Sunday, January 31, 2010


The lala-ness of school has worn off. I knew it would, and frankly I'm surprised it hasn't happened before now. It's not for lack of interest, or study fatigue. It's a horrible teacher that's the culprit of my stolen school spirit.

Remember the teacher I told you about? The one who worked for the State Department, Dept. of Defense, and other hoity-toity positions? Well, you know the adage "those who do, do. Those who can't, teach." I GET IT NOW. Funny, every other teacher I know is smart.

I've had 4 classes now. Each class in 1 hour, 20 minutes. And in that time, we have done nothing but learn 35 medical specialties. That is all. Literally. In fact I've taken minutes (well, not really, but this is how it's all gone down). Please, read along. Let me know how you would restrain yourself from jumping over the lip of the two-foot table that separates you from the instructor and smacking her silly for wasting everyone time. Thanks.

Tuesday, Jan. 19th - Roll is taken. Syllabi handed-out. A round-robin of name memorization (total time 30 minutes). Teacher background discussed. End of class.

Thursday, January 21 - The importance of punctuality is addressed as a couple of late stragglers come into class. 35 medical specialties are introduced. These include the two branches of medicine; internal, and surgery. The specialties include common terms such as gynecologist, pediatrician, thoracic surgeon, etc. Ya know , shit everyone has heard before. I mean, if you've ever been to a doctor. The entire class is spent stressing how important it is, as health care professionals, that we correctly spell these terms. David is called out for not having his textbook with him in class. This would probably not be the best time to tell the instructor that I saved money and bought the 1st edition of the textbook, instead of the required 2nd ed. End of class.

Tuesday, January 26- A woman enters the class with a late-add slip. The teacher warns, berates, and admonishes the 30-something aged woman that she has missed two classes already and that if the student feels she cannot make up the missed work in a timely fashion, she will struggle through the entire course. I want to lean over and tell the woman that she hasn't missed a damn thing. The entire class is devoted to writing out, shouting out, and verbally spelling the 35 specialties. I am called on four times to provide the correct term for questions such as "a medical specialist who treats cancer" . After I provide the answer I must also spell the term, aloud, for the class. End of class.

Thursday, January 28 - A test will be given on the 35 specialties. But first, many people are censured for turning their cell phones off when they get into class. It is again brought to our attention (for the umpteenth time) that if anyone is caught texting during class, they will be dropped from the class. Keep in mind that no one has been seen texting or breaking the rules. Before the test, we do another round-robin of the 35 medical specialties. The test is administered. Before class is dismissed, we are told that next week we will discuss professionalism in the health-care workplace. Such points will include correct grammar, the benefits of a diverse vocabulary, and the necessity of wearing deodorant. It is suggested that we read the newspaper to bone-up on our every day verbiage. We are then given homework. End of class.

The syllabus contains no point-scale. There are five exams, two quizzes, and an oral report. Oh, and the occasional homework assignment. I looked it up. Because if it wasn't included in the point scale, I wasn't doing to do it. We are to write-out the 25 medical ethic terms from our book with their accompanying definitions. The homework will be collected on Tuesday. Like my 2nd-grade eight-year-old, I need to write out the word euthanasia and give its definition. Isn't that how all people learn? By constant, redundant repetition?

This is college. Most people on this class are in their mid-to-late 20's. I know I shouldn't complain as the class is easy; an ace in the hole. My course load will get harder. I think?! I hope. My anatomy course was not easy. But I worked at it. And I was entrusted with the information put in front of me, and in the textbook. Ms. Barkley needs to give everyone in that class the benefit of the doubt. Talk to us like we are adults. Trust that we will have respect for her classroom. Let us learn terms at home, in our own time. For God's sake - TEACH US.

Can you tell I'm going to write one hell of an evaluation on this woman? What would you do?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soap Sell

The other day, Liz -> commented on how good some Aveda shampoo smelled.
Jen's hawking glasses from Pier 1. ->
So, I thought I'd plug my favorite hand soap.

I LOVE fragrance. Honestly. Nothing gives me such satisfaction as inhaling wonderful florals, pot roast, and laundry detergent. Give me perfume, lotions, candles, or hand soap that smells good and I'm as happy as if I'd been given diamonds. Almost.

