Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Glaring Oversight

How could we?

It's outrageous that both of us forgot to mention another item that enhanced 2009.

Thank you crockpot! You have delivered tasty turkey and pleasing applesauce for oh so many. We plan to see plenty of you in 2010 as well.

Festivus, the Inaugural Event

Meeting someone for the first time at a party, you may wonder what their interests may be. If they told you, "I like to make sock puppets," you (wisely) might politely excuse yourself, quietly retrieve your coat from the guest bedroom, and head for the door.

This is just one of the many reasons I don't go to parties. Not that I'd run into this person, but that it turns out I AM this person. Or one of them. But the thing is, I didn't know I was one and I don't anticipate regularly making them.

When Trina told me that she had a "craft project" that we all just HAD to do, I was skeptical. My crafting skills don't go much beyond making little bird nests with play dough or winding plarn balls. To know so many crafty people is a little intimidating.

While we had planned to do the typical Festivus activities such as feats of strength and airing our grievances, these were kicked to the curb by all in attendance as we really got on a roll when the glitter and glue gun came out, along with the googly eyes of assorted sizes. You can imagine the mayhem, but everyone was polite.

And yes, that is Elvis, courtesy of Pat. Turns out crafting is for the rest of us too.

A Few of My Favorite Things

The highlights for me in '09 would look a lot like Sue's, minus some things that are strictly unique to Sue. And since we're having a lot of fun, but are not a couple (that would be on the list of catch phrases of '09), the line is getting blurry. So, I'd like to point out that the above photo exemplifies some of the delights of this past year. 2010 promises to have even more.

One thing that I am really happy about, but am unable to easily capture in a photo, is that The Office is now in syndication, and suddenly my evenings are filled with my fictional friends, to go along with my real ones. Michael Scott reminds me daily that I love being self-employed with no employees, and clients I can put in cages if they give me any crap. Wait, they give me crap no matter what, but that's what pays the bills.

But I digress.

Behold - Kool-aid pitcher (an addition courtesy of Sue's childhood, that I refer to as Kevin - see above regarding The Office), Sock Monkey cookie jar AND coffee mug, and, yes, that is the Downy Ball Almighty, liberating me from the tyranny of the rinse cycle forever!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009---The Year in Review

It's time for my second annual top ten list for 2009. Once again, the competition for best things/events/activities was fierce and it was dominated by weird stuff. All in all, a good year.

In alphabetical order, here they are:

1. Bitter Train---This blog has been great fun, even if it's only to entertain ourselves and one or two other people. It's a great way to scroll down memory lane and see all the funny things that have happened and I'm looking forward to more Bitter Train adventures in 2010.

2. Boggle---First there was the whole "actually, I'm pretty good at Boggle" conversation that caused us to register for the Boggle for Breast Cancer tournament (see previous post, sometime in November, I think). Then we had to find pink things to wear in order to get raffle tickets, buying "new" quiet Boggle, practicing (with help from Tap), and then the excitement of actually bringing home a trophy. All in all, $25 well spent. And, it was for a very worthy cause.

3. Dolley Madison---you may recall that last year one of the best things of the year was the fact that on Christmas Day my mother was able to drink apple juice. After months of not consuming any food or drink by mouth, this was a major breakthrough in her recovery. In January she went home and has been getting stronger ever since. In November she did a presentation for her DAR chapter where she portrayed Dolley Madison. She spent hours and hours reading and learning about Dolley and on the big day she did not disappoint. It was a very special day for me to see her doing so well, when less than a year before she'd been so incredibly ill.

4. Florida---As loyal followers of The Bitter Train know, Lynne and I went to Florida last March and had a wonderful time. In fact, just this morning we told Trina the story about two women who were directing traffic on the highway after a major accident. There were so many fun and funny things that happened to make that trip memorable...feel free to go back and re-live the fun with our posts from March.

5. Frankenmuth---Again, this trip appeared several times in this blog, but even that could not capture all the fun of the trip. Who knew you could pack so many laughs into 36 hours?

6. Halloween Bingo---What to do on a dreary October night? Why not drive around and make fun of yard decorations? Sure, we don't have all the glitz and glam of the big city, but I don't think there are too many people who can beat us for making our own fun.

7. Moving in with Lynne---This has been more fun than either of us expected...I'll be bold and speak for Lynne, too. From the morning that I put my early morning thoughts into categories to decorating the house with paper chains, it's been a ton of laughs. I'm even fond of a couple of the cats.

8. Nanowrimo---National Novel Writing Month---First, I'm just proud that I accomplished the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Second, it was really fun. I haven't done much writing in ages and so writing without editing was freeing. I felt like my creative juices were really flowing. I'd be driving along and ideas for my story would be spinning through my mind. Hopefully one of my top ten things for 2010 will be finishing (and selling...dare I say it?) my novel.

9. Pickle Day---Some guys at work invited me to watch a movie with them, but I told them "Sorry, but tomorrow is Pickle Day." (And, yes, they still invited me to watch with them the next time it was movie day.) Once again, Lynne, Pat, Brad and I loaded into Pat's trusty SUV for an interstate field trip. It did not disappoint. Actually, I think my favorite part was this guy:

Why yes, that is a young man in a Sweet Corn Costume.

10. Weddings---I attended two this year and both were very special. First, was the elegant wedding of my dear friend, Ellen. What a treat to see her looking so beautiful and to know how very happy she and James are together. The second wedding was fun, but also bittersweet. How is it possible that the little girl who was the flower girl when I got married is now a bride herself? Nonetheless, it was great fun to see so many family members and to see that Little Sarah has grown up and has such a happy life.

