Sunday, March 25, 2018


It's Saturday night, I was just in the shower and it is spring break, so I want to go somewhere. I was thinking of why is it always so hard for me to plan a trip and follow through with it. It always feels like I'm winging it all and doing a piss poor job. Being away from home, meaning pets and other family members, as well as spending money, makes me feel stressed out. My husband doesn't really help matters because he apparently limits what is acceptable in our family to what was a part of his, and even though his family did have financial resources, I guess they didn't take a lot of trips? I honestly don't know.

So I was thinking of how my family would take family vacations every year, at least when we were younger. We didn't have a lot of money, but what it didn't cost much to jump in a car, drive for 17 hours straight from Manassas, Virginia to Green Bay, Wisconsin, stopping for food at least once or twice, and then sleep in the spare bedroom of a relative. That was back when the speed limit was not 55 mph, apparently my parents did trade off driving and go all night. I don't remember that, the vacations I remember involved stopping over night, generally in what I thought was Wheeling, PA, but apparently was in the little strip of West Virginia that separates Pennsylvania from Ohio. My family would eat at the Howard Johnson's there, as I recall. I loved their kid's menu, and I think I always got the hamburger.

In the early years, we'd sleep at our grandparents house, which was very small, but had a lava lamp, which fascinated me to no end. We'd go to sleep in a bedroom--there were two bedrooms off a hall adjacent to the main living area--and I guess it was where my parents were going to sleep. Sometime during the night, my father would carry us out and deposit my sister and I on the couch. We'd wake up in a different place than we had gone to sleep, but my clearest memory of this is actually waking up while he was carrying me, and feeling very disgruntled because I was being taken from my warm bed and put on a new, cold surface. But then I settled in and went to sleep.

At some point, probably after my youngest sister was born, my parents started getting a motel room at a place called the Valley Inn. I loved that motel; it had a pool with a slide, and there was a restaurant in the front. We would go there for breakfast and get such wonderful foods for breakfast as eggs with bacon and toast, which seemed luxurious. I don't remember eating these kinds of food for breakfast at my house. That was probably where I had my first glass of tomato juice, and I loved tomato juice and have always associated it with being on vacation. It was a shock to me in 8th grade when I discovered that tomato juice wasn't universally liked. At some point during the visit, my parents would go out to eat dinner in a country club restaurant. I only remember going there once, but I know it happened more than once because when I'd ask where we were going to eat, my mother would tell me we were going to the country club which is where my youngest sister fell asleep with her head on a plate of mashed potatoes. Remember?

I don't remember that, I think mainly because I wss not there. One year we went, maybe the last year we stayed at the Valley Inn, I honestly don't know, but my older brother, his wife and their daughter was with us. The kids had to sleep on the floor because there were not enough beds for us all. And, for some reason, we had two bushel baskets of peaches with us--I don't know if they came were purchased somewhere along the way, or if my brother had brought them with them from Illinois. I had some slightly obsessive thoughts back then that would intrude and bother me, and I kept thinking about those furry peaches, and touching them and what if I had to rub them together. The contemplation of the horror of these textures colliding with one another kept me awake quite awhile. I think the next day I actually tried it as the compulsion was great, and then it wasn't as horrible as I had worked it out to be in my mind.

On that trip, we had gotten there and went swimming that afternoon. I went down the pool slide and tumbled over in the water a few times, and it took me a bit longer to get to the surface than I thought it would. My mother was watching me and asked me if I was OK, as she had noticed it took me awhile to come up. I was fine, but didn't go down that slide again. That night, I slept on the floor in the air conditioned room with my wet hair, and I woke up in incredible pain. I couldn't move my head, there was something wrong with my neck. My family had plans, I guess, but I did not want to go, so I was taken to the home of one of my mother's high school friends, and left there. I know there must have been an adult or a teen there, but I just went to sleep on the couch, feeling freezing cold and sick. I knew I was not going to get to go to dinner, but I didn't care. Apparently that was the time when my sister fell asleep at the table. I remember at one point, I must have woken up enough and looked at someone passing through the room. The person asked me if I wanted a hamburger. I did. It was wrapped in yellow paper with nothing on it but a little smiley face on it, and it was good.I don't know what was wrong with my neck, and why it made me feel actually sick, but I know they pain from my neck lasted for years. I would turn my head some days, and I'd suddenly get this weird pain that I can't describe, except in colors and flavors. I guess it must have been a spasm, but it never felt muscular.

