The most pressing conundrum of 2011?


When I started this blog two years ago, I was hoping to inform, and to  make people think and laugh. I wanted to discuss important issues, but not be so heavy and pedantic that reading this blog would be like doing homework. So I put in some important information on health, exercise, and how-tos, mixed in with some lighthearted satire, and smatterings of my own hapless struggles through life.

So did it work? Depends. People have come here over the past two years for laughter, and in some cases, for answers to pressing issues. And in my own  small way, I’ve been able to address what has turned out to be one of the most pressing conundrums of the twenty-first century. Something that has troubled, puzzled and bewildered people to the point that they’ve gone to the foremost expert on the topic, Google, to find the solution. And find it they did, right here.

So what is this issue, so important, so relevant, that has people worldwide confounded? It’s (drum roll) how to get tulips to stand up in a vase, also known as the solving the dreaded floppy tulip syndrome. Yes, not quite as impressive as curing cancer, but still a burning problem for many, and I’ve been able to solve it here. My work on earth is now complete.

So how do I know this? Thanks to the WordPress Stats Monkeys (their name for themselves, not mine) I have my finger on the pulse of what internet search terms have led people to Huffygirl’s Blog. At least once a day, often more,  someone searches on the terms “floppy tulips” “why do tulips flop over” “tulips won’t stand up in vase” “tulips flopping over” “tulips flopped over after cutting” “tulips flopping down” and so on. You’d think that political candidates would be promoting their floppy tulip policy, congresspersons would be passing laws against floppy tulips, and world summits would be convened to solve this pressing problem, as it clearly is an issue for many, that does not ever go away.

Tulip bouquet

So, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, and all the folks who ordered tulips instead of roses needing to know how to get these things to stand up in the vase and not look like they brought home cheap flowers, I am once again coming to the rescue. Take a look at my solution here, and more on this pressing problem soon.

© Huffygirl 2012

How to cure floppy tulip syndrome

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Wine? Sure, I’ll have the child’s portion*.


Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...

(Photo by Mick Stephenson 2007, courtesy of Wikipedia)

Okay, I admit it. I have no tolerance for alcohol. I’d love to have an occasional glass of chardonnay, but I’m never able to drink a whole glass, or even half. Two sips are my limit. Literally. Maybe three, if I’m going to be in the restaurant for several hours and have plenty of food. There’s a name for people like me – although some would say it’s “cheap date” it’s actually alcohol intolerant.  Some people with alcohol intolerance lack alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), the  enzyme needed to break down alcohol. Maybe I don’t have it, but I’m not sure why. Lack of ADH is more common in Asians and I’m not even a little bit Asian. And the way I feel when I try to drink is not quite what’s been described as ADH deficiency.  

Meanwhile, I AM a cheap date. I rarely order alcohol in a restaurant because why pay for the $8 glass of wine if I can only drink two sips. I occasionally open a bottle of wine at home, and it lasts…well it lasts forever unless we have company come over and finish it off, after I’ve dispensed many a two-sip glass, which barely touches it. I’m probably the only person around who further ages their wine AFTER opening it.

Wine tasting? The idea is appealing, and I like to try different wine flavors, but in practice, it doesn’t really work. Try to tell the wine-tasting people that you really don’t want any more of their delightful wine repeatedly, without insulting them. Traveling through wine county, stopping at picturesque vineyards with artsy tasting rooms – not for me. 

So I’ll let others order the wine, swirl it around in the glass, sniff the cork and toast, while I stick to my semi-abstemious ways. Although it makes me socially awkward, it saves money and protects me from pesky legal entanglements such as driving after  drinking.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcohol-intolerance/DS01172

http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/41593

http://cold-glass.com/

*Disclaimer:  This is a satire blog. There is no “child’s portion.”  Huffygirl does not advocate serving alcohol to children. (I really shouldn’t even have to mention this, but, sigh, just in case.)

House keeping


Mom and Dad, 1947 (© Huffygirl)

My family and I are cleaning out my parents house. It evokes a strange conglomeration of feelings – I’m puzzled, sad, happy, surprised, and mystified all at the same time.

