If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy May Day!

One of my favorite places to hang out in my house is my front porch. I dressed it up for Spring a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

20 Minutes Well Spent

Random Thoughts While Working Out and a Recipe

Lean Mean Meatloaf, Grilled Taters, and Green Beans with Mushrooms.

When I work out, my mind wanders. OK, well, that's not solely limited to when I work out, but I'm often finishing my water, cooling off, and checking out blogdom and finishing my mind wandering. So, here I am and here's what I thought about this morning.

  • I wonder how Norman is (Grandma's back in the hospital)

  • I wonder why some people ask you so many questions for so many years and then when someone asks you something about them that you should know because you've known them for so many years, you can't answer because you've only been asked questions and never allowed to ask them. (Run on sentence, I know, but I'm time crunched. Forgive me.)

  • I wonder why people who comment to me in person about my blog never comment here. Chickens.

  • I signed up for Facebook again. I was on for a limited time a long time ago and was contacted by a creepoid from my past and so I deleted the account. Now, with limited searches, I'm finding NO ONE I know there. I know, patience, Grasshopper.

  • But, I did have a great time last night chatting with the woman who made nursing school a BLAST for me. Love ya Ang. Glad to talk with ya.

  • I wonder if Jack LaLane is still alive and if juicing really is the secret to longevity.

  • I wonder if I'm going to have to mow the lawn and I wonder if there's something you have to do to the lawn mower after it's long winter nap. (D's in San Fran, the butt, probably skipping down Fisherman's Wharf at his "convention". I know, you're working, but still.... wouldn't Topeka be a more economical choice in these trying times... just sayin'.)

  • I wonder if I will ever finish any of my writing projects.

  • I wonder if I will ever have the vegetable garden that I dream and plan every Spring.

  • What's for supper?

Lean Mean Meatloaf

Sam will actually eat meatloaf. So, it makes a frequent appearance at our house. I love it. I grew up with boring meatloaf, sorry mom. Soda crackers, salt, pepper, and meat. Ketchup required. This has great flavor and the glaze is really delicious. I made it with venison, which I know grosses a lot of people out, but it really is healthier than ground beef. Use the leanest ground beef you can find if you don't have a mighty hunter in your home.

2 eggs

8 ounces tomato sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped (or if you have an onion hater, like I do, use onion powder instead)

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1 1/2 tsp salt, to taste, I used much less

1/8 tsp pepper, to taste, I used much more

1/2 tsp fresh garlic

1 1/2 pounds ground venison or ground beef--I used 2 pounds because I didn't want to figure out something to do with the left over 1/2 pound

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all of the above together. Place in a loaf pan.

Mix together:

2 TB brown sugar

2 TB spicy brown mustar

2 TB cider vinegar

Pour over the top of the meatloaf and bake, uncovered for approximately 70 minutes or until at least 165 degrees in the center. Remove from pan and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Sage might be a good addition.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

But, Don't you Want to Hold Hands and Talk About Your Feelings?

The title pretty much sums up my daily meet and greet of Sam as he gets off the bus. He's happy to see me, he usually has something to show me or say to me, he gives me the update of how much homework he has, and then it's off to XBox Live to be "with" his friends.

And then I jokingly say, sometimes to him and sometimes to the basement door, "But, don't you want to hold hands and talk about your feelings?"

I love this fierce independence and friendships that are true and tightly bound. I love watching him become the man he will be in baby steps and independent flights. I love knowing that, when tested, he sticks to what is right. I love that he's strong and tender and really funny. I love that he can make his own meals, operate the lawn mower, travel to the park with friends, and make good decisions. I love that he opens doors for me and still likes to hang with me at least for a short part of the day. I love that he's obsessed with the History Channel, but will still delve into SpongeBob Squarepants, "just for" me.

Almost 13, I can't believe it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Well, What Do Ya Know, Bud and Henry!"

My Uncle Bud died. Well, Great-Uncle Bud, real name Eugene, but he was always Bud to me. He was my Grandpa Hank's brother. They looked kind of alike with their shiny bald heads and man, could they both rock the old man specs.

Uncle Bud was a complicated person, but who isn't? I wasn't old enough to perfectly understand the complexities of his early years. And I'm thankful for that. To me, Uncle Bud was the cool guy that was born on the Fourth of July. We saw him every year on his birthday, until he no longer could handle all the commotion that company brought. I've felt like something was missing every Fourth of July since then.

Uncle Bud lived on a river with a slow current and a pebbly bottom. Perfect. Kid. Paradise. He liked to invent thing. Although I don't know if it was original to him, he did have a potato cannon launching spuds for us kids one year. He made model replicas of a John Deer tractor with teeny tiny parts. My mom is a proud owner of one of the very few of these. He always had firecrackers and bottle rockets. He used to light the firecrackers in his hand and then toss them in the air. One finger was mysteriously shorter than the others. We kids never knew how he lost the tip, but we suspected it was fireworks related.

