Monday, April 30, 2012

4-Minute Retreat - La Tua Semplicitá

I'm going to start putting these up now and then.  This week, our priest suggested we all try to find some silence in this noisy world.  That's all well and good, but my mind tends to go wandering in useless directions without some kind of guidance.  So, once you've had your dose of silence for the day, I've prepared a mini musical retreat for those times when we really can't get away for a weekend and our neighborhood church doors are locked.  Relax, refocus, and then get on with the day.

Today's selection is from Plácido Domingo’s album "Amore Infinito: Songs Inspired by the Poems of John Paul II."  It is entitled "La Tua Semplicitá", a duet with Josh Groban.  Thankfully, it is available on iTunes.

These are the Italian lyrics.  The English translation may be a bit rough, and may not be exactly accurate, but you get the general gist.

Stare qui davanti a te   
guardare con questi occhi miei 
in cui convergono 
le stellari vie 

Occhi ignari di colui 
che silenzioso regna in voi 
ma se dalle stelle 
luce sconfinata prenderà 

Penso al giorno che così pieno sarà 
di stupore per la tua semplicità 
che tiene in pugno il mondo 
e in esso durerà 
fino a qui vivrà 
e al di là,
al di là 

Chiuderò le palpebre 
davanti al tremulo bagliore 
meno io saprò 
di più crederò 

Fammi aprire gli occhi chiusi 
e che tu possa avvolgere 
nel tuo vento immenso 
l'esile soffio d'anima 

Penso al giorno che così pieno sarà 
di stupore per la tua semplicità 
Che tiene in pugno il mondo 
e in esso durerà 
intatto qui per sempre vivrà 
sempre vivrà 

Penso al giorno che così pieno sarà 
di stupore per la tua semplicità 
che tiene in pugno il mondo
e in esso durerà 
fino a qui vivrà 
e al di là 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tasty Budget Food

Since we've found ourselves with the unintended (and hopefully temporary) luxury of childlessness, we've gone into an aggressive debt payoff mode.  The only thing that could make it more aggressive would be for me to acquire a second income for the household, something I've begun to seriously consider.  In the meantime, we've been having some considerable success doing what most of the country apparently hasn't been doing for quite some time -- living beneath our means.

Our rent is currently a few hundred dollars less than what we could theoretically afford, and I've become an electricity nazi, unplugging everything that isn't currently in use, stopping the dishwasher before the dry cycle, and air-drying half the clothes.  Also, I haven't run the climate control in at least two months, which alone seems to save us a cool $100 on each bill.  At the moment that means I've been shivering for a while, but we'll see how long I last into the summer.

Additionally, when I do find myself at home alone for extended periods, the grocery budget goes into a kind of hibernation.  I don't mind boring food, or indeed the same thing as many as three times a day.  And so I discovered my tasty (and reasonably healthy) chicken and rice recipe.  Saves both time and money!

I did the math, and it comes out to less than $1 per serving.  I start with one big pot, boiling four chicken thighs, or whatever was cheap.  Remove the cooked meat and continue boiling the bones and skin to make broth, seasoning as desired.  When the broth is done (boiled down to about 4 cups' worth), remove the bones and skin and add two cups of brown rice and simmer (covered) for twenty minutes.  Add a whole chopped onion and simmer for another twenty minutes.  Put the chicken back in, along with a generous helping of frozen peas or other vegetable.  It's like chicken soup without the soup part.  Dish out as much as you like, pop the lid back on and throw it in the fridge for later.

