Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Favorite Pictures

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins

The Many Uses of Pumpkin

By Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,Nutrition and Health Education SpecialistBarton County University of Missouri Extension

The most popular use of pumpkins may be for jack-o-lanterns and fall decorations, but there are many healthful ways pumpkin can be used. When eaten, pumpkin provides vitamin A, potassium, protein, and vitamin C. Pumpkin is also low in calories.

When choosing a pumpkin for cooking, choose a small pumpkin that weighs between two and six pounds. Look for one that has one or two inches of stem left. Pumpkins with shorter stems decay more quickly. Choose a pumpkin that has a rich orange color with skin that cannot be easily broken or scratched by your fingernail.

If you want your pumpkin to have multiple uses, you can first paint a funny face on it for a decoration using non-toxic paints. After the holiday, you can wash and cook it.

When selecting a pumpkin for cooking, “pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin” is a good choice, but the jack-o-lantern variety can also be used for eating. For every pound of whole pumpkin, you can expect to get one cup of pumpkin puree.

To maximize the use of your pumpkin, start by removing the stem with a sharp knife. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and scrape the stringy part away. Wash the seeds in warm water and spread them out to dry. To roast, spray a pan with oil and spread the seeds thinly on the pan. Salt, or any seasoning that appeals to you, such as cheesy popcorn or cajun seasoning, can be sprinkled on the seeds. Bake in a 250 degree oven 15-20 minutes.
There are three ways to prepare a pumpkin so you can get pumpkin puree.

To bake it, cut the pumpkin in half. Place the pumpkin, cut side down on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350°F degrees until fork tender, or about an hour.

To microwave it, place the cut side of half of the pumpkin on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for fifteen minutes or until fork tender.

For boiling, cut the pumpkin into large chunks and rinse in cold water. Place the chunks in a large pot in about an inch of water. Cover the pot and boil for 20-30 minutes until tender.

In order to make pumpkin puree, cool and peel the pumpkin. Then place the pumpkin in a food processor, blender, ricer or a potato masher to puree it.

Pumpkin puree can be used in any recipe in which you use purchased canned pumpkin. Pumpkin puree can be frozen at 0°F degrees for up to one year. If you run out of time and energy before you start the puree process remember, pumpkins can be stored for several months if kept at 50-55 degrees°F in a dry airy place.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why I Hate Technology

I don't mean to sound like an old cardmugen, O.K., well maybe I kind of do. But I really can't say that I am that fond of technology. Yesterday, for example, I wanted to write something. To add a bit to something that I had already started. I sat down and wrote with a pen and paper for one hour and wrote about six pages. Today I attempted to post a 1/2 page journal entry on one of my web pages. Internet Explporer was having difficulty posting the page. I had to re-write it three times (the computer was also having trouble saving the information). It took me almost two hours to write less than half of what I had written by hand using the computer.

Our printer cartridge is empty. The printer is old. This needs to be ordered, first found, then ordered on-line. I felt elation today when I found a cartridge that was the correct size and had been stored properly so it wouldn't dry out. Well, it wasn't dry. The ink spilled all over my hands during the 5-6 times I attempted to install it and then print. The only place where there was no ink was on the paper that I was trying to print (the one place where ink would have been helpful). Now my fingers are a beautiful shade of greenish-black, quite lovely.

This was the morning that I also decided to upload some photos. I had been given specific instruction by my significant other as to where to store these photos once uploaded. I hooked up the camera, prepared to make my choices, and some program started running automtically. Grabbing photos and storing them where? I am not sure because I could not find them. I know that they were not in the appropriate place. When I finally did locate them, I tried to save everything on a CD. I said "select all." The program would not save any pictures on the CD because I had not selected any. After trying to reason through how to make "select all" more clear to the computer, I gave up the ghost. There is only so much time during the day.

While I do work part-time, I am for the most part a stay-at-home mom. If you are ever wondering what a stay-at-home mom does all day, here is your answer: Tries to make technology work for her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Working Part-Time...

There seems to be an influx of new employees at my current job. This is quite noticeable to me for the following reasons, I work for a small business, I don't seem to know any one's name anymore, and these new people are so damn young, I mean just out of college young. The other day I was checking my personal e-mail in our shared computer area (I work in health care, we don't have our own computers unless you bring your own from home) and I found myself reflexively commenting out loud about some commitment I had made and than promptly forgot about for one of my children. My very young co-worker, seated at the computer next to me, asked me to elaborate and I found myself trying to explain my life as if she could really even understand. I found this to be impossible, so I just gave up and mumbled something about "kid responsibilities."

