Monday, October 29, 2007

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I'm still always a little surprised when something I cook turns out right. I didn't learn to cook until after I was married, when there came a point that I said, "This is absolutely absurd. I cannot eat frozen things out of boxes for the rest of my life." Mr. McGee has always been able to cook, and he's all creative at it and stuff. (Sometimes too creative, typically in a slightly-too-fond-of-paprika way.) I'm not entirely sure what my problem was, but I was convinced I couldn't cook and, sure enough, most everything I tried to do in the kitchen that wasn't baking (I've always been able to bake) turned out disastrously. I could basically make pasta. Heating up sauce was a different story.

Last night I made chicken cordon bleu for the first time, and while the cream sauce was a little thin, it didn't have any lumps (a first for me; my white sauces ALWAYS have lumps) and the chicken was cooked right and it tasted FANTASTIC. And I made it all by myself! From scratch! And nobody got food poisoning!

Even though I've become a pretty decent cook in the last year or two (sometimes I even improvise in recipes! woohoo!), I was still shocked and amazed that I made "real food" that has a name and stuff. (Also shocked and amazed that I woke up at 3:30 a.m. still burping cream-sauce burps. But I guess we don't usually eat food that rich, or that many animal products in one sitting -- ham and cheese wrapped in chicken cooked in butter with a cream sauce? Is there any dairy product I didn't eat in there?)

So while I am very proud of my chicken cordon bleu and I now feel validated as a member of Those Who Can Cook, I think I'm going to eat rice and vegetables for the rest of the week. I should be just about through digesting the chicken cordon bleu by then.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The DMV: More Things Peorians Do That Amuse Me

So in August I had to get my plates renewed. As per usual, the renewal form did not arrive in enough time to be able to do it by mail, and I object to paying extra money in processing fees so that I can SAVE THE DMV TIME AND MONEY by doing it online (oh, hey, I've bitched about this before). As per usual, I didn't get around to it until the last possible day for August plate renewals.

This year I went to the actual DMV to do the plate renewal. I live about 5 minutes from the Peoria DMV. It was just about as crowded as I've ever seen it, which means I was in and out in 15 minutes, despite the fact that every single person whose license plate renews in August who lives in the tri-county area was also in line to last-minute renew.

This is where Peorians start to crack me up.

Every single native Peorian I mentioned this to shook his head in sympathy

"What you need to do," I was told over and over again, "is drive up to Roanoke and use the DMV there. Then you won't have to wait in those terrible lines."

"But it takes 45 minutes each way to get to Roanoke and back," I protested. "Even if it takes only 5 minutes to renew my plates in Roanoke, that's 1 hour and 35 minutes in driving and DMV time, versus 10 minutes back and forth to the local DMV plus 15 minutes in line, for a total of 25 minutes."

"But there are no lines in Roanoke," they would explain to me, as if I was a very small and somewhat stupid child.

"But it takes an hour and a half to drive back and forth! You're wasting over an hour."

"But there are no lines."

I eventually had to give up because I was unable to convince a single person that it made far more sense to go to the DMV in Peoria and wait in line with a book for 15 minutes than to drive all the way to Roanoke to wait in line for five. I guess the fact that half of Peoria is driving to Roanoke or Lacon to visit the DMV means that the lines at the actual convenient DMV stay nice and short for me.

I shudder to think what would happen to these people if they had to go to a Cook County DMV, where on Saturdays they start lining up 3 hours before opening at some locations. I've waited in football campout lines shorter than that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've Lived Here Three Years and I Know Everyone in Peoria

Nothing makes it quite so clear to me what a small town Peoria really is as teaching at ICC. This semester I have a waitress from One World who's served me a bunch of times, the cousin of a student I had LAST semester, the niece of a city government member I've met, someone who's from my hometown and went to the same junior high as me (every few days we have to have a "Do you know so-and-so? Is that store still open? When did you last have a Little Louie's dog?" thing), and that's just off the top of my head. I've run into my fabric store salesgal in the hallway, met Jessamyn (of WMBD blog, she's absolutely adorable in person!) at my office hours one day ... I've had my eye doctor's assistant (nurse? tech?) and my massage therapist's receptionist (5 Senses Salon and Spa, at Grand Prairie, near Jones Bros.) in class in past semesters. I mean really, who haven't I run into or had in class at ICC at this point? Even my dean's husband knows my husband from Bradley's moot court competitions (which Mr. McGee likes to judge). I've accepted that it's inevitable that if I teach at ICC long enough, I will eventually teach literally everyone in the entire tri-county area.

When I first started I worried about what would happen if I had anyone I knew in my classes. Now I know that in Peoria, you know everyone in your classes, full stop. The only one I worried about was my eye doctor's assistant, because she could have poked my eyes out if I pissed her off. (No, seriously, she's a very nice girl.)

The only person I haven't had in a class yet, despite the fact that I teach mechanics just about every semester, is anyone who can fix my darned car. They're all GM-only, or live 8 counties away, or only do diesel. And you know how hard it is to find a good mechanic!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My House CAN Hear Me!

The day after I posted that last post, my garage door got stuck shut. Will. Not. Move. No matter how much force is applied. And we can't figure out how or why it's stuck. And of course my car is in the garage.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Blogger Bash Is On, My Party Is Not

Blogger Bash will be on Tuesday the 30th at Donnelly's. Be there or be square, as they say.

My Hallowe'en party, on the other hand, is off. All 2007 it's been like my house can HEAR me. Every time I start to plan a party, something breaks. (Including my own anniversary, when my sewer pipe backed up into the house and I had to get it emergency roto-rooted so I could have dinner with my husband!) Not a single event I have tried to plan this year has come off. It's very depressing.