It saves me the trouble of cooking, shopping, and meal planning for at least three days, time which is currently invested in working through my quota of stocking commissions for this year.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trayvon and Real Black Pride

I know this is a little dated, but it still bears considering.  Politically, people like me aren't allowed to say anything, but it's about time both sides were held to the same standard of racial equality.  And if you're really in the mood for some straight talk (and don't mind some sketchy language), check out this guy.  Or THIS GUY.  They're sick of it, too.  Honestly, institutionalized racism as it was once known in this country is dead, and if it isn't quite dead, it's certainly impotent.  For the love of all that's holy, have some pride and self-respect and do something with your lives.  Human dignity is human dignity, whether black, white, yellow, red or anything else in between.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thought of the Day

More of the usual snark.  No, Molotov isn't a priest, he's just in character.  Go watch his other great videos.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Death of Another Childhood Icon

Who wasn't just a little bit upset when Pluto was demoted in the solar system hierarchy?  The list of planets we had all memorized, the models we were all familiar with, and the science projects we had all slaved over didn't seem complete without it.  That smoldering spark of childhood innocence lingering in the back of our minds knew life would look different from now on.

Now another iconic figure which for years has fascinated children everywhere has apparently been changed forever.  Thanks to exceptionally detailed fossils found in northern China where a prehistoric volcano created a sort of "dinosaur Pompeii," we now have reason to believe all the dinosaurs of the Dromaeosauridae family, including Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus, were feathered.

Somehow the thought of those undersized arms looking like baby bird wings makes them twice as ridiculous.  I guess this makes Tyrannosaurus sort of like a giant carnivorous ostrich.  Paleontology will never be quite the same again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Call Me Paranoid

I thought I'd been hearing an absurd number of car alarms in the past few days.  The office left a note warning everyone that car thefts and break-ins are apparently on the rise in our neighborhood.  How lovely.

Everyone has been laughing at me ever since I acquired Club locks for both cars, which they wear like trendy accessories each time they are parked, wherever they are, without exception.  Now I feel like the most prepared one in town, or at least in this parking lot.  They probably aren't completely theft-proof, but at least they look like a whole lot of trouble.  I know it would be complete overkill, but I have thought of putting TWO club locks on at once to provide double the deterrent.  Nobody gets a free ride on my watch if I can help it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The new car had it's first oil change today.  Not terribly exciting, I know, but bear with me.  I don't have anyone else to brag on yet.

I took it back to the dealership, mostly because they talked a big game about their specialist technicians, but it helped that the first oil change would be free.  Our awesome new car had just logged 2,000 miles of road trip in a week, so it was ready for a little pampering.

It took forever, during which time I had nothing better to do than watch the talking heads on MSNBC, and after looking over the paperwork and seeing how much service usually costs, I wasn't sure I would be coming back.  After all, Midas could do everything they were doing.  But they had me when they actually washed the car.  Midas does NOT do that.

My awesome car came back squeaky clean without all those oak tree droppings, dead bugs from the interstate, and that persistent yellow film of pollen.  I was actually a bit ashamed of how it looked when I brought it in, but I'm crazy like that.

Ready to conquer the highway yet again!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

This evening I felt like it was time for a controlled fall off the fitness bandwagon.  After all, I've been riding it for a whole forty-eight hours already.  Rather than succumb to the siren song of discount Easter candy, I decided to bake a "healthy" dessert to munch on.  Various factors including unpresentable appearance and general laziness decreed I had to use what was readily available.

I decided to make blondies, because I knew we had no cocoa and I didn't feel like investing the time required to make individual sugar cookies.  Same thing, right?  A trusty supply of frozen whole wheat flour and a recently rediscovered stash of stevia would make the recipe a little more guilt-free.  I was already melting butter when I discovered I had no eggs.  There didn't seem to be a way around that one, and I didn't have any of my tried-and-true egg substitutes around.  Google once again saved the day, throwing up an eggless brownie recipe which involved cooking white flour and water over medium heat until it thickened into an egg-like consistency.

Of course, these whole wheat blondies turned out to be so think they took twice as long to bake, and the edges were starting to get unpleasantly brown while the inside was still a bit doughy.  Next time I should use a pan twice the size called for, just to spread it out.  I'm not sure whether they taste like blondies or extra-sweet dinner rolls.  Anyway, they cured the craving, and now I have something for breakfast besides raw oatmeal.