We used to go and visit my uncle and aunt out in the lochs in DePere. They had this great old house that had a giant bathroom--I had never seen such space in a bathroom. It was an old house, so probably it had been converted into a bathroom, but I remember thinking it was impressive. They also had a lot of fun toys, including a Fisher-Price ferris wheel which I adored. Their children ranged in age from my age and up to teens, and they didn't seem to play with toys as much. Later they moved, because we visited them in a house in a regular neighborhood. I was kind of chubby by that point, and I was running on their sidewalk and feel and skinned my knee. I honestly thought I was past that by that age-=-I think I was at least 9--but I went running to my mother, who seemed suitably upset, and bandaged it and comforted me. Two days later, however, she was not feeling so kindly disposed towards me. I guess she was irritated, because I remember feeling demoralized. Then I noticed that water was running out of the bandage, I don't know why. My mother was disgusted that I still had the Band-Aid on and told me I needed to take it off to let it air out. She had this way of talking like she thought you were the dumbest, most disgusting thing on the planet--very scolding heavy. I took it off, but it still looked like a raw wound. She told me it was my own fault, that it would heal if I weren't so fat, and that if I hadn't been so fat, I wouldn't have fallen in the first place. You never knew what you were going to get with her, and we kids were always waiting for the other shoe to drop. She was never the same person when she was in front of her friends or extended family. My father was always the same man, always the same demeanor, but my mother would become a different person. I think she was ashamed of us--she told me once that she didn't want to take us to the mother-daughter brunch with her sorority because she was ashamed to be seen with us in public. I think she thought telling us that would help us, somehow.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Look Inside My Brain • 23 February 2018

I want to introduce a new section to my blog which is a look inside my brain in which I describe some memories of past experiences And what I was feeling when those things happened. If possible I will use a date for the event. I like to use the dates of days I am describing as my titles because it saves me from having to come up with a clever title. And sometimes getting hung up on that one thing can really take me out af writing what I see. Ideally I would have liked to put all of this in my journal, but I am not capable of writing longhand for any amount of time because of problems with my hands. Also, for much of my life I have felt like someone could see inside of my brain and knew what I was doing. So journaling in a book that likely I will only read doesn’t feel much different from writing something on a blog that likely only I and maybe a few others would see. Because people have to actually want to read what someone has written in order to see it, most people don’t. This feeling that people can read your thoughts and know what you are doing is probably a symptom of some mental disorder, but I believe that it is very common and that movies like the Truman show were born of this fairly universal feeling. If you were the last person on earth would you actually feel like the last person on earth?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

19 February 2018

Today I served vegetables at the dinner line at Record Street, what used to be known as Tent City, but I just call it serving dinner at Record Street. A different group serves dinner every night, and some plan their meals in advance, but we just sort of bring what we make. Some people from my church and those with the other church are a little more organized than I am, and actually have a weekly e-mail about what everyone is bringing, which I've just gotten onto, so now I can feel a little more in the loop. I usually get there late, a testament to my less than stellar planning and organizing skills with cooking. That's actually a good thing, though, since we always run out of food. Tonight I was there on time and noticed I was trying to add my vegetables to their already full plates, but then when I was running out, the food on the plates was scarce.

In any event, I've been thinking about what I could make for next week, when it will certainly be crowded, but I just realized that I actually can't go next week. I could make something up and put it in the church kitchen, however. So I started to look for a cooking blog that is specifically about cooking and serving large groups of people. I found a bunch of youtube channels that mostly seem to be about the fact that people are serving food to the homeless, and less about the actual cooking process. Cooking and preparing a large amount of food can take a goodly amount of time.

Today I went to Costco to buy vegetables. I had originally planned to go to either Winco or Trader Joe's, but had another reason to go Costco, so I figured I could find big bags of veggies there. I got a bag of fresh green beans, a bag of broccoli and a bag of asparagus as well as a bag of frozen corn. Most of this was organic, interestingly enough. I think the asparagus was Green Giant and not organic, and it was really thick, yet cooked down to almost mush, sadly, because I didn't manage the cooking times well. I'm thinking I should probably do the shopping on Saturday, and then figure out how I'm going to cook, reheat or transport on that Monday.

