Archive

Archive for February, 2011

Things I Learned While Watching the Big Game

February 6th, 2011

Aaron Rodgers goes long

Aaron Rodgers goes long

The Packers beat the Steelers 31 - 25 in Superbowl XLV and this is what I discovered while watching the game:

1. I actually enjoy watching football. Thanks to having to learn the rules to support my brother in high school, I can adequately follow the game (I stopped asking why you can have more than one “1st down” a long time ago).

2. Even though I’m not a fanatic, I’m still a Bart Starr lovin’ Packers fan. I live a lot closer to Pittsburgh, and I don’t have division allegiances, Green Bay just makes me happy. And it will be a lot easier for Arron Rodgers to respond to the Brett Favre (Brett who?) comparisons now.

3. Hardcore competitive sports make me twitchy because I start thinking about how sad the losing side will be. In 1993, the White Sox were in the pennant play-offs and I started begging God to take the series to at least five games (for my Dad). I then started thinking about people who where living with wars and starvation (aka real problems) and backed down. I haven’t been the same since.

4. It doesn’t matter who’s playing halftime, the sound is going to suck and it’s going to seem like a lame concert to the people watching at home. I’m sure in the stadium the Black Eyed Peas were awesome.

5. I’m just really happy that a team from the smallest city, smallest TV market and that is community owned won. And, truly, both teams were class acts. It’s much more fun to watch when highly paid athletes aren’t acting like 5 year-olds.

Congratulations Packers!

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It’s Chili Time!

February 5th, 2011

Fixin's!

Fixin's!

This week, I am entering two different competitive chili cooking events. Tomorrow’s at church will be won by virtue of how many people pay for a taste of my chili. The prize at the annual chili-off at work (which I won two years ago and thus began slacking off) is awarded based on averaging the rankings given by the staff. In either case, it’s a chance for me to win a cooking contest - something that is slightly crazy considering that I mostly only cook for me and I rotate about six meals in total.

My base recipe came from my mom. The first time I made it, I had a tactical error and added a tablespoon of salt instead of the required teaspoon because the recipe card said tps and not tsp (my own fault though - I should have recognized the transposed letters). Since then, I’ve experimented - adding more chili powder and garlic and, recently, frozen corn for color and sweetness - and now I feel like it’s really my chili.

I suppose you think something is yours when you can make it without a recipe. I know what I need and how much without pulling out my master cookbook. And, honestly, for anything I make that’s more than “add cheese,” this may be the only recipe I can say that about. When my mother met my father, so the story goes, one of the few things she could cook was spaghetti sauce (she is now a wonderful, and very adventurous, cook who loves discovering new things for her massive recipe file). And that sauce is really good. It’s a meat-based tomato sauce, cooked slowly with wine added that gives it a richness. When I was leaving for college, I asked for the recipe and she said, “There isn’t one! I just pull together whatever tomato cans are in the pantry!” She ended up writing something down, but it still said: tomato sauce or paste or soup, what’s on hand. Mom’s spaghetti is all the more special because it’s hers, and it can never truly be mine.

That’s OK! I have my award-winning chili (which I don’t make for family, because it’s too spicy). For the record, tomorrow’s chili will be vegetarian, because every last person I asked last Sunday said, “You can make it with meat, but then I won’t eat it.” Tuesday, I could go crazy and make a new recipe - to stay on top, you have to innovate. I was going to make a Cincinnati-style chili, but I won’t eat tomato sauce with cinnamon, so I wouldn’t be able to give my pot a high enough ranking to win. I’ll make “my” chili, and be very happy eating it!

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Keeping My Balance

February 4th, 2011

This poor cat is currently completely buried in the middle of my front yard.

This poor cat is currently completely buried in the middle of my front yard.

I think there’s some truth to the impression that Midwesterners are never fully happy with the weather, no matter what season. In the summer, we complain that it’s too hot. And, this winter, I heard my first complaint about snow maybe three weeks after the first flakes fell. It’s like we all forget what’s going to happen next (which at this point is snow and ice until March - and that’s if we’re lucky).

And, the funny thing is, I think most of us in the upper Midwest really love the change of seasons. We even love snow (well, maybe not those poor people stuck in their cars on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago for 12 hours). What makes me cranky - and probably everyone else - is our lack of mobility during winter. In summer, I get dressed, run out of the house, jump in my car and drive to work. Now, I have to wrap up in 19 layers - sweaters, coats, boots, hats, mufflers, gloves - before I even crack the front door. Then it’s scraping the windshield, brushing the snow off the car, digging out the driveway and driving slowly, trying not to slide off the road. Plus, I can never walk at a normal pace. The first time you try to go somewhere quickly in winter, bam! Down you go and you’ve broken something.

