Monday, December 27, 2010


Scrooge eventually returned to gratitude and so have I, despite my lapse into negativity for a couple weeks. Winter solstice marks the long night’s journey into day. I have a lot to be grateful for but sometimes I hit a low spot. Cold snowy weather and cloudy days are not positive for me. My Seasonal Affective Disorder is strong this year. I have a full spectrum light that I turn on at night from 7-8pm (I don’t like to use it in the morning). I take St. John’s Wort and that usually is enough. I feel a bit isolated being unemployed for six months. Extra stress of unemployment may indicate that I need a prescription for a mild anti-depressant instead of taking the herbal supplement.

I attended an Al-Anon meeting for a second time and it was most helpful. The first week was very crowded but this time there were fewer people due to the holiday and it was easier to chat. I am still reading the pamphlets and need to check out a couple books from the library. The AA-style format is a good method of developing a social network. I don’t agree with defining God-Creator as a male (it either has no gender, is all genders-intrasex, doesn’t recognize gender, or doesn’t exist). Humans are too flawed to know.

Reducing stress through physical labor is helpful. I was just going to sweep the basement in anticipation of Tillie being allowed downstairs (she has been sequestered to first floor due to her naughty nature). She is eight months now and learning not to be such a profound pest, plus, her kitten food is almost done so I think its okay for her to consume adult cat food. Anyway, I decided to organize the clutter (recycling or throwing out a lot).

Removing old drywall is exhausting. Some fool (previous owner) placed it with the bottom to the floor and mold has grown since water sometimes seeps in after a heavy summertime rain. I had to spray it down with horrid bleach (turned on the clothes dryer with no heat to help suck out the toxic stench) before removing the first batch. I still have a large section to pound out but I am certain that it will reduce sneezing this summer. Add on frequent snow hefting and scraping snow off the roof and I am tired.

Good riddance 2010!
© 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010


Bah humbug for the holiday season. Here is what I hate, the continuous perfection pressure. I am to be bright and happy at all encounters. I can’t be truthful because that would ruin the holiday mood of fake happiness. I usually state, “I’m okay except for unemployment,” the other person responds by mumbling that I’ll get a job soon. Yeah, right.

Family togetherness. Ha. I get along with my parents as long as we avoid such topics as politics, religion or anything controversial. My hyper-conservative father controls my mother so she is just his parrot. I find that I can only stand being in their presence for a couple days before I want to scream. My siblings are nasty and it is best to avoid them. They, their spouses, and kids enjoy making derogatory remarks about me when I am in the room with them. I can’t verbally retaliate because they gang up on me and call me whiney. Bastards. I feel so alone and lonely when I am with my family. They may have a biological connection but they have no clue how to be accepting or loving. I wish that I had a boyfriend or hubby to take with me to act as a buffer.

Gifts are just silly and usually people give you stuff that you don’t want or need. I have stopped giving presents to adults and generally send out kid gifts in the early part of the year. I don’t adhere to an arbitrary date set by some dude in the 14th Century as the birth of a wise person. I would rather follow the celestial calendar, such as Solstice and Equinox. Christmas this, Christmas that, Christmas permeates the culture. What about other faiths??? It is really disrespectful to ignore their holidays or make only one mention. Excuse me, but not everybody is a Christian.

Cards are the only exception. They are physical evidence that people know that I exist. I proudly display them, though Tillie the kitten tries to eat them. I keep track of who sends me a card from year to year. If they go for two years without returning a card that I have sent to them, they are off the list. Why waste money on a card, time to write out the card, and postage on someone who obviously doesn’t care?

My friends care but I don’t expect them to invite me to their family holiday gatherings. I usually sit at home alone with the cats. Yes, I am grumpy this year. I never expected to be 40-something alone, childless, and unemployed. I want to have a good job and a good boyfriend/hubby who may already have kids (who like me). I guess that is too much to ask for from the Santa-spirit.

Bah humbug.
© 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010


Roast beef or roast pork, that is. I have adapted a family recipe to be a bit more flavorful. Feel free to experiment a bit and let me know what works well for you! The roast can be prepared and refrigerated a day in advance of the final baking.

Beef Roast (top sirloin roast is the cheapest) or Pork Roast, two+ pounds (smaller tends to dry out)
Ground pepper, fresh is best but okay to use pre-ground
Package of onion soup mix, best to use low-sodium version. If you don’t have onion soup available, use salt but sparingly
Olive oil
Ginger, at least one inch long sliced into 1/8th inch – slicing the long way
2+ Onions, roughly chopped – don’t mince, if you love onions use more
2+ Garlic Cloves, chopped finely – its okay to use pre-chopped, too
1-cup hot water

Safe preparation of raw meat is essential. Make certain that you have thoroughly washed your hands, utensils and any area that you use to prepare the meat. Anything that touches raw or partially cooked meat must be washed with soap and water. Do not cross-contaminate with the other ingredients, even if you plan to add them later. Otherwise, you risk nasty gastro-intestinal retaliation (food poisoning is no fun).