Puzzled: why did Mom have twenty empty shoe boxes, complete with the tissue paper, silica gel, and shopping bag, in her closet? She had more shoe boxes than she had shoes, and most of her shoes were exactly the same – standard-issue senior citizen walkers, with Velcro straps. It couldn’t have been that she was trying to decide if she liked them, because almost every pair was exactly the same as the one before it.  Accompanying the shoes is every coat she’s bought for the last 20 years – all out of style, an array of sizes that no longer fit, yet there they were, lined up, carefully stored in garment bags, for what – the next depression?

Mom, Dad and kids, 1951 (© Huffygirl)

Sad: photos and papers from my parent’s growing-up years. Turns out Dad had  an eighth-grade diploma stating he was entitled to attend high school tuition free, but never went. My sister and I suspect his struggles with learning English at age 6 when he entered school had made school difficult and uncomfortable for him, so opted out. A picture of Dad and his mom at his sister’s wedding. It appears that Dad had walked her down the aisle, as their father had died a few years earlier. Now I understand why he seemed closer to her than he had to his other sisters. 

Dad, World War II, probably 1941. Note cigar in left hand. (© Huffygirl)

Happy: family photos from all sorts of events. Mom arm in arm with girlhood friends. Mom and Dad at what looks like a bridal shower. Their growing-up mementos, from a First Communion veil, holy cards for good behavior, diplomas, pictures of army buddies and unidentified relatives; all of we kid’s school pictures with our homely hair styles and tacky looking glasses, tucked lovingly into the corner of a drawer.

Surprised: workbooks from Mom’s classes for her GED. Looks like she struggled with math, which we never noticed  growing up, but she passed anyway. Mom’s sewing and knitting projects – we were surprised when she crotched little capes for our dolls, but she was more creative than we knew. Dad’s art books – we knew he had he dabbled in art after his retirement but didn’t know he studied sketching.

Dad and kids, around 1959. That's me on the right. (© Huffygirl)

Mystified: what to do with all of it? We don’t want to discard our family memories, but at the same time, don’t want to fill up our own homes with box after box of sentimental “stuff.”  What to do with Dad’s old army uniform and accoutrements? I’ve decided to have an old map detailing his army unit’s travels framed, but what about the rest of it? I’m trying to keep things I might actually use. There’s a ring of Mom’s I think I would wear, but what about the other jewelry that doesn’t suit my taste, but I have too many fond memories of playing with to easily discard? Maybe we should limit ourselves to each keeping what will fit in one box. But what will happen with that box years from now when my kids are forced to sort through it? Will anyone care about Uncle Stan’s obituary, Grandma’s old diploma and Grandpa’s Army engineer pin?

Emptying out a childhood home is a task that many of us will deal with at one time or another in our lives. How we sort it all out is a challenge. Keeping the memories close is a blessing.

Help me, I’m awake!


No, not this Colin (Image courtesy of Google)

It’s that fun time of year again – time for that riotous medical event, the colonoscopy. I’m a few minutes into it and I’M WIDE AWAKE! I know I started out asleep because I remember getting the happy drugs. But now, here I am looking at my colon on the screen, and trying to figure out how to let the doctor know that I’m awake, and pretty sure I’m not supposed to be. I can see everything in the room – the IV pole, the business-like medical equipment, and my colon looking fresh, pink  and perky on the large monitor. Wish I had brought my glasses so I could get a better look. But hey, I’m paying for the sedation, so I better let them know it’s not doing its job. But I can’t. I try to speak and nothing comes out. Okay, so maybe I can move something, but can’t seem to get that coordinated either. Just like in a dream when you’re trying to run away from danger, or yell for help, nothing is happening. Finally, I manage to make a soft moan. It sounds pretty pathetic; wish I could have mustered something better, but hey, it works because I’m out again.