Generally, I think Williams-Sonoma is a bit too expensive. Do you remember the time I wrote about the fancy commercial-grade linen press? Puhlease. It's fun to peruse the $700 copper pots for a minute, but I get quickly annoyed at how something so fundamentally simple and essential could cost so much. As if you'd ever use something that pretty anyway?!

But they make good soap. And I can afford it. E very holiday season I make a special trip to the store and buy Winter Forest Hand Soap and Lotion. It's an annual tradition of epic planning. It smells heavenly!

My current dispenser is almost empty. BUT, I am considering something radical. I might, just might, make the jump and buy another one of their fragrances. I know, it's a crazy idea.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our Lady of Odd Lots

Yesterday I was waiting in the paint line at Home Depot. In front of me was a woman, mid-60's. As I stood in back of her I couldn't help but wonder how much younger (and better) this woman would look if she ditched the gray hair. Which made me realize I shouldn't be judging her hair when I hadn't colored my own in over two months. Yikes! My gray was showing!

I put in my paint order and started hoofing it to the drug store on the other end of the strip mall. I needed my box of hair color. And maybe some new mascara. And some new smoky eye colors while I was at it(I was giving myself a makeover as I walked along).

I passed in front of Odd Lots, turned on my heel, and swung in for a quick look around. I knew I'd probably have to walk to the drug store for my hair dye, but it wouldn't hurt to check out Odd Lots selection. The gaudy, but gorgeous pink sequined Valentines wreaths caught my eye, and before I knew what was happening I had been sucked into the vortex of cheap picture frames and a million other items I didn't really need. Thanks, dad.

My dad was king of the bargain. He lived for garage sales, and thought everything could be purchased for a quarter. Many years ago, Phoenix didn't have Odd Lots. But Michigan did. And a summer visit to my mother and father's home state wasn't complete without a shopping trip to the great discount store. My dad actually designated a whole morning of our vacation to Odd Lots. We bought gift bags in bulk, greeting cards by the dozens, and one summer, pregnancy tests. Lots of them. Yes, Nora's existence was proven by a pregnancy test I purchased at a discount store.

I'm pretty convinced Norm knew that not everything was a deal at Odd Lots, but it didn't deter him from the fun detective work of finding the hidden bargain. That's why we sometimes ate Bugles by the caseload or had Hamburger Helper twice a week for two years. And so, it is enmeshed in me. I didn't find the mascara or hair color. But it was worth a look. I half expected to round a corner and see Norm holding a jar of pickles. He would have discussed how at 99 cents, the farmer couldn't be making more than a quarter for those pickles. He marveled at business models and the costs of production and distribution.

More than any other time since he's been gone, whether it be in church, outside, or in his house, I felt the presence of my father. I left Odd Lots empty-handed, but full-hearted.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seattle Days

We've been getting some serious rain. No, really. On average, Phoenix receives about 7 inches of rain a year. Our totals for Monday-Saturday of this week are supposed to hit 3 inches. Which means we'll receive almost 1/2 of our total yearly rainfall by the third week in January. We get the majority of our rain in the summertime, during the monsoon season. It usually rains at night, after the heat of day has burned off.

The rain is a nice change of pace, and it's so novel for here. School pick-up was a hoot. I saw kids running, shrieking, and darting around with brand new umbrellas. Till today, my own kids had never held their own umbrella. I had to show them how to brace it against the wind. People have no idea how to drive on the wet roads and its been taking twice as long to get anywhere. It's all the weather people can talk about. And, me as well.

Here are Scot's shots of the rain, thus far.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Passion? Passion? Is Passion here?"

Have you seen "Community" on NBC? That's me. The diverse life at a community college. I am taking two classes this spring. One, an online medical vocabulary course, and the other a class on campus. It's called Health Care Concepts. It's exactly what you'd think. An introduction course for those considering a career in health care. In class, we will study the organizational ladder of health care providers. The teacher is a savvy, 60-something African American woman. She's worked at the Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Commerce, UC Long Beach, and twenty-something jobs in-between. She lived in Los Angeles, Ohio, and Kentucky before she figured out the Arizona desert heat is best for arthritis.