Anyway, we're having our new dewatering system put in a couple of days after Hallowe'en, which means, first, that the basement would be unavailable for the party (which is where we typically stash the medium-sized kids with videos and video games); and second, that everything that lives in the basement is on the other two floors of my house, so there's hardly any room to have a party in the rest of the house anyway. I was waffling about it, pondering whether I could chance holding the party partly outdoors; then at the beginning of October, my water-heater went (since it has to be taken out for the dewatering system to go in, it's hobbling along until then so we don't have to have the new one installed, removed, and reinstalled) AND my oven went, which I haven't dealt with because, well, stovetop, toaster oven, and microwave keep me pretty well-fed and I haven't really had time to worry about it with all the basement annoyances.

I hesitate to even mention it on my blog because I'm getting superstitious, like if I mention it, the house will break something new, but I'm seriously running out of plumbing-and-gas-related systems that can fail. (Knock on wood!)

(So far in the past year: Sump pump, disposal, water softener, oven, water heater, sewer drain, dewatering system, and a variety of garden-variety clogged drains. Also the furnace near year-end 2006. Also the dishwasher at Thanksgiving 2005. Also CILCO turned off our gas once earlier this year and forgot to turn it back on, but they sent the dude out really quick.)

On the plus side, virtually every system in my house has been thoroughly serviced or is brand new, or will be by the end of this year. Small favors, I guess!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Orange Cat Has Too Many Feelings

I got my husband some flannel sheets, to help with his whole "I'm so cold!" thing. He put them on the bed for when I came back from vacation last night, so I could come home to a made bed (rare thing) and fresh sheets.

Now, Orange Cat hates change -- he hides for hours when we move furniture and DAYS when we bring new furniture into the house -- so Orange Cat was pretty suspicious of the new sheets, which smelled like store, not people or laundry. But on the other hand, the flannel was so cat-cozy he was rubbing his head against it while lying on his side. And the whole time he had this look on his face like, "I disapprove of your sheet-changing actions and yet they are so fuzzy" or "I am both woeful and ecstatic at the same time." Or he'd be all happy and rubbing his head on them, and then suddenly stop and look up at me suspiciously. And then be happy again. And then suspicious. It was absolutely hysterical.

This is a very confused cat.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One Day Soon, Eyebrows Will Forget Her Filters

So lately I keep finding myself on the verge of telling people off who are being obnoxious, in ways that aren't really considered socially appropriate.

It began with this teenaged couple at ICC who are always making out in the stairwell when I head down to class. I ignore them, but every day it's harder not to shout, "Get a room!"

Then at Kroger I started wanting to demand of people things like, "Do you think it would be possible for you to block more of the aisle? Because while the six of us back here are impressed with your aisle-blocking skills, we think you may have left room for the anorexic Olsen twin to slip through."

Then I started feeling the urge to shout out the car window at people, such as, "I'm sorry, but might it be possible for you to properly observe a stop sign instead of attempting to T-bone my car?"

It's really bad in the car lately, because for some reason every idiot in Peoria who can't drive is following me around, particularly in parking lots. Cutting me off, aggressively snatching parking spots (when there's another one three spots down that I'd be HAPPY to take instead if you weren't being such an ass about it), ignoring traffic signals, etc.

Today I went to Michael's and as I (and other cars) were attempting to pull IN to the parking lot, this woman started moseying and meandering as slowly as humanly possible on foot from her car to the store, but in such a fashion as to block the ENTIRE lane so everybody had to sit and wait while she walked almost the entire length of the parking lot excruciatingly slowly, and THEN she walked across every available parking spot, though it was clearly unnecessary, so that everyone had to wait for her to move her tackily-clad ass out of the way before anyone could park. And she just threw this arrogant look at all the cars while she did it; it was definitely on purpose.

It was all I could do not to track her down in the store and say, "I'm sorry, I don't think you managed to squeeze every possible drop of rudeness out of our parking lot encounter; was there anything else you wanted to add, or are you done with obnoxious for the day?"

It's probably good I'm going on a little vacation to visit my dad and see my law school roommate (and her toddler!), because my filters are in imminent danger of failure!

Friday, October 05, 2007

*Squeek, Squawk*

I have lectured a minor case of the autumnal sniffles into a pretty serious bout of laryngitis, which proves that it is actually possible for me to talk too much. Who knew?

In some sort of bizarre output synesthesia, the fact that I can't talk makes me think I can't type, and so I haven't blogged the last couple of days because I can't talk so obviously I can't blog.

I am now being a good girl and resting my voice so I can have my squawk-box back sooner rather than later. Like, by the time I have to lecture on Sunday would be good.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Now that my schedule has settled down a little bit, I'm going back to something that I've done for years as a sideline and I love doing, which is tutoring. Tutoring's a great sideline because your clients are only available on evenings and weekends, so it fits quite nicely into "not 9-to-5." I haven't had any tutoring students for the last year or so, because I've had too much going on, but now I have space again and I'm looking forward to getting back to it.

Tutoring is a fairly referral-based business, so I'm putting the word out through friends (including you, my bloggerinos). If you know anyone who's looking for a tutor, or you hear of someone looking for a tutor, please pass my name on to them.

I tutor all subjects K-12 except AP sciences and AP math. I specialize particularly in ACT prep and in writing tutoring (which I am very good at). If your child has a serious learning disability, I recommend you work with a specialist, not with me. I mostly work with junior high and high school students; when it's younger students, it's generally because mom and dad are finding the homework wars too stressful and tear-laden and it helps to have an outsider to substitute hover-and-help so it's less emotional for everyone involved.

I can be contacted via my professional website (linked in the upper left there) or via e-mail to my blog address (also linked in the upper left). Or however else you generally prefer to contact me!