Thursday, May 27, 2010

Much Ado about Nothing...

I guess I am writing about the fact that I have nothing to write about. Ha Ha!

Oh, I’ve written a little here and there in my journals and whatnot. But, nothing I want to share with you guys as they’re deeply personal. Sometimes, I wish I could because I would so love for you to get a glimpse of me. In fact, I did write up something back in June 2009 with the sole purpose of sharing it with everyone. But, I chickened out.

So, I guess I will share a few of my random quotes. These are thoughts that came into my brain at the spur of the moment. Thoughts that just hit me with clarity while I’m out and about wandering, doing chores, or whatnot. I had to write them down for posterity’s sake.

NOTE: My man said the following upon reading my first draft: "you should expand on each of those quotes - what it means to you, why it came to you and why do you feel it is important enough to share with people." I asked "You think so?" His response was "No, I just said that to hear my head rattle. Of course, I think so. I'm just trying to encourage you to elaborate on things. WHY those quotes came to you, are important to you, etc., reveals more about who you are than the actual quotes do".

So, blame him for my turning this short post to a lengthy one. Also, blame him if you witness me going stark raving nuts with anxiety after I click on “publish”. Ha!

“Do not hate me for having thoughts of my own…”
This one some of you have already heard. This came to me when I first got onto facebook and started sharing my thoughts. I got so anxious and whacked out over the whole thing. I am just not comfortable expressing my true thoughts and opinions. By the way, I thank those of you who “validated” me when I put this quote in my status on facebook.

“We’re all human beings, not monsters! Although, some monsters are disguised as human beings.” (12/2/09)
I remember that my mind "shouted" the first sentence. And then, it quietly followed it with the second. I faintly recall at the time that people were calling those who have "evil" thoughts "monsters". It seems to me it was a blurb about a rapist, or a pedophile, or something similar that started it all.

I've always felt that people are not monsters for just having "evil" thoughts. Usually, a person immediately purges those "evil" thoughts from his/her mind. In other words, they don’t dwell on them.

It's the constantly thinking about, and then acting them out, that makes it monstrous. In other words, it's the acting out of their "evil" thoughts that makes a person a monster (evil). So, a monster could be disguised as a human being because that person encourages and/or willed it into existence.

“It used to be normal. But now, I don’t know what normal is. (12/29/09)”
Nothing is "normal" for me anymore simply because I had trashed what I thought that OTHERS considered "normal" for me. I pretty much don't care what others may think of me anymore. Well, I do care. But, I don't want to sacrifice my self anymore in the process. I'm trying to figure out what MY "normal" is.

I bet that doesn't make sense to you. Oh well, I tried. C'est la vie!

“If they get themselves in a fix, this doesn’t mean you need to box them in it.” (01/13/10)
I remember clearly how this came into my brain. I was thinking deep thoughts again while I was out and about running errands. I was approaching a car already pulled out in a left turn lane waiting for an opportunity to turn in the midst of heavy traffic. I instinctively knew to stop quite a ways behind him. The light turned yellow and then red. He got stuck in the middle of the intersection with no way out but backwards. I motioned for him to back up as there was plenty of room to do so and he did. And then, the above quote came into my brain.

My thoughts at this time were running along the lines of how people have the tendency to box people up in their own preconceived perceptions and ideas about who those people are. They even put labels on them. And, they will not let them out nor help them get out. They often will keep you in that box that is either your or their creation at all cost.

Why do people box people up? Label them? And then get shocked when that person breaks out? Or change? Or whatever? And, then try their hardest to put them right back into the box?

For example: My mother, and sometimes my family, will not let me grow up or expand from her / their preconceived ideas of who I am. Once upon a time, I had no skills in cooking. She didn't think I could cook. Whose fault was that anyway? No matter. I am digressing. Back to the point.

She has a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that I can and do cook well. There were times in the past when both Dan and I were in her kitchen. He would be guiding, helping, or just keeping me company while I did most of the cooking or baking. She would end up praising and thanking Dan for the meal, dessert, or whatever I had mostly made. He would correct her. I usually let it roll over me like water off a duck.

However, the last time something like this happened, it really irked me. I think it’s because some family was around and they too didn’t believe it of me. It’s like their minds cannot grasp such a concept.

Another thing, why do people who witness people getting boxed in something of their own making and will not give them a helping hand to get out? It is usually trouble of some kind.

It's kind of like that guy I mentioned who got stuck in the middle of the intersection because he was antsy and thought there would be an opening in time. Most people would have approached and stopped behind him at the point where he would have no room to back up and get out of the middle of traffic. And then, what makes it worse is that some people wouldn't even bother backing up if they can to help them get out of the jam.

Some just box people in and never let them out.

“You could let pain conquer you or you could conquer over pain.” (01/20/10)
At the time, I was experiencing pain in BOTH shoulders. I was recovering from a Rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder when I somehow managed to injure the right one with the same or a similar injury.