There are 23 of us in the class. No one else looks like me. They are very young, older (50+), Black, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, and everything in-between. For years I've heard whites will one day be the minority, and today I saw that as a reality. On one side of me sits a Japanese girl named Suzy. Her notebooks are adorned with Hello Kitty and she writes with a puffy, pink pen. On the other side of me is Veronica, Her dark complexion is complemented with smoky, deep-set eyes. Diondre is about 300 pounds and his pants hang dangerously low to the ground. Dave is about 55, and his eager voice and quick hand in the air show his willingness to learn .

About a quarter of us are looking at a job in respiratory therapy, and the rest of the class is spread out amongst numerous positions, from radiology to hospital unit coordinator. We did a name game to learn each other's names, and I can remember the following : "Jesus, Jill, Jeff, Andrea, Dawn, Walter, Diondre, and Passion." Yes, Passion. We spent the first class SPELLING internal medicine specialties. Dermatology, neurology, urology, cardiology, gynecology. I'll admit I rolled my eyes and thought "Is this necessary?" But I'll also fess up and tell you that spell check just alerted me that half those words were spelled incorrectly.

For everyone, there is a beginning. And this class is there to help us all sort it all out. I'm not above any of it. I've just known for some time that this is the correct path for me. I've chosen it, dedicated myself to it, and am ready to get the show on the road. It will be an interesting semester. There's a small chance I won't gain a lot of information from the class, but I think there's a strong likelihood I will learn something from my teacher and classmates.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Running Smells

Time : approx. 4:30 p.m MST
Length of Run: 4.25miles
Run Time: 40.59
Scottsdale Temperature : 56 degrees F

Smells Recorded

Laundry detergent (Tide, I think)
Burning Leaves
Pinon wood
Beef Bourguignon (didn't smell as good as mine, LOL)
lighter fluid
hot dogs
wood fire
clean, crisp air
wet leaves
sweet, smoky, marshmallow campfire air

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thai-Style Pork Stew

I keep an old, large photo album for all my recipes. It contains ripped and torn recipes, pilfered from magazines and newspapers. It also has some cute 3X5 index card emblazoned with "from the kitchen of..." given to me by ladies of previous generations (back in the day when you kept a perfect little recipe box.) My book is a mess, but I know where everything is. It holds about 100 recipes and to occupy a spot behind the crinkly plastic cellophane, you need to be tried, tested, and true. Which means very few recipes make the cut.

When Scot and I got married I ran out and bought the Joy of Cooking. I studied the techniques, and perused their list of exotic ingredients. I still use the classic tome when I need help identifying a particular cut of meat, but find the recipes methods to be long and tiring. Over the years I have taken cooking classes and stocked my bookshelf with numerous cookbooks. I have everything from Rachel Ray (not such a fan anymore) to Tyler Florence (scrumptious!). But, by far, my favorite recipes have come from the pages of Cooking Light Magazine. While I'm not afraid of a little cream, I do believe lamb shanks and duck had a role in my father's demise. So, when and where I can, I cut back.

The following is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It is easy, and fantastic. This one is for Darcy, who seems to like the same comfort food I do. You be the judge; it might not deserve a spot in your book, but it at least deserves a try.

Thai-Style Pork Stew

Peanut butter melds with classic Asian flavors to lend this one-dish meal a Thai flair. Lime makes a perfect accent.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup stew, 1 tablespoon green onions, about 1/2 teaspoon peanuts, and 1 lime wedge)


  • 2 pounds boned pork loin, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cups (1 x 1/4-inch) julienne-cut red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 6 cups hot cooked basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
  • 8 lime wedges


To prepare stew, trim fat from pork. Place pork and next 5 ingredients (pork through garlic) in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid, and cook on low-heat setting for 8 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker, and coarsely chop. Add peanut butter to liquid in slow cooker; stir well. Stir in pork.

Combine stew and rice in a large bowl. Top each serving with onions and peanuts; serve with lime wedges.

