Friday, August 27, 2010

Worry less, smile more

I wish I could follow the directives on the picture above. Some of it, I'm good at. I smile. I take responsibility. I listen, I love, I don't hate and I feel good, most of the time. But worry less? Embrace change? It's not there. Not for me - I'm a worrier through and through. Until I have an answer, or a conclusion, I pick away at problems.

I am trying to take lessons from my own life and focus on not worrying and embracing the change. Recently we were driving Prudence, the new car, after a storm and a rock flew through the oil pan. Just like that we were back to one vehicle - my unreliable truck, Fiona - and the car with 1,000 miles on it was sitting in the yard. I was upset, yes. That, plus a couple of other factors, had me down in the dumps and worrying.

But today I'm happy. My awesome stepdad replaced the oil pan and fixed the car. A prescription I was worried about is finally at the pharmacy. We got the license plate for Prudence and a $94 check in the mail from the dealership because they overestimated the car's licensing fees. So everything all worked out. Yes, it cost an exorbitant amount for the parts, but that was all right. And now I'm happy.

So what I need to do is remember that during the trying times there will be happy times again. That a few hours or days or weeks later I will be feeling better, things will be looking up. They always do... problems don't remain problems for very long before they're resolved one way or another. No matter what the problem is - relationship trouble, family issues, car problems or work stress.

If I could just remember not to worry and think positive, I think I'd be happier. So here's to hakuna matata.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Restaurant-style tortellini

I made this recipe this past week. Scotty and I have the house to ourselves while my in-laws are housesitting, so I have been able to try some recipes I wasn't sure how to scale for 4-6 people.

This is very yummy and served the two of us just fine:

9 oz refrigerated, uncooked tortellini
1 cup milk
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoons black pepper
6 oz baby spinach leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
(we added pieces of chicken)

Cook pasta as directed on package. While pasta cooks, add milk and cream cheese to a large skillet. Stir on medium heat until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is blended. Stir in some parmesan cheese and pepper. Add the spinach, and mix everything together.

Once pasta is done, drain, and add it to the spinach mixture in the skillet. Mix everything lightly. Top it with the tomatoes and more parmesan to taste.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scent of the Missing, by Susannah Charleson

4 out of 5 stars
Total read in 2010 so far: 91
(Review also posted on my Goodreads profile here.)

I remember once, years ago, walking to an Arizona Cardinals game with my father. It was a late, golden afternoon; I was young and I more than likely had a book clutched in my hands to read during the boring parts of the game. Along the pedestrian route to the stadium, police officers were directing traffic and keeping people in line. Several of them were on horses, massive brown and black animals with their own kind of uniform. I was utterly fascinated by the horses, even though I wasn't allowed to pet them, as an officer rather sternly informed me. They seemed so calm and self-assured, as though they knew perfectly well the job that was expected of them to peform. Ever since then I've liked to learn about working animals.

In Scent of the Missing, Susannah Charleson tells the story of her own history working with search and rescue dogs. Search and Rescue (SAR) organizations are often made up entirely of volunteers, who give up their weekends and after-work hours to train dogs, and remain on-call at all times to respond to missing persons calls or calls to find bodies. They search for drowning victims, people in destroyed buildings, lost children, and wandering Alzheimer's patients. Given the wide variety of situations search dogs face, their training is complex, and starts from an early age even as potential puppies are given behavioral and temperamental tests.

This book is interesting and informative, bouncing between stories from Susannah's experience training her own search dog - a Golden Retriever named Puzzle - and stories of Susannah's experience in the field, with and without her dog. The author has an excellent way of telling a story and an eye for small details that really bring locations alive. Her affection for all animals is evident in the way she writes about them. Dogs are never an "it"; they're a boy or a girl, and their temperaments are spoken of in such a way as to clearly mark each animal as an individual.

The book suffers from a few flaws in the manner of storytelling. A medical problem seems like a major twist in the last part of the book because of the timeline, and a few chapters felt as though they could have been shuffled around. The most difficult part of the book, in my opinion, was that several of the searches described did not have clear outcomes. They end abruptly. In some ways this mirrors the way any searcher may have to deal with simply not having answers, but I'm sure that Susannah was able to keep up on stories and would be able to follow criminal investigations or even just the news. I was also hoping for a few more stories about the other dogs on the SAR team. I'm sure there were several heroic stories that could have been told.

All in all, definitely a worthy read for anybody who loves dogs and the work they do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet Prudence

I still don't quite believe it, but yesterday we bought a new car:

It's not "new," but it might as well be. It's a 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt with 370 miles on it.

We've been looking for a car for the past week. We went to at least two dozen dealerships, maybe more, with my mom and stepdad's help. We knew we wanted a Cobalt right away... Scotty loves Chevys and if I can't get an older car the Cobalt was my choice. (As proof of my oddness about cars, the one other car I really really loved was a 1998 Trailblazer.)

I can't believe how long it takes to buy a car. Well, if you're financing. We walked away with a slightly higher sticker price & higher APR than I wanted, but that's okay. It will be paid off quickly.

Funny story... while they were doing the financing we were waiting in their showroom which is filled to the brim with brand new Corvettes. Scotty looooves Corvettes, so we were wandering around looking at all of them, and I mentioned you could easily hide a body in the trunk, and who would suspect you because who would deface their brand new sports car with a body? Heh. So Scotty was saying I'm so weird, because often the first thing I say about a small place is whether or not you could hide a body in it. After we had Prudence, we went by my dad's to show him, and the first thing he said when we showed him the trunk was that you could easily hide one or two bodies in it. You should've seen the expression on Scotty's face. It was so funny.

Deep breaths...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Five Question Friday - August 6, 2010

1. Are you a neat sleeper or a messy sleeper?
I am a very neat sleeper. I sleep heavily (since I can't hear anything), and I pretty much sleep in the same position all night. As soon as I am asleep, I am asleep. I love it.

2. Fill in the blank. I wish I was more ________________.

Awake, right now. I woke up tired - exhausted, really - today and could really use a few more hours of sleep.

3. What is something that you wish you had been warned about?

Hmm. I really can't think of anything. This is probably a good example of why I should be more awake right now.

4. What was the best thing you ever found at a garage sale/flea market?

Star Trek novels. I remember going to garage sales with my grandparents when I was a teenager. There are eleventy million Star Trek novels in the world and everyone sells theirs at garage sales. They could keep me entertained for hours.

5. If you could have any meal brought to you right now, what would it be?

Starbucks. Just a drink. It may not be a meal, but I need caffeine to operate today.