I was thinking about how painful therapy for the left shoulder was and how I could have let it (the pain) stop me. But, I pushed through and eventually, the pain lessened. I realized that therapy was a good thing in spite of the pain. It taught me to keep going and not to coddle my injuries.

This, in turn, made me think of my Daddy. He didn't let pain (injuries) stop him from doing anything. He pushed through.

So, you could let "pain conquer you" – let it stop you from living life. Or, you could "conquer over pain" – keep on living in spite of it. My natural inclination is to just quit. But, persistence is the key – just keep trying and don’t give up. This is not an easy thing to do. I know.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good News (About the Homeless Dog)

I first mentioned about this abandoned dog here: Animal Abandonment (and a Rant)

I have not seen him for about a week. I tried not to think about him and hoped for the best.

Well, I saw him today. He was sitting near the usual spot, looking perky and happy. At first, I thought "Oh No! He's back!". And then, I thought something looked different about him; but, I couldn't figure it out. It dawned on me a few seconds later that he had on a collar and a tag!

It was a bright red color and the tag was bone shaped. I was happy to see this! He now belongs to someone.

Thought y'all would be happy to hear this. I know I was happy to see it!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fun in the Kitchen III (Pizza! Pizza!)

Pizza Sauce: Fun in the Kitchen I

Pizza Dough: Fun in the Kitchen II

This pizza was made the Tuesday after we made the pizza dough.

The cast of characters for making the pizza itself.

A little flour on the surface you plan to roll dough on goes a long ways. My man usually does this for me as he’s a little better at it than me.

Roll the dough into the size you want. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round. In fact, this one came out a little more rectangular than circular.

We make our pizza right onto the pizza peel. So, we put a little corn meal on it before placing the dough on top. This helps it slide right off the peel onto the baking stone in the oven.

Roll up the edge of the dough. I found that I like smaller crusts. So, mine tends to be small. Others like larger crusts. My man doesn't even bother rolling it up when he makes his personal pizzas. It all depends upon your tastes and preferences.

Dab a little olive oil onto the dough before placing ingredients on top. The olive oil acts like a barrier and is supposed to help the dough from getting soggy from the sauce and whatnot. We found this to be true in the instances we forgot to do this step.

Spread some pizza sauce onto the dough. This was fresh pizza sauce I had made earlier, which is why it is in a bowl. If you stored the pizza sauce in a baggie, thaw it out it and/or bring it to room temperature first. Clip a corner of the baggie and squeeze out the sauce onto the dough and spread it out by whatever utensil you heart desires to use.

We tend to use about 1 ½ cups of Mozzarella, ¼ cup of Parmesan, and ¼ cup of Romano. We try to get block cheeses and grate them ourselves. But, it’s hard to find block cheeses at either Wal-Mart or HEB nearby. We would have to make a special trip to Whole Food Market to get them and sometimes, they don’t even have them!

Also, the types of cheeses used are a personal taste thing. We found through experimentation that we like this mixture best. You'll need to experiment to discover what you like best. I think some members of my family use Mozzarella only. I guess I have refined tastes. Ha!

Anyway, we spread 1 to 1 ¼ cup of Mozzarella onto the pizza first.

Then the parmesan goes on…

And then Romano goes on… I found this in block size at Wal-Mart, which is why I am using the Microplane grater. And yes, I always wing it (estimate the portions).

Place pepperoni on top. I love pepperoni. Use whatever toppings your heart desires. We’re going to try a BBQ Chicken pizza someday soon. It’ll have BBQ sauce instead of tomato, provolone cheese instead of mozzarella, and chicken with onions instead of pepperoni. I saw this mixture in a recipe in one of the food magazines I get and thought it sounded delish.

And then, we put the rest of the Mozzarella on top. Yummo!

We’ve been throwing it onto a baking stone in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. By the way, we used 400 degrees in our oven back at the house we used to have in Houston. So, you’ll have to experiment to get the right temperature for your temperamental oven.

This is what our pizza looks like when it’s done. It tastes a lot better than it looks.

Cut it up and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mother's Oleander

My Mother has always liked Oleanders. My big brother planted an Oleander for her late last year where she could see it daily from her kitchen table. She was thrilled. She was going outside every two days and watering the thing.

The sad thing is that she never got a chance to see it bloom. So, I took a couple of pictures last week, had one printed off yesterday, and sent it (along with a couple of other pictures) to her. At least, she'll get to see that it did indeed bloom.

This post is mostly for my big brother, who I thought would like to see a picture of it when it was blooming. I thank him for making Mother happy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Update on Mother

Surprising, Mother is doing rather well. She is getting stronger and I think, she’s happier because no one is pushing her to do this or that (she didn't like the therapists because of this). Anyway, Dan and I were rather surprised to see Mother get up under pretty much her own power Sunday night with just guidance of an assistant. She walked rather quickly too.

