Thursday, April 28, 2011

One Ringy-Dingy . . .

When I pulled my iPhone out of my purse, the other day, I saw that I had missed a call, a few minutes earlier, from my friend, Tina. Better call her back, to see if it was something important. Two finger taps later, I was ringing Tina's number, which was stored in my Contacts list. While I was talking with her, I heard a “ting-ting,” which alerted me to the fact that someone (Tim, as it turned out) had texted me. And all of this happened while I was out shopping.

I know cell phone technology has been around awhile, and that my kids hardly remember a time when it wasn’t, but to me it is still amazing.

When I was a child in Portland, we had the standard black rotary phone. It was on a party line, so we had to listen to the pattern of the ring to know if it was a call for us or not. It was, of course, considered rude to listen in on another party's conversation. If we accidentally picked up the phone and heard talking, we were supposed to hang up promptly, to give the other party privacy. Of course, whether you were granted the same consideration all depended on who you shared that line with.

From Oregon, we moved to Alaska, and took a step backward in telephone technology. It was 1957, and Juneau didn’t yet have rotary dials. In place of a dial, a solid black disk was attached to the front of the phone. To call someone we had to lift the receiver, wait for the operator to answer, and then give her (it was always a “her”) the telephone number, which was a color+3-digit-number, such as “Blue 357.” The operator would ring the other party and make the connection once they answered. It wasn’t too long after our arrival that Juneau made the big move to dial phones, and caught up to the technology we had known back in Portland.

"Is this the party to whom I am speaking?" (Lily Tomlin, Laugh-In)

Long distance calls were expensive and rare, usually made only in times of emergency, such as dire illness or death; or in times of celebration, such as the arrival of a new baby. Even though we now had dials on our phones, long distance calls still required the assistance of an operator. Often the trunk lines were busy, so the operator would take our information and call us back when a trunk line became available. On holidays, the wait could be quite long.

To illustrate the rarity of long distance calls, here is a copy of a newspaper article, that ran in my Texas pen pal's hometown newspaper, telling about the phone call she (Ruby Nell) and I planned, executed and paid for ourselves. You'll need to click on it to enlarge and read it. Quite newsworthy, don’t you think?

But what happened if we received a call, back then, and we weren’t home? The answer, of course, is “nothing.” Nothing, at all, happened. The caller hung up and tried again later. There was no way to leave a message, no way to text, and no way to talk with me while I was shopping. (Shopping in Juneau in 1957 just might deserve its own blog.)

As a Juneau school kid – third grade through twelfth – I survived without being constantly tethered, by phone, to my mom and dad. If I got sick or hurt at school, I went to the nurse’s office, and she called my mom. If I forgot my homework or my lunch, too bad! That wasn’t considered an emergency, so I couldn’t use the office phone; we learned quickly NOT to forget our homework or lunch. If my plans changed, and I wanted to go to a friend’s house after school, I waited until school was out and used a pay phone, down the street at Juneau Dairy (where I also bought a Fudgesickle, if I had enough change after placing the phone call) to call Mom and ask permission. Knowing nothing else, we didn't consider this an inconvenience.

So, returning to the 21st century . . . I love my iPhone. I keep my calendar current on it, I have friends’ contact information with me at all times, I can access the internet, I can play games, I can take pictures and even videos, I can store and show-off photos, I can send and receive email or text messages, I can read books and listen to music! It’s almost magical to me, to be honest - very "Star Trek-y." But there was something sweet and simple about the days before rotary dials, answering machines, and cell phones, and I’m glad I have those memories.

Excuse me. Someone's calling.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' April Challenge - Maple Mousse in an Edible Container

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

(Recipe HERE)

Of course, the main ingredient in this month's recipe was beautiful, sweet, pure maple syrup.

For the edible container, I chose to bake tuiles and form them into a bowl shape by draping them over a plastic cup. We had free rein when it came to this part of the challenge.

The mousse, itself, was easy to make, and didn't take a lot of time. It was just about the sweetest, richest thing I've ever tasted! In fact, it was a bit too rich for my taste, although Dan liked it a lot.

To top the dessert, I baked some meringues to a golden brown and let them firm up in the oven after turning it off.