Pickles, men dressed as corn, a trophy and a first lady...I just hope 2010 can measure up.

P.S. I know I used the word "fun" way too much in this post...I can't help it, 2009 was lots of fun...Don't be jealousy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Getting Our Schtick On

Before she leaves the house, Julie often says, "I've got to get my stick on." That means she needs to put on lipstick before she heads out into society.

I don't have this problem. If I rummage around, I can probably locate two tubes of lipstick, both of which predate my move to Ada (which also means that I've moved them to four different homes. Fortunately, they're small.)

I don't think I'd be speaking out of turn if I said that Lynne and Pat have similar "stick issues", though to her credit, Lynne has been trying.

So, while we may not be too concerned about stick, we are always up for schtick, which is precisely what we got when Lynne found an article in the Lima News describing the food at bowling alleys around the area. Alley Cuisine was born.

Last Friday was our first foray into the bowling world. (Loyal followers know that we have a bowling ball in the flower bed near our front door, but that's just for showin' and not for throwin'.)

Our first stop on the Bitter Train Tour of Bowling Alleys was Westgate Lanes in Lima. I'm actually not sure of the name of the place because I tend to just get in the car and do what I'm told when we go on these little trips. Sure, I could ask Lynne, but it's 3 a.m.

The bowling alley had a nice atmosphere. It looked like it had recently been redecorated in a motif that was a cross between spray painted graffiti and a coloring book, but it worked. I'd expected to be eating at a beat up table near the lanes, but this place had an actual restaurant and our waitress was very nice. She was efficient, friendly and knowledgeable without being annoying and overeager. I give her eight pins.

Now for the main event...the food. We ordered four different items from the menu: a chicken and blue cheese Caesar salad; an appetizer combo that included onion straws, nachos and chili cheese fries; a small pizza; and the Triple Play which included two small sandwiches and sweet potato fries.

So yes, if you're keeping track, we had two types of french fried potatoes. It was Friday night and we were bitter. Get over it.

The chicken and blue cheese salad---as Pat said "We just got it because we felt guilty about all the unhealthy food" and it was a mistake. The only noteworthy thing about it was that the chicken was really dry, in fact it was so dry that Lynne mistook one of the croutons for the chicken. Of course, she also had a beer with her dinner. This item also lost points because it was served with packets of salad dressing rather. Rating: Gutter ball.

Next up was the appetizer combo with onion straws, nachos and chili cheese fries. I think it was called Taster's Trio. I thought it said "Tater Trio" which confused me since there was only one tater related item.

This item got a split. The onion straws were excellent...thin and crispy and they were served with a spicey ranch dressing that jazzed things up quite a bit (I also used it on my salad and on the little sandwich in the Triple Play). The nachos, despite the scarlet and gray chips, were pretty dull. The chili cheese fries had a chance to be good, but the fries were underdone and doughy inside. Next time, we'll just get the onion straws (and ride home with the windows open).

The pizza---a strike! This was right up our alley. The crust was thin. The sauce had a good flavor and the cheese combo had Pat stumped. I just thought it tasted good, but I don't have her Italian genes, though I do like their dressing.

And finally, the Triple Play. Wow. This was a direct hit on the head pin. It was two little sandwhiches plus sweet potato fries. The sandwiches were about like a White Castle burger except that instead of a tiny piece of meat with holes in it on dry bun, it was a nice sized piece of beef on a sweet Hawaiin roll, plus shredded pork and cole slaw (thus the name, Triple Play. We mistakenly believed it was called the Triple Play because there were three sandwiches, but when there were only two sandwiches but each with three ingredients, we figured it out. ) This sandwich was very tasty and it included two of the major meat groups---bovine and porcine.

The sweet potato fries were an added bonus---sort of like getting to roll a third ball in the tenth frame----they were fresh and crispy and had a great flavor.

If the three of us went again, I'd get two orders of the Triple Play (would that be a six pack?) so we could each have our own little sandwich and there'd be plenty of sweet potato fries. I'd also get the pizza again because it was good and because those sandwiches are sort of small and we'll need our strength if we decide to actually bowl. I'd skip the salad and the Tater Trio, though I'd consider getting the onion thingies, if only for the dipping sauce.

Until next time...keep your balls polished and don't let your palms get sweaty.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Accidental Runner

See that? That's me and Rachel. Rachel is my pal who when I told her I had run a half mile suggested we meet and do a run/walk workout. So we did. Then she said, "hey, let's try to find a 5k to do." So we did. This is in Delphos, where they had their first ever "Run Your Ice Off" 5k.

If people ever asked me, "Do you run?" (these were people who obviously didn't know me), I'd say, "Only if I'm being chased." Yuk, yuk. But Sue talked me into doing this run/walk thing this summer while out with the dogs. It basically was to speed up the dog walking. This Fall while she was working more, I kept up with the run/walking. Then, in early November, I decided to see just how far I could run. And that's how this all began.

And we finished - we did a 5k! It was with the run/walk technique and we finished in 35 minutes! Considering I've never ran ever, this was a big deal for me. Thanks to Rachel, for getting me out there. And Sue was our official cheerer-on. Of course, she almost missed our big finish since she was KNITTING in the warm CAR! (Did I mention it was 22 degrees?) In all fairness, she didn't know we'd be so zippy. And I'd like to say, we didn't stop at the bakery on the way home.

But we wanted to.