She has been walking pretty much all week. She now walks from her room and down the hallway. I’m not very good with estimating distances. But, I walked the length she’s walking estimating the feet and came up with 45 feet. So, it’s between 40 to 50 feet. She walks a tad more on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays because she is encouraged to walk from the bed to the shower. This is a LOT more than she has been doing when I left over two weeks ago.

She still has a long way to go if she is ever to return home. She has to be able to sit up (which she is currently unable to do on her own), get up and walk for a bit so that she can use the bathroom if she needs to, get some eats, etc., & etc.

From what I am witnessing, there is still hope she'll return home. It’s just going to take her a little longer than usual. Thinking back on Mother and her personality, she’s not the one to be pushed. And, it seems to me that she was always was slow in recovering from major injuries simply because she does not push herself once she gets tired, feeling sick, or in pain. However, I think she has been pushing herself just a little bit. And, I think she is getting over her fear of falling, which is awesome.

She did mention several times she wants to go home. So, that desire is still alive within her and hopefully, driving her.

Springtime in Garner Pictures

We had a wonderful day at Garner State Park on Sunday, May 2, 2010 in spite of discovering I had a hole in my pocket of my shorts and lost my expensive phone. We did backtrack looking for it; but, I honestly believe someone picked it up. I tried to shrug off the loss and enjoy the rest of the day. Dan helped a little with that; but, let me tell you, it was not an easy thing to do! I have too much of my Dad in me. All I could think was that “I lost a lot of money”. Ha!

Anyway, I am thankful that whoever had my phone couldn’t use it in that area as it is “out of service” range. We immediately suspended my phone upon returning home. Fortunately, this mean that the phone was “killed” and whoever has it would be unable to activate it just by asking. So, that was a relief.

Anyway, we relaxed and wandered about Garner. Let me tell you, it’s absolutely beautiful in the springtime!

I posted pictures in our Pictorial Reminiscence blog. Check them out if you’re interested. I do hope you enjoy them if you do.

Springtime in Garner

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s day to all of you who are Mothers – cats and/or dogs count too!

I am thankful for my Mother. She gave me the gift of life when she could have had me aborted at the advice of several doctors. (She had Rubella, otherwise known as the German measles, during the 10th week of pregnancy with me).

I am thankful that she (and my Dad) made many sacrifices so that I would learn to speak and read lips – this costs time with my other siblings and I do believe some of them resented me and/or Mom for choosing to make sure I am going to classes and whatnot. As a result, Mother missed many what I call “Mom’s days” at their schools.

I am thankful that Mother was creative in sewing. She would create these awesome belts with a pocket out of wide elastic lace that went around my waist to hold my body aid and it was hidden underneath my clothes. She also made lots of cute clothes for me. I still remember a few of them including the ones that had a matching outfit for my doll.

I am thankful that my Mother was supportive of my efforts and desires to follow my brothers and be a part of band. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have music to keep me going – probably become a dropout because I absolutely disliked school. It turned out that no one needed to worry – I had the talent and the desire in spite of my deafness.

I am thankful to my sister-in-laws, who are Mothers themselves. They allowed us to be a part of their children’s lives as much as we were able to be. I am thankful especially to one of my brothers and his wife for allowing us to be a part of their children’s growing up days. It was fun attending major and minor events and watching them grow up. Thank you for letting us be a part of their lives. I am feeling a great sadness that they’ve grown up and having lives of their own; but, I am proud of them at the same time for they have matured into wonderful young men.

I am thankful that I got to see my nieces frequently too. Even though we lived far apart, we still got a chance to see them, especially around holidays. I am so proud of how they’ve grown and matured. And, they’ve become (or about to become) awesome Mothers themselves. My youngest niece, also my Goddaughter, is the one about to become a Mother and I’m absolutely thrilled. I wish we lived a tad closer. This one feels special to me and I want to be a part of that baby’s life too if they’ll let me.

We are entering an era where our nieces and nephews are grown up and I have to confess that I feel sad and “ancient”. I am thankful that my oldest niece shares about her kid’s lives with us all. She is doing fabulously with them. They are the cutest little kids and look so happy.

I am also thankful that a cousin’s wife does the same thing with his own kids. She is an awesome Mother... And, I’m thankful to my husband’s brother and his wife because they do the same thing with their own (share pictures and tidbits). It is fun watching them grow up “virtually”.

What is it about kids, especially your relative’s kids, that tug at your heartstrings? You’d do anything, within your power, for them. Well, except change stinky diapers!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fun in the Kitchen II (Pizza Dough)

I blogged about making Pizza (or Tomato) Sauce way back in January.

Well, several weekends ago, we got together to do another photo shoot. This time it’s pizza dough. For some odd reason, I was a little nervous and/or ditzy this time around. I kept messing things up a little; but, all in all, everything turned out just fine.