On one visit to our house, Uncle Bud and Grandpa Hank were sitting on lawn chairs in the yard. Grandpa's dog and our dog were playing. We'd never really thought much about the dog's names before. Buddy and Henry, were named just because the names fit and we like them. Grandpa tipped back in his chair and said, "Well, what do ya know, Bud and Henry!" And we laughed. Grandpa died when I was fourteen. I'm sure he welcomed Bud into Heaven and I hope they're laughing.

Bud introduced us to the hidden campground pictured above. I thank him every time I'm there and will continue to do so as I pass this treasure on to my son. (And, no, I won't tell you where it is without DNA testing to see if you're family)

The last time I saw Bud, he was in such pain he could hardly bear life. I'm so glad that's over.

Thank you Bud. For your love. You always made me feel like I was just the person you were waiting to see. I'll miss you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Couple of Cool Sickos--Thanks you guys!

This group does great work for a cause close (too close!) to me. I think the hardest part about having this disease is being misunderstood. Watch it through the end, please.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Always be yourself,

because the people
that matter don't mind,
and the ones that mind
don't matter.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just One More Page

I've been telling myself that all morning. I have a lot to do today, but with just a few pages of The Book Thief left, I'm having trouble concentrating on the work at hand. This book has absolutely consumed me and, unfortunately, I've had little time lately for concentrated reading.

This morning, I rationalized that I could read until my coffee was gone. I stretched that out almost half an hour. "Yes, there was still some left," I kept telling myself. There's always some left, lining the cup, right?

Then, after working out, I fit in a few minutes while I uninstalled some software and tried not to curse at my laptop that has been limping along for several months now. Sick laptops should never be left without someone sitting at their side, right?

If I don't get dinner in the crock pot, then we won't have dinner tonight, so I must dash. And then, I suppose, I should, for quality assurance and appliance safety, make sure that the crock pot is heating. I could sit at the counter stools, with book in hand, and just wait a bit...

My book reviews are all over at Good Reads. So, if you miss them here, you will find them, and a great community of book addicts, there.

*If you haven't figured this out, The Book Thief is a must read. Love it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is the Easter Ham Gone Yet?

No, Now Eat your Dinner

If you're at the point where one more ham sandwich could literally make you go postal, then please disregard this post and have a nice day.

If you're still looking for creative uses of leftovers, then have I got a meal for you. Or if you're searching for something to make with all that ham you so thriftily placed in the freezer for future use...

This is not a picture worthy food. Unwritten law of food photography: comfort food is ugly.

Slap your Momma Beans and Taters

I really can't follow a recipe. D thinks this really funny, but honestly, I'm starting to think that this is some sort of learning disability or genetic problem. I can't follow a recipe. It's just not in me. This would be a great side dish for a summer BBQ. Named for a nurse I used to work with who couldn't believe Minnesotans thought black pepper was spicy. She used to say stuff was Slap your Momma good. And these are.

  • 2 pounds FRESH green beans
  • one onion, chopped
  • 2 cups (more or less) of leftover, chopped ham
  • fresh minced garlic--about a tablespoon
  • a good sprinkling (maybe 1 tsp?) of Tony Chachere's famous Creole Seasoning (thanks Heidi, this is now a staple in our house!) If you're Spice Phobic add a little and then season to taste at the table
  • 1 TB of really good chicken stock base (in the bouillon section of the store--not Dayglo Yellow) If you can't find good chicken stock base, then use chicken broth and leave out the water. Repeat after me, bouillon cubes are evil spawn of the Devil and must be banned.
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • water, to cover
  • about 2 pounds (more or less) red skinned potatoes, fingerling potatoes, or Yukon Golds, Rose Reds, etc--anything with a thin skin, NO RUSSETS

Place all, except potatoes, in your crock pot. Place on high for an hour, then turn to low and simmer until beans are close to done. I'm not sure this is a recipe you can just leave all day. I started it about noon and put the potatoes in and turned it back to high about 2 hours before we were going to eat.

If you're brave and decide to dump it all in and simmer all day on low, let me know how it turned out. My fear is that the potatoes might melt to nothing. You could probably do on low all day and then turn it to high and add potatoes when you get home, but dinner might be late!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Fundamental Moral Decision: How can we, in good conscience, deny health care to anyone who's sick? We can't.

by E.J.Dionne Jr.

The term “pro-life” is used with great seriousness in politics, and also as a political cudgel. If ever there were an issue on which those words have clear relevance and resonance, it is health-care reform.

Pro-life activists are deeply engaged in controversies around what care should be given at the end of life, and I strongly share their opposition to physician-assisted suicide. But who pays for end-of-life care when someone lacks health insurance? What sort of care can that uninsured person expect at the end of life? What good does it do to raise a ruckus around a general principle and not ask how the basic requirements of the sick can be met?

If a young woman is making up her mind about whether or not to have an abortion, is she not far more likely to choose life if she knows that she will receive decent health care while she is pregnant? Will she not feel more confident if she knows that both she and her baby will be able to see a doctor regularly after the child is born?

If we believe that all life is sacred, does that not mean that everyone should receive medical help in the early stages of an illness, before the illness becomes life-threatening? If we believe that human lives should not be bought and sold, doesn’t that require us to limit the impact that wealth and income have on access to life-enhancing and life-saving health care?

