Friday, February 26, 2010

Day Off!

I took today off from work to chill out or whatever I felt I needed to do. Even though it's been S-L-O-W as molasses in winter (very appropriate analogy, actually) I have been burnt out and in need of a little R&R. I suffer from chronic headaches and migraines, and lately they have been driving me out of my gourd. It felt so good today to just get out in the sunshine and fresh air! Florescent lighting makes me want to scream after a while.

I couldn't decide what to do with this extra day; should I sleep in? Take a drive? Both? Neither? I hated to waste it by sleeping all day, but that is what usually makes my head feel better. After a little discussion on Facebook, I decided to sleep in a little, then take a drive with my camera. I really can't afford the gas, but it was worth it.
I decided to head to Red Lodge, then make the loop through Roscoe, Absorakee, and Columbus, then back to Billings. Here is Lake Elmo State Park, just about 3 blocks up the street from my place. It's still frozen over, but is starting to get a few little areas where it's starting to thaw since the weather has been in the low 40's for a few days. But before I started out on my little road trip, I needed to perform a little maintenance.
Poor 'ol Rodeo; I don't treat her as well as I should, but she runs great for me all the time anyway. I got my hands all grimy from get the oil tank thingy lid off; however, a fortunate side effect of being a junk food junkie is that I always have tons of napkins in the rig! YAY!
And I had to be sure I had my trusty, musty map book too!
These map books are a must if you decide to go road tripping in your state. If you can find one for where you live, I highly recommend them. They show every single little highway, mountain road, logging road, river, lake, stream, etc. in a grid format. I love mine! It's faded from the sun and warped from tons of miscellaneous spilled liquids. I never leave home without it. Just don't sniff it. Trust me. Seriously bad idea.
I then headed on over to Taco John's for a bottle of water and a bacon, egg, and potato burrito (YAY - more napkins!). I whipped into their tiny parking lot and planned my route. Then it was off to the Interstate!
I left Taco John's at 10:20am. Got on I-90 and headed west, set the cruise at 65 and munched on my burrito. Eight miles from Laurel, the speed limit changes to 75; I up my speed to 70 and reset the cruise. I hate driving 75. My poor Rodeo doesn't need that kind of stress and I am sucking gas fast enough, thank you very much.
I took exit 434 for Laurel and Red Lodge; took only 10 minutes. Hung a left at the light onto highway 212 West. Now only 44 miles to Red Lodge! Here you can see the highway to Red Lodge with the Bear Tooth Mountains in the distance.
As I entered the town of Joliet, I passed this handsome fellow outside the Charles Ringer Studio and Gallery. I love his toes!
Just outside of Roberts, I saw this magnificent creature. I had to stop and capture him! He nearly got me into trouble too; the road has no shoulder, but there were no cars coming in either direction. I pulled over as far as I could and jumped out, snapped a few pictures, then ran back across the road to jump in the rig. As I was putting my seat belt on, a dark car pulled up next to me and stopped; I looked over and nearly had a stroke - a Montana Sheriff!! He gave me his best get-your-fat-butt-outta-here gesture and I immediately gave him my most sincere Holy-Crap-officer-didn't-see-you-sorry-I'm-going-RIGHT-NOW-gesture. I think my only saving grace was that he had two guys in his back seat that it appeared he was, um, transporting to Red Lodge and he didn't want to try to write me a ticket in the middle of the road with them in the car. WHEW!!! There were some other nifty things I would have stopped to clicky-clicky at, but I was too shook up!
So, now I arrive at Red Lodge. I thought that I would have a nice mosey around town, maybe find a little bakery to be bad in; no one's going to be there on a weekday in winter, right? Wrong. The streets were all heavily lined with cars and there was no where to park; it appeared that there were also some chartered buses full of people arriving, so I said NEVER MIND! I went to the local super market and got a hot dog and a drink, then ate them in the car.
So now I am leaving Red Lodge and am on my way to Roscoe. The scenery was so beautiful!!! Unfortunately, it is a very narrow and windy highway with less shoulder than before, so it's hard to find a place to pull over. But here are a few I managed to take when I found a place to pull over:
After passing by Luther, I passed the house that was for sale that had been infested by Barn Wrens; I blogged about that place about two years or so ago. It looked so forlorn; nothing has been done to it since the last time I saw it, but it does appear that the birds are gone (for now).