Assemble the ingredients. Pre chop the ginger, onions, and garlic. Warm the water, as it will be used later. Select a large oven cooking pot. If you can use it on the stovetop, that is even better.

Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan (or the large oven cooking pot) on the top of the stove; turn the heat on low to start heating the oil. Tenderize roast with a meat mallet as much as you are able, it loosens up the outer layer to absorb flavor. I usually pound it in a clean sink with a layer of saran plastic wrap on top to reduce splatter. Do not remove the fat; it adds a lot of flavor. Rub at least a teaspoon of ground pepper onto each side of the roast. If you really love pepper, you can go up to a tablespoon. Rub half the package of onion soup mix onto the sides of the roast, about a teaspoon per side (reserve the remainder of the package until later).

Take the roast and place it into the pan with the olive oil. Wash your hands. Raise the temperature of the pan to medium and brown each side of the roast for about a minute. You are not cooking the roast, just searing the sides to keep the moisture in the roast while it cooks. After all the sides have been seared, turn off the heat and remove from the burner, it is okay for the roast to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the pot for baking.

If you were able to use the large oven cooking pot to sear the roast, gently remove the roast to a clean plate (it will leak a bit so that is why I don’t put it on a cutting board). Otherwise, just let it stay in the large pan. Place the roast in the refrigerator if you will take more than fifteen minutes to prepare, it is better to be safe than let microbes grow. Once the roast has cooled, turn the roast so the fat side is on top. Cut small holes in fat layer to create many pouches. Stuff the sliced ginger into the pouches all over the top of the roast. You may need to cut the ginger into smaller strips, depending upon the size of the pouch. Try to keep the pouches nearly horizontal with the fat layer. Wash your hands and anything that touched the raw or seared meat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the large oven cooking pot, place a cooking rack on the bottom, it elevates the roast and prevents it from burning on the bottom of the pot. Place almost all the onions on the bottom of the pot. Pick up the roast and place it fat side up in the pot on top of the roasting rack and onions. The onions may bunch up on the side of the pot and that is okay. Wash your hands. If you used a large pan to sear the roast, scrape up all the drippings on the bottom of the pan and drop them onto top of the roast. Use the water to remove any remaining drippings and pour into the pot (not on top of the roast or it will wash off the ginger. Otherwise, just pour the hot water in the bottom of the pot.

Mix the remainder of the onion soup mix with the garlic, pour on top of the roast and gently smear it over the area where the ginger slices are inserted. Be careful to not remove the ginger slices. Wash your hands. Drop the remaining onions on top of the garlic mixture. Do not cover the pot but place it into the preheated oven. The general guideline is 15 minutes per pound for medium-raw. I prefer the roast to be medium so up the time to 20 minutes per pound, longer if you want it well done. Cook thoroughly and let it rest for a few minutes before you cut into it or the juices will leak out.

Enjoy! I prefer “au jus.” Add some sautéed mushrooms to the broth on the bottom of the pot and a bit of Worcestershire sauce. Otherwise, you can strain out the onions/garlic/ginger to serve on the side, and use the broth to create gravy.

Eat well.
© 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010


Not the venomous snake, though the animosity between members of the US Congress causes them to hiss at each other. COBRA extends health care benefits when you depart from your employer. My health care benefits were ended at my full time job of four years when the position was cut to part time during the summer of 2009. Thankfully, the Economic Stimulus subsidized the cost of health care insurance and made it affordable for me.

Unfortunately, the subsidy has ended for me and now I have to pay $480 each month for health/dental care insurance causing a conundrum. It is a horrible gamble; if I don’t have insurance and I get hurt the financial result could be catastrophic; or, if I do buy the expensive insurance I will drain down my savings faster, which will cause financial catastrophe. I am afraid to be without health/dental care insurance since illness and accidents occur.

I could purchase bare bones insurance but it costs around $250 and actually is a better bargain to keep paying in to my former employer. My COBRA plan expires in the spring of 2011 so I’ll be forced to obtain the bare bones version at that time anyway, if I can afford it. It would be greatly appreciated if the US Congress would extend COBRA benefits beyond 16 months and reinstate the subsidy. Eventually, the national health care revisions passed earlier this year will fill this gap but that plan isn’t available now.

I hope that the US Congress extends Unemployment Benefits for those who have been unemployed for 99+ weeks, too. I have sent out nearly 100 resumes since July and had one in-person interview (got declined). It is irritating that corporations are posting huge profits and refusing to hire. Don’t they realize that they are stressing out their current employees? Lining the pockets of the ultra-wealthy is causing a lot of anger. I think that is one reason why the Tea Party and radical groups are becoming more popular. Fear causes anger, which is a fierce motivator.

I choose an attitude of gratitude to stave off the fear and anger.
© 2010