So here is the Costco receipt--I actually used to blog all my Trader Joe's receipts at one point in time. I like having a record of prices. I bought Taylor Farms Organic broccoli florets, $5.99 for 3 lbs,
Fresh Wave organic green beans, trimmed, 2 lbs for $4.99,
JMB farms Asparagus, 2.25 lbs for $4.99,
Watts Brothers organic sweet white corn, frozen, 5 lbs for $5.89,
Earthbound Farms organic baby kale for $4.79,
although I bought that for my daughter and didn't cook that this evening. I also bought some vegan Yakisoba bowls and vegan Don Lee Fiesta bowls as well as a pack of hotdogs for $12.99. There were three packs together, so about 30 beef franks in all.

Generally the food I make is vegan or vegetarian, but after Thanksgiving this year, I asked for donations of turkey carcasses, since I find people do not use their Thanksgiving turkey carcass to the full degree; if you are going to suffer and die to be food, you should be fully utilized in that capacity. I don't want to add to the demand for poultry by purchasing it, but sometimes I do want to make things that include meat, dairy or eggs. Today I made vegetables and I had just purchased a single stick of Organic Valley butter, which was $1.99 at the food coop, and I purchased it for my younger daughter who visited a dietician. The dietician told her margarine was garbage, so I decided I'd get her a stick of butter, which should last for awhile, but it was the only stick I had and it's gone now. I guess she will have to use Earth Balance if she happens to need something like butter. I suppose I could have purchased that at Costco, and I did consider it, but it is in huge quantities.

I didn't start cooking until close to 1:30 pm, and I did the asparagus first, steaming it in the Instant Pot for 3 minutes. I transferred it to a crockpot, and put some raw broccoli florets in on top of it, as well as a cube of vegetable bouillon. I did the green beans next, snapping them into 2 or 3 pieces, also cooking for 2 or 3 minutes along with broccoli florets on top. The broccoli in the Instant Pot became a drab green, but the stuff that was put into the crockpot stayed bright. But then I felt like I needed to fill up the pot, so I added more broccoli, probably about 2 lbs in all. I added some garlic and onion powder too, since I didn't really notice much salt or extra flavoring, even with the bouillon. I also added half a stick of butter to the crockpot. I cooked the 5 lbs of corn in my small stockpot, and added the smaller half of butter to that, along with salt. The broccoli was unevenly cooked, and the asparagus turned to mush, so I might just do it in various pots on the stove if I have to cook a lot of vegetables again soon.

Here is a photo--I'm trying to remember to take more of them so I have a record. If I keep up this new purpose to this blog, then I will post them here. The corn filled about half of my 8 quart stockpot.

Friday, January 6, 2017

6 January 2017

Apparently I have two drafts I never posted. Also, I haven't updated in 10 months. However, today I was just going to log one of my old grocery receipts. I kept them, and actually used to blog them because I thought it could be an interesting snapshot into prices some day. So here is one from the Trader Joe's at Reno in the shopping center at the corner of McCarran Blvd and Smithridge Drive. I made this purchase at 3:28 PM PDT on July 13, 2009. My cashier was Kristi.

Organic milk 2% gallon -- $5.99
Cranberry Raspberry juice -- $4.49
Organic strawberry lemonade -- $3.29
Soda Virgil's Root Beer, 4 bottles -- $3.99
Squeeze Mtn Raspberry juice, 4 bottles -- $2.99
Chai Instant spiced -- $2.99
Coffee decaf organic fair trade -- $7.99
Half & Half quart - $1.29
Margarine Earth Balance -- $3.69
Sour cream, pint -- $1.49
Organic Vanana yogurt - 27 oz. -- $2.79
Peanut Butter organic crunchy -- $2.99
TJ's tomato basil pasta sauce -- $1.79
whipped cream cheese -- $1.49
grocery, non-taxable -- $9.77
Beef conventional ground 20% fat -- $1.99
sliced black forest ham -- $3.49
TJ sliced colby jack cheese -- $2.99
TJ Goat cheese crumbles -- $2.19
TJ Monterey Jack sticks -- $3.49
cheese, shredded mozzarella -- $2.99
Mint chocolate chip ice cream, 1 quart -- $3.99
hash brown potatoes -- $1.99
hash brown potatoes -- $1.99
eggs cage free x-large, brown -- $2.99
Tacos, mini beef -- $2.99
Roast beef & cheese panini w/ -- $2.99
Crackers 12 grain prebiotic mini -- $1.99
Nature's Path hemp organic cereal -- $2.89
TJ's Honey Nut O's cereal -- $2.??
salsa chipotle hot -- $1.99
artichoke hearts, can in water -- $1.99
TJ's Canola spray -- $2.29
Organic blueberries -- $2.99
A-plums sugar 1 lb -- $1.69
Nature's Toaster Pastry straw -- $2.59
New Belgium seasonal 6 fl oz for $7.99
Milton's Gourmet White Hamburg -- $2.29
Blueberry pie -- $8.99
Organic avocados (4 ct) -- $4.69
sourdough english muffins -- $1.99
Fresh N Spicy Guacamole -- $2.79
Sunny California Roll -- $2.99
Chewy Chocolate Chunk cookies -- $4.29
Bananas organic 6 ea @0.29/EA -- $1.74
A-Tomatoes heirloom 18/1# -- $2.99
sliced sourdough bread $2.29
pasta bowties -- $0.99
Tortilla white triangle organic -- $2.59
popcorn organic with olive oil -- $1.79