I was just passing the sign that said ROSCOE when I crossed over the East Rosebud Creek and saw a cow standing down in the creek! I knew I had to capture that!
That water had to be soooo cold - but it would definitely be refreshing! Here is the stream from the other side of the bridge:
After Roscoe, there was this historical marker, along with a memorial erected in 1938 for an old Montana pastor:I also really liked this fence post at the same site:
I moved on and took the frontage road from Columbus to Park City, a road that I have seen several times but had never been on. I am so glad I took it! I passed this and had to turn around and go back for a second look:
This is some sort of spill way that flows out and down into a little stream below. Did you catch that it is frozen solid? That water that looks like it is spilling down is a frozen solid column of water, and so is the big, thick mound at the bottom that looks like water splashing up!! Cool, huh?

I finally got back home at about 3:30pm. It was a lovely day and I am glad I took advantage of it.
Now I need a nap.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Om nom nom...

Since it has been so mind numbingly S-L-O-W at work, I spend a lot of time on the internet. I found several new blogs that I am greatly enjoying and have added them to my list of favs on the right. None of the blog authors have asked me to mention them; in fact, only one of them know I even exist! I am driving myself completely crazy reading recipes, coveting mad kitchen skills, and having the creativity spot in my brain stimulated. All while being chained to my desk at work so I can't do anything about it. ERRGG!!!

One of the things that is happening to me as I read these wonderful, wonderful blogs (besides feeling like a complete boob in the kitchen) is that I want to try new things. Reading about new ingredients and cooking techniques has reawakened my desire to get into the kitchen and cook. These blogs list recipes and have beautiful pictures of step-by-step instructions; it kinda makes me want to dump my blog in the trash when I compare mine to them, especially since I seriously doubt that anyone will want to tune into my blog to watch step by step photographs of me opening and nuking a Smart Ones frozen entree or ordering pizza online. But it also wants me to be more creative with my writing and documenting stuff on my blog. So, I am going to try to do just that.

I was reading one of them yesterday - Ila was writing about these cool things called "roux blocks"; they look like blocks of chocolate and you just chop some or all of it up and simmer it with the rest of your ingredients for yummy sauces. How cool is that?? She has a post about making Hayashi rice and you can buy a hayashi roux block to make the sauce. Well, she can where she lives - this is Billings, Montana. If you can't buy it at Costco, Wal Mart, or Albertson's, you are pretty much SOL as that is all we have out here. And considering that most food markets use the local gastronomic leanings to govern what they purchase for their shelves, the shelves here pretty much lean towards beef and white bread; we aren't very diverse out here. But, inspired by the recipe, I went to the only store in Billings that I thought just might carry something like a roux block - Cost Plus World Market. I luuurve this store, but I have to stay far, far away from the dinner ware, bake ware and candy aisles as it is very easy to spend all of my rent money on stuff for the only room in the house I don't really use - the kitchen/dining room. I was also excited to go out shopping last night because we have finally gotten some warm weather (this means above 32F) and all of the parking lots are finally starting to de-ice. So I went trucking back to the food aisles, determined to find something neat and yummy to try. No roux blocks; in fact, their Asian food aisle was more like a shelf and a half of rice and assorted noodle-y things, a few bottles of teriyaki sauce, and a few pre-packaged fortune cookies. Dang. But, as you can see from the photo below, I did find a few treasures.