Nor this Colin (Image courtesy of Google)

And, I’m up. Wide awake again. How long is this thing going to take anyway? I  can hear them talking. They better be talking about how fascinating my colon is, and not about calling their broker or updating FB. I do the moaning thing again annnnd, I’m out. Meanwhile, what’s going on around me? Like parents who sit down to relax after they finally put their kids to bed, this doctor is thinking “Didn’t I just put her out? What is she doing up? Next thing you know she’ll be asking for a glass of water and wanting to watch TV.”

Now, fast forward a few years and it’s colonoscopy time again. I’m sitting in the doctor’s office (a different one this time)  and describing to him my vivid memories of waking up, not once, but

It's this colon! (Image courtesy of Google)

TWICE the last time. “Occasionally we get people who are resistant to the anesthesia” he says, “but I’ll make sure I give you something extra strong and you’ll be out for most of the day.” Great. I’m going to get the dart gun reserved for the 300 pound gorilla. I’m fine with sleeping through the colonoscopy – after all I’ve already seen it once. But I don’t really want to be out for an entire day. What if I want to blog or watch TV or go to a movie? Guess that’s out. Seems like there ought to be something in between wide-awake colonoscopy and 24-hour coma. I’m feeling a little skeptical, but let’s see how it goes.

Okay, so it’s colonoscopy day again. This is what I remember: moan, out, moan, out, moan, out, and so on. Apparently this happened repeatedly, basically every time they moved the scope, according to the doc. I have been officially declared the kind of person who just does not sleep soundly through a colonoscopy, despite copious amounts of happy drugs.  

Fortunately, despite the wake-ups, everything went well. And now that I’m home I can ddkje jo cmma  iojmm  ioje329c zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

All kidding aside,  March is colon cancer awareness month. Know your risk factors. Don’t be a sissy –  get a colonoscopy. 

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 © The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It sounded better in Spanish


There’s a sign in the gym at my church that says “No fumar.” No fumar – it   sounds so official, so important. Fumar sounds, well it sounds bad. It brings to mind pictures of nuclear plants, radiation, fall-out shelters. Turns out that fumar sounds bad because it is but this sign is referring to “no smoking” or literally, “not to smoke.” Somehow “no fumar” instead of “no smoking” gives so much more import, sounds more official, more “take notice.”

While driving in Ireland on vacation, I saw signs written in both English and German that said “Attention: Drive on left.” The German  had so much more punch – Achtung. Achtung. It really sounds important, makes you want to sit up straight, and well, pay attention. The signs were placed on the downhill drive of curvy mountain roads that for the most part, lacked guard rails. White-knuckled American and German drivers, whose instincts told them to move to the safety on the right on this steep and dangerous descent, were constantly reminded to stay where they were supposed to be. Achtung, Achtung, all the way down did the trick. 

The right words, spoken or written, are like soothing music to our ears and minds. Reading a well-written book, article or blog is a joy. The same sentiment, in awkward or harsh-sounding prose, conveys a different meaning and leaves the hearer/reader in a less-happy state of mind. When stern warnings are needed, the right words convey the importance of the message, without offending the reader.

Today, think about your words, written or spoken. Do they convey the meaning you want to give? Are there better words to convey your point? What words do you use to draw attention or squelch bad behavior, without crushing the spirit?

(Images courtesy of Google. Original photo credits unknown.)

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

March, the coolest month.


March first! (Image courtesy of Google)

Get up, get ready and get going, because today is the day we march first. Yes, it’s March, the month whose name reminds us that winter is ending, spring is coming, and it’s time to get out of our winter doldrums and do something about it. Spring won’t really be here for a few weeks yet, but March starts to tease us and taunt us into thinking it is here. Look out your window – do you see birds you haven’t seen all winter? I haven’t seen a robin yet, but I’m hoping it’s because I haven’t been paying attention, not because they’re not  out there. The last two weeks I’ve seen red-bellied woodpeckers, which I never see around here until the first inkling of warmer weather appears. Today I awoke to gentle bird song, something I’ve sorely missed all winter. And although I don’t have any luck with hummingbirds, I bet that those who do will say these summer visitors are starting to arrive.

