Blue Murder

I feel like #paintingaday has been just the thing to get me back into posting. 

Now to #commentaday to catch up on my reading…

We went to the state fair today and got our caricature drawn. The artist gave me some advice: get a tablet and go digital. 

I don’t know. 

How far can I trust a guy who gave me eyebrows two years in a row when I didn’t put any on?

I’ll show y’all the caricature once we get it framed up. 

Here’s Blue Murder, India ink and watercolor on 7×10 watercolor paper. 


A Pair of Paradoxical Parasols

Previously, I promised a prompted post perusing the purpose of parasols in recent past. Purportedly, praising parasols was pictured promisingly. People paired precipitation with a paucity of prosperity. Parasols, when practiced profitably, prevent precip’s percussion for posterity.

Paradoxically, a piddling presentation of plebeians protest parasol promotion. A proponderance of patricians prove this parity. Perchance, parasols are a prodigal profligacy. Preposterous!

Proximally, persons, perceived and unperceived, propose a plethora of propitious pledges to proffer patronage. Pass on pessimistic perplexities. Permit prospective plans to ply their particular problems. Pah!

Paraphrase pending.


Death of a Fridge

We’ve lived here nine years this November, and in that time we’ve gone through our share of appliances. Let’s see, two stoves, two washers, two dryers, one stand mixer, four or five-ish window units, even a thermostat and a blower motor for the 1978 heater. Does that count as an appliance? Don’t get me started on the plumbing and wiring. If it could be done half-assed, it was.

Last weekend, it was the fridge, our second. I don’t know when it died; I worked mostly evenings last week, so I don’t know the last time I was in the freezer before Sunday afternoon. Maybe Thursday?

I opened the door and thought, ‘hm, that’s funny, I could have sworn the freezer was packed.’ Then I touched the bag of ham stock. and it was not hard, or even very cold. Crap.

I quickly checked the refrigerator, which was still pretty cool. There’s that, at least.

I had to get Siri to text Ian because I was getting too frustrated with autocorrect. When he called, I was one-tracking away at him. The freezer is broken. We need a new fridge. The fridge is broken. I don’t know what I’m cooking, whatever’s most thawed.

Nothing gets to me like wasted food. Food is not cheap, and it’s stuff you have to have. Some weeks I live on leftovers because certain others in this household don’t want to eat it if it’s ‘old.’ ‘Old’ meaning more than an hour for some things, I’m not talking days or weeks here. Ahem.

Alas, goodbye yummy ham stock. Goodbye chicken stock. Goodbye chopped onions. Goodbye cream cheese ice cream (good stuff!). Goodbye zippy bags of soups and stews and beans. I cannot eat you in time to save you from the raccoons. Feast, raccoons, before the famine! For no trash shall be had next week.

Flour, yeast, and chocolate chips, thank you for being tolerant of this temperature shift.

After a trip to the trash can outside, the situation was not as dire as I’d feared. I asked Ian to bring home some ice and said we could go get the minifridge from storage in the morning. We hadn’t gone shopping for a while, and weren’t planning to this week, since we’re leaving Friday for a week at my parents’. Still, we had to get to eating.

Sunday night we had pork loin with a side of pork chops.

Monday night we had pork loin with a side of unfrozen frozen corn and unfrozen broccoli and cauliflower.

An aside of advice: buy the big pork loin and cut it up yourselves, guys, it’s cheaper that way. And you can make it the perfect size. Also, frozen corn tastes way better than canned.

Tonight there’s a slab of ribs in the oven and corn fritters to be made, leaving three packs of hot dogs in the cooler. They’ll snuggle up nicely with the juice, cheese, carrots, and condiments in the minifridge. And the inevitable leftover ribs.

At least Abby’s not here to whine about the small selection. She’ll be happy enough with chips and hot dogs Thursday night. And I’m sure she’ll enjoy peeling the photos off the old fridge with me.

Fortunately, the guy we got the dryer from last month is giving us a deal on a fridge next week when we get home, since he’s happy that Ian helps him unload the new one and load the old one. Make friends with your local secondhand vendors. We get a good deal on tires too.

Still, I had to throw away food. Ugh, that chaps my ass.


Time Warp Tuesday: Advice

Oops–it’s Thursday.
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Here we are again, the second Tuesday of the month and it’s time for Kathy’s monthly blog hop called Time Warp Tuesday. This is an opportunity to revisit some of our favorite posts from the past and see how far we’ve come since then.