But, maybe that’s good. Every year I can relearn my lessons about patience and diligence and finding joy in quiet, inside moments. The ice makes me aware of my balance and forces me to count my steps. The snow gives me 10 minutes of cardio while I consider the day ahead. And every trip - by car or by foot - is deliberate. When nothing is easy, each decision is important. Winter makes us stronger because we must own our lives in a very different way from the carefree days summer. Still, a nice thaw every now and then with a bright shiny day thrown in never hurt anyone.

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They Aren’t Really My Friends

February 3rd, 2011

This is the shelf for TV shows. It's mostly Friends.

This is the shelf for TV shows. It's mostly Friends.

I’m not watching Friends right now - and that’s ok. There are reruns every night from 10 - 11 p.m. and I’ve watched the entire run of the series more than once. Then, I bought the series on DVD - used at the CD Game Exchange - so I could watch the shows without bits cut out for syndication (plus I can listen to the producers say basically the same things - like how they love the episodes when it’s just the friends alone in their apartments - over and over in the commentaries). It all seems really extreme.

I don’t know what it is about Friends. It’s not my habit to buy DVDs of TV shows (I’d say unless they’re British or really old - but truthfully, all I have are 7 seasons of Friends and one season each of 30 Rock, Gilmore Girls and Coupling) and I saw all of these shows the first time around. Maybe it’s because the show debuted when I was in grad school and was on through school, the year in Florida and my early days at WKSU - it takes me back to happy days. Or, it’s because I think Matthew Perry is cute. I’m not sure.

So, I can come in here and blog and not mind missing the one where Rachel lets Marcel out and the creepy girl she went to high school with tries to take Ross’ monkey (not a euphemism). Because, I can always watch it later.

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Snow Day!

February 2nd, 2011

Cathleen bundled up for winter. In a card store.

Cathleen bundled up for winter. In a card store.

The main Kent campus was closed for the second day in a row and, since I’m not essential, I stayed home. The funny thing is, I managed to actually work a full 8 hours (round abouts - there’s no time clock in the guest room). Because this year, and I don’t know why, we’ve had so many snow days that they no longer seem exotic. I could sit around in my pajamas and watch bad television or I could rework the awards spreadsheet (which I emailed home at the first sign of trouble) and start E-Notes. Wearing stretchy pants.

It’s sad to lose the joyful anticipation that snow days brought on when we were kids. But, we’d get bored then, too. I’d bake or read or do crafts. I remember once, taking the bus downtown and working in the Ft. Wayne Civic Theater’s scene shop for the day. During the giant spring blizzard in 1978, we were snowed into the house for days, drinking powdered milk and driving each other crazy. I finally walked across the street to visit my best friend Cathleen. It took me an hour. To cross the street. Her family came back over for dinner and when her mother saw all of the snow in our driveway, she said, “Forget walking!” She lay down on the snow and rolled herself to the door (we followed suit).

Snow days are fun mostly because they are a surprise and we don’t already have 19 things planned for a “vacation” day. But, like anything, if we get too many, they’re not that special anymore. It just means an extra half hour digging out tomorrow and lots of catch-up for people who didn’t spend today on awards and E-Notes (while wearing stretchy pants).

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Testing My Stamina

February 1st, 2011

Amy Adams gets up every morning at 5 a.m. to blog. Don't count on that.

Amy Adams gets up every morning at 5 a.m. to blog. Don't count on that.

Last week, I rented “Julie and Julia.” The movie is your average, everyday tale of a blogger, turned author juxtaposed with Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep - so awesome) and her days in France. As usual, I completely missed the main point of the movie (I could not get past knowing about Julie Powell’s second book, her affair, etc.) and came away mainly thinking “I should blog more.” I know why I don’t. I’m tired, it’s cold, I’d rather watch TV, there’s a cat on my lap. But, I think I’m going to make an effort to be more like Seth Godin and post every day for a while. It could be a boring disaster, or it might be interesting. Who knows? Seth’s posts aren’t super long, so I’m not saying I’m going to write a chapter a night - just a few observations.

Like, snow is really beautiful. I hated Florida and Georgia because winter just meant all the trees dropped their leaves. Snow actually gives the season change some heft. And, it makes summer so much more sweeter. Although, the older I get, the less fun it is trying to scrape 1/2″ of ice off of my windshield - even if it does go in my plus column for aerobic activity today. Also, even though I have everything I need to bake cookies, I haven’t done it because I don’t have an occasion. I used to bake a lot, just for the family and I could do it for work (many of my coworkers bake for us), I just don’t. One more - every year I dread January, because I know how busy I’m going to be with awards, etc. But, the truth is, even though I’m crazy busy, the time goes very quickly and everyone is very helpful, even when our timeline is blown out because of unforeseen circumstances. And, the more I accept a Zen state of mind around awards, the better it is for everyone.

Check back tomorrow and see whether I’ve posted again. Don’t judge me too harshly if I just give up and watch my new DVD of Georgy Girl.

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