Here is the finished product -- maple mousse in an edible container, topped with a lightly browned meringue dollop.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ready . . . Set . . .

We've cleaned out closets, organized cupboards, moved extra furniture and items to storage, added a little color here and there, rearranged furniture, taken down "personal photos" and replaced them with generic artwork, touched up paint, restained the deck, swept out the garage and myriad other minor tasks; and now our house is READY and SET to GO on the market. It's as good as it's going to get. Bring on those buyers!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Empty House

Chris and Kelsey arrived at the Albuquerque Sunport, on Wednesday night, around 11:00 p.m. Clara managed to stay awake the entire evening, and was there, with Dan, to greet her mommy and daddy as they came through the security gate. She was so excited!

Chris and Kelsey stayed with us Thursday and Friday, and left on Saturday morning, with the children. Sadly, Kelsey was suffering with a jet-lag headache the entire time, and Chris had a cold. Robert was not yet back to his normal cheerful self, either, having on-again, off-again symptoms. I felt so bad for them all, knowing that the best medicine for them would be to be back home in their own beds!

On Friday evening we all felt sufficiently okay to go out to dinner for a belated birthday celebration for Chris. Tim joined us at Lone Star, and we came home, afterward, for strawberry shortcake.

I heard from Kelsey this morning, and she said that Chris is not doing well. He's come down with a few more symptoms. Not a good way to end this adventure.

Despite a rocky finish, I think Chris and Kelsey had a successful and wonderful time in Paris, Belgium and London. Kelsey has begun posting a day-by-day log of their travels, on her blog. Be sure you visit there, to see the photos and read about their vacation (see link to her blog to the right - "Judd Stuff").

And now, Grandpa and I are home alone, in a very quiet house. We'll miss those little sweethearts, for sure. This experience has given us more incentive to get our house sold and get on with our plans to move closer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Late Night

Originally Chris and Kelsey were due into Albuquerque at about 6:45 tonight, but because their connection in Houston was very tight, they opted to take a later flight . . . and then it was delayed. Right now it appears they won't be getting in until more like 11:00 p.m. They will have been enroute for 24 hours! Of course, Clara really wants to go to the airport to see them, so she's trying to stay awake. Robert is in bed, so Dan will drive to the airport, and I'll stay home.

This was our last day "flying solo" with the kids. It's been so much fun, and so much hard work! I forgot how busy a mom of little ones really is. So busy that when I broke a fingernail early the other morning, I didn't find a minute to trim it until they were both in bed for the night. So busy that I forgot to eat both breakfast and lunch most days. So busy that I found it nearly impossible to cook a decent dinner in the evenings; we bought a lot of take-out ;-) And so tired at the end of the day that I not only didn't need to read to fall asleep; I couldn't read because I was too tired to keep my eyes open!

Today, Robert was nearly back to his normal, spunky self. I'm so glad he recovered before his mama and daddy got back. They'll be able to enjoy him rather than worry about him.

A couple days ago Clara found an orange juicer in one of my kitchen drawers and wanted to know what it was. So today I let her squeeze an orange and make juice for her breakfast. She had fun juicing the orange, but wasn't too keen on drinking the juice. I had to laugh when she told me, "I don't like the orange stuff in it."

After naps we went to the duck pond, not far from our house, and fed them. Clara had a great time feeding the ducks, and Robert really liked watching them. He sat on a bench to watch, and a couple of them came right up to him, but he wasn't afraid. He just kept saying, "Duck. Duck. Duck."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Girls' Night Out

While we were eating breakfast, Clara spied a hot air balloon just back of our house. She was so excited. We saw a few the other morning, but they were in the distance. This one ended up coming almost over our house, which was a thrill for her.Although Robert isn't yet in A-One condition, I thought we could all use a little fresh air and change of scenery. It was sunny and warm, so we went to the neighborhood park for about a half hour.

After Dan got home, Clara and I had our Girls' Night Out. She had been counting down the days to this anticipated event!