Yes, this recipe came from the same book the Pizza (Tomato) Sauce came from.

The Cast of Characters for making Pizza dough.

Measure ½ cup of warm water (about 110 degrees). Stir in about 2 tsp of light brown sugar. The sugar actually helps proof the yeast. Dump in two packets of the active dry yeast. Stir.

And, set it aside for approximately 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, measure out 4 cups of flour…

And, 1 tsp of salt…

Sift them into a large bowl. One of these days, I’ll be a proud owner of a nice large sifter. In the meantime, I make do with a small sifter and divvy it up by the cupful.

Make a depression in the flour mixture.

Add 3 Tbsp. of olive oil.

From here on, I kind of messed up the process (order of doing things). But, the dough still turned out fine. You’re supposed to add a cup of warm water here. But, I forgot. That came later. Oh well, it is okay because it still worked!

By this time, the yeast will have risen (become frothy). Pour that into the flour mixture.

I started mixing up the ingredients and quickly realized that something was off. Oh yeah, the cup of warm water!

Because of my mistake, I struggled with sticky dough all over my fingers. What fun. NOT!

Dust the surface (with flour) on which you will be kneading the dough and start kneading. You will need to do this for 8 to 10 minutes.

As you can see, I don’t knead dough properly. I tend to knead dough with one hand slightly on top of the other, making my left hand sore.

A close-up shot of… Whoa! Those are masculine looking hands! Not mine. Who could they belong to?

It’s Dan my man. What a switch. We often do this when we make dough together. I start, he finishes. I took over the camera and snapped a few shots of him working in the kitchen. Not bad shots if I say so myself.

Form the dough into a ball when you are finished with the kneading process. It doesn’t have to be perfect…

Rub some olive oil in a large clean bowl…

Place the ball into the bowl rubbing the olive oil all over it too.

Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for approximately 1 ½ hours. It does best when place in a warm and draft-free place. I usually use the oven…


Wow! It has risen! Hallelujah!

Beat it back down, gently of course.

Form into a ball and divvy it up into portions. The book says it makes two thin crust pizzas, 12” each. Well, our pizzas are not quite that large and besides, I like thin, I mean thin, crust pizza. So, we divvy ours up into thirds instead of half.

By the way, that gadget I’m using is one handy dandy tool. It not only divides up the dough nicely, it also scrapes up the residue of dough off the surface we used to knead on. Works great!

Place the dough into baggies and throw them into the refrigerator or the freezer. By the way, we divided up a third into thirds this time around so that Dan could make individual pizzas during the weeks I’m out of town (visiting Mother). Anyway, we typical throw a batch in the fridge while the others go directly into the freezer.

Let the dough come to room temperature before rolling it out and using. If it is at room temperature, it is much easier to roll out. Save yourself – let it come to room temperature. Trust me on this one. I know. Rolling out cold dough – it doesn’t work out very well.

Added May 2010: Fun in the Kitchen III (Pizza! Pizza!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Animal Abandonment (and a Rant)

I’ve been noticing a solid white dog in our neighborhood over a month now. He strikes me as a loyal abandoned dog. He is practically waiting… just waiting… in the same area. He just breaks my heart.

Why do people abandon their animals? It’s so heartless and cruel to just dump a poor helpless and innocent animal without making sure of its welfare. They often suffer a lingering death. It is actually illegal in many places (and states) to abandon a pet. But, people who do this are rarely caught.

This dog is somehow managing to find food and water because he is maintaining his weight. Although, as time passes, he acts like he’s losing hope. In the beginning, he was perky – always alert. Now, he practically sleeps all the time and acts depressed.

Here he is lying in the grass. He’s usually out there in full sun and it can get mighty hot here. It’s now in the mid-80s every day and soon will hit the 90s.

I got a little closer, steadied my hand, and when I was ready, I whistled to get his attention. I had to quickly snap this picture because, in the past, he would get up and quickly walk away and disappear into the brush nearby.

I’ve tried taking pictures with my point-and-shoot. Then I tried with a Canon EOS Rebel with EFS 18-55MM lens. These final pictures are a result of using the Canon Rebel with a 70-200 f/2.8L zoom lens. By the time I got to this point, the dog was actually beginning to trust me because he didn’t just disappear. He did anxiously get up, walked across the street and then settled down by the wall instead of doing his usual disappearing act. So, I quietly walked over talking to him all the while…

Here he is. I finally managed to snap a decent picture of him – the way he actually looks. The poor thing is not very trusting of people. I wish I could do something about him; but, we have a rental and the lease forbids dogs. Because he isn’t so trusting, I dare not try to “rescue” him. He seems to be holding his own though. I pray that he gets rescued soon. It’s a sad life he has… just waiting… waiting for his people to come back for him…