The Haribo fruit salad candy is one of my all time favs; the Napolitanke cookies are lemon orange flavored (yum!) and actually fit in really well with the lower carb/low sugar style of eating I am trying really hard to adopt; the two sodas are not such a great fit with that plan (and neither is the fruit salad candy, I know - leave me alone), but I am a sucker for interesting and unusual fizzy drinks - these are an old fashioned black cherry soda and a Key Lime cream soda; and the last item is a jar of Korma Curry sauce - a coconut flavored sauce with Indian spices. The directions say that all I have to do is saute some cubed chicken in a little oil until cooked through, dump in the jar of sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes. I think that I can handle that, even with my severely stunted cooking skills. I think I will add some onions and mushrooms to it as well, and perhaps try my hand at making some couscous to have with it.

Now all I need is a clean skillet.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Want To Be More Than Someone In The Stands With A Wet Butt…

I love watching the Olympics, but for me it is a two-edged sword. Let me explain.

I am an emotional person – which is actually kind of an understatement. Lots of things make me cry these days: movies, sporting events, commercials, commercials about movies about sporting events…you get the picture. The Olympics are no exception. The opening ceremony is usually something I kind of skip through, but I love watching the parade of athletes. I am inspired by the countries that have just a single athlete – the alpine skier from some desert country that has never even seen snow before, etc. I start to tear up as the Olympic flame comes into the stadium, the look of pride and excitement on the faces of those honored to carry it, a slight fear if this could be the year that someone trips and falls and the flames goes out. I love to cheer on the underdog, even when they are in direct competition with the good old USA. And of course this year there was the terrible tragedy before the games had even officially started, and of course the media will not let anyone forget about it, even for one single second; tormenting the family needlessly by camping out on their front doorstep (literally), asking the question that only tip-top journalists could come up with: How do you feel? Dude, seriously? HOW THE HELL DO YOU THINK THEY FEEL??? Your parents paid how much money for that degree in journalism?? Thank you so much for that insightful insight there Skippy. But I digress…

Oh yes, the two edged sword thing, right. It is a two edged sword because I am so inspired by so many of the athletes; many come from war-torn countries, or train with no sponsors and no money with sub-par equipment or training facilities. Some families make massive sacrifices so their children can pursue the dream of dreams, mortgaging the family home or quitting their jobs to devote themselves full time to their sport of choice. The athletes train from sun up to sun down for years to just be in the hunt, with no guarantee that there will be medals of precious metals in their future. They have self discipline and dedication up the ying yang. And some of those athletes come in dead last (someone has to) and are just as proud of that as they would be if they had brought home gold. To just be able to say “I was there and I participated” fulfills a lifetime of dreams for them. I honestly have to say that I think I admire them a little more than some of those who stand on the podium at the end of the day, listening to their country’s national anthem fill the stadium and their fans cheering for them. I see and hear their stories and they make me weep. Yes, literally weep. I am so happy for them and proud of them and my heart breaks and the floodgates open. Man the lifeboats, Skippy! We’re taking on water!!

And here is where the flip side of the sword comes into play. The tears of pride often turn to tears of bitterness and self-pity. No, I was never a contender for the Olympics in any way, but sometimes I wonder – what if? What if my life had played out differently? What if I had learned to develop some sort of self-discipline and “no fear” attitude? Where would I be now? Probably not on the podium at the Olympics, but probably not 200lbs overweight and without relationships in my life either. And most of the time, it makes me weep because I feel like it’s too late for me. I have wasted away the last 25 years of my life and along with it, my youth. Too late to pursue dreams, too late for success, just flat out too late…for anything.

But that’s not really true, is it? (That’s a rhetorical question there, Skippy.) The Iron Man competition has divisions for those 60+ years old that participate. There are thousands of 40+ people that run in marathons every year. Now, I am not saying that it is one of my dreams to be an elite athlete (although I do dream of the Iron Man) (stop laughing – I really do!!); but I don’t want to continue life as a spectator, watching others fulfill their dreams while I sit on a soggy bleacher getting my butt wet.

How do I start? When do I finally say – with conviction – today is the day that I change my life?


Friday, February 12, 2010

It’s 12pm – Do You Know Where Your Chicken Is?