We started by going to a nail salon and getting her a manicure. I had this vision of a cute little nail technician doing her nails and chatting with her, but it was a little different than that. I knew whoever we got would not speak very much English, because for some reason, here in Albuquerque, almost all nail techs are Vietnamese. But instead of a cute little gal, we got a sort of rough-looking guy! I was a wee bit leery about it, until we sat down and he started. He was very gentle with her. He told her that he was a daddy and had three little girls. And, because she was so good (and cute!), he did some complimentary nail art on both of her thumbnails. Lucky Clara!

After her nails were dry, we went to the Flying Star restaurant for dinner and a special dessert. I told her that just for tonight she didn't have to eat all of her dinner to get dessert, and that just for tonight she could have soda to drink. There's some history to this part of the Girls' Night Out. On my birthday Clara called me to say "Happy Birthday, Grandma." We talked for awhile, and I told her that Grandpa had just taken me out for a special dessert. She wanted to know what it was, and I told her it was an eclair. She didn't know what that was, so I tried to explain it to her and told her that the next time she came to visit us, I would take her out, and we would share an eclair. So that's what we did tonight, after dinner. Wow! This girl LOVES eclairs! We split it in half (it was huge), and she ate her half and part of mine. We had been joking about it all week, saying we would call it an e-clara and that mine would be an e-grandma. But tonight, she insisted we call it by its right name.

Grandma, look how full my tummy is!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pleasant Day

Robert is doing so much better. He has had no fever at all today. His appetite is still poor, but that's to be expected. He was happy and full of energy all day.

This afternoon we got a phone call from Kelsey. Clara got to talk with her, and she was really happy about that.

Clara was so good today. I know it's hard for her to be cooped up with Grandma and an under-the-weather brother. She worked on her scrapbook a little more, did some coloring and some pretending, and watched a few Blue's Clues videos. Because she was so cooperative all day, I popped some popcorn for her this evening. She got to eat it while she watched her before-bed cartoons (part of her nightly routine).

Tomorrow evening will be "Girls' Night Out," that Clara and I have been planning for several days. You'll have to wait to see what that is all about. Dan and Robert will be holding the fort down, here at home, while the two of us have some fun.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Silver Lining

You know what they say about every cloud having a silver lining. Well this craziness over the stolen email contacts is just one on-going black cloud. But the silver lining is that I've had quite a number of phone calls from friends whom I haven't talked with in a long time. Some are checking to make sure I'm not really stranded, penniless, in London. Most are calling to make sure I know about my stolen identity. To those of you who've called, thanks for caring! It's been great talking with you.

The Little Guy is a Little Better

Robert woke this morning feeling a little better, but not back to normal. He had his ups and downs all day. As the day progressed, his fever came back up, so I gave him Infant Motrin. It brought his temperature down, but not for the full 6 hours between doses. When his temp was down, he was happy and playing and full of fun.

When he started getting warm again, he wanted to be held and cuddled, and he slept a lot. I called the clinic, and they told me to increase the Motrin dosage, since it was only working for about three hours. For his bedtime dose, that's what I did, so we'll see how it works. He's sleeping soundly right now, as is Clara.

Clara had a nice day. She went with Grandpa to church. She enjoyed her Bible class, and sat with our friends during worship, while Dan was preaching. Those friends have a middle-school daughter, Haley, and Clara was pretty smitten by her. After worship, Dan and Clara went to lunch with a group of friends, including Haley. When they came home, I asked Clara who she sat with. "Haley. She's nice, and she has pretty clothes!" Dan said Clara ate her entire - as in EVERY BITE - pancakes and bacon breakfast, which is what she wanted for lunch. And he said that she was good as gold the entire morning.

I asked Clara how Grandpa's preaching was. She said it was fine. I asked her what he preached about, not really expecting her to be able to tell me, but she told me that he preached about "a lost sheep and a lost coin and a lost man." Wow! I was so surprised that she heard and remembered that!

Today Clara started a scrapbook about her visit with Grandma and Grandpa. It has photographs, drawings by her, and words that she dictated to me about the pictures. On one page, she wanted to do the writing herself, and she did a nice job. She asked me to spell most words, but some of the words she knew how to spell on her own. It should be a fun little keepsake for her.

