Friday, November 26, 2010

A moveable feast

If you set a table, they will come. We had a feast at my house Thanksgiving Day – a moveable feast.
Yesterday afternoon, Toni, my daughter-in-law, arrived at the back door with a cheesecake in her hands. Next came Spencer and Victor, my grandsons, carrying insulated containers. My son Davis carried in bags and covered casseroles.

I had been told to set the table for five and relax.

There was a flurry of activity in the kitchen. “Mom, do you have a small broiler pan?” “Can you find seven serving spoons and a big fork?” “Let’s get out those small glass bowls for soup.” “We need five salad plates.” Rolls were baked. Pots were stirred. Salad was tossed and plated. Dressing was heated. “Go get that cut glass bowl that Robert used to use for cranberry-orange relish.” Where is the blue gravy pitcher?” “We will need three wine glasses.”

In less than an hour we were sitting down for our salad course with a prayer of thanksgiving.
The salad had squares of goat cheese coated with toasted almonds and pomegranate jewels.

Salad was followed by delicious creamed cauliflower soup topped with garlic croutons and apple chips. Those bowls were whisked away and then hot gravy, beautiful dressing, fresh green beans, twice-baked mashed potatoes with sour cream, rolls, cranberry relish, and sweet potatoes were brought to the table. Davis carried in the beautiful, succulent turkey.

It was a wonderful meal. We had cheesecake and pumpkin pie for dessert. Three hours later, the dishwasher was loaded and the refrigerator was full of leftovers. I hand-washed the plates and other fragile pieces and put them away. The table was cleared.

I am so thankful.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Just like the olden days – I’m online with dial-up. I remember those funny sounds when my computer used to connect to the internet by telephone.

Thanks to my smart son and a quick response by my favorite AT&T tech guy, Francis, I have a connection to the world again. My son, Davis, told me he was sure my computer had a built-in modem and could use the phone line. I called Francis and he said he would come to my house yesterday afternoon at the end of his work day to check it out. He did.
It works very, very slowly but at least I can read my e-mail. The speed is 38.6 Kbps. I was able to order a prescription refill online. There is no point trying to visit other sites with heavy graphics. It takes too long. I’ll miss visiting my favorite blogs, reading the news, and looking things up. I hope I will get the new DSL hookup by early next week.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I am unplugged, unhooked, offline for a WEEK

Monday morning, when I tried to check my e-mail I found out I did not have an internet connection. I can't go online at all. AT&T was supposed to put in a new jack for a stand-alone DSL line. (See the previous two blog posts.)

When I called AT&t on my cell phone I learned that they had disconnected my internet early in the morning. I spent all day on the phone trying to talk with someone who could turn the service back on. Around 2:30 p.m. I reached Caesar in Customer Service. He informed me that there were "unfortunate technical difficulties." He said there was nothing they could do until, perhaps, next week. I asked to speak to his supervisor and he said she would call me. I asked for her telephone number but I learned she had "no direct line." She never called back.

It is funny that a company named American TELEPHONE & Telegraph does not like to talk on the telephone.

I am so frustrated. You can make comments here but I won't see them until next week. You can send e-mail but I won't receive it. I pay my bills online and I just paid my AT&T bill last week.

I am using a friend's computer to post this.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

A new hook, but not hooked up yet

A replacement dough hook for my KitchenAid mixer arrived a few days ago. The packing slip noted that recipes prior to 1992 have to be adjusted for the newly designed hook. I can’t see much difference except the end of the new hook is more pointed than the old one (on the left). The slip said to “reduce the mixing times by approximately half.” I didn’t change the kneading time on the bread recipe I’m using and it turned out just fine.

I ordered a replacement hook because the coating was peeling off the old one. I looked up dough hooks on the web and came across warnings saying not to put coated hooks in the dishwasher. The new instructions do not have any cautions about dishwashers, but I’m going to hand-wash this one just as a precaution.

DSL still not hooked up

Thursday, a nice AT&T technician named Francis came to my house in the afternoon. He found that the main telephone line from the street to the house was faulty. He called a line repair person to check it out. So there were two AT&T trucks on the lane for a while.

Francis installed a new jack for the new DSL.
When it was ready to be activated he found that the switches at the AT&T office still needed to be configured. He called in and told them not turn off my old DSL line until Monday when the switches were sure to be fixed. In the meantime, I’m watching my new modem lights. When they all turn green and steady I am supposed to unplug the old modem and plug in the new one.
I hope this works.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

About to be unplugged

In a few minutes I am going to be unplugged from the world.