This month’s theme is advice. I knew I’d written plenty on advice, and I thought I’d surely choose to share more derision of our court-appointed counselor. But no; instead I chose this post.

A post on the consequences of advice; the consequences of decisions; tue consequences of actions.

A lot has changed since the time I ignored all the advice I was given and bulldozed my way through.

Because last weekend, I went back to work. At the place I thought I burned my bridges and even rerouted the river three years ago. Okay, so it’s only been a few days, but it’s different than it was. And different is good.

I wanted to go back because I missed the job, and I missed how I felt when I was working there. I wanted to be part of a team again.

And yes, I know I’m part of a team with my family, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes I feel like a third wheel in my own home, and I hate that feeling. It feels separate but equal, even though my head knows I’m not equal.

It’s hard to deal with sometimes, and I wanted an escape. I guess I could have just brought Lappy up to the library every day for some novel finishing time, but this is paid escape. It doesn’t feel so much like running away.

But what does this all have to do with advice, you may ask? A few things, here and there. It’s different now, being back. It’s actually about me, not me in my poor situation. Most of the advice givers are still around, but it’s almost as though they’ve forgotten whatever advice they had to give.

It feels like three years ago to me, because I don’t have any of that intervening time to cloud my memory, but it really has been three years for them, and I’m old news. It’s such a strange feeling. Nobody even seems to remember why I left; what they remember is my skill set.

I wrote my post last year while out of the loop, with their superior words still fresh on my mind. I’ve learned that I can forgive and forget, as easily as they can simply forget. No, they can’t take those words back; they’ll always have been said. The difference is that I was able to distance myself for long enough and far enough that it doesn’t matter anymore. It wouldn’t matter if most of them said the same things today, because I have taught myself that I don’t need them. They’re not important enough to hurt me like they did before.

I am more than that. I am more than one choice or one mistake or one job. I am a whole person.


Irony

I decided to have a look through my drafts, to see what needed to be finished and published. I found this, from June 15, two days after I started this incarnation of my blog.

    If only everyone wore signs, like ‘God’s planner’ or ‘poor advice giver’ or, rarest of the rare, ‘will support you no matter what.’ It’s impossible to judge how people will react to your bad news. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if there’s an opportunity to recommend a course of action, you will get recommendations. That’s not the bad thing in itself, it’s when you follow the course that you do choose it will inevitably be the opposite of what some think to should do. I isolated myself by staying married, from almost everyone, including my husband, because so few truly understood how I felt about what had happened.

I left the title; I don’t remember where I was going with this, what the irony was, but it stays.

Yesterday Mo posted her return to Group Therapy Thursdays. The last submission, about infidelity and wanting to make a marriage work, obviously struck a chord with me, so I responded with my take.

Later, there were a few more choruses of, as I expected, ‘leave him.’ But one was a little more vehement than most. And I was deeply offended.

I was offended because she made those generalizations that I talked about the other day, but this time, I bit back. Respectfully, because I don’t want to be that girl, especially on Mo’s blog, but sincerely, because I felt like her words were a personal attack on my choices.

I chose my marriage. I chose my husband. That’s not just saying I chose marriage over divorce, or Ian over anyone else.

I chose my marriage over my family’s objections. Thankfully, the ones I care about have accepted that, and Ian and Abby, with open arms.

I chose my marriage over my friends’ objections. I can safely say that I have exactly one friend left.

I chose my marriage over my job. A job I loved, but I went through hell every single day because of the choice I made. Since all three of us worked for the same company, and I was the only one left there after I found out, everyone knew. At first it was just ‘other fish in the sea’ comments, but when they found out about her pregnancy, I became an idiot, completely undeserving of sympathy or common courtesy.

Ian made the same choice, and in some ways, has suffered a lot more. His mother refuses to speak to him because she thinks I don’t want him to have anything to do with Abby (serious WTFs going on there). He doesn’t go hang out with friends like he used to. And it’s pretty hard to find a job when your former boss has been doing this for twenty years, knows everyone, and gives a bad reference out of spite.

My point is not ‘oh, feel sorry for me.’ My point is that this choice is hard enough to make. Being bombarded with ‘it’ll never work’ and ‘he’ll just do it again’ only makes it worse, because nobody knows whether or not it’ll work. Nobody knows whether or not he’ll do it again.

The question isn’t ‘do I want to make this work?’ The question is ‘how much of my old life am I willing to lose, since I’ve already lost the marriage I had?’ But it’s still a very personal question, that only one person can answer.