I haven’t been blogging lately because I don’t have anything worth talking about. Nothing is going on in my life except some negative stuff, and I didn’t really want to go on here just to whine. However, I will mention:

  • Still working on my weight; still not making any progress.
  • Still haven’t gotten my bankruptcy filed; still having 25% of my wages garnished. I have everything thing I need to get it done except for the back bone to open my mail and to gather up all the scary paper work.
  • My only friend has decided that she is not interested in being my friend anymore and has subsequently and efficiently cut me out of her life without a whisper.
  • My rosacea seems to have pitched itself to a height never documented in medical journals and makes me wish that wearing veils over the face is an accepted practice in our culture.
  • I haven’t been able to see my therapist for the last two weeks due to snow; she works from her home on a treacherous neighborhood corner where it is not uncommon for vehicles to smash head-on into each other, hit her tree in the front yard, or to even hit her HOUSE when the streets are covered with snow and ice like they have been for weeks now. I see her on Saturdays; even though this week has been new-snow-free, there is an 80% chance of snow tomorrow. I don’t care if it’s MY vehicle that hits her house; I am going to be there tomorrow!!
  • Valentine’s Day is the day after tomorrow. 25 years in a row without anyone in my life, and the streak remains unbroken. You’d think that I would be used to it by now and that I would have found some way to deal with it and make sure it doesn’t get to me; but I haven’t. And it hurts. Badly. Nothing like two months of hype and promotion by every single means possible just to remind you that no one loves you to make you feel worse about yourself and more alone in the world. Thanks Hallmark!

Even though it has been mind-numbingly slow at the 8-5 day job, it has been a nice opportunity for me to troll the internet, looking for nifty cup cake recipes. Sis and I are totally hooked on the idea of making them for profit in the future when I get moved out there, and I have found several awesome blogs that are devoted either entirely to cup cakes, or to cooking in various forms. The down side of all this lovely recipe reading is that I am pretty sure I have gained back the 10 lbs I recently lost and gained another five just by reading them! Doesn’t drooling burn calories? No? It should. Judging by the puddle on my desk around my keyboard, you would think that I would at least loose the water weight I seem to be retaining in my feet. Sheesh!!

And now for a completely unrelated thought.

Yesterday, as I stepped out of the front door on my way out of the office for lunch, I noticed a chicken lying on the sidewalk in front of the building. Not a live chicken, mind you; this was a raw chicken – whole – still in the plastic wrapper from the grocery store. Just lying there in the sun, trying to be unobtrusive, just hanging out. My brain kind of locked up for a second as I passed by it (uh, is that a chicken??). Yes, I passed by it, since I was on my way to the parking lot and what was I going to do with it if I picked it up? Let it ride in the seat next to me on my way to Mickey D’s for lunch? Um…no. I did my lunch thing and when I came back, it was still there. Now, you need to understand that we don’t get a huge amount of foot traffic in front of our building since it is in kind of an industrial end of town; most of the people that pass by the front of our building are either working here, coming here to conduct some kind of business with us, or are part of the group of homeless and - how do I put this – inebriated type persons that tend to wander around down here. So you see, the thought of someone walking from nowhere to nowhere and not realizing that they had lost an ENTIRE CHICKEN along the way made my brain hurt a little. I picked up the chicken, gingerly and with two fingers, trying hard not to let it touch me or anything I may consider touching in the near future, and brought it into the office with me much to the incredulous laughter of the guys. Yes, they saw it too and were content to let sleeping dogs…er chickens…lie. I threw it in the garbage and washed my hands for about a half an hour. For the rest of the day and most of the evening I tried to imagine who the heck had lost this chicken. When did they notice? And how pissed off were they?


Monday, February 1, 2010


One of the things that I really miss about my former self is dressing well. I haven’t bothered to dress up at all since I was about 20 or so; that is when I really started packing on the pounds and started to slack off on attending my religious meetings. Those were really the only opportunities I had to put on my great heels and feel pretty.

