pinakbet is one of my favorite dishes. When I was growing up, the mama cooked it often during the summer. Except for the onions and garlic, all the vegetables for the dish were freshly picked out of the daddy's garden. I have yet to eat a version that has topped or even come close to the mama's.  And, now, the mama's pinakbet is a lovely memory. T…

Book Review: Jane Eyre

I didn't think it would be possible. That another book would bump Pride and Prejudice off the top of my all-time favorite list, and that it would be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

To think that I let 40 years go by before I read Jane Eyre. Oh, the condensed version was assigned in high school, but I merely skimmed it. I probably didn't like the opening pages because Jane's sour rich Aunt and her bratty cousins rubbed me the wrong way. I was an impatient reader in my youth. If I didn't like a tale by the end of the first chapter, that was it for me. And most likely I thought Rochester was a simp and Jane one, too, for being in love with him.

So, what got me to finally read it? The BBC movie of Jane Eyre with Tobey Stephens and Ruth Wilson. After watching it a few years ago, I was sold on the plot and the characters so much that I bought the book. But, I didn't read it. A couple weeks ago, the movie was being shown again on TV. It was a two-parter and I couldn't be…

Book Review: Travels with Zenobia, Paris to Albania by Model T Ford

Travels with Zenobia, Paris to Albania by Model T Ford, A Journal by Rose Wilder Lane and Helen Dore Boylston, and edited by William Holtz.

This book is the journal kept by two friends who travel from Paris to Albania.  This is a true story about two women in 1926.  Rose Wilder Lane  was a well-known author of the times, who later would become known as one of the founders of the libertarian movement. You, dear readers, may also know Rose as the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House on the Prairie books. Rose's friend, Helen Dore Boylston, known as Troub, was also a writer, but during this time frame she was still learning her craft. Have you ever read any of the Sue Barton, Nurse series? They were written by Troub, who served as a nurse in WWI.

Zenobia is the name of the Model T Ford that Rose and Troub bought in Paris. Buying the automobile was easy, but getting it out of the showroom was not. It took about 6 weeks for them to get the proper paperwork and…

Lessons Learned

Yesterday was a 23rd date for the husband and me.  The first of 2011. Our date was a pleasant ramble that developed and changed with the circumstances and, in so doing, we experienced many new things in our area. I don't know about the husband, but this newly old gal learned—and relearned—some new tricks.

For Instance. . .

When an waitress arches her eyebrows as we say that we're heading over to the area where she lives and she says it was covered with tule fog when she left for work that morning, take her a bit more seriously. The fog was so thick, we could've eaten it with a spoon. Really.

When the fog is too thick to continue safely onward with an adventure, come back another day. The husband and I easily concurred at our first stop—a picture taking opportunity with a golden bear—and drove back down the mountain and back into the sun. Slowly and meanderingly, we crossed our small valley to drive up the mountain on the other side of it. 

When a state park's sign says Cl…

Ornery the Eighth, I am

A forewarning: I'm in an ornery and outraged mood. So, if you'd rather check out other "O" posts, I understand completely. Please click here to head over to Alphabe-Thursday, hosted by Jenny Matlock at Off on My Tanget.
The husband and I don't have health insurance. We're self-employed writers in our late 50s, so the cost of monthly health insurance payments would truly put us into deep debt. Fortunately for the past 10 years, we have been able to afford our medical bills and prescriptions, which comes to about a third of what it would be to pay for health insurance. Ornery, the first, about which I am.

Some people think we're taking a big risk by not having health insurance. What if, heaven forbid, one of us needs to go to the hospital? Ornery, the second, about which I am.

A few weeks ago, the husband and I spent five hours in the emergency department at our local hospital. Nothing major, as some of you, dear readers, know.  After all was said and done, th…

N is for Naysayer

Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

Temperatures have been dipping into the 30s and 40s the past month. Ha! So what! says this blooming rose in the Mama's garden.



Head over to Alphabe-Thursday, hosted by Jenny Matlock, to read other N posts.

Z is for Ziplining

Oh boy!

Because this week's ABC Wednesday (hosted by Mrs. Nesbitt) features the letter Z, I can blather about ziplining again.

Ziplining through the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains, as some of you dear readers know, is what I did for my birthday last month.  I hung happily in a harness from a pulley attached to a cable about 13 stories high. When it was safely time to go, the guide slightly nudged me forward and I was gliding quickly along that cable through the redwood forest to the next platform. Swhooooooooooosh!


The zip lines ranged from 110 to  440 feet long. Waiting for my turn was longer than the ride between the platforms. Exhilarating really is the perfect word to describe how it feels to dangle from a pulley and ziiiiiiiiiip among the trees. The initial fear was gone after completing the first zip line.  Yep, that tiny simple machine of a pulley can really hold me up. I may have swayed in my harness as I rushed forward, but I did not haphazardly crash into the trees l…

Book Review: The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is the third novel featuring Robert Langdon, a professor of religious symbology. Just over 500 pages, the story takes place within 12 hours. On my random scale of 1 to 5, I give it an arbitrary 2.039.

Robert Langdon has been summoned suddenly to give a speech for his friend and mentor, Peter Solomon, at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. It turns out to be a ruse set up by bad guy Mal'akh who has kidnapped Solomon. To get Solomon back, Langdon must provide Mal'akh with the Masonic Pyramid that leads to finding the Masonic treasure buried beneath Washington D.C. Also key to the story are Solomon's younger sister, a noetic scientist, the CIA, and, of course, the Freemasons.