By the end of the week, we better be ready to march forth. We’ll get some days of beautiful weather that entice us out of our warm homes to run, bike, walk, maybe rake some left-over leaves or pick up winter’s detritus from our sodden yards. Time to get the old Huffy off the trainer and ready for the roads because it will be warm enough before we know it.

It’s a good thing that March is the month that gets us moving again, because round about March 14, we’ll be eating a lot of pie. Yes, the biggest day of the year for math nerds everywhere appears smack in the middle of this tremendous month. (3.14 – otherwise known as pi day.) And don’t let the ides of March worry you just because you ate all that pie – I don’t think they had pie in old Rome and that’s why Brutus was so ornery. Starting March 13th you’ll get to march forward, as we turn out clocks ahead for DST and longer daylight days.

So whatever you do today, make sure that you march, march well and march first!

My harbinger of spring - the red-bellied woodpecker! (Photo: Huffygirl)

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“A Look Back” is a hit: Thanks Erica


Feature photo from "A Look Back..."

Last week I posted A look back: my first year of blogging, a retrospective look at how Huffygirl’s Blog has grown and evolved this past year. It was great to spend some time reviewing and reflecting, pondering what worked, and what didn’t this past year. And I thought that was that. But unbeknownst to me, the fun folks at WordPress (WP) had other ideas.

As many of you know, since January WP has been engaged in a campaign to encourage its 300,000+ bloggers to write it up, with two campaigns: Postaday 2011 and Postaweek 2011. WP bloggers have been encouraged to post daily, or at least weekly in 2011. Personally, it seems to me that getting bloggers to blog is not really a problem. We bloggers tend to have a lot on our

It's the Daily Post! (Photo: Huffygirl)

minds and don’t mind saying it. Anyway just in case we need some help, WP has set up a special feature to encourage bloggers called The Daily Post. As one might expect, each day The Daily Post shares some kind of writing tidbit. Sometimes it’s a topic suggestion, a post about inspiration, or a challenge to post a photo or something outside of one’s usual comfort zone. 

Well surprisingly it seems that I’m much more inspiring than I knew, because on February 22, 2011, The Daily Post headline read “A WordPresser’s reflection on her first year of blogging.” WP author Erica Johnson featured my post “A Look Back…”  to encourage other bloggers to take a reflective journey with their own blogs. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/a-wordpressers-reflection-on-her-first-year-of-blogging/ As usual, any mention from the good folks at WP brings a flood of visitors to the featured blog. I only became aware that my blog had been cited when I saw my stats rising and looked into it to figure out the source of the spike.

The unexpected publicity from WP brought many new visitors to my blog. I’ve had great fun exchanging comments with them, and taking a peek at each commentor’s blog (yes, I REALLY looked at every single one.) It’s been fun, inspiring and fulfilling, and once again made me keenly aware of the wonderful community of bloggers out there. I’ve “met” folks from other countries and cultures and found that they really aren’t that different from me. It reminds me that I’m not alone – that bloggers from around the world are but a few keystrokes away. It’s also a great reminder to US bloggers that not everyone in the world uses Farenheit, inches and pounds, at least not the same way that we do. Good to keep in mind. 

So once again, thanks WordPress and special thanks to Erica at The Daily Post for making my day.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hearty pumpkin rolls


Hearty pumpkin rolls (Photo: Huffygirl)

This is a great recipe for a cold winter day when you have time to stay with it for about 3 1/2 hours. I’ve also made the dough one day, refrigerated it overnight and shaped the rolls and finished it the next day. The original recipe had a few glitches and I’ve added my modifications.

Ingredients:

Proof one packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons regular rise yeast in 1/8 cup warm water. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the following:

Just under 1 cup milk or soy milk, warm

2/3 cup white sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature

2 teaspoons salt

3 cups white flour (5 1/2 to 6  cups total)

Mix all together on low with an electric mixer. Then stir in an additional 2  to 2 1/2 cups of flour by hand. 

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured cloth and knead in an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky and becomes smooth, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased mixing bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1  to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough. Turn out onto lightly floured cloth. Divide dough with a

You'll need 2-4 baking pans, depending on their size. (Photo: Huffygirl)

sharp knife into 32 pieces and shape into rolls. Place into greased baking pans. Cover and allow to rise again, about 45 minutes to 75 minutes, until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-27 minutes, until rolls are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn out onto wire rack to cool. Serve warm. Rolls may be frozen for later use.