I didn't used to be one of the oldest people at my place of employment. I also used to work more hours than I currently do and be more involved in office politics, socializing, and drama. The socializing is pretty impossible. Most people want to meet after work for drinks and appetizers. That time frame doesn't work for me, that is the time when I am meeting my children for homework and macaroni and cheese. Drinks after 9:00pm, preferably on a weekend evening fit into my schedule just fine. Therefore I do not have any outside of work opportunities to get to know any of these new people.

Recently I have noticed longing stares from these newbies when I exit the office to end my day at 2:00 or 3:00pm. Now these glances are punctuated with comments, "It must be nice to get off so early" or "Go and enjoy the beautiful day!" Now I don't want to seem negative in regards to my children, but picking them up from school, playing soccer, ballet, Girl Scout, playdate, play rehearsal, school meeting, bell ringers shuttle services, trying to prepare some manner of healthy dinner, doing two or three loads of laundry, helping with homework, getting baths/showers done, breaking up arguments, taking phone calls, and answering e-mail (which is about all I do between the hours of 3:00pm-9:00pm everyday) is not exactly my version of relaxing and enjoying my "time off." Not to mention the fact that the only reason I don't work more hours is that there is no such thing as quality childcare and anything that comes close costs more than what I make per hour.

This is perhaps one of the single most difficult things for people without children to understand. Childcare is challenging to find. My oldest child has ADD. She cannot do homework in a group childcare environment after school. She can barely get homework done working in a quiet bedroom by herself. This was the single biggest reason that I cut my hours in the first place. It would help if she weren't a smart child. Most childminders that I have been able to find are not as smart as my daughter is in the 4th grade and homework quickly becomes a battle between them that they lose, so it doesn't get done. I did look for two years for a child minder who could do all of the things that I do, for less money than I make per hour, and came up empty-handed. I have decided that my job must just be impossible to fill.

I am not sure that it would do much good to try and explain myself to this younger crowd. I remember being the same way all those years ago when I was childless and single and didn't have to plan time for myself. Then again maybe I should try and explain it. It is the only time in your life (unless you remain childless and single) that your free time is not dictated by the schedule of others, when you can really just spontaneously go out and enjoy the beautiful day without having to worry about school pick-up times or paying the babysitter. I realize that I wish someone had tried to tell me those things, maybe I would have appreciated that freedom more when I had it. As for now, my ten minutes at the computer are up. I am going to go finish folding the laundry and think about what we are going to have for dinner.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Favorite Pictures

This is my favorite Fall place

One Art by, Elizabeth Bishop (1927-1979)

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent,
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love)
I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Book Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma by, Michael Pollen

I have to say that I was initially skeptical about this book. I really wanted to read it, actually I felt obligated to read it. So many people had said so many good things about it. I am naturally the type of person that veers away from something that comes too highly recommended. It seems that if it has to be that buoyed by everyone it is too slick and commercial for me to enjoy. Also, I was afraid that this book would condemn meat eaters and I am just not ready, probably never will be, to become a vegetarian. My favorite part was when he talked about how easy it is to be a vegetarian when you live in an urban area and are more removed from the laws and activities of nature.

In actuality, this author gave many good reasons for not becoming vegetarian. These are discussed in "The Ethics of Eating Animals" chapter. This author set out to follow four different meals to the end of their food chain. They were as follows, the industrial food chain which culminated in a meal from McDonals that was eaten in the car. The Big Organic food chain ended in a meal made from products purchased almost entirely from Whole Foods. The family farm food chain was next on the list. The author spent a week working with quite a wondrous and interesting "old school" family farmer. The meal culminated in foods grown on this farm, most notably a chicken from the stock that the author became brave enough to help butcher. The last food chain, the natural food chain was the most impressive. The author cooked and served a meal to friends that he foraged, hunted, and gathered himself. He did have some help with things like homemade wine and wild hog pate, but overall the meal was mostly his creation and cost nothing.