For  a fast-action plot, the story moved slowly for me. I didn't care for any of the characters, including Langdon. The back story for Mal'akh and his obsession with the Solomon family got tiring, but I do admit that I was surprised with the final details.

I th…

Book Review: Glazed Murder

Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck is the first title in her A Donut Shop Mystery series. I wish the author had used the old way of spelling the delicacy. D-o-u-g-h-n-u-t.  That aside, on my random scale of 1 to 5, I'd give Glazed Murder an arbitrarily 3.703.

Suzanne Hart is the main character of this mystery series. She's definitely a spunky woman. After all, she took her divorce settlement and bought the doughnut shop in her small North Carolina town, even though she had no experience in making or selling doughnuts.

The story opens with Suzanne turning on the lights of her shop at 2 a.m. She witnesses a body being thrown out of a car in front of her establishment. What a way to start a day, right? The dead body belongs to a good customer and friend of hers. That becomes one reason that Suzanne starts snooping. Another reason is her concern the culprit may try to get her because of the threats she keeps getting for snooping. Thirdly, from her point of view, the cops are very slow …

Random rambling

I've been feeling muddle-headed lately. Too many brain lapses. Quite a lot of pressing of the delete button. Sigh. So, bear with me, dear readers, as I ramble forward to clear my mind with random thoughts.

Random thought number one. Big birds (maybe the doves) splatted big time on the side of the car and the driveway. Very rude! Especially since we leave bird seeds out every day.

Random thought number two. The husband got a surprise check for $100 yesterday. It was part of a cash settlement in a class action law suit against a large drug distributor that was alleged to have set drug prices wrongfully high. The husband had no idea it was taking place. The company settled rather than go to court because it would be cheaper to pay $350 million today. In settling, the company does not formally admit to wrongdoing. That part is what always astounds me about corporations that get away with crime.

Random thought number three. I have publishing deadlines over the next two years. I hope I ca…

M is for Making It!

Exactly a year ago the husband and I shaved our hair completely off to see how long it would grow in one year. Our experiment is officially over.  The husband says our hair grew about six inches.



For the last two months or so, the husband has received comments about how he looks like ZZ Top. Maybe.

No comments for me. At least not to my face. I'd say I look like I'm in need for a hair cut. The overgrown bangs are driving me nuts, big time.

"Will we shave it again?" ask our friends.

We don't know.

The husband is wondering how long it would take for his beard to grow to the middle of his tummy.

I liked my bald look. It was easy to handle. But if I keep it growing, I might just dye it either an Anne Shirley carrot-top red or the golden brown of a lion's mane.

We shall see.

Today also marks a milestone for This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes, Then.  It is exactly one year old! Whoo-hooo! I really didn't think I would keep it going. Let's see how the…

Trivia: Yes and You

Y is the letter for this week's ABC Wednesday. So, here is a bit of trivia about two words we use a lot.

Yes
A long time ago, when you answered "Yes" to a negative question, you were really saying "No."  For example, if someone asked, "You don't want to die, do you?" The other person replied, "Yes!" To reply affirmatively to a question, one said "Yea."  How very confusing, no?

You
The word you comes from Old English. Back then, people had a singular and plural form for you. When addressing a specific person, they used thou, as "Thou sings well." When talking to more than one person, out came the you: "You (all) sing well."

As  Old English moved forward into modern English times, people began to use you as a form of respect for talking to strangers and for those they considered socially higher than them. The use of thou, contrary to how we think of it today, was for familiar use. "Hey, thou! How's it goi…

Out with the Old!

It has been three days that we've been without a mirror in the bathroom. Not that I look at the mirror that much, but still I am surprised when I look over the sink and see a yellowish wall. That's another surprise. Without the mirror, both the husband and I realize that off-yellow is the color of our bathroom walls. These past seven years, we thought we were looking at dingy off-white walls.

So, what happened to the mirror?

First, you need to know that ants  invaded the bathroom last Thursday. The damn ants actually knocked out a bit of tile from a corner of the sink. That day, they kept scooting from behind the cabinet that rests on the counter.

That night, just after 11 p.m., the husband decided to pull the cabinet forward so he could get at the ants. The next thing we knew, the mirror slipped, broke diagonally, and as the top part fell, it sliced through the husband's right forefinger in two places. Deep enough to cut who knows how many veins in the finger. OUCH!

We each…

Off the Shelf Challenge

Me thinks I could become a reading-challenge addict. I have forced myself to stop reading about yet another challenge to attempt for no other purpose then claiming at the end of the year that "I done did it!" So, Off the Shelf Challenge is absolutely the last reading challenge that I'll be joining to help motivate me to complete my 2011 Reading List.

The Off the Shelf Challenge is hosted by Dutchie, from Australia who blogs at Bookish Ardour. The motive behind this challenge is to help participants finally read some of the books that have been growing dust (cough, cough) on their shelves. The challenge runs throughout 2011 and you can sign up at anytime. There are seven reading levels from which to choose—Tempted, Trying, Making a Dint, On a Roll, Flying Off, Hoarder, and Buried. FYI: The Buried participants plan to read between 126 and 200 books! For more details of the Off the Shelf Challenge, click here.

I've chosen to participate at the On a Roll level, which invo…