Nutritional Information

412 (30% from fat)
13.6g (sat 3.6g,mono 6.2g,poly 2.5g)
Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 1999

Note: I have subbed in chicken thigh meat, and it works okay. This recipe doesn't really taste like food at your Thai-takeout, it's just yummy and who doesn't like a little peanut butter? Also, I have used natural PB, and it's fine. The lime is essential and I also buy the Chili Lime nuts to sprinkle on top. My favorite side is steamed green beans. You can reduce the cooking time once you experiment with your slow-cooker. I've done it in 4 hours. I've served this for family dinners, for strangers in Michigan, and to Scot regularly. It's always a favorite.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vocabulary Catch-up

I've always loved vocabulary. Often I say something, only to hear my mother say, "that must be a college word."

Two of my new favorites are featured today. I did not coin these, but kudos to whoever did. Yes mom, these would be considered college words. Not words you would learn in class, but in the dorm. Aren't you proud?

Douche nozzle
noun, ( dew.shnazle - said with a German accent so as to disguise the origin of the word)- a supreme douchey creature. Any person demonstrating an offending behavior, or having a permanent jerky disposition.

That douche nozzle neighbor saw me wave and did not return the greeting.

Ass Clown
noun, (ass.clown) A person who is stupid, thoughtless, ignorant, tiresome, and generally vexing on your psyche and intelligence.

I will lose my mind if that ass clown continues to support Cheney.

* Scot thought this needed further clarification. An ass clown is also someone who is not knowledgeable enough or fit for a certain high position or authority.

Did you hear what an ass clown Sarah Palin is? She repeatedly referred to Joe Biden as Mr. O'Biden- right into the first vice-presidential debate!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'll school you at your own game, textbooks!

Semester 2 of My New Career starts next week. God help us all if I am still writing about all this and it's semester 10; something tells me I will be. This schooling will be a long haul the way I am going. This spring, two courses for sure, with a possible addition of two more classes later this semester.

So, this bad-ass has been doing her book-shopping. In case you don't remember Textbook Hell from your days as an undergrad, let me refresh you. In the college bookstore, every textbook costs as much as the class. Books are bought back for about 1/2 of what you paid for them. Unless of course your water-bottle leaked on them, weakening the binding, and rendering them worthless. And those are the ones that are considered for "buy-back." If the textbook has a new addition issued right after you've used it (when isn't it?) your old volume is worthless. If the teacher is the author of the book, you need to use their obsolete tome which is expensively, privately published, and without a doubt, the teacher is retiring at the end of your term. So you are stuck with it. Ya know, just a little something for your home collection (we all know the douche nozzles who display their World Religions textbooks on their mahogany shelf.)

But, it does not have to be this way. No, no, no, no, no. Scot and I, WE WISED UP! This is 2010! Brick-and-Mortar book shopping is so...1995. The time when I stood for that kind of shit. This is the era of "find is cheaper, schmuck." We went on eBay and were blown away. While books still cost a bundle to buy, they were cheaper than the bookstore. And we realized were sitting on a goldmine. Scot's MBA books had been rolled into his tuition. He got the business books off the Mahogany bookshelf (teasing- top shelf of the closet) and listed the books on eBay. Seven have sold for the whopping happiness sum of $428.

One of my textbooks I require is an independently published book. We went to school to investigate. It had the college name emblazoned on the spine, cover, and title page. Not to be deterred from finding a cheaper source, Scot actually scanned the ISBN number into his phone. No match. It was a forced buy. But at $27, I didn't feel nauseous.

My other textbook is offered for sale in the bookstore for $69 (used). Scot did a scan, and found it available for approximately $45 (eBay). Good, but not great. This is where I got creative. I need the 2nd Edition. offers a wonderful feature where you can look inside a book. I pulled up two screens and compared the Table of Contents from the 1st and 2nd editions. I determined that there were approximately 10 pages difference between the two books. A little bit about computers in health care, and terrorism were added to the 2nd edition, and frankly I bet I can figure out what changed between 2001-2008.

I bought the 1st edition from a used bookseller on Amazon for a grand total, shipping included, of $5.71.

