Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Today!

Charlotte was all aflutter yesterday with the news of impending snow throughout the night. My office was one of those threatening not to open if snow stuck by this morning (oh darn). But poor Paul and company had no such luck.
Paul and I woke up several times last night due to snoring, restlessness, snow anticipation, bathroom breaks and cold feet. I think either one or the other of us was up every hour for something. Each time I got up I checked out the window to see how much snow was on the ground and it did begin to pile up an inch or so as the wee hours of the night began to fade. This meant not going out to do field work at the crack of dawn because we all decided to wait till mid-morning for some of the roads to loosen up. In the end, the crew couldn't make it down from Greensboro and with my office shut down, I could either work from home or take the day off (I chose the latter as I will be making up the hours later this week).
I watched Paul leave the driveway, very nervous. Thankfully he made it there and back, but he did have a scare from some ice on the country roads around our house. After he left, I ran outside to take some pictures.
Our house

Our street

Backyard neighbors' houses

The part of our backyard that is the North/South Carolina border. The trees in the distance are in North Carolina!

This is not a lot of snow compared to what other places in the country are experiencing but it seems to cause a lot of upheaval in Charlotte as the city is not equipped for it. All the schools shut down in our area, and so it made for a nice long holiday for the kids, with the Martin Luther King holiday being yesterday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Doing a bit Better

Last weekend Paul and I went over to a friend of mine from work to hang out and be social. We haven't done much of this and we decided maybe it would be a good thing to help me come out of the doldrums. I brought all my scrapbooking stuff and Paul brought some man movies (action) and some Mexican food to contribute to the potluck. Tracy from work also came over with her scrapbooking stuff and Mexican food. The men watched movies and us ladies worked on our albums and shared supplies, stories and news. We had a fiesta style dinner and came home feeling re-energized and cheered. Plus, I'm now re-motivated to get my scrapbook out and continue forth!! I am still working on our wedding from 4 years ago!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Topic I've Been Avoiding

I like writing about fun things, cheerful things and funny insignificant happenings. I wonder why, but have no clear concise reason other than I guess it makes me feel that all is right and happy, and the bad ugly things will go away if I can just turn my back on them. The reality is always different, we all know, but why not watch a comedy and laugh some more and turn away briefly from the big bad and scary?

Truthfully, I along with most Americans and people all over the world, are very worried about the economy, our jobs and what kind of world is ours turning into. Is there any validity behind our hopes for a turnaround for 2009, hopes for keeping our jobs and our homes? As I'm seeing things crumble around me, and listening to talk on the radio of this plan and that plan and a loss of over 500,000 American jobs just in the month of December, I am so terribly frightened.

Today I've been told that we are not doing overtime anymore, so as to distribute work among different offices that have no work. We have suspended all field work and travel for the first quarter to cut costs and everyone in our office is on edge.

Tonight our sister office down the street has invited us to join them in their belated holiday festivities. They are not in such a tight situation because they have multiple clients whereas we just have one, and one that is tightening its purse. None of us know anyone in this other office but everyone in our office but 2 are attending to "network" and meet some new people in hopes of not only making some new friends but hopefully find some work if available. I'm not wearing an interview suit, but close to it! ;-)

This sums up why I haven't been writing as much the last few months... I've been scared and I'm having a hard time seeing the flowers through the fog.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ham Loaf

My mom would be gasping in shock to see that I am posting a meat loaf recipe (I am not a fan of meat loaf), but I have had ham loaf once a long time ago and I liked it. So, back to my good ol' 1966 New York Times Cookbook for the next idea of what to do with ham.

Ham Loaf

1 pound of ground ham (in food processor)
1/2 pound of ground pork (I used 40% less fat pork sausage meat, not in the casings)
1/2 cup of milk
1 egg
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Mix meats together. In a separate bowl beat egg and milk and sage together and add meats and bread crumbs mixing until uniform. Form into a loaf and bake for 45 minutes (or I did it in the crock pot, for 5-6 hours to keep it moist). Top with Orange Glaze and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until nice and golden, basting frequently.

Orange Glaze

1.5 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbs. orange zest

Mix ingredients together.

There was so much extra glaze that I used it on the sweet potatoes I was serving- yum! I served the ham loaf and sweet potatoes with orange slices from the one used for zesting, a small side salad tossed in honey mustard and cooked cabbage with butter. It was nice to have something so different and very, very delicious. The orange glaze was what did it.

We only have a few slices of ham left, and the bone I'm using in the crock pot today to make split pea soup!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fairy: A Happy Feathered Friend

Unbelievably, after 8 months, we think we've found out what has been causing our little "Fairy Munchkin" to be so noisy and needy.

On New Year's Eve, I had just finished filling out a questionnaire for Phoenix Landing, a non-profit organization that re-homes birds. Having my stress level on overdrive for 8 months and being reduced to tears over the constant wear on my nerves from the little bird, we finally decided that the only solution was to find her a home with a family that was home more. We figured it was our long work hours that must have gotten to her. As the vet and behaviorist suggested, we tried regular bath time, teaching her new tricks, tried to develop a consistent routine and bedtime, had her with me if I went into a different room to sew, etc. None of that worked. I prayed for patience, prayed for bird's change in perspective and finally prayed to understand what she was trying to communicate.

So on New Year's Eve, after a long 5 days off with her around Christmas time, I began to fill out the questionnaire. Not ready to send, but just so it was ready. Then, getting a bit of inspiration, I asked Paul, "What do you think about trying to move her to a different spot?" We had done this already, but maybe she didn't like being near a window. Paul, eager to try anything to keep his bird from going up for adoption, he jumped up and helped me move her cage to a wall furthest from the window. This was halfway through the day, and by golly we didn't hear a peep out of her for the rest of the day! We continued with the routines of bedtime and playtime, but she was actually content for the first time.

Thinking it was a fluke, we were shocked when we had the most peaceful day at home yesterday that we have had since May when she started her thing. She played with toys, sat on different perches and watched what was going on, but not with the anxious body language, the call to be held, etc. She didn't scream if we left the room. She was a relaxed bird! I think, and I'm hesitant to assume this is the solution, but I think that something must have happened in the window that has scared her (she used to love windows). We have noticed lots of hawks around, and maybe one tried to fly into the window at her in May. I don't know, but she seems so much happier. After all that time, poor bird must have been trying to say she was scared. I am so thankful, so, so thankful that we might be on a path towards peace in our home, a much happier bird, and a much happier me!

Fairy content on her "boing" toy.