Subtotal -- $161.43
state tax -- $0.62
Total -- $162.05

So it occurs to me reading this that a lot of these items do not list quantities, and therefore prices might not be useful. The juice and lemonade was in 2 quart bottles, eggs were a carton of 12, the fresh blueberries were probably about 6 oz. The individual bottles of soda or juice were most likely 6 oz but possibly 8 oz for the rootbeer. The packaged cheese was most likely 12 ozs, but the mozzarella could have been a full pound. The english muffins come in a sleeve of 6, the triangle tortillas were chips, and that was probably a largish bag, at least 14 oz. The popcorn was also in a similar sized bag. I have some TJ's decaf and artichoke hearts in water in my pantry today, and those sizes are a 13 oz can of whole beans and a 14 oz can of artichokes. Some stores slightly downsize their packaging rather than change their prices, but I don't think TJ's does that. I have been buying their heirloom tomatoes for about $4.99 a lb lately.

I also think I must have been planning for a pool party, since I normally don't buy all those sugary drinks at one time.

A photo from a few days later.

Friday, April 1, 2016

28 March 2016

On Monday, it snowed. I made a snowman.

26 March 2016

Saturday was a beautiful day, so I went and parked at the food co-op, then took a walk near the river. I saw a pick-up game of basketball at Barbara Bennett park as a woman in a pedicap rode by. In Wingfield Park, on the island side, some people were playing croquet, while on the western side, people were practicing tightrope walking on a slackline attached to two trees. There were a number of kayakers in the river, practicing on the eddies. Lots of dogs were walking by, and there were plenty of cyclists navigating the streets. I saw Daughter's Cafe and the statue of justice in front of the law office. The big chimes at the Lear Theater were sounding--later I saw people pulling them to make them ring.

I saw balanced rock art in the grass near the Truckee river where it runs along first street. Then I saw the artist, Reno's Hobo, Cyrus, with his bucket for donations. I saw people standing on the other side of the river, fishing. I saw people sitting outside the Hub coffee, and I saw a man who was riding his bike with a lot of his blankets stacked on top. He had a stack of blankets on his handlebars, and a cat sat atop them. He was petting and even kissing the cat, smiling, as he rode along.

Monday, December 21, 2015

21 December 2015

I extended an invitation to my husband to come to the concert tonight at Carmel of Reno, because it occurs to me that it is the type of thing that he would actually like, and it might help to give meaning to his holidays, which are generally about him sitting in his chair, re-watching series he's already seen, and playing games he's played for years. So I asked him if he has any interest, because it it's at the monastery, which has an impressive view, and the music is professionally done, for the most part, excluding the part where I have a solo, but then he would get to hear a song where I have a solo verse. Also, this type of Christmas music is the type that he likes. If he didn't like hymns and sacred, classical holiday music, I wouldn't invite him.

And he replied that he was sorry to miss it, but no, not this year. I don't believe he has actually come any other year, but this past weekend, he had to spend time fixing his computer, which cuts into the time where he can play a game he's played for over 10 years, cursing all the time at it. If he had mountains of free time and no stress, he would come, I'm sure...or find a reason why he couldn't. Which is fine, because we are all different and have different needs. But I know the feeling of living my life with dread, which colored everything I did; the feeling of not ever wanting to go anywhere or do anything. But realizing that what I thought I wanted was never enough, and getting tired of getting to the end of the day and still feeling unfulfilled, I pushed myself out there, against my comfort level, to have what might be interesting or meaningful experiences. Life is too short, and free time too valuable to not partake of beautiful things. But that is only my view, not his, so he has to do what he thinks will be meaningful to him, I suppose.