Come May, I will go online and try to re-sell it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

They went Baaaaack!!!

Winter break was fantastic. 16 days of sleeping-in, unadulterated desserts, and new toys. Also, some sibling fighting, boredom, and lots of togetherness. LOTS.

I worked today, Scot worked today, and the kids returned to school. And after both cherubs were deposited in their classrooms, I couldn't resist singing the lines from one of my favorite commercials.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Good Morning Arizona!

I always knew I would end up out West. I moved from New Jersey before my senior year in high school. And I was ecstatic. It was an instant fit. This place has saved me from myself with mild winters and constant year-round sunshine.

I woke today and stumbled to the kitchen for coffee. As I always do, I looked out the window by my sink and thought, "damn, I'm lucky." The beauty and the view - they never get old.

Friday, January 1, 2010

15 Years

I'm 22 for a moment
She feels better than ever
And we're on fire
Making our way back from Mars
15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live - Five For Fighting

Great song. It has nothing to do with anything. Other than that I was 22 when I met Scot. And it makes me cry- in a good way.

Auld Lang Syne has always made me cry. It's bittersweet. I appreciate reflecting on the good from the past year, but the funeral dirge air to the song makes me think too much of what has been lost. I take much more delight in New Years Day. Let's not look back too much. Let's look forward. New Years Day is usually bright, crisp and shining in Arizona. The type of day that conjures up a fresh start with so many possibilities.

Scot and I met early on New Years Day, 1995. I had finished a waitress's shift around 11:30 on NYE, and sped to Houlihan's to meet up with my boyfriend and some friends. I was 22. GULP! Narrowly, I missed the clock striking midnight. I missed Auld Lang Syne. I walked into the dark bar which was covered in confetti and stinky, spilled beer. And then I saw him. I didn't know who he was but he was talking to some friends. Frantically I started asking around. "Who is that guy?" "Who knows him?" He was the younger brother of a friend. I asked to be introduced and we spent the next twenty minutes talking. He was a recent ASU graduate and was considering grad school. I was still in college. Eventually I mingled back around to my then- boyfriend. He was just something to fill the time until someone better came along. Someone had come along. I knew, that night, that I could marry Scot. I had no basis for knowing it. It was just something I felt in my bones. The night ended in my hot styling teal-blue 1991 Camaro. I was the designated driver who drove my friends (Scot included) home. Every time I glanced in the rear-view mirror I was acutely aware that gorgeous, smart Scot was sitting in my backseat.

I hadn't known it on New Year's Eve, but Scot was betrothed. His beloved was attending graduate school in Canada, which would then lead to her placement in medical school. Scot and her had been dating long-distance for a year when we met. I was dating Mr. Right Now, but over the next couple of months Scot and I saw each other quite often as we hung in the same social circle. Every so often his girlfriend would fly out for a (conjugal, vapid ) visit and we would all meet up for drinks. Scot and Sarah were to be married in 1997, and to have their first baby the following year. I heard this directly from his girlfriend's mouth. She had it all mapped out according to breaks in her schooling.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I corrupted Scot in October of 1995. A large group of us went to see Jimmy Buffet. I took the trolley there with Mr. Right Now, and left for home sitting on Scot's lap. I was done waiting for what I felt was my destiny. The next morning both of us broke up with our respective partners. Scot called Sarah. I arranged a lunch with Mr. Average. I sat in his car and told him it was time for both of us to move on. He grew mad and started hurling insults. But I sensed that none of the anger was over losing me. He was just losing face.

Mr. Right Now's parting shot has gone down in history. As I got out of his car he shouted, "Ya know, Toni, you're going to marry that guy!" Talk about putting the cart before the horse- what a bizarre thing to say! And I never forgot it. I kind of knew how I felt, but how did he know?

Scot and I were married on June 6, 1998.

Today, the sky is a magnificent cerulean blue and people with fitness resolutions are packing the greenbelt. The world is anew again. Happy New Year to my dear husband, my friends, and my family. May this year be filled with many joyful gifts, new opportunities, and delightful diversions.

And if you feel it, don't waste time. Go for it.