Variation 1: If you have a stand mixer with dough hook (I don’t) mix all ingredients in mixing bowl on low until combined, then increase speed to medium low and mix for 5 minutes to knead, adding additional flour if needed.

Variation 2: For hearty bread, shape into two large loaves and bake in bread pans or round cake pans. 

Variation 3: For hearty cinnamon rolls, instead of shaping into rolls, roll dough out into a rectangle. Spread with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture and mini chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, or currents. Slice into 1 to 1 1/2 inch slices, lie flat on cookie sheets or baking pans, and follow the directions for rising and baking rolls.

Yum! (Photo: Huffygirl)

 

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Paper or plastic


The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Don't cover me with plastic garbage bags please! (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

I’ve always been opposed to garbage bags. Not opposed to garbage per se, just opposed to buying special bags to put it in. Buying bags whose express purpose is to be thrown away. It just seems wasteful and not eco-friendly. Bags made out of petroleum which go into a landfill and sit there for hundreds of years, just because of garbage. It seems wrong.

So for years I resisted buying official garbage bags. My goal was to use bags that were going to be thrown away anyway. I used the paper bags from the grocery store for garbage. Yes, I know tree huggers everywhere are groaning at this, but they are bags with a limited lifespan. You can reuse them once or twice, but sooner or later they get either recycled or thrown out. Then grocery stores switched to plastic bags. Those bags did not make good wastebasket bags. They were too small for the kitchen wastebasket, tended to tear easily and were flimsy. But they could not be recycled in my area at the time and would end up being thrown away eventually, so  I tried to make them work.  I ended up with a collection of partly filled little garbage bags each garbage day. Then, to top it off, the garbage collector man started to complain. Yes, the man whose job it was to pick up the garbage felt my garbage did not meet his standards. He wanted the garbage to be placed in standard garbage can size bags, so he could run up, pick up a bag from each can and run back to the truck. I pay extra for can service instead of curb service, so I didn’t think it necessary to gift wrap the garbage in special bags just for him. That would put me back to buying special bags just to be thrown away. I conceded by lining the garbage cans with used dry cleaning bags and putting all my little grocery store bags of garbage inside of those. It wasn’t gift wrapped, but at least he stopped complaining for a while.

Then one day, my family and I realized our grocery store garbage bag solution was not working. We had switched to the reuseable grocery store bags, so only accumulated about four  grocery store bags a month. This was not enough to keep up with our garbage, which is not that much considering our robust recycling efforts. So, I succumbed. I bought Glad handle-tie kitchen garbage bags. They worked great. The garbage man is happy. My family is happy because the bags don’t break or fall apart, hold plenty of garbage and are easy to carry out. But I’m not completely happy, because now I’m spending money on something whose only purpose is — to be thrown away.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blizzard or Schmizzard – you decide


The Great blizzard of 1978. Taken on Maple Str...

The great blizzard of 1978 (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Well, it’s time to weigh in on the recent snow and cold that swept the country the past couple days. In my corner of the state, it did indeed turn out to be over-hyped: 6-8 inches of snow, lots of cold wind and drifting, but hey it’s Michigan, and nothing we can’t handle. Certainly not the blizzard of 1967, where we had over a foot of snow in 4 hours, schools closed for over two weeks, and folks like me and my family literally snowbound for days. Certainly not the blizzard of 1978 where our driveway was drifted in with 3-4 feet of snow and the only traffic on main streets for several days was sleds and snowmobiles.

Huffygirl shoveling our little bit of snow. (Photo: Huffygirl)

As we’ve seen on the news, other places across the county were hit very hard with extreme cold, snow and ice. What was your experience where you are? Did your weather turn out to be over-hyped, or snowmageddon? Blizzard or schmizzard – let me know what you decide.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Related post: http://fillyourglass.com/2011/02/03/in-your-face-winter/