When someone asks for advice, it’s because there are choices. Just because you have advice to give doesn’t mean you’re aware of all the choices. Just because you have one side of the story doesn’t mean you know everything about it, or even enough to make an informed decision.

When someone asks for advice about a situation as horrendous as this, choose your words carefully. If you advise leaving and she stays, you can’t take back calling her husband a cheating piece of shit. You can’t take back ‘bastard doesn’t deserve you’ and ‘you can do better.’ If she stays, your negative words reflect on her. It’s one thing for me to scream them at Ian, but another for you to tell me I’m making the stupidest mistake of my life.

And you know what? I did scream those things, and I meant them, and look at us now. We are the cutest couple alive. We are happy, we are in love, and we value and appreciate each other. So much for ‘it never works.’


Free Advice Day

Many websites are protesting SOPA today with a blackout, but Mel at Stirrup Queens proposed a Free Advice Day as a way of showing the good the Internet has available.

Now, I couldn’t tell you why, but this is always the first thing that pops into my head for useful tips, hopefully only because I used to be a phlebotomist.

  • Hydrogen peroxide can take blood out of just about any fabric. Clothes, furniture, carpet. Use a cotton swab or cotton ball for small spots, and a sponge or rag for larger ones, but I hope you never have any that big. Just keep blotting until it’s gone. If you have your doubts about colorfastness, as always, test an unobtrusive area first.
  • But here is my area of expertise:

    How to Plan Meals

    Before you go to a store or make a list or look at sale papers, the first thing to do is organize your kitchen. Go through your pantry, fridge, and freezer and throw away everything that’s expired or you know you’ll never eat. If you want to include a good deed, have a box on your counter to put things you can donate to your local food pantry, shelter, or church.

    I can’t be the only person who moved three times with the same can of cherry pie filling. If I am, let me go on believing I’m not, please. So just get rid of all that stuff. Clean out the condiments in the fridge door that you tried once and nobody liked. Throw away those unidentifiable freezer leftovers. Don’t forget the spice rack!

    Now you have a clean slate. You know what you have and what you need, and you have plenty of room for what you need. This is the time to consider your cooking level. How much time do you devote to preparing meals? How much effort? What’s your fallback meal?

    So now that you know what you have and what kind of cook you are, you can figure out what you need.

    I have the time and inclination to make most of our dinners from scratch, so I focus on keeping staples like flour, sugar, cornmeal, rice and pasta, and fresh meats and vegetables on hand. If you’re more of a one box cook, then you’d need a stock of box dinners, ground meat or canned tuna, maybe some canned veggies or bagged salads.

    We usually have fend-for-yourself breakfasts, so cereal or leftover pizza is pretty common. If you can get up at the crack of dawn to make waffles, I hope your family knows how lucky they are. We have a lot of cereal on top of the fridge, you have a lot of dirty dishes by 8am. It evens out.

    If you like making lists, here’s your chance, because menu plans are amazing. They will save you time, money, and stress. How I started meal planning was with lists. I made a list of what my husband and I love for dinner, but I also made a list of what we do not love. I can do chicken and rice a couple times a month because he loves it, and he can do stew a couple times a month because I love it.

    Once I had a good idea of what we could eat how often, I could start making some actual plans. I look over the weekly sale papers and know what my leftovers are so I can see what I have to work with.

    Right now, I have a ton of leftovers. It’s a disaster, I promise, but my appetite has been poor, and my husband usually won’t eat leftovers unless they’re incorporated into something new. However, whole chickens are on sale, so we’ll pick up two or three and throw em in the freezer. So my plan for the next week will include:

  • rotisserie chicken
  • chicken and rice casserole (with rotisserie leftovers)
  • chicken and gravy over rice (with rotisserie leftovers)
  • steak fried rice (with preexisting steak leftovers)
  • rotisserie chicken (yes, again, we love our rotisserie)
  • chicken and pasta with béchamel sauce (with rotisserie leftovers)
  • chicken jambalaya (with rotisserie leftovers)
  • I only have five dinners per week to cook, because we have pizza night on Tuesdays and Chinese night on Fridays, but I try to have at least one extra option, so we have a little wiggle room if we’re not feeling like something.

    Iceberg lettuce is on sale this week, so I can have some side salads, and we have carrots already.

    And now I know I can go pick up three chickens, two heads of lettuce, a bag of flour, a pound of rice and some fresh green beans and have something different every night, with fresh rolls, for about $16. Cool, huh?