A technician from AT&T is scheduled to arrive this morning and disconnect the existing DSL line. Then, he or she is supposed to install a brand new DSL line and plug. If all goes well I should be back on the internet this afternoon.

This is happening because I called AT&T to change the telephone billing to my name. It had been in Robert’s name for years. They informed me that if I changed the name on the account they would disconnect the DSL service. What? I was told it would take five days, at least, to get a new service in my name.

Finally, a supervisor told me I could have a whole new line put in just for DSL. This will cost something, but as soon as it is working I’ll be back. The rate on the new DSL line is less expensive than the bundled rate we had been paying. That’s odd.

So, just in case you are planning ahead in your life take note. What name is your telephone account in? Decide which partner plans to live the longest and put the account in that person’s name.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soft, cozy, colorful

My birthday today was tied up in yarn – Alpaca yarn to be specific. Delicious colors filled all the cupboards and shelves at a surprising store way out here in back of Mt. Diablo. The owners have an Alpaca ranch and a world-wide internet business called Alpaca Direct. Lucky for me they also have a nice little retail store just a few miles down the road from my house.

Brianna and Patricia were very happy to show me all the tempting goods in the shop. Patricia is the store manager and Brianna works in order fulfillment for the internet business. I came in to see if I could learn a new method of casting on. I’ve been doing a simple one that my mother taught me when I was a child. However, after watching a video and having Patricia patiently try to teach me a new way, I decided to stick to my old method. I’ll just try to keep my stitches looser.
Perhaps I can knit a hat or something.

I spent a long time looking at all the yarn. It was hard to make a decision.
I then took my faithful companion out for a treat at Oil Can Henry’s. It was just in the nick of time – the oil was very, very low. The car’s treat cost much more than my yarn purchase.

I’m admiring my lovely new yarn called Dolce. It is a mixture of 55% Alpaca, 23% wool, and 22% silk. I suppose I can make a scarf, but I’d really like to make a mobius strip to snuggle around my neck.
I have a birthday brunch scheduled for Sunday. It’s nice to stretch celebrations out.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Ladybugs, again

As faithful as the swallows of Capistrano or the Monarch Butterflies in Pacific Grove, ladybugs are returning and gathering in my house this time of year.

They are not welcome. I have to get out the dust buster and vacuum the walls in the dining room almost daily. These "ladybugs" are actually Asian Lady Beetles, according to the University of Kentucky. You can read about their swarms here.
They usually arrive at the end of October, appropriately dressed in orange for the season. I wrote about them in November of 2007 (see post) and they are here again.
Please fly away home.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

They dragged me out of the house

And I had a great time.

My son and his two boys called and said they were coming over today to take me out to lunch. Davis said he thought I might be feeling a little lonely because it was Robert’s birthday. What a fine idea. I didn’t dress up because I thought we would just go someplace on the island, but they had better plans.

I’ve been complaining because my homemade bread has not been up to par. I thought it was probably because I’d run out of the yeast Robert always used. They took me to WinCo Foods in Antioch to buy some bulk yeast and some bulk flour. I really did not want to go. I’ve never been there. It is a huge warehouse-type store. “We’ll just go in and get the yeast and the flour and come right out,” said Davis.

It wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be. They have rows and rows and rows of bulk bins. (It sure isn’t Trader Joe’s.) We found the right stuff, plus several other irresistible bargains. Davis picked up the tab and bagged the groceries.

Then, we went to Schooner’s Grille and Brewery on Lone Tree Way for lunch. I really like that place and Robert did, too.
Next, we went to See’s Famous Old Time Candies. We had a gift certificate with Robert’s name on it for one pound of candy. It’s fun to “pick out a pound.” I’ve been doing that as far back as the 1940s when I used to go with my parents after church on Sundays in Oakland.
Of course you never can pick out exactly a pound so the lid goes on a little crooked and you have to add a little money.
On the way back to the island, we stopped at the Smith Family Farm in Brentwood to purchase some heirloom tomatoes and other fresh-picked vegetables.

What a good day.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Looks like a nice day

It’s a beautiful day here in the neighborhood.

I think I’ll take a walk down the lane and check on the bamboo.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Voting today

Here in California we had several confusing propositions to sort through. Some seemed to contradict other ones. I marked my sample ballot at home and took it with me to the polls.

They don’t allow cameras at our voting place. I wonder why. I see photos of candidates voting at their polling places on the news.

I voted. I am planning to stay up late tonight to see the results.

Last September, I presented a paper pieced “Voting Block” pattern for your entertainment. I think it is okay to re-cycle it today. Click on the small block below and it will take you to the original, full size, 4-inch free pattern.

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