Clara continues to receive emails, most days, from her Mommy. Today the mail came from London, with pictures attached, including one of Chris and Kelsey standing outside Buckingham Palace. It appears that they are having a great time. I'm so glad they were able to make this trip together.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Some Days Are Diamonds; Some Days Are Just Plain Rocky

I was up well past midnight last night, trying to get my facebook account closed, though I don't know if it will stop all of the crazy emails, phone calls, and instant messages that have been going out to my friends, falsely, in my name. Sadly, closing a Facebook account is neither quick nor easy. I've started the process, but it will be lengthy. By the way, if any of you get email from, that is NOT my email address (sigh)!

So I was tired this morning when it was time to get rockin' and rollin' with the children. Robert, who has been a great eater since he arrived, didn't want anything for breakfast. He pushed everything away, which was surprising. As the day progressed, it became obvious that he wasn't feeling well. He even threw up a number of times :-( When we took his temperature, he wasn't running a fever, but as the day progressed, he started feeling a little warm. I got him in to the after hours pediatric clinic near our house. We saw a very nice physician's assistant. He checked Robert over -- no ear infection, no lung/breathing problems, and he was well-hydrated. He did have a low-grade fever and a red throat, and the PA suspected strep. He ran a quick-read lab culture, which proved positive for strep. Kelsey and Chris, please, please don't worry. We've got him started on Amoxacyllin, and we're anticipating a quick recovery! He should be good as new by the time you get here.

Clara is doing fine, but we'll watch her closely for any symptoms. She got to go out to breakfast with Grandpa and Uncle Tim this morning. She put down a huge pancake and bacon breakfast. I felt bad that for much of the day we were giving so much time and attention to Robert that she got cheated out of the fun Saturday that we had planned. I hope we can make it up to her as Robert improves.

Tomorrow Dan is preaching (we are currently preacherless, so Dan is taking his turns at feeding the flock) , and he will take Clara to church with him while I stay home with Robert. She'll have fun in her Bible class, I'm sure, and we have lots of terrific friends who will be happy to have her sit with them during worship, while Dan preaches. Not the way we planned it, but it's out of our control.

My Facebook Account Has Been Hacked

In case you are one of my Facebook Friends, please know that I'm at home and fine. My FB account has been hijacked, and the culprit is asking my friends for money, saying I've been mugged in London and need money. DON'T SEND IT, please.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blue's Clues and a Green Knee

Until today, I've been putting off all household chores, but even Grandma has to change the sheets, do laundry, and tidy up a bit now and then. Today was that day. I decided that I'd have to resort to a morning of videos. Clara was delighted, and chose a series of Blue's Clues, from Netflix, to watch. Even Robert seemed to be interested in them, though not as fascinated as Clara.

We all enjoyed the morning. I sat and watched cartoons with them, between my chores, and answered all of Clara's many questions: "How does he jump into the picture in the book, Grandma? Why does he always make his hands go like that when the mailman comes? What is 'paprika,' Grandma?"

Robert was easy to entertain. In addition to half-heartedly watching Blue's Clues, he also played peek-a-boo with me, following me around the house and peeking around corners.

Here's a picture of Clara to show what this land of no humidity does to a little blond girl's hair.

The drama of the day came after lunch. I put Robert down for a nap, and asked Clara to take a quiet time in her bedroom. She wanted to color, and that was fine. She took her crayons and markers and a Cat in the Hat coloring book with her. She opened her door, after a few minutes, and called out that she thought the timer wasn't going to work. I went in to check on it and reassure her, but when I got there I was so surprised. She had taken a green marker and colored a big green patch on both front and back of her hand and an even bigger patch of green all up her left leg. The green had migrated to her face and the bed sheets. It seemed so out of character for her, which is why I decided it had to be a result of separation anxiety that she must be experiencing, but unable to put into words. The guilty look on her face, when I came in and saw her art work, was priceless. I was pretty easy on her, although I did put the markers up and tell her that she'll need to use them only when I'm with her, not by herself. She puddled up and promised not to do it again, but Grandma stayed firm.

These pictures were taken about 45 minutes later, just before I put her in the bathtub to scrub off the green. Judging by that face, maybe I was a little too soft on her :-)