This book gives interesting thoughts on how we eat and what eating means in our culture and what it used to mean in cultures past when people lived and died closer to the earth. This book also clarified some things that I have long suspected regarding how our diet contributes to the look and feel of our bodies in this culture. What the meat that you eat eats makes a huge difference, same goes for the plants, and dairy products. Contrary to popular belief, dairy products on the mass level are not necessarily produced without causing harm to the animals.
This is an acting book, I don't think that one can help but not make some changes to what they eat or how after reading it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe

The New York Mirror, January 1845
The Raven by, Edgar Allan Poe
This poem was first published in The New York Mirror, January 1845.
Rev. George Gilfillan, a contemporary litterateur of Rev. Rufus Griswald, Poe's literary executor, declared Poe hastened his wife's death to write the poem.
The Reverands and Poe waged bitter war with politeness, justice, and truth on the side of Poe.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door."'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door— Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;— vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow— sorrow for the lost Lenore—For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore— Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtainThrilled me— filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;— This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,That I scarce was sure I heard you"— here I opened wide the door;— Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"- Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before."Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;— 'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayedhe;But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door— Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore."Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,Though its answer little meaning— little relevancy bore;For we cannot help agreeing that no living human beingEver yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke onlyThat one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.Nothing further then he uttered— not a feather then he fluttered—Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before-On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before." Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful DisasterFollowed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of 'Never— nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linkingFancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressingTo the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease recliningOn the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er, She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censerSwung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor."Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee— by these angels he hath sent theeRespite— respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!— prophet still, if bird or devil!—Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—On this home by horror haunted— tell me truly, I implore—Is there— is there balm in Gilead?— tell me— tell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil— prophet still, if bird or devil!By that Heaven that bends above us— by that God we both adore—Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore." Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting—"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!Leave my loneliness unbroken!— quit the bust above my door!Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sittingOn the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted— nevermore!

-The End-

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In Search of a Midnight Kiss

I saw this great IFC film last night, "In Search of Midnight Kiss." It is a about a young man, recently split from a longtime girlfriend and lonely in L.A. He is rooming with a buddy and the buddy's girlfriend (uncomfortable even in the best of circumstances). This guy, Wilson, is all caught up in trying to find a date for New Year's Eve. Dateless and destitute (he lost most of his belongings and a script that he had completed while moving to L.A.), he goes on Craig's List as a misanthrope who needs a date.

He finds a very unique gal on his first try. When he goes to meet her, she announces that she has several "meet and greets" set up and that she should know whether she wants to spend more time with him or not in the first five minutes (a great strategy that I would have used had on-line dating not been in it's early infancy stages when I was last single). There is only one guy after him. She ushers him off to another seat and has like a two minute introduction with this new old, divorced dude and decides he's no good. She dismisses old dude and calls Wilson back.

They proceed to have an adventure filled evening. Full of surprise and unexpected behavior. What I loved most about this movie is that so much of it was dialogue with only two people and it kept my interest for the whole 97 minutes. That's it, dialogue, two people, wandering L.A. on New Year's eve. The young woman, although jaded at first, does warm up and show a life that is heartbreaking and intricate. The young man ends in longing for what he will probably not have and life goes on. If I have the time, I will see this one again.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Favorite Season

It is October, my favorite month. It is Fall, my favorite season. I love it when the air changes and the leaves change. Everything starts again, though we are half-way or more through the year, things still seem "new" during this season. I looked on-line for quotes and poetry to depict my feelings about this month, but came up empty handed. For the most part quotes and poems seem to be limited to the century before last and quite sappy at that. So I have decided to make a list of what I like best about this season:

1) Brightly colored leaves in different hues of the same color pattern
2) Orange pumpkins, collected early and later carved into jack-o-lanterns
3) Witches, ghosts, black cats, haunted houses, and everything Halloween
4) Trying to cook using fresh pumpkin (some things are actually quite good)
5) Darkness gathering early
6) Mist on the spider webs in the morning
7) Fog and dew and dew and fog
8) Making soup
9) Watching movies (the Fall releases are superior to summer)
10) Re-discovering how to wear warm clothes

So maybe this list makes me sound sappy like 19th century poetry. What isn't on the list and can't really be captured in words, at least not for me this early in the morning, it the Fall "feeling." It's change. I used to think that I wouldn't embrace change, now I expect it. Fall gets me used to expecting more of it each year.