There is a terrible gap between the rhetoric people use in the health-care debate and the reality of our health-care situation. In particular, there is an enormous disconnect between the anti-government pronouncements we hear from opponents of universal coverage and the fact that government is already deeply enmeshed in our health-care system.

According to 2006 figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, government expenditures on health care in the United States already amounted to 7 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. That was identical to the Canadian government’s share, and not far off from Sweden’s 7.8 percent, Germany’s 8.1 percent, or France’s 8.8 percent. In other words, our government already spends a great deal on health care, and yet 45 million to 50 million of us still lack regular insurance.

As a society, we agreed more than 40 years ago that it was unconscionable for the elderly to lack health coverage. With Medicare, we socialized—yes, I used that word—the provision of health care for all senior citizens.

Medicare is not perfect, but what a world of good it has done. But why offer that guarantee only to the elderly? Shouldn’t their children and grandchildren have the same right to regular medical care that they do? Isn’t that what the elderly themselves want? How can so many who say they oppose “government meddling” in health care at one moment go on to declare their firm support for Medicare at another? They cannot have it both ways, although they keep trying.

Medicaid has also brought needed care to many poor Americans. But isn’t there something terribly arbitrary about saying that one group of poor Americans can rely on government for help, while members of another group, nearly as needy, are left to fend for themselves? What principle is involved here?

One of the best pieces of legislation signed into law by President Obama this year was the substantial expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It was an excellent step in the right direction. But what do we say about the parents of those children? If a parent gets sick and has no health care, how does that affect a child—even if the child is insured?

There are many roads to universal coverage. There are many practical reasons—related to controlling costs to government, businesses, and individuals—for supporting reform. But the most compelling argument, finally, is moral: A country that values life should not be placing so many obstacles in the way of those seeking health care.

An essential book for this fall is T.R. Reid’s The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. Reid, a former Washington Post reporter, embarked on an international search for better approaches to health coverage. Here’s what he concluded:

Those Americans who die or go broke because they happened to get sick represent a fundamental moral decision our country has made. Despite all the rights and privileges and entitlements that Americans enjoy today, we have never decided to provide medical care for everybody who needs it. In the world’s richest nation, we tolerate a health-care system that leads to large numbers of avoidable deaths and bankruptcies among our fellow citizens ...

All the other developed countries on earth have made a different moral decision. All the other countries like us—that is, wealthy, technologically advanced, industrialized democracies—guarantee medical care to anyone who gets sick. Countries that are just as committed as we are to equal opportunity, individual liberty, and the free market have concluded that everybody has a right to health care—and they provide it.

And we should, too.

E.J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist and senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Cost of Doing Nothing About Health Care

by Jim Wallis 03-02-2010

After nearly a year of our work for health-care reform, the debate seems to be reaching the end. News reports indicate that the president will propose his plan for moving forward, and climactic votes could come soon.

So what are we to make of the current bill? While it is deeply flawed, it nevertheless does extend coverage to 30 million people currently without insurance and provides subsidies for them to purchase it. And despite many disappointments with what a real health-care reform bill could have been, covering 30 million more people is still a big deal. But the most telling argument for finally passing something is that the cost of doing nothing about health care is far greater.

A New York Times report summed up, very starkly, the likely consequences of doing nothing. With no action by Congress, “The unrelenting rise in medical costs is likely to wreak havoc within the system and beyond it, and pretty much everyone will be affected, directly or indirectly.”

Nearly every mainstream analysis calls for medical costs to continue to climb over the next decade, outpacing the growth in the overall economy and certainly increasing faster than the average paycheck. Those higher costs will translate into higher premiums, which will mean fewer individuals and businesses will be able to afford insurance coverage. More of everyone’s dollar will go to health care, and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will struggle to find the money to operate … The higher premiums will also persuade more businesses, especially smaller ones, to decide not to offer insurance. More people who buy coverage on their own or are asked to pay a large share of premiums will find the price too high.

If this happens, estimates are that the number of people without health insurance would increase by more than one million per year (on top of the 49 million currently without coverage), and result in as many as 275,000 deaths over the next 10 years. Do we really want as many as 60 million Americans to be without health insurance in a decade? More families will go deeply into debt, and many will go bankrupt.

I am forced to conclude that while this very flawed legislation may be the lesser of evils, the consequences of inaction to America’s families would be far greater. So rather than issuing a moral clarion call to action, let’s just hope this finally passes, and then immediately get to work to make it better. If this effort fails, most observers think that Congress might not get back to health care for ten or fifteen years; and all the terrible costs and consequences the Times article analytically predicts are very likely to come true.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street — A Moral Compass for the New Economy, CEO of Sojourners and blogs at www.godspolitics.com

We Had 8 Years of Bush and Cheney and NOW You Get Mad???

I did not write this, so I deserve no credit, but I am absolutely at a loss as to how people can be so upset about helping our fellow people. Please watch the video, through to the end, after reading. Thank you.

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 714 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans...oh hell no.

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!