Since giving up on me, it’s pretty rare to see me in anything other than elastic waist jeans (horror) and t-shirts. If I do have to wear a dress for some sort of occasion, it is usually some formless sack that hangs from my shoulders; and since I am on the vertically-challenged side (that means short), the dress and or skirt usually hits about 2” above swollen ankles or it hits the floor. Not my best look.

My ankles swell up pretty bad if I am wearing any shoe without some type of arch support – this being because I have managed to flatten my arch into non-existence from carrying all this extra weight around. Walking on your tip-toes in stilettos is not the same thing as arch support. And now that my girls are so big from all the weight, when I slip into a pair of high heels I have a tendency to be top and front heavy and lead with my forehead. Need I reiterate, not really an attractive look for me.

On Friday I sent in an application for a job in Chehalis, WA. After sending it in and being all giddy about what might happen if they did hire me ($3.50 more per hour, great benefits, etc.), I suddenly had a panic attack – what if they have a dress code??? We have a dress code here that pretty much amounts to no flip-flops, no short-shorts, and no holes in your jeans. What if this place hires me and I have to wear a skirt everyday? Oh…help.

My closet consists of three different pairs of the afore mentioned elastic waist jeans (black, stonewash, and khaki), about 10 different t-shirts, one pair of LL Bean black mocs, one pair of tenny-runners, and one pair of black Ariat lace up boots – heavily scuffed. It also consists of about 5 pairs of very shiny black high heels that have never seen the light of day, and never will until I lose about 150 lbs to avoid embarrassing forehead leading accidents.

This leads me (finally) into the thought that brought up the title for today’s post: Where the heck does a 5’3” tall 325lb (give or take) potato of a mature woman with teen-age taste find clothes that fit and do not require a wholesaler’s license from Nieman Marcus and an address in NYC or LA to purchase? There are places to buy such items (but not in Montana, I can assure you), but I don’t have $325 to pay for a single skirt. Plus the fact that my bra bottom currently takes up the same piece of real estate around my mid-section that the waist band of said skirt would wish to occupy, along with the undergarments required to tuck, smooth and shape the rest of my body’s real estate into said skirt and keeping it from popping out at inopportune moments. Who needs to breathe anyway? I hear being comfortable is over-rated.

It almost makes me hope that they don’t hire me. Almost.

While watching an episode of What Not To Wear (from bed) this weekend, my heroes Clinton and Stacey once again pounded home the message YOU ARE WORTH IT. You are worth the effort of dressing well and looking nice; you are worth spending a little (or a lot of) money on; you are worth feeling confident, fashionable, and beautiful. By the end of the show the gal they were working on was believing it and living it.

How the hell do I get on that show? I could believe it too if I had $5000 to spend.

I also found the blog that my all-time favorite author, Jen Lancaster, writes. I love, love, love and adore this woman. Not in a creepy I-think-I’ll-start-stalking-her way (besides, she lives in Chicago – not very practical for me if I did decide to stalk her, which I won’t), but more in a I-want-to-imitate-practically-everything-this-woman-does way. She is the fantastic author of the books Bitter Is The New Black, Bright Lights Big Ass, Such A Pretty Fat, Pretty In Plaid, and the brand new soon to be released in May – My Fair Lazy. (And, NO, she did not pay me in any way, shape or form to list her books on my blog. I have read them all and will re-read them for the rest of my life!!!) I was reading a few past posts and she has an awesome one about plus-sized clothing websites. They. Are. Awesome. I won’t list them here as I feel that would be copying part of her post, but you can check it out at; check out her post on November 13, 2009 titled: You In The Size Zero Pants, Finish Your Carrot Sticks And Skip This Post. Be sure to read ALL of her stuff, because she. Is. Fabulous. Did I mention that I adore her? Yes? OK. Just checking.

So, anyway, I guess the point that I am very lamely trying to make is that: 1) I need to lose weight so I can buy awesome clothes and look awesome again, and 2) I need a job that pays well so that when I do lose weight and start buying awesome clothes, I can get some seriously kick-ass shoes to go with! ‘Nuff said.